In Memory: D. W. "Si" Simons

30 10 2008

Taken from the Virginian-Pilot, 27 October 2008: D.W. Simons VIRGINIA BEACH – Donald W. “Si” Simons, 80, of Atlantic Shores in Virginia Beach, formerly of Hudson, Mich., a veteran Scouter and retired military officer, passed away Oct. 24, 2008. Capt. Simons was a decorated Korean and Vietnam war veteran receiving numerous commendations including the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal and the Navy Achievement Medal. After retiring, Capt. Simons was employed by the Virginia Beach public school system. Capt. Simons, known to most as “Si,” was a lifelong Scouter and left one of his biggest legacies in the form of local, state and national Boy Scout initiatives. Among them are: Tidewater Council commissioner, vice president of Programs, vice president of District Operations, Blue Heron Order of the Arrow Lodge advisor and program director for Pipsico Scout Reservation. He also served 50 years as Roundtable commissioner or staff. He was the Southern Region Order of the Arrow section advisor and served as a committee member on the National Program Committee and National Training Staff of the National Order of the Arrow. He was a life member of the National Eagle Scout association. He served on the Philmont Scout National Training Center instructor staff for six years. His Scout honors include: Order of the Arrow Distinguished Service Award and Southern Region Silver Antelope Award. Additionally, Si was active in the National Sojourners of the Masonic Lodge, served as past chapter president and commander of Hero’s, most recently serving as regional representative for Southeast Virginia. He was predeceased by his wife of 56 years, Louise L., and is survived by three children, Jorie L. Simons, Karen L. Van Duzer and David Simons; seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Si requested that memorial gifts be in the form of camp scholarships to the Tidewater Boy Scout Council Tribute fund in his name. Send to: Tidewater Council Boy Scouts of America, 1032 Heatherwood Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23455. Hollomon-Brown Funeral Home, Lynnhaven Chapel, is assisting the family. Condolences may be sent to the family at www.hollomon-brown.com.

Nearly every Scout in Tidewater Council knew of his name. Any body that had been to Camp Pipsico has seen something with his hard work in it. The service was a wonderful tribute to Si’s life and his dedication to all that he was part of. He was an excellent model for anyone to follow, putting others ahead of himself and never giving up on anything he did. He was such a great model to follow, that Mayor Oberndorf, of Virginia Beach, made an official declaration, declaring yesterday, 29 October 2008, to be the Official “D. W. “Si” Simons Day”

Click For Larger Image
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Regional Gangs Part 2

27 10 2008

In a recent trip in Chesapeake, I ran into another cache of graffiti. This one however did not appear to be gang-related. You may find that as a positive sign, but I beg to differ. Instead of gang-related signs, that tend to be pro-gang-on-gang violence, this was a general hate the police and destroy the government message. I actually think this is worse. Below, I have posted some photos and, for the benefit of those who dislike, profanity, I have blocked out the obscenities.

“Kill Cops”
“MDC: Millions of Dead Cops”
“F*** the Cops”
And Lastly,
“Lets burn this city to the ground to turn our soil rich and black, lets take our whole world back”

Doesn’t that just give you a warm, fuzzy feeling? I really do not mean to rip on Chesapeake, I really don’t, but the reason I like using them as the example is because it is a place that people feel safe in. Virginia Beach and Chesapeake have the same problems as Norfolk, Portsmouth, Hampton, and Newport News. I do have to give credit where credit is due, however. I must commend Chesapeake; since my first call about the graffiti hot spot, they have repainted the tunnels 3 times. We need a REGIONAL gang unit. If you think that gangs stop at the borders, you’d better think again. They don’t care about what the law-abiding consider boundaries.




I’m voting for:

26 10 2008
I have had my mind made up for months. I know that normally, I reserve this blog for anything that directly effects Hampton Roads. This election, however, will effect our region, which is why I am writing my endorsement.I am voting Libertarian this election for both President and Senate. In the past, I have voted for Republicans and Democrats and, frankly, it doesn’t bother me when people vote for other parties. I really dislike when people give other people dirty looks when they tell them they are voting for one or the other. I have talked to many people about their political views and I have come to realize that most people who know who they will vote for don’t know why. Most of them do not even know the platform of the candidate. I think that it is a sad day when people make up their minds for voting day depending on the number of Obama/McCain signs in their neighborhood. Same goes for polls. Which is why I am voting Libertarian. It is the only party that would give us real change. Lower taxes. Major reforms to our systems of education, health care, social security, welfare, and transportation. Major reform to our energy policies and our military policies. Most importantly, it would bring about a smaller government. I understand that this would bring a decreased military presence to our area, but at the same time it would strengthen our economy by eliminating income tax and bring jobs back from overseas. Obama and McCain are both liars. The Republican Party has had 154 years to get it right (since 1854) and the Democrats have had 216 years (since 1792). If they havn’t produced a desirable outcome in that amount of time, they should be replaced. (NOTE: The current Democratic Party in any other country would be called the Democratic Socialist Party and the Liberal Party in any other country would be called the Libertarian Party in the United States) If you want REAL change and you are truly Liberal, join me, and vote Libertarian. If you consider yourself a conservative and want change, check out the Constitution Party (on VA’s ballot as Independent Green). That is my view. If you do not agree with it, that is fine. I do not hold your views against you. I think that as long as you vote on an INFORMED decision than you have done your part in America. If you just vote to vote, however, you have wasted a vote and you have mocked the American political system and all it stands for. Thank you. If you truly want to see what your candidate believes, check out factcheck.org as it is an independent, unbiased view

on anything you see in the news.





