The best and worst of 2003

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 4, 2004

JUNE: There were an exceeding number of complaints when the new assessments came out. All the usual and a few new ones dreamed up by citizens who didn’t appreciate that we are assessed far less that 100 percent actual value. That is until Maria Kattman took the floor at a Council meeting and told it like it is… straight from the lip in a professional manner in no uncertain terms. It quieted the restless and those sure they had been maligned. .

Andy Damiani in his popular TV show pointed out how 61 businesses in a two-block area of East Washington had dwindled down to a precious few…like 7. Carter Furniture had been there since the invention of the can opener and is still doing great business. Not a bad location, said Don, but he would like more company. Damiani is all for that. The city had been pondering, has plans, and believes it has found the money.

Lakita Frazier proved that important things could come in small packages by taking over the helm of Suffolk’s Parks and Recreation. No flack from other employees of the department who were glad she was appointed. Councilman Bobby Ralph put some heads together and dreamed up a new parking and traffic pattern for the downtown Post Office. It took some quick braking before citizens realized they could no longer exit left on Main. Congestion lessened but not like it would if all the inside clerk slots were &uot;manned.&uot;

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The Nansemond Indians rejected the city’s offer of land-lease and held out for owning. Still no dice at the end of the year, something about a &uot;business plan.&uot; The powwow held in August caused dancing Indians and watching white folks to sweat miserably. The city fathers garnered a $3,500,000 grant for sprucing up East Washington with a caveat it just might have to be &uot;returned&uot; if future grants were unavailable, although expected. What, me worry? Lakeview Med Center expanded horizontally providing additional parking places and comfortable sit-and-wait chairs for reading old magazines.

The City went over the heads of the Airport Commission and renamed the airfield the Suffolk Executive Airport, and over my head because I suggested Whaleyville Executive Airport. Not much happening out there but big development whispered for 2004. VDOT found the money for the King Highway Bridge, thanks to Dr. Levin and Frank Spady who are tugging on VDOT pant legs like Terriers. Nobody sure where it will be located.

A gentleman offered to satisfy everyone’s curiosity by opening a reveal-all-and-more body shop west of town. The offer was politely turned down by roadway officials who are certain road conditions would not be able to handle the increased traffic. The DOT also said &uot;no&uot; to having a porn section in the Prentis House and the nearby Santa’s house has already had too much publicity. A near herd of involved officials gathered with gold shovels to turn the first bits of earth where the Hilton Hotel will hopefully stay in place

Baron’s Pub opening is still delayed after it was decided by Council that even wild and crazy music could not bother Baptist churchgoers. I’m also waiting on Kelly’s; having survived the ’40s pubs in England, I looked forward to a bit of Christmas cheer on a stool right here in Suffolk. But sadly both missed out on all the holiday business. Fire Mountain, the revamped Ryan’s, debuted with no fanfare and the big difference was a grill churning out a variety of meats, my favorite vegetables. It’s buffet but they expect tips.

Did I mention Isabel the wind maker that rearranged much of our flora and fauna? Some-how our city departments cleaned up the debris in record time. Hats off to them, but I wonder if it could possibly be the same people who use my garbage can lids as Frisbees. Our new Communication Director began his challenging Suffolk career of making every city action look good while stamping out little brush fires that flare up when disgruntled citizens ask questions or make unkind statements. He will have a full plate in 2004.

Robert Pocklington is a resident of Suffolk and a regular News-Herald columnist. He can be contacted via e-mail: