Do I dare?

Never exactly excited by the end of year lists... but Im half tempted to do my own.

Any thoughts on this?

Alternately, what would you pick, the top 13.5 everything in the past year in Roanoke?

Sounds so easy, no?


This just in....


I'm just back from the Career Lifestyle Expo at the Civic Center, and boy are my arms tired!

Sorry.. never mind

It was quite interesting, I will say that much. Well attended, although the crowds average age skewed higher than I thought it would, but que sera sera... Ukrops got out to an early lead on hiring pre-opening. Smart move for them, as it will be much easier to set a base and fill in the cracks in the busy time leading up to opening.

The City, County, and Carilion were all well represented, as was the banking industry. Points off for Orvis and Enterprise Rent-A-Car for having unmanned booths, but the atmosphere more than made up for the dead spaces. For quite a good number, this was not only an opportunity to meet and greet with local businesses, this was a good chance to get to know other people of like minds.. people in the industry. Network, if you will.

Hats off to Stuart Mease for putting this whole shin-dig together. Seems like Stuart and I will be working together in the future to shine a spotlight on Roanoke blogs - it seems anyway. So consider this a Call to Blog!

If you have had the thought.. "gee, I could do this. This guys an idiot, even a monkey could write like he does..." or anything similar - I invite you to do it. Start a blog, blogger is free you know. Or start one and give it to a monkey.. if you feel so inclined.

If you already have a blog, but don't use it nearly as often as you know you should - do it.

And if you are a former charter member of the SCBA, rethink the past - and think about the future. Maybe an affiliation is not such a bad thing after all.

There you have it. Well attended, enjoyed by many, and perhaps worth repeating in a few months. Spring break, summer vacations, blah blah.. Maybe quarterly is the way to go on this.

Well, it was worth it. Too bad you weren't there. If you were, drop a line and let me know what you thought.

Things I will do in 2007

Just compiling a short (hopefully, mercifully) list of things I will do in 2007, for you all to share and revel in.

  • Record and post more podcasts. I would do one right now, but my basset is snoring like an unruly drain. The noises would be sure to turn you all off.
  • Rebuild and upgrade the website, including finding off-shore hosting which will give me more freedom to run it as I want it. It's been a heck of a year, and I constantly feel guilty that the site itself has been mostly ignored.
  • Make plans to bring together my local readers (if they so choose) and perhaps tour some of the sites featured in my ramblings.
  • Build stronger relationships with the upcoming leaders of the New Roanoke, a concept you will all be hearing more about in the coming year.
  • Cease the endless teasing of you, the reader, with snippets of projects - in other words, no posting of something until it's complete. Exception being a series of posts - then you'll just have to wait.
  • Push for more recognition for the Roanoke Bloggers, don't we deserve our own popularity contest in the Roanoker magazine? Course we all know Rhett would win - having all the Fire Fighters "vote early, and often" as is common to the job.
In a nutshell, thats how I plan on starting off 2007. In mid-06, I lost the ability to straight out live-cast using my cell phone. A tragedy I'm sure you all felt. Something to do with Google taking over Blogger, Odeo ending the service, and more such nonsense - but I will do my best to get the dirt straight to you - the public, when it happens and as it happens.

Consider me the 5th Estate - the last house on the left, if you will - A miasma of news, commentary, history, and the future - all rolled into one fuzzy bundle of love.

Oh yes, 2007 will be an entirely whole new ballgame - the revolution begins anew, and as some random keyfob on Amazon says: "Roanoke, Proud of our past, confident in our future."

Who could disagree with that? Well, if you do - it's time for you to leave town. Or buy one of those $149,900 "condos" they are building at Factory 324/Iroquois/Peerless Candy Co. building. Because your just the kind of sucker that would.

Automotive Commercial Historic District"

I defy ANYONE to explain that one to me. A former tobacco yard.. oh forget it. I'm not even going to bother.

See you all tomorrow, some of you at the Career and Lifestyle (Free!) Fair at the Civic Center between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. But you didn't hear me promote that, now did you?


Interesting read

From a spam mail recently received:

Americans once expected parents to raise their children in accordance with the dominant cultural messages. No matter how much you can blame Davis for, you can't excuse those self-serving, special-interest-driven, pandering elected-but-not-selected politicians. Ballmer: Security Tops Microsoft's Priority ListBallmer said he wishes the security researchers "would be quiet as that would be better for the world. My problem is I have a lot of difficulty trusting what I hear from Microsoft in general and Ballmer in particular. Who knows, maybe keeping the "Do Not Call List" in place will even cut down on incidents of Postal Disease.

Those are the slugs that should have been recalled.

The World of Music will be reformed soon and you won't be in it anywhere. Then there was the disgusting folderol in the courts brought about by the ACLU.

It is not the Governor that got us here. I think most of today's shopping public has been denied the experience of shopping at a store that gave away lessons in respect and quality while at the same time selling its products.

Say what you might, but I think it speaks well of the man.

I'm just sick over this revelation.

I mean, I know how -bad- unsuitable Davis is.

Folks, the sun is has seems to be very probably did set is now setting on The Golden State.

Oh yeah; technology opens all sorts of vistas. We celebrate each others painful, horrific deaths by keeping tallies, running headlines, smiling in the streets. We about to spend millions of unavailable dollars for the recall, confuse everything and everyone, set expectations that cannot be realized and make no progress, real or imagined. Consultant with their Security Awareness Practice. She said, "It must have gone astray. Generally, the people would respond negatively and she would wander off, but occasionally someone would nod and there would be a quick exchange of money for something she carried in her bag. The full story is here.

He may discover the RIAA has figured out it can gain added profits from law suits.

They are plagued by dust which follows them in large, billowing clouds. she promised good service.

If your failure comes back to you, you can address it as another "event" and it can be handled without regard to the original, failed commitment. And what you believe should not be based upon who told you but rather your own independent validation of what you've been told. Changed the style sheet, too. Still, I do have to pay for the bandwidth on this site so, in spite of the downward trend here, I just might help with this one, too.

Changed the style sheet, too.

Humans cannot be contained, restrained, channeled, directed. Someday I want to go to, say, the market and see some product that says, right there on the box, "the same old stuff.

Maybe the shipping label was unreadable.

What a selfless and loving act. They've even picked up a lawsuit charging program vulnerabilities fly in the face of "suitability" and "marketability.

Covering up Spirit of Justice or not wanting to be photographed in front of her is just silly, incredibly immature.

On Wednesday it had not arrived.

I was stupid, indeed I was.

Yes, I was stupid - reading this to begin with - but yet it's somehow fascinating.



While talking with fellow employees today (one of whom is born and raised here, and one who is from New Jersey) and tossing around ideas, the question was asked that I have been asked many a time over.

"Why not take your ideas down to the City Council and see what they think?"

I generally laugh such an idea off (having evil designs of my own, of course), but tonight while in the process of watching "Looking Back" on WCOX, specifically the section on Design '79, and the recent design sit-in held at the City Market building - I finally came up with a solid answer to the above question.

Why worry about the City Council, they are just servants of the public (or used to be). The only way to truly affect change anywhere is to make sense to the people. Talk to the people, listen to the people - and from there, anything is possible. I think thats a lesson forgotten often these days, when City Council members have tarnished pasts that are hidden, yet still affect them to this day. And no, I'm not talking about Bev.

If the citizens speak with one (or as close to one as possible) voice, the city will have no choice but to listen. It is a desire, a determination, and a drive to constantly improve your lot in life - it's human. Some have forgotten that as well. But that desire can be reawakened, that drive refueled. In the simple hope and wish that the life of their child will be better than the one they had. But too many people believe that kind of life is unattainable here in Roanoke, and they impress this (knowingly or not) upon the child.

And then the city is left in the state it is currently in - a fearless City Council, unafraid as there are no "strong contenders" who are younger, smarter, faster, and better than they are. A struggle to attract and retain the local college students who are from outside the area, a oxymoron-ish housing situation, where perfectly good homes are left to ruin by landlords and tenants alike, yet the good homes are priced out of the range of most young people (and if you think it's bad, try the suburbs of New York City - average salary for someone just out of school is only enough to scrape by on rent and utilities - not to mention nice things like food, gas, and perhaps some form of amusement - and people wonder why kids never move out...).

Some of the best views in Roanoke, and the most centrally located housing in what should be considered the most desirable location for a businessperson is valued at less than $30,000 (* according to city GIS and tax assessment information). This is not only a shock, but a virtual disgrace. Most business owners do not like staying miles or minutes away from the business - they want to be there in seconds. But instead - due to it's proximity to downtown, it is considered a virtual ghetto - undesirable and unwanted.

