Sunday, October 26, 2008

GOP rally at local gun show

Saturday's visit to the gun show at the expo center was an exercise in dodging McCain/Palin stickers, or people that just knew this was the last gun show of all time. You would have though it was a mini convention for the Republican Party. Two dealers proceeded to announce how you better buy now before it's too late. One went as far as to say VA "better go red this year". Needless to say, I didn't buy from that guy. Mixing salesmanship with politics just felt sleazy. Luckily I found what I was looking for from a guy who beat everyone else's prices, and stuck to details of the item, and why their price was better.

Fear Mongering - the Republicans must be giving out free classes. I've lived in VA for 30+ years, gun shows have been around for a long time, though Dem and Rep presidents, congresses, you name it. That "better go red this year" guy above - when I pointed out the Republican vote on DC gun control, his answer was "well McCain is an idiot too, I'm a Ron Paul fan". Isn't Ron Paul a Republican?

As for those thinking this has anything to do with the gun show loophole, I will attest to them running the same background check on a purchase at the gun show that you would have had in any store.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Transportation Thru 2035 On Display TONIGHT

Fredericksburg - October 23, 2008
5 - 8 p.m.FAMPO - Robert C. Gibbons Conference Room
406 Princess Anne Street, Fredericksburg

Tonigth FAMPO (Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization) is laying out their long term plan for the public to comment on. So if you're at all interested in what the area's around your locality are going to look like, which projects are getting priority, and why, you might want to try to drop by the meeting tonight.

If you can't make the meeting (or didn't make it to one of the previous sessions), you can still comments:
Can’t make a meeting? Share your input in three other ways – just make sure we receive it by November 28, 2008. Comment form available online.Mail: FAMPO, 406 Princess Anne St., Fredericksburg, VA 22401
Dial 711: Voice Relay System for Hearing Assistance

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fall is Here: City Leaf Collection begins Nov 3rd

Fall is here:
Notice was given in the newspaper this morning that the City of Fredericksburg will begin it's fall leaf collection on November 3rd. I guess that means it's time to start thinking about what to do with the pile of leaves that has begun collecting on my back patio. Not to mention the gutters around the house.

I don't see the notice on the city website yet, but for those interested, according to the 2007 flier, you just need to rake them to the edge of the street (termed the "utility strip"), but not into the street. No need to bag them, they will come by and suck them up in the truck. The notice from last year even indicated that if you bag leaves, you need to call the public works department to have them pick up your bags.

VRE to battle 700 Phone Calls

Heard on the train yesterday "If you believe you are due an FRC [free ride] because of Thursday [night's events].... call VRE".

Apparently Thursday train 305 southbound, the one that gets into town about 5:35, had an engine fail. The conductor indicated that he didn't get home until almost midnight, which due to rail regulations, meant the crew couldn't work Friday.

According to the VRE Daily Download, train 305 was "Terminated at Franconia/Springfield due to mechanical problems." Those mechanical problems were the failure of a traction motor in the locomotive. A long standing issue for VRE passengers has been the reliability of the engines that push/pull the train sets, yet in recent years there seems to have been more emphasis on acquiring new cars. Recently Mark Roeber, VRE spokesman, attributed the 61 new cars to having "kept people on the trains" (FLS link here). A few years back, VRE did spend some money to refurbish some of the oldest engines, and had been counting on VA transportation funds to purchase new ones (the $25M that was ruled against in the courts). Plans currently have them using some of the replacement funds from the state.

Perhaps riders would have been ok with older cars if they could have gotten to and from work quicker or more consistently with newer locomotives. Oh, and don't complain to riders and taxpayers about funding a new call center for VRE phone usage, the old policy of giving FRCs to conductors seemed to work just fine.

City Absentee Voting (New Location)

The next two Saturdays, the voter registration office is open in the city of Fredericksburg to take absentee votes. Technically, this is known as the "central absentee voter election precinct". Normally this is located in City Hall, but for this year, a temporary move has been approved, which should put it on the first floor of Executive Plaza, Suite 100, 601 Caroline Street, Fredericksburg, VA (map).

[Update 10/21 2:42pm] I received this email from the registrar "Thank you for bringing this issue to my attention. The correction will be made today. Due to the magnitude of the November 4 Election, I decided not to move the Central Absentee Precinct until January and I neglected to put the information on the website."

