Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Revolt within Virginia Tea Party Federation

Oops. There is open revolt within the tea party ranks in the Commonwealth.

The Virginia Tea Party Federation that includes the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party, along with a tea party PAC, got together last week and decided to vet the nine Republican candidates for Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General. Their final choices were Prince William County Supervisor Chairman Corey Stewart and State Senator Mark Obenshain.

That didn't set well with some members of the tea party. Today there was open revolt in the blogosphere from Greg Letiecq, Chris Beer, Tito Munoz, Joshua Huffman, and Willie Deutsch. Apparently there are candidates they consider not "tea-party" enough.

A state of confusion now seems to have settled over the Commonwealth. Chris Beer at Mason Conservative wrote:
I don't know who's what anymore.  Who's a RINO, who's establishment, who loves liberty, who's a real conservative?  It's getting so confusing!

The Tea Party Federation of Virginia endorsed Corey Stewart today, and apparently it's to the bewilderment of the Tea Party.  First off, allow me to say that the fact there is a large "federation" of Tea Party seems counter to what the Tea Party of 2009-10 stood for.  Anyways, apparently the Federation's choice is not the choice of the local (ie real) tea parties. [emphasis added]
It didn't take long after the Virginia Tea Party Federation's endorsements for this open revolt to hit. Now the federation side is pushing back: "The sore losers are on the emotional politics rampage. There was nothing 'rigged' about the process."

The Republican Convention is just a few weeks away. Stay tuned ... this could get interesting.

Cross-posted at Va Political Pineapple

GWB: 'Soon the whole world will hear you'

Remember this photo? It was September 14, 2001 when President George W. Bush visited NYC after the terrorism attacks of 9/11 and stood at Ground Zero with Bob Beckwith, a member of the New York City Fire Department. Mr. Beckwith is now retired and visited the George W. Bush Presidential Center this week and saw the 9/11 exhibit for the first time. He had handed the bullhorn to the President and it is now on display in the museum. When you look at this photo, you are looking into the faces of leadership.

Bob Beckwith Visits the George W. Bush Presidential Center (8 photos)

The gang's all here

Leaders, all.

Thanks, VDOT!

Rt. 56 through the Blue Ridge Mountains in Nelson County.
Thanks, VDOT, for the guardrails.  :)

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell
April 2013

Staunton Farmers Market

Photos taken from the roof of the Johnson Street parking deck. Held every Saturday morning from 6:00 a.m. through noon, the Staunton-Augusta Farmers Market offers a variety of fruits, vegetables, plants, and other products.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
April 13, 2013

Red bud season

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
April 2013

Blooming wisteria

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
April 29, 2013

Monday, April 29, 2013

Bears bears bears in the neighborhood

Photo I took of mama black bear and two cubs at Loft Mountain Campground in Shenandoah National Park, October 2010
They're baaack. Black bears are roaming now that spring is here and one place they are being sighted on a regular basis is our little corner of Augusta County. Those critters are hungry and, while it's not unusual to have bear sightings here, this spring there appear to be more than usual, according to one of the wildlife biologists from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Black bears are extremely common in Virginia especially as their population grows and expands. These intelligent creatures are highly adaptable and quickly sniff out food sources to the point where they will remember and return until it is removed. If there are nuisance or returning bears, humans often are the cause by leaving garbage cans, pet food, or bird feeders accessible.

But sometimes bears are around even if there is not a food source. One neighbor heard a noise and looked out to find a bear on her deck. Recently local kids waiting for the school bus saw a bear in the field and, after they got on the bus, the bear ran across the road in front of them. What an exciting opportunity that was for a bus load of students!

Another nearby neighbor has motion cameras out and has gotten photos of a 400-pounder and others closer to 200 pounds. He has also found paw prints on his deck's sliding glass doors. Hmm ... that would give pause. Other neighbors have had their bird feeders torn down, and yet another even had the contents on the inside of his barn destroyed a few weeks ago when they were out of town. The bear(s) didn't bother their goats and cattle.

