thursday october 16, 2008 blacksburg, va.
news OBAMA TO VISIT ROANOKE Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama will visit Roanoke on Friday, appearing for the seventh time in Virginia since primary season. Obama, alongside Sen. OBAMA Jim Webb, will appear at a 12:30 p.m. rally at the Roanoke Civic Center coliseum. The event is free and open to the public on a ﬁrst-come, ﬁrst-serve basis. Those planning to attend should RSVP at va.barackobama.com.
Town plans for increased Onrespect, Hokiesaim big business growth tomatch opponents ZACH CRIZER
ct news reporter
WEBB TO SPEAK AT TECH Students for Barack Obama will host Sen. Jim Webb tonight at 7 p.m. in WEBB Torgersen 1100. The event is free and open to all students. Webb will speak on behalf of Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee.
MED SCHOOL BREAKS GROUND Virginia Tech and Carilion held a formal ground-breaking ceremony yesterday, featuring Gov. Tim Kaine, Tech President Charles Steger, and Carilion CEO Ed Murphy as speakers. The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Medical Research Institute is set to open in August 2010.
Once a phenomenon exclusive to Christiansburg, upscale retailers and large businesses such as Books-A-Million have come to Blacksburg.
ct news staﬀ writer Driving on Blacksburg’s South Main Street during the last year, one may have seen the largescale construction efforts taking place across from Ardmore Street. The hard work of hundreds has finally started paying off with the launch of the “First and Main Blacksburg” development, which opened for business on Oct. 4. Although many of the stores in the complex have yet to open or are still under development, some, such as Books-a-Million, have already
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coming up TOMORROW’S CT Revisit Tech’s stunning Homecoming football loss to Temple 10 years ago. See a photo gallery of Tech women’s soccer’s shut-out victory over Longwood last night.
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The development, which is expected to have its grand opening in late November, will also be home to retail stores such as Blue Ridge Mountain Sports, Leatherhous, Clix, On a Whim, Steger Creek and Henebry’s Jewelers. In addition, a variety of restaurants will be added to Blacksburg’s dining options, such as Salad Creations, El Rodeo Mexican Grill, Sake House of Japan, Baja Bistro, Sal’s Italian Restaurante and Pizzeria, Bull and Bones Brewhaus and Grill, and Maggie Moo’s. There are currently only five occupancy vacancies left in the development, and Randy
see DEVELOPMENT, page two
Moving to save mountaintops JUSTIN GRAVES
experienced almost two weeks’ worth of sales. “We’re doing very well considering that only about 20 percent of the shopping center is open,” said Aaron Jarrells, a Books-a-Million store manager. “We always have people waiting outside in the morning.” Other stores currently open include Coldwater Creek, Talbot’s, Rack Room Shoes and Hibbett Sports, said Blacksburg building official Cathy Cook. “There are also about 20 other shops still under construction,” Cook said. “Since (Oct. 4), both Ann Taylor Loft and Joseph A. Banks have received temporary certificates of occupancy.”
ct news staﬀ writer West Virginia residents have recently been subjected to mountaintop removal, an extreme version of strip mining that essentially blows away the land surrounding individual homes and communities. Though the removal has been largely isolated in West Virginia thus far, some experts believe that it may soon be a widespread practice, reaching into Virginia and beyond. In the process of MTR, entire mountaintops are exploded to expose the underlying coal and eventually provide flat land, which is much sought after. This practice gained root in West Virginia to the 1970s, increasing throughout the 1980s. Presently, many companies utilize new machinery in order to supply for the high demand of coal. Shirley Burns, a doctor of history with a focus in Appalachian studies, is the daughter of an underground coal miner and has a strong interest in coalfields. Burns is also the author of “Bringing down the Mountains: The Impact of Mountaintop Removal on Southern West Virginia Communities,” a book that outlines the process and effects of MTR on the people who live near the sites. “The blasting from MTR can crack foundations, while also causing dust, decimated roads, noise pollution, exodus of inhabitants, slurry impoundments and valley fills,” Burns said. “They are bought for their areas to be mined, and
are forced to find work and a new home elsewhere.” Jeff Mann, an associate professor of English at Tech and author of “Loving Mountains, Loving Men,” also expressed a strong disdain for MTR. Mann said that with MTR many generations of a family and culture are uprooted. Mann added that it is not environmentally friendly in any sense, and can hurt the area inhabitants. “I was once shown a (coal slurry) sample, and it was absolutely not drinkable; the stench could fill the room,” Mann said. “I was disgusted of the practice because of the effect it has on the people that live there, as well as the environmental destruction.” Coal slurry is a metal-rich mixture of wastewater, along with coal dust, diesel fuel, chromium, arsenic and/or other cleansing agents. Valley fills are typically located at the head of a hollow, and are used to dispose of waste material from a coal operation. Both of these factors can cause death by different means to those who use the contaminated water or have their homes flooded. There are currently 58 coal slurry impoundments in a nine-county West Virginia region. “MTR employs fewer people than does traditional mining,” Burns said. “It actually costs the state $2.66 billion in reduced forest-growth cost.” Anita Puckett, director of the Appalachian Studies program, gained an interest in mountains
Jason Johnson, a member of Mountain Justice, spoke on campus about the need to fight mountaintop removal in Appalachia. and the threats to them through her upbringing. With her paternal family hailing from the mountain areas, it seemed a natural thing to study. “Most people are place-oriented and families have been there for eight or nine generations,” Puckett said. “When you get that infusion of people onto places like that, it gives a strong sense of who you are.” Aside from culture, Puckett also wants others, including her students, to realize how this particular
method of coal mining can harm people. “It’s not just a local issue. More than half of our nation’s electricity is generated from coal-burning power plants,” Puckett said. During the Virginia’s Power Shift, Mountain Justice Jason Johnson conducted a workshop that discussed the cycle of coal, the effects of returning native Appalachian forests to surface mine sites and myths about clean coal technologies. West Virginia itself is one of the
