Posts belonging to Category State Fair



A tale of two newspapers…

How do you describe an increase in attendance of 5,722 people (2.4%) at an event? Well, that depends on what newspaper you are:

Richmond Times-Dispatch: “Attendance rises slightly at State Fair’s new home”.

The Free Lance–Star: “Virginia State Fair attendance jumps in Caroline”.

Debate amongst yourselves.

Reporter at The Free Lance–Star ignores the fact that the Henrico County Finance Director said the State Fair brings no money into their county.

In what could only be a paid advertisement masquerading as a news story, The Free Lance–Fish Wrap talks about how the State Fair will be bringing in gazillions of dollars into the county:

Screams from thrill-seekers echo over the State Fair of Virginia’s midway as one ride–the Extreme–wavers from side to side, above the crowds.

Music blasts from various games and vendor booths, while the scent seeps out of a tent housing freshly prepared turkey. Visitors to the rabbits, geese and other caged animals point excitedly and take pictures.

These are the rides, animals, sounds and food the fair will offer next year in Caroline County–but will the screams and crowds follow?

State Fair and county officials hope so.

[blah, blah, blah]

If the lazy “reporters” at The Fish Wrap had bothered to read the Richmond Times-Dispatch yesterday, they would have seen this great gem in a story about the fair (H/t: Tom James):

Henrico won’t suffer financial losses from the fair’s departure, said John Vithoulkas, the county’s finance director. Tax revenues from the fair, which draws about a quarter million visitors each year, are minimal. “It’s just a blip,” he said.

The State Fair of Virginia is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Most of its activities are exempt from income taxes because of its mission to promote agriculture and education.

Yeah, the State Fair is a nonprofit, but its president, Curry Roberts, makes more than $200,000 for working 60 hours a week.

At least that’s what he tells the IRS.

More on the State Fair and the gazillions it will be bring into the county.

Gary Wilson in his infinite wisdom said that hotels and other businesses will bring in money to the county…

What hotels and other businesses?

The only hotels that have been built that are going to be around the State Fair are in Hanover County!

The majority of people that go to the State Fair are going to take Interstate 95 to Route 30 and go to the State Fair that way.

If that’s the case, they will not pass a single business in Caroline County except for the fair itself.

If they opt to stay the night, it’s going to be at a hotel in Hanover County. The closest hotel or major business in Caroline County to the fair is at Carmel Church.

Further, if someone wanted to set up a hotel or business on the east side of the fair inside Caroline County, they would need water and sewer treatment.

The lucky bastards at the State Fair are going to get their water and sewer via Hanover County via Caroline County.

If the fair goes bankrupt, Caroline County will be responsible for the bill due to the way the deal was set up. Apparently, Hanover County has a brain and doesn’t trust the State Fair as far they can throw them.

Of course — according to the same terms of that agreement — the pipes that will provide services to fair can, in no way, be used to provide water or sewer treatment to anyone except for the fair.

That means anyone hoping to start a business on the east side of the fair in Caroline County is SOL (and I’m not talking about the Standards of Learning).

And hey, look, another de facto monopoly for Hanover County. Bravo.

And then there’s the problem of inadequate infrastructure in the area.

The majority of the people going to the fair will be coming from Interstate 95 to Route 30. Route 30 at the fair, and to the west of the fair, has been expanded to four lanes.

What about east of the fair?

It’s the small crappy road it’s been for years.

What happens when people from the Middle Peninsula and the Northern Neck go down Route 30 and there’s 10 mile backups?

I’m sure the home owners are going to love the fact that won’t be able to get out of their driveways in that area.

No new businesses in those areas either!

And what about Carmel Church?

If Carmel Church is where the all the money making for the County is going to occur, where’s the infrastructure to handle all those people?

Hell, the I-95 exchange at Carmel Church can’t handle the traffic it gets now — something the people at The Free Lance–Star should know since that fact gets readily pointed out during Board of Supervisors meetings.

How is the exchange going to handle 60,000 more people?

And why is it the county wanted a special tax on admissions at the fair — presumably to offset the costs associated with fair — which has yet to pass in the General Assembly even five years after the fact (link)?

*Sigh*, there goes what little respect I had for The Free Lance–Star.

There wasn’t much left, of course.

The word “fawning” as defined by Merriam-Webster:

1 : to show affection -used especially of a dog
2 : to court favor by a cringing or flattering manner

The word “puff piece” as defined by Wiktionary:

1. A journalistic form of puffery; an article or story of exaggerating praise that often ignores or downplays opposing viewpoints or evidence to the contrary.

This, however, sets a new level for fawning puff piece about the State Fair.

I guess the paper was too lazy to go out and find anyone that might have any opposition to the fair.

Does The Free Lance–Star think that Caroline County residents are too stupid to handle a back and forth debate in a news article?

After all, I’m sure all those reporters and editors at the paper think Caroline is full of banjo-playing yokels. You know, I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen a banjo in person — much less one in Caroline County.

But anyway, the paper is usually too busy talking about the important and pressing issue of the use of golf carts in subdivisions.

I’m sure Caroline residents were dying to read that article.

Here’s the basic point of this fawning puff piece: The State Fair of the Virginia will bring in gazillions of dollars to the county and anyone that says otherwise is a idiot.

Hmm…didn’t people say the same thing about the Fredericksburg Expo Center?

And what’s happening with that now?

Oh wait, the Fredericksburg Economic Development Director said the expo center was “horribly underutilized” and just like everything else, they needed government subsidies — specifically $50,750!

That was in July 2007.

