Headlines Police & Fire

Ricketts Named MPD Officer of the Year

by Terry Rogers



On Monday, January 13, Chief Kenneth Brown of the Milford Police Department presented Corporal Jonathan Ricketts with the Officer of the Year Award at the regular meeting of Milford City Council. In the past few years, Corporal Ricketts has been recognized several times by the Milford Police Department for his dedication and service to the City.

“This is a great career,” Corporal Ricketts said. “I love being a police officer, interacting with the public and making a difference. I really enjoy the day-to-day interaction with society. I also like that no two days are the same.”

Originally from Georgetown, Corporal Ricketts graduated from Sussex Central High School before earning an undergraduate degree in criminal justice with a minor in sociology from Delaware State University. After graduation, he obtained a position as the Director of the Boys and Girls Club at Del State.

“MPD was not my first choice,” Corporal Rickets said. “I initially wanted to become a Juvenile Probation Officer. However, when I graduated, there were no job openings. I was contacted by a friend who suggested I apply at Milford. While I was on my way to turn in my application for the Air Force, MPD called me, offering me a police officer position.”

The first highlight of Corporal Rickett’s career came when he received the Municipal Recruit of the Year at the Delaware Police Academy. He is currently a member of MPD’s SOG and Motorcycle Unit. He has been awarded Officer of the Quarter twice within the past year. However, what he most enjoys is the letters he receives from those he have come into contact with that credit Corporal Ricketts with having a positive influence on their lives.

“I believe the media is actually one of the biggest challenges of our job,” Corporal Ricketts explained. “Media tends to highlight all the negative issues rather than the millions of positive things officers do around the world. This creates a lack of trust throughout our communities. The law enforcement-society relationship needs to improve nationwide. Media could play a huge role in helping that happen. I know that some people do not like me because I wear the uniform and that is something I have to deal with as well.”

Corporal Ricketts suggests that any young person considering a career in law enforcement should research the career and attend seminars to learn more about the many things police officers do on a daily basis. He also suggested that they engage in “ride-alongs” where a civilian is able to ride for a day with a trained police officer to get a feel for what the job entails.

“Once you gain a true understanding of the career, ask yourself if this is something you can do for years to come,” Corporal Ricketts said. “I can tell you, from my perspective, it is extremely rewarding to know you are making a difference for others.”


Farmers Markets Projected to keep Growing

Photo from State of Delaware

In January Governor John Carney and the Delaware Department of Agriculture announced Delaware farmers’ markets hit an all-time high sales record of $3.28 million in 2019. The announcement came during the 15th Annual Delaware Agriculture Week held at the State Fairgrounds in Harrington, a week-long conference that covers agricultural operations in Delaware and provides critical updates, research, and training for members of the industry. Governor Carney issued a proclamation declaring the week of January 13 to January 17,  2020 as “Delaware Agriculture Week.”

“Delaware has a rich farming history, and agriculture remains our number one industry. It’s no surprise Delaware’s farmers markets continue to gain popularity with Delawareans and visitors to the state who want to purchase local, Delaware grown foods and farm-fresh products from family farms,” said Governor Carney. “Agriculture contributes $8 billion to Delaware’s economy, and we’ve permanently preserved 25 percent of Delaware’s farmland so that agriculture will continue to be the backbone of our economy.”

Delaware’s Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse said in a time when ordering groceries using an app and picking up curbside is popular, these figures are indicative of how much people value the connection with the farmers growing their food.
“Looking at 2019, the weather was cooperative, and our farmers had a lot of great produce to sell at our local farmers’ markets,” said Scuse. “Delaware produce is seasonal and changes from month to month, week to week. The variety of Delaware grown fruits, vegetables, herbs and other items provides a lot of options for consumers who want to eat healthy.”

Over recent years there has been a boom in educating the public on the importance of eating fresh organic local produce. “We all know a healthy diet gives us energy and helps us live longer and more productive lives. This food revolution starts at our local farmers markets,” stated Milford’s Riverwalk Farmers Market Chairperson Melissa Pingue. “The farmers that grow the food are there, face to face and explaining the process of growing, the type of produce available, how to prepare it and introducing new products that the consumer may not be aware are available. There are so many variations of fruits and vegetables that are grown in our region and the farmers are doing their best to make sure we have a variety every week.”

