Sussex County Delaware

What's in a Name?
Questions, Questions
Sussex Snapshots, Aug. 15, 2002 ...

On Embroidery, Shuffleboard
and Other Reader Questions

SC Online Content Editor

If there's one thing I've learned since I joined Sussex County Online last month, it's that lots of people have lots of questions about Sussex County.

Like, for example, what's the county policy on eminent domain? What's the phone number for the Seaford probation office? Where can I advertise a found dog?

I guess when you have the words "Sussex County" in your business name, there's an assumption that you're affiliated with county government. Fair enough.

I've memorized the general phone number for the county offices and I've become a whiz at quickly finding phone numbers for people who call with questions and simply refuse to accept that I'm not employed by the county.

It reminds me of a story I heard when I lived in Pennsylvania, where a tourist became irate because an Amish man refused to let her take his picture. She thought all the Amish people were somehow employed by a tourist bureau and were therefore required to submit to such requests.

While I don't mind answering questions, what bothers me is that people ask for information they could have found themselves with very little effort.

Sometimes, I try to get that message across. "Let's see, I'll look here in the phone book under Department of Corrections. Aha, here it is, Seaford office ..."

I've been a journalist for nearly 20 years, mostly at daily and weekly newspapers. And believe me, newspapers aren't just for news. They're also supposed to be sources of all kinds of trivia. At one paper, I had a co-worker who started a list of strange questions people asked. For some reason, one that sticks out in my mind is, "How do you spell Brezhnev?"

One of the most popular questions, it seemed, was one that the sports department fielded every year, usually starting around Christmas. "What time is the Superbowl kickoff?" One year, so many people called wanting to know when they should start their Super Bowl parties that we hung a sign with the kickoff time in the middle of the newsroom.

With the advent of those little tag lines at the end of articles -- the ones that give you the phone number and e-mail address of the reporter who wrote the story -- reporters began to get even more questions from the general public.

If you wrote a story on a business, for example, people called the number at the bottom of the story thinking you're the business. My colleagues and I have fielded questions about embroidery, strawberries, wildlife refuges and shuffleboard courts.

Yep, shuffleboard courts.

One woman actually called me twice from California after I wrote a story about Fenwick Island's shuffleboard courts. She wanted information on dimensions for said courts, because she and her husband wanted to put one in at their Bethany Beach area home.

I know a little about a lot of things, but shuffleboard courts are way off my personal radar screen.

Speaking of screens, as a relative neophyte in the Internet world, I 'm still discovering all that the Internet has to offer. The time savings alone are incredible. Instead of having to drive to Georgetown or Dover to look at a piece of legislation, or wait for someone to mail or fax it to me, all I have to do is hit a few keys and voila, there it is.

Sussex County government, by the way, does a darn good job of getting information to the public via the Internet. The county site now includes everything from property tax information to live broadcasts of county council and planning and zoning meetings.

Oh, and here's how you get to all that fun stuff:

For breaking news, commentary, town information and all sorts of other useful goodies, we're here for you at

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