Friday, March 31, 2006

good fences?

tomato crew-boss, Gadsden County

I wonder what Lewis Lapham thinks about S.2454, Securing America's Borders Act?

Hey Lewis! Where does the ruling class weigh in on this one? What does the RC think about the 17 guest workers that live down the street in a one room apartment? How do we count these folks for the census? Is this a way for the RC to import a new underclass?

Note to guest workers. If you want to improve chances of North American citizenship, marching with an American flag is the best approach.

(from the bill)

(a) Tucson Sector- The Secretary shall--
(1) replace all aged, deteriorating, or damaged primary fencing in the Tucson Sector located proximate to population centers in Douglas, Nogales, Naco, and Lukeville, Arizona with double- or triple-layered fencing running parallel to the international border between the United States and Mexico;
(2) extend the double- or triple-layered fencing for a distance of not less than 2 miles beyond urban areas, except that the double- or triple-layered fence shall extend west of Naco, Arizona, for a distance of 25 miles; and
(3) construct not less than 150 miles of vehicle barriers and all-weather roads in the Tucson Sector running parallel to the international border between the United States and Mexico in areas that are known transit points for illegal cross-border traffic.

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Thursday, March 30, 2006


How long will it take to cut the three acre front yard of the motel with a pair of fingernail scissors?
I am finding out.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

non sequitur

high springs, florida

any of you speak Bulgarian? Babelfish doesn't. Bulgaria about the size of Tennessee. A blogger in Bulgaria is using one of my image maps. fluXus the blogger's name. I tried to say hey but in addition to word verification one has to be a "member". fluXus lives in Sofia...

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

waste water

RWSA outlet into Moores Creek, currently running at approximately nine million gallons per day

Missed posting yesterday, was busy assembling materials for the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority board members. They received an excellent technical report from staff regarding the "Compost shed".
A contingent from the Woolen Mills neighborhood spoke before the Board relating the "quality of life effects" imposed by living near the steaming pile, an aspect the technical report didn't specifically address.

Note! Brian Wheeler has posted RWSA audio on his website Charlottesville Tomorrow


In 2003, then Mayor of Charlottesville, Mr. Maurice Cox, challenged city leaders and the Woolen Mills Neighborhood, he said:

I think it is long overdue for the Woolen Mills that they have a clear signal of where their neighborhood is going, and (that it) not be done in this piecemeal fashion.
So I guess my hope would be that out of this process, given the talent that they have in their neighborhood, that they get together and decide that proactively:

'we are going to tell you what the future of our neighborhood is going to be,'

and it is not going to continue to be an erosion of the things that they have come to feel anchor their neighborhood, that?s the residential use and some of the mixed use strategies that they have."
-Maurice Cox April 2003

I personally long for the time when businessmen built their residences next to their places of business, when they were members of a neighborhood, sharing the positive and negative effects their endeavors had on the quality of life in the area they called home.

Such was the case 100 years ago when Henry Clay Marchant lived on hill at the intersection of Moores Creek and the Rivanna River. He was the directing force of the Charlottesville Woolen Mills and his house overlooked his place of business.

The neighborhood takes its name from Marchant?s enterprise and as the business was the seed around which a neighborhood coalesced, the Woolen Mills is often considered by people who don?t know better as an ?industrial? neighborhood.

The Woolen Mills is a residential neighborhood, a Mill Village whose residents historically walked to work. Marchant?s industrialism fit well with the arboreal garden at the base of Monticello Mountain.

The industrial park that lines Broadway Street between RWSA and the Woolen Mills neighborhood was, in the time of the Mill?s operation, a recreational park. My ninety-seven year old neighbor, Lola Knight, remembers watching baseball games there. Sixty-nine year old Jean Strauss remembers playing shuffleboard in the park in the mid 1940?s.

One questions the wisdom of the City and County zoning that has located some of the heaviest industry in this region at the foot of Monticello Mountain, in the view-shed of the crown jewel of Central Virginia tourism.

The Woolen Mills neighborhood shares its south-eastern boundary with Albemarle County. Living on an inter-jurisdictional border is a dangerous affair. RWSA?s county Supervisor is Mr. Lindsey Dorrier. Mr. Dorrier?s most distant constituents are the residents of the Marchant house. Does Mr. Dorrier feel and smell their pain?

Visitors to my house in the Woolen Mills neighborhood wonder why I don?t ask my City Councilor to address the smell issue. Indeed, we, as a neighborhood, have been asking the City Council for relief from the corrosive effects we bear from the industry to our South. We have been asking for relief from the cut-through traffic and smells at least since I moved to the neighborhood in 1987.

In 1918 the Woolen Mill bought its first internal combustion vehicle.

In May, of 2005, during a 24 hour period 14 septic-tank pumping trucks short-cut through the Woolen Mills neighborhood accessing the place where they dump their loads. In the same twenty four hour period thirty-two vehicles emblazoned with the RWSA logo made their way through our residential streets. I was busy counting the traffic that day, I failed to note whether the air smelled of ?composting bio-solids.?

In the summer of 1916 the City?s main sewer pipe, a straight pipe running from the City of Charlottesville to the Rivanna, broke...

"Foul odors wafted across the mill village from the leak. The stench ended only with the arrival of the coldest winter in twenty years."
-Andy Meyers ?The Charlottesville Woolen Mills:
Working Life, Wartime, and the Walkout of 1918?

The leak was referred to in the Woolen Mills Board Minutes taken during the summer of 1917 a year later. Apparently the City was in no hurry to repair the failed pipe.

In my opinion, the odor we currently deal with comes close to meeting the definition of a public nuisance, described in state law:

"as an act that is injurious to health, indecent or offensive to the senses and that interferes with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property."

In 1916-1917 the City responded slowly to complaints from the Woolen Mills neighborhood regarding odor. We hadn?t been annexed then. We were Woolies, Lintheads and Albemarle County Residents to boot.

Show us that times have changed. Give us action to address the smell issue in the current year. Fast track enclosing the compost shed. Transform this mother of all outhouses from a source of community pain to a source of regional pride.

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

day of rest

36 19.264N 79 56.669W

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Friday, March 24, 2006

his master's voice

sound bites

March 13 the director of the local water and sewer authority met with people from east Charlottesville to find out what it is like living near the water treatment plant.

The event comes and goes, then the spinning begins.

The closest one can come to no spin regarding the March 13 meeting between odorantor and odorantees would be to visit the posting by Dan Daniels, a volunteer for the Charlottesville Podcasting Network. It is a recording of the entire meeting between east Charlottesville residents and Bob Wichser, director of Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority operations.

Yesterday, The Hook, local award winning news-weekly, weighed in with a story which covered much of the territory.

In the Hook article, Mr. Wichser notes that some people at the Woolen Mills meeting said they don't smell anything.

Naturally, I wish our political representatives and members of RWSA's board had been in attendance at the meeting.

In the alternative they could listen to the CPN podcast.

If they wanted a condensed, paragraph number one version of the meeting I provide sound bites.

Ackerman- like the rest of the neighbors, the smell is crushing...

Cocke- is it a particulate we are inhaling? Is there some science as to its unquestioned adverse effect on us?

Covert- everything tastes like the sewer, its pretty digusting

Dunham- find an appropriate solution

Emory- the mother of all Johnny Houses

Ewing- the smell is getting worse and worse.


Johns- I find no problem at all.

Jones-Schmidt- Noxious, choking, thick quality of the simply can't breathe

- What is the rationale for keeping the compost operation in its present location?

Unknown- I cannot start a pig sty because of the damage it does to abutting neighbors.

Richards- I can't imagine what is in the air that is affecting us on our physical health level.

Roettger- It's become a joke with my family, that they come to the stinky neighborhood.

Schmidt- The point is, there is a bad smell that is alienating a number of citizens and it needs to be ended.

Wichser- I am director of water and waste water operations.

Wichser- As part of the treatment of the liquid side, solids are generated.

Wichser 02- the basis for why the facility was sited where it is

Wichser 03- I have been there when certain community stakeholders have been somewhat upset with odor issues.

Wichser 04- order of magnitude estimates on enclosing facility

Wichser 05- everyone smells a little bit differently

Wichser 06- the board needs to make the decision and tell us what to do.

Wichser 07- odor is classified more as a nuisance

Wichser 08- wastewater employees are some of the healthiest around

Wichser 09- inorganic organic

Wichser 10- the biosolids have increased

Wichser 11- we will be generating more solids

Wichser 12- additional solids

Wichser 13- growing load

Wichser 14- consider options

Wichser 15- fry an egg


1. Being an unspecified number or quantity: Some people came into the room. Would you like some sugar?
2. Being a portion or an unspecified number or quantity of a whole or group: He likes some modern scupture but not all.
3. Being a considerable number or quantity: She has been directing films for some years now.

