Fifty years ago this month, I left the States to join the Ninth Infantry Division in Vietnam. My tour started on a high note, as I was able to watch the Bob Hope show on Christmas Day at the division base camp. Hope brought with him Barbara McNair, Racquel Welch and Miss Australia. I remember the reaction of the troops when we were asked to join the cast in the singing of “I’ll be home for Christmas if only in my dreams...” As a 23-year-old lieutenant, I was not much older than a majority of the soldiers sitting on the ground listening to the show. By the end of January, the Tet Offensive occurred and reality set in for the remainder of my tour. Would like to extend a Christmas greeting to all the Vietnam vets, especially those who brought the war home with them.
I would like to thank the family that decorates their home on Centerville Road directly behind Harris Teeter. On the way home from work, no matter how tired I am, I get in the Christmas spirit. Their home is lit up like a giant gingerbread house with candy canes and snowflakes in the trees. It brings a smile to my face. If you travel that way, I hope it is after dark so you can enjoy the same holiday experience. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all of you readers!
This is a reply to the person who has been to church 18,000 times more than Trump. I have been in retail for the last nine years and we were told not to say Merry Christmas but Happy Holiday because we wouldn't want to hurt anybody's feelings. So I am thrilled to say Merry Christmas to my customers and they too are happy to say it back. I'm just thinking maybe President Trump has something to do with this. Merry Christmas to you all!
Cheers to The UPS Store at Quarterpath Road and Route 199, the Harris Teeter shopping center. They provided fast, friendly service for my shipping needs. The person helping me carried most of my boxes into the store while managing to open and hold the door for me while I carried a single medium size box. Now that’s service above and beyond my expectations.
Speaking of being considerate to the mailman, which was in the Last Word: Of course, it’s their job. But I am so grateful that I had a mother and a grandmother who always remembered the mailman at Christmas, or the mailwoman, depending on who did it, with just a little treat, a little something for them. And something for the garbage collector and something for the cleaners and for the person who does your hair, and for others. It’s just a way of being gracious.
As someone who investigated high school statistics — including the offering of special programs (special needs and Advanced Placement programs), enrollment numbers and projections, socioeconomic background and demographics across the high schools — I find the School Board’s disinclination to consider high school redistricting a travesty. Their tabling of the issue is in essence a vote for inequality, for exclusionism and, given the campaign against redistricting, for racism and classism. I thought this school system was a true public school system committed to serving all students, no matter where they live. So, for all who are on the side of fairness, who are against the consolidation of educational privileges — on the taxpayers’ dime — please run for the School Board so that we can vote out those who have betrayed the nearly two-thirds of W-JCC high school students, instructors and administrators who stand to lose because of the board's inaction.
I did not support spot redistricting to address overcrowding at the high schools, but here's one potential solution: Make Hornsby a high school and Lafayette a middle school. Lafayette could accommodate the additional middle school students who are anticipated in the second phase of the build out at James Blair. Reallocate the money dedicated to the second phase of James Blair to add building space (not trailers) to the Hornsby High School. Hornsby has land around it that is more accommodating to increasing building capacity than does either Jamestown or Lafayette. Hornsby also has adequate parking space for high school drivers. After space is added to Hornsby, then redistrict the high schools to reduce their populations. This solution solves all sorts of problems. Adding some additional building space to Hornsby and moving teachers between the schools would be cheaper than building a new high school. It reallocates money from the second phase of the James Blair project that would now no longer be needed. In addition, it avoids the large expense associated with temporary trailers at Jamestown and dedicates the money to a more permanent high school solution.
Good night, First Night
For 24 years this alcohol-free, family-oriented event on New Year’s Eve spent thousands of dollars making downtown Williamsburg a safe and fun place to be on Dec. 31. Hundreds of live performers spent time in front of happy crowds and some even danced the night away. The College of William and Mary hosted most of the acts in the beginning, then the city offered space, the community churches opened their doors and Colonial Williamsburg, too. Thanks to the hundreds of volunteers over the years who made it come to life. There is no First Night Williamsburg this year. The memories are wonderful to have.
