Show off your holiday lights and you could win an iPad! Enter your photo by December 13. Winner will be selected by popular vote.
Quick views on some of the week's news.
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Norb Weckstein sought rational arguments
We were saddened to learn a regular contributor to our pages, Norb Weckstein, died Thursday. His byline usually read, "Weckstein, of Roanoke, is a retired GE engineer and manager, and has an MBA from Virginia Tech." But, for a spell, he wanted it to say, "Weckstein lives in Roanoke and likes to examine both sides of issues."
True enough. His engineer's analytical mind prompted him to prod for facts. But once informed, his strong liberal heart moved him to waste no words making an on-the-other-hand argument.
He was a participant when we sponsored Voices of the Valleys and an intense researcher of the weekly topic. Not every topic, though, required his attention. When asked if there was interest in discussing The Big Read's first book, "A Lesson Before Dying," Weckstein replied, "Although I am an outspoken liberal on social issues, I would not participate in a discussion on that subject. It's an emotional subject with no present resolution, and I prefer to deal with rational issues with present application."
His essays sought resolution, one he could see clearly.
He was a native of New Jersey (attended the same school as Phillip Roth, a classmate of his brother), a combat infantry veteran of World War II and moved to Roanoke in 1955.
We last heard from Weckstein earlier this month when he emailed an essay on U.S. debt, which was followed, as was his customary style, with a series of emails self-correcting grammar and figures that he thought were not quite precise, and by ones from us trying to document his facts. Weckstein usually was patient with the editing process, did not shy away from advancing his argument, gave us credit for better math skills than we rightly can claim, and was cordial when we declined to publish a piece - as long as our argument to do so was rational.
There was always next time. Or so we thought.
On behalf of our readers, we offer our sincere sympathy to Weckstein's family and many friends. We will miss him.
A noble but difficult goal
David Flagler isn't lowering expectations as he assumes the difficult job of executive director of the regional pound.
Flagler said this week he hopes to reduce the number of animals euthanized at the facility, and he's even aiming to curb the euthanasia rate for cats. That's a particularly tough task given the widespread problem of feline abandonments and cats' abbreviated gestation period of 60 days or so.
Flagler plans to start work at the Regional Center for Animal Control and Protection on April 8. He comes to the Roanoke Valley from Milwaukee, but his career in animal control has taken him all over the country, including stints in Florida, Georgia, Utah and Oregon as well as Fairfax here in Virginia.
We wish him luck in reducing the number of animals that must be put down, but remind those who believe the unpleasant practice should be abolished that irresponsible pet owners continue to prowl our communities. As long as they are with us, armies of unwanted animals will be here, too, and euthanasia will continue to be a sad but necessary reality. It's not a pretty job, but Flagler surely knows that already.
Country roads . . . to Rocky Mount
Rocky Mount might have had a more auspicious start to its first venture into show business. Mayor Steve Angle had to break a string of 3-3 votes by town council this week to move forward with a plan to turn a vacant downtown building into a music performance hall.
But the project is a "go," and town leaders ought to rally behind its success. Rocky Mount is tapping funds to the tune of $2.6 million to pay for the building's conversion, an investment that will drop by $1 million if historic tax credits come through. At a minimum, the venue will be a fine amenity for Franklin Countians and residents of the county seat. It's also likely to pull in regulars from the Roanoke Valley, who've been willing to go almost twice the distance to Floyd to hear the music they love.
Hopes are much greater, though. Rocky Mount, the eastern gateway to The Crooked Road trail of traditional mountain music sites, wants to pull in tourists from the twisting road through Southwest Virginia who don't make it to that end. More tourists bringing more dollars would generate new investment and renewed life for downtown.
The Crooked Road, which has hit a funding pothole itself of late, stands to benefit, too, if the Rocky Mount music hall pulls in significant numbers. Here's to wild success for both.
Weather JournalWarmth next 2 days hits icy wall