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Letters to the Editor


Dear Editor,

When December dawns, thoughts turn to the greatest of all seasons — Christmas. A lot of customs have become associated with Christmas since the reason for this great season was born more than 2,000 years ago. The birth of Christ changed the world and offered hope and eternal life to all who believe in him.

Today, some people do not want to identify the greatest of all holidays by its true name. Sure, retailers want Christmas gift-giving to keep growing, but some have reverted to calling Christmas “the holidays.”

Of course, the true meaning of Christmas is not the gift-giving, decorations or parties. Nevertheless, activities observed in honor of the Christmas season should always be identified as Christmas observances.

I plan to stop shopping in stores that do not clearly identify the Christmas season. In a country where 75 percent of the people identify themselves as Christians, this great season needs to be given the respect it is due.

So, in the future, there will be no “Happy Holidays” from me. My greetings and observances shall always be identified with a big “Merry Christmas.”

Disputanta, Va.

(Editor's Note: Your letters may not always reflect the views of Emporia News. Letters to the Editor may be sent to and must include your name. Letters that may be considered inflamitory in nature will not be published. Do not include profanity, racial ephitets, lewd, demeaning or disparaging comments. Letters may be edited for space, clarity and/or grammar.)


To the Editor:

Election season is in full throttle and we are less than 30 days to Election Day and some major decisions are at hand!

On behalf of the City of Emporia and Greensville County Democratic Committee I write in full support of the candidacy of Mrs. Yolanda Hines for City Council in District 7.  District 7’s representative resigned her seat on Council after many months of living outside the city and ultimately moving to be near her new job.  This resignation left a vacancy and thusly it brings us to an election to be held this November 6, 2018 to fill that vacancy.

Fortunately for our friends and neighbors in District 7 they will finally have a Council Member that will represent them fairly and one which will unequivocally have their best interest at heart!  Rarely do you see a candidate rise to the top that gets it…and Yolanda Hines GETS IT!  As a member of our committee she sought our endorsement to run for city council under our banner to effectuate positive change.  In Yolanda’s impassioned plea seeking our support she clearly understands that our city is at a crossroads – we either idly watch as our city folds with ever increasing water bills, “shell games” of devaluing property assessments while increasing property taxes, as well as decreasing city service.  OR…the city council and its leaders can “take the bull by the horns” and address the city’s need for stronger and more frequent efforts to spur on Economic Development efforts.  Instead of discourse over disrespecting fellow citizens and calling them belittling names she believes that it is time to try regular and persistent intelligent conversations during each and every city council meeting about recruiting employers with jobs that can pay a living wage and take proactive steps to recruit developers that are willing to invest in our city.  Additionally, we should be encouraging entrepreneurs and small business owners – as we all know a rising tide lifts ALL boats!  When investment is encouraged, new jobs are sought and created, the quality of our schools’ performance increases and in turn the will of future generations to return home and know they are wanted and needed to keep writing the city of Emporia’s future success story!

Mrs. Hines is an ardent supporter for after school and year round recreational opportunities for our children and youth.  She is a firm believer that governments place emphasis on the things which are of the utmost importance to them and for her that emphasis should be greatly shared with the future and hope of our community – our children.  Yolanda is equally as concerned about her fellow citizens in that she puts her money where her mouth is. She has assisted many citizens not only from her district but across the city and county with job searches through her work with head start and her work at Southside Virginia Community College.

There is no one better qualified and suited to stand and fight for this community and its citizens than Yolanda Hines!  She has worked in public service for more than 26 years and truly understands the need to attract new Employers, affordable quality housing and year round youth programs.

Yolanda comes to the table with a wealth of experience and has prepared herself to take on the challenges presented in the city. She has her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice as well as a Master’s in Business Administration from Averett University. She IS the only candidate that is ready to address the REAL concerns of the city of Emporia’s District 7!!!

I ask on Tuesday, November 6, 2018 that her fellow citizens of District 7 make your way to the fire department and cast your vote for Yolanda Hines, City Council!  The polls open at 6 o’clock in the morning and close at 7 o’clock in the evening – stop by and vote for a Positive CHANGE in the city of Emporia!

Respectfully submitted on behalf of the Emporia-Greensville Democrats,

George E. Morrison, III, Chairman

(Editor's Note: Your letters may not always reflect the views of Emporia News. Letters to the Editor may be sent to and must include your name. Letters that may be considered inflamitory in nature will not be published. Do not include profanity, racial ephitets, lewd, demeaning or disparaging comments. Letters may be edited for space, clarity and/or grammar.)


