City Council Meeting June 12, 2017

Sent to City Council Members and City Manager on June 12, 2017

Don’t make yet another hasty financial decision tonight.  The reasons for the need for this bond issue discussion are the result of poor past decisions this council has made.  Let me remind you.  There was the decision to collaborate with Radford College, and I guess you could say with the surrounding towns, to participate in a regional transit system (Radford Transit).  This is a big money loser for the citizens of Radford.  Then there was the colossal decision to finance ($2,885 million) the “roundabout” project.  Then there was the decision (again in collaboration with RU) to purchase a replacement ladder truck for the fire department ($880K with $300K paid by RU).

Before voting on a bond issue you should be voting on dropping out of the Radford Transit contract and look at other options.  You should be cancelling the order for the new fire truck.

Over the past 15 months I have recommended cost reductions ideas that would reduce the expense side of the city ledger by thousands, even millions of dollars over time.  The first item of business is to implement a hiring freeze with a goal of eliminating 20 positions.  Immediately, eliminate the Economic Development Director position, the Tourism Director position, the Director of Parks and Recreation.  Additional reductions can be made by replacing the Fire Chief and promoting the first shift fire Captain to that position.  There is room for savings throughout the city workforce by just running a more efficient and effective organization.

When will Little River Dam be operational again and start generating electricity and thus income to the City? How many months has it been out of commission?

What do you think?

 

 

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ONE STEP TO DISASTER – SUNDELL DRIVE

May 17, 2016

In my BLOG of 4/18/17 (REDBUD  and SUNDELL), I shared some correspondence between myself and City Manager, David Ridpath, concerning improvements along Sundell Drive.

Today, I will be providing some updates, expanding the safety issues, and applaud improvements made by the City Street Department.

If your daily drive takes you up/down Sundell Drive, you will have noticed the grass/weed trimming that the City completed the week ending 5/13/17 between the pathway and the road.  It really looks good and provides a better picture as to the potential for this scenic walkway and road.

20170516_122104For those of you knew Park Road actually begins at Rock Road and ends at Eight Street (if 8th Street had been extended to Park Drive), you are probably one of the few.  I now know Scott Street is only two blocks long extending from Sixth Street to Eight Street (if extended).  There is actually a street sign on Park Road at Eight Street that has Park Road one direction and Scott Street another direction.  20170516_122253I always wondered why that street sign was on Scott Street/Park Road.  It kind of blows your mind trying to rationalize why Park Road didn’t extend all the way (two blocks) to Sixth Street.  There is also a street sign at the roundabout for Park Road with an arrow pointing toward RHS and one pointing toward Rock Road.

As you can tell, I have an interest in street signs, and if used properly, provide the public with valuable directional information.

Previously, I wrote about a major safety issue along the Riverway path alongside Sundell Road due to the steep drop-offs so close to the walking path.  Last week, I took some measurements and pictures to illustrate how dangerous this pathway/road is to both pedestrians and drivers.

DSCN0248There is a concrete culvert very close to the path that is 9 feet from the top to the rocky bottom below.  There is no warning sign or barrier to prevent someone from falling off.  The steep bank below the culvert is 19-22 feet from the pathway to the bottom.

 

Further down the pathway is a two section split rail fence with two rails where erosion DSCN0250has occurred almost washing out a section of the pathway.  The drop-off at this location is 20 feet straight down.  David informed me that the city has been looking at the slopes along several sections of the Riverway including portions of Sundell drive. Rip rap was installed along the slope on Sundell to stabilize future erosion.  The two sections of existing split rail fence are temporary to be sure more work is not needed prior to installing a permanent barrier that is both functional and attractive.

The deepest drop-off coming in at 23 feet was a short distance down from the split rail DSCN0257fence.  At this point the street paving is only 6 ½ feet from the pathway.

There are two telephone poles between the road and the pathway just above the roundabout.  One of the poles is only 6 feet from the road and the other 8 ½ feet from the road.  There are four street lights on telephone poles that are approximately 3 feet from the road.  In addition, there are numerous fairly large trees along Sundell between the road and walking path.

There are guard rails along Sundell but they are only where the road curves.

The speed limit along Sundell is 35 mph.

All of these factors make Sundell a very dangerous road.

