Car Crashes Into Town Hall, Raises Concerns About Speeding - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Car Crashes Into Town Hall, Raises Concerns About Speeding

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BETHEL, Del. - A small town is facing a big project after a car crashed into their town hall.

On Sunday night shortly before 11:00 p.m., Delaware State Police say a 29-year-old Dover woman was driving on Main Street in Bethel when she attempted to make a U-turn in the Town Hall parking lot. Police say she entered the lot at a high rate of speed, lost control and slid into the building, where she knocked down a fence and parts of the building, which was empty at that time. No one was hurt, but the driver was cited for Failure to Drive at Speed Appropriate for the Conditions. 

The Town's website says the crash caused $50,000 worth of damage, prompting the closure of the building until repairs can be made. Town Clerk Annie Miller says to them, the town hall is more than just a seat of government. 

"People in the community have Thanksgiving dinners here, they watch the sports games, baby showers, bereavement dinners, so it's a really big part of our community," she says. "This is kind of our big place to do things."

Miller says the insurance adjuster cannot come out until at least Monday, and they won't be able to discuss funding for the repairs or how many repairs are necessary until then. At this time, the town is currently looking for alternate venues for an upcoming retirement dinner and Feb 18th's municipal elections. If they cannot find one, the events may be postponed. 

Sunday's crash has reignited conversations about speeding in Bethel, as this isn't the first time someone's speed caused damage to local property. Miller says in 2015, a car veered off Main Street and into historic grave sites at the Sailor’s United Methodist Church cemetery up the street. Former town councilmember and longtime resident Kathy Layfield says that's not all the town's seen.

"We've lost telephone poles," she says, "We've had numerous, numerous accidents over the years." 

She says since the town has no police force of their own, they rely on state police, paying them with a grant from Sussex County. She says Sunday's accident is proof the money is more necessary than ever. 

"I would hope that our state representatives and town council would continue to keep funding for the purpose of reducing speed," she says.

Miller says they've maxed out the grant, and the police are doing the best they can, but there's only so many of them, so she has a request.

"If people can slow down or not text or drive under the influence or anything like that, every town would be safer," she says.

For more, visit the town's website.

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