Here's a look at news and events from around southern Delaware this week.
Harrington will get millions to move forward with library, other projects
After years of efforts, the Harrington Library has secured enough money for a new 15,000 square foot building, a major upgrade over its current home. Other big projects in the city are moving forward as well, including a new water tower and water line replacement.
For the library, the money was a big hurdle. Marleena Scott, the library director, said in November that the project would cost an estimated $10.7 million. But the library has plenty lined up now. The state recently announced $40 million in COVID rescue funds was going to libraries, and $5.6 million of that has been earmarked for Harrington. The library still has more than $212,000 from a previous building fundraising effort. In addition, the state will match all that money up to $6.3 million, which means the library will have at least $11.4 million. It could end up with more than $12 million if it raises more money for the state match.
“It’s very exciting,” Scott said at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.
Council member Darrin Simpson agreed, and pointed out that for those wondering why the city wasn’t spending this elsewhere, the promised money is just for the library.
Council members congratulated Scott on the big step. Mayor Duane Bivans said the library is already serving the community, and once the new building comes to fruition, “it’ll be able to serve many, many more. So job well done.”
A lot remains to be done. Scott said they’re meeting with the architect on Friday. A tentative timeline she provided for Council has a goal of groundbreaking in the fall of 2023, with a grand opening at the end of 2024.
At its Feb. 7 meeting, the Council also accepted money from the state to build a new water tower and redo a significant portion of the water main. Those loans came to $7.6 million, but the city will only have to pay interest while the projects are going on, and then the state will forgive the remaining principal, according to the loan letters. The Council also voted to accept two contractors’ bids on the projects, which come to a little over $9 million. Engineer Dan String told the council that with other loans and grants coming, he doesn’t anticipate having to use much of the COVID rescue funds the city had earmarked for the project, meeting minutes show.
That leaves Harrington with three major projects in the works that are getting the majority of their funding from outside sources.
Virulent avian flu comes to Delaware
People in the poultry world have been on the alert in recent weeks as a virulent bird flu has cropped up in other parts of the country. Now it’s been found on a chicken farm in Delaware, the state Department of Agriculture announced, which means the farm will be quarantined and all the birds slaughtered.
Officials' immediate concern here is for poultry, not humans. Avian flu has been known to jump to humans, but it’s rare, and it’s even more rare for it to spread from person to person, according to the CDC.
“There is no public health concern, and avian influenza does not affect poultry meat or egg products, which remain safe to eat,” the Department of Agriculture’s press release said in bold type.
Obviously, though, the consequences of a bird flu running amok could be dire for the Delmarva poultry industry, and officials are sampling and quarantining nearby farms. They also promised prosecution of people trespassing on a quarantined farm, as the virus spreads easily among birds and can be carried on equipment, clothing and shoes.
This is the first case of this kind of flu in commercial poultry operations in Delaware since 2004, the department said, and it appears to be an isolated case.
The department had recently sent out warnings after the flu strain was found in wild birds in Delaware.
Laurel fire victims are now in housing
The Good Ole Boy Foundation, which has been spearheading efforts to help the dozens of people who lost their homes in the fire at the former Rigbie Hotel in Laurel, said on Facebook Wednesday that all of them have now been moved into housing.
“Thank you to this wonderful community … we still have work to do, but today they are all in a better place – and not just physically,” the foundation said.
“One of the Red Cross leaders told us that in all her years, she’s never seen a community pull together so fast,” the post read, saying the leader was very impressed and surprised.
“We weren’t, it’s just what Sussex County does.”
An online auction to benefit victims is going on now, put on by the Kim and Evans Family Foundation in partnership with the Good Ole Boy Foundation. The auction ends Sunday, Feb. 27. Items include art, autographed sports memorabilia, gift certificates and more. The items will not be shipped to the winners, but can be picked up at Dr. Joseph Kim’s office in Laurel.
On Monday, we plan to publish a story by Tony Russo about the history of the Rigbie Hotel, so stay tuned for that.
Vaccine event aims to boost child vaccination rates in the area
The First State Community Action Agency is partnering with other sponsors including radio station Maxima 95.3 to throw a vaccine party. It’s an event they’re calling a “Children’s Day Vaccination” for ages 5 and up at the Cheer Community Center on Sand Hill Road in Georgetown.
