Showing posts with label School Board. Show all posts
Showing posts with label School Board. Show all posts

Friday, January 29, 2021

Gloucester County, Virginia's Real Estate Tax Deception

In January 2020, the latest of Gloucester’s real estate reassessments became effective. The overall value of Gloucester real estate changed from $4,391,807,486.00 to $4,659,865,396.00, resulting in an increase of $268,057,910.00 in overall value. At the current tax rate with the new assessment, the County gets an increase in real estate tax revenue (Money going into the County’s coffers) of approximately $2 Million.  
Shortly after this reassessment, the County and Board of Supervisors began budget deliberation for the FY 2021 budget, which covers the period of July 1, 2020 thru June 30, 2021. The County built this budget based on the increase in overall real estate tax revenue even though they did not hold a Public Hearing or vote on it until December 1, 2020, over seven months after the budget was approved.

During the budget deliberations and after, there was a big push to increase the local retail sales tax to provide money for various School System Capital projects. (Building new buildings parking lots, ball fields, renovating, replacement, repair, and such type projects.) The pushed narrative that increasing the retail sales tax would prevent real estate taxes from going up and would spread some of the Capital expense burden to people outside Gloucester who use Gloucester businesses and services sounded like a pretty darn good idea but for one thing, real estate taxes did increase, and they knew it the whole time they were spreading the deception. The biggest factor that allowed them to get away with this was the lack of Conservative Gloucester citizens who follow and engage in what is going on with our local government.

The County had the option of lowering the real estate tax rate to set it in line with the Real estate tax revenue it took in the year before. If they had, it would have resulted in the real estate tax rate being lowered from $0.695 per $100 in value to $0.659 per $100 in value. A $0.36 per $100 of value decrease in the rate. On December 1, 2020, five of our illustrious Supervisors voted to keep the $2 Million instead of lowering the rate. The two Supervisors who voted against this deception were Mike Winebarger of the Petsworth District and Phillip Bazzani of the York District.

On top of the real estate tax deception, five Supervisors voted to allow the School System to borrow nearly $6 Million to fund some of its Capital projects they were also claiming, at the same time, would be funded by the retail sales tax increase. Again, Winebarger and Bazzani voted against borrowing the money. The retail sales tax increase was passed by the voters in the November 3, 2020 election. This will give the School System another $5 Million, plus or minus, annually. The increase goes into effect July 1, 2021.

Below are links to where you can see and hear this information for yourself. I encourage everyone to visit these links.

Kenny Hogge, Sr. 

December 1, 2020 Public Hearing on the real estate tax Deception:

$6 Million Dollar loan public hearing:

2019 Land Book:

2020 Land Book:

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Gloucester County, Virginia Voter’s Debacle

Election time has arrived again, who is best suited for the positions? The school system is now in the spotlight with two seats up for grabs in Ware and Abingdon districts.

The school board for many years has never challenged the superintendent. There is a historical record of yes votes without discussion or rejections. Now at this election a phenomenal process took place, a resignation by the board chairman, replaced by the Ware District member, and the Abingdon District member who decided not to seek reelection.

Two seats open, both to be filled by acclamation, one by ballot and one by write-in. Fair and simple. Now, hold on voters of these districts, the wind of clarity and opportunity for a fresh breeze in the sails has died.

What! Yes, the current Abingdon member decides to challenge the write-in candidate in his district after deciding not to run again. Why the change of heart? What voters need to understand are the process and politics of the board. Once elected, sworn in and attending a couple of meetings, he can resign. This ploy allows the sitting board to selection a “member of the club” who shares their thinking. Do you really want this same machine control over the next four years? Now is your chance to fill the sail with a fresh breeze.

Don’t leave: a similar situation has arrived at the very last minute in the Ware District. Now you have a candidate named on the ballot and a last-minute write-in to consider.

Now comes the hard question. You the voter must ask yourself who is the engineer behind this charade. Ask who will be the loser should it succeed: the taxpayer, the student, or the county overall?

Howard Mowry
Gloucester, Va.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Gloucester County Boards Check Another Box In The Page Middle School Property Deception

The Gloucester County, Virginia Board of Supervisors and School Board are moving forward with "their" value engineered consolidated transportation facility. I say “their” because “their” facility is certainly not what is in the best interest of the community. Tens of thousands of dollars was wasted on a study to determine the best, out of three locations, to construct a new county garage, school bus garage and utility yard. When the results of the study were presented to the boards, they completely disregarded all recommendations and had the person doing the study make the final results reflect what “they” wanted them to reflect.

