Archive for June, 2010

Packaged energy, heat spell and classic houses

June 28, 2010

Images everywhere testify to daily living.

28 June 2010

The full moon, a strawberry moon I’m told, just passed.  It and the sun have been pouring down lots of heat.  The spell is expected to snap later this week and nice weather is forecast for the Independence Day weekend ahead.

A while back I was climbing out of a big dump truck when the scene beneath the driver’s seat caught my eye.  I thought, this is what drives America: special blend Marlboros with a strong dose of nicotine in each cigarette and additional caffeine and  sugar in a chocolate pie.  Time plus effort equals accomplishment.  Throw in caffeine, nicotine and sugar and there’s plenty of fuel for the effort engine.

Driving the back streets of Ellendale recently I came across two classic residences, just a block or two from the main railroad line that dissects Sussex County.  I’d call both of these houses good examples of early 20th-century Delaware architecture during a prosperous time in Ellendale’s history. If anyone knows what architectural styles these represent, please write me a note so I can pass it along.

Here are the houses.  They both front on State Street on the south side of town.

The gable-end treatment of this house intrigues me.

A lot of love is being poured into the care of this Ellendale home and its grounds.

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Thundering storm brings sorely needed rain

June 23, 2010

Churning waters from Tuesday night's storm stirred up the Ebenezer Branch of Canary Creek where it flows beneath the Lewes to Georgetown railroad line. The waters of the creek had been running clear prior to the rain. The speed of the storm resulted in lots of sediment flowing into the creek, muddying the proverbial waters.

23 June 2010

A booming and crackling thunderstorm roared across Delaware’s Cape Region at about 11 p.m. Tuesday night.  It brought with it an inch of rain sorely needed by crops and their farmers.  Gilbert Holt, at the Lewes Board of Public Works Power Plant which maintains an official weather reporting station, said the gauge there measured .96 inches of rain from the storm. All of that rain fell in a short period of time, with lashing sheets of water testing the strength of stalks and trunks.  Hydrangeas, heavy with blossoms,  took a real beating. At the Maritime Exchange Tower on the point of Cape Henlopen, instruments clocked the storm’s highest gusts at about 70.  That’s hurricane strength.  We’re lucky it wasn’t a sustained 70. Ocean temperatures are already tracking in the low 70s.  There has been lots of speculation that this will be a particularly active hurricane season. If this summer keeps up its hot ways, the warming waters will contribute to those storms.

Lewes Fire Department volunteers joined volunteers from Indian River and Rehoboth Beach for a structure fire at The Peninsula on Indian River Bay.  Lewes Chief Wally Evans said the building was struck during the storm and smoldered over night before breaking out just before sunrise this morning.

An inch of rain at this time of the year is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to Sussex farmers who had been watching the fronds of their corn plants beginning to stand up and curl as a defense against drought.  That’s a real turnaround from early spring when many fields were still under water and many farmers wondered whether they would even be able to plant this year.

Rehoboth canalfront improvements progressing

June 22, 2010

Work is moving steadily ahead for improvements along the canal bank in Rehoboth Beach.

22 June 2010

The bank stabilization and overlook deck project on the canal bank in Rehoboth Beach, behind the Rehoboth Beach Museum, is progressing steadily. Since this picture was taken about a week ago, the foundation for the overlook deck has been added and landscaping work is continuing.  The project will add further to the public’s enjoyment of this lesser-known waterfront area in the Nation’s Summer Capitol.

While this work is progressing, design work is continuing for an additional ramp and wharf component which would allow kayakers and canoeists access to The Grove Park, Rehoboth Beach Museum and the rest of the downtown area.  That project is still in the conceptual stages but will eventually be an important part of the water link between Lewes, Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach.

This ground is too good for houses

June 15, 2010

Earl Warren has a fine appreciation for the well-drained soil he farms west of Rehoboth.

Earl Warren sat on his four-wheeled ATV, considering the irrigation system, watching bicyclists and walkers going by on the Junction and Breakwater Trail, sweating in the hot sun of a Sunday afternoon.

I got off my bike and walked through a band of tall grass at the edge of his field.  He motored over to meet me.

“Dry isn’t it?”

“Real dry. We need rain.”

“This is good ground isn’t it?”

“Too good for houses,” he told me.  “Like across the street.  That Futcher farm. One of the nicest pieces of ground around.  Now it’s houses and condos. We’re losing lots of great farmland. That piece where Kmart is now, I used to get 220, 230 bushels of corn a year off that.  And that’s dry ground.  No irrigation.” In the world of farming, anything over 200 bushels per acre on non-irrigated ground is considered exceptional.

