Morningstar rating increased from Bronze to Silver in 2019
Following assessments and interviews, Morningstar, the nation’s premier plan rating group, has upgraded the DE529 plan from a Bronze to a Silver ranking. Delaware now joins an elite group of 13 Silver-rated plans.
“Through this elevated ranking, the leadership of the Plans Management Board and the hard work of our team are being noticed nation-wide for the service it provides residents,” said Treasurer Davis. “Being able to reduce our fees will make a big difference for participants and prospective plan-holders, and we hope to go for Gold in the future.”
A key component of Delaware’s high score was due to its administration – phasing out more expensive investment selections and adding a new offering of a blended investment option, which allows the accountholder to engage in both active and passive investment management. Additionally, DE529 is one of the lowest-cost educational investment options, and recently reduced administrative fees.
Morningstar conducts annual reviews of 62 plans, analyzing multiple categories within the given plan, as well as its management. Scores indicate a review of the plans’ investment options, management, contracted relationships, investment performance, and overall price of the plan. Only four plans receive a Gold rating from Morningstar.
Delaware’s 529 is a tax-advantaged savings plan that is available to the public, easy to open, and offer investment options so that savings may grow over time until they are used for associated costs including tuition, books, housing, apprenticeships and more. Learn more at 529.Delaware.Gov.
DNREC’s Brandywine Zoo wins international avian husbandry award
Delaware’s zoo also recognized nationally for data collection
WILMINGTON – DNREC’s Brandywine Zoo has won a Plume Award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Avian Scientific Advisory Group, recognizing the zoo’s achievements in avian husbandry and conservation. The Brandywine Zoo is one of only three AZA-member facilities internationally to receive the prestigious award this year. The Plume Award was for the zoo’s American Kestrel Monitoring Program, recognized by the AZA as a “Noteworthy Achievement for an Avian In-Situ Program” – meaning “in the field,” or studying animals in the wild.
“We have always known that the Brandywine Zoo is an exceptional facility, and this international recognition with the Plume Award attests to the zoo’s standing,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “This award recognizes the conservation work the zoo does outside the facility, not just the valuable information it collects from the animals under its care. The zoo’s American Kestrel Monitoring Program is contributing to international studies and larger, collaborative research projects, so data collected here in Delaware will ultimately help the recovery of North America’s smallest raptor.”
The American kestrel was listed as endangered in Delaware in 2013. Since 2014, the zoo, with the assistance of DNREC’s Divisions of Fish & Wildlife and Parks & Recreation, has installed 74 nest boxes on both private and public lands across the state from parks to state wildlife and conservation areas. The zoo spearheads the Delaware Kestrel Partnership (DKP), a group of organizations within the state working to better understand causes of the kestrel’s decline in Delaware. The DKP is made up of the Brandywine Zoo and DNREC’s Divisions of Fish & Wildlife and Parks & Recreation, Delaware Nature Society, Delmarva Ornithological Society, Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research, Delaware Wildlands, and the American Kestrel Partnership, a project of The Peregrine Fund.
The kestrel monitoring project is the first in-situ project run by the zoo, providing zoo staff valuable opportunities to contribute to national research projects while also directly studying a locally-endangered species. Research focuses on where and why kestrels are nesting in the state, to help inform long-term conservation and habitat management decisions. Zoo staff and volunteers monitor nest boxes for activity, and band adults and chicks with U.S. Geological Survey-numbered leg bands for identification. Feather samples collected from chicks are submitted to the American Kestrel Genoscape Project, which is creating a DNA map of kestrels across North America, to better assess where migrating adults from other studies may come from. As the cause of the kestrel’s decline is still unknown, banding and feather sampling are just two ways of understanding where kestrels are going, whether they return to the same areas for nesting annually, and how the species’ dispersal may impact the raptors’ long-term survival.
