- Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 March 2009 16:55
- Published on Wednesday, 18 March 2009 16:55
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For 54 years there have been fireworks at the Potomac River Festival; a long-standing Colonial Beach tradition and an aspect of community pride for many. But maybe not in year 55.
The Festival is an event which is planned and put on by the Chamber of Commerce and its many volunteers each year. Almost as soon as one ends, the next one is in the works. This year will mark the 55th Anniversary of the Potomac River Festival, and this year, fireworks may become a thing of the past.
Because, although in prior years the Town has helped with the cost of fireworks for this event, this year, they are saying no.
A recent note sent to Chamber members says, “The financial problems of today that are being felt internationally, have affected the Town of Colonial Beach as well. The budget is tight and under these conditions the Town is unable to fund the fireworks this year.
"Therefore, the Potomac River Festival Chairperson Byran Stepp, all of the volunteers and the Chamber are asking for your help.”
An October 21, 2008 letter from then Acting Town Manager Val Foulds may have given the Chamber of Commerce a little heads up as it said, “At this time the town is not prepared to commit any funding toward radio advertisements or the fireworks display for the Potomac River Festival in June 2009.”
Recently the Town reached its decision and made it official. Citing financial reasons, they have said they will not fund fireworks for the Festival, but they will fund for Fourth of July 2009. However, some people are wondering why they said no, because according to the Town’s budget, they had $10,000 in the fireworks account; money left over from last year’s 4th of July. President of the Chamber of Commerce, Carey Geddes says that the Town Manager has the authority to veto line items in the budget and that is what has been done.
The Chamber has now received its contract for Festival Fireworks and the amount on the table is $8,800, with a deposit of $2,200 due by April 30. Geddes says that the Chamber is really going to try and raise the money to save this town tradition.
“We are going to host a big event on Town Hill on the Fourth of July to try and attract the kind of people, the families, that we want visiting our Town. There will be something for everyone to do.”
A member of the community, who wishes to remain anonymous, has made the first donation to the Chamber’s “Save the Festival Fireworks” account in the generous amount of $1,000. But Geddes says the Chamber still needs the help of the community and encourages people to reach out to Jimmy Stanley, a Chamber volunteer, heading up the effort to save the fireworks display. Jimmy Stanley can be reached at the Colonial Beach Chamber at 224-8145. Checks should be made out to the Colonial Beach Chamber of Commerce and may be mailed to P.O. Box 475, Colonial Beach, Virginia 22443.
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 March 2009 16:44
- Published on Wednesday, 18 March 2009 16:44
- Hits: 494
For many years there has been a quiet on-going battle on Horton Street. The prime objective? To rid the Town of Colonial Beach of the eyesore belonging to Mr. Charles Hershfield; the owner of a property who allowed it to atrophy past the point of reclamation. Hershfield has had similar issues with property he owns in King George across from Potomac Elementary School.
Chuck Bird, the Zoning Administrator for the Town, says the battle with the Horton Street property was already underway prior to his arrival and since Bird has been here for 6 and ½ years that’s a pretty long time. The initial conflict with the property owner began over the tall grass and then as one town employee put it, “then we saw a house there”. Bird says that when he first arrived, the property was probably still salvageable, but over time and with the help of the elements, the property declined past the point of salvation. That’s when the Town started proceedings to take down the house and that’s when Hershfield began claiming the property was, in fact, a wildlife sanctuary.
Bird said the Town Attorney drafted documents against Hershfield outlining the criminal complaint, but the Town had trouble serving the papers. Bird said they could never find Hershfield at home in Fairview Beach where he resides, nor could they catch him at the Colonial Beach property. But the Town found a way around the need to serve him personally and went the route of declaring the property a public nuisance. The Town Attorney drafted a petition to bring to the court which meant that personal service was no longer needed, notification could be sent via First Class Mail. The Judge agreed with the Town’s petition and found the property to be a public nuisance and ordered an inspection of the interior. The Town did the inspection and provided both a report and pictures of the inside as well as a 6-7 minute video. Bird said nothing moved on the video; no birds, no animals, nothing. “What you can hear on the video”, commented Bird, “are the remarks about the Poison Ivy. It was everywhere”.
The judge ordered that the house be removed by the end of the summer of 2008 and if it was not that the Town would be allowed to remove the structure themselves and attach a lien to property to recoup the cost. Last week, since Hershfield did not comply with the Court’s order, the Town Attorney, Andrea Erard, drafted a 48-hour demolition notice and sent it to Hershfield and his attorney. This morning, Chuck Bird, accompanied by a law enforcement officer, entered the property to verify there were no inhabitants and then the structure came down. All that remains is a pile of rubble, a fresh No Trespassing sign and a For Sale by Owner sign. For those interested, the price has been dropped to $37,000.
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 March 2009 05:00
- Published on Wednesday, 11 March 2009 05:00
- Hits: 571
Sometimes a person comes along and makes a special place for themselves in your life. Sometimes a business comes along and does the same thing for their community. That was Bud Tressler's philosophy with his restaurant Fat Freda's and although his passing may be mourned by many members of the Colonial Beach community, for some it may be comforting to know that his wife Linda Tressler is stepping in right where her husband left off.
