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Rehoboth man arrested for desecrating Pride flag at B&B

Police decline to label incident as hate crime

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Jordan Reed, 23, of Rehoboth, Del., was arrested following an investigation into two incidents of trespassing and criminal mischief. (Photo courtesy of the Rehoboth Beach Police Department)

The gay owners of a Rehoboth Beach guest house and the LGBTQ group CAMP Rehoboth have praised the Rehoboth Beach Police Department for quickly arresting a male suspect one day after he allegedly removed an LGBTQ rainbow Pride flag hanging from the porch of the guest house and stepping on it before burying it in snow.

But in a joint statement released Feb. 4, the Rehoboth Guest House and David Mariner, executive director of CAMP Rehoboth, expressed concern that Rehoboth police did not classify the Feb. 1 rainbow flag incident as a hate crime.

“While the quick action of the police is greatly appreciated, we respectfully disagree with their decision not to classify this activity as a hate crime or hate bias incident,” the statement says.

A Rehoboth police spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment. The Blade will update this story if Rehoboth police provide an explanation for why they chose not to classify the incident as a hate or bias related incident.

The joint statement by the guest house, which bills itself as an LGBTQ-friendly bed and breakfast, and CAMP Rehoboth does not mention something that some LGBTQ activists may find surprising – that a Feb. 3 Rehoboth police press release announcing the arrest in connection with the flag incident does not identify the flag as a rainbow Pride flag or that it was removed from a gay guest house.

“Jordan Reed, 23, of Rehoboth, Del., was arrested Wednesday afternoon [Feb. 2] following an investigation by police into two separate incidents of trespassing and criminal mischief,” the police press release says.

“On Tuesday, February 1st, 2022, at around 2:30 pm, Rehoboth Beach Police were called to the second block of Maryland Avenue for a disorderly subject who entered onto a residential property, removed a flag from the front porch and buried it in the snow,” the release continues.

“While on the scene at the residence, at around 3:15 pm, the responding officer was contacted by a separate victim who reported that the tire to his trailer had been slashed,” the release says, adding that the trailer was parked on the same block as the “residential property.”

The police press release says that through “investigative means, witness interviews, and the use of various sources of video surveillance, police were able to develop Reed as a suspect.” It says police observed Reed the following day walking on Rehoboth Avenue near the Rehoboth traffic circle and took him into custody without incident.    

The release concludes by saying Reed was arrested and charged with one count of criminal mischief of under $1,000; one count of third-degree criminal trespass; and one count of disorderly conduct. It says he was released on $1,500 unsecured bail.

In their own joint statement released to the press, the Rehoboth Guest House and CAMP Rehoboth provide details they say can be seen in some of the surveillance video that captured Reed’s actions that the police did not publicly disclose.

The events associated with Reed’s action “included the desecration of a Pride Flag hanging outside the Rehoboth Guest House, a LGBT owned and operated business and a popular destination for the LGBTQ community,” the statement says.

“In video supplied to the police, Jordan Reed removes the flag, steps on the flag, and buries the flag in snow,” the statement continues. “In the high-resolution version of the video, you can also see Reed spit on his hands and rub the spit into the flag before he buries it,” the statement says.

“Accordingly, we have forwarded this information to the Delaware Division of Civil Rights,” the statement adds. “Individuals who experience hate crimes or hate bias incidents should always call their local police first but can also report these incidents to the Delaware Division of Civil rights” by phone, email or an online complaint form, the statement says.

“The LGBT community, and CAMP Rehoboth specifically, have a longstanding positive relationship with the Rehoboth Beach Police Department,” the statement concludes. “We look forward to continuing those relationships and working together whenever possible.”

The Blade also couldn’t immediately determine whether prosecutors that oversee cases like this in the Sussex County courts in nearby Georgetown, Del., might consider exercising their authority to upgrade the charge against Jordan Reed to include a hate bias designation.

The Delaware state hate crimes law includes coverage for victims targeted for a crime based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

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Rehoboth Beach

Rehoboth Beach gets rainbow crosswalks

Pride Month begins on Saturday

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(Photo courtesy of City of Rehoboth Beach's Instagram page)

The city of Rehoboth Beach has begun painting rainbow crosswalks in honor of the LGBTQ community. The crosswalks on the corners of First Street and Baltimore Avenue. and Second Street and Baltimore Avenue will have giant rainbows installed just as Pride Month kicks off. 

Images of city officials painting the crosswalk on Second Street were posted to the city of Rehoboth’s Instagram account on Wednesday and received positive comments. The post also announced next week’s plans to make a second Pride-painted sidewalk a block over on First Street after they are finished. 

The sidewalks, one of which lies on Steve Elkins Way in honor of the Rehoboth LGBTQ trailblazer, require three coats of paint to ensure the colors stay vibrant all summer.

The sidewalk appears to display the Philadelphia Pride Flag, which not only recognizes LGBTQ people but also LGBTQ people of color. The sidewalk has the six traditional Pride flag colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple) representing various elements of being a part of the LGBTQ community, and black and brown symbolize the unique struggles of people of color in the LGBTQ community.

