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Delaware Governor: Jack Markell

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  Archived Posts From: 2010


Reopening the Doors to Good Jobs

Written on: April 14th, 2010 in Job Creation

These have not been easy economic times for our state or our nation.

From December of  2008 to November of 2009, we in Delaware were hit particularly hard by three events. Our state’s Chrysler plant closed that December and our General Motors plant closed a few months later. And last November, we were told that Valero would be shutting down its facility in Delaware City.

But recently, we’ve seen what happens when Delawareans come together to solve a problem.

That Chrysler site now belongs to the University of Delaware, which is moving forward with a plant to put people to work on that site to improve our economic future.

Fisker Automotive is buying the old GM plant and expects to employ thousands to manufacture new cars.

And last week, PBF Energy company announced that  – in part because of the great teamwork from so many Delawareans –  they will be buying the Valero facility, making significant investments in the plant and putting hundreds of people to work.

In addition, from Day One of its refining operations, the plant will be 10% cleaner than its last full year of operations and PBF pledged to make significant reductions in emissions in the years after that. People back to work with less pollution. That sounds like a win.

Just as we did when General Motors closed, as soon as we got word that Valero was closing, we came together and got to work trying to find a new buyer.

We went to the site, met with the workers, and said that we would do everything we could to bring jobs back there despite it being, at best, a very long shot. We also asked Valero to stop its dismantling efforts on-site and keep much of the refinery intact so we could make a more compelling case to potential buyers, which made an important difference.

And when we found a company interested in putting people back to work, we worked together.

As PBF’s Chairman Tom O’Malley said, in all of the transactions he’s done all around the world, he could not remember any transaction where so many were so dedicated to getting something done.

This is what’s best about Delaware.  When faced with a challenge, people come together – labor and management, business and government, across industries, across agencies, and across our state to respond quickly to opportunities to help each other.

To restore our state’s promise and economic prosperity, we are focusing the majority of our time and attention on three key issues – the economy, education and making government more efficient – to join with you in  moving Delaware forward.

More information available here.

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Thank You and Farewell to Tom Eldred

Written on: April 7th, 2010 in Recognizing State Employees

Delaware lost an important voice, an outstanding journalist and an incredible person recently in Tom Eldred’s passing. 

Journalism is not an easy job, but it is one that Tom loved. He recognized how important his work was to our state and how important an active press is to our democracy. He chose his career in large part because he cared about his community and the people around him and understood how his work could help make each at least a little better.

As a reporter and later an editor, Tom Eldred served Delaware well through the quality of his work and by mentoring the next generation of reporters and community leaders.  The article below, reprinted from the Delaware State News, captures some of what made Tom special. 

Please keep his family and friends in your thoughts and your prayers: “He is survived by his wife, Cynthia Maki Eldred; a daughter, Jaime Rafferty and her husband Randy; grandchildren Sarah, Nicholas and Nathan Rafferty, all of Arthur, Ill.; sons, Caleb Eldred, and Colin Eldred of Smyrna; a stepson, Kevin Maki of Felton; a sister, Patricia Eldred; niece, Megan Roe; nephew, Benjamin Roe and his wife Jessica, all of Colorado; and close friends, David and Laura Benevy of Pennsylvania. Services and burial will be private. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to Delaware Hospice Center of Milford, 100 Patriots Way, Milford, DE 19963.”

Veteran State News journalist Tom Eldred dies

Wrote, edited stories on variety of topics, mentored reporters

By Bruce Pringle

Delaware State News DOVER — Veteran newspaperman Tom Eldred, whose reporting won professional honors and whose wisdom and tenacity inspired his colleagues, died Monday following a months-long battle with cancer. He was 66.

Mr. Eldred wrote and edited stories on nearly every subject covered by the Delaware State News during his 13 years with the paper, beginning in 1997. He produced in-depth articles on government and social issues, but was perhaps just as well known for telling simple yet compelling stories of ordinary Downstate residents.

His “appreciation of the human side of journalism is apparent whether he’s explaining a complicated issue or profiling a local personality,” wrote the judges who in 1999 made him a winner of the Jim Miller Award for news writing. The honor is bestowed by Independent Newspapers Inc. — parent of the Delaware State News — to encourage the bright, readable style of the late Mr. Miller, whose writing was a staple of the Delaware State News for three decades after its founding in the 1950s.

Mr. Eldred “has tackled some big topics over the past few years — from courts to child abuse — and made it all relevant by finding the people issues submerged inside the politics and bureaucracy,” the judges said.

He began his journalism career in the 1960s working for the New York Times. After moving from western Pennsylvania, where he worked for the Franklin News-Herald, he served the Delaware State News as a reporter and senior writer until March 2005, when he became editor of the publication’s opinion section. In February 2006, he took on the title of senior editor and began a newsroom leadership role, working closely with the reporting team on assignments. By mid- 2009, yearning to resume gathering and writing news, he returned to reporting.

Among Mr. Eldred’s first articles last year was one that typified much of his work and revealed his sense of humor. A profile of a Dover-area man and his unusual hobby, it began: “ This baby doesn’t purr like a kitten or hum like a well-oiled sewing machine. Nevertheless, the throaty phutt-phuttum-phutt-um-phutt-phutt-um from the two- cylinder engine of David Gonce’s late-model, electric start, 1946 John Deere “ B” tractor is music to the ears of any antique farm tractor enthusiast.”

Along with the rumbling of vintage vehicles, Mr. Eldred captured the hum of state government. He covered the final weeks of the General Assembly in 2009 and the first weekends of the revival of Delaware’s state-sanctioned football betting program. He spoke enthusiastically of his plans to investigate state hiring and salaries.