There has been an ongoing effort to vacate the old Page Middle School property that started several years before the tornado “damaged” the school in 2010. We will provide a more comprehensive story on those efforts very soon. Gloucester needs these facilities and more, but we don’t need them piecemealed, value engineered and scattered throughout the county. They need to last and need to be able to be expanded when growth dictates. The land they intend to build the transportation facility on was supposed to be a place for a future elementary school. When Harry Corr and Breckenridge Ingles develop all the land they own in that area, a new elementary school will be needed there. But then isn’t that why the school board bought the property to begin with. So certain developers could obtain the Old Page properties avoid development proffers? That theory will be explored in a future story.

In the meantime; take a look at the documents contained in the Slideshare presentation below, especially the pictures and construction cost estimates. Pay close attention to the utility department photos, these are the places our employees who take care of our water and sewer systems work every day. A couple of things the study left out: If utility employees are working in the storage yard behind Southern States and need to use the restroom, they must travel all the way to the employee trailer on Carriage Street near the court circle on Main Street. That certainly isn’t within reasonable walking distance. The study also does not mention anything about the black mold issues in the basement of Utilities’ main office, which is also located on Carriage Street.
Tell the Board of Supervisors and School Board “their” transportation facility is not what “We The People” of Gloucester County need or want.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Kenny Hogge, Sr. Will Not Talk or Meet with Candidates Before Election

After hearing various comments from multiple people and receiving multiple phone calls and text messages pertaining to my and others’ opinion about the mismanagement of the old Page and bus garage properties; I am letting everyone know, I will not be talking with or meeting with any Gloucester County School Board or Board of Supervisors candidates or board members until after the election. I will accept and publish unedited written statements from any and all candidates and board members.

I do not believe the People’s business should be done behind closed doors.

Kenny Hogge, Sr.

Gloucester Point, Va.

Click This Link To View Our Old Page and Bus Garage Properties Opinion:

Click This Link to View Our Latest News and Opinions: http:

Thursday, September 21, 2017

It’s Not Just the Terrible Drinking Water That Needs Fixing in Gloucester County

Most Gloucester residents know how bad of a job our local government has done providing Gloucester with safe and quality public drinking water, but few realize just how many other areas our local government has mismanaged for years and continue to mismanage today.
One of those areas is utilization of the old Page Middle School and bus garage properties, associated construction and use of taxpayer dollars to fund Crony maneuvers and deceptions to vacate the properties. Kiser and the two boards back then began the mismanagement several years before they built new Page Middle School on T.C. Walker Road against the will of a majority of the community. Most people in Gloucester know that story, so we will focus on what is taking place right now. The following is our brief analysis and opinion about what is going on in this area of our local infrastructure.
The current boards, paid for a study to determine where the best place would be, out of three school board owned properties, to build a new bus garage, county garage and utilities department complex. The initial results deemed the old Page and bus garage properties to be the best and most economical option; that is until school board member Charles Records and supervisors John Meyer, Phillip Bazzani and Ashley Chriscoe got done manipulating the results of the study. Just like when Kiser and his corrupt crew were violating the community's trust, this location study was done for no other reason than to check a box in the process of deceiving the people of Gloucester. From here on we will refer to the current group of deceivers collectively as the Crony Four, because they “are”, the definition of Crony Capitalists with Socialist tendencies and have steered this latest ploy against the taxpayers.
The old Page property still has a VDOT approved entrance/exit and was so depicted in the initial study findings. The Crony Four had that changed. They added the made up, so called requirement of obtaining a right of way from adjacent property owner Harry Corr and reconstructing the Route 17, T.C. Walker intersection to the mix. Part of the so-called reconstruction entails leveling the north and southbound lanes of Route 17 in the vicinity of the intersection. This one made up item alone drove the estimated costs up by several million dollars, making it "appear" cost prohibitive to build on the old Page and bus garage properties. That was the goal, but the real picture is likely quite different than it appears. The very expensive Route 17 leveling is most likely a VDOT requirement to build a thoroughfare road for a large business park or residential development, but it is certainly not a requirement for the construction and uses contained in the initial study findings. We strongly believe the old Page property is wanted by an adjacent landowner and the Crony Four and their predecessors (the Kiser Crew) have and are doing everything possible to make sure they get it; no matter how much it costs the taxpayers in the long run. 
Once the Crony Four added enough fake requirements and costs to rule out the old Page and bus garage properties, they proceeded with cutting the size of the recommended complex. The first thing they did was remove a new yard and facilities for our public utilities department; further demonstrating both boards lack of concern about our crumbling water and sewer infrastructure, our utilities department employees who are trying to hold it all together while significantly understaffed and ultimately demonstrating their lack of concern about the people of Gloucester.
The Crony Four’s plan is to allow utilities to temporally use the old bus garage and its property until it is needed for “economic development reasons”. They seem to believe, or know, a developer will come along who is willing to pay to relocate Utilities’ operation in return for the old Page and bus garage properties, but if they know this, why don’t they let us know what the ultimate plan for the properties is. We believe it is because the Crony Four are doing all of this to take care of one or more of their friends or associates and Charles Records seems to be at the forefront of the current effort?
Over two years ago, we began to believe Charles Records ran for the school board for the sole purpose of trying to remove ownership of the old Page and Bus Garage properties from the school board. At the end of his four year term on the board, it appears this member of the Crony Four has been successful in doing just that and ironically, he is not seeking re-election this November.
During a joint meeting of the school board and board of supervisors on Sept 19th, County Administrator, Brent Fedors presented a timeline of future actions that includes a completion date for turning the old Page and bus garage properties over to the county. They claim their intent is to turn the old Page property over to Gloucester’s Economic Development Authority, but no information has been provided outlining what the GEDA intends to do with the property. This is troubling; especially since the GEDA already has comparable properties in the Gloucester Business Park that have gone unsold and undeveloped for years. What is so special about the old Page property that justifies the amount of tax dollars and time that have been waisted to obtain it from the school board? Wouldn’t you like to know?

