It all depends upon your viewpoint
As I remember it those wonderful people who wanted the old high school restored for cultural reasons were going to raise the money themselves. There was a small group of local persons who decided that soliciting the hundreds of alumni and a few corporations could raise enough money to do it. Then there was a stroke of genius and additional individual contributions could get your name on a seat in the theater, or on a door or window, maybe a whole room. It made sense and maybe that would complete paying for the restoration.
I had the feeling that the “founders” were not quite sure what and who would occupy the place that had to do with “culture.” I mean there are a lot of rooms in that building and it might be tough to fill them up with things associated with mind improvement. Then we learned that the Suffolk Recreation Department Administration would take space…I guess that is connected in some small way to enhancing our life style. Inviting the Senior Citizens organization in seemed appropriate, and a meeting room for the American Legion. We assume the rest will be taken up with painting and sculpturing classes, acting classes, quilt sewing demos, pottery making, anything associated with the “arts.” (Almost any creation dreamed up today makes you an artist) Of course there has to be a gift shop, a place to dine, (there are not enough restaurants in Suffolk) and a conference center that will compete with those at the Hilton.
But suddenly it became necessary for the city to jump into the deal when Council agreed that millions of our taxes should be invested to finish the job…I don’t remember being asked. Suddenly this became a very expensive escapade, but who would dare deny that it is in the best interests of all the surrounding Suffolk villages to have a City Center. And if that’s what it will be then they should locate the Suffolk Museum in the Cultural Center, and have an appropriate place there for what is to become a Black Museum. I also suggested that all veteran groups be given space, and why not the Nansemond Indians who will never see there own village of “Matanock.” And there will still be enough room in there for an automobile dealership.
Long before completion of restoration, the founders hired an expensive Cultural Center Director whose duties I suppose are to continue raising money, see that things are done right, interview the necessary staff, line up cultural events to keep the theatre busy, and act as the CC spokesperson. Judging by the total investment this public/private project is now big time. Smithfield’s Little Theatre will pale to insignificance and Suffolk will become the Cultural Center for all folks residing west of 664.
It is so important to Suffolk’s future image that Chris Jones, our Delegate to Richmond will introduce and lobby (wheedle) for whatever is necessary to pluck an annual $250,000 from the State’s treasury. Is this commendable and necessary…will the Center’s success depend upon an annual million of our taxes, and another quarter million from the state? Why do many of us have the feeling this downtown enhancement is still not well planned and financially getting out of hand? I can assure you it will not fail regardless of what it might cost you. It will be interesting to see just how many downtown Suffolk residents actually walk to the Center.
Speak no evil
As you all know, Bob Woodruff of ABC News was seriously injured along with his cameraman Bob Vogt by a roadside bomb in Iraq. Everyone has sympathy for them and wishes them a safe and full recovery. However, I recall that Woodruff has been careful not to speak harshly about our enemy, the insurgents, and refused to refer to them as terrorists?
Talk about irony…could we say the two were injured by “friendly fire?”
Robert Pocklington is a Suffolk resident and regular News-Herald columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.