Local students excel during Soroptimist of Seaford youth forum

By Tony E. Windsor

Students from across Sussex County plied their knowledge of environmental science as participants in the annual Soroptimist International of Seafords Youth Forum. The forum was held on Saturday, April 14, at Trinity Logistics in Seaford. Students from Laurel, Delmar, Sussex Technical, and Woodbridge high schools as well as Sussex Academy joined in the discussion that centered on the topic of balancing conservation with development.

The keynote speaker was Kenny Bounds, who was appointed by Delaware Gov. John Carney in January as deputy secretary of agriculture. Previously, he served Delaware farmers for nearly four decades as an executive with Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit, retiring in 2015 as senior vice president. A longtime advocate for agriculture, Bounds also served as president of Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc., president of LEAD Maryland Foundation, Inc. and was a co-founder of LEADelaware.

He was honored with the Delaware Secretary of Agricultures Award for Distinguished Service to Delaware Agriculture in 2016, DPIs Delmarvas Distinguished Citizen Award in 2004 and the Farm Credit Top 100 national agricultural leaders in 2016. He holds a degree in agronomy soils from the University of Maryland, College Park, is active in the Boy Scouts of America as an assistant scoutmaster at Troop 249 in Seaford, and lives near Laurel.

Bounds gave a presentation that focused on the efforts by state and local farmers to help maintain a balance between the states huge dependence of the economics of the farming industry with the need to protect and preserve the area environment.

He gave an overview of the farming landscape nationally to help the students understand a more national and global perspective. He said there are an estimated 2.1 million farms throughout the United States; of which, 99 percent are operated by families through individual, family partnerships or family corporations. Farm and ranch families comprise under two percent of the U.S. population and women make up 30 percent of U.S. farm operations, he said.

Bounds also explained that in Delaware 40 percent of land is in agriculture. According to Bounds 24 percent of Delawares farmland is permanently preserved; sixteen percent of that in Sussex County. He told the students that making this open space available for farming operations provides multiple opportunities for the state. Land in agriculture promotes enhanced open space and wildlife habitat while providing food production security, he said.

Delaware has an estimated 2,450 farms of which 64 percent are considered the owners primary occupation. There are $1.3 billion direct agriculture-related sales. According to Bounds, 70 percent of gross farm income is from poultry.

He explained that much is to be expected of the worlds farmers as population increases. One farm feeds 165 people annually in the U.S. and abroad, he said. The global population is expected to increase to 9.7 billion by the year 2050. This means the worlds farmers will have to grow about 70 percent more food than what is now being produced.

While the number of chicken houses has decreased on Delmarva since 1987, the amount of chickens and pounds of meat produced has increased significantly. Bounds said there were 6,083 chicken houses raising poultry in 1987 and in 2017 it was reported that number had decreased to 5,091. The number of chicken growers on Delmarva has similarly decreased with a reported almost 3,000 growers in 1987 and about 1,550 in 2017.

However, chicken houses in 2017 produced over 605 million chickens last year compared to about 490 million in 2017. Likewise chicken meat produced last year amounted to about 4.2 billion pounds almost twice that produced in 1987 (2.3 billion pounds).

Bounds said initiatives like Delawares Nutrient Management Program are helping to provide the balance necessary to ensure that what it takes to facilitate farms does not create issues with the environment. The Nutrient Management Program works to make sure that creation and application of nutrients from farms that may reach waterways and tributaries, meets or exceeds the federally mandated water quality standards.

In 1999, the state adopted the Nutrient Management Commission which oversees the nutrient management program and establishes regulations pertaining to nutrient management, waste management for animal feeding operations and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination system permits. Delawares Nutrient Management Program is highly regarded nationwide and farmer education driven, Bounds said. It has certified nutrient management consultants and compliance issues are being enhanced. The focus is on risks to the environment and less on paperwork.

The students participating in the Youth Forum fielded questions regarding the environment and economics and their responses were judged by a panel of judges including:
  • Bonnie Van Tine who taught school for three years in Maryland and 25 years in Seaford. Presently, she is co-chair of the education department of the Seaford Historical Society.
  • Rob Rector, vice president of the Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of marine mammals and sea turtles and their habitat. He also chairs the communication department at Del Tech Community College, writes a weekly film review column for the Cape Gazette, and produces a monthly film at the Milton Theatre.
  • Mike Vincent, president of the Sussex County Council and former Seaford City Council member, as well as a past chief, past president and lifetime member of the Seaford Volunteer Fire Department, and a one-time president of the Delaware Volunteer Firefighters Association. He owns Vincent Fire Equipment, which supplies volunteer fire companies throughout Delaware with fire-related emergency equipment.

