Karin Snoots to display paintings on canvas, surf boards, and street signs in the Mezzanine Gallery in October

Painting by Karin SnootsThe Delaware Division of the Arts Mezzanine Gallery will present an exhibition titled The Sky’s the Limit by Karin Snoots from October 4-25, 2013. The Gallery, open weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., is located in the Carvel State Office Building, 820 N. French Street, Wilmington. There will be a reception to meet the artist on Friday, October 4 from 5:00-8:00 p.m. as part of Wilmington’s Art Loop.

This solo exhibition of Karin Snoots’ work will showcase a series of paintings on canvas, surf boards, and street signs. The artist’s newly developed contemporary style is a significant shift from her more traditional renderings. Through her paintings, Karin Snoots’ fundamental mission is to have her art serve as a catalyst for environmental awareness and conservation. She finds inspiration in the drama of nature and is constantly challenged to capture the dramatic sense of scale in space and light.

Individual Artist Fellow in Painting, Karin Snoots has exhibited her work regionally and locally and is a signature member of both the American Society of Marine Artists and Artists for Conservation Foundation and a member of the Ocean Artists Society. Snoots has formal training as a commercial illustrator, but her passionate interest in nature has moved her art far beyond illustration. The artist received her degree from American University and currently lives in Harbeson, DE.

To read an article about Karin, visit the Division’s Individual Arts Fellowship web publication.

David Salasky pleads guilty to the murder of New Castle County Police Lieutenant Joseph Szczerba

Wilmington – Attorney General Beau Biden announced that David Salasky pled guilty today to the September 2011 death of New Castle County Police officer Joseph Szczerba.

“This guilty plea in New Castle County Superior Court brings us closer to concluding a tragic and painful chapter for Delaware law enforcement and for our entire community,” Biden said.  “David Salasky’s plea of guilty but mentally ill recognizes that he is criminally responsible for the murder of Lieutenant Joseph Szczerba, and that Salasky is chronically and seriously mentally ill.  This resolution – the finality of a conviction and the certainty of a life sentence – is in the best interest of justice and it allows the Szczerba family, the New Castle County Police, and us all to move forward with healing and continuing to honor the memory of Joseph Szczerba every day.”

On September 16, 2011, after responding to a report of a theft from a motor vehicle and disorderly person in New Castle, Lt. Szczerba observed and approached David Salasky, a subject who matched the suspect description.  A foot pursuit ensued and resulted in a struggle, during which Sgt. Szczerba suffered fatal stab wounds.  Salasky continued to actively resist by fighting other officers, two of whom sustained injuries.

Salasky was indicted by the New Castle County Grand Jury on multiple counts of murder, burglary, weapons, and assault charges in December 2011.  Jury selection for the trial against Salasky had begun today in New Castle County Superior Court before Salasky pled guilty before Superior Court Judge William C. Carpenter, Jr. this afternoon.  Specifically, Salasky pled Guilty but Mentally Ill to 15 felony charges, including 2 counts of Murder 1st Degree for the death of Sgt. Szczerba, along with 4 counts of Possession of Deadly Weapon During Commission of Felony, 2 counts of Possession of a Deadly Weapon by Person Prohibited, 1 count of Resisting Arrest, 1 count of Attempted Robbery 1st Degree, 1 count of Assault 2nd Degree, and 4 counts of Burglary 3rd Degree.  As a condition of the guilty plea prosecutors agreed to not seek the death penalty at sentencing.  Delaware law requires that the Judge now make an independent determination that Salasky was mentally ill at the time of the crime before he imposes sentence.  A pre-sentence investigation was ordered by the Court and a sentencing date has not been set at this time.  Salasky faces a mandatory sentence of 2 life prison terms without the possibility of parole, plus up to 153 additional years in prison.

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Biden calls for ban on e-cigarette sales to kids, restrictions on advertising

1 in 10 high school students report trying the addictive nicotine product last year

Wilmington – Attorney General Beau Biden has joined 39 other state Attorneys General in calling for the Food and Drug Administration to regulate the marketing and sale of electronic cigarettes. In a letter sent this week to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, the Attorneys General urged the agency to use its authority under the federal Tobacco Control Act to restrict advertising of the increasingly widespread product and to ban its sale to minors.

“While we have made hard-fought progress in communicating the health hazards of nicotine and reducing cigarette use among young people, I’m concerned about the explosive growth in their use of addictive e-cigarettes,” Biden said. “Action must be taken to regulate the marketing and sale of these products, especially to children, in order to protect public health.”