How timely two articles appeared in the Roanoke Times on May 16, 2017 that illustrate the point I am trying to make.  The first article was about a 48 year old Clifton Forge man who died when the pickup he was driving ran off the side of the road, struck several trees and overturned multiple times.  The other article was about an 18 year old man who was driving a pickup truck when it ran off the right side of the roadway and struck a tree.  Both died at the scene.

Just add a pedestrian to this picture and you will see why I am concerned.

Additional guard rails and fencing need to be installed before a serious accident occurs along Sundell Drive.

I would also recommend the speed limit be reduced to 30 mph which would match Park Road/Scott Street and Second Street as they approach the roundabout.

What do you think?

tuckbird@gmail.com

Alcohol involved in attorney’s citation

Sent to School Board members on May 8, 2017

It is my opinion that the Radford School Board should be requesting the resignation of Mr. Adam DeVries as a result of violating the VSBA Code of Conduct for School Board Members.  I believe his actions, as reported in the Roanoke Times dated May 4, 2017, in the articled “Alcohol involved in attorney’s citation” justify this request.

The code of conduct each member signed states “I will always strive to demonstrate appropriate behavior/conduct as a public school board member.”  I don’t believe a contempt of court, a breath test showing his blood at nearly twice the legal limit and spending two days in jail demonstrate appropriate behavior.

This is the second request I have made concerning a member of the school board.  The first was based upon a statement made in a city council meeting that stated, per the minutes of the meeting, that “my columns need to end.”  I received two comments as result of that request.  One stated the board member also had a right to express his opinion (he failed to see the point) and the other reply stated “The code of conduct to which you refer only addresses actions taken in the course of one’s duties as a school board member.

What do you think?

James D. “Tuck” Bird

Blog: Tuckbird.wordpress.com

Budget 2017-2018 -Hiring Freeze and Transit Funding

It is my personal opinion that the City Council should consider making changes to the proposed 2017-2018 budget (first hearing approved 4/17/17).  The council should look at future considerations such as personal property tax and electric tax reductions.  In order to reduce taxes, reductions need to be made in other areas.  As I have previously stated, the city needs to put a freeze on hiring.  The city needs to cut its spending dramatically on the Radford Transit.  When I say dramatically, I mean by at least $3,000,000.  The budget request is $3,195,191.  My recommendation would be to continue funding only one route, Route 30, and add Food Lion and Kroger stops.  The schedule should be 3-4 times daily between 7:00am and 6:00 pm.  The other routes are primarily for RU students.

I believe the majority of our permanent residents have the same thoughts I have when it comes to the transit system.  How often do you see the buses without any passengers?  Other alternatives need to be explored.

With just these two changes, the city could pay off its $2,885,000 General Obligation Bond Series 2016 which was Radford’s share of the $6,199,000 expense for the roundabout project.  This money was borrowed at 3.21% maturing in 2042 with interest only payments of $52,206.  Debt should be a last resort option for any city.  I don’t think it was a good business decision to incur debt to fund the roundabout project.  You have more spending options and tax reduction options when you are not wasting the revenue on interest payments.

With the debt subject in mind, what was the reason Councilman Rob Gropman made a motion in the April 10, 2017 council work session to increase real estate taxes by two cents and Vice Mayor Dick Harshberger voted in favor of that motion?

Bloggers, What do you think?

SUNDELL and REDBUD

Below, you will see some correspondence between the City Manager and me concerning recommendations for improving the scenic aspects and safety issues along Sundell Drive.

Visitors (potential home buyers) looking at our schools see an aging City that is being overrun by Mother Nature and has been for years.

Just drive down Sundell Drive and you see the same problem. I think our visitors and residents would rather have a more park like scene.  Sundell Drive needs all the trees (except Redbud) cut down between the street and the pathway and replaced with Redbud trees. Some redbud trees are already planted there.  The Redbud trees are in full bloom now and the partial row on Sundell Drive are looking outstanding.  Can you image how much better Sundell Drive would look if it were lined completely with Redbud trees.  On the other side of the road, the trees need to be cut back away further from the road.

If you haven’t noticed, there is a major erosion problem where the run-off water from Wadsworth flows into Connelly’s Run. The longer this problem is neglected, the more it is going to cost.

In addition to the erosion problem, there is a major safety issue along the path with steep drop-offs.  A child on a bicycle, or anyone for that matter could fall from the pathway into the drainage ditch and be seriously injured.  The Riverway path along Scott Street and along parts of the path through Wildwood Park have split rail fencing and/or wire fencing so no one could fall through the rails.  That is what is needed along Sundell Drive.

