Letters to The Editor – August 7th, 2019

Published 4:20 pm Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Hate speech has to stop

Editor, Smithfield Times
Once again, we’re shocked and grieving the senseless loss of life we’ve seen in the shootings in El Paso and Dayton.
What seems clear is that these shootings are not isolated practices, they are increasingly common occurrences. Our political leaders must cross party lines, nationally and in Virginia, to enact common-sense gun policies. We also must stop the hate speech and villainizing of immigrants, people of color and religious minorities. We are one people under God. We must begin to act as such.
In June of this year, the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy board added “racial justice” to its mission. Racial justice has real life and death implications as we saw by the El Paso gunman’s shooting of immigrants. Racial justice can’t be just talk, but words matter. How we talk about our neighbors, especially the immigrants in our communities, can create an environment of fear or welcome. Let’s choose welcome in Virginia.
Kim Bobo
Pastor Rodney Hunter

Va. Interfaith Center for Public Policy

Progress is complicated

Editor, Smithfield Times
The July 31 editorial concerning HRSD’s decision to build a sewer line along Rt. 10 west of Smithfield suggests sewer access is all that is necessary to entice the “rats and developers” to follow, the latter of course to build new communities. If that was the case, then why does Lawne’s Point on the James in Rushmere, a showcase comprising 155 residential lots with sewage access, have only 20 or so homes after 13 years of development?  The answer of course gets complicated. Employment growth is negative west of Smithfield. There is a lengthy commute from Rushmere to jobs, groceries, medical facilities, and entertainment. There is no wired or fiber broadband internet service, a “must have” utility for 21st century citizens. Telecommuting work from home that requires healthy, reliable data access is not an option without it.

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Simply modifying a comprehensive plan with a new map showing where development should happen does not compel capital investment there. The existence of a “comprehensive plan” had little impact on development in Northern Isle of Wight, as a majority of these bedroom community subdivisions were approved decades ago before the county dreamed of a plan.
As pointed out, growth in Carrollton and Smithfield is nearly all based on its easy access to jobs outside the county. But this growth is in jeopardy due to its own success. Gridlock is already occurring during rush hours, and commuter frustration will eventually impart a self-limiting effect on real estate sales and development.
If Isle of Wight truly wants quality managed growth, we need to get to work on broadband access and fixing the US 17 highway choke points at the JR Bridge approaches and two lane bridges at Chuckatuck Creek and Nansemond River. Surprisingly, these are the only 2 lane sections in 250 miles of “Ocean Highway”. 
Otherwise, we will be doomed to more dollar store and donut shop development.
Rhea L. Adams Jr.

Vote was a mistake

Editor, Smithfield Times
Two decades ago, I returned to Surry County, to my grandparents’ farm where I grew up. When I got here, I was dismayed with what I saw. The area I loved was in economic decline, the elder population was not being replaced by youth, stores were closing, a government was not being governed by the people.
Four years ago, I decided I wanted to assist by running for local office. In my work for other local governments, I saw how counties elsewhere had reversed decline. I had a desire to share some of these innovations in the county I so enjoy. My desire was to actively pursue citizen participation and unity. I had seen that this was a path to betterment in other communities.
I believe I have made a mistake. Five months ago, I cast my vote for what I believed was what the majority wanted in the district I represent — a vote for change. In recent months, I have become aware that my vote has brought division and concern in our community. It hurts to see my actions do such.
To the Savedge family, I apologize for how you have been treated by county administration and the stress it has brought you. To the Dendron Volunteer Fire Dept., for the volunteer hours you give freely, you deserve a better relationship with the county. To county staff, you deserve an enjoyable place of employment. To the citizens, you deserve better management of your tax dollars, and to all, we deserve better leadership.
I am not in accord with a majority on the present board. I desire to reverse my past decision, admit a mistake, and bring positive change. I want community unity and participation. I want change. I ask for your support.
Michael Drewry

Can’t bike on sidewalks

Editor, Smithfield Times
The headlines touting that a sidewalk was preferred over a multi-use trail is misleading. There was only one option for a sidewalk and multiple multi-use trail options. The multi-use trail option received 55 total votes compared to only 30 for a sidewalk. Splitting the votes for a multi-use trail among several options does not make a sidewalk a preferred option.
Smithfield has an ordinance that prohibits the riding of bicycles on a sidewalk:  Town Ordinance 78-16. Riding bicycles or skateboards on sidewalks. (a) It shall be unlawful for any person to ride a bicycle or skateboard on any sidewalk of the town. (b) A violation of this section shall constitute a traffic infraction punishable by a fine of not less than $5.00 nor more than $25.00 (Code 1982, § 18-8).  Therefore the sidewalk option is not a multi-use path that would allow bicycle travel from Windsor Castle Park to Nike Park.
Kevin Arden