Google Local - Kirk Ave, Roanoke, VA

Coming tomorrow (or late night tomorrow)

Kirk Ave.: Roanoke's Favorite Alley.

roanoke.com - Business Stories -Kroger, union close to new contract

roanoke.com - Business Stories -Kroger, union close to new contract

Allright, Im going to make this short and sweet. I know youze peoples have issues with Unions. Shall we say, your not big fans? And I know companies down here tend to quash any talk of unions as well.

Well listen, I come from the state which is nearly all union, all the time. I am going to let you in on a little secret.

What Kroger has is not a union. I did some time with Kroger earlier this year, forever to be known as the "Stupid Months."
Whoever determined that Kroger has a "union" and the "union" was set up for employees is a lying jackass.

Here's the ugly truth: Kroger's union is just another extension of the company itself. At least UFCW 400 is, I have been in the UFCW twice prior, and have never seen a local that has as much power as it has, but uses it to no good end. The reason the average pay at Kroger is $9.56 is because when you go to work for Kroger, they have a chart. And based on your experience - the chart determines what you'll be paid. Ooohkay...

Now what you'll be paid is not what you SHOULD be paid. What you should be paid is $2-3 dollars higher an hour. And thats what they will tell you when you go in.

In NY, under the union contract - you pay union dues per paycheck. Oh.. I was paying about $5 a paycheck, had great coverage (which I never used), AND saw my union rep (not shop steward) quite often. I had a $10 co-pay when I went to the doc or dentist. No co-pay for my vision, just $25 co-pay on glasses. All that after 3 months of employment.

At Kroger, under the union contract, there were no union dues. None that I paid directly anyway. There was no co-pay, just a $100 deductable as the article says. But what the article does not say is that there is no coverage until you have been at Kroger for one year. Hey - used to be 3 years. Now as I said, you don't pay dues. When I went for further clarification, I discovered that you DO pay dues, but they are actually (and I kid you not) hourly.

How? Well it seems that the union gets the payroll list at real hourly rate. Say 10.00 an hour. They look at it, balance the coverage costs per employee, and take -LUMP SUM- the top ?%. Then the rest is handed back to the company, who then has to distribute it among the employees as salary. So if you are making $10 an hour, the union takes X, and you might be left with $8.50 an hour.

There is no mention of any of this on your paystub. All you know is your getting $8.50 an hour. For benefits you don't get for a year.

Everything else the Union does with the "Off the Top dues" is a mystery. And I would be happy to explain, in detail (painful detail), how a Union actually operates.

I would be more than happy to point out that having a member of management also serve as a Union Rep is counter productive. And Im not saying management can't be union, they just can't be shop stewards. Conflicting interests, if they have any interest anyway.

I could tell you that in NY, not only does the company pay your benefits, but so does the Union, with the dues the members have paid in. It is a 75/20/5 split. Company pays 75, union pays 20, you pay 5 out of pocket.

You know, I've talked to many people about unions here, and told them about unions in NY. I've even heard management people say the NY Unions sound like they have their act together, unlike the ones they currently have.

It's not terribly difficult people. This Kroger contract is done, but the Kroger employees are still getting screwed by the union.

My 2centavos.
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The Pod #2

Podcast #2 is up, enjoy yourselves. There will be a quiz later....

My Odeo Channel


Ms. Elenaeous in Roanoke

And here I thought I was lost without alternate side of the street parking.

I forgot about 3am hunts for a single parking space in a 5 block area.

roanoke.com - Extra stories -Art Museum to change contractors for new building

"Bingham said the museum has not yet received a final number on construction costs, but assumes it will be 'a little bit over' their earlier estimates, in part because of rising building costs associated with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. 'Building materials all over the country are going out of sight.'"

Some days I should just phone these in.

Still on schedule, Mrs. Bingham states. What schedule, who knows. As far as I have seen, the lot which was supposed to have closed (behind Billy's Ritz) is still open. I see lots of cars parked there, especially on weekends.

"We have to look out for our donors and what's best for the project," says Bingham, the executive director of the AMWV.

No word on the people yet..

Other news on the same page, The "Hands around the world" statue will not be in Elmwood park, in the words of the sculptor Judith Damon, "How can you ask people for money for a sculpture with all the desperate need down South?"

