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September 6, 2005     Cape Gazette
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September 6, 2005

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W Delaware Cape Re00;ion History In Photographs Continued from page 6 tiQn to rush back to Washington, to sign emergency, politically im- portant, as they perceived it, legis- lation to save the "life" of Terri Schiavo, who was subsequently found,by way of autopsy, to have been effectively "dead" since her heart attack 15 years previously. Where is Congress at this time of national emergency? Apparent- ly still on vacation. I can only wonder if the lives of the drown- ing people of New Orleans were not perceived as politically im- porthnt enough for Congress to cut its vacation by three or four days. Where, you may ask, is the Louisiana National Guard? Well, 35 percent are in Iraq, along with many of their Humvees and high water vehicles. (High water vehi- cles in Iraq? Which bureaucrat thought that one up?) In June of this year, George Bush cut $71.2 million from the budget of the New Orleans Corps of Engineers, a 44% reduction. They were forced to drop hurricane and flood protection projects. No wonder, when the levees gave way, Mr. Bush fled to California to talk about social security to people who already agree with him. He likes to go west in times of nation- al crisis. I believe it was Nevada after 9/11. I have, for the past few days, watched on TV a bunch of overpaid, incompetent bureau- crats, rationalize, minimize, scapegoat and blame everyone but themselves as beautiful New Orleans is washed down the drain. Cynthia Armour, Milton More on lewd business messages I would like to add another postscript to the ongoing holier- than-thou commentary on Crabby Dick's signage. For criminey sake people, did you forget the Hooters you have, smack dab in the middle of Rehoboth? And how about all those T-shirt stores that line Rehoboth Avenue? Take a gander at what is served up as fare in their windows and their customers that parade up and down the boardwalk. I believe we need to reserve the editor's com- mentary to address issues that are much more important. Take your energies and put them to better use. Wendy Harpster Milton CAPE GAZETTE, Tuesday, Sept, 6 - Sept. 8, 2005 - 7 Delaware Highway Department photo Storm of March 1962 brought flooding and destruction to Delaware While New Orleans and other Gulf Coast communities continue to dig out and pump out from floodwaters and other wind-driven destruction associated with Hurricane Katrina, many local people have recalled the devastation visited upon Delaware's ocean and bay coasts on March 6, 1962. The enduring northeast storm that continued through three high tide cycles wiped out a number of oceanfront buildings in Rehoboth Beach and Bethany Beach with a combination of high winds and flooding and sent thousands of coastal residents scrambling inland to safety. This photograph shows downtown Dewey Beach looking east- ward from Rehoboth Bay with the sign for Harry Shaud's Bottle and Cork on the left. Quality of life great in Sussex County I read the commentary by M r- Charles Valenti in the Aug. 30 is- sue of the Cape Gazette. I am sure that Mr. Valenti is both sin- cere and passionate in his beliefs and I don't want to denigrate him in any way. That does not change the fact, however, that his views on most of the stated issues are al- most diametrically opposed to re- ality. First, he states that it would "take three days to evacuate the Delaware beaches." Common sense tells us that we evacuate both the Delaware and Maryland beaches every weekend in just a few hours. We don't all leave, of course, but in an age when we re- ceive hurricane warnings as much as a week or more in advance; it should bea manageable situation. Even the catastrophe created by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans demonstrated that hundreds of thousands can be evacuated in time. The poor souls that were left behind either wouldn't or couldn't evacuate. This is despite the fact that New Orleans is on the Gulf of Mexico, in the heart of hurricane alley, and below sea level. He talks about "gridlock on all Sussex County roads." There is no question we have a few miles of congested roadways. There are more than 1,500 miles of roads in Sussex County, however, and the vast majority are not even con- gested, much less gridlocked. DelDOT has done a tremendous job in recent years of improving back roads, making them wider, with lines and shoulders. The purpose is to allow locals a way to get to their destination without be- COMMENTARY Rich Collins ing forced onto the more congest- ed coastal highways. It's certainly not perfect, and I've had my share of frustration at times, but the jobs and opportunities being created in Sussex are far more important to me than a little personal incon- venience. The coastal highways are a somewhat different story. The Positive Growth