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home : web-exclusive features : web-exclusive features August 21, 2017

8/8/2017 2:05:00 PM
The Shadow - "Wrong Way" Down A One-Way Sidewalk

It’s great to be back in the Alleghany Highlands after an all-too-short respite exploring the North Carolina coast.

I have to say, the Hatteras Lighthouse is one of my favorite places to visit every time I’m down that way.

Well, enough of the small talk. Let’s get started, shall we?

At the risk of what my mentor and beloved predecessor The Shadow called “getting catty,” there are some stories in our area that you can’t make up.

Just when I thought I’d heard it all, a story comes along that makes me shake my head.

I normally don’t include a picture with my column, but this time I needed one to help me describe what happened on Maple Avenue not too long ago.

If you’ll remember, down on the 100 block of North Maple Avenue, the city of Covington is doing its streetscape project – new sidewalks and curbs, buried utility lines, new trees, paving, etc.

It’s going to look really nice when it’s all said and done.

As the crew was working in front of the newspaper building a couple of weeks ago, with that portion of the street blocked with a bright orange sign that read “Road Closed,” a motorist blew through the sign, through the blockade and headed on down the street.

That in and of itself is not too abnormal; it happens all the time, I’m sure.

Fortunately, from what I’m told, a quick-thinking worker snapped a picture of the vehicle and, more importantly, the license plate to turn over to the local police.

Here’s where the story gets interesting.

The police reported it couldn’t do anything about the vehicle because, even though there was a “Road Closed” sign and cones clearly marking the work zone, apparently, what the driver did was not illegal.

I’m going to try that the next time I’m sitting in roadwork on Interstate 81 and see if I can get by with it.

Now, I guess to make it official that it is indeed a work zone, the city’s had to go out and buy, with your tax dollars, signs that actually say it’s a work zone and violators will be prosecuted.

Those signs are in the picture accompanying this week’s column.

I included it because, heck, I figure if you bought ‘em, you ought to see what they look like.

The funny part of the story is when the responding officer came to talk with the workers he didn’t park in the newspaper parking lot and walk the 25 or so yards to where the workers were.

He drove down the sidewalk in front of the newspaper building.

Yes, you read that right, he actually drove down the sidewalk. In the police car.

I know it was quite hot that day, but I’m pretty sure that extra 30 seconds in his car didn’t make that big of a difference.

I can only imagine The Boss’s reaction — sitting in his office, glancing out the window and seeing a police car drive down the sidewalk in front of his office window.

He told me it looked like something out of the “Blues Brothers.”

Oh, but it gets better.

When he was done, the officer backed up the way he came in and clobbered the “Wrong Way” sign at the corner of the newspaper parking lot.

There’s some irony for you.

In his defense, he did go back and straighten up the Boss’s sign pole.

I wonder how much the bill will be for repairs to the back bumper of that police car.

See, I told you there are some stories you just can’t make up in the Alleghany Highlands.

Well, I guess school fires back up in Alleghany County tomorrow.

Schools open tomorrow in Alleghany County, while Covington schools will open next Monday and, in Bath County, schools will open the following Wednesday.

One thing to keep in mind — there’s going to be a lot more traffic and a lot more bodies out meandering out on the streets and sidewalks when schools fire back up for the new academic year.

Please be careful when driving, especially at Covington High School.

Although there are signs clearly posted on Lexington Avenue in front of the school telling parents not to drop their kids off there, I guess they can’t read or don’t care, because a lot of parents do it anyway.

This is very dangerous, especially in the mornings.

At the same time, you’ve got kids who park in the lots on the Nettleton Property and walk across the street to school.

And don’t get me started on the mess that Alleghany County has down at Exit 21 on Interstate 64.

I remember, years ago, the late Sam Wilhelm, who was on the Alleghany County Board of Supervisors at the time, calling that intersection “Spaghetti Junction,” and it has only gotten worse with the construction of the Love’s Travel Plaza and associated road “improvements.”

(Did you see the way I used quote marks in that last paragraph? I’ve noticed that if you put things in quotes it supposedly makes you look really “cool,” or it shows that you’re “thinking outside of the box” or, perhaps, you’re completely “stuck in the 1940s.” I’m not totally sure which.)

Anywho, I hate to be Nostradamus, but I predict there’s going to be a bad accident in that area before it’s all said and done, especially with the increase of school traffic in that area beginning in the morning.

Sheriff Kevin Hall and his folks are going to have their work cut out for them in the next few weeks and I don’t envy them one bit as they go out and try to make sense of all that senselessness.

Good luck to all of our area students as they return to the classroom in the week ahead.

Enjoy being a kid while you can, because being an adult really sucks!

And finally, filed away in the “Department of Redundancy Department,” I read in The Virginian Review recently that the Alleghany County School Board is seeking to clarify the authority of its chairman to make appointments.

Clarify the authority of its chairman?

Who is he, Napoleon?

I thought the chairman’s job was to speak at graduations, run board meetings and smile at photo ops. At the end of the day, he or she still has only one “official” vote.

I’m “on a roll” using those quotes.

This whole issue stems from a recent appointment that The Chairman made to the Jackson River Technical Center Board of Joint Control.

In 2016 the full board voted on appointments to the JRTC board; so why did The Chairman have the authority to do it a year later?

Like a lot of things coming from this board recently, this is pretty strange.

This is the same group that’s going to put wireless Internet on school buses so kids can do their school work on computers.

Insert eye roll here.

But I digress.

I don’t know of any other council or board in this area that allows its chair to have the autonomy to make appointments as he or she sees fit.

I’ve been to a lot of meetings in my time and, at every one of them, the members of that council or board have always voted on appointments.

In light of all this, there may be a committee — because committees are always effective and efficient, just ask Congress — to develop policies for operating procedures at meetings.

Shouldn’t a policy for meeting operations have been something that was developed long before now?

Action could be taken at the August 21 board meeting, but I highly doubt it.

This, like a lot of things, will be bogged down by personalities and personal agendas and I don’t foresee anything of value happening with it in the near future.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Got a rumor you’d like to share with me?

Don’t agree with something you’ve read in The Shadow?

Send an email to and tell me all about it.

You can also snail-mail me at: The Shadow, c/o The Virginian Review, P.O. Box 271, Covington, Va. 24426.

“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? Only the Shadow knows…”

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