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The Roanoke Star-Sentinel Community | News | Per spective
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Roanoke police use high tech weaponry
Which track will Roanoke take?
Photo by Lawson Koeppel
The Roanoke Police Department is phasing in use of this 40 millimeter less-thanlethal impact round.
P2– Community volunteers Saturday helped to rebuild veteran’s homes in the city for what was Christmas in April and is now National Rebuilding Day.
Photo by Stuart Revercomb
Dreamtime on stage P3– Playwright Maura Campbell tackles a real story in ‘Dreamtime’ which will be performed at The Festival of New Works.
oanokers head to the polls this Tuesday, May 6 and the choices for city council leadership are as varied as the number of tracks on this Norfolk Southern line in downtown Roanoke. Do the three red lights mean the end of the line for the three incumbents – sending Roanoke in a new direction? Or will some or all make it through
for another four-year journey? Whatever your local politics, it’s important we all play our part in the political process and exercise our hard-earned right and privilege to vote. Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 a.m. Put a reminder on your calendar today! Not sure of where you vote? Call the Roanoke City Registrar (540) 853-2261.
It was just after noon on January 15 when Roanoke City Police officers responded to a call on Melrose Avenue. There they found a female mental patient trying to stab people around her with a knife. The officers directed her to put the weapon down several times, but she refused. Instead of the situation escalating to further violence or a prolonged standoff, a sergeant on the scene utilized one of the department’s less-than-lethal weapons, a pepper ball gun, to hit the suspect in an attempt to end the situation. The call exemplified the department’s attempts to implement technology aimed at resolving conflicts with minimal injury, but it also showed the weapons’ limitations. Even after being exposed to the pepper balls the woman refused to let go of the knife, so one of the sergeants had to wrestle the weapon away from her. > CONTINUED P3: Less-than-lethal
Service provides sense of purpose New weekly paper
Project Faith P9– Faith Christian students, staff and parents gathered for their annual fundraiser and work project at the Rescue Mission’s Jubilee Acres Retreat Center.
Last Saturday hundreds of area youth gathered in Roanoke to participate in Global Youth Service Day, the largest service event in the world. The young people volunteered in 19 different service projects, ranging from painting to landscaping to spending time with senior citizens, with a happiness and joy in their hearts about helping out their community. The volunteers kicked off the various projects at noon and worked diligently until 3 p.m. And though a few showers rolled through the area, the kids were undeterred. “I had a marvelous time getting together with other youth Photo by Matthew Reeves and volunteering in my commu- Family Services of Roanoke Valley led youth volunteers in their nity,” said Maryann Rogers, 15. clean up efforts on the Blue Ridge Parkway. “Even though it rained, it was still noke Valley. them laugh, it helped take their a beautiful day.” The kids share that opinion. minds off of their sickness and Afterwards, everyone gath- Nikole Kinney, 14, who attends put a little hope in their hearts. I ered together for a post-service William Fleming, said, “I like love to make people smile.” celebration at the Virginia Global Youth Service Day Family Services of Roanoke Museum of TransportaService because it is a chance to get Valley served as the lead agency tion, where the kids shared to know people and help for GYSD in Virginia. Global an abundance of pizza and out your community.” Youth Service Day was sponsodas, a few laughs, and plenty of Steadman Soles, 13, agreed. “It sored by State Farm Companies, memories from their day. felt really good to help out.” Oakey’s Funeral Service and The benefits of service projects Perhaps most important on the Crematory, Virginia Building such as the ones undertaken on afternoon was the opportunity Services of Roanoke, and the GYSD go far beyond helping the for some of the youth to spend Virginia Museum of Transportacommunity. time with those in need. tion. Family Services of Roanoke “Volunteering gives kids a feel“I got to help out in pediatrics Valley is a private, not-for profit ing of value within the commu- and I loved it,” said Jamelia Ford, organization that provides critinity, which is very empowering,” 16. “I like to help other people, cal human services to Roanoke said Stephanie Koehler, Director and I really liked this project Valley residents. of Development and Communi- because when we came in and By Matthew Reeves cations at Family Service of Roa- played with those kids and made email@example.com
WahooWah P13– Virginia football coach Al Groh revs-up the Cavalier faithful at the UVA Athletics Association meeting Tuesday.
