Spotsylvania News

Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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Protesters at county board meeting

A group of protesters just entered the county board room during the meeting that started at 6 p.m.

They all have medical masks over their noses and mouths, and some are holding large signs that protest the board’s decision last summer to approve a special use permit for Transflo’s distribution center at the Bowman Center.

This facility, which transports ethanol by rail car, stores rail cars with hazardous materials near the Mayfield subdivision in the city. CSX owns the facility.

Kevin Simowitz, who is the organizer of Virginia Organizing, is present. He has organized an effort to protest the special use permit. The protesters are holding up the signs in the front row and they all appear to be younger people. One sign says “We go away when then railcars go away.”

You can read more about the controversy here.


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  • havingfun

    Good for them! I emailed my Supervisor to ask why the heck it was approved to begin with when NO ONE recommended it!

    From the article – BOS “approved Transflo’s special-use permit in August 2009 even though the county Planning Commission recommended DENIAL.”

    WHY was it approved? It would affect not just Mayfield and the city, but areas in Spotsy too.

  • opiniontoshare

    havingfun – I would guess the answer is money. In the down economy, the supervisors aren’t saying no to much of anything that they think would bring in money or create a few jobs. Even when the supervisor representing the area in which a project is located is opposed, the majority ends up voting in favor.

  • SteveThomas

    opiniontoshare, I might be mistaken but I recall that the supervisor in question not only was in favor of Transflo but actually proposed it as well.

  • D.J. McGuire


    ” Even when the supervisor representing the area in which a project is located is opposed, the majority ends up voting in favor.”

    That is not what happened in this case. Lee Hill Supervisor Gary Skinner was the lead supporter for the permit, talked Hap Connors out of delaying it, and was one of four Supes who voted “aye” (the vote was 4-3 in favor; Waddy, Jackson, and Pitts opposed).

    I was there; I spoke out against it and tried to raise it as an issue in my race against Skinner last year. I still think it was a mistake: in addition to the safety issues raised by Mayfielders, there is the issue of railcars blocking the road (Tidewater Trail is now the major artery for far-eastern Spotsylvania – more than 2500 people live on that road or in subdivisions off it) and the fact the ethanol is one of the least market-based industries in America (its demand is driven almost entirely by government subsidies and regulations aimed largely at making corn growers happy).

  • D.J. McGuire

    To clarify, as part of the permit, Transflo can now use the rail line across Tidewater Trail anytime during the day (ostensibly, they will only use it between 10AM and 12PM, but that isn’t ethced in stone). As someone who uses T-Trail to commute to and from work, I can attest that traffic is already heavy on that street under normal circumstances. Add a temporary rail blockage at, say, 5PM, and . . .

    There was also concern for public safety: during the Planning Commission discussion on the subject, it was noted that the rail blockage could add up to 18 minutes to Fire and Rescue response time to a call from T-Trail. That was one of the reasons the PC voted 6-0 to shoot this down.

  • opiniontoshare

    My comment about the majority voting in favor even when the supervisor representing the district voted against was about the general tendency to approve projects regardless of concerns/opposition. I was not referring to the Transflo approval specifically. The examples in my mind were a couple of development projects approved in Pitts’ district that Pitts voted against.

  • havingfun

    How much money is this bringing in to Spotsy? Is it worth risking the safety of residents? Anyone who believes an accident would just affect the immediate area is crazy!

  • Martin (Marty) Work

    There is really more to this story than anyone could possibly imagine, including the political LEVERAGE maintained by Supv. Skinner and his SUPPORT STAFF. Wait ’til you see the fall out that will come when UDAs make their way to center stage.

    This, however, is not about political persuasions. It’s all about money, market share and wealth to be had by those standing highest on the food chain in Spotsylvania County where the public and free press are not allowed to attend or seek membership to business practices incorporated into Spotsy’s governing body, and elected officials.

    Wonder who’s going to show up next at Spotsylvania County’s scheduled BOS meetings where PUBLIC PRESENTATIONS have been religated to the last or latter part of the BOS’s working agenda. I know I’ve got a couple signs relevent to these issues of accountability and transparency in local government that need to be raised, were it not falling on DEAF EARS.

    For the count, Spotsylvania County Government claims there is nothing wrong with how CSX and its partner TRANSFLO conducts its hazardour waste storage business in the hauling of ethenol through Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County.

    So, how much closer can anyone get to the truth, when your own local government won’t provide clarification or details surrounding this issue.

    CSX made it abundantly clear ages ago that their constitutional rights to do anything they want, lay at the doorstep of the Federal Government, and if you have a bone to pick with how they conduct business, take it up with the Feds. since County and local governments have absolutely no say in what CSX and their partner TRANSFLO do on THEIR property.

    Next time, make your signs a lot bigger and leave them off with Dan Telvock at the end of your demonstration, or with your BOS members to take home and conjure up how to best dodge YOUR next PUBLIC AGENDA. CONJURE: to affect or effect by or as by magic.

    And no, silver bullets are not going to get you any closer to the podium or the truth than the 3 minutes you are allowed to speak AT your local elected officials. Save the best for last but before the alarm goes off in Mayfield.

  • Jerkules

    ethanol = alcohol, yee-haaaw!


