Friday, July 23, 2010

Knowledge is power

Get involved

If you’re a regular reader of Goochland on my mind you are already interested in local government.

Whether you’re new to the county, or have lived here your entire life, the Goochland Citizens Enterprise Program, fondly known as GLE, is a great way to expand your understanding of how things work here.

Perhaps a more important GLE benefit is the opportunity to meet people of all walks of life from all corners of Goochland and get broader perspective about issues facing different parts of the county.

Since its inception in 1996, GLE graduates have become involved across the spectrum of county functions and serve in every capacity from non-profit volunteers to elected officials. One blogs. They have enriched all facets of civic activity and expanded opportunities for others to join in their endeavors.

Classes begin on Thursday, September 9 with orientation and pictorial tour of Goochland and meet every other Thursday until the end of March with a generous holiday break.

Sessions are held at different locations throughout the county to encourage students to explore places outside their normal flight paths and issues beyond their comfort zones.

All parts of county government are explored including discussions with county staff and elected officials. A dinner with the board of supervisors, scheduled for March 1, provides an excellent opportunity for in depth discussions about county issues with the decision makers.

Speakers are representatives from all county departments including the county administrator; commissioner of the revenue; treasurer; sheriff; clerk of the circuit court; commonwealth’s attorney and school administration. The class travels to the Virginia General Assembly to meet with Goochland’s state representatives in February.

Sessions also includes ways to get more involved with Goochland.

While there is a modest fee for participation, assistance is available for those who might be economically challenged to ensure that all who are interested may participate.

Please call the county extension office at 804.556.5841 to obtain an informative brochure and reserve your place in the class.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Update on food pantry bingo

The bingo to benefit the food pantry at Perkins Church originally scheduled for July 23 will be rescheduled due to a conflict. Stay tune for updates. Donations of food will still be welcome.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Grass roots

Helping neighbors is rural character at its best

Every day we read about how fat we all are. Another sad truth that is too often ignored is that some folks are going hungry due to the bad economy.

Some people would rather light a candle than curse the darkness and here is a local example as reported by Marjorie Mayo:

The Women on Missions (WOM) group of Perkins Baptist Church saw the need for a food pantry in the western end of Goochland County. We had our first opening on June 12th and two families stopped by for food. On July 10th, 20 families came by for food.

To help stock our food pantry, we are sponsoring Bingo night events and we are simply asking for a small donation of food for admission. Below is information about our food pantry and the next Bingo night. As a trial run, the food pantry will be open the 2nd Saturday of every month from 8-10am.

Food Pantry

The Food Pantry at Perkins Baptist Church will be open again on Saturday August 14th from 8-10am. If you need a little extra help or know a family in need, please encourage them to stop by. The food pantry will be open the 2nd Saturday of every month from 8-10am. Perkins Baptist Church is located at 3177 Hadensville-Fife Road in Goochland. For more information or further questions, please contact the church at 804-457-4366.

B-I-N-G-O for Perkins’ Food Pantry!
Date: Friday, July 23, 2010
Time: 7:00pm
Location: Perkins Baptist Church, 3177 Hadensville-Fife Road, Goochland

Come out and play BINGO to help stock the shelves of our food pantry. For every 2 Cans of Non- Perishable food donated, receive 1 BINGO card!
Prizes will be “white elephants,” (An article, ornament, or household item no longer wanted by its owner.) and other items that have been donated.

You are not guaranteed to win BIG, but you are guaranteed to have a fun time in Christian fellowship!

Suggested items are listed below. They have a good supply of canned corn and beans.

Can tuna, chicken and ham
Spaghetti sauce with meat
Mac & cheese
Spaghetti O's
Can vegetables, other than corn and beans
Can soup & soup mixes
Oatmeal (individual serving pouches)
Juice boxes
Paper products such as paper towels etc.

We do have freezer but we have to be careful not to over stock because
of space. Of course, monetary donations are always welcome and would
help us stock our freezer with meat when supply gets low.

Help out if you are able, you never know when you might need friends like these.

Monday, July 12, 2010

July in the board room

A new fiscal year

The July meeting of the Goochland board of supervisors was pretty routine.

Goochland Sheriff Jim Agnew reported that his department has responded to an unusual number of larcenies in the past month. He warned all Goochland residents to be extra careful and to lock up equipment including lawn tractors and vehicles. Agnew also advised against leaving valuables including cell phones and computers in unattended and unlocked cars.

Wayne Allen, who has served as interim Fire-Rescue Chief since January, was thanked by the board for his service. William Mackay was introduced as the county’s new Fire-Rescue Chief. He started work on June 28.