The tradition of the Milford market began with residents of Milford backing their pickup trucks up to the Mispillion River to share their vegetables, fruits and handmade items with other locals on Saturday mornings. It has now evolved into an affair that not only preserves the small town feel of Milford but also promotes downtown Milford as a center for economic activity.

According to DMI volunteer Land Redden, in 2018 the Milford market recorded $123,630.15 in sales.  In 2019, the market recorded $140,299.21 in sales; showing a $16,669.06 increase from the previous year in market sales.  Interest in the market has increased from 7,668 attendees in 2018 to 8,369 attendees in 2019.  The market also had a high vendor attendance in 2019, where they had an average of 20 vendors per market.

Fresh produce made up 57 percent of total sales, with the remainder coming from products such as meats, cheeses, jellies, breads, salsa, eggs, or honey. The Riverwalk Farmers Market committee started their application process early this year. The 2020 market applications went out by the end of 2019 and already over half of the market spots are full.

“Some new vendors include rabbit meat, fresh flowers, herbs, plants and a natural skin care vendor. We would love to have another meat or seafood vendor,” said Pingue. “This year the Cheese Board will be returning and I hear she will be making fresh grilled cheese sandwiches. We will of course continue our traditional annual strawberry social in May, Celebrate farmers market week in August and have customer appreciation our last day in October. We are still working on scheduling other possible events.”

In 2019, there were 14 markets that participated in the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program and the Women, Infants, and Children Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. Both programs had their highest participation since Delaware began offering these benefits. There were 9 markets that participated in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). These programs help expand access for low-income residents to be able to purchase fresh local produce at Delaware farmers’ markets.
Delaware farmers’ markets are all run at the local level, by municipalities, business groups, farmers or market associations, with the Department of Agriculture providing support and marketing assistance.

The Riverwalk Farmers Market runs from May through October and will be hosted in downtown Milford every Saturday from 9am to 1pm.

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M&T Bank Donates $2,500 to TADA

by Terry Rogers


On Thursday, January 23, Christine Rust and Alexis Cannon of M&T Bank presented a $2,500 check to TADA Dance Studios. The donation was toward TADA’s Grand Opening event at their new location in the old Argo’s Linoleum building and came from the M&T Charitable Foundation.

“TADA requested a grant from M&T for expenses in their new building,” Rust said. “We reviewed the grant and knew that we wanted to do something to help. M&T has a strong desire to support the arts in this community, so we decided to provide a small grant now to help them with their grand opening plans. In a few months, we have asked them to come back with a new request and we will see how we can continue to support this wonderful group.”

Misty Yencer, one of the directors at TADA, explained that the studio hopes to hold the grand opening sometime in mid-April.

“We want to wait until the weather is warmer so we can expand outside,” Yencer said. “We also have a lot going on right now. We have a big competition coming up in February where the dancers can earn some really great scholarships. Then, in March, we are planning on performing “Cinderella,” so the dancers will be focused on practices in preparation for that. Of course, then there is Easter break and students may not be around during that time, so it pushes us to the middle or end of April.”

TADA, which is short for Tatiana Akinfieva Dance Academy, is named for Yencer’s grandmother, Tatiana Akinfieva-Smith, while the performance part of the organization is known as Diamond Dance Company. In 1999, Akinfieva-Smith retired after spending several seasons with he Eastern Shore Ballet Theater in Salisbury. At the time, she was also guest teaching at another Milford studio, A Dance Class, owned by Maria Fry.

“The two women were approached about starting a non-profit community-based ballet center in Milford,” Yencer said. “Tatiana rarely, if ever, turned down an opportunity when dance was involved. She spent the next ten years building the dance company before retiring again. She passed away in 2011. The board of directors, myself, Aimee String and several motivated families did not want to let her dream die, so we got together and decided to open up the company to the public in 2012.”

Yencer had a vivid memory of standing in the office, which doubled as a costume storage room, in the first building they occupied above the barber shop in Walnut Street and discussing the fact they had to have 20 students to cover the bills. By 2013, they had those 20 students and were growing rapidly. That same year, we decided to separate the production part of the organization from the instruction part. They kept the name Diamond Dance Company for the productions and created TADA in order to honor Akinfieva-Smith. Today, there are between 100 and 130 students involved in either the dance company or the academy.