Other data collected by the Brandywine Zoo has recently been recognized nationally as well. Zoo data, in collaboration with other zoos and aquariums worldwide, was used in a paper published recently in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, the official journal of the National Academy of Sciences. The information helped confirm critical information, such as fertility and survival rates, that has been missing from global data for more than 98 percent of known species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Information from the zoo has helped fill in the gap that has far-reaching implications for conservationists seeking to blunt the impact of mass extinctions, according to the journal article. The zoo has been contributing data on its animals since 1981. Since then, it has added data on more than 1,200 birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals of 219 species, making a large impact on the understanding of those species’ life histories.
About the Association of Zoos and Aquariums: The AZA, founded in 1924, is a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the U.S. and 10 other countries.
Contact: Beth Shockley, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902
Vol. 49, No. 127
State of Delaware Employees Honored for Team Excellence, Excellence and Commitment in State Service, and Heroism
Event held during the celebration of Public Service Recognition Week, May 5-11, 2019
DOVER, Del. – Governor John Carney, Cabinet members, and the business community on Thursday celebrated Public Service Recognition Week by applauding the extraordinary work of Delaware’s public servants and recognizing state employees that have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to their work. Awards presented to employees include Team Excellence, Excellence & Commitment in State Service, and Heroism.
New to this year’s ceremony was the presentation of the GEAR-P3 Innovation and Efficiency Award. This award, made possible through the Government Efficiency and Accountability Review (GEAR) launched by Governor Carney in 2017 and a Public-Private Partnership (P3) between the State of Delaware and the Delaware business community, recognizes State employees with the highest levels of performance excellence. Founding sponsors of the GEAR-P3 Award include Bank of America, Delmarva Power, The Precisionists, and WSFS Bank.
“I encourage all Delawareans to join me in thanking our State employees for their dedication and commitment to public service,” said Governor Carney. “I’m thrilled to join with the State’s business community this year in giving special recognition to employee teams that implement innovative, cost saving initiatives that yield sustainable results for our citizens. Thank you to our founding sponsors for partnering with the State to honor these employees.”
Governor’s Team Excellence Awards
This awards category includes the GEAR-P3 Innovation & Efficiency Award; Champions Award; and Commitment Award. The Governor’s Team Excellence Awards, presented annually to a team of six to 20 state employees, encourages teamwork by recognizing groups of state employees for their efforts to use continuous quality improvement tools to excel in leadership, team dynamics and communication to produce superior customer service and tangible results.
GEAR-P3 Innovation & Efficiency Award
This top award is a cooperative initiative between the State of Delaware and the business community. It honors teams that not only use continuous quality tools to achieve outstanding outcomes but also develop innovative designs and process, establish best practices, and produce verifiable results that are sustainable, scalable, and adaptable to other areas of government. These teams serve as clear role models for other organizations. Recipients of this year’s award are:
iVote Security Remediation Team, Department of Technology and Information and the Department of Elections
Delaware Drug Monitoring Initiative Team, Department of Health and Social Services and Department of Safety and Homeland Security/Delaware State Police
This award recognizes teams that demonstrate a superior knowledge of continuous quality improvement techniques, produced tangible results, and increased efficiencies, customer satisfaction, or cost savings. Recipients of this year’s award are:
Criminal History Unit Team, Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families
Southern Health Services 3rd Annual Drive-Thru Influenza POD Leadership Planning Team, Department of Health and Social Services
This award recognizes teams that demonstrate a commitment to developing and applying quality improvement tools and techniques and achieving results that lead to continuous improvement in their organization. Recipients of this year’s award are:
Transit Mobile App and Fare System Modernization Team, Department of Transportation/Delaware Transit Corporation
Rehoboth Outfall Permitting Project Team, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control
Jury Improvement Innovation Team, Superior Court, Judicial Information Center and the Department of Technology and Information
Excellence and Commitment in State Service Award
This award, established in 1990, is given to five State of Delaware employees, or groups of employees, who exemplify the highest standards of excellence and commitment in state service. Recipients of the 2019 award are:
Kesha Braunskill, Department of Agriculture
Kenneth P. Creedon, Superior Court
James Dowling, Department of Health and Social Services
Christopher Gore, Robert Greybill and William Kirsch, Department of Transportation
Ivelisse Torres, Department of Health and Social Services
Delaware Award for Heroism
Established in 2013, this award recognizes state employees for acts of heroism and courage. The 2019 recipients are:
Robby Brown, Department of Transportation
Genevieve Haller, Kelly Katz, and Robby Brown, Department of Transportation
Chelsea Chillas, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control
Chantel Collie, Department of Health and Social Services
Richard Nichols and Robert Stevens, Department of Transportation
Department of Correction, Sussex Correctional Institute employees:
Joseph Adkins, Richard Donahue, Scott Illian, Travis Lowe, Charles Moorefield, Zachary Pettyjohn, Adam Smith, Joshua Wall, and Scott Workman
Department of Correction, Baylor Women’s Correctional Institute employees:
Marlowe Rhock, Hodle Dorcin, De’Quan Hickson, Mali Lebron, Kelly Lewis, Denise Massey, Ryan Stanard, and Syrita Williams
“State employees are incredibly driven and committed to serving the people of Delaware,” said Saundra Ross Johnson, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Human Resources. “It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to recognize those who have gone above and beyond their usual level of excellence.”
