Monday, August 29, 2011

Exploring rural culture

Fourth Annual Farm Tour set for September 10

We Goochlanders like to cite the joys of our rural lifestyle but how long has it been since you actually set foot on a farm?

Mark your calendars for Saturday, September 10 when local farms in Goochland and Powhatan will welcome visitors.

The free, self-guided tour will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10, when six unique agricultural and agribusiness sites will be open to the public. Operators will make presentations on the hour and the half-hour.
The following farms will be featured:

• Belmead and Belmead Stables and Riding Club, 5000 Cartersville Road in Powhatan. This is a 2,000-acre former plantation recently placed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of “America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.”

• Carter Duke’s Farm, 2251 Sheppard Town Road in Goochland, features a bucolic historic property built in 1773 and Angus-Gelbvieh cattle managed with an effective rotational grazing practice.

• J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College’s Goochland Campus, 1851 Dickinson Road in Goochland, is home to a well-established horticulture program. Faculty and students will be giving tours of three different demonstration gardens.

• Kelona Farm, 4277 Old River Trail in Powhatan, which produces 1,200 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and barley and has a 50,000-bird poultry operation. Three generations are active in this family business. Visitors will be able to explore large farm equipment.

• Oakdale Farm, 5719 Cartersville Road in Powhatan, is a nationally recognized equestrian operation that specializes in dressage, stadium jumping and cross-country racing. Visitors will have the opportunity to watch dressage and jumping demonstrations.

• Shalom Farm, 1231 Westview Road in Goochland, is an outreach program of the United Methodist Urban Ministries of Richmond. The 2-acre fruit and vegetable operation provides tons of healthy produce for four impoverished inner-city neighborhoods. More than 1,400 volunteers pitch in each year to help provide fresh, local produce neighbors in need.

The Michaux-St. James Foundation will serve lunch and pie at the historic Michaux-St. James Church, 4097 Old River Trail in Powhatan. Foods used to prepare the meal will come from local farmers, and all proceeds will benefit the foundation.

Reservations for lunch can be made by calling Sara Corbett at 804-598-3590 by Sept. 7.

Details are available online at,, and on both the Powhatan and Goochland County Extension Office websites.

Tour sponsors include: the Powhatan County Farm Bureau; Powhatan Tomorrow; the Powhatan and Goochland Chambers of Commerce; The Center for Rural Culture; the Powhatan County Office of Economic Development and the Powhatan Office of Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Of earthquakes and elections

On August 23, 2011, the earth moved and republicans in the newly created 22nd District chose Tom Garret of Louisa as candidate for the state senate.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to those whose property was damaged in the earthquake, especially the fine members of County Line Baptist Church.

While Garrett carried the 22nd District, Bryan Rhode of Crozier clearly carried Goochland garnering 1,297 votes to Garrett’s 502 of the 1,961 votes cast locally. Local voters made it clear that they want their voices heard in Richmond.

The 22nd District state senate race, in which Garrett and exterminator mogul Bert Dodson, who promises to put lots of dollars into the race, will now square off for the November 8 election.

In another race of local interest, a GOP committee selected Peter Farrell of Henrico as the republican candidate for the 56th District House of Delegates seat.

Farrell, who will fill the seat vacated by ten year incumbent Bill Janis, a central character in a Henrico election drama, faces no democrat opponent.

A meeting of the 56th District Republican committee convened in a meeting room at the Twin Hickory library in western Henrico barely an hour after the earthquake hit.

The room, with a posted capacity of 175, overflowed with interested people including Senator Walter Stosch, whose staffer, David Bratt, was a contender for the nomination.

Although the room was smoke free and Don Boswell of the Henrico republican committee made it clear that spectators were welcome for the candidate presentations, the proceedings were very much a function of a political machine.

Linwood Cobb, chair of the 7th congressional district GOP committee, impeccably tailored wearing highly polished exquisite cowboy boots, was also present.

After a lengthy closed door session, the decision needed to be certified by seven p.m., the representatives from committees of Henrico, Goochland, Louisa and Spotsylvania, portions of which comprise the 56th District, chose Farrell.
Speculation about the reasons behind Farrell’s choice is rife.

As the son of the CEO of Dominion Power it does seem as though his selection was preordained. However, it is also possible that Farrell was the only contender that all could accept.

