Sunday, September 28, 2008

Events You Might Be Interested In

As summer winds down, I took a look around the area websites and updated October on the events page. Looks like there are plenty of things happenin' In The 'Burg!

Lets start off with the wine festival - note they have moved to Old Mill Park this year. Get your tickets ahead of time and save $5.

If wine isn't your thing, head over to Hurkamp park the weekend of 4th/5th for the market in the park, and 20th annual dog festival.

Following weekends include arts and craft festivals, as well as a variety of concerts for everyone.

Check out EVENTS HERE.

Oktoberfest Happenings

In the rush to upload pictures from the rally, I almost forgot to post about visiting the 6th Annual Fredericksburg Oktoberfest by Blue & Grey Brewing. The oompha band was very good, even providing sing along sheets with the words to the many songs. When I was there, the tables were pretty full, but you could still find a seat. There were many options for food, and of course the beer was wonderful. I stuck to the Oktoberfest brew, but heard good comments about the others.

Local brewer Lyle Brown was there with samples of his award winning Bamburg Style Smoked Maibock. Lyle recently won the Smoke and Wood Aged category in Sam Adams Longshot homebrew competition. Working with Star Hill brewing out of Crozet VA, he has now brewed 12 1/2 barrels for the Great American Beer Festival. This brew has a wonderful smoked bacon finish, and who doesn't love bacon. It's lighter than expected, giving it a great balance. If you're interested in trying this one, you might be able to get it in a week or two at The Pub (4187 Plank Rd. Fredericksburg, VA - in the shopping center with Tractor Supply). Lyle and his son are going to start working as brewmasters for The Pub as they get more into the microbrew market.

US Elections Excite The World

More InTheBurg rally posts:

During the Obama rally, I noticed that there was a TV station 1 in the press area. Recognizing that this was not an area station, and then overhearing a few conversations in German, I went over to talk to the crew. They are based in DC, and drove down for the day to get shots of the rally. I asked them why they thought Germans were so interested in our elections. They were surprised that I would ask a question. Their answer was something that living here, I think we tend to forget. They answered that they view the US as the last remaining super power, that whatever happens here, will have worldwide impacts. They also talked about the impacts of the Bush administration alienating countries, which they saw as disrespecting the position of President. Then in turn asked me what I thought of the election, they seemed intrigued that a blogger would be in the press area, but not surprised with the way the Obama campaign has embraced internet media.

So thank you to Channel 1 in Germany for reminding this blogger of yet one more reason this election is critically important.

John & Kathy Peques were interviewed by Fox 5. I saw them later and asked what question they would ask Obama. They were interested in Obama's views on the Bailout.

Martin Samuels (on the right) wanted to know what Obama would do in his first on hundred days.

It was great to talk to people and see the variety of things that are important to them. People attended from all over the area. I met folks from King George, Caroline, Northern Virginia, even some volunteers from William and Mary.

Mike, on the left of the picture below, was interested in what Obama might do to keep tuition costs down, as he was headed to college in 2009.

Obama Rally Slideshow

I took the better photos and uploaded them to Picasaweb, click this link to visit the blog story where you can see a full slideshow with captions.

More InTheBurg rally posts:

Picasa SlideshowPicasa Web AlbumsFullscreen

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Obama Rally at UMW

Other InTheBurg Rally Posts:
US Elections Excite The World
Obama Rally Slideshow

Check the local DC news tonight, you might see video of the Obama rally at UMW here in Fredericksburg, VA. The show started out a little later than expected, but even a few rain showers couldn't stop the festivities. Reports had the line wrapping around from college ave, to william st, all the way down sunken rd to the back gate. Fox5 reported that there were 26,000 people at the rally. I'm working to go through the 3GB of images and video. I'll upload these now.

Video of Obama and Biden taking the stage.

The skies cleared for most of the afternoon. But after an earlier downpour, Ball Circle had a few mud pits. These ladies were enjoying some barefoot fun waiting for the speeches to start.

A few select invitees were able to sit on the stage just behind Obama and Biden.

Biden wore a hat from someone most of the speech. Obama gave up his suit jacket as soon as the rain started again. The crowd went wild with the more unpolished look.

Obama spoke about his plans to make sure the bailout doesn't include bonuses for executives of companies that the government is bailing out. He also talked about his tax breaks for the 95% of the population earning less than $250k a year. He spoke of ending capital gains taxes for small businesses, and rebuilding main street.

Vide from part of the speech on making sure that tax breaks go to the right segment of the economy, and building main street. (I missed the very first quote, which was 'you know what to do, I know what to do, [Joe] Biden knows what to do'.)

The FLS was there with video cameras, photographers, and a bunch of reporters. Check out their webpage for more.

FLS not exempt from economy

You've all heard the reports of major cut backs at large companies, particularly major newspapers like the Washington Post. Our very own Free Lance-Star isn't exempt from these pressures either. Unconfirmed reports peg them at having reduced their workforce by five percent. I know some of my fellow bloggers are probably ready to blast them, but I tend to try to consider the FLS a valuable resource in the area. After all, they have funding to PAY people to go do things that us bloggers can't or won't go report on. Sure, they occasionally have a story that we don't agree with, but then I've written articles that have sparked disagreement in the online community.

Lets give credit to the owners of the Free Lance-Star for maintaining the local ownership, rather than selling out to a regional or national consortium. Keeping ownership local, should maintain their focus on local events/products/services/news. All successful businesses have to take a step back at times and evaluate if they have the right mix of skills and employees. Hopefully this is not a sign of things to come, and simply an effect of this temporary downturn in the economy.

Commonwealth's Attorney Race to December

Friday night we attended Eric Olsen's meet and great at Libertytown Arts Workshop. Mr. Olsen made the rounds speaking with everyone there, and at 6pm he was introduced by Dan Finnegan and his current boss, Dan Chichester, Stafford's Commonwealth's Attorney for 35 years. Of those 35, Eric has worked for him the last 19. That is an amazing feat in today's world where people tend to change jobs regularly.

Mr. Chichester remarked about the great loss it would be to his office, but that he couldn't think of anyone more qualified for the position. Eric is currently the Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney for Stafford County. He also pointed out Eric's outstanding work in the realm of children's cases, which he pointed out is particularly trying on everyone in the office. Mr. Chichester reminded everyone of Eric's recent Warren Von Schuch award from fellow state attorneys, and praised Mr. Olsen for the teaching he has done at the National College of District Attorneys. Mr. Olsen then got up and spoke about why he wanted to run for Fredericksburg Commonwealths Attorney, more about his experience, his dedication to the position, and the need to get out the vote in this December's election.

I would estimate the crowd to have been about eighty people. In an election where the turnout is critically important, this will be a good starting point. The field seems to be set, with Olsen running, along with Fredericksburg assistant C.A. LaBravia Jenkins, and local attorney Jeh Hicks.

Friday, September 26, 2008

New 'Burg Blog

Local potter and founder of LibertyTown has started blogging Be sure to check out his blog at Tons of info about pottery, and some of the works that you might see at LibertyTown. Expect this one to get a wide readership, so be sure to check out our very own local pottery expert.

Fill The Food Bank 9/27 (THIS WEEKEND!)

FREDERICKSBURG AREA FOOD BANK Participates in Inaugural Hunger Action Month
Local food bank joins forces with Feeding America network to fight hunger in THE FREDERICKSBURG REGION

September 8, 2008 – FREDERICKSBURG, VA – This September, FREDERICKSBURG AREA FOOD BANK will participate in the inaugural nationwide Hunger Action Month. Local events, volunteer opportunities, and fundraisers will raise support for the thousands of individuals living on the brink of hunger in THE FREDERICKSBURG REGION. In doing so, FREDERICKSBURG AREA FOOD BANK joins the other food banks of the Feeding America network that are conducting similar events across the country.

Highlights of the local programs include a food drive and volunteer opportunity on Saturday, September 27. Bring donations of non-perishable food to the food bank on that day between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., and we will be sure to "Fill the Food Bank"! Volunteers are needed to help receive donations. Contact the food bank at 371-7666 for more information.

"You'll be hard pressed to find a community in the United States that is immune from hunger," says OYA OLIVER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR. "One in ten Americans is unsure from where their next meal will come. Our participation in Hunger Action Month, along with nearly 200 Feeding America food banks, is a call to all Americans to get involved locally to bring an end to hunger right in your hometown."

Hunger Action Month is organized on a national level by Feeding America, and includes events across the United States that directly benefits the network's hunger-relief efforts. From food drives to concerts, volunteer outings to advocacy work, there's something everyone can do in every state in the country.


