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Clinch Valley Times
St. Paul , Virginia
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March 12, 2009     Clinch Valley Times
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March 12, 2009
 

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Page 2 CLINCH VALLEY TIMES, St. Paul, VA, Thursday, March 12, 2009 Of shoes. .and ships..and sealing wax..by Ann Young Gregory Hooray for the Resolution/ In an action which every residential and/or busi- ness property owner in St: Paul should acknowledge with cheers and more cheers, the St, Paul Town Council has formulated a resolution concerning the recent Wise County tax reassessment and sent it on to the Wise County Board of Supervisors and other relevant parties. The Council also shared the Reso- lution with area newspapers, and I hope you read it in the Clinch Valley Times' issue dated March 5. Every point that's made in the Resolution is valid and goes right to the reasons for the outrage that most of us felt when we were mailed the notices of real estate tax reassessment of our property. Personally, we were horrified .that the assessment on our house went up 28 percent. That was particularly annoying, since it was on top of the assessment several years ago that required me to make an appointment with the review committee or whatever it's called. I told them that the assessor must have thought my family lives in Buckingham Palace. They were evidently not amused, since they made absolutely no changes in their esti- mation of the value of our house. We also own business property, of course, and the assessment on it was up 27 percent. There seemed to-be a pattern developing, at least with property owned by us. I began asking around--I didn't want to know what the actual amount of the reassessment was, but rather, what the percentage of increase was. Almost all of our neighbors reported numbers similar to our 28 percent- -a few were lower and some were higher, but they were similarly high. Some of the properties down- town weren't reassessed so consistently; however, neither were older downtown homes reassessed con- sistently--and the same was true of the newer down- town houses. Perhaps owners of a few of the houses which received such high reassessments had made improvements, but I know of no swimming pools or gold-plated front doors or extra rooms which were added. We had put a new roof on our house a couple of years ago--it was since the last reassessment, but our house was 30 years old, and you're supposed to take care of your property and replace things that are worn out! We certainly hadn't made any major additions or improvements to the-Clinch Valley Times building-- so were unable to explain the 27 percent increase. Several friends got our heads together and made an informal list of recent home sales. There had been but i a few in the past couple of years, and in most cases, i those houses had sold for prices which were adjusted down from the original asking price. _ ...... ' ,i[ in all, it didn't seem unreasonable for the Town Council to express the general outrage of the :community to the County. Here are the points that the Council members made in the Resolution. 1) "The present housing market is depressed and home values have declined nationwide in the past year." This relates, of course, to the general disaster which has been experienced in housing and mortgages the country, which have contributed to the ? disastrous economic downturn the nation is experien- cing. If, for instance, we tried to sell our house for the : value placed on it by the recent reassessment, we'd be laughed out of town! Letters to the editor o o, Readers'are inited to write letters on matters of general interest to, the pub.lie. Letters do not necessarily reflect the philosophy or editorial policy of this newspaper, which reserves the right to edit letters. The Clinch Valley Times will" not print unsigned letters. and then. He soon became a pillar in the community and the neighbor's right arm, helping everybody and doing no harm. And working out a living on his ole country farm. I just can't believe how fast time has flown by, He's now eighty and I'm approaching seventy-five. When the clock of time for us shall run no more, I'll see him again on To the Editor: "MY FRIEND" Heaven's bright shore. When I I'd like to have a little of your get over there in Beulah Land I time, to write you this story want to shake my Savior's hand. while it's flesh on my mind, I want to say Lord I'd like to ask About a man that was born for just one more thing, if I may, during the Great Depression in let me be a neighbor again to my 1929. Mr. S.A. Fraley has been friend, S.A. He might just say it one of a kind. I got acquainted won't be long till you get to with him for the fh'st time when meet, he's across the hill right we were just small boys playing now feeding the sheep. Well, we on his uncle's farm with some took a little trip down memory homemade toys. Time flew by so lane today digging up bones and fast. We soon were both men and this poem is written by a