Sadly, the selection of Farrell is all too reminiscent of another young man who was moved too quickly through the ranks of state, then national politics. The whole country is reaping the folly of those actions.

Only one contender, Louisa lawyer Graven Craig, even mentioned two issues close to the heart of Goochlanders, the urban development area (UDA) mandate and dearth of broadband internet access in rural areas.

Republican candidates spend way too much time nattering on about grand concepts while ignoring nuts and bolts front burner issues, including threats to property rights, that are allegedly part of the conservative agenda.

Farrell did come across during his presentation as an earnest young man. It will be interesting to see if he works with and for his constituents or just goes through the motions in Richmond waiting for the next door to open.

Happily for Goochland, we are also represented in the House of Delegates by Lee Ware of Powhatan, who is familiar with conditions on the ground in Goochland.

Also, Ben Slone, chair of the Goochland Republican Committee, was elected as chair of the 56th District Committee. Perhaps we may have some prayer of restoring sanity to the candidate selection process in future elections.

It’s hard to see what benefit the GOP machine expects to gain from this whole mess. Those inclined to vote for republican candidates are repelled by this nonsense and will not swell the ranks of party faithful. This kind of shenanigans on both sides of the aisle gave birth to the Tea Party.

Perhaps dealing with a hurricane will clear our heads. The earthquake just rattled already unsettled conditions.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Rhode for senate

A primary election to choose the Republican candidate for the Virginia State Senate from the newly configured 22nd District, which includes all of Goochland, will be held next Tuesday, August 23, 2011.

Goochland’s own Bryan Rhode is the clear choice in this race. He is well qualified by education, experience, convictions and attitude. For details, please visit

Five people are seeking this nomination. Only one, Bryan Rhode of Crozier, lives in Goochland with his wife Lynne and two adorable young sons.

This year voters will select an entirely new group of legislators to represent Goochland. We are fortunate to have Bryan Rhode, the best candidate for the 22nd District Senate seat living among us.

All too often, our elected representatives focus their attention on the parts of their districts with higher populations and more votes. They come to Goochland for money and go elsewhere for votes.

Rhode understands, first hand, the needs of his fellow Goochlanders. That is why it is vital to elect Rhode as candidate for the 22nd District Senate seat.

Currently employed as a deputy commonwealth’s attorney in Richmond, Rhode has a broad view of the challenges that face the Commonwealth. He has served on active military duty as a United States Marine and is active in our community.

Rhode’s education, experience and leadership skills equip him to provide excellent representation for his constituents. He will collaborate with fellow legislators to craft effective long range solutions to issues that face Goochland and the Commonwealth.

Rhode understands the systemic deficiencies that have caused government to expand its reach beyond all reason. He will work to lighten the regulatory burdens that hobble our economy and chart the correct, not politically expedient, course to get us back on track.

Please vote Rhode next Tuesday, August 23.

The election is an open primary, which means that all registered voters, regardless of party affiliation may cast ballots.

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. This will be the first election following redistricting, so some polling places have changed.
All voters in District 4 now vote at St. Matthew’s Church on St. Matthew’s Lane in Centerville. Turn north at the Exxon station, cross Plaza Drive. The church is on the left.

The Crozier precinct is closed because Goochland will now be represented by only one state senator. Bryan Rhode is the best candidate for this office.

District 5 now has two precincts, one at Dover Baptist Church on Manakin Road, the other at the Collegiate facility on Blair Road.

All other precincts remain in the same place, although redistricting may have moved some voters into different polling places.

New voter registration cards were mailed to all Goochland voters earlier this year. If you have any questions about your voting status or polling place, please call county registrar Frances Ragland at 556-5803 with any questions.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Getting plugged in

It's GLE time again

The very fact that you are reading this blog indicates your interest in the Goochland Community.

We are blessed to live in an amazing place filled with fascinating people and worthwhile organizations.

An excellent way to learn more about the county and meet new people is the Goochland Leadership Enterprise (GLE) program.

Begun in the fall of 1996, GLE was crafted to educate citizens about the county and encourage them to take a greater role in the community.

Graduates of the program can be found taking roles, large and small, making Goochland a better place to live and work. One graduate is a member of the Board of supervisors. Some are candidates for office in this November’s election. One leads a political party. Several GLE graduates have served as Christmas Mother. Many serve on boards of various local non-profit organizations. One blogs.

