Sunday, October 26, 2014

Choices

The candidate forum sponsored by the Goochland Chamber of Commerce at Benedictine Preparatory High School on October 23 for those seeking to represent the Virginia 7th Congressional District was not intended to produce a “winner.”

(The forum will be rebroadcast in its entirety on WCVE 88.9 FM on Sunday, October 26 at 6 p.m.)
Kudos to the Chamber for inviting all three candidates:Dave Brat, Republican (Davebrat.com); James Carr, Libertarian(www.jamescarrforcongress.org);and Jack Trammel, Democrat (http://www.trammellforcongress.com)to participate.

The auditorium was nearly full; Brat’s Tea Party supporters were notable by their absence, perhaps caused by the firearms free venue.

While “victory” in the event was in the eye of the beholder—few in attendance probably changed their minds—Carr definitely won the congeniality award. His remarks were thoughtful and free of rancor. He generously took issue with democrat hecklers who rudely disrupted Brat’s remarks a few times.

Regardless of political or attitudinal preferences, heckling has no place at events like this forum. It only belittles those making the fuss.

Brat, who turned the world of Virginia Republican politics upside down with his decisive primary defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, began his remarks by condemning Obamacare. He pledged to repeal it and replace it with options including Health Savings Accounts and reduce health care costs through free market access.

Trammel contended that the Affordable Care Act--what Democrats call Obamacare--saved everyone in America at least $1,000 last year. He said that the ACA is here to stay. Many of the gray heads in the audience shook an astonished “no” in response to that comment.

Carr said he absolutely favors repeal of ACA and characterized the notion that the system individual mandates can be fixed as “ridiculous.”
None of the candidates favored tax hikes to reduce the federal deficit. Carr literally waved a copy of the Constitution while saying that he favored a reduction of the federal government functions to those enumerated by the Founding Fathers. He advocated intelligent cuts and elimination of crony capitalism.

Trammell said that the federal government needs to balance its checkbook like everyone else. Taming the deficit, Trammell contended, is not a democrat or republican issue.

Brat, who figuratively waved the Constitution, said he favors unleashing the free market system by getting rid of governmental controls that stifle productivity, which would increase revenue without raising taxes.
The candidates generally agreed that Social Security, Medicare, and veterans benefits for those currently receiving them are untouchable entitlements.
Trammell said that those programs are “a promise we have to keep.”

Brat, who sniped at Trammell for falsely accusing him of wanting to eliminate benefits for current seniors, acknowledged that the programs will have soon have funding issues and need to be tweaked for future recipients by raising the retirement age. (Remember that 65 was an arbitrary number selected as retirement age more than a century ago because few people lived that long.)

Carr said he believes that the term entitlement has a negative connotation. He favors allowing people to opt out of Social Security and manage their own retirement benefits, which, he contended, provides a better return.

On the efficacy of background checks to prevent gun related violence:
Carr said that there is no need for additional checks when those currently in place are not being enforced and have no material impact on gun violence. He contended that the federal government’s “Fast and Furious” program that put guns into the hands of criminals is a blatant example of failure. “Do you want to trust the government that did that?” Carr asked.
Brat contended that the federal government’s job is not to manage, but rather protect, rights. He said that background checks should prevent guns from being in the hands of those who are a danger to themselves and others. He would make mental health a high priority.

Trammell said that the checks have an appropriate role in the management of Second Amendment rights, but mask a mental health epidemic.

Trammell and Brat both support the notion of impartial redistricting, probably knowing that it will never happen. Trammell decried the years of republican domination that resulted in gerrymandered majority republican districts, conveniently forgetting the days when things were the other way around.

Carr quipped that he has yet to see a majority libertarian district. He contended that more voters adhere to libertarian principles than those of the two dominant parties. “They just don’t know it yet.” He supports a truly transparent redistricting process.

Brat said that he already ran on his principles and won an election. Trammell said that he will “reach across the aisle” to work with like-minded legislators of both parties on important ideas.

Carr quipped that there are twelve people who run the Federal Government. “I will never get to talk to any of them.” But he also will not be beholden to power brokers. He acknowledged that the other candidates had made some valid points and, if elected, would take them to Washington with him.

Moderator Curtis Monk, president and CEO of Commonwealth Public Broadcasting, deftly handled the program. Timekeepers were Keith Flannagan and Robin Lind of the Goochland Electoral Board. Thanks to the Chamber and its president Ed Lawton and executive director Bonnie Creasey for staging the event. Thanks to the citizens who submitted questions for the candidates.

