Money Wasted on Empty School Could Go to EMS

School closed in 2008 but maintenance costs are sizable.

School closed in 2008 but maintenance costs are $110,000 per year.

October 6, 2014


Confusion and lack of vision seem to be the normal operating tools of the government in Northampton County, an obvious observation from the September 29 meeting. Why pay a reported $220,000 to DJG Architects for a report on what to do with an old rundown, outdated, energy-hog building that consumes $110,000 yearly just sitting there doing nothing? Which universe has common sense evaporated into?

The DJG report could easily have been performed for $5,000-$8,000 in this day of computerization. Being a retired building contractor, I understand this is one way architects make high salaries when dealing with government bodies, but just why does the Board of Supervisors lack the ability to think this through on their own in the first place?

And what decision was made by the Board of Supervisors at this meeting concerning the Machipongo School? Let it sit there a while longer was the decision.

We don’t know what to do? We have plenty of taxpayer money to spend, they must think. Let’s just keep spending $9,166 a month to let the building sit and deteriorate. This is a welcome sign to Shore visitors and perspective investors of the collapsing economy and the declining Northampton County population. Letting the building sit vacant costs $2,291 per week, in one of the poorest and least educated counties in Virginia.  Just how is the public being served by these kinds of decisions and activities?

A large part of the EMS issue now under consideration could have been solved with that $220,000. Garages are needed to keep the EMS trucks tucked away so the equipment is out of the inclement weather. If approached creatively, not simply squandering money because it’s the taxpayers’, and friends are making a profit (which is public fraud in some people’s eyes), four separate commercial metal buildings with concrete slabs could have been constructed in Northampton County for approximately $100,000 total! Look at the Randy Custis Memorial Ball Park. Ask Phil Custis how his first metal structure was built for $7.50 a square foot. If the BOS had allocated that $222,000 correctly towards the EMS issue, it would have left $120,000 as an emergency EMS fund to be intelligently used as needed. And it’s the EMS staff that know their needs best. Continuing to jointly use Volunteer Fire Department buildings, as in Nassawadox and Melfa, is an excellent way to buddy up on community needs as opposed to increasing costly and additional ill-conceived bureaucracy and tax burden. [Read more...]


LETTER: Well Done Northampton High 9/11 Service

September 22, 2014


On September 11, I was privileged to be invited as a guest at the second annual Northampton High School 9/11 Memorial Service. The service was held in the gymnasium and was attended by all the students and the faculty. One of the impressive aspects was that the service was conducted primarily by the students themselves.

After some brief introductions, a school choir opened with a stirring rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. A Power Point presentation followed of photographs in chronological order taken that fateful day along with a verbal rendition of the events.

Among the guests that attended were the first responders to the Cherrystone tornado disaster, who were given a rousing ovation by all of the attendees.

Kudos to Northampton High School for a job well done.

Adjutant, American Legion Post 56

Letters to the Editor are welcome, and a diversity of opinions is encouraged. Send submissions to [email protected].

Arts Festival Is Essence of Economic Development

August 18, 2014


It is with much praise and gratitude that I express my sincere appreciation for the event “Harbor for the Arts” in Cape Charles August 1-17. As the second annual event, this arts festival deserves great acclaim. Not only has our cultural arts organization Arts Enter Cape Charles demonstrated expertise in grant and sponsorship funding, it has also proved to the world that our community has one of the premier cultural arts centers in the nation if not the world.

Performances and exhibitions took place over a two week period using venues that represented the best private and public assets of the Town of Cape Charles and her surrounding environs. Street performances, bands under pavilions on the park and at the beach, concerts and films in our beautifully restored historic theater, entertainers gathering audiences on the sidewalks, a multi-media dance production in a classic 150-year-old equestrian barn overlooking the seaside sounds and islands, and more — wherever one turned during these two weeks the cultural arts permeated our living space here in Cape Charles. How blessed this writer felt to be living and working in such an incredibly talented community!

Arts Enter Cape Charles deserves all of the support our community can possibly give — through attendance, financial gifts, sponsorships and volunteer participation. This dedicated group colors our community with excellence in the arts, offering instruction in the performing and visual arts as well as amazing performances that educate, entertain and thrill her audiences. This is the essence of economic development: establishing our community as a center of the arts and education, improving our reputation and attracting new growth and business to our region.