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off to a strong start We would like to thank all our readers, subscribers and advertisers for your support over the last six months. Your willingness to jump in and get behind this effort to create a new, unbiased and totally local news source for the Roanoke Valley has enabled us to reach this six month milestone in good health and growing weekly. Perhaps the best news we can share is that the paper is a hit! People all over the valley and from all walks of life continue to tell us how “happy / thrilled / excited” they are to have the StarSentinel in circulation and subscriptions continue to arrive with positive notes of support. On the advertising side, we have been extremely fortunate to have several key companies come on board and the power of advertising into the demographic we reach every week has been fantastic. Advertisers in the RSS have: • Canceled their ad because they couldn’t handle all the calls • “Purchased a new truck to handle additional deliveries” • “Had over 50 people come through an open house advertised only with us” • “Sold 2.5 times the average number of cars over a weekend.” We knew our distribution / demographic matrix was going to work well, but even we have been surprised by the level of success our direct mail model has en-
joyed. The biggest challenge now is simply getting the word out that we are not only the most cost effective print media advertising vehicle in Roanoke, but the one that generates the best results as well! To that end we need your help. If you like what you’ve been seeing these past six months please encourage your neighbors and friends to pick up a copy (or give them yours!) and give us a read. If you or someone you know is responsible for marketing a business or service please do the same and direct them to www. theroanokestar.com where they can download a rate card and get contact information. Strong subscription and advertising support are both essential to our success. Our goal at the Roanoke StarSentinel is to become the very best positive and informative community newspaper we can be - but we can’t do it alone. If such a publication is, as it has been said, a “public trust,” then we need your’s as we seek to bring positive balanced reporting and equal editorial opportunity to your doorstep week after week. We welcome your suggestions and feedback and offer our hearty thanks for your ongoing support! Stuart Revercomb, Publisher Lawson Koeppel, Editor
Page 2 | The Roanoke Star-Sentinel | 5/2/08
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Rebuilding Roanoke, a few houses at a time What used to be called Christmas in April is now ‘National Rebuilding Day,’ and last Saturday about 20 homes in the valley, mostly in Roanoke City, were selected from entries to be the focus of makeovers that included new paint, roofing, drywall and other carpentry. In Roanoke a joint effort between Sears and the Rebuilding Together organization, dubbed ‘Hometown Heroes,’ directed one of those makeovers at the home of David and Kassandra Styles. David Styles is a World War II veteran who saw action throughout the European theater. On Saturday employees of the Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority, along with help from congregation members of Bonsack United Methodist Church, repainted the Styles’ home on Mercer Avenue in Northwest Roanoke, redid the ceilings and remod-
Photo by Gene Marrano
Veteran David Styles (left) with team captain David Bowers. eled a circa-1920’s kitchen. The roof was patched in places as
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1997,” said Roger Vest, a vice president for the RRHA. “It’s been a very rewarding experience for me and these others.” He’s worked with the Bonsack church for several years. “Usually we’ll wind up working for an elderly couple or a single parent who can’t [afford to] maintain their home. It’s a wonderful thing to do. Its immeasurable the amount of satisfaction you get at the end of the day.” Former Roanoke Mayor David Bowers, now an independent candidate for his old seat, was a team captain for the project. He shook hands with David Styles as the WWII veteran sat outside in a minivan with other family members. “I appreciate all they are doing. I never thought [anyone] would do that work for me,” said Styles, who was surprised that the family’s application for the Rebuilding Together project was chosen. “I never would have had that done.” His wife, Kassandra, said she was, “happy. It’s going to be beautiful. It shows love – deep serious love and I’m proud. It lets you know what America can do – for anybody, especially for the veterans. Its beautiful.” Sears, Lowe’s and K-Mart donated materials for the Styles home remodeling on Mercer Avenue. By Gene Marrano firstname.lastname@example.org
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5/2/08 |The Roanoke Star-Sentinel |Page 3
‘Dreamtime’ at Mill Mountain tackles a tough subject - and a true story
Two plays will be presented during the Norfolk Southern Festival of New Works this year at Mill Mountain Theatre (May 7-17). The two productions will run in repertory on the smaller Waldron Stage, meaning they will alternate, changing sets and costumes every night. The same cast with several additions or subtractions will handle both ‘Splitting Heirs,’ a farce based on an 18th century French work, and ‘Dreamtime’ - a considerably different type of new play. ‘Dreamtime,’ by Vermont resident Maura Campbell, is based on a true story, the 2001 murder of Half and Susan Zantop, German-born Dartmouth professors killed by two teenage boys. “It loomed large in my imagination [at the time],” says Campbell, “how could this happen? It was not only senseless but random.” The boys lived in Chelsea, Vermont and Campbell, now a student in the Masters of Fine Arts summer program for playwrights at Hollins University, encountered or knew of them because she was staging a play with students at the high school there. “They were part of the community,” she recalls. Campbell said the two boys (Noah and Willy in her play) were well-liked, AllAmerican types, not the loners associated with the Columbine or Virginia Tech shootings. At a long glance there was nothing whatsoever that suggested that this could happen. If affected her profoundly as well. “This was an event in my life that had more meaning than I could possibly have known,” Campbell said.