Neither of these two issues is new to the city street department.  I believe it was around summertime last year, 2016, when they dumped what looked like a truck load of rocks along the path to shore up the bank.  Later, two sections of split rail fencing, without a backing of wire, were installed there.  Citizen safety doesn’t appear to be high on anyone’s list.  This is not the first safety issue that has been brought to the attention of city government leaders.

                                                                                                                                                                   

Email from Tuck -James D. Bird to David Ridpath & Ken Goodyear on March 17, 2017

David, I read recently in one of the local newspapers, probably the Roanoke Times, that Salem, I think it was, had created a new department or sub-department within their Street department and named it the street beautification department.  The exact details are not important but the concept is.  I think this approach, using 3-4 existing street department employees with this responsibility and accountability, would work well in Radford.  I have written articles about street appeal and about the city’s need to step up and address the unsightly dead or dying trees along our streets and alleys.

For the most part, the main streets coming into Radford have a nice, clean look to them.  Visitors (potential home buyers) looking at our schools see an aging City that is being overrun by Mother Nature and has been for years.  Just drive by McHarg School on Wadsworth and look at the brush and trees blocking the view to the school.  The same can be said for the view of Belle Heth on Second Ave.  Just drive down Sundell  and you see the same problem.  I think our visitors and residents would rather have a more park like scene.  Sundell Drive needs all the trees (except Redbud) cut down between the street and the pathway and replaced with Redbud trees.  Some redbud trees are already planted there.  Whatever you do, don’t plant anything too close to the road.  On the other side of the road, the trees need to be cut back away further from the road.

If you haven’t noticed, there is a major erosion problem where the run-off water from Wadsworth flows into Connelly’s Run.   The longer this problem is neglected, the more it is going to cost.

The future plan for Sundell should include the extension of street lights like those installed on Scott and Second Avenue.  Has there been any thought into changing the name of Sundell to Park Road?  I don’t believe there are any homes with a Sundell address.

What do you think?

James D. “Tuck” Bird

                                                                                                                                                                   

Email from David Ridpath to Tuck Bird on March 17, 2017

Good afternoon.  We have a division of the Street Department that maintains Public Grounds.  The department coordinates tree planting and landscaping with the City Commission on Beautification and Municipal Forests, as well as handles mowing and lawn maintenance.  Generally, if we have dead trees in the public right-of-way, they are evaluated and addressed, as needed.  Larger trees are removed by a tree service due to safety and liability issues.  There is not the staff to dedicate to just tree work, due to the many functions and tasks of the department.

Sundell Drive was constructed in 1958 to access the Hickory Hill subdivision and was extended eastward in 1968 to have the footprint it does today…It has carried the “Sundell” name since.  Park Road runs perpendicular to Sundell from Rock Road to its intersection with Scott Street.  We are not of aware of any requests to rename the streets in the area except a consideration of naming Scott to Park a few years ago, which did not occur, as well as the naming of the round-about “Armentrout Circle”.

There is not a plan to extend the lighting from Armentrout Circle to Wadsworth Street,  however the lighting would most likely follow the Second Avenue, Park Road corridor design elements.

I am copying the Beautification Commission on the request to consider your comments concerning the Sundell forest, as well as the School Superintendent on the forested areas located on school, property.

Hope this is helpful.

David

David C. Ridpath, City Manager, City of Radford

                                                                                                                                                                   

Email from Tuck Bird to David Ridpath on March 28, 2017

David, thanks for your reply.  I was in RHS when Sundell Drive was constructed.  As I recall, there was a contest for naming the new road.

The reason I asked about a possible name change was twofold.  First, if there ever was a reason to make a name change in the future, it would be easier to do it now before someone has a mailing address of Sundell Drive.

Second, I believe I read that Park Road improvements were in the cities far-out plan.  A logical name for that two lane road from Rock Road to the round-about and continuing on to Wadsworth Street would be Park Road.  After all, Sundell is part of the park system since the Riverway path runs alongside this road.

I also see Park Road as being the natural approach from I-81, exit 109, to sporting events at RHS as well as being the most scenic drive there.  In addition, I see this approach as being the business approach to the “West End Business District.”

This approach would relieve some of the traffic on Wadsworth (the less scenic area) as well as traffic passing by McHarg Elementary School which is difficult for parents to drop off and pick up their children.

