Sunday, June 18, 2017

In the line of duty


Last week’s shootings at a ball field in Northern Virginia remind us of the danger that our law enforcement officers (LEOs) can encounter in the most innocent of settings.

The amazing people who work in public safety, LEOs, fire-rescue providers, and animal control officers, make it possible for us to go about our daily lives with little thought to “what if?” Our LEOs, who pin targets over their hearts before going to work, seem especially vulnerable these days.

Clearly, they don’t do what they do for the money, or even glory, but because they want to help people. We owe them, at the very least, every possible support should they become injured on the job.

At their June 6 meeting, Goochland Supervisors revised county policy on worker’s compensation supplementation for deputies.

The revision, initiated by Board Chair Ned Creasey, District 3, was sparked by a county deputy, injured on the job, whose worker’s compensation benefits expired before the deputy was able to return to work. The result was an unexpectedly shrunken paycheck, which placed hardship on the deputy’s family.

After quite a bit of discussion, the Supervisors voted to adopt, as policy, as section of state law that permits sheriff’s deputies to use accrued leave to supplement worker’s compensation payments. This applies only to sworn officers.

Staff will report back to the Board within 60 days with cost analysis for extending this policy to all county employees, or just public services employees, whose jobs place them at greater risk of workplace injury.

An initial policy revision that included fire-rescue and animal control employees was rejected after Susan Lascolette, District 1, said it was discriminatory because it did not treat county employees the same. “I want to get to yes on this, but I believe that it is bad public policy to craft changes to remedy a specific situation.”

County Administrator John Budesky said that existing county worker’s compensation policy, which he followed, does not permit any employees to use accrued leave to supplement their payments.

Creasey contended that the county spends a great deal of money training public safety employees and they should be made whole if injured on the job.

Director of Human Resources Kelly Parrish said that public safety employees are treated differently, citing the Line of Duty Act, and have greater difficulty obtaining supplemental insurance due to the nature of their work. Creating light duty assignments as transition between injury and regular work tasks for them is also difficult.

Creasey said he would favor extending the supplement option to all county employees, contending that there have been few on the job injuries and that the cost would be manageable.

Budesky said that the county’s worker’s comp premiums are experience-based on the previous three years. He also said that the county’s insurers advised against expanding supplementation.

Goochland Sheriff James L. Agnew contended that state law is clear on the matter, and the deputy in question will be made whole.

As adopted, the new policy will address the pending situation. The supervisors will revisit the matter in the next two months with an eye toward adopting a more comprehensive policy.

During a budget presentation earlier this year, Parrish said that the county’s most expensive assets, its employees, walk out the door every night and it’s administration’s job to get them back the next morning. Finding a way to help employees injured at work pay their bills until they are fit for duty is a big part of that notion.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

In the weeds



Had any of the candidates seeking nomination to represent the 56th District in the Virginia General Assembly attended the Tuesday, June 5 meeting of the Goochland Board of Supervisors, they would have gotten a taste for the wide range of issues addressed by state legislators.

At a June 3 forum (see GOMM Choices) most of the hopefuls touted their adherence to their party’s principles. It would be interesting to ask how a conservative, liberal, or progressive would apply those principles during a discussion of changing state law to permit localities to designate running bamboo as nuisance vegetation, or the merits of lifetime dog licenses.

Then, there is the proffer legislation enacted during the 2016 session, that illustrates the quip “legislate in haste, repent at leisure” that left localities like Goochland, scratching their head about zoning issues.

Goochland County Attorney Tara McGee presented a proposal to amend the county proffer policy. She contended that the existing proffer policy does not align as much as it should with the proffer legislation passed during the 2016 General Assembly session.

The proposal recommends that each developer, on a case by case basis, provide a detailed impact statement outlining how their project will impact county services and infrastructure and what remedies they will offer to mitigate those burdens. The Board will no longer accept a set dollar amount.

