WAYNE CREED: New Cape Charles Ignores Gritty Past


October 20, 2014

Some have described the Stay Tuned Music Fest on Oct 4 at the Shanty as a flop, or even an epic fail. Even if it was, that’s not really a bad thing. Getting in the ring and taking a swing is the most important part — these festival things are hard to predict, and given the limited population and demographic, they sometimes don’t turn out as well as we hope.

I know the promoters, and I’m sure they will collect some Lessons Learned, and make some adjustments for next time (maybe move to coincide with Harbor for the Arts, or go old school with Shore Made Music by Shore Made Musicians — then cook up a pig, some crabs or oysters, with plenty of cold beer).

All this aside, there was still something about Stay Tuned Fest that bothered me; as if something was just a bit off. One evening, after a few martinis, staring at the old brick at Kelly’s, I realized just what was bugging me: it was that holding the event at that location (new harbor) lacked so much authenticity, and was so typical of the New Cape Charles — that is, to completely ignore the old Eastern Shore ways and arrogantly try to impose some foreign aesthetic in its place.

It also exposes something more indicative, something that weaves itself into the fabric of life in Cape Charles. When you go to Kelly’s or the Palace Theatre or the Cape Charles Coffee House, there is a feeling of authenticity, something old and careful, something graceful, yet more importantly, there is a feeling of respect, not meant to replace, but gently restore.

Across at the new harbor, it’s as if it’s missing a fundamental element. It seems a bit crass, contrived, incongruent, and almost random, a perfect metaphor for the arrogance of the New Cape Charles. Whereas Kelly’s is unwilling to ignore its own moral and aesthetic objections in order to have a more comfortable existence, much of the New Cape Charles seems more than willing to sell out and embrace a poisoned bad faith, all for the sake of few soiled rupees. [Read more...]


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...]


Urban Chickens Part of ‘Good Food’ Movement

Mattawoman Creek Farms in Eastville is Community Supported Agriculture.

Mattawoman Creek Farms in Eastville is Community Supported Agriculture.


October 6, 2014

During the past few months, the Town of Cape Charles has endeavored to create a policy which would allow homeowners to raise a few urban chickens in their backyards, while at the same time, residents out in the County are readying pitchforks and torches for Economic Development Director Charles McSwain, as he is viewed as the main driver in the move to change zoning — something that many see as a threat to their rural lifestyle.

The urban chicken movement is part of the “good food” movement — the interest and enthusiasm for organic, local, and sustainably grown food. As critics of the new zoning have pointed out, you can’t have sustainably grown food without proper environmental setbacks. The nostalgic yearning for a return to “good food” and a rural lifestyle, though disconnected by boundaries, intersects around one issue: the fundamental decline of the family farm in America.

The number of American farmers has been steadily declining, from just over 6 million in 1900 to only about 2 million now. Most American farmers are over 50 (the average is 57.3), and this demographic leads to a scenario where one quarter (almost 500,000) farmers will retire by 2030. This is even more detrimental to rural areas like the Eastern Shore. As farmland goes untilled, this leads to a further consolidation; that is, a transition away from working farms into estates or residential developments, which in turn leads to sprawl, congestion, and adverse environmental effects. For many, the way forward is to get more young farmers back in the game. However, this is easier said than done.

This issue is not lost on the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack noted in a recent speech, “The future of agriculture is bright and will present the next generation with incredible opportunities to pursue. Young people should continue to engage in policy that affects them, but they shouldn’t be limited by it.”

Note: Young or New farmer does not necessarily mean young in age. The show “Green Acres,” in which New York City attorney Oliver Wendell Douglas leaves Park Avenue to pursue his dream of becoming a farmer (much to the chagrin of his glamorous Hungarian wife (Eva Gabor)), epitomizes the Young Farmer Movement.

Even as the USDA acknowledges the need for young farmers, current federal and state agricultural policies are lagging when it comes to support and opportunities. USDA data lists that only 22 percent of beginning farmers turn a profit their first year. A report from the ‘The National Young Farmers Coalition” found that 73 percent of young farmers must work a second job just to pay the bills. The obstacles facing beginning farmers include farmland that is priced at residential developer rates rather than at “agricultural value” (costs much higher than most young farmers can afford), large startup costs, and few banks willing to make loans on what they consider a risky investment. [Read more...]