Citizens have the right to vote, which carries the responsibility to cast educated ballots. Please take the time to research each candidate and decide for yourself how to vote on November 4.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Homework

Homework
NEWS FLASH: A public hearing on a conditional use permit for Taco Bell in Centerville scheduled for the November 5 supervisors’ meeting has been deferred until the application completes the Design Review process.

The District 4 Town Hall meeting that kicked off the latest round of these sessions at the Grace Chinese Baptist Church on October 16 provided an interesting snapshot of citizen reaction to issues facing Goochland County.Supervisor Bob Minnick began the session with an overview of things going on.

County Treasurer Pam Johnson explained that, going forward, the car licensing fee, will only be levied on cars garaged in the county on January 1 and not prorated as it has been. This change, said Johnson, eliminates confusion for people who change cars during the year.
Johnson also said that bills for the second half of real estate taxes, which are due on December 5, should be in the mail soon.
If you have not received your bill, and do not escrow taxes, call her office. “Taxes,” said Johnson, “are still due even if you do not receive a bill.” Late penalties are stiff. She also explained that the Tuckahoe Creek Service District pay ad valorem tax is a tax, not a utility fee and mortgage companies should show it as such on statements.

Beth Hardy, who represents District 4 on the Goochland School Board, reported lots of good news from our school system. She said that the school board meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays and everyone is invited. (The meetings are live streamed, see the county website www.co.goochland.va.us for details.) All Goochland Schools, said Hardy, are 100 percent accredited, one of 22 such divisions in the Commonwealth’s The graduation rate is 95 percent and Goochland Schools outperformed Henrico and Chesterfield in the top three required categories of testing.

She said that the school board is very vocal, plugged in to education leadership at the local and state level. “They know who Goochland is.”
Dr. James Lane, Superintendent of Schools, recently named one of the “40 under 40” by Style Weekly added to the recital of achievements by our schools, students, and staff. He reiterated thanks for the fiscal support from the Board of Supervisors to implement the Marine Corps Junior ROTC program at the high school. Right now, Lane said, 20 percent of the student body at GHS participates in this program. Visit glnd.k12.va.us to see details about our schools.

Our school board and school staff are definitely doing their homework to the betterment of our kids and community.

Marshall Winn, a representative of VDOT reported that the long awaited traffic signal at the corner of Hockett and Broad Street Roads in Centerville should be operational by Thanksgiving.

Bids for the construction contract to replace the failing corrugated metal pipe under Ashland Road, whose fragile condition caused imposition the current detour for vehicles weighing four or more tons, will be advertised in January. If all goes well, he expects installation of a sturdy box culvert will be complete by the end of August, 2015. The contract, said Winn, will include an incentive for early completion.

Most of the meeting time, however, was absorbed by residents of the Parke at SaddleCreek in Centerville who are angry about McDonald’s and the possibility of a Taco Bell.

They are worried about what sort of people fast food outlets open to all hours of the night attract to Centerville, especially “vagrants from I-64.”

Ironically, when the land that is now The Parke at SaddleCreek was rezoned in late 2006, residents of the equestrian enclave on the southern border of the subdivision opposed the change because it would have a negative impact on their property values, would destroy the rural character of Centerville.

They said that those homes would overwhelm narrow roads roads with traffic, and increase crime because, who knew what kind of people would want to live in houses on tiny lots.

Speakers from SaddleCreek arrogantly contended that they live in an upscale rural subdivision and expect upscale amenities. (For truly upscale rural, see the homes to the south of SaddleCreek, valued upwards of seven figures on acreage with imposing homes, beautiful barns and generous fenced paddocks.)

As one gentleman, who lives west of Centerville, pointed out, there is nothing rural about the Parke at SaddleCreek. It is a suburban subdivision, albeit a nice one, no different from those in Henrico. Wonder how they like the Fall Festival of Firearms, which should start any day now.

The new residents complained that they “were told,” no doubt by someone who lives elsewhere eager to sell them a house, that Centerville would have upscale shops and restaurants. Instead, we have McDonald’s. They demanded that the county put “better” businesses there. Goodwill, Dollar General, and Food Lion are enough, they declared. Wonder if they realize that the corner behind them is zoned for a strip shopping center? CVS anyone?