I think she's being a bit polite.

I was hoping to see that statue in Elmwood Park, personally I thought it was a good idea. But I guess Roanoke never felt connected enough with it to actually raise funds for it. Will of the people sort of thing I guess. (AMWV, perhaps you need a refresher in that.) Well, at least whats left of the money collected will go to the Red Cross in hopes that it reaches New Orleans and the rest of the area to do some good.

Much like the former residents of Willow Creek Apartments, the citizens of New Orleans are coming home to mold, mildew, and water damage beyond compare.

And finally, Shanna Flowers has an interesting column here

Although what Roanoke's "recent newsmaking negatives" might be, she does not explain. Although I can assure you, gentle reader, that New York City and Los Angeles take no notice of the day to day dramas that play out in the 2nd section of the Roanoke Times. Far more important to them are the stories on non-profit fundraising, the AMWV, and perhaps even The Market. Each one reflects a trend in America, if the economy is having a good year - allegedly donations to non-profits rise. If a small town wants to make itself more noticeable, it builds something like the "Twisted Tin Can" (as it was put to me recently) which will become the Art Museum of Western Virginia. They are watching to see if it actually happens, and why. They are not concerned about the outcome so much as the process.

And finally the City Market. A story of particular note, as the nations small cities study how to make their downtown historic districts (ever wonder how they all get downtown?) thrive in the 21st. century. Roanoke led the way with Design '79, and many towns and cities followed in theory. Now Roanoke is launching ReDesign V2.0 Beta for the City Market area, and those same towns and cities are watching to see how it will play out. Will it be viable, will technology play a greater part in the 'new' Market? Even on some levels, will it be TV worthy? Think of the Food Network. A Market where foods are prepared before customers eyes, and sold directly from the producer would be a novel idea, and worthy of a stop on "Roker on the Road." Possibly even a taping of "Emeril Live," as the entire town could turn out to stand outside the windows of Kitchen on the Market and watch the Worlds 2nd most famous chef do his thing.

(1st is still Julia Child, and always will be.)

There is more than progress to be made here, there is a future. To be created anew or continued as is.

Although it does sound real, when you hear it in your head: "Live from the Historic City Market in Beautiful Downtown Roanoke, Virginia - ITS EMERIL LIVE!! /cue music.

The platforms of social awareness are changing, and Roanoke needs to find its place in all that change.

Remember, they don't call us the Star City for nothing. It's more than just a neon sign on a mountain, its all of us. We are the ambassadors, and we are the dreamers.

Roanoke is the Future, and will always remain the past.



"The ideas for the market could greatly benefit the downtown area, but it would be nice to see the vendors area a pedestrian mall similar to Charlottesville. Some type of special parking can be provided to the vendors."

The ol' Roanoke.com messageboard in its newest incarnation, and not wholly thrilling either. No easy interface for tracking comments, and I get the feeling they are approving messages before posting them. But thats just lil ol paranoid me.

Now, good idea. The pedestrian mall in Charlottesville is nice. I've been a few times during my "time served" at UVA. Its a nice spot to spend an afternoon, or a walk. But lest we forget, at the head (coming from UVA itself, walking) is the Ice Rink. I'd say a year-round ice rink is a pretty big attraction in itself. But then the 'promenade' that is the pedestrian mall could be considered quite the draw. With one major drawback. If you venture outside the bounds of the mall, just a short walk up the streets, you find yourself in a not-so-nice area. Im not saying anything about the people there, I am saying it does not at all reflect or resemble the interior mall.

In addition, that mall is.. well, a mall really. There is a CVS, A&N, clothing stores (though I do not remember which national chain I saw there). There is a food court type area, and I understand its for one restaurant in particular, but it looks just like the tables at Valley View, just outdoors. To me, it takes up space in the middle of the whole walk. I would move the tables closer to the restaurant itself, and leave the middle free for pedestrians and pedestrian watching.

Anyway, the 'message board' at the times is pretty interesting on the whole ReDesign V2.0 Beta.

Hey, thats catchy. ReD2B. I like..

post #301

Yes, I have broken the 300 mark. Whoopie.

