Zoo News

Zoo's all abuzz with bevy of upgrades
Great things happening at my favorite zoo.

I was considering doing an April Fools post, but this is much more important. On a day like today, the most stunning place one can be is up Mill Mountain - and why not hit the zoo while your up there? It's inexpensive, a great place for a stroll, and you couldn't ask for a better experience.

I have been to the Zoo many times, but still not as many as I wish.

Go Zoo.. Go Wild.


Attention Citizens

The Podcast is being delayed until Monday, as I am working on a developing story for it.

Not that it's anything truly important, Im just going to be trying something new and different out. Well, I hope to anyway.

As for the weekend, Forgotten-Roanoke will be out and about Saturday Morning - provided the weather holds up.. Personally, Im hoping for some nice thunderstorms tonight - I mean, I know its only a 60% chance - but Im hopeful.

Otherwise, enjoy the weather folks.. it's too nice out not to.


busy day today..

I aint got time to bleed, well - not till later anyway. See you all then


For those of you looking online for the Roanoke Wanted list:

You can find it here: RoanokeGov.com

Dont be scared by the mugshots..

An open letter to the City Council and the Old Southwest Council

As we near election time, and 3 of your precious seats are up for grabs, I would like to share a find with you. While out and about doing the principal photograpy for the newest page over at Forgtten-Roanoke.com, I stumbled across something which I would like to hold up as a symbol of Old Southwest, and the commitment by both the City Council, and the Old Southwest Inc. group.

The corner which many years ago was scene of a horrible and brutal lynching, the stone steps which we all see as we travel down Franklin Rd, an empty lot which is worth more than 1/3rd of the houses in Roanoke.. and this:

A hypodermic syringe. On the wall, not more than 2 feet from the lovely belgian brick sidewalk, 5 feet from traffic. Down the street from how many churches and the big synagogue.. a place where people walk daily with children, some infants in strollers.

I will tell you this, I did not remove the syringe - it is still where I found it. I will check this weekend to see if it has moved or not.

What does this mean? If you look closely at the syringe, you will see it was not tossed into the brush on the empty lot, it was placed there. Which means someone had to be on those stairs USING the syringe, and regardless of wether it was day or night, they would have been somewhat visible.

Mountain Ave is part of the Old Southwest Historic District, not just the pretty houses and parks. Its the dirty and seamy side of Roanoke as well as the old and expensive.
For someone who would use right out in the open, they must feel safe. They must feel no fear. Which is why I am calling on the City Council and the Old Southwest community to cease the endless nit-picking over paint schemes and fence heights and focus on cleaning up the area. Old Southwest is supposed to be a model of what historic Roanoke looked like, a place of pride in ones homes and the surroundings. The district extends from Jefferson to Ferdinand, Marshall to Bluff - a massive area that includes some of the toughest sections in Roanoke.

Yet it would appear that the only area which truly matters are centered around Walnut/Highland Park area.

"Many unique homes were razed for urban development; others were cut up
into apartment units or inappropriately remodeled, adding the area's
woes."(from the website for oldsouthwestinc.) Many more are still existing that way.

"The recognition of Old Southwest as a whole community rather than
single buildings is a new approach to preservation and reflects the
sense of “togetherness” which has saved and revitalized the
neighborhood’s individual homes and buildings, streetscapes, and
landscapes." (website again) Thats all well and good, but what about the people? Are we more focused on the structures than the occupants within?

The needle was not in a haystack, it was not hidden away in someone's car - it was in plain sight of anyone walking along the "pleasant shady walkways."

To the City Council, I ask that you stop allowing those associated with Old Southwest Inc. to cloud the issue of "quality of life" by confusing it with "quality of paint." I wonder if the Old Southwest Safety Watch "Routine Safety Walks" include Elm Ave, Mountain Ave, and some of the other "less than perfect" areas. Or is it including, but not limited to a predefined area in which some problems have been noted, but not terribly serious or life threatening.