I read that the city is paying $60,000 to learn about possible improvements to downtown. Has there been any mention made of the empty shops? The lack of movies? The loss of a known busy auditorium? The reality that many area people choose not to come downtown? The many vacant lots where people want to live downtown? The lack of a drugstore which every "downtown" has? Any CW people invited to the "storming"? W&M people? The well-paid city staff couldn't look at "all this" at say, a one-day retreat at the Lodge for a lot less than $60,000?
I, too, am among the many bird lovers dumbstruck as to where all the birds had gone. So imagine my jubilation when I saw two bluebirds the other day and another one the day after. I also saw a titmouse and of course a gaggle of avian cockroaches — starlings. I quickly restocked my feeders and put the heater in the bird bath. Overjoyed in Sommerset!
As always, columnist Frank Shatz brings us insight to matters of interest and impact to us locally. We are among those who ask, how did the CW board not get, care or ask about the dollars in previous years’ budgets? How did they not see the apparently daily loss of such magnitude that current CEO Mitchell Reiss has to contend with now as the new guy? It seems impossible to we “average” people on finite incomes that a company could sail along for years with no red flags raised. And that is what keeps us distrusting now. With best wishes to Mr. Reiss, most of us here came because of Colonial Williamsburg and would be shattered if it were to disappear.
A writer had stated that elimination of the health insurance mandate would result in a surge in costs derived from the uninsured seeking "free" healthcare through emergency rooms. I believe the point the writer is missing is that the mandate was a financial penalty for those choosing to opt out of Obamacare — those folks still used the emergency rooms and we, the taxpayer, were still footing the bill. In the 1960s hospitals, doctors and clinics had the right to turn away those who could not afford to pay and lacked insurance. The American public was outraged that folks were literally dying in waiting rooms and parking lots after service had been denied. The American public demanded something be done and now we, the taxpayer, are funding hundreds of billions in "free" health care for those using emergency rooms as their health care provider.
To the person who stated doctors and hospitals deny care to anyone that can't pay cash at the time of service, (and assuming that means even if it is a life or death situation), how uncompassionate of you. What would Jesus do? Not everyone has cash to pay for an emergency medical situation. It must be nice to have the means to do that, but don't base that on what everyone can do.
We live on Jamestown Road in the city. We pay a crew to come here and clean our yard of all the leaves and haul them away. Then the city comes along with the truck that has a blower on it and blows all the leaves that are on the street into our yard after we have spent money to have it cleaned up. Is this fair?
I heard that one of the schools in Virginia wants to change the name because of all the Civil War stuff, and it will cost $1 million to change the name of the school. Now I’m afraid that just seems to be ridiculous to spend money to change the name of a school. Wouldn’t that money be better used to buy equipment and things the children need? Books, computers, whatever? And just get over it? Remember, as a child, they said, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Maybe we need to go back to that.
Looking for …
I am the president of a new Rotary Satellite Club in Williamsburg. Check us out on Facebook, www.facebook.com/JCCSatRotary.
There are three Rotary clubs in Greater Williamsburg. Contact information is available online at Rotary.org. Click on “Club Finder” and enter your address. We would be happy to meet with you.
I have two or three of my mother's recipe cards and parts are written in shorthand. The online dictionaries and apps have not proven beneficial. Can someone help?
A very sweet Beagle named Holly is missing from Colonial Heritage. Tags, micro chipped, missing since Nov. 26. She may not come to you. If seen, please call 703-200-9825.
Does anyone have a jogging stroller for one or two children? Please call 220-3712.
The cable model
Do you want ISPs to base their service on the cable model? The cable model that forces consumers to subscribe to packages that include "channels" that they will never watch? I cut the cable cord 20 years ago when I was required to pay for a preponderance of sports channels that I would never watch to get a few channels that I do watch. This corrupt marketing scam, plus the cable provider's demand for regional monopoly and the compliance demonstrated by local administrators turned me away from cable. Now the FCC has sanctioned the cable TV business model to continue despite the fact that that model is as dated as buggy whips.
The question was asked, “Why are so many first and second generation citizens against illegal immigration?” The answer is simple: It’s against the law. Do you know of any laws that are optional to obey? Laws are established to protect citizens.
You really have to love the Citgo station in Lanexa. The price of gas is 15 to 20 cents a gallon cheaper than it is in Williamsburg and, like an old fashioned gas station, they still pump it for you.