“We have only been able to survive, thrive and grow because of the support of our community,” Yencer said. “Donations like this one from M&T Bank go a long way toward helping our dancers realize their dreams. The younger ones may not be as aware of how important this support is, but our older dancers do because they know how much competitions, performances, costumes and everything else costs. We are so grateful to have a community who wants us to succeed and helps us as much as they can along the way.


Remembering “Snowmaggedon” Ten Years Later

by Terry Rogers


Parson Thorne

Before the National Weather Service began naming winter storms, most record-breaking snow and ice storms were simply labeled by the year they occurred. In 2010, a blizzard that crippled the East Coast was one that became known as something more than just the year, leading social media to dub the storm “Snowmaggedon.”

Snowmaggedon was actually a nor’easter which formed in the Pacific Ocean on February 2, 2010. It moved east through northern Mexico, producing over one foot of snow in higher elevations of New Mexico and shutting down major highways east of Albuquerque on February 3. The storm continued to drop rain and snow across Texas and Oklahoma. Meanwhile, a second disturbance formed, tracking from the central Rockies and bringing light snow across Montana and other parts of the Midwest.

Silver Lake

On February 5, the two systems merged, dropping heavy snow throughout Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania. When the northern system completely merged with the southern circulation, the blended storm intensified rapidly. Normally, storms of this type track into New England but a stationary upper-level trough in Canada blocked it from doing so, pushing the heaviest snowfall across New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware.

In this area, snow began falling just after dark on Friday, February 5 and continued throughout the day on Saturday. By the time the storm ended, Kent County had received 23.41 inches of snow while Sussex County saw an average of 21 inches. Less than three days later, another snowstorm dropped an additional 6 to 10 inches of snow in the area.

The Towers

During the second storm, high winds accompanied the snow leading to more than 86,000 customers losing electricity throughout the area. Almost 400 members of the Delaware National Guard were activated and more than 150 Guard vehicles were used to rescue stranded motorists or perform other types of emergency responses. The Delaware Emergency Management Agency near Smyrna was staffed and operated around the clock from February 5 through February 14.

Snow continued to be a problem into March due to piles of snow piled in parking lots. Some piles blocked entrances to parks mostly used in the spring and summer because road crews had nowhere else to put it during February. Snowmaggedon cost $8.8 million with more than $6.7 million in snow removal costs.

South Walnut Street
Business milford-live

Give Kids a Smile Offers Free Services

by Terry Rogers


On Saturday, February 1, Diamond State Dentistry will open its doors to provide free dental services for children. The event, known as “Give Kids a Smile,” is a nationwide program that began in 2003 as a collaboration between the American Dental Association and sponsors that included Henry Schein, Procter & Gamble and DEXIS.

“The event is to provide free oral healthcare to underserved children,” Dr. Andrea Puddicome said. “Since the event was created, more than 5.5 million children have received treatment. We will be offering free dental screenings, cleanings, fluoride treatment, sealants, fillings and extractions on Saturday. We just ask that parents call us to set up an appointment so we know how many children to expect.”

Dr. Puddicome said that she and her partners, Dr. Lucinda Bunting, Dr. Philip Sels and Dr. Halleh Asadpour feel it is critical to participate in such an important event. In addition to the free services offered to children that day, the dentists and staff will provide awareness and prevention tips for both parents and children. The event helps those who may not be able to receive dental treatment any other way.

“Starting dental care at a young age will help instill good habits as they grow and become adults,” Dr. Puddicome said. “Baby teeth are important for eating speaking and development. National awareness is growing as many are learning the connection of dental health to overall systemic health and how important it is for children to begin receiving dental care at an early age. Children should start seeing a dentist as soon as their first toot erupts or around the age of one.”

According to Dr. Puddicome, parents should be helping their children brush their teeth twice each day with fluoride toothpaste as well as helping them floss daily to prevent the formation of cavities. It is also recommended that sugar beverages, candy and junk food be limited in order to promote better oral hygiene. Taking a child to the dentist at least twice each year for a cleaning and check up is important in order to monitor dental health, growth and development.

“If a parent is frightened of the dentist, it is important to keep their fear contained as children feed off their parents,” Dr. Puddicome said. “We want a child’s experience to be a positive one and, if a parent is using negative phrases or terms, the child will be scared also. By using positive words and encouraging them to come at an early age, we can overcome this fear and create a positive experience.”

The Give Kids a Smile event is designed for school-aged children and will be held at the Diamond State Dentistry office located at 215 West Liberty Way. To schedule an appointment for the event, contact 302-424-7976.


