Letters to The Editor – February 21st, 2018

Published 7:47 pm Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Trying to understand

Editor, Smithfield Times
I’m just trying to understand. When the 2nd amendment became a constitutional right, guns at that time were single-shot muskets. The 2nd Amendment was written primarily to allow citizens to form militias and defend against the British.
Today we’re dealing with AR-15s and other assault rifles. I doubt that our Founding Fathers could ever have imagined the scope of firearms today. Nor could they ever envision mass shootings of our children. What I don’t understand is, is an AR-15 a necessity? There are so many other choices. Since there are so many other choices of guns I don’t see how banning them would infringe on 2nd Amendment rights.
Diane Goodwin

No prayer allowed

Editor, Smithfield Times
The Ten Commandments are not to be displayed in the public schools because some may be offended. There are to be no prayer services or reading of scripture in public schools for fear of offending those who do not believe.
The Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States is not taught nor recited in public schools because of the mention of God. The mere mention of God may make some uncomfortable.
Since we have dismissed God from the public schools, a void is left to be filled by something else. Instead of God, we have a moment of silence, then shattered by automatic gunfire. This is followed by counseling and candlelight prayer vigils.
May we ask the ACLU how to stop the gun violence in the public schools?
Carlie Smith

Needed: ‘Smart bucks’

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Editor, Smithfield Times
It is interesting that the same thought appears to have occurred simultaneously, but independently, to the editor and myself. He couches it in terms of “wants and needs.” I, being less refined, call it a “champagne appetite on a beer budget.”
There isn’t room to rehash, but a brief review is in order. We have the courthouse, the water deal the separate fire house and EMT buildings, the Stoup property, etc. While most would agree that any important new building should be of high quality with room for expansion, I think that a majority would also agree that with several construction projects we could have gotten “more bang for the buck.”
The latest is the Wombwell property. I am no stranger to historic houses and restoration. While I have not had the opportunity to examine the interior of the house and barn, I can say from looking at the exterior, both these structures are/were salvageable. Any house that is as plumb and true as the cottage is after 175 years can’t have been built “as inexpensively as possible,” and the barn did not appear to be in any worse condition than the Windsor Castle barns were.
The town and county are indeed fortunate to have a benefactor like Mr. Luter, but if the $600,000 price tag quoted in the paper for the concession building is accurate, we could have saved him some money, which perhaps, with his permission, could have been applied to the shortfall on the bike trail. For $200,000, including some volunteer labor, we could have renovated the house with a state of the art snack kitchen, a small sit-down dining room and a carry-out window. The upstairs rooms could be used as needed for admin purposes associated with the sports complex.
Presumably, the fields will require lawn maintenance, lining, marking, etc. This equipment and associated expendable supplies could have been stored in the barn. At the same time, a fine example of an 1840s Tidewater cottage would have been preserved.
If the buildings were regularly used, vandalism should not have been a problem, a concern expressed by some Council embers. To paraphrase George Orwell in “Animal Farm:” “Big bucks good, smart bucks better.”
Rober Healey Jr.

Change needed in Smithfield

Editor, Smithfield Times
Town residents are fortunate to have a competitive field to consider for upcoming Council elections in May. At least two new campaigners are residents of the Historic District, which currently has no household representation on Town Council. I am told both are going door-to-door throughout the Town to explain their commitment to transparency of public service, thoughtful consideration of public comment, fiscal responsibility and to the rule of law as stipulated by our excellent Municipal Code and strict ordinances. That is welcome good news!
Predictably, there appears to be “fool’s gold” among the candidate field. Not all candidates aspire to much-needed change; rather, they have been encouraged by sitting incumbents to enter the race to help preserve status quo. Several times I have been reminded that “Come Here’s don’t vote in local elections,” which helps to explain how all current incumbents on Council secured their spots with fewer than 800 votes (some with as few as 100). I am betting the Town’s several-thousand registered voters — whether “Born Here,” “Been Here” or “Come Here” — will get out to vote in substantial numbers this time around, and will prove wise in their choices.
Ultimately, the Town will get the leadership it deserves. My hope is that our next Town Council (and new Town Manager that they should select) will be committed to eliminating redundancy with the county’s services, to thoughtful accessibility for all Town citizens on topics of controversy and to the elimination of conflicts-of-interest that have yielded us new “party barns” and raucous booze-fests at WCP and an equally expensive ballpark-in-the-swamp on the south side. All this while Historic Pierceville rots, and our Town’s infrastructure teeters on the brink.
Mark Gay