Fredericksburg Area Food Bank – serving Planning District 16 that includes the counties of Stafford, Spotsylvania, King George, and Caroline and the city of Fredericksburg. The food bank secures and distributes more than 2.4 million pounds of donated food and grocery products annually; and supports approximately 90 local charitable agencies, operating more than 200 programs including emergency shelters, food pantries, Kids CafĂ© children feeding programs, , Food for Life senior feeding programs, and soup kitchens. Last year, the food bank provided food assistance to more than 27,000 individuals in Planning District 16, including more than 5,000 children and 900 seniors. For more information on the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank, please visit

About Feeding America (Formerly America's Second Harvest—The Nation's Food Bank Network)
Feeding America is the largest charitable domestic hunger-relief organization in the United States. Through its network of more than 200 member food banks, Feeding America annually provides assistance to more than 25 million people in need, including more than 9 million children and nearly 3 million seniors in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Each year, Feeding America secures and distributes more than 2 billion pounds of food and grocery products to support feeding programs at approximately 63,000 local charitable agencies, including food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, after-school programs, and Kids Cafes. To learn more, please visit

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Obama & Biden in Fredericksburg

Obama and Biden coming to the 'Burg on Saturday:

This Saturday, September 27th, please join Barack Obama and Joe Biden in Fredericksburg, where they will talk about their vision for creating the kind of change we need.
Change We Need Rally with Barack Obama and Joe Biden
Ball Circle
University of Mary Washington
1301 College Ave.
Fredericksburg, VA
Saturday, September 27th
Gates Open: 3:00 p.m.
Program Begins: 5:15 p.m.
The event is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required, but an RSVP is strongly encouraged.
Space is limited and is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
For security reasons, do not bring bags and please limit personal items.
Signs and banners are not permitted.

Eric Olsen Running For Fredericksburg Commonwealth’s Attorney

Mr. Eric Olsen sent me the following last night announcing his run for the vacant Fredericksburg Commonwealth's Attorney position. This special election is expected to be December 16th. Mr. Olsen has had a successful career as the Stafford Assistant CA, and is running to fill the remaining year of the term. Should he win, he will also have to rerun for the election in Nov 2009.

From Mr. Olsen:

I am a career prosecutor who has worked in the Stafford Commonwealth Attorney’s Office for the last 19 years, and I have lived in the city my whole life (James Monroe H.S. ’78 and MWC ’82).

Some of the highlights of my experience and community involvement include:

Professional Accomplishments:

1) In April my fellow prosecutors named me 2008 Virginia’s distinguished assistant Commonwealth Attorney (I was awarded the Warren Von Schuch Distinguished Assistant Award by the Virginia Association of Commonwealth’s Attorneys);
2) I was appointed to Governor Kaine’s 2007 Commission on Sexual Violence to serve on the treatment and intervention subcommittee;
3) I have served as a faculty member at the National College of District Attorneys in Columbia , S.C. , training other prosecutors;
4) I am a career prosecutor who has tried hundreds of jury trials, with particular emphasis on crimes against children.

Community Involvement:

1) I was named Big Brother of the year in 1989 by the Rappahannock Area Big/Brother Big Sisters;
2) I am Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Fredericksburg-Stafford Park Authority; and
3) I serve on the Board of Directors of Downtown Greens Community Garden and Rappahannock Area Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP)

Eric L. Olsen

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Rail Security Test a Flop?

Please read this article on MSNBC from WRC-TV about added rail security this morning. They stated "Passengers riding the rails Tuesday morning may notice a big security presence."

If they count having NO officers at VRE at 6:30am, and by having 3 (count that THREE) cops sitting in 3 Arlington police cars outside the VRE station at Crystal City at 7:50am as "Big Security", get a clue. What a joke.

In Arlington, they brought the paddy wagon out with two patrol cars. Yet where were these officers in this test? Sitting with the cars idling. Inside. Not checking anything. Maybe they were scanning the crowd, maybe they weren't. Yet another example of TSA at their best. This is not training, people!

Monday, September 22, 2008

DC Trip w/Boys and Girls Club

Last Friday, I was able to do something that had been in works since this past summer. 46 students from the Fredericksburg Boys & Girls were able to go to the NEWSEUM in DC. Watch for the article in Tuesday's City and Spotsy Extra in the FLS.

