Cape Charles Wave
June 19, 2013
After days of rain, the sun is bright and sure in a baby blue sky dotted with white sheep. I am itchy to jump in the car and explore.
My map is a scant line-drawing. I aim to travel up the thin gray line that runs parallel to the thick red one. That’s the extent of the plan. I head out, down the long dirt road, through the khaki-colored sea of wheat, turn into Cheriton and end back on the red line. This is the second time I’ve done this: it’s a bit like driving in a corn maze.
I try again, taking a random right off of Route 13. “This is it” I say out loud as I spot a road sign reading “Seaside.” The names we give to things usually make sense. Blackbirds are black. Bluebirds are blue. Pine Street has a row of pines (or at least it did once). Seaside is on the side of the sea.
I drive north with just the right amount of confidence.
It’s a different world back here. Navigating the twists in the road, I drive slowly, spotting boats at-the-ready on pull behinds and stacks of wire boxes six feet high. Even if I’d been taken here blindfolded and set free, I would know the sea was near. The evidence of love for the watery world is all around.
The road curves and opens up to a field of tomatoes, staked-up straight as soldiers, and teeming with green balls. Soon, the fruit will flash like cardinals and the land will be filled with the melodic sounds of Spanish. This language is music to me and it’s sung by a people who have always treated me kindly. Always.
On one side of the road, the draping fronds of corn are knee high. On another, the land is waiting for the farmer-man’s intent. Meanwhile, the copper-colored ibis plunge their beaks into the furrows of dark earth. I stop to watch. [Read more...]
By SHER HOROSKO
June 12, 2013
Outside my window, a fleece of gray wool covers the sky. A white ibis with her pinky-orange beak prowls the ground while a blue bird stands atop his new cedar house. The wheat field has gone golden. I came here a couple of weeks ago to fall into the arms of wonder. I haven’t been disappointed.
The stories of the “born-here’s” captivate me. Your language is filled with color and sound. You may not even know this is so, because you’re steeped in a lifetime of conversation that draws from the storm and bounty of the land and water, that is tuned to the rhythms of harvest and migration.
But I know a living language when I hear it. I came to Cape Charles with ears used to listening to the thin, plain, read “dull” language of people who live as far away from the natural world as they can be. They don’t know when the flounder is running or the sweet corn will be picked. They buy food from six grocery stores, not one. [Read more...]
By DEBORAH BENDER
May 18, 2013
It has come to my attention that the Town of Cape Charles is having budget problems. There is not enough money and too many expenses.
In order to help, I did a little homework. And after speaking with the Town of Onancock’s administrative assistant, I have some advice: Trim the fat, Cape Charles.
According to the 2010 census, Cape Charles has 1,009 full-time residents. The town of Onancock has 1,263 full-time residents.
The Town of Cape Charles has 10 employees in the administrative offices at a salary cost of $509,875.
The town of Onancock has 3 employees in the town office for a total of $195,000 in salaries. That is $314,875 less spent on employees in Onancock than in Cape Charles.
How does Onancock manage with such a small staff? For starters, their town manager is also their town attorney, thus avoiding the price tag for a town lawyer.
The two people who work in the office do all the billing, accounting, customer service, and take turns taking minutes at the town meetings.
They run the entire town office with just three employees! Onancock does not have a town planner, a treasurer, an accountant, a building code enforcer, a community recreation activities director, or an assistant clerk. [Read more...]
By TIMOTHY J. KRAWCZEL
April 29, 2013
Ronald Reagan famously said, “Government is not the solution, government is the problem.”
A Cape Charles town employee told me last summer, “We don’t need anything except money.”
The thinking seemed to be: Money is supreme, run government like a business, we know more about it than you, don’t argue with us, we’re technocrats.
A few weeks ago, my wife and I bought a new fax/printer. It cost $125 and is better than the one we paid $400 for four years ago. Why? Because when there is competition, prices go down and quality goes up. That is the free market.
If the cost of a product is too high or the quality is too low, a consumer is free to buy somewhere else. Business responds by cutting costs and improving quality.
Not so with our Town government. It has a monopoly on service, and the Town Council year after year has allowed monopoly power on setting prices, i.e. tax revenues.
The taxpayer has no choice — pay the tax or face a penalty and a property lien.
This year the money numbers are indisputable. Real estate assessed values are down 20-38 percent, depending on the source of the estimate. Undeniably, the sale value of real estate in Cape Charles has declined from the last assessment five years earlier.
In real terms, many taxpayers have seen the market value of their investments evaporate, and some have lost their life savings.
But what is happening with the cost of local government? Has the Town reduced the burden of taxes in response to lower property values? No. All the Town taxpayers have gotten is a flaccid discussion of whether taxes will go up or stay the same. There has been no discussion of actually cutting tax rates, — of making choices that every homeowner and investor has to make, namely, how to do more with less. [Read more...]
By BRUCE LINDEMAN
Cape Charles Wave
April 22, 2013
Last year, I got to meet one of the volunteers of the New Roots Youth Garden (NRYG), Tammy Holloway. Through my story about picking pecans one Sunday morning, Tammy inquired about the location of these trees that were so giving this past year so that the NRYG kids could pick some for the holiday pecan pie sale.
