March 4, 2015
EDITOR’S NOTE: To our great surprise, yesterday we received the letter below from Clelia Sheppard, whose name is synonymous with the arts scene in Cape Charles and, by extension, the entire lower Eastern Shore. Ms. Sheppard is resigning as director of Arts Enter, but promises that she will remain a board member “ad infinitum.” Here is her eloquent and breathtaking letter:
DEAR COMMUNITY MEMBERS,
As I step down from my role as Executive Director and Artistic Director of Arts Enter Cape Charles, I have a question. I want to know—what inspires you? An Eastern Shore sunset? A work of art that grabs you and won’t let go? Perhaps it’s seeing your child perform on stage for the first time, or hearing the right chord just when you need it most.
When I first stepped inside the Historic Palace Theatre, with her worn seats and dark, quiet stage, I found my calling. To bring this gem back to life. To shine a spotlight on the people of Cape Charles and the lower Eastern Shore. To share my love of the arts. And to test my own limits and abilities: it was a personal challenge.
Now, after 18 years, I must thank the people in our community who have shared the rigors and privilege of growing Arts Enter with me, those pioneers and serious volunteers who put their hearts into our mission of celebrating and teaching the arts, who will always be remembered for their hard work: In alphabetical order, Victor Abrahamian, Sue Anglim, Dianne Appell, Kathy Barefoot, Anne Bois, Anne and Andrew Bonniwell, Donna Bozza, Bill Burton, Marty Burgess, Jennifer Byler, Brent and Libby Carpenter, Jim Chapman, Evie Chapman, Marijana Cvijetic, Mary Ann and Don Clarke, Robin Cochran, Sarah Colson, Wayne Creed, Stephan Dulcie, David Feeney, Michael Flanagan, Keith and Gail Fox, Victor Gazzolo, David and Carol Glowacki, Maureen Green, Janne Guirin, Joe and Carol Habel, Christina Hardy, George Holmes, Mara Ifju, Rachel Isabelle, Susan Kovacs, the David Long family, Sandy Mayer, Vernon McCart, Larry McCluskey, Erik Medina, Vera Miller, Ellen Moore, Dora Mullins, William Neill, Bill Neville, Thomas O’Connor, Edie Outten, Ginnie Parker, Berkley and Joy Rayfield, Tommy and Francine Rayfield, Will Rickets, Chris Roll, Walt and Jean Roll, Tony Sacco, Virginia and George Savage, Malvina and Tommy Savage, Gwen Skeens, Kim Starr, Melissa Stein, Bill Sterling, Terry and Michael Strub, Nicki and Paul Tiffany, Ebba Tin Win, Sunny Trippel, Arthur Tross, Amy Watkins, Jack Woolley, Lyn Wyatt, and so many others. I cannot mention them all, but to each of you I am extremely grateful — you know who you are. [Read more…]
By WAYNE CREED
Cape Charles Wave
March 2, 2015
As the wonderful photography of Gertraud Fendler has documented, this winter has changed much of the Bay into a frozen pond. Despite the clean, white appearance, the actual condition of the water tells a different story. According to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s latest State of the Bay report (2014), the Bay is showing minor improvement, with Water quality indicator scores going up slightly. The problem with even this minor improvement is that the baseline has shifted so far towards the negative that incremental improvements such as this will hardly ever make a dent in the “real” health and quality of the Bay. The report also notes that Blue crabs and striped bass are showing signs of severe stress (due to pollution, diseases, overharvesting); again, these “metrics indicate a system still dangerously out of balance.” According to data from ChesapeakeBay.net, the abundance of spawning-age female blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay decreased to 68.5 million in 2014, compared with 147 million in 2013.
