2004 Year In Review
Hotly contested elections, sweeping educational reforms highlight year of constants and changes
By JIM STREIT
NEWARK POST STAFF WRITER
In some respects, 2004 is ending as it started. Newark High School remains the Delaware football champion. No one has solved the problem of binge drinking in spite of focused, aggressive efforts here. No work is being done on the unfinished $15 million reservoir on Old Paper Mill Road. Rumors still are flying about the future of the Newark Country Club. And no one has solved downtown Newarks perceived parking problems.
At the same time, the past 12 months have proven that change in Newark is constant. Hal Godwin, Chris Rewa and Tim Boulden are no longer elected representatives. The City of Newark has a plan in action to complete the stalled reservoir project. Newark and Glasgow High schools have new principals. A new, sold out wine-tasting event was added to the series of popular downtown events. Delawares Fighting Blue Hens football team came close but failed to repeat its national championship for the second year in a row. And nothing is as it was in the Christina School District under the fast-driving leadership of Dr. Joseph Wise.
While the Newark mayoral election in April and the general election in November generated many headlines, the biggest challenge facing city fathers was completion of the reservoir project. The original contractor, Donald M. Durkin, ceased construction last winter claiming the design was unsafe. A huge pile of dirt visible from Paper Mill Road remained just that.
By spring, lawsuits were filed by both sides. Second opinions were ordered about the soundness of the reservoir design. Mid-year, the completion of the litigation-clouded project was put out to bid by the city but there were no takers. The Newark City Council and City Manager Carl Luft eventually approved the hiring of a respected Delaware contractor, George & Lynch, to complete the reservoir in 2005, adding another $1 million to projected constructions costs.
A well-known downtown lawyer with strong support of some University of Delaware officials creamed incumbent mayor Harold Godwin in April. Vance A. Funk III garnered 74 percent of the votes cast in one of the highest turn-outs in recent memory for a city election. The incumbent downtown Newark representative on the City Council, Chris Rewa, was tossed out by voters and replaced by Kevin Vonck, the first University of Delaware student to be elected to the panel.
By years end, Godwin appeared to have landed on his feet in his new role as a regional representative and liaison to local governments and businesses for the United States Chamber of Commerce.
The new mayor basked in his April election victory but soon Funks free-wheeling style had ruffled the feathers of some council members, city staff and others who claimed he wasnt communicating and following established procedures. The lightning rod that led to a public scolding became Funks plans for the first Taste Of Newark wine tasting this fall on the lawn of Old College on the UD campus. On July 23, Funk offered an olive branch at a council meeting and said problems will be rectified.
Eventually, the Downtown Newark Partnership supported Taste event, which sold out weeks before the Sept. 19 event. The dozens of local restaurateurs who showcased their delicacies and 400 attendees gave the wine and food festival high marks.
Funk has been aggressive in his efforts to link with the University of Delaware student population, the source of years-long city-UD conflicts. Funk helped students move in in late August, judged on-campus Halloween contests, and spearheaded a November Town Talk meeting that drew dozens of students, residents, city and UD officials and other together for a calm dialogue about the town-gown relationship.
Newarks 23rd District State Representative surprised many when he announced he would not seek re-election in order to commit more time to running a family business. The vacuum created by Tim Bouldens annoucement was quickly filled by a hotly contested race between Democrat Teresa Schooley, a former Christina School Board member, and Republican newcomer Paul Pomeroy. Schooley prevailed, as did five-term 25th District Representative Stephanie Ulbrich.
The names the same but there is little in the Christina School District that is the same as it was 24 months ago. Superintendent Dr. Joseph Wise, bolstered by a contract extension through 2008, hustled through sweeping reforms in the states largest school district, and he appears to be just warming up.
The Christina school board approved his multi-pronged transformation plans that included, among many initiatives, relocation of district headquarters from downtown Newark to Wilmington. By year end, Wise had formed a high-powered non-profit organization that will seek private funding for Christinas new programs, installed new principals at Newark and Glasgow, and promised to have first-in-the-nation after-school academies at certain district schools in early 2005.
In addition to welcoming a new, 30-ish principal, Newark High School celebrated its repeat as state football champions, honored long-time football coach Butch Simpson on his state record-setting 219th win, and bid farewell to Lloyd Ross, the beloved band director who retires today after three decades at NHS.
Throughout its 94th year, the Newark Post reported details about these events and thousands of other stories. This week, we continue our annual tradition of recapping the headlines of the past year.
2004 The Year In Review
Year of champions
UDs national title and NHS state football championship highlighted a special year in Newark. In addition, the school district gets a new superintendent, towing was a huge issue downtown that was resolved and student housing was topic of litigation. In addition, a new library opened and the Newark Charter School moved to a permanent location.
New city court?
Newark officials want the state to consider creating a new state court specifically for Newark, in light of a state Legislative proposal to do away with Aldermans Courts statewide. The city proposes to continue paying the expenses of a new Municipal Court, allow the state to choose a judge, unlike the current practice of the council choosing one, but also to keep revenues in the city, which for Aldermans Court is about $1.1 million.
Traffic causes concern near Old Coochs Bridge Road
An intersection realignment or speed cushion, a version of a speed bump, are two ways residents near Old Coochs Bridge Road might get relief from drivers who cause traffic nightmares in the area. A meeting was held with residents by the state department of transportation.