The thought came to mind about what it would take to make Park Road a two way road to the round-about.  There would need to be plenty of fill dirt to raise the road level.  If it is not too late to ask, VDOT has plenty with the construction of the new bridges over the New River.  It is never too late to plan ahead.  There is plenty of space around the incinerator that could be used to store the fill dirt/rocks for future use.

Tuck


 

Email from Tuck Bird to David Ridpath and Ken Goodyear on April 17, 2017

I have talked about the need to widen Park Road to two lanes from Rock Road to the round-about, the Redbud planting to improve the scenic appeal of Sundell Drive, the erosion problem along the Riverway path along Sundell Drive.  However, I believe the first item of business that needs to be addressed is a safety issue.

There is a major safety issue along the Riverway path with the steep drop-offs on Sundell.  A child on a bicycle, or anyone for that matter, could fall from the pathway into the drainage ditch and be seriously injured.  The Riverway path along Scott Street and along parts of the path through Wildwood Park have split rail fencing and/or wire fencing so no one could fall through the rails.  A split rail fence is also needed along the Riverway Path along Sundell Drive.

Why don’t you, Ken, your Street Department Director and a representative or two from the Beautification Committee take a walk from Wadsworth Street to the round-about and back and you can see firsthand what I am talking about.

Tuck – James D. Bird

                                                                                                                                                                   

Conclusion

I thought this correspondence was moving along nicely until I read this sentence from David.  “I am copying the Beautification Commission on the request to consider your comments concerning the Sundell forest, as well as the School Superintendent on the forested areas located on school property.”

First of all, I am thinking some of the land in question resides on city owned property.  For example, where does the city property end along Wadsworth Street and the school (McHarg) property begin? And the most perplexing question is just “Who is in charge.”  Am I that far out of it in my thinking to think the City MANAGER was hired by the City Council and given “management” responsibility for the running of the city?  Where is the Director of Parks and Recreation?  Why wasn’t his input requested as the Riverway is part of the park system?  I don’t know what input David is expecting from the Beautification Commission than what was recommended.

 

Budget 2017-2018

Sent to City Council Members & City Manager on April 7, 2017

Budget 2017-2018

An article I wrote which was published in the Radford News Journal on February 24, 2016, identified several budget recommendations.  Since no action was taken on any of the recommendations, I offer them up again with the hope the City leaders will see the wisdom in some of these ideas this year.

A dedicated source of funding is needed to support ongoing Cultural/Recreational opportunities for the future growth of Radford’s city park system.  The recommendation was made to cap the amount of revenue that goes directly into the General Fund from the Meal Tax at $1M, from the Cigarette tax at $60K and the lodging tax at $18K.  Did you see an extension of the Riverway Park trail occurring in 2016?  Do you think you will see any extension in 2017?

Again I think the cigarette tax should be raised from $.15 cent per pack to $.30 per pack.  The main reason for this increase is an attempt to reduce smoking among our youth.  If you were really concerned about the health of our youth, you would change the tax to $.75 per pack which is the rate charged in Northern Virginia.  The cigarette tax is $.30 in Blacksburg and $.40 in the Town of Christiansburg.  If your only concern is a potential loss in cigarette revenue going to Pulaski County (Fairlawn), think of the much larger revenue Radford will be receiving from sales taxes at Rural King.  Would you rather put the health of our youth above the reason of being labeled as the council that raised taxes?  I don’t know how you could say that with a straight face and at the same time think about increasing the cities debt by $2M dollars or the purchasing of a new fire truck which could cost the city around $500K.

Another  source of revenue ($20K) could come from eliminating the 2% discount the seller retains from the Meal Tax collection.  You can refer to my BLOG article “Four problems with the city’s meal tax” or the January 27, 2016 Radford News  Journal for the details.

Eliminate the $5K yearly supplement for the Commissioner of Revenue.

In my article published May 18, 2016, I wrote when revenue slows, cost must be reduced.  Radford should be putting a freeze on hiring and not replacing retiring employees with a goal of reducing city staff by 3% to 5%.  This recommendation was also in my article of July 13, 2016, stating the need for a hiring freeze for City workers to offset some of the lost revenue from closed businesses.

NO MORE POOL AGREEMENTS WITH THE CHRISTIANSBURG AQUATIC CENTER (CAC).  There have been three 6-month agreements costing Radford taxpayers over ($18K).  This ongoing expenditure is all because “Mayor Brown said council wanted residents to have the opportunity extended to Radford University faculty, staff and students.”  That rationale doesn’t justify why the city is paying the entrance fees for a small minority of its residents.

