Let’s review 2003 while we wait for 2004

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 28, 2003

With 2003 ready to make its exit, it’s time once again to look back on Suffolk’s year in review, as reported by the News-Herald. Here’s a month-by-month, blow-by-blow of how we got where we are today:


— From the wouldn’t-we-all-like-to-have-those-benefits department, Housing Authority Generalissimo Clarissa McAdoo is still out sick from work after more than a month without giving anybody a reason.

Email newsletter signup

— An open house is hosted by the Division of Tourism to show off the newly remodeled Prentis House.

— Suffolk’s $27.8 million capital improvements plan is unveiled including $14.5 million for King’s Fork High School, $3.7 million for the North Suffolk Public Safety Center; $3 million for the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts; and $5 million for a Confederate Heritage and History Month celebration in April.

— Renovations to the Professional Building will be $1 million more than anticipated.

Eighty-three-year-old Henry C. Murden, whose tenure as Clerk of Court in Suffolk lasted half a century, announces he will not seek re-election.

— W. Randolph Carter was the first of what would ultimately be one in every three Suffolk residents to file papers to run for Clerk of the Court.

— Suffolk City Council unanimously approved the hiring of R. Steven Herbert as City Manager.

— This Historic Landmarks Commission gave the OK for work to begin on the Hilton Garden Inn and Suffolk Conference Center.


— The Suffolk School Board approved a budget that called for every working person in the City of Suffolk to sign over all their paychecks in 2003 to the School Board.

— The Virginia Department of Transportation blamed delays on the opening of the Route 58 bypass on vandals.

— DNA tests clear Suffolk native Julius Earl Ruffin in the rape of a 32-year-old Norfolk woman. Ruffin had served more than 20 years in prison for the crime.

— Julius Earl Ruffin announces candidacy for Clerk of Suffolk Court.

— City unveils a beautiful butterfly design on its 2003 automobile decals. A spokesman said the pleasant image is intended to make residents feel better about being extortion victims.

— A coronation is held for R. Steven Herbert (Steven I) as city manager of Suffolk.

— Despite having hundreds of thousands of dollars in the bank, Boy Scouts cite financial struggles in announcing the closing of the Boy Scout Store in Holland plaza, forcing area scouts to travel to Norfolk for supplies.


— Responding to an outcry from the citizenry, City Council votes to pay Industrial Development Board members $50 a month.

— City Council vows to stop having taxpayers pick up the bar tabs for city employees. Taxpayers still need to be available, however, to give drunken city workers a ride home from work.

— The Nansemond Indian Tribe says it will respond to city’s proposal to lease the tribe four acres and some shiny beads and skins to develop Mattanock Town.

— Barbara X. Gayle, no relation to Malcolm X., enters the race for Clerk of Court.

— Now graffiti free, Southwest Bypass opens.

— IDA unanimously approves the issuance of an economic development revenue bond of up to $17.9 million to finance the public portion of the Hilton Garden Inn & Suffolk Conference Center.

— With the nation at war and American troops dying on foreign soil, Rep. Randy Forbes presents city officials with half-a-million dollars for a bike trail.

— Mayor E. Dana Dickens refuses to proclaim April as Confederate Heritage and History Month in Suffolk.

— After allegedly being told to stop communicating with city officials, firefighter J.R. Lilienthal sends a message through Federal Courts.

— J.R. Lilienthal announces candidacy for Clerk of Circuit Court.

— Rotary chooses Mayor E. Dana &uot;Stonewall&uot; Dickens as its First Citizen.

— Obici House named to Virginia Landmarks Registry


— Destruction begins on old Obici Hospital.

— Tom Smith Camp #1702 of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans pulls its support from the Riddick’s Folly Civil War Weekend after Union re-enactors invited to participate.

— Only 95 acres separate city officials and Nansemond tribes people over proposed Mattanock Town development at Lone Star Lakes. Tribe wants ownership of 99 acres, city wants to lease them 4 acres.

— The North Suffolk Public Safety Center opens.

— No tax increase is proposed in city’s proposed $250 million budget, but assessed property values go up by average of 9 percent. About 20,000 landowners in the city can expect to pay more in property taxes, but city officials are pleased as punch the tax rate was not increased.

— Johnnie F. Edwards announces plans to seek Clerk of Court post.


— The Obici School of Nursing graduates its final class.

— It was a sad day for the world’s shrimp population 25 years ago when the Suffolk Ruritan Club was founded.

— Kirk Pretlow receives city’s Republican Party’s endorsement for Clerk of Court post.

— It’s revealed that the Bennett’s Creek Volunteer Rescue Squad has been under investigation by the state’s Department of Emergency Services.

— Soccer hooligans at Lakeland and Deep Creek High Schools engage in some friendly violence during a game.

— Declaring the era of big government is here to stay, city council members vote 4-3 against cutting taxes in approving $250 million budget.

— After a delay of nearly a year, construction on the bulkhead at Constant’s Wharf is set to resume.

— Former Del. Robert Nelms announces his candidacy for Clerk of Court.

— A 15-year-old Lakeland High student hijacks a Suffolk school bus by putting a BB gun to the driver’s head.


— Three-year-old Joey Tolson is rescued from a water-filled sluice pit into which he fell.

— City Council gives Nansemond Tribe 30 days to respond to proposal to lease property.

