Last Word on workforce housing, Jan. 19

Workforce housing

The proposed Oakland Pointe apartments in Croaker are workforce housing, which are not affordable for families living in poverty. About 7.9 percent of James City County residents live below the poverty line and would not be able to pay for the lowest priced workforce housing apartment ($495/month). A family with a single wage earner, working full-time at grocery store, makes less than $8/hour (approximately $14,000 a year) and would not qualify to rent here. The people with the greatest need for housing in our community are the homeless, and they would not qualify to live at Oakland Pointe.

Why would James City County approve the Oakland Pointe apartments, 126 units of all “workforce housing”? JCC’s Housing Opportunity policy says affordable housing should be integrated into developments. It states: “At least 20 percent of a development's proposed units should be offered for sale or rent … to households earning 30-120 percent of Area Median Income. Units should be fully integrated with regard to location, architecture, quality and appearance.” In our area, a four-person household earning 30 percent AMI earns about $32,760. According to the county, 8 percent of a development should be available to a family at this income level.

Thinking things

Cheer on the Jamestown High School Eagles when they square off against New Kent on Battle of the Brains at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 19 on CBS.

Empty buildings

For many years, Williamsburg was thought to have more pancake houses than any other city this size. Recently, we exceeded the national average for grocery outlets per capita. Now, sadly, WJCC is above the per capita national average for the number of vacant retail/commercial spaces for areas nearly twice our size. With more than 100 empty facilities, when will our elected officials put a moratorium on new retail/commercial construction until these vacancies are significantly reduced, despite requests from developers to build more?

My understanding regarding the county’s law (and it’s happening in James City County) is that as long as there are buildings there, whether they are being used or not, they collect taxes. I think it’s very poor management as well as unsightly. You know, utilize the facilities that are already existing or have the owners of these vacant buildings sell the properties and have them torn down. But something has to be done because this sprawl of James City County, which I’ve seen in many other cities that I’ve lived in, has just become unsightly. This area is following the trend of the rest of the country. It’s just unsightly. But I think it’s about the taxes. As long as there’s a building, there’s going to be taxes on it. And that’s money. It’s more about the money than how it’s helping the community and people live.

State money

So the governor wants to raise teachers’ salaries by 5 percent, funded by the surplus from the Trump tax cuts and Virginia taxpayers not being able to take advantage of new standard deductions. The governor’s largesse imposes a cost to the community for continuing to pay out at the higher salaries in the future. Pay is a responsibility of the community, and should not be a state imposed future liability. Perhaps a better use for the money he would like to spend would be to bulk up the rainy day fund, which has been raided often over the last two administrations, or put the money into the Virginia Retirement System, that benefits teachers’ retirement. It is underfunded, standing at less than 75 percent of liabilities.

Contact information

Why is it that when one calls Sen. Tim Kaine's office at night, you will be unable to leave a message for his Washington, D.C., office, 202-224-4024? However, I'm able to leave a message on Sen. Mark Warner's phone number after office hours. Also, why is that we are unable to contact Congresswoman Elaine Luria, as she is not yet listed in the House of Representatives? She took office on Jan. 3 and has no office phone number or mailing address listed, either in Washington or locally.

Concert series

I just picked up the schedule for the Dewey Decibel concert series at the library. This winter/spring has some great performers! You can also go to the library website at www.wrl.org/dewey-decibel-concert-series and get the schedule. Some concerts are $4 or $5, depending on library membership; others are free. Come out and join the crowd.

Just a thought

I really enjoyed Dr. Stolz’s recent article on medical artificial intelligence, but I’m wondering if there are more people out there that feel the way I do. The more of this artificial intelligence we get, the more we spend time waiting and waiting and waiting for things to be done because artificial intelligence has broken down. Or they’re asking redundant questions that have already been asked. The doctors can’t perform something because the equipment isn’t working properly. My sense is, when do we learn? Sometimes the wise thing is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Because I know right now, I’ve spent a lot of what seems to be unreasonable time having to wait or redo something or call back to someone because computers are down and things aren’t working. Just a thought.

