Real-life scenarios among agenda items in mock county council session

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Sussex County Boys/Girls State County Government Day participants are briefed on the agenda and procedure for the day.

GEORGETOWN — If Indian River High School junior Chance Kamin were a member of Sussex County Council, he’d support a pitch to hire two employees specifically earmarked for sign regulation enforcement.

He’d also favor upping fines for sign code violations from $25 to $1,000.

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Indian River High School junior Chance Kamin makes a point during Sussex County Boys/Girls State County Government Day.

Chance and several dozen other juniors from Sussex County high schools got their chance at governmental decision-making April 14 during Sussex County Boys/Girls State County Government Day.

“Honestly, I didn’t really know how this county government worked. So now it has really opened my eyes to see how local government really affects my life personally and those around me,” said Chance.

Six mock issues punctuated the agenda for the student session in county council chambers. Some agenda items hypothetical and some were “actually based on real world scenarios,” said County Administrator Todd Lawson.

As a mock county council, students in waves of eight addressed:

  • three issues related to signs and enforcement;
  • council’s and the county’s stance on a program financing proposal from the Clean Water Task Force;
  • a zoning application for a shopping center on property that included wetlands;
  • permission to circulate a petition for a street lighting district;
  • a budget request for Sussex County Emergency Medical Services for accreditation; and
  • purchasing the Smart911 program.
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Indian River High School junior Lindsey Grow looks at information on the message board pertaining to a proposed sign ordinance.

The first mock session focused on various aspects of a proposed sign ordinance. It encompassed billboards, electronic message centers and enforcement.

Tuesday, county council in reality introduced a proposed sign ordinance.

The student body’s 7-1 decision to deny a zoning application came two days after county council denied by a 4-1 vote a real-life rezoning request for a massive shopping center. That hotly contested case, Mr. Lawson said, was perhaps the “most important and most-watched” land-use issue in county history.

“The water treatment (Clean Water Task Force) and the construction of that shopping area were very important because it not only affected the health of our populous but the health of our environment as well,” said Chance, a member of Indian River High School’s Marine Corps Junior RTOC.

Sussex County Council President Michael H. Vincent, R-Seaford, said public service is a “great calling, to represent people and carry their views forward. That is what our job is. We are elected by the majority of people. I will tell you it is not always what you personally think, but what the people who elected you think.”

Mr. Vincent encouraged students to vote in elections and become involved in nonprofit or community organizations.

Founded in 1935, American Legion Boys State is a participatory program in which students become part of the operation of local, county and state government.

The American Legion Auxiliary sponsors a separate but similar program for young women – Girls State.

Students later this year will participate in a similar governmental event at the state level in Dover.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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