The board also presented Martin Marietta, Allen’s employer with a resolution of appreciation for their support of the organization. Businesses in Goochland who permit their employees who are fire-rescue volunteers to leave work to respond to emergencies rarely receive any recognition for this important public service contribution.

The board voted unanimously to approve a resolution to send to the state against creation of a shooting range on the Powhatan side of the James River for Virginia State Police and FBI use as well as not expanding the existing shooting range at the James River Correction Center in Goochland. Several citizens presented thoughtful and well researched comments against the facility.

Some of the ammunition expected to be used at such a facility is capable of traveling 15,842 feet according to Bob Williams, who lives opposite the proposed facility in Maidens. He estimated that Rt. 6 is about 12,000 feet from the proposed range and contended that little thought had been given to liability potential when selecting the site.

One speaker contended that Goochland and Powhatan have the highest number of felons per capita in the Commonwealth thanks to the high concentration of correctional facilities in the two counties. Funny, you never see this statistic quoted by “local” journalists.

Others contended that locating the facility in the James River basin would only amplify sounds exacerbating noise issues. The proposed facility is expected to offer training in both day and nighttime conditions.

Law enforcement officers must be well trained to for their safety and ours. However, that training should not pose the slightest threat to nearby residents. Such a facility should be located well away from populated areas and certainly not near high end homes whose property values could be threatened, having a negative impact on already depressed local government tax revenues.

Surely there must be other places to locate this facility. Why not put a shooting range underground to contain both noise and stray ordinance for everyone’s comfort and safety?

John Wright of the Goochland Parents Education Association (GEPA) asked that the supervisors request an investigation of goings on in the Goochland School system by the Virginia Department of Education. He questioned several school actions and contended that some administrative positions had been funded by monies appropriated for instructional salaries. (Wright’s remarks can be heard about 58 minutes into the recording of the afternoon session available on the county website under the board of supervisors’ section)

Board chair William Quarles, Jr. District 2 said that it is improper for one elected board to investigate another and dismissed the GEPA request with no input from fellow board members. Although Quarles was quick to recuse himself from a recent rezoning case due to kinship with the applicant, he failed to mention his familial connection to District 2 school board member Raymond Miller.

School administration is working so hard to discredit GEPA that you have to wonder what is going on there and why.

Butler said he was concerned about the possible legal ramifications if the supervisors had been mislead to misappropriate school money

Quarles said that school superintendent Dr. Linda Underwood informed him that she is looking into such an investigation.

Yes, it seems that the system that needs to be investigated is going to retain its own investigators and pay them with tax dollars that should be used to run the schools. Stay tuned.

The board went into closed session following a vague explanation concerning discussion of legal advice with the county attorney. We can only hope that the discussion concerned possible legal action against those who so royally botched up the county’s finances as revealed by the 2009 Certified Annual Financial Report, CAFR.

Speaking of CAFRs, Ron Churchman, the KPMG partner in charge for Goochland’s audit, explained the parameters of the upcoming FY 2010 CAFR to the supervisors, a service rarely, if ever, performed by the previous auditors.

District 5 Supervisor Jim Eads, who derailed the morning’s strategic planning session on economic development, asked some interesting and very pertinent questions about fraud. Perhaps he’s just not a morning person.

The auditing team, explained Churchman, would ask for clarification and backtrack to ensure that it had and understood all pertinent information before raising concerns about fraud. He also said that KPMG would first inform the supervisors about possible fraud.

The exchange was quite interesting. Please listen for yourself. Churchman’s remarks occur about one hour and 30 minutes into the recording.

During public hearings at the evening session, the board unanimously approved continuation of a conditional use permit for the studio of local photographer Jeff Mabry on Sandy Hook Road.

The board also unanimously approved a CUP for a car wash as an accessory use to a convenience store planned for construction in the extreme northeast corner of Goochland on Pouncey Tract Road.

This enterprise is poised to tap revenues from Henrico and Hanover residents and has the collateral benefit of extending water and sewer lines to the northern boundaries of the Tuckahoe Creek Service District, which should attract other businesses to the area.

Eads’ silence on the matter is curious given that during the morning’s strategic planning session he declared “there will be no water and sewer north of Centerville for years to come.” The explanatory slides for the CUP application, however, included an aerial map of the surrounding area illustrating the location of existing TCSD water and sewer lines well north of Centerville that were installed several years ago.

County attorney Norman Sales presented amendments to county zoning ordinances necessitated by actions taken by the General Assembly.