Before July 1, 2016, Goochland had a cash proffer policy that allowed developers to pay a specific amount per home—business projects were never subject to the cash proffer policy—payable when the certificate of occupancy was issued. The amount of this cash proffer was calculated using a formula with specific amounts for schools, parks, road, and fire-rescue. At one time, library costs were part of the equation, but were removed. Proffer dollars may only be used to offset costs of capital projects. Ongoing expenses, such as salaries for county employees, are considered to be funded by increases in real estate tax revenues generated by development.

Susan Lascolette, District 1, confirmed that this policy is a work in progress. McGee said that the Board has the power to deny any project if it believes that the development will have a negative consequence on the county.

The Board unanimously approved this policy change. ( For details, please see pages 97-103 of the June 6 Board packet, available on the county website http://goochlandva.us/ under the Supervisors’ tab.)

McGee later presented legislative authorizations granted by the 2017 General Assembly session to localities to add to their local laws, if the governing board deems them appropriate. (Virginia is a Dillon Rule state, which means that local government has only those powers specifically ceded to them by the General Assembly.)

The Board was asked to refer those items to specific departments for further review and consideration.

The lifetime dog license option— “While the dog owner is in Goochland and while the rabies vaccine is current”; up to $50 per animal versus the current annual fees of $10 for unspayed  or $5 for spayed—was referred for further consideration. Manuel Alvarez, Jr., District 2, asked that the feasibility of requiring animals to be microchipped also be investigated.

McGee explained that state law now allows localities to amend language addressing liens imposed to recover the demolition of unsafe structures or cutting excessively tall grass from “local” taxes to “real estate” taxes to obtain payment priority when the property is sold. Board Chair Ned Creasey, District 3, cast the sole vote in favor of moving this forward.

Creation of a registry for short term rentals, which are currently only permitted under Goochland ordinances with a conditional use permit, was not referred. Board members preferred to have the entire short term rental issue, like Air BnB, addressed in the ongoing comprehensive revision of zoning ordinances.

Exemption of property tax for the surviving spouse of officers killed in the line of duty was referred for additional study. Creasey asked that the addition of animal control officers be added to the study.

The option to increase transient occupancy tax on hotels and bed and breakfasts from the current two percent to five percent mandating the additional funds be dedicated to tourism was not referred. Creasey was alone in dissent.

Adding running bamboo, which is not a problem in Goochland, to the excessively high grass, was also rejected.

A mandatory change passed by the GA to clarify the definition of a dangerous dog, was set for a public hearing.

The usual VDOT reports and a public hearing on the Secondary Six Year Plan for rural rustic roads were also part of the Board agenda.

Let’s hope that whoever represents the 56th District in the Virginia General Assembly for the next two years realizes how their actions trickle down to the weeds in localities and be very aware of unintended consequences of ill-conceived and poorly drafted laws.

If you are so inclined, don’t forget to vote in Tuesday’s primary.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Time to make the donuts






Goochland Supervisors unanimously approved a conditional use permit for franchisee Luis Cabral, who lives in the Meadows, to add a drive through window to a proposed Dunkin’ Donuts in the Courthouse Commons Shopping Center on Fairground Road at their June 6 meeting.


Cabral explained that Dunkin’ Donuts was reluctant to grant a franchise in Courthouse Village, citing low population, unless it included a drive through window.


Denial of this application was recommended by the county planning commission at its May meeting for safety reasons.

Located at the north end of the strip shopping center, which is also home to Dawson’s Pharmacy and Food Lion, the drive through lanes share space with travel lanes used by large trucks that make deliveries to center tenants. The Planning Commissioners were not convinced by schematics presented at their public hearing that motorists waiting to pick up their daily caffeine could share space with big trucks.


At the Board hearing, shopping center owner Rick Palamar joined forces with Cabral to present a short video demonstrating that the proposal is feasible and safe. They outlined the proposed lanes and used a soft drink tractor trailer to negotiate the turn. It did so safely, giving a wide berth to vehicles parked where the menu board will be and in the “stacking” lane, where motorists wait their turn to order. All lanes will be clearly delineated with pavement markings supplemented by ample signage to direct customers in and out.