The farm we stood on borders the Junction and Breakwater Trail and Glade Road. Riders and walkers can watch the flow of the seasons as they pass the fields. They can watch tilling in the spring, planting and cultivating in the summer, harvesting in the fall.  In between, day by day, they can watch the plants grow.  Sometimes corn, sometimes soybeans, sometimes wheat or alfalfa. “This is alfalfa here,” said Warren.  “Just cut it.  Should get five or six more cuttings this year.”

Alfalfa is cut and stored in long, white plastic skins that stretch along edges of Warren’s fields like caterpillars awaiting transformation to a next life. In the case of alfalfa, it will be fed to Warren’s dairy cows to become milk and, eventually, beef.

“All natural,” he said.  “And I’ve never used any growth hormones ever. What they eat is what I grow, and, sometimes over the years, some mixed grains feed I’ve bought.  None of it had hormones in it either.”

Warren’s looking into establishing a farm market on his home farm along the Glade Road.  He would like to sell dairy products and produce grown on one of the last farms in the Rehoboth area.

In another nearby field, large round bales of straw stretch across the gentle roll like big checkers or some other kind of game pieces for the gods.  Bob Raley told me Warren does a lot of the baling for farmers on the east side of Sussex.  Everyone finds their niche.

We watched the irrigation system, and its cool, pulsing spurts of water, make its way toward us while we talked. When the first drops approached, Earl said he had to go reverse the direction  of the system.  He fired up his ATV and dusted across the short alfalfa stubble as I started pedaling again toward Lewes. What he said kept playing through my mind.  “This ground’s too good for houses.”

Nature will provide if we allow it.

Bales of straw dot a field along the Junction and Breakwater Trail.

Graduation, parking lot, wildflowers, solar

June 8, 2010

Parking lot construction progressing at Cape Henlopen High School.

8 June 2010

Tonight several hundred students will graduate from Cape Henlopen High School.  The forecast is good: clear, low humidity, brisk.  Contractors have been hard at work getting as much of the new parking lot complete to handle the crowds expected for the ceremony,  Lots of people will be on hand with cameras looking for smiles and photo opportunities.

Wildflowers in an overgrown field near Five Points.

It’s a wildflower time of the year.  There is such incredible beauty in the way nature handles things.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of walking through a field and seeing what has sprung up since the last time you looked.  These flowers were in a field near Five Points.

The units at Huling Cove are angled toward the sun.

Notice anything unusual about these buildings at the Huling Cove senior housing complex on Savannah Road in Lewes?  When they were built during the oil shortage in the late 1970s, the buildings were sited and the roofs angled to take maximum advantage of the southern exposure so they could some day be fitted with solar panels.  The solar panels have never happened and now shady sycamores get in the way of the sun.  But some day the forethought could be rewarded with an actual array of solar panels.

Lewes library looking to the future

June 4, 2010

Maureen Rozanski, studio director for Buck Simpers Architect and Associates, talks about future possibilities for Lewes Public Library.

4 June 2010

A couple of dozen people filled the domed atrium of Cape Henlopen High School Thursday night to hear Lewes Public Library officials talk about the challenges of their present building in Stango Park and what options might be available for the future.  Beckie Healey, president of the library’s board, said library usage has grown by double-digit percentages for the past several years, the processing work space behind the scenes has become cramped and crowded due to the growing demand for processing books and other materials, the 22-year-old building needs about $750,000 worth of work to repair leaks, aging heating and cooling equipment and other problems. She said because of the way state funding for library facilities goes, planning has to begin now for what may be needed five years from now.

Many people on hand took the presentation as a plan to build a new library, possibly outside the city limits of Lewes.  They didn’t like that.  People like the library being in the heart of the community, just a few minutes drive or walk from their homes. Some also said they didn’t like the idea of building a larger library, one that would become impersonal and lose the quaintness of the current facility.  Still others questioned what the library of the future will look like, especially with technology putting books and other traditional library materials in people’s hands via computer and other electronic devices.

There was a sense that the library of the future will be more of a community center, where people can access computers and other technology, where they can attend programs and where they can collaborate on projects and community issues. Some felt that such a facility would be a good place for people of all ages to interact, and a place where a variety of age groups could hang out safely and with resource people on hand to help with questions, problems and accessing information. A young doctor’s wife noted that her family couldn’t afford to buy a house in Lewes but used the library facilities and applauded the forward-thinking effort of the board members.

Board members said they are still deciding how to expand in the future and if so, where.  They said due to limited parking and no desire to take up any more green space in Stango Park, any expansion would probably require construction of a new facility. That led to questions about what would happen with the present facility, owned by the town, sources of funding and possible locations.  Board members said they have been looking for potential locations in and around Lewes but haven’t come up with any strong options yet.

“At this point we’re just trying to get a sense of what the people want,” said Healey.  “Our service area goes all the way to Angola Neck and takes in much more than just Lewes. We know people would like us to stay right where we are but if that’s the case, we still have some major decisions to make.”

She said there will be many more sessions in the months ahead to help determine a direction for the future.