Time to explore

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 23, 2003

I often peruse the city of Suffolk Web site and am impressed with its thoroughness and the ease to move around in it. There is much you can learn about your city by just tapping a keyboard and moving a mouse. There are nearly 70,000 of us citizens within the 430 square miles and I wonder how many taxpayers are interested enough to poke around in the depths of city departments. Not that you can learn about everything going on within the confines of city hall and many other city employee occupied buildings. Of course some info is closely guarded, kept secret, withheld from public knowledge, or not yet ready for publication. But if you are more interested than just letting things happen, use your hands to explore the Web site and you’ll have a much better idea of how your tax dollars are spent. Just type in www.Suffolk.va.us/home. If you saw the movie, &uot;Legally Blonde 2,&uot; you heard Reese Witherspoon say, &uot;You’ve gotta speak up.&uot;

Voices high up in the city government structure have informed me that our mayor and city manager are not opposed to Mattanock Town being located in Lone Star Lakes. So I wonder about the effort on their part to put it somewhere else. But the sticking point is still, they insist, lack of a proper &uot;Business Plan&uot; put forth by the Indian backers. The chief and supporters insist they have offered one but city officials say not so. So I suggest that council member Calvin Jones – who has agreed to work with the tribe – see if he can determine what the city would constitute a business plan, what exactly it would entail, and then sit down with the Nansemonds and see if they can come to terms. It appears that this &uot;missing&uot; document is all that stands between the marriage of Suffolk and Mattanock and a wedding held in Lone Star. One statement sticks in my mind: &uot;We can’t be giving away 104 acres of city property without knowing exactly how the village will happen, and who will make it happen.&uot; Those questions are not specific enough to answer.

The same high placed voice said I should know better than to think anybody at city hall, individually or collectively, can influence the Obici Louise Memorial Hospital Board in any fashion. If so, they would have much preferred the old hospital grounds not be part of the Barton Ford Empire. Apparently the city tried to buy the land but the price was too high. Obviously, as usual, money talks. Apparently the Obici board meets so far out of town they don’t much care about main street ambiance. I still say, &uot;shame on them.&uot;

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Was it a stroke of genius on the part of our city officials to garner $3,500,000 in one chunk for improvements on East Washington, or magic with numbers? Originally it was to come in annual checks for $700,000 over a 5-year period. Our boys on the hill merely suggested that it be given to us all up front and for collateral they would use what would have been given over the next four years. In the meantime Suffolk collects the interest on any unspent money. Brilliant, and the suckers said, &uot;OK.&uot; But what if there is no money in the future for the $700,000 grants to Suffolk? We have only given our word we will pay it back. Damn, if only I could get that deal at a bank.

In our Sick and Injured center at Lakeview, where all sorts of repair shops are collected and ready to put us back together, there is a group of physicians that specialize in bones.

There is a vast amount of things that can go wrong with bones and I selected a broken hip as my experiment. One of their surgeons drove some long screws in it on May 5 and I am now walking as though there had never been anything wrong. My only complaint is that of all the buildings in the world that should have automatic doors, theirs doesn’t. In fact they have two sets of large frustrating double doors, non-automatic.

My greatest fear, during the healing period, was attempting to navigate their doors while using a wheelchair or a walker. They don’t provide a doorman so it is a battle to get in or out. Even with a cane, during the latter stages of healing, I dreaded that entrance more than I do a dentist. I did more damage to my wheelchair and knuckles than falling did to my hip. Don’t think I didn’t tell them about it. Every chance I got I nailed them, and even offered to take up a collection to pay for them. Those suffering patients in the waiting room would gladly pass the hat to avoid the humiliation of being banged around by those doors. I swear I won’t break another bone until they get ’em changed.

Robert Pocklington is a resident of Suffolk and a regular News-Herald columnist.