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The Westmoreland Journal
King George, Virginia
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February 25, 2009     The Westmoreland Journal
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February 25, 2009
 

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6 Wednesday, February 25, 2009, The Journal O'Gara Group as topac oI dascussaon officials admitted that they, too, were unclear and needed time to assemble the appropriate set of directions. When the answer came from the county government, Thompson was in Fredericksburg. He told residents attending this Monday's meeting that it was too close for comfort when he arrived at the Land Use Office only minutes prior to Day 30's close of business. "I filed at 4:20 p.m. and paid the $600 fee," Thompson related. Williams may have dashed Thompson's hopes that the appeal would result in a public hearing as soon as the suggested April 20 Board of Zoning Appeals special meeting date. A Land Use Office employee had told her that no one from the public would be allowed to speak during the hearing. Williams also told the people who gathered on Monday that it had become apparent that County Attorney Tom Bondurant is being tasked with defending the Land Use Office's finding that O'Gara's proposed facility conforms to the zoning ordinance's definition of a school. The Westmoreland County Zoning Administrator who delivered the interpretation passed away last year. The members of the Westmore- land Board of Supervisors and their staff have expressed confidence that the O'Gara training facility's urban warfare simulations and other ac- tivities will not be noticed by nearby residents but people have become increasingly concerned. County officials claim there have been no complaints about the O'Gara operations in one or more other Virginia jurisdictions, but county residents have been conducting their own research and have contradictory information. Some of this was shared on Monday when the Citizens Association met. Halifax County Planning Commis- sion minutes from May 22, 2007 can be found on the Internet. Testimony associated with establishment of fir- ing range operation hours included a multitude of complaints. "Joe Russell," the posted minutes stated, "resides about three miles north of the activity. Mr. Russell statedthat he did not feel the security ofthe County or Country lies in the hands of the O'Gara Corporation. "He noted this is a commercial venture," the posted minutes contin- ued. "There has to be a better place to conduct the training. For those on the south side the noise is not as bad, but the prevailing winds bring - When the Westmoreland County Citizens Association met Monday, the O'Gara Group was once again a topic of discussion. O'Gara Group contracted last month to buy the local government's unoccupied industrial shell building and the surrounding 25 acres of land in the county's industrial park. The January 12 sales agreement was contingent on O'Gara's willing- ness to proceed with the purchase of an adjacent 325-acre tract owned by local businessman Bryan Chandler. A similar entity was believed to have interest in buying the same properties several years ago but opted to locate its paramilitary training establishment in another jurisdic- tion. During the 2007 consideration county residents expressed concern about such facilities' compatibility with Westmoreland County's exist- ing land use practices and economic development strategies. The public again expressed pro- nounced opposition to O'Gara Group's proposal and the local gov- ernment's lack of transparency prior to the January 12, 2009 ratification of the sales agreement. Last week The Journal reported that Nomini Creek homeowner Joe Thompson had challenged a West- moreland County Land Use Office interpretation of the county zoning ordinance's definition of a school. The paper reported that the Board of Zoning Appeals would entertain the appeal on April 27 but on Monday night Citizens Association officer Bette Williams told residents she had been advised by a member of the county government that the hearing would be moved forward to April 20. Thompson had received no notice of a hearing date when he met with the Citizens' group this Monday. He said he learned on Day 30 that the appeal of the land use staff's interpretation had "to be filed with the local government no later than 30 days after the sales agreement was ratified. Himself a land use professional, Thompson explained that his initial motivation had been to compel the local government to conduct a public hearing. According to land use staff's interpretation of the zoning regula- tions, O'Gara's facility would be a school and a school could be devel- oped on the property as a by-right use that required no public hearing. Thompson further explained that he had been initially unclear about how to proceed with the filing of an appeal. He said he sought guidance from county officials but the county Economic development is big topic in W'md Chamber of Commerce," Fountain continued. He then noted