Suffolk’s year in review

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 26, 2004

It’s that time again – time to take a look back at Suffolk’s year, highlighting the people, places and events that made 2004 memorable.


*Mayor E. Dana Dickens III buys the first ticket for the St. Jude Dream House fund raiser. The house was in Suffolk. The real estate taxes on it will be a nightmare, not a dream.

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*Front Street Restaurant serves its last over-priced dessert.

*A celebration is held to commemorate the anniversary of the beginning of the Orlando neighborhood revitalization project. Celebration organizers hope the event will remind city officials that they Orlando was still there, still needing repaired.

*Industrial Development Authority loans Riddick’s Folly $25,000 to move a tiny Greek Revival home in Holland to the Folly’s grounds. Officials say the tax revenue generated by the gnome home will offset needed increases in property taxes.

*Canine con artist Monica Brinkley is returned to Suffolk from Texas to face charges she sold puppies for prices ranging from $200-$400 and then skipped town with the money and the mutts.

*Clarissa McAdoo is Athena Award recipient.

*Two Lakeland High chemistry students are injured in a lab explosion. There was no teacher present.

*Dedication ceremony is held for the downtown parking lot.

* Del. Johnny Joannou drops Suffolk from a bill he submits calling for a study of a merger between Hampton Roads municipalities.

*Well-users of the Kilby Shores Water Company are switched to city water. Other well users demand same, clamor to pay higher fees to city.

*Beleaguered Bennetts Creek Volunteer Rescue Squad announces its intention to merge with Driver Volunteer Fire Department.


*School Supt. Dr. Milton Liverman unveils $111.5 million proposed budget. Taxpayers grab their wallets.

*Suffolk Rotary names Susan Felton Woodward its First Citizen.

*Monster Keith David Goodman pleads guilty to several counts of carnal knowledge of minors and production of child pornography. Satan reserves a room.

*50 Suffolk firefighters file a federal lawsuit against Chief Mark Outlaw alleging violation of their constitutional rights over a 2002 memo composed by Outlaw in which he ordered a fire fighter to stop discussing fire department business with city administrators.

*Residents along Bridge Road celebrate decision by City Council to allow commercial development at Governor’s Pointe subdivision.

*A federal court judge denies businessman Gregory Sakas’ request for a temporary restraining order that would have allowed him to open his adult novelty store in Suffolk.

*A trend-setting substitute teacher at Mack Benn Elementary is accused of grabbing a 7-year-old student by the ear and moving him around the classroom.

*The House of Delegates agrees to a bill that would pay Suffolkian Julius Earl Ruffin $750,000 to make up for the 21 years he spent imprisoned for a crime he did not commit.

*City Manager R. Steven Herbert says Nansemond Indian Tribe proposal to develop Mattanock Town is too vague.

*Mr. and Mrs. Halford King celebrate their 51st wedding anniversary.


*Beleaguered Bennetts Creek Volunteer Rescue Squad is stiffed at the altar by Driver Volunteer Fire Department. BCVRS is now betrothed to Nansemond-Suffolk Volunteer Rescue Squad.

*James Lee John DeLoatch is struck by a car and killed.

*Duke Automotive pledges $50,000 to Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, the estimated cost of which has mysteriously ballooned to more than $20 million.

*Leroy Schmidt files lawsuit against Mayor Dickens over the mayor having him escorted from a city council meeting.

*Police Lt. J. Michael Howell dies after a short illness at 47.

*A 14-year-old student at Lakeland High School is charged with assaulting a teacher.

*A John F. Kennedy Middle School teacher is arrested on an allegation of sexual misconduct.


*Civil War Weekend held in Suffolk. Nobody declares it Confederate Heritage and History Month.

*The Suffolk Executive Airport receives $450,000 to enhance the facilities.

* Det. John M. Jones is selected as Suffolk’s Police Officer of the Year.

*Beautiful brick on Washington Street exposed during a street repair job are paved over.

*Just days before standing for re-election, Council Member Curtis Milteer, during budget discussions, demands city staff look into reducing the real estate tax rate. City manager calls any such discussion &uot;short-sighted.&uot;

*A Nansemond River High teacher is charged with assaulting a student.

*A jury indicts former funeral home operator Abraham Applewhite on 3 charges stemming from his operation of Carver Memorial Cemetery.


*Incumbents make a clean sweep in city council and school board elections. Talk of tax cuts ceases.

*A 17-year-old Nansemond River High student is charge in connection with the alleged April assault by a teacher.

*Despite no intention of changing it a single iota, the city announces effort to update its comprehensive plan.

*Tidewater Occupational Center will close in June putting 160 physically and mentally disabled persons out of work.

*Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association gives its 2004 Planning Leadership Award to Mayor Dickens.

*Peanut City Ironworks accepts its last bit of scrap metal.

*An alleged sexual assault is investigated at John F. Kennedy Middle School.

*Whaleyville Ruritans stage first &uot;Community Day,&uot; a huge success.

*A judge orders city of Suffolk to issue a permit to Gregory Sakas to open Intimate Desires.


* The Suffolk Department of Fire and Rescue has received a national award recognizing its fire education program for adults and children living in the city’s Section 8 and public housing units.

* Businessman Frank E. Sheffer mistakenly thinks three parcels of property he owns downtown belong to him. City Council votes 6-1 to condemn it for use as parking.

* Suffolk makes virtually a clean sweep of awards at the Virginia Downtown Development Corporation conference in Roanoke, including first place, most authentic car wash.