The first six months of Dr. Joseph Wises tenure as Christina Schools Superintendent has created a stir, excited staffers and energized a school. Hes already begun implementing huge plans to return the district to its previous flagship status, has undertaken revisions to how the district handles its finances, while managing to visit more than 200 schools. Hes not afraid to challenge teachers, either, impressing upon them that its about the children, not them.
Reservoir on hold
Major construction on the citys $15 million reservoir on Old Paper Mill Road is on hold for the winter months, but a dispute between the city engineer and construction contractor has also caused some delays. Contractor Donald M. Durkin said it cant install the reservoir liner as recommended because of concerns.
Fresh Start in predicament
Draft plans for a sprawling 19.2 acre complex on Independence Way catering to the housing, medical and recreation needs of senior citizens have been submitted to the city of Newark for review. It leaves the controversial Delaware Fresh Start in a state of limbo. Fresh Start is a heroin treatment center now leasing some of the buildings.
Apartments need study
Councilman Karl Kalbacher plans to propose the city create an apartment committee to review strategies for dealing with problem apartment complexes in the city. The impetus came from the request by Ivy Hall apartment owners to build eight more units on the troubled complex, considered by city officials as one of the problem complexes in the city.
Newark to be renamed Title Town
February is the month to celebrate Newark, as the city will be renamed Title Town for the month, and a Feb. 10 celebration honored both the UD football national champions and the Newark High School state football champions. In addition, downtown businesses will offer specials and events.
Newark Post celebrates 95th year
The Newark Post, started in 1910, by Everett C. Johnson, celebrates its 95th year in publication. Johnson, when he founded the paper, wrote, Print all the truth you dare and dare a little more every week.
City Council cans builder
The Newark City Council voted 5-0 to terminate the contract with the company that has completed 70 percent of the work on the $15 million reservoir. The action came after a closed session. City officials said the action was taken because contractor Donald M. Durkin did not agree with design plans and refused to continue work.
Country club considers move
The developer who wants to build a 370-home residential project just outside the state line in Cecil County, Md., wants to lure the private Newark Country Club with him. The developer, William Stritzinger, has offered to build the club a new course at his development in exchange for him receiving the clubs current property. He could then build a small development lining a golf course in the city.
Sweeping changes sought at CSD
The Christina School District took a giant step forward in its journey to be great with eight recommendations presented to the school board and approved for further study. One of the boldest recommendations is to build a new high school in Wilmington. Also, traditional feeder patterns could be done away with and full choice offered for all.
Ivy Hall, city craft deal
A questioning and concerned Newark City Council approved Ivy Halls request to build six more apartment units only after Ivy Hall owners agreed to security patrols, stricter lease controls and working more closely with police.
Wonders and Wheels
The Christina School Districts Wonders on Wheels bus will travel around the district, providing a space for youngsters to learn and have fun while parents shop or do chores. The mobile lab will announce where it will be on certain days and parents can take advantage of it as a place to bring children while they do other things.
Arts Alliance opens new home
After a short hiatus for relocation, the Newark Arts Alliance is back in business at its new space on Elkton Road, in the Grainery. With its opening, the NAA is planning a host of new events and displays.
Independence Way project off table
An ambitious plan to turn 19.2 acres of land on Independence Way into a senior housing and service complex has ended. A Newark physician has pulled his plans to redevelop the current property which houses a heroin treatment center, according to his attorney.
Transit hub downtown delayed
Construction of a $2 million transit hub that would extend bike paths, offer more bus service downtown was delayed by the City Council because of concerns that bike paths crossing at Delaware Avenue are unsafe. Council asked DelDot officials to go back and try to build the project with an underground bike path.
This week an estimated 12,000 households in Newarks 19713 zip code will receive direct mailings urging them to sign up for the $6 per month Delaware Solid Waste Authority curbside recycling program.
As of Mar. 1, the two-week-old DSWA service had requests to service almost 300 city of Newark households.
New tenant surfaces
Downtown restaurants, bars and apartments will be the hot topics at the Newark City Council meeting scheduled for Monday, Mar. 8.
The city was notified Mar. 1 that the proposed tenant for the currently vacant restaurant and bar area in the Galleria is McFaddens Restaurant, a small chain that has establishments in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, New York City and Philadelphia.
Hot races are on
With almost a month to go and the final filing deadline days away, candidates for Newark city Council and Mayor are readying for a contest they all expect to win.
The race for mayor, a three-year term, pits Mayor Hal Godwin, who has fended off challengers in other elections, against well-known and well-connected Newark lawyer Vance A. Funk III. It has many people who know both torn over who they will vote for.
No need for new fees
Residents have an additional two weeks to study up on Newarks current apartment complex laws before proposed revisions concerning off-campus student housing will be discussed by the City council.
The discussion was delayed by Councilman Karl Kalbacher Monday, Mar. 8 in an effort to let constituents catch up on the issue.
Cecil nixes project
The Cecil County, Md., planning and zoning commission on Monday voted 3-0 against a proposal to build 370 houses and a private golf course in Fair Hill. Two of the seven commission members abstained from the vote and two others were absent.
Carl Walbeck, president of the commission, said he voted against the proposed Aston Pointe development because he didnt think the developers revised plan would fit the rural character of the area. The plan had been scaled down from 510 houses earlier in the year.
Election heats up
Newark mayoral challenger Vance A. Funk III has raised $17,620 in individual contributions of less than $100 each, far out pacing incumbent Mayor Hal Godwins $3,220, according to campaign finance reports filed Monday, Mar. 15.