The reader surprised me with the comment on diabetes. The spread of diabetes is directly related to the increasing obesity of Americans. Updated Aug. 31, 2017: According to most recent data, adult obesity rates do not exceed 35 percent in five states, 30 percent in 25 states, and 25 percent in 46 states. West Virginia has the highest adult obesity rate at 37.7 percent and Colorado has the lowest at 22.3 percent. So as you walk down the streets of Williamsburg, if it seems to you that people look much larger than they did 10 or 20 years ago, it’s because they are.
On the Last Word advising using Uber or Lyft for taxi service at the train depot: Our local tax-paying taxi services ought to be the rides available or get their phone numbers out to travelers — they are the companies paying local business taxes and have licenses to operate. And maybe Uber and Lyft do have contracts in the city, JCC and play local taxes, have local licenses.
I was walking out of Farm Fresh the other day when I saw a woman pushing a baby carriage in 36-degree weather. I heard her say, "We're cold," as she pushed her 2-year-old out of the parking lot and down the street. I decided to follow them to see how far they had to go and I did not see them turn off onto a street, but the little girl did not have a hat or gloves on while the mother was well covered with a hat and coat. It disturbed me greatly to see this baby out in this kind of weather. Next time, I'll call the police.
When are Williamsburg police going to set up safe exchange zones for craigslist? The closest ones so far are in Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Richmond.
To the person or persons who keep bad mouthing the National Rifle Association in the Last Word: You need to quit watching TV news and actually check out what the NRA does. Also, remember, the day I lose my right to be armed with the firearm of my choice you will lose your right to say what you want to. The Second Amendment protects the First Amendment, as our Founding Fathers intended.
So a group of Native Americans posted fake Washington Redskins websites saying the team had changed its name to Red Hawks. They even posted quotes of the team owner. Then they boasted about how they had to collaborate to achieve these sites. In other words, they were proud that they were able to lie to the public. I guess this is the new norm. No, thank you!
To the writer looking forward to comments concerning dogs as food: Seriously, you state that you are a “dog-loving person,” yet you question why anyone in this civilized nation would be against dogs as food. You can’t possibly say this if you actually ever had a dog as a family member. Still, as a lover of all animals, I know I’m a hypocrite, as I continue to eat meat.
We recommend Screen Makers to replace the screening on your porch. Screen Makers replaced our porch screening recently and we are happy with the product, service and cost. The phone number is 757-223-1523.
My husband just got a fantastic haircut from Barber II in Norge Shoppes at 7405 Richmond Road. Try him out. You won’t be disappointed. Great prices, also.
Anyone out there looking for a company to remove a large tree from their property? I strongly recommend Top-Notch Tree Service. We had a very large oak — about 80 feet tall — that was dying. It was near the street surrounded by utilities, not to mention nearby homes. Top-Notch was very professional from set up to clean up and did an outstanding job. You can reach them at 757-220- 5781.
Better next time
One morning last week, a dog was hit by a driver on News Road near Powhatan Secondary, and the driver left the dog to die next to the road. My husband and I discovered the dog later that morning. It was dressed in a dog coat with a collar and a rabies tag. We were able to contact the owner. As dog owners ourselves, we are disheartened that the driver didn’t try to take the dog to a local vet, such as Anderson’s Corner Animal Hospital, Godspeed Animal Care and Jolly Pond Veterinary Hospital. We are completely disheartened and hope that this tragedy won’t happen again.
Fair is fair
Great suggestion in a recent Last Word to allow only women to have guns. I’m all for that provided we make a law that allows only men to drive cars.
Say “Hallelujah!” The Interstate 64 widening project east of Yorktown Road is finished and open for business.
Regarding the person who complained in a recent Last Word that he or she was ticketed for over-parking in the free block downtown: I would ask, “Why does this person believe they are privileged and don’t have to follow the rules?” They clearly admitted they “over-parked.” They deserved the ticket they received.
