DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Blotter: Aug. 19-25

Reminder for the week: Have a safe Labor Day weekend on Delaware waterways

Picture of the DNREC Natural Resources Police BadgeDOVER – To achieve public compliance with laws and regulations through education and enforcement actions that help conserve Delaware’s fish and wildlife resources and ensure safe boating and public safety, DNREC’s Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers between Aug. 19-25 made 1,721 contacts with anglers, boaters, and the general public, issuing 29 citations. Officers responded to 78 complaints regarding possible violations of laws and regulations or requests to assist the public. A Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police presence continued at the C&D Canal Conservation Area and Michael N. Castle Trail.

Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police in the Community

  • On Aug. 24, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers discussed the role of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers, answered hunting, fishing and boating questions, and displayed the Operation Game Theft trailer during a National Wild Turkey Federation picnic in Middletown.
  • On Aug. 25, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers presented information on Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police careers, safe hunting, hunting laws, and what to expect when checked by an officer in the field at a Basic Hunter Education Course held at the Little Creek Hunter Education Training Center.

Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Actions

Citations issued by category, with the number of charges in parentheses, included:

Fisheries Conservation: Recreational: Possession of undersized blue crabs (1), possession of undersized white perch (1), possession of a undersized flounder (1), no Fisherman Information Network (FIN) number (1), and unlicensed fishing (4).

Boating & Boating Safety: Operating a vessel with insufficient number of life jackets (2).

Public Safety: Driving with a suspended license (2)*, failure to have required insurance (1)*, failure to transfer title and registration (1)*, operating a motor vehicle at an unreasonable speed (2), inattentive driving (1), disobeying command to stop in a motor vehicle (1)*, failure to use turn signal (1), and possession of heroin (1).

Other: Trespassing after hours on a state wildlife area (6)*, operating an unregistered motor vehicle on a state wildlife area (1)*, and loitering (2).

*Includes citation(s) issued at the C&D Canal Conservation Area.

DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife recognizes and thanks the majority of anglers, hunters, and boaters who comply with and support Delaware’s fishing, hunting, and boating laws and regulations. The Public are encouraged to report fish, wildlife, and boating violations to the Delaware Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police by calling 302-739-4580 or through the DENRP Tip app on a smartphone, which can be downloaded free of charge by searching “DENRP Tip” via the Google Play Store or the iTunes App Store. Wildlife violations may also be reported anonymously to Operation Game Theft by calling 800-292-3030, going online to http://de.gov/ogt, or using the DENRP Tip app. Verizon customers can connect to Operation Game Theft directly by dialing #OGT.

Are you AWARE?
For the Labor Day weekend, Delaware Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police remind boaters that drinking and boating don’t mix and puts themselves, their passengers, and other boaters at risk, and that boat operators found to have blood alcohol levels of .08 or higher will face charges for operating a vessel under the influence.

Other tips for recreational boaters to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend include:

  • Exercising patience and courtesy at crowded boat ramps and docks
  • Observing all Slow No Wake areas
  • Maintaining a lookout for other vessels and keeping a safe distance away
  • Making sure children 12 and younger are wearing life jackets while underway as required by law
  • Checking navigation lights and making sure to turn them on when operating at night

For more information on safe boating practices in Delaware, please visit Delaware Boating Safety.

To report boating violations or accidents please call the Delaware Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police 24-hour dispatch line at: 302-739-4580 or 1-800-523-3336.

Follow Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/DEFWNRPolice/.

Follow Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police on Twitter, https://twitter.com/DE_FW_NRPolice.

Contact: Sgt. Brooke Mitchell, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police, 302-739-9913, or 302-382-7167.

DSHA Celebrates Liberty Court Renovations and 20 Years of Moving to Work

DOVER – Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) held an event today marking the completion of renovations at Liberty Court, a public housing site in Dover, and recognizing the authority’s 20th year participating in Moving to Work (MTW), a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program. Many of the residents at Liberty Court participate in the MTW program.

DSHA Director Anas Ben Addi was joined at the event by Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen, U.S. Senator Tom Carper, U.S. Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester, State Senator Trey Paradee, Liberty Court residents and Moving to Work participants.

