Letters to the editor – January 25th, 2017

Published 9:05 pm Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Planning not to run

Editor, Smithfield Times

It is with mixed emotions I announce my intention to not seek re-election after my term expires in 2017. I am announcing early so as to give potential candidates ample time to make their decision before the June filing deadline.

Serving the Carrsville district has been an honor and a privilege. Its rural nature and sense of community have suited me well, as therein lie my roots. The relationships this position have fostered have been uniquely rewarding, from working with citizens resolving often difficult issues to working with fellow Board members towards both preserving and maintaining the distinct cultural heritage Isle of Wight County offers.

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During my tenure, I have had the honor of working with 10 different fellow supervisors and four different county administrators. I have been afforded the opportunity to get to know our great county staff, our constitutional officers, our law enforcement, our fire and rescue teams and the imaginative leaders of our educational system.

In a broader sense, I have had the privilege of forming relationships with the mayors and city council members of our surrounding Hampton Roads localities, delegates and senators that represent us at the state level and those that keep the citizenry informed through the media. This network has been broad, deep, enriching and humbling. I have enjoyed much, learned immensely and, frankly, made my fair share of mistakes.

I shall endeavor in this last year to make the transition of my role to another as smoothly as possible. I firmly believe this county is headed in an excellent direction, both philosophically and fiscally.

Should anyone be interested in fulfilling this role and desirous of knowing its implications, I am more than available. It is a great opportunity to serve a great, grand place.

Rex Alphin
Board of Supervisors
Carrsville District

Business anywhere

Editor, Smithfield Times

All Isle of Wight residents who live in communities zoned Rural Agricultural need to beware! Another “event center” has been approved because neighboring residents did not fully understand the impact of large numbers speaking their minds through petitions and attendance at supervisors’ meetings.

Most of the supervisors believe listening to the people is a number one priority. However, Mr. Grice believes business is the answer to everything that ails us. Business locations have no boundaries. The “right” location is not a priority. Business can go anywhere and everywhere.

If you moved to the country for whatever reason, take pictures now because your environment is changing, and not for the better.

However, if you speak up, be forewarned that your arguments will be reduced to “not in my backyard,” which is insulting and demeaning to those who left emotion at the door and worked hard to improve our community.

Do not let this deter you. The county’s Comprehensive Plan will be up for review soon. If meetings are not advertised for your district, contact your supervisor and demand them. Right now, our Comprehensive Plan is already being incrementally modified for a business in an RAC zone to eliminate the appearance of “spot zoning.” Spot zoning is actually what is happening, no matter what you want to call it.

We have the power to make a difference, but we must participate. The next supervisors’ meeting is Feb. 18 at 6 p.m. Please come and help stop the invasion of our neighborhoods by business.

Lynn and Bill Faulkner

Chairman needed

Editor, Smithfield Times

It is with great pleasure that I announce the first blood drive of 2017 has been an unqualified success. This was due to our many dedicated and very patient donors who gave their print of blood and brought us over our goal for the Jan. 12 blood drive. “Thank you” to all of them.

We had 95 donors, 17 deferrals, two insufficient and nine Power Reds to produce a total of 84 units.

We had one first time donor, Christine Ratcliff. Thank you, Christine. I hope that this will start a lifelong habit.

The Woman’s Club of Smithfield sponsored the drive, provided volunteers and did an excellent job with the canteen. I thank all of them.

Our appreciation also goes to Trinity United Methodist Church for the use of their first class facility, and to Smithfield Union Lodge 18 for setting up, taking down and cleaning up.

Last year, the Smithfield community collected 511 pints from 574 donors. This translates into 1,533 people who received “The Gift of Life” from our local blood drives. Congratulations to all and please, keep up the good work. We need you.

Speaking of which, due to Willie Rountree’s retirement after almost 10 years of doing a magnificent job running the drive, we are searching for someone willing to take over his position. Please call me at (757) 377-7062.

Don’t forget to participate in the next community drive on Thursday, March 16 at Trinity United Methodist Church from 1 – 6 p.m.

Estelle Jamison
IW Blood Program

An unfair decision

Editor, Smithfield Times

Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors made a grave mistake in choosing the chair and vice chair for 2017. For some reason three of the board members felt it was fair for them to meet before their meeting to decide who they wanted as chair and vice chair. In the past the Board of Supervisors had rotated the chair position.

The citizens need to be aware of the chain of events that had led to the selection of Chairman Rex Alphin and Vice Chairman William McCarty. There was a meeting among three of the board members who felt it was right to have Alphin remain as the chair and McCarty to be the new Vice Chair. They met among themselves and decided this was the right thing to do. Then after the vote, the chair asked what they thought about this new process. Isn’t that in the wrong order? The discussion should have been before the vote. Or to be fair, the positions should have rotated as they had always done, then had a discussion to make a change for 2018. 

If Mr. Alphin was about doing the right thing or about being fair, when he was approached about being chair again, he should have said the right thing to do would be for Mr. Jefferson to rotate to chair.

When asked what he felt about the process, Mr. McCarty stated that as board members they needed to be blind — blind to color, blind to position. If this decision was not about color (Mr. Jefferson is the only African American on the Board), then what was the reason not to allow him to rotate into the chair position. He is the second most senior person on the board and qualified to be chair. He has served his position well and has represented his constituents well in the Hardy District.

The tone for election for chair and vice chair for 2017 was set in motion last year after the election of the three new board members.

Our supervisors are elected and they need to held accountable for their actions. They need to be held accountable for the unfair treatment of Mr. Jefferson, reconsider the rotation method for 2017 and leave the random election of chair and vice chair for 2018.

Valerie Cofer Butler

McCarty’s not racist

Editor, Smithfield Times

In all the years that I have known Supervisor Pastor William McCarty, he has always cared genuinely and passionately for all people without ever being a racist or any other type of discriminatory person that my fellow citizens are trying to make him out to be.

I am an African American, a Marine veteran and have spent time with Supervisor McCarty and his family, and the things that people at the supervisors’ meeting said to him and about him as well as posting on Facebook are patently false.

Do the people saying this foolishness realize that Supervisor McCarty has helped to raise two African American young men that look to him as a father figure? So to stand and accuse him of this all because the Hardy District supervisor, my supervisor, Mr. Jefferson, didn’t get chosen to be chair is foolish and frankly childish. Can Mr. Jefferson not speak up for himself? Furthermore, why didn’t one of the others nominate Mr. Jefferson? From all that I have read there is no “rotation” in the bylaws for the chairmanship either. People need to get their facts straight before they go off and make statements and accusations that are foolishly false.

Now, to Buzz Bailey. Really? He is going to stand and accuse someone of passing over two people because of race? Does he not remember his tenure on the Board? Surely he does. He didn’t nominate Mr. Jefferson for chair or vice chair during his tenure and he also was the one pushing for Mrs. Anne Seward rather than Mr. Don Robertson that he mentioned in your speech at the Board of Supervisors.

So let’s stop the race baiting, the racism accusations and stand behind this Board that is representing us well. Well, at least some of them are.

Minister Steven Pitts

Race baiting

Editor, Smithfield Times

Some have voiced concerns and taken issue with the supervisors’ chairmanship decision. I’d like to first point out that all of the supervisors voted in favor of Mr. Alphin to continue on as chairman of the board. I will keep this short as to not put any more effort into feeding an issue some have fabricated into a racial divide.

Since Mr. Jefferson voted along with the other supervisors in favor of Mr. Alphin, I don’t understand what the issue is here.  Second, can Mr. Jefferson not hold his own? If not, I’d like to know why he is even a supervisor? And third, if Mr. Jefferson couldn’t hold his own, why would anyone want a weak supervisor making decisions for our county? No one twisted Mr. Jefferson’s arm to vote for Mr. Alphin, and if Mr. Jefferson disagreed, he should have voted for himself or abstained from voting.

Mr. Jefferson’s past votes of being a viable board member prove that he is able to make decisions on his own. Mr. Jefferson gracefully bowed out so I’m trying to grasp the intent of one of last week’s letters where the real racist is claiming racism.

Do we know what took place behind closed doors? No. Yet anyone with a sour taste in their mouths against the new board members, for whatever past reason, are coming out of the woodworks as race baiters and they are doing a good job stirring the pot and keeping things in Isle of Wight framed as a black/ white issue. Mr. Jefferson bowed out himself, period. There should be no questioning of good men’s intentions. If IOW is going to survive “the race baiter mindset” we need to come together and move on as Americans.  

James Baines

Supervisors simply chose

Editor, Smithfield Times

In this week’s “Times”, I observed and read several negative letters and the Editor’s negative and critical comments about the four supervisors voting to not elect the fifth (Rudolph Jefferson) as Chairman and/or retain him as Vice Chairman. Ladies and gentlemen, leaders are required to make hard decisions that at times upset people that are affected by the decision. We see that in the current Presidential election. The people under an electoral college election system that voted wanted “change.” They got it. The majority of the Supervisors apparently wanted a “change.” They got it.

Instead of automatically criticizing the Supervisors for the way they voted, you might ask why. Could it be that they were not convinced that Mr. Jefferson would lead them in the direction they wanted to go or maybe they weren’t comfortable with his ability to be a good leader. One doesn’t have to explain his vote unless it is proven to be illegal. Not being “offered” to continue as the vice chairman should give one the insight to understand the majority vote. If it doesn’t, then one might be relying upon  “political correctness” and needs to look within his/her self for the ability to make hard decisions.

The three new members of the board were elected because in my estimation previous board members forgot who put them there and lack of good leadership. It is time people took their emotions out of elections and put some factual logic into their vote.

As Mr. Trump so eloquently stated, “It is time to drain the swamp.” I don’t see this decision by the board majority as “racism,” unfair or incompetent, but as voters’ choice.

Ray Baxter

In defense of McCarty

Editor, Smithfield Times

It is a shame that the norm in our society has been conditioned by race baiting pot stirrers to call everyone a racist if someone of color doesn’t get a position or a promotion. Should not the most qualified person get a promotion or position? The way some people at Thursday’s board meeting spoke, proves that they think people are entitled to a position but that a person need not be qualified for the position. I wouldn’t want a position because I felt I was entitled to it or because of the color of my skin. 

Mr. Jefferson had the opportunity and the right to vote no to Mr. Alphin as the nominated chairman of the Board of Supervisors just as anyone on the board did. He also had the opportunity to say a lot by abstaining from voting. Did Mr. Jefferson go around talking to different people after the meeting to stir up this issue? I don’t know. I do know that wherever, however and by whomever it all originated was uncalled for and shameful. 

Shame on all who spoke of how ashamed they are of Pastor McCarty. He has nothing to be ashamed of. Can a person believe someone is not qualified for a position without being dubbed a racist? I guess not when there are so many people who are jumping at the bit to scream racism. According to the by-laws there is no rotation called for, so that is not an argument. If the other board members, including Mr. Jefferson himself, didn’t feel he was qualified for the position, then everyone else needs to stop this unfair judgment of the supervisors.

Pamela Pettit

Appalled by accusations

Editor, Smithfield Times

I have known Supervisor McCarty for over 11 years and find it appalling, to say the very least, that he is being billed as a racist. I am certain that when you care for and value people as much as he does, it must be extremely disheartening to be accused of such with absolutely no basis for it. Supervisor McCarty was the CFO in my corporation for five years, a corporation that had a ratio of 70/30 black to white. Never once did I witness any racial tendencies toward our customers.

I know for a fact that Supervisor McCarty never sees color until someone points it out to him. I know this man! It disturbs me and many other friends and acquaintances that people are having such negative and divisive conversation about not only him but Supervisors Alphin, Grice and Acree all because they did not elect Supervisor Jefferson as the Chairperson? Are we in the third grade or what?

Everywhere we look in the USA people want to make and create race wars amongst the people. I was hoping that I lived in a county that would not support such absurdity.

If I recall correctly, last year the Board did not follow a “rotation,” which is not a binding bylaw, but had been done fairly, consistent until last year. I didn’t hear racism or divisive jargon being spewed then.

Buzz Bailey and Albert Burckard both wrote letters last week that wreaked of race innuendos and very accusatory at best. Does Buzz want to enter a conversation on race? I doubt it. Mr. Burckard is a “pot stirrer” to say the very least. Everyone knows it because he’s done it for years. We all just accept it for what it is and thus we ignore such circus level pejorative penmanship. However, considering what’s happening in our great country today, he and Mr. Baily really need to curb their race inferences. I want to continue to reside in a county that stands above the moral compass of race differences and unites us as one.

I ask for all to stand behind our Supervisors. Pray for them regularly and let’s be a different community than what we watch on the news each night. President Trump said it so profoundly last Friday, “United We Are Unstoppable.”

Bobbie J Varner

Pollinators important

Editor, Smithfield Times

Thank you for the excellent article in the Jan. 4 paper about the native pollinator garden that was created by the Historic Southside Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists at the Isle of Wight County courthouse complex. This is the kind of pursuit that brings great rewards and benefits. It is clear that the Virginia Master Naturalist Training program, described in the article, provides training that covers the local environment, as well as essential habitats and species preservation and restoration.

In October, my husband John and I traveled to Frederick, Md. to visit our son Scott and his wife Laura, and our grandchildren. While we were visiting them, our family took us to the Audrey Carroll Audubon Sanctuary in Mt. Airy, Md., to view the pollinator garden that our grandson Justin created as his Eagle Project for Boy Scouts. He had planned, raised funds, received great support from sanctuary manager Mark Kulis and, with the encouragement and help of his parents and labor of some very good friends, made this section of the sanctuary a welcoming place for all kinds of pollinators. The 125 native perennial plants from Mr. Frank Vleck at the Wakefield Valley Nursery included, asters, black-eyed susans, and milkweed .

Last month, Justin received his Eagle Scout award, during a Court of Honor held in Frederick. He is a Frederick High School Senior, and he is in the National Honor Society. He plays the clarinet in the Frederick High School band and also participates in cross country and track.

We hope that Justin’s Eagle project will draw many bees, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, and other pollinators to the Audubon Sanctuary and that they will thrive and reproduce in abundance. We all benefit directly and indirectly from supporting pollinator gardens. By all means, try to visit the one at the courthouse complex and see for yourself the value of this project. The wildlife this project serves is so important to our county’s future.

Karen A. Speirs
Isle of Wight