Last Word, July 8

Food trucks

It was absolutely disgusting to see the food trucks evicted by the city of Williamsburg at Merchants Square Tuesday evening. With tens of thousands of people crowded into Merchants Square, there was more supply than demand and no loss of business for restaurant owners. The owners of these food trucks are not part of the traveling carnival, and they weren't selling funnel cakes and deep fried oreos while blaring music. They are local hardworking residents, and they had the rug pulled out from under them. Shame on those responsible for doing this to these folks who were out there working hard trying to keep everyone happy and fed.

Great job, Colonial Williamsburg! Nice long, well done fireworks show with accompanying patriot music. Nice turn out and love the food trucks! Hope next year is a repeat—market and expand the food trucks.

Colonial Williamsburg

After reading the recent Open Letter to the CW community, I'd like to propose an alternative "restructuring plan" for enhancing the short term financial viability of the Foundation, as well as the long term sustainability of the Colonial Williamsburg brand. Along with input and guidance from the current Board of Directors, replace the current professional (paid and incentivized) Colonial Williamsburg senior management team with an all volunteer "leadership team" to run the day to day operations at Colonial Williamsburg and also assist the Board with capital budgets and selecting key operating (paid) personnel. A similar model for this "leadership team" is our Virginia legislature, whom I believe are performing "missionary work" with regards to what they deliver versus what the citizens pay them for performing this service.

I am greatly saddened to hear that the Kimball Theater is closed, especially the live performances that rent the hall, which should be money makers. I wonder if CW has considered gift cards as a revenue idea? I would love to be able to buy a $100 gift card that could be used at the Kimball, CW retail shops or Kings Arms. Local merchants could use them as incentives. Paying in advance for services could provide needed revenue.

Well, all the rumors about CW outsourcing its commercial operations turn out to be well-founded. However, in the announcement letter CW's president sent out on June 29, I see nothing about cutting the exorbitant (for a non-profit) executive salaries. Is CW going to layoff the executives who are currently involved in CW's 'commercial' activities? Is Mitchell Reiss, until the books are balanced, going to "contribute to the cause" by taking a significant cut in his own salary and benefits (almost $700,000 per year based on CW's latest Form 990) as others lose their livelihoods? And what about CW paying for first class travel, travel for companions, tax indemnification and gross-up payments, housing allowance or residence for personal use, and personal services (e.g., maid, chef, chauffer) also noted on CW's Form 990? CW donors, take a look at CW's publicly available Form 990 and be aware of and informed about how your money is being spent.

Surely with all the successful business people in our area, and all the interest in the broad variety of programs held and enjoyed at the Kimball Theater in Williamsburg, a group can pull together and formulate a business plan for keeping, supporting, operating the theater! The Kimball is a focus of our wonderful community, in the heart of our downtown. We really need to act now to keep it the living force for all of us and our visitor. Thoughtful people, please step up! Chamber of Commerce, City Council, Board of Supervisors, Community leaders — show you have the right stuff!

I say we all put on our finest waistcoats, grab our torches, and protest this great injustice on the steps of the colonial courthouse!

Save the Kimball! A community the size of the city of Williamsburg and James City County would normally have a publicly owned performance hall. We already jointly fund popular libraries, good recreation centers, parks, and schools. These are all expected public facilities in any vibrant community. Thanks to the long ago thoughtfulness and generosity of the Rockefeller family, we already have a fully functioning center. Not only is it conveniently placed, it was just recently improved. It is surrounded by popular restaurants, shops, offices and businesses and parking. The city and county should immediately obtain ownership and management of the excellent Kimball Theater and say thank you to the Rockefeller family and Colonial Williamsburg for building and maintaining what can now be the public theater-performance hall! And watching the fine job Kimball manager Marianne Johnston is doing with the facility, we hope she continues on. She's on the right track.

Mitchell Reiss is requesting "relief from real estate taxes and some of the license fees during the next three years." The three localities must ask to see all financial records before consideration. Citizens, who would most likely bear the brunt of higher taxes if the request is honored, must also see all records. Also, Reiss states, "For the first time in years, we now have a detailed comprehensive plan..." If the public bails CW out, that plan must be made public as well.