children and has written several dozen plays. She has also taught at various levels in the past and was excited to find out about the unique Hollins summer MFA program, which takes place over five consecutive summers. Despite the tragic overtones of the Zantop real-life murders or that of their fictional Adler counterparts, Campbell says there is plenty of humor in her play, “laughs and lightness,” she calls it, even on the day the characters are killed. She says in real life the small town where the Zantops were murdered “has never really recovered from it. It went in deep. [I felt] like it happened to me too.” Campbell calls it a sense of community and healing: “there is so much tragedy in our society. So much that is hurting Photo by Gene Marrano
psychological examination, not just the mind of the students involved in the killing, but the entire community and by extension the community of the nation. The audience themselves become part of the play.” He also feels a stage version of the Zantop murders is less prone to exploitation than would a movie or TV production. “An almost tribal notion of collective healing,” he calls it. Ristau says Mill Mountain is the only regional theater in the area that routinely stages new plays, not just the tried and true crowd pleasers. “I just can’t say enough about it.” Campbell is no star-struck 22-year-old just out of fouryear school: she has four grown
> Less-than-lethal From page 1
Lt. Mac Babb, who has served in the department for 17 years, said it all comes down to a suspect’s will. “There’s always been a problem in law enforcement of developing something that will end confrontational situations without anyone getting hurt,” Babb said. “The reality is that there is simply no silver bullet – often it comes down to the mental state of the suspect and the circumstances and environment in which officers find themselves. And that’s really where a lot of less-than-lethal technology either succeeds or fails – on the basis of how bad a person wants to do what they’re trying to do.” Roanoke officers have access to five different types of less-than lethal-technology: pepper spray, batons, bean bag rounds, pepper ball guns and 40 millimeter sponge rounds fired from a specialized gun. Though the 40 millimeter rounds are the newest technology the department is implementing most of the technology that has been in use by the department for decades. The oldest technology in use are the officers’ batons, though they’ve changed a lot since the keystone movies. Today’s are collapsable and easier to carry. “It’s considered less lethal technology becuase you’re usually striking towards muscle mass areas,” Babb said. “There again, it’s going to depend on how bad the person is committed because there are people that are not affected by baton strikes, which is also kind of scary.” A step above the brute force of a baton is the department’s use of pepper spray. Babb said that prior to 1992 officers were using chemical weapons like Mace but decontamination was usually difficult so officers were hesitant to use it. “Once you contaminated somebody with it they were stuck with it, and if you got it in your car, it was in your car,” Babb said. The department then moved to a pepper-based spray. The active ingredient in the spray is Oleoresin Capsicum, which is a kind of cyan pepper that’s processed several times until it reaches the base resin. Babb said the department uses a pepper spray rated at 2 million Scoval Heat Units. To give you an idea of the heat packed into the spray, a jalepeno pepper is rated at between 2,500 and 8,000. The pepper spray is an inflam-
matory that causes involuntary eye closure and mucus production. Essentially it irritates the heck out of someone, but the effects wear off within about 45 minutes. “There have been no documented deaths caused by it,” Babb said. “About the only injury you get is if someone rubs into their eyes hard it can cause damage, but the product itself doesn’t. The officers have different ways of delivering the spray. Each officer has a small canister of spray they carry as a part of their field equipment. Supervisors carry what the department calls a ‘command pack’ that contains crowd control canisters and other situation-specific ways of administering the spray. The pepper ball gun, which was used in the Melrose incident, looks just like a typical paintball gun. The key difference being the contents of the rounds, which is a powder version of the pepper spray. What the gun does is increase the range of the irritant from four to six feet with the spray, to 30 to 60 feet with the pepper balls. The powder medium also means officers don’t have to hit the suspect directly, they can hit walls or areas around the suspect and the resulting dust cloud will leave more than enough material to irritate. Babb said the gun isn’t standard issue to each officer in the field. Supervisors carry the weapons, which means there are about four to six of them in the field at any one time. Though the spray and powder are effective in the vast majority of cases, Babb said there are some people who are simply immune to the substance “We’ve had people that were sprayed and were like, ‘don’t do that anymore,’ which is not a good feeling,” Babb said, “especially when you’re by yourself.” Babb said the tactical response team has two other less-than-lethal weapons at their disposal. The oldest is a simple shotgun that fires beanbag rounds. The rounds are designed to stun the victim. The problem with that technology is the velocity involved. “The closer you get to somebody with this particular round, there is a chance of penetration,” Babb said. He said the shotgun has been used twice. “One time the person was more committed than the round and