The program consists of 15 sessions held every other Thursday evening at 7 p.m., which are held are various locations around the county. Each explores a different facet of Goochland in detail.

Topics include: Goochland history; volunteer fire-rescue; economic development; county administration; constitutional officers; agriculture and natural resources and the county budget. A dinner with the Board of Supervisors and a day at the state legislature to meet those who represent Goochland are highlights of the program.

There is a registration fee of $45, which includes all materials and a graduation dinner in the spring.

In addition to exploring issues of local importance with decision makers, GLE provides the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life and all parts of the county. Through GLE lifelong Goochlanders and new residents come together to forge bonds that build our community.

This year’s GLE program begins on September 22 with a class orientation and pictorial tour of Goochland. Each class is limited to 25 participants. Applications for the program are available at or from the Goochland Extension office, PO Box 20, Goochland, VA 23063; or by calling 804-556-5873.

Make this the year you get involved with Goochland.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Left in the lurch

Reports that Republican Bill Janis, who currently represents Goochland in the Virginia General Assembly, will run for the Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney job in Henrico are very troubling.

Janis, first elected to the General Assembly 10 years ago, developed a reputation as a lightning rod as he publicly challenged policies of democrat governors Warner and Kaine, which helped his rise through the party ranks in the legislature.

In 2003, Janis fended off a challenge from Goochland’s own Hunter McGuire that resulted in the expenditure of an absurd amount of money for a part-time legislative gig. Although he faced challenges in ensuing elections, his reelection was never again threatened.

Now, he wants to change direction and seek a county office, the same county office that Jim Gilmore used as a springboard to become Virginia Attorney General and subsequently governor.

The problem is not that Janis wants to take this path. Serving as Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney is a noble goal. If, as he stated in a recent television interview, Janis has wanted this job for some time, he should have thrown his hat into the ring earlier in the year in the normal course of things.

It sounds like the objectionable conduct of the current republican candidate for Henrico commonwealth’s attorney has been known to party leaders for some time. Why all the eleventh hour drama?

Henrico voters will decide if they can stomach on the job training for their commonwealth’s attorney or prefer someone with prosecutorial experience.

Long time Janis crony Tom Garrett followed that path when he was elected Louisa Commonwealth’s Attorney four years ago with little experience as a prosecutor. Happily, the good folks in Louisa committed enough bizarre crimes to get Garrett lots of TV face time. Garrett’s deputies seem to have done a fine job during the past four years protecting the citizens of Louisa. Good thing, because Garrett seems to have already tired of that office and is stepping down to seek the republican nomination to represent the new 22nd District, which includes Goochland, in the Virginia Senate. This is also a part-time job.

Like most politicians who represent Goochland in addition to other jurisdictions, Garrett has come to Goochland seeking support, and money, for his senate primary run.

At an appearance before the Goochland Republican Committee earlier this year, Garrett mouthed the usual conservative platitudes and illustrated his ignorance of Goochland issues when he mentioned the good relations between Goochland supervisors and school board.

The behind the scenes shenanigans that surround Janis’ move, which will leave his constituents, including about half of Goochland, in the lurch, smell to high heaven.

While in office, Janis regularly brushed off issues of concern to Goochlanders. He dismissed the broadband access problem as not an issue for government. He was non-responsive to Goochlanders trying to get the urban development area(UDA) state mandate legislation reversed. Too bad, that would have provided him a platform to go after Tim Kaine’s progressive agenda. Guess he was too busy looking for skeletons in Henrico closets.

So now Janis will run for office in Henrico. Garrett wants to represent us in the state senate, but for how long? If Janis does go on to run for state attorney general, look for Garrett to go with him.

It seems like the term “public service” as used by politicians is code for “what’s in it for me.”

Friday, August 12, 2011

Water water everywhere?

As Goochland gropes for a strategy to both define and plan for appropriate growth in the county, one vital component for growth—water—receives little attention.

Two items on the Board of Supervisors’ August 2 agenda touched on water issues.

The first matter was the application filed by Powhatan County for removal of up to 10 million gallons per day of water from the James River.
A large delegation from Powhatan County government attended the meeting to present additional information about the water intake facility it plans to build.