It is not too late to put a stop to what they are doing, but "all" of us must let them know we will not accept what they are doing. Be sure to pass this on to other people in the community.
Look for more from us on how our local government is continuing to waste our tax dollars and allow our infrastructure to crumble in order to satisfy the greed and desires of a few. We will also be providing info on the Gloucester High School master plan in the very near future. If you care about the future of our County and Country; get involved, become informed and speak out. Demand transparency, make the ones we elect answer the hard questions and hold them accountable for their actions.

The following are presentations and meeting video segments pertaining to the latest transportation complex location study:

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Untold History of Public Education, Part 3

Although I am not in agreement with the author of this video as he seems to be against any form of Christian based education in any form, I am not posting this video to either argue that aspect for or against.  What is shown here is past, present and future plans of public education.  In the future, I will be showing and it has already been partially shown, the system is rigged in a way that it can not be fixed.  That is right, no matter what anyone does, the system is rigged so that it can not ever be fixed.

  So throw all the money you want at public or private education,   It will not get any better.  There is only one plan that will work.  A mass exiting of adults taking their children out of this insane system of pure indoctrination.  Sending your children to be with people you do not know, to be trained in areas you have no idea about, is insane.  Public schools are teaching a new religion and yes, they do call it a new religion, but not at the media level where you will be offended.  That is only at the highest level that it's called a new religion and it's designed to replace all other religions.  That new religion has a name and it's called humanism.  Yes, that is a new religion and you are sending your children to school to become a part of this new religion.  Evidence on this coming soon.

  Any teachers offended by any of this, not to worry, we are still working on a sensitivity program for you.  The same for our elected school board.  Folk's do not send your children back into this horrible public system of deceit and corruption.   Also, take the time and do your own research.  We have asked the local school board to look at all of this information and we invited them to a public dialogue.  So far, they refuse to respond.  I would love it if all of this could be refuted and proven either wrong or somehow not correct.  But their silence is proving the information we are covering scares them because it is true and shows the fraud they are part and partial to.

  But lets be fair.  Many of them have no clue about a lot of this.  Some should.  It may very well be that their eyes are now being open and they will soon learn that there is nothing they can do about it and except maintain the deception.  I would like to think that many of them are seeing the real issues now and are starting to look for answers.  Keep your fingers crossed and pray they are on our side.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Gloucester's Over Inflated Budgets?

If you listen to the present board of Supervisors and the present county administration, these folks are doing everything they can to keep taxes down.  Are they?

  Let's look at the facts.  On the one hand, I would say they are trying to keep present costs within control.  But they are not really doing anything to cut taxes by cutting out ridiculous government programs they like to tell us are services.  Zoning, not a service.  Planning, not a service, building and codes, not a service.  These departments should be cut and the money returned to the people.