The money was raised between Jan. 1 and Mar. 14. Prior to that period, Funk had a balance of $3,058 and Godwin $2,124.
Funk said hes received far more contributions than expected and is no longer asking supporters to send money.
Going, going, gone?
Approximately 10,000 acres of farmland has been developed between 1992 and 1997, but a handful of motivated locals dedicated to slowing development have vowed to rally around a historic Glasgow farm to prevent any of its 240 acres from development.
However, their efforts may be coming to a head as plans to develop the northwest corner of routes 896 and 40 loom on the horizon.
Contractor takes city to court
The city of Newark is being sued in federal court by the reservoir builder who was fired almost two months ago after completing 70 percent of the work on the $15 million project.
In a civil complaint filed last week in U.S. District Court in Wilmington, Donald M. Durkin Contracting of Pennsylvania alleges the citys engineering an construction consultant, URS, withheld from them information that proves the reservoir design is flawed and could fail if completed as planned.
Duct tape derby
Water was splashing. Rowers were paddling as fast as they could. The crowd was going wild. With only yard to go, it was neck and neck between boats streaming got the finish line in Glasgow High Schools first annual Cardboard Boat Regatta on Monday morning in the schools pool and it was all in the name of science.
The boats, made only of cardboard and duct tape, were constructed as a five-week physical science unit.
Set-backs strengthen candidates
While different, the two candidates for Newark mayor have accomplished much in their lives, want to make the city the best it can be and have weathered some difficult personal issues.
The personal difficulties endured by the 54-year-old Godwin since late 2002 are still fresh in his mind, including the death of his wife Anne, 10 weeks after being diagnosed with terminal colon cancer...he had two surgeries, was diagnosed with diabetes and was forced to close the family service station after 32 years, forcing him to file for bankruptcy.
Funk, 61, is a well-known and liked local real estate lawyer whose life changed dramatically in 1993. It was then he suffered a stroke triggered by a blood vessel bursting in the brain.
Voters head to polls
On Tuesday, April 13, approximately 15,315 Newark city residents will be eligible to vote for city mayor between two candidates, while 2,727 will be eligible to vote for the District 6 council race between three candidates.
The new registration numbers were released Monday, April 5 by the Newark Elections Commission. Polls in six locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
UD official ordered to take down signs
After a request from Newark Mayor Hal Godwin, University of Delaware President David Roselle ordered that city candidate campaign signs be removed from the yard of UDs government and community relations director.
While Roselle didnt specify the candidate signs to be taken down, one of the signs in Director Richard Armitages yard was that of mayoral candidate Vance A. Funk III. Armitage acts as liaison between the city and university on issues, and, among other duties, gives reports at each city council meeting. He is also one of Funks closest friends, according to Funk.
Funk is in
In one of the most watched and intensely fought city mayoral elections in recent memory, challenger Vance A. Funk III soundly defeated two-term mayor and five-term councilman Hal Godwin.
It appears to be the first time that an incumbent mayor lost a re-election bid since the position was created in 1951.
Funk, a real estate lawyer and former city Alderman, earned 74 percent of the vote, garnering 2,642 votes compared to 925 for Godwin. The 23.3 percent voter turnout was the highest in recent memory, with 3,567 coming out to vote.
By a vote of six to one, the Christina School District Board of Education approved the Christina Transformation proposal that was presented by Superintendent Dr. Joseph Wise and his staff.
The proposal will bring sweeping changes to the district that will get students in schools close to their homes for longer periods of time, consolidate the administrative and operations departments, and improve academic rigor at all levels for students in the districts portion of Wilmington as well as in the suburbs.
With convincing election victories behind them, Mayor Vance A. Funk III and District 6 Councilman Kevin Vonck took their oaths of office Tuesday, April 20.
Surrounded by the five other council members they will work with throughout their three and two year terms, respectively, the two smiled and accepted congratulations from city officials and family and friends in packed council chambers.
Also, councilmen Karl Kalbacher and Frank Osborne were sworn in. They went unchallenged in their respective races and by law assumed their seats.
Leaders named at NHS, GHS
The Christina School District Board of Education has approved changes in leadership for many of its schools, including new principals at Newark and Glasgow high schools.
Emmanuel Caulk Jr. will become principal of Newark High School and Todd Harvey will be principal of Glasgow High School. Caulk, 32, will be the first black principal at Newark in recent memory.
Reservoir designer muted by council
Newarks City Council shut down an effort by city staff and the city solicitor to let engineers of the city reservoir discuss the safety of the projects design at the Monday, April 26 public meeting.
URS officials were ready at Mondays meeting with large display boards, design documents and their attorneys.
But the council shot down that idea, saying they feared any public discussion would be used against the city, which is currently being sued by the reservoir contractor.
Sound and sovereign financially
The Christina School District has become a very healthy, sound, sovereign district, Assistant Superintendent and Chief Financial Officer Thresa Giles told the school Board on April 7.
Very strict discipline has brought us to where we are today, said Giles. There are sufficient funds available or projected to support the transformation project, Giles said.
A Newark man who started his business inside his garage, then moved it to Maryland, has come back home.
Dr. Ray Yin, an 8-year Newark resident, brought his two-year-old, 11-employee company from Maryland to Newarks Interchange Business Park on Elkton Road.
A Thursday, April 28 celebration was about Yins company ANP Technologies and included U.S. Sen. Thomas Carper and Gov. Ruth Ann Minner. Yin developed a cutting-edge process whereby soldiers on a battlefield, or security at airlines or officials at water facilities can detect biological agents like anthrax and small pox almost immediately by placing a drop of blood or saliva onto a pen-sized detection kit.
Senior volunteers honored
The Newark Senior Center honored five of its members for their volunteer work for the center and its members at a reception Friday, April 30.
This years winners of the Jefferson Award are Newark residents Peggy Hester, Bud Hurley, Marcia Ottinger, Joe Pfister and Bud Ryan. They were honored during the annual Volunteer Recognition Reception held at the center on White Chapel Drive.
NHS senior killed
Diana Frances Hechter, 17, killed Saturday, May 8 when a bullet intended for another man struck her, was mature and strong beyond her years.
Before she turned 10 years old her father Charles Hechter died. Seven years ago, Diana survived a potentially life-threatening brain surgery and was fearless and triumphant during it, said Rev. Thomas Jensen of St. Thomas Episcopal Church during a service for her Wednesday, May 12.
Hechter was a senior at Newark High School and only weeks away from her graduation.
Council takes on UD, traffic
The Newark City Council moved forward with two matters that seemed to indicate they are serious about dealing with:
Problem apartment complexes in the city.
More traffic safety measures for the University of Delawares new performing arts center near Orchard Road and Amstel Avenue.
Resident in World Series of Poker
As a youngster growing up, Newarks Greg Sawka use to bluff uncles and cousins out of pots big enough to pay his weekly milk money tab.
After winning a seat in the May 22 World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas, hell be attempting to rake-in pots worth millions against the worlds best poker players.
Never thought all those family poker games would lead to this, said Sawka, a 38-year-old senior project manager with Bancroft Construction Company in New Castle.
Armed Forces Parade honors vets
Hundreds of observers gathered on The Green at the University of Delaware to watch and listen as a variety of active duty, defunct, youth and veteran military groups did their best to honor the soldiers who have died in the service of their country.
The hour-long ceremony concluded with the placing of the wreaths at Memorial Hall, built as a memorial to the 170 World War I soldiers from Delaware who died. The wreaths were placed by Gov. Ruth Ann Minner.
City troubled by UDs actions
A meeting about access to neighborhood streets and traffic restrictions surrounding the University of Delawares new performing arts center turned into a chance for some Newark City Council members to vent their frustrations at the universitys handling of some recent matters.
The topic of Mondays debate although in the end resolved has contributed to the opening of old wounds between some city officials and the university.
Vets heading to memorial
Approximately 35 World War II veterans and their wives of the Newark VFW Post 475 packed a tour bus Thursday, May 27 to do what theyve waited almost 60 years to do.
They will pay tribute to those who served in World War II, remember what they themselves did, and also to be reminded that they, too, will forever be remembered. The area veterans including two Gold Star mothers of sons who were killed in WWII will be in Washington D.C. two days before the big ceremony to unveil the National World War II Memorial.
Behind Bars: A look at the alcohol industry
Residents, city leaders, University of Delaware students and others recently received their first look at a revealing documentary about the alcohol industry in Newark, produced by students of Ralph Begleiters new Communications/Political Science class.
The 12 students in the class took the subject head on. The culmination is a first-ever visual tour into the scope and nature of the alcohol industry along Main Street, entitled Behind Bars: The Alcohol Industry in Newark, Delaware. The approximately 30-minute documentary can be seen through a link at www.udel.edu/global.
City must pay landlord association
A Chancery Court vice chancellor has ordered the city of Newark to pay the Newark Landlord Association $170,000 in attorney fees and expenses based on a lawsuit initiated by the association that found part of the citys student housing regulations invalid.
The judgment handed down Thursday, May 27 by Vice Chancellor John W. Noble comes as no surprise in a civil action such as this. Noble had already ruled against the city in two opinions in June and November 2003, saying that two sections of the citys student housing regulations were invalid and unenforceable.
Safety not issue with reservoir
The city of Newark, its attorneys and consultants are embroiled in a variety of legal and internal issues related to the citys unfinished $15 million reservoir, but all involved are adamant about one thing: The reservoir as designed would not fail if built.
The issue appears to be, according to city officials, the constructability of the lower level portion of the reservoir.
As currently designed, if sand or silt were to be placed over the lower level of the liner, the finished product would likely need enhanced maintenance and upkeep. If built using more expensive rip rap or rock to cover the liner, it would hold up better, according to city councilmen.
CSD HQs moving to Wilmington
The Newark Planning Commission approved Christina School Districts request to remodel and expand its headquarters at 83 East Main St. to make room for NETworks, an instructional, business and trade program for special needs students.
The Commission approved the special use permit for the project 5-1 Wednesday, June 1 with a condition to provide off site parking. Final approvals must come from the Newark City Council.
Coinciding with moving NETworks into the East Main building is the Districts plans to move its headquarters to the Drew Pyle Elementary School complex in Wilmington.
Home rule threatened
Several proposed bills making their way through the state General Assembly would, if passed, have major financial and quality of life impacts on the city. The bills include:
Senate Bill 359 would eliminate a municipalitys ability to collect a business license fee from alcohol-serving businesses. This would allow only the state to impose such taxes, costing the city $100,000.
House Bill 313 would allow defendants to transfer cases from the city Aldermans Court to the Court of Common Pleas in Wilmington. Currently state law allows defendants in all other state Aldermans Courts can transfer to CCP. It would cost the city $317,000 in lost revenue.
College Park work to begin
Construction and rehabilitation of the barely serviceable service roads in College Park on Madison Drive should begin by early July.