To the Editor:

This letter is written in support of the candidacy of Mr. Richard E. Pearson for the Board of Supervisors’ Special Election in the Belfield District of Greensville County.  I write this letter on behalf of the City of Emporia and Greensville County Democratic Committee.  It is rare that this committee endorses any one candidate in a local election, further, a special election, and in particular a candidate that has opted to run independently.

Typically, our committee has the option to set on the sidelines and allow each committee member to focus on their particular candidate of choice in a contested local election or endorse a candidate that would reflect the committee’s sought direction for its community.  This is NO typical year, we have opted to do the latter in the person of Richard E. Pearson!

Upon the early resignation and untimely death of the late Honorable Dr. Margaret T. Lee from the Belfield District’s Board of Supervisors seat our committee was approached by several candidates seeking our committee’s endorsement and support.  The only fair way to wholeheartedly support any candidate was to interview each potential candidate; each interested person was asked to appear before our committee and share their vision and future for Greensville County and our region, provide answers to questions about their commitment to this community and its people, and finally answer questions from the committee’s interview panel.  To that end, it was the UNANIMOUS consensus of our entire committee to support Richard Pearson to run for the Belfield District Board of Supervisor’s seat in the special election this November. 

Mr. Pearson is an outstanding business man in this community and in our region.  He is civic minded and a staunch supporter of the communities of Greensville County and the City of Emporia.  As a dedicated member of Mount Calvary Baptist Church, he serves as Deacon.  He is a person on whom you can rely…if he says it, he means it and will get it done!

Above all else, he is concerned about the future of Greensville County and its citizens, in particular his fellow citizens in the Belfield District. As Belfield’s Board of Supervisors’ representative he will be proactive in keeping the concerns of his fellow citizens at the forefront of the board’s agenda and he assures action. He is concerned about this area’s lack of employment and limited job opportunities.  He will work tirelessly to insure a bright future for the county’s youth and foster a place of pride so that our brightest and best may return home to limitless employment and excellent careers with an educational system second to none.

As Chairman of the Emporia-Greensville Democratic Committee, I write to promise that our committee is 1000% behind the candidacy of Richard Pearson and commit our energies as one body to guarantee his election to this seat.  We have been divided in previous elections but those days are assuredly over – that was a history which has taught us all valuable lessons.  We no longer look to the past but build upon it for a brighter and more prosperous future in Greensville County with Mr. Richard E. Pearson!

Now is the time to take ACTION! I ask you to join me in committing your support to elect Richard Pearson to the Belfield District in Greensville County on Tuesday, November 6, 2018!  The polls open at 6:00a.m. and close at 7:00p.m. Looking forward to seeing you there!

If you are not registered to vote it’s not too late to take action now and be counted and remember - If you don’t vote you ONLY have yourself to blame!

George E. Morrison, III, Chairman, Emporia-Greensville Democratic Committee

(Editor's Note: Your letters may not always reflect the views of Emporia News. Letters to the Editor may be sent to and must include your name. Letters that may be considered inflamitory in nature will not be published. Do not include profanity, racial ephitets, lewd, demeaning or disparaging comments. Letters may be edited for space, clarity and/or grammar.)

Letter to the Editor: Wasting Taxpayer Money

I was so pleased to go onto your website as I do regularly and see some genuine “hard” news in the form of your report of the happenings at the recent Emporia City Council meeting.

Public notices and such perform a service of sorts, depending upon their source and content; sometimes, though, particularly with regard to meetings of local governing bodies, it is even more of a public service to report to local residents and taxpayers the actions and inactions of those they elect to serve and represent them.

The best example of that was the report of the discussion about the under-performance of the Greensville County public transportation system, which city council was duped into joining in and contributing to when provided with low-ball estimates as to how much it would cost city taxpayers. So now it turns out that the cost to the city is close to 10 times what it was estimated to be. Wisely, city council voted to serve notice that it would be withdrawing from the agreement as soon as contractually possible.