Photos of another Dunkin’ Donuts operated by Cabral just east of Innsbrook with even narrower lanes around a building were shown. Cabral said that there have been no traffic incidents of any kind there.

Palamar said that, during a typical week, between nine and 12 large trucks make deliveries behind the shopping center after the expected 7 to 9 a.m. morning rush at Dunkin’ Donuts.

Cabral plans to invest approximately $400 thousand on a total renovation of the space and expects to hire 15 full time and ten part-time employees.

This new tenant in the shopping center will bring new traffic for neighboring businesses and add another choice to folks seeking sustenance on the go.



Cabral explained that Dunkin’ Donuts was reluctant to grant a franchise in Courthouse Village, citing low population, unless it included a drive through window.


Denial of this application was recommended by the county planning commission at its May meeting for safety reasons.

Located at the north end of the strip shopping center, which is also home to Dawson’s Pharmacy and Food Lion, the drive through lanes share space with travel lanes used by large trucks that make deliveries to center tenants. The Planning Commissioners were not convinced by schematics presented at their public hearing that motorists waiting to pick up their daily caffeine could share space with big trucks.


At the Board hearing, shopping center owner Rick Palamar joined forces with Cabral to present a short video demonstrating that the proposal is feasible and safe. They outlined the proposed lanes and used a soft drink tractor trailer to negotiate the turn. It did so safely, giving a wide berth to vehicles parked where the menu board will be and in the “stacking” lane, where motorists wait their turn to order. All lanes will be clearly delineated with pavement markings supplemented by ample signage to direct customers in and out.

Photos of another Dunkin’ Donuts operated by Cabral just east of Innsbrook with even narrower lanes around a building were shown. Cabral said that there have been no traffic incidents of any kind there.

Palamar said that, during a typical week, between nine and 12 large trucks make deliveries behind the shopping center after the expected 7 to 9 a.m. morning rush at Dunkin’ Donuts.

Cabral plans to invest approximately $400 thousand on a total renovation of the space and expects to hire 15 full time and ten part-time employees.

This new tenant in the shopping center will bring new traffic for neighboring businesses and add another choice to folks seeking sustenance on the go.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Choice



Voters in the Virginia 56th General Assembly have a gracious plenty of candidate choices in the June 13 primary. This is a nice change from the last six years when republican Peter Farrell ran with no opposition. Farrell announced that he would step down earlier this year.

Two democrats: Lizzie M. Drucker-Basch, lizziedrucker@nophika.com, www.lizzieforvirginia.com; and Melissa M. Dart dart4delegate@gmail.com; and six republicans: Matt C. Pinsker, info@pinsker4delegate.com, pinsker4delegate.com; Graven W. Craig, gravencraig@yahoo.com, http://gravencraig.com; George S. Goodwin, oaksby@gmail.com; Surya P. Dhakar, dhakarfordelegate@gmail.com, http://dhakarfordelegate.com; John J. McGuire III, john164@mcguire56.com; and J. F. "Jay" Prendergast, jayprendergast4delegate56@gmail.com, jay4delegate56.org, threw their hats into the electoral ring.

On Saturday, June 3, the second tri-partisan candidate forum took place at Goochland High School. This is the second time that county democrats, republicans, and Tea Partiers collaborated to stage an event to help citizens become informed voters. This is yet another example of Goochlanders coming together for the good of all.

For three hours, those in attendance listened to each candidate explain their make their case for election.

Each of these people are to be commended for taking time from busy schedules to run for office. Gathering signatures to secure a place on the ballot(no dancing allowed) is just the first step. Raising money, getting endorsements, and meeting voters are all part of the process. We have them to thank for a choice at the polls.

Six of the eight—all but Louisa residents Craig and Goodwin—candidates live in western Henrico, which a few contended is just a “stone’s throw” from Goochland. Perhaps geographically, but maybe not attitudinally.