Thank you to Arts Enter Cape Charles for enriching our lives and lifting our souls!


Letters to the Editor are welcome, and a diversity of opinions is encouraged. Send submissions to [email protected].


Response to ‘Arts Festival Is Essence of Development’


August 19, 2014

In response to David Kabler’s letter (CLICK), I certainly agree with everything Capt K is saying, especially “establishing our community as a center of the arts and education, improving our reputation and attracting new growth and business to our region.”

However, the deconstructionist in me would be remiss not to point out that textually the narrative always bleeds over and tends to occupy the most important part of the narrative, out in the margins, echoing Guy Debord’s claims that different commodities conflict with each other, preventing the consumer from consuming the whole. Each commodity claims itself as the only existent one:
“Irreconcilable claims jockey for position on the stage of the affluent economy’s unified spectacle, and different star commodities simultaneously promote conflicting social policies.”

What I mean is that as beautiful a celebration of the Arts as Harbor for the Arts was, simultaneously, right across town, in the old school, crews were working to demolish the oldest, most historical stage on the Eastern Shore.

As much as I love and support everyone and everything involved in HFA, it’s still hard to reconcile these “oppositional” events. I guess my ultimate criticism is that the ultimate goal here, as described by Kabler, is economic development; however, this belief is couched in the belief that existence is structured in terms of oppositions (historical significance and social justice or grants for digital cameras) and that these oppositions are hierarchical, with one side of the opposition being more valuable than the other (this is certainly the reality (of the street) that the historically underserved are being expected to accept). The courts certainly seem to agree with this, and insist that we urgently re-inscribe this new hierarchy (devalue social and historical significance and replace it with the “New”: see Hotel Cape Charles) so that we can move ahead with “economic development” as the main driver. [Read more...]


Sewer Smell at Beach and Harbor Discourages Tourism

August 18, 2014


Could someone please look into why the waste treatment plant at Cape Charles continuously smells? My husband and I have a home in Cheriton and frequently have grandchildren over to visit. Of course they want to go to the beach, and the beach at Cape Charles is very convenient. Last year we noticed a sewage smell while swimming and sunning. This year it is there as well. We also put our boat in at the harbor and, of course, experience the same thing. It is very off-putting when you expect sea breezes and get only what you can only say “phew” to.

We continue to put our boat in at the harbor because of the convenience of not towing it a long distance, and because we don’t have to smell those odors because we are not there very long. We have, however, decided not to take advantage of the beach anymore, because who wants to spend the day whiffing those gases? We’ll go to Kiptopeke and pay for the privilege to breathe the clean, salty air down there. Or trip on up to Assateague and, again, pay for a glorious breezy experience and for fun playing in the waves.

I wonder how the folks in the big yachts in the harbor feel about taking in foul odors while trying to sit on the boat deck, having a cool one and grilling out? How would this go over as a recommendation to their friends to dock their boats there? How do they feel when they have friends over and they ask, “How can you stand that smell?” [Read more...]


LETTER: Pieces of Tangier Conveys Unique Island Life

August 11, 2014


What a treat it was to attend the July 19 screening of Pocomoke City native Jenny Roberts’ documentary Pieces of Tangier in Onancock. It is her 2013 MFA thesis which, more than that, reveals her personal effort, at much of her own expense, to convey the unique life of Tangier residents as erosion nips the island.

Betty Martin (unrelated to the writer) attended last year’s screening at the Mar-Va Theatre and was equally impressed. In fact she undertook a nine-month volunteer effort to coordinate the sterling screening presentation which garnered significant generosity and participation from the Accomac community.

As we continue to mark the bicentennial of the War of 1812 for another year a charming prelude to Pieces of Tangier by the same artist can be enjoyed here http://vimeo.com/48050485

Luckily for those who’ve missed the boat thus far, Jenny’s DVD is now available at the Book Bin. Northampton residents look forward to a screening in the not-too-distant-future.


Letters to the Editor are welcome, and a diversity of opinions is encouraged. Send submissions to [email protected].

Cherrystone Camper Lauds Emergency Response

July 29, 2014

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The following letter was sent by the Riale family of Port Penn, Delaware, in appreciation for the service provided by local law enforcement, fire, and other first responders to the tornado at Cherrystone Campground.)

I am writing this letter in regard to the responses that were made in regard to the EF 1 tornado that struck Cherrystone Campground on the morning of July 24, 2014. My parents and my kids and I were camping there that morning when the tragic storm struck the grounds.