“The achievements we are celebrating today are just two examples of the hard work our staff and partners do each day to provide Delawareans with stable, affordable housing,” Director Ben Addi said. “We are proud of our accomplishments and will continue finding ways to improve our public housing sites and help more of our residents become economically self-sufficient.”

U.S. Senator Tom Carper added, “I commend DSHA for its efforts to revitalize the Liberty Court housing site and for achieving this great milestone of 20 years with the Moving to Work program. DSHA should be proud of all the work they have done to give its Liberty Court residents a new place to call home and for the two decades they have spent guiding hundreds of Delawareans to financial stability.”

“The work DSHA is doing to provide quality affordable housing for residents of our state is crucial, and I am honored to celebrate these two important achievements with Director Ben Addi, his staff and partners,” said Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester. “I know DSHA will continue to make great strides both in providing its residents with beautiful places to live and in helping more Delawareans achieve economic self-sufficiency through the Moving to Work program.”

The Liberty Court property was built in 1974 as a privately-owned and market-rate apartment complex and was purchased by DSHA in 1989. From 1990 to 1993, DSHA substantially rehabilitated the property and created 108 public housing subsidized units.
In 2015, an internal inspection on one of the buildings at Liberty Court found areas of moisture within stucco on the exterior of the building was causing the interior walls and framing of the building to swell. When other buildings at the property were inspected, similar issues were found. At the time, it was determined that a major rehabilitation of the property was needed to correct the problem.

Construction at Liberty Court began in July of 2017 and was finalized in November 2018 with all 100 units leased. Renovations included: demolition of all residential buildings and construction of new buildings on existing foundations; installation of Energy Star compliant high-efficiency appliances in all units; an open concept design in the living rooms and kitchens; installation of hickory kitchen cabinets, black appliances, ceiling fans, vinyl plank flooring and sprinkler systems in all units; repaving and striping of parking lots; and installation of a new security camera system, sidewalks and dumpster enclosures on the property grounds. The renovation project did require DSHA to lower the number of units at Liberty Court from 108 to 100 in order to provide a new fire lane at the complex in compliance with fire marshal requirements.

DSHA decided to pursue the support of HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program to finance the renovation project. RAD allows for more funding flexibility including the use of tax credits and other public funds to maintain and improve public housing.

The cost of renovations at Liberty Court totaled nearly $18 million with financing provided through the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program and DSHA’s Affordable Rental Housing and HOME programs. WSFS Bank also provided bond financing totaling $10.1 million and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh (FHLBank Pittsburgh) provided $650,000 through its Affordable Housing Program.

“At WSFS Bank, we are committed to helping organizations like DSHA do great work within our communities, and we are proud to support the housing authority in its latest efforts to renovate Liberty Court,” said Robert Matsko, vice president of commercial real estate. “DSHA has created a beautiful housing site that its residents will enjoy for many years to come.”

“We are privileged to partner with DSHA on this project to breathe new life into the Liberty Court site,” said Winthrop Watson, FHLBank Pittsburgh’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “We recognize the value of the work DSHA does for Delawareans and are proud to support its efforts with this funding.”

Friday’s event also celebrated 20 successful years of DSHA helping Delawareans become economically self-sufficient through the MTW program. In 1999, HUD chose DSHA as one of 24 public housing agencies in the country to participate in MTW. Today, DSHA is one of just 39 public housing agencies, out of more than 3,400 total in the country, to participate in the MTW program.

MTW is a demonstration program that provides public housing agencies with the opportunity to design and test innovative, locally-designed strategies. The program has three distinct goals: reducing costs; providing incentives for families to obtain employment and self-sufficiency; and increasing housing choices for low-income families.

Participants are allowed five years to successfully complete the MTW program. In those five years, participants pay rent totaling 35% of their adjusted monthly income. DSHA creates an escrow account for the resident and invests all rent paid over the 35% limit into that savings account. The participant is then required to work a certain number of hours each year of the MTW program and must complete a financial literacy course. At the end of the five years, if they have successfully completed all requirements, the participant then has access to 100% of the escrow account and can use that money to find housing at fair market rent or to buy a home.

Shantel Emory, a former MTW participant who successfully completed the program in 2018, was able to use about $7,800 saved during her five years with MTW to purchase a home in Magnolia.