Most began their remarks by declaring fealty to their party’s philosophy, either conservative, liberal, or progressive, in broad terms that promise a better Commonwealth. They were gracious and cordial to each other.

The order in which the candidates spoke was determined by lot. Following are a few thumbnail impressions, please visit websites and Facebook pages for details. All candidates welcome email questions. Don’t be shy, they want your vote, make them earn it.

Matt Pinsker is a Henrico attorney who also serves in the Army Reserve Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps. He teaches criminal justice and Homeland Security courses at VCU. He believes that illegal immigration is illegal and should not be tolerated.
(Some of Goochland’s large horse and other farms may employ illegal aliens who, some contend, live otherwise productive and blameless lives, and should not be penalized for their immigration status.)
Matt Pinsker

He supports law enforcement and authored a textbook used in police academies. Pinsker said that cable companies should be encouraged to expand in Goochland, he seemed unaware that Comcast is not inclined to do so and there are no other options. He believes that there are steps that can be taken to prevent opioid overdoses, but was a tad short on details.

Dr. Surya Dhakar is Henrico dentist whose policies include: abolition of the state income tax; removal of burdensome regulations on small business; and promotion of policies that build strong families and safe communities. He wants to end welfare and Medicaid abuse, which, he contended, is an incentive for children to have babies to get bigger checks. Though pro-life, he was short on details about how to discourage underage procreation.
Dr. Surya Dhakar

He said that Goochland is well run and said he would support making broadband a utility.

Melissa Dart, a Henrico health care administration professional, said she is a proud Progressive who supports Medicaid expansion in Virginia. She is concerned that dollars are being taken out of the public education budget. Dart would reverse the decline of Virginia’s ranking as a good place to do business by lowering the entry barriers for new businesses, which she vaguely described with standard buzzwords. Dart believes that “a broader conversation” is needed to address the illegal alien/sanctuary city issue. Melissa Dart


She believes that public/private partnerships are useful in broadband expansion, which is far more important than a means to play video games. Good education benefits everyone, she said. However, she seemed unaware of the current excellence of Goochland Schools, citing her endorsement by Bud Cothern, who was superintendent here about 15 years ago during the bad old days.

Lizzie Drucker-Basch runs a small business that deals with historic renovation. This provides her with first-hand knowledge of dealing with local government. She too supports the use of public private partnerships to expand broadband and find new ways to get this “educational and economic imperative” done. Lizzie Drucker-Basch

Drucker-Basch believes that the challenges facing the Commonwealth cannot get done in soundbites. “We have to focus on what we have in common, and how we get there,” she said. Drucker-Basch believes that Virginia does not spend nearly enough on education. She believes that teachers need the freedom to find new ways to engage children, energize the creativity of teachers, and not teach to the test. We’re pretty much doing that in Goochland.

George Goodwin of Louisa worked in the General Assembly with Tom Garrett, who was succeeded last January in the State Senate by Mark Peake. Goodwin contended that his legislative experience makes him the best choice to effectively represent Goochland in Richmond. George Goodwin


Goodwin was the first to mention that Virginia is a Dillion Rule state, which means that localities have only those powers ceded to them by the state. He said he knows how to identify unintended consequences of legislation, especially those that result in unfunded mandates that burden places like Goochland. Goodwin said that if elected, he will proposed legislation to fix the poorly drafted proffer law hurriedly passed two years ago that has thrown a monkey wrench into land use issues in many jurisdictions. He said that reducing the state workforce through attrition and combining overlapping agencies like the Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Environmental Resources will save money.

John McGuire of Henrico is a former Navy SEAL, fittingly nicknamed “Pitbull”. Though small in stature his character and personal ethos looms large. McGuire started a small business, SEAL Team PT and wants to remove burdensome regulations that hamper business formation. Declaring himself a uniter, McGuire pledged to bring disparate sides together for the benefit of citizens. He wants to reduce taxes and increase support for law enforcement and first responders.