Alliance has ag- gressively encouraged DelDOT to improve our coastal highwtys and do better glanning for the future. We believe they're making some definite progress. The recent cri- sis in the highway trust fund, however, is a huge concern. We hope our legislators can find a way to restore the trust fund and continue needed highway im- provements. Our highway system is the linchpin of our economy and we must all work to keep it up with the times. The single charge farthest from reality is that we have a "failing sewage disposal system." The truth is that Sussex County Cofin- cil is building modern central sewers all over the county, invest- ing tens of millions of dollars. They have removed thousands of septics from the landscape, with many more planned. Systems re- cently approved or under con- struction are Oak Orchard and EI- lendale. Ellendale in particular had a horrible problem with fail- ing septics, I believe it would be accurate to say that the policy of Sussex County Council in regards to dealing with wastewater is one of the most enlightened in the nation, and something they should be complimented for. Many of our municipalities, such as Millsboro, Lewes and Milton are in various, stages of renovating their systems. In addi- tion, the vast majority of new homes being built in the inland bays area are going onto modem central sewer systems, often built by private developers. The charge of a "failing sewage disposal system" goes on to add "and the resulting pollution of wa- terways." Again, this doesn't be- gin to tell the full story. For ex- ample, back in the seventies, many of the septics on Long Neck Road went directly into the bays. Today, all those systems, and many others, have been converted at great expense to modern central sewers. In addition, DNREC has tightened the standards for onsite. septics more than once in the last few years. The essay claims there are "shortages of pure drinking wa- ter." The Positive Growth Al- liance has done considerable re- search on this topic. We have consulted with DNREC, the U.S. Geological Survey, several private engineers, and both public water companies. There is absolutely no problem with quantity. In the last severe drought, the governor didn't even-impose mandatory water use restrictions in Sussex, although she did so in New Castle County. We do have excess ni- trates in some areas, but tfiis con- dition existed decades before the recent migration to the coast. For- tunately, the current growth in housing is allowing public water companies to expand. These wa- ter companies are required by law to test the water daily and treat it to ensure its safety. One final issue is strictly a mat- ter of opinion and Mr. Valenti cer- tainly has a right to his. He be- lieves there's been "a steep de- cline in the quality of life at the beaches." There certainlY have been changes, but if we could somehow create a time machine and magi- cally retum to the past, we'dhave to give up modern, expanded health care facilities with vastly expanded capabilities, most of our medical specialists, shopping op- portunities at prices lower than we could have imagined a few years ago, a variety of cultural and en- tertainment events, and huge numbers of new services. In par- ticular, older citizens would have many fewer options in every way. I also think many would be amazed at how many dilapidated houses would return to the land- scape. There is, however, a concrete measure of how people really feel about this issue. People are mov- ing here precisely because eastern Sussex County is a tremendously good place to live. That is why, of course, property values are rising so rapidly. It is also the source for many of the complaints that we hear, and the challenge we must meet for the future. The overall tone of Mr. Valen- ti's writing is quite negative. He even resurrects the old charge that the Sussex County government is selling out the people for money. Frankly, it is difficult for me to understand the black cloud that some insist on living under. A couple of weeks ago, U.S. Senator George Allen from Virginia visit- ed Sussex. As we drove around the county, he commented several times on how fresh and new everything looked. This is the Sussex County I see. It's a cheerful, hopeful place, with opportunity we could only dream of until recently. I hope this essay has brought a little more perspective to the on- going debate about quality of life issues in Sussex County. I'm sure it won't change how the pes- simists feel. My personal belief, however, is that most people are optimists. In addition, I don't think the majority believe that dark motives are the source for every ill. The truth is, to the extent that we do have challenges, we are all re- sponsible to some extent. We will have far more success in meeting those challenges if we work to- gether rather than demonizing those we don't agree with. Richard G. Collins is the execu- tive director of the Positive Growth Alliance.