I recall so well having told my wife—and she recalls it—that the city council and the county board of supervisors were both being taken for a ride of their own when they embarked upon this venture.  As is the case so often these days, consultants are too often hired to do what elected officials are paid to do and decide whether a project supposedly for the benefit of those they serve is worthwhile or not. This one was not, which I knew from the outset. Both governing bodies should have known better. Consultants should have, too. Your report did not mention it, but I would be curious to know if the board of supervisors had gone back and questioned the wisdom of their recommendation. Also, if it cost city taxpayers that much more than expected, how much are their counterparts in the county having to shell out?

Of course, it could be argued that the reason the venture has failed is primarily the result of less-than-expected ridership. But shouldn’t the folks who recommended the system have taken into account the prevailing factors at the time that contributed to that?

If I were still a county taxpayer, I would be disturbed by this waste of my tax dollars. But to take that a step further, if I had been elected to the county governing body when I ran, and if  I had voted to go ahead with this project in the first place, I would be irate!

It is one thing to waste your own money; it is even worse to waste someone else’s.

Keith W. Mitchell
Charlotte, NC

(Editor's Note: Your letters may not always reflect the views of Emporia News. Letters to the Editor may be sent to and must include your name. Letters that may be considered inflamitory in nature will not be published. Do not include profanity, racial ephitets, lewd, demeaning or disparaging comments. Letters may be edited for space, clarity and/or grammar.)

Own a Business or Live in Brunswick County? Take the Broadband Survey

Dear Editor,

Greetings from the Brunswick County Board of Supervisors!

The Board of Supervisors adopted its Vision for 2035 in February 2017 to provide a guide, or road map if you will, for our County. Among those priorities in the Vision for 2035 included the following:

Premier Location for Economic Growth and Development

In response to this goal the Board of Supervisors voted to partner with the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) - at no cost to the County — to conduct a comprehensive Broadband Needs Assessment Survey for the County to:

  • Identify gaps in broadband service,
  • Identify key vertical assets that could address the un-»“under-served areas,
  • Provide funding options for new infrastructure,
  • Define strategies for partnering with incumbent providers, and
  • Document methods for addressing broadband awareness and adoption to improve utilization for all citizens.

As you may be aware, better broadband access can enhance the quality of life for many through increased access to health services, improved communication with friends and family, and faster home entertainment streaming, as well as opportunities for working, shopping, and education from home.

I am certain that by now everyone has either seen in our local newspaper or on social media a request to go online to complete the Brunswick County Broadband Needs Assessment Survey. If you have filled out the survey we GREATLY appreciate your participation. The deadline to respond to this survey has been extended to Monday, April 30, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. The deadline to participate has been extended to permit more households and businesses an opportunity to be heard — as we stand today we are at an average of 9 % participation whereas we need to be in the 12 to 15 percent participation level to attract and be competitive with various broadband providers. The higher level of participation clearly signals that our citizens are serious about their interest in as well as showing concern for our education systems (public/private/higher ed/job retraining) and dire interest in attracting Economic Development opportunities to the County! Again, we need EVERY HOUSEHOLD OR BUSINESS to either complete a paper copy that is located at the public library, the County Government Building — Administration or Planning Offices or the Chamber of Commerce. You may still go online and complete the Broadband Needs Assesment Survey.

We look forward to your responses to the County’s Broadband Needs Assessment Survey.


Barbara Jarrett Harris

Chair Brunswick County Board of Supervisors

Letter-Greensville County Training School Update

Editor, Emporia News

Efforts are under way to establish an appropriate memorial garden/park on the site of the former Greensville County Training School at the intersection of Ruffin and Halifax Streets.

Three separate fund-raising projects are in the works and will be announced in the near future. One would allow donors to honor those of their choosing with engraved bricks and other on-site memorials.

Architects working on a pro bono basis have already drawn a conceptual design for the project.

The Emporia City Council recently delayed implementation of an earlier plan to finalize demolition of the remains on the site, agreeing to allow a new Special Project Committee a year to plan and begin to implement improvements to the site. 

The Citizens United to Preserve the Greensville County Training School voted in September to allow Marva Dunn to select persons to serve on the committee, and to serve as its chairperson.

Initially, three additional persons were added to the committee and have met several times. They are McKinley Jordan, President of Citizens United; Clarence Wells, a local historian; and myself. Others are in the process of being added to the committee.

We are appreciative of City Council members and other city officials considering our most recent presentation and agreeing to grant us additional time to develop it. Their positive comments regarding the work we have initiated and their unanimous approval of our request were encouraging.