Drowning Does Not Merit Bickering and Finger-Pointing


September 29, 2014

Upon reading Wayne Creed’s well written article in the Wave September 22 (CLICK), I couldn’t help but feel a certain sense of sadness and disappointment all at once. As the son of a Cape Charles native and grandson of a former Cape Charles town manager, mayor, and business leader, I feel a special connection to Cape Charles. From its perfectly aligned and tree-shaded streets to its small-town America vibe, Cape Charles has a unique panache that cannot be duplicated.

However, not unlike many boom towns across this great country of ours, Cape Charles has not been without its troubles. From its earliest days, this southernmost enclave on the Eastern Shore has seen fortunes come and go with the tides that frequent its shores. Starting with the railroad that placed Cape Charles on the map, to the Bay Creek development that practically saved its future and then almost lost it again, the town knows a thing or two about recovery.

This summer has been a particularly trying season for the area. Starting with the disastrous and deadly tornado that ripped through Cherrystone, it was quickly followed by the tragic drowning death of Uvihin “Ace” Horton at the public town beach. In the days and weeks following Horton’s death, the people of this town have quietly begun the process of introspectively digesting what happened and how it possibly could have been prevented. The death of anyone by drowning, much less a child on vacation, is a horrific tragedy. It further highlights the risk we all take when enjoying the prolific expanses of nature that surround our peninsula.

In Mr. Creed’s article, he rightly questioned why the town has not installed some type of safety measures beyond a sign that is posted on the dunes nearest the Gazebo. Life guards, more safety signs, a daily posting of high and low tides, and floats attached to rope indicating the outer limits of safe swimming are all good starts. However, beyond these suggestions is where I draw the line in agreeing with Mr. Creed’s assessment of the town’s handling of the drowning, their attitude towards safety, and the overall climate of the town’s current state of affairs. [Read more...]


The War Years (Part 4): Women Proved Their Mettle


September 29, 2014


On the home front many men were gone into the military. There was a need for people to enter the work force and do the jobs that the men left behind. Who else but the women to fill these slots and to work in factories making such things as jeeps, trucks, B-17 bombers, rifles and so many other products?

With many husbands now earning “21 dollars a day, once a month” as GIs, where they used to bring home $35 a week, there was a need for extra income. The women were magnificent!  The plants building war items flew on their flag poles a letter “E” for efficiency awarded by the government. Even far more important the women were forced to manage the household budget, pay the bills, taxes, mortgages, or rents and raise their children by themselves long before “single moms” existed. Some men owned businesses and it fell on the wives to take over the business and put in the hours that required so when the war ended the business was still there.

Andy Kless had a little dining car on Springfield Avenue, and when he was in the Navy, Mrs. Kless took over, cooking, washing dishes, etc. Andy was a friend of mine and when he returned home the business was in good shape. Andy got a GI loan, removed the old dining car, and put in a beautiful shiny new diner. He later bought two more new diners in Irvington, but when the town went to ruin the one diner was moved to Beachwood where it now stands. Adele Joa in Pine Beach, NJ, took over Mack’s Tavern on Highway 9 in Bayville while her husband was in service.

Another side of this was that the mothers and wives were not hardened by the horrors of being on a battlefield, and provided a nurturing, warm, loving environment for the children and the returning veterans. Civilized nations did not send their women off to war. During and after the war we had women in service; my wife was in the USAF, but we didn’t put then in harm’s way. In the Korean “Conflict” we were capturing and holding as POWs women from the Chinese Army. We were horrified that women would be sent into combat! Now we are doing the exact same thing. Even worse, we have fathers and mothers both in service and both being deployed with grandparents watching the kids. There is talk of reinstituting the draft and now a possibility of drafting girls. Like they say, “we’ve come a long way baby,” and I for one don’t like it at all. [Read more...]


WAYNE CREED: Drowning Might Have Been Prevented


September 22, 2014

Many summers ago, I remember walking out from the Cape Charles beach, hoping to take a swim. It was neap tide, and the water was barely up to my knees, so, like an idiot, I just kept walking. Eventually, I found myself up to my waist, than up to my neck in water. It was then that I felt the pull of the current, and in a moment, was pulled into the channel.

