Significant voting district changes in Sussex County; other news

In this week's newsletter: County and town voting districts undergoing changes, COVID requirements ending, local fundraisers and more.

Significant voting district changes in Sussex County; other news
Sussex County Council approved new Council districts on Tuesday. 

Here's a look at news and events from around southern Delaware this week.

Sussex Council approves its reshuffled voting districts

The voting districts for Sussex County Council got significant changes after the last Census as a result of the county’s booming population, especially in the beach area. County Council voted to finalize those changes on Tuesday, setting the map for the next decade.

The population in Sussex rose about 40,000 since the 2010 Census, an increase of 20 percent.

Council attorney J. Everett Moore said they asked for public input along the way, and one of the suggested maps they got was from the League of Women Voters. “Frankly, we saw that there was a lot of merit in the League’s map,” he said.

The districts approved Tuesday bore a very strong resemblance to that map. There were some minor changes, for example changing one line to avoid peeling off part of Seaford.  

There were also some key changes. John Rieley’s District 5, which had previously sprawled all the way across the southern part of the state, encompassing both Laurel and beach communities, migrated north and now covers the Georgetown area. It contains parts of all five previous districts. The beach area now has two districts that hew more closely to those communities. An online map includes a slider to compare the before and after (scroll to the bottom of the page).  

Jack Young, representing the League of Women Voters, gave a good review of the new map, saying it had the full support of the League.

Council members, too, were supportive, voting unanimously in favor.

“I’ve been involved in politics for many decades,” Mark Schaeffer, current third district councilman, said, “and I want to commend the county attorney and county staff for about the most nonpartisan, apolitical event I think I’ve ever seen.”

District 2 representative Cindy Green said she was excited about the new district bringing together Bridgeville and Greenwood and very pleased with how it turned out.

“Mr. Moore, good job,” Council President Michael Vincent said.

The November 2022 election will be for District 4, currently represented by Doug Hudson, and District 5, represented by Rieley.

Del Tech drops vaccine requirements

Delaware Technical and Community College came under fire from some, including local politicians, after it announced in January that it was requiring vaccines for all students including those studying remotely. The reasoning was that remote students might have to visit campus from time to time.

Now, with the new guidelines from the state and the CDC, the college is ditching not only that policy but all masking and testing requirements for employees and students. That change took effect Tuesday. It will keep in place policies on isolation and quarantine, and some health students may still be required to get vaccines.

The college said on its website, “Although no longer required, vaccines, masks and distancing remain effective health strategies to combat the spread of the virus in the months ahead.”

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Bridgeville discusses how to do redistricting

Every decade Bridgeville reworks its voting districts based on population changes. The town has almost doubled in size in recent decades to around 2,500 residents with the addition of the Heritage Shores development.

Last time around in 2011, the Commission appointed a redistricting committee. Town manager Bethany DeBussy said the idea was to have voices independent from the Commission weigh in. At their Monday workshop, the commissioners were on board with the idea of appointing another committee with one person representing each district. They did not vote on it or make any final decisions, but will each suggest names for the committee at the next meeting.

Also on Monday, commissioners decided to follow the governor’s lead on COVID guidance and begin holding town meetings in person again. They had switched back to online meetings in January amid the winter surge in cases.

People will still be able to tune in to Commission meetings via Zoom if they want.

Town Hall will reopen to the public March 14.

“With the mask mandate lifted, masks will not be required,” DeBussy wrote in an email. The town still recommends them for anyone with health concerns, and also recommends if people are feeling ill that they use the dropbox or online payment to help keep town staff safe.

A rapidly-growing Bridgeville could see significant changes to voting districts
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Northern politician sighted in Sussex

State Sen. Sarah McBride, D-1, talks about her paid leave plan in Georgetown. 

State Sen. Sarah McBride, a Democrat representing the Claymont area, is making the rounds promoting her paid family leave bill and talking to the business community about concerns they have with it. That’s what brought her to Georgetown on Wednesday for a luncheon with the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce.

Chambers in the state have been leery of the bill, but are happier with a newer version with compromises, including steps like reducing the amount of leave offered and clarifying which employees qualify.

Attendees at the luncheon expressed concern about more paperwork and regulations, but commended McBride for listening. Some said they did not necessarily oppose the bill.

“Not in my whole political life have I seen a state senator from New Castle – other than (in) the summer – come to all the places you’ve been to, to talk about a major piece of legislation,” Joe Conaway, chairman of the Sussex County Economic Development Action Committee, said. “You are to be commended for taking the time.”

Find out more about the bill and what it’s proposing in this article from WDEL.

Birds and the bees at the beach

Beach season is here for the birds, which means part of Cape Henlopen State Park is closed to humans for the summer. The section known as The Point, including a stretch of ocean and bay beach, closed Tuesday, March 1, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control said in a press release. This has been done since 1993 to protect threatened and endangered shorebirds during nesting season, including red knots, piping plovers, least terns and others. The ocean portion reopens Sept. 1, and the bay portion Oct. 1.

Man killed in crash near Harrington

A Bridgeville man died in a crash on Route 13 not far north of Harrington Saturday night after a crossover SUV hit the side of the car he was riding in, Delaware State Police said.