“The MTW program gave me the financial stability I needed to achieve my goals and find secure housing for my family,” she said. “Without this program, it would have taken me several more years to save enough money to buy my first home. I am grateful DSHA offers this program in our state.”

Since 1999, DSHA has disbursed more than $3.3 million in Moving to Work savings to 995 families who successfully completed the program. Of those families, 698 moved into fair market rental housing and 297 bought a home. MTW often pairs well with DSHA’s homeownership programs, which can provide homebuyers with low-interest mortgages and down payment and closing cost assistance.

Murder at State Museum Sends Man to Prison

Other defendants sentenced on kidnapping, manslaughter, assault, and weapons charges

Malcolm Casson, a Dover man who stabbed another man to death on the grounds of a state museum, has pleaded guilty to a 2018 murder. In February 2018, State Police were called to the John Dickinson House off of Kitts Hummock Road in Dover after 36-year-old Thomas Bunting, Jr. of Milford was found suffering from multiple stab wounds. A few hours later, Harrington Police arrested Casson after he committed a traffic violation in Bunting’s car. Casson, 26, pleaded guilty to Murder Second Degree and Possession of a Deadly Weapon During the Commission of a Felony. After accepting the plea, a Superior Court judge immediately sentenced Casson to 40 years in prison, followed by 6 months of work release then 3 years of probation. Casson will also need to pay restitution to the victim’s family and remain on probation until all of his financial obligations are met. Deputy Attorneys General Stephen Welch and Stephen Smith prosecuted the case with assistance from social worker Esther Powell. Detective Dan Grassi of the Delaware State Police was the chief investigator.

A Millsboro man charged with kidnapping and robbing an elderly Rehoboth Beach couple has pleaded guilty. Steven Snell, 29, pleaded guilty in Superior Court to Kidnapping First Degree, 2 counts of Robbery First Degree, Home Invasion, Assault Second Degree, and Possession of a Deadly Weapon During the Commission of a Felony. In July 2018, Snell entered a home on the unit block of Cornwall Road and after asking to use the phone, threatened the couple with a box cutter. Snell forced the victims into his car and drove to an ATM where he withdrew money from the couple’s bank account. Snell, who faces a minimum of 17 years in prison, will be sentenced by a Superior Court judge in October. Deputy Attorney General Adam Gelof prosecuted the case.

The 2017 fatal shooting of a teenage girl has led to a prison sentence for her killer. In April 2017, Shyheim Warren, 25, of Wilmington shot 16-year-old Tyneisha Cephas while she was trying to break up a large fight in front of her home on the 900 block of North Kirkwood Street in Wilmington. Warren pleaded guilty to Manslaughter and Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony in July. A Superior Court judge sentenced Warren to 7 years in prison followed by 1 year of probation. Deputy Attorneys General John Downs and Timothy Maguire secured the sentence.

A Dover man who pleaded guilty in April to shooting and injuring 2 people at a large house party in Dover last year received a prison sentence from a Superior Court judge. In September 2018, Dover Police responded to the unit block of Nicholas Drive where Marquis Harris, 23, shot into a crowd of people after a fight broke out at a party, hitting a man and a woman in the back. Harris pleaded guilty Assault First Degree and Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony. A Superior Court judge sentenced Harris to 10 years in prison followed by 2 years of probation. Deputy Attorneys General Sean Motoyoshi and Nicole Hartman prosecuted the case with assistance from social worker Kerry McElwee and special investigator Pete Fraley. Detective Stephen Boone of the Dover Police Department was the chief investigating officer.

DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife announces opening of September hunting seasons

Green wing teal, which Delaware duck hunters can pursue during a special season that begins Sept. 12. USFWS photo

Numerous hunting opportunities offered starting Sept. 1 at many state wildlife areas

DOVER – Delaware hunters will start their 2019/20 hunting season Sunday, Sept. 1 with the opening of archery and crossbow deer seasons, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife announced today. Hunters can start adding mourning dove and resident Canada goose to their daily game bags on Monday, Sept. 2, and teal on Thursday, Sept. 12, when the special September teal season opens. Gray squirrel season opens Saturday, Sept. 14.