All this reminds of the humorous episode with SWAC Husband last summer when he had taken a break from working in the garden and was cat-napping in his garden chair. He woke to hear a snorting kind of sound and looked to see a black bear running straight toward him, obviously oblivious to the human in the chair, until SWAC Husband waved his arms in the air and yelled at him. The bear temporarily looked startled, then changed course and ambled away.

So today the wildlife biologist and a volunteer were notifying neighbors to store bear magnets like bird feeders and the grease traps from outdoors grills that would smell like a smorgasbord to a bear's ultra-sensitive nose.

I just wrote about black bears two weeks ago ("If you live in Virginia, you live in black bear country") and recounted a number of bear episodes in our area over the years. The natural wildness of western Augusta County with its national forests and rural spaces was one reason we chose to live here as opposed to the more urban eastern Augusta. It sounds like this year is a little more intense than in the past so we will keep a closer eye out even as neighbors are sharing encounters with one another for awareness ... and we will still enjoy watching these beautiful creatures.

Jeb Bush: 'Conservatives are winning ... in the states'

"Four of the most popular governors in the country – Chris Christie of New Jersey, Bob McDonnell of Virginia, Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Brian Sandoval of Nevada – are from states that supported President Obama last year." --Former FL Governor Jeb Bush

Republicans haven't done too well on the national level lately but former Florida Governor Jeb Bush made a compelling case about their positive influence at the state level in this Rare column:
The conventional wisdom coming from the 2012 election was the Republican Party is in decline. We lost on messaging, tone and policies that alienated growing minority communities. What that narrative misses is that conservative principles and Republican leadership are thriving in the states, providing the way forward for the GOP.
He notes there are now 30 Republican governors, the most in 13 years, and that Republicans hold a majority of the state seats in 26 states, as they balance budgets and create business-friendly climates to attract new business and jobs. Education and job training are taking a front seat in the race to provide skilled workers.

Governor Bush pointed out the business growth in the southeastern states:
The Southeast is leading a renaissance in American manufacturing. Conservative, pro-growth policies are shifting the major growth corridors to the Great Plains, the Intermountain West, the Gulf states and the Southeastern industrial belt, according to a major new report for the Manhattan Institute by Joel Kotkin. Boeing Dreamliners now are built in South Carolina. Four of the top six states in Business Facilities’ annual rankings of Automotive Manufacturing Strength are Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. They are home to BMW, Honda, Volkswagen, Nissan, Toyota, Ford and Hyundai.

In December, Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sasol Ltd., a South African chemical and synthetic fuels company, announced the single largest manufacturing investment in Louisiana history.
Building momentum, he keeps rolling out the facts:
Republicans are also balancing the demands of economic vitality and protecting natural resources. While New York continues a moratorium on fracking, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett supports it, boosting a natural gas industry that helps sustain 239,000 direct or indirect jobs.

The six states through which the Keystone XL pipeline would run not only want it, but so do two-thirds of all Americans, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Yet the White House hasn’t approved it, seemingly because of opposition from environmental groups.
Governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin and John Kasich of Ohio made tough fiscal decisions and took on powerful public-employee unions, but their policies are paying off and their popularity is rising. Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma has made education reform a priority, supporting accountability for schools and teachers, higher academic standards, early literacy and school choice. According to a recent New York Times poll, she has the second-highest approval rating among governors up for reelection next year.

Across the country, many other GOP governors and state leaders are making student achievement the focus of education. They are passing and implementing sweeping reforms and allowing for new education innovations to be tried and scaled, including flipped classrooms and blended and online learning that is customized to the student.
Conservative principles used to govern in a pragmatic style are working, as Governor Bush notes in his conclusion:
The success of conservative principles is the best kept secret in American politics. Media outlets thrive on conflict, and sometimes we are all too willing to oblige. As Republicans, we must focus on a positive message about our success and our vision. Instead of spending all our time and resources saying why President Obama and the Democrats’ ideas are wrong for Americans, we must provide clearly articulated alternatives.