see MOUNTAIN, page two
‘SystemG’ goes faster, greener BECCA THOMAS
ct news reporter Three-hundred-and-twenty-four Mac Pro systems have been integrated into one multimillion dollar supercomputer cluster located in the Center for High End Computing that will help professors and students at Virginia Tech. Thesupercomputercluster,knownasSystemG, can run at speeds up to 29 teraflops and will have the software to run as one machine, but can solve complex problems with the knowledge of 324 computers, said associate professor Kirk Cameron. “If you have a laptop with a weather model
or simulation that could predict the weather it might take six months,” Cameron said. “But it could take six minutes with a supercomputer, and that is important, especially if you’re trying to track a storm or where a hurricane could go.” Biologists will be able to use this supercomputer to see how viruses attack the body. “These kinds of models can help scientists show the rate at which the virus will be spreading,” Cameron said. “They can put things in place to stop the viruses or make human lives better.” Barbara Ryder, the head of the computer science department, said that this supercomputer is one of the newest advances in computer hardware — many multiprocessors on a chip. “This is important to our department because
we have a resource that faculty and students can be exposed to that is state of the art,” Ryder said. “This is a very exciting idea and advancement to take hardware and show that scientists can accomplish computations to do complicated science.” Cameron has been conducting research the last six to seven years to allow SystemG to run as efficiently as possible. “This is really important to me,” Cameron said. “And we have had many successes in making advances for green technology; this will be a great resource to advance the field of green computing.” Cameron said SystemG will be a machine that is capable of changing power consumed while
see SYSTEMG, page two
Virginia Tech has been emphasizing sportsmanship for over five years with the Hokies Respect campaign, but it’s nowhere near an end after witnessing a model program while visiting Nebraska last weekend. Director of athletics Jim Weaver said the campaign began because Tech wanted to take a leading role in improving sportsmanship across the country. “In 2002, the NCAA called a special sportsmanship summit, which I attended and worked with the commissioner of the Big Ten on the presentation committee,” Weaver said. “When I finished the two-day event, it was crystal clear to me that colleges across the nation had an obligation to do a better job in terms of sportsmanship.” Tom Gabbard, associate director of athletics for internal affairs, said the athletics department received further inspiration during the football team’s visit to Texas A&M in 2002. “I think we probably got some insight when we went to Texas A&M,” Gabbard said. “They were just very cordial to us. We started looking at that. We all got together and decided to try and turn this into a place that is a fun place to come for everybody.” Now entering its sixth year, Hokies Respect has been a major aspect of all Tech sports, especially since joining the ACC in 2004, and Weaver said it shows. “Over a four-year period, we have won 19 team sportsmanship awards. That is the most in the conference. We’re proud of that because it coincides with what we’re trying to do with our fans,” Weaver said. Despite the success recognized by the athletics department, Weaver said the campaign would continue, as the visit to Nebraska reminded them there is always more to be done. “We’re never to the end of the line. We’re never where we want to be. There’s a saying in athletics that ‘you’re never as good as it looks like when you win, and you’re never as bad as it appears when you lose.’ The same is true with our campaign. Our fans went to Nebraska, and Nebraska is known as the warmest, most friendly atmosphere in all of college football. We’re getting there. We’re improving, but we’re not there,” Weaver said. Not all Hokie fans are on board, however, saying the campaign has lasted too long and is no longer of use. Former athletic trainer and 1984 alumni Al Dickerson has attended 161 consecutive Virginia Tech football games, including road and bowl games. He said the campaign is not necessary with Tech’s fan base. “If you’re running a $60 million corporation and all you have got to worry about is a kid wearing a ‘Stick it in’ shirt, you don’t have much to worry about,” Dickerson said. “I’ve been all over the country and our fans are just as good as any.” The campaign was the basis for the banning of the band’s “Stick it in” cheer and the playing of “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye.” The tunes were deemed unsportsmanlike. Gabbard said steps have been taken to ensure Hokie fans did not feel as if they were being reprimanded by the campaign. “I don’t think we ever felt that way, but I will say that you’ll notice that the jerk alerts have changed a little bit,” Gabbard said. “We started off thinking it would send a message, and the message got a little mixed, so we cut with the jerk alert stuff. Not that it was bad, but I don’t think it did what we wanted it to do.” Weaver said fans following the rules should not take offense to the campaign. “For those people who always are good fans and show sportsmanship, I don’t think it is demeaning to them,” Weaver said. “I think they understand what the target population was.” Weaver said the campaign would continue to evolve as Tech improves and becomes a model for similar campaigns. “We’ve changed our spots every year,” Weaver said. “The conference now is very active and has a sportsmanship public service announcement. We try to get our pro players who come back to participate and read our message about sportsmanship. Every year we move forward in a different manner and try to be more encompassing.” Gabbard acknowledged that perfection is difficult to achieve, but said he is encouraged by the progress. “We’ve still got our jerks, but overall, I think our fans are cordial, more cordial. There are more compliments from visiting people, so somebody somewhere is reaching out,” Gabbard said. Weaver is attending the ACC athletic director conference this week at Wake Forest. He said he hopes Tech’s campaign will inspire other schools to emphasize sportsmanship. “We tried to take one of the leadership roles and be a more active program than many other places,” Weaver said. “What I want for our people is just to have a great experience, and for none of them to hinder the experience of either our fans or visiting fans.”
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