McGuire said that the state certificate of public need (COPN) policy currently in place hampers expansion of health care services to rural areas like Goochland and stifles competition, which increases cost.
John McGuire

McGuire said that education should be the number one priority for the state, but that not everyone needs to go to college. Career and technical education, like that offered in Goochland, should be an alternate path to personal success.

Jay Prendergast of Henrico seems like a really nice guy with good intentions. He supports conservative values and pledges to work hard in the General Assembly for his constituents. While he seemed a bit uninformed about Goochland—except that it may be the most talented baseball county in America—Prendergast pledged, if elected, to attend local government meetings and become very knowledgeable about Goochland to serve its citizens better.
Jay Prendergast

Louisa County attorney Graven Craig began his remarks with silence in honor of slain Virginia State Police Special Agent Mike Walter. He then declared his
conservative values especially the belief that “the free market system, the greatest creator of wealth the world has ever known,” provides the opportunity for everyone to prosper. While Craig supports efforts of localities to expand broadband coverage to all residents, he rejects the use of public private partnerships. These arrangements, said Craig, give public funds to private business and essentially let government pick winners and losers.

Craig mentioned the deadly conditions at the Rt. 288/Broad Street Road intersection where VDOT has approved, funded, and “fast tracked” improvements that may not be made until 2121. He pledged to address the matter if elected.
Graven Craig

Craig too opposes unfunded mandates. He believes that each jurisdiction should have the power to make its own land use decisions. His approach to keeping guns out of the hands of people who should not have them is simple: enforce the laws already on the books because we have to protect our law enforcement officers.

Craig said that a big part of the opioid addiction problem is over prescribing.

This is a smattering of impressions of three hours of comments by eight people committed to their interpretation of good government.

Please check them out and cast your vote for one on June 13.

The tri-partisan group— a three cornered hat would be a good logo—is hoping to hold a statewide candidate forum in September, stay tuned.


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Heigh Ho Heigh ho, it’s off to vote we go


It will soon be time to vote again. In Virginia, we have the opportunity to go to the polls at least once every year.
On Tuesday, June 13, primaries for both republicans and democrats will be held to select candidates for governor; lieutenant governor, attorney general, and, in the 56th General Assembly District, which includes about the eastern third of Goochland, delegate. Voting will occur at your usual precinct. While no party registration is needed to participate in the primary, you may only cast a ballot for one party.

The 56th District is comprised of Louisa County and parts of Goochland, Henrico, and Spotsylvania Counties. Each Delegate represents approximately 83,000 people.

Unlike other years, delegate choices abound on both sides of the aisle. This will be a nice change from 2011, when Peter Farrell was essentially anointed into the 56th District delegate seat by a handful of men in a closed room a few hours after the earthquake that cracked the Washington Monument. The democrats did not field a candidate that year, so the republican nominee won the election. Farrell, who announced he would not seek reelection earlier this year, never faced an opponent at the polls.

Once again, the Goochland Democrats, Republicans, and Tea Party are joining forces to stage a 56th District candidate forum. It will be held on Saturday, June 3 at the Goochland High School from 1 to 4 p.m. Voters can see, hear, compare all candidates for this office, and choose a candidate. There may be an opportunity for questions from the audience.

A similar forum, held last January before the special election to fill the 22nd District State Senate seat when the incumbent Tom Garrett moved up the road to the United States Congress, provided a great community service to voters.

The democrats are: Lizzie M. Drucker-Basch, lizziedrucker@nophika.com, www.lizzieforvirginia.com; and Melissa M. Dart dart4delegate@gmail.com.

The republicans are: Matt C. Pinsker, info@pinsker4delegate.com, pinsker4delegate.com; Graven W. Craig, gravencraig@yahoo.com, http://gravencraig.com; George S. Goodwin, oaksby@gmail.com; Surya P. Dhakar, dhakarfordelegate@gmail.com, http://dhakarfordelegate.com; John J. McGuire III, john164@mcguire56.com; and J. F. "Jay" Prendergast, jayprendergast4delegate56@gmail.com, jay4delegate56.org.

