LETTER
Supervisors: Read Your Own Report, Ditch Sewer Plan

December 8, 2014

DEAR EDITOR,

I have sent the following letter to the Board of Supervisors:

Dear Northampton County Board of Supervisors,

In considering the need for a central sewer system, I’d like you to study the attached report, produced by Northampton County. You’ve probably heard before that Northampton County is losing population. The attached report illustrates how the county population has declined steadily from 18,565 people in the 1930 census to just over 12,000 today (see Figures 3.2 and 3.3 in the attached report). We currently have less people in our county than in any time in the past century. We are nearing the point where we will have lost 50% of our population. This trend is predicted to continue for the forseeable future. Projections going out to 2040 predict a continued decline in population (see Table 3.3). [CLICK to download report.]

Population density has a direct bearing on the ability of an area to treat sewage effectively with septic systems as opposed to centralized sewer systems. “On June 28, 2013, EPA released a model program for onsite wastewater treatment systems in the Chesapeake Bay watershed to help states more effectively prevent nutrients from entering the Bay from onsite or septic systems, which will improve water quality. When properly designed, sited and maintained, decentralized systems like septic systems can treat wastewater effectively and protect surface water and groundwater.” (http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/septic/index.cfm).

The EPA also “concluded in its 1997 Response to Congress that “adequately managed decentralized wastewater systems are a cost-effective and long-term option for meeting public health and water quality goals, particularly in less densely populated areas.” (http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/septic/index.cfm). [Read more...]

LETTER: Don’t Call Me a Come-Here, Mr. Supervisor!

November 24, 2014

DEAR EDITOR,

In regard to the Northampton County Board of Supervisors’ unilateral plan to change the current zoning ordinance to resemble an Ocean City or Virginia Beach model of development, it raises my ire when Supervisors such as Larry Trala dismiss those of us seeking more of a voice in this process as “come-heres.” This conjurs up the “pot and the kettle” scenario considering we have been told Larry may have roots in Detroit.

I take this dismissal personally, and must respond to several issues regarding various statements made by the Supervisors who are promoting the rezoning campaign. In response to the “come-here” remark, I have two comments. First, those who have discovered Northampton County and have decided to move here and invest much of their life’s savings in this great county do so because they have fallen in love with what we have to offer. Their tax dollars support our schools, our roads, our businesses, our support services, and our cultural resources. Rather than branding them something less than what they are as “come-heres,” we should open our arms and realize that they are here because they are “wanna-be-heres” as Art Schwarzschild recently stated at a public forum on the rezoning debate, and have fallen in love with the county for what it isn’t (Ocean City or Virginia Beach) — a scenario that is being threatened by this closed-door scheme.

As for this “come here,” I don’t think so. In fact, my father’s family, the Schoolfields, came to the Eastern Shore with the contingents that accompanied Lord Baltimore in the 1600s. My maternal great-grandfather, G. Russel Smith, was a horse-and-buggy doctor in Cheriton in the 19th century. His daughter, my grandmother, and her husband, Gansevoort Hurlbut, bought the majestic Wellington estate on the Nassawadox in the 1930s and later purchased the smaller Refuge estate, now the home of the county attorney (one of the prime movers of the “let anyone do anything they want on their property” zoning revision). My grandmother also worked at the Northampton-Accomack Memorial Hospital and helped raise the funds necessary to build that facility. I was born in that hospital 60 years ago (wow, where does the time go?) and spent many years and indeed every summer of my life on the Nassawadox Creek with my children. And as for my “come-here” husband, Ken, he is a “brought-here” — by me — and his involvement in the zoning debate is partly because I asked him to do so because I owe it to my heritage to protect this county from impending assault, and partly because we both want to protect our many investments in Northampton County and the Town of Exmore. [Read more...]

7 Comments

LETTER: Citizens Should Oppose Rezoning NOW

November 24, 2014

DEAR EDITOR,

Several of our key Northampton elected and salaried officials apparently have taken zoning matters into their own hands thus necessitating the Shore citizens groups’ volunteer forum November 6 to bring us up to speed — in a cordial, impressively professional manner — on the complexities of the disturbing scenario. We owe CBES [Citizens for a Better Eastern Shore] and Shorekeeper our gratitude and respect.

Four centuries ago the original Shore inhabitants were blindsided with the arrival of Europeans who in short order — a generation or so — transformed forever their heritage and way of life by relocating them (displacement) to a reservation, the 52 acre fragment of which remains today as Indiantown Park, Eastville seaside. No matter that the natives were friendly and peaceful, used coastal waterways as their highways, and were not prone to fouling their own nests as they moved back and forth seasonally from their small scattered settlements.

Equally soon by early spring of 1651-1652 the invasive settlers found cause to protest excessive taxation in the first such demonstration in American history. So, you see, dramatic earth shaking and shaping events can happen very quickly. We may be on a similar precipice.

Thus far our elected officials — save one — propose opening Pandora’s box for unbridled development on our rural lower peninsula, not only with the potential for a bar in Franktown as our hospital closes down, but also more seriously with unannounced nasty wastes and dangerous biomass uses. Their unleashed rezoning ignores state code requiring a (formerly carefully crafted) Comprehensive Plan as its foundation, the format of which was defined by Northampton citizen input over an extended period. Thankfully our Comp Plan, aka the backbone approved by state code, remains a flexible document in that it can be adjusted or amended when necessary. Critics of rezoning often have cited this key advantage. So if it ain’t broke, why fix it? [Read more...]

1 Comment

LETTER: ‘Open Season’ on Central Park Cats

This rescue cat, "Tiger Lilly," is happily still in the land of the living.

This rescue cat, “Tiger Lilly,” is happily still in the land of the living. (Photo: Sandy Mayer)

November 17, 2014

DEAR EDITOR,

Keep your kitties inside! Evidentially there was a complaint filed with the Sheriff’s office by a woman who was disturbed by the cats in her yard. Consequently, the Sheriff’s office and Animal Control are actively hunting cats in the Cape Charles Central Park area. No animal is safe — it is open season on Cape Charles cats. If you are missing an animal you need to call Animal Control in Onley at 757-787-7385 to identify the animal and produce evidence of rabies vaccinations to reclaim the animal. [Read more...]

8 Comments

LETTER: Why Do County Taxes Go to Baltimore?

October 31, 2014

DEAR EDITOR,

Where is our County Treasurer, Cynthia Bradford, these days — is she in the State of Maryland or in Eastville, Virginia?

We are instructed to send our real estate taxes to Baltimore, Maryland. That’s approximately $50 million total. Why should those funds be deposited in Maryland instead of a bank in Virginia that is under the jurisdiction and scrutiny of our state?

As a taxpayer, I care where my money is being held. [Read more...]

9 Comments

LETTER
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

DEAR EDITOR,

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...]

4 Comments

LETTER: Well Done Northampton High 9/11 Service

September 22, 2014

DEAR EDITOR,

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.

BOB ROCHE
Adjutant, American Legion Post 56

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

LETTER
Arts Festival Is Essence of Economic Development

August 18, 2014

DEAR EDITOR,

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!

DAVID L. KABLER
Machipongo

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

4 Comments

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