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2018-10-8

What would you do with $222,050? ***UPDATED***

Editor's Note: According to the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, Emporia is the most fiscally stressed locality in the Commonwealth. There is no city or county in the Commonwealth with a higher fiscal stress rating.

A former menmber of the Civic Center Foundation just informed EmporiaNews.com that that group raised the money and paid to remove the asbestos from the Auditorium. The fact that the asbestos has already been abated, at great expense to the Civic Center Foundation, is yet one more reasons to leave the building standing.

There have been several e-mails sent to the editor echoing the sentiments of this article.

THERE IS NO JUSTIFIABLE REASON FOR THE EMPORIA CITY COUNCIL TO WASTE THE AMOUNT OF MONEY BUGETED ($210,000), PLUS AN ADDITIONAL $12,050 TO "SAVE" PARTS OF THE BUILDING THAT HAVE BEEN DEEMED IMPORTANT BY THE VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF HISTORIC RESOURCES.

Once again, the Emporia City council has decided to waste your money tearing down a perfectly good building.

Please don’t get me wrong, it’s not a spectacular building it has no major architectural character, but it’s ours.  It’s a symbol of a time when our country could come together can put everyone to work.

The building in question is the auditorium on Main Street.  All that remains of the former school complex.  This particular building was built as a Works Progress Administration project in the midst of the great depression if.  The Auditorium is one of three WPA project within the city of Emporia, the others are in close proximity - the Post Office and the Armory.

I say again, it is not a spectacular building, but it is important history.  More importantly, it’s not eating anything nor is it drinking anything.  The city is expanding minimal funds in maintenance, and the building is not connected to any utilities except water and sewer; and those are most likely not being used.

One can imagine countless school assemblies, Christmas programs, concerts and the like being held in this auditorium.  In its more recent history it was the first home of the Meherrin River arts council.  Just like the Victorian school buildings that once stood beside it, this building is part of our history.

It was suggested to a member of City council that the school buildings and auditorium would make an excellent City Hall.  This was several years ago before the schools were torn down.  There was enough space in those buildings to house all of the offices of our city government, and have banquet halls that would rival those of golden leaf commons.  The police department could move into the existing City Hall, or it could have been used as a new library. 

That suggestion fell on deaf ears and two perfectly useful buildings were demolished.

We can listen the City Council share concerns about asbestos, but I saw no asbestos abatement when the schools were torn down.  We can listen to city council when they talk about how it’s a drain on our resources, but as mentioned above the building is connected to no utilities and receives only very minimal maintenance.

One can listen to the City Council until one is blue in the face and one will probably never know the real reason why that August body is so determined to demolish this building.

City council is budgeted more than $220,000 for the task of removing a perfectly useful building, which according to their own architectural review is in good condition and is costing us nothing. 

Just two weeks before the meeting at which City Council decided to waste this money, they entered into a lease/purchase agreement for three vehicles.  That agreement was for $154,000.  By not demolishing the auditorium, the interest payments on at least purchase arrangement could be saved and the city could pay cash outright for those three vehicles.

Much-needed police vehicles aside, $222,050 could pay for much needed expansion and upgrades at the library or even just pay for more computers and additional hours.

$222,050 would more than cover the $172,000 needed to replace our 911 call handling equipment.  The balance could be used to cover the 2% COLA raises for city employees, which total $10,955 according to the most current budget.

In the time that I’ve lived here water bills have more than tripled and sanitation fees have nearly quadrupled.  $222,050 would surely put a dent in the debt service that caused those bills to soar out of control, or the very least pay off whenever debt remains on that new garbage truck. $222,050 would go a very long way toward replacing the water meters in the City, a task that is in dire need of undertaking.

Just looking at the budget, one can see many opportunities to constructively spend $222,050.