Information regarding our initial fund-raising plans and implementation of the various phases of development will be forthcoming. We invite those who may have an interest in working with the committee on this project to contact any committee member.   

Keith Mitchell

Special Project Committee member     

Letter the the Editor From Keith Mitchell

Editor, Emporia News:

I am writing to thank you for the contribution you made to the campaign process by sponsoring a public forum for the candidates. I was grateful for having had the opportunity to express my views and to have them so accurately reported. I felt that the forum and your reporting of it was fair to all the candidates.

The voters have spoken, though, and they have spoken in overwhelming numbers. And while I was both shocked and shaken by the results in my contest, I nevertheless know that the Lord led me to run for a reason, and I am comforted by my belief that His reason for so leading me will be revealed over time.

I am thankful that the margin of victory in my race for supervisor was as great as it was. Otherwise, had it been much closer, I would have second-guessed everything that I said and did during the campaign period. Now, though, I am comforted by the fact that I did my best and did not compromise my integrity in any way at any time. I am who I am, I say what I truly believe, and so be it.

l was humbled throughout my campaign  while going door to door and by having 302 of the people to trust me and show up to vote for me on Tuesday. And despite losing the contest and seemingly letting them down, I intend to work for them as diligently as I can and for as long as I can. As I told so many of them, it is sometimes as easy to work from the outside as it is from the inside when one feels that a system or a process needs to change.

I have no intention of being a radical crusader for change, nor do I plan to deliberately become a so-called "community activist." I do, though, plan to devote my time and effort to advocate for all the ones who touched me so deeply with their encouragement,  and who seemed so appreciative of having someone to listen to their frustration.

Do I wish I had won? Lord, yes. But if I could go back and change the result, would I? Heavens, no!  Because I believe without a doubt that all things work together for good for those who trust in the Lord and who are called according to His purposes...

I am reminded of the blessing we were taught as children to pray before a meal. It begins: "God is great, God is good..."  He really is, and all the time. We may not always understand. We can, though, always trust.

 Again, thank all of you who supported me, and I am so appreciative of and humbled by that support.

Keith Mitchell

Letter-Training School "Deserves to be Preserved"

As you did with your earlier piece regarding the Emporia Elementary School Auditorium and the Emporia City Council's plans to demolish it, you made some persuasive points in your more recent writing regarding that same governing body's vote to do the same to the remains of the Greensville County Training School.
Why the rush to raze any old structure with historical significance unless there are plans to re-build on the site, or plans to develop the site in such a way as to benefit taxpayers? Especially questionable and seemingly inappropriate in this instance, as with the initial vote by City Council with regard to the old auditorium, is the spending of a sizable amount of tax dollars for the demolition.
And as with the auditorium, the Training School has a distinct historical relevance that deserves to be preserved, as you rightly pointed out. But in addition to its significance to black residents who may have attended there or whose ancestors may have done so, it should hold significant memories to the entire community.

In 1968, history was made when three white teachers joined the faculty there for the first time, whereas the entire student body remained black. Granted, it was only for a brief period of time until the new Belfield Elementary School was completed mid-year.

 I remember it well, because I was one of those three.
For the first time in my life, I experienced what it was like to be in a so-called racial minority. While I was readily accepted by the sixth- grade students, I didn't feel as though I were by some of my fellow teachers.  Eventually, pretty much all the faculty accepted me. Two whom I remember as being particularly helpful to me during the time I taught there were the principal, Ulysses Russell, and my fellow teacher, Larose Gilbert, whose funeral I attended within the past year. Mr. Russell and I eventually became good friends. Mrs. Gilbert became my confidant and earned my respect as one of the most color-blind people I have ever known.
Typically, when I am out and about in the community today, I bump into former students who recognize me and whom I am always happy to see. Some I see and speak with on a regular basis and have for years. With others, it is bump-into and see no more, but I always enjoy the experience. One even serves on the city council.
As with my earlier comments about the auditorium,  my suggestion here would be to develop some creative plan to restore and preserve the old historical  site. Some might see it as a reminder of the past that for them might not have been what they would have liked it to have been. Others, myself included, might recall the old school building as a reminder of a significant time of change in our community. For whatever reason, it has historical significance and deserves preservation.
One suggestion might be to take all or a part of the money allocated to demolish it and to offer it, instead, to a non-profit group such as the association already formed as a type of challenge or matching amount for its restoration. And while the word "grant" as used for those financing vehicles that I mostly frown upon for projects that localities do not deem worthy enough to spend their own tax dollars to finance, why not pursue one for this project that is so worthwhile? Spending tax dollars to build or preserve definitely seems preferable than to destroy.
Regardless, as the city governing body did with the auditorium, at least consider going the extra mile with the training school.  And let others join in the discussion. Seek out innovative suggestions and follow-up with those that have merit and seem plausible. Don't just give up and give in because others have decided that that is the only solution.