For my BLOG reader’s information, I sent, via email, a letter dated August 12, 2016 (letter posted to the bottom of this article) to All City Council Members, City Manager, and Economic Development Director that had all of the 13 Radford News Journals I had written since December 2015 attached.  The letter was in reference to the Economic Development Work Session, August 24, 2016.

This year’s budget process should include a 5% overall reduction in the number of city employees and a hiring freeze.  You are not going to believe this.  Last year’s budget included a full time employee INCREASE from 222 to 226.  Per the budget reports, the city headcount has increased from 211 in 2012 to 226 in 2017.  This doesn’t make any sense to me.

Here is another brain teaser for you.  Why would you hire a Fire Chief who lives approximately 50 miles (Meadows of Dan I have been told) from the Fire Station, drives a city vehicle and more than likely uses city gas.  Just think of the miles being put on this city vehicle per year, maintenance costs and how quickly a replacement vehicle will need to be purchased.  Per the budget report, the number of full time fire department employees has increased from 11 in 2013 to 13 in 2017 while the number of responses has only increased from 1017 to 1062 in the same time frame.  The 2016 Fire Department budget was $942,769 for 2016 (auto $29,746) and is $873,479 for 2017 (auto $28,666).  Let’s don’t forget about the future $882,987 ladder fire truck replacement which RU is contributing $300K.

I have also been told that the Director of Recreation and Parks lives in Stuart, Va.

How many other department heads reside outside Radford city limits and/or drive city vehicles?  What other perks are being funded by city tax revenue? .My recommendation would be for the city to replace the current Fire Chief with one of the existing Captains that resides within the city limits.

I have been told there appears to be an exception in the law that would allow cities to require residency for department heads based on their interpretation of what was read.  The Code of Virginia law referenced was Title 15.2-1505.

Does the city really need a full time dog and cat Animal Control officer (Budget 2016 – $136,321, – 1 full time, 2 part time, 2017 – $135,751 – 1 full time, 3 part time).  Is there a regional animal shelter?  If not, don’t you think it would be less expensive for all regional localities to have a central location?  Other options need to be examined.

The city doesn’t need an Economic Development Director (Dept. Budget – 2016 – 87,620, 2017 -$88,205, auto $700/$745), nor a Tourism Director (Dept. Budget – 2016 – $98,381, 2017 – $101,734, auto $197/$210).  You do know the city provides some funding for the Chamber of Commerce (Budget – 2016 – $12,000, 2017 – $15,000) and Glencoe (Budget – 2016 – $55,818, 2017 – $39,683).  The 2017 budget for these four economic and tourism functions amounts to $244,622.  That’s a great deal of wasted dollars for such little results.  Radford is not a tourist mecca nor is it a shopping destination.  Two more downtown businesses are closing.  With the threat of Hepatitis-C, look for closure of a tattoo parlor or two.

I think all city positions (including schools and Superintendent’s staff) should be on the table for review at budget time.  I also think budget time should be a year round process with periodic reviews.  No one likes surprises when it comes to funding.  A department that goes over budget is a department that is poorly managed.

Surely the city could reduce some of its expenses by moving the City Market to the city owned property at Wadsworth and Rock Road.  The City Market on Main is not a draw for other merchants.

Per the city Manager September 6, 2016, the City leases two lots from Norfolk Southern and one from Price Baker LLC for parking and special events on East Main.  At that time he was going to look up the lease details.  I am not familiar as to the lease details but I do know leasing, in general, is not a practice a city should be pursuing without examining all other options.  Conversely, a city should not be selling property that they own.  If the city property isn’t in plan for use in 1-3 years, a short term leasing agreement would be advisable as it would be providing revenue during that time period.  I know of two properties that the city is attempting to sell and should take them off the market right now.  If you have been around Radford any length of time, you can see all the poor decisions that the councils have made by selling city property.  Maybe, the city would not have to be consolidating their various service departments into the former Wades grocery store if they hadn’t sold other properties that could be of use today.  I haven’t seen nor heard what the expense is for this consolidation.