the second time the person simply gave up,” Babb said. Because of the potential for penetration the department is transitioning to a 40 millimeter impact round. The round is a hard sponge material fired from a riot gun. “It can be used at closer distances without concern for penetration, as [close] as five feet away... and out to about 80 feet away,” Babb said. The distance is key because someone can close within the safe range of the shotgun making the round lethal. Babb said the impact rounds haven’t been used yet. Babb said that though the department is interested in resolving situations without serious harm, a lot of it is up to what suspects are wielding. “These three [pepper ball gun, bean bag rounds and 40 millimeter rounds] typically come in to play when you’re dealing with someone who’s armed to start with, other than a handgun,” Babb said. “Once you go to a firearm, all of these pretty much get removed. They could be put into play, but there’s obviously a lot more danger. The officers are only going to accept so much risk to put these into play.” He said the best less-than-lethal technology is the officers themselves. “These are nothing more than tools and the most important tool an officer has is his mind and being able to address the situation. they are all trained to be problem solvers and they’re all trained to try and resolve situations peacefully,” Babb said. “It’s never anyone’s goal for there to be any type of violence, but unfortunately sometimes people make poor decisions and sometimes poor decisions have consequences and we try to lessen those consequences.”
is at Mill Mountain Theatre from May 7-17. For more information. mi l lmounBy Gene Marrano tain.org email@example.com
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“Dreamtime” director Todd Ristau and playwright Maura Campbell. ‘Dreamtime’ is not the straight retelling of a tragic event however, as Campbell tries to get inside the head of the Zantops, portrayed as Jorg and Greta Adler in the play’s thinly disguised fiction. It was first made public via staged readings in Vermont several months ago but the Mill Mountain production is ‘Dreamtime’s’ official debut. “I was really inspired and gratified not only in people’s interest in seeing the play,” recalls Campbell of the Vermont readings, “but how they reacted to it.” Todd Ristau, who runs the Hollins MFA program and founded ‘No Shame Theatre’ at Mill Mountain, is also directing ‘Dreamtime.’ “It’s a much more
and painful. I do want people to experience some kind of catharsis seeing this play.” The Norfolk Southern Festival of New Works
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Page 4 | The Roanoke Star-Sentinel | 5/2/08
Lost wallet is reminder that good deeds and bad deeds abound
friend of mine left her wallet on top of her car after talking to two other women in the car beside her as she filled her gas tank last week. One of the other women seemed not to feel well. My friend consoled her and introduced her to her dog, then left, not realizing the situation with the wallet. Ninety seconds later she was back at the store, looking for the wallet in the parking lot and on Virginia 419. There was no sign of it, or the women. My friend’s apprehension over the loss of her driver’s license, credit cards, money and other possessions diminished
your fellow humans as she drove the two in a hurry, then go to hours to her home in www.baltimoresun. a nearby state. com and read about Surely, she thought, her. her new women Reporter Justin friends had noticed Fenton starts by deit and soon would scribing the suicide notify her that they McKay may or may had it. not have faked when I interrupt this Joe Kennedy she left her car and little tale to tell you a note by the water’s about an astonishing portrait on Sunday’s Balti- edge in Ocean City, Md., in more Sun Website, the first in 2003. With the note were the packa three-part series about Cindy McKay, a one-woman crime aging to an inflatable raft and wave who wrecked and ruined the sales slip for a pair of oars lives and property all across purchased a day earlier from Wal-Mart, plus an empty botMaryland. If you want to lose faith in tle of hydrocodone and other things. It appeared as if she