American greatness comes from the power of individuals – not the government – to create wealth and opportunity through competition, innovation and empowerment. Not only must we pursue reform, we must do a much better job communicating how these reforms protect and promote the genius of America.
Governor Bush's discussion brings positive leadership and issues to the table that are often overlooked or under-reported by the media but that need to be exposed to the public to show what works in governing during these financially difficult times.

Friday: Central Virginia 2013 Lincoln-Reagan Dinner

Chesterfield Republicans will welcome special guest speaker James F. Kuhn, executive assistant to President Ronald Reagan, to their 2013 Lincoln-Reagan Dinner this Friday, May 3.

Held at the Holiday Inn Kroger Center near Chesterfield Town Center, this annual event sponsored by the Chesterfield County Republican Committee will feature a silent auction, live music, straw poll, happy hour, and VIP reception. It will also present a fantastic opportunity to rub elbows with some of Virginia's most influential Republican leaders.

More about the Guest Speaker:
With over 20 years of Washington experience, James F. Kuhn has served at the highest levels of government in addition to working closely with select corporations, national associations and organizations in developing and recommending positions on key policy issues. Mr. Kuhn's Washington experience has its roots in the White House, where he served eight years under President Ronald Reagan. During the second term of the Reagan Administration, Mr. Kuhn served as the President's executive assistant, as well as worked closely with the President and White House senior staff.

Event Schedule:
Reception - 5:30 pm with live music
Silent Auction
Straw Poll
Hors D'oeuvres & cash bar
Dinner - 7:00 pm
Business/Formal Attire

Dinner Choices:
Oven Roasted 36-Herb & Spices Half Chicken served w/ Citron Chablis Sauce
~ or ~
Roast Prime Rib of Beef, served with Sage Demi-Glace

Holiday Inn Kroger Center, Chesterfield
1021 Kroger Center Blvd, Richmond, Va

Ticket information:
Check out the 2013 Lincoln-Reagan Dinner website

Flowering trees in Staunton

This was at my dentist's office in Staunton.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
May 25, 2013

Spring and Augusta countryside

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
April 26, 2013

Staunton: springtime and the watering can

The watering can is a landmark in downtown Staunton at the railroad overpass. It is extra colorful now that spring flowers are blooming all around it.

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell
April 26, 2013

Grace Christian's annual auction: boots, bandanas, BBQ, celebrities

The 2013 Grace Christian School auction has closed out another successful year. The event on Saturday featured a silent auction and live auction that didn't even include the online auction held earlier. An annual favorite, each year offers the opportunity to meet up with friends and family.

Harold Reid of the legendary Statler Brothers who are beloved by the people from their home town, Staunton.
Harold and Don Reid and their families have been supporters of the auction for years. This year they were there again, greeting friends, enjoying the BBQ dinner, and Don even bid on a weed eater. It is always encouraging to see their dedication and support of the school, something that is very appreciated.

SWAC Husband and Kurt Michael during the "Heads or Tails" game. Hawaiian leis are purchased for $10 each for participants of the game where they stand and put their hands on their head or the "tail" until it is narrowed down to a winner. The prize this year was a huge television.

Kurt pondered whether to bid on an item.

Will Bear
Will is at the auction every year where his sisters' children attend. Will was secretary of the Augusta County Republican Committee when I got involved in 1999, a position he later twisted my arm into taking so he could spend more time with the family's business, Bear Funeral Home, in Churchville.

Vonda Lacey successfully bid on "An Afternoon with the Principal" for her sixth-grade son.

Delegate Dickie Bell
Dickie and wife Ann were guests but back in the day he was a teacher at Grace. SWAC Husband and I went through food line with him and got a chance to talk but didn't have my camera with me. This was taken later from across the room ... sorry that it's blurry.