  There is also too much fluff in many departments that one has to question if that many people are really needed to run them?  Present budget being presented to the board is maintaining present level so called government services that we simply do not need nor want.  The school board is the biggest factor in tremendous waste.  Way too many administration personnel that I would love to see fully justified and not with lip service that means little to nothing but sounds good.

  We have problems with department heads that earn in the neighborhood of one hundred thousand a year that could not and I will repeat, can NOT transfer those same skills to the private sector and earn even close to those wages.  Something is horribly wrong here.  I am not knocking the people in those jobs, most do a great job.  But when the same skills pay much lower in the private sector, then we have a major disparity going on in our government.

  We have people in government who are empire building and all at the expense of the taxpayer.  If you want to build an empire, great, I am all for it, in the private sector.  Not at the cost of the taxpayer.  The school board comes to mind here as these folks have been wasting taxpayer dollars to the tune of millions that we have shown over and over on this site.  Did I say education?  I meant indoctrination.  Schools no longer educate.  They indoctrinate the children who will never question.  They might ask questions when they do not understand the directive, but they are taught to not question the directive.  Indoctrination costs more than education.  We see this reflected in our taxes as they continue to skyrocket each year.

  I get tired of the lip service paid each month at the county meetings and it turns out to be nothing more than lip service with no real actions.  Charging people a fee to get a business license?  That means you do not have the right to start a business without government permission.  Not exactly what the framers of our Constitution had in mind.   That also means you are paying a tribute to the government for the privilege of allowing you to put your savings at risk.  That's pretty sad.

  Freedom is gone as long as you are forced to pay for starting a business, maintaining your business every year, what you can do with your land, how and what size signs the government is going to allow you to put up, and then you have to collect taxes for the government at your expense?  Really?  Really!  We are being fooled and robbed at every turn and there is no end in sight.

  Yet everyone thinks this is all normal.  No one studies history to see this is all only about 70 years old and grew very slowly.  Our government officials thinks these concepts are normal and have not looked into history to see that it is not.  Nor will they.  In fairness, our board is comprised of some great folks that are decent people and a good time to talk to.  As individuals, I have the utmost respect for them.  As a collective, they are thieves as long as they continue to perpetrate these frauds against the taxpayers and business owners.  They each need to go back through history and return to the principles of our founding fathers.

  Tear down the services that are not services but instead government theft with no value.  You do not attract business by demanding tributes be paid to the government before the government even thinks about what they will allow and what they will restrict you with.  I don't care every locality does it.  I don't care the state and federal government allows it.  That does not make it right.  In fact, the federal courts have said it is illegal when it comes to planning and zoning when planning and zoning goes outside the purview of government owned lands and properties.  The same has also been said about business licensing.  But who listens to the courts?

  Some will argue that some of the services like zoning are good and protect the rights of private property.  I disagree and there are plenty of market conditions that can easily be put in place that do not require government interference.  These so called services are nothing more than socialist programs.  Socialist programs are not du jur where one gets to pick and choose what programs they like and what programs they do not like.  Under socialism, you get it all like it or not.


  I post this yet again for those who question any of the freedoms argued above.  Before you make one single argument, know your facts first.  The above starts to give you some of those facts.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Gloucester County, Virginia: The Consolidation Deception

Gloucester VA Links and News: The Waterline At Page Middle School:  Disaster Wai...

Gloucester County, Virginia: The Consolidation Deception.

When we elect and hire people to manage our tax dollars, we do so with the expectation that those folks will take care of our money just like, if not better than, they manage their own financial affairs. We expect them to use our money to provide necessary services, build and maintain our infrastructure, educate our kids and take care of the employees they hire.

Several years ago I and other Gloucester County, Virginia residents began suggesting that our school system and county government consolidate services as a way of reducing costs and getting more bang for our tax dollars. The way things are now, we are paying for two finance, vehicle maintenance, buildings and grounds, information technology and human resource departments. So far we have heard a lot of promises and witnessed lost opportunities. Not so long ago the school system’s finance and human resource directors resigned. Instead of capturing the opportunity to consolidate finance departments and human resource departments with the county, the school system promoted one of their finance employees to director, increased her pay and hired a new human resource director.

The Board of Supervisors (BOS) and School Board recently spent tens of thousands of dollars to have a study done on where and how much it will cost to build a consolidated vehicle maintenance and utility yard facility. When the county and school system left public works, buildings and grounds and all other industrial type functions out of the equation, it was the first signal that they had no intentions of consolidating anything; that is until the consultant publicized pictures of the county garage. Now it appears they are forced to consolidate vehicle maintenance or to at least act like they intend to do so. At this point it also looks like they are trying to cut corners by wanting to reduce the amount of bus parking space and number of maintenance bays that were recommended in the study.

