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Lewes, Delaware
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February 21, 1997     Cape Gazette
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February 21, 1997

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8 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, Februm-y 21- February 27, 1997 itorial stated "he is only asking for Journal on its side. But DelDOT Continued from page 6 buys us better roads would do well to recall the spring of last year. At that time, motorists who navigate some of the state's busy (and dangerous) roads were ready to explode with anger as a result of the slow progress shown by DelDOT. Since the state was flush with unanticipated revenues, I and others in the legislature put forward the idea of providing Del- DOT up to $10 million to acceler- ate work in several problem areas. But the idea never got any trac- tion. Incredibly, DelDOT told us that given their project schedule, the $10 million would not have any effect in speeding up the nec- essary work. DelDOT restructuring has had minimal effect: During the last four years, legislators have heard a lot about the "restructuring of DelDOT" for efficiency. I defi- nitely support restructuring for savings and efficiency, especially where public monies are involved. However, I have a problem when major restructuring nets little or no measurable outcome. That ap- pears to be the ease with DelDOT. Four years after it began major re- structuring, many things remain unchanged. In my own district a small eter- nity will have passed before Del- DOT completes the improvements to Valley Road. Why these pro- jects dragon is a point of ongoing frustration for me, my constituents and many other motorists who must travel this road and others like it in Delaware. Will more money really enable DelDOT to overcome its own internal obsta- cles that, to date, have impeded changes and forward progress? DelDOT has given us good reason to remain skeptical. Put new ideas on the table: of the governor's proposed gas tax increase, the News Journal ed- a 4-cent increase...that is a small price to pay for a decent trans- portation system." As I have stated, this thinking is built upon the assumption that there is a direct link between more money and better roads. But, there is no such direct link and it is foolish to suggest there is. It does not make any sense to put more hardship on the motoring public at a time when change must come from within DelDOT. In my view, there are several things Del- DOT can and should to improve its operation before imposing an- other gas tax increase on the me- toting public. For starters, DelDOT and the administration should commit to "purifying" the Transportation Trust Fund. This is the fund that presently pays for all transporta- tion operating and capital expens- es. If some or all of the annual op- erating expenses (which include salaries) were shifted into the General Fund, this obviously would leave more money for im- portant transportation projects. This step should be compli- mented by a commitment to more accountability, more effective management and utilization of best practices of DelDOT opera- tions. It should also include a com- mitment to expand the practice of "out-sourcing" various transporta- tion functions such as right-of- way acquisition, road design and maintenance. The benefits of out- sourcing are many, such as flexi- ble planning, speeding resources to problem areas and, very possi- bly, cost saving. Until these changes happen, don't be surprised if DelDOT's proposed gas tax continues to get a cool reception - on both sides of the political aisle, I might add. Given the circumstances, I would suggest that it is back to the draw- ing board for DelDOT Secretary Anne Canby and the administra- tion. DelDOT may have the News has failed to persuade the rest of us that more money buys better roads. Joseph R. Petrilli 22rid District Representative Dover Equal rights for gays a necessity What goes around comes around! Not long ago far-right types were piously intoning that allowing openly gay people to serve in the military would surely result in lurid homosexual aggres- sion in the showers or the bunks. Keeping gays out of the military will protect the virtue of hetero- sexual service members, we were told. Now we learn that thousands of complaints of rape and sexual ha- rassment are being lodged against (heterosexual) men in positions of authority over women. Four years ago, retired lesbian army captain Tonya Domi said, "These guys who operate multimillion-dollar aircraft and tanks are afraid some- body's going to hit on them. Maybe they'll understand how women feel all the time." (Newsweek, 6/21/93). The hypocrisy of straight men protect- ing their virtue from a mythic ho- mosexual threat while simultane- ously raping and harassing women should be obvious to even the most morally obtuse. Equal (not "special") tights for gay people, including military ser- vice, marriage, workplace equali- ty, and freedom from discrimina- tion should be a given in a democ- ratic society in 1997. Nean- derthals who would deny those rights to gays while abusing the liberties taken for granted dimin- ish not only gay people but also themselves and our American in- stitutions. Corey and Douglas Marshail-Steele Milton Mt. Pleasant Choir inspirational Just a word of thanks to the Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church, the Delaware State Uni- versity Gospel Choir and the Mount Enon Baptist Church Youth Choir of Milford for pro- viding such a wonderful and truly inspirational evening of gospel music last Sunday at the Rehoboth Elementary School auditorium. Both choirs were powerful, enthu- siastic, and awe-inspiring. It was a fitting celebration and recognition of Black History Month and a beautiful thing. Keith Fitzgerald Rehoboth Beach Many thanks for Polar Plunge support I would like to thank the follow- ing businesses for their support of me in the Feb. 2 Polar Bear Plunge for Special Olympics: Roadhouse Steak Joint, Midway Office & Art Supply, Delaware Cedar, Hazzard Auto Repair, Best Ace Hardware, Lloyd's IGA, Walls Cottages and Apartments, Prudential Gallo Realty, Kid's Ketch, Jerry's American Cafe, Midway Package Store, Copp's Seafood, Hair by Edward James, Bruce Duffy General Contractor, Jillian's, Lewes Dairy, Nuttle Lumber, Daily Market, Bill Po- IRe, Todd's Auto Center, Maureen and Debbie of B & D Electric, Alison, Jeane, Leo and