Letters to The Editor – February 14th, 2017

Published 7:18 pm Tuesday, February 13, 2018

This is just wrong

Editor, Smithfield Times
July 24, 2018. Write that down. It is a Tuesday. It is a day that probably won’t “live in infamy” but will stand as a day that a small group of arrogant citizens and elected officials decided that they know what is best for the county and intend to see that the vast majority of the citizens are ignored in the election of the next Sheriff.
What is worse is that three members of the Board of Supervisors is complicit in doing this and costing the citizens $20,000 to $30,000 for the privilege of being disenfranchised.
The supposed reasoning that somehow having a special election in the middle of the summer that is only three months before normal elections will better serve ALL the citizens is a joke. I mean, really, Virginia law dictates that James Clark, the present Sheriff’s second in command, is going to serve as Sheriff until the next election. He is going to serve for five months before the special election in July. That is only three months before the normal election.
Virginia law says he is the best guy to run the office for five months but the county somehow will suffer if he serves for eight months? James Clark is an individual that is a known quantity with an excellent reputation for honesty and being aboveboard. The projected result of this foolishness is that less than 2 percent of the citizens will actually vote for one of only five constitutional offices. Normally, forty-five percent of the citizens vote in the constitutional office races. This is not a good thing, and any candidate that says so is clearly telling you it is raining when you know full well what he’s doing on your shoes!
The public is best served when it has a choice for every office on the ballot. All honest candidates should do all they can to see that the maximum number of citizens get a say in the election.
Candidates and their supporters that promoted excluding voters already made a clear statement on their real character. This attempt to short circuit most citizens is just wrong.
Al Casteen

Why not November?

Editor, Smithfield Times
Electoral Board Secretary William Bell Jr. made perfect sense by asking the Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors to set the election of Sheriff to November rather than at an earlier date.
At least four questions of logic come to mind as to why three of the Board of Supervisors Members did not go along with Bell.
1. Why not give the Isle of Wight voters more time to fully acquaint themselves with the two candidates for Sheriff, both in person and at public forums, before a vote ?
2. As Mr. Bell and Mr. Jefferson pointed out, why spend what has been estimated to be upwards of $20,000 that we don’t really have to or need to spend on a “special” election before November?
3. Why not take the advice of Chairman Bell who has devoted his time to overseeing the job of seeing that county voting goes legally, smoothly and more cost effective?  And lastly:
4. Why not go against the proven history of low voter turnout during a month in the year when November consistently gets more voters to the poll? An election for the next Sheriff should give all of Isle of Wight citizens until November to make up their minds about who they want to fill what is probably the most important job in our County that requires a vote.
Lud L. Spivey

Grace Keen remembered

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Editor, Smithfield Times
As a “come here” to Isle of Wight County, I knew Grace Keen for less time than most of you. But here are some personal reminiscences that were mentioned neither in her published obituary nor by her pastor in his very moving interment eulogy.
She was a fighter. Grace stood up to VDOT a decade ago in an attempt to save and repurpose our beautiful little landmark JRB toll plaza building that ornamented the north entrance to our county. She faced off several times with grim and determined state officials and never blinked.
Unfortunately, we lost that “good fight” but learned never to “play by the rules” again in the face of malicious government intent.
She was visionary. Perhaps her greatest historical legacy is the naming of our 4.5-mile long bridge over the legendary James River. Thirty years ago, Peninsula politicians were intent on labeling the bridge for one of their own. Grace led the IWCA on two trips to the Virginia General Assembly in Richmond with 5,000 signatures on a petition, and was rudely rebuffed.
Grace was ultimately successful against the proponents of a “Delegate Lewis Archer McMurran Jr., Memorial Bridge.” This engineering marvel was without an “official” name. All of we “Southside” travelers, as we cross our marvelous “JRB”, should whisper a “thank you” to Grace Keen for not having to remember “DLAMcMJMB.”
She was persistent. Wanting always the best for her county, she campaigned for Supervisor twice in a personal attempt for a direct leadership role. But her leadership in the IWCA was a strong influence that gave us a better-managed community.
And she knew her mind. Several years ago I, as her IWCA vice-president, failed to clearly enforce her wish that the Association remain non-political, and allowed some campaign signs to be placed near the entrance to our meeting room. When she arrived, it took her less than a minute to “read the riot act” to the various offending parties who scrambled quickly to remove the signage.
We will all miss you Mrs. Grace Justice Keen (and your WWII “Bronze Star” hero husband “Pete” too!) and hope that we may live up to your legacy.
Albert Burckard

Nominations being sought

Editor, Smithfield Times
The Smithfield Rotary and the Smithfield Ruritan Clubs invite individuals and organizations to submit nominations for a person (or persons) to be named “Citizen of the Year” for 2017. This award is sponsored jointly by both clubs and has been presented to deserving citizens since 1970.
Any nominees should be individuals living in the Smithfield area and whose activities and efforts have benefited the Smithfield area residents. The nominations should include the nominee’s name, address, phone number and a complete description of the nominee’s activities and involvement that warrant this honorable recognition.
Nominations will be accepted through March 5 and the recipient will be announced on April 12 at a joint meeting of both clubs. Please email nominations to: Citizen of the Year, P.O. Box 114, Smithfield, VA 23431 or e-mail to HYPERLINK “mailto:mswecker51@charter.net” mswecker51@charter.net.
Mike Swecker