life got to see each other ever now long friend, Jessie M. Jones. UVa-Wise art instructor receives Virginia Museum of Fine Arts fellowship a hard time with installations because they are more difficult to sell. I also have to travel to specific locales to install my art. This fellowship allows me to do more and to do it better." The juror for the professional fellowship awards was Joanna Marsh, curator of contemporary art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. In ,the 69 years in which VMFA has presented fellow- ships, the museum has awarded $4 million to 1,069 professional and student artists who are permanent residents of Virginia. Money for the fellowships comes from a privately endowed fund administered by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, an educational institution of the Commonwealth of Virginia. For more information about Harvey's artwork, visit her Web site at www.heather-harvey.net. For more information, contact the Office of College Relations at 276-328-0130. Heather Harvey, an instructor of art at The University of Virginia's College at Wise, is one of 14 professional artists re- cently honored with a fellowship from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Harvey, a Big Stone Gap resident, was awarded the $8,000 fellowshipto assist in the creation of her artwork. She traveled to Richmond in Febru- ary to receive the award in a ceremony featuring VMFA re- presentatives and Virginia's Gen- eral Assembly, including Dele- gate Teixy Kilgore. Harvey won in the category of sculpture for her site-specific installations, a type of visual art designed for a specific gallery space, open area or architectural setting. Site-specific installations are often ephemeral, because they are typically destroyed once the exhibition is over. "Winning this fellowship is particularly critical to supporting this type of artwork," Harvey said. "Commercial galleries have 2) "The value of properties in the Town of St. Paul have declined due to the increased diesel truck traffic and other environmental concerns regarding the coal fired power plant." This particular point evi- dently ruffled some Dominion feathers, and two of St. Paul's elected officials--separately--received rebukes from a Dominion representative. This is particularly interesting in light of the fact that Dominion had previously informed at least one St. Paul group that it is Dominion's policy not--that's NOT--to become involved in or to have opinions concerning local issues. The dirt and noise created by additional trucks coming through town because of the power plant and "other environmental concerns," which we'd be totally stupid to ignore, are, indeed, local issues. 3) "The proposed closure of St. Paul High School has negatively impacted the sale and value of homes in the Town of St. Paul." Since the closure is threatened at this point, and has not yet become a fact, it isn't unreasonable to assume that if (and when) St. Paul High School is actually required to close its doors, the value of residential property in the town will immediately be impacted negatively. The same is true of commercial property, as the closing of the high school will ultimately reduce the population and the viability of businesses in the Town. 4) "The current struggling economy has already placed a hardship on businesses and local citizens, particularly those on fixed incomes." There are few of us who haven't experienced at least some of the hardships brought on by the current economic cli- mate, which we all acknowledge is a disaster. Raising the tax assessment is far from being an intelligent thing to do in this sort of economy. 5) "The Town Council questions the methodology used by the County Assessor's Office and the integrity of the reassessments in that the property values do not correspond to today's market values." The Council could very well have said "The Town Council and the property owners of the Town of St. Paul question the methodology..." since I haven't talked-t0 anybody Who really understands the how or why of the way the reassessment was done. The request made by the Town is that the Supervisors demand a review of all real estate properties in St. Paul, and if the Board of Supervisors accepts the reassessments, that it lower the tax rate so these artificial values won't negatively impact the real estate taxes of the people of St. Paul. What the Town Council didn't say, but which I've heard more .than one person suggest, is that St. Paul , was targeted for this massive reassessment increase as something of a punishment, since many of the people of St. Paul have objected consistently to the idea of school consolidation. While the objections have been stated in terms of solid research concerning results of ' consolidation in other geographic areas, and have been presented in as professional a manner as pos- sible, the protests have fallen on deaf ears. Am I beihg paranoid? Perhaps. ' But whatever the reason that St. Paul's residents and business owners have been targeted for abuse, the !i i fact is that we have been. Supervisors, please hear us and understand our dismay! ................ -,-= ..:, .,,: Public meeting at Russell County Conference Center There will be a Public Meeting concerning the Wellness Day Care Recreation Center on March 24 at 7 p.m. at the Russell County Conference Center behind Wendy's in Lebanon. Come and bring your suggestions of what to include in the center, of how the facility should be designed and general suggestions for the center. Everyone is invited to attend. Inquiries may be made at 276- 889-8000. This meeting is sponsored by the Russell County Board of Supervisors. PRESERVING OUR RIGHT TO KNOW Free Flow of lnformation Act Introduced I recently introduced the Free dangerous activities by both Flow of Information Act in the private and government actors, U.S. House of Representatives, But in certain situation, legislation which would protect individuals will be unwilling Or reports from being compelled to unable to come forward and reveal their confidential sources share vital information without in a federal criminal or civil promise of confidentiality from a matter. Reporters rely on the reporter. ability to assure confidentiality During the past few years to sources in order to deliver more than thirty reporters have news to the public, and the abil- been subpoenaed or questioned ity of news reporters to assure in federal court proceedings confidentiality to sources is about confidential sources, and fundamental to their ability to several have been handed or deliver news on highly conten- threatened with jail sentences. tious matters of broad public Such actions inevitably have a interest. Without the promise of chilling effect on the willingness confidentiality, many sources of reporters to rely on con- would not provide information fidential sources and on the to reporters, and the public willingness of sources to speal. would suffer from the resulting to reporters. lack of information. It is for this reason that ll Imagine a single mother who have introduced the Free Flow of works at a factory and struggles Information Act. This bi-partisan to support her family on the legislation sets criteria which hourly wage she is paid. Imagine must be met before information she knows that there is a flaw in can be subpoenaed from report- the product being made there - a ers in any federal criminal 9r flaw which could potentially put civil matter. The standards set the lives of those who use the forth in the legislation carefully product at risk. A reporter who balance the public interest in tile has been tipped off about free flow of information against possible problems at the plant the public interest in compelled. seeks to interview her for a story testimony. Only when a strong which, by exposing the situation, public interest compels the dfs= has the potential to save lives closure, such as when national and enhance public safety. With- security is at risk or whed out a guarantee of confident- imminent bodily harm is threat-.' iality, the woman is unlikely to ened, will there be a compelled risk her job by speaking with the disclosure by a reporter of the reporter, whistleblower laws source of confidential informa- notwithstanding, and lives will tion. This measure makes the.e continue to be endangered. As a standards mandatory in all result, free speech, the free press federal judicial, legislative arid and public safety all suffer, administrative proceedings, with It is because of scenarios like heightened protection for the these that thirty-six states and identities of confidential sources. the District of Columbia have It is essential to bring matters existing laws which protect re- to light about which only those porters from the compelled dis- on the inside have substantial closure of confidential sources knowledge. My legislation pass- of information. Such over- ed the House of Representatives whelming support for assuring by an overwhelming bi-partisan the confidentiality of journalists' majority of 398 to 21 in the sources at the state level lays previous Congress. Unfortu- bare the glaring lack of similar nately, it was not considered by protections at the federal level, the Senate. Give the broad The absence of federal legis- support his measure enjoys, I am lation protecting reporters' optimistic that we will work to sources limits the public's access enact the legislation into law to information which is vital to during the course of this the functioning of a democratic Congress. Passage of the Free society. The press allows citi- Flow of Information Act will zens to serve as watchdogs, assure a stronger underpinning speaking out about and exposing of both freedom of the press and what are often illegal, corrupt, or free speech in future years. Wise Co. Sheriff's Report The Wise County Sheriff's Office reports the following activities for the period of February 23 through March 1. Wise Central Dispatch re- ceived a total of 1,199 calls for this seven-day period. Of the total calls received, 371 were dispatched to the Sheriff's Od- flee. The total number of Dome- stic calls for the period was 16. Criminal Process for the same period