* Amazingly, a company the city is paying several thousand dollars to to conduct a survey of city residents gathers data that indicated everyone in Suffolk thinks city officials are doing a good job.

* Peanut ties become the latest fashion craze. Scott Nash of Richardson & Nash Clothiers, who commissioned the design, said early proposals for goobers looked more like something unmentionable.

Despite a grievance panel’s ruling to reinstate a fired employee, the city maneuvers in court to keep from doing so.


Suffolk City Council, fed up with the Smart Growth strategy pursued by its mayor, dumps Dickens in favor of first-term council member and sprawl advocate Bobby Ralph.

Dr. William C. March fills his last molar, retiring after 40 years in practice in Suffolk.

Thanks to their efforts in helping reduce the tax burden on Suffolk citizens, School Board members are rewarded with larger paychecks.

A taxpayer funded fireworks show that taxpayers are charged to attend is canceled by the parks and recreation department because of bad weather over the Independence Day holiday. It is rescheduled for the Peanut Fest. All citizens with sight, however, are required to pay $4 anyway.

Local author Patrick Evans-Hylton chronicles the history of the Peanut Festival in a new book.

School Supt. Dr. Milton Liverman informs school board members he intends to spend more quality time in schools…as a bouncer.

The parent company of Planters Peanuts, Kraft Foods Inc., is asking Suffolk Circuit Court to force the city to refund five years of overpaid real estate taxes, a motion reads. Kraft asserts that the city’s method of assessing real estate value is &uot;improper and invalid&uot; as well as insane.

The Suffolk City Council formally transferred the historic Suffolk High School over to the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts L.P. The limited partnership – made up of volunteers of the foundation that ultimately will operate the center – will oversee the $15.5 million renovation. Bids for the renovation came at around $16 million, &uot;considerably over&uot; the original $12.5 million estimate, said Gerry Jones, the city’s director of capital projects.

The State Board of Education voted to toss out controversial 5th grade breakout social studies tests in determining school accreditation, a move that nearly doubled the number of accredited schools in Suffolk.

A ceremony is held to dedicate the completion of Carver Circle, a centerpiece of the Fairgrounds Revitalization project.

Fiends steal carpentry tools from a Habitat for Humanity work site in Suffolk.

Suffolk gets international attention after two Suffolk parents are videotaped by a neighbor partying and shooting guns while their toddler played with a gun unattended. City brimming with pride.

Suffolk received word that it will receive $1.2 million in federal money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The city has been awarded $652,000 in Community Development Block Grant and $551,530 in HOME funds this year, according to the agency. Suffolk is one of 13 cities and counties in Virginia that received the HUD funding. More about that later.

Police shoot and kill a 500-pound hog that had been ravaging the countryside in Chuckatuck.


It started raining really hard and didn’t stop until September. Nothing else happened.


Run of bad luck continues for pigs as 60 die in a Whaleyville crash.

A $2.2 million capital campaign kicks off to build a new YMCA in north Suffolk.

A truck ban on Nansemond Parkway comes a day late for Nansemond River High School Cheerleader who was severely injured when her car was struck by a truck while pulling out from the school

A City Council decision to deny a proposed housing development off Turlington Road prompts citizen outcry over lack of development south of downtown.

Sara Lee unveils $93 million liquid coffee facility.

Suffolk advertising icon Mr. Peanut is given one of five spots on the advertising walk of fame.

Work to underground utilities begins on Constance Road. There may be some traffic inconveniences.


It’s announced that Suffolk may take over road maintenance from the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Suffolk City Council goes on retreat Williamsburg, comes up with lists of initiatives for coming year, tops among them, how to funnel more money into downtown projects.

A dry (from a weather standpoint, that is) Peanut Fest is enjoyed by all.

In an effort to keep unsightly poor people off clean and vibrant Main Street, Suffolk City Council passes an ordinance limiting panhandling activity.

Demolition of obsolete Birdsong Recreation approved by Historic Landmarks Commission.

Groundbreaking held for Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, the price tag on which now exceeds $50 million.

Dr. Milton Liverman unveils 10-year capital improvement plan for Suffolk Schools — $3,572 for every man, woman and child in city.

Department of Housing and Urban Development strips local consortium of anticipated $500,000 in housing money for the needy because of poor management of funds on the part of Suffolk. City officials blame newspaper headlines.

Pisces seafood restaurant opens in former Nansemond Drug building.


Albert G. Horton’s efforts pay off – state veterans cemetery named for him dedicated in Suffolk.

&uot;State of Suffolk schools is good,&uot; Liverman says.

Former Mayor prevails in lawsuit filed by Leroy Schmidt. Court finds no violation of rights.

Be careful what you wish for…after complaining about the lack of participation in a series of spring &uot;visioning&uot; meetings on the comprehensive plan, a second series show increased attendance along with a lot of complaints.

Despite all the problems being the fault of headlines in the Suffolk News-Herald and not the city’s lack of oversight of the money, HUD decides to stand by decision not to reallocate half-a-million dollars in housing money to the city.

Because of unfavorable coverage in the Suffolk News-Herald and not because shelter workers needed a day or two off, the Suffolk Shelter for the Homeless closes for Thanksgiving, evicting six families.


Inflatable Spongebob stolen from atop north Suffolk fast food restaurant and later returned.

Jim Parr donates his 200th pint of blood.

Tabernacle Christian Church celebrates ground breaking for new facility.

Suffolkians show their generosity by sending the Cheer Fund campaign near its goal of raising $40,000 to buy toys for thousands of needy children.