Delaware’s Dr. Vibha Sanwal Receives CDC’s Childhood Immunization Champion Award
Dover Dr. Vibha Sanwal[/caption] – Vibha Sanwal, MD, from Rainbow Pediatrics of Georgetown & Lewes, has been named a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Childhood Immunization Champion for her outstanding efforts to promote childhood immunizations in her clinic offices. The Division of Public Health’s (DPH) Immunization Program nominated the pediatrician for the award.
Dr. Sanwal is recognized for embracing the Assessment, Feedback, Incentive & eXchange (AFIX) assessment process by reviewing patient charts against the Immunization Information System (IIS) and updating individual immunization records as patients came in during their scheduled office visits. Her clinic staff also reviewed their patient roster to ensure that the roster in the IIS matched the patient roster in their Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system. This process enables the IIS to reflect her clinic’s true coverage rates for all the vaccine-preventable diseases and provides a roadmap to ensure all her patients get each of the vaccines needed to stay healthy.
“Through the Childhood Immunization Champion awards, CDC and Delaware proudly acknowledge Dr. Sanwal’s passion, hard work and commitment to children’s health by working to eliminate vaccine preventable diseases in our state,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay.
“I am honored to be recognized as the Immunization Champion for Delaware,” Dr. Sanwal said. “Vaccinations prevent disease and reduce suffering, improve our quality of life, and help our children live long, fulfilling lives. We will continue to work hard to improve the immunization rate of our population at Rainbow Pediatrics.”
National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), April 21 to 28, 2018, is an annual observance to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and to celebrate the achievements of immunization programs in promoting healthy communities throughout the United States. Each year during NIIW, the CDC Foundation honors health professionals and community leaders from around the country with the CDC Childhood Immunization Champion awards. These awards acknowledge the outstanding efforts of those individuals who strive to ensure that children in their communities are fully immunized against 14 preventable diseases before the age of two.
“The tremendous success of CDC’s immunization programs to protect the nation’s children from vaccine-preventable diseases is a direct result of the efforts of childhood immunization champions,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC. “We cannot overstate the value of the dedication our Champions have shown, which ultimately protects our children, schools, and communities from serious diseases.”
CDC Childhood Immunization Champions were selected from a pool of health professionals, coalition members, community advocates and other immunization leaders. State Immunization Programs coordinated the nomination process and submitted nominees to CDC. One winner was selected in each of the 50 participating states and the District of Columbia.
A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.
DNREC receives EPA’s PISCES award; other milestones announced at the former NVF site in Yorklyn
DOVER – As revitalization continues at the former NVF facility in Yorklyn, DNREC’s new water quality project at the site has been recognized as an Exceptional Project by the EPA, one of five such projects nationwide, for its excellence and innovation in Clean Water Infrastructure, winning the coveted PISCES award. Two DNREC Divisions, Waste & Hazardous Substances, and Parks & Recreation, collaborated to remediate the zinc-contaminated site at the former factory. Following the cleanup, a created, remediated two-acre wetland is nearly complete, in addition to four other wetlands that will soon be constructed in the vicinity.