served 25 felony warrants, 4 misdemeanor war- rants, issued 11 traffic summon- ses and worked one traffic accident. Civil process for this period Congressman Boucher announces Ninth District localities eligible for Recovery Act funds from U.S. Department of Justice -Nearly $1 Million in Federal Funding Available to 27 Counties and Towns in the Ninth- U.S. Representative Rick Southwest Virginia's law Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Wash- enforcement personnel protect residents more effectively," Boucher said. The federal funding can be used for training or equipment to improve law enforcement acti- vity, including the purchase of new in-car cameras or the in- stallation of new communica- tions systems. The Ninth District localities eligible to receive funds are: the Town of Abing- don, Blacksburg, Christiangburg, Marion, Pulaski and Richlands; the Cities of Bristol, Galax, and Radford; and Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Giles, Grayson, Henry, Lee, Montgomery, Pat- rick, Pulaski, Roanoke, Russell, ington, Wise and Wythe Cou- nties. "The availability of this federal funding is one example of how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is providing critical investments in Southwest Virginia commun- ities. It is important to ensure the safety of our law enforcement officers by providing the best equipment and training possible: The provision of federal funds for law enforcement agencies throughout the Ninth District is a necessary step in protecting the people who protect us," Boucher concluded. Boucher announced that as a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act approved by Congress, the U.S. Depart- ment of Justice has made available nearly $1 million in Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grants to 27 localities across the Ninth Congressional District. The grants support a broad range of activities to prevent and con- trol crime. "I am pleased that so many Ninth District localities are eligible to obtain grants to assist law enforcement activities as a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. These funds will help Oedipus the King staged by Barter Players and in schools during their winter tour, January through March. This program is partially sponsored by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and National Endowment for the Arts. For information or assistance for persons with special needs, visit www.pro-art-va.org or call Pro-Art at 276/376-4520. The Barter Players will visit Big Stone Gap on Tuesday, March 17 to stage Oedipus the King, first recognized by Aristotle in the fourth century, B.C., as the ideal play. The performance, presented by Pro-Art Association and Mountain Empire Community College, is at 12:15 p.m. in the Goodloe Center at MECC. It is free to the public. Readers, scholars and aud- iences have been mesmerized by this play for literally thousands of years. It emphasizes the last desperate moments of a city on the verge of extinction. Oedipus, the leader, refuses to give into a scourge which is destroying his city and its people, fighting to find those responsible. The city has one hour left in its long, glorious life and it is that one hour which is tatured in the production of Oedipus the King. For 75 years Barter has en- gaged in creative, cutting:edge methods to provide entertaining, educational theatre experiences which they hope will perman- ently and positively benefit the lives of patrons. The Barter Players are professional artists who perform for young audiences at the theater April through December, PAWS meets every third Thursday of the month, 6 pm at the Oxbow Center. served 545 civil papers. During this seen-day period, eighf additional criminal investiga- tions were initiated and 41 were cleared by arrest. The Sheriff's Office provided' 176 manhours of courtroom security for the three courts, The Sheriff's Office trans-  ported one adult in state, one: adult out of state, two mental patients and four juveniles for a total of eight transports in- volving 25 hours. The Sheriff's Office un- locked seven vehicles and es- corted four funerals during this - seven-day period. Clinch Valley :, Times MEMBER VIRGINIA PRESS ASSOCIATION Published weekly in St. Paul. VA 24283, by the CLINCH VALLEY PUBLISHING CO., INC. The Clinch Valley Times serves the four-county area of Wise, Russell, Dickenson and Scott, with offices and plant located in the CLINCH VALLEY TIMES building, 16541 Russell Street. Perio- dicals postage is paid at the Post Office in St. Paul, VA :24283. Ann Young Gregory Editor Allen Gregory Advertising Susan Trent Adv./Graphics ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTIONS: In advance: $28.50 in Wise and Russell counties; $30.00 in other 24- zip codes; elsewhere, $32.50. POSTMASTER: send address changes to: Clinch Valley Times, 'P.O. Box 817, St. Paul, VA 24283 SINGLE COPY - 50c Classified Advertising: Minimum charge, $6.00 for up to 20 words, in advance; 25c per word after 20 words. Display Advertising rates 'on application. 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