Ironically, without the homes in SaddleCreek, Centerville’s population density might have been too low to meet McDonald’s “rooftop to retail” threshold.

Minnick and Board of Supervisors’ Chair Manuel Alvarez, Jr., District 2, tried to explain that the county does not decide which businesses locate here. Development is funded by private money and market driven. A landowner takes the risk that money invested will generate a reasonable rate of return.

“It’s not like we had a choice between McDonald’s and Ruth’s Chris,” said Minnick. “We don’t pick and choose.” Local government cannot be arbitrary and capricious in land use matters.

Fragile conditions in the rest of the region have an impact here, Minnick contended. With the Richmond region glutted with existing office space, why go to the bother and expense of building more in Centerville?

Longtime Centerville resident Joyce Gregory asked if the new residents patronize exiting local businesses, or turn up their noses at old buildings and take their business to Short Pump.

Places like McDonald’s bolster a meager supply of starter jobs for our young people so they can learn how to work. Upscale restaurants, with the complication of adult beverage service may need older workers.

Maybe they could pool their money and open a business to their liking.

The SaddleCreek folks were also upset about the ongoing odor issues with TCSD water, which supposedly takes 15 days to reach Goochland taps from the Henrico source. Minnick, who gets regular reports on the problem from Mrs. Minnick, said completion of a utilities master plan, and other changes in the mechanical aspects of the system are in the works. This is a very valid concern, and should be corrected.

The Taco Bell CUP application is on hold until the aesthetics issues are addressed, which is a wise move.

There’s lots of homework for everyone to do. Pay attention to what’s going on, and ask questions about the reasoning behind the decisions.
The District 2 and 3 Town Meeting will be on Wednesday, October 22 at Reynolds Community College; District 5 October 29 at Manakin Company 1 Fire-Rescue Station; and District 1 October 30 at Byrd School. All begin at 7. Stay informed!





Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Recognition


Goochland is getting noticed--at last--in a good way.

A letter dated September 25, 2014 announced that Goochland County, under the leadership of our intrepid County Administrator Rebecca Dickson, has received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the current (FY 2015) from the Government Finance Officers Association.

Goochland is one of 1,424 government entities to receive this honor for budgets beginning in 2013. According to a press release, to receive the award, the reporting unit must meet guidelines that assess how well the budget serves as: a policy document; a financial plan; an operations guide; and a communications device. Proficiency 14 mandatory criteria within those areas must also be demonstrated.

The budget also meets a locally imposed goal, transparency, by being posted in all its glory on the county website. Go to www.co.goochland.va.us to see for yourself. The budget contains a great deal of useful and interesting information about Goochland and is well worth a perusal.

Thanks and congratulations go to Dickson and the entire team that crafted the budget. Stewardship of public funds is vital for cost effective government and can only be achieved through hard work, dedication, and good leadership at all levels.

Speaking of leadership, Goochland School Superintendent Dr. James Lane has been named one of Style Weekly’s “top 40 under 40.” Go to http://www.styleweekly.com/richmond/2014-top-40-under-40 for details.

The Goochland School Board is to be commended for hiring Lane two years ago and recently extending his contract to ensure continuing dedicated and innovative excellence in education.

Goochland is changing for the better. Good schools and competent, accountable government are just the beginning.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Blood moon


The October 7 meeting of the Goochland Board of supervisors ended a few hours before the “Blood Moon” eclipse.

A stirring and appropriate invocation by the Rev. Jeff Spence, the Supervisors began the proceedings.

County employees marking five year service anniversaries were recognized. This year’s group represents over 275 combined years of working for the citizens of Goochland County.

Board Chair Manuel Alvarez, Jr. District 2, mentioned that the next round of town meetings will be held this month. Another meeting to discuss the future of the Old Central High School building on Dogtown Road will be held on November 18 at 7 p.m. in the Reynolds Community College meeting room. The building itself will be open for tours on October 18 from 11:30 to 1 p.m.; Monday October 20 from 9-11 a.m. and 6-8 p.m. for those interested in the matter.

On November 12, a meeting about the Centerville area arterial management study will be held at Centerville Company 3 fire-rescue station at 7 p.m.

County Administrator Rebecca Dickson reported that the 2014 edition of The Goochland Observer is available on the county website www.co.goochland.va.us. A limited number of hard copies are available. The shift to a primarily electronic publication represents a significant cost savings over mailing a copy to every household. This is essentially the county’s annual report to its “stockholders,” the citizens. It contains a great deal of useful and interesting information, but is written from the county’s point of view.