What happens to those groups and organizations that had signed contracts with the Kimball Theater? I know of at least one group from Richmond that had contracts for two concerts — one in July and one in December. Since the concert in July has already been publicized, tickets sold, and programs printed, the group has had to scurry and try to find another venue on very short notice. The group representative who made the arrangements with CW months ago has not received a phone call or letter from anyone in CW to say that the contracts are null and void. He had to read about it in the newspaper. What a public relations nightmare!

I am so disappointed to hear of the closing of the Kimball. I recently decided to move from Northern California to Williamsburg and one of the reasons was the cultural offerings at the Kimball. The sophisticated film offerings have been a joy, especially London's National Theatre plays. This is a cultural loss to the community.

If CW is in such dire financial straits, what were Colin Campbell and the presidents before him doing with the money? This problem didn't happen in a few years. Maybe the millionaire board of directors should be replaced with people who really care. I'll bet some (or maybe all) have never been here. I tried to find out the salaries of the board and was unable to do so. The closest I got was an article in the Daily Press from Nov. 18, 2006, that stated Colin Campbell's total compensation in 2006 was $637,288. That was 11 years ago. What is Mitchell Reiss making? What are the other board members making? As a donor, I would like to know.

The part of the CW story that is not being told is that the value of the underlying assets for which the almost $300 million in debt was borrowed. Besides producing tens of millions in dollars less annually than was projected, they are worth far less than the amount being carried on the books. The Williamsburg Lodge, The Inn, and The Woodlands cannot be sold, because that would result in a huge deficiency judgment. This is the harsh reality that lies down the road, and the recently announced changes are but a mere drop in the bucket. Judgment Day will come.

I was so saddened and angry to read about Colonial Williamsburg's troubles this morning. I wonder who should have been fired, with the mismanagers that just let the money go down the drain for years—and they were the fat cats! The ones that are going to suffer are the loyal workers who are going to be out of a job and had nothing to do with those managers' decisions. They should have been fired; that whole situation at Colonial Williamsburg is a fiasco.

It is unfortunate that the Kimball Theatre is closing. It has been a wonderful venue for a variety of historical programs, as well as movies. However, no business can be expected to continue to support an auxiliary activity which is losing three-quarters of a million dollars a year.

I read the article about CW's financial situation today. It seems like when a new president comes in, the first thing he would do is look over the financial situation.It's been two-and-a half years, I believe, since President Reiss has been there. He makes a comment that he's saved $10.4 million dollars but must take all the stuff he's had done there and to dump that, I would believe he would have been in a better situation now. CW needs to take action to get a president in there that has the financial background to deal with the company that is in severe financial situation such as CW. And also, I'd like to know how many managers were involved in these layoffs and outsourcing because that's CW's history as well. They cut the lower-level people and keep all the higher level management and they're top heavy. Thank you.

Williamsburg taxes

It seems to me that the people who base their decision to visit our area on the price of a gallon of gas would be equally influenced by heavy taxes on food and ticket prices. I hope the City Council stops salivating over the prospect of $4.5 million and recognizes to whom they are appealing.

Williamsburg has compared itself with our neighboring tourist destination, Virginia Beach, for years. If the city votes to increase taxes (meal tax and state sales tax) to fund the Tourism Development Fund, our small town will then be paying a whopping total 13% and Virginia Beach is only at 11.5%. How is this possible and/or sensible?

The recent article about raising taxes says that Williamsburg vice mayor Scott Foster said he "doubts the increase in taxes would affect people who visit the city." Well, what about those who live in the city and eat in city restaurants and attend paid events in the city? If you don't think we'd be affected then think again! What about January when CW is shut to visitors? You'll be wanting locals to eat out then. If there's a total of 13% on my meal before I even pay a tip, you can bet I will be cooking my own! I have lived here 70 years, and we are already short on tourists despite commercials running in the D.C. area, etc. More advertising is not going to help! And what would a committee member from the finance/banking industry have to do with deciding how the development fund money will be vetted? This whole idea stinks!

Thank you

Many thanks to the Good Samaritan who turned in the wallet that I lost in the post office lobby. And thanks to the dedicated post office staff who were prepared to deliver it to my home address.