The man was a passenger in a car driven by a 31-year-old Marydel, Maryland. The driver, headed north on 13, turned left to get onto Hopkins Cemetery Road, police said. The car crossed in front of a southbound vehicle that smashed into the passenger side door, pushing the car into a stop sign then into the parking lot of Callaway Furniture.

The Bridgeville man was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the car was flown to a hospital with serious injuries. The SUV had six passengers, including three children ages 6, 5 and 3. The driver, a 31-year-old Salisbury woman, was treated for non-life threatening injuries, and the other passengers were treated for minor injuries and released, police said.

They had not released the name of the victim as of Thursday, pending notification of family.

Candidates can now file for Georgetown election

The town of Georgetown will elect a mayor and two council members on May 14, and the filing deadline for candidates is April 14. The Council seats are for the third and fourth wards, held by Angela Townsend and Penuel Barret. The incumbent mayor is Bill West. Those interested in voting need to register before May 11 with the county Department of Elections.

Scam call looks like it’s coming from state police

Don’t believe everything you read on your phone screen. Delaware State Police are warning residents after reports of people getting phone calls demanding payment of fines from what appeared to be Troop 5, with the scammer disguising the number using caller ID spoofing. Police said they will never request payment for fines – that’s done by courts, and never over the phone.

Get tax help

That dark season of the soul, tax time, is here and the Bridgeville Library is offering free tax preparation help to low and middle income people. IRS certified volunteers will be on hand on Wednesdays. Call 302-337-7401, ext. 101 to set up an appointment.

Clothing giveaway

Love INC, which serves people in need, will give out free clothing on Wednesday, March 9 in Seaford. The event will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Banning Distribution Center on 703 E. King Street.

Tell them what you think

The Lake Forest School District is soliciting community feedback on its calendar for the 2022-23 school year. The draft calendar brings students back after Labor Day, and also features a couple of built-in remote learning days, one in October and one in January.

That sparked some discussion at the latest school board meeting. Board member Sarah Starkey said she wasn’t sure she was in favor of those, when throughout the pandemic they have been saying face-to-face learning is best. Board President Earle Dempsey said from his perspective, the two days could help them stay ready for circumstances when – “God forbid” – they might need to go back to remote learning. Community members can comment here.

More Easter eggs

If you didn’t spend all your chocolate Easter egg money on the Laurel fundraiser we mentioned last week, the Farmington Volunteer Fire Company Auxiliary is holding a similar sale. The 6-ounce, chocolate covered “eggs” have different flavor options including cherry pecan, butter cream, coconut cream and peanut butter, and cost $6 each. Preorder by March 26 and pick up April 9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call 302-398-3495 or 302-398-6053.

Building bridges

Front Street in Seaford will see intermittent lane closures for repairs on the drawbridge over the Nanticoke River between Middleford Road and East High Street, per the state Department of Transportation. The work will run weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is expected to continue through March 31.

Dish of the week

Photo by Edgar Diaz

By Edgar Diaz

Red wine poached pears are a great way to impress guests. They are basically just pears cooked in mulled wine, which is then reduced into a sauce. The poached pear here is served with mascarpone, oatmeal crumble, red wine reduction, and spun sugar.

Ingredients

Mulled wine:

  • 1 bottle red wine
  • ½ c orange juice
  • ½ c brandy or bourbon (optional)
  • ½ c sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 8-10 whole cloves
  • 1-2 star anise (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1"x3" strip of lemon or orange peel
  • 1 c pitted cherries (optional)

3-6 Bosc or Anjou pears, NOT Bartlett (leave unpeeled until step 3, or they will discolor)

1 saucepan just large enough for the pears to fit, mostly submerged, with a bit of wiggle room to roll and turn them.

Method

  1. Add mulled wine ingredients to saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Do not add pears yet.
  2. Skip this step if not using cherries. Once wine is simmering, let cherries cook 5-10 minutes, or until tender. Remove, and return wine to a simmer. Bonus: you now have red wine poached cherries.
  3. When the wine simmers, quickly peel the pears and lower them into the wine.
  4. Reduce heat to medium low, and simmer the pears 20-25 minutes. Rotate them every five minutes so they poach and color evenly on the top, bottom, and all sides.
  5. After 20-25 minutes, turn the pears upright, remove from the heat, and let the pears cool in the mulled wine. You can store them submerged in the wine in the refrigerator, or proceed to the next step.

Reduce the wine

  1. Carefully remove the pears from the mulled wine, cover, and return them to the refrigerator.
  2. Strain the wine into a pan to remove the spices and citrus peel. Bring to a rapid simmer. Let it reduce by 50-75%, or until it is slightly syrupy and coats the back of a spoon (the wine may begin foaming when you hit this stage).
  3. Remove from heat and let cool. The wine will get thicker as it cools.

To serve

Brush the pears with the red wine reduction. Serve whole, cut in half, or sliced, with ice cream or mascarpone. Drizzle more syrup over the top, and enjoy!

Follow Edgar Diaz on Instagram @diptoe

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Memories of a lost Rigbie Hotel and the old Laurel downtown
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Delaware school mask mandate now ending Tuesday night
Masks in schools will likely become a thing of the past in Delaware starting Wednesday. The state has been working with school officials on new guidance with the plan to end the mask mandate in schools on March 31. Now, the timeline has been moved up a month. Gov. John