The following hunting seasons open in September, with season dates and hunting hours as listed:

  • Archery and Crossbow Deer: Sept. 1-Feb. 2, 2020, including Sundays (½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset)
  • Dove: Sept. 2-Oct. 7 for first season split (½ hour before sunrise to sunset)*
  • Resident Canada geese: Sept. 2-25 (½ hour before sunrise to sunset)
  • Teal: Sept. 12-30 (½ hour before sunrise to sunset in the designated teal zone south of the C&D Canal to Lewes, and east of Routes 13, 113/113A, and 1)
  • Gray squirrel: Sept. 14-Feb. 1, 2020 (½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset, except closed during November shotgun deer season)

*Reminder: Non-toxic shot (no lead) must be used for dove hunting on state wildlife areas during the month of September and hunting hours might differ at specific dove fields on certain state wildlife areas.

DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife offers many early-season hunting opportunities on state wildlife areas. Wildlife area maps and rules are available at Wildlife Area Hunting Maps. Additional information on September hunting opportunities at Division of Fish & Wildlife public wildlife areas is available at Delaware’s September hunting seasons.

A Delaware hunting license or License Exempt Number (LEN) is required to hunt, and most waterfowl hunters require a Delaware waterfowl (duck) stamp. More information on hunting license and Delaware waterfowl stamp requirements is available at Delaware Licenses. Teal, dove, and goose hunters also need a Federal Harvest Information Program (HIP) number. To register for a LEN number or HIP number, hunters can go to Delaware Hunter and Trapper Registration or call toll free 1-855-335-4868. For hunters age 16 and older, a federal migratory bird stamp is also required to hunt geese or teal.

Registered motor vehicles used to access designated wildlife areas owned or managed by the Division of Fish & Wildlife are required to display a Conservation Access Pass (CAP). Hunters can opt to receive one free annual CAP with the purchase of any Delaware hunting license. To obtain a CAP, hunters will need the registration card for the vehicle to which the pass will be assigned.

Delaware hunting licenses, Delaware waterfowl stamps, and Conservation Access Passes can be purchased online at Delaware Licenses, at the license desk in DNREC’s Dover office at 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901, or from hunting license agents statewide. Federal migratory bird stamps are available for purchase at U.S. Post Offices, Bombay Hook and Prime Hook national wildlife refuges, and online at Federal duck stamps.

For more information on hunting, click 2019-2020 Delaware Hunting & Trapping Guide. Hard copies of the hunting guide and newly-updated hunting maps are also available at the license desk in DNREC’s Dover office. More information on hunting licenses, season details, and the Conservation Access Pass is also available by calling the Wildlife Section office at 302-739-9912.

Follow the Division of Fish & Wildlife on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/DelawareFishWildlife.

Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 49, No. 228

DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife announces updated 2019/2020 state wildlife area maps

DOVER – Hunters and other wildlife area users are reminded that state wildlife area maps with updated regulations and access information for each wildlife area are available for the 2019/2020 hunting season, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife announced today. The maps depict area boundaries, parking areas, deer stand and waterfowl blind locations, trails, wildlife-viewing facilities, and other helpful information.

Several new wildlife area properties are open for public access, particularly on the Eagles Nest, Cedar Swamp, and Tappahanna wildlife areas.

The maps and area-specific regulations are available online at Delaware Wildlife Area Maps. Paper copies of the maps are available at DNREC’s Dover licensing desk in the Richardson & Robbins Building, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901. Licensing desk customers may take up to five printed maps of individual wildlife areas free of charge. A complete set of statewide maps costs $5 to purchase at the licensing desk, or $6 by mail.

Registered motor vehicles used to access designated wildlife areas owned or managed by the Division of Fish & Wildlife are required to display a Conservation Access Pass (CAP). Hunters can opt to receive one free annual CAP with the purchase of any Delaware hunting license. To obtain a CAP, hunters will need the registration card for the vehicle to which the pass will be assigned. Additional information is available at Conservation Access Pass.

Information on 2019/2020 hunting and trapping seasons, bag limits, and other helpful information is available at 2019-2020 Delaware Hunting and Trapping Guide. Hard copy guides are available from DNREC’s licensing desk and from license agents throughout the state.

For more information, please call the DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Wildlife Section at 302-739-9912.

Follow DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife on Facebook, www.facebook.com/DelawareFishWildlife.

Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 49, No. 227