As we wait for farm fields, solar panels crop up on billboard

After more than three decades, Cape Gazette original Sandy Barr is set to retire
January 26, 2024

Story Location:
Wescoats Road
Coastal Highway
Lewes, DE 19971
United States

A couple weeks ago, my colleague Ron MacArthur wrote a story about how, since the summer of 2021, 40 solar farm applications have been filed with the county. While he reported that no final site plans have been approved and no construction on any of the arrays has taken place, I thought it was interesting and a step in the right direction.

That said, this is about some panels that have been installed. I’m not sure when they were put there, but I recently noticed three large solar panels had been installed on top of a billboard near the intersection of Route 1 and Wescoats Road outside Lewes.

While I appreciate what they’ve likely been installed for – running the billboard’s spotlights at night – I haven’t decided how I feel about the aesthetics of the panels. Or more importantly, the aesthetics of solar panels extending skyward off every billboard from Nassau to Dewey Beach.

I know there are billboard owners who aren’t going to spend the money to install solar panels on their billboards, so it is a bit drastic to say they’re going to be on every one. Still, if they’re on one, there will surely be more coming.

Sandy Barr, Cape Gazette original, set to retire

For three decades now, the Cape Gazette has been providing its readers an outstanding level of local coverage that’s not the norm across the country. Over that period, the company has seen many people come and go, but one face has been constant – Sandy Barr in classifieds. She recently announced her last day would be Jan. 31.

Sandy really didn’t want me to write about her retirement. She said she wanted to work until her last day, and then she just wouldn’t be here anymore.

As a seasoned practitioner of the Irish goodbye – going to an event, staying long enough for people to remember you were there, leaving without saying goodbye – I can appreciate Sandy wanting to fade into the bushes like Homer Simpson. However, I’m also an annoying reporter, so we compromised. She let me ask her a few questions, so long as I didn’t use a photo of her.

Sandy, who turns 76 in February, began working with Cape Gazette founders Dennis Forney and Trish Vernon when all three were employed at The Whale. She said Dennis called her soon after he and Trish left that publication to start the Gazette, because he wanted her to be manager of ad sales. She said no, but he should call her back when there was a need for a classifieds manager.

A couple months later he called again.

“We didn’t even discuss pay. I just started working for them,” said Sandy. “I knew Dennis and Trish were going to provide a good, positive work environment and do things in a team effort. It’s been a good ride. It’s been a good company to work for.”

I could write about why Sandy was as important a cog in the machine as anyone who has contributed to the success of this company – or I could have at least led my column with her retirement. However, I know she would hate every word of it and doesn’t really want top billing.

Mainly, I’m doing this because she told me there are friends of hers who regularly check the paper’s masthead to make sure her name is still on it. In a couple of weeks, for the first time in 30 years, it won’t be, but now those friends will know in advance.

Joke of the Week:

It was plain old cold this past weekend, so when Charlie submitted this joke about Hawaii, I appreciated thinking about a tropical paradise for a few seconds. I envision a parent saying this to a child as they’re sitting in a plane preparing to take off for the warm weather. As always, send jokes to

Mom: Did you know, in Hawaii you can’t laugh out loud. 

Daughter: Why?

Mom: Well, you can laugh, but it has to be a low ha!

Daughter: (silence, but the mom can hear the eye roll.) 

  • Chris Flood has lived in or visited family in Delaware his whole life. He grew up in Maine, but a block of scrapple was always in the freezer of his parents’ house during his childhood. Contact him at

Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter