Daily Press from Newport News, Virginia on January 30, 2002 · 21
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Daily Press from Newport News, Virginia · 21

Newport News, Virginia
Issue Date:
Wednesday, January 30, 2002
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Dailu JJrm C CXCSL V Government's helping hand can trip needy In Newport News, the notices arrived last week: They came rolled up and stuck in the handles of the storm doors of apartments in public-housing projects. In black print on green paper, the notices announced that residents would no longer have to perform eight hours of community service a month or face eviction. "The Newport News Redevelopment and Housing Authority is temporarily suspending the enforcement of the eight-hour community-service requirement and will not enforce this provision until we receive further notice from the Department of Housing and Urban Development," the notice informed residents. "We got a directive from HUD to suspend implementation," authority spokeswoman Brigid Gallaer said of the federally mandated program. The directive "says the Appropriations Act of 2002 temporarily suspends community service" Don't look for the service requirement to return soon. It went away because Congress added a provision to HUD's 2002 budget to specifically kill it. U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, a Democrat from New York, sponsored the legislatioa A HUD spokeswoman in Washington said Rangel's bill allowed no money in HUD's 2002 budget to be spent to enact or enforce the community-service rula The bill was added as an amendment to the general appropriation bill for HUD and the Department of Veterans Affairs. It passed on a voice vote. The move was supposed to protect the poor from being singled out for exploitation and forced to work for free. Instead, it took away an important component of personal accountability for millions of public-housing residents across the country, including those in Newport News and other area cities and counties. , Dumping community-service requirements didn't let poor people off the hook. It kept them ensnared by a cycle of poverty that at best destroys self-esteem and at worst leads to a sense of entitlement based on hopelessness. Donating eight hours a month to the community is nothing, compared with having the taxpayers provide you an apartment rent-free or for a pittance. Don't misunderstand: Plagued by crime, especially drugs and gangs, many public-housing projects offer some of this country's worst living conditions. But residents must play a role if those conditions are to improve. Congress was thinking of both deplorable public housing and resident involvement when it approved a public-housing overhaul called the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998. President Bill Clinton was thinking of the same thing when he signed the act into law. Now Congress has absolved public-housing residents of the horrible onus of being required to do anything in exchange for their rent except be poor Once again, they can feel dependent Thank goodness. Frankly the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act's requirement for personal accountability aimed pretty low. It required every adult resident of public housing to volunteer the equivalent of two hours a week. It made local housing agencies monitor that work. It says that if you refuse to do that work, your lease won't be renewed. Of course, this mandate had more holes than a sedan caught in a crossfire between the Crips and the Bloods. You didn't have to do any Please see SpencerC2 CONFERENCE. Newport News to host conference on diversi- : ! p and race relations. C3 KICKOFF. The Peninsula Relay for Life jumpstarts its 2002 campaign. C3 VACANT STORES. Smaller shopping centers along Route ;; 17 in York are reinventing their look and focus. Business, C6 dailypress.com School construction funds advance By Hugh Lettlg Daily Press RICHMOND Legislation to pump $1.6 billion into crumbling college and university buildings won approval Tuesday from a Senate panel, but Gov. Mark R. Warner remains noncommittal The financing package, which enjoys the backing of powerful lawmakers, would send millions of dol lars to the Peninsula everything from $974,000 to replace doors and windows at Thomas Nelson Community College to $6.35 million for more academic space at Christopher Newport University The Senate Finance Committee approved the measure, sending it to the full Senate. A companion measure in the House has not yet been heard in committee. The Senate sponsor is Finance Chairman John H. Chichester, who generally doesn't prefer borrowing for big-ticket items. Several factors compelled him to reconsider, he told members. First, the state's needs are critical; the budget impasse delayed several construction projects last year. Second, interest rates are favorable. Third, the state has an excellent Please see FundingC2 More GA news Committee clears bill to cap payday-loan interest and fees. A1 The House rejects an effort to end saluting the state flag. C3 Former Peninsula lawmaker re-appointed to corporation commission. C6 Laptops for school desks , J ; f Photos by Buddy NontaDaily Press Students at Lindsay Middle School in Hampton begin to familiarize themselves with their new laptops. Hampton City Schools started a pilot program in which students are allowed to take the portable computers home. 7th-graders get computers Hampton begins test of education's future By Miriam Stawowy Daily Press HAMPTON At his desk, seventh-grader Carlos Rice pressed the power button of a new tool for schoolwork: a laptop computer. The Lindsay Middle School student was one of about 120 who got an Apple iBook computer Tuesday It was part of a pilot program that Hampton City Schools sees as the future in educating not only its students but their parents and other people in the community Students will soon be able to take the portable computers home. "It's just kind of cool that we can use technology at school and at home," said 12-year-old Carlos, who could hardly take his eyes