One year I'd love to see some of the Statlers -- any generation -- join the bluegrass band on stage and sing. That would be a treat that would bring down the house.

Statler Brother Don Reid and wife, Debbie, during dinner.

John Morrison, head of Grace Christian School (with bandana), worked the room visiting with parents and visitors.

Debbie Reid and Langdon Reid
Langdon and cousin Wil Reid, also at the auction, are singer-songwriters in the country music group Wilson Fairchild. Langdon's dad is Don Reid, and Wil's dad is Harold Reid.

Peggy Bell is librarian at Grace Christian, and we both belong to the same conservative ladies book club.

The Reid crew was sitting together through the auction.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
Grace Christian School Auction
April 28, 2013

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Democrat commentator: 'George W. Bush has saved more lives than any American president'

Ellen Ratner doesn't pull any punches as she begins her article praising George W. Bush:
George W. Bush, not Barack Obama, is the real American hero in Africa.

Take it from me, a liberal Democrat who voted for Obama twice. I know a little about Africa: I have been to the continent 17 times over the last 32 years.
She ended her article with a thank you to 43:
... this liberal commentator thanks president and Mrs. Bush every single day for their amazing and tireless work for humanity.  They are wonderful role models for future leaders around the world.  I wish more leaders would follow the shining example of George W. and Laura Bush.
In the article, Ratner talks about her interest in South Sudan, that civil war-ravaged country, and how they have benefited from financial help pledged by President George W. Bush during his administration. It's a fact the African nation and her people recognize and are appreciative of, as Radner notes:
In fact, South Sudanese today are thinking more about another U.S. president: that would be Obama’s predecessor, Bush 43. As a liberal Democrat and Obama supporter, I was particularly struck by this. Yes, Bush is a hero in Africa, and Americans, too, should know why.

No American president, before or since, has had Bush’s vision and determination to save so many millions of lives.

For Africans, that vision traces back to the early years of his presidency. In his 2003 State of the Union Address, Bush introduced the "President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief" (PEPFAR.)

And that proposal had real meat: $15 billion over five years, as well as a serious look at African health problems, beyond HIV/AIDS.

Bush proposed it, and his proposal wasn’t just a few throw-away lines in a speech; even as the Iraq war raged, Bush spent precious political capital to get PEPFAR enacted.

The result was the largest upfront contribution ever made by any country to fight HIV. And the numbers are staggering.

Five million children, women and men have received antiretroviral treatment under PEPFAR. In 2010 alone, 600,000 pregnant mothers received treatment so their newborn children would not be infected.

Yes, millions of people live productive, healthy lives due to Bush 43.
Ratner give credit to the President for his vision:
Orphans turning to theft or even worse can destabilize communities and countries.

George W. Bush saw this, too. He had a vision. He understood what saving lives would mean not only to the individuals and families saved, but also to the communities who have experienced so much death from HIV. As a result, a whole continent is much better off, including my beloved South Sudan.

Bush 43 is no longer president, of course, and yet his great work continues. Even as his presidential library is dedicated in Dallas on Thursday, April 25, he is still looking to mobilize resources to make real change in Africa.
Ratner is the latest in a line of liberals who have shown surprised gratefulness to George W. Bush's work in Africa and, while it is nice to hear their praise, it's sad they did not recognize and write stories about this side of the 43rd president while he was in office.

Making the case for Jeb Bush in 2016

The 2016 presidential election is on everyone's minds, and names are bantered back and forth on both sides of the political aisle.

For Republicans, the name "Jeb Bush" is heard more and more. Some have "Bush" fatigue, others insist no one other than a tea party pick is conservative enough. As for me ... I like Jeb. He was a very popular governor during his leadership in Florida. He was actually the Bush son most thought would run for the presidency. I think Jeb should run.

I'm not alone in that thinking. From writer Gary Stein at the Sun Sentinel:
No offense to Barbara Bush, who seems like a fabulous grandmother, and  certainly has been a wonderful mother and wife, raising a future president and being married to another one.