In addition, three new trails at the former NVF site have been completed: the Yorklyn Bridge Trail, the Oversee Trail, and the “CCArts Trail” (yet to be officially named). Under construction now is a bridge that will connect the Yorklyn Bridge trail to Benge Road and the Auburn Heights Mansion.
The PISCES award recognizes the importance of the new wetland to mitigate flooding and improve water quality in the Red Clay Creek area, the support of the economic redevelopment of the Yorklyn Fiber Mills District, and the innovative use of funding for the project.
“EPA is proud to have selected this clean water project as one of five rated exceptional in the nation,” said EPA Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio. “The work at the NVF site will continue to improve water quality in the creek, and enhance the quality of life for residents by protecting this vulnerable area from flooding, and making way for future economic development. It’s an excellent example of the power of partnerships between EPA and the states and communities we serve.”
“We are proud that DNREC has been recognized by EPA with the PISCES award,” said Governor John Carney. “Not only does this project clean up the environment, but it also will support redevelopment. This whole area was once a polluted brownfield site, and because of DNREC’s work, the Yorklyn Fiber Mills District is better equipped to attract more businesses, create jobs, and help strengthen our economy.”
The EPA award acknowledges excellence and innovation within the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF). The CWSRF is a federal-state partnership that provides communities with a permanent, independent source of low-cost financing for a wide range of water quality infrastructure projects. The EPA’s PISCES (Performance and Innovation in the SRF Creating Environmental Success) award celebrates innovation demonstrated by Delaware’s CWSRF programs and assistance recipients.
“Whether at a federal, state, or local level, we should always be striving to get better results for less money, and the Yorklyn project shows that we can, especially when we are working together,” said Senator Tom Carper, who serves as the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “This is an example of exactly the kind of work that EPA should be partnering with states to complete in a more timely and efficient manner. Not only do cleanups of contaminated sites reduce public health risks, they also help to revitalize communities and spur economic development in the area. Proud to see that, once again, Delaware is leading by example and finding ways to most effectively utilize taxpayer dollars.”
“We are honored to receive the PISCES award,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “This new wetland is the centerpiece of the site, which will help improve water quality, mitigate flooding, create habitat, and support the economic redevelopment of the Yorklyn area. Three new trails, and others that are under construction, are drawing more and more people to this vibrant new development – commercial, residential and recreational – and turning Yorklyn into a major destination on the Delaware map.”
In total, $3.3 million in CWSRF loan financing was provided to DNREC’s Division of Waste & Hazardous Substances to remove zinc-contaminated soils and create the two-acre wetland by replacing industrial-contaminated soils with clean fill material and topsoil, Another $1 million CWSRF Water Quality Improvement Loan was provided to DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation to create the four additional wetlands.
DNREC’s Environmental Finance Office used several innovative financing tools to facilitate project funding. Funding to provide repayment of the CWSRF loans was secured by the state’s Hazardous Substances Cleanup Act and the Division of Parks & Recreation.
The soil remediation efforts at the NVF site included the removal and disposal of approximately 170 tons (340,000 pounds) of zinc and more than 200 pounds of hazardous lead from the soil during a seven-month period beginning in December 2016. A groundwater zinc recovery and treatment system has also been in operation at the site since 2008. Converting the excavation into a wetland that provides flood water storage capacity and other wetland benefits is necessary in the historically flood-prone Red Clay Creek Valley. For perspective, using average recovery rates of zinc from the existing treatment system, it would have taken nearly 40 years to remove the same mass of contaminants from groundwater, at an estimated cost of $14 million. Utilizing the $3.3 million CWSRF loan enabled DNREC to perform necessary remediation in the short term, thus saving taxpayers a projected amount of $10.7 million in the long term.
Using funds for contaminated site remediation has not been done in Delaware before, and is just one of many unique and innovative solutions that the project team employed to complete the work. Substantial savings to Delaware taxpayers will result, and further redevelopment will occur at an accelerated pace. Future redevelopment at the site is designed to provide decades of increased economic value and will be a unique destination to visit and explore in historic Yorklyn.
Media Contact: Beth Shockley, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902.