    Opiniontoshare, you are correct. I went back and checked the record. Supervisor Pitts motioned to deny two proposed projects in his district (Battlefield). Mr. Hicks’ project on Hudgins Road and Mr. Sealy’s project on Mine Road. Supervisor Pitts felt that the project proposed by Mr. Hicks failed to meet the county’s proffer guidelines where the project would pay for itself . It was clear that the project failed to pay for itself. Now the “TAXPAYER” wil be forced to pay for more residential development. Supervisor Pitts also opposed Mr. Sealy’s commercial project on Mine Road because of the increased traffic on Mine Road and that the project would be located in a mostly residential area. And yes the “majority” of the Board (Logan, Connors, Marshall, Waddy and Skinner) elected to support both pro-growth projects. Only Supervisors Pitts and Jackson voted against both projects.

  • Martin (Marty) Work

    So, “Now the “TAXPAYER” will be FORCED to pay for more residential development’, BECAUSE Supvs. LOGAN, CONNORS, MARSHALL, WADDY and SKINNER, with their MAJORITY vote, put Spotsylvania County citizens at risk of being FORCED to pay for more residential development, along the same lines being cultivated by our elected officials to embrace UDAs and high density populations that are already on the County’s drawing board, but pretend they are looking into matters associated with UDAs, when they’ve had the information on UDAs for at least two years. What does it take for a blind person to see the light.

    Maybe we should ask GIVEMEABREAK2M when the next MAJORITY will show up to vote the wishes of their mentors, allies, and special interest groups and drop the other shoe in the woods where no one dares to walk-the-walk.

    Only as an assumption, Supv Pitts didn’t have to vote on these measures, since the vote had already been orchestrated prior to the vote, leaving Supv. Pitts the political means, way out, to avoid the wrath of his district constituents who were quite vocal at the BOS meeting where these MAJORITY votes were taken.

    Just how big is this MAJORITY that GIVEMEABREAK2M keeps talking about and how many citizens, other than his own power brokered voting block, have anything to say about how business is being conducted in Spotsylvania County? 100? 2000? 10,000? Or is this MAJORITY just a herd of cattle making their way through today, in fear of whether their tommorrow will ever see the light of day?

    I’m still looking for ABOUT 19 citizens who make up the County’s FOCUS GROUP, without minutes, to see where the County is going next (aka-”the other shoe”). If anyone knows who THEY are, give me a shout.


    Marty Work I can only suggest that you do what the “average” person would do to find out the members of the focus group. Contact the County Administrators Office. It really isn’t that difficult. The information is free and it won’t cost you or anyone else a dime……The focus is on the word “average” if you get my drift……

  • Martin (Marty) Work

    GIVEMEABREAK2M: I’ve been called “average” all my life. So what does your sarcasm make you? Doug Barnes isn’t telling, so where do you want me to go next? Wanda Parrish has the information but refuses to give it up. Dan Televock doesn’t know because he is not admitted to meetings of the Focus Group meetings, without minutes. The FLS knows who the members of the County Focus Group are but can’t bring themselves to disclosure.

    If their meeting minutes are FREE, then who has them. You can only call the Planning Department so many times over the last year, and the answer is “we don’t know…we have no records of meeting minutes for the County Focus Group” when Wanda Parrish is in charge of calling their meetings to order. Even Mary Lee Carter was out of the loop, until she insisted last year that she and one other member on the Planning Commission be place on their invitation list.

    If the information is so readily available to the “average person” walking Spotsylvania County streets, and you being so much more than average, what is it that you know about what goes on behind closed doors in Spotsylvania County?

    Please make note you can say anything you want, while standing behind your anonymous moniker, but should you decide to come out from behind the bushes where you remain hidden, how credible do you think WE should hold your commentary and unsolicited sarcasm?

    Ernie Pennington is a regular reader of this blog site, so why doesn’t he know anything more about this Focus Group than yourself. Mary Lee Carter has first hand knowledge of who the members are, but she’s not saying. Supv. Skinner has the same advantage, plus his network with GWRC ans FAMPO, but he remains silent, or at best confused when the hard questions come his way.

    Steve Thomas advises he’s heard about this Focus Group but concludes their existence is just a RUMOR.

    Just how naive must the “average” citizen be to rise up to your level of arrogance, without the assistance of an oxygen mask and 10 layers of blankets? Simply said, when do WE get to see you without your mask?

    Here’s my opening roster of players in the Focus Group: Jon Riley, Silver Co.; Tim Hall, Tricord; Rick Furnival, SDI; Larry Welford, Welford Engineering; Mike Craig, WJ Vakos; Rema Cosner; Wayne Cosner; Bill Missel, RDA; Betty Rodrique, VA Arch. Metals; Harvey Gold, FABA; Lisa Weaver, Fried Cos.

    accompanied by: Wanda Parrish, Dir.of Planning; Andrew Hopewell, Planner II; Jacob Pastwik, Planner 1; BrianScott, Development Service Mgr.; and Brent Elam, Utilities

    attended by Planning Commissioners: James Strother and Travis Bullock.

    Subject matter: UDAs

    So, GIVEMEABREAK, what, if anything do you know about this Focus Group and the products being manufactured at County expense, behind closed doors, or must WE “average” citizens conclude that what ever is being discussed at these meetings were at least recorded and available for public inspection. Or must we continue this journey on another goose chase? How much will a dime take US average citizens, for answers to the questions?

    If you come to the podium and microphone, make sure you understand that you have only 3 minutes to make YOUR case.