Rebecca Barnabi of the Free Lance-Star wrote the story here:

Hah, I see why I might not make a great politician. She got me on a great quote "You can kind of run your mouth and not get into trouble here [in the U.S.]". I'll give her credit, that is exactly what I said. What I was thinking though was more deep that what I read here. In the US, you can take an opinion and discuss it openly, even if it's against the current political direction. You don't have to worry about persecution or incarceration.

I also encourage anyone reading the article, if they can think of organizations that they support, and consider making a donation. This year almost $450k in the city budget is being eyed that go to these outside agencies. The public is going to need to help out directly if that funding drops or goes to zero as has been discussed.

Taxes: Everyone has and Opinion

Matt Kelly, one of the city council members, started a post over at his blog Question Everything. Eric Martin and I posted comments to the article, and Matt challenged us with the following questions (noted by 'q'). See my answers here, crossposted from Matt's comment section.

1q. How will small business complete the revitalization of Sophia Street? What improvements do you expect them to make? How will they cover the cost of those improvements? Who decides on what improvements to make?
1a) Improvements should be done with a bond, where the BID pays the debt service through the increased tax revenue. Immediately after improving the area, you would expect property values to increase. You would also expect improvements to drive additional business in the area. All prime areas for BIDs, or a Sophia overlay. Most cites pay for parking garages this way, with parking revenue and increased business tax revenue used to cover dept service.

2q. How does reducing funding to schools improve student performance?
2a) Funding for schools needs to be based on enrollment and services offered. What do you remember from school? I remember the teachers, which I consider the core service a school offers. In tight times, a diet light in construction and extras allows more emphasis on scholarly work. The school budget has not been my specialty, so I will openly admit to needing to brush up on this one.

3q. If you invest a dollar and get two dollars back is that a good thing? Do you want tourists to pay for our new court facility or City residents?
3a)I take it your 1 dollar investment for 2 in return is in reference to incentives for Kalahari. I agree with you that this is a good investment. It's NEW tax revenue, which will probably all go to building the new courthouse. Now lets talk courts - what do we really get for 60M? It is a Taj Mahal building? What do we need? Courts. Simple. Even if the building offers retail, doesn't that compete directly with other downtown business owners for rent? Where do you draw the line. I'd suggest we ask what we can get for 40M, how much better is 60M? But lets go even further, what are the yearly maintenance costs going to be for the courts and who's going to pay that? I've suggested before that we need a very efficient building, so that our long term base costs are reduced. Council has not published any options for the courts, so stop using it as a scare tactic. Right now it could be 40M, it could be 80M for all we know. Maybe initially we need to consider using the existing parking garage to reduce our upfront costs. (Did I say I was perfectly OK with incentivizing other businesses to create NEW revenue.)

4q. If I contract out a job to a firm that has to pay competitive wages to their employees, provide benefits, and make a profit--how much money do we save? Like business should we charge for the actual cost for services?
4a)I didn't suggest uping service charges, I suggest combining services to reduce our biggest cost that we have control over - manpower. I think the hiring freeze was a good start. Now as attrition continues, we need to think hard about how to become more productive. Like business, we absolutely should be looking at our productivity numbers. By my survey of a few budget items, looking at overhead rates compared to money expended on services, we're less productive this year than last.

5q. If the people continue to contribute to erosion of the riverbank, cut down trees, and leave large amounts of trash how long will it be before people will stop coming?
5a) So bring on the conservation ordinances. Let talk more than just the river resource, lets talk light pollution, lets talk runoff from pavement (which is required by the current ordinance for all parking). The saving of 2000+ acres was a great thing. It is great that the public owns this area. Whatever design is created for the riverfront, should consider flooding and erosion resistant landscaping.

6q. What specific projects or programs has the City paid for that you object to?
6a) Hasn't happened yet, but I object to spending 50k to remove 1200 Prince Edward. Like I stated earlier, up until now, I've pretty much supported the plans of council. It's just time to cut back, tighten the belts, combine departments where needed. Remove the stovepipes, and stop duplicating services.

7q. True or False. The City reduced its operating budget last year?
7a)True - the city reduced spending this year, and yet still had to borrow from the reserve.

