Summertime in Smyrna means good times, warm fellowship, and plenty of excitement!
I invite you to enjoy the great outdoors! Take the time to relax in one of our beautiful parks, take a leisurely stroll through downtown, or get your blood pumping with a power walk or bike ride on the trail behind Smyrna High School. What a great way to get fit and to spend time enjoying our charming landscape!
Where were you on June 26, 2014? Smyrna at Night made its official debut! Over 1,200 people danced the night away to 14 regional bands in six venues throughout the downtown area. Smyrna at Night is designed to get you up and out of the house, mingling with your fellow neighbors, and enjoying everything our town has to offer. Stay tuned for Smyrna at Night, II!
Don’t forget to visit the Smyrna Farmers Market this summer. Held every Thursday night until August 28 from 4 to 7 p.m., the Market will offer a great assortment of items including: farm-fresh produce, fresh-baked goods, homemade soaps and herbal products, local honey products, homemade jams and jellies, and other items crafted by local-artisans.
Finally, I am pleased to submit my fourth quarterly report to you. The report, covering the period April 2014 to June 2014, highlights a variety of town activities and initiatives. I believe you will be pleased with the town’s commitment to everyday excellence and the provision of impartial municipal services to all.
On behalf of the entire Smyrna Town Council and all town employees, we wish you a very enjoyable summer!
H. Joanne Masten
Quarterly Departmental Updates
Accounting and Business Services Department
Gary Stulir, Manager
For the time period 3/1/2014 – 5/31/2014, the Accounting and Business Services Department (ABS) processed 16,074 individual payments totaling over $6.1 million. A significant portion of these individual payments were sent through the town’s lockbox. The lockbox is a safe, secure, bank-staffed process that offers a means of processing payments more efficiently, freeing up storage space. The Town also continues to administer the free in-house direct debit for utility payments. ABS also issued 938 checks totaling over $5million.
The ABS Department also manages the town’s human resources function. During the specified time period, staff provided orientation to three new part-time employees, oversaw the annual open enrollment campaign for employees, and attended a variety of trainings designed to keep employees safe and minimize risk.
Building and Inspections Department
Grant Prichard, Manager
Below is a list of the number and valuation of building permits issued by the Building & Inspections Department for the period January 2014 – May 2014
Sign – 8 permits – Construction Value of $61,472, Permit Fee of $1,620 Single Family Homes – 22 permits – Construction Value of $2,953,350, Permit Fee of $34,199 Townhouse – 14 permits – Construction Value of $1,225,686, Permit Fee of $13,980 Duplex – 6 permits – Construction Value of $666,728, Permit Fee of $7,368 Addition – 6 permits – Construction Value of $24,072, Permit Fee of $460 Renovation – 16 permits – Construction Value of $87,198, Permit Fee of $1,476 Fence – 16 permits – Construction Value of $26,823, Permit Fee of $838 Shed – 9 permits – Construction Value of $24,928, Permit Fee of $547 Pool – 1 permits – Construction Value of $300, Permit Fee of $40 Miscellaneous – 6 permits – Construction Value of $11,434, Permit Fee of $328 Total – 104 permits – Construction Value of $5,081,991, Permit Fee of $60,856 Information Technology & Billing Department
James Markow, Manager
The Information Technology & Billing Department (ITB) manages numerous government functions including utility and tax billing, computer systems management, and voter operations. IT staff works diligently to improve the internal systems that not only enable town employees to work more efficiently, but also enhance the overall customer experience for our residents.
In an effort to improve utility service delivery, the ITB has recently installed a new meter reading system that allows reading of utility meters remotely. This meter upgrade is vitally important to the town’s utility customers for three reasons: 1) the meters may potentially save taxpayer dollars by greatly reducing the labor and transportation costs of on-site service calls; 2) the meters will improve billing accuracy by eliminating meter reading errors; and 3) the meters will give the town the ability to determine system anomalies more quickly and further enables the town to take corrective action before our residents realize there was ever a problem. The initial reading of the new meters will occur shortly.
The town’s social media presence is maintained daily by ITB staff. The web page (www.smyrna.delaware.gov), Facebook, and Twitter are used to keep our residents informed of the most current municipal news, information, and employment opportunities.
Additionally, the ITB oversaw all aspects of the municipal election for residents of Councilman District Two in April 2014.
Beverly Hirt, Manager
Library staff participated in the First Annual Smyrna Spring Arts Festival this past May. The library’s sidewalks were lined with children’s book authors and illustrators, as well as children’s activities such as face painting and crafts. The event was co-sponsored by the Smyrna Downtown Association, the Smyrna Opera House, and The Town.
The Library received two book donations recently: 1) From members of Girl Scout Troop #648 who donated 352 books; and 2) from the Duck Creek Horticultural Society. Library staff is very appreciative of the generous donations.
During the past few months, the library hosted a variety of health and nutrition programs in partnership with the University of Delaware and Delaware State University. Patrons were able to learn healthy living habits and participate in Zumba classes.
Due to popular demand, the library’s GED program has been extended this summer. This program has been going strong and has helped many people prepare for the new 2014 GED testing. Please contact the library for more information and for class times.
It is not too late to sign up for the Summer Reading Program. Every Tuesday, the library features a new reading event. Additionally, the library recently acquired a movie license which enables the presentation of better quality children and family films. Flyers with the latest movie times and titles will be posted inside the library. So stay tuned, bring a small blanket, a pillow, or your favorite stuffed toy and enjoy your library!