Why would I waste my voice attempting to convince politicians that, in the interests of the city and it's citizens, it is imperative that those properties be valued - empty lots that high above the downtown area could mean many different opportunities. New upscale hotel, new restaurant similar to Carlos (with its overreaching view), new park (or should I just not bring up the Woodland Park debacle).. the possibilities are endless, should one want to see them.

And with an entrenched City Council, the argument needs to be brought to the people, to the public, to the taxpayers... Those who still believe that we have a representative government, and those who want to believe.

So no, there is no reason for me to bring my ideas to the City on a silver platter. There is more to be gained by speaking to the people, the business owners, and those who work every day and rest every night. To paraphrase W.E. O'Shaughnessy (via Willy Wonka) "They are the music makers, and they are the dreamers of the dream."

Sometimes the word can make the dream real, and sometimes the dream itself provides the word.

Theres something to do in Roanoke (for a change)

Now that the Christmas Holiday is behind us (364 shopping days left), and the new year lies ahead - this is the quiet downtime while the world waits. In a change of pace this year, fellow blogger and Municipal Worker-type Stuart Mease has put together a little job fair.

Little. Right.

The partial list of attendees include some of the largest companies in the valley, one of which is technically not even here yet - but will be come March (or so), the local governments, local art and "lifestyle" (whatever that means) groups, and even the Roanoke Regional Small Business Development Center.

And that's just the short list - I'm sure the list has grown since this one was published.

Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Roanoke Civic Center (located on scenic Williamson Rd.), admission is free.

I'm off that day, so I might just see fit to come down off the hilltop overlooking downtown and put in an appearance.

In a related note (to being on the hill overlooking downtown), Mrs. RoanokeFound saw fit to present me with yet another dangerous tool in my hands. The Computer-aided, lazer assisted, high-tech stealth device I received will allow me to peer even further into downtown Roanoke, and easily track goings on.

Good for me, bad for those who turn tail and run at the sight of the Forgotten-Roanoke.com jacket. And you know who you are.. Mr. "Cough to get Attention at Tanglewood Mall"...

But that's a story for another time...


If your the praying kind, you might want to start now...

Sunday Night

Mostly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of rain. Lows in the mid 30s

Christmas Day

Rain likely. Cooler with highs in the lower 40s. Chance of rain 60 percent.

Monday Night

Mostly cloudy with a 40 percent chance of snow. Lows in the lower 30s.


Oh, I know folks can't drive in the snow - but if we need some sort of moisture on Christmas, let it be snow.

I realize it won't mean much as I'm working, but still - to see a fresh blanket of the white stuff clinging to everything.. makes it seem right.

I know, I'm being selfish - but really now.. a White Christmas? Why not.


Something new

Here's an idea - how about a one stop source for all your entertainment needs in Roanoke?

Perhaps one which could help create events which might actually interest you?

You know, like EventZone is supposed to do?

It's here - and it's called You5W

(warning - not firefox friendly, and contains embedded music, site is still rough)

Love the concept, and look forward to seeing it in action. Maybe even taking part in an event or two.

Or maybe creating a few of my own. Just a thought.

Thanks Google searchers!!!


very interesting

Exciting? sorta... yes, of course it is

Memo to Mr. Hicks of Old Southwest

Mr. Hicks and Family,

I would like to be the first to congratulate you on exposing the ARB and Old Southwest's design restrictions for exactly the futile and wasteful trap they are. There has always been an understanding that the ARB is an oversight board which caters to the wealthier members of Old Southwest, including a husband/wife team that is rife with conflicts of interest.

That being said, and understood, I would like to invite Mr. Hicks and family to come live in Historic Old Southeast. We may not be as old as Old Southwest, but were more historic-er!

Despite rumors and reports to the otherwise, Southeast is a quiet community. We have parks, libraries, decent schools (if you choose to be involved), and easy access to everything. Oh, and our houses are just as big, only cheaper.

Actually, I would like to invite anyone who is looking at Old Southwest as a place to live to come look at Historic Southeast - we have just as much to offer, without the ARB design guidelines nonsense.

Historic Southeast is undergoing a change, people are taking pride in their homes and neighborhoods again. But it is because the people want it, not because the city demands it.

Mr. Hicks, when you finally get free and clear of the ARB tripe, and are looking for another place to hang your hat - I invite you to contact me, and I will personally give you the grand sales pitch on behalf of Historic Southeast.

Thank you, and good luck.



School of Hard Knocks

Some truths of high school life:

don't really care who they go to school with - they are too busy trying to get through the day just like their parents at work.

kids do not particularly care about school, or homework.

is no real way to motivate a kid to learn.

But - that being said, very few children whose parents graduate high school fail to do so. The students who excel usually are those whose parents did not have the chance to go further in education - like the children of immigrants. There needs to be a value placed on having an education, and for lack of a nicer way to put it, a good number of parents don't value education these days. They did not bother getting one themselves (or did not continue to educate themselves on a daily basis, read a book, or something similar) and guess what - the apple does not fall far from the tree.

What we are dealing with in Roanoke is a failure for the children, not of the children. Uninvolved parents, a school system confused as to how best serve the community/uphold state standards/keep the kids involved, and a shift in job skills.

Even the most physical jobs now require some sort of training, education, and ability to grasp concepts and learn from them. In order to work, one needs to understand work. Parents are all too familiar with the daily grind, and tell children often how miserable they are/how bad work sucks/how they don't pay enough... but never follow that up with the message that a little education can go a long way to allowing you to reach higher than they did.

It used to be that one generation always wanted better for the next, that has now shifted to one generation wanting the same for the next generation.

Not to mention the apathy of some parents, educators, and administrators when it comes to advancing students in the world. "Toe the line" is the call these days, maintain the status quo - and do not jeopardize the funding of the school.

The schools absolutely must raise standards, SOLs and "No Child Left Behind" warrant so - but the schools find themselves fighting apathy on the home front, a student body more interested in the "easy way" (as seen on TV, some conditions may apply.. Act now!), and a state and federal system that assumes the schools are failing the kids.

In reality, everyone is failing them.

I cannot tell you how many times in my average day I hear the words "I have a GED" or "I can get a GED and a job, why bother?" It's frustrating to say the least. But the question that I have, and no one else is asking - how many of the parents actually graduated high school themselves? I am willing to bet that of the 43% that drop out, half of those kids have parents with little in the way of education.

And excuses are easy to come by. Around the age of 15, a kid makes a choice that lasts nearly 10 years. I will/will not be like my parent(s). It's that simple. If a child sees that it's parents are making something of themselves thanks to the life-long process of learning, then that is imprinted upon them. And until the age of 25 or so, they will either embrace it - or they will renounce it (temporarily).

But then they learn, and regret what choices they have made. Without a solid background of education appreciation, the motivation to further oneself is nonexistent.

It's a generation doomed to fail, that is raised without valuing education and advancement of ones person. And it's already happening.

Look around Roanoke, where are the leaders - the young people who will take the mantle of achievement and lead into the next generation. They have abandoned the city. Left it to those who are the Status Quo.

And there in lies the problem in education - the educated move on, resolved in the knowledge that they will succeed in life - while the partially educated (no one's education is ever complete) resolve themselves to "do what they can with what they have" and miss the struggle to achieve.

Anyway - consider this part one in an occasional series - kinda like the Times is doing.

Comment away.


Firefighter bridges time

(ed. - I don't know who this guy is, but I like his style. Support your tiny super-firefighters.)

During the first few decades of firefighting services in Roanoke, firefighters such as Howard Dowdy drove and washed the horses that pulled fire wagons.

More than a century later, Dowdy's grandson, Bev Mitchell, would drive and wash the gray, and later red, fire engines.

"I imagine we respond a whole lot quicker now than we did then," Mitchell said, chuckling.

The evolution of the department, from an all-volunteer organization in 1882 to the Fire-EMS department in 1995, is documented in a new book, "Firefighting in Roanoke."

The book, compiled by Roanoke firefighter Lt. Rhett Fleitz, includes more than 200 pictures that illustrate the changes in Roanoke's firefighting services, which began almost 125 years ago.

Much of the information in the book is from news clippings and photos that Capt. Maurice Wiseman of the Roanoke Fire Department collected in his lifetime.