As noted above, some of the candidates have websites, in addition to email addresses, and all are on Facebook.

Note that only two of the candidates, Louisa County Republicans Graven Craig and George Goodwin, are not Henrico residents. There are no contenders from Goochland. Supervisor Ken Peterson, District 5, declined to throw his hat in the ring.

The 56th District is a curious animal whose boundaries were likely drawn to concentrate republican voters. Combining parts of Short Pump with more rural areas that have different challenges, seems counterproductive.

Farrell, and his predecessor Bill Janis, used vague political rhetoric to tap dance around those attitudinal differences, contending that everyone in the 56th wants good government, great schools, and so forth.

Goochland County has traditionally had a good working relationship with its General Assembly delegation, which now includes 65th District Delegate Lee Ware, and 22nd District Senator Mark Peake, who succeeded Garrett in January.

Please try to attend the forum, or at least do some online research and make up your own mind about which person will serve Goochland best in Richmond.

Kudos to the political groups for making this forum possible.









Saturday, May 27, 2017

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Good jobs are going begging for lack of qualified workers while college graduates with anvils of student debt and no marketable skills are marooned in their parents’ basements.

How did things get so out of whack, and what can public schools do to remedy the situation?

Those topics and more were explored at a business and education roundtable held at Virginia Farm Bureau headquarters in West Creek on May 25. The event was sponsored by Goochland County Public Schools (GCPS), the Goochland Chamber of Commerce, and the county Department of Economic Development. Representatives from area companies, including Luck Stone and Wegman’s, participated as folks in work boots rubbed shoulders with those in business attire discussing workforce needs.

Goochland Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Raley, who literally—sports analogy intended—hit the ground running when he took the school division first chair not quite eleven months ago, asked local employers what qualities they find most important in new hires. “We want your input to design a better K-12 experience,” Raley said.

Dr. Jeremy Raley (foreground) and Dr. John Hendron

Education, said Raley is changing. He asked those present to think back to their time in school and recall what it looked like. No longer do students sit in neat rows of desks listening while a teacher lectures at the front of the room. Their desks may be clustered for group projects that develop teamwork and other collaboration skills while absorbing coursework, or they might be using power tools, or learning how to operate a backhoe on a simulator.

A crucial component of education, teachers, who, as one person said, “challenge you, push you, and make your brain hurt,” has not changed.

Raley thanked the School Board for encouraging and supporting teachers who take risks and use innovative techniques to engage students in learning as they “inspire the next generation to make a positive impact”, one of the goals of the GCPS strategic plan. (Visit http://goochlandschools.org/ to read about all the great things are schools are doing to “maximize the potential of every learner”.)

Providing all students with hands on exposure to a wide array of subject matter, many deeply involved with technology, expands their horizons. From the horticulture program where students grow hydroponic lettuce served in the cafeteria, to the Marine Jr. ROTC program that teaches leadership and personal responsibility, our kids are exposed to job specific skills and develop a positive work ethic.

Dr. John Hendron, Director of Technology and Innovation, said that next year, each GCPS student will have a device, either tablet or laptop. They will also have access to 3D printers. Using technology to collaborate on problem solving mimics real word activities.

Hendron used the prevalent technology of the smart phone to poll the attendees about the qualities they seek most in new employees. Choosing from a list of qualities, they responded by text. The winners were: positive work ethic; critical thinking, problem solving; and customer service.

While some jobs require a specific skill set, the ability to learn new tasks coupled with the work ethic is highly valued. “Even if an employee is highly skilled, if they have no desire to be there and work, I can’t use them,” one man said.

The discussion lamented the millennial reluctance to talk to customers. “The ability to verbally communicate is a powerful tool that they do not have,” one attendee observed.

Programs like the GCPS career and technical education (CTE) also give students the opportunity to explore careers that do not require expensive four year degrees. These include the heavy equipment operator course, one of two in Virginia, that offers a pathway to licensure and good jobs close to home, right out of high school.

