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Lewes, Delaware
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April 25, 1997     Cape Gazette
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April 25, 1997

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Couple f'des motion seeking to revisit Silver Lake dispute By Jen Ellingsworth sentiments. Silver Lake property owners Victor and Sue Ann Houlon filed a motion this week for re-argu- ment to reverse the order handed down by Superior Court Judge Henley Graves on Tuesday, April 15. From his Hyattsville, Md. of. rice, Victor Houlon, who is an at- torney, said Thursday that the four-page motion is a personal message from he and his wife to Judge Graves. "The whole body of it [the mo- tion] is not a 'lawyerly' type of thing," he said. "It's a personal letter from me and my wife." In the motion, the Houlons cite "progressive title searches and surveys" which "categorically demonstrate that the fight-of-way was approximately 100 feet into the water because of the migration of the lake." Furthermore, the motion states that "Sussex County agreed with and adopted this proposition since it issued our building permits with set back considerations based up- on the right-of-way no longer bor- dering the lake along the southern shbre; even permitting the Houlon structure to hg actually built upon the area within 50 feet of the shoreline." The civil case, in which four Silver Lake homeowners, along with the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), peti- tioned last November to vacate a 50 X 187' portion of land that bor- ders the lake, has gained signifi- cant opposition from the public. Several hundred of those in op- position signed a petition oppos- ing the vacation, and many wrote letters to the court expressing their But despite the amount of pub- lic outcry, the Houlons, along with the owners of three other Sil- ver Lake properties, have main- tained that they oppose the right- of-way because it infringes upon the ecological aspects of the area. If their efforts to vacate the path had been successful, the home- owners had agreed to pay Del- DOT $50,000 in exchange for cre- ating a "conservational easement" on the area. In the motion, the Houlons said they recognize the:fact that the land is environmentally sensitive, and that they rarely use the area. "Unlike every other section abutting Silver Lake, this spot is very small and baffled in a com- plex fashion, which creates a unique environment suitable for clandestine activity. This area is so sensitive and vital to nature, that we never use it ourselves ex- cept to rarely use one of the mod- est docks; 99 percent of the time that we set foot on this area is ex- clusively for the purpose of clean- ing up the mess that the public makes, because the government has no funds or ability to patrol or care for this area." The Houlons stated that they believe the public access to the area is not necessary. "The fulcrum of this matter is fairness and justice, which will not be served by murdering the wounded in the name of unneces- sary convenience for a small num- ber of people who benefit without consideration, while we are plunged into lifetimes of involun- tary solitude and jaundiced floes to maintain this property for them." Court dismisses case against photog By Kerry Kester Superior Court JudgeWilliam Swain Lee dismissed his rule for Michael Rhue and the "Daily Whale & State News" to "show cause" why Lee shouldn't hold Rhue in contempt of court after he violated a courthouse rule not to take photographs in the court- house. During Christopher Craig's murder lrial, Rhue took a picture of Craig's surviving grandmother as she exited a ladies room; the newspaper ran fie pho- to the following day. Lee met with representatives from the paper pri- or to the show cause proceeding on April 18. Lee conceded that because the paper's claim that courthouse rules were not posted, and because Rhue was new to the job may not have known he was violating a rule, some responsibil- ity for the incident belonged with the court. Lee said that the rules that pertained to media access in the courthouse were not available in the Sussex facility, as they should have been. "That's being remedied," said Lee, who said all news agencies will soon receive copies of the courthouse stan- dards. "I hope this will serve as an occasion where we can re-empha- size the rules," said Lee. "Perhaps it is wrong to respond to it in a cri- sis-like manner." He said it was the court's position to recognize that both elements can be served if communications are clear before an incident occurs. Lee dismissed the rule to show cause "based on the efforts of the paper to purge it- self of contempt" and Lee thanked "Delaware State News" Editor of Independent Newspapers, Michael Pelrine, for his response to the situation. However, he did not close the case before chastis- ing the compuny. Lee said that al- though he could understand how a young reporter may not have known better than to shoot photos in the courthouse, "somebody should have known they should not have published it." said Lee. CAPE GAZETI'E, Friday, April 25- May I, 1997 - 13 Dennis Forney photo 8nown in front of the Lightship Overfalls in Lewes, formerly the Lightship Cornfield in Old 