After Wiseman's death in 2001, his family gave the boxes of papers and binders to the local firefighter's union.

Fleitz and firefighter Travis Collins used some of the information for "The Maurice Wiseman Project," a Web page with pictures and a time line of fire services in Roanoke. The project can be accessed through the union's Web site, www.local1132.org.

More here, where the article lies.


A matter of pride

I've noticed that for some unknown reason, the general working-class population of Roanoke likes to walk around in their work attire.

Which is not altogether a bad thing. What puzzles me, and of course being someone who wears both a jacket and apron, and hat as my uniform - why would you ever walk out of work wearing all of it?

It's one thing to wear your jacket if you are jumping in your car and heading home, but to keep your apron on..

I am proud of who I am and what I do, but I am not a paid billboard for who I do it for. (exception being the forgotten-roanoke.com jacket...) Nor do I want to look like I have stepped through a portal in space and appeared suddenly on the street, in full uniform.

To me, it's a matter of pride to show I am an individual, one with a job - sure, but an individual first. One who takes pride in who I am and how I look..

Ok, yes - if you are a doctor or hospital worker running out to get some lunch - that's one thing.. but if you work for the cafeteria at the hospital, take off the hairnet and scrubs when you leave. You look silly.

But thats one thing.. the other is a lot larger of an issue.

It's pride in Roanoke itself.

When you look at downtown Roanoke, what do you see? Do you see the past - slightly cleaned up? Do you see the destruction of things you knew and loved in the past? Do you see a city that does not care what you want? A city that is unable to figure out what it's doing wrong?

Or do you see the future: cold and empty, populated by the elderly and the poor folks? Failed ventures lining the streets, a city without a generations worth of citizens - who all moved out because - well, because.

Or do you see the future: a city of possibilities. With a cutting edge downtown life, remarkable selection of shops and restaurants, little avoidable loss in terms of buildings, a viable and self-sustaining nightlife, miles of wifi and fiber optic being used to it's fullest potential. Not only the Star City, but the Crown Jewel of all of Virginia. A place where government remodels itself to be flexible, and more responsive, and perhaps even a little more savvy when it comes to it's own business.

The question really is: do you see the limitations, or do you see the options? The potential, or the potential for disaster?

Are you going to let the poor blind lady with the wheel on her foot down?


I'd hate to be a Patent Clerk

Not the most normal of statements, but there is good reason for that.

Google (our overlords) has struck again, with the introduction of Google Patent Search.

Google Patent Search

How about that, already searching 7 million patents. Pretty nifty.

Try this one out for a lark.

(note: as I type this, a sudden Google Error page appears. Keep trying though.)

Little did I realize...

Little did I realize how many people realize the city is bass-ackwards, but feel they are powerless to do anything about it.

Every day I meet new people, have new conversations with people who realize that there are major flaws in the city's government, but feel they cannot effect a change.

Little did I realize the level of "status quo" which exists among the higher ups here - how dare you attempt to give forth a new idea, or a proven one when it changes the way they have to work, or worse than that - makes them actually work.

Little did I realize how many people mistake "can't do" with "won't do", causing elevated blood pressure levels.

And little did I realize that refurbishing and restoring the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Bridge (aka - the Henry St. Bridge) would entail removing the entire bridge. This came as quite a shock to me when I walked out of work today... But thats what I get for having a day off.

Ah well, more to come.. the holidays are upon us, and the craziness is near endless.


As promised...

This is the photo of Florabella's window. Seen in a reflection on the windows across the street.
Hard to tell from this photo, but I'm hoping that it will pique your interests and you might just take a trip downtown instead of to the sterile mall.
211 First Street SW,
Roanoke, VA 24011

(decidedly NOT a paid advertisement, just a reminder of what exists downtown and no where else...)


Heartbreaking News

Ruby has passed.

Story here.

Thats a big space in the heart of Roanoke left vacant now..


Late thinking...

I know this comes months after the election, and late all around, but a thought just occurred to me.

For the City? or F the City?


What do WW1 and WW2 have in common?

This ship. Commisioned 10/17/1916.. this ship cruised the Atlantic as the flagship, and then the Pacific as part of several battleship divisions..

Then she met 1,700+ lbs. of Japanese steel.. a bomb tore through one of her ammunition magazines, and destroyed the ship.

The USS Arizona sits in 40 feet of water, and holds the graves of 1,177 crew members...

A rallying cry at the time, a reminder now.

Dignity, and most of all.. something that we seem to have very little of these days... Honor.


Light snow will fall late this afternoon...

Areas of light snow... reducing visibilities to mile at

times... will fall late this afternoon. The heaviest snow will fall

between 4:30 and 6 PM... but accumulations will be less than inch

and that will occur mainly in grassy areas. After 6 PM... off and

on show showers will be seen.

Motorists should use caution during the evening commute... as slick

spots may develop especially on bridges... overpasses and elevated


Roanoke-Found will be on scene with a camera should any white stuff begin falling..

more to follow...


Withholding information

I'm in the midst of a quandary... I want to post, a serious hard-core post railing against the way the city operates, the political nonsense they engage in, the absolute stupidity of hiring as a consultant someone who resigned in basic disgrace from the VMT, so many things...

But the holidays are in the air, and my hearts not in it just yet. I'm still waiting for that one story that will push me over the edge, but I'm finding it hard to have that red streak run up my spine... what with the chill in the air (too much at 6am, but still...), the lights, the trees, the hustle and bustle of holiday shoppers..

And the windows of Florabella down on First St. True Christmas windows.. here in Roanoke. Something you won't get at the mall, or anywhere else short of 5th Ave. in Manhattan, although somehow better..

Photos will follow shortly - as soon as I drag them off my camera.


A seasonal re-run

Thanks to Pope Telesphorus, for ordering this ditty sung at every Christmas mass, and Pope Symmachus (they just don't make names like that anymore) for bringing this into the conscious mind of the faithful. And, like most viral marketing ploys, it spread from there.

Gloria in excélsis Deo
Et in terra pax homínibus bonae voluntátis.
Laudámus te.
Benedícimus te.
Adorámus te.
Glorificámus te.
Grátias ágimus tibi propter magnam glóriam tuam,
Dómine Deus, Rex cæléstis, Deus Pater omnípotens.
Dómine Fili unigénite, Jesu Christe.
Dómine Deus, Agnus Dei, Fílius Patris.
Qui tollis peccáta mundi, miserére nobis.
Qui tollis peccáta mundi, súscipe deprecatiónem nostram.
Qui sedes ad déxteram Patris, miserére nobis.
Quóniam tu solus Sanctus.
Tu solus Dóminus,
Tu solus Altíssimus, Jesu Christe,
Cum Sancto Spíritu in glória Dei Patris. Amen.
Ok, your all looking at me funny again.

No, I don't know Latin, but wikipedia does - thankfully. And the reason that we all know this Latin bulldozer of a song?

Angels we have heard on high

Sweetly singing o’er the plains,

And the mountains in reply

Echoing their joyous strains.


Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Shepherds, why this jubilee?

Why your joyous strains prolong?

What the gladsome tidings be

Which inspire your heavenly song?

It takes a quiet strength to properly belt out the refrain.. one which most reserve for special times, like Christmas..

And yes, I did post Angels we have heard on High around this time last year.. consider this the blogging equivalent of A Charlie Brown Christmas.


One day, you'll thank me for this...

Oh great geek master - what have you to say now?

Well, to be completely boring - I was reading through the agenda for the next City Council meeting (yes, someone actually does that - and I'm ashamed to say it's me) when I came across an interesting "Item recommended for action."

It's #4 on the list, should you care to read along (it's a .pdf):

(ahem) Amendment of the City Code to provide for the partial real estate tax exemption for new structures within redevelopment, rehabilitation, and conservation districts.

Excited yet?

How about asking this one small question: Is not the very definition of rehabilitation, and conservation the diametric opposite of New Structures?

I thought the point was to get folks to a) take care of, 2) remodel, and/or X=protect the existing old, and yes - historical, housing stock?

Keep your eyes open on this one folks, it feels greasy... like a palm.


Theres nothing to do here.. or is there?

Allegedly, Roanoke is a dead and dying city. Now granted, on some levels that is undeniable - but on multiple other more important levels, it is vital and alive.

A city can only be what it's citizens want it to be. And Stuart Mease, who has the unenviable task of working out a way to retain and attract the hot young prospects of the future (while I remind him occasionally about us sweaty blue collar folks who also have money to spend) has come up with a way to highlight Roanoke itself.