the contributions of regional tourism professional Patty Long. "She did a lot of good things in the tourism area," he explained. Fountain touted Westmoreland County as "the most destination specific" locality on the Northern Neck. "Along the way we nearly landed a hotel/conference center,' said Fountain. "Now Stratford Hall offers a facility for small conferences. "A lot of people were brought to Westmoreland County by the state, and there were others who were working on economic development, - but the single most important reason for backing away was the education system in Westmoreland County. "We need to raise the standard in this county's school system," Fountain then stated. "Then we Northern Neck. Until then, we will have to labor under a very strong disadvantage. "I commend our County Admin- istrator, Norm Risavi, for bringing in the sewer systems. Having utilities in place is essential for recruitment purposes." Fountain concluded his remarks with economic considerations. "At a time the county is experi- encing a budgetary squeeze, can we afford to hire an economic develop- ment professional?" he asked. "Is the current national economic environment one in which companies look for expansion opportunities? "I commend your effort to improve the economic opportunities and tax base, but in the current environment there may not be fertile ground to sew the seeds," the retired Rear Admiral warned. Betsy Ficklin District 3 Supervisor Lynn Brown- ley arranged a special meeting earlier this month that gave local residents an opportunity to weigh in on the subject of economic development in Westmoreland County. Although public and Board of Supervisors sentiments were mixed, Brownley and his Westmoreland County School Board counterpart, Rosemary Mahan, remain adamant about the need to engage an eco- nomic development professional tasked with gathering information and making the assessments needed to chart a course that will generate jobs and revenue and improve the jurisdiction's quality of life without destroying its geographic and historic assets. During the public comment seg- ment of the Supervisors' special meeting, former Westmoreland County Industrial Development shell building and the last 25 acres of Westmoreland Industrial Park. Rear Admiral Fountain related that profits associated with the sale to O'Gara Group will be recycled to create yet another industrial park. He explained that work can now begin on selection of a location for the county's next industrial park. Fountain recalled his service as Chairman of the Northern Neck/ Middle Peninsula Economic Devel- opment Authority and the Three Rivers organization that worked in concert with state economic de- velopment counterparts and with the members of the county govern- ment. "We worked assiduously with Westmoreland County," he com- mented. "Later the county hired a consultant who was a contract employee who worked fulltime until his death interceded. the noise right to [Mr. Joe Russell's] location. "[Mr. Joe Russell] noted he was luckier than most because he could remove his hearing aids." On February 24 an unidentified caller alleged that O'Gara Tactical Operations Branch Manager Ronald Boline is no longer employed with the O'Gara Group Boline assisted with delivery of the power-point presentation that O'Gara Group shared with county residents during the public portion of the Westmoreland Supervisors' late-night meeting on January 12, but on January 13 the Westmorelar/d Sheriff's Office released a weeldy report of arrests that included "Rofl- ald P. Boline age 48 of King George [who] was arrested on D.U.I charges (on Jan. 6)." On the morning of January 13 Boline appeared for his arraignment in the Westmoreland county General District Court. His March 3 trial is scheduled to begin in the same court at 10:00 a.m. next Tuesday. Betsy Ficklin Montross Middle School Honor Roll 6th grade Principal's list Kathryn Allen ; Alexis Gordon; Abbigail Grimes; Keith John, Jr.; Kyshae Mason; Soley Nalls; Abbey Perkins; Destinee Ransome; Madelyn Slaton; LaKeshia Smith; Megan Smith; Gabariela Valdez; Kyle Varin; Alexis Washington; Chanelle Wise 6th Grade Honor Roll Caimaya Ashton; Taryn Barefoot; Jayson Becerra; Kathryn Beddoo; Zachary Bowen; Jocelyn Brodeur; Aisha Brooks: Alisa Brown; La'Asia Byrd; Luis Chipres; David Comerford; Elijah DeAtley; Erin Doerr; Cas- sandra Embrey; Ethan Foxwell; Jamie Garland; Taylor Garrison; Ashleigh Gent: Christopher Graham; Kendall Headley; MOrgan Hutt; Cydney Iamaio; Kevin Jackson; Taylor Janovicz; Michaela Jones; Rayven Kelly; Joshua Landman; Timothy Minor; Erica Molinares; Linwood Newman; Ashley Price; Katlyn Reamy; Misty Row; Amy Saunders; Samuel Schu- man; Anna Sisson; Bruce Smith; James Snider; Jeremy Turner; Ciarra Usual; Clinton Watson; Jennifer Willoughby; Dustin Young 7th Grade Principal's List Chiquita DeJesus; Katie Johnson; CaUie Morgan; Mary Sisson 7th Grade Honor Roll Nicholas Brown; Tyler Clemons; Naomi Davis; Zoe Davis; James Ficklin; Kaitlin Holden; Aja Jackson; John Jims; Jhamari Kelley; Myesha Kelly; Daniel Keranen; Alexander