Listen to Eric

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 14, 2005

Chuckatuck Councilman Joe Barlow attempted to inform his constituents of the status of the King’s Highway Bridge. In addition he hoped to revisit the subject of letting VDOT off the hook for maintenance of our road system. A sizeable crowd met at our local firehouse and it was obvious many came loaded for bear. They found one in the person of Eric Nielsen, the size of a grizzly, who was much better armed than those upset by the seven- mile detour around the bridge. And when it came to the subject of VDOT he, the bear, carried the gun.

He showed slides of the underside condition of the crumbling concrete and rusting steel rods that reminded me of an early life poem concerning a Mr. Humpty Dumpty who fell off a wall. There is no way VDOT or the city of Suffolk will put that bridge together again. Only a dunce with millions to spare would attempt it. Perhaps if the bridge were considered to be a &uot;Centerpiece&uot; like the Cultural Center, Mr. Herbert would find a way.

But according to VDOT statisticians only about 3,000 souls cross that bridge in a day.

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I guess that means about 70,000 Suffolk souls don’t, and that’s darn near a majority.

It really doesn’t matter who is to blame, God, VDOT, or the failure of Suffolk to enforce the &uot;no trucks&uot; rules…the bridge is doomed. My suggestion that my old Combat Engineer unit could put a floating Bailey Bridge across in a day was shot down by the fact that old coots like me could not get our boats out to the bay for a day’s fishing. Of course that was on the minds of VDOT planners when they had opted for a 65′ high replacement bridge. I’d feel comfortable chugging underneath that in my 16-footer. One gentleman suggested that VDOT apologize for what has happened to our beloved bridge. That would be as helpful as Clinton apologizing for the blue dress.

Unbending Eric was just as effective demonstrating that the city would gain millions by assuming responsibility for its roads…like every other city in the world does. Those positive charts and graphs with the help of a red laser pointer disabled querying minds. Add in the bulk of Eric and it is a done deal. I reckon it is one of the few times the majority of the public agrees entirely with the opinion of our city manager. And why won’t

our new storage facility, huge array of road equipment, and eighty new employees be considered a &uot;Centerpiece?&uot; If a courthouse where lawyers get all the money can be considered one, then certainly having our own pothole filler does.

I mentioned Savannah in a recent column where tourists gather to see restored old buildings, Spanish moss hanging in every tree, and mostly shabby eateries jammed together along a few blocks of patched up river warehouses. I saw hordes of tourists marching back and forth along River Walk pondering where to empty their bladder, rest and eat. If there is anything else to see in Savannah, other than million dollar homes, I failed to notice. I will admit that having a city block of shrubs and trees just about everywhere is a good thing. It reminded me of the greenery in rural Suffolk that is everywhere. The difference is that Savannah’s azaleas bloom a couple of weeks before ours…but when ours bloom you don’t see Savannah residents flocking our River Walk.

On the subject of the 46 million proposed &uot;Centerpiece&uot; over in Driver…it’s a case of the military having no further use for the land and splitting it up between interested parties. Do we really need, in these days of choking assessments, another expense? I did read carefully about how it would be paid for with grants, etc. Who is attempting to kid whom? The state and the federal government have $46 million available in grants for a sports complex? Better they give us a new bridge across the Nansemond. It seems to me, a non-active octogenarian, that we have sufficient football fields, tennis courts, and soccer fields scattered, as they should be, around the city. We will have two amphi-theatres in the village, Cultural Center and Hilton; do we need another?

I’m with the mayor on this one, another time perhaps, when everyone is making as much money as higher echelon city employees and can afford their property taxes. Has the city considered planting grass and raising a few cows for school children’s fresh milk? Or we could sell the Obici house, golf course, Planter’s club, and our 25 acres next to VDOT headquarters. That would add up to a pretty sum; might even provide us with a tax break.

A neat thing about reaching age 80 is my reward of great experience, common sense and inordinate wisdom. It’s especially comforting because everything else is shot. Like awhile back I put out the last of our birdseed, all but one seed that I planted to grow some more. In about a week something came up…it was a bird and I don’t have anything to feed it. I have to admit, in spite of all the reading I do, I was surprised to hear on Fox News that protons have mass, but then who else would know they were catholic? It’s logical I guess, but if the world were a logical place it would be the men who ride sidesaddle?

My doctor says I could make it to 90 but insists I am overweight. I insist my weight is perfect for my height, which varies. He says I should swim every day but if that’s so darn good for the figure, how do you explain whales?

Robert Pocklington is a regular columnist for the News-Herald. E-mail him at