8aybreok, Connecticut, are (l.r) George FAliott, president of Lewes Historical Society;, Ben Ciarkmn, director of The River School in Old 8aybreok; and Ed Pateholl, former president LewN Historical Society. New England town wants Lightship Overfalls returned to original station By Dennis Forney Ben Clarkson traveled to Lewes last week from Old Saybrook, Connecticut. His hopeful towns- people sent him with many wishes of good luck. They looked for- ward to his return and the news he would bring from his scouting mission. Clarkson headed to Lewes specifically to eyeball the Light- ship Overfalls whose red hull and white and yellow superstructure have added color to the town's canal waterfront for 25 years. For about the same number of years, the Lightship Overfalls, then named Lightship Cornfield, graced Old Saybrook's seascape. "There are still people working in stores on main street who crewed on this lightship," said Clarkson. "Everybody in town has a friend or a relative who served on it. When the people of town heard that their old lightship was still floating - in Lewes - and might be available, their attitude was: 'it's ours, let's go get it!'" Clarkson said he wished Lewes lots of luck in working out a plan so that the familiar part of the town's waterfront can stay. "But if not. we are certainly interested." Clarkson met on Friday after- noon, April 18 at the lightship with Lewes Historical Society President George Elliott and for- mer president Ed Patchell. Elliott notified historical society mem- hers in February that the future manpower and financial needs of keeping up Overfalls were so great that they threatened the exis- tence of the Society. Noting top- side corrosion and structural prob- lems, Elliott wrote to Society members: "Extensive discussion of the situation has led to the con- lusion that the repair and contin- uedmaintenance of Overfalls could jeopardize the financial soundness of the Lewes Historical Society." Since that announcement, El- liott said he has had a number of phone calls and letters regarding the vessel and its future. "And one person sent a check for $100. I think if someone came up with a nest egg, and someone else came up with an organization, others would probably come forward and it could stay in Lewes," said E1- liott. But Elliott emphasized previ- ously that the future care of the Overfalls amounts to more than money. 'q'he logistics of arrang- ing for the hull work that needs to be done are complex including having it taken to a shipyard in Philadelphia or Norfolk where it could he hauled and painted. The arrangements are extensive, not to mention the cost of $350,000 to $500,000." Preservation the goal Elliott said his goal, if no orga- nization comes forward to take over the Overfalls from Lewes Historical Society, is to have the vessel preserved somewhere else. He said one new Jersey town end- od up sinking its lightship to ore- ate a fishing reef. "I'd not like to see that happen with the Overfalls. We're still looking," said Elliott, "but my confidence that the ship would be saved somewhere is buoyed by Ben's presence here to- day." Clarkson serves as director of The River School at Old Saybrook which educates high school stu- dents who have been unsuccessful in the conventional public school system and as such are at-risk of not graduating. "We teach in the context of ma- rine and maritime trades," said Clarkson. "We have 16 vessels from a 12 foot pea pod to a two- masted schooner. But we need classroom space and that's where the Cornfield - what Lewes now has as the Overfalls - would be ideal. It could serve as offices for our school and classrooms. It has a galley and a weather station wHch could serve the community. There's a lot of excitement in Old Saybrook about the possibility of bringing it home. It's created quite a stir." Clarkson said that in Old Say- brook, the lightship was anchored within sight of the community's downtown. "It marked Cornfield shoal - a long sandy shoal at the mouth of the Connecticut River, about a mile from shore. They called it a good row and back. Occasionally the men aboard the lightship would sneak into town. There was one time when a storm caught them offguard and they were stranded on a breakwater. The Lifesaving Service had to res- cue its own men." While the prospect of losing the Overfalls has sent mild waves of disappointment through the Lewes community, the prospect of its coming back to Old Saybrook brought great reaction. "We've had constant phone calls and letters at the school since news started to spread," said Clarkson. "The governor's wife called, the Lt. Governor called, we've heard from several school districts. They all say if and when, they're willing to lend sup- port. We'd probably have the ves- sel hauled and painted before tak- ing it-north and students of our school would be involved in chip- ping paint and other mainte- nance." Interior: 1938 capsule Clarkson toured the vessel with Elliott and Patchell. "What im- pressed me most," he said, "is the interior. It's as close to a time capsule of 1938 as anything I've ever $ecrt ." He also noted that if the Over- falls were to leave Lewes and re- - turn to Old Saybrook as the Corn- field, it would he the only light- ship on the east coast in its origi- Continued on page 15