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…]
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…]
By KAREN GAY
Cape Charles Wave
January 26, 2015
Martin Luther King Day was an appropriate day for the many advocacy organizations to come together at the Richmond General Assembly for their Lobby Day. This is a day in which individuals and groups can visit their Senator and Delegate and express their interest in pending legislation. I attended to promote a bill to allow the farmer and individuals the right to create food products in their home for sale to individuals without government intervention. These products would need to be labeled as not government inspected and could not be sold for resale.
House Bill 1290 would allow you or your neighbor to bake a pumpkin pie and sell it to someone who wants to eat home-baked goods but may not be able to make it himself. Older folks who can’t get out of the house to shop could order meals from a neighbor and provide a livelihood for a stay-at-home mom and obtain good nutrition in return. This is the lowest level of commerce, and the ability to fend for oneself in the kitchen should be available to all citizens.
The problem with Virginia regulations is that they are geared to an industrial product in which a farmer has acres of corn, soy, and wheat, or a factory that produces sterile, shrink-wrapped food. There is a whole subculture of individual entrepreneurs for whom these laws do not work. The legal bar to creating a small home-based food business is so high that many people operate small businesses illegally, or look for a low-paid job with a retailer in which they have no personal investment aside from putting in the specified number of hours.
Working for oneself empowers people to think creatively and is the historic foundation of the economy in our country. However, our laws in Virginia stifle the individual in favor of the corporation or corporate farm. I advocate a two-tier system of laws that support both small and large enterprises. This approach would provide maximum choice to individuals who could then decide for themselves what kind of food they prefer to buy. This provides opportunity for everyone.
Let me tell you about two of the people I met who support the Virginia Food Freedom bill: [Read more…]
By DAVID BOYD
January 19, 2015
It is time to disband the PSA.
Originally the PSA (Public Service Authority) was tasked with developing a plan to construct a sewer which would serve Riverside Hospital in Nassawadox, in hopes of keeping that facility in Northampton County. When it became obvious we were going to lose the hospital, the PSA lost its primary purpose. At that point, Northampton County and four towns — Cape Charles, Cheriton, Nassawadox, and Exmore — revamped the PSA to handle wastewater issues in those towns and the surrounding County. The PSA would build or take over in-place wastewater treatment facilities and manage the operations and maintenance of them.
Of interest in this regard is the fact that Eastville, the County seat of Northampton County, chose not to join the PSA. Then the citizens of Cheriton found out what the monthly fee would be to treat their wastewater and they asked to be removed from the plan. Nassawadox and Exmore are no longer included in the plan in its present format either. So, this appears to have evolved into a plan to construct a pipeline to help bail Cape Charles out from its boondoggle of an overdesigned sewer plant, at the expense of Northampton County taxpayers.
The perpetrators of the PSA plan. however, claim the purpose is to attract business along Route 13, which contradicts the intent of the County Comprehensive Plan.
Since then, the PSA has spent more than $130,000 in grants and tax money with nothing to show for it. On September 16, 2013, the PSA held an informational meeting about a proposed tax district to pay for sewerage for commercial properties. At that meeting, more than 90 percent of the speakers said that they did not want a sewer pipe from Route 13 to the Cape Charles wastewater plant, or the related tax district. Immediately following those comments, the PSA voted to spend $70,000 for engineering plans for a pipe to the Cape Charles plant. Someone was not listening. [Read more…]
By KAREN GAY
January 5, 2015
I have recently been reading articles in various news media about the Virginia Food Freedom Act which will come before the Virginia House of Delegates for the January 15, 2015, session. Many of these articles reference a woman in Arlington who lost her job and could not find work no matter how hard she tried. Rather than lose her home she decided that she would try to raise money by making soup and other food and selling it to her neighbors and friends. She was so successful that when a local radio show asked who made the best soup, she was mentioned again and again. This is a classic American tale of triumph over disaster. In the rags to riches movies we’ve seen, this lady would go on to build her business so that she could continue to churn out home-cooked meals for her town and in time grow to provide employment for others.
But how did this story actually turn out? Unfortunately, the health department also heard the news and she was shut down despite the fact that there were no complaints or illnesses. Now, I take no issue with the health department as they are doing what the law requires them to do. But is it really necessary for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to get involved in local neighbor-to-neighbor sales of homemade goods?
House Bill No. 1290 amends five sections of Virginia state law 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.” CLICK to read this Bill.
So why am I interested in this Bill? For several years now I have been investigating the impact food has on my health. I had begun to understand that my health was declining, my weight was increasing, I had no energy, and very little motivation in life. I found it hard to believe that this general malaise was a natural part of aging. I began reading books and blogs and signed up for webinars looking for solutions that referenced scientific studies. Then about a year ago, I stumbled upon the Weston A. Price Foundation which is dedicated to restoring nutrient-dense foods to the human diet through education, research, and activism. (CLICK for website.) Their literature resonated with me and slowly I began following their dietary guidelines. Once I retired I was able to incorporate these guidelines into our daily lives. It has been a slow process but my husband and I are starting to feel more optimistic about our health. I’ll discuss these food principles in another article. As a result of this study I began to realize that for me it is really important to prepare most of our meals at home using traditional foods and avoiding those that have been processed. We’ve been trying to follow the 80/20 rule in which we eat at home 80 percent of the time and enjoy our wonderful local restaurants on occasion. [Read more…]
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The following submission was originally published as a comment to a letter by Robert Toner (CLICK to read). We are republishing it as a Commentary for those who might have missed it.)
By KEN DUFTY
December 29, 2014
Hats off to Mr. Toner for exposing the naked truth about the apparent motives of those digging their spurs into the bellies of the all-too-willing Board of Supervisors (save for Granville Hogg). While marching to the cadence of the “business friendly” chant, the majority of the members of the Board have turned their backs on the citizenry of this great county, targeting especially the middle class and those struggling to stay above the bottom rungs of the economic ladder.
As to Bobby Roberts’ theory that the “whole mess is starting to smell” like GENTRIFICATION, that has been my partial take on the situation since I sat down to read the entire draft zoning ordinance just hours before the March 11, 2014, Public Hearing at Northampton High School (shame on me for not being more involved in county issues before that 12th hour!). The elitists apparently working the strings of the Supervisors (‘cept’n Hogg, who refuses to have those knots tied) seem obsessed with transforming this county into a bustling upscale retirement destination, abandoning the assets which set us far above the cookie-cutter likeness of Virginia Beach and Ocean City.
As the recently-commissioned Competitive Assessment Study recommended, in order to REALLY become more business friendly, the Board should be encouraging and marketing our core industries, the engines driving our local economy. These include agriculture, aquaculture, forestry, small business, and tourism, many of which lead the state and nation in their ranking and growth. The report also directed the Board to cure the real ills stopping growth in the county, such as lack of high-speed Internet, reliable cell phone service, better quality schools, accessible and affordable health care, and the development of a trained and ready workforce.
Instead, the Board has set a course which can only be described as a campaign to gentrify the county, driving taxes higher and ensuring that those on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder will have even a more difficult time remaining on the lower Shore. A few of the examples that support Mr. Roberts’ gentrification theory are: [Read more…]
By BENJAMIN LEWIS
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…]
By ANDY ZAHN
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…]