Im going to leave the blog as-is today, as I have multitudes of work. There will be a new post tomorrow, when I have more time.

Read through the last 3 or 4 posts, theres alot to chew on there. See you all tomorrow.


Mr. Kat's return. And reasons why Roanoke needs us.

After a long absence, Mr. Kat reappears with an editorial on the reality behind the Roanoke Market plans.

I agree with Mr. Kat on the changes, I think they are brilliant. But I am not about to lay down and watch as it gets bickered into "a power washing and new coat of paint."

Thats why I am so adamant about the AMWV, and hard-nosed about the vacant storefronts downtown.

I myself hope to open a place downtown one day. I've got my eye on a few places which would be prime for my special brand of retail.

Im talking about being 2 years out from this particular project. And alot can happen in 2 years, so I have a vested interest in how downtown grows and changes. A vested interest in how this town operates, as do we all. Wether or not we realize it.

We all have laundry lists of what we would like Roanoke to be. Top of the list for most people, and the very reason Roanoke has won accolades in years past, we all want it to be a great place to raise a family.

And that begins with us, if we don't stand for the changes we want, and the changes we don't want - then we are losers.

I could tell you horror stories of NYC, the city which everyone dreams of, everyone wishes to emulate in ways they don't even begin to imagine. I can give you specific incidents and causes as to why emulating the "Big Apple" is not the best of ideas.

If those who wished to emulate NYC could go live in NYC for a year or two - in a moderate apartment or home, working a job, the regular NYC life, and see how often you really cared about Art, or going to the opera or ballet. The sad truth is you don't have time. You don't have the ability to breathe without worry like you do here. Wether or not you see it that way, thats the way it is. It's all in how you pace yourself and your life. A control you easily lose in NYC.

Im not going to ramble on about this, Im too tired. Pursuing the dream leaves you exhausted, but in a good way.

Art Museum looking for new general contractor

I just heard this on WFIR, and had to come look it up.

One thing not mentioned in the DBJ story that is in the FIR story is Mrs. Bingham stating that "rumors of a firing" are incorrect.

What rumors? I heard no rumors. Did you hear a rumor? Nice going, now Im curious why a rumor was mentioned that no one heard.

Anyone got any info?

Editorials from The Roanoke Times -'Stunningly cool' ideas for Roanoke

Editorials from The Roanoke Times -'Stunningly cool' ideas for Roanoke: "Only one part of the consultant's vision seems blurry: the idea for a trolley running down Jefferson Street. Downtown Roanoke isn't expansive enough to accommodate such a system effectively, and more than likely it would further snarl traffic at the intersection of Jefferson and Campbell Avenue."

You know, for a moment there I thought I really could get behind the Times for a change. We were doing so well, talking up the Market plan and making it seem like a worthwhile project.

Then you hit this, the 2nd to last paragraph, and the whole -Ed peice goes to hell in a handbasket.

First of all, as someone else wrote in the "Letters to the Editor" a day or two ago, alot of people still think that the biggest problem with downtown is the fact that Campbell is now a 2 way street. Talk about a grudge. But in my own way I can see this change contributing to the problems with congestion at Jeff and Campbell. Yet another Roanoker chimed in on the Letters page to add: A streetcar needs someplace to start from, and someplace to go. Well generally, yes. You do not often find "rides to nowhere" anymore. My grandmother told me about them, you would get on a bus and ride somewhere - get out for a little while, then ride back. It was something to get you out of the city for a day. But as the years progressed, people got used to having a destination.

Now, reading through this -Ed. makes me wonder how often the Times Editorial Board reads the paper they produce. All those sketches were reportedly (according to the article found here) based on input from the residents who actually took the time to stop by and voice an opinion. I have a feeling that the Streetcar is one of them, being that its an idea which has been kicked around Roanoke for quite a while now.

And as for Downtown Roanoke not being expansive enough, well - downtown was not all that expansive back when the Streetcars first started operating, but they still managed to do a good amount of business. Plus, Downtown pushes outwards by a block or two each year. If you look, you can see signs of Elm Ave. becoming part of Downtown. And let's not forget, under the new zoning guidelines, the Downtown district is going to go all the way south to Old SW and 581/220. I'd say thats pretty expansive. Be a nice tour for visitors, from downtown all the way to the historic Victorians of Old Southwest, across to the base of Mill Mountain and back up to downtown. But again, for the -Ed. staff of the Times to know this, they might actually have to read the paper.