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Culture Headlines Weekly Archives

The Weekly Review – January 28, 2020

Read this week’s edition at

Headlines of the week: Farmers Markets Projected to keep Growing; Scouts Continue Pinewood Derby Tradition; Give Kids a Smile Offers Free Services; Ricketts Named MPD Officer of the Year; M&T Bank Donates $2,500 to TADA; Remembering “Snowmaggedon” Ten Years Later; Milford Library Offers Teen Programing; Saving the Lives of Shelter Dogs; Farm Bureau welcomes Antonik as PR Coordinator; Milford to Receive RP3 Gold Designation; Second Street Players Hosts Auditions

PLUS SPORTS including Unified Basketball Brings Community Together and Basketball Regains Winning Touch.



Read this week’s edition at

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Government & Politics

Milford to Receive RP3 Gold Designation

by Terry Rogers


The City of Milford recently learned that the City will be recognized as a Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3) Gold Designation through the American Public Power Association. City Manager Mark Whitfield explained that he challenged Will Gallagher, Electric Superintendent, to apply for the designation.

“I always felt Milford would score well in the designation,” Whitfield said. “Although the award is not official until May 1, when it will be made at the APPA meeting in Kansas City in April, we are very proud of our electric department and the work the staff does to keep power on in our city.”

In order to qualify for the designation, applicants must meet criteria in four disciplines which include reliability, safety, workforce development and system improvement. The criteria is based on leading practices in the industry. An RP3 designation is a sign of the City’s dedication to operating an efficient, safe and reliable system and that the City leaders are committed to the employees, customers and the community.

“In order to receive the designation, there was a lengthy questionnaire that had to be completed,” Whitfield said. “During the application process, Milford earned points for our practices and accomplishments in the four disciplines. DEMEC encourages all members to apply. Seaford and Lewes both applied and received the designation last year.”

The reliability section required Milford to show that their commitment to providing quality power went beyond the day-to-day operations. They had to demonstrate their data collection and analyzation processes, provide information on their system-wide disaster management and emergency response plan while also showing how they had implement protections in areas of cyber and physical security. In addition, there has to be a culture of safety with a commitment from the top to keep employees safe. This includes power generation to line work safety measures, with an emphasis on the delivery of safe and reliable electricity using safety benchmarks.

Staff training was an important part of the workforce development discipline, requiring the City to show how staff was trained and the opportunities provided to staff to network with public power colleagues across the country. The system improvement discipline required elaboration on how the City maintained system integrity and promoted long-term planning through the management of assets and system improvements. Participation in research and development programs as well as procedures used to maintain financial health and the distribution system was also reviewed.

“This designation provides the City with many valuable benefits,” Whitfield said. “One of the biggest is how it impacts our bond rating which is basically the City’s credit rating. An RP3 designation indicates that a municipality has good governance, is focused on safety and works to improve as much as possible. All of these lead to financial savings and proof that we are exhibiting the characteristics that indicate strong management and governance.”


Farm Bureau welcomes 
Antonik as PR Coordinator

A new public relations coordinator has been chosen to serve the Delaware Farm Bureau following the retirement of Carol Kinsley, according to Executive Director Joseph Poppiti.

Jennifer Antonik is taking over the reins as the public relations coordinator for the statewide non-profit organization and editor of its newspaper, Delaware Farm Bureau News.

Kinsley has served DFB as the public relations coordinator and editor of the Farm Bureau News since 2016, bringing about 40 years of agricultural writing experience to the organization. She also writes for the local-based Delmarva Farmer having previously retired from American Farm Publications.

Former DFB Board President Kitty Holtz said, “Carol’s dedication and professionalism will be greatly missed by the Delaware Farm Bureau.”

Kinsley will continue to write for the Delmarva Farmer and be available for assistance at DFB when needed.
“The Delaware Farm Bureau’s staff and members are going to miss the expertise and passion Carol brought to our organization in telling our farming stories. We wish her much success in checking off her bucket list in retirement,” Delaware Farm Bureau Executive Director Joseph Poppiti said. “We are excited to start this new chapter with Jenn as the Farm Bureau’s new public relations coordinator and editor of the Delaware Farm Bureau News.”