Just a little background on my family: my father has been in the fire service since 1964 and is a Past Fire Chief, and I have been in the service since 1994 and currently serve as my department’s Assistant Chief, and I am a Delaware State Police Dispatcher.

Once the storm started to lift that morning we made sure that my mother and kids were okay, and then my father, my son, and I started checking campsite to campsite for injured people. Within minutes we could hear the sirens of the responding units coming. We first were contacted by a Cape Charles police officer to join in the site checks. He informed us that the next streets over they were getting reports of worse things, so we ran over to that area.

While on the way a mother stated that her 11 year old was missing. Just a couple minutes later we found that girl walking down the street and the officer took her back to her parents. We continued onto the street worse hit and noticed campers removing a young boy from a tent site with a tree over it. We met up with a couple firemen from Cape Charles Fire Company that were assessing two more young girls who were lying next to their deceased parents.

The firemen acted quickly in making backboards out of the tops of picnic tables. My father and I assisted in loading and transporting the one young girl out to a waiting ambulance from the Exmore Fire Company. By the time we did that there were so many police units, ambulances, and fire units on the scene that me and my father’s attention went back to our own family.

In all of our experiences in the fire service I have never seen such organization of a disaster and the willingness to work together for the common good. The Cape Charles Officer, Cape Charles Fire, Virginia State Police, or the Northampton Sheriff’s Officers, never once said get away, we got this, etc. They all asked what we had, what we needed, and asked how they could help. We watched the command structure that was there that day organize site by site searches with no problems. For such a rural area compared to where I work and am from, the responses from these agencies were very fast, efficient, and bar none the very best I have ever seen in such a disaster. [Read more...]


Planning Commission, Not Staff, Should Recommend

July 9, 2014

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The following letter from “Citizens for Open Government” was read to the Northampton County Board of Supervisors at their meeting last night. The Supervisors subsequently agreed to hold a joint work session with the County Planning Commission to hear testimony and evidence on whether to retain protections of the Chesapeake Bay Act on the seaside.) 

Dear Chairman LeMond and Members of the Northampton County Board of Supervisors:

After the March 11, 2014, joint meeting of the Northampton County Board of Supervisors and the Northampton County Planning Commission, the BOS imposed a 100-day time limit for the Planning Commission to make recommendations on the 150-page complete revision of the Northampton County Zoning Ordinance. Citing Virginia Code 15.2-2285(b), County Administrator Katie Nunez at that time announced that failure of the Planning Commisision to finish their review of the complete revision of the zoning ordinance within the 100-day time limit would allow the BOS to adopt the proposed zoning ordinance as written, and would also allow the BOS to consider the lack of a recommendation as an endorsement for approval by the Planning Commission.

Unfortunately, but as predicted by many who were observing this process, the Planning Commission was unable to finish its review of the revised zoning ordinance by the May 31, 2014, deadline, and was only able to make recommendations on about one half of the 150-page document. Indeed, some of the most important and profound suggested changes to the current zoning ordinance were not addressed by the Planning Commission, and yet the BOS did not recommend remanding the unfinished portion of the proposed zoning ordinance to the Planning Commission to resume their review. This denial of allowing the Planning Commission to resume their review of these changes poses to profoundly affect the future of Northampton County. This failure by the BOS runs counter to the interest of the public and those hundreds of citizens who have voiced their opposition to the proposed zoning revisions.

At the July meeting to of the Planning Commission, the work on amending the current Comprehensive Plan resumed, as they were not asked to continue their review of the proposed zoning ordinance revisions. During deliberations last week, they addressed the language in the current 2009 Comprehensive Plan which calls for extending the protections of the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act to the waters of the seaside. At first, it was recommended that the Planning Commission recommend that this language be retained and brought forward into the draft amended Comprehensive Plan. However, discussion among the members turned to a debate as to whether or not there is enough scientific evidence to support either continuing the Cheasapeake Bay Act protections to the seaside or to let those protections lapse. After lengthy discussion, it was decided that the Planning Commission needed to call in experts in this field, and it was finally agreed that Art Schwarzchild, a well-respected marine scientist from Willis Wharf who has studied this issue in depth, should be invited to present evidence and input from his peers to help the Planning Commission in their deliberations. [Read more...]

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