Monday, July 14, 2014

New Development Towards Saving the James

In a development that further forestalls Dominion Power’s attempt to obstruct and impair the historically significant James River view shed, the Virginia Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal by James City County of the Virginia State Corporation Commission’s Final Order allowing the construction of the 300+ foot transition towers. As announced on July 12, the court will consider issues raised by James City County with the help of the Save the James Alliance, especially the James River Association. 

This appeal seeks to dismiss the SCC’s final order or order a new hearing. According to one source, the appellants’ area of focus on errors is on the complete disregard of state statutes that protect historic and cultural resources, and secondly, a challenge to a land use ruling which, if not overturned, would set a precedent in the state regarding a utility's right to use land any way they see fit, regardless of local laws and zoning.

There remains the separate issue of the section 404 permit by the Army Corps of Engineers and its adherence to public hearing and comment process as required by law and regulations.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Can We Stave Off Doomsday for the James River View Shed?

The effort to preserve the James River view shed continues as the Coalition to Save the James has met with staff of Senator Mark Warner of Virginia.

There is a lot going on the behind-the-scenes. The individuals involved with the Coalition are contributing their considerable skills and putting in lot of time and effort.

There is growing national interest in this issue, which the Army Corps of Engineers has acknowledged. We hope that the attention from California Senator Dianne Feinstein was noticed in the meeting with Senator Warner's staff. She has the ability to influence ACOE's budget and funding.

The Coalition’s major immediate objective is to get the Army Corps of Engineers to follow its full protocol for its permit process by insisting on accommodating the public's comments and questions and performing an Environmental Impact Study, as called for in its regulations.

They are having some success, as it seems likely that ACOE will hold a 30 day public comment period at a future but undetermined time where your letters, messages and questions must be considered. We will advise when we learn of notification of that comment period.

Please review this issue with what we have previously posted and be prepared to give the ACOE your views at the appropriate time - when they will be most meaningful and effective.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Is Doomsday Approaching for the James River View Shed?

The tranquil view of the James River from Jamestown is not too dissimilar from how John Smith and the earliest settlers saw it almost 407 years ago. For those us who have enjoyed it, we shudder to think of its pending destruction if Dominion Power succeeds in obtaining a section 404 permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to build its proposed thirty-story towers for power transmission lines across the James.
James River Kayaker; Courtesy James River Association

This serene and bucolic setting belies the statement by Scott Hathaway of Dominion Power that "'s a river that has an industrial character and has for a long time." That must come as a shock to the countless visitors to Historic Jamestown that are daily directed to stand on its banks and look downstream, whence those first settlers came. It's among the other points raised in an article syndicated by the Associated Press reporting on this question of destroying an important element of our national heritage. As we had previously posted over a year ago, "Can you imagine putting power plant on Plymouth Rock?" 

There may be little time to prevent this besmirching of our national heritage, but the opportunity exists and must be immediately acted upon. 

The Save the James Alliance (which we have followed in our posts of January 21, 2014, October 2, 2013 and October 14, 2012) has joined the National Trust for Historic Preservation in a coalition taking on Dominion Power and ACOE (which is fast tracking the permit for Dominion). Several senators have weighed in on this, including Dianne Feinstein of California, in support of the Coalition's efforts. As we were advised by Sharee Williamson, Associate General Counsel of NTHP,  "The number of comments in opposition really does matter, so for every individual or group that you can encourage to send an independent letter, the more impact there will be." Please be among these.

The Alliance has produced a Fact sheet that frames the issues to help you with your message.

Please send your letters to:

Mr. Randy Steffey
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Norfolk District Office
803 Front Street
Norfolk, VA  23501 

RE:  Dominion Power Surry-Skiffes Creek Project

You can also email your message to Mr. Steffey.

