Saturday, February 28, 2009

News Virginian: Thumbs up for Chester, thumbs down for county officials

The Waynesboro News Virginian's weekly verdict is in:

- Thumbs up for Francis Chester's stand against a Goliath known as GOVERNMENT.

- Thumbs down for Augusta County officials who complained that David pulled out the sling shot to challenge Goliath.
In a week that saw continuous media coverage about an issue that is of extreme importance to the everyday citizen at a time when tax revolts and "tea parties" are being held nationwide, the News Virginian's weekly editorial opinion shouts it out loud and clear:
Three UP
FRANCIS CHESTER, whose steady flurry of activity has kept him on the front page, managed to migrate from a lower place in this space with his action Friday: paying almost $3,000 in back taxes. The Churchville lawyer has been the face of Augusta County property owners’ reassessment fight, launching a petition drive and vowing to sue if supervisors do not roll back to 2005 values. Before taking up legal arms Chester might have paid his tax bill. Having his name in headlines for tax delinquency surely spurred him to open his checkbook. But we’ll also credit him with soldiering on when others might go slinking away. Property owners might yet benefit from the same chutzpah that prompted Chester to sound the battle cry while still owing tax money.

Three DOWN
Stinging from taxpayers’ ire over the reassessment, AUGUSTA COUNTY OFFICIALS this week turned some of their ire on the big, bad media for dutifully reporting that Supervisor Tracy Pyles, the lone voice of restraint on the subject, had an idea for delaying the institution of new values by two years, along with coverage of the various activities of Francis Chester. Reporters also heard about their failure to share the yeoman’s work being done by the assessors board. Suffice it to say that more than a few in power in the county would have preferred The News Virginian refrain from its weeklong, district-by-district look at the reassessment. Scrutinizing a move affecting thousands of people is our job. Bearing that scrutiny is county officials’.
Augusta Citizens Against Unfair Assessments will be at the March 11 Board of Supervisors meeting at 7 pm at the Government Center. All citizens concerned about real estate assessments are urged to attend and send a message to the board.

At that meeting Churchville attorney Francis Chester will turn in the hundreds of petitions containing thousands of names and again ask that they roll back assessments to the 2005 values.

Supervisor Tracy Pyles has been the lone voice on the board calling for tax relief for citizens.

Sign the online petition ... or email if you want a petition emailed to you.

Petitions are available at locations throughout the SWAC area including:
New Location: Pets 'n Pals (Waynesboro)
Tractor Supply (Staunton)
Zelma's (Staunton)
Jiffy Mart on Grubert Ave (Staunton)
Memorial Baptist Church (Staunton)
Obaugh Pontiac-Buick-GMC (Staunton)
Eavers Tire (Fishersville)
7-11 Store (Fishersville - Rt. 250 at Woodrow Wilson Rehab)
Obaugh Chevrolet-Buick (Waynesboro)
Bookkeeping Management (Waynesboro)
Ace Gift Store - Acedemy of CE, Inc (Waynesboro)
Mark Martin's Auto World (Rt. 250 west of Waynesboro)
Pets 'n Pals (Waynesboro)
Middlebrook General Store (Middlebrook)
Jake's Convenience Store (Rt. 250 west of Staunton)
Riverside Grocery (Churchville)
T-Bone Tooter (Churchville)
Eavers Tire (Stuarts Draft)
Eavers Amaco (Stuarts Draft)
Greenville Trading Post (Greenville)
Joe's Barber Shop (Greenville)
BB&T (Greenville)
Chancellor Stone (Vesuvius)
Gertie's Store (Vesuvius)
Midway Machine & Parts (Steeles Tavern)
Augusta Co-Op (Fairfield)
Junction (Buffalo Gap)
Deerfield Convenience Store (Deerfield)
West Augusta Convenience Store (W. Augusta)
New Hope Grocery (Rt. 608 & 621 in New Hope)

Feb. 3 meeting recap
The townhall meeting held on Tuesday night, February 3, was a huge success with 600 residents attending to learn from Supervisor Tracy Pyles and local attorney Francis Chester how to make their voices heard at the Government Center.

Thank you, Augusta County!
One person wrote on Facebook that Augusta County residents were "packed like sardines" in the meeting Tuesday night and added, "But they were 600 of the nicest people I've ever met." We heard not one grumble or complaint as we scrambled to accommodate the large crowd. Thank you for your patience and understanding. And thank you for your kind words of encouragement.

March 11 ... together, Augusta ... we can make a difference!

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