Letters to The Editor – July 18th, 2018

Published 4:32 pm Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The JRB traffic jams

I am not sure whether the traffic I experienced was a fluke or not. Last Wednesday we arrived on Mercury and Jefferson at 5:30 p.m. Traffic was backed up. We thought it was a bridge lift, but unfortunately, not so lucky. People on the other side of the bridge were driving normally. When we got to the top of bridge, traffic was backed up as far as I could see.
All this was because of the traffic lights. It took us 45 minutes to get to Smithfield.
Do people go through this every day? If this is normal? VDOT needs to fix this problem 
Mike Harrington

Littering a big problem

Editor, Smithfield Times
I am Sawyer Cook from Troop 36 of the Boy Scouts of America. I am writing this letter because there is an issue of trash around our roads.
As part of the troop, we participate in Adopt-a-Highway, where we all go out and pick up all the trash on the road. There is always so much trash and it really makes the roads look awful.
I think there should be more enforcement on littering, higher fines, community service, or even a night in jail. We need to enforce our laws with penalties. I think we could also have more signs on the road that says, “littering $1,000 fine.”
There is a big problem with littering in our community.
Sawyer Cook
Troop 36

No public Input?

Editor, Smithfield Times
What’s in a name, Youth Development Center or Juvenile Correctional Facility? In the case of Isle of Wight they are synonymous yet convey different images. “In favor of” and “support to seek funding” are different to me, perhaps not so much for others.
Would I agree to “seek funding” for a Youth Development Center in the Intermodal Park? Yes, but I would be hesitant to be “in favor” of placing a Juvenile Correctional Facility in my back yard. Knowing there would be no public participation in the decision, my response would definitely be no.
I would urge the Economic Development Authority to deed the 20 acres of land back to the county so the citizens can have a voice in the process. I believe that while the EDA is made up of honorable citizens, we should have our elected officials make the ultimate call as to giving away $700,000 (20 acres at $35,000 per acre) worth of taxpayers’ property.

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Having the county spend up to $500,000 on a project that will directly affect its citizens should be scrutinized and vetted furiously. I have confidence that all parties will study this decision, but let us ensure that the citizens get a voice in the process.
The county and state will be holding public forums to present the information and we should all take advantage of the opportunity. I look forward to attending then making an informed decision as to whether it makes sense for Isle of Wight to pursue the project. I already have my opinions, but I’ll hold off judgment until I have all the facts. Once all the facts are known I relish the opportunity to present my opinions as a citizen of Isle of Wight County and feel as though they matter.
No matter what we call it, in the end it should be up to the citizens to make the call to support it or oppose it.
Tony Ambrose

The Windsor Castle suit

Editor, Smithfield Times
Kudos to Diana McFarland for her concise and accurate summary of the Smithfield Winery’s suit against Town officials.  As one who has read the 12-page legal document, I can attest that the suit is forthright and well documented. My belief is that the Huff/Weiss family is prepared to prosecute their arguments expertly as they seek justice for what appears to be extreme wrongdoing by a handful of self-serving Council Members and Town Staff.
Meanwhile, we taxpayers are out $2.35 milion for our subsidies to Windsor Castle Park LLC and SVAE — an amount I’m told that the Winery had planned to invest at their own personal expense.  
None of this is a new development. Bickering about the Winery’s lease agreement extends well beyond a year. I personally raised the issues involved to members of the Town Finance Subcommittee last year as the town was considering tax increases to cover their frivolous spending at WCP and the Luter Sports Complex. A certain Councilman opined that “We don’t listen to you any more.” Shortly thereafter, he asserted at Council that he [sic] “still believed the Council’s actions at WCP were in the best interests of the Town.” Really? 
Several virulent responses have been posted already to Facebook lambasting the Winery owners for supposed greed and exaggeration of the harm inflicted by the town’s actions. If the $10 million proves a prohibitive sum for the town, we can always ask those responsible to open their personal wallets or, better yet, simply give back to the Huffs that which was taken wrongly. My advice is to allow the evidence to speak for itself.
The vineyard at WCP adds unmistakable aesthetic value to the Castle’s grounds and nearby walking trails. Of course, there were supposed to be additional plantings of grapes these past several years as the Winery executed its Business Plan. Regrettably, that Plan appears to have been usurped and compromised by elected/appointed officials who chose their personal interests above ethical propriety and integrity, and without concern for the law. We are a better People than that.
Mark Gay