Having watched the NRYG take shape with interest since its inception, I thought that helping those kids any way I could would be fun. Gardening. Kids. Education. All good stuff.
Then I met Tammy and her husband, Jim, and realized: I really need to help these people!
If you’ve met Tammy, you’ll understand. She and Jim have quickly become stewards of one of the most amazingly beautiful homes in Cape Charles, now Bay Haven Inn, but also active supporters of all things Cape Charles. They truly get what this place is all about and have poured their hearts and souls in to making our little town a better place for us all. [Read more...]
By DONALD RILEY
April 10, 2013
Do the people of Cape Charles want a bathroom in the park that mirrors a 1980s sewer pump station?
Do we want a bathroom that is closed in the winter? Does no one live in Cape Charles in the winter?
Do we want bathrooms with two stalls on each side? Are there safety concerns about that?
Those are some questions Citizens for Central Park might have considered when they decided to construct a bathroom in Central Park. They might have polled the residents of Cape Charles to learn their thoughts.
The location also could have been the subject of community input. Do we want the bathroom at the east end of the park, far from the children’s playground in what becomes a lake when it rains? The floor of the bathroom house will be three feet above the ground in order to avoid flooding. Do we want that kind of towering bathroom? [Read more...]
HOW THE WAVE SEES IT
April 1, 2013
Last week somebody posted the following notice on the Cape Charles Post Office telephone pole:
DID YOU KNOW??
So far our town of Cape Charles has
spent $76,386.01 of your money for
attorney’s fees to respond to the lawsuit
from Old School Cape Charles.
You and every other town resident will
pay for this foolish lawsuit!!!
Ask the Wave . . . why they didn’t
So far, no one has asked the WAVE — but if they did we would refer them to our March 4 analysis, where we wrote: Records show that since July 1 of last year, the Town has spent almost $64,000 on the [Old School lawsuits].
There were legal costs prior to July 1, so the anonymous telephone poll poster probably got it right: total attorney fees of $76,386 and, to be precise, one penny.
If the unknown informant had wanted that fact circulated to the most possible people, he or she could have written a letter to the editor at the WAVE. We would have published it. (Of course, that would have required the writer to have the courage to identify himself.)
But there was even another way: send it for publication in the ANONYMOUS section of the WAVE. We would have published that as well.
Regardless, the unknown writer raises a salient, if unintended, point: why does the Town of Cape Charles, with a population of 1,000, spend so much money on lawyers?
The $76,000 is not the total cost for Old School legal fees. As the WAVE has reported, the Town paid its own attorney $15,000 just to review the contract to convey the Old School to a developer for a price of $10.
That should make the Guinness World Records: legal costs were 1,500 times the sales price.
Worse, Town Council proceeded to ignore the Town attorney’s advice to require a performance bond and a buyback option in the contract. So if the developers fail to carry out their plan to convert the school and parkland into a 17-unit apartment building, there is no penalty, and nothing the Town can do about it.
Except, perhaps, sue. And at what cost?
The $15,000 legal fee also seems money badly spent considering that the Town attorney failed to raise a red flag over language in the contract stating that Purchaser shall not operate the Project as a low-income housing facility under any state or federal program. That got the Town in hot water with fair housing advocates and, as a result, state legislators. After the building was already sold, the Town revised the contract to drop the offending language.
So, adding the $15,000 fee to review the Old School contract to the $76,000 to answer the lawsuit brings the legal cost to the taxpayer to $91,000. [Read more...]
By BRUCE LINDEMAN
Cape Charles Wave
March 28, 2013
Since mid-November, 74 arsons in Accomack County have been recorded. Investigators are trying desperately to find the person or persons responsible and have recently announced an award of up to $5,000 for information leading to the capture of the arsonist(s) from the Virginia Chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators (http://www.vaiaai.com).
Since these fires have been widespread, fighting the blazes has involved many local volunteer fire departments throughout the county –- departments with limited funds to respond to the extraordinary number of calls.
These blazes have stressed many of Accomack’s volunteer fire and rescue personnel to the point where they are running out of supplies and the budget to replace them. To date, these brave men and women have logged 3,700 hours fighting these fires.
How can we help? I asked Billie Jean Miles at the Accomack County Department of Public Safety. Below is the information she sent me.
Volunteer! There are fifteen volunteer fire & rescue stations located in Accomack County. A complete list with contact information can be found at http://www.acdps.net/page/volunteer-fire-and-rescue.
There are various ways one could volunteer and not necessarily be a firefighter and/or EMS provider. Maybe you have some extra time to help clean equipment or fire hoses, assist with one of their upcoming fundraisers, staff the rehab unit, or provide administrative support. Contact your local station to see how you could make a difference.
Give! An account has been established for monetary donations. All donations are tax-deductible. Donations can be dropped off at any Shore Bank location or mailed to Shore Bank (c/o Accomack Firefighter’s Assistance Fund), P.O. Box 920, Onley VA 23418. [Read more...]