Taking one last look at 2005

It was the best of times ... nah.

Call me Ishmael ... nah.

You’d think I’d be able to come up with one fresh idea to start this column, wouldn’t you? I mean, after all, this is a re-cap of 2005, making this one of the least original ideas for a column in the history of mankind. It’s got all the creative force of a makeover show on television or the representatives of a supermodel sending me a restraining order. Typical. So, so typical.

Yet, this is where we are. I’m stumped at the computer with a handful of notes on my lap, and you’re asking yourself why you’re continuing to read this. Well, upon further review, 2005 was a year of some pretty big things in our little community, and I don’t just mean because of the time I got stuck in the washing machine or fell out of a ...

But I digress.

Without further distraction, let’s take a little walk down memory lane.

January opened with news that Joseph McHugh was retiring as mayor of Bethany Beach. A special election followed, resulting in Jack Walsh becoming mayor and Lew Killmer filling the open seat on town council. Also in January, Millville incorporated the enclaves along Route 26, Phil Boesch became head of the Bethany Beach Planning Commission and that town renewed their contract with a lobbyist — hoping to secure funds for beach replenishment. On a personal note, I had a cold.

February broke with the Philadelphia Eagles going to a Super Bowl (insert canned laughter here), county council explored moderately-priced housing options and Tim Fannin announced he was retiring as principal of the Southern Delaware School of the Arts (SDSA). Not to be forgotten, Tim Ferry took over the controls of the Fenwick Island Beach Patrol, South Bethany decided to kick in funds for the beach lobbyist and the Sierra Club filed an appeal to stop the dredging plans for the Assawoman Canal. Sam Harvey wrote his long-awaited fox hunting story and the Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company broke ground on a new fire hall. My cold left, but I lost a black sock. I don’t think those two things are connected.

March saw 84 Lumber get denied by the Sussex County Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission for their plans to improve their business, South Bethany voting to provide a pension plan for the town’s police officers and M. Patricia Titus wrote a story that opened a lot of eyes regarding the number of registered sex offenders in the community — as well as pointing out that they are registered for varying levels of offenses. Also, Attorney General Jane Brady said that there was no letter of the law allowing for at-large voting for Sussex County Council members. I did find that sock, but lost various other levels of clothing during St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. I also vowed the next morning to never touch alcohol again ... with a match.

April showers brought an election to Ocean View, and Gary Meredith defeated Wally Brown to hold on to his mayoral sash. We also saw the Indian River School District slash some jobs to make up for a budget shortfall, members of the Frankford AME Church protest a large water bill for the church, county council vote to earmark $250,000 for farmland preservation and Bethany Beach officials vote to allow “standing-area bars” to continue in the future. I wrote a column praising the merits of the middle finger and found myself receiving the gesture even more often than usual while drowing down our roads.

May, oh May. It was a busy month for the Indian River School District. Students protested the loss of jobs due to the budget shortfall, Dr. Donald Hattier and Nina Lou Bunting kept their seats on the school board following an election and SDSA’s James DeBastiani was named the district’s teacher of the year. Also, Shirley Price was named chair of the Sussex County Democratic Party, Jerry Dorfman filled the chair of Robert Degan on the Bethany Beach Town Council after an election following Degan’s resignation and the dredging project on the Assawoman Canal hit another snag after the Environmental Appeals Board ordered another cost/benefit analysis. I wrote a very touching piece on my dear mother for Mother’s Day, but her reaction led me to believe she was still caught up in the genius of my middle-finger column.

June saw Fenwick Island officials announce the town was getting $1.7 million in federal funding for their beach replenishment project and Bethany Beach and South Bethany held hope that the U.S. Senate would provide $4 million for their own projects. Sussex County Council voted to cut the tax giveback program they had instituted the year before and local students poured out of the classrooms to start their summer vacation. I inhaled approximately seven grown elephants at the Taste of Coastal Delaware event.

July came, and with it came fireworks and the annual parade in Bethany Beach. The sky was not the only place for fireworks this month, however, as the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) announced the local road projects would be “stalled” due to a budget shortfall. Also, a report listed this community as having the third-worst summer traffic in the nation, the Environmental Appeals Board eventually rejected the Sierra Club’s appeal on the dredging project and Ocean View voted to approve accepting Lord Baltimore Elementary School into the town. The Beach and Bay Cottage Tour had another terrific year, Bayside opened a model home court and county council once again looked at moderately-priced housing. I had an incident with a jellyfish, a boardwalk fry and an electrical cord. Don’t ask.

August saw Susan Lyons turn 50 (I will never tire of that), Cian Titus was born, Fenwick Island began their replenishment project and Selbyville voted to borrow $2 million to improve their water and sewer services. Frankford officials called their water plant “terrible,” Ocean View accepted plans for the new police station and the Senior League Softball World Series stole the show in Roxana. Also, Frankford residents gathered to discuss their concerns over crime in the town, Millville hired Linda Collins to be the new town manager and county council overruled P&Z’s decision by allowing 84 Lumber to make improvements. On a personal note, did I mention that Susan Lyons turned 50?

September welcomed the students back to school and Duncan Smith to Frankford Elementary School as the new principal. Fenwick Island settled their lawsuit with a former police officer, the Indian River Inlet bridge became a two-lane road, South Bethany passed a referendum to spend $970 for a new police station and town hall and Dagsboro approved a 318-unit townhome project. Beth Long retired, and I cried. Then I laughed. Then I cried again.

October brings witches and goblins, but in 2005 it also brought us a water scare in Dagsboro when trichloroethylene in the town’s water supply forced residents to switch to bottled water. Sticking with the month’s water theme, Bethany Beach also announced plans to fluoridate that town’s water supply. On the dry side, DelDOT revisited design plans for the Indian River Inlet bridge, Millville approved the second phase of the Millville By the Sea project and the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce accepted its 800th member. Also, Dagsboro approved the General’s Green project and county council, once again, looked into moderately-priced housing options. I dressed as Shaun Lambert for Halloween and promptly frightened away any potential trick-or-treaters.

November saw the end of some Bethany Beach eras with the passing of local icon Mary Murphy and the demolition of the town’s bandstand. The Delaware Court of Chancery denied the latest appeal by the Sierra Club regarding the dredging project, Ocean View discussed possible locations for the new post office and Bethany Beach and South Bethany learned they were getting $3 million in federal funds for their beach replensihment projects. Susan Lyons and I had a blast in the corn maze at Johnson’s Country Market, but the photos of the two of us from that day have made us a running office joke. Wow, we kind of thought we looked cool out there.

December traditionally brings gifts, and many in the community felt they received one when the Indian River School District School Board announed that the JROTC program at Indian River High School would not be shut down. Also school board member Greg Hastings accepted a position on the state’s school board, Bethany Beach officials looked at some Streetscape plans and both Bethany and South Bethany announced plans to renew their contracts with the beach lobbyist. Ocean View officials voted to borrow $4 million to build a new police station, the Big Easy closed its doors and DelDOT continued to ponder bridge designs. Dagsboro saw a change in power as Patti Adams, Wayne Baker and Cathy Flowers all won seats on the town council Baker, in fact, became mayor. I had a nice Christmas (more on that next week) and wrote a column with a horrible lead.