Lane; Victoria Minor; Victoria Moore; Lauren O'Rourke; Moneshia Payne; Kiera Purce; Harden Self; Paul Smith; Chantz Swann; Ryan Taylor; Walter Taylor; Alexa Weeks; Kristin Worrell; Gloria Wyszynski 8th Grade Principal's List Haley Balderson; Lidia Cardenas; Brandi; Garner; Amanda Grimm; Eric Hardy; Bryce Johnson; Melissa Johnson; Margaret Lewis; Barbara Martens; Rachel Pegelow; Jareka Shepherd; Amanda Straughan; Vic- toria Swann 8th Grade Honor Roll Matthew Bailey; Carrington Balderson; Timothy Balderson; Alonzo Baxter; Erin Blake; Riney Brown; Jeremy Burnett; Natalie Carpenter; Dwayne Cherry; Jose Chipres; Wyatt Clift; Samantha Cunningham; Daryl Fisher; Corie Harder; Calvin Harris, Jr., Demian Henry; Daqwe- sha Hickman; Jaleesa Hickman; Lashaad Hopewell; Alexander Jackson; Jasmine Jackson; Brittney Jacobo; Brittany Jenkins; Shakaura Johnson; Martia Jones; Raven Kellam; Eric Mason, Jr.; Qushae McNeill; Juan' Murillo; Maria Murillo; Brittany Payne; Katie Perkins; Nakia Reed; Erin ' Roberts; Sara Rowe; Quantisha Simon; Evan Smith; Lasheonia Smith; " Tamara Tate; Tanesha Thornton; Daniel Valdez; Emmanuel Valdez; Ashley Williams. Authority Chairman Robert Foun- tain presented an overview of the county's last decades of economic development initiatives. "I applaud Supervisor Brownley's interest in the economic develop- ment of Westmoreland County," Fountain told the other members of the Board and the large group of county residents who attended the special session. Drawing from his own nautical experience, the retired Rear Admiral advised all parties to "look at the wake in order to see that we are steering in a straight course." Fountain acknowledged his own investment of .energy during his service as Chairman of the county's Industrial Deyelopment Authority. Fountain explained that during his period of work on economic develop- ment initiatives he had found it "very distressing to see that Westmoreland County's principal export was our young people. "We needed to create opportuni- ties for our young people to live in the environment that we all love. That Was why I volunteered to serve as the economic development point man. "People came together and we made a decision to develop the indus- trial park. I'm delighted to see that the county's investment has paid off so handsomely. Our industrial park is now fully populated," said Fountain one month after the local govern- ment approved O'Gara Group's agreement to purchase the industrial Osprey expert to speak at Audubon On Monday, March 2 "a, the Northern NeckAudubon Society will present a program by Reese Lukei, Jr. on ospreys. Reese Lukei, a Research Associate at the Center for Conservation Biol- ogy at the College of William and Mary, specializes in raptor research. Lukei, a licensed bander for over thirty years, has banded over 15,000 birds of prey and has been a volunteer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since 1974. This program, open to all, will be held at 7:00 p.m. at Grace Episcopal Church in Kilmarnock. Attendees are invited for refreshments after the program. "I was instrumental in the forma- would have the reputation of having tion of the Westmoreland County the foremost school system in the Where is first school? Colonial Beach High School hosted a Black History month as- sembly of their own last week on Friday, February 20 at 9:00 a.m. Organized by high school teacher and local businessman Richard Moncure, the school welcomed Dr. John L. Johnson and his wife Gladys Johnson. The Johnsons spoke to the students about their own education experiences from grade school through the achievement of doctorate status for Dr. Johnson and the accomplishment of a Masters Degree in Special Education for Mrs. Johnson. Using a short video clip, the Johnsons enligltened students about the differences in education that existed both prior and post the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Specifically highlighted during their talk was Farmville, Virginia, a town in Virginia that chose to closetheir schools rather than de- segregate them. During the assembly, it was noted and pointed out to the student body by Johnson that there were numerous visible displays of athletic achievement shown off in cases around the room, but none that paid tribute to academic success. "Where are those awards", he queried? Also touched upon briefly was how Black History month came into being. After the Johnsons' talk their was a ten-minute ques- tion and answer period where students submitted written ques- tions on index cards. Dr. Johnson concluded their presentation by leaving the students with a challenge: to find and prove the loca- tion of the first African American Schoolhouse in Colonial Beach The triumphant student will win themselves a $25 savings bond. Anne Congdon AFFORDABLE TREATMENT $20 per Exam $20 per Adjustment i c-..,o,., i "i Join Us I'00i For Lunch or Dinner! e Restaurant ii: & Carry Out ::::: :::::: ii:! _ Open Sunday thru Saturday = ,, :oo o.m. ,o 00:00 I I (540) 6.44-8804 [] e Located ot 15411 Dahlgren Rd. 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