Here's a look at news and events from around southern Delaware this week.
Where to watch fireworks in southern Delaware
It’s time once again for a barrage of explosions celebrating the Colonies’ successful rebellion against the British empire. Here’s where to find some of the local fireworks displays (the legal ones). Most, but not all of them are at the beaches.
Rehoboth Beach: Sunday, July 3. 8-11 p.m. Live performance begins at 8 at the bandstand. Fireworks should launch around 9:30 p.m., but depending on weather could go as early as 8 or be pushed later, the city says. Because of beach damage from the nor’easter earlier this year, the display will be launched from the beach between Philadelphia and Hickman streets, a little further south than usual. More information
Bethany Beach: Monday, July 4. Parade at noon, concert at 7:30 p.m., fireworks at dusk. More information
Dewey Beach: Monday, July 4. 8:30-9:30 p.m. Launched from a barge in Rehoboth Bay, per Visit Delaware.
Laurel: Monday, July 4. Festivities begin midafternoon, including vendors, a petting zoo, live bands, and a car show. NOTE: The parade has been canceled because of a lack of participants, the town announced. Fireworks begin at dusk. More information
Lewes: Monday, July 4. Games and parades during the day. Fireworks at dusk. More information
Salisbury: Monday, July 4. Red White Boom at James M. Bennett High School. Gates open at 6:30 p.m., fireworks start at 9:15 p.m. More information
A long-planned courthouse project in Georgetown begins
Officials gathered Tuesday to throw shovelfuls of dirt and mark the start of construction on a new family courthouse in Georgetown. The new building will have eight courtrooms and will be more than three times bigger than the old site, which was constructed in 1988, according to the judiciary. It’s going up in what is now a parking lot off Race and Market streets, but the parking isn’t going away – there will also be a new 300-car parking garage.
The new building will cost $115 million, and officials say it’s badly needed to boost security and deal with an increase in cases and a growing local population.
Construction will begin in the fall and is slated to wrap up by late 2024, the Delaware Judiciary said a news release.
Officials gathering at the shovels included Georgetown Mayor Bill West, state Sen. Brian Pettyjohn, Gov. John Carney, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Collins J. Seitz, and others.
“The family court is one of the most difficult courts in our state,” Seitz said in his remarks. “... Day in and day out, they deal with some of the disputes that are so personal to everyone in the state.” Sometimes nobody goes away happy, he said, but there are also new beginnings like adoption ceremonies. “It’s not all heartache that happens in family court.”
Questions and answers on a proposed library tax in the Lake district
Residents of the Lake Forest School District can find out more about a proposed library tax at a public hearing at the Price Center in Harrington on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
The tax district would cover the same region as the Lake school district and fund the operation of the new library (the money to build the library is coming from other sources).
Kent County would have to approve the district, but the library said it needs the city of Harrington to first request it. As of now the city of Harrington is the library's source of local money.
It is the only public library in the broader Lake Forest District.
Mayor Duane E. Bivans said they wanted to hold a public hearing before voting on the request. The Price Community Center is at 103 Dorman Street across from city hall.
Read more about the library project and why library leadership would like a special tax district.
Report of a body found near Laurel
State police confirmed they are investigating an incident near Laurel after a report from WGMD that a body was found near Trussum Pond Road, but officials did not confirm the details of that report. Delaware State Police Cpl. Leonard DeMalto said in response to my email query that “the incident you are referring to is an ongoing investigation, and we have no further details to provide at this time.”
5 affordable housing projects get $500,000 in support
To help address the affordable housing crisis in the area, Sussex County government is taking multiple steps.
One is working on a proposed ordinance that aims to make it easier for developers to build affordable homes (we plan to publish more on that soon). The county also announced Tuesday it will use $2.5 million in federal American Rescue Plan money to help five affordable housing projects.
The grants will be $500,000 each, and will go to Better Homes of Seaford for a 36-unit project in Seaford for housing for the elderly; Milford Housing Development Corporation for 10 homes in Greenwood; Sussex County Habitat for Humanity for 10 homes throughout the county; and Millsboro Housing for Progress, to rehabilitate 38 rental units.
Lewes man's death is under investigation
Delaware State Police are investigating the death of Terry Spence, 52, of Lewes.
Spence died June 25 in Sussex Correctional Institution, where he was an inmate, police said. They did not say much else about the death, but noted that the Division of Forensic Science will do an autopsy, and that they’re still investigating.
Fighting for the future of an endangered raptor
Efforts to save the American kestrel in Delaware are expanding in Kent and Sussex counties, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control said in a news release. The kestrel, a kind of falcon, has seen its population drop in the region by 93 percent since the 1960s, DNREC said, and it’s listed as an endangered species in Delaware.
Restoration efforts include nest boxes on private land, which in addition to providing habitat allow for the study of the birds. Landowners downstate who have open space like meadows, grasslands or fields can contact DNREC at 302-739-9912 to find out more about hosting a nest box.
Holiday weekend travel projections: You may want to stay home
If you were thinking of venturing out on the July 4 weekend, perhaps inspired by our list of fireworks displays, maybe leave early. Or find a good televised fireworks show.
AAA says despite high gas prices about 116,000 Delawareans, or around 1 in 10 of us, will be traveling at least 50 miles for the holiday. That's up slightly from last year. Almost all those travelers will be driving. And what AAA does not need to tell us is that while residents are forming lines of traffic to get out, or to head over to the beaches, a whole lot of tourists will be traveling here too. So if you have any way to avoid going through the Five Points intersection in Lewes, you should probably use it.
It’s also not entirely clear whether AAA has a firm grasp on what Delaware is, as its press release referred to Delawareans as “Philadelphia-area residents.” The release did not go into the travel plans of the Delaware-area residents of that big city over there in Pennsylvania.
Friday, July 1
Tour the inside of a whale though the Whalemobile at Union United Methodist Church in Bridgeville, via the library. (The life-sized inflatable whale wouldn’t fit in the library.) Registration is required. 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Monday, July 4
Milton July 4 festival, aka Bring Mayberry Back to Milton, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Milton Memorial Park, organized by the Milton Chamber. Games, dunk tanks, food, water balloon fights, sack races, bike decorating contest, parade and more.
Wednesday, July 6
Open house at Trap Pond State Park, 6-8 p.m. at Baldcypress Nature Center. Learn about progress at the park and upcoming projects.
Thursday, July 7
Out Run Hunger 5K in Milford benefiting the Food Bank of Delaware. After-party featuring food, drinks and a steel drum player. $30 until July 5; $35 day of. Register and find more information here.
Saturday, July 9
42nd annual sandcastle contest at Delaware Seashore State Park, 9:30 a.m. Free contest entry; park fees apply.
Ben Davis at the Greenwood VFW outdoor stage, 2 p.m. Davis plays acoustic covers of alternative and classic rock favorites. Greenwood Library event for teens and tweens.
Monday, July 11
Public hearing on proposed Bridgeville voting districts, 7 p.m. at the Bridgeville Library during the regularly scheduled Commission meeting.
Saturday, July 16
Case knives event at Willey Knives in Greenwood. Free food, giveaways and more. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Wednesday, July 20
Milton Historical Society’s Truckin’ with the Music, 5-8 p.m. Food vendors, cornhole and other yard games. Bring a chair or blanket for the concert in the park.
Saturday, July 30
Ladybug Music Festival in Milford, featuring female-led bands. Also will feature food trucks, vendors, pop-up bar and more. 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Harrington Library mobile gaming bus, featuring seven widescreen TVs, a laser light show, and multiplayer gaming. Free. 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Aug. 2
Blades Police Department National Night Out, 6-8 p.m. Food, fun, games and music.
Friday, Aug. 5
Eastern Shore Threshermen and Collectors Association Wheat Threshing, Steam and Gas Engine Show in Federalsburg, Maryland. Starts 9 a.m. Friday, runs through 6 p.m. Sunday. Free admission.
Saturday, Aug. 6
Recycled Cardboard Boat Regatta, Blades Marina, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Design and build a boat from recycled corrugated cardboard, and see how long you can stay afloat.
Tuesday, Aug. 9
Greenwood Police Department Night Out, 6-8 p.m. at the firehouse.
Sunday, Aug. 14
Rubber duck race in Broad Creek to benefit the Laurel Fire Department. Winning duck gets $500. Event starts at 10 a.m., race at noon. Contact the fire department at 302-875-3081 for ticket info.