But Barbara, I hope son Jeb doesn’t take your advice not to run for President.

You famously said last week that “We’ve had enough Bushes” when talking about Jeb’s presidential possibilities in 2016.

Actually, if the 2012 Republican presidential hopeful field was any indication, we  haven’t had enough.

It seemed like every week, another right wing kook was in the lead for the Republican nomination. They finally went with boring Mitt Romney, and you remember how well that worked out.
I disagree that Governor Romney was "boring" and felt that his problems were more that he was running against the Democratic incumbent which may have been one reason Jeb Bush declined to run.

Mr. Stein goes on to make the case for Jeb:
Jeb would be refreshing for a GOP candidate, in that he is sane.

As governor of Florida, he may have done some things you didn’t like, but he was very popular. And he didn’t come across as crazed.

So I ask you, who do you like for the Republicans in 2016 if it’s NOT Jeb Bush?

Marco Rubio? Rand Paul? Paul Ryan?

Like I said Jeb looks better every second.
Yep, it's still early in the race but Jeb is becoming more visible and making appearances around the country. I'll be keeping up with this Bush son who is a conservative leader, no matter what his last name. Jeb Bush for President? I say bring it on.

Mataconis: 'The GOP and the Conspiratorial Mindset'

The post, "The GOP and the Conspiratorial Mindset," pulls some current political issues out of the shadows as is typical of Doug Mataconis who has never been afraid to face the difficult subjects head on. His latest post at Outside the Beltway addresses the split now going on within the Republican Party.

He began by noting some conspiracy theories that have floated in groups that have moved into the GOP:
Ever since Barack Obama became President, indeed while he was still running for office, there has been a cottage industry of conspiracy theories on the right making seemingly outrageous allegations about the President. They’ve ranged from the now familiar birther conspiracy that, even with the release of the President’s long-form birth certificate, still refuses to die, to claims that the Administration was conspiring to confiscate weapons from legal gun owners. For the most part, though, these conspiracy theories were mostly the province of the Internet and a segment of conservatism that most mainstream Republicans tried as best they could to distance themselves from.
His comment, "Mainstream Republicans tried as best they could to distance themselves from" the constant conspiracy theories, resonates. He then documents that some Republican elected officials have bought into those conspiracies, something that may appease a small but vocal portion of the population.

It reminded of an event in Augusta County in 2009.

In April of 2009, one of the first tea party rallies was held in Gypsy Hill Park in Staunton with a group of about 50 gathering to declare their disapproval of ObamaCare. Immediately following that small gathering, another rally was held at Expoland in Fishersville. The building filled with citizens against one-size-fits-all health care who cheered as speakers talked about fighting against it.

Then the truthers began speaking about 9/11 and accused the U.S. Government of being behind the attacks on the Twin Towers, and something about highway cameras were more than just traffic monitors, and more. It was a stunning turning point for those attending. Almost in unison, at least three-fourths of the crowd rose from their seats and began filing toward the doors, many shaking their heads and wondering who had organized the event. It was organized by the Constitution Party, another of the groups that are part of the overall tea party federation. Their conspiracy theories drove a previously enthusiastic crowd out the doors.

Mataconis ended his post with this sobering comment:
This isn’t to say that every Republican and every conservative is a conspiracy theorist or a birther, of course. There are plenty of them who aren’t and who have a perfectly rational opposition to the President and his policies that doesn’t include the need to allege that he’s involved in some vast conspiracy to destroy the country. The problem is, as it always has been for the past four years, is that these voices tend to get drowned out by the shrill voices of the Obama Derangement Syndrome crowd, and it’s that crowd that becomes associated in the public mind with the party and the movement. That is the price the GOP is paying for giving these people space to grow rather than denouncing him in the manner that they should have been.
I saw Bush Derangement Syndrome during the administration of President George W. Bush and did not like it. Now I see my side of the aisle doing the same to President Barack Obama. Sadly, those voices tend to drown out the voices of others who understand that this country can better move forward with rational, pragmatic, bipartisan leadership.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Grace Christian School ... another successful auction

This annual event offers the opportunity to help support Grace Christian School while visiting with friends over a barbecue dinner. Tonight was another success. More photos to follow....