Been asked to let you know

Chef K is back posting at his old location.. which I will have nothing to do with. He made me sign a paper to that effect.

He has a review of Martin's downtown, some news on the empty storefront that was formerly NokeTown, and some ramblings..

Check it out..

Dead body in the river: Take 2

This just in off the wire:

Roanoke City Police make arrest in the murder of Karen Elkins. Elkins' body was found in the Roanoke River back in October. The murderer is one Aaron P. Gray, 29 of Roanoke.

Police still have no comment on how she was killed, but a search warrant might give some clues. The warrant states that guns and shells were sought-items in police searches.

Our sources confirm the earlier statements they made, and align with the search warrant details. Although really the warrant should be reworded to read SINGLE shell, SINGLE gun.

Draw your own conclusions - 1 gun, 1 bullet, 1 dead body.

Kudos to the Roanoke PD for catching another miscreant and murderer.


Accusations and puppydogs

I'd like a moment here to respond to a recent comment.

In response to the posting of Pot, Kettle - Kettle, Pot. One anonymous reader had this to say: " You complain endlessly and uselessly and do nothing to ease what you see as negative in Roanoke.

Until you do something other than sit and mumble half-cocked opinions online, shut the hell up."

This is not the first time I have encountered such a comment, but normally I just choose to ignore them.

Obviously this person is an occasional reader of the blog, and not any time when I publish a piece on the Mill Mountain Zoo, events in Roanoke (ie. Dickens of a Christmas), or rail against the City Council for a better quality of life, representation.

And perhaps this person is not of the "speak up, act up, rise up" kind - but I am. When I bitch and moan about something - there is a point to it. I am terribly sorry if it does not come across clearly all the time - there are times when the passion overtakes the reason and I myself have quashed certain posts.

But this "endless and useless complaining" is not without end, and it is certainly not without use.

Many of the locally born and raised people I know have adopted an attitude of a hostage of the City of Roanoke. Roanoke will never be as good as this place, nor as important as that place. Roanoke will never change, and Roanoke is dying. The county is better than the city. City schools suck. The taxes are too high. You can't get a decent paycheck in Roanoke. NW/SE/SW/Williamson Rd: is the ghetto.

If that attitude is one of progress and change, then call me delusional - because I have never seen this model work for the good of anything.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease, right? The squeaky wheel is drowned out by the whining brakes around here. Why bother trying if things aren't going to go your way anyway?

I don't know if this is a regional thing, a local thing, or a street by street kinda thing - but the attitude is prevalent. And it is damaging the city.

The city council does what it wants, when it wants because we - the people allow it. We gripe, we moan, we whine - but we stop short of actually doing anything about it.

This must change, this needs to change. And as they say, let change begin with me.

So in that spirit, from now on - whenever I have a negative post about something to do with the City - I will follow it up with a cute photo of a puppy dog to soothe and calm, and prevent anyone from thinking or doing anything that might change things.

The image “http://www.mytopdogs.com/images/cutepuppysleeping.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.



Today is speeshal

Today marks two years since the wedding of Mr. Forgotten-Roanoke and Ms. Roanoke Photos...

in observance of todays speeshulness, this is most likely the only post you get.

Enjoy the quiet.


Pot, Kettle - Kettle, Pot.

"One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I'll never know."- G. Marx

Well, now that we can safely put the 'Additional 6 inches we weren't expecting' weather report behind us, time to move onto (or back to) some timely news.

News Flash: Local Democratic Leaders and City Council Members slated to form new powerhouse law firm; Dewey, Cheatem, Howe, PLC/PAC/WAC/WKRP (Cincinnati only)

Boy, when the city banded together to vote this past election, I don't think anyone could have predicted the outcome would have far reaching implications. I mean not that the votes recorded favored saving Victory Stadium when counted across all canidates - not just the blocks VS. Trinkle, Mason, And Dowe. But que sera, sera - that is one for the history books. Another example of governmental illiteracy, in a place that needs no reminders. But no, even further reaching implications than that.

We are talking Excommunication here folks, and apparently - talking it seriously.

Now, far be it from me to tell a political party how to conduct business, but I thought excommunication was for the church only. I thought political parties either shunned those they wanted to oust, or 'whacked' em politically. In a town that thrives on rumor, I would think that one or two well placed rumors would be enough to destroy a politician's career, but considering the politics practiced here are in no way reflective of normal politics - I guess thats not enough. A public spectacle is whats called for.

Again, I feel the need to explain that Harris and Bev were backing a losing team from the start. In a race that hinged on a single issue, Victory Stadium, TMD (Trinkle, Mason, and Dowe) were for it's demolition. The Democratic candidates were against it, as well as 2/3rds of the voting population. But in a race with 3 sets of main contenders (Dem, Repub, Ind) and 2 truly independent canidates - thats a 5 way split for votes. Harris and Fitzpatrick, both on the City Council which wanted an end to the decades long Victory Stadium issue - and on their terms, were bound to support the candidacy of those who ran in favor of the city's unspoken plan.

In a nutshell, the self-serving politics that they practiced is exactly what came back to haunt them in the end. The same politics they practiced as part of the Democratic Party.

And now, for whatever reason (perhaps to quash an internal power struggle featuring those two), the Democratic Party seeks to cast them out into the night - send them packing on the wave of a win by their candidates, the demolition of the stadium, and the psychological comfort given by both.

What does it really represent? A loss of funding when the elections come around, the loss of ground troops to work the yard-sign drives and mail campaigns. But there is still the darker side, as we come into a new election cycle. The possibility that in a town that runs on rumors, the mayor and fmr. vice-mayor might be in for a rough ride come this election - when they find themselves orphans in the darkness, no spin machine to help stem the backwash of public opinion when the party they used to be part of turns its hooks on them.

This could be an interesting watch... but its amazing how things can come back to you when you least expect them.


Reminded by TV (Arrrgghhhh!)

Watching the new Charlie Brown (and the old one) tonight, I had some issues with the new one - nothing major, but then a single word came to mind that explained it all for me.

Marcie's newfound freedom in expressing some interest in Chuck, and her enjoyment of torturing Peppermint Patty. Charlie Brown won something.

Well, it might not seem like much to you - but in the world of Charles Shultz's Peanuts, it's a whole lot. But think about it: A nearly 50 year old franchise, steeped in tradition and warm memories of people everywhere making a seemingly small change to a formula that has always worked.

Then it struck me - Context.

In today's age, simple classic stories like the Charlie Brown Christmas special are held in a glass box on the mantle - taken down only on very special occasions - looked at, and then put back up on the shelf.

But in order to keep an entire new generation of viewers interested, you keep the old formula going strong - but slip in a new touch or two. Nothing major - your not killing off a character here - but you are adding a touch that the newer viewers are accustomed to seeing. Context.

Reminded me of something I have been thinking about lately - the whole issue of context. And how that fits into life in Roanoke.

Roanoke is a place out of Context.

Numbers here are taken out of context, as shown by the yearly article "Having to go out of town for shopping". They claim a population of 94,000 according to the last census. Well, sure - according to that, and if you limit the draw of a store to the city limits. But let's not forget, Roanoke is a draw from all 4 points on the compass, which expands it's potential draw numbers amazingly.

I would go so far as to guess Roanoke sits perfectly poised to take advantage of a potential 1.5 million people - but that's just me. I think in radius, not census.

Politics is taken out of context also, as evidenced by the City Manager government we have, the fact that we cannot register to vote AND a political party (ie. registered republican, registered democrat) for the purposes of primaries, and the fact that now there is talk of removing the labels altogether from elections. This is being talked about as a way to "unite" rather than divide along political lines. Truth of the matter is, without the context of total involvement in the process - removing the labels is another way of pushing people further outside the process. It might not seem like much, but it is.

And it all comes down to context. Politics within the context of life, life within the context of a community, a community within the context of a city, and so on...

But Roanoke has decided at some point that it wishes to form its own context for things. Like Victory Stadium, the Downtown area, and even the Airport.

The base concept for all these things seems to be "make do with what you have." We have an airport, and it's pretty good - but we don't want to talk about it getting bigger or more popular, so we tend to steer conversations away from it, with the exception of the occasional rumble of rumor.

For ages Victory Stadium was debated, studied, and beaten with a dead horse. But rather than act, it was easier to continue the status quo. And when someone finally decided to do something about it - even that took ages to accomplish. The problem of Victory Stadium was minimal within the context of the problems of Roanoke as a whole.