Powhatan County Administrator Carolyn Bishop told our board that Goochland property owners opposite the site received letters notifying them that a permit application has been filed with various regulatory agencies including the Army Corps (some say corpse) of Engineers.

Some of those letters, dated August 1, received them well after the board meeting. The letters also informed property owners in Goochland opposite the site in question that a public notice about the filing of the application for the permit appeared in the July 24, 2011 Richmond Times-Dispatch. It gives no indication about the location.

The facility, located on the south bank of the James below Solomon’s Creek will consist of an intake mechanism including a concrete bunker 140 feet long and about 15 feet high extending about 20 feet into the river. It will ultimately remove 10 million gallons per day to support economic development in the area.

Should the river be running low, the Powhatan folks explained, an amount equal to that removed will be replaced by the Cobbs Creek reservoir in Cumberland.

As Goochland, by virtue of its association with Henrico in the Tuckahoe Creek Service District, is part of the regional water plan that includes this reservoir, we should not worry about water, they said.

Questions posed by citizens included concerns about low flow and visual impact on the pristine condition of the riverbank.

No member of the Powhatan delegation, which included engineers and consultants as well as members of the Powhatan Board of Supervisors, seemed to know that gallonage of average daily flow down the James in the area of the proposed facility.

They insisted that the Cobbs Creek Reservoir, which will capture water during times of high flow or even flood, will contain ample water to compensate for low flow during dry times. The fact that Powhatan plans to begin taking water from the river before the reservoir is completed was glossed over.

What happens if the reservoir goes dry? Given the strange weather patterns that are becoming the norm, that scenario should be addressed somewhere, somehow.

While the engineers seemed somewhat receptive to discussing alternate designs to mitigate the blight on the view shed, their attitude was that it will be hard to see from land on the Goochland side because it is higher and it’s out in the back of beyond, so who cares?

No one addressed the amount of noise that the pumping station, to be located a few hundred feet from the river will make.

The bottom line seems to be that Powhatan is going to do what it wants to here.

A small delegation from Goochland met with Powhatan officials a few weeks ago to discuss the matter.

Oh to have been a fly on the wall during that session. The Powhatan folks probably told the Goochlanders that they have some nerve begrudging Powhatan water when they have locked in rights to take huge amounts of water from the James both at the Department of Corrections facility just east of Courthouse Village and in partnership with Henrico through the Tuckahoe Creek Service District.

Unlike Goochland, Powhatan seems to have a strategic plan for economic development in place. That fact should have been instructive for our supervisors, but they just seemed confused and board by the whole discussion.

Later in the afternoon, after the attention span of the board had been exhausted by Powhatan and the Verizon kerfuffle, the preliminary version of the Goochland County Water Supply Plan, the result of yet another state mandate, was presented.

In 2003, the state decided that all jurisdictions needed to investigate available water resources. Reports are due to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality by November 2011. The board voted to allocate funds for this study in 2006. Guess the former county engineer was so busy stuffing checks in drawers that this report went on the back burner.

It is part of a regional water supply plan, which makes sense given the cross pollination among jurisdictions about water supply, especially water taken from the James River.

According to the report, Goochland will have enough water mostly from the James River, to meet expected demand for the next fifty years. There seems to be little information about ground water in the summary report.
The report indicates that development in Oilville can be supplied by groundwater, which could be augmented by its inclusion in the Tuckahoe Creek Service District.

When the county was pretending to seriously seek water supplies for Oilville, connection to the TCSD was rejected as an option because its governing ordinance reportedly requires any property added to the TCSD must be contiguous to the existing district. This clearly excludes Oilville.

Little attention seems to have been paid to identifying and quantifying ground water supplies throughout the county. Each time land comes up for rezoning from agricultural to residential developers trot out environmental engineers to explain that there is lots of water under the property in question. Planning commissioners and supervisors have no way to know if those reports are meaningful. This report was supposed to provide an impartial resource for county officials to use in making land use decisions.

The entire report will be available before the public hearing scheduled for the October 4 supervisors’ meeting. Hopefully, it will either be posted on the county website in its entirety or by a link to read the whole document.

This is an important subject.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Another Goochland soap opera

Brenda Grubbs pleads guilty

Those who mourn the passing of television soaps operas have only to look to Goochland for their regular dose of melodrama.

The latest episode of How Goochland Turns was held on Tuesday, August 9 when former county treasurer Brenda S. Grubbs pleaded guilty to eighteen counts of embezzlement; one count of attempted embezzlement and one count of money laundering before Goochland Circuit Court Judge Timothy K. Sanner. Grubbs missed an earlier court date on July 26 because she was hospitalized.

Grubbs and her husband arrived a few minutes before the 2 p.m. start of the Circuit Court session. News crews from all three Richmond TV stations surrounded her as she waited for the doors to open. She stood silently, her face turned toward the wall of the courthouse. Except for a few affirmative answers to questions posed by the judge and 20 pleas of “guilty” Grubbs said nothing during her court appearance.

The guilty plea spares the county the expense of a trial. Grubbs waives her right to appeal Sanner’s decisions regarding sentencing. In return, the Commonwealth will bring no further charges against her in connection with the embezzlement.

Sentencing will be on December 13 after pre-sentence and victim impact statements have been presented to the court. These will be sealed.
The charges against Grubbs carry a maximum of 410 years in prison. A request by Grubbs’ attorney, James Maloney, to prepare an alternate punishment evaluation was rejected by Sanner who said it was “unlikely” to be granted.

Fluvanna Commonwealth’s Attorney Jeff Haislip, who was appointed special prosecutor in the case to avoid the appearance of either prejudice or favoritism, presented a summary of the charges against Grubbs.
It sounded way too much like the product of a soap opera scriptwriter’s fevered imagination.

On or about February 14, 2010 Brenda Grubbs began an online relationship with someone allegedly named Bobby Johnson who claimed to be from Falls Church but was in Nigeria. He told Grubbs he had been shot and needed money for medical care.

Haislip indicated that, according to emails found after execution of a search warrant for Grubbs’ home, office and car, “Johnson” plucked at Grubbs’ heartstrings to establish a friendship with romantic overtones. He emphasized that Grubbs never met him in person.

Over the intervening months, “Johnson” managed to convince Grubbs to send him money; she first used her personal funds, as much as $100,000, which Maloney said she exhausted before dipping into county coffers.
Haislip contended that the confiscated emails contained phrasing indicating that “Johnson” did not speak English as a first language. Efforts to trace the emails back to Nigeria were unsuccessful.

That’s right. Brenda Grubbs, the woman entrusted with overseeing Goochland’s money, got taken in by a cyber lothario.

The first of the embezzling counts was comprised of 20 separate transactions. Grubbs sent the money via Western Union on a regular basis. Haislip said that when Western Union would no longer deal with Grubbs, he did not elaborate why, she convinced family members and friends to act in her stead. Her rationale, said Haislip, was that she was helping a church in Nigeria.

Grubbs used Western Union offices in Goochland, Henrico and other places, said Haislip. She obtained the money by altering deposit slips and moving funds among different county accounts. She seems to have spent so much time at the bank and wire transfer office that it’s no wonder county accounts were not reconciled in a timely manner.

According to evidence presented by Haislip, Grubbs took thousands of dollars at a time in amounts like $6,000; $12,000; $5,810 and $7,467. That may have just been the way the cash portion of the daily deposits worked out. The straw that broke the camel’s back and prompted a call from a bank to County Administrator Rebecca Dickson in February was Grubbs’ attempt to cash a check written to herself on a county account for $14,340.

Haislip did indicate that Dickson had gotten some earlier notification of previous irregular transactions and said that an investigation into Grubbs’ activities began before her arrest early in February, 2011.

Photographs of Grubbs making the transactions were part of the evidence.
Maloney told Sanner that Grubbs was suffering from unspecified physical ailments and was depressed when she was targeted by an online predator and was manipulated by overtures of what he characterized as “romantic friendship” with someone in dire straits in a far off land.

Grubbs, through Maloney, accepted full responsibility for her actions and claimed to have been working to raise funds for restitution to the county. He said that Grubbs did not use any of the money for herself but instead sent overseas to help the mythical Bobby Johnson.

He said that more details will be provided at sentencing, at which time he may call expert witnesses. Maloney explained that Grubbs, upon her release from Henrico Doctors Hospital, enrolled in a New Directions program and is taking a variety of medications for unspecified conditions.

