Written on: March 12th, 2010 in Recognizing State Employees
Earlier this week, I attended a change of command ceremony for the Delaware National Guard. Brigadier General Terry Wiley is retiring, and Brigadier General Scott Chambers is taking his place as Assistant Adjutant General. Congratulations to both General Wiley and General Chambers.
General Wiley entered the military in 1966 and fought in Vietnam. He is a highly decorated officer, and has served the citizens of Delaware and the rest of our United States well. I would be sad to say “goodbye” to him, but fortunately, I don’t have to. He lives in Middletown and remains a valuable member of our community. While I wish him a happy and relaxing retirement, I’m quite sure that General Wiley will continue to find ways to make Delaware a better place!
While I was with our Guardsmen and women, I thanked them for their service during the storm. They have a unique dual mission: the Delaware National Guard serves overseas to fight for all Americans, and they also stand ready to help us here at home.
Right now, some of our soldiers are risking their lives abroad. The 262nd Maintenance Company is providing convoy security in Iraq. In Afghanistan, the 238th Aviation Company is flying Black Hawk helicopters; the 160th Engineer Company is constructing and maintaining infrastructure and base camps; and the Embedded Training Team is working closely with the Afghanistan Police as trainers and mentors.
Others Guardsmen and women recently risked their lives to keep us safe on our own streets. We called upon almost 400 soldiers — many of whom served during both snowstorms — even though their families were dealing with the same problems that people across the state were facing. They helped thousands of Delawareans by transporting essential personnel to keep hospitals and other facilities running, rescuing people stranded on the roads, and ensuring that dialysis patients and others with medical emergencies were able to get lifesaving care.
On behalf of all Delawareans, thank you for your service in foreign lands and in our homeland. Thank you for keeping our communities safe and for being an important part of them.
Written on: March 11th, 2010 in Job Creation
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of visiting Motech Americas to meet some of the 70 employees working to produce high-quality solar panels. I learned a bit about Motech’s expansion plans — a welcome success story following GE’s previous decision to close the factory in Newark.
While I was there, I also met several entrepreneurs who are employing our neighbors in a variety of renewable energy businesses.
I’m sure you’ve heard that Fisker plans to build a plug-in hybrid at the former GM factory at Boxwood Road. You may also have heard that NRG acquired Bluewater Wind, demonstrating that they believe offshore wind energy is important for their bottom line. DuPont is emerging as a leader in solar technology components. WL Gore, White Optics, PTM Manufacturing, Sanosil, Autoport, IonPower, and Ashland are examples of other companies that have decided that Delaware is the right place for them to grow.
We have an opportunity now to make Delaware a national leader in this area.
That’s why we unveiled yesterday the Delaware Clean Energy Jobs Act. I was joined at Motech by Senator Harris McDowell, Representative Earl Jaques, and Representative Pam Thornburg, and I look forward to working closely with them and other members of the General Assembly to pass this bill, create quality jobs and expand local manufacturing.
More information on the legislation is available here.
Written on: March 5th, 2010 in Recognizing State Employees
I wanted to share the letter below. It’s a moving testimonial to our healthcare workers. Although the letter specifically mentions two hospitals, I know that all hospital staff, including the state-operated facilities across Delaware, have been working extremely hard. Thank you!
Dear Governor Markell,
It is with a thankful heart that I write this note. During the most recent storm, my father awoke to find that he was unable to use his arm and when trying to get out of bed, he found himself on the floor, unable to use his leg. My mother, who has asthma, a poor heart and is a cancer survivor, and my sister, a teacher at Townsend Elementary, called a neighbor, Kenny, to come over and help them get Dad into the car.
With it snowing heavily, Kenny agreed to drive my dad to the hospital. Kenny recognized that my dad had a stroke. Oh, the kindness of a neighbor!
