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June 13, 2003     Cape Gazette
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June 13, 2003
 

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62 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, June 13 - June 19, 2003 Lewes mayor reflects as city prepares for park dedication By Andrew Keegan George H.E Smith has spent the greater part of his life listening and teaching. With more than 35 years of experience inthe school system, the retired teacher is still listening. Only this time it's the citizens of Lewes who do the talk- ing. Having served on city council for 18 years before being elected as mayor in 1994, the 72-year-old Lewes native is about to become a part of city history. Smith will be honored at 2:30 p.m., Saturday, June 21, when the former Block- house Pond Park will officially be dedicated George H.P. Smith Park. Blockhouse Pond will retain its name. Smith was born in 1931 in a city far different from today's Lewes, yet in many ways, remarkably similar. The clam factory em- ployed around 100 people and downtown businesses included a grocery store, five and dime and several banks. Back then, schools were still segregated as were most restau- rants and public facilities. While the city upheld the current segre- gation laws, townspeople at the time did not view issues as black or white, according to Smith. "As kids we would play football to- gether and no one cared," said Smith. "There was a common bond. We were all from Lewes and people respected each other for whom they were, not the color of their skin." His reelection dur- ing the past 10 years in a predom- inately white community contin- ues to support that sentiment. "I still hear people say, 'You're kid- ding' when I tell them I'm mayor of Lewes," Smith chuckled. Upon graduating from Delaware State, Smith began, and ultimately ended his teaching ca- reer at Rehoboth Elementary School. "I've always liked work- ing with children," said the grand- father of nine, who was first ap- pointed to city council by A1 Stan- go in 1976. Smith said he still calls Stango, who now lives in Florida, each Christmas. The well-mannered mediator presiding over city affairs is not easily ruffled. "Everyone has their opinion and should be allowed to express it," said Smith. '`They are not attacking me personally. If someone were to call me a mil- lionaire that certainly doesn't make me one." Being able to laugh at oneself also keeps things in perspective. Smith recalls a National League of Cities trip years ago when Stango was still mayor and he served on council. "We took the train to Boston and were told our hotel was right by Back Bay Station," he said. "We get off the train, find a cab and give him the name of the ho- tel. He kept driving and driving until finally we told him we thought the hotel was near the train station. Come to find out, it was right across the street but we were so caught up in everything we never noticed it." Smith maintains that the city continues to function much as it did a decade ago. "There may be differences but when it comes down to the final product I believe the unity still exists;' he said. "There will always be certain citi- zens who like to make a lot of noise. There's an old saying, 'The squeaky cart gets more grease.'" One of the more difficult as- pects of being mayor is having to say no, according to Smith. "When you have good people who want to do certain things and you know they would do a good job but ordinances won't let them, it's very difficult," he said. A key to being a good mayor, and for that matter a good citizen, is the flexibility to change, said Smith. A perfect example is the Canalfront park. "The whole con- cept is to create a nice place for our citizens," he said. "It will evolve into whatever it is sup- posed to be. I just want it to be worthy of being in Lewes and have the citizens support." Although the park project was initiated during his term as mayor, Smith said he deserves no special mention. "I'm not an T person," he said. "Sometimes things hap- pen when you're mayor. I didn't personally go out and do every- thing - it's a joint effort. We have a city with citizens who have a sin- cere interest in what's going on and are willing to help. Take the Greater Lewes Foundation - these people really care." Restricted to a wheelchair since December, when he had hip re- placement surgery, Smith is grad- ually regaining his mobility. When asked whether he intends to run for reelection next year, he grinned and said, "I worry about getting through the year more than if I'm going to run for mayor." As for the park dedication cere- mony, he summed it up with one word - grateful. "I thank the citi- zens for reelecting me each year and council for the honor. I've al- ways tried to be fair with everyone - that's what I want people to re- member." Andrew Keegmn photo Lewes Mayor George H.P. Smith said he never tires of rep- resenting his hometown at various functions. BRUCE W. CHILCOAT Associate Vice President Financial Advisor Certified Financial Planner (302) 226-5100 (800) 258-3131 Fax (302) 226-5200 Call for Financial Planning Consultation Bradley named Catherine Bradley, a sophomore at Cape Henlopen High School, has recently been notified that she was selected Miss Junior Lewes Teen of the Miss Junior America competition. She will remain City Queen for an entire year. Bradley will attend the 2003 Miss Junior America State Finals, where she will com- pete with other Delaware. con- testants for $5,000 in cash, BRADLEY prizes, and trophies. If she wins this competition, she will go on to compete for the title of Miss Junior America. The Miss Junior America is not a beauty pageant, but a scholar- ship and recognition event. As City Queen, Bradley will at- tend an "entertainment industry" workshop and meet established casting directors and acting coaches, who will help the con- testants to improve their commu- Miss Junior nication skills and self-confi- dence. She is the daughter of Dr. Earl Bradley of BayBees Pediatrics in Lewes. Catherine Bradley this Lewes Teen year was also awarded two top science awards at the Delaware Valley Regional Science Fair. Her other interests include the- atre and travel. I ANN BATEMAN LTD. Distinctive Gifts & Home Accessories Stationery Invitations Announcements Baby& Bridal Gifts Featuring the fine papers of THE SIGNATURE OF FINE STATIONERY Open Daily 319 Rehoboth Avenue Rehoboth Beach 302-226-0747