Hire the most qualified

Editor, Smithfield Times
Recently the town of Smithfield and the County of Isle of Wight both went through an extensive process of hiring county and town managers. Each government body checked over all the best qualified candidates and hired the person they thought had the correct experience, training, and management skills to do the job.
On July 24 the citizens of Isle of Wight need to do the same thing. They need to go out and vote for the most qualified, and experienced candidate to head our county’s law enforcement agency. This should not be popularity contest, and politics should take a back seat as much as possible, as political connections do not make a great choice as manager. We have two good men running for the office. I would encourage you to go out and do your part in the hiring process. Go vote! Also, seriously consider the education, experience, and professionalism of the two candidates and hire the one that would bring the most to our county’s law enforcement leadership position.
Fred Walls

Defending ‘low kill’

Editor, Smithfield Times
Any change to the Low Kill policy at the Isle of Wight Animal Shelter will increase the costs of operating the shelter. I volunteer about 10 hours per week at the shelter. I know there is a dedicated group of volunteers that help with any work we can do to assist the Animal Control Officers and Kennel Attendants.
Then there is the assistance the volunteers provide that is hard to put a dollar amount on. The dogs and cats that are brought into the shelter are strays that are hungry, sick, fearful and in most cases unadoptable because of the past abuses by humans. The volunteers have project cats and dogs we work with to acclimate to shelter life and provide them with the exercise and calming human interaction the animals need and crave.
Showing the animals what it is like to be a family pet is not an overnight process and sometimes it takes months. It is a bittersweet event to watch your project dog or cat go out the door of the shelter with their new adopted family but it does the heart good. To have the opportunity to work with the animals and to watch their transformation makes all the other dirty work we do worth it.
I predict that changing the kill policy of the shelter will drive away many volunteers. We develop a trusting bond with our animals. We want to see them adopted not killed because “their time is up”. To maintain a safe and healthy shelter the county will have to hire additional people to replace the volunteer labor they lose.
The staff of the animal shelter is a great group of dedicated individuals who want the best for all the animals at the shelter, but at current staffing they cannot do it alone and need the volunteer’s help.
There are other avenues to explore to reduce the cost of operating the shelter. One of those is Trap-Neuter-Return for cats. This program has proven to reduce costs and citizens’ complaints. Mandatory microchipping of animals would also reduce the turnaround time and help return the pet to their rightful owners.
Daniel Sherry

Clarke supporter

Editor, Smithfield Times
James Clark is a man whose time has come. He has labored behind the scenes for many years doing the administrative and supervisory work that makes a law enforcement agency function. He has the education, experience and knows the county and it’s people. In effect, he has paid his dues and now deserves the opportunity to be Sheriff.
William E Laine Jr.

Deputy for Pope

Editor, Smithfield Times
I began working for the Isle Of Wight County Sheriff’s Office in 1977, retiring in 2008.
I was afforded many opportunities from three different Sheriffs to work as a Patrol Deputy, School Resource Officer, K-9, narcotics and lieutenant of investigations, among many others. I returned in 2010 in a part-time status as training coordinator and courts deputy until this day.
As you can see I’ve worn many hats here. I’ve also had the pleasure of working for and most importantly, learning from three different sheriffs over the past 40 years, B.F .Dixon, C.W. Phelps and M.A. Marshall.
Starting with only eight patrol deputies for the entire county, you quickly learned how to treat and be fair with people. Talking with and not to someone, demonstrating true concern for people, showing that you care for their situation and working with them to resolve it are just a few of the things I learned from these men and are some of the traits I see in James Pope.
Not only does a good sheriff need to work for and with the citizens of this county, he or she has to work for and with their employees. Among many other things, I’ve learned from these men is that a good sheriff cannot lead by commanding someone. A good Sheriff leads by example. Their honesty, integrity, knowledge of the job and their professionalism. I see these in James Pope every day.
Many of the things I’ve learned from my first three sheriffs have been and are being demonstrated on a daily basis over the past several years by James Pope. His honest desire to lead this office and protect the citizens of this county is of most importance to him.
I see the potential for James Pope to be one of the best Sheriff’s in the history of Isle Of Wight County. He is the candidate to lead the Isle Of Wight Sheriff’s Office into a safe future. Please join me on July 24 in voting for Pope for sheriff.
Randy Gardner