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planned to drown herself. But, Fenton writes, “Soon enough … investigators were doubting that scenario. Was suicide really a conceivable ending for Cindy McKay, a woman who never backed into a corner she felt she couldn’t back right out of, a con she couldn’t play, a mark she couldn’t dupe? “The mother of six, McKay was … a brazen, often-convicted thief who pilfered hundreds of thousands of dollars from small businesses, from a Catholic seminary, from a charity, from the aged, from lovers, from many who had trusted her. She outlasted two of the men in her life, both victims of unnatural deaths, and
was the instigator - at the least - in a homicide that eventually landed two of her sons as well as herself behind bars. “Through it all, she demonstrated the nerves of a sapper coupled with an indifference to the harm she inflicted on others - employers, good Samaritans or her blood kin. Once she even claimed that her father was dead so that she could swipe title to his home. She was moxie married to malevolence.” I don’t know how many Good Samaritans it takes to make up for every Bad Seed in the world, but I do know this: Too often, the kindnesses we encounter seem minimal compared to the
evil that we read about or, unluckily, bump into. I have never run into a Cindy McKay. I don’t even want to think about her – and yet I can’t stop, and I certainly will read the rest of the series. I also will try to remember the person or people who delivered my friend’s wallet, with its contents undisturbed, to the Salem Police Department, so she could return and fetch it. We think the women at the gas station did it. God bless ‘em, and everybody like ‘em, if they did
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Laughter in a family is an indispensable ingredient
aughter is an ingredient in a family much like yeast is to bread: essential. Yeast is the key ingredient to make the bread rise after it has been punched and kneaded, and if you have ever made bread and forgotten the yeast, you know just what I mean. Without the yeast, the dough doesn’t have the energy to rise and become tasty bread. I will never forget the time when laughter was our saving grace! One year when selling a home, my do-it-yourself husband decided that he would change the electrical outlets to update the old ones on the very day we listed the house. I was nervous about him doing this because I just wasn’t sure he was all together qualified. I had visions of wires being crossed and smoke pouring out of the electrical outlets. I also didn’t want to get caught in the middle of the project if we got a call from the realtor. Well, as you might imagine,
this was the reason for after a day full of projthe putrid odor. Hopects, one being the uping he had solved the grading of electrical problem, the electricioutlets, we received a ty was turned back on, call from the realtor but the odor became saying that she had even more pungent. a serious client and wanted to show the The clock was ticking house in thirty minso we opened winutes! Immediately dows and turned on we started tearing the whole house fan Diane Kelly to rid the house of through the house, cleaning up from the day’s work. the horrible odor. Believe me, we The electricity was turned back were not laughing! We couldn’t on, and we set the timer for a find the source of the smell, and “beat the clock” cleanup routine. our time was just about up. As I sat on the edge of the It wasn’t long before we started smelling something funny. It bed, frustrated and exhausted, I smelled like something burning! looked up and something caught I knew it: the house was going to my eye. A dark blue singed sock burn down even before we sold was hanging on the bare light bulb of a wall sconce just over it! We turned the electricity off the dirty clothes basket in the again, and immediately dropped corner of the room. The sock to the floor to sniff outlets. The had been tossed to the basket acrid odor was strongest in our like a ball in a hoop when we bedroom and subsided with the started cleaning up, but this one electricity turned off, so my hus- didn’t quite make it. We pried band rewired the outlet, thinking the blackened sock from the hot
bulb, threw it out the window, and had a really good laugh. In not too long, the doorbell rang and on opening the door we explained the curious smell and shared a few laughs. In the end, those folks purchased our house, but not without a few changes to the electrical outlets. Don’t forget how very valuable laughter is when going through stressful times as a family. Laughter keeps us sane when times are difficult, and let’s face it; life is just hard at times. If we can enjoy a good story, even if we have to laugh at ourselves, we can rise above many a difficult situation. After that incident, I started a collection of funny stories and put it in a file marked, “the laughs on me.” Someday, I’ll write about the load of fresh chicken manure unloaded in my backyard to help the grass grow.