Ah well, nearly 8am and still dim out. Rainy.. Just another day in Roanoke....


Still with the issues


Podcast still not uploaded yet, will be soon I imagine. Otherwise, this week is going to be a bit light, as I am doing 18 things at once.


General Announcement and Press Release #1 from Forgotten-Roanoke.com

Allright, I've had a bit of thinking to do on this one, and I think I have reached a decision.

Forgotten-Roanoke.com will begin updating every 2-2.5 weeks.

Beginning next week, updates will land on either a Sunday or Monday. I have increasingly found that as I travel back and forth in time, attempting to keep up with the latest and the historic is requiring more in-depth work than the initial pages would suggest. It's easy to find things, come up with lists of places - but very hard to get the evidence of such things. Sure there was a hospital at the intersection on Franklin and Walnut, where HSMM is now located, but how long ago? And how much is left? I can tell you personally, from passing that spot daily, not much. As a matter of fact, only the vaguest outline of the hospital and associated school of nursing is still existing.

I have been getting leads from the public, which I always welcome (email them here) which have led me to some interesting places. Plus I have 2 large projects planned for the near future, one of which I need the leaves to fall from the trees for.

The RoanokeFound Podcast, normally hosted with Odeo is on its way. It's done, I just seem to be having trouble uploading it for unknown reasons. I love doing these things, and hope you are enjoying them. I would like to take the podcast to broadcast one day, and possibly begin RadioForgottenRoanoke. Once a week, maybe an hour or two. Calls, guests, the whole 8.5 yards. Although the face of media might change before that even happens, so just keep your eyes peeled.

The RoanokeFound Blog (do I need to link to what you are allready reading?) will remain as is, with the addition of occasional PhoneCasts - where I go out and hit the streets, reporting live from places and events. I did mean to do one from Harvest Fest, but got so distracted by all the produce I forgot. (Lest you forget, I am a Chef in what little spare time I have.)

There are other, smaller projects in the works. Some are independant, some are collaborations with other bloggers. And I'd still like to see the Heironimous building become the Official Museum of the City of Roanoke. But thats just me.

I have 2 projects on the table right now, the first of which is the Flood of 1985. Im hoping to gather personal recollections and photographs to illustrate what could be considered a "watershed" (sorry) moment for Roanoke. This will be a collaborative effort, along with Rhett at RoanokeFireFighters.

The 2nd project I cannot discuss at this time. Just know that it will be complete when the leaves are off the trees, and the chill winds of winter have set in. It involves a piece of Roanoke's past, which is still highly visible today and still talked about. And no, Forgotten Roanoke will NOT be climbing to the top of the Star.

I will also ask for your help from time to time, as with the Flood of 85 project, if anyone has any information, recollections or photographs they would like to share, contact me here. I would also like any information on where everything went from the old Mill Mountain Childrens Zoo. Some of those pieces look familiar from when I was growing up in NY, and I am curious if there was a "fire sale" to get rid of it, or if they were mass produced by some company.

Well, thats all for now.. Remember - the more things change the more we report it.

By the by, Freshmarket is great. Highly reccomended. Although I would say perhaps when there is not 3/4ths the population of Roanoke there, as was when I went.

In my time here in Roanoke Ive discovered something.

A) this place looks great after storms.
B) theres a true sense of community here.
C) cellphones should be banned while driving, at penalty of death.
And D) as wonderfully diverse as Roanoke is, its lacking something.

Something it kinda had a year or two ago. Something that brings out the chest-thumping pride in a community, if done right.

Remember this place?
303 S Jefferson St.

Think.. think.. it might just come to you.

It was Kara O'Caens Irish Pub.

Fairly well world-renown Kara O's. It was listed in Irish Travel Guides for those coming over here as a slice of home.

Roanoke is as well.

Having traveled to Ireland in my youth, I can clearly remember the landscape, Dublin at night, the moon on Galway Bay.

