By DORIE SOUTHERN
Cape Charles Wave
December 9, 2013
The minimum utility charge for any building in Cape Charles is $108 a month – whether or not a drop of water is consumed. In some cases, owners of vacant buildings have not paid a water bill for years, but the monthly charges continue to accrue. A long-vacant house on Harbor Avenue reportedly has an outstanding water bill of over $8,000.
But it’s not just vacant buildings that have to pay: if a property ever had a building on it, the monthly charges continue even if the building is demolished. The justification, according to Assistant Town Manager Bob Panek, is that 70 percent of water and sewer expenses are for fixed costs such as debt service and personnel that accrue whether or not a customer uses water.
That’s the case facing South Port Investors, who leased property from the Town in 2007 in preparation for construction of Cape Charles Yacht Center, now underway. The property included a building connected to Town water and sewer, but the structure subsequently was demolished.
Not until February of this year did South Port ask the Town to turn the water back on. But in accordance with Town code, officials demanded over $5,000 in back charges, including over $400 interest and penalties.
Town Code Section 72-9.c states: “If a connection existed as of June 30, 2007, and the house or building has since been demolished, the owner shall continue to be liable for the minimum charges.”
Eyre Baldwin of South Port Investors asked Town Council to waive the utility charges given that the land had been vacant all those years. But Mayor Dora Sullivan expressed concern that doing so would set an expensive precedent: Many other Town properties also have the water turned off but continue to be billed.
And in addition to vacant buildings, Public Works Director Dave Fauber estimates there are about six properties in Town with no buildings that nevertheless receive monthly utility bills. [Read more...]
December 9, 2013
Citizens for Central Park would like to thank all the people who braved the cold wind on Saturday evening to attend the Grand Illumination of Central Park! It was the culminating event in a day filled with holiday cheer!
There are so many different people and groups who had a hand in making the day a success. Many thanks to the numerous volunteers who worked all day to get the luminaries prepared and ready for the event. Special thanks go to the Northampton County Chamber of Commerce and Jim Weiner for their invaluable assistance, Jeb Brady for the use of his trailer, and Wako Chemicals for allowing us to use their space to prepare and store the luminaries.
Thanks also go to the Town staff who kindly worked with us to decorate the park for the holiday season and to many citizens such as Ned Brinkley, Heather Gladden, Zach Hunter, and others who helped us keep the luminaries lit in the windy weather. We are also very grateful to the Cape Charles Business Association for providing hot cocoa for guests, the children from Cape Charles Christian School for their joyful song, and Angie Pheiffer for transporting Santa and Mrs. Claus from their sleigh to the Park to greet the children.
We hope you had the opportunity to visit the Cape Charles Museum’ s antique toy display, Santa’s House at the Cape Charles Christian School, the boat tours and the lighted boat parade sponsored by the Cape Charles Yacht Club, and the lighted golf cart parade organized by Sandy Mayer. We appreciate the willingness of all of these groups to work together to create a magical day in our beloved town.
I do hope the Cape Charles Community Band will accept my apologies for the shortening of their concert in Central Park. As you may be able to imagine, coordinating the flow of events from one venue to another can be difficult. It was out of concern for our littlest guests that we moved the Grand Illumination ceremony along more quickly than planned. The wind was cold and we wanted to be sure that the children had the opportunity to visit with Santa. [Read more...]
ON THE TELEPHONE POLE
Come on out of the cold for a special weekend at the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge for a rare exhibit of decoys in the Visitor Center December 14-15. [Read more...]
Holding an event of interest to the general public in or near Cape Charles? Send an email to
[email protected] and your event will be listed in ON THE TELEPHONE POLE.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The Cape Charles Historical Society has for more than a decade been recording oral histories of the area’s earlier days. In 2002, as one in a series of lectures sponsored by the Cape Charles Library entitled “The Way We Were,” Cape Charles native Lloyd Kellam shared the following account. In 2012, funded by a grant by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, the recording, along with 14 others, was transcribed. The Historical Society has now made it available for readers of the Wave. All the transcriptions are also available for reading at the Museum.
December 8, 2013
I’m trying to bring back memories to people who lived here and describe what the town was like [if you] didn’t live here. But we had a dairy and I remember, I don’t think you got it all the time, but I remember him delivering milk in the horse and buggy. And there were cars, we had cars. I can remember when the cars parked catty corner in the streets. One other story that I forgot to tell you. Later on as I was walking down the street, Ray Lassiter came here with a music store. He had a store on Pine Street and moved it right next to your drugstore, right?