It’s about qualifications

Editor, Smithfield Times Remember my letter about July 24, 2018 being 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 intended to see that the vast majority of the citizens are ignored in the election of the next Sheriff?
It is a shame that James Pope didn’t put the same effort into education, graduating from FBI Academy and serving in the military that he has into putting together a political machine to take advantage of most of the public not voting. It is nice to be popular, but it is most important to be the most qualified. Pope is a nice guy, and his father-in-law, he Honorable Stan Clark, is now a judge out at the courthouse and Pope’s brother-in-law is in the Commonwealth Attorney’s office at the courthouse as well; but Pope is not the most qualified to be sheriff by a wide margin.
Sheriff James Clarke has graduated from the FBI Academy, already achieved several associate degrees, served many years in the military, been in law enforcement longer, and played a larger role in making the Sheriff’s office what it is today. Sheriff Clarke is the best hope for the citizens to continue the professionalism that exists today.
If Pope were truly better qualified, wouldn’t he have demonstrated it by now? Pope still has time to continue his growth and improve his skill set, but starting out by trying to short circuit getting elected by excluding the majority of the voters is just wrong.
It is the responsibility of the citizens to ensure that they are not disenfranchised. It was always a point of pride for me that the Smithfield District that I represented had the highest or nearly highest percentage voter turnout.
I’m hopeful they will turn out again to keep the most qualified candidate, Sheriff James Clarke, as our Sheriff.
Al Casteen

Speak for the animals

Editor, Smithfield Times
I was very saddened and disheartened by the article in the Smithfield Times on July 11 about the Isle of Wight County Animal Shelter. As a longtime volunteer, it is extremely distressing and disappointing that our county is in the process of drafting a set of policies and procedures which will include the length of time an animal can remain before being euthanized. This policy change violates the IOWCAS Mission Statement! It is despicable!
Isle of Wight is blessed to have the current staff, animal caregivers and ACO. They work above and way beyond their job description and put in many hours behind the scene on their own time. Four, in particular, put their heart and soul into every animal. They give their ALL to help our animal leave the shelter to forever homes.
There are so many spectacular volunteers and volunteer families who work diligently with the animals, take them to parks, beaches, downtown etc. and photograph (video) them in real life settings. This shows the true personality of each dog. Many set up individual Facebook pages for each dog being worked with. This shows what the true nature of the dog is away from the confines behind bars in the scary, noisy shelter.
It has taken years of vision, dreams and positive changes with progressive direction for the county’s animal shelter to rise to the ranks of a very low kill shelter and become an extremely well respected facility. Not one dog has been euthanized for lack of space in our shelter for seven years.
We absolutely do not want to regress in our forward momentum. No animal’s life in the shelter should be measured in days and dollars! And, remember that not one animal is in the shelter by choice. Each one of them have been failed by humans. Please don’t let them be failed again by people who have never met them!! . The animals need you to be their voice.
Sandra D.Hyle

Voting for Pope

Editor, Smithfield Times
In approximately two weeks, the Citizens of Isle of Wight County will have the opportunity to elect our next Sheriff. A little over two years ago, we voted Sheriff Mark Marshall into office for a second term. Last year, this paper asked Mr. Marshall directly in the “Badges to Beer” article if he planned to fulfill his term. His response was something along the lines of being committed to the county and the citizens who elected him, but he did not give a definite answer.
Fast forward to early 2018, we learned that Marshall was not committed to Isle of Wight, but rather to the Eastern Shore of Virginia and his new business venture. When he left his post as Sheriff with more than one year left to serve, he forced his choice on us and the need for a special election. While I wish him the best, it is not his decision to appoint someone to serve as our next Sheriff. That is the responsibility of the citizens of Isle of Wight County.
I strongly encourage my friends, family and neighbors to get out and vote on July 24. This is our opportunity to be heard. In my opinion Lt. James Pope is committed to Isle of Wight County for the long haul. I have had the opportunity to get to know Lt. Pope over the past several years through his community involvement in Isle of Wight. I can attest to his character, leadership, demeanor and commitment to the people of this County. Pope is a bright leader who displays a passion for law enforcement, family, and the safety of our schools, homes, and businesses. I have always found him to be transparent, honest, and compassionate in his work.
I challenge each of you to spend five minutes talking to Pope and you will come away with a favorable opinion of him. He is fully aware of the needs of the community and how the Sheriff’s Office can better meet and serve those needs. Our current Lt. James Pope has my Vote on July 24 and I encourage you to cast your vote for Pope too!
David Holt

