Written on: May 24th, 2012 in Guest Posts
Booking requests are up compared to last year, the arrival of warmer weather earlier in the year will draw people north sooner than expected and, based on what we’re seeing, consumers are planning to travel more than they did in 2011.
What’s really exciting is that the extremely favorable forecast was made before news that the Firefly Music Festival would be coming to Delaware.
In case you’ve been sequestered in a tiny rural B&B off the beaten path somewhere, here’s the lowdown on Firefly: Big names such as Jack White, The Killers, The Black Keys, John Legend and The Flaming Lips headline a lineup of more than 40 acts from July 20-22 at Dover International Speedway.
It’s the biggest weekend music festival that Delaware has ever hosted, and hopefully it’s going to be a lucrative one for the First State’s economy: the Tourism Office estimates the festival has the potential to bring in $12.6 million in tourism dollars.
There’s so much more going on this summer that will ensure Delaware tops its annual tourism draw of 7.1 million visitors. On Wednesday, the Delaware Tourism Office unveiled its enhanced Delaware Wine and Ale Trail with a tweet-up event,
Tweet The Trail, in Milford. The trail now boasts a passport and prize system similar to the Delaware History Trail – those who visit at least eight of the dozen sites on the trail and send the passport in will receive their choice of a Wine and Ale Trail wine glass or beer mug. We also made several digital enhancements to the Delaware Wine and Ale Trail, including a promotional video, links to dining suggestions near the sites, a Twitter hashtag, #TweetTheTrail, tips on Four Square and a board on Pinterest.
Things don’t slow down after Memorial Weekend.
NASCAR gets its motor running with its first race of the year, headlined by the “FedEx 400 benefitting Autism Speaks” NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, on June 1-3; the Wilmington Greek Festival runs June 5-9; St. Anthony’s Italian Festival brings Sicily to Wilmington June 10-17; the Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Festival at Rockwood Park Rockwood Park July 7-8; the Delaware State Fair unfurls July 19-28 in Harrington (with Sugarland, Larry the Cable Guy, Miranda Lambert and Cheap Trick and Styx on the Grandstand stage); and the Wyoming Peach Festival blossoms on Aug. 4.
In addition to those standing events, there’s also the Delaware Tourism Office’s Delaware History Trail, the Delaware Geocaching Trail and the aforementioned Delaware Wine and Ale Trail, which allow visitors to plot their own event itinerary.
Make Delaware your destination this summer! Get started by visiting www.visitdelaware.com.
This past Tuesday, Legislative Hall was bursting with pints of red, ripe, Delaware-grown strawberries and tray after tray of strawberry cake. It was a sweet reminder that we are officially in the midst of the 2012 market season.
First to open this year was the Milton Farmers’ Market, which transforms a small park in downtown Milton into a modern-day open-air market, with great locally grown fruits and vegetables fresh from the farm. And that’s just one example – this year, we’re celebrating a record 27 markets in total, including 12 brand-new sites all across the state, from Wilmington to Selbyville.
They are also local gathering places; where friends can catch up with each other and neighbors can make new friends. There’s no better way to get to know your community than chatting with people about food, sharing recipes and tips over a basket of apples or a bag of zucchini.
The markets certainly help support our hard-working Delaware farmers and producers. Last year’s season brought in $1.8 million worth of business.
Yet they also provide a connection between consumer and producer that is vitally important today. There is no substitute for talking one-on-one with the farmer or farm family members who grew the tomatoes you’ll be making into spaghetti sauce tonight, the peaches your children will be enjoying in their lunchboxes at school tomorrow or the watermelon your entire family can enjoy as a delicious summer treat. The more Delawareans know about how their food comes to their table – much of it grown and raised here in the First State – the better off we all are.
Delaware’s farmers’ markets are also a symbol of how our communities remain strong. While the Department of Agriculture provides support and coordination, the markets are all run locally, sponsored by community groups, organizations and municipal governments.
To find a farmers’ market near you, along with opening dates and times, please visit www.dda.delaware.gov. I hope you enjoy your friendship, fellowship and food at our markets this year.
Written on: May 9th, 2012 in Guest Posts
Today more than 1,100 communities across the country will join forces to celebrate National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day.
Awareness Day is a key strategy of the federal Caring for Every Child’s Mental Health Campaign, an effort to highlight the importance of positive mental health from birth. Conditions such as depression, anxiety, and behavioral issues, if left unattended, can evolve to more serious problems later in life, including physical difficulties. However, when we intervene early and connect children and families with effective services and supports, emotional challenges can be addressed and the entire family’s life can improve.