But in October he was sidelined by just-discovered cancer that began in his lungs and proved unstoppable. He was a smoker, albeit one with the energy to regularly play tennis until his disease was diagnosed.

Colleagues remembered him fondly Tuesday.

“He was a good mentor and a great friend,” recalled Drew Volturo, a former reporter who, though a nonsmoker, said he frequently accompanied Mr. Eldred on smoke breaks that yielded helpful hints — “gentle nudging” — on interviewing, reporting and life in general.

Mr. Volturo, now employed in the Delaware House of Representatives, and Mr. Eldred sometimes co-authored stories, including one of the most exhaustive ever done on Dover city government: a 2003 investigation of the expense-account spending of then-Mayor James L. Hutchison. It detailed five years of outlays for trips, golf outings, meals and donations.

The article, which left readers to draw their own conclusions about the propriety of the spending, garnered awards from the Associated Press and the Maryland-Delaware- D. C. Press Association. Mr. Volturo recalled that Mr. Eldred wrote most of that piece.

Mr. Eldred won other honors as well — without seeking them, said State News managing editor Andrew West. He seldom, if ever, submitted his own work for a possible award, Mr. West said.

Carlos Holmes, a former Delaware State News reporter and editor, recalled Mr. Eldred as “a true newspaper professional in every sense of the word, who quickly knew when there was a story to sniff out even as there were forces that tried to hide the real news from the media and public.

“He brought the DSN a strong sense of curiosity and an enthusiasm for painstaking news gathering that served as a sterling example for reporters that worked with him and later under him when he become an editor,” Mr. Holmes said.

Delaware State News writer Bruce Pringle can be reached at 741-8233 or


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Continuing our Race to the Top

Written on: March 30th, 2010 in Education

Thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter. I would like to bring you up to date on some of the things the state is doing and how we are trying to make your family and work life in Delaware a little bit better.

Our focus is on creating more and better jobs and building a stronger economy for us all.  We can do that together if we encourage economic growth, demand a more efficient government and provide our children a world-class education so they can work in first class jobs.

We received some welcome news from the federal government recently that will help us improve our schools so that Delaware children can successfully complete for the best jobs in an increasingly competitive global economy.

The U.S. Department of Education announced that Delaware achieved the highest score in the nation during the first phase of the rigorous “Race to the Top” competition. Delaware will receive about $100M over the next four years–we are one of only two states that will receive money grants in this phase.

One important reason for that is that teachers, the business community, school administrators, parents, school boards, legislators, charter schools, and our congressional delegation all came together with a singular focus on what we need to do to improve our schools.  In short, it was about the kids, not the adults.

What’s really important is where we go from here.

This is not about the money – it is about improving education for our kids – real changes that effect students’ lives and chances for success.   This is about putting children first and making sure they have every opportunity to reach their potential.

There are four key elements of the program:

  1. Higher standards, so our children can successful compete for jobs in an increasingly global economy.
  2. Stronger assessments – making sure that teachers and parents really understand what is happening in the classroom and measuring student progress.
  3. High-quality teachers in the classroom and principals in schools
  4. Turning around under-performing schools

If you want to know more about our plan, our full application is posted here.

In the meantime, we look forward to working with you as parents, teachers, educators, business leaders and others as, together, we move Delaware children forward.

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Prescription Drug Abuse

Written on: March 30th, 2010 in Helping Our Neighbors

Last week, I announced a proposal for a new electronic prescription monitoring program (PMP), together with Senators Brian Bushweller, Bethany Hall-Long, and Michael Katz and Representatives Larry Mitchell and Melanie George.  I would also like to thank David Parcher, Director of Kent-Sussex Counseling Services, and Dr. Rafael Zaragoza from the Medical Society of Delaware for their participation.

The abuse of prescription medication is on the rise from an already alarming level. When misused, prescription drugs can be just as harmful—and as potentially lethal—as illegal substances.  To learn more about our proposal, please click here.

While developing this bill, the input that we received from doctors and drug abuse treatment professionals made it clear that prescription monitoring will be an invaluable, lifesaving tool.

However, prescription drug abuse—like other forms of drug addiction—will not be solved easily. I urge you to learn more about the problem and help lead our youth towards a healthy lifestyle.

For more information on prescription drug abuse:

If you or someone you care about needs help with addiction:

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Our Veterans and Our Future

Written on: March 27th, 2010 in Helping Our Neighbors

Thursday was one of those days that remind me just how great it is to be a Delawarean.

Medal of Honor Recognition Ceremony

In the morning, I visited VFW Post #3792 in Middletown for the 10th Annual Medal of Honor Recognition Day.  This is the second time I’ve had the privilege of attending this ceremony, which is a moving reflecton on what our fellow Delawareans have sacrificed for our country.  I was truly humbled to be in the presence of our veterans as we remembered our Medal of Honor Recipients.

While I was on my way out,  I paused for a photo with a young girl.  I bent down to talk to her, and the five-year-old child recited the Pledge of Allegiance for me.  Of course it was adorable, but it was also an incredibly powerful embodiment of the future for which our veterans fought.

In the afternoon, I attended the 25th Anniversary Celebration of the Dover Capital City Rotary Club.  At the event, the Dover High Select Ensemble delivered a stirring performance of our National Anthem.  The video below does not come close to doing them justice, but I thought you might enjoy it nonetheless.

On my way back to the office, I met students from the Red Lion Christian Academy on the steps of Legislative Hall.  They were visiting Dover for a civics class, learning about public service and how they can get involved to make Delaware a better place.

I’m proud of our past and inspired by our future.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve as your Governor, and I hope you enjoy all that Delaware has to offer this weekend.

A few additional photos available here.

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