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The Faces of Kent

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Miles the Monster became an instant icon at Dover International Speedway. Photograph courtesy of Dover Motorsports The Monter’s Mile

Dover speedway’s icon is a symbol of ferocity, but is it a harbinger of a curse?

A reincarnation of a lizard, Dover International Speedway mascot Miles the Monster appears more like a relative of the Incredible Hulk.

Debuting in time for the 2008 race season, the largest fiberglass statue in the United States—eclipsing Wisconsin’s 45-foot Leaping Muskie by a full foot—Miles is the centerpiece of the Monster Monument at Victory Plaza.

“The plaza includes a revamped Fan Zone and is all part of the raceway’s effort to create its own entry and identity distinct from the Dover Downs Casino & Hotel complex,” says Dover Speedway spokesman Gary Camp.

The sculpture depicts a menacing concrete creature with flashing red eyes that’s bursting up through the ground. The hulking hunk dwarfs the full-scale NASCAR stock car that it clutches above its head.

According to Camp, the monster is meant to symbolize the fierceness of Dover’s high-banked, 1-mile concrete oval race track that is known throughout NASCAR as the Monster Mile.

“Miles has already become the focal point and meeting spot for race fans as they enter the speedway,” Camp says. “And he will now be visible to motorists passing by on Route 1.”

Miles exceeds the height of the William Penn statue that stands atop Philadelphia’s City Hall, once rumored to be the source of that city’s sports curse.

Could Miles become Delaware’s?
 

Page 2: Space Cadets | The Delaware Aerospace Education Foundation and Stephanie Wright could be nuturing our next generation of astronauts.

 

DASEF’s environmental outpost features the Mountjoy Observatory. Space Cadets

The Delaware Aerospace Education Foundation and Stephanie Wright could be nurturing our next generation of astronauts.

The Delaware Aerospace Education Foundation’s Environmental Outpost near Smyrna has taken off like a rocket. More than 8,000 students have visited the facility during the past two years, participating in field trips, exploration programs and stargazing from the outpost’s Mountjoy Observatory.

“The mission of DASEF,” says president and CEO Stephanie Wright, “is to utilize all the programs, activities and events to reach students, teachers, families and the public, enabling them to better understand our place in the universe.”

Stephanie Wright


Funded by grants from NASA, the state of Delaware, businesses, non-profits and individual donors, DASEF has invested $6 million in its facilities and programs. Wright says construction could soon begin on Phase II, a 5,000-square-foot structure that will house 14 classrooms and an overnight facility.

In 1986 Wright was among 114 teacher-astronauts chosen for NASA’s Teacher in Space program, working in the program’s earth and space sciences curricula. She became an education specialist within the Delaware Teacher Center before shifting her attention full time to DASEF.

“Our guiding philosophy is that wisdom begins with wonder,” Wright says, “and we continue to honor that philosophy by providing an ever-improving environment for exceptional learning.”
 

Page 3: A Good Sport | New state tourism director Linda Parkowski says athletics could be an ever bigger draw in Kent.

 

Linda Parkowski A Good Sport

New state tourism director Linda Parkowski says athletics could be an even bigger draw in Kent.

Linda Parkowski knows Kent County has much to offer when it comes to attracting sports, business and professional groups to the First State.

“Kent County is home to numerous museums and is close to Delaware’s beaches,” she says. “And it’s home to NASCAR and Dover Downs. We’re very fortunate here.”

As the state’s new director of tourism, Parkowski wants to build on that good fortune.

“One of my primary initiatives would be to create a Delaware Sports Commission,” she says. “I believe Delaware should be out there bidding on major sports tournaments ranging from elementary-level to college-level sports in lacrosse, soccer, field hockey and handball.”

Parkowski chaired the Governor’s Tourism Advisory Board the past four years and volunteered with the Delaware Division of Tourism, so she knows the lay of the land.

She recently formed the Delaware Large Venue Group to represent facilities that host gatherings in excess of 500 participants. The group will produce cooperative marketing ventures to attract more convention business to the state.

Not a bad start for Parkowski, who managed the Dover Sheraton Hotel for 16 years before becoming the state’s new tourism guru.

“I feel I can make a difference,” she says.
 

Page 4: One-Stop Health Care

 

Dr. Jeff Barton photograph by Pat Crowe II One-Stop Health Care

When Dover’s Eden Hill Medical Center opened last August it became the largest and most expensively constructed non-hospital medical facility in Delaware.

“Sixty physicians representing some 20 different practices will eventually be housed in the facility,” says Dr. Jeff Barton, a podiatrist and one of the principals behind Eden Hill’s development.

At 140,000 square feet, Eden Hill also houses the largest outpatient surgery center in Delaware.

“The facility is truly a one-stop shop for health care,” Barton says. “This is particularly important to seniors and those patients who require public transportation to make appointments or seek treatment.”

Eden Hill also houses a radiology department, featuring MRI and mammograms, a LabCorp office for blood work and a pharmacy.