No policy change

Editor, Smithfield Times
My husband and I volunteer weekly at the IOWCAS. We have been volunteering at shelters and rescues for many years. When we began volunteering at the IOWCAS, we realized that there is no other shelter better suited for us. We have left shelters who began euthanizing for time spent in the shelter. We saw many physically, mentally and emotionally healthy dogs killed simply because they were there for too long. I completely understand and agree with euthanasia when an animal is suffering; physically or mentally. However, we cannot understand or stand behind killing animals who are perfectly healthy.
Could the shelter use more staff? Absolutely. They survive because of the extreme dedication of the current staff members and volunteers. If you lose these faithful volunteers, you will absolutely have to hire more staff members.
There should be no hard and fast rule determining what is considered an extended amount of time. I understand that new policies will address how long animals may remain at the shelter. Will the current ACOs be making this decision? They know the animals. They know their personalities.
My husband and I are very proud to be volunteers with this shelter. We tell everyone how much we love the shelter, staff, volunteers, and animals. This shelter is a gem that the county should be proud and supportive of. These animals are loved and groomed into perfect family members. The shelter volunteers are willing to do whatever it takes to ensure our animals are healthy and safe.
If this shelter begins euthanizing healthy animals because of a set time limit, it will lose your volunteers, lose the support of the community and lose some amazing animals that deserve better.
I challenge every single person involved in making decisions regarding the future of the shelter and lives of these animals to spend time at the shelter. Get to know the staff, volunteers, and the animals. You cannot make competent decisions if you are not properly informed.
Tonya D. Alexander

Pope for sheriff

Editor, Smithfield Times
I have known and worked with Lt. James Pope for nearly 15 years, and in that time, have found James to be a sound professional to the benefit of Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office. As patrol commander, James supervises the most visible division with that agency, and having served in that position for seven years, or half of his career, he knows what works for Isle of Wight county with regards to its law enforcement needs and issues.
James is a much-decorated law enforcement veteran with the respect of those that serve in his agency and in the surrounding law enforcement community. The job has changed dramatically in just the last five years and James displays the insight and leadership skills required to successfully guide a 21-century Sheriff’s Office.
James Pope has the local ties that give him a vested interest in Isle of Wight County and the safety of its citizens. He possesses the experience and training that will provide a proactive approach to anticipated problems in Isle of Wight and the proven abilities to take charge during any major event that may and will occur, and I support James Pope for the office of sheriff for Isle of Wight County.
Sheriff J.B. Stutts

A Clarke supporter

Editor, Smithfield Times
The special election for sheriff is next week. The Board of Supervisors chose to shortchange the citizens and cost the taxpayers more money by accelerating this important election. This limits the time that we have to know the candidates and thoroughly evaluate the best choice.
So many times we choose the least bad candidate in an election. In this case we have a clear choice. I met with Sheriff Clarke and attended a recent candidate debate. He is superior to his opponent in leadership, experience and training. He also demonstrates the correct character and personal manner to make an exemplary sheriff.
One of the Supervisors recently said that we must do all we can for the children following the Parkland school shooting. One of the lessons learned in this shooting was the importance of strong leadership in the office of sheriff. We owe it to the children and indeed to all of the citizens to provide the best leadership in the office of Sheriff. Sheriff Clarke is this man. Please join me in voting for Sheriff Clarke to make our county a safe place to live.
Richard Gillerlain