In the meantime, my husband and I headed for Christiana Hospital. When we arrived in the emergency room, we were greeted by nurses who hadn’t slept, or had just come in from sleeping in hotels. Some were in the process of securing hotel rooms for the night that was to come. We were greeted by residents and doctors in jeans and boots. We heard how husbands drove wives into the hospital so they wouldn’t miss their shift and neighbors shoveling drives to get physicians to the hospital. Most importantly, we were greeted with smiles.
As the day went on, and so did the storm, we listened as nurses called upon in-laws to take care of their children and heard calls to families to say that they would not be coming home. And still…there were those pleasant smiles…asking if we needed anything.
When the neurologist arrived in his snow boots, it became crystal clear to me that these unique individuals had an unsurpassed dedication for their patients. We saw nurses grab pillows and rest by front doors – where employees continued shoveling to keep the entrance clear. That night, one nurse, Jennifer, slept in a nearby hotel room with 5 other nurses to ensure that she would be rested and ready for her 7 PM shift. And she wasn’t alone, as the hotel sold out!
As night came, my mother’s neighbor, Chuckie, who recently returned from Iraq, called my sister to say that he had driven to the hospital to pick her up to get her home. Neighbors helping neighbors in need.
Soon, some nurses headed for the upper floor to grab a few winks in a hospital bed, while others just kept working. I guess what was so impressive was that their only concern was for their patients. No one complained about the hours, or leaving their children, or not having a bed to rest. No one complained about not having dinner or a break.
As the hours and days passed, I was more and more amazed at the spirit of the hospital staff…providing excellent, compassionate care for the patient and the family!
Isn’t it amazing how people can pull together for the common good of others? The selflessness, the caring, the unwavering commitment to others…never thinking of themselves….that is what I saw over the next several days at Christiana Hospital. As the staff expressed concern for my getting to and from the hospital, they never seemed to worry about themselves. Their only concern was for others.
Interestingly, at the same time, my niece was an oncology patient at the A.I. duPont Hospital for Children. As I called my sister to check on my niece, we exchanged stories about the sacrifices the nurses were making for us. They put their families aside, for our families….Dr. Miller, Dr. Kolb, Vicki, the nurses, the food service staff, the housing staff, numerous others, and their families made it possible for treatment to continue and the best possible patient care to take place.
Tonight both my dad and my niece are home and I am filled with a grateful heart. We are so lucky!
Do we have dedicated, compassionate professionals who make the world a better place because they are in it? Yes, we do.
Sandra J. Genett, Ed.D.
Written on: March 4th, 2010 in Education
Earlier this week, I met a group of students from Appoquinimink High School in Middletown. When I walked in, they greeted me professionally and confidently. They looked me in the eye and shook my hand. It was a genuine pleasure.
These students were helping to launch a new Bank In School program, which is a partnership between the school district and Wilmington Trust. Right in the middle of the school, there’s a functioning bank. Some students will learn how to manage a bank, while even more students will learn how to manage their own finances responsibly.
This program builds on the Delaware Bank At School program, which was founded in 1992 through the efforts of Dr. Bonnie Meszaros of the Delaware Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship and Ronni Cohen, a teacher at Burnett Elementary School in Wilmington. I believe in this program, so as Treasurer, I worked to help it grow.
Why are programs like Bank In School important for Delaware?
Keeping Our Students Engaged: Dr. Tony Marchio, Superintendent of the Appoquinimink School District, highlighted the challenge that schools across the nation face. Students need to see the connection between what they’re learning and their future in the “real world.” We must do this to keep our youth engaged. This partnership and other creative programs, such as Junior Achievement’s Innovation Hub, illustrate direct links between education, careers and long-term success.
Growing Our Economy & Keeping Our Finances Healthy: In the current economic environment, we all know how challenging financial management can be for individuals, companies and governments. A study from the University of Arizona found that “nearly 73% of the more than 2,000 students surveyed have resorted to at least one ‘risky’ financial behavior.”
Learning the skills necessary to manage money responsibly is critical to our students on a personal level: these skills will enable our youth to invest in their own future, as well as the future of their families.