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

not bisquick run

In 1870, Barnabas Brennan bought land in the Woolen Mills neighborhood from Thomas Farish (DB 65 Page 532). He bought a good sized piece, approximately seven tenths of a mile of frontage along Woolen Mills Road stretching back to the railroad tracks.

In 1884 Brennan turned over his land to creditors. In 1886 the creditors had portions of that land known as "The Farm" subdivided into lots (DB 86 PG 111), these lots were gradually built on by residents of the expanding Mill Village.

Lot #1, of the subdivision, was 2 acres, the Graves' house. Warren S. Graves, was working for the Woolen Mill by 1880. In 1930, at the age of 71, Graves was the carding foreman. For years following his death, this house was occupied by Miss Nora Graves and Claude Graves, brother and sister. Miss Nora was an attendee of the Woolen Mills Chapel, taught Sunday School, Claude worked at a hardware business in town.

The rear portion of the Graves lot has been acquired by developers. The developers hope to up-zone the land to a PUD (planned unit development) and place seven houses on eight tenths of an acre. The developer say that less density (four units) "feels awkward". The developers are three young men.

Open space in the Woolen Mills neighborhood is the fabric of history. The Woolen Mills residents were largely factory workers during reconstruction. They were not wealthy landowners. They were in large measure yeoman farmers trying to stay on their feet in a rapidly evolving industrial world. In this new neighborhood they preserved networks of kinship and traces of their agrarian past.

It is important to remember where we come from. This is done by preservation of documents, preservation of the built environment and preservation of landscape.

The City has programs to help neighborhoods retain their historic fabric. I pray the programs are not too little, too late for this old neighborhood.

Related posts:
Conservation easements
Monticello Viewshed
Road to Damascus moment
Patch the fabric
Amiss house saved
Sand Island
Pireus Dawn
Hanging by a thread
99 years
Origin of the name
Screw Eden

The Fabric of History, a Walk in the Mill Village (pdf)


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

not biskit run

Woolen Mills Road. Emma's house. Built 1885. She kept a cow in the pasture south of the railroad tracks. Churned butter on the back porch. Hummingbirds hovered at the northwest corner of the house. Bees landed on her head. No fear.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

not biscuit run

Patch a worn place in the fabric of history, rehabilitate a section of the built environment.


Monday, March 20, 2006

not bisquit run

You have 900 acres of land? What will you leave behind? 5000 houses? A park? Maybe put the land under a conservation easement?

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

day of rest

Oak Grove Baptist Church

Joe Thoms, Sr., a slave harness-maker, founded Oak Grove Baptist Church during the Civil War at his nearby log cabin, which burned in 1869. The congregation then met here, on land owned by John J. Robinson, a white farmer, in a grove of oaks they called the "bush arbor." In 1870, Joe Thoms, with Deacons Ambrose Tolliver, Frank Walker, Ed Redd, John Williams, Charles Brock, Spot Mallory, and Ambrose Thoms, built a small frame church here. The third church replaced it in 1894, when Robinson donated the land. A great-great-grandson of Joe Thoms became pastor in 1982.

-Virginia Department of Historic Resources

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Friday, March 17, 2006


The hill in the background Monticello

I asked a planner/zoning administrator "when do real-estate developers characteristically have their "road to Damascus moment".
That moment when they are blinded by the light of self awareness. That moment when they realize they have made enough money, that it is time to give back to society.
His answer, they don't.
People without conscience can get a lot done.


Thursday, March 16, 2006

Monticello Viewshed

The area overlaid with diagonal red lines has gone from being a recreational park to an industrial park. This is an old photo, the area with trees beneath the red lines is now approximately 80% "built out".
Click on the link above for a spoken history...
(128Kb download, MP3)

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006


I?d like to start by thanking the RWSA for their commitment to composting, and for being open to hearing our comments this evening.

I live in the Marchant mansion. It was built in 1840 and predates the arrival of the sewage treatment plant by well over 100 years. The odors from the sewage treatment plant are something I?ve personally experienced for almost 14 years?other residents on the hilltop for much longer. While other odor-related issues have been dealt with in that time, the composting odors have continued to worsen noticeably over the past 8 years or so. The odors don?t just waft by on a breeze?more typically it?s a blast that hits the hilltop for a minimum of 15 minutes, and quite often lasts an hour or more. This is almost daily occurrence and typically several times a day.