Pope for sheriff

Editor, Smithfield Times
I have sat back and listened to the interim Sheriff and former Chief Deputy talk about his qualifications and all that he has done during his time with the Isle of Wight County Sheriffs Office. The qualifications of a Chief Deputy and what is required of them is something I know a lot about. I had the pleasure to serve as the Chief Deputy of the Sheriff’s office for 12 years and retired after 39 in law enforcement. Like the current interim Sheriff and former Chief Deputy, I also coached sports in the community and mentored many young men and women who have gone on to do great things. One of the men I have had the pleasure of mentoring is Lt. James Pope and I am proud to offer my support of him. When Pope was hired by the Sheriffs Office he was eager to learn and often took on tasks and saw them to completion. It was quickly recognizable by all around him that he was a leader and could be trusted to make quick, sound and responsible decisions.
Throughout my time with the Sheriff’s office I was the law enforcement representative to the Emergency Management Department during times of hurricanes, snowstorms and other major events. I know how important it is to know how to manage people and equipment during times of stress and crisis. Upon my retirement James Pope quickly stepped up and assumed that role. His interactions with State Officials in Richmond and throughout the Commonwealth is invaluable. Pope is a steady ship in the storm.
As a former Sheriffs office member and Chief Deputy, I strongly support James Pope.
Riddle Hines
Retired Lt.
IW Sheriff’s Office

Pope supporter

Editor, Smithfield Times
I support Lieutenant James Pope for Sheriff of Isle of Wight County. Even though I personally like Pope and have worked with him the past several years in an organization that benefits the community and find him to be dedicated to his career and the citizens of the County and knowledgeable about all facets of law enforcement, those things in themselves are not enough for me to support someone for such an important position. After 42 years as an investigator in and working with law enforcement I know that the one you like the best or who looks the best on paper is in many cases not the best person for an important position. You go to the people in their profession that they work with and around and ask who they think is best for the position. The GREAT majority of everyone I spoke with say that person is James Pope.
As far as the comments I continue to see stating that a Special Election was a way to disfranchise voters, and that there was some sinister motive, nothing is more ridiculous. I attended both candidate forums and both were packed with citizens. Signs are everywhere and anyone with any knowledge at all knows there is an election and when it is. Voters have been able to concentrate on this important local election without all of the clutter that is upcoming with the November General Election.
I am disappointed that someone is attempting to drag this election down the rat hole of racism. Especially when that someone in 2013 was asked to resign his county position by other county officials and the NAACP because he sent what they stated were racist e-mails. I have seen nothing racist in this election so far.
Volpe Boykin

Voting for Pope

Editor, Smithfield Times
I am a lifelong resident of Isle of Wight County with my family having been here for many generations. It is very important to me that our county continues to be the same safe community that it has been for my entire life. To ensure that this happens, we must have a Sheriff who is a visionary and who can lead the Sheriff’s Department well into the 21st century.
Law enforcement has changed drastically, but what hasn’t changed is that we still need a sheriff who is well versed in all areas of operations in the Sheriff’s Department. That man is James Pope. During his 14 years in the Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office, he has exhibited leadership qualities and has become well respected by his fellow law enforcement officers and the citizens of our county.
I am voting for James Pope on July 24 and ask others do the same.
Jarred Turner

Shameful, liberal rant

Editor, Smithfield Times
What a shameful, contempt-filled liberal rant against America on the holiday that signifies the sacrifice of thousands of brave men and women who went to war with the world’s greatest superpower in order to grant us independence.
I’m thoroughly disgusted that this paper would put liberalism and screaming at the sky tactics on a day that means a great deal to so many of us. But since the paper wants to whine, let’s revisit some truths.
Immigration law has been in effect since the 1950s and passed by Democrats. Those charged with illegally entering the country have been separated from their kids for decades. So too, are many others who are arrested for crimes, whether citizen or not.
The left is quick to demand businesses be forced to serve all customers yet quick to celebrate refusing service to conservatives. They are quick to trash anyone who ever said anything remotely offensive yet still vote for a party with a racist past and 150 years of evidence of said racism. They claim tolerance yet have none whatsoever for anyone who thinks opposite of them.
Americans voted for our president because we are sick and tired of U.S. cities in ruins. We are tired of broken families, broke bank accounts, and derelict factories.  We are tired of other nations flooding our shores with their products for free while they tax our goods up to 200%, causing our jobs and plants to close. We are sick of being screwed while Europe and Asia benefit.
We are also sick of failed liberal policies that hurt America. From Detroit, where there is 40 percent illiteracy and hour-long waits for police and fire, to Chicago and other big cities that are run by Democrats keeping the poor as slaves to the government, we’re sick of failure.
Perhaps this paper is an ungrateful spoiled child in need of a spanking.
Dave Lyons