We still are living through the revitalization of downtown, and if things continue the way they are going - our grandkids might be as well. But the problem of Downtown Roanoke is highly important in the context of Roanoke as a whole.

And the problem of Roanoke as a whole is highly important within the context of the entire Roanoke Valley, and all of Southwestern Virginia.

It's the first place most businesspeople see when they come to scout an area, the initial impression of what Southwest Virginia is all about. And Roanoke shines like tarnished silver.

You know it could be better with a little effort and attention. But the attitude of "make do with what you have" prevails, and rather than striving to become the beacon that our Star is, we plod along - dimly gleaming in the darkness.

We could have had a vibrant downtown, with tons of opportunities - living, recreational, arts, and community - if the whole concept of downtown events had not been shoved off on one semi-committed group. If the city had allowed the residents more of a say in what events they wanted, or perhaps even allowed the citizenry to organize it's own events (without the assistance of that certain group), but instead - within the context of Roanoke, downtown events are welcomed with a flat underwhelming feeling, and much talk of "it could have been better..."

Roanoke continues to be the "Home of Missed Opportunities" because it's attempt at creating it's own context have put it out of sync with the rest of the state, nation, and world.

But what have you, status quo makes for a great retirement community, until someone puts out the wrong colored flowers. Then the seniors revolt. And yes, it can be that simply put.

Once again, I ask you - the citizenry of Roanoke to help me make the Star City shine again. Show them what this town is capable of, not what it's making do with.


Minneapolis, not Constantinople

Of the 7 sister cities Roanoke has, the one city that could be it's twin is not among them.

Case in point (via Lileks' The Bleat): "I didn’t grow up here, so I have no opinion. But I do know that
the tail-end of the streetcar era was not the finest moment in Mpls
history. The town had become tired, sooty and tumble-down. They razed most of it before it fell on its own, and that’s a
pity; if they could have propped it up for 15 years and rehabbed it,
downtown would be a different place. But wrecking balls and sleek
featureless skyscrapers had an erotic appeal to the technocrats, so out
with the flophouses and bum-bars, and in with a phlanx of noble,
logical, rational towers. Or, in the case of Minneapolis, a handful of
smaller buildings surrounded by acres of parking lots."

Much the same can be said of our dear Roanoke, and for comparison, I give you:


And yes, they even had trolleys too.

More posts to come.


For all you folks looking for the photo

it's gone. Like I said, 24 hours.

Now get over it, seriously.


From the BigLickReport.com

Thats not what I call stepping out of the shower. It does appear harmless though, and really not what I would consider a breach of contract. Actually, I know quite a few swarthy men who could use a breach like this.

No, I don't have the whole photo - and I don't want it. Unless he's wearing pants - then I will be really confused.

Thanks to the BigLickReport.com for the image.


Is it really that unexpected?

Jamey Singleton no longer part of Storm Team 10

BREAKING NEWS: WSLS management issued a statement saying that Singleton violated the morals clause of his contract.

Something to do with photographs distributed via e-mail, something about a video on a myspace page that doesn't exist anymore..

Rest assured, the full details will be known in short time - the weekend is upon us, and I am sure someone will give me details.

But maannnnn, Karen - if I were you, I'd send my resume over to DBJ right quick. SLS is collapsing around itself, and I know I would not want to be caught in the middle of it.


Building Empires

There's a time for explaining and a time for acting, and the iron is just beginning to warm, so I guess now would be a good time for explaining.

Where have I been as of late? Short answer, working. Long answer, not working nearly as much as I would like.

There is something about the fall that makes me want to grab a book and read obsessively, which is exactly what I did for the past few weeks - Gregory Maguire's Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, and Son of a Witch.

Interesting reads, both - he has a very different sense of Oz than the one most people are familiar with. If you have ever seen "Return to Oz", which is more aligned with the books, or read any of the series (yes, it was a series - not just a musical), then you'll immediately understand - but not grasp - the world of Maguire's Oz.

So that was that. I have also been bothering my poor keyboard with writings (some hinted at, and some not), stretching even the capabilities of OpenOffice to it's limits.

I have also been cross referencing and 'tagging' some of my archived historical works from Roanoke's past. Interestingly enough, I now believe I can pinpoint exactly when the city changed from a regular Mayor-led city to this bizzare City Manager/City Council polyglot we have - now I just need to find out why.

As the weather turns colder, well - more constantly cold anyway, and that most dreaded of all holidays (for some) arrives, I get electric. Expect more in the way of postings, podcasts, updates, and novelties than ever.

Oh, and the infamous ChefK of Roanoke has his old blog back again. I'm not sure how it happened, but somehow I wrested control away from him - but I signed a legally binding paper saying I would keep my hands off it. So go check in on him from time to time - please. Bad enough I have to work with him, much less get harassed on a daily basis about "how many hits do you have?" and "what, no post today Einstein?"

One step at a time, we are all building empires.

For all you Firefox users

Performancing is now working again with Blogger Beta, and this is the test post.

Just thought you should know.

If you don't use performancing, get with it - will you?


Electoral Diatribe

So I know, considering the last election cycle - especially the city elections, I was all gung-ho and loud-mouthed. This time, not so much.

If there is one thing I have learned in my years of following politics, its the simple fact that regardless of who is in power where - things really don't change much. It takes a heck of a lot to truly affect change in this country.

Perfect example, the Clinton administration. History will judge the legacy, but facts show that overall - the actual legislation and policies effected during the Clinton era were minimally effective. What was far more effective, and this will not be recorded in anything but popular psychology journals, was the mental factor of the age.

The Internet was riding high on a wave of investing, developing, and euphoria as it was taken with its own successes. The latest revolution in finances was something called "e-trading", which enabled people to act as their own brokers for the stock market. Never before had so many people realized so much money by producing nearly nothing.

It all looked great on paper. And those "on paper" figures are exactly what held the attention of the public. The real books were hidden along with the Enron books in some deep dark vault. And when they finally came to light - things were not so rosy, but still the optimistic attitude continued on, and while some people lost it all - many gained more. Enough to inflate every market - from homes and land, to internet real estate and domain names.

The mindset is more important than the deeds or words of any single politician.

What has changed this election? The mindset of America is polarized, for the moment. On one side you have those who worry, fret, and grumble about the situation in Iraq. On the other, you have those who realize there is little to do here for those serving other than support them, and attempt to make this a place they will be proud to come home to.

One side believes that day to day life is less important than the big picture, while the other believes the big picture is only realized through day to day life.

It's more an election of thought than of reason, as most are historically. No one has ever been elected on a platform of raising taxes - they have been, however, elected based on promises of more frequent garbage pick-ups, more officers patrolling the streets, better incentives for large businesses to move to the area. But the unspoken pot these things are all paid out of is taxes. Weather from you or a corporation, taxes foot the bill for all the public service things you and your neighbors desire.

Using Roanoke as an example, the real estate taxes on the HQ most likely could pay for 2 police officers to patrol for 2 days in a car. Combine the taxes paid by all the neighbors, and you might have enough to cover a murder investigation. The garbage collection for the entire street might be paid for by 4 houses, but the actual labor costs/fuel/upkeep cost probably another 2-3 houses worth of taxes. And I'm talking that yearly total taxes, not the quarterly amount.

That should be the crux of an election, but instead - we get distracted by the novel and salacious. The point is, we pay more attention to that stuff because that sets the tone for our attitudes about life. If someone gets elected, for example, that has no ties to public service other than marrying into the right family - but they are attractive and say the right things to make us think that everything is just as we want it.

But if someone comes from a solid background in service, but talks about the need for more money to fill the public coffers and provide the services needed to make a city run - it's dead certain that you lose.

So this election, it doesn't interest me. Besides - it's only a few years before the next one, when "OH NOES!!!" things may change yet again.

What I have my eye on is the local election cycle. The Overlord awaits.


Call me a sucker, but...




12/1-12/3 at the Civic Center. 4 shows. Most expensive tickets are $33 and directly on the floor.

From there, it's $26, $18, and $15 for the "nosebleed" seats.


Roanoke, welcome to the information NOW age.

Amazing how one little concept, one giant companies abilities, and a host of links can equal up to the greatest revolution to hit Roanoke since the birth of the "One newspaper to rule them all."

I only wish I could take credit, but not me this time.

Credit LotzOThoughtz with the merging of form and function.

The idea?