Once the study was completed and presented to the school board, they sent the consultant back to the drawing board to create a scenario in which the utility department’s yard was left out of the consolidation plan. When the BOS and school board met together to discuss the transportation study, it was quickly evident there were members of both boards who were not pleased with the consultants findings because they have other intentions for the old Page and bus garage land. As the meeting progressed, both boards pushed the utility department yard right out of the picture. In fact, Supervisor Ashley Chriscoe said the utility department can make due with what they have now. I find that completely absurd. The utility department needs new facilities just as bad as the school system needs a new bus facility and the county needs a new vehicle maintenance facility. Take a look at the pictures in the slideshare presentation at the end of this article to see a glimpse of how neglected these areas of our infrastructure are. Gloucester resident Howard Mowry told the BOS during a recent public comment period that hazmat and the fire marshal need to condemn the county garage that is located at the intersection of Providence Road and Route 17. Look at the slideshare pictures and you will understand why he said it. Better yet, take some time to visit these public facilities. You will quickly realize the pictures do not show the whole view. 

The utility department not only needs a new yard, they also need a new office. The office they currently occupy on Carriage Street in the Courthouse area has a basement that is full of black mold due to moisture problems. The building was formally the health department building until they were moved because of the mold issues. I know I would not want to spend eight or more hours a day in a building with such mold issues; would you?

When I suggested consolidating all industrial type functions, I suggested doing so on the old Page Middle School and bus garage properties. I also suggested building a strip mall type office building on part of the front portion of the land to provide office space for the consolidated departments. I suggested dedicating a portion of the land for a future fire and rescue facility. Neither board seems to care for my suggestions just like they didn’t seem to care for the results of the study they spent our tax dollars on. The funny thing about the study was; even though the two boards limited the amount of land on the old Page property that could be utilized for the proposed facilities, the consultant made the facilities fit and demonstrated that it would be several million dollars cheaper to build on the old Page and bus garage properties than on the new Page property. The two boards have now added what they are calling safe ingress and egress requirements by claiming the T.C. Walker and Route 17 intersection must be turned into a four way intersection and land must be bought from Harry Corr before a consolidated facility can be located at the old Page site. Well, these so called “requirements” are not requirements at all. It is just their way of running up the cost to build on that site up so they can justify moving the bus garage off the property.

It would seem there are members of both boards who want the school board to give the old Page and bus garage land to the county to be part of some “so called” economic development plan that they have not shared anything about with the general public. Is it just a coincidence that a local developer and school board member is leading the effort to completely abandon the land? I don’t know about you, but I don’t believe in coincidences. I do believe fulfilling our infrastructure needs and providing safe decent workplaces for our employees is far more important than filling a couple of greedy people’s pockets.      

Our local government and school system could easily eliminate between five and seven department heads if they would create and implement a comprehensive consolidation plan and eliminate other unnecessary departments and positions. Tax dollar savings from these reductions alone would be in the neighborhood of $1 million annually.

It is time to reduce the size of our local government and school system administration and reinvest in our infrastructure. If we don’t, real estate and other local taxes will continue to rise and areas of our infrastructure will fail; resulting in more wasted tax dollars.

Be sure to check out the slideshare presentation and after that you will find a video of the BOS and School Board discussion on the transportation facility.

We encourage all Gloucester residents, landowners and business owners to actively follow our elected and employed local government representatives and administrators, and hold them accountable for their actions. Remember, all levels of government work for We The People.

Let us know what you think and share your Gloucester government related stories by emailing us at or by posting remarks on the Facebook post that led you here.

Kenneth E. Hogge, Sr.
Gloucester Point, Virginia
Helping To Drain The Swamp

Friday, November 25, 2016

Gloucester School Board Asking For 44 to 65 Million Dollars Throwing Taxpayers Deeper In Debt

The Gloucester County School Board is asking the taxpayers of Gloucester County to shell out another 44 million dollars to renovate the present high school or shell out 65 million to build a new high school.  These elitist board members fail to take into consideration what that kind of money will do to the average family in the county.  Higher taxes is a burden on families that are struggling now just to make monthly expenses in the present economy.  This hurts everyone with the few exceptions of those who can afford those higher taxes.  It does not matter if you are renting, it means your rent will have to go up to cover the new taxes.  And for what?  We are always told it's about the children.  Someone please show me the figures of how many students Gloucester has graduated that have moved on to an Ivy League college.  Does anyone have that figure?  

