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Hot to trot

SoVaNow.com / July 24, 2019
Considering ol’ Satan himself might have wanted to camp out under the Lakefest misting tent, one would have to say the 42nd annual Virginia Lake Festival went about as well as could possibly be expected, given the hellish temperatures.

Boy was it hot on Saturday (and Friday and Sunday and parts of Thursday.) Most of the United States found itself smothered by an epic heat wave, but there were not many places where folks plowed forward with big outdoors celebrations such as the Town of Clarksville pulled off this weekend. Let’s especially give it up for the zanies who ran in the YMCA Lakefest 5K and Fun Run; compare and contrast to the Big Apple, where organizers called off the New York City Triathlon. Whatsa matter — Noo Yawkers can’t stand a little heat?

Surprisingly, there were only a few reports of people who were overcome by the extreme conditions. (We’ve heard of a couple of instances.) On a serious note, the 100 degree-plus heat index did cry out for an abundance of caution (NYC made the right call in cancelling its triathlon) and one can only imagine that the people who turned out for Lakefest heeded the same guidance — whether by limiting their time in the sun, ducking into Clarksville shops for some air conditioning, or hanging out under the misting tent. Sure, the afternoon traffic on Virginia Avenue was slow, but folks seemed to successfully work around the worst of the weather and enjoy a high time on festival weekend.

Years ago, it was standard practice to have a big debate about moving Lakefest to a different date whenever summer reared its blazing head in the midst of July. If anything, the experience this weekend proves that the Lake Festival can withstand the worst of summer and still pack ‘em in. That ought to be a source of comfort and joy for the Town of Clarksville and Lakefest’s organizers. It’s truly become the festival too big to miss — regardless of circumstances. That, in turn, is an incredible testament to the work that has gone into building up Lakefest over the past 40 years. It’s not only Southside Virginia’s biggest festival, it’s the essential event of the summer.

Congratulations to all, and let’s hope for a few degrees less next year.

***

The Town of Clarksville was the scene of more big news this past week, this time on a horrific note. A young man, 20-year-old Anthony Raekwon Roberts of Clarksville, was shot to death on Seventh Street, and two even younger individuals — a juvenile suspect and a recent high school grad — are in police custody. Our condolences go out to the family and friends of the victim; their pain is surely beyond measure.

The rest of you, please, just one request: pipe down with the uninformed speculation. I’m reliably told that Facebook and other social media cesspools have blown up with all kinds of unnecessary back-and-forth on the apparent murder of “Rae” Roberts. People go online at times like these and seem to set aside any semblance of judgment and discretion, to say nothing of basic humanity. We all know the internet is a cruel place, but you don’t have to be a cruel person. If you’re out there spouting off on matters on which you have no particular knowledge, just don’t.

It’s human nature to jump to conclusions — some may even be correct! — but in the absence of much if any verifiable information, it’s much better to go into wait-and-see mode and see where the facts take us regarding the alleged acts of Hayleigh Hylton, the young woman who has been charged with being an accessory to second degree murder, as well as the juvenile who is facing unspecified charges in Roberts’ death. This is not intended to be a defense of either suspect; all I’m suggesting is that we reserve judgment for now. If the prosecution is able to prove guilt beyond all doubt, then the time to condemn this terrible crime and the perpetrators will be endless — and their punishment will almost certainly extend many years. About that, we shall see.

***

Sun reader Jesse Moser continues his amusing series of Viewpoint letters mocking Donald Trump and his connections to rapist/pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. It might seem hard to imagine, but I have found from long column-writing experience that not everyone follows the news, even the most salacious variety, and sarcasm especially is lost on many readers. So, regarding the letter — “Eppy” is Jeffrey Epstein, the Manhattan/Florida financier who got a sweetheart deal from federal prosecutors in Florida after being convicted of sex crimes involving teenage girls (the chief prosecutor was Alex Acosta, who later became Secretary of Labor in the Trump Administration; and the Emperor, of course, is our president himself. The connections between Trump, Epstein and fellow travelers that include Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz (a frequent defender of Trump on Fox News) are abundant and damning, and you can easily read up on the subject if you’re so inclined,

Of course, if you do read up on the subject, you’ll also find out that Epstein — surely one of the most hideous men in America — has well-documented ties to elite figures on both sides of the political fence. One, of course, is Bill Clinton, who has taken numerous rides on Epstein’s private jet (the flights were donated to the Clinton Foundation for supposed charitable purposes.) The existence of photographs showing Clinton and Epstein in each other’s company — just like the photos and TV footage of Trump and Epstein together — gives the president’s fans a line of defense, if you care to play the neener-neerer game of whataboutism. I don’t. Let it be said: if the facts show that Bill Clinton or anyone else who was empowered to do otherwise enabled, waved off or (God forbid) participated in Epstein’s crimes, then they should go down. With a million-pound anvil around their necks.

Again, this is all to be determined. A federal judge is promising to release thousands of pages of evidence in Epstein’s pending trial in New York on sex trafficking charges. The document dump to rule them all?

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