Southwest Virginia Blog Search

Pick a topic, any topic - Mill Mountain for example, and search across blogs from exclusively the Southwestern Virginia area. What blogs? Nearly EVERY blog from the area, including mine (thank you very much), the blogs at WDBJ, and every other one Mr. Thoughtz was able to dig up.

Give it a try, or use it for research.

I endorse it!


Dirty Rats

Yep - you have all seen the news by now about Henry County Sheriff Cassell and his Dirty Dozen, not to mention the involved civilians.

One word for them - Scumbags.

Scumbags for betraying the public trust, for wasting taxpayers time and money, scumbags.

But in every group of scumbags, theres always the leader - the dirty rat. And to think the man who held the nation's eyes during the Jennifer Short investigation was the Dirty Rat of the tribe.

Elected, respected, and infected by corruption.

I hold no qualms about calling out a scumbag when I see one. And the Roanoke City PD, like every other PD on the face of the planet, has it's share.

I won't go into details because it's not worth it really. It's all circumstantial and petty anyway. But one bad experience with a cop is enough to taint the whole force.

I know there are a lot of honest, hard working, respectable cops - I have personally met quite a few of the absolute Finest Roanoke has to offer. But it only takes one dirty cop, one scumbag to set an entire population against the very people is looks to for protection.

Witness the NYPD, an organization I practically grew up in, and how badly they suffered during the "Serpico" years, and how they suffer still. A portion of the public is decidedly NOT supportive of them, and some are downright hostile.

I hope that the Roanoke PD can police itself better than the NYPD could back in the day... I sure know some Cops who have earned the respect of the citizens, at least this one.


It's Halloween

And theres more flakes in Roanoke than in December.

But I digress..

The reason for no Haunted Roanoke this year is simple - no time to investigate haunting sites when I'm knee deep in planning for 2007 - the Year of the Star.

To read the news today is to half-believe Halloween is nothing more than another Psychic Fair gone wild. Folks, there is very little different about this day than any other - haunting wise. The difference is that we are all a little more inclined to believe - which is not a bad thing.

But it's Halloween, so enjoy it.


Some good news today in the Kate Moss sized paper

Just thought I would point out some of the good in todays paper.

First off - more Greenways!

A letter to the editor in support of the Zoo, which is always nice to see.

And finally, it's called a block party - and people have been having them for generations, but it's nice to see someone have one here.

More later, as conditions warrant.


A little motivational help

posted poster

For those of you who aren't sure what true success is, here's a little help. Courtesy of my basset.


Oh Noes!!!!

Roanoke makes Fark.com, again. And again for our silly Santa issue at Valley View.

How bad is it? Here's the headline: Last year, mall Santa was facing Victoria's Secret. This year, mall officials punish Santa, facing him towards Old Navy. Poor Santa - two months of screaming kids, and they take away his only pleasure

This cannot go well for us here in Roanoke, if you know anything about Fark. I just hope the servers at DBJ can take the hit.

HOWEVER, it does launch a new tag for me. The OH NOES tag..

Anytime anything "Fark-worthy" appears in the local news, you will find it labeled as OH NOES.


That's what happens inside a maze; the faster you go - the more entangled you become.

I am beginning to realize that the City of Roanoke, and all it encompasses is much like the house described in the book House of Leaves.

In the book, the house itself is 1/2 an inch larger on the inside than it is on the outside.

For example, if your house was 30x60 - and you went around and measured every inside wall, added them up - and came out with 30.25 x 60.25, but then went outside and measured - and came up with 30x60 even, you'd be a little suspicious.

Well, there's quite a bit to the city of Roanoke that makes one suspicious. But all in all, it's still a great place to live.

Just thought I would mention that as I realize that much like that house, the city itself is larger than you realize. I can tell you in all my stomping around this fair city of ours, taking photographs and poking around dusty corners - there are still parts of the city I have not even come close to exploring. And that even includes the downtown area.

I have yet to set foot in the old city cemetary, but am making arrangements to do so soon.

I extend this notion of it being larger than it seems to the new HQ of Forgotten-Roanoke.com.

Each time I think I have the area pretty well memorized, I notice something different. A former storefront now converted into a home here, a garage that was suited for carriages there..

Little things.

I'd like everyone to experience this with me, so I'm going to tell you about a program the City offers to potential residents, unlike anything I've heard of before.

It's called the MAP Program - or Mortgage Assistance Program. It's the city's way of helping you buy your first home, or your first home in a while.

As long as you are buying with the intent of living in, NOT renting, and meet certain criteria (which actually aren't all that hard to meet) - the City of Roanoke will give you down payment and closing costs for your home. How? Well, it's actually a loan - of up to $8,000, for nearly any home in the city (up to a certain high amount in price, I believe it was over $150k) to help with your downpayment and closing costs. A ten-year loan that assures them that if you try and flip the house (stupid idea anyway), they will get back the money they loaned you. But each year you live in the house, the city forgives 10% of it. Now, that sounds great, but there are hurdles.

First off, you have to find a real estate agent who knows something about the program. Very few do, even less understand it. Why? There are certain stipulations which have to be written into the contract because of the MAP program - especially if they are awaiting funding to clear.

2nd, and can be the biggest hurdle, lead paint assesment. By HUD standards, the city will only fund a home which has cleared a lead paint test. And by that I mean, "if the paint's chippin' - it must be lead" type thing.

They do this for 2 reasons. One, to protect any children who might be living in the house, and 2 - any children that might be visiting the house, playing outside the house - anywhere there might be chips of lead paint. Because we all know kids love the taste of... everything apparently.

So once you have your lead paint inspection, you'll most likely be told there is lead paint. Do not lose heart. Simple remediation is all it takes to clear the reinspection.

In our case, the garage still had it's original windows (as do most of the homes themselves in our area), and with the ancient paint peeling off behind storm windows, they could not properly test - so it must be lead paint. Oh yes, we were irked.

We worked out a deal with the home owners to come and take care of it ourselves, and we did just that. Slapped a new coat of scrub-paint on the ground floor windows, and ripped out the 2nd floor ones leaving the storm windows in place. No window, no paint. No problem - we passed the reinspection and closed on the home.

Now, as good as all this sounds - there is one other key factor to think about. Your mortgage.

I don't care who you are, or what you do - if you can qualify, go to the VHDA for your mortgage. As of right now, rates are at 5.625% on a 30 year. AND they have programs to help you out too.

But wait - there's more. Most banks have a VHDA authorized mortgage agent on staff, and if not - I can give you the name of one. Just contact me with any questions. Now, one thing you might want to ask about when you sit with the mortgage person is what they call "targeted zones." I had no idea what they were talking about, but boy was I thankful we happened to choose a home in a targeted zone.

Basically, if you choose to buy in a targeted zone, VHDA waves certain requirements - drops one full point off your interest rate, and gets rather excited about filling another house in an area that needs it.

To get the ball rolling on this, you can do one of 3 things. Contact a mortgage representative, like say.. Debbie Heath at First Citizens bank(540985-0271).. or a real estate agent who knows the MAP program.. (Liz Edlich - 540-353-1011), or call Angie Williamson at the MAP office - 853-5647

Tell them all Forgotten-Roanoke.com sent you.


The answer?

Hell if I know, but I like it anyway.


Allright, it's not public yet. But watch the video. And drool. Endlessly in anticipation.


Not so breaking news

Well, if you noticed - they released some more information on the dead woman in the river on Saturday. Name, age.. the rest.

They have still left out the one piece of information that, the one that makes this whole case interesting.

Gunshot wound to the head.

My sources tell me, anyway, that it was not a random place to put a bullet. This was not an accidental shooting, at any rate.

When the police report comes back, we will all know more.

Told you it was exciting.


Breaking news: It's not what you know, it's what you say.

Today's article on the Times is headlined "Passer-by finds woman's body in Roanoke River." Yesterday's breaking news.

Now, one would think that considering it's not all that often one finds a body in the river (at least not here) that you might want to release a bit more information than just that.

I mean, there's nothing in the article that says anything of substance.

But I know what they know and aren't saying yet. I have my sources just as they do. Well, should - as I don't truly know if they have any inside sources.

If nothing is released by Monday morning, I will have to scoop the newspaper/tv reporters and drop the bomb on this story.

And wouldn't that be sad, for a citizen to scoop the press.

Just don't call me Drudge.


City Council berates Housing Board

Interesting the past few days worth of news concerning the Housing Board, Bev Fitzpatrick, and the Roanoke Times.

Funny how the publisher of the Times is stepping down, right as the "all the news that doesn't offend" paper launches a massive attack.