I have lived in the ’Burg since the ‘70s. Every year I am more amazed at the growing number of poor drivers here. How can they possibly get worse? Yet each year they do; here are the top offenses. Turn signals: Most drivers do not know what a turn signal is nor do they know how to react when others actually use a turn signal. Turn lanes: Left turn, right turn, center turn, regardless, drivers do know not how to maintain their speed and then use the turn lane to slow down, furthermore, many actually only partially pull into turn lanes and then continue half in/half out of the main route of traffic. School zones: People going well above posted school zone speed limit with school zone lights flashing. Headlights: Driver is absolutely clueless that their brights are on, yet can’t seem turn any lights on when windshield wipers are on. Brake happy: Hitting brakes for no apparent reason for one, two, three, four seconds and then using turn signal.
Some people have compassion for their pet animal. When their pet animal is suffering beyond repair, they put them to sleep. When a human being is deemed suffering beyond repair, some people keep them alive to make money. I think a human being is more valuable than a pet animal and should be treated with the same compassion.
Before you support the new tax plan, please take the time to read the points in the bill. The TV reports and print articles are not able to present all the facts, just snap shots. The $1.5 trillion we will add to our debt is mostly going to business and the top 1 percent of earners in hopes it gets invested to add jobs or increased pay. Not likely in times of increased automation and results being measured by earnings.
One year after Reagan's 1986 tax cut the Dow lost 25 percent in one day. In today's terms, it would have dropped 6,200 points. Four years after Bush's tax cut, the Dow lost 50 percent in one year. Given Trump has filed bankruptcy six times, I don't trust any of his or the GOP’s predictions.
Further evidence that Wittman and Trump only give lip service to the pro-life movement is the elimination of the deduction for adoption costs. Shameful.
This is in response to the writer who suggested I give a ride or hire a taxi for the panhandlers so that they can get to a place that is hiring: Can you tell me how that panhandler got to the spot where he decided to beg for money? The fact is that the panhandler would rather do nothing for his income than work for it like the rest of us. Also, do you really think a person can make enough money to buy a car from panhandling? If you work, you can buy a car.
The person commenting that panhandlers don't have cars is naive at best. Many homeless people live in their cars, and I have seen the same panhandler at different locations around town as well as in different towns. Obviously, these folks can get around when and where they want to.
I see that after my comment on the sign in Richmond and Henrico County about not giving money to panhandling that James City County has put one up at Monticello Avenue and Windsor Meade. They need to scatter about 40 more of them around the county.
Up in Washington
What Roy Moore did to a small number of young girls doesn't come close to the harm the GOP is doing to 9 million children and infants by refusing to fund the children's health insurance program.
Clinton was actually impeached on two charges: perjury and obstruction of justice. He was acquitted because every single Senate Democrat voted not guilty despite the preponderance of evidence to the contrary. Clinton did reach an out of court settlement with Paula Jones for $850,000.
The difference between obstruction of justice by Bill Clinton and the claims of obstruction against Donald Trump is just that. It was proven that Bill Clinton obstructed justice whereas, so far, there is no proof of obstruction by Donald Trump. Just typical name-calling and finger-pointing by Democrats. If obstruction is eventually proven against Donald Trump, then he should resign or be impeached.
Perhaps the writer needs to remember Clinton was impeached for obstruction of justice and perjury. That he was not convicted was simply because Democrats voted en masse to acquit despite overwhelming evidence of his guilt. Party politics were alive and well in 1998 and there is no reasonable expectation that the same thing would not happen in 2018.
Fox News attacked Black Lives Matters for protesting the surge of killings of unarmed black men by police departments. Now they are claiming — nonstop —that our national law enforcement agency, the FBI, is corrupt because a couple of agents privately criticized their candidate for president. They should change their name to Pravda on the Hudson.
Congress 78 separate times extended the debt limit, and not since 1994 has Congress passed all appropriation bills on time. Why after a whole year does it come down to a fiscal crisis every December? Bring the incumbents home and send citizen legislators who know how to live within their means. We the people can do better in 2018.
A previous writer had his timeline incorrect in reference to North Korea’s nuclear capability. The NK ballistic missile capability and its nuclear warhead were developed and refined while Obama was president. President Trump was left with the clean-up of the mess Obama chose to ignore for eight years.
My daughter bought me some land in Texas for Christmas on the Mexican border. About 40,000 of us own one acre. If Trump tries to build his wall without getting the money from Mexico, it will cost $40 million in legal fees to take our land under eminent domain, because we will each have to be served legal notice and get our day in court.