The odors impact our lives on many different levels, only two of which I?ll address this evening. One is from a financial standpoint. We have had a tenant move out within 2 days of arrival due to the fetid compost odor that engulfed our property for a straight 24-hour period. Ethically, I had to break her lease?those are inhumane conditions to expect someone to live under. Prospective tenants tend to view apartments in the early evening, around dinnertime, which is when the fecal odor is usually at its worst. The odor has become so bad, there?s no way that it can explained to prospective tenants as an occasional thing. This is affecting our ability to earn rental income. I honestly don?t know if any of my current tenants can stick it out another year under these conditions, and who could blame them? As the population of the county increases, so will the amount of biosolids that will be composted. The resulting odors will render this hilltop uninhabitable.

On a personal, standard of living level, this situation is harmful and demoralizing. When the odors last for more than 10 minutes, they fill the inside of our house and cause headaches, burning eyes and nausea. It?s the first thing that greets us when we come home from work. We can?t have barbecues? we have a yard, yet it can?t be enjoyed.. We can?t keep our windows open for more than a brief period of time. We?ve frequently been awakened in the middle of the night by the smell.

While composting biosolids is a great idea from an environmental standpoint, the RWSA needs to be sensitive to the fact that they are composting fecal matter next to a residential neighborhood and find an appropriate solution?preferably enclosing the composting area and installing the proper filtration. Thank you.

Comments by Victoria Dunham delivered at Woolen Mills Neighborhood Association Meeting with Bob Wichser, Ph.D., P.E., DEE, Director of Water & Wastewater Operations at Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority. Mr Wichser came to hear neighbors' concerns over smells from the composting facility. Charlottesville Vice-Mayor Kevin Lynch and neighbors from the Belmont/Carlton neighborhood also attended.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

the mother of all outhouses

At the dawn of the 20th century there was no City water, gas and sewer in the Woolen Mills Village. People had wells, they heated with wood, coal or fuel oil and they had Johnny houses, out-houses, one and two holers located in their back yards.

At the dawn of the 20th Century, Forty years after the establishment of the Woolen Mills by Henry Clay Marchant, there was no Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority.

At that time The City of Charlottesville had a straight-pipe which ran to the Rivanna River, Presumably the effluent received little treatment. It was dumped into the Rivanna with comments like:

?flush hard, Richmond needs the drinking water.?

Today, following annexation into the City of Charlottesville we have most of the Modern Conveniences. We?ve got running water and indoor plumbing.

The City of Charlottesville and the County of Albemarle have a first class outfit, RWSA, which treats and releases waste water received from 5 pumping stations in the area.

In the Woolen Mills neighborhood one paradox has arisen with the arrival of the 21st century.

We have taken our Johnny Houses down. RWSA, our neighbor to the east and south has built the Mother of All Johnny Houses on a hill atop the south banks of the Rivanna River and Moore?s Creek, opposite the Woolen Mill Buildings.

It's an admirable proposition. Dewatered sewage sludge is mixed with wood chips and lime, then composted, via aerobic biological process until all the pathogens are dead.

One problem. This stinking process happens in an open building next to a populated area.

It is time to close the outhouse door. We support the composting program but we want the stench contained.

The odor can be contained with a capital expenditure supported by RWSA users.

This malodorous exploitation of a neighborhood would not stand in Fifeville or Farmington. Why is it ok in the historic Woolen Mills?

Close the Johnny House door, enclose the composting facility.

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Monday, March 13, 2006


The Woolen Mill located at the intersection of water and overland routes of travel. Three Notched Road crossed the Rivanna at Secretary's ford and ran up the spine of the Mill Village.

This view is taken from the vantage point of the RWSA compost shed perched 100 feet above the Moores Creek and the Rivanna. The train tracks bearing approximately 300 degrees NE.


Sunday, March 12, 2006

day of rest

today is Lola's 97th birthday! Her husband, Moses, is 102. Day of rest, day of remembrance, day of thanks.


Saturday, March 11, 2006

Service Dogs of Virginia


Friday, March 10, 2006


Cayman and Couscous pretending to be asleep for world famous dog photographer bill emory. Well trained canids, potential service dogs.


Thursday, March 09, 2006

trouble in the garden

view from Sand Island looking South

January 21, 2004 the Monticello Foundation announced that they were spending 15 million dollars to acquire 330 acres in the Monticello viewshed. How I applaud that move!