This years Youth Forum student participants included Noah Hale, Klaven Karahasan, Melchor Riano, Morgan Wright, and Zainab Ahmed, Delmar High School; Nyra N. Giles and Tyler Keeler, Laurel High School; Edward Yu, Sussex Academy; Jonte Desire, Sussex Technical High School and Yasmine Signey, Woodbridge High School.

Winners of this years Youth Forum were: Morgan Wright, First Place ($750); Melchor Riano, Second Place ($500) and Jonte Desire, Third Place ($400).

The annual youth forum has been hosted by Soroptimist of Seaford since a special Winter Carnival was held in 1995, to begin raising interest in a capital campaign to build the Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club at Hollis Park. The judges for the first Youth Forum included Dr. Ben Carson, former head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins and now Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, as well as Walter Anderson, former chairman, publisher, and chief executive officer of Parade Magazine.

By Lynn R. Parks Two men are vying to be mayor of the city of Seaford. David Genshaw is hoping to return for his third term as leader of the city. He is being challenged by Alfred Lee Ikey Cannon. The election will be Saturday, April 21, in city hall. The Seaford Star asked each man seven questions. Following are their answers.

Alfred Cannon
Q - What do you feel the responsibilities of a mayor are?
A - I feel that the responsibilities of a citys mayor are to know the issues of the city by not just hearing them from a board but to also allow informal time for all of the people of the city to express their concerns, and to help make the final decisions that are best for all of the citizens of their city, to do his/her best to not just hear the views of the city council concerning the issues of the city but to reach out as much as possible to obtain diverse views from every culture in its city concerning the issues and including those thoughts to help make the best decisions for all of our citizens. I also feel that the mayor should be an individual who is active in the community at large, someone who involves themselves with the citizens which will build a relationship between citizens and government, which would result greatly for our city.

Q - How will you live up to those responsibilities?
A - I will live up to the responsibilities previously stated by being fully involved in our community and including viewpoints of every ethnicity, religious, age, sex, socio/economic background.

Q - How do you feel about the citys recent right-to-work ordinance, forbidding companies in the city from requiring that employees make contributions to unions?
A - I feel that due to the lack of jobs in our city and with the ever increasing rates of this city, this was one of the best decisions made for our city. Many of our residents are low/set income families and while they main have gained education to obtain a good job, there isnt always financial support to have extra fees required of the money they do make; I also feel that this decision allowed our citizens to take back the power over their finances by being allowed to decide to participate in a union rather than being required.

Q - The city has been taking steps to be more user-friendly. What do you feel still needs to be done?
A - Seaford is moving toward becoming a better user-friendly environment and that is awesome. I just believe we have to include the voice/desires of all users in our city in order for this to be effective.

Q - Do you feel that the city needs to make changes to encourage citizens to participate in government?
A - I do feel that there are several steps our city can take to encourage our citizens to get involved. I feel that the most important step is, we have to first build a relationship again between our local government and all of our citizens. There has to be a reminder that our government is not here for what betters them, but what betters US as a city, they need to be reminded that our officials care about our city and want and need to hear their voices to be heard despite our many diversities. We also should do away with having our own registration list and allow all who are registered to vote in the elections for the United States the opportunity to freely participate in our local government elections, many of our citizens are under the impression that because they registered and voted that they dont need to register again and are being turned away the day of voting because the city goes by its own list of registered voters. I also believe we need to build a committee to plan events and help inform our citizens of the importance of their voices (opinions) being heard and then exciting them to not only register but vote.

Q - Please comment on what you like about Seaford
A - I love that Seaford has always been a safe place, I like that we are improving our health care facilities, our schools are becoming better, and our streets are now safer than they have been for our children and seniors.

