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SoVaNow.com / November 21, 2012Chewy tidbits for your pre-Thanksgiving consideration:
The Sun today is publishing a report from the National Resources News Service on the legislative strategy that Virginia Uranium Inc. is expected to employ early next year when the General Assembly revisits Virginia’s ban on uranium mining. VUI’s plan in a nutshell, according to the article, is not to seek an outright reversal of the 30-year moratorium, but rather to ask for a regulatory framework for potential mining that someday could lead to the real thing. The company would eschew an all-out, near-term push to overturn the ban in the hope of sowing confusion about its long-term intentions. Forget turkeys; we’re talking camel’s noses here.
The article, by investigative reporter Rose Ellen O’Conner (who penned a terrific series on uranium mining around this time last year that we also picked up for reprint; Google “sovanow.com” and her name) comes with our highest endorsement. Read it, and be prepared to send a message to Richmond that uranium mining is too dangerous and potentially ruinous to our precious natural resources to permit.
I was especially interested in the article’s closing paragraphs, which picks up on arguments made by Chatham businessman Ben Davenport against the Coles Hill project. If you haven’t heard the name, Davenport is one of Virginia’s wealthiest citizens, having made a fortune in energy and finance. He argues that uranium mining’s stigma effects are already being felt in the region even prior to VUI winning approval for the project, “making it tougher to sell property near the proposed mine or attract newcomers to the area,” O’Conner writes.
This jives with anecdotes I’ve heard from local real estate reps on transactions that have fallen through because the prospective home buyers were spooked by the prospect of uranium mining in Virginia. And yes, one of these stories came from a developer on Buggs Island Lake. The housing market is showing real signs of life — I’ve long believed the economy won’t truly recover until housing does — and the last thing Southside needs is any further impediment to its recovery. On that note, the Roanoke River Basin Association has run an ad on page D8 that spells out actions that ordinary citizens can take to help ward off the threat of uranium mining. It’s well worth a look this extended Thanksgiving weekend.
Stipulating in advance that it is shallow indeed to derive amusement from the misfortunes of others, and reserving the right to change our mind should subsequent facts reveal matters of genuine national security at stake, it must be said: The David Petraus scandal has been more fun than a barrel of super-charged monkeys.
I won’t recount the facts at hand as we know them, because, well, the Internet, but I would point out that America is coming off a bitter and grueling election and the country needed something — or someone — to rally around, if only in the spirit of collective mockery. And the general and the absurd characters who have attached themselves to him like flypaper have risen to the occasion. Late-night nation salutes you.
Honors for best headline on the scandal goes to the New York Post: “CLOAK AND SHAG HER.”
Very punny ....
From the silly to the speculative, here’s an honest question:
If, more than a decade ago, the Town of Clarksville had presented an annexation plan like the one contained in a proposed deal between the town and Mecklenburg County announced earlier this month, would the town have accomplished its expansion objectives long ago?
In case you missed it, the deal that Clarksville has accepted from the county gives it about one-fourth the territory it originally sought. Some of the most contentious land claims — such as those around Noblin Farm Road and Shiney Rock Road — have been dropped altogether. Even in scaled-back form, the annexation plan is drawing grumbles, especially west of town where Clarksville isn’t offering affected homes and businesses much in the way of services and benefits that people didn’t already enjoy.
I’m guessing that a more restrained approach to annexation would have forestalled more than a decade of inaction and foot-dragging from both sides in the dispute, town and county, and probably would have saved Clarksville tens of thousands of dollars, if not much more, on bills for lawyers and consultants. Don’t get me wrong: It’s good to see Clarksville and Mecklenburg County coming to a resolution of this controversy. Still, all those what-ifs don’t come cheap.
Twinkies probably would be one of the few things to emerge intact from the fires of nuclear Armageddon, but the survival of the redoubtable junk food product in the face of capitalism’s powers of creative destruction is more seriously in doubt. The liquidation this week of Hostess Brands, maker of Twinkies and other famed (infamous?) food products, has set off a predictable debate over who’s responsible for the failure of the company. Prime suspects at this writing include unions, private equity Bain-style investors, health food Nazis and Michelle Obama (the latter two are said to be more or less the same). Swept up in the collateral damage is the Merita Bread brand, which has a large number of fans hereabouts. The Merita Bakery Thrift Store in South Boston, popularly known as The Bread Store, is among the 470 retail outlets run by Hostess that have closed due to the liquidation.
The Hostess brand has enough value to ensure that some enterprising competitor will snap up what remains of the company, although whether new ownership will reopen the South Boston outlet store remains to be seen. In the meantime, we are left to ponder how a company that has bumped along in more or less a constant state of turmoil — Hostess took bankruptcy in 2004 and again last year — can fork out ever-growing salaries to the management in charge. Executive compensation for the company’s CEO has grown by 300 percent this year despite a litany of business failures.
The company’s unionized workforce, meantime, gave up $110 million in wages and benefits over the past decade on the promise that the money would be plowed back into the company to make it more competitive, which evidently hasn’t happened.
Nothing succeeds like failure, huh?
Finally, as you head out to go shopping post-Thanksgiving, consider the wisdom of the saying, “What comes around goes around,” and what this means for your own consumer spending. If there’s one indisputable fact in the world, it’s that no one will look out for t hose who don’t look after themselves. In a similar vein, a dollar spent with local businesses is a dollar that stays in the community, where it can do a world of good. There are lots of terrific shops and stores in Mecklenburg that are locally owned and operated, ready to fix you up for the holidays at a reasonable cost and with minimum hassle. (Try that at the mall). I’m constantly surprised by the excellence of so many of our local businesses. Give them a visit this holiday season, and you just might be pleasantly surprised, too.