Hello up there on the Hill! Tommy do you hear me! Please buy our neighborhood!

The Woolen Mills Neighborhood is the residential garden in a bend of the Rivanna at the foot of Monticello. There is trouble in the Garden.

Bulldozers are warming up their engines, ready to clear more land for chain link and high density usage. Please help us Oh! people of the Hill, we implore and beseech thee. Please help us preserve a bit of Jefferson's agrarian view.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

J.E. Hudson

Looking for info about a family that lived in the house at 1516 Woolen Mills Road in 1917. Mary, Ray, Jimmie, Lucy and J.E.

I think J.E. was shipping foreman at the mill, that conjecture based on info from The Charlottesville Woolen Mills: Working Life, Wartime, and the Walkout of 1918 by Andy Meyers.

Have you seen this girl? In your old scrapbooks?


Monday, March 06, 2006

Moore's Creek

Walked 2.7 miles along the south bank of Moore's Creek Saturday morning. The walk made possible by the superb effort of the Rivanna Trails Foundation. These fine people and their volunteers have constructed walking trails around the City of Charlottesville.

Moore's Creek is listed by the Virginia DEQ as an "impaired waterway", it is burdened by organisms and chemistry that it is not supposed contain and it is missing the good stuff (living critters) that it used to contain. (Massive efforts are underway to repair).

The thing I love about the walk, there is a wildness in the midst of our urban environment and with effort it can be preserved and enjoyed, burning a gallon of gas to get to the Shenandoah National Park isn't strictly necessary.

The trail section ends abruptly at the point where Moore's Creek joins the Rivanna River. Hmmm. In former times this is the spot where Th. Jefferson was rumored to cross, course he was riding a horse. In more recent times (1913) there was a footbridge (note: you must check out the Holsinger photo!!!)

We were on foot. Waded from the base of Monticello mountain through Moore's Creek to Sand Island. From Sand Island we waded again to the south bank of the Rivanna and the terminus of Woolen Mills Road.

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Friday, March 03, 2006


First woman enrolled at The Citadel as a member of the Corps of Cadets. Born 1975, Powdersville, S.C. Her application for admission was accepted in January 1993, then rejected when it was learned that she was female. She brought suit in the U. S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Charleston Division, for admission on grounds of equal protection under the law. Judge Weston Houck ruled in her favor (Faulkner v. Jones, 858 F.Supp. 552, decided July 22, 1994). Faulkner began taking classes, but still was not admitted to the Corps. In 1995 the U. S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirmed the District Court's ruling, paving the way for her admission as a cadet (Faulkner v. Jones, 51 F.3d 440, decided April 13, 1995). Before the courts Faulkner was represented by the New York City law firm of Shearman & Sterling (lead counsel: Valorie Kay Vojdik); The Citadel by the Charleston law firm of Barnwell, Whaley, Patterson & Helms (lead counsel: Dawes Cook). Faulkner joined the Corps of Cadets on August 15, 1995. One week later she resigned, citing exhaustion and complaining of maltreatment. A lawsuit for damages ensued. The following year, after the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that the Virginia Military Institute's policy of excluding women was unconstitutional (United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515, 116 S.Ct. 2264, 135 L.Ed.2d 735, decided June 26, 1996), The Citadel changed its admission policy and began actively recruiting women. The Federal District Court required The Citadel to make quarterly reports on its progress in integrating female cadets into the school. This requirement ended in 2002 because The Citadel had made outstanding progress in coeducation. Shannon Faulkner subsequently made a career as a secondary school teacher. (Sources: Catherine S. Manegold, In Glory's Shadow: Shannon Faulkner, The Citadel, and a Changing America. KF228 .C53 H36 2000; Washington Monthly, vol. 29, Oct. 1997, pp. 4-9; National Review, vol. 46, August 1, 1994, pp. 49-52; Brian Hicks, "Lawsuit's Dismissal Marks End of Era at The Citadel," Post and Courier, March 30, 2002, p. 1A; "Fresh Start: Shannon Faulkner Opened the Door for Women in The Citadel. Now She Opens Minds to Shakespeare," People Weekly, June 28, 2004, p. 145) (DH) Knob Knowledge

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Padgett Thomas Barracks

Front sally port. This building was destroyed and rebuilt two years after this photo was taken.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006