The community should be proud of Stephen Decatur High School, especially the parents of current students who voted a senior with Autism and a grim prognosis as Homecoming king and a 5-year-old girl battling an aggressive brain tumor as honorary Homecoming princess.
Homecoming weekend is always special for Decatur. The weekend got underway with a thrilling last-minute victory on Friday night for the Seahawks football team over North Caroline, 16-14. Though the on-the-field heroics were notable, it was the moments off the field that left many with special memories. Daniya Smith was named queen. Alton, the king, was diagnosed last year with Stage IV Metastatic Ewing Sarcoma. Complications from a surgery have him currently wheelchair bound as he has lost the use of his legs. Alton has been unable to attend school due to the severity of his health issues and the cancer spreading throughout his body. The family is just hoping for a miracle at this point. When he was announced as king Friday, the school’s student body gave him a standing ovation and began chanting his name. Another touching moment came when a special designation of Homecoming princess was bestowed on Lakelyn Draheim, a local 5-year-old girl who was diagnosed last year with a highly aggressive brain tumor. Her older brother is a member of the Decatur football team and her father a teacher at the school. Like the Alton family, the Draheim family appears to have exhausted all medical options, praying for a miracle for their little girl.
While both Alton and Draheim families face difficult journeys ahead with unfavorable realities, it was special to see these young people feted by their community. Memories were made for everyone. Congratulations to the Decatur students who demonstrated tremendous empathy and awareness with their actions.
The Knupp family appeared on local news stations this week in touching features. After watching the WBOC and WMDT segments, the takeaway seems to be the family has more information than the public about the investigation. Armed with details that can’t be shared publicly at this time, the family is at peace with how law enforcement is handling the investigation. This is what matters at this time.
On WBOC’s interview with Steve Hammond, mom Tiffany Knupp said, “We know that the police department and everybody is working overtime. And we have complete faith in them and we know how hard they’re working and we saw that from the beginning. The fact that it’s taking a while is a good thing. They’re getting everything right so we trust in that … You think of death and mourning and that totally cripples us, trust me all day long. But there’s also this level of strength that we have and I totally, firmly believe it’s Gavin just kind of pushing us along because he would not want us to be upset. That’s not his personality. He would want us to fight for him and we are for sure.”
During the same interview, sister Tiffany Knupp showed remarkable poise and maturity for her age, saying, “Naturally everyone’s going to be frustrated with how long. Time is a frustrating thing, but we are more worried about having a conviction and having an outcome we want than how long it takes. We don’t want to rush something and then get it wrong and then we’re upset about that for years and years to come.”
The filing deadline in Ocean City passed this week for the November election. Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan will serve another two-year term after being unopposed.
As far as the council goes, there will be three open council seats, which are currently held by Lloyd Martin, Matt James and Mark Paddack. After 20 years in office, Martin, as has been expected, opted to not seek a sixth term in office. James and Paddack will face challengers in local business owner Will Savage and Realtor Carol Proctor. It has been a bumpy first term for Paddack with two high-profile negative situations putting him in the news. The first was an alleged racist comment he posted on a local woman’s Facebook story. Paddack claimed he was hacked. A police investigation was unable to confirm whether he made the comment, but it did report the slur was made off his home IP address. Another disturbing domestic situation involving his son at a restaurant also took place later. It was unknown whether Paddack would seek another term. It’s clear he gave it a lot of thought because he didn’t file until the day of the filing deadline.
With just four council candidates, this municipal election will feature one of the smallest fields of council candidates in recent history. In fact, if Paddack had not filed at the last minute, James, Savage and Proctor would have been automatically elected. There were six candidates in 2020 for four open council seats. There were five candidates in 2018 when three seats were open. There were five candidates in 2016 with four seats available.
It’s the end of an era in Ocean City with Martin’s decision. As a long-time convenience store owner, Martin came in contact arguably with more citizens than anyone. Martin was not one typically seen out at functions and events, however. He preferred to stay out of the public light during his time in office. However, the resistance to be out at cocktail parties and fundraisers should not be confused with not caring. I recall a brief conversation I had with him at his store while delivering papers years ago. He was behind the counter, and we talked about issues at the time at City Hall. While he may not have said a lot at council meetings and was low profile, Martin was engaged during his years on the council and talked often to his constituents. He was a good councilman for Ocean City over his 20 years of service.