Even as data continues to indicate an unhealthy Bay, and much of it pointing to the effects of human activity, it appears the Northampton County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors are once again looking at removal of the Chesapeake Bay Protection Act from Seaside, using the rationale that it does not apply to the Seaside. This notion seems inconsistent with the original intent of the CBPA, which was envisioned to cover the Chesapeake Bay, its tributaries, and “other state waters.” According to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Bay Act program is designed to “improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and other waters of the State by requiring the use of effective land management and land use planning.” At the heart of the Bay Act is the concept that land can be used and developed to “minimize negative impacts on water quality.”
The first sentence of the Bay Act serves as a theme for the entire statute: “Healthy state and local economies and a healthy Chesapeake Bay are integrally related; balanced economic development and water quality protection are not mutually exclusive.”
The eloquent nature of the Bay Act is that it perceives that land should be used and developed to not just generate wealth for a few, but to minimize negative impacts on all water quality, which would benefit the majority of citizens (and even incubate economic development in the form of aquaculture and clean water tourism). In Virginia, the state designed the Bay Act to enhance water quality while at the same time allowing “reasonable development.” I guess this is the semantic argument, where a balancing act between state and local economic interests and water quality improvement is required. In Virginia the Bay Act puts the onus on local governments (who have the primary responsibility for land use decisions) to manage water quality, and “establishing a more specific relationship between water quality protection and local land use decision-making.” This quiet notion seems to be glaringly absent in the current proposed zoning. [Read more…]
By WAYNE CREED
Cape Charles Wave
February 23, 2015
My roots are in the clay hills of northeastern Alabama, where for generations my forebears were basically subsistence farmers living on what the land would provide them. Mainly corn, cotton, apricots, and other rotational crops were supplemented with eggs (chickens produced year round). A flock of 100-120 chickens lived outside during the day, pecking the dirt for worms and insects, and in the evening returned to the safety of a fairly large corrugated metal and wire chicken house enclosure. This somewhat bucolic memory allowed me for so many years to perpetuate the myth of “cage free” or “free range” organic chicken farming in my own mind.
I would argue for the promotion of “organic” family chicken farming in Washington, DC, and Northern Virginia (where I lived for 25 years), as well as for expanded operations here on the Eastern Shore. That all changed a year ago. As I was traveling to work in Norfolk, I got behind a truckload of caged chickens. The thermometer in my car registered 18 degrees, and as I stopped at a traffic light, I could see each face, crammed in and waiting. I have never been much of an adherer to James Joycean epiphanies, but this was one. It was a realization that I had been very wrong about the myth of the family farm and the possibility of “humane” chicken farming. No matter what justification I tried to use, Morrisey was right: meat is murder — it’s unnecessary and just not possible to farm animals humanely. The end of the line would eventually lead to a cage in the back of a truck. I told myself I would try to no longer be party to this.
Almost one year later, I find myself on another cold morning traveling Seaside Road on the way to the chicken sanctuary and headquarters of United Poultry Concerns. Karen Davis, PhD, is the president of UPC, which she founded in 1990. UPC is a nonprofit organization “dedicated to the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl” and addresses the treatment of domestic fowl in “food production, science, education, entertainment, and human companionship situations.” [Read more…]
February 16, 2015
I read Wayne Creed’s article (“Animal Abuse, Theft Highlight Longtime Problems”) with great interest, being aware of the minimal care frequently afforded companion animals by their owners on the Eastern Shore. Friends who moved to Accomack three years ago were so distressed by the harsh treatment of dogs and other animals they observed in many yards that they started providing straw bedding, food and education, even doing repairs in some instances.
Their experience was that while some of the pet owners they helped were happy to receive the purchases and labor, it did not appear they would follow up on their own. Last time we talked, my friends said they had to step back from the toll the situation was taking on their own mental health and resources.
But it isn’t only dogs and cats who suffer from abuse and neglect on the Eastern Shore (and in other parts of Virginia). Chickens and many other animals suffer through every phase of their existence as a result of their status as agricultural animals.
Many of those who abuse and neglect their companion animals work in animal agribusiness where a total lack of compassion for animals, even pleasure in watching them suffer, prevails. People who spend their days being violent toward chickens and other farmed animals as part of their job often bring the violent culture of their employment home with them.