Without even leaving the school property, $222,050 would go a long towards making the auditorium and the cafeteria viable for event rental.  In light of the doubling the fees at golden leaf commons, organizations such the family violence and domestic assault unit could continue to use a low-cost facility for their fundraising (or no cost, as this program is administered as a city department).

Knowing that you, the average citizen of the city of Emporia, could pay down your debt, complete existing projects, or avoid incurring new debt, how would you spend $222,050?

The city of Emporia is currently one of the most fiscally stressed localities in the commonwealth of Virginia.  We cannot afford to allow our City Council to squander our money.  The fiscally conservative option is to spare this building demolition and find a useful purpose for it.  No matter what anyone else, especially if they claim to be fiscally conservative, the demolition of the WPA Auditorium on Main Street is not fiscally conservative.

Further, anyone who claims to be fiscally conservative and voted for the demolition of the structure, which is clearly a waste of taxpayer revenue, is not fiscally conservative.

Benjamin “Gil” Perkins inducted as the 2018 Hall of Fame recipient

Defense Logistics Agency Aviation Commander Air Force Brig. Gen. Linda Hurry presents Benjamin “Gil” Perkins with the Hall of Fame medal and award for his selection as DLA Aviation’s 2018 Hall of Fame member Sept. 27, 2018 in the Frank Lotts Conference Center, Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Jackie Roberts)

By Natalie Skelton, DLA Aviation Public Affairs Office

Richmond, Va., Oct. 2, 2018 —

For his dedicated service and contributions to Defense Logistics Agency Aviation, Benjamin “Gil” Perkins, former DLA Aviation chief counsel was inducted into the 2018 DLA Aviation Hall of Fame Sept. 27. Perkins retired in 2015 after 34 years of service.

The ceremony was held Thursday afternoon in the Frank B. Lotts Conference Center on Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia.  DLA Aviation Commander Air Force Brig. Gen. Linda Hurry opened the ceremony, making note of Perkins’s many contributions during his time at DSCR. “There is no question that Gil’s dedication to this team helped shape this center, touching the lives of many people throughout our center, from the time he started here in March 1981 until his retirement in October 2015, and beyond,” Hurry said.

Perkins’s tenure at DSCR and DLA Aviation began with services as a law clerk while was still attending the T.C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond. He then served as an attorney-advisor at DSCR, and later in a rotational assignment as business manager for the Packaged Petroleum, Chemicals, Gases and Rings, Shims & Spacers Product Center — a $120 million venture. In 2006, he was promoted to chief counsel for DLA Aviation at DSCR, a position he held until retirement.

Julia Roquemore, Aviation and Airframes division chief, Supplier Operations Commodities Directorate, DLA Aviation and Brenda Brunner, supervisory paralegal specialist, DLA Counsel-Aviation, nominated Perkins.

Roquemore said the reason she nominated Perkins was because he cared more than anyone. “He was a champion of improving the quality of life for all DLA Aviation employees,” said Roquemore. “He took time to listen to people. He was a true champion of DLA Aviation.”

Perkins’s accomplishments while at DSCR include leading the office to establish and create a workload-tracking and case management database that served as the model for the DLA Counsel enterprise wide Automated Workflow and Reporting System, better known as AWARS.

“Gil’s legacy has impacted our mission, set examples for employees and introduced enduring benefits to the organization,” Hurry said. “He called DLA his dream job that fell right in with two of his life goals: serving people and supporting his country.”

The event was attended by his wife, Susan, who also worked at DLA Aviation and retired shortly before her husband after 30 years of service. One of Perkins’s four daughters—Lauren Freeman, also attended, as well as Perkins’s father, Hugh, and his sister Mary Perkins.

The DLA Aviation Hall of Fame recognizes former civilian and military team members who have made significant and lasting contributions to the agency and who represent core DLA values and ideals. Perkins is the 36th inductee into the Hall of Fame.

Perkins said, “Don’t just go to work, go to serve, to appreciate the privilege we’ve been given, to accept the responsibility that goes with the privilege and to continue to do great things."

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