8q. True or False. Congested roads, and infrastructure in disrepair are good for economic development?
8a)Name me a truly congested road inside the city? Coming from northern va, and the Hampton roads area, and you can't compare. Rt3 between Rt1 and Carl D Silver parkway is probably the best example. So what plans are there? Show me a plan that can get more throughput with what exists - lets talk to VDOT about retiming the lights, which they already have an employee to do. Lets talk about Fall Hill, which will be paid for with transportation money - what speed did you drive the last time you went up Fall Hill? If you're honest, you will probably find it was close to the speed limit. We need sidewalks in the new design, we want bike lanes/paths, what we don't need are more stoplights breaking up that throughput. There are designs out there that would allow intersections at each residential neighborhood, and since they don't require the utility work for a dozen stoplights, it should be cheaper. Do more with less, that's all I ask. I would say not having buried utilities does more for economic development in the city. Now I know you're interested in regional solutions to transport congestion, and there we should work with the state to direct transport funds to good efficient designs.BTW - this is not a true or false problem. To present it as such is deceiving the public. It's an analysis of alternatives. Apply a little six sigma to 1st uncover the true problems, create a measurement if needed, then design and implement the correct solution. Measure again to see if you solved the problem. Council is trying to make it too black and white. Apply a little engineering effort to understand the issues first.

9q. Would it be more efficient for you to drive out to Massaponax and come back to City Hall to get your car registered? Do you understand that the Commissioner of the Revenue and Treasurer are State Constitutional Officers?
9a) No other locality that I've ever lived in has had 2 windows for commissioner of revenue and treasurers office. They are two positions in the back office, it doesn't mean there can't be one front person that collects taxes and issues decals. Heck, Greene county barely had one glass window to go to. And yes, I like the DMV express - and I believe that function is paid for by revenue from their cut of transactions. Talking with the attendant though, there are overhead costs for this such as nightly mailing in the days forms. Is this self supporting? Many people don't even know it's there, I tell everyone I know.

10q. Can you give a specific example of how you would reduce expenditures without reducing services?
a)Combine the windows for comm of revenue and treasurers office.
b)Ditch the city decal from the revenue/treasures office altogether, move that function to the police department with the other city resident decals.
c)look for more partnerships such as the master gardeners and parks
d)ditch the 100% cotton paper used in city offices for official correspondence (it's minor, I know, but it means more to me to get a 100% recycled paper at 25% the cost)
e)move the city to leasing computer equipment, equalizing expenses over 3 years rather than having spikes in spending, making it easier to plan
f)question HVAC replacement $1.3M, can any of this be moved out 1yr, 2yrs? With the new window film on the executive center, shouldn't the AC needs be reduced (BTW-good move in my opinion)?
g)question 1.1M for VCR trail. I know a majority of this is grant money, but what isn't? City crews, planning department overhead? What's the true cost. I want the VCR trail, but in a critical budget year, will it hurt to delay? What if I put it in the same black/white statement - VCR trail or Historic Sidewalks around the new hotel downtown to draw return tourists?
h)with all the sewer work, how about an ordinance to allow more construction up, and limit coverage to assist in runoff? The storm sewers can barely (can not) handle the runoff we have now. Lock these hand in hand.
i)Look at the trash and recycling fees, are they covering costs? How about investing in larger trash cans and going to one pickup a week?
-These are just a few I've spoken about before, plus a quick look at the CIP. I'm sure there are more. If you cut external agencies, please please please provide them a method to earn that money back easily, open up Finally Fridays to an every Friday event manned by volunteers, with the end of year profit going back to those organizations.

Aq) Local government is not subject to such forces as competition and inflation/cost of living?
Aa)Inflation affects gov't, and in previous years also impacted the tax revenue. This year is bad, because inflation is driving up prices while tax revenue is down. Many of the constituents in this city are personally affected in a similar way, so to say that justifies raising taxes is cruel and unusual punishment.

Bq) Government employees are on average paid more than their counterparts in the private sector?
Ba)Most recent polls say that gov't workers and professional counterparts are close to equal. This is mostly due to the bust of the internet bubble years ago. With the recent private layoffs, the gov't security has been an equalizer. Also, we have to stop thinking that we're competing with Prince William or Fairfax. The equalizing force of gas prices is making it more appealing to work close to home, not to mention the extra time to spend with friends and family. You guys are doing a great job trying to draw more opportunities here local. You heard me say it the other night, we are the center of a nice metro area, lets use that to our advantage. Some things have worked, some we lost, don't stop trying.

Cq) Unlike private sector employees, Government employees are all lazy and look for ways to waste money?
Ca)haha - good one. Council needs to make the rules so that they can be efficient, structure has a lot to do with efficiency.

