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The Roanoke Star-Sentinel Community | News | Per spective
City Managers card favors Hotel Roanoke Bratton Signs P8– Marcus Bratton earned a scholarship to play football next year, three and a half hours away at UVA Wise.
A Little Princess P6– Faith Christian kicks off its stage season with a new play and a new stage in their upgraded facilities.
Spring is in the air P8– Spring sports for all the area schools are getting warmed up for a busy season. Catch all the previews in Sports.
1st LEED Certified P2– Roanoke has its first LEED certified building- the State and City Building which houses Frank L. Moose.
It’s not because she doesn’t like the atmosphere or food, “its actually quieter there,” she said. But when you’ve been to Hotel Roanoke more than 80 times over the course of two years, how could you not ask for more variety? City Manager Darlene Burcham said the meals shown on her city-issued Mastercard represent a variety of meetings with different individuals. The card, commonly referred to as a ‘P-card’ by city employees, is one of 700 purchasing cards issued to Roanoke City employees. “I meet on a monthly basis with as many
Arts Council seeks input The Arts Council of the Blue Ridge wants to know what you think. They’re seeking input from local artists, cultural organizations and the generLaura Rawlings al public. New executive director Laura Rawlings, who used to work for the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, has put together a series of Art Town Meetings that will stretch into early April, in venues from Abingdon to Bedford. There are two of these pubThe Arts lic meetings coming up in Roanoke: on Tuesday, March 18 at WVTF Public Radio, beginning at 5:30pm, and at the Dumas Center on Tuesday, March 25, also at 5:30. Rawlings has also designed “technical assistance” workshops designed to help artists promote their work, something they aren’t always good at, she says. Grant
council members as I can,” Burcham said, it was conveniently located to much of citing that as an example of some of the downtown. 78 charges to the Hotel Roanoke made in Another example of a recurring meet2006 and 2007. ing was with representative Onzlee Ware. She said the hotel is simply a conve- She said he prefers to meet at the hotel for nient location for many of the individuals breakfast because the mornings fit better with which she does business on behalf of into his schedule and his office is close. the city. “It has been a practice, even prior to my “It’s very rarely my arrival, the city manager meets choice,” she said, “I try with the mayor the Thursday City Government to make it convenient or Friday before a council for them.” meeting,” Burcham said. She She said it was a, “preferred meeting said it gave the city manager a chance to place because it’s a little private,” and that cover the agenda items prior to council
meetings. Though the charges to the hotel make up nearly a third of all the transactions on the card, the dollar amount ($1,495.50 in 2006 and $1,461 in 2008) is only 13 percent of the total placed on her account. The majority of the costs are involved in the city manager’s travels. She said the traveling she does is on behalf of the city to a number of regional, state and national conferences and committees.
> CONTINUED P2: Burcham
Payday lending draws protest
Kaine commends local efforts
Protesters on Melrose Avenue
> CONTINUED P3: Art Council
Protesters lined Melrose Avenue in front of “Ace Checks Cashed” on Saturday, urging passersby to “break the cycle.” The protest is a response to House Bill 12 and Senate Bill 588 on payday lending. The protest was prompted by the Virginia OrgaFinance nization Project, which called the protest “Break the Cycle of Debt.” Protesters gathered on the curb holding poster-sized signs that said, “Call your Governor,” and “Payday loans are a trap.” Sharon LaMar led the protest. LaMar said, “when the General
Photo by Lawson Koeppel
overnor Tim Kaine was in town recently, thanking the firefighters, emergency services personnel, law enforcement agencies, the Department of Forestry and others for their work in February, when a staggering 348 wildfires broke out across the state. The high winds that day meant an all-time record for the Common-
wealth: 4 times as many fires were worked that day statewide than ever before. Kaine, speaking at a church parking lot near I-81, also had praise for the American Red Cross, which did its part by serving meals to hundreds of hungry firefighters > CONTINUED at the Green Ridge fire site in western P3: Kaine
> CONTINUED P4: Loans
Ties connects young dancers with regional artists Performance tied into Roanoke’s rail past “There’s going to be a train wreck on stage,” Mike Lawson says with a cheerful grin about the Southwest Virginia Ballet’s upcoming debut of “Ties”, an original dance production set during Roanoke’s days as a railroad boom town. And he doesn’t mean that it’s going to be a disaster. It promises to be quite the opposite, in fact. “Ties” is the brainchild of Pedro Szalay, Artistic Director of the Southwest Virginia Ballet. Szalay says that “Ties” was inspired both by his own experiences as an immigrant (he is Hungarian by ancestry and grew up in Venezuela) and by Roanoke’s early history as a railroad town. ““Ties” is a metaphor,” Szalay says. “It is about connections between people, between earth and spirit, and between material things.” The production will feature costumes and imagery from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s and is set to various musical selections including Appalachian themed compositions by cellist Yo-Yo Ma and music by Buchanan-based songwriter David Austin.