But seriously, is there one person in Roanoke who actually believes the City Council's claims of "had we only known..." Makes me wonder if all this morning fog we have been having lately is natural.

And guess what, in any other city - NY/LA/Chi - any city anywhere, grant money is often given to things that seem unrelated to the grant itself. It's common practice for anti-drug monies to go to groups that put on anti-drug plays in schools. Yes, it's a bit unusual for HUD monies to go to that, but considering WHAT was done with the money - it's not that unusual. That money went to buy some equipment, and a play which was performed FOR those very (as the normally absent Mr. Wishneff put it) "our poorest population..."

Sometimes things are not always what they seem, and sometimes they are just that.

Do I believe Bev is guilty of anything - not without serious evidence. Look at Bev's history, and see that all his life has been spent on boards and in business' that would appear to have conflicts of interest. From what I've seen - Bev is a professional who knows how to keep the two seperate, unless theres a damn good reason to go ahead with it.

But nice to know our City Council allows a board IT appoints to operate with complete autonomy - so much so that they are just hearing of things from 3 years ago.


Sneak peek

This is a sneak peek at what's been going on behind the scenes here at Forgotten-Roanoke.com

Several times in my life I have started writing a story, only to lose interest midstream. Once or twice did I ever see it through to completion. This blog, and the website are the longest running active project I have ever taken part in.

But I have an idea thats been gnawing at me for over 2 years now. There's a play/screenplay roaming my head. Based here in Roanoke, the Roanoke of the recent past, and today. This is the first page.


A production from the minds of Forgotten-Roanoke.com

  • Scene 1. Setting: Campbell and Market, Saturday December 28th, 1985 7:45pm – still struggling to recover from the flood the previous month, downtown wears its stains with pride. Camera slowly pans the marketplace.

*Unseen male voice: “Nurse, why was I asked to leave the room, and whats going on in there?”

*Unseen female voice: “Sir, there were some serious complications with the delivery. Your wife lost a lot of blood. The child, pardon me – Your son, was trapped inside for a while.”

*man: “I.. I have a son? Is everything ok, is my wife alright?”

*nurse: “Yes, you have a son – and he seems to be alright. The doctor will be out in a little while to give you the full report.”

*man: “But... what about my wife, is she ok?”

*nurse: “The doctor will be able to answer that better than I can.”

*man: sharp exhalation

*Doctor: “Mr. Jahns, I'm sorry. Your wife did not survive the birth. Your son did. Although we need to run some tests. I can give you the full details in my office, or would you like to speak to the chaplain first?”

*man: “I want to know what happened.”

cut scene to vendor stalls down Market – man huddled on corner of Kirk and Market, sobbing quietly into his coat on the empty street. Flags rustle in the wind, as the man begins to walk to Williamson – stops to look up at the Star – aglow in white. For a moment, he hesitates, then begins his walk back to the hospital.


Thats the first page.

Days off, days on, and days in between

Yeh - I got a day off today - so I've been working on a podcast for you all - and with any luck - I'll have it posted by tomorrow morning. I know its been a while.

Been a while for alot of things, but we are moving slowly back in that general direction.

Question, who did Bev Fitzpatrick piss off at the Times to garner this kind of "hard investigative reporting" from the newspaper with the unofficial motto of "offend no one"? And why Bev, when there are others in the Municipal Building with far far worse offenses?

Question, as noticed in the past few weeks with all these "Walks to cure ____" that have been happening around town, why is it you can walk to solve a problem - but not to the corner store for something? Maybe there would be more neighborhood grocers if you would.. just a thought. Not that I have any experience in micro-economy commernce. Nope.

Question, Paradox is now 202 Market, but not really. Paradox's main entrance is still on Campbell Ave. Is the 202 Market a ploy to "upscale" the place? And should we be worried about these secret new menus. Is Roanoke about to get priced out of the Market Area again?

Ok - enough questions. How about a little ol' "Behind the Scenes" moment here. I doubt very much any of you really paid attention when I talk about "secret projects" and such - but if you think back, I did mention one that would be up-coming this winter (with any luck). I will be releasing a sneak preview later today. It will be here, on the blog. Check back later this afternoon for more.


Just proof it COULD be worse

I might not like the design of the new Art Museum, but I am thankful I don't live in Denver (for many reasons).

This thing is downright dangerous.

In retrospect, I guess maybe our museum is not all that horrible. At least it's not as intrinsically dangerous.


Rails and Resources: Half dozen of the other...

Perhaps some of you read the story in today's business section of the Roanoke Times. An interesting look into some "behind the scenes" at the growth Norfolk Southern has made in the past few years, why and how.

The one resource missed by the article, one which can be easily shipped in double-stacked cars, the most obvious choice for rail transport.


All through the Transportation Meeting at the Hotel Roanoke in the past few weeks, the Governor's speeches and all the rest - much has been made about intermodal rail transport in Virginia. But there was no reported mention of the TransDominion Express.

For those of you who did not hear, or have forgotten since the last time the major media players around here saw fit to mention the project, TransDominion Express started as the basic idea of brining high-speed commuter rail from Bristol to Washington, D.C. in the space of a day or less. And when the numbers were run, models showed the run could be made in 8 hours, provided rail traffic allowed.

This would require agreements from Norfolk Southern and CSX to get the slotted time on the rails. It would also require major funding from the state and federal levels - for the equipment and such. Most of all, it would require renovations to the rails themselves - an upgrade to be capable of handling high-speed commuter rail.

There is some momentum for this, but it is hidden behind the curtain of commercial rail. Not widely reported, other states are interested in moving ahead with the project and gaining rail service. Tennesse is very interested in having the TDX run through to Nashville - creating a regional rail service similar to Amtrak.

This is the projected, working model route map for the TDX.

Amtrak has not served Roanoke since the early 1980's. The Virginian was swallowed by Norfolk Western. For a town with not one, but TWO grand rail stations - it is a shame that there is no constant rail service. The TDX would give the entire region a boost. If you look at the map above - you'll see that Roanoke would be considered large enough a stop to be staffed full-time. Lynchburg also. Which means they consider Roanoke and Lynchburg to be major destinations along the line.

We all know the rebirth Lynchburg is undergoing, and we can see daily the changes here in Roanoke. We all want to succeed, and for the city to do well also. We have this new Art Museum going up right next to the tracks, we have a grand hotel right next to the tracks, we have a Visitor's Welcome Center/Dual Museum right ne.. no wait - that's the old station. Ok - well it's still right next to the tracks.

Communting from Roanoke to Lynchburg, or Lynchburg to Bedford, or a game-day trip to Charlottesville from Wytheville and back need not be a chore. Nor would it need to be a budget-buster. And for school field trips to the Nation's Capitol, what could be easier than a same day trip regardless of weather or traffic accidents.

Commerce between the cities would boom, people would have the option of going to see a play at the Mill Mountain Theatre, checking out a band at Cattle Annie's, or head to class at Radford - all by rail.

Building an ampitheatre in Roanoke would generate a ton more interest if college students could leave their cars (if they have one) at the campus and hitch a ride to the show. Plus, it would remove some of the concertgoers off the roads, easing congestion into and out of the parking lots.

Passenger rail would be a win-win for the entire service area. I have not even touched upon the gains both from and to the DC area, and Nashville. We are talking about a single act that would change the course of life here in the Commonwealth.

But it sits on the backburner till the next legislative session, or till the current "transportation crisis" is ended. Actually, short of public outcry - I don't forsee the TDX gaining any slice of the media pie for a long time. There is no drama in attemping to bring a service to people who actually want it. The drama is in making our roads look like deathtraps. Or our state legislators seem like corporate fatcats (which in some cases may be true) in the pocket of the rail shipping industry. But aside from "public opinion polls" and street interviews, where is the regular man being represented? The call for commuter rail has yet to reach the ears of the media, or the halls of the government.

Maybe it's time to make them hear it.

Use this simple form to find your state legislator, and hound them about the TDX. Ask the hard questions. Push for what you want. But think wisely, with the influx of people moving into the Southwestern Virginia area, how long will it be before traffic is a "New York Nightmare?"

And if you feel so inclined - give a few of the reporters over at the Times a buzz, and ask them why they are not asking the Government leaders about commuter rail in our area. Those numbers you can find easily - they are listed by each reporters name on every story they do.

Think about it, shouldn't a railtown like Roanoke have easily access to.. well, you know.. rail?


A mission

I haver a small mission for you all.

2 years ago there was a "Haunted Roanoke" tour being offered by Center in the Square. It was a bus ride around Roanoke on Halloween night, stopping at places like the City Cemetary.

The wife and I called to arrange a reservation on the tour, only to find out that it had been cancelled due to "lack of interest."

(540) 342-5700

Call them. This is exactly the kind of thing that makes a Halloween great (now that Im too old for Trick or Treating anyway.)

Coming next week, a post on Haunted Roanoke. A topic which I frequently mean to get back to, but rarely do.


Allright folks, summer is officially dead and gone. When evening lows start hitting 35, and the words "wind chill" comes creeping back in the door - you know its over.

And of course, it also means the return of the "Ick."

The Ick was roaming around last year - making people ill, but not ill enough for weeks on end. Perhaps you had it? Perhaps you just knew people who did. Allready I am seeing signs of the Icks resurgence.

Possibly even in myself.

I was lucky - and generally am when it comes to viral illnesses, they rarely affect me. I had no Ick. I generally tend to be sick for 28 hours, not including 10 hours of sleep - then perfect again, back to my old perky self.

I'm not feeling so perky.... So keep me in your thoughts, pray I don't have the Ick - that it's just a regular bug. I can lose a day of work, but I cannot tolerate weeks of ill humor.

Besides - if Im off for a day (imagine that!) I just might be able to get something done around here.


Ladies and Gentlemen, there will be a slight delay...

Yep, but we are getting closer to being normal again. Hopefully by next week there will be a podcast once again. HOWEVER, the one problem that I am having as of late - being as busy as I am, I look to the newspaper to give me the day's local stories. And there have been none.

Suprisingly, this little note seems to go without much consideration:

ROANOKE, VA - Centex Construction will close Norfolk Avenue, SE
(between 3rd Street, SE and Market Street) at 9 a.m. Monday, Oct. 23,
until May 2008 to allow for the construction of the art museum.

I signed up for the MyRoanoke e-mail service, Im sure someone at the times did as well. I would like to know who did the studies, the surveys, and allowed a city-owned and maintained road to be closed for such a long time. Nevermind there is more than enough traffic on it as a one-lane road, closing it will reroute all that traffic to Salem Ave, which - Oh, also goes infront of the construction site - and has been closed a few times for the construction.

As I said, Im not calling shenanigans on this (not yet anyway), but I have a feeling most people would be curious to know HOW a street can be closed for such a long period - and who allows it. More importantly though, the big WHY.

Well - off once again to do my thing.. passing right by that construction site.

If you have not been down to see the site, you should - in a nutshell, it's not nearly as big as you thought it would be.


Promissory Note

I, the writer; owe you, the reader; the following:

1 - decent post on something interesting.
4- rambling posts about seemingly nothing.
1 - podcast (new sponsor has been signed, Pole Shoppe)
1 - perfectly viable and user friendly site design.

I cannot promise anything spectacular in the next few days. Maybe I'll have something decent for you on Sunday. In the meantime - everyone out for the Market Harvest Festival tomorrow.. and Sunday for the Latino festival.

What does this mean? Fall is here, and its time for some good warm filling food, cozy nights with the family - and warm jackets. Jackets? Oh yes folks - this means the reappearance of the Forgotten-Roanoke.com jacket! You Too can easily spot your humble webmaster/overlord in my travels all over this town as I will be wearing the Forgotten-Roanoke.com jacket once again.

Last time it was public was a limited engagement back when the Lonesome Dove was torn down. Yes, it's been that long.

So keep your eyes peeled for the Forgotten-Roanoke.com jacket - or the handy Forgotten-Roanoke.com Bag which the wife models attractively. We always like meeting the public, and I enjoy it twice as much when your not trying to attack me for something I've said.

So there you go - weekends here, enjoy the nice cool weather and watch the trees. It's time.



On the 800th post, a reflection.

No matter how interesting or important I find what I and my fellow Roanoke-based bloggers may write, no matter how thought-provoking and earth shaking I think my writings are - there's always better out there.

This is the time that I can give a few rounds of applause for those who inspired me in my hobby/obsession.

Lilek's The Bleat. M-F observations on.. well, just about anything that flares up in the life of a sort-of middle-aged writer.

IMAO. Frank J originally was alone in this, but since has added some of the finest voices in comedo-political-sociopathic blogging.

Kevin Walsh's Forgotten-NY.com - the inspiration for the seemingly hiatused Forgotten-Roanoke.com.. which is not truly on hiatus, Im just unhappy with the site design and interactivity.

Rhett over at RoanokeFire.com - my co-conspirator on organizing the scene for blogging (and social revolution, regardless of what he says) here in the 'Noke.

But the real reason I post this list is to highlight one blogger in particular. One which came quite unexpectedly to my attention.

There are quite alot of avenues that blogging can take, from the personal to the professional - the political to the paid advertisements. Blogging is mostly about sharing, information and revelations, but sometimes - there's one that blows you away with it's depth.

This is it. It has not been around very long, and is limited in scope, but remains one of the best written blogs I have ever read. Few people can write about any topic with such depth and emotion, and I am humbled.

So this is the 800th post, with an *. The * is for the fact it is not a true Roanoke post, that will come later.

Thanks to all my readers, with any luck the site will be back to full strength in a matter of weeks, the blog will carry on it's mission, and the Star City will shine once again.


1 Post away from another milestone

Can you imagine, it's been over a year now (first post on this version of the blog was 3/16/05) and Im on the verge of writing my 800th post?

But all that aside, I was unable to get to the city council meeting at 2pm today to stand up and speak up for the Mill Mountain Zoo. If anyone reading was there, please let me know how it went. I'm sure there will be more opportunities for public discourse in the future. However, that does not take the impetus off the public, to band together and support the Zoo.

In other news, Chef K informes me there are some interesting rumblings downtown - what with all the closings of late. He will have more on that later in the week, when his (and my week) in hell quiets down a bit.

We are in the process of lining up a sponser for the Fall/Winter season of Podcasts, and gearing up for the top secret project slated for a December release.

Interesting news today about the regional study on an ampitheatre. So the area is capable of handling one with a capacity of 7,000. I think we are better than that. Sure, maybe 7,000 right now - but consider how many people the Greek festival attracted. How many does Floyd Fest attract yearly?

I think the area can easily handle a 20,000 capacity ampitheatre, provided Roanoke has the sense to use the ampitheatre in a responsible and viable way.

Thats right, the city would have the onus upon them to actually step up and find uses for the ampitheatre. Graduations, ceremonies, live stage productions (a la "in the round" style theatre), movies... multiple use facilities.

Any ideas? Comments? Hit me back with something..

Awaiting word of the Zoo's fate...


Is there another Regency Room in Roanoke?

Remember in the last post I told you how I would pass along some of the reports ONLY if they served the public interest, if there was something that I felt the public needed to know?

Well apparently, that sparked someone's interest. I received an e-mail which I understand has bounced and bounced around this fair city. In certain channels anyway.
It just reveals a darker side of City Ha.. Municipal Building politics, and that maybe those of you who voted for change, voted for the MTD ticket, might have been played for suckers.

I will not reprint the entire text here, just a few lines.

From the e-mail: "Mayor Nelson Harris informed Democratic City Chair C W**d that the group he leads who backed the successful "Independent Democrat" ticket in the recent City Council election is going to "take control of this Party." "We won, and we're going to run things," was his explicit message, angrily delivered. "

State Party Chair Cranwell put the brakes on the "movement," making clear that the duly elected City Committee and local Party officers could not and would not be removed simply because some people, including many who didn't even attend the reorganizational meeting last December where there votes would have produced a different outcome, were unhappy with the results of the election. He told them basically that, if you want to have control, you have to participate."

Chair C W**d asserted that the Wednesday meeting had been a "set up" for her, since she was the only person associated with the losing slate of Democratic Council nominees who was invited to the meeting, whereupon in the presence of several people L replied that no, the meeting was instead a set-up for Nelson Harris, who had made a fool of himself. Everyone knew that was very disingenuous, since L is the one who for weeks has been contacting leaders of the Independent movement one-by-one seeking to find out what it would take to get those folks active in regular Democratic Party affairs, and the answer he uniformly got was, "First, you'll have to get rid of your Chair, C W**d.""

Behind the scenes, and reported straight. Unlike some of the other individuals who have also received this e-mail.

Perhaps we should prepare a coronation ceremony for Mayor cum Emperor Harris, or perhaps we should just ignore it as more politics. Make up your own mind.