Q - Please comment on what about the city you would like to see changed.
A - We have a large variety of abandoned property in our city, I would like to see some of this property obtained by the city and used for purposes of better our city, for example we need a homeless facility dues to our homeless population expanding, a youth center to allow our youth a place to enjoy life among peers in a safe and non-expensive atmosphere. These to facilities alone could help bring job opportunities to our city. We need to find a way to bring strong successful businesses to our city and to inspire our small business owners to go to the next level of success. We need to find a more aggressive yet none disrespectful way to enforce our zero tolerance drug acceptance. We need to revive our city and restore its beauty and youthfulness making it The perfect place to start and get rid of the retirement stigma that has been placed over our city. We need to re-evaluate our commercial and residential rental rates due to the lack of jobs in our city, and the lack of business attraction to our city. We need more community events to bring people to our city to display what a great place this is to live, and start. The greatest thing we need in our city is more UNITY. We need to remember that we are not separated by age, sex, gender, ethnicity, religious , or socio/economic background.

David Genshaw
Q What do you feel the responsibilities of a mayor are?
A The responsibility of a mayor is to lead council meetings and be the lead representative at public functions for both the government and the community. I believe the mayor has a larger role in setting the vision and direction of your city. It is more than doing the right thing but doing the right thing for others. A mayor needs to be willing to challenge the status quo constantly making sure we are providing the very best to the people of their community.

Q How will you live up to those responsibilities?
A The community can view how I will live up to these responsibilities based on my past actions.

Q How do you feel about the citys recent right-to-work ordinance, forbidding companies in the city from requiring that employees make contributions to unions?
A This ordinance that the city council unanimously supported in December 2017 may be the most critical action taken by our city to set us apart not only in Sussex County but in the state of Delaware and in the northeast. The key to our success is job creation. What we can do to make Seaford a place where companies want to locate is to keep low taxes and fees, have utilities in place and ready to go, a fast moving government to help move through the process quickly, and being a right-to-work area. Voting in right-to-work has allowed the city of Seaford to be promoted for free. I am very proud of our city council for their leadership on this issue.

Q The city has been taking steps to be more user-friendly. What do you feel still needs to be done?
A I am happy with our progress but this is a topic that requires continual evaluation to make improvements that benefit all. We have added communication through Facebook and blast emails which have helped improve public communication. We created an email link so that anyone can email both mayor and council along with the city manager in one note. There are several upgrades in process and testing now to improve communication: See, Click, Fix will allow the community to take a picture on their cell phone and send to the city which will automatically route to the correct department for quick follow up. Our plan forward includes a complete makeover of our website adding many more features and access points. We are currently testing a program called OpenGov which will compile the city financials in a way the public can easily view. I believe this will continue to improve and change as technology advances and how the public choses to digest information.

Q Do you feel that the city needs to make changes to encourage citizens to participate in government?
A I believe it is the role of every citizen to be involved in their local government but this starts with education. Our country was founded by local people being involved with what was going on with their local community and how it was being governed and having the willingness to invest their time, talent, and money. I am committed to encouraging others to run for office, get involved on a city committee, and attend meetings which allow them to be aware of what is going on in their city. This election cycle shows a significant increase in the number of people running for office which is a good sign that people want to be involved. I also understand that being involved in government is not everyones calling. Seaford is fortunate to have many groups that make an impact on our city with their own vision and purpose. I will take a risk here of possibly leaving someone out but here are just a few: Seaford Historical Society (their impact with the Ross Mansion, Seaford Museum, and their festivals), Seaford Spade and Trowel Club (the downtown flowers and beautification and all across the City), Seaford Library (all their events to benefit the people of Seaford), Seaford Downtown Association (their parades and downtown investments in business) and Nanticoke Senior Center (their investment into our local seniors with entertainment, exercise, and homebound meals). Not to mention the Soroptimist, Lions Club, Rotary, Kiwanis, Boys and Girls Club, and the list goes on. Our faith-based community is also very involved in supporting the people of Seaford. We should not forget our private sector companies that make an impact in improving our community like Nanticoke Health Services, which continually invests back into Seaford, as well as Trinity Logistics along with many other businesses. Seaford is blessed to have such high quality community oriented businesses here.

Q Please comment on what you like about Seaford.
A I love Seaford because this is where my family calls home. The people here are honest, hardworking, and are live here for the same reasons we do they love the quality of lifestyle that Seaford provides. It is a great place to raise your family. We love the sense of a small town yet we are close enough to Washington D.C., Baltimore or Philadelphia if we want to visit or need what they offer. Our memories are here and our future is here.

Q Please comment on what about the city you would like to see changed.
A I would like to see good-paying careers here so that our young people have the option to stay here and re-invest in our community. With good paying jobs will come more shops, restaurants and activities to build an even better community.

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