Contact Diane at firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcoming back the players of an Appalachian Spring
erns: Northern maidenhair ferns hold their most delicate and perfect symmetry in late April, gathering light in the glades before the overstory fills in completely. If God made ferns to show what he could do with a leaf as Thoreau suggested, He inspired their names as poetry. When I am alone, I may say them out loud seeing them for the first time each spring like greeting old friends. Interrupted fern; New York fern; cinnamon, Christmas, sensitive and hay-scented ferns. Onoclea sensibilis. Thelypteris noveboracensis. Dennstaedtia punctilobula. Osmunda cinnamomea. Welcome back! Mayapple: I have my own personal yardstick for measuring the seasons. While the arrival of the spiders that spin their webs across our path marks mid-summer, to mark mid-spring, the blooming of mayapple is the key. Their wadded twists of leaves appear almost overnight in early May, and when it is officially mid-spring on Goose Creek, the mayapple will bear the single waxy white flower hidden underneath. Morels: Found this morning: three morel mushrooms by accident - enough to provide the suggestion of earthiness to the stroganoff tonight. Three more would have been better. On the intentional foray this afternoon with bag in hand, I became con-
vinced that mushrooms Covering the old postcan disguise themselves al road up the valley, and beoame invisible. their white flower petHint for next year: Nevals lie scattered underer carry a collecting bag foot like confetti the where the morels can day after an outdoor see it. wedding. Well get Blackberries: It is none of the little red looking like a good berfruits. The turkeys and ry year ahead, up on the grouse, chipmunks logged land behind the and groundhogs and Fred First house. The ravaged forespecially the box turest is coming back now tles will gobble them in lithe, fast-growing white pines up even while the berries are still and many, many berries. We’ve green. Life is not always fair when already notified some friends that it comes to wild fruit. they are welcome to come pick as Hemlocks: Sadly, we’ve not yet much as they want later this sum- seen the first black throated blue mer. Bring your own buckets, we warblers this year, and I’m afraid told them. Well provide the ber- they will become more and more ries, the scratches and the ticks. uncommon as our once magnifiWild Strawberries: We’ve lived cent darkest green hemlock trees here long enough now that we succumb to the insect called the know not to expect to harvest wooly adelgid. Our hillsides were many of the wild strawberries. once covered with the black-green
fronds of hemlock, my favorite tree. Now they stand gaunt and gray, sad skeletons with boney arms uplifted, frozen in a final unanswered prayer. Fireflies: Last night late, we saw the first flashes in ones and twos. These are the earliest fireflies just practicing for the Hallelujah Chorus of Fireflies that will come in legions by late June. I close my eyes and see, in memory of summers past, a constellation of pulsing yellow-golden lights. They will come down to earth on a June night when we can smell the warm meadow in the dark, and we will see in the distance, at the edge of vision, silent flashes of summer lightning.
Contact Fred at email@example.com
The Roanoke Star-Sentinel C o m mu n i t y | N ew s | Pe r s p e c t i ve Publisher | Stuart Revercomb | firstname.lastname@example.org | 400-0990 Editor | Lawson Koeppel | email@example.com | 400-0990 Advertising Dir. | Vickie Henderson | firstname.lastname@example.org | 400-0990 Technical Webmaster | Don Waterﬁeld | email@example.com | 400-0990 Star: to lift up that which is right, real and genuine about our community – the people and events that make us who we are – the real spirit of Roanoke that past residents and leaders have worked hard to create, that points us towards the bright and shining future that we all desire for our valley. Sentinel: to guard the truth, with consistent and complete coverage of key local issues that provides balanced reporting and equal editorial opportunity. To fully tell all sides of a story so that readers can make their own informed opinions, and express them to positively impact others and our community. The Roanoke Star-Sentinel is published weekly by Whisper One Media, Inc. in Roanoke, Va. Subscriptions are available for $44 per year. Send subscriptions to PO Box 8338, Roanoke, VA 24014. We encourage letters from our readers on topics of general interest to the community and responses to our ar ticles and columns. Letters must be signed and have a telephone number for verification. All letters will be verified before publication. The Star-Sentinel reserves the right to deny publication of any letter and edit letters for length, content and style. All real estate advertised herein is subject to national and Virginia fair housing laws and readers are hereby informed that all dwellings adver tised in this newspaper are available on an equal oppor tunity basis.
5/2/08 |The Roanoke Star-Sentinel |Page 5
Are local zoning laws simply Socialist-style central planning?