Studies show that at least one in five children and adolescents has had or is experiencing a mental health challenge. Sometimes we blame parents or tell our children to “Just handle it.” At least one third of our children, youth and their families do not receive help to address their issues. With the right resources, children and youth with mental, emotional and behavioral health needs and their families can achieve a better quality of life. When untreated, however, mental health issues can lead to school failure, family conflicts, drug abuse, violence, and even suicide. Untreated mental illness disorders can be very costly to families, schools, communities, and the health care system. The life changing results of early intervention and evidenced-based treatments are estimated to save society between $30,000 and $100,000 per child.
In Delaware we work diligently to address the needs of children, youth and families from birth through age 18. We are particularly focused on our youngest population, children between the ages of birth to 5, and their families. Through Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation in early education centers and through the provision of specific counseling approaches and effective treatment, such as Parent Child Interaction Therapy, we are supporting families in living healthier, happier lives.
For more information about children’s mental health services in Delaware call the Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services at 1-800-722-7710 or visit www.kids.delaware.gov. Emotional health is as important as physical health – Every Child’s Mental Health Matters!
Written on: May 8th, 2012 in Guest Posts
This past Sunday, we celebrated the rich history and bright future of the Charles W. Cullen Bridge at the Indian River Inlet. Its history includes different bridge designs over the course of several decades, an ever-changing physical environment and the emergence of Delaware as one of the east coast’s premier resort locations. Its future will work to enhance its status as a treasure of the Delaware coast.
In January of this year, it was my pleasure to join Governor Markell, Senator Carper and others to open the southbound side of the bridge to traffic. Since then, anticipation has been building for the time when we would officially dedicate the bridge and prepare to open it fully to vehicles and pedestrians. In the coming weeks before Memorial Day weekend, DelDOT employees will work with our contractor, George and Lynch, to open the northbound side of the bridge, as well as the pedestrian walkway, which will usher in a new era in multi-modal transportation along the Delaware coast and eastern Sussex County.
For the first time since bridges have spanned the inlet, this crossing will not be subjected to the extreme tidal conditions that have affected, and sometimes destroyed, previous bridges. It is through the ingenuity and work of bridge builders Skanska Civil Southeast and their subcontractors, as well as our members of Team DelDOT, this new span has risen and will stand for many years to come.
The ceremonies on Sunday were also focused on re-dedicating the bridge structure to Charles W. Cullen. Mr. Cullen was born in Georgetown in 1865, and practiced law as a member of the Delaware Bar Association. In 1930, he became a member of the State Highway Commission and sat on the Commission until 1940. Throughout his life, he advocated for the inlet to be permanently established at its current location and worked to promote the internal development of the Indian River Bay and the economic and recreational benefits it had to offer. It is because of his drive and vision that this area of Delaware has become the economic and tourism jewel it is today.
Delaware residents have marked the symbolic end of the bridge construction project. Now, work on the demolition of the old bridge, along with improvements to restore and enhance various State Park and campground amenities, will be moving forward. And soon, the Indian River Inlet area will once again live up to its position of being one of the true treasures of the Delaware coast.
Written on: May 4th, 2012 in Education
During some particularly challenging times these last few years, our state has made clear – again and again – that whether it was meeting the challenge of the federal race to the top contest, trying to reopen the shuttered refinery at Delaware City, tackling rapidly rising pension and health care costs, or putting our state back on the path to financial stability – our model has always been that Delawareans come together to fight alongside each other for things that matter.
And I can’t imagine a more pressing challenge than the global battle for talent and jobs currently under way. I had a chance to talk with the CEO of the Gallup Company recently, who said there are 3 billion people in the world looking for work, and only 1.2 billion jobs available. It is truly a global competition for jobs.
In a recent report on what the fastest growing companies in the world looked for first and foremost when it came to how and where they decide to invest, the top factor they mentioned again and again was the talent and training of the available workforce – which is so dependent on great public schools. Specifically, the high-wage, high potential jobs of the future depend on the strength of education in what are called STEM subjects – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
Last year, we convened a STEM Council to take a look at how we can be more competitive in this area. It was a great example of how Delaware pulls together – business leaders, educators, researchers – even its co-Chair and former Senator Ted Kaufman. These community leaders donated thousands of hours of time to create a strong series of recommendations on how we can better prepare our kids for the future. The full report is available at stem.delaware.gov.
They gave their time because it is critical to our national and economic interest that we own STEM innovation in the future as thoroughly as we owned mechanical innovation in the past. It’s our obligation to nation’s future leaders that we equip them with the tools, networks and opportunities that STEM can offer them, so that the unlimited potential you can sense in this place and in these kids will truly lead our state, and nation, forward.