By WAYNE CREED
Cape Charles Wave
April 13, 2015
Northampton Board of Supervisors met April 6 to finalize work on the FY 2016 county budget. At the heart of the matter was a $322,706 increase in funds for the schools, a portion of which the Board of Supervisors hopes the School Board will allocate for a raise in teacher salaries.
On the county side, there was still a deficit of $135,288. The task for County Administrator Katie Nunez was to somehow balance this budget, and by the end of the meeting, have a workable document, built upon Board consensus, that could be voted Tuesday, April 14.
Despite all the things that different factions deem the most important, the money does not magically appear out of the mist — Northampton County has to scratch and work for every penny. What that means at budget time is that to give to one, you must take from the other. The metaphor robbing Peter to pay Paul is never as rich as at budget time.
Nunez and the Board worked into the evening, cutting, moving, and juggling wherever there was any wiggle room, yet when all was said and done, there was still a deficit of $152,000. With all alternatives seemingly exhausted, in order to balance the budget, the consensus was to raise personal property taxes by 5 cents per hundred dollars value, and real estate by .77 cents (about a $15 increase for a house valued at $200,000).
“This is where we need to be,” said Supervisor Granville Hogg. “Time to move forward.”
The tax increase did not come without some debate. “The citizens deserve a break,” announced a frustrated Supervisor Larry Trala [up for re-election in November]. “They deserve a balanced budget, without a tax increase.” A major point of contention for Trala was $45,000 being budgeted for roof repairs at the Government complex, an expense he felt could wait. “I don’t believe the roof is going to fall in if we wait.”
The roof at the complex was not the only one in need of repairs. The transfer station roof has been coming under attack from massive amounts of bird droppings. A $10,000 wire mesh to deter birds stayed in the budget.
Two new Sheriff’s Department vehicles totaling $81,670 also remained in the budget. It was the consensus among Board members that the Sheriff’s Department was one of the most critical, and productive in terms of revenue generation, so providing the best possible equipment to get the job done seemed prudent. Supervisor Oliver Bennett addressed Nunez: “This department brings in over $500,000 a year. Is there any way we can put more on the task? If you drive enough on [Route] 13, you will get a ticket. I have experienced that myself.” [Read more…]
By WAYNE CREED
Cape Charles Wave
April 13, 2015
After over two years and close to $8,000 in consultant fees, the Cape Charles Planning Commission produced an updated Comprehensive Plan and submitted it for review by Town Council. But at the April 7 joint Town Council/Planning Commission meeting, two Council members, Steve Bennett and Frank Wendell, proceeded to rip the Plan apart.
Providing a summary overview of the draft Plan, consultant Elaine Meil of the Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission said there were 50 major changes to the document, including references to the new hospital, the 2010 census, and IRS zip code data, and VDOT review. The Planning Commission also included some facilities changes, as well as major new property acquisitions by the town including the new library and the seven lots purchased from Dickie Foster.
Missing from the document, however was the major property the town divested — namely, the old high school, which was at the time assessed at over $900,000, and which the town sold for $10 after performing a spot rezoning to R-3 in an R-1 (single family) zone.
In regard to the required VDOT review, Mayor George Proto voiced concern that Mason Avenue could need to be widened, which could affect the “very walkable” character of the town. “That is not in the offing,” responded Assistant Town Manager Bob Panek. Since Mason Avenue has a width of 22 feet from the center line to the parking areas, it falls well within the VDOT range, and will not require modifications, Panek said.
“This is some good work,” offered Proto. “I’m pleased — but I would like to have seen more detail.”
“Well, we attempted to use a broad brush,” replied Councilwoman Natali, who also serves on the Planning Commission. “We tried not to be specific.”
“We’re talking about the future,” noted Planning Commission member Andy Buchholz.
Then Councilman Steve Bennett began his attack, criticizing the overall quality, professionalism, and style of the document. “I just wish the writing was more . . . it’s just not progressive,” he said.
“I find it hard to read,” agreed Planning Commission member Dan Burke. “I don’t think anyone in town is going to read this thing, I’ll tell you that.” [Read more…]
April 13, 2015
The Board of Directors of Arts Enter Cape Charles has named Larry Jay Giddens, Jr., of Nassawadox as its Executive Director effective April 9, succeeding founder Clelia Sheppard, who announced her retirement last month.
Giddens, a native of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, is an accomplished opera singer. He has performed with the Virginia Opera, Todi Music Festival, Symphonicity, and the Virginia Arts Festival in the Hampton Roads area, the National Philharmonic, the Opera Theatres of Pittsburgh, PA, Sarasota, FL and Edmonton, Canada, and toured Europe, Russia, Australia, and New Zealand in the roles of Crown and Jake in Porgy and Bess.
In addition, Giddens has been actively involved in creating, organizing, and managing non-profit community-based organizations, most notably as Board President of Eastern Shore Pop Warner, Director of Day Camps for Longmont Parks and Recreation, and as Executive Director of the Randy Custis Memorial Fund in Nassawadox.
Giddens has a strong sense of the essential role the arts play in a community, and his career exemplifies his deep personal engagement in promoting the arts. He is grateful for the opportunities that led him to this new role: “I discovered a profound love for the arts that has taken me all over the world. I understand how the community needs an organization like Arts Enter, not only for the arts to survive but also to grow and become the preeminent arts organization on the Eastern Shore,“ he says. [Read more…]
April 13, 2015
It has been a little over a year since over 400 people crammed into the auditorium of the Northampton County High School for a public hearing on the then-new proposed complete re-writing of our county’s zoning ordinance. The majority of those attending and testifying at the meeting were quite perplexed at why they had been shut out of the rezoning process during the preceding year, and expressed frustration with the many changes proposed by staff and our new economic development director.
