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.