Sussex County Delaware

Courthouse Renovation
Progress Criticized

Sussex County Council ...

Administrator Calls
Conditions 'Deplorable'

Special to Sussex County Online

GEORGETOWN -- "I'm waiting to come up here one day and see the governor out front with a vinyl siding salesman," said Robert "Bob" Stickels, Sussex County Administrator, during the council's regular meeting on Tuesday, August 22, 2000.

Stickels was referring to what he calls the slow renovation progress and "deplorable condition" of the county courthouse on The Circle. The courthouse has been undergoing renovations for the last few years and some residents, along with members of council, are losing their patience.

Finley "Butch" Jones, councilmanic representative of Georgetown as well as other areas, said he has received many complaints.

In a written statement, Jones said, "First, our state government threatened the Brick Hotel, one of the finest buildings in our county. We averted that threat by constructive compromise, and we found a good solution. Now, the state of Delaware, Department of Facilities Management has gone too far.

"On Saturday, Aug. 19, the state Department of Facilities Management attached a salt treated lumber boardwalk, an eyesore, on the front of the courthouse. The courthouse in Georgetown is the centerpiece of the Circle. It is the place where we meet each Return Day.

"In the past, the county tolerated the bike rack, the construction surrounding the building, the television cameras, but we will not, and cannot tolerate the new alterations the state has made. The state did not get town permits to build the boardwalk, they did not ask our advice, or seek our counsel.

"Had they done this, we would have found an acceptable solution, and worked with them to make the changes in an unobtrusive way. When we asked, the department (of Facilities Management) informed us that the wooden boardwalk was temporary. We inquired how long it would be there, and they told us one to two years. This is not acceptable. Alternative access should be immediately provided."

The council plans to continue working on this until a solution is found.

CAD Bid to Tritech

The Sussex County Council agreed to purchase the Tritech Software Solutions system for Computer Aided Dispatching (CAD) at the recommendation of RCC Consultants, Inc.

The system was recommended after the consultants, who were hired by the council, examined the needs of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), the laws enacted by the Delaware State Legislature and the current dispatch system, according to Debbie Jones, a representative of RCC Consultants, Inc.

Ms. Jones said the Tritech system appears to be a better value at $754,655 than other systems offered by three other bidders, including one bid that was $300,000 less. The other two bids were more expensive than the Tritech Software Solutions system.

The money needed to pay for the CAD system is already set aside in the EOC's budget, according to Joseph Thomas, Director of the EOC.

Paramedic Director Resigns

George Torbert, Paramedic Director, has resigned his position to pursue other interests. Torbert became the director in May 1997 after serving as a paramedic since 1990.

Lynn Rogers, council president, said, "George is an excellent example of the dedication that the paramedics provide."

Rogers hopes Torbert will return to the paramedic program in the future, but said he understands Torbert's reason for leaving. The paramedic program is very demanding, requiring individuals to work nights, weekends and holidays, Rogers said.

Robert Stuart is acting director and is being assisted by Tim Keefe. The council hopes to fill the position permanently by Oct. 1, 2000, and is currently accepting applications.

The paramedics system has grown from one unit in 1990 to six units this year.

In other action ...
  • Held a public hearing to change street lighting in Harbeson to a more cost-effective High-Pressure Sodium system. The street light plan was passed unanimously.

  • Will be accepting bids for the installation of a "fire water system" at the Sussex County Industrial Airpark in Georgetown. The system will be used for fire fighting emergencies at the park. Those who are interested should call for more information. The system is needed to help protect new construction that is taking place at the park that will eventually provide an additional 100 to 150 jobs.

  • Discussed the current situation of the Subdivision Ordinance and learned there are two "sticking points." The first is what to do with Site Plan amendments that do not change density. The second deals with Site Plan amendments that do change density. The council hopes to have a proposal either before Labor Day or shortly after.

  • Announced a public workshop on Thursday, August 24, 2000 with the Department of Transportation at Laurel Senior High School. The meeting begins at 8 p.m. and concerns proposed improvements to the intersection of U.S 13 and Road 468 near Laurel.

  • Announced a public participation meeting with the Delaware Department of Transportation Capital Improvement Program to be held Thursday, September 14, 2000. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at Delaware Technical and Community College, Owens Campus in Georgetown.

  • Announced that Heather Sheridan, Director of Wastewater Operations for Sussex County, will take part in the People-to-People International Program implemented by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956. Sheridan will go to the People's Republic of China for 12 days this fall as a Citizen Ambassador. She will tour research facilities, universities, wastewater treatment facilities and some culture events.

  • Presented Karlyn "Kay" Dewson with the Distinguished Service Award for Water Treatment (Water Operator of the Year). The award was given for her service as the operations and maintenance person for the Dewey Beach Water and Sussex County Industrial Airpark Water Facilities.

  • Listened to a presentation given by the Delaware Transit Corporation (DTC). The DTC is looking for innovative ideas to serve Sussex County residents and reduce congested areas. Stickels said he is preparing some recommendations for the group. Councilman George Cole suggested better signs to mark current bus stops. Rogers suggested clearer advertising of the system, fares and routes.

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