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
April 27, 2013

Wisteria and spring

 After some below-freezing nights the past week after the wisteria was trying to bud out, I was concerned it may have been burned by frost or cold weather. The past several years that's exactly what has happened. Today the blooms popped out on these beautiful, sweet-smelling purple flowers that hang like grape clusters. 

The vines run across the front of the house so the aromatic purple blooms are a brief decoration to enjoy before the blooms fall away and leaves fill in. It's spring in the Shenandoah Valley.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
April 27, 2013

Country legend George Jones was all that and more to my dad

Country music legend George Jones died Friday. Do you think there's a big old country music concert going on today just inside the Pearly Gates? If there is, I know one fan who is standing on the sidelines, eyes aglow, a big smile on his face. It would be my dad, a simple, quiet man who grew up in Amelia County, Virginia, who loved his country and bluegrass music.

My dad was all about country. I used to kid him about the bluegrass that played from the radio in the garage as he worked on a project. When country artists made stops in Richmond back in the 1960s and 70s, he would often be at their concerts.

Typical of the difference in generations, there were some distinctions in our tastes in music.

My dad was George Jones. I was John Denver.

Dad was Hank Williams. I was Billy Joel.

Dad was Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline. I was Carole King and Liza Minnelli.

Dad was the Statler Brothers, Conway Twitty, and Johnny Cash. I was Chicago, Barry Manilow, and James Taylor.

Dad was into the Fiddlers Conventions in Galax. I was into beach parties ... anywhere.

I was actually too young to appreciate many of the country artists that Dad liked and, after cancer took him from us in 1975, it was too late to enjoy those musicians with him.

In the years since then, my taste in music has expanded to include the country that he enjoyed, and that I have grown to love. I think he would approve that I have CDs of Toby Keith, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flats, and Staunton's hometown Statler Brothers.

But today it's all George Jones, and as I listened while he sang "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes," the realization was that most of the country singers Dad loved are now gone, perhaps having a jam session right now somewhere beyond the horizon. And on the sidelines listening and singing along would be that simple country boy whom I called "Dad."

Today in Staunton ... Grace Christian School Boots & Bandana auction & BBQ

It's time for the Grace Christian School Boots & Bandana benefit auction, an annual fundraiser held each spring and supported by not just the school but the surrounding community. This year it will be held on Saturday, April 27, 2013, with over 600 goods and services to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Sorry, little buckaroos ... got to be at least 18 years old for admittance.

A favorite event year after year, the proceeds from the auction benefit the school while providing bargains for those who bid on donated items. Mix in some lively bluegrass music provided this year by FlattBroke, a silent auction, fellowship with friends, and a BBQ supper followed by the live auction that runs into the night, and you have the makings for an entertaining day.

Hundreds of folks attend every year. Located in the Grace Christian Activities Center located at 1218 Middlebrook Road in Staunton, registration begins at 3:00. Cost is $20 per person (18 and older) and that buys a ticket into the event, a program, and BBQ supper. The silent auction will open at that time for browsing and bidding.

Beginning at 4:00 and every 15 minutes until 5:00, silent auction tables will be shut down. At 5:00 they begin serving the BBQ with all the fixings while entertainment is provided by FlattBroke.

At 6:00 the Live Auction starts ... and that's when the fun begins. Be ready with your bidding skills ... there are some sharp shoppers ready to bid you down on an item they have their eye on! Don't leave early ... door prizes are drawn before the live auction and you have to be there to win.

Come on out to the auction and be prepared to have a good time catching up with friends while supporting a good cause. See you at the auction!

