Saturday, April 07, 2007

Tennessee Marijuana Cave

Over at Objectivity and Observation there is a link to an article on a large marijuana growing operation that was underground. Can't seem to link this to illegal immigrants so it seems to be an American homegrown operation. Looks like they had a lot of money tied up in it. Of course they no doubt made a lot of money.

April Snow

By 9:30 its was over with and melting.

Well the snow started about 6:45 this morning and by 7:05 the flowers had a dusting on them.

Our cat looking out the window at the snow.

An Answer to the Stray Dog Problems

This is an interesting article in the BBC on eating dogs in Nigeria
It is of course a matter of culture, as one man says in the article he would never eat a frog but someplaces in the world they do eat frogs. I guess he never heard of a muskrat or he would have a fit.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Helen Mulholland, Master Blender

There is an article about Helen Mulholland, the first female Master Blender at Old Bushmill Distillery, in the Belfast Telegraph. Old Bushmill Distillery is about to celebrate it's 400th birthday in 2008. It was given a license to distill whiskey in 1608 from King James I. Helen Mulholland started at Old Bushmill 14 years ago as a lab tech. She was trained as a Food Technologist before going to Bushmill. After 12 years she was made a Master Blender.

Bushmill is a good Irish whiskey, but usually out of my price range. In our area the "original" is about $25 for a 750 ml bottle and the 10 year old version is about $40 a bottle. It is not usually sold in the Delmar liquor stores as it doesn't come in a 1/2 pint (200 ml) bottle. You have to sell to your market and the basic half pint bottle in a paper bag seems to suit the customers best for sitting around downtown in the "park".

Delmar High School Before Easter Break

The trees are in bloom at Delmar High School. When you ride by you can feel the electric energy waiting to burst forth as Easter/Spring Break starts at the end of the school day.

Delmar Heritage Center gets wired

Work is proceeding on the Delmar Heritage Center

Delmar 2008 Utility Budget

At the last Delmar Joint Council meeting the 1st reading of the budget for the year 2007 to 2008 was given. This is usually referred to as the 2008 budget. Included in this budget is the Delmar Utility Commission budget. For the past couple of years I have been against the Delmar Utility Commission budget because the rates that are charged to the users of the water and sewer system are incorrect and should be less than what is currently charged. Again this year at the budget workshop when I asked for the rates to be lowered in order to accurately reflect the requirements for the upcoming year the other members of the commission were against lowering the rate. The reason given was the Town does not want to lower rates when in the budget year 2009 the Town may have a major problem that will require increased revenue and they would have to increase the rates again. Their feeling was it is better to overcharge than to change rates each year.

The fee I was most against is the Water Availability fee and the Sewer Front Foot fee. The revenue from these fees were originally set up to cover the annual repayment of loans the Utility Commission has outstanding for water and sewer capital loans. Currently the fees are; Water Availability $17.35 a quarter ($69.40 a year) and Sewer Front Foot Fee of $33.00 per quarter ($132 a year). The total for the year for water and sewer Availability and Front Foot fees would be $201.40 per residential user. The projected revenue from these two fees in the 2008 budget will be $507,000. The problem is the debt payments we will make in 2008 is only $323,000. This will result in an overcharge to the users of the water and sewer system of $184,000. I suggested reducing the combined water and sewer Availability and Front Foot fees to each user from $201.40 to $131.40 a year. This would be a reduction of $70.00 a year ($17.50 per quarter) per user from the proposed charge to bring the charge into alignment with the actual requirements. As I said the other members of the Utility Commission (Diane Buckley, Mary Lee Pase, Joan Tisinger), the Town Manager (Sara Bynum-King) and the Municipal Town Clerk (Kimberly Layton) were against this.

Now seventy dollars now days isn’t a lot of money. If you own an SUV it probably won’t fill the gas tank. However there are a number of people in Delmar who are on Social Security and while seventy dollars may not make the difference in buying the necessities of life, it may allow them to buy a couple gallons of paint to spruce up their house, or make a “voluntary” contribution to the town library, or retain a little dignity by having some extra money so they can give a grandson ten dollars on his birthday. Regardless of the income level of the users of the Delmar water and sewer System, I think I can do more with $70 in my pocket than to let my $70 be in the town’s pocket.