In January 2008, the Fredericksburg City Council was considering giving the Expo Center another $225,000 a year for three years. The only thing that stopped that from happening was Kalahari expressing interest in buying the Expo Center.

I’m sure all those other business owners in Fredericksburg would love some subsidies thrown their way as well.

But I have a feeling they’re not holding their breath in the mean time.

I noticed the reporter for The Free Lance–Star was too lazy to go ask the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office how much it was going to cost to police that area during the fair: The very objection that Sheriff Tony Lippa brought up when the county was first considering the fair and which the supervisors opted to completely ignore.

I noticed the paper didn’t bother asking what the cost of fire/rescue services for the fair were going to be.

Specifically, a fire marshal was supposed to be hired before the fair was to begin: Still waiting on that.

Also, Director Fuzy had requested equipment specifically for the fair and the Emergency Services Commission opted to remove those items from their budget.

Also, in the mean time there won’t be a cell phone tower in the area since Caroline County’s “consultant” — who has a clear conflict of interest — wants Hanover County to have a monopoly over the area.

Oh, I’m curious, how many people have been down to the current state fair grounds?

It reminds me of a certain song by Elvis Presley: Is that what that area of Caroline County is going to look like after 40 years of the fair being here?

Caroline County’s Telecom Consultant: “Conflict of interest? What’s that? …Seriously?”

At the July 22, 2008 meeting of the Caroline County Board of Supervisors, there was a public hearing about a proposed special exemption permit (SPEX-01-2007) for a communications tower in the Reedy Church District.

The proposed location is approximately 1.7 miles away from the soon-to-be new home of the State Fair of Virginia. The company pursuing the new tower is National Communication Towers, LLC (NTC).

AT&T, nTelos (a provider of PCS coverage in Virginia), as well as wireless broadband provider CVA Link, have all sent letters of intent expressing their interest in this communications tower to NCT.

AT&T even sent an engineer to the meeting to express their support for the tower and to provide information on how much more coverage the tower would provide to the surrounding area, including areas that currently have little to no coverage.

Caroline County employs Atlantic Technology Consultants, Inc. (ACT) as consultants on telecommunication issues. The president and chief operating officer (COO) of ATC is George Condyles.

Condyles stated that based on his analysis, this tower in Caroline County is not needed due to the fact that Hanover County is building a tower in Hanover for their emergency communications system.

However, both AT&T and nTelos both refute this assertion and even provided maps showing that the Hanover County tower would provided little areas of new coverage, and might even interfere with existing tower locations in the area.

So it seems that Condyles thinks he knows more about AT&T’s and nTelos’s equipment than the respective companies do: He says that the companies would get just as good coverage from the Hanover County tower as from NCT’s, assertions that both companies refute. Let’s see, who would know more about the way a wireless company’s equipment works? A “consultant” with no experience at the companies, or the people employed by AT&T and nTelos that set up new antennas tens, if not hundreds, of times a year?

Every other sentence out of Condyles’s mouth was about how great the Hanover County tower would be.

At one point, when talking about Hanover’s tower, Condyles stated, “I’m not a business agent of Hanover County, I just live there.”

Well, you do more than just live there Mr. Condyles, you happen to be on Hanover County’s Architectural Review Board and you just happen to list Hanover County as a client on your company’s web page.

Who is the sole beneficiary of Hanover County having the only tower in that area?

Why, that would be Hanover County, of course.

If Hanover County had the only tower, they would have a de facto monopoly in the area.

Caroline County and its citizens wouldn’t benefit, either.

If the NCT tower in Caroline County was built, Caroline County would have free access to place antennas on the tower for its police, fire, public works, and public utilities radio frequencies, per the terms of the special exemption permit. If Hanover County had the only antenna, Caroline County would have to pay Hanover County for the use of their antenna.

The citizens of Caroline County wouldn’t benefit either. AT&T and nTelos won’t use the Hanover County tower because it wouldn’t provide any service to areas that lack service currently. However, the NCT tower in Caroline County would. The NCT tower would get AT&T cell phone coverage to the Route 301/Route 30 intersection as well as several miles of Route 301 north of the intersection as well.

Further, since the NCT tower already has a letter of intent from a wireless broadband provider, CVA Link, the NCT tower would provide broadband service to currently unserved areas of Caroline County, something that the Hanover County tower wouldn’t.

And if Virginia Broadband wants to provide coverage to that area of Caroline County, which would they prefer: a tower in Hanover County or one in Caroline County? Well, I would guess a tower inside Caroline County since that would provide more coverage for Caroline County (duh).

State Fair of Virginia costing Caroline County more money…

For “contractual services”? Eh?

Subsection of line item #032500-3160 “Other Contractual Services”:

“State Fair Contractual Services”:

Department [Fire/Rescue] Request: $11,760

County Admin Recommends: $11,760

Hooray.

And the Department of Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Management seems to think they’re unprepared for a incident at the State Fair considering they requested the following (the items weren’t approved):

DFR 06-01″Hard Access Response Units (2) State Fair”: 65,100

DFR 06-03 “Mini Pumper Fire Unit – State Fair”: $235,000

Funnies from the Caroline County Emergency Services Commission

Well, it would be funny if it wasn’t so damn serious.

I’ve tried to edit these minutes for brevity (brevity being the soul of wit and all) and I divided the comments into different categories. Still, it’s still pretty long. I’ve also included links to all the minutes that have been published at the end of the post.

County-wide:

Grants:

November 09, 2005 minutes:

We applied or a SAFER grant, but we were not successful in getting the grant. The county has enrolled in eCivis, a web based grant alerting company. County will hire a part-time grants writer/manager.

And who would that be?