Maloney contended that Grubbs is not a flight risk and asked that she remain free on bond so she can continue to amass funds to make restitution. (One has to wonder why she did not tap those sources to help Bobby.)

Sanner concurred stating that her offences were not violent in nature and she no longer has access to county accounts. He has treated other local embezzlers in a similar manner. Sanner did require Grubbs to meet with a probation officer immediately after leaving the courtroom to set up a reporting schedule until sentencing.

Haislip estimated that Grubbs’ theft totaled about $184,000. That does not include the expense incurred by the county and the Commonwealth to investigate the matter. He also said that it is likely that Grubbs kept the accounts for her household and her husband had no idea what she was doing.

This situation is very sad and very scary. How could someone unable to recognize an internet scam be elected to an office that requires a high level of competence and integrity? Grubbs was charged with handling all county funds, millions of dollars or public money was in her care.
Haislip said that he believes that Grubbs will serve some active incarceration because of the serious nature and magnitude of her breach of public trust. He said that the citizens of Goochland need closure on this matter and hopes that the revelations during her arraignment and sentencing will provide that.

Clearly Grubbs is very troubled. The bizarre way she attempted to assuage her personal misery became a public embarrassment for her and her family and Goochland County. That does not excuse her transgressions.

The scary part of the entire episode is that, until the 2009 comprehensive county audit, which brought the dreadful lack of internal county financial controls to light, no one noticed that it was even possible for this kind activity to occur. This is yet another failure by the board of supervisors, controlled by the members from Districts 1, 2 and 5, to provide good stewardship of county funds.

Goochland County will recover the stolen money either from the state treasurer’s bond or Grubbs’ personal funds.

If there is a silver lining to the episode, it is that “Johnson” did not help Grubbs clean out all county accounts. Also, the treasurer’s office has been thoroughly investigated and new, tighter money handling and other operational procedures have been put into place to make a repeat performance unlikely.

Given the Board of Supervisors’ reluctance to air the dirty linen of Grubbs’ failure to perform some of the most basic functions of her office in a timely and proficient manner, it is quite possible that she might have run for reelection without opposition, as happened four years ago, and won.

Now it is up to the voters to put new leadership in place so Goochland County can stop being the laughingstock of the region.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A taste of things to come

Election machines gear up

The August 2 meeting of the Goochland Board of Supervisors provided the first taste of electoral maneuvering in the county.

The meeting got off to a good start with the announcement that the local facility of J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College will now be known as the Goochland rather that western campus. The actual impact of this change is a little vague, but it can’t hurt to put Goochland on the map in a favorable way.

Another piece of good news was shared by County Administrator Rebecca T. Dickson and Beth Moore, who heads the taskforce developing Tucker Park at Maidens Landing. Recently, under the volunteer direction of local contractor Leigh Gordon, parking lots were graded and graveled thanks to in kind donations of labor, equipment and gravel valued at about $60,000. Moore said that the park is a great example of community collaboration and philanthropy. Completion of the parking lot will make it possible for everyone to enjoy this new park, located on the James River on Maidens Road.

The list of people and companies working together to make this happen includes: Derek Stamey of Goochland Parks, Rec, and Facilities Management; Gary Clower of McKinney and Company who created plans for the lot; Joe Liesfeld with Liesfeld and Bill Ottley with S. B. Cox who graded the area and removed unneeded soil; Mike Parrish who did the survey work; Travis Chewning and Brad Duty from Luck Stone, which donated 1200 tons of gravel. (If any names or organizations that were part of this outstanding effort are omitted or misspelled, please chime in to correct.)

Moore said there will be a public dedication of the facility when it’s a bit cooler.

An item to amend the current fiscal year budget to include an expenditure of $21,000 from fund balance to cover the cost of demolition and site clean-up of 2372 Chapel Hill Road in District 2.

Dickson explained that a mobile home on the property was condemned after it was damaged by fire. The owners of the property are deceased and the property went into foreclosure. Efforts to contact Wachovia/Wells Fargo Bank, the Trustee in the foreclosure have been unsuccessful. In the meantime, the property poses a threat to the health, safety and welfare of the neighborhood.