At the next Joint Council meeting they will vote for the second and final time on the budget. Once approved it is somewhat fixed in stone. If you feel as I do that the rate should be reduced than contact your councilperson or commissioner and tell them so. If you are not sure who they are see the below list.

DelawareMayor John F. Outten, Sr.
Vice Mayor Michael Houlihan
Council Person Mary Lee Pase
Council Person Diane Buckley
Council Person Lonnie Figgs

Mayor P.Douglas Niblett
Deputy Mayor C.Luther Hitchens
Commissioner Joan Tisinger
Commissioner Carl Anderton, Jr.
Commissioner Carrie Williams

A quote from President Calvin Coolidge
Collecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Plastic bags in Trees Blog

I was reading an article in the Baltimore Sun by Laura Vozzella called Every Little Breeze Rustles Bags in trees
In the article she points out a blog site dedicated to photographs of plastic bags in trees in Baltimore. The blog Bags in is a website dedicated to showcasing the beauty of the omnipresent plastic accessories that adorn the trees of Baltimore, MD.

A year ago I wrote on post on the subject of plastic bags and how something has to be done about them. "Bags in trees" is a humorous outlook on them but the number of bags out there really is not funny. To a lesser degree the plastic wrapper bags on newspapers are just as bad.

UPDATE: Additional Articles on Plastic bags
SF Bans Bags

Tax on plastic bags

articles on plastic bags

Plastic Newspaper Wrappers

Plastic bags

Oil saved on not using bags

Ban the bags - Baketown

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Delmar Library Financial Problems

The Delmar Library has financial problems according to Dr Bastian at the last Joint council Meeting. Their needs seem to fall into two areas; first is a shortfall in the operating budget and second is an expansion plan to double the size of the library.

The 2008 operating budget seems to come up short. If I wrote the number down correctly at the Joint Council meeting, the budget is $271,000. Of this Sussex County and the State of Delaware will pay $191,000, leaving $80,000 for the library to pay. Dr. Bastian said the trust fund they have will only generate $52,000. This leaves $28,000 as a shortfall. He feels the Town of Delmar government should support the library, financial, more than what it currently does. Currently the Town gives the library some token contribution of a $1,000 plus free garbage pickup, free water and sewer, and exempts it from taxes. I assume it can take the taxes collected from town residents and do this based on the Delmar Town charter Section 4, item 45 which allows the Town to use tax payers money to assist private enterprises. Like the fire department the library has a district that it provides service to, it is not just the Town of Delmar town limits. It seems however the easiest source of money is a government as the people that distribute the money seem to have no problems with giving it away. Since we have no choice but to pay the Town taxes or have our home sold, the town makes an involuntary donation on our part to the library. The library has said it provides “free” membership to anyone who lives in the Delmar School District. It is considering, supposedly, charging people in the school district but on the Maryland side of town a fee of $15. I think Dr Bastian said out of the 4,624 users of the library 1,832 had a Maryland address. This could generate $27,480 in added revenue. Personally I doubt it. Even if they were to charge the membership fee, most families would not buy a membership for everyone in the family. They would do like we do with the Wicomico County Library, buy one membership than everyone in the family would use that one card. I also think a number of them would just start using the Wicomico County Free Library more than what they currently do. Everyone likes something that is “free” but when you ask for money to support it, it is another story. I would guess at a revenue number of half the $27,000 would come from charging Maryland residents.

So what is my suggestions on this, I really am a cut expenses person rather than a revenue generator and I would suggest they cut staff or whatever to achieve their budget. I would agree the amount the Town of Delmar gives the library is minimal, however it is not part of the Delmar town government and we should not be taxed on a non government operations.