Dq) If government operated like the private sector all waste and inefficiency would come to an end?
Da)I think that's why you're seeing public-private partnerships for things like amphitheaters, parking garages, and even whole redevelopment areas. You get the best in gov't financing, contracting, and private implementation, attention to details and budget/cost/benefit. You have to admit that private industry can accomplish things that government cannot, because they have an incentive.

Eq) We do not have tax relief programs to help people on fixed incomes?
Ea)This couldn't have been directed at my post. Raising real estate taxes usually hurts the people on fixed incomes first.

Thanks Matt! For providing a platform for all of us, and for listening to our stances.Wow that was a long answer.

Might create more questions.

FROM the followup post to correct some minor issues:
Oh - it was to answer #4 and #5, and I forgot to give true/false's on the last few. TRUE We offer tax relief for fixed income over a certain age right? How about low income? How about tax relief for hardship cases? You know, lower taxes helps these, but then when do you have to cut something like the homeless shelter, which really hurts.

I'll repeat something I said the other night - it's a yardstick. The answer lays somewhere between the start and the end, but I doubt if it's really at either end, and I really hope it's closer to the smallest raise possible. I also favor consumption taxes, which are voluntary based on wants of those paying for the product/service.
I just want to be sure we're lean. Not convinced we're there yet.
Oh - and I think the garage should offer a 10-pack of prepaid $4 tickets. The city would collect money upfront for services not yet rendered. Also, seems that $4 is low for a daily rate (maybe we need daily, 10-pack and monthly rates), and why isn't this a prime special event parking (at $5 or more). Think of an every friday's event!!!If the garage covered it's own debt service, that would free up some funds from the 2% gas tax to cover street work, burying utilities, concrete/pavement rehab, etc.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

DC at Night

For those that have been reading the blog regularly, you will remember that last week I purchased a new Nikon D90 digital SLR. This was a significant upgrade from the Canon that had been used to publish this blog. Although I still carry the Canon everywhere, because it's smaller and much more portable, the Nikon has great color reproduction. Now I just have to learn how to use the bells and whistles. In order to speed up the process, on Friday I spent the evening a workshop - "Monuments at Night". David Lurie is an architectural photographer, and leads these walks every Friday night. Check out his website at

If you've ever been interested in night photography, this walk was well worth the time.

The tour started at the WWII Memorial. The light was amazing for about half an hour. Just enough to create the blue glow in the sky, while the lights highlight the water features.

This is looking back over the WWII memorial from the reflecting ponds, with the Washington Monument in the background and also reflected in the pool.

The Korean War Memorial created some very interesting, almost spooky black and white shots. These statues are dimly lit from below, creating dark shadows. You can get very close as the walkway is right up against some of the men.
We walked to the Lincoln Memorial. This stop was packed with people, even though it was getting late. This is one of the memorials with special rules for photographers. No tripods allowed on the marble. This photo was taken with the tripod folded, but resting on my foot. It was several seconds exposure, and I can't hold anything still, so I feel lucky to have gotten this shot.
"The Three Soldiers" walking out of the woods seeing the Vietnam Memorial.

The photo walk ended at the Albert Einstein Memorial. I had never seen this memorial, how could that be? This is one of the few that you can climb on and interact with. In the darkness, it looks like Einstein is blending in with the leaves on the trees.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ellis wins City Council Seat

damn it

(most reserved post ever)

[update 7:29] City Beat, and FLS reporter Emily Battle reports that it was unanimous. Sooo... the phone call I received from one of those voters gave me wrong information? My question had been "how did the vote go" to which the response was 4-2, after a very close discussion that would have been a tie. I take it what was meant was there were some discussions ongoing beforehand. As with many votes, in the end, everyone goes with the group consensus to create a unanimous vote. For all the great open government methods used during this process, what does this result show in the record?

Luckily Mr. Ellis and I had very similar ideas on a number of items, just different methods for achieving them. I will continue to try to put forward what I think are good ideas, and talk with my neighbors to see how they feel.

Look at the bright side, I probably won't be asked to tone it down on the blog, and can still Twitter city council meetings. For me personally, it means more time at home in the evenings and weekends with our soon-to-be addition.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Claiborne's 2 for $59

Tonight Gail and I set out to have an early dinner to start our weekend. We quickly settled on Claiborne's when they were able get us a table at 6pm. When we arrived, we were surprised that they are having a great special until the end of September. For $59 for two, each gets to pick any entree (excludes 'market price' items), match it up with soup or house/caesar salad, and get their creme brulee for desert.

