Putting out an open call for Roanoke-based bloggers.

Any bloggers in Roanoke city/county that wishes to join the just-forming Star City Bloggers Alliance, get in touch - leave a comment - send an e-mail (email in profile, same as google talk name), flag us down on the street.

I've got at least 3 to start with, not including myself. Anyone else want to join?


Subtle differences

Since my post on the betrayal of the population of Roanoke by the city itself, I have have recieved much in the way of comment. Both on and offline. From those of a like age, I have been suprised to find much in the way of agreement. The younger express an interest, but not the full understanding. The older trend towards disbelief.

But all come together on the viewpoint that there are certain basics lacking here in Roanoke. Loyalty.

It seems a learned behavior to a certain extent. Businesses speak of loyalty, but do not practice it. As this article points out in todays Times, it is seemingly very hard to make friends today. Partly this is due to the compartmentalized world we live in now. But a large part of it is due to the fact that we don't connect anymore.

We used to connect at work, at church, at the bar... on the street, greeting a friend could take 10 minutes while you made conversation, inquired about life and the family, made plans - then finally you were on your way.

When was the last time you grabbed the crew and went up Mill Mountain to have a BBQ in the park (yes, the city does provide the grills - you provide fuel and food). It doesn't take much, but its an effort. And these days, few seem to feel the effort is worth it.

Sure, technology has made it easier to keep track of people, so you can get in touch with them when you want. But we fail to communicate.

My greatest frustration with the blog, the website, and everything else - I am always looking for more feedback - a 2 way conversation with the reader. I will eventually hit a wall in my findings, or am seeking a bit of information only someone with a family history in Roanoke might know. Or someone who works in the very building Im writing about.

I might get one or two e-mails once in a while, I usually respond - then no more.

If I started offering tours (an idea which I have toyed with), my biggest concern is having people say they will come, then not show. I could communicate till my head falls off, sometimes it just doesnt matter. And it's not just a Roanoke problem, its the 21st century.

Whats the saving grace of the larger cities? NY, LA, Chicago, Newark? Communities. Self-reliant, supporting communities. Built around church, neighborhood, parks, ethnic heritage, schools - but it all comes down to loyalty for place, an idea, something. Something to be loyal to. Where are the loyaties here?

Victory Stadium? Hardly. Downtown engenders loyalty to an extent. But not the same kind of loyalty I am talking about.

The biggest single item a large number of Roanokers are loyal to is the Star. It is our one commonality. Quietly they replaced the viewing platform, an upgrade that was not crowed about, advertised, and debated over. It was something we all knew was needed. Something no one should debate.

But the Star is all encompassing, its like saying your loyal to the Roanoke Valley. Roanoke has neighborhoods, but is anyone loyal to them? We are only loyal to our schools as long as we have children in them. And what about the local bars? Well, not many options for loyalty there.

In NY, you could have 4 bakeries in a neighborhood. People will be viciously loyal to one of them, and out of that loyalty is born kinship. Kinship, under the right conditions, leads to friendship.

It's a subtle difference between Roanoke and the other cities Roanoke strives to be. But an important one.

2nd thought for the day. Told you there might be another one.

Tis'/Tis' not

And who among us; world traveler, educated, laborer, parent, child...

who among us has not seen this once or twice in the their lives here.

Mill Mountain scraped by clouds, the Peaks of Otter, or the Appalchians raking the sky - who has not seen that?

We all have, so often so that we no longer notice it. Take a moment next time, and think about this:

This photo is not from Roanoke, or anywhere near Roanoke. Yet it is exactly the kind of photo one might take on vacation. Yet you can see it right here, at home.

This photo is from Donegal, Ireland. Courtesy of abiyoyo.com, thank you very much.
Looking on it, its not hard to see why Roanoke held such a grip on the settlers.

Sometimes we forget, no matter how far we have come, nor how far we go - the mountains are always with us. No matter how much we have (amwv, victory stadium), or how much we lose (flood of 1985, blizzard of 1881), the mountains are always with us.

Thats your friday thought for now. Something else might pop up later, you never know.


Podcast a day early

Kind of calm, relaxed. Enjoy. Discuss on the messageboard if you like.

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A long shot hit it big

News from The Roanoke Times-A long shot hit it big

In a related story, Mahatma Ghandi and the valedictorian for any high school ate alone last night.

So I guess if I kick the ball, throw the ball, or bounce the ball - I can be more popular than if I re-invent the ball? Even more popular than if I design the ball?

This is a life lesson folks, and your kids just learned a thing or two.


Hard Times on Williamson Rd.

Some of you older folks might remember Gill's Motor Court and Restaurant. Some of you younger ones might look at the sign and find it vaguely familiar.

Look at it again. The distinctive shape of it. The placement of the circle.

Get it yet?

Does this help? (courtesy GIS)

You still pass it every day. The Roma Restaurant and Motel. Abandoned for years on Williamson Rd. (4611). Well, nearly abandoned.

A year does not pass when, according to sources in the RCFD, there is not a fire from squatters in the main 'motel' building.

It's not unthinkable that the photographer for the Roanoke City GIS was leery of getting too close to the building, hence the shot from back by Queen Nails 3. There are many other angles from which a similar photo could be taken.

Gill's/Roma was built in 1940, consisting of roughly 14 rooms, an office, and a large restaurant. It offered a clean, hospitable nights rest to the weary traveler in the days before 581.

I can venture to guess what happened next. Gill's was most likely a family owned and operated venture, which came upon hard times and was sold. It reopened as the Roma, an Italian themed restaurant and motel. It did well enough for a while. But the advent of 581 put a serious crimp in the number of long-haul travelers who would be on Williamson Rd. So traffic increased, while business decreased. Whatever fate brought it to the point which we all see it at today, it exists as such. For sale, abandoned, squatted in, burned several times over, and ignored.