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Rehoboth Beach

Selling Rehoboth: Lee Ann Wilkinson wins prestigious real estate award

Longtime agent on beach prices, her LGBTQ allyship, and more

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Lee Ann Wilkinson doesn’t see real estate prices coming down anytime soon at the beach. (Blade file photo by Daniel Truitt)

Longtime Delaware real estate leader Lee Ann Wilkinson of Berkshire Hathaway recently celebrated a major industry award after being named No. 1 in total sales volume for the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Network. Wilkinson, a Blade contributor, centers much of her work in the coastal communities of Lewes and Rehoboth Beach. We caught up with her to discuss her long career in real estate, her LGBTQ allyship, and more.

Washington Blade: I learned your parents were in real estate, and you began working with them early on in your career. Did you initially intend to follow in their footsteps? 

Lee Ann Wilkinson: Not really. I majored in art. When I got out of college I couldn’t really find a job. So, my parents said, “You need to come work for us.”

Blade: I understand that as an art history major turned writer. Speaking of that: I know you have written some pieces for the Blade, about real estate trends, and the like. How do you pick your topics for these articles? 

Wilkinson:  People always want to know about real estate. Whether buying a first home, second home, a home to invest or retire in. It amazes even me how much interest there is. And it’s not just people looking to buy a $7 million home on beachfront property. It’s people looking to get something in budget for their family.

Blade: I know you have a lot of work in Rehoboth, the Delaware Valley’s historically gay beachside community. Was there ever a time you were NOT selling property to – I guess it was fair to say 40 years ago – mostly gay men? 

Wilkinson: Ha, I grew up coming down for the summer until my family moved here full-time from Norristown, outside of Philly. We had businesses and family in Rehoboth. I think Rehoboth has always been gay-friendly. We never thought about it. My grandfather had a house in Rehoboth before I was born. The gay population was always welcome.

Blade: Do you have a connection to the LGBTQ community beyond real estate? 

Wilkinson: Absolutely. One of my closest friends is a guy I went to college with at the University of Delaware, Joey. You know, Joey was maybe my first gay friend. In fact, we all went to the Easter Sunrise Service on the beach in Rehoboth. We have gay family members, so I have never thought that much about it being anything different.

Blade: I know you recently won a prestigious award with Berkshire Hathaway and were surprised to come in first place. Why?

Wilkinson: For the past 20 years or so we have been in the top 10. We started doing these national things with Berkshire Hathaway. To get in the top 10 was amazing to me especially going up against states like Florida, New Jersey, not to mention San Francisco or Bay Area agents. I just never thought we’d get to the number one spot. My only issue is — where to go now?

Blade: Where do you make your primary residence? Is that Lewes? Do you see the president on occasion? 

Wilkinson: I haven’t seen him at the beach. But he’s on the bike trail a lot. He pops up having breakfast. He goes to Mass at St. Edmond’s in Rehoboth on Saturday evening. But I’m often too busy with work on weekends to catch sight of him.

Blade: Having been in the industry 40 years, how do you find ways to get excited about your work? 

Wilkinson: I really am passionate about it. I really love a challenge. That’s part of the appeal for this job. I always like matching people with things. I really liked getting people the right bathing suits years ago. Selling, it’s just something I’m good at. I would get customers walking outta’ the store with three or four bathing suits when they only wanted one. 

Blade: Are you considering retiring in the next few years? Or will you always be associated with the industry on some level. Maybe as a mentor or silent partner? 

Wilkinson: Oh, no, I’ll always be involved. Three of my four daughters work for me. I am not retiring anytime soon. And if I did, they would be here to continue it on, and I am sure I’d weigh in.

Blade: So, this is very much a family legacy?

Wilkinson: Yeah. My parents are 87 and 91 now. Some 20 years ago mom predicted we’d see an increase in prices, people moving here, etc. I don’t know how she predicted it but mom is right.

Blade: Any current trends you’re noticing? 

Wilkinson: This cycle of people moving here, and prices increasing, and all the building happening. People think the prices are going to come down, but I don’t see that happening.

Blade: Tell me about that. Are the new building ventures changing the faces of Rehoboth and Lewes? After not visiting the Jersey Shore for over a decade I’ve been going the past few summers to my cousin’s place in Cape May. It’s a trailer on a nicely maintained campground and it’s what she can afford. And, there’s so much building happening there.

Wilkinson: Right? It’s about finding a second home you can afford. And, in terms of building projects, the good thing about Rehoboth and Lewes is they are strict on what you can and can’t build downtown. They aren’t going to tear down homes to build multi-family condos, not yet anyway. In Spring Lake, you are seeing townhomes. So, building is happening and we have some condos, but it’s great to not see “overbuilding” happening in these historically smaller cities.

To learn more about Ms. Wilkinson, or property in Sussex County, DE be sure to look for articles she publishes in the Blade and visit the Lee Ann Wilkinson Group website.