[Audience member:] Lloyd, at one time, you know, Dad moved down next to the Wilsons.
Yes, he did. He had two stores at one time. The store next to the bank was Lloyd’s until he bought the store from Louis Getzel. For a period of about a year he ran both stores. But he renamed the one down the by the bank, “The Capital.” He sold that to Toad Ewell and a guy named Harry Johnson ran that for a time. Then Lloyd’s was up close to town.
Another story of when Daddy bought the store from Getzel — I smiled when I think of Miss Getzel because her little bulldog she had, she would never let me in the store to get any of that ice cream. I think the first ice cream I got was when Daddy bought it! I didn’t know this and I don’t know if anyone else does, but Mr. Getzel used to sell ice cream up and down the Shore and he put it on the train. He’d loaded ice cream on the train. He had these freezers in the back and all this ice cream ice, I guess, block ice and rock salt, and metal cans. He had freezers back there. But when Daddy bought the business from him, he filled every metal can full of ice cream before he left. I’ve never talked to you about this, but the worst thing he ever did to you, was Daddy had a halfway decent ice grinder down at the one down next to the bank, but the ice grinder he left Daddy at Getzel’s was just horrible. And that was my job, ground ice. If you had one of those hand grinders, it would kill you. [Read more...]
By GEORGE SOUTHERN
Cape Charles Wave
December 7, 2013
Rarely is anything printed in the Wave that does not relate directly to the Eastern Shore. But the passing of Nelson Mandela compels me to write about what he meant to me. I offer this commentary to those who may be interested, while recognizing that it is not for everyone.
Among the early accounts of Mandela’s death December 5 at age 95 was a striking quote from, of all people, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He said: “President Mandela’s life is the closest thing we have to proof of God.” I would call that an overstatement, but I agree with the sentiment that Mandela, at least within the group of people we label politicians, was heads and shoulders above all the others. Mandela was a modern statesman in a time when the word seems obsolete.
Somewhere in my old collection of VHS tapes I have the Sunday morning recording I made of Mandela’s release from prison February 11, 1990, after 27 years of confinement. At the time I was training for my upcoming assignment to South Africa as a political aide to the U.S. ambassador.
I arrived in South Africa in June, just four months after Mandela’s release from prison. The country was in a state of hypertension, with all races fearful that a civil war would shortly erupt. For more than a decade, the conventional wisdom had been that war was inevitable.
This was where Mandela showed his genius for toughness encased in humility. During the negotiations between his African National Congress and the white ruling government, his eloquence, humility, intellect, determination, and yes – sense of humor – eroded the white power structure’s long-held conviction that a black president would run their nation into the ground, just as they had seen happen in Zimbabwe and elsewhere. [Read more...]
By TAMMY HOLLOWAY
Bay Haven Inn
December 6, 2013
The 12 Days of Cape Charles Christmas kicks off today (Friday) with the 18th Annual Northampton County Chamber Holiday Progressive Dinner Tour where guests are treated to a Progressive Dinner Feast as featured in the December issue of Southern Living magazine.
Throughout the 12-day period, events will be offered that provide opportunities for people to celebrate, share, give, and unite. Many of the events are free or have a nominal charge. A bounty of offerings for children and adults alike such as Santa arriving via skiff during the lighted boat parade and continuing his journey via lighted golf cart parade.
Participants will follow a luminary lit path that culminates at Central Park for the GRAND ILLUMINATION, December 7.
Sunday afternoon, December 8, adults will not want to miss the Holiday Wine Tasting Event, where Gull Hummock Gourmet Food Market offers wine and food pairings, wine selections from “Women of the Vine,” and female wine specialists will showcase wine from four continents.
As the 12 days celebration continues the town kicks off the week of giving by declaring Monday, December 9, Random Act of Kindness Day. “We encourage residents to visit a friend who might live alone, send a card, buy someone’s lunch at one of restaurants in town or simply thank someone for the kindness they give all year long,” says Mayor Dora Sullivan. [Read more...]
December 6, 2013
Now that the air and water has finally cooled, trucks and boat trailers overrun the parking lot and roads around Cape Charles harbor — sure signs that the rockfish season is now in full swing. This time of year also marks the start of the North Atlantic right whale calving season which begins in November and runs through April. The whales are now migrating from their normal habitat in northeast U.S and Canada to the south coast of Georgia and Florida. NOAA Fisheries reminds boaters to be aware of these whales, and to take precautions to avoid collisions. There are fewer than 400 left, making them the most endangered marine mammal in the world.