This Sunday, March 15, from 1:00 to 5:00, WIN (or lose) there will be a party thrown in honor of the Colonial Beach Varsity Boys Basketball Team who seem well on their way to helping keep Colonial Beach on the map by bringing home the State title. The gift certificates have already been written; one for each player, coach and the team's manager. Family and friends are donating time and desserts to make the event a special one and a DJ has been hired. “This is what its all about”, says Fat Freda's employee, Serene Dickerson, “being a part of the community”.
All the employees of the restaurant enjoy that aspect of working at Fat Freda's “doing the extra things”. Sharon Soaper, Elsie Balderson, Tim Olson, Karen Phelps and Serene Dickerson all say, “Go Drifters! Take us all the way, but no matter what you guys have done great. You've done us proud.” Fat Freda's invites fans, friends and family to join the fun on Sunday.
The Varsity Boys will be leaving Colonial Beach High School at 9:15 Thursday, to battle Altavista High School at the Siegel Center at VCU in Richmond. Before leaving town, the bus will stop at the elementary school where students have made banners and signs to cheer the team on. Then just before 9:30, the bus will come up the street towards Lenny's and make a left hand turn onto Colonial Avenue to leave town. Everyone who is a Drifter fan is invited to join in the fun and line Colonial Avenue in the spirit of the day and root on the mighty Black and Gold Drifters.
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 March 2009 05:00
- Published on Wednesday, 11 March 2009 05:00
- Hits: 581
Director of Zoning Chuck Bird, who has held the post in Colonial Beach for the past 61/2 years, will be leaving a little earlier than previously expected.
According to Town Manager Val Foulds, Bird's last date has been changed to March 17th. Foulds says, “When Mr. Bird resigned he gave three options. I picked Option B which gave him a 30-day window. After I had a chance to think about it from a budget perspective, I thought I could use these funds and put them in a reserve for using him as an on-call person.”
Foulds says she doesn't want to be in the position of having to call Bird with questions after he is gone and keeping him on the phone for an hour and not being able to compensate him for his time. “That's what happened with the former Town Manager,”she added. Foulds says that Town Attorney Andrea Erard is going to be working on and finishing the Flood Plain Ordinance, a matter of high priority. But with regard to finalizing the sub-division plat submitted by Potomac Crossing or handling things like Conditional Use Permits, things with attached deadlines, Foulds doesn't yet know how the Town will proceed. “In a less challenging time it would be so straightforward”, she sighs. Foulds says the one thing she “doesn't want to do is what's been done in the past, which is put a band-aid on it.”
The Town has also not yet filled the position of Building Official. Foulds says she is “weighing the volume to support one here in town at this time.” However, to help ease the burden on the zoning department, Bill Seay, a member of the Colonial Beach Police Department, has been appointed to act as a “liaison from the zoning office”.
Foulds says that Seay was appointed based on his “Planning Commission experience, his familiarity with the ladies who work in zoning and his people skills”. Foulds elaborated saying that Seay knew how to problem solve and was resourceful. Seay previously served on the Planning Commission.
Whomever the Town appoints to serve in the capacity of Director of Zoning will be responsible for interpreting the Town's zoning laws.
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 March 2009 19:39
- Published on Wednesday, 04 March 2009 19:39
- Hits: 734
On Friday February 27th Colonial Beach Police and a Virginia State Police Swat team recovered drugs during a raid on a house in the 400 block of Bancroft Ave in Colonial Beach. The teams were assisted by the Westmoreland County Sheriff's office. Arrests are pending investigation.
This raid was the second this month. The previous week on Friday February 20th Colonial Beach Police department participated in a drug raid that netted the recovery of $2800 in Cocaine and between $500 and $600 in Marijuana. Several street weapons were also recovered in the operation as well as over $4000 in cash.
In his report to the Council at the February 26th regular meeting, Colonial Beach Police Chief Hawkins spoke of the “Drug roundup” saying, “Those 11, we ended up picking up another one a day later, were the last of big the targets that we wanted to get before the summer.”
Three of the suspects were residents of Colonial Beach but all of the suspects were linked to drug activity in Colonial Beach. “They were affecting multiple jurisdictions, that’s the beauty of the task force, places where we don’t have jurisdiction we can still reach out and touch them if they’re affecting us here,” Hawkins explained. Hawkins stated that 5 of the suspects are facing federal charges. “So they won’t be around here for a while.” He said.
The investigation, which started in August of last year with the task force, was mainly targeting cocaine distribution. Chief Hawkins said in a phone interview Monday they are starting court proceeding on asset forfeiture on seized property.
In other police news the department is pursuing money from the Stimulus plan for a “Cops Program” which is designed to fill vacancies currently held open by the economy. The program will pay three years salary plus benefits.
The Council approved the idea of applying for the funds to add two additional officers to the force.
Chief Hawkins has arranged for a mock inspection in preparation for accreditation, which could have an impact on lowering insurance and provide other benefits. One example is a greater chance for applying for grants since most applications ask if a department is accredited on the application. The test grades on 187 standards for police departments and personnel, covering policies, procedures and day to day operations.