“This is weird,” I thought. I grew up near Virginia Beach, and have spent a lifetime dealing the rips from Cape Cod to Sebastian Inlet, so I was easily able to swim back to shallower water. My son Joey could not swim, and although my daughter Rachel was a strong swimmer (thanks to her swim coach granddad), after that episode, I was going to keep an eye on both of them.

When I mentioned this to some born-heres, they assured me that, “Oh yes, you can certainly drown out there. Some already have.” A few years later, I caught Joey (now 10) and his friend Daniel walking away from the beach, and I knew exactly where they were heading. I had to put down my beverage and run them down before they went into the channel. Probably not the best parental role model, I grabbed their arms and cussed them out good that day.

The tragic drowning of Uvihin “Ace” Horton this summer may or may not mark a sea change in how the Town approaches beach safety. The national attention of this tragedy may finally force the Town of Cape Charles to put into practice the basic safeguards that exist in beach towns all up and down the East Coast. Lifeguard stands, whistles, and new warning signs will certainly be welcome, but it will not alter the facts. Cape Charles has done much to lure tourists here, yet even as it was well aware of the dangers posed by drowning, it did nothing to protect them.

The shallowness of the beach creates a false sense of security, so if you don’t point out the dangers, how are people from out of town supposed to avoid them? I know a lot of folks want to sweep this under the rug and pretend it never happened. I understand, but that’s not how it’s supposed to work. The Town of Cape Charles was negligent: Ace Horton did not have to drown. The words “Use the beach at your own risk” scrawled at the very bottom of the beach rules sign may or may not relieve us of any liability, but it will not wash the blood off our hands. [Read more...]


Andy Zahn Remembers the War Years (Part 3)

Admiral Nimitz's stripes went almost up to his elbows.

Admiral Nimitz’s stripes went up to his elbows.


September 22, 2014


At home we got the Newark Evening News and every day they told how the war was going. They daily had a map showing how far General Patton had gone that day. One day he advanced 65 miles and had to stop because his tanks needed gasoline. He saved our bacon in the Battle of the Bulge by having his Third Army cut across all the supply lines and racing to reinforce our forces. He was my hero and I wanted to be a “tanker” and wear two pearl handled .38s but it wasn’t to be. Ernie Pyle had war stories that were great and I believe he got killed by enemy fire.

General Marshall had more brains than any 20 other generals. He put so many things together that all came together at the same time and same place. Training an army while making their M-1 rifles, 6×6 trucks, cargo ships, troop transports, training pilots before their planes were built, managing the rails, coal, and steel plus everything else an army and navy needs.

Eisenhower was a low key, quartermaster issue army officer. D-Day and the European campaign were sheer brilliance. We had an elderly corporal in the 4th MPs and he was waiting to retire. He just came in and talked and then went back home. He should have retired but they had him down for six months bad conduct time which he had to make up. His mother wrote Ike, and a letter came back from the White House. He had served with Ike at Fort Lewis long ago when Ike was a major. The letter said “THIS MAN HAS NO BAD CONDUCT TIME. REPEAT NO BAD CONDUCT TIME.” The corporal got his pension!

In the Pacific, Admiral Nimitz was my hero and I have his autograph. I saw him after the war and he was the most handsome naval officer there ever was, bright SILVER hair. Medium height, about 5’6″, in his blues his stripes went to his elbow or above. He was a five star as were Ike and Marshal along with Halsey, MacArthur, and Bradley, and he had a wide gold stripe with four regular gold stripes. He was the Fleet Admiral of Task Force 57 and they went through hell with Jap aircraft and Kamikazes. He defeated the Jap fleet at the Battle of Midway and that was the turning point in the Pacific. There was a Navy Lt. Commander who worked with codes and he cracked the Jap code. Because of that Nimitz knew where and when the Jap fleet would be and that was a large part of our victory. Nimitz, a FIVE STAR WAR HERO, put the Lt. Commander in for a medal and the Pentagon rejected the request. It is hard to believe — and also hard to believe that Patton would be humiliated for slapping a malingerer. [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].

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