The right whale got its name from northeast whalers who called it “the right whale” to hunt. These mammals had large amounts of blubber, were very slow swimmers, and once harpooned, tended to roll over and float, making them easy to strip and clean. Chapters 93-96 in Melville’s Moby Dick describe capturing the whale and the process of cutting the blubber into sections and preparing it for rendering.
Adult whales average 40-55 feet in length, can weigh up to 140,000 pounds, and may live up to 50 years. They spend the majority of their lives in the zooplankton- rich waters off northeastern U.S. and Canada. (Having no teeth, they mainly feed on copepods, euphausiids, and cyprids). In the fall of each year pregnant females migrate south to give birth to calves that are 10-15 feet long and weigh up to 1.5 metric tons. After birth, the calves drink mother’s milk for 8 to 17 months.
The coasts of Georgia and Florida are the only known calving areas for right whales, and NOAA wants to raise awareness of their migratory patterns and movement. The biggest issue is that, even as it would seem easy to spot something as big as a whale, in reality it is very difficult. They are dark, do not have dorsal fins, and swim just below the surface of the water. The only way is to be keenly aware of any changes in the texture of the water surface. [Read more...]
By GEORGE SOUTHERN
Cape Charles Wave
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The writer was an international economist for the U.S. Department of State in Washington, DC. Earlier as a newspaper reporter he and his wife were privileged to spend an afternoon with Nobel economist Milton Friedman and his wife Rose at their Vermont mountain home, where Friedman taught them about the “tooth fairy.”)
December 5, 2013
Our neighbor Wren lost his first tooth the other day and the tooth fairy gave him five dollars. But his mother says that’s a one-time thing; future teeth will get only 25 cents. So Wren is destined to learn that the tooth fairy is a variable and capricious spirit.
Meanwhile, Cape Charles Town Council has been told it can refinance current debt, borrow an additional million dollars, and save money in the bargain. Taxpayers have an opportunity to address Council tonight (Thursday, December 5) at a 6 p.m. public hearing at Town Hall.
Town Manager Heather Arcos advises that “the projected total debt service for both the refinanced loans and the new projects will be less than the Town currently pays.” She got that from financial advisor David Rose of Davenport & Company.
The Town is thinking like the customer for a new car who says, “I don’t need to know how much it costs – just how much the monthly payments are.”
At last Tuesday’s work session, Council member Mike Sullivan said he wants no tax increase and no utility rate increase. But he’s OK with borrowing more — “if we can finance improvements under the existing debt service.”
Council member Steve Bennett said, “Maybe we could have a tax decrease next year.” [Read more...]
By BILL NEVILLE
Cape Charles Historical Society
December 4, 2013
As a part of the Cape Charles Historical Society’s ongoing oral history project, the Cape Charles Museum hosted a gathering of ferry captains and historical society members for an informal session to interview and record the captains’ personal experiences, stories, and details of what it was like working on such legendary ferries as the Pocahontas, Princess Anne, Delmarva, Northampton, Accomac, Virginia Beach, and Old Point Comfort.
Present were Captain Richard Belote, Captain Billy Ray Phillips, and Historical Society members Butch Baxter, Ed Lewis, Bill Neville, and Jan Neville.
The group spent two enjoyable hours talking with the captains who grew up on the Eastern Shore of Virginia and started their service with Virginia Ferry Corporation in the early 1950s. They worked through the transition to Chesapeake Bay Ferry District at Kiptopeke and finally to the Delaware River and Bay Authority in Lewes, Delaware, and Cape May, New Jersey, where they both retired in the 1970s.
Some highlights of the gathering included stories of witnessing the destruction of the “Big D” during the Ash Wednesday storm, which did great damage to the Shore in 1962. (The “Big D” was a huge piece of construction equipment used in building the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. The remains of the wreckage still lie on the bottom adjacent to the bridge). The captains also shared interesting accounts of groundings, accidents, rough seas, scuffles with feisty sometimes “liquored up” passengers, and a tornado that went through Kiptopeke while a ferry was docking. [Read more...]
By DORIE SOUTHERN
Cape Charles Wave
December 3, 2013
Northampton County is holding public information meetings December 4 and 5 on proposed changes to the zoning ordinance. The changes do not apply to the Town of Cape Charles, but would impact Town residents and merchants.
