Salaries: Who Makes What

From government officials to the top executives to the strange purple creature who showed up at your office party, here’s the DL on the dinero your neighbors make. Don’t envy the governor her salary.

illustration by Dav Bourdeleau


All in all, the people who run state and local governments, whether elected or appointed, are a modestly paid lot. For their pay, they earn their fair share of long hours and headaches. You can’t please all the people all the time, after all.

Secretary of Transportation Carolann Wicks drives home $133,200 a year, thanks to her 23 years of service in the department.

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Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse earns a salary of $114,800. That doesn’t include income he makes as a working farmer. He and his brother Dale grow corn, soybeans and wheat on 1,500 acres in Smyrna.

Mayor of Wilmington-eligible bachelor James M. Baker draws a salary of $103,004. That comes with medical, dental and life insurance, as well as a pension plan.

Feeling lucky? Wayne Lemons, Delaware Lottery Director, collects a paycheck of $101,500 a year. (We couldn’t ascertain if he gets that all that in one lump sum or an annuity payment.)

Second-term Governor Ruth Ann Minner made $132,500 last year. Her chief of staff, Mark Brainard, took home $123,100.

State Treasurer and gubernatorial hopeful Jack Markell earned $109,300 last year.

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Commissioner of Corrections and former State Attorney General Carl Danberg makes $142,300. His successor, Beau Biden, gets a salary of $140,200.

The state’s eighth secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, John Hughes, takes in $123,100 yearly for his duties. Nancy Falasco, director of the DNREC-operated Brandywine Zoo, makes $64,837. Want to spend your days fending off bears and reclaiming stolen pic-a-nic baskets? A new DNREC park ranger trainee starts at $30,527. At the top of the ranger ladder are enforcement officers, who take home $45,816.

Full-timers at Bare Essentials in Wilmington make up to $15 an hour, depending on experience and responsibilities, says owner Debbie Esslinger. The staff ranges in age (and size) to help even the most finicky customer feel comfortable in her knickers.

photograph by Tom Nutter

Public education

If you’re in it for the money (and they’re not), school superintendents generally do better than cabinet secretaries. Public school educators and administrators take in wildly diverse salaries up and down the state. Need proof? Secretary of Education Valerie Woodruff earns $154,700. Heather Stokley, a kindergarten teacher at Woodbridge Elementary School, makes $41,626.

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Lillian Lowery, who last year took over as superintendent of the beleaguered Christina School District, made $162,000 in 2006. Harold Roberts, who recently retired as a head of Caesar Rodney School District, makes $154,101. Patrick Savini, superintendent of Sussex Technical School District, earns $135,253. Ron Russo, president of the highly successful and controversial Charter School of Wilmington, takes home $114,754 in annual wages. Jeffrey Menzer, principal William Penn High School, makes $125,499. Principal Colleen Rinker of East Dover Elementary School earns $95,017. Cathy Townsend, the principal at Delmar Middle School, gets $86,550. And Debra Morrison, a science teacher at Smyrna High School, gets $45,041.

Military Personnel

Our airmen at the Dover Air Force Base are paid on a sliding scale, based on rank and length of service. An entry-level Airman Basic receives $1,301.40 per month. An Airman First Class in his second year of service gets bumped up to $1,630.80. Commissioned officers are a different story. Colonel Steven Harrison, commander of the 436th Airlift Wing, takes in around $8,000 monthly. Traditional weekend soldiers and airmen in the Delaware National Guard are paid according to completed drills. Drill pay ascends with rank and experience. Start as a recruit with $40 per drill, then work your way to staff sergeant, earning $67 a drill.

Glass artist Deborah Appleby relies mainly on commissioned works for income. “If I depended on people walking into the gallery, I’d be dead,” she says. Her commission earnings are nonetheless all over the map. This year she’ll make glass Christmas ornaments for $15 apiece, as well as intricate glassworks for the  St. Gregory Hotel in Washington, D.C. The charge: $15,000 total.
photograph by Tom Nutter

Pro Athletes

Three local products are earning big bucks in the big leagues. Caesar Rodney graduate Ian Snell, a promising second-year pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates, gets $408,000 in 2007. Kevin Mench, a product of St. Mark’s High School and the University of Delaware, is now a Milwaukee Brewer. He’ll earn $3.4 million this year. Wilmington-born John Mabry of the Colorado Rockies picks up $750,000. Brian McFall, starting right fielder for the Wilmington Blue Rocks, collected a $385,000 signing bonus when the Kansas City Royals drafted him in the third round in 2003. Now he earns $1,400 monthly from April through September. Sadly, chunky mascot Rocky Bluewinkle makes a paltry $65 dollars per game.

The Butcher, the Baker, The Candlestick Maker

A meat cutter at the Family Butcher Shop in Dagsboro earns $10 an hour, according to owner Elizabeth-Anne Adams. John Delveccio, owner of Delveccio’s Bakery in Fenwick Island, makes $40,000 year. A part-time employee at Delveccio’s makes $8 an hour. A cake decorator goes double-layer: $16 an hour. James Snowden, owner of Snowden Candles in Harrington, makes $100,000 a year from his three stores in Delaware and the export of his candles across the land. He says a single store manager makes $30,000.

Dewey Caron, a UD etymology professor and president of the Delaware Beekeepers Association, says most Delaware beekeepers are part-timers, earning supplemental income by selling honey and renting out colonies to pollinate fruit orchards. Honey fetches a few bucks via roadside produce stands, but  renting out a bee colony will bring in about $100.


Popular Newark cover band Chorduroy rakes in $3,000 to $5,000 for private parties, on top of earnings for nightclub performances.

Reggy, the pot-bellied purple party dude, cashes in with $5,000 per appearance. The alter-ego of Wilmington’s Chris Bruce, Reggy appears at baseball games, corporate events and weddings on behalf of former Phillie Phanatic Dave Raymond of  Raymond Entertainment Group. 

Wanna take a dip in the frog pond at Rehoboth Beach’s famous boardwalk? First-year employees who live in special Funland dormitories earn a salary of $265 per week (room and board included). All other ride and game attendants start at $7.50 an hour, with sweet opportunities for an end-of-the-summer bonus. It’s not taffy.


Tough-as-nails climbing instructors at the Delaware Rock Gym in Bear make $8 an hour, according to owner Matt McCorquodale.

An enterprising kayak instructor will fetch $30 to $50 an hour, says manager Mike Littlejohn of East of Maui in Dewey Beach. Training sessions typically last two hours, so a busy instructor—running five sessions a day, five days a week—could pull in almost $10,000 for the summer, dude.

At Newark’s popular Empowered Yoga, instructors make anywhere from $25-$75 per class depending on the amount of students, according to founder Johnny Gillespie.

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