“A patient can see a doctor, receive treatment and pick up a prescription all in one visit,” Barton says. “We believe we’ve assembled some of the finest, most highly motivated physicians in the state committed to providing state-of-the-art medical care available to Delawareans throughout the area.”
 

Page 5: A Park of its Own

 

Legislative Hall A Park of its Own

Dover’s First State Heritage Park allows visitors to walk through history instead of just reading about it.

“We have a 300-year-old city here,” says project director Elaine Brenchley. “It’s the city  where the country’s first state was declared.”

The park is a one-mile square encompassing more than 24 buildings, open areas and Constitution Park. Representing a partnership of state, city and private interests, the park opened in 2004.

“The architecture and exterior facades of some of our colonial-era buildings are what gives the park its historical sense of place and atmosphere,” Brenchley says.
 

Elaine Brenchley

The park’s visitor center on Federal Street offers free interpreter-led tours throughout spring, summer and fall as well as maps and earphones for self-guided tours throughout the year. “The tours are really a living history program that is limited only by your imagination’s ability to grasp our colonial past,” Brenchley says.

In March, the park will feature a women’s suffrage movement reenactment at Legislative Hall. For more information, visit www.destateparks.com/heritagepark.
 

Page 6: Renovating History

 

Mike Zimmerman Renovating History

Talking to Mike Zimmerman you get the impression that he relishes the controversy that follows him and his Dover-area renovation projects.

Zimmerman’s BBC Properties—he says the initials stand for Big Boys Club—has renovated numerous historical properties that earned the wrath, then grudging approval and, in some cases, plaques and awards by the same historical groups who he says, “fought me tooth and nail.”

“I’m persistent,” Zimmerman says of his work in Dover. “And the planning groups know that I do what I say, that nothing will be done poorly or sloppily.”

Zimmerman is known for repurposing several historical residences in Dover, such as the Civil War-era Richardson House, which became the award-winning Zimmerhaus, and the Thomas Bradford House on Loockerman Street.

Zimmerman also renovated the former Leason House into BBC’s headquarters and renamed it the Governor’s Club. He says the striking building is often mistaken for the Governor’s Mansion next door.

“But our place is three times bigger and much nicer than the Governor’s,” he says.

Zimmerman says the folks whose feathers he ruffles today are far less rancorous than they once were.

“We helped revitalize Loockerman when we took 10 properties there and converted them into 500 residential apartments,” he says.

And with more than just a pinch of satisfied irony, he adds, “My youngest is away at college. You know what she’s studying? Historical Preservation.”
 

Page 7: Milford in the Middle

 

Milford Memorial HospitalMilford in the Middle

Milford Memorial Hospital has grown by leaps and bounds during the past few years while winning awards for excellence and quality.

Perhaps the most notable  addition was a 12,000-square-foot cancer center that opened in 2002. The facility allows patients to receive the latest treatments in chemotherapy and radiation.

“The center now offers Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy that focuses a more precise beam of radiation to the tissue being treated,” says Deborah Watson, Bayhealth Medical Center southern region’s vice-president of operations.

In another move, the hospital last year signed an affiliation agreement with the University of Pennsylvania Health System.
 

Deborah Watson

Milford’s Medical Staff Growth Plan has also yielded positive results, with the addition of two ob-gyn physicians, an internist and a family practitioner to the staff.

“The growth plan is part of Bayhealth’s patient-centered philosophy,” Watson says.

In addition, Milford’s Inpatient Rehabilitation Center won the prestigious 2008 W.L. Gore Award for Excellence on the heels of winning the 2007 Delaware Quality Award of Merit.

“The awards highlight a high clinical quality of continuing improvement based on better-than-expected patient outcomes,” Watson says. “The fact that 40 percent of the unit’s patients come from outside the Bayhealth system attests to the level of quality and outcomes we’re achieving there.”
 

Page 8: Fly, Eagles, Fly

 

Fly, Eagles, Fly

Smyrna High principal Tony Sligo says winning the 2008 Governor’s School of Excellence Award recognizes the school’s broad focus on all groups of students.

“We have made improvements in test scores among our special needs students, narrowed the gap across our various ethnic groups, as well as addressed helping students achieve life-fulfilling goals regardless of academic capability,” Sligo says.

With 67 percent of Smyrna’s graduates going on to two- or four-year colleges, Sligo is focused on increasing college readiness. His latest initiative is to bring principles of Bloom’s Taxonomy to the classroom.

“Bloom’s Taxonomy refers to a method of classifying intellectual behavior,” Sligo says, “with an emphasis on synthesis and evaluative skills. Those are the higher cognitive skills needed for college work.”

In the classroom this translates to a teaching method that is more guided than directed, promoting more independent study and thinking.

In the meantime, the high school and district continue to work to accommodate a student population that is expected to quickly expand from 1,100 to 2,000.

“It’s been a special year for the high school and the district,” says superintendent Debbie Wicks. “Not only was this the first year our high school has won the (Governor’s) award, but it also marks the 125th anniversary of our district.”  

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