  Just because you throw money at something does not mean education improves.  Gloucester wants to put those huge windows in the high school like they have at the new Page Middle school, which by the way are on the wrong side of the building now costing tax payers a bundle in extra heating costs because the windows face north instead of south.  

  How can we trust them not to make all the same mistakes they made with Page which is a disaster by most measurements and considered as such by many throughout the county.  

  How many people will be put over the edge financially because of an ever growing tax demand by school officials who seek nothing more than to build their own empires?  We have a shrinking student base, not a growing student base.  We have had a shrinking business base, not a growing business base in Gloucester.  So where is that money coming from?  Where is the budget to help the poor, disadvantaged, homeless people in the county?  I would rather see that kind of money go to helping the local people who need it, not some ego hungry empire building school board that wants to throw money at looks, but it has nothing to do with education.  How does improving the looks of a school or building a new school improve education?  It doesn't.  But these elitists will do everything to sell you on the idea that it does.  Don't buy the hype.  Check into every aspect of it yourself and learn everything you can.  Just because they make it sound good, does not mean it is good.

  Demand justification for every benefit they try and sell you on.  Demand that the school board stop the wasted spending on over priced staff that has nothing to do with education but instead called administration.  As taxes continue to escalate, people will move to cheaper areas to live forcing yet higher taxes on those who remain further decreasing the value of improving looks of a school and shrinking the student base that is already in decline with no improvement in sight.  

  How these elitists justify grabbing more of your money?  Well, they live here too.  But as their empire grows, so does their pay.  And if the pay is still to low to cover the new taxes?  Pay raises are demanded to meet educational needs.  It's a great game they play against us because they can't loose.  

  This article is not meant to reflect on all of the hard working highly dedicated teachers that work for the Gloucester County School Board.  Overall the teachers do a great job with ever lower budgets despite ever increasing tax money given to the school board.  Where is that money really going is a wonderful question to ask.  The school board did not need to renovate an old school they closed and make it their headquarters, but they are empire building so........

  We highly recommend that everyone stop buying the slogan that it's all about the children.  They know that the slogan is very hard to argue against.  But it's nothing more than a slogan.  

  So here is our counter slogan:  "When elected officials see the citizens as nothing more than their own private bank, it's time to replace our officials.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Gloucester, VA: Can We Trust The School Board? Failed Utopia

Can we trust the school board?  You may need to watch this video several times over and really listen to what John Hutchinson is actually saying and not what you may think he may be saying because when you first hear him you are likely to get the wrong message.  John Hutchinson appears to be addressing the issue of a Homeland Security audit.  On the one had he is.  On the other hand, it's not anywhere near as comprehensive as you may have been led to believe.  It's a very clever tactic used to send you the wrong information and making you think that the School Board has done everything in their power to ensure the safety of the students, teachers and staff.  We are going to show you that this may not be the case and give you the proper tools to figure it out for yourself.  Let's start with a video on body language.

Now let's go back to the joint meeting between the school board and the board of supervisors.  Let's discuss John Hutchinson's location of his hands when he was talking about the Homeland Security evaluation.  His one hand was in his pocket.  If you will also look again at how his head was dodging back and forth, he did not appear to be actually looking at anyone but instead below the level of anyone before him.  What did you just see in the video here on body language?  I am not suggesting he was lying.  I am suggesting that he may have been trying to pull the wool over the eyes of everyone listening.  Again, listen to what John Hutchinson says.  The security evaluation was a transportation evaluation.

  That means John Hutchinson was talking about the security for the bus system where Gloucester received high marks and why John did not want to get into specifics is because that would have revealed the slight of hand he just pulled in our opinion.  That is a trust issue.

  So does Page Middle school meet Homeland Security guidelines for safety?  Is there such a thing as guidelines for safety from Homeland Security?  Yes there are actual guidelines for safety and we have those guidelines and we are going to share them with everyone here reading this.  You can make up your own mind after doing the proper research whether or not the school board has done due diligence in ensuring the safety of the students.  The guidelines are 317 pages long and very comprehensive and well done.  It's a very impressive document.  At the end of the book is a checklist that you can take with you and conduct your own evaluation.  What we see is failure after failure after failure here to meet most of those guidelines.