Gail had the petite filet, with the garlic mashed potatoes. I had the mixed seafood over wild rice. We both chose the caesar. Finishing it all off with the creme brulee was perfect.

After dinner, we took a short detour to Blue & Gray and picked up a growler of Oktoberfest for tomorrow's dinner with friends (grilled rack o' ribs). Mmmm, what a way to start the weekend.

FREE Oktoberfest '08

FREE FREE FREE, how often do you hear that these days? Especially around here were there seems to be a cover or gate fee for just about every event. Well I have it here folks, an event that you can get into for free. I'm sure there will be tons of things to spend money on once you arrive.

Hot off the presses at Blue & Gray Brewing Company. The agenda for their Oktoberfest celebration. Directions are simple, head South out of Fredericksburg on RT 2, you will pass the fairgrounds, and the Landsdown RD light, then turn left into the Bowman Center (Joseph Mills Dr). Follow the Oktoberfest signs.

Friday September 26, 5-10pm
7pm Keg Tapping Ceremony with "local dignitaries"
OOOmpah band all night

Saturday September 27, 11am-7pm
11:00 LOW'n'BROWS band
1:30 German Shepherd Exhibition Spotsylvania County K-9 Unit
2:30 LOW'n'BROWS band
4:00 Beer Barrel Bowl

Sunday September 28 (My Birthday!), 11am-4pm
Authentic German Breakfast
Early Bird Special 11am-Noon Weissworst, pretzel & 12oz hefeweizen only $5.00
11:00 Roving Accordion, Kinder Choir
12:00 Magician
1:30 German Shepherd Exhibition Spotsylvania County K-9 Unit
2:00 Petting Zoo

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Bullet Back On Target

For those of us yearning for unique city reporting last year, watching The Bullet transition from university hosting to the FLS backend was painful at best. Somewhere in there, it seemed that the reporting tailed off, and even though there were incredible things going on in the college, trying to find a student written article around here was like pulling teeth (they did get a few out throughout the year).

Well, I'm here to point out that they just released their 9/4 issue, with six news articles covering everything from the "Fence", to Park & Shop, to the drinking age and more. They backed that up with a number of features and the viewpoints section. Something still isn't write with the website, some images at the moment are 404'd, but I have faith that they will work it out.

Good job UMW! Keep them coming.

Post #200

It has taken 6 months of writting stories on the blackberry while riding the train, or staying up late after council meetings, but this is my 200th post. (ok, you can't read several because I chose after finishing not to publish several stories.) In that short time, readership has grown to over a thousand page views a month, some three quarters of those being unique daily hits.

The stats break down like this: 4331 Visits, 6850 pageviews, 1.6 pages per visit

My alltime most visited pages are:
#1 - Fredericksburg Fair
#2 - The Marine Corps Historic Half
#3 - My Fredericksburg Events Page
#4 - Bicycling in Fredericksburg

So here's to the first 6 months, now for the next 6 months (I have years to catch up to Chris's Blog)

Councilmember Interviews delayed a few days

Those of us vying for a position on city council will have to wait a few extra days before going in for the panel style interviews. Originally scheduled for Thursday Sept 11th, they are now going to be at 6pm on Tuesday the 16th. The following night on the 17th, council will vote on their choice for the position.

"The 3 panel interview will be in the Council Chambers, taped live, and the candidate selection will be in the upstairs conference room by a round robin style voting."

Homing in on new camera selection

With a baby on the way and the blog popularity rising, the other month I started looking for a digital SLR. I thought I had made my decision, when Nikon releases the press release on their new D90. This dslr has the sensor of a pro camera, but with a price closer to the consumer models. Normally I wouldn't be looking to spend this much on a camera, the blog doesn't make that much $. But this one will serve me two purposes. I can shoot great pictures, and also snag the occasional youtube clip for the blog or of the baby for our parents. All without having to lug around our camcorder and do the tape to pc conversion.

My friend who shoots almost exclusively with Nikon, brought up a good question, which lens do I want? The camera has an option of being bought with an 18-105mm lens, which gets descent wide angle, and zoom to about 6x for those of us used to point and shoot terms. However, the photo community is in love with Nikon's 18-200mm lens. It is a step up in quality construction. Read that to mean also more than double the price. I could look on ebay, but then you don't know exactly the quality of any used equipment.