Photos from 2012 auction:
- Photos #1: Grace Christian School auction ... good friends, fellowship, & BBQ
- Photos #2: GCS auction ... good friends, fellowship, & BBQ

Today ... Riverfest in Waynesboro

Tentative 2013 Riverfest Schedule
Saturday, April 27, 2013

Friday, April 26, 2013

Yes, we miss you

Sunday night at 9:00 EST on Fox News Channel: Don't miss an inside look at the Bush presidency when Dana Perino hosts "Up Close with 43: President George W. Bush."

Cobwebs and dust bunnies

My favorite (not) activity ... cleaning house. Music makes it bearable.
Would rather be writing....

Augusta County: 3-cent real estate tax increase passed by supervisors

 It was a full house at Wednesday's Augusta County Board of Supervisors meeting.

 Supervisor David Karaffa (I-Beverley Manor) talked with Beverley Manor school board member Lee Godfrey before the meeting.

 Nick Collins, chairman of the school board, signed up to speak.

School Superintendent Chuck Bishop addressed the board.

Speakers lined up to address the board.

Augusta County supervisors faced a packed room of 250-300 people Wednesday night when they voted to raise the real estate tax rate by three cents, a compromise from the previously-discussed five cents.

Out of 41 speakers who addressed the board, 39 spoke in favor of the tax increase and two spoke against during the "matters to be presented by the public" session that ran for almost two hours even though an advertised public hearing had been held the week before. That meeting was attended by over 400 people, most in favor of the tax increase.

In a surprise move, Supervisor Mike Shull made a motion for a 3-cent raise in the tax rate. The Republicans on the board voted for it: Jeff Moore, David Beyeler, Mike Shull, and Larry Wills. The Independent supervisors voted against it: Tracy Pyles, David Karaffa, and Marshall Pattie.

Teachers and school employees organized to attend meetings for two months to ask for the tax increase that they said would ease the crunched school budget.

Tea party advocates had spoken out against the increase, sticking to a no-tax policy.

Interesting in this is the fact that the tea party did not support the independent candidates when they ran in 2011 but, instead, threw their support behind the Republicans. What a difference two years makes. Those tea party people are now backing the very candidates they worked against during the 2011 campaign, and they appear to have turned on the Republicans. However, school advocates that included teachers, bus drivers, and cafeteria workers, showed up in record numbers.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
April 24, 2013

Afton Mountain I-64 work to continue next week

There's no immediate relief in sight for commuters and travelers after VDOT announced another week of work and closures on I-64 at Afton Mountain, as reported by NBC-29.

Stabilizing Afton Mountain adjacent to the I-64 westbound lanes will take longer than originally reported and, while the drivers understood the necessity of the work, it did not help soothe frazzled nerves due to the backups. Commuters who regularly drove over the mountain found themselves in long lines of traffic causing frustration, some arriving late for work and appointments.

 VDOT's press release notifying the media of next week's closures:

Traffic restrictions resume April 29-May 2 while unstable soil is removed from Afton Mountain slope

CULPEPER – Intermittent traffic restrictions on Interstate 64 between Charlottesville and Waynesboro will resume next week during operations to remove unstable soil from Afton Mountain above the highway at milepost 100.3 in Albemarle County.

Beginning at 9 a.m. on Monday, April 29, traffic on I-64 will be restricted in both directions for 30-45 minutes. The restrictions will continue through the day, ending between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. The westbound right shoulder will be closed and work zone activity will begin at 7 a.m. each day but traffic will not be restricted before 9 a.m. The work is expected to continue through Thursday, May 2.

The restrictions will affect traffic from Exit 107 (Route 250/Rockfish Gap Turnpike) at Crozet to Exit 96 (Route 624/S. Delphine Avenue) at Waynesboro. Drivers should expect significant congestion and delays; passenger vehicles are encouraged to use Route 250 as an alternate route. Message boards along I-64 will advise motorists of the closures and expected congestion in the area.

Motorists should check VDOT's traffic information web site, www.511virginia.org, or call 511 for real-time information about traffic conditions and delays.