Licensed to fly

How in the world would an unlicensed pilot be able to keep flying until he is killed? The FAA knew he was not licensed. His friends and family knew/should have known he was no longer licensed. This was another case of people who knew and chose not to argue with a stubborn person. Unconscionable! A woman died because a stubborn man refused to accept responsibility for his actions. Don't the airports pay attention to who has licenses? Doesn’t some agency have enough authority to keep the unlicensed from flying? And shame on the caretaker who let the man fly.

Walking the DoG

To the writer who thinks there should be a daily or annual charge to walk “DoG” Street: Please be aware that it is a public street, paid for with our taxes.

Feeling peevish

I grew up in Williamsburg and have worked in chain restaurants, as well as the much-loved mom and pop spot. This word "we" is a simple pronoun that I have utilized at the table and would use it again. Your server is not sitting down and eating next to or with you, however, we do have to wait on you. We introduce ourselves and go through specials, we get your drinks, we wait while you decide what you're having, we refill your drinks, we have the food cooked, we bring it to you, we wait for you to finish eating and then we clean up. So when we — those who so graciously wait on you — say “we,” remember this: We're stuck with you, and you're stuck with us. We are in this together, we both love food and we both want good experiences.

Looking for …

Can anyone recommend a good source to get a cord of firewood delivered?

I lost my car keys on Wednesday, Jan. 9. I think the keys and a Red Sox baseball cap have rolled off the roof of my car. The key is for a 2004 HSE Range Rover. If found, please call me, Ron, 757-345-2670. Reward offered. Thank you.

We have a fireplace with a remote starter, but we do not know how to use it. We’ve called the companies in Williamsburg, but they’re backed up. We are willing to pay for somebody to come out here and show us how to light these logs. Please leave your phone number in the Last Word. We live in Toano. Thank you.

I found a men’s wedding band in the parking lot behind Bonefish Grill or around the area of the First Watch restaurant. It was last Friday that I found it, and I’d really like to get it back to the owner. If you want to call me, my phone number is 757-565-3917.

Does anyone know of a place that fixes the control on a heating pad? I'm not sure where I would take it. The control no longer works on the hottest setting but lower settings work. Where does one take this kind of repair?

I have some old cell phones and cell phone chargers that are no longer being used. Does anyone know where these could be donated? Or should they be disposed of? And if so, how? Where? We also have a cordless phone/answering machine combo that was replaced by a newer one and we don’t know what to do with it. Any help would be appreciated.

Lost: Silver C bracelet. Engraved with inscription ending in "Love, Emery." Given to me by a student more than 20 years ago. Great sentimental value.

In response to the woman who is looking for an insurance agent to find individual health insurance until she becomes eligible for Medicare: I recommend Colonial Financial at 757-229-2900. They can certainly find her individual health insurance, although I cannot promise you it will be “affordable.” No individual plans seem to be so, these days.

Does anyone know when and where the next public paper shredding event will occur? Please post in the Last Word.

Does anyone know where I can buy a heating pad that gets hot instead of lukewarm? I bought two different heating pads that I returned because they barely got warm. The older heating pads got much hotter. Does anyone know where to purchase one that actually gets hot? Thank you. I’m at 757-229-0306 (please leave a message).

Food trucks

Food trucks are sprouting around Williamsburg like spring daisies. Local governments are producing requirements and restrictions on them, mostly about locations and truck safety. But, I have seen no rules regarding sanitation or the purity of the food. I invite the health department go to Washington, D.C., and see the dozens of shabby, unclean food trucks parked nose to tail on 15th Street next to the Washington Monument, a visible reminder that health inspections are more important than vehicle inspections.

Dog attacks

With proposed legislation in the General Assembly regarding vicious dog attacks, there seems to be a disconnect between civil penalties for the dog owners vs. the need for criminal prosecutions for the same owners. One would think that the preservation of life and public safety should come first.

Road worries

The traffic on Route 199 is much heavier than the traffic on Jamestown Road, so why is the timing of the light at this intersection almost always causing backups on 199? VDOT could help by going to longer green and shorter red at this intersection.

You are no longer living in New Jersey, where it is required by law to blow your horn in the first nanosecond that the light turns green. Life is slower down here in the South, so take a deep breath, let it out slowly, relax and chill.

Cheers!