How many residents know that a Virginia statute titled “Care of Agricultural Animals by Owner” (Section 3.2-6503.1) allows the owners of agricultural animals to deprive their animals of food and water up to the point of starvation and dehydration and exempts the owners from providing bedding or shelter, regardless of the weather, for their animals? [Read more…]
By JAY FORD
Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper
February 16, 2015
As part of the Administration’s announcement of new leases for offshore drilling, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell continually stated, “Some places are too special to drill.” Apparently, Virginia and the Eastern Shore didn’t make the cut.
Virginia’s Eastern Shore is the largest remaining stretch of coastal wilderness on the entire eastern seaboard of the United States. Additionally, the Eastern Shore has been recognized by the United Nations as an International Biosphere Reserve, and as a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Network Site. There is no place on earth like Virginia’s Eastern Shore; the very definition of special.
Less than five years since the BP disaster overwhelmed the Gulf Coast, our leaders are ready to open our region to the same risks. Our culture, our economy, and our quality of life are inextricably linked to the waters of the Atlantic and the Chesapeake Bay. Our booming aquaculture industry, fisheries, and tourism all depend on clean waters and are susceptible to the slightest changes. Even if we never had a major spill we would have tarballs on our beaches, and drilling fluid, toxic metals, and metal shavings in our ocean as part of the standard operating practice for an offshore rig.
If a spill were to occur, our very way of life on Virginia’s Eastern Shore would be forever altered. Researchers on the Gulf Coast are still trying to quantify the long term damage done to that region’s ecology as a result of oil and the subsequent dispersants. Mutations, deformed hearts, lesions, and sterility have been documented in staggering numbers throughout the fish population. Corals were wiped out, taking with them millenniums old ecosystems. Shrimp with no eyes and/or eye sockets were reported. Petroleum products and oil dispersant has been found in the shells of blue crab larvae and pelican eggs. When asked to put a dollar figure on the ecological damage many researchers had but one answer: “Priceless.” [Read more…]
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following letter from Ken Dufty was received just before press time and after two other stories had been scheduled for publication on the county re-zoning issue. Letters from readers with differing views are welcome.
January 9, 2015
It is apparent that the Northampton County Board of Supervisors, as directed and orchestrated by Parliamentarian and Administrator Katie Nunez, has the administrative pedal pressed firmly to the floor and is speeding towards a checkered flag in a race to completely rezone our county into something it was never meant to be. They claim that in order to keep on schedule, the Board will have to vote on the 200-page zoning revision by March 4, 2015. And on February 18 and 25, at the Kiptopeke Elementary School and Occohannock Elementary School respectively, “public information sessions” will be held to “inform” the public on the consensus of the Board on these major changes.
Claiming that the citizens are misinformed, and are indeed misinforming others, regarding the hundreds of changes to the current zoning that are being proposed, the county website directs the citizenry to access the “Citizen Information Paper” recently penned by economic development director Charles McSwain, which was widely distributed to town, village, and other officials throughout the county. This paper is available on the website, and indeed Mr. McSwain spends many pages refuting claims made by interested parties engaged in this debate.
One of the primary issues discussed by Mr. McSwain in his widely distributed public relations piece is the citizens’ claim that a wide variety of invasive uses would be allowed in agricultural lands that are not allowed in the current ordinance. So on page 16 McSwain presents a list of uses in agricultural lands that will be allowed by-right (no notice to abutting landowners, no public hearing), and those that will require a Special Use Permit. So the average person reading this list would believe that what is listed will be the extent of what we could expect if, and I say a big “if,” the proposed zoning ordinance is adopted and survives challenge (which is highly unlikely, I am happy to say). [Read more…]
By KAREN GAY
Cape Charles Wave
February 9, 2015
If you read my previous two articles about Virginia House Bill 1290 you may be wondering how it all turned out. This bill was designed to exempt food prepared or processed in a private home or farm from government inspection provided that the food is sold directly to the end consumer and is labeled with the producer’s name, address, and product ingredients and the disclosure “NOT FOR RESALE — PROCESSED AND PREPARED WITHOUT STATE INSPECTION.”
