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Tuesday, June 25, 2013
In the early 60s, when I first discovered the great fishing and superb scenery of Virginia's Eastern Shore, the only place to stay on this remote finger of land between the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean were mom and pop tourist courts.
They were OK, but there was considerable excitement when in 1963 Holiday Inn built a 104-room complex a few miles north of the new Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Later, the Holiday Inn became the Days Inn.
For a time, business boomed. You'd better have a reservation if you expected to get a room during the fishing season. Finding a place to park your boat was even tougher.
Then a little over a decade ago the business began a sharp downward trend. The facility grew shabby. The beds sagged, the rooms smelled of cigarette smoke and mildew and the lighting was so poor it was a bit like living in a cave. Some of my fishing buddies brought their own higher-powered light bulbs in an effort to brighten things up.
The name of the motel changed again-and again. Business fell to one or two cars some nights. It was hard to determine what hurt the facility most, a decline in the fishing, new motels up the road or an unkempt look. Probably all of the above, plus the fact some anglers bought their own vacation homes in the area during the real estate boom.
Last September, under the name Kiptopeke Inn, the motel closed after going into receivership. It was listed for sale at just under $1 million, according to the Cape Charles Wave.
Along came Robert Occhifinto, 51, a New Jersey entrepreneur, who offered $300,000. He was turned down. Some six months later, Occhifinto repeated his offer. Word is, the sale is expected to be completed soon.
That is good news for Kiptopeke Inn. Occhifinto has a track record of sprucing up his purchases. This is his third major buy in Northampton County.
Earlier he purchased the mom and pop Peacock Motor Inn, and fixed it up. In December he bought the posh but bankrupt Aqua Restaurant complex, along with Bay Creek Marina and related properties including a tackle shop. The price tag for the Cape Charles property was reported to be $4.6 million. Although it was previously well cared for, he immediately applied new and brighter paint to the complex.
The renovation of the deteriorated Kiptopeke Inn will require far more than paint; in fact, it is going to take some love to overcome its current sad look.
Third place kind to B.A.S.S. pro John Crews of Salem
Third place won't get you many headlines, except, maybe, in your hometown newspaper, but it is a solid spot to finish a national bass tournament. That's exactly where John Crews of Salem placed in the weekend Bassmaster Elite Series tournament on the Mississippi River out of La Crosse, Wis.
It was the second third place of the season for Crews, the previous one at Falcon Lake, Texas in late March. At that event he weighed a 103-pound, 13-ounce catch that made him one of the few anglers ever to crash the 100-pound barrier. This time, his catch was a little over half that-59 pounds, 4 ounces.
For Crews, the $20,000 prize money was twice what he would have received further back in the pack. The solid finish also was good press for his Missile Baits Co. operated out of Salem.
This is his fourth third place in the Elite Series. He has one win.
The winner of the recent Elite tournament was veteran B.A.S.S. angler Tommy Biffle, 55, of Wagoner, OK. His 64-02 catch earned him $101,000. Second was Aaron Martens of Leeds, AL, with a catch of 61-11 that earned $27,000.
Boaters in uproar over potential loss of navigation markers
The U.S. Coast Guard is seeking public input on its proposal to remove 135 navigation markers along Virginia's Inside Passage, which is the Inland Waterway from Chincoteague to Fisherman's Island on the north end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.
Why remove these important aids?
The Coast Guard says funds aren't available to dredge the passage which has silted in to the point that the markers are no longer reliable. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the agency assigned to dredging the waterway.
Officials in Accomack County are in an uproar over the idea of removing markers along 100 miles of the passage. It would be like abandoning parts of the interstate highway system, one said. They especially are concerned about the thought of sawing off the marker poles at the water line, creating a hazard that could rip the bottom out of a boat.
Comments are being received through Aug. 5 and may be emailed to Albert Grimes at Albert.LO.Grimes@uscg.mil.
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