E-cigarettes are battery-operated products designed to deliver nicotine by heating liquid nicotine, along with flavors and other chemicals, into a vapor inhaled by the user. The nicotine found in e-cigarettes is highly addictive and is toxic in high doses. According to the letter sent yesterday by the Attorneys General, e-cigarettes are being marketed “as recreational alternatives to real cigarettes. Consumers are led to believe that e-cigarettes are a safe alternative to cigarettes, despite the fact that they are addictive, and there is no regulatory oversight ensuring the safety of the ingredients in e-cigarettes.”

E-cigarette sales have doubled every year for the past 5 years, and unlike traditional tobacco products, there are no federal advertising restrictions or age restrictions on their sale. Moreover, children are lured into buying the products, which are sold in fruit and candy flavors such as cherry, chocolate, gummy bear, and bubble gum, and they are branded to appeal to children, including images from the popular video game Angry Birds. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 10 high school students reported that they had tried an e-cigarette last year, double the number from 2011, and 1.8 million middle and high school students said they had tried e-cigarettes in 2012.

A copy of the letter can be found here: AG Biden’s E-Cigarette Letter

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Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve celebrates 20th anniversary

DELAWARE NATIONAL ESTUARINE RESEARCH RESERVE (Sept. 28, 2013) – In celebration of the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve’s 20th anniversary, DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara and Delaware Coastal Programs Administrator Sarah W. Cooksey welcomed environmental partners and guests to the Arts in the Estuary event at the St. Jones Reserve. Today’s event showcased the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR) and the federal/state partnership in advancing Delaware’s coastal and estuarine conservation, research and education.

“The Delaware Reserve serves as a living laboratory and classroom – providing scientific information and supporting environmental education for thousands of school children and adults,” said Governor Jack Markell. “Congratulations on advancing a better understanding of Delaware’s coastal and estuarine resources and reaching this 20 year milestone.” 

“For the past two decades, the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve has undertaken extensive research, outreach and restoration efforts and has addressed some of Delaware’s most important and challenging coastal and estuarine issues, including our resiliency to sea level rise,” said DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara. “We appreciate our strong federal partnership with NOAA and our Congressional Delegation and thank them for their support of the Reserve and the valuable work underway here that provides scientific information for local decision-making and the wise management of our communities and furthers public understanding of Delaware’s coastal and estuarine ecosystems.”

Delaware’s diverse range of habitats makes it an ideal location for a National Estuarine Research Reserve. In order to capture this diversity, in the early 1990s, two sites were nominated by then-Governor Michael Castle to create the Reserve, and in 1993, following the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s approval of a submitted management plan, DNERR became the 22nd Reserve in the National Estuarine Research Reserve system. The DNERR would be run as a federal/state partnership between NOAA and DNREC and includes parcels of land held by private landowners, as well as parcels owned by the State of Delaware.

 “With Delaware playing a vital role in coastal ecology – serving as a rest stop for millions of migrating birds – I have been a long supporter of wetland conservation,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper. “I applaud the hard work that the staff at the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve have done in its 20 years, and look forward to the Reserve reaching many more milestones.”

“The committed environmentalists of the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve play a vital role in how we protect our Delaware coastline and estuarine resources,” said Senator Coons. “I offer my sincerest congratulations to the leadership and staff for their efforts over the past 20 years as they have worked tirelessly to protect and manage natural estuarine habitats for research, education, and coastal stewardship for the people of Delaware.”

“Delaware is blessed with beautiful natural resources, including our coastal areas,” said U.S. Congressman John Carney.  “It’s a privilege and responsibility to care for these parts of our state, learn from them and protect them for future generations.  I congratulate everyone who has helped in the development of the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve over the last 20 years. Your work will continue to benefit our state for many years to come.”

“Research reserves are unique places that represent an important part of NOAA’s boots-on-the-ground effort to protect coastal resources,” says Margaret Davidson, head of NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management. “Delaware is a leader in coastal management thanks in large part to the commitment demonstrated for the past 20 years at this reserve. Reserve staff work closely with local coastal communities to help make them healthier and more resilient.”

Today, DNERR’s two locations total 6,206 acres – the St. Jones Reserve with 5,119 acres, including salt marsh and open water habitats on the St. Jones River and Delaware Bay, east of Dover and the Blackbird Creek Reserve with 1,087 acres of freshwater wetlands, ponds and forest lands in Blackbird Creek near Townsend. The two components include both brackish and freshwater estuaries and represent the diverse estuarine ecosystems found throughout the entire mid-Atlantic region. Both locations feature public hiking trails and wonderful recreational and educational opportunities.