Big congratulations and best wishes to Dr. Sullivan and Dr. Mangelsdorf on your recent retirement. It is well deserved. While it’s a difficult transition, I am so thankful to have Tammy at the front desk! She is always pleasant and very helpful and goes above and beyond for us. I am happy to see that familiar smiling face still greeting us. She is great at her job! Thank you, Tammy! Keep up the good work.

Virginia alpacas

Reading in the Gazette about two dogs attacking Alpacas made me wonder why there are Alpacas in this area? They belong in their habitat, the high mountains of the Andes. Over there, they don’t suffer from the summer heat, they’re shaved for the wool, not to stay cool. They roam freely without fences in their owner’s land. I know I wouldn’t like to be moved from Colorado to a place without mountains, away from the pack where I belong. Plain and simple, unnatural.

Government shutdown

Congress needs to stop playing partisan politics and earn their pay and negotiate the border security package. There are too many people out of work, not getting a paycheck. Congress should not get a paycheck when they shut down the government and then they need to negotiate. No wonder Congress has such a poor approval rating.

I’m just wondering when the Democrats will stop playing the power struggle and give Trump the $5 billion. That’s nothing in today’s economy. We spend trillions. They’re just hanging on to this as a power struggle, keeping the government shut down and acting like they’re complacent little lambs that want border security. But they don’t want border security; what they want is to beat Trump. Thank you.

I guess this is what it means to run the government like a business. If there is a dispute between the CEO and the board of directors over the budget for the coming year, the CEO should close down all the shops and lock out the employees until the board of directors gives in.

This is really, really ridiculous. We have people out here that are working that are not getting paid. We have government employees who are not working and not getting paid. So, I know some of those people live check to check. So, what’s going to happen when these people — a man comes home and tells his wife he doesn’t have any money to buy food to put on the table for his children. How in the world is that going to look to a child? And we have a president that is a rich man. He doesn’t care if the government stays shut down for years and years. It’s not going to bother him, because he got money. But I think it is utterly ridiculous! Thank you.

Government shutdowns are bad for all Americans. Here’s a way to prevent future shutdowns: The president, every member of the then-current administration and the entire Congress would not only not be paid during a shutdown, they would also forfeit 1 percent of their annual salary for every day the shutdown lasts. I would hope this financial burden encourages compromise and a speedy solution. I know — good luck on enacting the requisite legislation.

Now is a good time to evaluate the need for those 800,000 government workers in the first place. Also, I believe since that since the vast majority of those government workers are Democrats, they should instruct their representatives to start negotiating with President Trump on the wall.

Trump says he will keep the shutdown for a year. I doubt that. Seventy percent of real estate contracts will be cancelled because the borrowers can't get certified copies of their tax returns to get a loan. The national associations of realtors and home builders will be reading the GOP the riot act soon.

Liquid oxygen

A recent commenter looks to obtain a certain amount of liquid oxygen. The thing is, liquid oxygen makes things burn. It will burn things like water, air and firefighting foam. It will make cement burn. Because it is so scary, people don't keep it around or transport it but instead make it as-needed. The folks at NASA's Kennedy Space Center use lox as an oxidizer for liquid fuel rockets, but it's too scary for even them to make it. They contract with a company called Praxair to make it for them on site. You may wish to speak to them. Liquid oxygen is very scary, it's up there past perchlorate and peroxide into the land of chlorine trifluoride. Make sure that whatever you are doing with it is allowed under the Geneva Convention first.

Speedy delivery

A Last Word commenter recently questioned why so many of us in Williamsburg have complaints with the post office. Well, my latest one is a first-class package that sat in Richmond for 10 days before it came down here.

Once again, I am watching first class mail languish at the distribution center in Richmond. Promised delivery was to be today! Notably it moved from Portage, Mich., to Richmond in just over five hours, arriving at 8:37 p.m. Friday. At 2:30 p.m. Monday, the tracking site shows that it left there at 4:39 a.m. Saturday. Given that it snowed very late Saturday, there should be no reason for the delay in traveling about 40 miles. And other callers wonder why many of us in the area have negative feelings about the delivery of the mail!

Shovel ready

As for “shovel ready” projects mentioned in a recent Last Word: The upgrades at the intersections of Route 199 and Route 5 and Route 199 and Jamestown Road, adding new turn lanes, lengthening old ones plus new appropriate signals were both “shovel ready” Federal Stimulus projects from which we all benefited and these were just two in Williamsburg as well as many others across America. And none were named after Nancy Pelosi.