I just need to make friends with a Nikon rep and offer up blog posts for a long term equipment demo!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Hurricane Prep

From the city website:

Friday night and Saturday, Tropical Storm Hanna may bring heavy rainfall and high winds to the Fredericksburg region. City departments have worked this week to prepare higher risk areas for the storm, and increased staff from various departments will be on duty during the storm to handle any emergencies.

In anticipation of potentially heavy rainfall and high winds, the City recommends that residents make efforts to secure any outdoor furniture, toys, play equipment, etc. to prevent property loss or damage. Also, take time today to check gutters or French drains that may create water runoff issues once the rain begins.

For additional information, people are invited to visit the
Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

For those that participated in the City's April emergency distribution test, now is time to check to see if you still have the cases of water, tarps & MREs (not that we have a heavy weather watch yet). If you are building an emergency kit, FEMA has these suggestions:

Three-day supply of non-perishable food.
Three-day supply of water - one gallon of water per person, per day.
Portable, battery-powered radio or television and extra batteries.
Flashlight and extra batteries.
First aid kit and manual.
Sanitation and hygiene items (moist towelettes and toilet paper).
Matches and waterproof container.
Extra clothing.
Kitchen accessories and cooking utensils, including a can opener.
Photocopies of credit and identification cards.
Cash and coins.
Special needs items, such as prescription medications, eye glasses,
contact lens solutions, and hearing aid batteries.
Items for infants, such as formula, diapers, bottles, and pacifiers.
Other items to meet your unique family needs.

In my case, I must add one item - a plan to setup a place to sleep in the cool basement for the 8mo pregnant wife. No AC would be very bad at this stage...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Jimmy Buffett '08 - The Year Of Still Here

Monday we went to the Jimmy Buffett concert with friends for an incredible day of tailgating, chatting about what's been going on in our lives, catching up, and best of all, enjoying some fun music! We were tailgate amateurs compared to several tents around us. Just next door was the 12 Volt Bar & Grill with their inverter running everything from blinking christmas lights to a margarita blender. Down one row was the temporary beach. On the corner of the lot was the ice cube pool. This was Gail's first Buffett concert - maybe I should have warned her that the tailgating was half the experience. I'm sure she had a few laughs at us and others, as she had to skip any alcohol this time. The Year Of Still Here was definately worth skipping a few hours of sleep on a work night.

Gail and I having a good time

12 Volt Bar and GrilleSitting on the lawn
An interesting shot before the start

The one low res shot of the stage

I'd be happy if I NEVER see another blinking MIX 107.5 noise maker.
Here are 2 of the 5 the group in front of us insisted on waving around.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Film Festival This Month

Get your tickets now for four days of the Rappahannock Independent Film Festival. Events run from September 18th through the 21st. Most are at The Third Floor downtown, a few at the Wounded Bookshop. All are expected to be fun. The current screenings list 30 different films. In addition to the films, there is an All Ages Concert on Thursday the 18th, and a free family film night screening of Gullivers Travels in Market Square on Friday the 19th.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Bring Your Own Horse

As I was doing a little research to fill in the events section of InTheBurg, I found this interesting event from the Fredericksburg Parks and Recreation.

Urban Trail Ride through Historic Fredericksburg - BYOH, Bring Your Own Horse. Registration begins in September.

Saturday, November 15, 2008 (Rain or Shine*)
9:30am - 12 noon Fredericksburg, Virginia
(Meet at the grounds of the old water treatment plant on Kenmore Avenue. You will be directed to trailer parking)

ROUTE: Ride through downtown Fredericksburg, visiting many of the City’s points of interest. The pace for the group will be a walk. We provide coffee beforehand and after the ride we’ll have snacks and drinks for riders, as well as water for horses. The ride, which is all on asphalt, should take approximately 2 hours to complete. We will walk together as a group the entire time.
WHERE & WHEN: Trailer parking is located in the field next to the old Fredericksburg Water Treatment Plant, which is located on Kenmore Avenue, just past Mary Ball St.

I have no horse, but I plan on being out to watch the event. I'll be there looking for a spot to take pictures where the flash isn't necessary. What a unique event to participate in! When was the last time you saw everyone ride into town on their horse?

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