A lien will be placed on the property, whose current assessed valuation is $80,000 according to county land records. If and when the land is sold, the county will be able to recover the money it spent to remove the hazard.
No mention was made of how the $21,000 amount was computed. Also, there was no mention of who will do the work. Tammy Roberts, who lives nearby, confirmed the deplorable and dangerous condition of the property and said that she would clean it up for $21,000.

Look to see a reelect Quarles sign near this property.

During the portion of the meeting where Rob Crandol,VDOT representative, discusses road matters with the Board, Andrew Pryor, District 1 asked about the rural addition process to pave existing roads. He was inquiring about paving for Smith and Pace Roads in his district.

You’d think that having been a supervisor for decades, Pryor would know that the rural addition method of paving roads is a lengthy process that can take years.

If he was so interested in helping the folks who live on Smith and Pace Roads, he should have started the process well before an election was in sight.

A visit from representatives of Verizon Wireless was an illustration of the arrogance of large corporations. Other agenda items ran a bit long, so the technical advisor left before Verizon was called to the lectern.
The gentlemen, who was careful to inform the assembly that he was in charge of Baltimore, Washington D. C. and all of Virginia, to let us know our place in his pecking order, had no clue about the degradation of Verizon wireless service plaguing Goochlanders.

After snarkily suggesting that Verizon customers needed to call and have a service ticket number assigned to their problems, he was bombarded by comments from customers who explained that they had spent hundreds of hours on the phone, had several service tickets opened and gotten no resolution of their problem.

He did provide contact information and asked that those affected provide him with their phone numbers and remedy ticket number. He promised to research the problem.

He spewed jargon and blamed the problem on more complicated phones even though several people in different parts of the county said that Verizon allegedly made repairs but never bothered to check if the system worked afterward.

There were many reports of cell phones and air cards that had worked fairly well until a few months ago when the service either got worse or failed to work altogether. Speakers said that there were told that there would be no solution to the problem in the foreseeable future.
To exacerbate matters, Jim Eads, District 5 said that the Board of Supervisors has no power in the matter to fix anything.
Ann James of Oilville asked that the county send a letter of complaint about the matter to the CEO of Verizon.

During the evening citizen comment period, Kevin Hazzard of Gum Spring suggested that a proactive remedy to the deplorable lack of communications in Goochland be explored. An information technology professional, Hazzard said that there were areas in the Amazon rainforest where aboriginal natives get better cell signals than parts of Goochland.

Hazzard contended that if the county identified tower sites throughout the county to ensure that everyone could at least access wireless internet and get usable cell signals and completed the necessary rezoning and other local regulatory steps, it would attract wireless companies who have little interest in jumping through zoning hoops.

Rudy Butler, District 4 suggested that the county should contact the State Corporation Commission and Federal regulatory agencies about the situation.
In the evening session, the board voted to move the Urban Development Area initiative to the planning commission for a public hearing and recommendation, probably in September.

The final version of proposed UDAs adds the Broadview Shopping Center in Centerville and about 35 acres behind Company 5 on Fairground Road. The proximity of this property to JSRCC could reinforce the campus theme there.
Although some board members expressed discomfort with the state dictating local zoning matters, their concern that the $50,000 VDOT spent on land use consultants to craft Goochland UDAs would need to be refunded if the county does not comply prevailed.

The good news is that any land wanting to take advantage of UDA zoning must be rezoned, which gives the Board the final say.

At the conclusion of business, the supervisors voted to go into closed session for the purpose of discussing possible litigation against the county’s former auditors. Don’t expect this initiative to go any further.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The results are in

One elction down, two to go

The polls are closed and the results are in for the two canvasses to select Republican candidates for supervisor in Districts 1 and 5
In District 5 in the east end of the county Ken Petersen won over Courtney Hyers 408 to 199.Voters sent a strong signal that they want a change in representation. Hyers was the designated successor to incumbent Jim Eads. So far, no other candidates have come forward in this race.

At the other end of the county in District 1 Susan Lascollette won over P.C. Hunnell 120 to 76. She will face incumbent Andrew Pryor who has been in office since the Nixon administration.

These two canvasses complete the Republican candidate field for the November election, which also includes candidates for the Monacan Soil and Water District Commissioner. Jonathan Lyle and Jeff Sorrel will run for those positions.

We may still not know all of the candidates for the November 8 local elections. Candidates have until August 23 to collect signatures and file to run as independents.

Stay tuned.