Planning and Zoning Department
Janet Vinc, Director
This past May, Smyrna Town Council adopted the North Corridor (NC) Zoning District recommendations developed by the Planning Director and the Planning & Zoning Commission. The NC Zoning District will apply to those parcels fronting U.S. Route 13, from Duck Creek north the State Route 1 interchange. The purpose the NC Zoning District is to provide regulations and graphic design standards to enhance both the function and the appearance of the U.S. Route 13 Corridor through the implementation of strategies outlined in both the Smyrna U.S. 13 Corridor Plan and Design Book and the Town of Smyrna Comprehensive Plan.
The Planning Director is currently working on two projects: 1) drafting appropriate guidelines for the conversion of single family dwellings into multi-family units; and 2) drafting rules and regulations for the establishment of private clubs and lodges.
The Planning Director, Councilmember Valerie White, and the Shade Tree Commission worked together to organize the Town’s Annual Arbor Day Celebration this past April. Each year as part of the celebration, Smyrna has dedicated a tree to an active member of our community who has done much to make the town a wonderful place to live, work, and play. The 2014 honoree was Mr. Daryl Jester, the town’s former Director of Public Works. A Cleveland Select Pear Tree was planted in his honor at 1 N. Main Street.
Smyrna has also been recently honored with a Tree City USA designation for the 11th consecutive year by the Arbor Day Foundation, the U.S. Forest Service, and the National Association of State Foresters.
Finally, the ever popular Smyrna Farmers Market began on June 12 and will operate every Thursday evening until August 28. The Farmers Market offers a great assortment of items including: farm-fresh produce, fresh-baked goods, local maple syrup products, homemade jams and jellies, all-natural meat products, free-range eggs and other items crafted by local-artisans. Confirmed vendors include: T.A. Farms, Two Acre Farm, Kee’s Kupkakes, Magnolia Breads, Woods Edge Gardens, Ficner’s Family Farm, Heart of Geneveive Jewelry, and Not by Bread Alone Caterers.
The mission of the Smyrna Farmers Market is to establish and operate a community supported market that provides locally grown, affordable foods and products to the Greater Smyrna community. Additionally, the market acts as an incubator for small, local businesses and producers.
Norman Wood, Interim Chief
The Smyrna Police Department (SPD) teamed up with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in the sixth annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day held this past April 2014. The community has embraced the opportunity these Take-Back Day events provide to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, or unwanted prescription drugs. Unused medications in homes create a public health and safety concern, because they are highly susceptible to accidental ingestion, diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high--more Americans currently abuse prescription drugs than the number of those using cocaine, hallucinogens, and heroin combined, according to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
SPD officers also participated in the 2014 Delaware Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run as well as the Firefly 5K Run earlier this summer.
SPD recently reconstituted their Community Policing Unit which will focus on quality of life issues in the community as well building relationships with local residents.
Starting in July, SPD’s Community Policing Unit will host Coffee with a Cop at the Bridgeway Family Restaurant (15 E. Glenwood Avenue). Coffee with a Cop, a national initiative supported by the United States Department of Justice - Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, is designed to facilitate meaningful discussions and build relationships between local police departments and the communities in which they serve.
All residents are also invited to participate in the town’s ninth annual National Night Out to be held on August 5, 2014. This popular and informative event, held simultaneously in communities across the nation, is designed to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness, generate support for local anticrime efforts, and strengthen police-community partnerships. SPD officers will be on hand to talk to residents and business owners about crime prevention techniques. More details will be placed on the town’s website as they are finalized.
Public Information/Community Relations
Dawn Thompson, Public Information Officer (PIO)
In May 2014, Gov. Jack Markell awarded the Town of Smyrna with a 2014 Healthy Community Award. The award is given to Delaware municipalities that: 1) Incorporate health promotion as an integral part of infrastructure; 2) Address policy and practice changes related to healthy living and environments; and 3) Promote and implement innovative approaches that are sustainable and replicable.
The PIO, Planning Director, and Councilmember Andrea Rodriguez worked together to prepare the town’s award-winning application.
In April 2014, various town departments submitted seven grant requests to the Department of Homeland Security to fund a myriad of projects. The PIO’s grant request seeking funds to provide security enhancements to Town Hall was the only project funded.
Over the past few months, the PIO worked with the Smyrna Boys & Girls Club and the Greater Kent Committee to expand community gardens throughout Smyrna and Northern Kent County. In June 2014, staff and volunteers from the aforementioned organizations and the Town of Smyrna (including Mayor Joanne Masten) helped local youngsters plant a wide assortment of vegetables at the Club located at 240 E. Commerce Street. The community garden initiative is a wonderful way to teach young people healthy eating habits as well as the importance of getting outside and staying physically active. The PIO and the Planning Director are also members of the town’s Parks & Recreation Committee, which is in the midst of scouting out additional locations for future community gardens.
The PIO and the Planning Director submitted a funding request to the United States Department of Agriculture for a Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG). If approved the funds would be used for marketing and public relations purposes. There are currently no town funds allocated for such a purpose.
Finally, the PIO played an integral role in the creation and execution of the town’s first Smyrna at Night Music Festival. Held this past June, the event featured 14 bands/singers in six venues across the downtown area. The PIO exclusively managed vendor selection, and assisted with venue logistics, as well as coordination with internal town departments. While our initial expected attendance was about 300, we were delighted to see over 1,200 attendees.
Public Works/Electric Department
Bill Evans, Director
The Water Systems Manager and the PIO recently completed the town’s annual Water Quality Report. The report, also known as the Water Quality Consumer Confidence Report and is mandated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, is designed to inform residents of the quality of their water system. You may download the full report at www.smyrna.delaware.gov.
Water Department staff continues to monitor and address brown water issues.
Renovations continue on Commerce Street. Construction is scheduled to continue into the autumn months.