— East Washington Street police precinct is opened.

— Little Joey Tolson announces candidacy for Clerk of Court.

— A ceremony was held to rebury the remains of young black female slave that had been found buried in north Suffolk.

— Driver Ruritans celebrate 50 years of service to community.

— Attorney James L. McLemore files his last brief.

— Clinton L. Jenkins enters race for Clerk of Court.

— Harry Potter book goes on sale. Fanatics across the country protest in support of childhood illiteracy.

— Keith David Goodman of north Suffolk, an information technology specialist for the City of

Norfolk, is arrested, accused of luring underage girls to his Burbage Grant home for sex.

— Nansemond Indians hold rally to decline city’s latest Mattanock Town offer.

— Henry Murden endorses Randy Carter as his replacement for Clerk of Court.

— State Department of Occupational and Professional Regulation’s enforcement division announces it is investigating complaints filed against Carver Memorial Park Cemetery Inc., owed by Abraham Applewhite.

— A telemarketing company hired by the Suffolk Police Department to annoy people at home and solicit money for it to waste on its ineffectual DARE program, walks off the job without notices. The entire $54 solicited is returned to contributors.

— Census Bureau declares Virginia Beach tops Suffolk as state’s largest city in terms of land area. Census Bureau included much of Atlantic Ocean in determining Beach’s area.


— Keith David Goodman is freed on bond, announces candidacy for Clerk of Court in Suffolk.

— Bowing to pressure from the public, Suffolk School Board members vote to double their salaries. Spontaneous celebrations erupt throughout city.

— Convicted, imprisoned Suffolk child molester Mark A. Grethen is once again named to the incredibly stupid National Republican Congressional Committee’s Business Advisory Council.

— City of Suffolk receives approval for $3.85 million HUD Section 108 loan to revitalize Fairgrounds area.

— Charles Rochelle Jones Jr. is charged in a stabbing attack on his stepson.

— Without explanation, the Procaccianti Group backs out of its deal to help fund and operate the Hilton Garden Inn and Conference Center at Constant’s Wharf. Stormont Hospitality Group finds a replacement.

— Grand opening held for gargantuan Target Warehouse off Manning Bridge Road.

— Charles Rochelle Jones Jr. endorses Randy Carter for Clerk of Court.


— The Suffolk-Nansemond Historical Society publishes a book featuring old postcards depicting Suffolk scenes.

— Clerk of Court Henry Murden records his last deed.

— A ribbon cutting ceremony is held to celebrate the opening of the Hampton Roads Youth Center.

— The Obici-Oderzo Fountain is dedicated next to the courthouse.

— Police Public Information Officer Mike Simpkins dies at issues his final statement.

— North Carolina businessman Greg Sakas attempts to open an adult novelty store in Suffolk. City issues bizarre interpretation of the Unified Development Ordinance, stating that if a particular business is not expressly permitted in the UDO, then it is prohibited.


— Ground is broken for the Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery in Suffolk.

— Traffic pattern is changed at downtown post office, completely alleviating the need for a new facility.

— The Rev. Carlton R. Upton Sr. of Tabernacle UCC realizes he was misled and puts the kibosh on a straw poll conspiracy at his church.

— It was a little windy in Suffolk on Thursday, Sept. 18.


— Peanut Fest goes on as planned. Surprisingly, it rains.

— Several employees of the city’s public utilities department were put on administrative leave and eventually fired as the result of an investigation into billing practices.

— City Manager Steve Herbert asks City Council to invest an additional $3.1 million to complete construction of the new seawall, bulkhead and marina at Constant’s Wharf.

— The pipe organ at Suffolk Christian Church is unveiled after a $400,000 renovation.

— Stating that the schools are flush with cash, School Supt. Milton Liverman asked the School Board to consider rejecting $3.5 million in federal money.

— Dennis R. Craff is hired as the city’s new communications director at a salary of $72,000 a year.

— Lockheed Martin breaks ground in north Suffolk on 50,000-square-foot, $30 million Global Vision Integration Center.


— Randy Carter out-polls 630 other candidates to win Clerk of Court race.

— Kirk Pretlow, who finished second by 16 votes calls for recount.

— Bears are seen roaming Suffolk neighborhoods.

— Newly restored Whaleyville Community Center is opened.

— Dismal Swamp bear attempts to file to run for Clerk of Court, but misses deadline.


— Randy Carter officially declared winner of Clerk race after recount

— Nansemond Tribe members address City Council over Mattanock Town proposal. Some people just will never get the message: THE CITY DOES NOT WANT THIS PROJECT, SO GO AWAY ALREADY.

— Suffolkians open their hearts and their pocketbooks to help needy children receive toys for Christmas by giving generously to the News-Herald’s Cheer Fund.

— Everyone’s afraid they will die from the flu.

— School board begins moving into remodeled Professional Building, scarfs up what’s left of downtown parking spots.

— Rep. Randy Forbes hosts pork festival, putting $750,000 in Congressional spending bill for various marginal Suffolk initiatives.

That about brings you up-to-date. I’m sure 2004 will be equally interesting and entertaining. Hope you have a happy New Year.

Andy Prutsok is editor and publisher of the News-Herald. He can be reached at 934-9611 or via e-mail at andy.prutsok@suffolknewsherald.com