Parents, said one person, are the biggest deterrent to technical education. They want the status of a college degree, even if their children might be better suited to a more hands on career.

Raley said that GCPS seeks to make learning an authentic experience that embeds essential real world skills into the K-12 learning experience.

While that sounds like buzzword gobbledygook, on a visit to Goochland Middle School last year, GOMM glimpsed classrooms where: boys learned how to plan menus and craft a household budget; students, boys and girls, used lathes and bandsaws to build robots; groups of students gathered around computers learning geography; and others worked individually and collectively to solve problems.

Partnership between schools and employers can pay huge dividends for our students and community.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Boom!


It’s official, Goochland is the Richmond region’s playground. Our county was recently recognized as a “2017 Playful City USA Community” by KaBOOM!, a national non-profit organization dedicated to bringing balanced and active play into the daily lives of all kids. The Playful City USA program honors cities and towns across the country for putting the needs of families first so kids can learn, grow and develop important life skills.

The press release about the recognition is available in its entirety on the county homepage goochlandva.us/. It explains that communities selected make a concerted effort to provide active play environments for children and the community at large. Active play, the group contends, is a good way to build social networks and create connections whose benefits extend far beyond physical well-being.

The Playful City designation concentrates on the county’s efforts to expand parks and playgrounds and collaborate with local non-profits like the Goochland YMCA, GYAA, GUSA, and others, to leverage resources for the betterment of all. The county Parks and Rec department is continually expanding its offering of programs and activities for all ages. Offerings for adults, for instance, include programs on both kick boxing and salads.

A good example of this collaboration is Tucker Park by the Maidens bridge. A few years ago, the county brought the property, one of the few places in the county with access to the James River that does not involve crossing CSX railroad tracks.

Interested citizens soon formed “Friends of Tucker Park” that worked with the county to transform a wild spot on the river into a recreational mecca. Walking trails with benches perfect for watching the river roll by; a rain garden; a simple performance stage; a Sycamore grove to honor the late Don Charles, who first glimpsed the possibilities in the site; and the latest addition, a canoe launch on the eastern side that is home to an LL Bean Discovery School.

Other parks and walking trails are spouting around the county. The long neglected former middle school is blossoming into the Central High School Cultural and Educational Center, complete with athletic facilities and walking tracks. Hiking trails in the east end of the county are in the works.

There is lots more to do in Goochland.

We have the Goochland Drive-In Theater in Hadensville. As Goochland is horse country, there are several equestrian venues. Orapax Hunting Preserve has been named the number one hunting destination in Virginia. We have wineries, breweries, and a cidery continually creating imaginative and award-winning, potent potables.

Annual events like Rassawek (coming up June 3 and 4 rassawek.com/rassawek-spring-jubilee/welcome/); Field Day of the Past (www.fielddayofthepast.net) for a trip back to simpler times; Bethlehem Walk, which gives special meaning to Christmas; and Fourth of July fireworks are local life savors.

Our history can be recreation. Walk on the courthouse green (come this Sunday, May 21 at 3 p.m. for the dedication of interpretive markers there) and see the old stone jail. Our Circuit Court House, has been dispensing justice for nearly two centuries.

Tuckahoe Plantation, where Thomas Jefferson may have learned to read, often hosts events and is a movie and TV star. The AMC series Turn was partially filmed there, with each of its distinctive entrances playing different homes in different cities.

Cyclists love to pedal our winding narrow roads, and tubers, unable to read maps, often fail to realize that the James River does not parallel Route 6 and it can take twelve hours to float from West View on the James to Maidens, a half hour trip by car. Signs have been placed along the river to make this clear, let’s see how many have to be rescued this summer.

Events put on by local groups, fire-rescue companies; churches, civic organizations like the American Legion are other way to weave the distinctive thread of every individual into a strong and colorful tapestry of community.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of recreational opportunities in Goochland. Kudos to the county for its efforts to bring folks together while having fun. See the Parks and Rec section of the county website for more information.