How relevant are double murders, aging, Vlasic cleanup?

January 24, 2014

This week in the hallways of the Cape Gazette, we are discussing the double murder of two young men: what motivated the horrible act and whether those responsible will be captured quickly.

We’re discussing the upcoming Lewes Polar Bear Plunge for Special Olympics, the arrest of two juvenile arsonists, the snow and the bitter cold, the rescheduled forum on Aging in Place, cleanup plans for the former Vlasic pickle plant site on Indian River, and the list goes on.

In the midst of it all always looms the question: what is relevant? The answer, of course, is that it all is relevant. All of these topics affect our community in different ways. Some positively, because they involve activities designed to address issues in our society. Some, for obvious reasons, very negatively.

The Polar Bear Plunge helps Special Olympics provide sports programs for intellectually disabled members of our community. It encourages and promotes inclusivity and unity.

The Aging in Place forum is relevant because we live in a community with a large proportion of aging retirees. The organizers understand this group has special needs and assets that need to be recognized, addressed and harnessed for the benefit of the entire community.

The Vlasic cleanup is relevant because the magnificent Indian River and surrounding community have been under industrial assault for decades. Wastewater and smokestack emissions have polluted the water and air, degrading the environment and quality of life. That alone justifies the great pressure to get the cleanup right.

And it’s not just a cleaner environment at stake. So too are hundreds of sorely needed jobs that would come to the community if Harim - the South Korean firm that purchased Allen Foods - succeeds in its proposed conversion of the former Vlasic facility to a poultry-processing facility. Jobs processing food to feed other humans represent hope and honorable work, especially to the currently unemployed, so critical for self-esteem and the strength of families and community. It’s critical that the state and the community get this one right, for the benefit of all stakeholders.

The arson case is relevant because arson can and does destroy property and lives. Delaware’s judicial system classifies arson as a violent crime, rising to felony status. That’s serious business, as it should be, and the community has to know that such cases are being handled effectively, so identified arsonists don’t pose a future threat to any of us.

Bitter cold, icy roads and accompanying power outages threaten us in ways we can feel through our skin. They trigger our internal survival mechanisms, just as do hunger and thirst. No debate on relevance there.

Finally, the double murder. Multiple gunshot wounds. The welfare of the community at stake? Police say the killings weren’t a random act, which, without further explanation, presumably means the killer or killers targeted these victims specifically and weren’t just out joy killing. That may be comfort to some, but the tragedy of two lives snuffed out so violently and the uncertainty surrounding the murders makes this issue urgently and immediately relevant.

The stability of any community depends on the willingness of its participants to face all issues that threaten its peace and harmony forthrightly, honestly and openly. That’s why discussions of relevance are so important. At the Cape Gazette, we have no monopoly on knowing or determining relevance in our community. We welcome the comments and observations of our readers on these and any other issues they deem relevant to our community.

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