It has an owner, someone who should be taken to task for allowing it to exist in the condition its in. Someone who probably has either forgotten about the place, or is holding out for a higher price. In either case, the rest of the surrounding area suffers.

With an assessed value of just north of $440k, the fact that the buildings would need demolition (sadly, this includes the restaurant and sign), the land being higher in value than the buildings - at this point, the focus should have shifted away from getting highest price and towards extracting the property from Williamson Rd.

For the betterment of the surrounding business community, the local residents, and all of us that have to travel past it in our daily commutes.

Would that it have remained in the condition we see it as Gill's Restaurant and Motor Lodge, it would be a landmark. In the condition it is today, it has become an eyesore.

Remove the malignancy, and hope that the ground is fertile enough to support something other than another Car lot.

For the common good.

Bad enough 581 was closed off..

Apparently, so is my mind. Writers block yall.. Give me time, Im working it out.

Although this general dissatisfaction with the page Im building is taking its toll on me.

Again, give me time.

Im going to record a podcast today at some point - Im hoping that will get the brainjuices flowing.

Celebration marks Irish uprising

News from The Roanoke Times-Celebration marks Irish uprising

Jaysus, it's about time. Thank ya, Mr. Vitolo for hopefully starting a tradition.

If anyone knows Mr. Vitolo, thank him greatly for me. And as for his want to start an Irish-American group here in Roanoke, might I say some people have beaten him to the punch, although they could use the help of your two dozen or so friends.. http://www.aohroanoke.org/

God it feels good to know Im not the only unrepentant Feinian bastard around.

I've said it before though, Roanoke and Dublin are not all that different.


Mystery Guest, please sign in...

I just recieved this, via YouSendIt
It shows a clock, very much like the Colonial American Bank clock on the now HomeTown Bank building downtown.

Except this one is in Beckley, W. Virginia.

Postcard is captioned "Main Street, looking north. Beckley, WV."

And here I thought we were special.

Well, thank you whoever you are what sent this to me. I do appreciate it. If you care to make yourself known, I'd be much obliged. If not, thanks anyway. More fodder for the fire.

We've only just begun...

During my wanderings and ramblings downtown, I'm beginning to sense a non-election cycle based disquiet. Now I realize we are in the latter third of an election campaign, but alot of what I am hearing has little to do with the elections.

It would seem a good number of the citizens of Roanoke (aged 20-40ish) are realizing they have no voice in the city. With all the talk of "Who will think of the children??" and the older citizens grumbles about Victory Stadium and how this city will never compare to a real city like Charlotte.

I'm going to say something on behalf of all my fellow non-Baby Boomers out there.

You don't like it. Leave.

Many of the people I talk with, they are happy with the city. They love Roanoke and all it stands for, the history and the people. What they are not happy with is the way the city has been dragged over the coals by the local press, giving the impression this is some jerkwater burg where mud still flows in the streets, ignorant and uneducated citizens sit idly by while the few and rare educated elite attempt to guide the city towards the 21st century, despite the best efforts of the unwashed masses.

This is not so. There are thousands of hard working people here in Roanoke, who want only the best for the city. But after years of seeing the city bend to the will of the small minority of rich, well off businesspeople - they have given up on attempting to make any major changes.

The "conspiracy theory" of Carilion wanting to own this town bears out this point. Carilion is a business, and like any business wants expansion. Inherent in expansion is growth, for both the business and the community. Carilion is not outsourcing nursing jobs, importing nurses from other countries - they are hiring locally. As they are with the Maintanence staff, security, foodservice, housekeeping and all the rest. Growth for Carilion creates growth in the job market. Therefore it is incumbent upon the government to assist and aid Carilion in any way it can, to continue the growth.

Would anyone say no to NS building a new rail yard, complete with maintanence shops, if it would create 100 new jobs?

Certain people view Carilion as a great evil. A big corporation solely concerned with the profit it can generate. But they do so without recognizing the basics of life and business. First off - with a sick and dying population, there is no Carilion. The Hospital and its associated medical community would obviously not be doing its job, and therefore would fall to the wayside.

But who is Carilions closest competiton? Lewis-Gale. A hospital which was recently sold to HCA due to bankrupcy issues. Did Carilion lunge at the opportunity to buy out Lewis-Gale? If they did, I didn't see it. But to be honest, it would serve no purpose for them to do so.

So where is the big evil conspiracy now? Carilion is not building some now monolithic hospital where people formerly resided. About the only think Carilion has done is totally block access to Mill Mountain via the old Incline Railway, but an emergency room has to go somewhere.

There are many people who you do not hear from regularly, people who like Carilion and the work they do - and recognize the value of having such a "healthsystem" here. Charlottesville has one, but Charlottesville also has a university to support it. Roanoke does not, therefore we have Carilion. Any one of the local schools could choose to open a clinic wherever and whenever they wanted. That's a choice they make.

Everyone has a choice, you can either grow and compete in this market, or you can leave. You forfeit your voice when you choose stagnation. You betray the city, yourself, and your neighbors.

The 20-40 year olds have seen this stagnation for a good while now, and are tired of it. They are beginning to recognize the betrayal for what it is. Time is running out for you great thinkers, politicos and pundits, architects of change, and so-called leaders.

The 20-40 year olds are coming to the realization that they have been let down, and will no longer allow it to continue. You might not see it this election cycle, but just wait. They are tired of having a place to call home, but no community to speak of.

Perhaps now might be a good time to embrace the younger generation of Roanoke, and return them to the fold. Before the cost grows dearer, the price paid higher, and the Voice of the People forced upon the town. It's a good time to reach out, rather than ignore.

Discuss it on the messageboard.