In a thinly veiled attempt to involve residents at the midnight hour, several weeks ago county planning staff conducted “public information sessions” that were held in the north and south sectors of the county. These meetings were expertly covered in the Wave by Wayne Creed.
During those sessions and after being shown maps, charts and other confusing fact sheets, those attending were encouraged to submit their questions and comments in writing to staff and the Board. Within 10 days after the sessions ended, over 116 comments had been entered into the official record, and the planning and zoning staff subsequently prepared a briefing paper for the Board of Supervisors which not only summarized the comments received but also attempted to offer a response to each of the points raised.
Overwhelmingly, those submitting comments were most concerned about the term “waste related” which is proposed as an allowable use in agricultural and industrial zones in the proposed zoning ordinance. Concerned residents and former county officials alike expressed fear that such an open-ended land use term could allow hazardous, municipal, medical, and other waste import and incineration, as well as storage and processing. Note that the plainly ambiguous term is not included in our current zoning ordinance, nor can we find such a dangerous term in any zoning ordinance we researched.
In their March 30 presentation to the Board, planning staff orally briefed the Supervisors on many of the issues placed in the record that objected to the current draft ordinance, including the waste issue. Specifically, Zoning Administrator Melissa Kellam informed the Board that staff had adequately responded to the concerns about “waste related” and removed that wording from the draft zoning language. She informed the Board that, because the county currently manages waste at the landfill and their collection centers, “waste” has to be addressed in the proposed zoning ordinance, hinting that if it was not, the county could no longer continue these operations. [Read more…]
CAPE CHARLES WAVE
April 13, 2015
H. Spencer Murray of Franktown, an outspoken critic of current county administration, has announced his candidacy for Northampton County District 4 Supervisor in the November 3 election. District 4 includes Wellington Neck, the western portion of Franktown, and a section of Seaside Road.
Murray was District 4 Supervisor from 2008-2011 but did not seek reelection due to a family illness. He was succeeded by Rick Hubbard, who currently is Board Chairman and is expected to run for re-election. When Murray won his Supervisor seat in 2007, he had three opponents, one of whom was Hubbard, who finished third.
Only two Board seats are up for election this year, the other being that held by District 5 Supervisor Larry Trala. Robert Duer has announced his candidacy for District 5.
In the most recent election, November 2013, three Supervisors were chosen, but only one was contested: Granville Hogg defeated District 1 Supervisor and Board Chairman Willie Randall. District 2 Supervisor Larry LeMond and District 3 Supervisor Oliver Bennett were elected without opposition.
Murray has lived on the Eastern Shore for over 28 years. Born in Richmond, he is one of seven children. He attended the College of William and Mary, and after graduation served in Army Intelligence in Vietnam in 1967-68. Afterward, he worked in the financial industry, holding several executive positions and later establishing his own consulting firm specializing in revitalizing troubled companies and managing large-scale information technology projects for international and Fortune 500 clients. [Read more…]
April 13, 2015
Billy James Brady, Sr., 56, husband of the late Ona West Brady and a resident of Cape Charles, passed away Wednesday, April 8, at his residence. A celebration of life service will be held 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 15, at Travis Chapel United Methodist Church in Oyster with Rev. Janet C. Allen officiating.
A native of Oyster, Mr. Brady was born February 18, 1959. He was the son of Samuel Brady, Jr., of Townsend, and India Winslow Birch of Cape Charles, and the step-son of Louise Brady of Townsend and Charles Harrison Crumb, Jr., of Oyster. He was a waterman.
In addition to his parents and step-parents, he is survived by four children, Chris Brittingham and his wife, Regina, of Hacksneck, Alicia Waren and her husband, Shane, of Mesa, AZ, Tara Birch of Cape Charles, and Billy James Brady, Jr., of Beverly, MA; sisters Connie Brady of Cape Charles and Vickie Brady of Norfolk; brother Mark Brady and his wife, Autumn, of Townsend; aunt Bettie Riggin of Cape Charles; and numerous grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.doughtyfuneralhome.com. Flowers will be accepted.
Arrangements are by Wilkins-Doughty Funeral Home, Cape Charles.
April 13, 2015
Cape Charles Rotary sponsored a Career Day at Occohannock Elementary School March 28 to provide area teens with a jumpstart on successful careers. The event was part of a new partnership between the Rotary Club of Cape Charles and the Eastern Shore Boys and Girls Club.
A team of Cape Charles Rotarians facilitated five Career Day workshops for almost 50 Boys and Girls Clubs teenagers from the Eastern Shore and across the Hampton Roads area. In round-robin fashion, the young adults attended workshops structured to begin preparing them for college and workplace realities: Resume-Writing, College-Bound, Interviewing Skills, Dress for Success and Workplace Etiquette.
The partnership with the Boys and Girls Club is an important new initiative of the Cape Charles Rotary Club, which supports the community through a variety of additional grants and service projects. Monika Bridgforth, Cape Charles Rotary President-Elect and Career Day project coordinator explains, “The Rotarians were eager to share lessons learned from our own careers. From practical tips about how to dress for an interview to more thought-provoking discussions about the value of a college education, the students had a comprehensive introduction to career planning. And we are already refining for next year!” [Read more…]
The Cape Charles Historical Society will hold its traditional Low Country Shrimp Boil 5-9 p.m. Saturday, April 25, at the Cape Charles Museum. The menu features the famous Alabama shrimp boil recipe — shrimp cooked with red potatoes, special “Old Timer” smoked sausage shipped in from Alabama, corn on the cob, onions, and peppers. A new addition to the menu will be local steamed clams. Tickets are $30 for adults and $10 for children 7 to 12, available at Periwinkles on Strawberry Street or by emailing [email protected]. Tickets will also be on sale at the Museum starting opening day, April 18. [Read more…]