The bill came up before the House Agriculture Subcommittee February 2, and the meeting was held in a smallish conference room that had standing room only. About half of the non-delegate attendees represented the Virginia Farm Bureau, the Virginia Agribusiness Council, and their supporters. The other half were mostly small farmers who traveled at their own expense to plead their case. Delegate Robert Bell from the 58th District (Charlottesville) introduced the bill. Then it was time for supporters to speak to the committee members.
The first speaker was Duane McIntyre who drove six and a half hours from Russell County. He placed cigarettes, honey, alcohol, and meat on the conference room table as examples of commonly sold items that are known to have safety issues. Bernadette Barber spoke about her son’s febrile seizures as a young child and how he recovered by eating raw honey and milk from her own cow. Store owner and a member of the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors Holder Trumbo said he believes that this bill should be passed so that small farmers can keep their expenses to a minimum and make a living.
It was clear from the opponents that their concern was the sale of raw milk — even though the bill encompasses more than that. Wearing his white lab coat, Dr. Sam Bartle of the Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics said there were no studies on the health aspects of raw milk (although I found several articles in the PubMed library of medical studies). Other speakers were Dr. Tom Massey of the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, Lindsay Reams of the Virginia Farm Bureau, Brad Coperhaven of the Virginia Agribusiness Council, and Sam Towell, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, all of whom spoke out against raw milk in particular. [Read more…]
EDITOR’S NOTE: Last week dauntless social critic Wayne Creed attended a meeting of the Cape Charles Historic District Review Board. His report and rant appear below.
By WAYNE CREED
Cape Charles Wave
February 2, 2015
The Historic District Review Board met January 29 to consider requested modifications to the Board’s earlier approval of plans for a new home at 404 Jefferson Avenue. Owner Gregory Manuel requested permission to add a second-story covered porch on the front of the house, a dormer on the west side, sliding glass doors to access the porch, and additional stairwell windows front and back.
Chairman Joe Fehrer called the session to order at 6 p.m.; however the applicant called to say that he was delayed due to an automobile accident. In the meantime, Mr. Fehrer observed that a large dormer had already been built, and framing for the porch and sliding glass doors had also been started. Those features had never been approved by the Board, which Fehrer said was “disappointing to me.”
Moments later the applicant rushed in, out of breath. Assistant Town Clerk Amanda Hurley, who was taking notes, stopped the meeting to bring him a glass of water. Fehrer then asked him, “Why would you build a dormer outside the scope of the original approval?”
“I don’t mean to overstep my bounds,” responded Manuel. “[Code Official Jeb Brady] said to stop. We did stop when Jeb asked. I will not make a habit of it.”
Fehrer noted that dormers had been approved by the Board in other instances, yet he was skeptical in this case. “They must meet historic guidelines,” he emphasized. Jeb Brady quickly added that there are several examples of dormers throughout the town.
Relative to the second-story covered porch, Fehrer pressed the applicant to explain the necessity of the new design. Manuel stated that he wanted to provide water views, and that “It is a small house. We wanted to increase the space.”
This is the first house in town to incorporate sliding glass doors on the front (façade) of the house, prompting Fehrer to respond that they did not appear to fit in with the historic character of the town. “They are not appropriate for the Historic District. I’m loath to make an approval that will set a precedent,” he said.
Manuel then asked Code Official Brady, “There are examples of this?” He then offered the Board some alternatives that they might find more palatable, everything from adding muttons to changing the design to incorporate French doors. Punctuating the exchange, Manuel’s cell phone rang and rang, as it would several more times during the meeting.
Chairman Fehrer held that he preferred one door and one window rather than sliding or double French doors, because “it would keep it in more of the character of the town.” Manuel retorted, “Have you seen the other houses next to it? Have you seen them?” [See above photo.] [Read more…]