The Radford Transit system’s partnership with Radford University needs to be examined in detail.  Per the Budget Fiscal Year 2017, Radford contributes $129,358 to the Transit System Fund.  The budget for this Fund was $125,021 in 2016 and the proposed budget for 2017 is $180,787.  Radford contracts with New River Valley Community Services to operate the public transit system, Radford Transit.  Radford has another transit expenditure and that is for the Radford Transit Operating funds.  The Radford Transit application for operating funds for fiscal year 2018 is for $1,464,169.  The total for the two funds is $1,644,956.  If you figure on 100 residents (not students) riding per day, 5 days a week that would cost the city $63.27 per rider.  I think other options should be explored.

                                                                                                                                                                   

August 12, 2016

To:          All City Council Members, City Manager, and Economic Development Director

Ref:        Economic Development Work Session, August 24, 2016

Attached are 13 Radford News Journal articles that I have written in the past 8 months.  They contain numerous ideas and recommendations that have fallen on the deaf ears of our City Council.  All of these recommendations, if implemented, would improve Radford’s potential for economic development and improve the overall quality of life for its citizens.

If the goal of this work session is to explore ways to turn Radford into “the business heart of the NRV”, I’m afraid this goal is unattainable.

My ideas are attainable in a short period of time.  The City Council needs to enact ordinance changes and the City Manager needs to formulate plans to address the city-wide problems mentioned in the articles.

In my opinion, the work session should focus on short term goals that are realistic and obtainable.  An example would be to focus on the zoning ordinances along East/west Main Street, Tyler Avenue and Rock Road.  These are the main business corridors in Radford and they should have the highest zoning classification and tax assessment in the city.  In addition, the ordinance should restrict non-profits from these locations.

We all wish you success in this endeavor and look forward to seeing changes implemented instead of more rhetoric with no results.

James D. (Tuck) Bird

tuckbird@gmail.com

Note:    Attachments will be sent in 3 separate emails

 

Email to School Board – Code of Conduct

EMAIL March 14, 2017 to:

Jessie Critterton

Adam DeVries

Joe Hester

Carl Mitchell

As members of the Radford City School Board I thought you should know that I sent this Letter to the Editor (see letter below) of the Radford News Journal.  It is up to you to decide if Mr. Burris has violated any VSBA Codes of Conduct for School Board Member such as items 6, 7, 8 and 12.

James D.”Tuck” Bird

tuckbird@gmail.com or visit my BLOG at tuckbird.wordpress.com.

Censorship in Radford?

Submitted to the Radford News Journal on March 3, 2017.

It is my opinion that the Radford School Board should be requesting the resignation of Mr. Lynn Burris for remarks he made to the city council in their meeting of February 13, 2017.  Per the minutes, “Mr. Burris read passages from columns written by Mr. Tuck Bird in the Radford News Journal and discusses how he disagreed with these columns and how the columns need to end.”

Freedom of speech is one of the foundations of our society and government.  I have the right to express my opinions; however, it seems that Mr. Burris is suggesting that my opinions need to be suppressed.

Mr. Burris’ beliefs and public comments are certainly grounds for this request.

What do you think?  E-mail me at tuckbird@gmail.com or visit my new blog at https://tuckbird.wordpress.com.

James D. “Tuck” Bird

Radford, VA

Decision Making and the Red Light

Submitted to the Radford News Journal on February 22, 2017

The Radford News Journal, December 7, 2016, article entitled ”City to conduct traffic study” is just another costly ($5,000) example of poor decision making by our City Manager.  The study is being conducted by Whitman, Requardt and Associates and will monitor traffic counts, accident counts, vehicular patterns and overall traffic safety at the intersection of Eighth Street and Wadsworth Street.  Per the article, this study was prompted by public need, the age of the system and community comments.

I wonder who these influential members of the community are that prompted this study.  Residents of west Radford could use a little assistance to get the city to fund the replacement picnic shelter and add a rest room at Riverview Park.  Maybe these influential citizens could lend a hand in obtaining the funding.  It is a sad state of affairs when the city leaders can spend $18,000 plus to the Christiansburg Aquatic Center (CAC) and now $5,000 to consultants on a traffic study for one city intersection and can’t find funding for a picnic shelter.  It’s time for major changes in the management of the City of Radford.

For absolutely no charge, I have conducted a study of this intersection.  After looking at all the options (4) and consulting with members of several think tanks (Hank’s Sportsman, Hardee’s, McDonald’s and Bojangles’), I have come to the conclusion that the traffic light at 8th and Wadsworth should remain as is.  The only other recommendation would be the elimination of the no turn on red sign from Wadsworth onto 8th street.