The expansion plan is to double the size of the current library. This cost will be about two million dollars of which the State of Delaware will pick up half of the construction cost. Needless to say you know where the other million dollars will come from. The expansion is too increase the library services and space needed for the projected increased population over the next twenty years. We are told this expansion is needed based on “State” requirements and a study conducted by a consultant and paid for by the library. Now with the exception of the computers services provided by the library, I can’t say the Delmar Library is an overly crowded place. Even on their busy time of Saturday it doesn’t seem too inconvenient in comparison to two million dollars. The lack of space that I see when I am in there is in office space for employees. Laurel has just had a major expansion and frankly it is like a ghost town when you walk around the upstairs part of their library. Salisbury is yelling they need a new library but I can’t say it is overly busy either, with the exception of the computer services. All non profits organizations like to increase their size but frankly I can’t say a 6,000 square feet expansion, parking spots, and landscaping is really necessary. I am sure we all realize that with an increased building size will come increased staff which will mean increased operating costs and since they can’t meet their operating costs now why would they want to increase the size of the building? Do they have a hidden potential source of money? I don’t see the Town of Delmar using taxpayers dollars to pay on a routine basis the shortfall in operating income for an organization that is not part of the Town Government. The Maryland side of town may be rich enough to do this but I am sure the Delaware side is not.

No one wants to be against the library, but I think you have to live within your budget. As someone who lives off social security I know every month how difficult it is to live off a budget, but governments and non profits organizations should learn to do so and adjust their operating methods to fit their budget. If people truly want increased services or just to maintain the current level of service they will have to open their wallets and make a donation to the library. If they don’t it sends the message that the residents in the Delmar school district does not want increased services or the current level of services and perhaps the library should readjust their outlook on what the residents will support.

Happy Birthday David Howard

Today David G Howard of Pocomoke turns 58. Happy Birthday David!!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Murder Suspect Arrested

The Delmar Police Force arrested a suspect in the killing of Van Crawford. So do you all feel more safe? I for one do not. I question if there has been a series of break-in leading up to this murder. As I have stated before the Delmar Police do not release their crime report to the newspapers or the general public.

If you believe the information posted on Joe Albero blog he states;
"I met with the Delmar Fire Department who informed me that things were getting pretty bad in Delmar, crime wise. They’re stating there are local Gangs and they are praying on the elderly. They even stated that some elderly people were being mugged during broad daylight leaving the local Bank, yet we’re not hearing of any of this in the local news."

I think it is a shame that if you are not in the public safety clique in Delmar you don't know about the crime that is going on. The Delmar Police Force has a web site and if they can list stolen bicycles they should be able to list a summary of crime that is occurring each day. At least you would know what areas not to go walking in. When I go to the quarterly Police Commission meeting, things are spoken of in such vague terms you still don't know for sure where the danger areas are. It is time they spoke up and be straight about what is going on in Delmar. Everyone is being taxed but yet you never hear in the news what the police force is doing unless someone gets killed.

There is a quarterly Police Commission meeting next Monday night. The Police Commission consists of Maryland Mayor Niblett, Delaware Mayor Outten and Delaware Councilperson Buckley. Maybe you should attend or give those Police Commission members a call to see what is going on.

Some Upcoming Meetings & Events In Delmar

April 3rd 7PM Delmar Revitalization Committee meeting
April 6th Town Hall is closed for Good Friday
April 6th thru April 13th Spring Break for Delmar Middle and Senior Hi School
April 9th 6:30 Delmar Police Commission
April 10 and 11th Spring Clean up on the Maryland Side of town
April 12th and 13th Spring Clean Up on Delaware Side of Town
April 12th 7PM Concerned Citizens meeting
April 21st Spring Yard Sale in State Street Park contact Melanie Boltz at 302-846-3079

WWI Vets die off

A week or so back Charlotte Winters, the last American female World War I veteran, died. Today, they are announcing Lloyd Brown the last World War I Navy Veteran died. There are now three known survivors who served in the American Army, all over 100 years old. It is something of a miracle to reach age 100 so those three veterans are lucky, if they are in reasonable health for their age.

The period in American history of World War I to the 1930's is one of the most interesting periods in the changing of American society. All kinds of technology was produced for the masses. Social values were reinvented. In today's outlook extreme viewpoints were popular and Delmarva changed from a very clannish society to one in which it was only a little clannish. Over at Objectivity and observation Historical Wit is writing a 25 page on World War I.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Crime Wave Continues in Delmar

I understand today an elderly Delmar Maryland man was beaten to death and his home broken in to. The Police force really needs to start posting their crime reports so we can get some idea on how bad the crime situation is in Delmar. We don't need hush ups.