Its one of the many important steps residents and the city of Newark have taken toward making College Park residents feel proud of and safe in their neighborhood. The Newark City Council did its part by first agreeing last year to use money from federal Community Development Block Grant funds for the project, then on Monday, June 14 approved a $185,000 contract to begin the work.
Thousands of motorcycle riders turned up in downtown Newark last weekend for the H.O.G. (Harley Owners Group) rally and festivities. There were a variety of divisions for adult as well as youngster competition, sixes and shapes of Harleys to look at and plenty of Harley enthusiasts to talk to.
Easier to calm
Residents who want to see changes in traffic conditions but find difficulty achieving street-wide consensus received a boost from the Newark Traffic Commission Tuesday, June 15.
The committee voted 7-1 to help make it easier for residents to request traffic calming measures on neighborhood streets . . . by recommending to City Council that the percentage of property owners needing to change street conditions be lowered from 75 percent to 67 percent.
Home rule strikes out
Gov. Ruth Ann Minner plans to sign the bill taking away the city of Newarks ability to tax alcohol-serving businesses, leaving city officials with a bitter taste in their mouths toward some state leaders.
House Bill 359 passed the state Senate June 23 and the House June 10 on votes of 18-3 and 38-3 respectively. The bill will become law if the governor does nothing or signs it. For it to die, she must veto it.
Dont fire outside
Pellet and BB guns are prohibited from being fired outdoors in Newark, after lively discussion between Newark City Council members and residents at a Monday meeting.
The guns are not allowed to be fired unless for target practice within a fully enclosed structure that does not share a common wall with another residence, according to the new ordinance passed by council.
Mayors Musings now appear in newsletter
Newark Mayor Vance Funk III recently launched Funkytown Gazette, his attempt at a regular newsletter to inform, enlighten and joke with supporters, interested residents and others.
I hope people are laughing, said Funk when asked what people think of the newsletter, which debuted June 25.
DUI device stops drunk drivers
The Newark City Council is scheduled to consider allowing select first-time DUI offenders to use a device that prevents the offender from operating a vehicle if they have consumed alcohol.
The Ignition Interlock Device Diversion Program is intended to allow such offenders to have access to a vehicle for work or other necessities, and supports the philosophy of rehabilitation/treatment instead of incarceration.
New mayor scolded
Newark Councilmen Karl Kalbacher and Jerry Clifton are unhappy with how newly-elected Mayor Vance Funk III has handled certain city-related matters, and for the first time in public voiced some of those concerns at the Monday, July 12 council meeting.
The two longtime councilmen are upset that Funk did not go through proper channels before organizing a Food and Wine Festival set for Sept. 26. At Mondays meeting, the council voted 5-0 to end staff work on the event and asked the city-administered Downtown Newark Partnership and its independent Board of Directors to refrain from moving forward until the council fully discusses it July 26.
Report allows city to move on with construction
The outside consultants testing the constructibility of the citys $15 million incomplete reservoir concluded that the original design is safe and constructible, echoing previous statements from city officials.
The 51-page report by Dr. Craig Calabria of GeoSystems Inc. of Fort Washington, Pa., was released to the public Wednesday, July 14. The Newark City Council first discussed the report in a meeting closed to the public after Mondays regular council meeting.
Alleged killer indicted
The man accused of the shooting death of a 17-year-old Newark High School senior, Diane Hechter, was indicted by a citizen Grand Jury Monday, July 12 on charges of first degree murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, possession of a firearm while on probation and felony theft.
The action against Tyrone Norwood, 23, of Chester, Pa., is the first major step since he was arrested May 11 in Chester after being on the run for three days. He has remained in prison without bail at Young Correctional Institution.
School construction massive effort
Under a $6.9 million reconstruction, West Park Elementary School, in the middle of July, looks like a disaster area. Large holes in the brick wall show freshly poured concrete in the kitchen area. Exposed steel studs, bare concrete floors and electrical conduit hanging in mid air are where the library will be.
The Newark school is just one of 10 buildings in the Christina School District with renovations under way. More projects are in the design stage. This is part of a $155 million renovation and construction package scheduled for the next few years that was approved in a Major Capital referendum passed by voters in April 2002.
Mayor reaches out
A couple weeks after being criticized for not working with city officials on some matters, Newark Mayor Vance Funk III at the Monday, July 26 Newark City Council meeting promised his colleagues, city staff and residents that he will do better.
I do accept responsibility. I may be three months late ... but I still have more than two years left and I promise to communicate, Funk said. Problems will be rectified shortly.
Godwin honored by council
A standing ovation and loud applause greeted two-term former mayor Hal Godwin as he was presented with a resolution honoring him for 17 years of service on the Newark City Council.
The honor was bestowed by the Newark City Council at its July 12 meeting. Deputy Mayor and Councilman Jerry Clifton presented Godwin with the plaque.
This falls short in some respects compared to all the time you put in, Clifton said.
Politicians line up
A slew of candidates for national, state and county elected offices made their interest official with the filing of nomination forms before the Friday, July 30 deadline.
Of the filings, there are at least eight positions (state senator, four state representatives, and three recently-created New Castle County Council positions) in the Newark/Glasgow/Bear areas where voters will have a choice of candidates.
DUI device approved by city
Embracing the rehabilitation rather than incarceration philosophy for first-time DUI offenders, and in hopes of slowing a statewide effort to eliminate or curtail the authority of the Newark Aldermans Court, the Newark City Council approved the use of a device that prevents the offender from operating a vehicle after consuming alcohol.
