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Monday, June 3, 2013
An ex-girls volleyball coach, charged with child-porn crimes. A 91-year-old truck driver and bulldozer operator, still working full time. An aging World War II veteran and his brothers who went off to war. Cars and bikes.
We covered a lot of ground last month - which means it's time for the May reader mailbag.
A number of readers wrote about the May 4 column on Dewayne Barger, the ex-assistant girls volleyball coach at Salem High School. He left the school in 2011, four years after parents had complained about his conduct with players.
He's now charged with producing and possessing child pornography. Some of that appears to have been shot with a video camera hidden in his apartment's bathroom, police said.
David Goode of Bedford wants to know: "Where were the parents of all these girls changing and showering at this guy's house? Did they not know? Were they that disconnected from their daughters?"
Others wondered why no action was taken against Barger for years, and if Salem High volleyball coach Kim Martinez's resignation from the team was the only personnel change that would result.
"In 2007 the issue was brought to school officials, and nothing was done. Seems to me they failed to take action at that time, and are dodging their own accountability now. Instead Martinez is taking all the accountability," wrote Kevin DeGidio, who said he complained about Barger when his daughter played for the coach on the NRV Juniors travel team, beginning in 2011.
"Should we not expect more resignations, one from each individual who failed to take the appropriate action when reported to them in 2007? As a community we should accept nothing less," he added.
Edward Leonard of Roanoke noted: "My wife and I had the same questions and no one in authority seems to be able to think."
Readers wrote happier missives about Charles "Hamp" Vest, the one-handed 91-year-old truck driver and bulldozer operator who still works full time at Montgomery County quarry owned by Salem Stone Corp. I wrote about him May 14.
"I am 30 years younger than Mr. Vest and I know that I would not come close to being able to do what he does on his job," wrote Ronald Smith of Chesterfield.
Rebecca Evans of Roanoke added: "Kudos to Salem Stone for believing in their employee!"
Andrea Williams of Roanoke said Vest reminds her of her father, who's also 91. Like Vest, he "had to leave school at an early age to help on his family farm in Franklin Co. and also go to work. Dad also worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps building projects and parks around the state. Then Dad went off to help out Uncle Sam in WWII, serving in the South Pacific, returning to marry my Mom in 1946."
The May 26 story about Howard Weaver and his brothers who went off to fight in World War II touched many others. One was Barbara Long of Christiansburg.
"It is so apropos of what we as Americans need to remember about Memorial Day - we get so caught up in vacation, end-of-school ... all the things which the lives of those who have gone before us, making the ultimate sacrifice, have purchased for us," she wrote.
The last word here goes to George M. Simmons Jr. of Blacksburg, a retired biology professor at Virginia Tech. Though he's over 70, Simmons rides his bike almost everywhere he goes. He owns no car.
He sent a letter, republished in full on my blog, about the May 19 column on bicycle safety. He believe penalties are too light for drivers who hit cyclists.
"Here's what I think should be done," Simmons wrote. "Motorists who injure cyclists should have their vehicle impounded, license suspended, and they should be required by law to ride a bicycle for ALL activities while the cyclist is recuperating from injuries - or face an equivalent amount of prison time."
As a cyclist who's been hit by vehicles more than a few times, I'll second that.
Thank you, readers, for you letters, emails, blog comments and phone calls. Please keep them coming.
Dan Casey's column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.
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