This move was estimated to have cost the city $5200, but didwill put the office in an ADA compliant building. It also provides more space for the General Registrar's office.

Note that at 7am 10/21 the city website still listed the location for the registrar's office and absentee voting as 715 Princess Anne (City Hall). An email has been sent to the registrar requesting clarification.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Boys & Girls Club $10k Reverse Raffle

One of our favorite City Charities is kicking off their fall fundraising with a potential $10000 raffle. With a bit of a twist, all tickets will be drawn, with the last ticket (or maybe the last 10)winning the prize. See details below.
to benefit
the Fredericksburg Regional Boys & Girls Club

Grand Prize $10,000

Wednesday, November 12, 2008
6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
University of Mary Washington’s Seacobeck Hall
Fredericksburg,VA 22401

Free hors d’oeuvres/Two complimentary beverages/Cash Bar
plus a Silent Auction

Cost - $100 per ticket (need not be present to win) - ticket admits 2

Contact the Fredericksburg Regional Boys & Girls Club at
540-220-3943 or 540-368-9531

Only 249 tickets will be sold. The 50th, 100th, 150th and 200th ticket drawn wins $100.
The last 10 ticket holders will decide to either split the $10,000 or continue eliminating 1 ticket holder at a time.

10/18 - SPCA Yard Sale

Saturday, October 18, 2008
8:00 am—2:30 pm
1380 Central Park Blvd, Ste. 109
Look for us at left of Ice Park
Directions: Take road that runs between Border’s &
Target (Trade St.) . Proceed straight past Chuck E
Cheese towards the Ice Park.
We are next door on the left.

City Police Going Online

The city police department has a new online system where you can request a copy of an incident report. You can also report certain incidents online. This sounds allot like applications recently released for other northern va localities.

Check out the Police to Citizen application here:

This release does bring up a few questions. It appears the department is looking for ways to be more efficient. The questions I have, does this allow them to reduce staffing for this type of request? How much was the NRE (non reoccuring expense)? How much are we paying Verizon Business to host this application? The P2C app has been around for a little while, I would be curious to see how much use it actually gets.

Regardless of those questions, I am very happy to see the city services doing more to be online. Now I wonder when they are going to link to the city website?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

City May Lift Anti-Business Restrictions

For those that don't get the FLS, you might want to check the City Beat Blog and this article about the city's parking ordinances.

Background: If a new business wants to open up, or if an existing business expands, it quickly runs up against a rule that says the business has to provide parking, and gives a formula to calculate the number of spots. Anyone can see how this limits any sizeable business from locating downtown, and recently became a point of contention for a local bank. The formula does not account for the often vacant parking garage, or people's use of the public parking lots around the city. Add in that churches can't by-right use their parking lots as paid parking, they must go through the special use permit process, and things are 'tight' for parking.

So this month the city takes up discussions of changing the laws to be more business friendly. They ease the formula downtown, are talking about allowing businesses to pay a fee instead of providing spaces, and other edits to make downtown more enticing to entrepreneurs.

Can't wait to see what happens. I wonder if they would consider waiving the first paid-in-lieu parking spot if they provided a dozen bike rack spaces? I have only found a single bike rack downtown, and that's set back off the street for the apartments in the building.

Did McCain Forget Independents

Just finished watching the last '08 debate.

I've often responded that I'm fiercely independent when asked for my political affiliation. Tonight I'm appalled at McCain/Palin's references to "Joe Sixpack", "Joe Plumber" and "Pro-Abortion". I'm none of the above, and if McCain thinks that referring to Pro-Choice as Pro-Abortion is going to get me to vote for him, he is very mistaken.

In his closing argument, it was apparent to me, that he is going after that conservative republican base, whereas Obama was aiming for undecided voters in the middle. This election, I'm ditching long history of experience, and going Democratic. I just hope the Dem. plan for healthcare gets major edits before passing.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Blogging Mini-Vacation

I'm taking a few days off from blogging to take care of the most hansom little boy I know, and his wonderful mother who was amazing through it all. Will be back in a few days with updates.

Monday, October 6, 2008 Grand ReOpening

Calling all bloggers, readers, and interested parties. InTheBurg has finished an acquisition of (boy that sounds official), now all I need to do is some touch-up on the updated website. Part of the issue was jumping between providers.