The Ignition Interlock Device Diversion Program is intended to allow such offenders to have access to a vehicle for work or other necessities, and supports the philosophy of rehabilitation/treatment instead of incarceration.
Former home of Post being sold again
As the Jewish Community Center announces its closure at the end of September, the latest chapter of Newark Post founder Everett C. Johnsons vision of what a building could stand for concludes, and its next chapter is yet to be written.
Insufficient membership and lack of funds were the primary reasons JCC officials will close the fortress-like, stone-walled building, built in 1916 to house Johnsons newspaper and elaborate print shop.
Workshop on Sprinkler ordinance
The Newark City Council has agreed to postpone final decisions regarding changes to the citys sprinkler ordinance until after a Sept. 21 workshop between city officials and area businesses.
The request for a workshop was made to the Council at it its Monday, Aug. 9 meeting by architect Joe Charma, on behalf of the Design Committee of the Downtown Newark Partnership.
UD economic impact
University of Delaware faculty, staff and students spent approximately $410 million in Delaware in 2003, with an estimated total economic impact of $735 million on the state, according to a newly released study.
Conducted by UDs Office of Institutional Research and Planning, the study . . . surveyed thousands of UD students, faculty and staff, as well as 330 local businesses, during October and November 2003.
Gated lot on hold
Bids to retrofit downtown city parking Lot 1 behind the Galleria came in as much as $87,000 higher than expected, meaning the modernization to a gated lot wont be complete until next summer.
The current pay-on-foot system requires a person to park and put money into a machine. The new system will be gated, where the driver of a vehicle picks up a ticket at the gate upon entering. Once parked, the person will pay only upon returning to the lot to leave. Pay booths (cash or credit) will be inside the Galleria and underneath a new kiosk in the lot. The person then takes their paid ticket with them to their vehicle.
Capital plan okd
Newarks City Council unanimously approved Monday the proposed five-year capital improvement program which automates and updates existing projects.
Between 2005 and 2009, the city will spend over $10 million on projects, including fazing in automated refuse collection, automatic circuit switching, automatic meter reading system and contributing to the efforts of DelDOT to improve the sidewalks and streetscapes of Main Street as part of DelDOTs repaving project.
Pencader Hundred heritage
The Brooks Property and house in Glasgow has become a focus for preservationists in the area, but also happens to be part of the historical sites pointed to by the Pencader Heritage Area Association.
The associations goal is to preserve open spaces and help promote local historical sites.
A fresh start
They came by bus, car, taxi, bike, wagon and footpower as more than 20,000 students returned to the local schools this week.
For the 19,500 returning students to the Christina School District schools, there were lots of friends to shout Hi to and former teachers to give out hugs.
Walk to work?
Long commutes and traffic jams may be a thing of the past as the city of Newark plans to implement a program which advocates living near ones place of work.
The Live Near Your Work (LNYW) program is designed to financially aid employees who choose to buy homes near their place of employment to increase the quality of life and increase home ownership in Newark.
School district compromises
Christina School District officials are hoping a revised plan to convert the headquarters at 83 E. Main St. into a permanent NETWorks home will be accepted by the Newark City Council at its Monday, Sept.13 meeting.
The plan, made public this week, would reduce the size of the building addition from 20,000 to 16,000 square feet. As a result the number of required parking spaces that the district would not be able to provide goes from 29 to 19. In addition, the district is proposing to retain an administrative office presence in the building, although the majority of the headquarters will be moved to the Drew/Pyle Elementary School complex in Wilmington.
Public meets trail
The first round of surveying results from a feasibility study about turning the old Pomeroy railway line into a 1.8-mile multi-use trail was unveiled to the public on Tuesday, Aug. 31.
Representatives from DelDOT and planning and engineering consulting from the firm DMJM Harris presented a public workshop at the George Wilson Center, consisting of placards showcasing the path of the proposed trail and surrounding land features.
District gets approval
A unanimous Newark City council approved the Christina School Districts revised and scaled down proposal to convert its headquarters at 83 E. Main St. into a permanent NETWorks home.
While some council members continued to express some concerns about parking and traffic, it appears as of now that NETWorks, for the first time, will have its first central location.
Reservoir cleanup to begin
Since no companies bid to finish the construction of the 70 percent complete city reservoir, the city hopes to work out a deal with reservoir design firm URS to do the job instead.
URS is a publically-traded corporation which provides a variety of related services worldwide, including having its sown construction division. City manager Carl Luft said of URS construction division doesnt do the work, the corporation could hire contractors themselves to finish the job.
Historic Marker for Glasgow
The Delaware Public Archives placed a marker commemorating historic Glasgow near Pencader Presbyterian Church Monday, Sept. 20, a significant, formal recognition for a community trying to preserve its past.
The marker commemorates the villages history under one of its previous names, Aikens Tavern after local landowner Matthew Aiken, and was placed in front of the taverns former location. Some remnants of the past are easy to find, according to Russ McCabe, Administrator for the Delaware Historic Marker Program. He said that he had become excited when debris from the old tavern had been found during the digging for the markers place.
Senior housing for Stone Balloon?
The Stone Balloons stone could soon be a thing of the past.
Owner Jim Baeurle is expected to submit plans soon to the city of Newark to convert the legendary night club at 115 Main Street into a condominium and retail building.
While Bauerle through his attorney Mark Sisk would not comment on specifics, several city officials have already met with the owner to discuss possibilities, including a wine store on the first floor and senior housing on the second.