Antonik began the process of transitioning into the role of public relations coordinator for DFB in mid-January and is looking forward to continuing DFB’s legacy while expanding on their opportunities for growth through public communication.

She brings to the table four years of experience as the news editor for The Chronicle based in Milford, Delaware and reporter for the Delaware State News. She has an associate degree in communications technology from Delaware Technical Community College, or DTCC, and is working toward a bachelor’s degree in communications, with a concentration in integrated marketing, from Wilmington University. She also has a certificate in American Sign Language technology from DTCC. She and her husband live in Magnolia with their three children.

DFB was established in 1944 and has since become one of the strongest grassroots farm organizations in Delaware. With more than 8,000 farm families and farm community members, the organization works to promote the needs and expertise of agriculture professionals from around the First State.

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Milford Library Offers Teen Programing

by Terry Rogers

Cold weather can make it difficult for teenagers to find fun and exciting things to do but the Milford Public Library offers many programs that are perfect for curing that cabin fever. The programs not only provide educational value but are a great social activity as well.

Every Monday, “Just the Art Club” meets at the library and each month, there is a different theme. Because of the President’s Day holiday, there is no meeting on February 17, but for the rest of the month, the club will focus on birds. Teens and young adults are welcome to express their artistic talents starting at 6 PM.

“If you have a teen who is interested in STEM projects, they will love the Bird’s Nest Challenge,” Robin Lank, Children’s Librarian, said. “They will build one of five nests designed to protect a large egg as it is laid. A test structure mimics a tree branch and the teen designs a nest suspended inside to protect a falling egg. The event is planned on February 4 and 20 starting at 6 PM. Or, if they just want to get out of the house for some fun, Bingo is planned on February 5 from 5 to 6 PM and yes, there are prizes.” 

On February 6, from 4 to 6 PM, teens are invited to Games Unplugged. The library will provide board and card games to encourage teens to “unplug” for a little while and enjoy fun-hearted competition the old-fashioned way. For those who prefer the electronic versions, Virtual Reality is held each Thursday from 6 to 7 PM with sign up beginning at 3 PM in the Teen Center. At the program, teens can ride a roller coaster, explore the Earth and much more using virtual reality.

“Every Friday from 6 to 8 PM, we play Dungeons and Dragons, a role playing game where teens can work as a team, develop strategies and find creative ways to get through problems,” Lank said. “They get to create their own character and join in the adventure. On February 10 and 24 from 5 to 6 PM, we have our Teen Crocheting Club where they can learn the basics and create their own projects. We highly recommend bringing their own crochet hook and yarn so they can continue working on the project at home.”

Continuing with the bird theme, on February 11 from 5 to 6 PM, teens are encouraged to come to the library and build a bird house designed for the many migratory birds that travel through Delaware. The feeders are sturdy enough to be hung in the yard once they are completed. On February 14 from 4 to 6 PM, the library will hold a Teen Valentine’s Day party.

“On February 18 from 4:30 to 6 PM, we are promoting another STEM project,” Lank said. “Using the Engineering Design Process, teens can build a miniature ski lift to transport small objects from one place to another, just as a ski lift transports skiers from the bottom of a mountain to the top. Teens can work alone or grab a few friends to make a team. Once the project is finished, teens can submit their score to see how they rank against others in their very own Teen Center Challenge. A cash prize is awarded to the person or team who follows the criteria from an engineering design brief.”

For more information on teen programs at the Milford Public Library, contact Lank at 302-422-8996.

Culture Headlines

Scouts Continue Pinewood Derby Tradition

In January, Pack 116 held its annual Pinewood Derby at St. Johns Church in Milford, DE. In a double elimination racing event, Cub Scouts raced their homemade cars against each other to decide the winner.

Before the event, Scouts are given a pinewood derby kit that includes a block of wood, metal axels and four wheels. It is up to the boys and their parents to construct a wooden car from the provided materials that will race against the other pinewood derby racers.

“The Pinewood Derby is an important part of scouting because it is all about the parent and child working together to create not only a car for race day but memories of time spent together,” said Cynthia Wooten, Pack 116 committee chair.

The experience is more than just a race for the families involved. The kids learn about sportsmanship, creativity and aerodynamics while participating in friendly competition. “…every scout that builds a car and enters the race is a winner,” said Wooten. “They have worked to create something; working with a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle to cut, sand and paint. These cars take hours to complete and they really showcase the talent and support our scouts get from their families.”

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