Friday, July 9, 2010


Economic discouragement

The promise of a strategic planning session on economic development for Goochland’s supervisors held on July 6 at Courthouse Company 5 remains unrealized.

Indeed, remarks made by citizen Michael McDermott of Maidens during the evening public comment period offered more suggestions for enhancing the county’s business tax base than the four and one half hours the board spent “discussing” the subject.

No developers and only a few citizens bothered to attend the session. They were joined by both candidates for the District 5 republican nomination for supervisor: Courtney Hyers, currently a planning commissioner and Ken Petersen. Several other planning commissioners, one member of the EDA, the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, the Sheriff, Fire-Rescue Chief and several department heads and members of county staff were also in attendance. Those who did not have to stay melted away when it became apparent that no new ground would be broken.

Once again, District 5 supervisor James W. Eads, as is his habit, dominated the conversation with barely relevant and long-winded remarks that derailed the entire session.

(Please listen for yourself. A recording of the debacle has been posted on the county website click on supervisors and go all the way to the bottom on the left side of the page.)

Facilitator, Lou O’Boyle had not been warned about Eads’ delight in listening to his own voice and was unable to move the discussion back to the subject of economic development.

The failure of board chairman William Quarles, Jr., District 2, who usually does a superb job of controlling meetings, to help get the conversation back on track was troubling. It was almost as if Quarles and Eads has conspired to torpedo the session. This is especially curious because Quarles has long advocated the need for strategic planning.

About the only positive action to come out of the session was a general consensus among the supervisors to investigate filling the vacant economic development director slot.

Eads tried to sabotage this too by insisting that the job be funded by adding a few more pennies to the ad valorem tax paid by property owners in the Tuckahoe Creek Service District.

Ned Creasey, District 3 contended that an economic development director’s duties should include: working to develop and support small business; establishing a business incubator and marketing the entire county, including the TCSD and West Creek, to the world.

Rudy Butler, District 4 said that people in his district want services like dry cleaners closer to home. Currently, said Butler, people in eastern Goochland leave money for these services in Short Pump.

Eads said that small business will not fund the TCSD debt and that the county needs large businesses. He later declared that the TCSD debt will be paid by the ad valorem tax ignoring the fact that the TCSD debt service model was based on a six percent annual increase in property valuations forever. Recent economic conditions and other revelations have proved that premise false.

Andrew Pryor, District 1 contended that the West Creek landowners move in powerful economic development circles every day and have more contacts that the county could ever hope to make. He further contended that the reason West Creek has not developed is that landowners are “not ready” to sell their land.

Eads declared Courthouse Village a jewel that should be developed with high-end restaurants for all of those pesky rich people in Goochland, many of whom live in his district. Does he not realize that a good number of those same people only sleep in Goochland and have little inclination to travel west for entertainment.

In the past year two upscale restaurants in the eastern end of the county fell prey to the bad economy. Fast food may not be elegant, but it tends to be recession proof providing a dependable revenue stream.

During initial discussions on changes in county government, Eads alluded to the previous malevolent dysfunction of county administration as “unacceptable and inexcusable” as though someone other than the supervisors who enabled those conditions to persist was responsible.

Quarles did state at the outset that, “in order to be successful, the county must change paradigms to attract business,” but failed to elaborate on his comment.

McDermott suggested that the county market itself to data centers that need large tracts of land and significant amounts of water for their operations that generate well paying jobs. Given its location, easily accessible from all parts of the Richmond metro area, the TCSD would seem an ideal location for this type of business. Why has no one in county government thought of this?

In spite of repeated entreaties from county administrator Rebecca T. Dickson for guidance the board failed to set priorities and identify key economic development objectives to guide county staff in its work.

This means more sloshing around in circles.

The board needs to find ways to work with the landowners in the TCSD to encourage development there. This means they must abandon the premise that West Creek will be filled with corporate headquarters. The county also needs to ensure that its development rules nurture rather than penalize investment.

Plans for a hospital in West Creek are still on track. Why not add a continuous care senior community to the mix? Proximity to the hospital, utilities and easy road access make this an ideal location this kind of use. Yes, it is residential in nature, but will generate tax revenues and job and use water and sewer.

Baby boomers will begin to turn 65 next winter. Demographic forecasts indicate that there will be an extreme shortage of retirement communities. Goochland should capitalize on this coming demand.
Courthouse Village is indeed the heart of the county. Development there should be done carefully and soon.

Goochland must hire a skilled economic development director with the personality of a salesman. As Butler pointed out, there are many talented people living in the county with contacts and insight. Their expertise should be tapped to help market Goochland as well.