1st Annual Taste of Newark Success
Newark never tasted so good as it did Sunday, Sept. 19 at the 1st Annual Taste of Newark at Old College on the University of Delaware campus.
Aromas of ahi tuna, crabcakes, pulled pork, wings, soups, specialty salads, sandwiches and desserts whiffed through the air as more than 400 attendees moved under white tents sampling culinary tidbits from more than 30 local restaurants and businesses.
Balancing wine glasses with samples of bubblies and beers, the attendees moved from table to table, partaking of a variety of cuisines from Middle-Eastern, Australian, Vietnamese, Mediterranean, Chinese, Indian, Italian, and more, to definitely American.
Newark Emergency Center in a bind
The 30-year-old Newark Emergency Center at 324 East Main St. has notified city officials that due to a change in managed care providers the Center and its physicians who work there are not being compensated for use of the facility in treating Medicaid patients.
Physicians will continue to be reimbursed for treating Medicaid patients, and those that work at the Center say no patients are being turned away just yet.
Ordinance affects parking, property
Under new city ordinances recently approved, properties must be maintained to more specific standards and vehicles illegally parked can get the boot instead of being towed.
The new regulations and restrictions to the housing and property maintenance codes will take effect immediately, while the new tire-locking option for illegally parked cars could begin in two months.
Pencader area celebrates heritage
Area residents will have the opportunity to celebrate the rich history of the Glasgow/Bear area at the annual Pencader Heritage Day Saturday, Oct. 9.
The event, which will take place at Glasgow High school from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., features arts and crafts, activities for children, live music, and food.
Paul Bauernschmidt of the state Heritage Commission and one of the organizers of the event, said the purpose is to celebrate the anniversary of the Pencader Hundred.
In 1701, William Penn granted land to three Welshmen, which is now the area known as the Pencader Hundred, encompassing 30,000 acres in Newark, Glasgow, Christiana and Bear.
Sprinkler ordinance gets changes
Newark City Councilman John Farrell IV passionately and doggedly attacked council colleagues, University of Delaware officials, the business community and city staff for their support to change city requirements that all new structures be sprinkled.
Farrell, a firefighter, delivered a harsh attack based on his belief that the changes will cost lives or injuries. Regardless, the Council voted 6-1 at its Monday, Oct. 11 meeting to allow some structures to be exempt from the sprinkling requirement, hoping to reduce the financial burden for some businesses.
Schaen Cider Mill Returns?
Eleven acres of land in White Clay Creek State Park that had housed a small cider mill operation from the late 1800s to 1972 is being brought back to residents.
The property on the western bank of White Clay Creek on North College Avenue, now known as the Schaen Cider Mill, had housed a small cider mill operation. Now, White Clay Creek State Park Nature Center is hosing a Saturday, Oct. 23 event at 2 p.m. called Remembering Schaen Cider Mill.
The state has future plans for the construction of a replica mill, which could cost up to $100,000.
School board makes Wise move
The recently negotiated contract for Christina School District Superintendent Dr. Joseph Wise doesnt include a monetary increase to go along with it.
Apparently more important than money for Wise - who since starting in June 2003 has initiated, proposed, demanded and fought for major changes to make the district the best in the state - was getting an increase in cell phone minutes each month.
In extending Wises existing contract for two more years to June 2008, Wise was allowed another 200 cellular minutes.
City and UD at odds, e-mail says
When it comes to city of Newark and University of Delaware relations, is could be said that a letter tells a thousand stories.
A harshly-worded e-mail from a UD administrator to a Newark councilman appears to spell out that problems between the city and UD, contrary to what might be said in public, continues to bubble just below the surface.
An e-mail from UD Governmental Relations Director Rick Armitage to Councilman David Athey is at least the second time a document has stated that the university is upset with how the city is being run in relation to UD.
Tricks and treats
There was a chill in the late October air Sunday as clouds in the gray sky threatened rain over Newark at any minute.
Shortly before 2 p.m. an eerie quietness came over Main Street as a tiny witch peered down the street, waved her magic wand, mumbled some magic words and caused the Sunday afternoon traffic to disappear.
Far in the distance band music could be heard signaling the start of Newarks annual Halloween parade.
Reservoir contract okayed
The dam has broken. The Newark City Council approved George & Lynch Inc. as the builders who will complete the citys stalled reservoir project, but not before councilmembers expressed some concern over the type of contract and cost negotiated.
Construction on the reservoir came to a halt in February after Donald M. Durkin Contracting was fired from the project.
The resumed project is expected to have three phases. costing an estimated $6 million - nearly $1 million over the original budget.
Local election results
The following local races were contested in the Nov. 2 general election. District 10 State Senator, Steve Amick (R) 55% over Julia Dugan (D) 45%; District 23 State Representative, Teresa Schooley (D) 53% over Paul Pomeroy (R) 46%; District 25 State Representative Stephanie Ulbrich (R) 58% over John Kowalko (D) 42%.
The Ground Floor Restaurant owner Robert Colantonio has agreed to voluntarily surrender his liquor license by Nov. 29, the end result of a year-long undercover investigation by the state Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement.
The decision comes after DATE filed six violations against the restaurant, which included multiple counts of selling alcoholic beverages to underage patrons, failing to operate as a restaurant, operating a disorderly establishment and failing to report arrests.
Butch is the best
Butch Simpson already has won more state football championships than any other coach in the state - it is only fitting that he has the more overall career wins than anybody in state history as well.