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studios. Every junior and senior company member will be performing on the stage featuring two train passenger cars. Creative collaboration is one of the most striking features of “Ties”. “We have a dozen ladies who are sewing [the period costumes],” Executive Director Lawson notes. “Six to eight volunteers from GE Supply are working on the train car.” Artistic director Szalay cites his collaboration with Kim Parker at the O. Winston Link museum, Barbara Fitzpatrick at the Museum of Transportation, and local watercolor artist Nancy Stark. Three performances of “Ties” will be staged at the Jefferson Center during the first week of April. The school audience performance of “Ties” will be at 10 a.m. on Thursday, April 3rd (open seats are still available). Then there will be two weekend Photo courtesy Southwest Virginia Ballet Dancers perform during a dress rehearsal for the performance which opens the performances of “Ties”: Saturday, April 5th at 7 pm and Sunday, April 6th at 3 p.m. first week of April The Southwest Virginia Ballet has over Mike Lawson, executive director of that moves away from our traditional rep40 dancers, 38 of who are either junior or Southwest Virginia Ballet, says he believes ertoire. Young people will love it because senior company members. Junior compathat “Ties” will appeal to all of the chance to see their peers ny members are 10 to 13 years old. Senior ages. “Seniors will love it beperform.” The Arts company members are 14 to 18 years old. cause of the 30s, 40s, and 50s Members of the dance comthemes. Performing arts lovers pany are the cream of the crop By Daniel Voss will enjoy it because it is something new drawn from six local and regional dance firstname.lastname@example.org
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Page 2 | The Roanoke Star-Sentinel | 3/14/08
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Sabrinaâ€™s Place: a safe haven now for supervised visitation Sadly, in some cases, it seems that tragedies must happen before action takes place. Thatâ€™s what happened when Sabrina Reed was one of twelve women murdered in a 20-month period from 2004-2006 in Roanoke City, incidents all related to domestic violence. That spike in homicides prompted city officials to launch a task force and conduct forums on the issue. Reed was murdered in 2005 when her ex-husband Robert came to exchange their thenseven year-old daughter Asjah during a visitation period. Â The task force uncovered the need for a safe place that could be used for court ordered supervised visitation â€“ and thatâ€™s what â€œSabrinaâ€™s Placeâ€? at 330 Luck Avenue is all about. Â The space was a printing shop but has been totally made over, much of it with donated materials. Operated by Total Action Against Poverty (TAP), Sabrinaâ€™s Place opened last November as the TAP Supervised Visitation and Safe Exchange Program (TSVSEP). But program director Annette Lewis acknowledged that was a mouthful and Sabrinaâ€™s Place was unveiled as the new name last week with Asjah, Sabrinaâ€™s father John Lynch and her other family members on hand. The visitation center features three brightly colored playrooms that can be used by appointment. A monitor sits in during supervised custody situations while two-way mirrors allow Roanoke City police officers, who are required to be on hand, to look in from the hallway. â€œAbusers often use children as pawns,â€? said Lewis as she led off a ceremony for the renam-
Photo by Gene Marrano
City Manager Darlene Burcham makes brief remarks with TAP officials looking on. ing. Â Many women, however, fear losing custody if they report on an abusive spouse or exspouse, which sets up a sometimes deadly scenario when a couple tries to deal with child visitation on their own. â€œThe City of Roanoke recognized the need,â€? said Lewis. Â Grants from the U.S. Department of Justice helped the city and TAP get Sabrinaâ€™s Place off the ground. The visitation center is open afternoons and evenings Wednesday through Sunday, with staggered arrival times for both parties. Visits can be terminated if things get out of hand and there is an intake process. City Manager Darlene Burcham, noting that she was a social worker before becoming an administrator, called Sabrinaâ€™s Place â€œa dream come true for many people.â€? Â TAP President Ted Edlich praised Burcham as being â€œsensitive to
the concerns that are [felt] by children, women and families,â€? in helping the visitation center get off the ground. Â â€œI knew Sabrina,â€? said board member Pam Forrest, who first suggested the new name. Â â€œThis tragedy was a catalyst for a lot of good things happening in the Roanoke Valley. Sabrinaâ€™s always on my mindâ€Śwhen Iâ€™m thinking about domestic violence.â€? Now nine, Asjah is being raised by an aunt. Fighting back tears Forrest recalled Reedâ€™s final hours, when a â€œsimple exchangeâ€? during a weekend visitation â€œended up being the last day of Sabrinaâ€™s life.â€? Â Thatâ€™s what the new center on Luck Avenue is all about said Forrest: â€œa safe place.â€? (call program coordinator Sammi Rader at 767-6230 for more By Gene Marrano i n for m a email@example.com tion)
> Burcham From page 1
In 2006 there were $6,002.61 in travel-related charges and $8,255.61in 2007. Burcham says Roanoke is chosen as a representative of Southwest Virginia for a number of state-wide advisory committees because itâ€™s the largest city west of Richmond. â€œIt think it clearly has a benefit, it also has a price,â€? Burcham said. And itâ€™s not just a financial price she said, having just spent six hours on the road Tuesday for a two and half hour meeting. She sits on a number of committees including the Urban Policy Task force and Energy Adisory Council which require travel. â€œPart of my role as a city manager is to make sure Roanoke gets its fair share,â€? Burcham said. She said being a part of such committees gives the city a chance to help shape legislation to benefit Roanoke. When asked if the city sees the return on her participation she said, â€œI think it very definitely[does].â€? Burcham said one of the better
City Manager Department P-card Spending 2007 Darlene Burcham Brian Townsend James Grigsby
$11,937.48 $2,084.81 $874.13
2006 Darlene Burcham Brian Townsend Rolanda Russell James Grigsby
$10,431.09 $NA $1,069.21 $602.24
news items to come out over the last few weeks of P-card scrutiny is that the city actually receives a rebate from the purchases. Fifth Third Bank actually gives the city a rebate based on its spending. An earlier newspaper report said that meant $90,456 during the last fiscal year. The rebate is 1 percent of annual
spending from $1 million to $ 5 million. Above $6 million the rebate is 1.25 percent. Burcham said the bank, based out of Cincinnati, Oh., won the right to provide the cards through a bid. By Lawson Koeppel firstname.lastname@example.org
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