Tax ditch breakfast educates, recognizes officer

Jan. 25, 2023

Georgetown, Del.,  – Following a four-year hiatus, the Sussex Conservation District (SCD) recently held the biennial tax ditch breakfast on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at the Frankford Volunteer Fire Hall. The event brought together nearly 90 tax ditch officers, agency representatives, legislators and SCD staff to share program updates and recognize a dedicated tax ditch officer.

Melissa Hubert, tax ditch program manager for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), presented tax ditch modernization workgroup updates. Following the presentation, DNREC and SCD staff answered questions and addressed numerous right-of-way concerns from officers.

John Ferguson, of Georgetown, received the 2022 Dedicated Service Award for his efforts to revitalize the Mifflin Tax Ditch. The Mifflin Tax Ditch, north of Georgetown, spans 13.37 miles, draining approximately 3600 acres in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Since becoming chairman in 2017, Ferguson has been instrumental in restoring right-of-way access and channel flow through dip-outs and invasive species management. 

Tax ditch organizations are governmental subdivisions of the state that oversee drainage in a specific watershed and are managed by volunteers. Delaware has 234 tax ditch organizations of which 137 are in Sussex County. SCD provides cost share to tax ditch organizations in Sussex County while the equipment program can provide maintenance for tax ditch organizations in Kent and Sussex County.


Photo Captions:

01 BAIRD: David Baird, SCD district coordinator, welcomes guests to the tax ditch officers’ breakfast.

02 FERGUSON: John Ferguson, center, chairman, accepts the 2022 Dedicated Service Award for his work to restore access and control invasive species along the Mifflin Tax Ditch. Picture from left, David Baird, SCD district coordinator, Joel Wharton, SCD chairman, Ferguson, Stephen Gissy, SCD equipment program manager and Wes Allen, SCD tax ditch project manager.

03 GUESTS CHATTING: Dale Ockels, SCD board treasurer, Bonnie Harris, of Thompson Branch Tax Ditch, and Ronnie Messick, of Bucks Branch Tax Ditch, chat before the tax ditch officers’ breakfast hosted by SCD.

04 COLLINS GARNER: Rep. Richard Collins (R-41st) chats with Michelle Garner, DNREC tax ditch program admin support coordinator, at the tax ditch breakfast hosted by SCD.

05 GUEST SPEAKING: A tax ditch officer discusses right-of-way concerns at the tax ditch officers’ breakfast hosted by SCD.

06 LISTENING: Jim O'Day, Herring Run Tax Ditch manager, listens to the tax ditch modernization workgroup updates at the tax ditch officers’ breakfast hosted by SCD.

07 PHILLIPS: Dale Phillips, left, and Guy Phillips, center, of Koeppel Robinson Tax Ditch, chat with a friend at the tax ditch officers’ breakfast hosted by SCD.

08 REPS: State Rep. Rich Collins (R-41st) and Rep. Ron Gray (R-38th) chat with a guest at the tax ditch officers’ breakfast hosted by SCD.

09 FOX WHARTON: Marcia Fox, DNREC environmental program administrator, chats with Joel Wharton, SCD chairman, at the tax ditch officers’ breakfast hosted by SCD.