Letters to The Editor – January 17th, 2018

Published 8:01 pm Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Include Windsor

Editor, Smithfield Times:
The Town of Windsor should share in the funding of our wonderful county museum.
The 50/50 (county/Smithfield) funding “framework proposed by staff” misses the whole point of having an “Isle of Wight County” Museum.  The Town of Windsor is portrayed very prominently in our museum in Smithfield and its story is well told. This is paid for by funds from Smithfield and all Isle of Wight County residents (including Windsor) but none from our historic second town.
The taxpayers of Smithfield are to be profoundly thanked and recognized for their heroic rescue of the focal point of history in our proud county when the county itself, under the disastrous leadership of a former county administrator, deemed money spent for the preservation, display and documentation of our county’s illustrious history as “low hanging fruit” and eliminated it from the county budget. What a supreme insult to the citizens of Isle of Wight by someone who chose not even to live here. It’s no wonder her tenure was, thankfully, short.
A 50/50 framework not only punishes further the very people who saved us, but does not even allow our other town to have an opportunity to redeem itself after it unfortunately demolished its own most important founding building. Southhampton County’s famous “Billy” Mahone built the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad and constructed a classic, mid-nineteenth century, passenger station in “Carrowaugh.” His beautiful wife Otelia (of Smithfield!) named it “Windsor Station” in 1859 after reading Sir Walter Scott’s novel Ivanhoe. The stately and renowned English name stuck.
I suggest a 50/30/20 (county/Smithfield/Windsor) funding plan that better reflects the pride that each of these three municipal entities would have in educating our youth, telling our story to the public, attracting Yankee tourist dollars and preserving our legacy for the future. It is fair that the Town Smithfield bears a larger share than Windsor only because the Museum happens to be located there and hence receives more tourism benefit.
So, Windsorites, let’s stand up and be proud! Demand your rightful share of the portrayal of our county’s glorious twelve million year history! This includes, of course, our marine fossil record and the several thousand years of Indian culture preceding us European and African newcomers. All dramatically told in the Isle of Wight County Museum!
Albert Burckard

Age restriction key to Benn’s

Editor, Smithfield Times
Concerning Benn’s Grant and East West’s application for 231 additional residential units, there are advantages and disadvantages.
The advantages are more water fees and revenues and extension of realistic housing backlog and hence, Isle of Wight prosperity. True, there are already 2,000 approved residential lots on the books, but East West seems to be the only developer that can bring a project to fruition.
The disadvantages are traffic, overcrowded schools and an increase in county costs. For instance, with approval, Rt. 17 peak afternoon traffic will back up on the James River Bridge another half to one mile. Carrollton and Smithfield schools will become overcrowded and will bring on school redistricting and busing to Windsor. The county’s 2012 Tishler Study indicates this rezoning will increase county cost by $4.3 million.
The solution is senior restricted rezoning, not a senior targeted rezoning. Senior restricted traditionally means one person 55 or older must live in the residential unit. Senior restricted for the application means virtually no increase in Rt. 17 peak afternoon traffic and virtually no student increase. Tishler costs are reduced by 63 percent. Senior restricted can be negotiated, say 66 percent restricted, not 100 percent, with a senior at least 50 years old, not 55 years. Also, restrictions could be for just 25 y ears. With seniors (baby boomers) at record numbers, this compromise should be plausible to East West. It would be a win-win for both sides without the disadvantages of traffic, schools and large county cost.
If necessary, let East West think about it for a year. They still have 400 residential units to develop. Do not approve the expansion without some form of age restriction. East West should accommodate Isle of Wight. After all, East West has made multi-millions of dollars from previous Isle of Wight zonings (worth a billion dollars, according to Branch Lawson) and, at the same time, accommodation makes its properties more attractive to new buyers, with less traffic, school crowding and taxes.
Eventually, the JRB backup will stop area growth and prosperity.
Thomas Finderson

The future of farming

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Editor, Smithfield Times
The average age of today’s farmer is 58 years old. Over the course of the next five years (the duration of the next farm bill), nearly 100 million acres of farmland are predicted to change hands.
Some retiring farmers and ranchers will pass their land and operations to their children or other relatives, however, many are heading toward retirement without a succession plan in place.
Today’s beginning farmers juggle a great deal in raising and marketing crops and livestock. We need to support policies that ensure they have the necessary tools and resources to be successful.
In November, congressional lawmakers introduced the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act to ensure the 2018 farm bill focuses on the future of American agriculture. The bill provides for programs and policies that would create opportunities for the next generation of farmers and ranchers.
The bill expands beginning farmer and rancher access to affordable land; empowers producers with the skills needed to succeed in today’s agricultural economy; ensures equitable access to financial capital and federal crop insurance; and encourages commitment to conservation and land stewardship.
We stand with congressional sponsors of this legislation in supporting beginning farmers and ranchers. The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act should be included in the 2018 farm bill.
Anna Johnson
Center for Rural Affairs

Thoughts on a new year

Editor, Smithfield Times
It’s a new year and we were quickly snowed in for days. Our electricity went out for hours two days in a row. Did you save your old rotary phone? It works well without electricity when you have to call Dominion Power to ask for help.
I’m proposing a new law to require that all trees be cut down under the power lines. There’s nothing more ugly than a half of a tree standing that has been butchered up. Cut the whole tree down.
And when you plant a tree, look up to see if you are in the line of a power line. Trees grow fast. Also, cut the corner bushes down that are too high, obstructing your view when you are trying to pull out into traffic and taking y our life into your hands.
Also, let’s fix our back roads. Nowadays you must call VDOT and report deep holes, trenches, potholes, ditches that you may slide into when someone passes you on a suicide road such as Reynolds Drive in Carrollton. It’s bad, really bad. That same road has been called Dead Man’s Curve where it nears Nike Park Road.
Also, remember that even though deer season has ended, the deer don’t know it quite yet. My husband collided with one in November just before he crossed the Titus Creek Bridge. It caused $4,000 damage.
This is a new year and what opportunities and challenges will we face? I wish for all peace and harmony and that they love one another this year. Be kinder, smile more and have a good word to say about one another. And sometimes we need to just keep our mouths shut. You never know what the other person is going through.
Marie Bailey