The DNERR is one of 28 National Estuarine Research Reserves protecting over 1.3 million acres of coastal and estuarine habitat across the country, whose goal is to establish, protect and manage natural estuarine and coastal habitats for research, education and stewardship. The Reserve accomplishes these goals by serving as a living laboratory to support coastal research and long-term monitoring and as a reference site for comparative studies on coastal topics, such as ecosystem dynamics and human influences on estuarine systems. In addition, the DNERR serves as a living classroom for educators, students and the public – advancing estuary literacy and providing meaningful environmental education experiences for people of all ages, including more than 2,000 school children annually. The Reserve’s stewardship efforts involve a wide range of activities, including land acquisition, habitat mapping, ecological restoration, invasive species control, biological monitoring and watershed management projects, among others.

“Thanks to the dedicated staff and volunteers who have supported the Reserve since its foundation with their expertise and countless hours of service, the DNERR has truly become a nationally renowned location for coastal education and research,” said Delaware Coastal Programs Administrator Sarah W. Cooksey. “The State of Delaware directly benefits from the important work the DNERR conducts on conserving Delaware’s coastal resources through its comprehensive research and community outreach programs. We invite everyone to visit our sites to sample some of the great coastal resources we have in our state and to learn more about what you can do to help protect them.”

Over the past several years, the DNERR has undertaken extensive research and monitoring to address estuarine and coastal issues, including studies on changes to coastal marshes, their restoration and the potential impacts of sea level rise. One important study is investigating how much sediment has been collected on the marsh surface over long periods of time, known as accretion. Understanding the accretion of a coastal marsh is an important part of predicting its future conditions and may assist scientists and local communities in determining how well Delaware’s marshes will adapt to sea level rise or handle flooding from coastal storms. The results of the long-term wetland study will be interpreted by the Reserve’s scientists and shared with local resource managers and members of communities bordering the wetland areas.

The DNERR holds workshops, trainings and events that educate and engage communities, nonprofit organizations and state agency employee on how to better protect coastal areas through its Coastal Training Program. These events share the latest research from national and local studies, including research completed by Reserve scientists that can help them make better and more informed decisions about managing our state’s coastal resources. The Coastal Training Program often partners with other agencies, universities and organizations to offer these in a way that best fits the training needs of the participants. One recent workshop, held with the Delaware Sea Grant, provided community leaders with skills on how to prepare their communities for adapting to the impacts of climate change, such as potential threats from extreme weather, sea level rise and warmer temperatures.

DNERR passes on the information that it collects through the integration of education, research and stewardship so that Delaware residents of all ages can make wiser decisions about how we treat our coastal areas in the future.

The public is invited to visit the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve – St. Jones Reserve and Blackbird Creek Reserve – to enjoy the beauty of our coastal areas and learn more about the research studies underway by Reserve scientists. For more information on DNERR and its programs available to you, contact Kimberly Cole, Reserve manager at 302-739-6377 or visit http://de.gov/dnerr

Contact:  Kimberly Cole, DNERR Manager, 302-739-6377; or Melanie Rapp, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902.

Vol. 43, No. 379


New Castle Carjacking Defendant Receives 16-Year Jail Sentence

Wilmington – Attorney General Beau Biden announced today that a New Castle County man convicted earlier this year of carjacking, robbery, and threatening a victim received a lengthy prison sentence today for his crimes.

“This dangerous repeat offender’s violent actions and complete disregard for the law has landed him a significant jail sentence,” Biden said.

On the afternoon of April 14, 2012, one day after being released from prison for a 2008 robbery, 32 year-old Corey Bowers of Wilmington entered the front passenger seat of a customer’s car as she entered her vehicle in the parking lot of a New Castle Rite Aid Pharmacy.  Bowers confronted the victim with what appeared to be a handgun and demanded her keys and other property before ordering her out of the car and fleeing in the vehicle.  Officers from several New Castle County police agencies responding to the crime located the vehicle with the assistance of a witness and pursued Bowers into the city of Wilmington.  During the car chase, Bowers collided with a number of vehicles in the area of Concord Avenue and Washington Street and subsequently fled on foot before being apprehended by a Wilmington Police officer.

While incarcerated pending trial on the carjacking and robbery charges, Bowers sent letters to the victim threatening her and members of her family in an effort to intimidate her and prevent her from participating in the prosecution.

Bowers was convicted at trial in July, 2013 on the charges of Robbery, Carjacking, Terroristic Threatening, Criminal Intimidation, and Misuse of Prisoner Mail.  During today’s sentencing hearing in New Castle County Superior Court, Deputy Attorney General Kate Keller, who along with Deputy Attorney General Andrew Vella secured Bowers’ conviction, asked for a significant jail sentence given his egregious conduct during this crime and his multiple prior felony convictions.  Judge Fred Silverman sentenced Bowers to a 16-year prison sentence.

Read the Delaware State Police news release announcing Bowers’ arrest.