Take another look

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 15, 2003

I received a little flack for writing about our School Administration sending the seven-member School Board and the superintendent to a Conference in San Francisco. I guess $18,000 is a drop in the bucket when the school budget is in the millions.

I was tempted to write when Milton Liverman asked the question, &uot;How can we afford not to go?&uot; Up in Williamsburg, a reasonably progressive city, the James County school district executive assistant to their Superintendent said this. &uot;We are fortunate to have a strong school board association in Charlottesville. There is no need for us to go to San Francisco if we get it right here in Virginia.&uot;

That answers Liverman’s question quite well. It would take a property tax of $2,250 for eight households to come up with $18,000. Peanuts?

Email newsletter signup

The Hilton seawall-straightening project apparently makes it necessary to &uot;temporarily&uot; remove the footbridge crossing almost over to the opposite bank. And why not? It wasn’t going anywhere. That must have cost a bundle to install in the first place; it won’t be cheap to remove. I wonder why the sidewalk on the Main bridge wouldn’t have sufficed as it was only a few feet beyond the footbridge. It did manage to hide a large sewer pipe from view but a simple box would have done the trick.

At this point many wonder what the view from the Hotel will be, assuming one will be built. One side overlooks Constance traffic and the other, &uot;working harbor&uot; side, isn’t much better. Some suggest a huge mural be painted on a high board fence until there is something more attractive across the way. Of course those who can afford the Hilton, the Holiday Inn is not on the water, will be in conference planning large economic projects for Suffolk, probably wearing $600 suits. But where will they land the large commercial jets that will bring them to our fair city? Oh, you say they will arrive by lear jet at our Suffolk Executive Airport, and take a limousine to the hotel.

The Suffolk Circuit Court clerk candidates make a list as long as the Democrats lining up for the Presidential race in 2004. Every one running insists they are more than qualified for the position. One actually is.

I suppose skin color will be a decision factor; it has been for many other city positions. No complaints here from me because I visited the Virginia Beach oceanfront and witnessed thousands of pale white skinned people trying to acquire a decent tan. Maybe one day we will all be the same color and color won’t matter.

I love the rural atmosphere of Suffolk and am fortunate to live on one of Norfolk’s lakes. In the winter we have thousands of seagulls rafting on the water, and hundreds of cormorants joining the ducks, herons and four American bald eagles that sit in tall pines waiting for a fish to show on the surface.

We see glorious sunrises and occasional rainbows when the sun setting behind us lights up a thunderstorm over Norfolk. We have birds we can’t find in Audubon books and recently a chipmunk arrived sans mate.

But all is not well in our preserve, our wildlife refuge. Every time the lumber companies clear-cut a patch of nearby forest our population of squirrel doubles. We understand they are territorial but the territory must include trees of which we have an ample supply. They often beat us to any flower that dares to bloom; camellia blossoms are their dessert. It’s touch and go for the birds who compete for the sunflower seeds. Now and then a hawk thins the herd.

Above us too much of the time are flocks of turkey vultures circling, sprucing up the area, too many of them looking suspiciously at me and I am not yet ready. All of us who live on this point of land must be on guard for toothy beavers that can fell a 12-inch tree overnight. They merely girdle it and wait until it dies and falls into the water. If they need a snack they chew down a small dogwood and drag it to their underwater den. Any valuable tree we own is wrapped with chicken wire; that seems to discourage them.

We don’t mind turtles ascending from the lake and laying eggs anywhere the soil is soft, usually in a flowerbed. But now, and we draw the line right here, we have Bambi and two of her fawns denuding the fruit trees and selecting only the best strawberries. They hang around in the daylight, brave as they are, and keep the automatic outdoor security lights on half the night. All we need now is to have a damn noisy peacock take up residence.

Robert Pocklington lives in Suffolk and is a regular News-Herald columnist.