hat if you had to go before a government committee to ask permission any time you wanted to make a modification to your home? What if that committee said you werenâ€™t allowed to replace your windows with the $100 windows you were planning to buy, but instead, youâ€™d have to replace them with $300 windows, because they â€œfit inâ€? better with how the government wanted your neighborhood to look? What if the government could tell you what color you could paint your home, what type of fence â€“ if any â€“ you were allowed to build in your backyard, and that you couldnâ€™t plant your favorite trees and bushes because they werenâ€™t on the governmentâ€™s approved list? Is this a little reminiscent of the Soviet Union? Actually, this is your community. The very restrictions I mention above happen right here in the Roanoke Valley, and
this is what zoning home more livable laws, zoning boards, for her handicapped and architectural remom. view boards do every Last week, Anselmo day. If youâ€™ve made was found guilty and modifications to your fined $200, and could home or land and face additional CRIMhavenâ€™t gotten perINAL charges and mission and havenâ€™t fines until she takes gotten in trouble, the doors off and puts maybe itâ€™s just behe window back. Yes, Brian Gottstein cause you havenâ€™t she was found guilty been caught yet. of a CRIME for havTake the story of Paula Ansel- ing â€œunapprovedâ€? doors on her mo who lives in Roanokeâ€™s Old home, comrade. Southwest. She replaced her This isnâ€™t an isolated incident. front window with French doors There are many such stories. to help her wheelchair-bound But most donâ€™t make it to court mother have easier access to her or to the media because most porch. homeowners donâ€™t have the The doors violated a historic time or money to fight the govzoning ordinance in that neigh- ernmentâ€™s virtually unlimited borhood. The Architectural Re- dollars. Homeowners generally view Board denied her petition give in, thinking they â€œcanâ€™t fight to keep the doors, and when she city hall.â€? appealed, Roanoke City Council Those who feel zoning laws upheld the boardâ€™s ruling. The are necessary are often neighbureaucrats and elected over- borhood busy bodies, centralseers on high gave thumbs down planning bureaucrats, and peoto a citizen wanting to make her ple who stand to profit from the
restrictions. When these laws are made over such subjective things as the color someone decides to paint his house or the kind of door he decides to put on his porch, it is out of hand. Zoning proponents claim the laws keep people from making their homes less attractive and by osmosis, â€œdevaluingâ€? other houses in the neighborhood; or the laws force aesthetic conformity among homes, creating a neighborhood â€œidentity.â€? Using their logic, I could claim that we should have zoning laws prohibiting more than two children living in a house, because the noise they make and the toys they leave in the yard could lower the value of my house if I decide to sell it to people who donâ€™t like children. Their logic already has created â€œgovernment-approvedâ€? tree and plant lists, roofing material lists, paint color lists, and more. Where does it end? People who want to live in â€œcontrolledâ€? neighborhoods
have the freedom to buy homes in private developments with homeownersâ€™ associations, where they voluntarily choose to live under restrictions that make their neighborhoods more homogeneous. But allowing the central planners in government to exercise dominion over us and our pri-
vate property rights â€“ some the most important freedom we have â€“ means we really don have any property rights at a Just ask Paula Anselmo. Contact Brian firstname.lastname@example.org
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City council distracted by less important issues
oanoke City Council Candidates avoid the important issues The Roanoke City Council Mayoral Elections are May 6th. I know who Iâ€™m going to support. But, I have to admit that the candidates arenâ€™t talking about the nuts and bolts issues that need to be tackled in Roanoke. These issues arenâ€™t sexy, wonâ€™t make people go to the polls on Election Day and are controversial. As a city, we have more important issues to worry about than putting a restaurant on top of Mill Mountain (who cares, as long as itâ€™s done without taxpayerâ€™s money) or building an amphitheatre in a flood zone, which with the possible exception of spending $1 million on a downtown trolley line, is about as dumb an idea as Iâ€™ve heard in a long time, especially when City Council says it wants to revitalize downtown. These types of issues only keep our minds off of what really needs to be done in Roanoke.
Roanoke desperately in a recession? This is needs a new police just bad government. chief. Iâ€™ll give you the new Joe Gaskins doesnâ€™t art museum and imhave it - never did, provements to the City never will. Low moMarket. I said ten years rale, high turnover, ago that Roanokeâ€™s man power shortages, downtown should be scandals, manipulated patterned after Washpolice data, bad comington, D.C.â€™s Georgemunity relations and town if it is going to Jeff Artis survive. Thereâ€™s a difquestionable police ference between a city tactics are just some of the problems facing the Roanoke government investing in public/ Police Department. Gaskins has private partnerships with obvihad plenty of time to correct these ous mutual benefits for everyone problems. But he hasnâ€™t. Instead, involved and a city government these problems have gotten worse. supporting a private developer for Itâ€™s time to show Gaskins the door. the sole purpose of projected tax Why has Roanoke City Council revenue, which in the case of Roabecome the â€œsugar daddyâ€? for pri- noke City Council, never seems to materialize. Private developvate development? Private development should ers should go to banks for their be just that, private development. investment money, not Roanoke And why is Roanoke City Council City Council. investing in downtown housing There arenâ€™t enough books projects when the housing mar- in our schools for our children, ket has gone belly up and we are havenâ€™t been for years. Teachers,