off the computer screen. "It will help us learn more about technology" On the school's auditorium stage, Hampton schools Superintendent Allen Davis told the select- J 1M A 1 V " " ' " Ml " " " ,'"'' it J i Reginald Hicks listens to the rules for using the computers. ed seventh-graders that the schools were counting on them to spearhead the program. "You're all our leaders," Davis said. "You all become teachers." Davis envisions the laptop pro gram as the catalyst to increase computer literacy in the Hampton area. He calls it the "virtual learning community," with students Please see ProgramC2 Husband charged in wife's shooting Mathews woman is in critical condition By Judith Hayne Daily Press MATHEWS A 60-year-old woman was shot Tuesday afternoon during a domestic dispute at her home in the Diggs area, said Chief Deputy Brown Strigle of the Mathews County Sheriff's Office. The bullet entered Marguerite Har-cum's lower chest and exited through her side, he said. She was airlifted to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, where she was in critical condition Tuesday night Inside A former Mathews County deputy is arrested and charged with driving while under the influence and attempting to elude police. C4 Her husband Arthur Har-cum, 63 was charged with aggravated malicious wounding and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, Strigle said. The weapon was a .38-caliber revolver. The shooting occurred shortly after 3 p.m. at the couple's home on Route 643, Strigle said. When help arrived, the wounded woman was coherent and able to talk. She told officers that her husband had shot her, Strigle said. She was bruised, and she also said he had punched her. Strigle checked police records for recent years and said he found no previous calls to the home because of domestic violence. The husband is retired, and the wife baby-sits part time, he said. Arthur Harcum is being held without bail at the Middle Peninsula Regional Security Center. Judith Haynea can be reached at (804) 642-1734 orjhaynesdailypress.com Group aiming for 2007 on Chippokes upgrade By Jessie Halladay Daily Press SURRY It's been nearly 400 years since Capt. William Powell farmed his Chippokes Plantation now a nearly 1,700-acre state park. The Chippokes Plantation Farm Foundation hopes to improve the park in coming years, with a $28 million project to enhance about 70 acres. The project calls for a new building to house the park's farm and forestry museum; gardens; and hands-on agricultural exhibits, like a barnyard stocked with animals. "It's an exciting project, but it's still on the drawing board," said Donna Sharits, development manager for the foundation. Planners hope to get the project done by 2007, in time for Jamestown's 400th anniversary The foundation has conducted a study to see what could be put on the site. That study led to the $28 million estimate. Now the group must hire a firm to create a plan for the site. Sharits said she hoped that whatever firm was chosen would have a plan ready to go within Given the tight state-budget climate, it could be several years before the project is done. six months. Then members of the foundation can start raising money. The foundation has asked the General Assembly for $700,000, Sharits said, but it's unclear whether the foundation will get it. Sharits said getting the money would be tough in this year's tight state-budget climate. So, she said, the foundation will need a lot of private donations. It could be several years before the project is done, but workers at the park look forward to changes. "I'm pretty excited about it," said Geloristine Evins, business manager at the park. "There will be a larger variety of things for people to participate in." Jessie Halladay can be reached at 357-6392 or by e-mail at jhalladaydailypress.com Curvy Mercury called murky Road Guy sheds some light on three shady roadways this week. First off, West Mercury Boulevard: It used to be a straight shot near Interstate 64 in the Coliseum Central area, but things are a bit more curvy of late. Construction crews frequently close a lane or two, so they can work on rebuilding the interchange. Drivers heading under the 1-64 overpass toward the James River Bridge have to maneuver through lane shifts, where they must swerve to stay in the correct lane. Robert Adams e-mailed the Road Guy last week to tell him about it: There are a lot of lane changes and merges on Mercury Boulevard going under I 64, and the temporary lines are hard to see. In the rain, they seem to disappear! Saturday night in the rain, another car and I almost side-swiped as we passed under the overpass. Road Guy sent a strongly worded e-mail to VDOT officials earlier this month, saying work crews were doing a sloppy job erecting signs and marking the pavement clearly enough to guide drivers through the serpentine course. Road Guy thinks that he got VDOT's mm attention. Work crews installed new pavement markings with reflectors on one of the West Mercury Boulevard lane- shifts this week and will soon begin installing them on 1-64 in the entire construction zone. That should help drivers see the lane shifts much better. Road Guy hears that VDOT is about to reduce the speed limit to 35 mph on West Mercury Boulevard at the interchange. VDOT is also looking into the cost of adding temporary lighting to this tricky area where traffic merges on and off the interstate. OK, things are looking a little brighter But Road Guy isn t quite ready to turn from the Dark Side (apologies to George Lucas). Dark Riddle. Jerry Coff-man hopes to see the light on , , Interstate 664 in Hampton and Newport News. Here's his e-mail: . I've been driving 1-664 and the Mon-itor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel for nearly six years now. And for almost that long, I have noticed a large number of streetlights along the highway that never seem to be working. I was wondering: Does VDOT ever plan to replace the burned-out lights? Yes, Jerry. VDOT is notoriously slow Please see RoadsC2

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