  What will they argue back on this?  The Homeland Security guidelines are just that.  Guidelines.  As we understand how the federal government works, if they are mandatory, then the federal government would have to fund each project.  So guidelines are setup instead allowing states and localities to determine what the priorities should be.

Homeland Security Building Recommendations 

So above is the Homeland Security guidelines for schools.  Look through it and learn what those guidelines are and then take a copy of the checklist to Page Middle school and see how it stacks up.  We can tell you that one local resident pounded on the school board about these issues and even provided the school board with the exact information above before Page Middle school was constructed.  The School Board ignored these recommendations and that you can easily prove to yourself.

  To make it easier for you we have made a separate checklist that you can download for free from our slideshare site.  It's the same checklist as in the above Homeland Security book we just made it easier to print out for you because we want you to see all of this for yourself.

Homeland Security Building Design Recommendations Checklist 

We apologize for the annoying auto play of the Bos, School Board, meeting video as it is out of our control and the default option from the county that can not be changed even though it shows as an option.  We did not choose the auto play option which means it's supposed to be off.  Technical difficulties the county needs to address.  This is only one area in that video from the BoS/School Board where we have a lot of issues.  More stories coming very soon.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Page Middle School Designed Backward

Charles Records Recent Statement To Us:  " I am a Professional Engineer and Gloucester County Public Schools has employeed dozens of other Professional Engineers, licensed by theCommonwealth of Virginia, to design this project. As a Professional Engineer, our singular duty is to protect the Life, Safety, Health and Welfare of the General Public and it is not a duty I or any other Professional Engineer takes lightly. It is a slap in the face to suggest otherwise."

I am not sure if Charles Records was taking responsibility with the above statement but either way I find it funny as all get out and I am going to explain why in this article.  The school was designed backward from everything we are looking at.  Let me explain this in detail here and show some more serious issues because of this backward design.

  From what we remember of the information about the design of this school Dr Ben Kiser traveled to Finland where he did some studies of their school designs and was apparently so impressed for some reason he wanted to build the same type of school here.  So what we need to do is actually look at the reason why anyone would want to copy FInland's model, especially when you take into consideration that Finland is a very cold country.  Much colder there than it gets here.  Summers as I understand it get into the 70's.

  But there like here, winter months have much shorter days than summer does.  So the objective is to maximize sunlight for several reasons.  One of many reasons for maximizing sunlight is for mental health.  Depression due to a lack of sunlight is a common issue in Finland.  It is not as bad here but has merit all the same.  The other is energy savings.  By maximizing sunlight, you can cut back on heating costs.  Heating is not as expensive as cooling.

  So how do you maximize sunlight?  You build your structures with a lot of glass.  You want that glass on the southern side to capture the maximum amount of sunlight as possible throughout the day.  Where is the majority of the glass in Page Middle School?  It's ............ on the northern and eastern side of the building.   It minimizes the amount of sunlight, not maximizes it.  Just like seen in the picture above.  The picture above was taken at about 3:00 PM in the beginning of September the 3rd to be exact.  Now come December through March, where we have the shortest days of the year, this is going to be a dark area instead of filled with light the way they are built in Finland.

  In Finland, during the warm months, their structures have canopies or awnings to block excessive sunlight from coming in to minimize their cooling expenses.  Page Middle School lacks these awnings, but since the glass is on the northern side, it does not need them as it is not maximizing the sunlight.  So what we are now doing is trying to heat and cool a structure that maximizes expenses and minimizes savings when it should be doing just the opposite.

  This creates a number of other issues that equally maximizes our expenses and minimizes savings.  As we already pointed out the maximum amount of sunlight is on the southern side of a structure.  The northern side has the least amount of sunlight coming in.  Again what does that mean?  With Page being over 2 stories high, shadows are maximized on the northern side of the building.  So what?  During the cold months the courtyards in the back of the school as well as the parking lot where the buses come and go is getting the least amount of sunlight which means it gets the maximum amount of freezing time.

  When little Johnny and Sally are getting off the buses or on the buses, this is the area with the maximum amount of frozen ground and potential ice problems.  The front of Page which gets the maximum amount of southern sun will be the safest areas to walk.  But that is not where the majority of the students will be coming and going.  The majority will be subject to the worst areas of the property.  This also means that the school board will have to use more chemicals to keep the areas free of ice and snow.  Anyone know what those chemicals do to concrete and asphalt?  It deteriorates them at a very accelerated rate.

Again as seen in the above picture, the maximum amount of sun is not being produced as the design is backward.  This is the northern side of Page Middle School.  Picture taken from the second floor looking out into one of the courtyards.

