Delaware 105.9 Blog: Mark Fowser

Top southern Delaware stories of 2016

2016: a memorable year in Delaware.

Who would have believed that the road to The White House went through Delmarva?

Donald Trump brought his campaign to the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington just days before the state's Presidential primary - and just days after he also brought big crowds at a rally in Worcester County.

(Our coverage:)

Trump would go on to win the Delaware Republican primary, and Democrat Hillary Clinton cruised to victory as well. Trump's campaign would enjoy success in southern Delaware in the general election, and Sussex County Councilman Rob Arlett served as his statewide chairman.

A vacancy developed on Sussex County Council where Joan Deaver declined to seek re-election in District 3. Businessman I.G. Burton won a four-way GOP primary, then defeated Democrat Leslie Ledogar in November. Ellendale Mayor Norman Jones, a Republican, was elected Clerk of the Peace. Area lawmakers won re-election, while Delawareans elected Congressman John Carney as Governor, Senator Bethany Hall-Long as Lieutenant Governor and Lisa Blunt Rochester as the state's first woman and the first African-American to represent The First State in the US House.

2016 certainly was not lacking for interesting, tragic and inspiring stories:

The Indian River School District Board of Education placed the district's chief financial officer on paid administrative leave in late April for unspecified reasons. The personnel matter set off months of uncertainty as a expense referendum was approaching. Later, Patrick Miller officially retired and the district turned elsewhere for financial guidance. Days before the November referendum the state Auditor of Accounts released the results of its investigation, which found that the district placed too much trust in Miller regarding spending decisions, a practice which "failed to prevent or detect financial improprieties and created and environment where nepotism and intimidation tactics were commonplace." The referendum failed by 30 votes. The Indian River School District will try again with a referendum in early March.

(Our coverage:)

With two days left in the year, Governor-elect John Carney announced he is nominating Indian River School District Superintendent Susan Bunting as Delaware Secretary of Education.

Sussex County, and it seemed the entire State of Delaware, mourned the death of Lewes firefighter Tim McClanahan who died in a training accident in July when he fell from a helicopter. Local citizens joined firefighters and other first-responders as they lined area roadways for the procession that carried his body. The funeral drew firefighters from all over the eastern seaboard.

(Our coverage:)

2016 was just a few weeks old when parts of the state faced a blizzard, while coastal regions dealt with significant flooding. Governor Markell and others took a helicopter tour of the beach areas for a view from above.

Days after the storm, as he was clearing snow from his mailbox, former State Senator Benjamin Ewing - known as "Gentle Ben" in Dover - was struck and killed by a vehicle.

Representative Jack Peterman and former Milford-area lawmaker George Carey passed away in 2016. Sussex County lost an enthusiastic advocate when Economic Development Director Melody Booker Wilkins lost her battle with cancer. The extraordinary contributions of Cheryl Blackman in the Rehoboth Beach community were recognized with a parade in her honor, not long after she moved into hospice. Months later, she died at the age of 53.

A Felton woman died under tragic circumstances over the summer at a zipline course in New Castle County's Lums Pond State Park.

(our coverage)

The convicted killer of Georgetown Police Officer Chad Spicer, Derrick Powell, will apparently be spared the death penalty for which he was sentenced in 2011. The Delaware Supreme Court in a December ruling stated that a ruling which declared the death penalty unconstitutional is retroactive, and anyone sentenced to die by lethal injection should be resentenced to life in prison.

(Our coverage:)

After an absence of two years, Punkin' Chunkin' made its return to Sussex County in early November. Spirits were high as visitors and locals flocked to a Bridgeville farm to watch catapults and rockets fling pumpkins for distance. However, a malfunction with one cannon seriously injured a woman who was part of a TV production crew. She faces extensive recovery, but was quoted as saying she was disappointed that The Science Channel would not complete the special and cancelled the broadcast which was scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend.

(our coverage:)

It would take many more paragraphs to fully review 2016 on Delmarva. We will be here in 2017 to keep bringing you the important stories that impact your life.

Happy New Year.

Posted at 1:38pm on December 30, 2016 by Mark Fowser

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