Letters to The Editor – February 20th, 2019

Published 4:55 pm Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Vineyard will be missed

Editor, Smithfield Times
I believe a winery and a vineyard in a perfect setting such as Windsor Castle Park (WCP) would be the envy of any town. The town of Smithfield has botched to not only welcome Smithfield Winery but has impeded its success at its inexplicable will. I would not blame the Winery for leaving this less than business friendly town another empty building downtown and a loss of tax revenue. Not to mention a once beautiful, now gutted, vineyard at WCP. 
Brian Weihe

Isle of Wight a state leader?

Editor, Smithfield Times
Of the many very good reasons already given for allowing our Commonwealth to construct a DJJF in Holland Intermodal Park, there is another I have not yet seen expressed. Our county could benefit greatly, both politically and economically, by being seen as the statewide leader in establishing modern rehabilitation facilities for youthful offenders. We would be setting a very positive statewide example for our commitment to the future success of our young men.

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I think we would be viewed as leading the state in this regard. We may even incur unimagined economic development opportunities when commercial industries realize that we are forward thinkers to take risk in the investment in future generations.
I pray that our Supervisors have the foresight to approve this wonderful opportunity to improve the lives of many who otherwise may be lost to society and also to do a great and lasting deed for our county and Commonwealth. As Einstein (another, but much more famous, Albert!) once said, “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means.”
Albert Burckard

Opposed to Windsor project

Editor, Smithfield Times
I was very concerned to learn of the plans by county supervisors to place a juvenile detention facility close to Windsor. In reaching out to neighbors, I’ve been surprised at the number of individuals who are unaware of plans for placement of this facility. Overwhelmingly, citizens in the surrounding area, once informed, are in opposition to this facility.
On the surface, placing the juvenile facility here might sound like a beneficial proposition to a small town or rural county economically. Unfortunately, however, these studies suggest the contrary. On the subject of local economics, the proposed facility will have around 240 job opportunities. Only 40 or so will be potentially available to local residents, according to Andy Block, the Director of the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ).
On top of this, the fact that the county plans to give the land to the State, as well as pay $500,000 toward running water/sewer, makes it an even harder sell to taxpayers. Placement in Windsor does not provide closer distance for family and social support. Studies indicate that social support of these individuals to reduce recidivism rate is critical and further distance between inmates and families negatively impacts their rehab potential.
Studies have also shown that small communities experience recruitment problems. These become known as “Prison Towns” and luring businesses and families into the area becomes difficult. In addition, when counties are divided over this issue, there are long-term negative effects for all communities within.
For many people, safety is an issue. The thought of a nearby facility housing violent offenders, including murderers and rapists, is an emotional subject.
People are concerned, and rightly so. Which brings me to the crux of the matter: The feel, the way of life, the community of this small-town farming area will forever be drastically changed. As one study concluded – the impact becomes “Diminished Quality of Life”.
I ask all Isle of Wight residents to do their research, to talk to their neighbors on this end of the county, and to explore the facts that surround placement of this facility. Then be present at the Public Hearing on Feb. 21st at 6pm at the Courthouse
I would strongly encourage the county supervisors to consider the potential long-term serious division that this may cause in our county.
Dr. Daren M. Wingard

Unhappy with School Bd.

Editor, Smithfield Times
I am confused by the statement of Mrs. Hulick, the Isle of Wight School Board chair, who was quoted in the Smithfield Times Feb. 13 saying, “We believe in fiscal responsibility and will continue to serve Isle of Wight County students based on the funding we receive, as we always have.”
At the January School Board meeting I asked the Board and Dr. Thornton how they spent over $700,000 that was not in the funding or budget they received, with no response. I received a letter from IOW stating that I had to pay an amount of $3,317.95 (to pay for a Freedom of Information request). I requested seven document records. If the School Board members believe in fiscal responsibility, please provide the information at no cost. 
I handed a written request to Mrs. Hulick in January asking Dr. Thornton to provide the total cost of the new CTE program on his superintendent’s blog by, which he has refused to do. Dr. Thornton and the School Board were given a $7.9 million loan for CTE by the Board of Supervisors after they told them and the citizens it would not cost the taxpayers anything. Dr. Thornton stated that the cost would be approx. $952,000 but failed to disclose the additional cost to the division which takes that amount close to $1,000,000 annually and over the course of the loan close to 3-5 million dollars. Dr. Thornton, if this is not correct, please put the correct total CTE costs by item on your blog.
Mr. Ed Easter, a former IOW School Board member stated at the January School Board meeting, “I don’t think this school system is trying to hide anything from anybody and I think Dr. Thornton, his staff, and this Board would be willing to accommodate anybody that comes up and asks a question to give the proof what has been done and how it has been paid for.” I took Mr. Easter’s advice and asked the Board for proof and I am still waiting. 
Katie Lemon