police and firemen/EMS are underpaid. Roanokeâ€™s infrastructure is old and badly needs repairs. City sidewalks are needed so citizens, especially our children, donâ€™t have to walk in the street in so many of our neighborhoods. We need a quality police sub-station in Northwest Roanoke with proper staffing. The fastest growing industry in Roanoke is the drug trade, with drug gangs bringing contraband into the Roanoke Valley from as far away as Florida, Texas and New York. The business of exploiting illegal aliens is alive and well throughout the Roanoke Valley. No, these issues arenâ€™t sexy. However, these issues are more important than the issues that have been talked about in this election cycle. Letâ€™s hope Roanokers makes the best vote possible. Contact Jeff at email@example.com
Before you move - beware the hounds
ecently, I learned that a young family had purchased my next door neighborâ€™s home. I will miss our former neighbors; they were a wonderfully patient couple, with an above average tolerance for noise. I am hoping the same holds true for the new brood. Allow me to explain. My home is a ceaseless exporter of sounds. Aside from the endless caravan of boisterous teenagers who frequent my home, there is also my musical son who has chosen the drums to express his appreciation of music. However, neither of the aforementioned disturbances of the peace can match the lilting tones produced by our other family members - four hound dogs named Belle, Shiloh, Roscoe and Mya. Hounds are an appealing blend of comedy, chaos and catastrophe. One has to truly love them to own them. Let me run down the roster for you. Belle, a black and tan coated Bassett Hound, is the senior dog of the group. Most of Belleâ€™s day is spent sleeping or being adored by our two male dogs. Belle must be a pretty hot number in the hound world, as both males, Shiloh and Roscoe, constantly vie for her attention. Shiloh enjoys chewing on Belleâ€™s ears as if they were a raw hide bone, and Belle loves it. I feel almost embarrassed to watch. Roscoe is far more overt in his approach, choosing to French kiss Belle to the point of gagging her. His clumsy romantic attempts are often spurned by Belle, preferring the delicate ear-work of her other admirer.
Stricken with diabetes when Franklin Road. This poor overhe was a pup and nearly blind, wrought pup clings to my wife Shiloh (a skinny beagle-mix) is a like a barnacle, wedging herself stealth-like creature who quietly into the smallest spaces just to be strolls around the house and yard next to â€œMommyâ€?. without bumping into a stick of Anyone passing within thirty furniture. His feet of my house bat like sonar is treated to a Jon Kaufman is remarkable! raucous chorus Shiloh could be of barking by our a seeing eye dog for a seeing eye seemingly vicious pack. Those dog. This is not to say that Shiloh who access the alley behind our is void of vision issues. Some- home get the full-on all dog times Shilohâ€™s failing vision will alert â€œmanhuntâ€? treatment, as place him in a difficult situation. the gang howls and stalks them Lately Shiloh has been mistaking along the fence-line. Roscoe (our male Bassett) for Although each hound is Belle (our female Basset), much unique in its own very endearto Roscoeâ€™s chagrin. These inap- ing way, they all share one compropriate â€œBrokeback Bassettâ€? mon passion; they all love to moments normally result in a sing. When I say â€œsingâ€? imagine furious dog-on-dog teeth gnash- a maddening conglomeration ing melee. of yips which could drown out In the Southern vernacular a hotel fire alarm system. Our Roscoe is â€œdumb as a bag of ham- canine quartet combines two mersâ€?. He is an iron-stomached full-toned Bassettâ€™s providing brute who has eaten everything the bass line, a vigorous Coonfrom a bowl full of potpourri hound baritone and the worldâ€™s to an entire box of Nyquil Gel- foremost blind beagle-mix tenor. tabs (some grogginess, slept â€˜til Mix these elements together and Tuesday). When Roscoe charges neighbors have been known to through the house, the entire flee the vicinity faster than you edifice shakes like a 6.8 Frisco can say â€œfor sale by owner.â€? quake. Some people think of This cold-nosed glee club perBassett Hounds as small dogs, forms at all hours of the day and but they are actually big dogs night. When my wife leaves the without the benefit of legs. They house, emotions run high. The are, essentially, a furry ottoman mournful wale of the hounds with floppy ears. creates a kind of bereaved blues Finally, there is Mya our pup- riff. They are sure that she has py Coonhound. Mya is the most abandoned them, never to renervous dog I have ever seen. turn. Seconds later she steps When startled by a loud noise back into the house holding the Mya races through the house, mail and joy is restored to their tail tucked, leaving a wet trail doggy world. in her wake. If my son grabs his To my newest neighbors, aldrumsticks, Mya becomes un- low me to apologize in advance. controllably hysterical, darting If itâ€™s any consolation, I have enaround our living room like a dured this bedlam for years with hell-bent squirrel trying to cross only a slight percentage of hear-
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