The County wants to eliminate overlay districts, including the Town edge overlay intended to protect the entrance corridor to Cape Charles. The changes would create a new 2.5-mile Commercial District along Route 13 and Route 184 at the Cape Charles stoplight.
Both the County and the Town are updating their comprehensive plans — the blueprints for community development, including economic development, education, and community services. The current comprehensive plans of both jurisdictions call for encouraging enterprise, development, and growth in towns. This would change to promote development on the highways outside of towns.
Northampton County Economic Director Charles McSwain acknowledges that both the County’s and the Town’s comprehensive plans call for driving commerce into towns and villages. “But the Comprehensive Plan is a living document,” he told the Wave, suggesting that it’s time to change it.
Meanwhile, the Cape Charles Planning Commission is reviewing the Town’s Comprehensive Plan and the Town Edge Overlay District, a product of the nearly forgotten 1991 Annexation Agreement between Cape Charles and Northampton County. But the Town Edge Overlay District will disappear if the new zoning ordinance is adopted. [Read more...]
CAPE CHARLES WAVE
December 2, 2013
Is Cape Charles finally hitting the big time? Is the “best kept secret” finally out of the bag? That may depend on how many people nationwide saw the HGTV show a week ago Sunday. For those who missed it, the video clip above tells the story.
Glossy magazines like Southern Living (click here) and National Geographic Traveler (click here) have featured the attractions of Cape Charles during the past year and a half. So have the Washington Post (click here), USA Today (click here), and the Richmond Times-Dispatch (click here). But there’s nothing like a real nationwide TV show to seal the deal.
The HGTV show featured a Richmond family, the Outlands, who fell in love with Cape Charles and wanted to buy a beach house with a water view while prices are still low. Blue Heron Realty agent Eva Noonan was their guide, and showed them four properties. Click the screen above to watch the first four minutes of the show.
November 30, 2013
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The Cape Charles Historical Society has for more than a decade been recording oral histories of the area’s earlier days. In 2002, as one in a series of lectures sponsored by the Cape Charles Library entitled “The Way We Were,” Cape Charles native Lloyd Kellam shared the following account. In 2012, funded by a grant by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, the recording, along with 14 others, was transcribed. The Historical Society has now made it available for readers of the Wave. All the transcriptions are also available for reading at the Museum. This is Part 2 of Mr. Kellam’s reminiscences. Click here to read Part 1.)
Anyway, where was Sample’s [Barbershop]?
[Audience member]: Near Wing Sing’s Laundry. Right in that group.
I don’t remember that. I remember apartments being over top. Anyway, to change the subject, in my time, Sample’s Barbershop was down that same street. He moved it. His son’s picture is in the paper this week, Johnny Sample. If you wonder who he is, Tommy Savage taught him all he knew about football!
When you turned the corner, there was Savage’s Drugstore and then, I can’t remember what was next to that. Was it a dress shop? OK, there was a dress shop there. Then the Palace Theatre was my first recollection, but I do remember when the Palace was built and I remember them tearing all those old buildings down. But I can’t remember who was there. I do remember Mr. Tilghman and I spent many a day in Mr. Tilghman’s place watching him fix watches. Back in those days, a watch was probably the most important thing that people had. And then there was Adam’s Quality Shop [?], Harry Rudy had a barbershop in there. And Lee Hart had a plumbing place, I forgot what it was called. And then Byrd Vick and then a Western Auto. The Radium was between Waddell’s Popcorn Shop, I called it, and Slim Colonna’s Barbershop. Then about the time I really remember, they opened up a beauty parlor upstairs and F. Winslow Toussaint’s. F. Winslow Toussaint and he started taking pictures. In looking back on it, I think that he didn’t have a bad deal with having the Miss Virginia Pageant in the Palace Theatre, which is another story. The newspaper that had that in it had nothing in there but pictures of all those beautiful girls from F. Winslow Toussaint. They were great, he could make a local girl look like a movie star! He was good.
Mr. Sak’s was down there. Where the building burned, I can’t remember exactly what was there, but my recollection was it was a grocery store.
[Audience]: Gaskill’s Grocery Store.
Then last but not least on that corner, in my memory, is the Palm Tavern. If Cape Charles ever really does come back, I want to go in there and open up a restaurant called Peach Street Chicken! [Read more...]
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