This traffic study and the renewal of the CAC contract are just two more reasons why the city should be looking for a new City Manager.  We have other traffic lights in Radford that the city could internally study that make more sense than the 8th and Wadsworth study.  The ones I question are located at Wadsworth and West Main (Kollmorgen), Harvey and West Main (Radford Drug), Dalton Drive and West Main (CVS), Harrison Street and East Main (Bondurant), and East Main and Virginia Street (Farmer’s Market).

In addition, I really question having a yield sign, instead of a stop sign, at the intersection of Fifth Street and Walker Street. How could this be overlooked for so many years by both residents and city employees, especially since it is only one block from RHS?  Also, there are no “School 25 MPH When Flashing” signs on Scott Street or Sixth Street.

I also question the four-way stop signs at Eighth Street and Randolph Street.  My recommendation for that intersection would be the elimination of the stop signs on Randolph Street.  With that change, all streets in that area going West or East would have consistent stop signs.

Censorship in Radford?

Submitted to the Radford News Journal on March 3, 2017.

It is my opinion that the Radford School Board should be requesting the resignation of Mr. Lynn Burris for remarks he made to the city council in their meeting of February 13, 2017.  Per the minutes, “Mr. Burris read passages from columns written by Mr. Tuck Bird in the Radford News Journal and discusses how he disagreed with these columns and how the columns need to end.”

Freedom of speech is one of the foundations of our society and government.   I have the right to express my opinions, however, it seems that Mr. Burris is suggesting that my opinions need to be suppressed.

Mr. Burris’ beliefs and public comments are certainly grounds for this request.

What do you think?  E-mail me at tuckbird@gmail.com or visit my new blog at https://tuckbird.wordpress.com.

Freedom of Speech/Press

Submitted to Radford News Journal on March 8, 2017

For those of you who don’t know me, I have been a regular columnist and also a writer of Letters to the Editor for the Radford News Journal since 12/2015, submitting 20 articles.  I believe all of these articles were published within 7 days of submission.

My last “Columnist” article was published in the January 11, 2017 edition of the Journal.  On January 12, 2017, I received this email from the Editor of the paper.  “I hope everything is going well. I just wanted to let you know that our new owners have decided to make some changes on the editorial side of things, and that includes reducing the number of “columnists” for the paper going forward.  We appreciate your submissions and concern for the City of Radford, and hope that you will still consider submitting content.  However, any future submissions will fall under the “letters to the editor” category of the paper.”

On January 20, 2017, I submitted a Letter to the Editor as suggested.  In the meantime, Mr. Lynn Burris (School Board Chairman) made the following comment to the Radford City Council in their regular meeting of February 13, 2017.  Per the minutes “Mr. Burris read passages from columns written by Mr. Tuck Bird in the Radford News Journal and discussed how he disagreed with these columns and how the columns need to end.”

My Letter to the Editor was finally published in the February 22, 2017 edition of the News Journal.  The title had been changed from “Decision Making and the Stop Sign” to” Adding a stop sign at RHS.”  In addition, the entire first paragraph and first sentence of the second paragraph had been removed.

This is what I had written and which was deleted:

Let’s be honest here.  How many of you read my last column?  I included my New Year’s resolution for the city.  How many of you think the City Manager and City Council should be providing us with their New Year’s resolutions for the city?  If you didn’t know better, you could have mistaken my resolutions with resolutions that should be coming from the City Manager.  By now, they should each have a list of changes they would like to make this year to improve the quality of life and recreational facilities for our residents. What are the chances of that happening?  I guess you know by now my answer to that.

(This is the first sentence of 2nd paragraph which was also deleted).  “I have a new tale for you today that I know you will find very informative as to how our city management works.”

The Editor did something else new this time.  He attached an Editor’s note which included the city’s stance on my Letter to the Editor.  I think if the city would like to respond to my articles, they should do so after my article has been published.  After all, all of my articles ask the question “What do you think?  In addition, my email address is also included.  Is this a new practice the paper is going to follow on all Letters to the Editor they receive and print?

Am I seeing an attempt to suppress Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press by the City and/or the newspaper?  I don’t think you can deny Lynn Burris has a problem with Freedom of Speech.

What do you think?  Email me at tuckbird@gmail.com or visit my new blog at https://tuckbird.wordpress.com.