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People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Tie It All Together

My thanks to Steve Minor over at SW Virginia Law Blog for bringing this column in the New York Times to my attention. It was written by John Tierney on May 14 and I remember looking at the headline, not seeing anything in it of great interest, and moving on to something else. It happens.

Well, it interests me for a number of reasons.
A Tale of Two Trust Funds
By
JOHN TIERNEY

Don't be discouraged by this week's report that traffic congestion is worse than ever across America. Relief is on the way from Congress, thanks to one of the designated 3,800 "high-priority projects" in the new highway bill. It's a new transit system guaranteed to free you from bumper-to-bumper traffic, as long as you have a horse.

This addition to the nation's transportation infrastructure is the brainchild of Representative Rick Boucher, a Democrat from the southwestern Virginia mountains that Daniel Boone traversed on the way to Kentucky. Mr. Boucher secured $750,000 of highway money for the "construction of horse trails and assorted facilities" in Jefferson National Forest.

When I expressed doubts to Mr. Boucher that these new horse trails would ease traffic on the roads, he replied, "That's fair to say." He didn't expect any commuters to use them. But he insisted this really wasn't an unusual use of money from the highway trust fund, and he had a point. (link)

These three paragraphs actually touch on several topics I've made mention of in recent days, including one this morning involving Rick Boucher's obsession with the development of tourism in Southwest Virginia. I understand the man has no business experience and, being a Democrat, is required to be opposed to corporate enterprise in all its forms. But his promoting bike paths and now horse trails is goofy. How many jobs does he actually think he's going to create with such expenditures?

In addition, I have, on a number of occasions, brought to the attention of the reader the waste in the out-of-control federal budget. Boucher, doing his part to contribute to that waste, has submitted an expenditure of $750,000 for horse trails in a highway bill for God's sake.

Finally, there is Boucher's cavalier attitude toward his role as an employee of the people of this district and toward the hard-earned tax revenue we have been forced to provide him and the federal government. "When I expressed doubts to Mr. Boucher that these new horse trails would ease traffic on the roads, he replied, 'That's fair to say.'" "... he insisted this really wasn't an unusual use of money from the highway trust fund..."

The man has been in Washington far too long. It's time he was sent crawling back to Abingdon to find himself, if there is any justice in this world, having to make choices - like we do - between our grandchildrens' college education and his bloody horse trails.

This Is What I'm Talking About

For those of you who think I rail unfairly at (Democratic) Congressman Rick Boucher and his lame attempt at rejuvenating the economy in Southwest Virginia by promoting tourism, and have never given serious consideration to what I know to be the one viable alternative - that would be tax breaks and insulation from certain state and federal regulations - read the following, an article written by Mike Giordano entitled, "Duffield A Hot Spot for Manufacturing Jobs," and learn.

A festive mood is Scott County, Virginia (sic).

This is the annual business appreciation picnic and county leaders have a lot to be thankful for.

Business in Duffield continues to grow quickly.

"There’s been a lot of expansion that's occurred in Duffield in the past several years,” said Jonathan Belcher with the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority.

In fact, VACEDA just closed a 600-thousand dollar loan with VFP after the company announced last month it would add more than 100 jobs here.

In the past year and a half, more than 500 new jobs have located in Duffield...including last November's announcement by Midpaco to add 140.

"There’s been a lot of expansion that's occurred in Duffield in the past several years,” said Jonathan Belcher with the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority.

In fact, VACEDA just closed a 600-thousand dollar loan with VFP after the company announced last month it would add more than 100 jobs here.

In the past year and a half, more than 500 new jobs have located in Duffield...including last November's announcement by Midpaco to add 140.

So why Duffield?

Midpaco's president, Andy Quillen, says it comes down to a number of factors not the least of which are the tax breaks that come with the Duffield Industrial Park's designation as an enterprise zone. (link)

I intend to do some research tomorrow, when I have more time, to find out where Congressman Boucher and all the other Democrats who run things in Southwest Virginia stand on the whole issue of enterprise zones. My guess is, since Boucher is promoting the more nebulous and feckless tourism panacea, that he opposes what is proving to actually work.

I hear there is a tourism office up in Rocky Gap that actually employs a couple of people. Whether they ever see a tourist blunder in to their office on any given day is questionable.

Duffield, for those of you who don't know it, is located in economically depressed Scott County where, until now, the best opportunity for a family to find excellent employment was through the local U-Haul outlet and a tank of gas. The phenomenal growth there - the result of a meager tax incentive to business - is encouraging to all who hope to see Southwest Virginia turn the corner and actually achieve a level of prosperity never known in these parts.

The message to Boucher and cronies: Break the shackles. Release the stranglehold. Because of the economic blight ravaging so much of the area, we demand exemption from burdensome federal, state and local corporate taxes and fees as well as the myriad environmental, OSHA, and worker's compensation regulations. At least until we're able to get on our feet.

Why?

Because it works.
Good news for workers, Southwest Virginia business leaders expect plenty of future opportunities here.

"Growth and success feeds more growth and success," said Ron Flanary, executive director of LENOWISCO.

That growth could come soon.

A business park emphasizing information technology companies is expected to open in Duffield late this summer.
We have two choices: Expand on our success by reducing the cost of doing business or join Rick Boucher out on the side of I-81 with your clown suit on, waving at tourists as they make their way south toward Florida, hoping that one of them will take the Marion exit to urinate - and buy a candy bar.

The choice is ours.

But Will It Put The Toilet Seat Back Down?

I'm not sure I want to sit on a toilet that is smarter than me.
Vienna U. to Produce 'Toilet With Brains'

VIENNA, Austria (AP) -- They size you up, offer you a hand, raise and lower the seat and flush when you're finished. Researchers at Vienna's Technical University said Thursday they have begun production on what they've dubbed a "toilet with brains" - a high-tech commode designed to help multiple sclerosis patients and other disabled or elderly people.

Scientists are refining two versions: one that uses "smart cards" that a person inserts in a slot upon entering the toilet, which then adjusts hand rails, and another that does the same using voice-recognition technology.

Users who enter the cabin are sized up by technology that then activates swinging hand rails into the proper location or adjusts the seat height to accommodate people in wheelchairs. The toilets detect when the person is finished and flush automatically. (link)

Personally, I'm not big on a toilet with a smart card. I've always preferred a little adventure when I enter a men's room. What will they come up with next? A scientific way to prevent grafitti from being written on the stall wall? They're taking away all the fun.

Another Alleged Teacher Pedophile

A teacher here in Virginia has been accused of molesting two of his students, aged 11 and 17.

If found guilty, he faces a prison sentence that will be inadequate compared to the despicable crime.
Teacher faces sex-offense charges
Richmond Times-Dispatch

COLONIAL BEACH -- A 27-year-old high school teacher faces a series of sex-offense charges involving two underage female students.

Nicholas Joseph Clary, a teacher at Colonial Beach High School, turned himself in Tuesday after he learned he was the subject of a state police investigation, state police spokesman Sgt. Kevin A. Barrick said yesterday.

The two students are 11 and 17. The offenses allegedly occurred at an after-school program at the town's elementary school over in March, Barrick said.

Clary, who lives in King George County, is charged with four felony counts of aggravated sexual battery, sexual battery, taking indecent liberties with children and taking indecent liberties with children he supervised, Barrick said. Clary is also charged with five misdemeanor counts of sexual battery and two misdemeanor counts of assault and battery. (link)

For crying out loud.