  During the short months, this will be the shadow view of about 11:00 AM.  The glass on that back north western corner is just not producing any sunlight at all for the open design.  Instead it maximizes cold which maximizes costs and minimizes comfort of the students, teachers, and staff as well as minimizes savings.

And the lack of a drop ceiling is yet another question as to why anyone would want this?  The purpose of a drop ceiling is to minimize heating and cooling expenses.  Instead we have wide open ceilings that maximizes costs and sacrifices comfort for everyone.  Is it more appealing?  That is up to the individual to consider.

The mantra we keep hearing from the school board is that it is now all water under the bridge and we need to be proud of this new school.  The more we continue to look at it the more we see it as the "THE GREAT MONUMENT TO STUPIDITY."

  Now if Charles Records has a reason why the design of the school is the way it is and how it is saving us money instead of costing us more money than it should we would love to hear it and we will be happy to publish it.   To us it looks like it was designed backward which is costing us all a lot more than it should at so many levels.  We look forward to hearing from Charles Records on this or anyone else who has sound reasons for this design.

  Let us make one thing very clear.  As far as construction goes we have no issues with what we have seen so far.  From the looks of it, Oyster Point Construction Company, did an outstanding job with the designs they had to work with.  They should be commended for the quality of the work.  We are not questioning any area of the construction.  We are questioning a great deal of the design work.  We do not doubt that safety was taken into consideration as far as implementing the design work.  It's the many areas where the design simply is not appropriate for a Middle School and its students, teachers and staff, or where costs are concerned and we have seen a number of areas where there are, in our opinion, final design flaws that need to be addressed right away with some we have only reported to county authorities.  And with that said, this is why we call Page Middle School, The Great Monument To Stupidity.

  We are nowhere near done with our reports on issues we see and keep hearing about regarding Page Middle School.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Reducing Government Overhead Costs Through Consolidation

The Gloucester Board of Supervisors and School Board now have an opportunity to begin a process of consolidating certain functions that would result in considerable annual savings and streamlined operations. Currently, the school system has openings for a finance director and a human resources director. Instead of hiring two new directors, all school system financial and human resources functions, personnel and equipment should be transferred to the county finance and human resources departments. Consolidating these two areas alone would save approximately $243,000 annually in salaries and benefits alone.
The county needs a new vehicle maintenance garage and the school system needs to upgrade and expand its’ bus garage. All vehicle and equipment repair and maintenance activities should be consolidated at the bus garage property under the control of the school system. This would allow the school system to retain 100% control over the bus fleet which is essential to school system operations. It will also allow the county to sell the current garage property at Providence Road as suggested by Mr. Curry during the September 1st BOS meeting. All public works type functions, employees and equipment should be consolidated at the old Page site under the county’s control. Consolidating these areas will also produce considerable annual savings in salaries and benefits
The public utilities department “desperately” needs a new office and storage yard. Money was borrowed to purchase land and to design and construct them. Part of the money was spent on design work and a parcel of land was found, but the BOS froze the project over the land purchase aspects. The Board wanted to know if suitable property was already owned by the county or school system. It was determined that the old Page property and the new Page property are the only suitable properties. Construction of utilities’ office and yard should occur at the old Page property as the first phase of consolidating all public works type functions. A strip mall type office building should be constructed in phases along the alignment of the old school building and extending as long as necessary to provide office space for utilities, public works, buildings and grounds maintenance and any other appropriate public works type services.
Consolidation on the old Page property does not seem to appeal to those who have been set, since the tornado, on seeing the property sold. The interests of a few should never take priority over that which is in the best interest of the citizenry overall. Our public works type infrastructure is and has been in need of serious attention for many years and now is the most opportune time to render that attention through restorative and fiscally responsible action. The money saved and generated from the suggested consolidations could be used for associated construction costs and improving our school system. Growth in Gloucester will continue to be severely restricted as long as the toll remains on the Coleman Bridge and history demonstrates business growth in Gloucester occurs only as fast as the population grows. The only real way to spur growth under the current conditions is by making it worthwhile and attractive to live in Gloucester. The best way to do that is by developing a good county appearance and reputation and developing the “best” public school system. Consolidating the suggested services would be a step in the right direction, as it will ultimately free up funds that can be better invested in making our public schools the best in the Country. If our public schools are the best to choose from, people and businesses will come to Gloucester despite the toll.
Kenneth E. Hogge, Sr.