His latest stop on his whirlwind tour of the slums, otherwise known as the "Fighting 9th," was at the Wythe News. There he revealed to reporter Dan Kegley his greatest achievement in 2005:
Boucher looks back, forwardHe won't get an argument from me. And a fine bit of blacktopping it was too. You go, Rick. We should all take pride in having a representative to the world's greatest deliberative body who can boast of such achievements.
By Dan Kegley, Media General News Service
An upgrade of state Route 600 from St. Clair Valley to Konnarock in Smyth County topped U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher’s (D-9) list of 2005 district successes ... (link)
He obtained funds to upgrade a cross-county back road ...
It was the logic that went into the decision to upgrade the road that made my heart swell with pride:
"Just the fact that (area) was difficult to access had restricted its use over the years," Boucher said.To us the unwashed that means "Ain't nobody usin' that road but I'm friends with the fellas what print the money and y'all had a road that needed fixin'. So I fixed it."
What a guy.
Boucher even let on that he's been giving Bland County (from which this weblog emanates) some consideration:
Since more than half of Bland County lies in the Jefferson National Forest, the county can offer outdoors recreation to people driving through Southwest Virginia, Boucher said.Uh oh. Here we go. More tourism nonsense. Would someone tell this guy that the only recreation "people" are getting as they "drive through Southwest Virginia" is when they pull off I-77 over in Bastian, leap out of the car, and pee in the bushes?
So what is Rick's plan for Bland County?
To add tourism to logging and hunting as uses of the public lands, Boucher secured $800,000 to develop multi-use trails, camping facilities, parking and an interpretive visitors’ center in the town of Bland.Trails. Swell. We need more trails. The eighty that are criss-crossing Southwest Virginia aren't enough.
And that ain't all. We'll have an interpretive visitor center to interpret for the seven tourists who venture into Bland annually (I don't count the Appalachian Trail hikers; they're generally impoverished by choice and, at most, buy a Snickers bar and a Faygo at the local Citgo station before they disappear off into God knows where, bringing to the county on average $2.12 per tourist - with tax) why it is they see so many abandoned buildings in town where businesses once thrived but have, in recent years, gone under.
The interpretive center will be a nice add-on to our other tourist attraction, the Indian Village - that draws no tourists either.
But maybe I'm just being too negative. After all, Rick does have a plan:
Boucher said he talked with Bland officials about how "the national forest in Bland County can work for the county economically in a far better way. I’ve had people who are mountain bike enthusiasts tell me Bland County is a terrific place for mountain biking for a variety of reasons. It’s on Interstate 77, not far from Interstate 81, so it’s accessible from the major cities and it offers just the kind of terrain and remoteness that people who like mountain biking are looking for."So that's why 12.4% of the county's residents live below the poverty line. All those mountain bikers are driving to Gatlinburg.
Because Bland County does not have developed trails, people are driving to the Smokies from Washington, D.C., "to have the kind of mountain biking experience they want," he said.
Is there anyone out there who believes for one minute that there are Washington D.C. biking enthusiasts (all of 100? 200?) who long for the day when Bland County, Virginia builds a mountain bike trail just for them? What makes our mountains so much more appealing than the other seven thousand in the Appalachians, the Blue Ridge, and the Smokey Mountains? Or, for that matter, the additional seven thousand in the Catskills, the Adirondacks or the Poconos?
Who's kidding whom here? How long are we going to let this guy get away with this?
I can see it now. Next year, Rick Boucher will come down to Southwest Virginia on his semi-annual visit and will be touting his two greatest accomplishments - a blacktopped road and a tourist.
I can't wait.
WE CAN'T WAIT...