The board voted to authorize Dickson to execute a contract to spend $13,000 for the 2015 Fourth of July fireworks that is expected to improve the grand finale of the pyrotechnic display. The contract is included in the board packet.

Several fire-rescue items were addressed during the meeting. The Board approved a request to use $37,158 of funds generated by EMS revenue recovery to purchase a 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe to replace a 2004 vehicle used by the Deputy Chief of Operations. Goochland Fire-Rescue Chief Bill MacKay reported that the emergency medical technician (EMT) class currently underway is full, but, so far, none of the students have joined Goochland rescue squads.

The Supervisors adopted a resolution to establish a standard for EMS response times in the county. Going forward, a 15 or fewer minute response time for areas of the county east of Rt. 522 south of the Louisa line to its intersection with Jackson Shop Road to Route 6 and 20 or fewer minutes for areas to the west is the goal. There is no sanction for failing to meet the goal, but this is the first time that response time standards have been established. The supervisors will receive periodic updates on response times.

MacKay said that three career EMS crews will be on duty 24/7 by November 1 and augmented with volunteers when available. The career crews will be deployed east, central and west in an attempt to cover the whole county.

Every EMS crew wants to be instantly at the side of a patient. Many factors go into response time beyond the number of crews on duty at any given time. Weather, geography—a major obstacle in long, narrow Goochland—and what else is going on plays a part. If you are in a jurisdiction with 1,000 career staffed ambulances and your call happens to be the 1,001th, you will have to wait your turn.

MacKay said that, countywide, the EMS response time is 15 minutes or less 77 percent of the time and 20 minutes or sooner 92 percent of the time. He also cautioned that extenuating circumstances affect this. For instance, if all on duty EMS crews are out of the county transporting patients to area hospitals, response time will be longer.

Goochland fire-rescue is working hard to get care where it’s needed fast. In addition to ambulance crews, all apparatus has some EMS equipment on board because so many of our providers are cross trained in fire and EMS skills. Red and white fire-rescue vehicles staffed by advanced life support providers can reach patients and provide life-saving care while an ambulance, perhaps from the opposite end of the county, is on its way.
Establishing a measurable standard is a better way to determine the need for additional personnel than anecdotal reports of a long wait for an ambulance. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. (Please chime in with comments about this issue.)
The tricky part is that you can’t plan emergencies.

Goochland Fire-Rescue adopted stringent protective protocols concerning Ebola transmission a few weeks ago.
The slope over the close landfill that is now Hidden Rock Park needs work again. The supervisors authorized appropriating up to $110,000 from the parks development fund for mitigation.

Qiana Foote, Director of Information Technology made a presentation about retaining the firm CivicPlus to redesign the county website. This initiative will improve transparency and help increase citizen engagement in Goochland government. The new website will be tied to social media in an effort to get information to citizens in formats that they regularly use.

CivicPlus will also handle live streaming of county meetings. The current system in place, which is a free service, has some issues, and has commercials.

The first year fee for the project package is $25,565. Annual services going forward are $4,734 subject to a five percent annual increase in year three of the contract and beyond.

During the citizen comment period at the start of the evening portion of the meeting, Cathy Crockett and Baird Stokes voiced concerns about the application of biosolids--the end product of municipal waste water treatment plants--and industrial sludge-- stuff too icky to think about—to land in Goochland.

Crockett contended that the county needs to be sure that biosolids are not being over applied to the land to the detriment of surface water. She said that there is a rumor that biosolids could be spread on as many as 8,000 acres of county farmland. Crockett also alleged that there is no strict adherence to or oversight of proper land application of these substances.
Stokes said he is concerned about the negative impact of sludge and biosolids, as differentiated from animal manure, on values of property near the application sites. He worried that people will fearful to live near those sites. “I believe in property rights,” said Stokes. “But you need to be mindful of the effect of your actions on your neighbors.”
Jonathan Lyle, Director of the Monacan Soil and Water Conservation observed that “nutrients are nutrients” regardless of their source. He opposed regulations on farmers, who are also businessman that would lessen their economic competitiveness. (Biosolids are applied to land at no cost to farmers.)
Lyle supported biosolids application that is done safely, property, and does not intrude on anyone else’s property. Industrial sludge, he said, is different and he urged caution until more is known about its contents and long term consequences of land application.

