Marty Ross, chairman of the Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission, was asked to give an update on the Comprehensive Plan at the Sussex County Farm Bureau Banquet Oct. 7 in Bridgeville. Ross told the audience of more than 100 that an official public hearing is scheduled at 6 p.m. Nov. 2 at the County Administration Building on the Circle in Georgetown.
“All the draft elements are posted on the Sussex Plan website,” Ross said. He called attention to the creation of an AB overlay zone, which will provide an opportunity for existing value-added facilities to expand or relocate and new ones to build. He also discussed the “purchase of density option” currently available in the AR zoning district where there is access to central sewer and water. “The Commission is suggesting that the purchase of density option be expanded to all residential districts,” he said.
Ross was surprised later when he received SCFB’s Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award.
A lifelong resident of Sussex County, Ross is the co-owner of Ross Bros, a poultry and grain farm located near Delmar, where he lives with his wife of 30 years, Chris. Their son, Michael, is a commercial diver in Thailand.
Burt Messick presented the award. “For 25 years, Marty was a high school and college basketball official, refereeing all through the state,” Messick said.
Ross has served on the Governor’s Advisory Council for State Planning Coordination since its inception, and was a member of the Delaware Energy Task Force formed by then Gov. Ruth Ann Minner.
He has represented Mid-Atlantic soybean producers on the National Biodiesel Board, and was appointed in 2004 as a director of the U.S. Soybean Board by then U.S. Ag Secretary Ann Veneman.
Ross is well known for his support of agriculture, his respect for rural property and his thorough understanding of land use issues. He has represented Delaware Farm Bureau on several land use and wetlands committees.
Ross commented, “What I’ve accomplished is because of Farm Bureau. An individual can do very little; a group can do a lot.”
The SCFB Farm Family of the Year was introduced by Jay Baxter, who said of the patriarch, Alvin Conaway, “The upbringing he gave to his children and they to their children helped shape my childhood.”
Baxter said, “Alvin Conaway was born on May 13, 1928, son of Raymond Conaway. He graduated from Laurel High School where he was active in FFA.
“Mr. Conaway is an active member of the Dagsboro Church of God, where he is one of the founders. He would farm all day and work on the church building at night. Church is an important part in the lives of Mr. Conaway and his family. He served faithfully, and still does… His humble testimony is a reflection of his true love for the Lord and his fellow man…
“Mr. Conaway bought his first farm at the age of 20 in 1948 and still resides there today… His first tractor was a 30 Massey Harris. His first car was a 1942 Ford…,” Baxter said.
Conaway and his wife of almost 59 years, Angie, had two children, Diane (Rogers) and Kenny, and the family has grown with four grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren. Angie passed away in 2007 and Conaway was remarried, to Ruth Hurst, eight years ago.
Baxter continued, “In addition to farming, Mr. Conaway worked part-time as a roofer where he would apply hot asphalt roofs in Rehoboth. When farming was tough and money was tight, Mr. Conaway drove oil trucks to help make ends meet. In the 1970s, Mr. Conaway got into the hog business.
“Mr. Conaway grew up in the Depression era where life was rough. Yet one time he said, ‘I wouldn’t have changed my childhood for the Rockefellers’.’
“How does one describe Alvin Conaway? The answer is simple, yet powerful: he has big, strong hands that worked the land, yet an even bigger, stronger heart. Faith, family and country. These are three things that describe Alvin Conaway.
“Where many are aiding the agricultural industry in their time and efforts, now on boards and committees trying to keep agriculture alive and well, we have true American farmers who helped make the industry what it is, farmers like Mr. Conaway and his family.”
Margie Chase presented the Nationwide Award to the Carey Agency, founded by James E. Carey Jr. and now owned by his son Scott J. Carey. Scott and his brother Monty have signed 30 new Delaware Farm Bureau members this year.
Thomas Warren, son of Elizabeth and Tom Warren of Georgetown, won in two 4-H categories of the Sussex County rate of gain competition, sheep and swine.
Blair Hill, a member of Cape Henlopen High School FFA Chapter, raised a steer which gained 2.71 pounds per day.
Connie Fox, chair of the Sussex County Women’s Committee, announced that Blair Hill is the 2017 Youth Ambassador for Sussex County Farm Bureau. Blair is no stranger to Farm Bureau. She has helped in the food booth at the fair since she was 8 years old.
Fox recapped the committee’s activities and thanked all those who helped with the food booth.
The Sussex County Women’s Committee awarded $1,000 to Griffin McCormick, son of D. Mark and Karen McCormick of Ocean View.
Abigail Hudson, daughter of Brandon and Dawn Hudson of Millsboro, received a $500 Sussex County Farm Bureau scholarship.
Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long took the opportunity during introduction of guests to thank the farmers for all they are doing for Delaware. “I know the value of what you do for us,” she said. “You are our main industry, our backbone.”
SCFB President Jesse Vanderwende said county Farm Bureau leaders have been talking to DNREC and the Department of Agriculture about deer damage.”
Delaware Farm Bureau is trying to compile yield data — “hard numbers,” Vanderwende said — which will be needed “when we try to make some kind of changes.”
Steve Breeding outlined activities of the Young Farmers and Ranchers in the last year, whom he described as “the next generation of leaders throughout the state with a passion toward agriculture shown every day.”