On Thursday afternoon, we had car trouble at a station on Richmond Road. A Good Samaritan named Toby came to our rescue. Thanks, Toby, you're a great guy.

I wish to thank the lady I saw planting flowers along the entrance way to Freedom Park. I asked if she worked for the park or volunteered with the Botanical Garden. She said neither was the case, but that she just liked to see flowers bloom. So do I. Thank you!

Long distance thanks

Unlike the majority of your local Last Word writers, I am saying my last words from Wellington, New Zealand. In a day and age when customer service seems to be waning, I would like to commend Williamsburg Area Restaurant Association for their exceptional customer service. I ordered a gift certificate through them as a birthday gift, but it never arrived at the recipient's house. When brought to the attention of WARA, I got an immediate and apologetic reply, with the ultimate result being a hand-delivered certificate to the recipient (and on the Friday of a holiday weekend). I was amazed at the level of service WARA offered in response to my email and thank them, again, for their amazing efforts!

Looking for ...

How do you get a telephone directory with people's listings? Not commercial but people's listings. Thank you.

Is there a train travel group for women in the Williamsburg area? Thank you.

For the person looking for a person to repair a grandfather clock: Mr. Tasse' of Toano, 757-634-6914, has repaired several clocks for my mother and myself. Very professional and good, highly recommended!

In need of free fill dirt so I can level ground for my kids' pool. Would be greatly appreciated. I can reached at (804)413-1622.

I lost my black, flip top cell phone in the parking lot behind DoG Street or the Double Tree Hotel on Wednesday night, June 28. Value of phone, $20; value of photos, irreplaceable. Fifty dollar reward. If found, please text me at 757-746-8836. Thank you.

I am looking for knee scooter. If anyone has one that they would either loan me or perhaps sell, I'd appreciate a call back. Area code 757-741-2757. Thanks.

Flag waving

Thank you Michael Hipple and Lisa Ownby for the surprise of an American flag in my garden Tuesday morning. It reminded me there is more to America than our current politics — and I'm grateful for that.

While jogging around my neighborhood I was thrilled to see American flags planted at every mailbox. A discreet tag at the base wished us a happy and safe 4th of July, and let us know whom we had to thank for this extraordinary and generous gesture: Senator Tommy Norment and Jamestown District Supervisor candidate Tom Phillips. At a time when it is barely possible to converse with others about current events in America, it is wonderful to see this display of simple patriotism which can unite us all.

Grocery stores

Since Whole Foods was bought out by Amazon, it may not be the Whole Foods known in the past. Why can't they put Lidl store in Martin's location instead of building it by the outlet mall?

Funny Fred

I just had to say how cute and funny the "Retired in Williamsburg" by Fred Siegel is today, July 1. So, kudos to him. I just love his cartoons, all of them! Thanks.

Walking safely

I am a daily walker in my neighborhood. Twice I have had to run over in the grass to avoid being hit by distracted drivers. I hope, concerning the death of a James City County woman last Monday, that the state and/or county police are taking a look at the driver's phone to see if he was texting or talking on his cell phone. He actually had to run off the road to hit and kill her. Talking or texting on your cell phone while driving is as bad as driving under the influence.

Road worries

Instead of putting in potentially dangerous flashing yellow left-hand turn signals, why not allow people to turn right onto Monticello off Windsor Meade Way, the road between the shopping centers with Martin's and Belk? There is a very clear line of sight to your left, and no reason I can see why you should have to wait for a green light to turn right.

Cannot believe that York County or VDOT put asphalt on Fenton Mill Road, from Newman to Barlow Road. That road didn't need to be resurfaced. What about doing Rochambeau from Airport Road to Rt. 14? That road is so awful and water ponds on it when it rains especially near Bruton High. Let's use the money wisely when choosing which roads need to be redone. Hope something gets done before someone hydroplanes and gets hurts.

To the reader who wanted to know why drivers in Williamsburg slow down while going through intersections even when they have a green light: The simple answer is that too many pedestrians and drivers are not paying attention. Pedestrians (residents, students and tourists alike) are looking down at their phones, or lost and looking at buildings, and repeatedly fail to look left and right when crossing. And drivers who are texting or looking at their phones are the worst. Self-preservation requires that we all be very alert at intersections and proceed cautiously through intersections. So, yes, you may see brake lights from drivers even if the light is green.