But these skills are also fundamentally important to our students on a professional level. Sound, responsible money management is essential whether our young people work at one of Delaware’s fine companies, serve in our government, strive to help people at a nonprofit organization, or drive innovation as an entrepreneur. These skills will enable our youth to compete in a global workplace and create quality jobs for Delawareans.
We need to teach our youth know how to manage money responsibly for themselves and our communities to ensure that Delaware remains the best place to start and grow a business.
Written on: March 2nd, 2010 in Recognizing State Employees
I’m almost done blogging about the storm—after all, most of us are sick of the snow—but there are still a few stories that I want to share with you to recognize some of the many Delawareans who have been working very hard.
When state offices are closed, you may have heard that “essential personnel should report to duty as scheduled.” Most realize that plow drivers, police officers, soldiers from the National Guard, firefighters and paramedics are essential, but there are many others who run services that people depend on. These include corrections officers; maintenance personnel; HelpLine, 911 and other hotline teams; hospital and long-term care staff; psychiatric social workers; public works and utilities personnel; horticulturalists (who help with snow removal); the team from the Delaware Veterans’ Home; and some of our Court staff, along with others.
Here are just a few examples:
From Ronald Zawora: The team at Sussex Correctional Institute “spent hours that turned into days removing snow so that the institution could continue with their day-to-day operations uninterrupted.”
From Maria Ramos: “During this last storm I witnessed so many acts of kindness and hard work from your correctional staff. I would also like to mention that after being stuck at work all that time, my co-worker Andrew Gallaher helped five motorists stuck in the snow get free, before going home to get much needed rest. We are so proud to be a part of your team here at Morris—everyone from the Warden on down deserves recognition for all their hard work.”
From John Thorn at the Department of Health and Social Services: “Richard Crismond deserves recognition for the time he selflessly put in serving Holloway Campus throughout the last snow storm. Richard stayed on campus serving the community without pay in his off time. Richard was here shoveling sidewalks, assisting other officers on calls, answering phones and assisting the campus maintenance crew. Officer Crismond slept in the office for five days relentlessly using an armchair as his bed and the desk as his pillow without once complaining.”
From Debra Faith at Emily P. Bissell Hospital: “During the recent snowstorms, Tommy Adams (nursing supervisor) along with Mike Topolski (materials management) coordinated rides for staff to get to and from work. Tommy spent the nights, sleeping VERY little. Both he and Mike drove staff to and from the facility and split the routes (one going north, one going south). This included not only the nurses and CNAs [certified nursing assistants], but also those from dietary and other departments who were needed. Because of their bravery on the treacherous roads, our most compromised population continued to receive excellent care.” Team members from the Governor Bacon Health Center and the Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill were also praised for their tremendous efforts to help colleagues get to the facilities through the snow.
David Ciamaricone of the Mobile Crisis Intervention Service reported that: Three psychiatric social workers, Joe Arnauskas, Anne Igou, and, Terri Evans “all made the decision to spend the night and sleep in the building so that they would be here for their scheduled shifts. They were not asked to do this but rather did it on their own and because of their commitment to the unit and the people we serve.” Other staff were able to make it in, while some took calls from home. David continues, “They were able to man our 24-hour hotline and assist people in finding shelters, putting them in touch with emergency services and in general calming those upset by the amount of snow and loss of power.”
From Judge Alan Davis: “Few are aware that the Justice of the Peace Court also remains open in several locations throughout the state, no matter the conditions. Though the Court may not experience the highest volume of business in emergencies, the institution is always there fulfilling its Constitutional mandate and the individuals that make up the institution are on duty, away from family and the comforts and safety of home. Many performed selfless acts for the benefit of their co-workers: one JP Court manager volunteered to come to one of the 24-hour courts that she lives close to – even though she doesn’t usually work in that location and her work site was closed – because it would save other personnel from making a longer journey through dangerous conditions. One court clerk in Sussex County was on duty 22 straight hours, sleeping for only a short period on bags of shredded paper piled together as a makeshift mattress. I am very proud that this institution and its judges and staff responded to the latest emergency as they always do – with professionalism and devotion.”