The event on Saturday, March 12 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. will feature face painting, storytelling, a ventriloquist, music and more. The first 25 children registered will be put in a drawing to win items like a tablet or smart watch.
“We’re going to have a great time,” the agency’s Cynthia Gooch Copley said.
“Help yourself and your community; join us.”
You can register here.
Firefly lineup draws a somewhat happy reaction
A local music festival in Dover has released its lineup for this fall, featuring headliners like Green Day, Halsey, My Chemical Romance, Dua Lipa, Weezer and more performers that we know are exciting because their names are in large letters on the poster.
The Firefly Music Festival takes place this year Sept. 22-25.
As usual, fan reaction was mixed on the Firefly Music Festival Fan Page. This has become a tradition. But much of the commentary was either cautiously optimistic or positive.
“This is sooooo much better than last year’s lineup imo!!” one person posted, managing to work in both excitement and a complaint at the same time.
Man shot dead over a game of pool
Arrick Richards, 41, of Lewes, died early Sunday morning after a dispute over a game of pool at the Coastal Taproom in Rehoboth, Delaware State Police say.
Police arrested Edward Martin, 46, of Millsboro on charges including first degree murder.
Troopers were called to the Coastal Taproom at about 12:45 a.m. Sunday, where they found Richards in the bar area with a gunshot wound. Investigators said he and Martin got in an argument over a pool game, and Martin pulled out a handgun and shot Richards in the chest.
Richards was pronounced dead at Beebe Medical Center.
Troopers stopped Martin’s vehicle in the Long Neck area and arrested him. Police said they found a gun in the vehicle. Martin was held in Sussex Correctional Institution on $800,000 cash bond.
Laurel school district gets a scare
Laurel School District went virtual on Tuesday after “terroristic threats made against its school system on social media,” Superintendent Shawn Larrimore told parents in a message.
He said the decision was made out of an abundance of caution as they could not confirm at the time if the threats were credible, and that Laurel Police and Delaware State Police were investigating.
In a later message, Larrimore said law enforcement interviewed “persons of interest” about the threats. The district reopened Wednesday.
Sugar bonanza benefits Laurel Fire Department
We’re still a ways out from Easter, but the Laurel Fire Department Auxiliary is continuing a long-running tradition and selling 6-ounce “eggs” made of peanut butter, butter cream, coconut and cherry cream, dipped in semi-sweet chocolate.
The tradition has been going on since 1978, according to the fire department’s Facebook post.
Eggs are $4 each. To order, contact Stacy Northam-Smith at 302-258-7621 or firstname.lastname@example.org before March 28. Orders can be picked up at the department on Sunday, April 3 after 7:30 p.m.
There is no limit on how many you can order, because you are an adult supporting a good cause and nobody is going to stop you.
Dish of the week
By Edgar Diaz
OK, stick with me on this one.
Q: what happens if you put kimchi in a grilled cheese sandwich?
A: you get a mind-blowingly addictive grilled cheese upgrade that will leave your tastebuds screaming for MOAR!!!
In fact, my only complaint after trying this was that it needed more kimchi.
Basic process: On one side of a pan, melt some butter — or garlic butter, if you want an upgrade. Place two slices of bread down, and toast over medium heat until browned.
While bread is toasting, place 1/4 to 1/2 cup of chopped kimchi on the other side of the pan. Your goal is to heat it through and cook some of the liquid out of it. It will leave some flavor behind in the pan. You want that.
After bread is toasted, remove from heat. Place bread, toasted side up, on a plate or cutting board.
On one slice of the toasted bread, add a layer of shredded or sliced cheese. You can use any good melty cheese. I used mozzarella here. Add the heated kimchi, some cilantro if you want, and then another layer of cheese. Top with the other slice of bread, toasted side down. Both toasted sides should be facing inward.
Add more butter to the pan, and heat on medium low. Try to mix in any of the kimchi flavor that was left in the pan. Add sandwich and cook until golden brown on one side.
Remove sandwich, and add more butter to the pan. Carefully flip the sandwich over. I used a spatula on the bottom, and held the top in place with a fork. Tongs would have worked just as well.
Cook the second side until browned. Remove from heat, slice in half, and enjoy!
Variations: butter the bread instead of the pan, and add sesame seeds. Add some sesame oil to the pan to amp up the sesame flavor. Experiment with different herbs and cheeses.