Talk of the troubled TCSD occupied a good part of the discussion. A map of the TCSD included in the handouts showed a saw tooth boundary south of Rt. 6, which would seem to indicate that there are people benefitting from the TCSD and not paying the ad valorem tax because Rt. 6 is the statutory southern border of the district. Yet another indication that the mantra: “those who benefit from the TCSD will pay for it” is a lie.

Goochland needs some hotels. Creation of a B3 zoning district to permit buildings up to 100 feet high was passed to late to attract them. Interstate interchanges are the ideal place to locate lodging facilities.

The time to decide that Goochland will be very rural is long past. Had the supervisors wanted to keep the county all country, they should never have approved rezoning West Creek and had the courage to tell the voters that they will pay high taxes for few services.

While we don’t want Goochland to become uber-developed like Henrico, we don’t want to emulate Cumberland whose only prayer of enhancing its tax base is a landfill for out of state refuse.

The board needs to get its act together, set parameters for economic development and get out of the way so staff can do its job. Developers are allowed to make profits. The county needs to stop playing chicken with those who would invest here.

No one knows what the future will bring. Clinging to old models that ignore today’s economic realties is folly that Goochland simple cannot afford.

Monday, July 5, 2010

For your information

GOMM stands alone

Goochland on my mind has no connection whatsoever with any “local” Goochland newspaper.

If you have complaints about accuracy, editorial policy or content of these publications, please take it up with their publishers. No, Goochland on my mind will not supply that contact information nor make the complaint for you.

While Goochland on my mind is happy to pass along information about upcoming events it cannot and will not arrange to have newspaper coverage of those events. No, posts from Goochland on my mind will not be submitted to those publications. They should write their own material.

As a blog circulated solely in electronic form Goochland on my mind uses new technology to circulate ideas and, hopefully, stimulate thought in a manner far more responsive and immediate than newspapers, which are cumbersome to create and distribute and often out of date before the ink hits the page.

Thank you for your support and please keep reading. If you disagree with the opinions expressed in Goochland on my mind, feel free to comment, or hit the delete key. Above all, please keep paying attention to what is going on in Goochland and draw your own conclusions.


Friday, July 2, 2010

Happy Birthday America!

The Fourth is more than baseball and watermelon

Sunday is the Fourth of July, the 234th anniversary of a hot day in Philadelphia when a group of men took a leap of faith that created America. It’s way too easy to forget their courage when they risked their lives and livelihoods to sign that document. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude. The least we can do is to pay homage to the day that changed the world.

Start the weekend with a visit to the Goochland Famers Market on the grounds of historic Grace Episcopal Church on River Road West in the heart of Goochland’s Courthouse Village. At 10 a.m., Richard LeBlanc will read the Declaration of Independence from the steps of the church. This is probably how many people in rural areas learned about the developments in Philadelphia that would rock their world to its foundations. Try to imagine how a Goochland farmer felt all those years ago knowing that war would soon be in his backyard.

Although the flag as we know it wasn’t around in 1776, it is the symbol of America. We pledge allegiance by rote and probably give little thought to the words. This transplanted Yankee finds the emphasis that Goochlanders put on the word “indivisible” confirmation that, no matter how different we may be on the outside, we are one united people in our hearts.

The late Red Skelton, a comic who could tickle funny bones without four letter words, offers one of the best insights into the Pledge. Read or watch at

The Fourth is a great day to fly your flag. To ensure that you’re doing it correctly, visit

Make sure your kids and grandkids help. Do they know how to fold and respect the flag, if not this is a great way to teach them. These are important lessons that should be taught at home by family members.

The Fourth is a good time to reflect on the freedoms that we take for granted, including and especially, the right to free speech. Without the First Amendment, this blog would not be possible. As a nation, we bicker, a lot, but resolve our differences at the ballot box not local battlefields.

Fireworks, the reenacting of ‘the rockets’ red glare” of the Star Spangled Banner, are another Fourth of July tradition. These will be held in Goochland on Sunday night about 9 p.m. Visit the county website for details.

America is very much a work in progress. We must all honor those who sacrificed for our freedoms, especially the men and women of our military who go in harm’s way so we can enjoy a safe and peaceful Fourth. We must also be ever vigilant that our way of life does not disappear into history.
We all have the responsibility to be informed citizens and remind our elected officials that their power is derived from those who are governed. We must pay attention, ask difficult questions and demand accountability from our leaders.

Ponder these ideas as you celebrate the Fourth. We must work together to ensure that there will be many more birthdays for America.