Alvarez said that the Department of Environmental Quality will hold a hearing on the subject at its offices at 4949A Cox Road in Glen Allen at 7 p.m. on October 23. He favors increased testing standards for industrial sludge. The county will request a hearing for application of these substances to land in Goochland.

Board vice Chair Susan Lascolette, District 1, pointed out that the county has no power to regulate or stop application of these substances in Goochland. Putting some regulations on storage is about all local government can do.
The Board approved a lease for Verizon wireless to locate equipment on the Centerville water tower. This does not necessarily mean that cell service in the area will improve.









Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Celebrate fall for a good cause


This coming Sunday, October 12, Manakin Volunteer Fire-Rescue Company 1 will hold its annual chicken barbecue and field day at Benedictine Preparatory High School, 12829 River Road, rain or shine, from noon to 4 p.m.

Barbecue tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children 6-12, little ones eat free. They can be purchased at Portico Restaurant.
Lots of other things will be going on.

As October is fire prevention month, the Manakin fire-rescue providers will have their equipment on display. There will be demonstrations of fire operations including vehicle extrication—cutting up a car with the “jaws of life,” and search and rescue dogs.
Photo ops with fire-rescue providers and apparatus are encouraged.

A MedFlight helicopter will land; its crew will explain the role that they play in saving lives in Central Virginia. (Be sure to offer a prayer when you see a MedFlight helicopter-- the crews deserve it and the patient needs it.)

The kids can enjoy a moon bounce and face painting.

Fire prevention and disaster preparedness displays will provide helpful tips for staying safe, no matter what.

Local organizations including the Goochland Historical Society, Monacan Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services will be on hand to explain their role in enriching our community
.
This is also a great opportunity to visit the lovely grounds of Benedictine Preparatory High School, greet old friends and make new ones!


Monday, October 6, 2014

There, not here

The October 2 meeting of the Goochland Planning Commission was a sampler of issues facing the county.

Applications that, if approved, would have paved the way for distillery on Broad Street Road, roughly opposite the Hickory Notch, were withdrawn in the face of stiff opposition from the community.

An ordinance amendment addressing the location of kennels was passed as introduced in September. Revised language, which added more restrictions on kennels, was thrown out after strenuous objections from owners of existing kennels. Commission Chair Joe Andrews, District 4, had asked for the stricter rules because he was concerned about existing kennels impinging on new subdivisions. To truly preserve rural character, perhaps developers who want to build subdivisions near kennels should apply for conditional use permits (CUP) to avoid interfering with the kennels.

An application for a CUP filed by Burger Busters to operate a Taco Bell with a drive through on the parcel just west of the Centerville McDonald’s, was recommended for approval, in spite of staff opposition to the appearance of the building. The vote was 3-2 with Commissioners Tom Rockecharlie, District 5 ad John Meyers, District 1, in opposition.

Elevations included in the packet, show the proposed Taco Bell is a brutal, brown box. (See the complete packet in the planning commission tab of the county website www.co.goochland.va.us )

As proposed, the building essentially thumbs its nose at the Centerville Village overlay district standards. Among the objectionable elements are storefront windows, flat roof, and metal slat detail on the fa├žade. The elevations lack a representation of the order kiosk. While landscaping is specified on the plan, it will take years for the plant material to soften the dreary aspects of this structure.

As Paul Costello pointed out, citizens volunteered many thoughtful hours to collaborate with staff on overlay district standards to ensure attractive, high quality buildings appropriate in scale and appearance for a village. He asked that the application be resubmitted after it had been reworked to comply with the overlay standards.

McDonald’s worked through several design iterations before arriving at a somewhat acceptable design. However, ordering kiosks for that site were never included in submitted in elevations, and should have been part of the overlay standard discussion.

The county needs to decide if it is really trying to create a cohesive village in Centerville and enforce the standards, or just not bother with the overlay district. The Burger Buster representative agreed to appeal the building exterior design to the Design Review Committee to obtain certification of adherence to the overlay criteria necessary to proceed to construction. He’s going to get a surprise there.

Other citizens objected to another fast food outlet in Centerville. They want the county to do a better job of selecting businesses for Centerville. This is the latest episode in the continuing Centerville development drama. People don’t like Goodwill or MacDonald’s, but are unable to offer constructive alternatives. More homes in Centerville attract new businesses like fast food.