May 10, 2006:

GRANTS ARE AVAILABLE AND NOT BEING TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF.

September 06, 2007:

Bill Wick: People at the meeting (CCEUO) said that when applying for grants, Caroline had too much money and were being turned down for the grants.

Chris Corbin: in my position with the state I sit as an observer on the REMS grants review board. The last grant cycle there were several grants submitted from Caroline. A member of the REMS council Grant committee, who is also the Caroline volunteer representative on the REMS Board, mentioned that the items were 100% funded in the CIP. The County tells agencies they must put in for grants to be considered in the CIP. Grants committee did not view that favorably. Other jurisdictions demonstrated more of a need. Grants were turned down. That is the agreement between the county and the agencies that they have to apply for a grant.

On cross-training dispatchers:

December 14, 2005:

MIKE BROWN: WOULD URGE EVERYONE TO UNDERSTAND THAT IN ORDER TO AVOID THE COMPENSATION FUND LOSES, YOU HAVE TO PUT A LOT OF MONEY UP FRONT FOR CROSS TRAINING. THE COUNTY HAS TO STOP BEING SO CHEAP. ASKING PEOPLE TO TRAIN AT TWO DIFFERENT LEVELS NOW, WE HAVE OPENINGS BECAUSE PEOPLE DO NOT WANT TO DO THE JOB FOR THE LOW PAY.

On staffing and volunteerism:

December 07, 2005:

Volunteers only get a $25 county sticker and it costs nearly $4,000 to go from EMT-Basic to ALS provider.

[…]

David [Storke, Chairman]: How does King George feel about coming into Caroline?

Steve [Lynd, Captain, Ladysmith Rescue Squad]: I am only a front line Firefighter/Paramedic and I can not answer for the bosses, they may not like it.

David: How does King George send in mutual aid?

Steve: We have 2 24 hour trucks plus the volunteers staff trucks. If we have a one truck available, then we will run mutual aid calls. Other counties have put restrictions on running mutual aid in Caroline County.

David: Does King George charge?

Steve: No, Spotsylvania and Hanover do, Orange will January 1, 2006.

[…]

Port Royal VFD: Frankie Dietrich, Fire Chief: We need recruitment and retention, we have volunteers that live in King George county and get no benefit from the Caroline County sticker.

Company 6/Rescue 6: Upper Caroline VFD: Steve Parrish, Fire Chief:
Volunteers must participate in 240-250 hours of training to work on an ambulance, people do not have the time to spend it on training, but they need it to serve the citizens. Intermediate is over another 600 hours and Paramedic another additional 600 hours and they all have to do continuing education hours. Some classes are free, but most of the cost money, some of the stations pay for training, some do not.

January 11, 2006:

COMMISSIOINER MIKE BROWN STATED HIS NEIGHBOR WAITED FOR 1 ½ HOURS FOR AN AMBULANCE ON SUPERBOWL SUNDAY LAST YEAR WHILE HAVING A HEART ATTACK.

April 11, 2007:

6300 EMS calls last year, 269 volunteers 24% decrease from 2005.

On the Board of Supervisors:

April 12, 2006:

MR. BROWN: THE BOS IS POLITICAL AND DOES NOT WANT TO MAKE A DECISION. IF THE AGENCIES LIKE THE [station replacement] POLICY THEY NEED TO TALK TO BOS.

May 10, 2006:

THE BOARD IS ALREADY FUNDING TRUCKS 100% BUT WE WILL HAVE TO PARK THEM OUTSIDE. THEY HAVE BEEN DRAGGING THEIR FEET. THE PRICE GOES UP EVERYTIME THEY DRAG THEIR FEET.

[…]

DENNIS WHITTAKER, MY TERM ENDS AT THE END OF JUNE AND I DID NOT LOOK TO BE REAPPOINTED, WANT TO THANK EVERYONE, I AM FRUSTRATED AS WELL.

June 14, 2006:

FRANKIE CHAPMAN ASKED WHY THE COUNTY COULD FIND MONEY FOR OTHER THINGS, BUT NOT WHAT IS NEEDED. MIKE BROWN COMMENTED WHEN HE CAME ON HE WAS SOLD ON THE ESC MAKING THINGS UNIFORM AND PREDICTIBLE FOR THE BOS, WHICH IS NOT HAPPENING. EACH VOLUNTEER NEEDS TO CALL THEIR BOS MEMBER. THE ESC WAS PUT IN AS A BUFFER BETWEEN THE VOLUNTEERS AND THE BOS, BUT THE ESC IS NOT BEING ALLOWED TO DO WHAT THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO DO.

July 17, 2006:

ART SINGER: THE LONGER THE BOS TAKES TO GET STARTED THE MORE EXPENSIVE IT WILL BE AND MORE STATIONS WILL NEED TO BE REPLACED AT ONCE TIME.

December 13, 2006:

ROBERT MITCHELL: SECOND ISSUE. I WORK AS YOU KNOW FOR HANOVER COUNTY. I HAVE BEEN APPROACHED BY MEMBERS OF OUR SUPPORTING STATIONS IN HANOVER COUNTY WANTING TO KNOW WHY THE EMS SIDE OF THE ADMINISTRATION IN CAROLINE, HOW THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS AND THE COUNTY ADMINSTRATOR COULD ALLOW WHAT IS GOING ON AND NOT MAKE SOME TYPE OF RECOMMENDATION TO FIX IT. THEY ARE LIABLE TO PROVIDE THE SERVICE. IF WE ARE LACKING IN VOLUNTEER STAFF I AM NOT GOING TO KNOCK IT A BIT, WE CAN’T BEAT 24/7 BECAUSE WE ARE ALL VOLUNTEER. THE PROBLEM IS IT TAKES TIME FOR OUR ADMINISTRATION AS FAR AS THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS AND THE COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR TO REALIZE IN ORDER TO DO THAT THEY NEED TO BEGIN GIVING INCENTIVES OR COME UP WITH A WHOLE LOT OF MONEY FOR A PAID STAFF. THAT IS COMING FROM OUTSIDE OF THE COUNTY, WHICH I HEAR THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE FROM EVERYWHERE ELSE: HOW CAN THE ADMINISTRATION AS FAR AS THE SUPERVISORS AND THE COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR LET THIS HAPPEN.

How can they indeed.

June 21, 2007:

Glen Wood: How big is the problem?

Mike Brown: The # of volunteers is not dropping off, the # of calls is increasing and the # of volunteers to handle the calls is not increasing.

Robert Mitchell: Everybody has the problem. We strive to come up with ideas for better service, but no one looks at if we do the new service, what it will cost. Public Education is a must. Our public is coming from areas where they have services around the corner; no one informs them they are moving into a volunteer system. The county has low paying jobs, so people have to work outside of the county. Also people inside the county can not leave their jobs anymore to run calls.

Mike Brown: The BOS won’t want to tell the public this now. Wait until mid November.

Politics over public safety, ain’t it great? Continued:

[…]

Frankie Dietrich: […] Ed’s office does not have the people to do these jobs. BOS needs to support positions – the volunteers are stressed out already.

July 11, 2007:

STEVE LYND FOR LADYSMITH RESCUE: WE HAVE SOME MEMBERS THAT ARE UPSET THAT THE MONEY FOR THE COMPUTERS FOR REVENUE RECOVERY WAS CUT OUT. WE NEED THE TOOLS TO DO THE RECOVERY.

ED FUZY COMMENTED: THE COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR CUT THEM OUT, I ASKED THAT THEY BE ADDED BACK IN, BUT IT WAS JUST ME ASKING, THE VOLUNTEERS DID NOT ASK FOR THEM SO THE BOARD DID NOT GIVE THEM BACK. IT WOULD HELP IF THE VOLUNTEERS HAD SPOKEN TO THEIR BOARD MEMBER BEFORE HAND. DISCUSSION FOLLOWED ABOUT STEPS TO TAKEN: VOLUNTEERS GO TO ED, ED GOES TO THE ESC, AND ESC GOES TO THE BOS. ED AND THE ESC ARE STUMBLING BLOCKS BETWEEN THE VOLUNTEERS AND THE BOS.

On vehicle replacement:

July 17, 2006:

JACK MARMADUKE: BOWLING GREEN FIRE WILL TAKE DELIVERY OF A NEW TRUCK THAT WILL COST AND ADDITIONAL $60,000 TO GET IT INTO SHAPE TO RUN IT. THERE ARE NO RESERVE TRUCKS IN THE COUNTY; RIGHT NOW THE VOLUNTEERS WILL GO OUT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT TO FIX A TRUCK.

IF THE COUNTY OWNS THEM 100% THEN THE VEHICLE WILL BE PUT OUT OF SERVICE UNTIL THE COUNTY “CAREER” CAN GET IT FIXED.

BILL WICK: WHAT ARE THE BOS CONCERNS?

ED FUZY: THEY NEED 100% OF TITLE TO BORROW MONEY FOR VEHICLE PURCHASES.

EARL SHARP: IF IT IS A COLLATERAL ISSUE FOR BUYING FIRE TRUCKS AND AMBULANCES THEN THERE IS A PROBLEM. THE COUNTY IS IN WORSE SHAPE THAN WE THOUGHT.

On the County Administrator:

December 13, 2006:

STEVE PARRISH: WANTED TO BRING YOU UP TO DATE ON A SITUATION THAT I’VE BEEN FACED WITH. ON LAST MONDAY THERE WAS A CONSTIUENT MEETING AT MY FIRE STATION. IN ATTENDENCE WAS MR. TAYLOR, MR. ASHCRAFT AND ANOTHER PERSON FROM HIS STAFF. A PERSON FROM THE AUDIENCE ASKED THE QUESTION OF WHETHER THERE WAS GOING TO BE ANY INCENTIVES FOR THE VOLUNTEERS IN THE COUNTY? BECAUSE IT SEEMS AS THOUGH THE VOLUNTEERS ARE DROPPING OFF AND THERE WAS’NT REALLY ANYTHING THERE FOR AS AN INCENTIVE FOR PEOPLE TO JOIN US. A COMMENT WAS MADE BY MR. ASHCRAFT THAT THERE WOULD BE NONE. THAT THE VOLUNTEERS WERE NOT DOING THEIR JOB AND UNTIL THEY DID HE WOULD NOT EVEN CONSIDER IT AND I’LL DROP IT AT THAT. I JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW. (DUE TO MICROPHONE ISSUES, STEVE PARRISH WAS ASKED TO REPEAT THE COMMENT, WHICH CAUSED FURTHER DISCUSSION TO OCCUR) STEVE PARRISH WENT ON TO EXPLAIN: THEY WERE IN MY BUILDING, USING MY MEETING ROOM; WE WERE ALSO HAVING A MEETING IN THE BAY AREA. WHEN WORD WAS BROUGHT TO US WHAT HAD TRANSPIRED, I ALSO HAD A MUTINY ON MY HANDS. I DON’T APPRECIATE THAT COMMENT FROM MR. ASHCRAFT AND I HAVE NOT HAD A CHANCE TO GET AHOLD OF HIM YET TO TELL HIM. PAM CHENAULT ASKED IF HE ELABORATED ON WHAT HE MEANT BY THAT. STEVE SAID THAT JUST THE MATTER OF FACT THAT THE VOLUNTEERS WERE NOT DOING THEIR JOBS SO HE WAS NOT EVEN CONSIDERING INCENTIVES. I AM CONCERNED ABOUT AN ATTITUDE LIKE THAT BECAUSE VOLUNTEERS ARE VERY IMPORTANT IN THIS COUNTY. THERE IS NO WAY THE COUNTY COULD AFFORD TO REPLACE EVERY VOLUNTEER IN THE COUNTY. WHETHER WE DO A GOOD JOB OR NOT A GOOD JOB OR WHETHER WE FAIL TO ANSWER CALLS FROM TIME TO TIME, YOU CAN NOT GET AWAY WITH NOT HAVING VOLUNTEERS IN THE COUNTY. I HAVE ALL THE FAITH IN THE WORLD IN YOU FOLKS, BUT JUST AM CAREFUL WHAT YOU SAY ABOUT VOLUNTEERS. THESE FOLKS ARE NOT PAID, THEY SPEND LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS OF TIME TO RUN CALLS AND GIVE A SERVICE TO THE COUNTY AND I WAS DISAPPOINTED TO HEAR A TOP OFFICIAL IN THE COUNTY MAKE A REMARK LIKE THAT. I’LL NOT COMMENT ANY FURTHER.

[…]

STEVE EXPLAINED IT WAS A CONSTIUENT MEETING THAT THE PUBLIC COULD COME TO, IN ORDER TO DISCUSS HAPPENINGS IN THE COUNTY. ONE OF THE FOLKS IN THE AUDIENCE ABOUT INCENTIVES FOR THE VOLUNTEERS AND THAT WAS THE COMMENT HE PASSED ON.

[…]

STEVE SAID EVERYONE IN THE MEETING WAS FLABBERGASTED AT THE COMMENT, WHERE IS HE COMING FROM WITH THIS, THAT WAS THE END OF IT. BILL WICK ASKED IF MR. TAYLOR WAS FLABBERGASTED WITH THE COMMENT STEVE SAID THAT STRANGELY MR. TAYLOR HAD GOTTEN UP AND LEFT THE MEETING WHEN THIS CAME ABOUT.

Apparently he wasn’t flabbergasted enough to say anything to Ashcraft after he insulted every volunteer in the county… Continued:

[…]

ROBERT MITCHELL: THAT IS NEWS THAT I JUST HEARD FROM STEVE, BUT I BACK HIM 100%, THERE IS NO REASON WHY THE ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF SHOULD SPREAD THAT TYPE OF RUMOR. IT DOES KILL MORAL FOR THE VOLUNTEERS. WE HAVE A HARD ENOUGH TIME TRYING TO MAKE CALLS THAT WE DO, WE DON’T NEED ADDED KICKS IN THE SHINS TO BRING US DOWN.

[…]

BRENT MAIN: I AGREE WITH BOTH CHIEF 5 AND CHIEF 6 ON THIS ISSUE AND AGAIN IT GOES TO SHOW, AS THIS COMMISSION IS AWARE, EXACTLY WHAT THE ADMINISTRATOR THINKS ABOUT THE VOLUNTEERS. HE DID IT TO SPARTA, NOW HE HAS GONE AND DONE IT UP AT 6 WITH A COMMENT, THAT IS NOT GOOD FOR ANY OF US.

Lack of a fire marshal:

Preface: 09/14/2005, The Free Lance–Star: Caroline approves Fair plan:

The county will spend about $48,200 for services such as a fire marshal required during the first year of the fair and its two other events, according to Finance Director John Sieg.

The fair is currently slated to open in 2009 but still no fire marshal. Anyway, back to the minutes, March 14, 2007:

ED FUZY EXPLAINED THAT THERE IS A FIRE CODE THAT IS ENFORCED IN CAROLINE COUNTY, BUT WE AS A COUNTY DO NOT HAVE THE ABILITY TO ENFORCE THE CODE, WE RELY ON THE STATE FIRE MARSHALL’S OFFICE. MOST COUNTIES HAVE ADOPTED A CODE.

June 13, 2007:

#8 Adopt a Fire Code: Mike Brown: Is this in progress? Ed: Kind of in progress. Decided not to move it forward to BOS when the County Administrator decided not to fund the Fire Marshall position. Down side: the state fair is coming and whether they plan on funding it before then. Mike Brown: Anyone have an objection to county fire code? We agree with having a Fire Code, but we have to have a Fire Marshall in order to enforce it.

Frog Level Volunteer Fire Department

On their capital improvement project requests:

October 11, 2006:

DELETE MINI PUMPER: DO NOT HAVE THE MANPOWER OR FUNDS TO SUPPORT THE STATE FAIR WITH SPECIAL EQUIPMENT OR STAFFING. WILL PROVIDE COVERAGE AS WE DO NOW FOR OUR COMMUNITY.

Sparta Volunteer Fire Department

Sparta Fire Station:

November 09, 2005 minutes:

Art Singer: background on the [station replacement] policy, the policy was developed with a committee of volunteers and the Director, the volunteers felt they wanted a stake in new facilities and remodeling. The Director came up with a formula based on percentile so that if a volunteer company could meet certain criteria within that percentile, then there could be co-ownership or if the volunteer company was in such financial state that they could not contribute hardly anything at all then the building would be a complete county owned facility. Example: Some stations that need to be replaced have already purchased land in different locations for a new station. Sparta station 4 at the top of the list. Based on the criteria in the program, if it meets that criteria it will be one of the first to be replaced, because of the fact that is sits in a flood plain and has had damage from rising waters, they have outgrown the facility and it is a dated facility. They have purchased property on the top of the hill across from Salem Baptist Church, but they want a stake in the building.

So, why is the county planning on spending $700,000 for land? Continued:

[…]

Art Singer advised that the time frame is critical. The Board did set aside $1 million dollars in the 2006 budget for Sparta’s building, but turned it over to the Commission, we need to act quickly so we do not lose the funds.

Yes, timing is critical, too bad it’s been over two years and ground hasn’t even been broken.

October 11, 2006:

SPARTA FIRE STATION’S $1,000,000 IS STILL IN THE CIP AND THEY HAVE BEEN GIVEN PERMISSION TO START THE PROCESS FOR A NEW STATION. INCLUDED AN EXTRA $500,000 DUE TO THE 1 MILLION ESTIMATE BEING SEVERAL YEARS OLD.

Still waiting… Continued:

SPARTA IS OUTSIDE OF THE STATION REPLACEMENT POLICY AND WILL NOT BE HELD UP.

*Snort*

October 23, 2006:

THE 1 MILLION IS ALREADY APPROVED. $500,000 BEING ASKED FOR 2007/2008. DISCUSSION FOLLOWED ABOUT AMOUNT. STAYED WITH $500,000.

March 14, 2007:

Ed Fuzy: the committee researching architects for the Sparta station has chosen DJG as the preferred vendor. They are from Williamsburg; the recommendation went to the BOS last night.

Port Royal Volunteer Fire Department

Fire Engine/Station Replacement:

December 07, 2005:

Commissioner David Storke: If you could write a check to fix the system, what would you write it for?

Frankie: A new building, the duty crews have no were to go on Saturday nights because of Bingo. Bingo is our biggest headache, but we need to do it to make money for a new building.

David: Is it fair that you need to earn money to build your building?

Frankie: We own the majority of our equipment and got the money through BINGO, Turkey shoots and dinners. We take pride in the work done to get the stuff, but it is a drain on the volunteers because they are raising money instead of running calls.

October 16, 2007:

Port Royal Fire: Ed Fuzy: asking for replacement of engine, engine long over due, 1st time it was due was 1998, have been putting it off because their building will not accommodate a newer piece of apparatus. Anticipating $592,000 will have to be custom made to fit into bay. Also looking to replace rescue unit 3. Discussion followed.

Why not build a bigger building? Wait, I remember the title of my blog… Continued:

November 13, 2007:

Port Royal Fire-Rescue: J.P. Wilkerson

  • have been doing Bingo, pay for Fire Department support, no longer have the membership to support it, will probably stop doing it, only 4-5 members living in the first due
  • have been putting money in the bank for building addition, but the land the firehouse sits on belongs to the Town of Port Royal
  • Don’t have the day time support, not opposed to county staffing, but have no facilities: no bunk rooms, kitchen being remodeled
  • New apparatus does not fit in the building

December 6, 2007:

CIP: Move Port Royal’s equipment to another year, can’t get new equipment in current building.

So Port Royal won’t get a replacement for an engine that is “long over due” as the Director of Department of Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Management puts it! I hate this county…

Frog Level Rescue Squad

You tell me please:

November, 13, 2007:

Frog Level Rescue: Ed Fuzy

  • in May the leadership of this agency changed and the county took over the budget for the remainder of the year
  • Went to low on budget last year, lowered due to misappropriation of funds

All the minutes that have been posted:

Sitreps on Haymount, YMCA, and State Fair.

(Sitrep = situation report)

The Free Lance–Star: Big plans, big projects, big updates page:

Haymount (Caroline)

Haymount, a 4,000-home planned subdivision near Rappahannock Academy in Caroline County, has not been built despite being approved in 1992. Caroline’s planning director said Haymount is being sold to a developer who does similar projects. The 1,600-acre project is designed as a traditional town with an elementary school and a mix of retail and commercial.

I would kill for some decent infrastructure (roads and broadband) around here. Hurry up and build!

New YMCAs

[…] The YMCA hopes to break ground in Caroline County late this year.

At the cost of $3,200,000 to the county. At least one Supervisor had the sense to vote against this.

Remember this when the Board wants to raise your real estate taxes to pay for a school, public safety building, or the Sparta Fire House.

STATE FAIR

The plan: State Fair officials bought 348 acres in southern Caroline County in 2003. At the time, they talked about holding the fair at its new home as early as 2006; the event is currently held at the Richmond Raceway Complex.

Status: Now, the earliest it will open at The Meadow, birthplace of Triple Crown winner Secretariat, is 2009.

Hopefully, it’ll be 2019.

This is a project where the current Chairman of the Board of Supervisors has said that if the fair brings in money for the county, the county will end up losing money from the state via the composite index.

And what economic benefit is it going to bring? There are no new businesses on the Caroline County side of The Meadow. The roads have been expanded on the Hanover side of The Meadow (going on Route 30 from I-95 to The Meadow) but the road going to Route 301 has not! I’m sure that intersection (Route 30 and Route 301) is going to look great when the fair opens — hey, just like Richmond!

The county has agreed to be responsible for the bills for utilities from Hanover County if the fair goes bankrupt. Of course, the county is acting as the middle-man to no benefit to the county. Too bad that none of the businesses that might want to set up (none have, however) in Caroline County (besides the fair) have access to said utilities.

Has anyone been to the site of the fair in Richmond? Make sure you have a gun with you if you go…

Hey, at least one Supervisor had the sense to vote against the fair (and two voted against the special permit for ticket sales for the fair).

Hey! The same Supervisor voted against both the YMCA and State Fair!

This puts the "idiots" in I’m Surrounded By Idiots.

The Free Lance-Star: Caroline seeking to boost tourism:

Caroline County expects more than 200,000 tourists will stop by annually once its visitor center opens at Carmel Church this August.

Based on what study?

They’re saying that 547.9 people a day are going to go to the visitors center!

They’re saying that eight times the county’s population will go every year!

How many of these people are just going to go in, go to the bathroom, and leave? How much money is that going to cost? This is going to drive customers away from McDonald’s and Burger King which actually bring money into the county!

So Caroline administrations are preparing by taking applications for the county’s first full-time tourism manager, a position that will probably be filled this month.

“By starting now, they can help get that space in working order so when the public comes they can have a wonderful experience,” said Gary Wilson, Caroline’s economic development director.

Caroline currently has a tourism director, who also manages the county’s tourism Web site. So far, about 65 people have applied for the additional manager position, which will pay between $36,145 and $54,468, plus benefits.

Whoever is hired will not only manage the $2.4 million, 5,000-square-foot center just off Interstate 95, but also help promote such attractions as the State Fair, which opens next year at The Meadow, birthplace of Triple Crown winner Secretariat.

Remember this when the county says they have to borrow money and raise your taxes to pay for a school! They had plenty of money for the visitors center!

There’s some serious money per square footage too:

Visitors Center: $2,400,000 / 5,000 square feet = $480 per square foot

Ladysmith Elementary School: $19,800,000 / 100,000 square feet = $198 per square foot

County Administration Building: $3,700,000 / 18,150 square feet = $204 per square foot

Of course, the county administration building will only hold 20 full-time personnel.

“The State Fair is not just two weeks a year, which is what most people think,” Watson said. “It will be doing fun things all the time.”

Uh…I’m going to assume that’s supposed to be “Wilson”; but I demand a correction nevertheless! :)

Really, what are the State Fair grounds going to do when the Fair isn’t going?

Hasn’t Fredericksburg resorted to subsidizing the Expo Center in Fredericksburg?

Other Caroline County attractions include the 40,000-square-foot Virginia Sports Center, a popular venue for youth sports tournaments; Pendleton and Mattaponi Springs golf courses; and the historic town of Bowling Green, which is near where Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth was killed.

What about the Four Winds Club’s Public Golf Course? It always seems that Port Royal is forgotten about (heck, Calvin Taylor took credit for Pendleton and Mattaponi Springs as the first golf courses in the county when Four Winds has been here for decades!).

What historic tourism events are there in Bowling Green? I can’t think of any. The Old Mansion is a bed and breakfast and isn’t open to the public.

The only historic site that I can think of is the Jackson Shrine (hey, isn’t that in the Port Royal district, too?).

There’s the Lyceum that hasn’t been restored in Port Royal too. There’s the two surviving chimneys of Dorothy Roy’s home. None of the historic structures in Port Royal are open to the public that I’m aware. All the old homes are currently occupied.

Uh…John Wilkes Booth was killed a heck of a lot closer to Port Royal than Bowling Green. Too bad the visitors center is on the other side of the county! Besides, all there is to see where Booth was killed is a sign by the road…

Looks like the visitors center was built in the wrong part of the county!

Wilson said there’s no way to predict the economic impact the new tourism manager and visitor center will have, but he expects the county will see an uptick in meals- and lodging-tax revenues. They’ll also make it easier to recruit new tourist attractions, as well as other businesses, since his office will move from Bowling Green to the center.

“Of course not, we can’t predict how much money this will waste.” Or as Jeff Sili has said, “[t]he Visitor Center does not have to be just a fancy office for Wilson and a way to move county employees out of our county seat to further undermine the business climate”.

I guess Gary Wilson needs a pretty nice office to spend time editing Wikipedia.

“I-95 is like a river with money rolling through it,” he said. “We need to be able to dip into that river and bring that money into the county. We’ve never had an opportunity to do that before.”

Permanent top post through election day (scroll down for newer stuff)

Here are some quotes to consider going into election day:

Sheriff’s race:

“I’m going to stand for loyalty, integrity, pride, professionalism and accountability,” said Lippa, a 24-year veteran of the state police. “I think the citizens of this county deserve that.”

Lippa, 49, said he wants to see Caroline sheriff’s deputies taking advantage of the same training and education as the troopers he supervises at the state police field office in Bowling Green.

“They need to be a step above the crime and the criminals,” Lippa said. “The more education they can have, the better they will be.”

[…]

“I don’t know what Tony’s talking about, I’ve never been arrested,” Johnson said.

The former state police sergeant has already moved into his new office, appointed a command staff, promoted from within and hired experienced law enforcement officers from around the region to join him when he officially becomes Sheriff Lippa tomorrow morning.

The 24-year veteran of the Virginia State Police trampled 12-year incumbent Sheriff Homer Johnson in the November election, winning by 66 percent of the vote.

Now, Lippa, 48, wants to make sure he doesn’t let voters down.

“Obviously, the people of Caroline thought it was time for drastic changes, and that’s what I’m here to do,” he said.

One of his first moves was to hire two new female deputies–and he hopes to add a third.

“The Sheriff’s Office hasn’t had a female deputy on patrol in 12 years,” he said.

He’s also beefing up the school resource program by adding a third deputy to work high school hallways when the other two are off duty or called away for court.

Lippa has already moved the Sheriff’s Office administrative staff out of their tiny cramped quarters and into the former county prosecutor’s office.

He’s been talking with county officials about moving the entire Sheriff’s Office to the old courthouse building now that the new courthouse complex is finished.

Just weeks after the election, he asked for resumes from all 41 Sheriff’s Office employees and has reappointed each of them, in some cases promoting officers or moving them into specialized areas to utilize their expertise.

He’s also ordered new shirts, with colorful county-seal patches emblazoned on the sleeves, for everyone in the department.

“There was concern about morale with a new sheriff taking over, but morale has been tremendous,” Lippa said.

Lippa hired an old friend as his second-in-command at the Sheriff’s Office. Former state police Special Agent Mike Hall will take over as major on Friday.

Hall headed up the regional drug task force in recent years, and tackling drug problems is one of Lippa’s first priorities.

Sheriff’s Capt. Scott Moser, formerly Johnson’s second-in-command, will take over the department’s investigative unit.

Spotsylvania sheriff’s Detective Bobby Jones has also moved to Lippa’s team as an investigator, bringing 21 years’ experience.

“I’m trying to branch out and put good people in the areas they know best,” he said.

Commonwealth’s Attorney’s race:

  • Richmond Times-Dispatch, November 1, 2007:

Shelia Mae Boone pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of federal bank fraud for writing one $1,000 check to herself on the account of the lawyer for whom she worked.

That lawyer is Harvey Latney Jr., who works part time as the commonwealth’s attorney in Caroline County in addition to his private law practice. Boone was his only employee.

U.S. District Court documents on Boone describe a period of at least two years when she was forging checks on bank accounts set up by Latney for money he was holding for clients and estates he was handling.

[…]

A statement filed with her guilty plea yesterday states that she stole a total of $92,930.42, including the $1,000. That leaves at least $178,000 not accounted for by Boone’s plea agreement or statement.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael R. Gill declined to comment on the case.

Boone’s lawyer, Arnold Henderson, said he agreed with federal prosecutors that the single bank-fraud count “was the appropriate charge to bring” against his client.

“I don’t know what’s truly missing from Mr. Latney’s accounts,” Henderson said. “My investigation does not reveal that Ms. Boone had any involvement above [the $92,930.82].”

George Chabalewski, counsel for the Virginia State Bar, confirmed last month that the bar has opened an investigation of Latney because of the missing money. Chabalewski would not say who initiated the bar complaint or provide other details.

[…]

Members of the Williams family had been complaining at least since last year about how long Latney was taking to settle the estate. One of the city’s commissioners of accounts started looking into the complaints and eventually discovered money was missing.

Board of Supervisors:

Caroline County’s future is unfolding as construction begins on the new Pendleton subdivision.

The 3,500-home neighborhood is going up on nearly 1,200 acres in Ladysmith on U.S. 1 and State Route 639 between two other subdivisions, Lake Caroline and Lake Land’Or.

[…]

“I don’t think it will bring citizens who will be a burden to the county,” he said. “The houses are nice houses. They are probably middle and upper-income houses, and will probably bring citizens who will enhance the county.”

As opposed to us lowly serfs in the Port Royal district I guess…

Hawaii may be famous for its sand and surf, but Stafford County Supervisor Bob Gibbons says he’s more interested in the island state’s roads.

Gibbons is one of three supervisors in the Fredericksburg area who plan to fly to Honolulu next month to attend the National Association of Counties’ five-day annual conference.

But Gibbons and Caroline County Supervisors Wayne Acors and Calvin Taylor say the July 15-19 session will be a working trip.

“Hawaii is one of the leading states on the program they have done for their rural roads,” Gibbons said. “We are going to look at them and try to understand how they did it.”

[…]

Most supervisors in the Fredericksburg area opted out of the trip for varying reasons. Spotsylvania County, for instance, discontinued its NACO membership last year.

[…]

Stafford and Caroline counties will pay $415 for the conference registration for their supervisors, plus costs for meals and transportation. Caroline’s supervisors will fly on economy seats for $740 each. Stafford officials were still unsure about travel costs yesterday.

[…]

Officials in both counties said they could not verify hotel costs, which range from $179 to $295, according to an online hotel reservation form for attendees.

Advertisements for one of the hotels, The Royal Hawaiian, state that “the beach is at the guest’s disposal.” But supervisors say they’ll spend most of the day in conferences, soaking up information instead of rays.

[…]

Still, Caroline’s decision to fund the trip could pose political risks. Some residents have criticized supervisors for considering a 2 percent gas tax to fund transportation improvements.

Supervisors said the county’s road needs cost much more than a trip to Hawaii.

“You’re not going to pave roads for $3,500,” Taylor said.

Really? Then why does your own budget say that $12,703 was spent on travel expenses, along with $1,411 for the NACO membership, and $2,943 for “meals and food supplies”? Can you pave roads with $17,057?

Caroline supervisors voted 4-1 last night to rezone a 377-acre farm to allow the State Fair to move to the county by 2007.

[…]

Jayne Massie, who lives in the Reedy Church District, said she is worried about traffic backups on State Route 30. Fair officials say most traffic will come from Interstate 95, but Massie disagreed.

[…]

“The worksheet indicated that the State Fair’s move to Meadow Farm may not be a direct revenue generator for the county, but it should not be a source significant cost either,” Sieg said.

But Sieg’s numbers don’t include Sheriff Tony Lippa’s projected financial impact on his department. Lippa urged the board to delay a vote on the fair.

“If we should have an event that includes mutual aid, who’s gonna reimburse us?” he asked.

Lippa also thought he and Fire and Rescue Director Ed Fuzy should have power to sign off on security plans for all fair events.

“You’re going to give up control if you don’t have that condition in there,” he said.


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