Please slow the growth

Editor, Smithfield Times
As “come here’s” of nearly 17 years, we have seen dramatic changes to the Northern District in terms of loss of farmland, growth, traffic, taxes, water bills and an exploding deer population and deer tick borne illness. Some of the changes have been good, others not so much.
For example, our water bill has increased over 300 percent, our taxes have increased each year and too much energy has spent on growing the Northern District rather than seeking the needs of the county as a whole.
We have also seen the roads continue to deteriorate; not enough room in schools; increasing traffic and lights that are timed terribly on Route 17; the County requiring our subdivision to close down our own well and hook up to county water; a Benn’s Church reroute of lights at Route 10 that is strange, and again the lights aren’t timed well.   We ask the county to please continue to slow down the growth in the Northern District and focus on bringing business to the Intermodal Park so we, the homeowners, aren’t stuck with footing the entire water boondoggle. Please stop strip malls that we don’t need. Please work on getting us another choice in internet services than Charter. Fios won’t come back to our neighborhood even though we are directly behind Eagle Harbor.
Please fix the school and road issues. Weekly trash and recycling pick up should be included in our taxes. Patching holes instead of paving the roads is not a solution as the holes are back by days end or the next day. Please work with the local food banks and Hunters for the Hungry to deal with the exploding deer population.
We love living here, the small town feel and friendliness of the people. Like most, we want it to stay that way.
Kristen Milholen

John Rolfe for bicycles

Editor, Smithfield Times
Approximately 25 years ago, due to heavy traffic loads and related safety concerns, the Town of Smithfield and VDOT recognized the need to improve South Church Street beginning at the bypass and extending to the bridge at Cypress Creek. The original plan proposed two south bound lanes, two north bound lanes and one center turn lane beginning at the bypass and extending to the intersection of South Church Street and Battery Park Road.
One south bound lane, one north bound lane and one center turn lane were proposed from the intersection of South Church Street and Battery Park Road to the bridge at Cypress Creek. However, due to a shortage of funds the section from Battery Park road to Cypress Creek Bridge was omitted from the plan until funding became available.
Today, the new bike path is under construction and Town Council is struggling with the dilemma of where to locate that portion of the path from Battery Park Road to the Cypress Creek Bridge.
A reasonable solution would be to route bicycle traffic from Battery Park Road along John Rolfe Drive to Lumar Road to Red Point Drive to the bridge at Cypress Creek. Traffic along those roadways is already limited to 25 miles per hour. Proper signage, “Share The Road” or “Caution Bicycle Route” could be installed to alert motorist of possible bicycle traffic. This procedure is in extensive use throughout cities and towns across America.
Back 25 years ago traffic on South Church warranted the need for improvement. Since that time traffic along this stretch of road has increased at an exponential rate with no solution for reduction.
Latest VDOT traffic counts indicate 12,000 (yes thousand) vehicles travel this segment of South Church per day. It would be short sighted to place the bike path on South Church Street thereby encumbering valuable area needed for future expansion to accommodate increasing vehicular traffic.
Does not the safety and convenience of four million vehicle trips per year carry much greater consideration than a handful of bicycle trips? It’s important to keep priorities in perspective when making judgments.
Lawrence Pitt

Likes July election

Editor, Smithfield Times
I would like to applaud the Board of Supervisors for voting to allow a July Special Election for the upcoming Sheriff race. By allowing the election, the leaders of the County are allowing the citizens to choose their next Sheriff.
I have lived in Isle of Wight County my entire life. Not once have we ever faced a situation when the sitting Sheriff has left their term this early. Sheriff Marshall has done a wonderful job and should certainly be commended while serving as our Sheriff. However, I did not vote for Sheriff Marshall’s re-election for him to leave early and pass the job I voted him in for to just be appointed to someone else.
“We the People,” should be able to choose our elected officials. Democracy is a wonderful thing and the citizens voices of Isle of Wight County should not be disenfranchised. We should be able to vote for candidates that we feel are best qualified to hold office and that will provide the best stability as well. Again, thankfully, the Board of Supervisors have given us that opportunity.
For me, that candidate is James Pope. Pope has announced his intent to run for Sheriff and is currently a Lieutenant with the department. He has been with Isle of Wight since 2004 and is currently the Patrol Commander, a position he has held for the last seven years. Lt. Pope is well known and thought of in the community and within the department.
Pope has been recognized by several organizations to include award recipient of 2014 Top Cop Award, Mothers Against Drunk Driving Recognition and Leadership Award from the Virginia Highway Safety Office, among others. Lt. Pope’s leadership alone makes him well qualified to serve as Sheriff.  Michelle Hedgepeth-Billups

Teach right from wrong

Editor, Smithfield Times
I read an article about a 10-year-old boy going into a neighbor’s yard, climbing her apple tree and stealing apples from it.
The boy also stole tomatoes from her garden, trampled her potato vines and knocked the stuffing out of her scarecrow. One one occasion she even found him doing his “business” on her begonias.
She went to talk with his mother and her only response was “Boys will be boys.”
Is she going to wait until he gets caught stealing from a grocery store or somewhere else and put into jail before she does anything about it? Then, it will be too late. She should be teaching him right from wrong right now.
Ruth Price