District 3 Commissioner Derek Murray cautioned people who live in Centerville, including the Parkes at Centerville and Saddlecreek, that development is coming to the Broad Street corridor and nothing can stop it. The southeast corner of Manakin and Broad Street Roads, for instance, is already zoned for commercial use.

Applications filed by Ned Massie to rezone land just east of the Creekmore Park community on the north side of Route 6, adjoining the Richmond Country Club, were met with fierce opposition.

Massie proposed construction of two buildings, totaling approximately 18,000 square feet on just less than three acres. Massie said that he has retained several engineering and architectural firms to address the challenges of developing the site but as yet has no clear plan for the parcel. A Creekmore Park resident who opposes the plan contended that Massie is “trying to put a square peg in a round hole.”

Massie seemed to indicate that he expects the structures to be used for retail purposes. It’s hard to see how small outlets here would succeed. In late 2006, a de facto mixed use project was rezoned on the corner of Manakin Road and Route 6, also facing strong opposition from nearby residents. No retail space was ever developed there. Mary Anne Cisne said that when West Creek Business Park was rezoned more than two decades ago, citizens were assured that all commercial development would be contained there. A commercial area further east on Route 6 has struggled to succeed.

Land fronting Route 6 backing onto Creekmore Park was zoned residential office (RO) when the residential parcels were created, but remains undeveloped.

The neighbors contend that Creekmore Road, which would be used to access the proposed development, is narrow and already overburdened with traffic.

They also contended that existing serious drainage issues in the subdivision would be exacerbated by the proposed development. Massie retorted that the land in question slopes away from Creekmore Park.

The Commissioners sided with the homeowners on this one and voted to deny recommendation for approval. They agreed that RO would be the best business use for the parcel.

A companion rezoning application for the rear portion of the parcel to create residential lots was unanimously recommended for approval following no comment during the public hearing.

These matters will move to the Board of Supervisors for another public hearing and final disposition, probably in November.



Thursday, October 2, 2014

Semper Fidelis







Goochland MCJROTC color guard


From the Halls of Montezuma to the fields of Goochland High, the United States Marine Corps embodies the best of America.

On Wednesday, October 1, a unit commissioning ceremony for the Goochland High School Marine Corps Junior reserve Officers’ Training Corps ceremonially launched the program, which began at the start of the school year in August.

The current commander of Goochland American Legion Post 215, Col. Joe Wadle, USMCR, retired, acknowledged the debt Americans owe the veterans who secured the rights they take for granted. He said that the MCJROTC program came into being thanks to the vision, dedication and hard work of many people. Wadle’s involvement undoubtedly expedited deployment of the program in Goochland.

School Board Chair, Mike Payne, District 1, said that MCJROTC embodies a vision and goal of the school division’s strategic plan to inspire students to make a positive impact. The values of the Marine Corps: honor, courage, and integrity cannot be faked, contended Payne.
He gave special thanks to the Board of Supervisors for authorizing funding for the program.

Superintendent Dr. James Lane thanked all veterans and military personnel on active duty for their service. “We are proud to being the opportunity to participate in the MCJROTC program to Goochland, and inspired with a new culture in our school.”

The school division had three years to get enrollment in the program up to 75 students, yet nearly 120 students responded to the initial class.
Board of Supervisors’ Chair Manuel Alvarez, Jr., District 2 explained that the MCJROTC program was highly requested by constituents he and District 2 School Board Member Kevin Hazzard met while running for office.

“This program is not about politics, it’s about promises kept,” said Alvarez. “Here, we are offering courses to build character, develop critical thinking, teamwork, and practice skills most people never get until much later in life.”

Guest of honor Col. Wesley Lee Fox, USMC (ret.) and holder of the Congressional Medal of Honor, which is often conferred posthumously, shared sage advice. “If you’re not happy with who you are, drugs or alcohol aren’t going to change things.”

Fox encouraged young people to have a plan for their lives based on core personal values of courage and integrity.

The Quantico Marine Corps Band provided stirring music. The Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon, an elite unit that exemplifies Marine discipline and professionalism, performed. This drill includes a series of precision movements while handling 10.5 pound hand polished M-1 Garand rifles with fixed bayonets. The ease with which these 24 Marines twirled and tossed their weapons is the result of countless hours of dedicated practice.

Enriching the high school years of Goochland students with positive role models and worthwhile activities will guide them to successful and satisfying lives. Not all students who participate in the MCJROTC will serve in the military, but the lessons they learn will help them to be good and productive citizens wherever life takes them.

Oo rah!