Heather of Hair by Edward James, Ukie, Mary, Donnie and Becky of Mid- way IGA, Rehoboth YMCA staff and preschool staff, Charlie, Su- san and Jerry of Pardee's Oil and St. Peter's Church parishioners. Also a very special thank you to Cape Henlopen School District employees, Gerties Greengrocer, Mary, McGee, Terry and Kelly Stuchlik, Ginny and Bill Weller, Rick and Debbie Simms, B & D Electric, Robert and Susan Bart- ley, Terry, Betty, Kim and K.C. Carmine and especially to my ath- letes and parents of the Sussex- DE Terminators and my co-work- ers at Sussex Elementary Consor- tium. Because of your love and sup- port of our children, I was able to raise over $2,400. Because of all of you, special athletes will al- ways be winners. Peggy Carmine Lewes Thanks for scout cookie drive help Recently, local Girl Scouts were faced with a major problem. Four organizations came to our rescue and we would like the public to know who they are and how much we appreciated their help. The Georgetown-Lewes-Re- hoboth-Milton Cookie Team pan- icked when, less than one week before 2,300 eases of Gift Scout Cookies were to be delivered, we learned that our delivery location was not available. Upon hearing our dilemma - three local organi- zations, Lewes Fire Department, Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Department and Mallinckrodt Veterinary, Inc., of Millsboro - of- fered us their facilities. The cookies arrived in Lewes on snowy Saturday, Feb. 8. Thanks to the forklift and driver Best Equipment sent over, the truck was unloaded in record time. Cape region Girl Scouts were able to get their cookies before the weather turned ugly. Special thanks to Chuck Snyder and Mike Simpler of Rehoboth Beach VFD, Lou Rickards, Lyn Buck, Eric Lachmann and Ernie Stanley of Lewes Fire Department and Albert Best of Best Equip- ment. Disappointing nearly 600 local Girl Scouts was simply un- acceptable to the people. Mary Beth D'Amico Norma Elliott Diane Ruth Area 30 Girl Scout Cookie Team Barefootin' Continued from page 7 cessful bidder for trapping rights on the ex- tensive freshwater marshes of Primehook National Wildlife Refuge northeast of Mil- ton. "I do fine there because I grew up trap- ping freshwater marshes in New York State. There's not many around here who really know how to trap freshwater marsh- es. It's different than in the tidal marshes where the muskrat leads are visible at low tide. In the freshwater marshes, the leads - the tunnels that make up the highways for the muskrats - run under the marsh, fully submerged, by a foot or more. It takes ex- perience to be able to know where they are. One lead might extend 75 yards. You just have to know how the leads run and where the muskrats feed. And you don't want to set your traps near their houses. Muskrats are very skittish creatures. Coons want them and so do foxes and hawks. When it gets real cold, any of those predators will dig tight into a muskrat house to get their prey. They might get one, but that's it. Muskrats are smart." Sutton uses Conibear 110 traps - the only kind permitted in Delaware. Conibear traps are square and are set vertically in a muskrat lead. Two stiff wires serve as the trigger. When the muskrat swims through the trap, its head trips the wire trigger and the spring-loaded trap instantly closes around the animal breaking its neck, killing it quickly. Delaware outlawed leghold traps, considered inhumane, several years ago. "I'm all for the Conibears," said Sutton. "They work very well." With nearly 250 traps set, Sutton works in the marshes all day - every day - throughout the trapping season. "Doesn't matter whether it's raining, snowing or sleeting. You have to cheek your traps. If you leave a muskrat in a trap and another muskrat comes along, it will bite the dead animal," said Sutton. ''hat just costs you. And you have to keep moving your traps from section to section. I guess I move at least a hundred traps a day. You might get four or five rats out of one lead or you might not get one at all. I won't work a sec- tion more than four or five days. The way I figure it about 10 percent of the traps pro- duce each day. Today I got 28. That's about average." Trapping "sparks" numbers Sutton said that trapping a marsh keeps muskrat populations up. "You have to work a marsh to make it productive for muskratting. I call it spark- ing a marsh. When you start trapping the rats, they start producing more and after three or four years the marsh really comes alive. But if you stop trapping, the popula- tions fall. That's what happened with the marshes around Rehoboth Bay and in Seashore State ParL The market fell off to nothing for a few years and no one trapped those marshes. Now there's very few muskrats there. I used to take 500 rats a year out of the Seashore Park marshes." Sutton prefers working freshwater marsh even though muskrats will thrive in either. Primehook's 3,500 acres of controlled marshes are plenty for him to handle. "Pfimehook will never be trapped out," said Sutton. "Too much of it. I doubt I'll ever get much more than 10 percent of what's there. And it's not something you do to get rich. I'll probably catch 1,500 rats this year. They'll bring a couple bucks apiece as will the meats. There's no money in the glands any more. The traps run $5 apiece and they have to be replaced every few years. But I'm single and retired and I have the time. I love the marsh and I like farming it and I like to watch the muskrats farming it. Their leads keep water through- out the marsh and they spread seeds through their droppings. Preservation of the marsh is important to me. It keeps me occupied, and it's very physical so it keeps me in good shape. I make enough to keep the wolves from the door and keep me off welfare." In a few weeks, the current muskrat sea- son will end. "You're never quite sure when it will happen, but it comes usually in early March," said Sutton. 'Whe breeding season begins and after a couple of weeks, they'll stop moving altogether. You won't catch another rat and it's time to take up the traps. The males go away and the females settle down to have their young. Once they bear, the males will come around and try to kill the young if they can. If the female isn't nursing, she'll dry up and go into heat again. "They'll bear two or three litters a year and after a couple of months, the young will be on their own. But they will be for next year's season." In the mean time though, George Sutton will continue to tend to his winter farming.