Newark High rallied for a 33-20 victory over Christina District rival Christiana Friday night at Hoffman Stadium, giving the coach his 219th career victory.
Stepping up to the plate
Now that the teachers, staff and community of the Christina School District are holding themselves to higher standards for academic excellence, the school board members are doing the same.
At Tuesdays Board of Education meeting, the members voted unanimously to accept an invitation by the Broad Foundation and the Center for Reform of School Systems to participate in a nearly two-year training/consulting partnership. All members were present for the vote except for Dr. John Mackenzie.
The program, called Reform Governance in Action (RGA), . . . focuses on the theory and practice of urban school district improvement and the policy-level roles and responsibilities of urban school board members.
Condominiums to replace historic bar
Main Street living will have a new face if plans are approved for the proposed Waterstone Development. The condominiums, which would be built on the current site of the Stone Balloon, would create 90 up-scale owner-occupied homes.
The engineers at the Breckstone Group, Inc., have anticipated two issues that have plagued developers in Newark for years - the fear of inadequate parking and that the property will turn into off-campus student housing.
Town Talk encourages dialogue
Business owners, university officials, homeowners and college students debated ideas and plans for the future of Newark at the Wednesday, Nov. 10 Town Talk meeting. While a few new ideas were thrown into conversation, most of the evening centered around Newarks two hottest issues - future expansion of the university and preventing binge drinking.
The furthest we can gauge plans is five years, said Rick Armitage, Governmental Relations Director . We can only look as far the estimated graduation rates for students in school now and how that will put pressures on enrollment. There is no 50 year plan. That just isnt able to happen.
Another change eyed
The owners of the Crab Trap, located on Elkton Road, have filed for a rezoning and special-use permit for the site. If it is approved, the restaurant and several residential buildings currently on the property would be demolished and replaced with a single three-story building.
The restaurant, which would be scaled back from 140 seats to 60, would fill the first floor, and 22 apartments would occupy the second and third stories.
Gift certificate program
Main Street is making the most of the holiday shopping fury with its Downtown Newark Gift Certificate Program. The certificates are good in any of the participating 70 stores, and can be purchased by phone from Maureen Feeny Roser at (302) 366-7030 or at Formal Affairs, Village Imports, Hyacynths and Dragonflies or the Parking Authority in the Galleria.
The program is in the home stretch of its second year. Its been incredibly successful so far, said Feeny Roser, chair of the Downtown Newark Partnership. We have a redemption rate of nearly 60 percent, which is incredibly good for gift certificates and the downtown.
Transit hub receives approval
Newark City Council approved early plans for the Delaware Department of Transportation to build a proposed transit hub on Delaware Ave., next to the Main Street Court apartments at its Nov. 22 meeting.
The hub would serve as a stop for area bus routes that previously ran through the city, and as a connecting point for a new Newark route.
The Newark Loop Route would connect Elkton Road, Main Street, West Park Place, Academy Street and the Newark train station.
New train station causes concern
The Delaware Department of Transportation held an information session on Nov. 29 to answer questions about a proposed train station, which would move train traffic from Mopar Drive to Farm Lane. While DelDOT said the station would ease train and automobile traffic in the area, there is still a lot of contention from community members.
Proponents said the new station would bring more trains into Newark, relieving crowded trains and long waits.
A Delaware homecoming
Over the weekend, 19 Delaware Air National Guard members found themselves making the transcontinental trek from Balad, Iraq to New Castle, Delaware. And they were glad to do so.
Senior Airman Jesse Johnson, a life-long Newark resident and senior at the University of Delaware, said Newark is where he wants to be. I missed everything, he said, especially the bars.
But it was more than the beer separation that made Johnson homesick. Being overworked in a combat environment drains the soul. When we first got [to Iraq], we were working six days a week, 12 hours a day, he said.
Streetscape plans presented
To brick or not to brick, that is the question. At the Delaware Department of Transportations most recent public workshop, held on Nov. 29, most conversation centered around the choice between bricking nine downtown crosswalks, or using a brick pattern known as Imprint.
Jeff Niezgoda, planning supervisor for DelDOT, said he favors using Imprint over traditional bricks for a series of reasons. Bricks hold up well, but are the most costly application, he said. And the installation and maintenance of brick is expensive and time consuming.
Council grants extension
The Newark City Council extended grandfathering rights to the Brandywine Brewing Companys newest restaurant, Shaggys, until mid-summer, but did so with a catch. While this allows the owners of the restaurant more time to pursue licensing on the Main Street Galleria property, the council stipulated that they would petition the Delaware Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission to limit Shaggys liquor license to certain hours.
Safe school environment is priority
Having a safe school environment is conducive to students learning. The Christina Schools will now have an enhanced level of security with the creation of 29 new personnel positions in its eight secondary schools.
At its Tuesday, Dec. 14 meeting, the Christina Board of Education unanimously approved nine security associate positions, three special assistants to principals, and an additional two School Resource Officers. The district will also employ 15 trained bus drivers as part-time campus monitors.
When Santa Claus rolls into town, he typically does so in high fashion. On Dec. 15, Santa and an entourage of Newark City Police, Marines and a handful of Boy Scouts rolled into several neighborhoods in style. The jolly old elf led the procession on a gleaming fire truck, lights ablaze and siren roaring.
As the last 2004 calendar pages are being ripped off, the Newark arts Alliance is facing a budget cut for the next year that could significantly affect the number of educational art classes offered to residents.
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