The old school deserves it.

Keith W. Mitchell

Greensville County

Letter-Heart Broken Over Training School Demolition

Wow, my heart is broken.  Thank you for the passionate and honest editorial on the planned demolition of the Training School.  Please let me know who authored the editorial.  I pray the decision is not final and there is some hope and plan to save the historical site.  It is officially registered on the Historical Preservation site.  How can this be?  Is it permissible to tear down historical buildings?  Many Rosenwald schools throughout the country have been restored and re-purposed bringing revitalization to communities.  The historic Training School because of what it provided to the African American community, and the community as a whole, deserves the same consideration.  If $80,000 is being proposed by the City Council to demolish the historic building, why not use those funds for restoration.  I felt the same way about the Emporia Elementary School and the Auditorium.  By the way, I attended both the Training School and the elementary school.  Emporia and Greensville County are such special places, due largely because of its residents, history, and geographical location.  It is rich with economic and development potential, but I am not so sure that those who govern there are aware of this.  Let's come together to save and restore the Training School, making this the start of revitalizing all of Emporia and Greensville County. 

Native Emporian - always in heart,

Rose P.

(Editor's Note-There is no law preventing the demolition of buildings on the National Register of Historic Places nor the Virginia Landmarks Registry)

Reader Responds to Editorial About Auditorium

I complement you on a well-written and informative editorial regarding the pending proposal to tear down the old Emporia Elementary School auditorium. Assuming that your alleged historical facts leading up to that proposal are correct, then I find nothing in your opinion piece with which I disagree.
I am one who has fond memories from having grown up attending various assemblies in that facility, of having been there several times when my sons attended school there, and of having participated in and being in attendance at various other functions there over the years.
The one thing that stands out in my mind from a trip to Rome, Italy many years ago, was how so much of that city's buildings and infrastructure had been maintained and preserved for many decades, and even centuries.  Here in America, we--and particularly our governments--regular demonstrate a preference and even a fondness for tearing down the old and building new from the ground up.
One suggestion during this period of time pending a supposed final vote about how to proceed would be to appoint a citizens' committee of persons not only simply interested in preserving the structure, but who would have expertise and knowledge appropriate to the situation from a practical standpoint.
As a county resident with no legitimate right to have input in this matter, I nevertheless would further suggest that such a study not be done by using taxpayer's dollars to pay for professional opinions, but by persons willing to study and make recommendations that are both practical and in the best overall interest of the city as well as the entire community.
Keith W. Mitchell  

Editor's Note:  The subject of the Auditorium will be debated by the Emporia City Council at this evening's City Council Meeting.  Also on this evening's agenda is a public hearing about the change of the Polling Place for City District 5.  The public hearing begins at 6:30 and the regular meeting will begin immediately after.

Letter-Train Noise Disrupts Visit

Dear Editor-

I was here visiting family from out of state, and have noticed the last several times I have visited that trains now blow their whistles at all crossings.  When I first started visiting Emporia it did not seem that train traffic was nearly as loud. 

I assumed that Emporia was a nice quiet city, but it is not.  City Leadership should very seriously explore making Emporia a quiet zone, so that those people living near the rail road tracks are not sleep deprived, which in itself can lead to traffic accidents.

A person should be able to visit family in Emporia without needing to get a hotel room across town or in Roanoke Rapids in order to simply sleep through the night.  Emporia has a very nice downtown area, but who in their right mind would want to sit outside at the Bank in an attempt to enjoy a meal or a cocktail with a train going buy every half-hour?

I have been in town during the Peanut Festival and the train whistles have even disrupted that great event, drowning out the music in the park and disrupting the fireworks.  It cannot be healthy for those at events in the park to have those whistles blown so close to unprotected ears.

If Emporia was once a quiet zone and crossings have been closed in an effort to restore that quiet zone, why is that designation not in place?  Who dropped the ball?

Exhausted in Emporia-

M. Hardy

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