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Lewes, Delaware
Jim's Towing Service
November 6, 1998     Cape Gazette
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November 6, 1998

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24 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, November 6 - November 12, 1998 C00PE LIFE I I Oak Orchard-Riverdale youngsters get Boys & Girls Club By Jim Cresson. tion took a bold step in the fall of .......... - ............... - ................................ Anyone who doubts the differ- ence that strong citizen involve- ment can bring to a community should pay close attention to what is happening in the Oak Orchard area. At the beginning of this decade, Oak Orchard was frequently cited by state police as one of the most problematic communities on the eastern side of the county. Drug use was rampant and with it came a host of other problems, from re- peated cases of vandalism to drug dealing, theft and burglary. Oak Orchard was, community leaders recall, a tough place to raise children. But those days are history now, left behind in the wake of eight years of dedicated community activism by members of the Oak Orchard-Riverdale Civic Association. Founded by the late Scott Walls and his wife, Linda, the civic asso- ciation began reshaping the nature of the two small communities along Indian River. A Community Watch program was launched with the aid of Delaware State Po- lice, and before long the cases of vandalism, theft and burglary be- gan to disappear. The worst-case drug users and dealers left the area once they re- alized that the eyes of the commu- nity were hard upon them. And a true spirit of pride in place became evident by the mid-1990s when the civic, association began host- ing its annual old-fashioned July Fourth parade and picnic. A youth center is born Not content to rest on the ac- complishments of their Communi- ty Watch effort, the civic associa- 1996 when they teamed with the Community Church of Oak Or- chard to start an evening basket- ball program for local teenagers. The program was spearheaded by civic association members A! and Cheryl Gargano. It was held two nights a week at the church Youth Center building. More than 130 teenagers participated in the program, where mentoring was a key tool in the goal of improving the quality of local youngsters' lives. "It was a tough sell at first," re- called program director Gargano, known by the kids as Big A1. "Many of these boys and girls didn't trusttadults, especially adults who laid down a set of rules that included zero tolerance of drug and alcohol use. But they quickly realized that we meant business, and they began to re- spect what we were doing." Instead of wasting time and hanging out on the streets after school, the youngsters in Oak Or- chard and Riverdale began to view the Youth Center as a safe and fun place to gather. Teams were formed and competition was keen, with trophies for the champs and a big awards ceremony and dinner in the spring. Old problems that had once been associated with idle young- sters began to disappear. Hal- loween vandalism, which had plagued Oak Orchard for years, has not occurred in the community since the Youth Center program began. Instead, Gargano and the civic association mentors who coach basketball now are the first Continued on page 26 Jim Cresson photos Basketball at the Community Church of Oak Orchard Youth Center has kept youngsters oc- cupied in a positive environment for the past two years. The many benefits from this pilot project have led the Oak Orchard Civic Association to commit to bringing a Boys & Girls Club to the area sometime next year. In the words of program director and coach Big AI Gargano, standing, fifth from left, "It has taken a whole community to make this happen, and it means a lot to the kids.  Below, four of the boys and girls who participate in Youth Center activities took part in a project over the summer to grow sweet corn for sale at a farm near Oak Orchard. The project, which was a fund-raising effort for the new Boys & Girls Club, was the first experience the kids ever had at working and reaping the fruits of their labor. Supervising the project were, at left, Cheryl and A1 Gargano and, at right, Patricia and Willie Taylor. "Obvious symptoms oftelevisionitis appear AROUND TOWN Nancy Katz works to give the viewers a minis- eries involving professionals whom they can seriously relate to and learn from. For instance, I just happen to have a script that I came by, that just happens to have been written by me some years ago. It's tentatively titled "L.A. Plumbers." The script is educational and in- We fire talking about quality of life here. For someone like my- self, who has to pretend she has a life and friends, but in reality is forced to spend 90 percent of her time in front of the television, the fall lineup of television shows has been a dismal disappointment. It is a constant reminder that opening a bag of carbohydrates will be the only thing that keeps you on the edge of your seat for the evening. The fact remains that everyone is sick and tired of these minis- cries that revolve around doctors and lawyers; a group of people known to have mud-wrestling contests over parking spaces. The premier shows touted this year are "Chicago Hope," "ER," and now, "L.A. Doctors." Or if you are in a litigious mood, you can tune in to "The Practice," "Ally McBeal" or reruns of "L.A. Law." I think it is time for the net- formative, the kind of thing you see on PBS. Here's how it would work. I, as the star of the series, would own my own feminist, vegetarian, non- smoking, save the owl, anti-log- ging, pro-logging, sushi driven, anti-nuclear, pro-death, pro-any- thing plumbing company. It's not that I actually believe in these moronic causes, it's just that the company would he located in a premier section of L.A., halfway between the house of O.J. Simp- son and the house of Zsa Zsa Ga- bor. Naturally, we would he ex- pected to reflect the social mores of that area, which means we would stand for anything men- tioned within the pages of "Town and Country Magazine." Now, drama is the key to a suc- cessful miniseries. There would be lots of emergency calls, cell phones tinging off the hook, faxes going wild and cappuccino ma- chines boiling over: These would he from my creditors. OK, here's how a typical scene would play out. A customer phones in with an emergency plumbing problem. It seems their toilet is stopped up with $100 bills left over from illegal campaign contributions, or a plastic surgeon that accidentally pockets down the latrine. Three days later, I swing into action. On my way to the site, I stop to pick up the project manag- er, the supervisor, the accountant and 3 pounds of imported Ro- mano cheese. Unfortunately, I cannot bring the workers who perform the plumbing because the Rolls Royce only seats four. We take Ventura Boulevard to the Santa Monica Freeway, cross SunseVDrive, get on the Frank Sinatra Freeway, where we have a high-speed police chase, exit the Van Nuys ramp, cross the Col- orado Rockies, drive back through Casa San Lucas, take the Pacific Palisades highway over to Johnnie Cochran Boulevard and two days later arrive at our destination. Thank God for shortcuts. Every episode would build on . our plot; reading everyone their rights, screaming the word "Breathe," producing surprise witnesses, and starting intra- venous drips of Drano. We end the weekly shows by leaving our business card and promising to re- turn in a week. The finale of "L.A. Plumbers" would have one of the most unique plots in the history of tele- vision, and for that matter, life it- self. We actually show up and finish the job! I think I've made my point, which seems to be lost on the edi- tors, who've insisted I take a week off to rest.'