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Drawn back to Galax
I was born and raised in Galax, and like so many other young people, I left to pursue a career elsewhere.
Last week I returned "back home" to attend a birthday celebration. I realized that many of the things that made me so anxious to leave are the very things that now draw me back.
In some ways it's like stepping back in time — the slower pace of life and friendly people that have the time to stop and chat remind me of a much simpler time.
I don't know if I will ever have the chance to return, but you can bet that I would jump at it. There's not a more beautiful place than the Blue Ridge in springtime.
I know there's been some rough economic times there, but that holds true for the rest of the country as well.
People of the Twin Counties need to understand how blessed they are to live in one the most beautiful areas in the nation. Thanks for a great visit and I hope to return in August for the fiddlers’ convention.
Attacks don't hold up to the facts
I can’t believe Morgan Griffith, from Salem in the 6th Congressional District, is lecturing Rep. Boucher on how to do his job.
Mr. Griffith became interested in the 9th District recently, when he announced his intention to run for Congress in the Ninth.
Rep. Boucher is a native son of the 9th. I must say, when Mr. Griffith criticizes Boucher, I get the feeling he’s talking down to me and the rest of the 9th. How does he know what we need in Southwest Virginia when he lives up in Salem?
If Griffith lived in the 9th, he would understand, we have educated, intelligent people throughout the rural 9th. These people are not easily tricked. They know Boucher is in Congress looking out for their interest.
Rep. Boucher understands the value of the people of Southwest Virginia. He has been working to improve the lives of residents for years.
When Griffith attempts to tear down Boucher with negative comments, it shows his lack of familiarity with the 9th. Boucher has created infrastructure and jobs throughout Southwest Virginia.
I am proud to support Rep. Boucher. He fights every day to improve quality of life of 9th district residents. Morgan Griffith has a history of obstructing legislation that would help his constituents.
We have to keep Rep. Boucher, a representative whose only concern is improving Southwest Virginia.
VDOT encourages 'no phone zones'
During the coming months, most Virginians will drive through a highway work zone.
They may encounter one on the way to work or perhaps while traveling on vacation. Most likely they'll notice the orange signs, construction equipment and workers on the job.
The Virginia Department of Transportation and our transportation partners recently observed National Work Zone Awareness Week.
I and my colleagues who work on the roadways every day ask you to consider work zones as "no phone zones."
Too often we see drivers speed through our work zones, talking on a cell phone or reading text on a smart phone.
According to a recent study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, drivers who dial a cell phone are almost three times more likely to be involved in a crash than non-distracted drivers.
The crash risk doubles for truck drivers. Most at risk are motorists who text while driving. They are 20 times more likely to be involved in a crash than non-distracted drivers.
Add that distraction to dangers associated with highway work zones — equipment and workers near the travel lanes, sudden speed changes and lane shifts — and results can be deadly.
In 2008, there were more than 2,000 crashes in highway work zones in Virginia. Six people died and more than 1,000 were injured. Four out of five of those killed in work zone crashes are drivers, not highway workers.
I hope those reading this letter will join me in helping to make highway work zones "no phone zones."
We will do our part to ensure the roadways are safe, but you, the driver, need to do your part. Put your phone away, keep both hands on the wheel and stay alert when you approach a work zone.
Ultimately, all of us just want to get home safely to our families each night.
Transportation Operations Manager I
Virginia Department of Transportation
Biblical perspective on 'kissing cousins'
The recent Readers’ Hotline discussion about cousins marrying greatly amuses me.
I love how people pick and choose a verse or two in the Bible to back up their view, with no thought to the entirety of Scripture. I'm a strong Christian who knows scripture inside and out.
What do these critics do about Cain, Abel and Seth? Who did they marry?
Genesis 5:4 says, “After Seth was born, Adam lived another 800 years and had both sons and daughters.”
The only ones available for Cain, Abel and Seth to marry were their own sisters! And, even worse, Eve was of the exact same flesh as Adam so they were even more closely related!
Abraham married his half-sister, Sarah. The daughters of Zelophehad were instructed by God to marry within their tribe — that is, their cousins (Numbers 36:3). Did God contradict Himself? I hardly think so.
I am a genealogist and have done extensive research on marriages in colonial days and in these mountains as well, and I found that it was a common occurrence for even first cousins to marry during this country's early days and in remote areas.
Oftentimes, cousins were all that was available to them. And these were people who were far stronger in their observance of the Bible than we are today.
In fact, I dare say, if your family has been in these mountains for more than a hundred years, you have in your family, cousins who married and most likely more than one case. In fact, I'd almost guarantee it.
So I say to the caller “Kissin' Cousins,” go for it and don't worry about the criticism. The only One you have to answer to is God Himself.
And to the critics, I say, when you get to Heaven, if you get there, you can ask God why he allowed and/or directed the situations I mentioned above if it is such a horrible sin.
Potato planting pointers proffered
To the person who asked in the Hotline about planting potatoes: potatoes are a cool-season crop but are only moderately tolerant to frost.
Plant when the average maximum temperature is 60 to 65 degrees or minimum is 45 degrees. Aim for planting two weeks before the last killing frost, in full sun.
Soil temperature should be 45 degrees. Farmers’ Almanac suggests May 4-5, 9-10 or May 31. Old-timers plant when the service berry trees are in bloom.
A medium sized tuber is cut into 4 to 6 pieces, each piece containing one or more eyes. Plant them 5 inches deep, with 30 inches between rows, 9 to 12 inches of spacing in rows. Soil pH should be 5.0 to 6.0 to control scab. Dry the potato pieces 24 hours.
Well-rotted manure should be used, or 5-10-10 fertilizer, prior to planting, and again at planting time — two to three inches to the side and below the seed piece.
Side dress with potassium, phosphorus and minerals at first emergence. Excessive rainfall may increase need for nitrogen. More nitrogen is required for early crops than a late crop.
Potato beetles can be hand picked early in the morning by holding a can with a tad of kerosene in it under the leaf and knock the beetle in.
Harvest when tops have withered down. Lay out in single layer to dry in the barn, in the dark. When dry they can be bagged and held in the dark.
Theresa Rogers, herbologist
'Nowhere' a great place to visit
I don't know where that man complaining about Hillsville [in a letter to the editor published March 29, “U.S. 58 a road to nowhere”] is coming from, but I do know where U.S. 58 goes to.
“Nowhere” is God's country, our beautiful mountains, the rooftop of Virginia where it's still wild — but we can get there.
It's where you can still tap maple trees and see wild ponies grazing and see good people still working the land.
Maybe if [the letter writer] went there, he wouldn't be so down on the world and he'd treasure “Nowhere.”
Cockerham benefit was successful
We appreciate all the help and kindness to everyone who had any part in giving the benefit for Nora Cockerham.
May God bless you with good health, success and happiness.
Nora and Jim Cockerham