Virginian Pilot – Terrible Voting Guide

26 10 2008
Not only was the front page of the Virginian Pilot’s Voter guide an outright lie, it was also the worst voter guide ever printed. It was a terrible waste of paper. The front page in big, bold words proclaimed:
First, a basic lesson in American Politics. YOU do not vote for the president. You vote for electors, who vote for the president. That only my minor issue though. My biggest problem is how that through out this whole election, the Virginian Pilot has only gave time to Obama and McCain. there are SIX people running for President. The VP has only gave mention to them a couple of times at most. In fact, the VP had already decided McCain had won months before the Republican National Convention. There were other candidates available, one of which might have persuaded me to vote Republican this time. Elections in our country are becoming obsolete due to media companies like the Virginian Pilot, who decide the outcome of the election months before the actual vote.




No Child Left Behind?

24 10 2008
I have always despised the No Child Left Behind Act. I also never liked posting federal-type issues here unless I can find a specific example to tie it in to our region. I think I’ve found it. While in the course of substituting in an area school system (hint: not Norfolk), a friend of mine encountered a 7th grade-age student in the 4th grade. This 12 (going on 13) year old student could not read. To make it worse, there were other students in the grade reading 1st grade level books or below. It used to be that if you could not read sufficiently, you got held back. Now, the school system hires an assistant to ‘help’ the student. I have witnessed these ‘assistants’ reading questions to test to students and then suggesting correct answers. How does this help the students? It certainly won’t allow them to succeed in society. I know most bosses/managers won’t let you bring an assistant to read to you into work. Furthermore, how does this help society? We spend extra tax dollars on kids that have no desire to learn due to their tax-payer subsidized ‘assistants.’ Then the kids fail when they get out into the workforce. This NCLB program is a waste of time and money. It is time that the Education system was fixed, not pseudo-fixed. At a time when Hampton Roads is trying to recruit employers to maintain jobs in our area, we have an education system that instills laziness and stupidity into our children. Let me clarify that I have no problem with children with disabilities having assistants. I do have a problem with a normal child being treated as a disabled child solely for the purpose of higher SOL scores and lower drop/fail rates.




Wasteful VDOT

21 10 2008
At a time when Virginia is facing a huge deficit and huge budget cuts, VDOT is still wasting their money. Old Dominion University is closing its Northern Virginia Higher Education Center in the Spring. William & Mary is canceling its annual Ocean & Earth Sciences Trip. This is all because of budget cuts. What is VDOT doing to cut their share? Cleaning the tunnel. Sunday night I sat in traffic for over 2 hours idling away my precious gasoline while VDOT and their 3rd party contractor ‘cleaned’ the tunnel. After finally making my way through the tunnel at approximately 12:30 AM, I observe a VDOT truck and a contractor truck sitting in the middle. What are they doing? Talking. Talking while both of their trucks sit idling away my tax dollars. The tunnel had been partially cleaned at that time, as I could see the soap on the floor. The tunnel,however, did not actually look any cleaner. I can understand that every once in a while they should remove the oily deposits off the floor, but the ceiling? Why does the ceiling have to be shiny? Paint it black for all I care, then we can’t see the dirt. As long as I can get from one end of the tunnel to the other without crashing or drowning, I don’t care what it looks like inside.




Non-Drivers in Hampton Roads

20 10 2008
Last Wednesday, the HRMPO released a report on non-drivers in Hampton Roads. I think that it would be a great resource for promoting better transportation spending in places like Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and even Norfolk. Most regard Norfolk as having the best service from HRT. The buses are plentiful, run usually every half hour, and run late into the night. Even HRT’s President & CEO, Michael Townes, suggests that Norfolk gets a great deal, paying less for service than similar cities with similar service. For Norfolk’s over 26,000 non-drivers, this service is barely adaquate, and could use improvement. Now we look at Virginia Beach. For a city that has only one bus line that runs past 6:30 PM, they, too, have over 26,000 non-drivers. As you can see from below, in this figure from the HRMPO report, not all of the Virginia Beach non-drivers live close to the #20 (VB Blvd bus route).
Click for larger image. Each pink dot equals one non-driver, each black dot represents a bus stop

This is an OBVIOUS case for increased funding from Virginia Beach to go towards mass transportation. Same thing with Chesapeake. They have nearly 13,000 non-drivers. While that is not as many as Norfolk and Virginia Beach, it is greater than that of Portsmouth and Hampton, and nearly as much as Newport News, all of which have better bus systems.
Each purple dot represents 10 non-drivers, each black dot represents on bus stop

As you can see, a majority of non-drivers live near bus stops, with some exceptions. Virginia Beach has a very large quantity of non-drivers that live over a mile from a stop. Also, keep in mind that only the Virginia Beach Blvd route (#20) runs after 6:30 in Virginia Beach. I have a challenge for everyone out there but especially city leader. I challenge you to be home by 6:30 every day, no exceptions. That is how the non-drivers in Virginia Beach live.

Each image was borrowed from the HRMPO report presentation which can be found here. The actual report can be found here.