Store suggestion

Would it be possible for a Boston Market restaurant to locate to Williamsburg? The closest one might be off Interstate 64 in Hampton, close to Mercury Boulevard.

Recommended

I am thrilled that Fran Parker of Fran’s Computer Services is back in the Williamsburg area. 757-897-1008. Fran does computers, electronic devices, networks and audiovisual problems. She helped me yesterday, solving issues with my computers and my AV system. She is terrific, reasonable and very efficient.

Once again,Tony Conti rescued a piece with sentimental value. I wholeheartedly recommend him for furniture repair. Excellent work at a fair price. Tony Conti, 634-7244.

Just wondering

As you grieve after the death of your loved one, your mailbox is suddenly filled with letters from lawyers, insurance agents, accountants, all asking you to accept their sincere condolences and offering to give you grief counseling, financial assistance, legal advice. There is never a mention of a fee, a cost. Is this just a trap to get you to sign up for something? Why can’t they be up front and mention a fee?

Border wall

Constructing a border fence represents a one-time cost to the American taxpayers. Large-scale illegal immigration presents recurring costs of over $100 billion a year. Border security is not the sole responsibility of the White House; it’s also the responsibility of Congress. Why would Pelosi and the Democrats not want to share in saving money and protecting our citizens?

"Build the Wall" was Trump's loudest campaign rant. If it has been such a high priority for him, why didn't he force the issue when his GOP controlled both houses of Congress?

The Rio Grande River is the border between the U.S. and Mexico, and as it flows into the Gulf of Mexico along the southern edge of Texas, it meanders like a snake through the landscape. The president's wall will not follow the river, but in places takes a shortcut past bends in the river. This leaves a number of places where the wall will be a couple of miles away from the river and will allow immigrants to safely reach U.S. soil and once there demand to be allowed into the U.S. for asylum. How does the president plan to address this issue and how will property owners get access to their land in these areas?

Every American should go to Lowe’s or Home Depot, buy one brick and mail it to the White House with the instructions that the president should use it to build his wall. If we get 350 million bricks, it will clog the White House mailroom for months.

Immigration

Congressional Democrats who promote open borders undermine the education of our children. Schools are forced to provide costly English as a Second Language services for immigrant children. These funds could be invested in special services for our learning-challenged children so they can live better and more productive lives. Border security to put our children first!

The parents of illegal immigrants are the ones responsible for putting their children in a position to be taken away from them, not to mention the long, dangerous trip to the border.Thank you

My mother died several weeks ago after spending almost a decade at Spring Arbor Assisted Living Facility. The staff and residents there became her second family and surrounded her with love and tender care throughout her time there. We are grateful for the professionalism and the compassion shown to her by the aides, nurses, cleaning staff, volunteers and all those who touched her life. Angels come in many forms and shapes.

I would like to thank the entire staff of Urology of Virginia and Dr. Volz for the great job they did for me during my recent surgery. I would also like to thank the entire nursing staff of the Getty Outpatient Center, Section 4, and a special thanks to Amanda, my recovery nurse. Thank you very much and have a great day.

Up in Washington

The FBI is seizing $39 million from a Russian associate of one of Putin's right hand men Mueller indicted. Add the $20 million from Manafort and the Mueller investigation is $35 million in the black.

In response to the Last Word writer who said he could not think of a single accomplishment of President Obama and challenged others to come up with something: I would mention the following, for starters: brought back the economy from the financial meltdown of 2008; saved the U.S. auto industry; helped millions of uninsured Americans gain access to healthcare; and wiped out Osama bin Laden and other high level terrorists. Even better, he had no personal scandals during his eight years. He and his family led the country with dignity, integrity, grace and class. How I miss him!

I have to give President Trump credit for doing the country a great service. He has effectively exposed the Republican Party as a spineless do nothing obstructionist force in American politics. If he continues his unprincipled, erratic and impulsive leadership, supported by Republican leadership, his legacy will be the destruction of the GOP. His narcissism will likely force him to take credit for that when the blue wave continues in 2020. I sincerely hope the ultra divisive Senate majority leader loses his seat in the wave.

If the taxpayers of America paid for the Mueller investigation, we darn well should be able to see the final report in its entirety.

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