Transportation, culture and government, oh my!

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 9, 2005

Things have changed a bit since I last talked to Larry Pennington, Skydive Suffolk, who makes his headquarters at our airport. For one thing, a grandson of ours has jumped out of Larry’s planes twice, causing some consternation, parents and grandparents; but I’d be doing it myself if I were not so old and brittle.

Larry once told me he couldn’t even get a tire fixed at our airport.

But Kent Marshall, airport manager, says that although they have no maintenance shop on the field, there are several federally licensed mechanics operating there and can meet all mechanical needs of the airport community. He is also talking to three established maintenance businesses that have expressed an interest in moving to Suffolk. He reminded me that stated future Airport CIP budgets have money designated for hanger construction and the airport plans to build facilities that will attract these and other interests. So big things are happening, mighty slowly, but apparently, carefully.

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Planning Commissioner William Goodman is keeping a sharp eye on the necessity to prevent residential and commercial construction too near the airport. We don’t want to play the silly game Virginia Beach did around NAS Oceana. Goodman wants plenty of open space just in case some pilot makes an unexpected, sudden, nose down, one-point landing. Both Commissioner Benton and Bob Goumas, Suffolk’s long-range planner, have assured all that keeping the area surrounding the airport sterile is a must and developers can forget about any notions to creep in during the night.

So it looks like Carolina Road, also known at 13/32, north and east of the airport, will remain almost as is. Milteer can have his grocery store and drug emporium elsewhere. Plenty of land south and west for &uot;growth,&uot; but I’d guess plans are to keep that open mostly for commercial development, and our planners in the economic department envision plenty of that. We are all aware of their progress toward filling up the north end of Suffolk with high-tech stuff, and that is already requiring hotels, eateries, and spots for entertainment. I suspect one day the south end of town will see the same activity.

Although some high-hopers still think a southeast Suffolk bypass is necessary, they can forget it. There is this wilderness called Dismal Swamp in the way and there are enough government agencies to prevent trespassing on homes, businesses, and wetlands already there. If you think the cost of gasoline is high, imagine the cost of punching a highway from Carolina Road north and east through all that to 58. Not in a little boy’s lifetime. But they are going to play around with Hoosier and White Marsh roads. That’s probably to improve traffic patterns and squeeze in a few more affordable homes.

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Now there’s a healthy number, somewhere between $200,000 and $300,000. That’s what our mayor figures the city could provide to support our up-and-coming cultural center. It’s kind of a loose number, but city estimates are often like that.

We all knew it was coming, that the edifice will not support itself with &uot;culture,&uot; not even with the city occupying parts of it and paying proper rent or lease. There’s the Childhood Development Services, Parks and Rec Administration, and the Senior Center. I’d like to see one room for veterans organizations, an important, massive part of our culture; and I’d like to have seen the black museum there, but they opted out anyway.

The director is not working cheap, so, why isn’t it his responsibility to keep the budget funded? I will take all bets that the number $300,000 won’t cut it … and the city will find a way to pay no matter what it is. I suspect downtowners will never let it sink and they have influence.

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&uot;Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress.

But then I repeat myself.&uot; So said Mark Twain, but it does not apply to ours.

&uot;Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.&uot; Said Douglas Casey, classmate of Bill Clinton. Right on.

&uot;Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys,&uot; said P.J. O’Rourke. He also said, &uot;If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it free.&uot;

&uot;Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else,&uot; said Frederic Bastiat, French economist (1801-1850) It is still true today.

&uot;Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases:

If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it.

And if it stops moving, subsidize it.&uot; – Ronald Reagan (1986)

Will Rogers said, &uot;I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.&uot;

Old Winston Churchill penned, &uot;The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.&uot;

But most important is what Thomas Jefferson said. &uot;A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.&uot;

Could he have been thinking about recent rulings on the subject of eminent domain? Most accurate words, and still true, are from Pericles way back in 430 B.C. &uot;Just because you do not take an interest in politics, doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.&uot;

Robert Pocklington is a resident of Suffolk and a regular News-Herald columnist. He can be reached at