Suggestion: With some of the high-powered residents in OSW, perhaps it would be a good idea for them to band together and form a small LLC, for the sole reason of buying up the rental properties from the lamprey landlords. Make them a reasonable offer, and they might just bite - which would be a bonus for the community and the residents of the apartments. Of course, there is always the issue of compliance with the law. Im sure there are many ordinances which some landlords could and should be charged with violating. Just a thought.

But back to the idea of the needle. I feel comfortable walking around in nearly every part of this city (the ones I have walked in anyway.) I consider myself to be a law abiding citizen. But apparently Im not the only one feeling comfortable, as it would seem as evidenced by the beer bottles, the cigar fillers (ask someone under 30 if you need an explination on that one), and now this needle.

If the city can have a parking policeman who can make it from downtown at the Market to King George Ave. in short time to ticket those parked beyond the limit, why not have a few regular police ride around in the scooters to scope out and ticket/summons those walking around with beer in their hands, or landlords who refuse to clean up the property - vacant or not. Apply some pressure and watch them scatter like roaches when the lights come on.

It's a nice thing to have a attractive, historic city - however the effort is hardly worth it when you find something like this. Take a good long look at the photo, let it sink in. And realize this one was obvious - how many of them are hidden from view.

It's up to the City Council, and OSW,inc. to take this situation into hand and get it under control. Or the next needle might just wind up in someones foot as they walk down the tranquil, tree-lined streets of Old Southwest.


So you mean it wasn't me?

Well, color me shocked. I mean, a mere week or two after I posted my photos of the old Virginia Railway station, orange fencing shows up, tresspassing signs are posted.

But it was not me.

The station's ornate tile roof is full of holes.(photo by Natalee Waters/Roanoke Times)

(photo by myself, pre-fencing)

Not me apparently, but better than that. The Virginian is poised for rebirth.

Read the story here, and decide if you wish to assist.

Score one for the good guys.


And now, for something completely different:


Thats right, go.. go home. You know you want to, besides - the new page is up. A slight derivation from my original intentions - but I felt the story contained within is something that needed to get done, therefore its done and overwith. Sure oneday when I am asked to write a psychological perspective on the history of Roanoke, I might revist the story - but that day is not today.

Well, read it, and let me know what you think. But remember, its just the beginning.

From Lileks.com, wisdom:

"But it’s a hard patch for Hennepin. I remember worse – far worse. But it reminds me that pulling for downtown – any downtown in a medium-sized city – sometimes feels like a luxury, a hobbyhorse, a game for nostalgia junkies who believe in some alchemic formula that will bring it all back to life. Sure, it was indispensable once; sure, everyone went downtown. Yes, this was the heart of the town, the big parade, the place where you got your first Sunday suit, got your teeth drilled, had an ice cream with mom in the department store, saw a lawyer, got drunk, met a girl, caught a movie in the balcony on a summer afternoon. This was it, brother.

But it isn’t anymore."

Mistah Lileks is referring to his downtown, in beautiful Minneapolis. Another place not unlike Roanoke. It too underwent a time of rebirth not too long ago, which has now slowed a bit. It would be interesting to see how many Roanokes there are out there. Judge which ones have been successful and why.

Providence, RI - Albany, NY - Detroit, MI - Canton, OH.., I'm sure the list is nearly endless. Each of these places has mixed success in the rebuilding of downtown, each has struggled to keep the heritage of its past alive, while attempting modernization and building a legacy for the future.

See Roanoke, your not alone after all. Just need to look around.

Interesting perspective from James Lileks


Hey Folks

Page will be launching tomorrow, as I had some unexpected excitement here at the temporary HQ (Props to Roanoke County PD) and am still in the midst of uncovering some heavy information about the area in question.

This is the definition of Labor of Love folks..

Although if I were the City, I'd keep an eye on the blog tomorrow too - they are about to be called out. Bigtime.

See yall tomorrow!