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

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

All In A Day's Work

A Prayer For Our Firefighters

Thank you Lord for those whose Hearts
Are generous and Brave
So generous, they risk their Lives
That others may be Saved

Thank you Lord for those who Choose
To serve those in Distress
Please grant them Strength, exactly When,
They think there’s nothing Left

Thank you Lord for those who Know,
That life is short and Dear
May you always help them Be,
The Masters of their Fear

Thank you Lord for those who Risk,
To feel another’s Pain
Help them, as they daily Face,
What most would deem Insane

Thank you Lord for those who Ask,
To live a “Bigger Life”
Embracing all the lessons learned,
In Struggle and in Strife

May they always have the Will,
To choose the “Higher Road”
Grant strength to those who choose to Share,
Their Journey and their Load

And may the rest of us be Grateful,
That our world is made much Brighter,
Illuminated by the Souls
Of Our Firefighters

Author: Ann Fairbanks

The photos above are of firefighter Jarrod Fuhrman, Engine 3, Roanoke Fire/EMS, Saturday, March 11, 2006, responding to the Carilion Biomedical Institute fire in downtown Roanoke.

Photos courtesy of Lt. Rhett Fleitz, Roanoke Fire/EMS.

Click on images to enlarge.

Galax Suffers Another Blow

Another Galax employer is laying off hundreds of employees:
Sara Lee to cut hundreds of jobs in Galax and Eden, NC

Sara Lee's branded-apparel division says it's cutting 510 manufacturing jobs in Galax and Eden, North Carolina as it reduces production capacity.

The division is cutting 178 jobs cut in Eden and 332 positions in Galax. After the cuts, the Eden plant will have 650 employees and 135 people will work at Galax.

The division says it will phase out part of its yarn production in Eden and knitting, bleaching, finishing and cutting in Galax by the end of May.

The company calls the move imperative to staying competitive in a tough industry. (link)
Add this to a long line of plant closings in recent years. And it's far from over.

Virginia Tech 'Big Brother' Ordinance 1 Year Old

Virginia Tech officials are celebrating the first anniversary of its infamous "Principles of Community."

Tech Principles of Community marks 1st anniversary
By NRVToday

Virginia Tech will mark the first anniversary of its "Principles of Community" on Tuesday having made many positive steps to further foster and promote an inclusive and diverse campus environment.

It was one year ago when the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors formally endorsed the Virginia Tech Principles of Community, a statement that affirms the university's commitment to a diverse and inclusive community. (link)
In case you've not been following the story, Tech's "principles" to which it demands that its student body rigidly adheres consists of the following:
  • Cursing is permitted - F words are even encouraged - but any phrase uttered relating to gay men, lesbians, African-Americans, feminists, or people who are confused on any given day as to what sex they are will be met with swift and debilitating retribution.
  • The free expression of ideas is encouraged on campus but if a student gives expression to any notion that does not conform to a very narrow code of permissible thoughts, harsh retaliation will fall upon the perpetrator.
  • Students are expected to nurture the school's culture of mutual trust and understanding but are required to rat out anyone who scrawls graffiti on a wall that can, in any way, be considered demeaning to certain protected groups (anti-Christian and anti-Bush graffitti, however, is permissible - even sacrosanct).

And most important -

  • "Promote involvement of the university and larger communities in dialogs and collaborative activities that foster a positive, supportive environment for all groups." (link)

No word on the number of students who, in the first year of the implementation of the "Principles of Community," have been called before the university's thought monitors to "discuss" that positive, supportive environment.

It All Becomes Clear

In the most recent Milken Institute study of the best performing metropolitan areas in the country in 2005, the Roanoke MSA ranks as follows:
  • 5-yr Job Growth (1999-2004) - 168th out of 200
  • 1-yr Job Growth (2003-2004) - 173rd out of 200
  • 5-yr Wages & Salaries Growth (1998-2003) - 160th out of 200
  • 1-yr Wages & Salaries Growth (2002-2003) - 180th out of 200
  • Overall rank - 179th out of 200

So how does the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors respond to these discouraging statistics? By voting to protect a bunch of rocks and bushes:

Roanoke Co. supervisors oppose sale in Catawba
Their resolution on the forest service plan will be sent to Virginia's Congress members.
Cody Lowe, The Roanoke Times

The Roanoke County Board of Supervisors went on record for the county's citizens Tuesday opposing the proposed sale of 121 acres of U.S. Forest Service property in the Catawba section of the county.