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Rehoboth Beach

New Rehoboth city manager called strong LGBTQ ally

Taylour Tedder backed first-ever Pride proclamation in conservative Nevada city

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Taylour Tedder (Photo courtesy City of Rehoboth Beach)

Taylour Tedder, whose appointment as the new Rehoboth Beach, Del. city manager has come under fire over his salary and benefits package, is described as a strong and committed LGBTQ community ally by the leader of an LGBTQ rights organization in Boulder City, Nev., where Tedder served as city manager for three years before being hired for that same position in Rehoboth.

He is scheduled to begin his new job in Rehoboth on May 15.

Brynn DeLorimier, president of Dam Pride, the LGBTQ organization of Boulder City, told the Washington Blade Tedder played a lead role in helping the group successfully lobby the mayor and City Council in what she calls a conservative, Republican-dominated city to approve earlier this year a first-ever proclamation naming June 2024 as Pride Month in Boulder City.

“I feel he’s very supportive,” DeLorimier said. “We’re really, really sad to see him go. I have a feeling we won’t find a city manager as progressive and diplomatic as he is,” she said. “So, Rehoboth Beach is really lucky to have him.”

Since it voted unanimously on April 8 to hire Tedder as city manager, the seven-member Rehoboth City Commission, which acts as a city council, has come under criticism from some Rehoboth residents for providing Tedder with a contract that includes an annual salary of $250,000, coverage of $50,000 for his moving expenses, and a $750,000 house loan that will be forgiven in full if he remains in his job for seven years.

Rehoboth’s two gay commissioners, Patrick Gossett, and Edward Chrzanowski, are among the commissioners who have been criticized for voting to hire Tedder on grounds, among other things, that his salary and benefits package are out of line with that given to Rehoboth’s previous city managers,

Rehoboth Mayor Stan Mills, who also serves on the commission, called Tedder “fiscally savvy, experienced in the day-day-day operations of a destination community, enthusiastic and energetic, and a fantastic communicator,” according to the Cape Gazette newspaper. Mills and others supportive of Tedder’s hiring have noted that in recent years city manager positions have become highly competitive among cities large and small across the country.

They point out that Rehoboth’s previous city manager, Laurence Christian, resigned and left the city in November of last year after serving only about 10 months. A salary and benefits package like what Tedder has received is needed to find and retain a talented and qualified city manager, his supporters have said.

Nearly all the public discussion about Tedder has centered on his salary and benefits as well as claims by some critics that he may not have certain job requirements specified in the Rehoboth City Charter. The Washington Blade could not find reports of any public discussion on whether the Rehoboth City Commission, including the two gay Commission members, sought to find out Tedder’s record and position on LGBTQ issues in a beach city with a large number of LGBTQ residents and visitors.

Kim Leisey, executive director of CAMP Rehoboth, the LGBTQ community Center, said she too had not heard of any discussion on Tedder’s record or positions on LGBTQ issues.

The Blade couldn’t immediately reach Tedder for comment. DeLorimier of Dam Pride, which she said is named for the Hoover Dam located in Boulder City that makes the city a national tourist destination, said Tedder told her his contract with Rehoboth prevents him from speaking with the press until he begins his new job on May 15.

Mills, the Rehoboth mayor, in response to a request for comment by the Blade, said he and the other commissioners could not publicly disclose the questions asked and responses they received, including any related to LGBTQ issues, in their interviews with candidates applying for the Rehoboth City Manager position under a confidentiality policy, according to Lynne Cohen, the Rehoboth City communications director.

“He did mention to me that the job posting for the city manager position mentioned or includes language that the City of Rehoboth Beach has a vibrant LGBTQ+ community,” Cohen said. “And that they had asked every candidate if they had read the job posting, and they indicated they had,” Cohen told the Blade in recounting her conversation with Mills.

Rehoboth officials have said Tedder was selected after a six-month nationwide search.

Prior to his tenure as city manager of Boulder City, Tedder served for a little over five years as assistant city manager for the city of Leavenworth, Kan., a suburb of Kansas City.

DeLorimier said she initially approached Boulder City officials last year to request that a Pride proclamation be issued in time for the June 2023 Pride celebration, but the mayor, a conservative Republican, turned down the request during a meeting that Tedder attended. She said the meeting became tense, noting that the mayor’s abrupt decision to say no came after she argued that LGBTQ residents in Boulder City deserved recognition during Pride month.

“At that point Taylour Tedder spoke up,” DeLorimier recalled. “He said, well, maybe start a group and gather support from the community and come back and ask again next year.” And that is exactly what she and others did, according to DeLorimier, who told of her and her fellow LGBTQ activists’ effort to create Dam Pride.

She also pointed out that Tedder mentioned that the city’s longstanding tradition of changing the color of a string of lights hanging over the city’s main street to celebrate special occasions like Christmas and Valentine’s Day, referred to as the “Bistro Lights,” could also be adopted to reflect Pride month.

“Taylour said, by the way, we can change them to rainbow colors with the flip of a switch,” DeLorimier recalls. “He offered that up himself. So, that indicates to me he’s very supportive of the cause.”  

Added DeLorimier, “I really feel like Taylour helped us. He gave us all the help we needed. And we will be celebrating Pride month, our very first one, this June.”

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