As part of this transition, I hope to add some new local bloggers to the syndication. I will also probably be writing the pure news stories at instead of intheburg, or maybe combining the two in some way.

Be sure that you're watching the syndicated feed if you want to get all the blog stories from Fredericksburg locals:

If you see things you would like added, or if you have news needing to be reported, or just a comment, let me know through the contact page:

Thanks to Nathan for starting this idea, and for letting me take it over as they look for places closer to Richmond.

Porous surface used at Pentagon Memorial

While looking around the Internet for where to buy porous pavers, I stumbled across Invisible Structures, Inc, with this interesting article on one of their systems in use at the new Pentagon 9/11 memorial. They used a product called GravelPave2.

"The height of the Gravelpave2 and the Height of the pavers were matched. "
"The gravel surface is unique compared to many of the granite, marble, and concrete walking surfaces at memorials and monuments in Washington, D. C."
"To facilitate the use of gravel in the design, Kaseman and Beckman used Gravelpave2 to stabilize the loose aggregate and to allow for pedestrian, wheelchair, and stroller access."

The product description states:
"Gravelpave2 porous paving allows you to park, drive, walk, or ride on a beautiful decorative gravel surface."

This isn't what I'm looking for in my application, I'm probably going to go with open cell concrete block. Luckily I'm not a commercial business, because the current zoning and building codes in the City of Fredericksburg require parking lots to be paved. Anything else requires owners to submit for a special exception, or special use. In the most recent case, at least one council member voiced an opinion that perhaps the code needs to be updated to allow these new systems.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Kybecca Soft Open

Tonight on a walk downtown we saw light coming from inside the new Kybecca restaurant. Upon further investigation, we found Rebecca Snyder inside explaining how to use the Enomatic machines. $2.50 later and I had my card ready to go, now just to pick one of the sixteen different selections by the glass (oh, and what size fill to get). This picture shows the smart card just to the right of the blackberry. It is sitting on the long bar in the center of the room. A perfect area to meet some new friends over a glass of wine.

Here's the quick lesson -
Talk to someone about getting a card
Load it up with some $$.
Snag glass from the bar
Pick Wine
Insert Card
Press and hold the button until you hear a click
Watch the wonderful pour fill the glass
Find seat

We found the polished concrete bar very inviting. The metal bar stool/chairs are very comfortable. The restaurant has much of the original features of the building, from the wood floor, to the tin ceiling. Mixed in between is a great decor of modern lights, clear glass panels, and comfortable seats.

The menu is now a little more rounded, with a selection of appetizers and deserts, but expect this to expand again once the kitchen is up and running.

Bailout benefit to Bicycle Commuters

Found in the 'noise' of the bailout package: A tax break for businesses who provide incentives to employees who commute by bicycle (read link here).

So let relate that back to Fredericksburg, VA. Walk around downtown, or the courts complex today, and tell me how many bike racks you can find? In the upcoming parking ordinance changes, lets hope SOMEWHERE they put in some bike stands. What about deleting a parking space or two, replacing them with parking for 2 wheel vehicles? Since businesses have received perks for allowing other environmentally friendly commuting, it's only fair to also extend perks to bicyclists, some of the most enviro friendly. This was originally considered as an independent bill years ago. Of course, on the flip side, businesses deduct any benefit expense from their income so that they reduce their tax burden anyway.

Next week the planning commission starts looking at changes to the City's comprehensive plan, the roadmap for the city, to change the requirements on the number of parking spaces required for types of business. They may consider a fee in lieu, removing certain requirements, and changing the calculations.

Brock's Breast Cancer Fundraiser

Brock's Riverside Grill is hosting a Breast Cancer Awareness night on 10/16 from six until eleven. An art auction is accompanied by wine and cheese hors d'oeuvres, followed by a band & dj with appetizers and a raffle. See the times below:

6:00-7:00 Wine and Cheese Hour with Art Auction
7:00-11:00 Raffle, Appetizers, Band and DJ

Thursday, October 2, 2008

GOP expo center event 10/2

It didn't make the expo center calendar, but it sounds like tonight for the VP debate, there is going to be a large event at the Expo center to watch the VP debate.

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