About civility

This in response to the "Civility, please" in the Last Word on July 1. And it said that "this needs to stop" – the talk on TV about the president. Yes, that is true. A lot of comedians do make fun of him and it is good comedy. But the thing is, if he has the right to say what he feels like saying about everybody, then that is our right, too. There is such a thing as free speech under the First Amendment. Thank you.

Free to you

Free mint plants. Give us a call at 757-220-0641. We are off of Route 5 between Five Forks and Williamsburg Crossing. You will need a shovel or spade and a container.

Yes, I have about three or four bags of egg cartons to give away. If anyone's interested, please leave your phone number in the Last Word and I'll contact you. Thank you.

New directions

Until after the construction on I-64 in Newport News and the east end of James City County is completed, VDOT should instruct traffic coming this way on Interstate 95 and 64—north, south and west of Richmond—to take 460 to Virginia Beach so that the traffic that goes through the construction zone has a chance of being something other than dead stop on weekends.

Time to shop

This is in reference to the comment, "Time to shop?" You are claiming to be "inconvenienced." Instead, you're not only being inconsiderate, as far as the closing time goes, but also very rude by being on your cell phone, particularly at checkout. Especially when your conversation is just mindless chatter that could clearly have waited until you left the store. Put yourself in our shoes and see how you like it.

Auditions

The Williamsburg Women's Chorus is open to women of all ages and voice parts and is now holding auditions for new members. If interested, please contact Beckie Davy at bdavy@brutonparish.org

'Elderly' drivers

I am 79 years old and have been driving since I was 16. I have never had a ticket or an accident. I have felt insulted time and time again by comments like "elderly drivers who likely find driving challenging under any conditions" and "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." I know that you need to yield to oncoming traffic at a yellow flashing arrow, yield to oncoming traffic when entering and exiting the interstate, turn on my lights when using my windshield wipers, use my turn signals to let other drivers know my intentions. I drive the posted speed limits, don't tailgate, don't talk on my cell phone or text while driving, just to name a few of the rules of the road. I think that young people need to take a look at their own driving before criticizing the elderly driver.

Recommended

Just enjoyed the buffet at our new Indian restaurant, Spice Palace, in Williamsburg Crossing on John Tyler Highway. The food was delicious and the service impeccable.

If you're looking for a great commercial electrician, I highly recommend Mike Daigneault with Williamsburg Electrical. I have used him for years for my home electrical needs and recently used him for my restaurant. He did such a fantastic job. Efficient, priced fairly and extremely clever in how he resolved my issue.

I would like to thank Jason the Mason for his expert craftsmanship, staying on time and budget. Jason came to my home to repair my brick front porch,steps and mainly my exposed aggregate driveway that was broken from old tree roots in several places. Jason was able to remove and replace the section of concrete perfectly! He was able to make my brick steps and porch look like new ! If you need a mason or concrete guy, I highly recommend Jason the Mason, 757-358-6289.

To the reader who is looking for someone to install carpet: I used Ryan at Carpet – Premier Flooring. He installed carpet in a bedroom and steps and did an excellent job at a very reasonable price. He can be reached at 757-945-0856.

Up in Washington

What the people who pay for these expensive things on TV—these shows—what they don't realize is when they put something there on bad mouthing the president, I simply turn the sound down until after they get through bad mouthing him. They're just wasting their money because nobody else believes it, either. Have a blessed day.

First, I think there should be a top-to-bottom review of individual eligibility for Medicaid. Then make up the federal budget shortfall from the lottery fund, which I understand should go to education.

One of the most important pillars of democracy and our constitution is freedom of speech. Therefore, of course, Donald Trump has the legal right to say, tweet, just about anything he wants. However, as president, he has a responsibility to protect and tolerate freedom of speech and the press rather than consistently attacking anyone and any news outlets that dare oppose or question him. Such intolerance is characteristic of dictators and bad leaders, not good U.S. presidents. All patriotic Americans and even Fox News must be ashamed and disgusted by his most recent rants and attacks on mainstream media.

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