It's not all that far off from Roanoke. Granted, its a bit warmer in the summer and a bit cooler in the winter, but Roanoke's climate is not all that far off from Dublin, and the rolling hills and mountains are near on a dead match.

Much like Roanokers, the Irish are warm and willing (for the most part). Fierce pride in their local teams, pride in those who protect and serve.

And pride in the history and the people who make up each town and village.

When I was last up at UVA for an extended stay there was a conference on "Re-Imagining Ireland" with guest speakers for miles lined up to talk about the new Irish economy, the 'new' Ireland itself.

Ireland is now home to many Microsoft offices, many eCommerce companies, and many many computer-related industries. The list of "Celtic Tiger" industries reads like a who's who of the computer world: Microsoft, Oracle, IBM just to name a few.

As a matter of fact, if you head over to Dublin's home page it reads amazingly like Roanokegov.com right down to the "City of Possibilities: Strategy 2012" section.

Even transportation is an issue, as Dublin struggles with the idea of building a Metro in the next decade.

So Dublin is not all that different from Roanoke. Point being???

Well, Dublin has one thing that Roanoke does not. Gathering places, meeting spots, bars, clubs, pubs - call them what you want. No place for the armchair pundits to get together to "hang an elbow" and discuss the daily goings on of life in the Star City.

From what I understand, back when it first opened Kara O's was like that. Still is according to some websites.

Roanoke has the Knights of Colombus, the Knights of Pythias, a large handful of Civic leagues. Its Ancient Order of Hibernians is just beginning to find its legs again, and judging by this years St. Patrick's Day Parade, they've got a good foothold.

There are plenty of Celts in SW Virginia, and Roanoke is no exception. But a City with as large of a St. Pat's Day parade as we have, and no Irish pub to go to afterwards is missing something.

And its not so much the Irish themselves that Roanoke is missing, it's the Irish thought. The communal gathering on a regular basis (outside of church) is important in ways that are hard to put into words, but easy to understand once you've seen it at work.

Imagine if you will leaving Roanoke forever, never to return - but finding near your new home a place where people who have also left Roanoke hang out. It brings the community back to you, even though you are not there.

Also imagine staying in Roanoke forever, but losing touch with those in your high school graduating class due to life getting in the way. Do you really want to wait for your X-Year Reunion to see them again? To the Irish mindset, this is a crime. A person needs people to celebrate life with, mourn losses with, and a place to remove himself from life and just be for a while.

I can clearly remember my first trip to an Irish pub in NYC, I walked in on an off night as the bar was just beginning to fill. I saw faces which were vaguely familiar, in that friendly sort of way. The band, well no - not a band per say, the loosely congealed group of musicians were taking their place on the stage for the Traditional Irish Session (where musicians of all levels will come and sit in for a song or two with a few main players leading the group). I ordered a Cider (personal thing, don't ask) and sat at the far end of the bar away from the band and closest to the door (incase I decided to make a quick exit, being there alone and all).

Within minutes I was deep in conversation about somesuch or other with probably 3-4 other people, including the bartender who had only been in America for 2 months. Later that night myself and the guy who I was talking with most of the night were challenged to a game of pool by a pair of young lasses who were over on Work Visas. Well, after 3 rounds of the most schitzophrenic pool I have ever played, it was back out front to the bar for the last set in the Session. We all bought eachother drinks, and then it was out the door and back to my normal life.

A few weeks later, I went to an Irish-named bar in my own town and left before the suds were off the first cider. It was not the same, even the people I knew in there were not talking. They just kind of stared off into space... The pooltable was empty and dusty, the bar was nearly vacant - all the business having gone next door into the attached restaurant. The jukebox had no Irish music, although I would assume that on St. Pats day they do play Danny Boy endlessly. There was no stage. No lilting accents.

Even the local Fire Department's Emerald Society held its annual St. Pats Day party at another bar, one with an ambiguous name. Now that right there is a crime.

And time and time again when I returned to that bar in NYC, I was always met with smiling faces and conversations - even when I had not been for 6 months, they were still ready to welcome a new face to the crowd.

Thats what I've discovered about Roanoke. Its got the smiling faces, and warm conversations - just no place to have them.

(file this one under late-night editorials)