The Bush administration has proposed the sale of more than 300,000 acres of forest nationally and pooling the revenue to help fund some of the nation's poorest school districts. (link)

And, so that nobody misunderstands what the board's priorities are, they made it clear:

The resolution ... asserts that "if this property were sold and developed it would have the following harmful effects upon the County: harm to the viewsheds from the Catawba community and the Appalachian Trail, and potential for soil erosion, soil loss, water runoff, flooding and loss of forested lands."

Not to mention a whopper of a lawsuit. But no matter. We can't be destroying the "viewshed" that overlooks a bustling Roanoke Valley, teeming with vibrant business establishments employing highly motivated, highly skilled, and well-paid workers battling mightily (with Detroit) to make the Roanoke area 178th in economic vitality out of America's 200 largest communities.

For the love of God.

And Not To Be Outdone ...

In the race to the bottom, the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors has come up with a novel approach to reversing the area's disturbing economic decline. It has proposed a tax increase - and "parents and teachers" beg for more:
Parents, teachers say tax hike not enough
A suggested 4-cent real estate tax increase would help fund a $133.2 million proposed budget.
By Niki King, The Roanoke Times

County staff presented a proposed budget for the 2007 fiscal year that suggested a 4-cent real estate tax increase to fund a $133.2 million budget. Under the proposed budget, schools would get $89.6 million, short of the $91.3 million they requested. (link)
A representative cross-section of the community (well, a cross-section of those who benefit from higher taxes anyway) was at the board meeting and spoke on the subject:
Teachers, aides, custodians, bus drivers and even the Montgomery County staff spoke of the need for resources and salaries commensurate with surrounding areas.
Mysteriously, there were no (reported) representatives from the business community at the meeting to suggest to the board that the area's rapidly dwindling business community could ill afford another tax hike unless it was levied on companies operating in Mexico as well as those in Montgomery County since so many employers who once thrived in the local community have now moved south of the border in order to escape a stifling tax and regulation culture.

But then, why should area politicians bother with such tedium? There are, after all, so many more important issues to deal with and so many government employee mouths to feed...

New York Times Caught In Lie

Just how far is a newspaper willing to go in order to further a cause? In the case of the New York Times, it seems, the answer is ... right over the cliff:
By Niles Lathem, The New York Post

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon is challenging the accuracy of a New York Times story that identified the hooded Iraqi detainee who became the symbol of the Abu Ghraib prison-abuse scandal, creating a new round of internal investigations inside the newspaper.

The man, shown standing on a box with electrical wires sticking out of his arms, was ID'd by the paper as Ali Shalal Qaissi, 43. The Pentagon communicated with the Times to say that's incorrect.

But Chris Grey, of the Army's Criminal Investigative Division, told The Post last night, "Our investigation has concluded that the detainee who was identified in the newspaper article is not the man in that photograph." (link)
So how could the Times have blundered so badly? It appears that the reporter and editors, in their zeal, climbed in bed with the wrong "sources":
Military officials and media analysts told The Post it's possible the Times was duped by working with American civil-liberties lawyers on a massive lawsuit against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other military officials over widely reported detainee abuse at the notorious prison.
These people have proven over and over again that they are not to be trusted.

Sago Survivor Update

Here's the latest on Randal McCloy, the sole survivor of the Sago Mine disaster:

Survivor visits home for first time since blast
By Vicki Smith

MORGANTOWN (AP) — Randal McCloy Jr., the sole survivor of the Sago Mine disaster, visited his home in Simpson for the first time since the Jan. 2 explosion Tuesday, eating a home-cooked lunch and visiting with family for three hours.

Afterward, the 26-year-old coal miner returned to the HealthSouth Mountainview Regional Rehabilitation Hospital, where he is going through months of therapy to recover from brain damage and other injuries.

On Tuesday, he made the 45-minute drive with Anna, their two children and brother-in-law Rick McGee, said family spokeswoman Aly Goodwin Gregg.

McCloy was able to walk into the house with assistance from hospital staff. His motor skills, speech and strength are all continuing to improve, Gregg said.

“It was wonderful, and he was so happy to be home."(link)

Good news all the way around.