Your message should specifically request that the Army Corps of Engineers deny Dominion Power's application for a Section 404 permit for this project.
Comments can also  be posted at the NTHP website's Share Your Story tab.
For more details on how the ACOE must conduct its review for the 404 permit, please go to information offered by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation: Protecting Historic Properties:A CITIZEN’S GUIDE TO SECTION 106 REVIEW
Here is an example of language in letters already sent:

"This proposed project would also compromise the learning experience of thousands of schoolchildren and international and national visitors that annually gain a better understanding of the origins of our nation and the relevance of the archeological discoveries that are made almost daily by the Jamestown Rediscovery Project with the cooperation of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and Smithsonian Institution. It would interfere with needed perception and appreciation of the circumstances and situation of our earliest pioneers at the first permanent English settlement in the New World. Their lives, customs, work and religious practices are becoming better known and new stories are unfolding from the relics and artifacts being recovered from that archaeological dig, now ending its second decade.

"Dominion Power has excellent technological and economical underwater alternatives for achieving its energy transmission needs that are well proven in Long Island, New York, Canada and other places in the world (and planned for the Hudson River and San Francisco Bay) that need not have the undesirable results that its current proposal would create.

"We owe much to what those early Virginia settlers accomplished and should take a strong interest in opposing this project. Among what we owe them are for how they began and evolved the American westward expansion in the 17th century; created our real estate industry by the land grants of private property to common persons (men and women, including my ancestors); and established basic elements of our successful governmental system that were adopted into our Constitution several decades later.

"Jamestown’s founding, however, has a much deeper meaning than merely being one of our national origins. It was the seminal incident that introduced the opportunities to innovate many profound social, political, and economic tenets that have come down to us through our history. Their lasting effect is what has differentiated Jamestown from other preceding or contemporary English and European settlements in America."


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Jamestowne Society to Commerate the 400th Wedding Anniversary of Pocahontas and John Rolfe

First California Company, Jamestowne Society will commemorate the 400th anniversary of the wedding of Pocahontas and John Rolfe, at 1 PM on Sunday, March 2 at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott hotel.

That April 5, 1614 event was very significant in the initial establishment of our nation, as it ended the first Anglo-Powhatan war and enabled the inhabitants of the first permanent English settlement in North America to pursue the agricultural development of tobacco. Its pursuit created the economic basis for Jamestown to become the first boomtown in America, and, later, would similarly help support the Revolution. 

First California Company will feature a presentation by Karenne Wood, Director of the Virginia Indian Program at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. She will discuss Pocahontas and Women’s Role in Virginian Indian History,” which will likely include the wedding from an Indian perspective, Pocahontas as a member the Virginia tribe who met the Jamestown settlers and daughter of its paramount chief, and their culture.

First California Company will also recognize the Pocahontas descendants who are in attendance, who would be thirteen generations removed.

This also also complements a yearlong commemoration by Historic Jamestown that will include a program at the site of the wedding on the date of the anniversary.

If you have further questions or need clarification, please contact Governor Ginny Gotlieb of First California Company.

To request an invitation, please contact First California Company’s Secretary. The response deadline is February 15.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Update on Save the James

James City County is seeking to derail the planned intrusive transmission power line tower project across the James River by appealing the approval ruling of the Virginia Corporation Commission to the Commonwealth's Supreme Court.

The Save the James Alliance has published a list of sources of information.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Pressure on ACOE to Save the James

Over 2,000 signed the petition to the Army Corps of Engineers calling for public hearings on the proposed power line across the James. 
We should neither relent on this nor underestimate who is proposing to scar our national heritage. Virginia Electric & Power Co. d/b/a Dominion Virginia Power has a small army of professional advocates and lobbyists working at all levels of government to further their ambitions.
The Virginia Gazette reports that there is more to do and suggests where to help support this.

Friday, June 28, 2013

More re: Jamestowne Society on Facebook

As we posted on March 22, the Jamestowne Society may be demonstrating some belated interest in joining the twenty-first century. The Jamestowne Society Facebook page started by Bud Walker of Fairfax, VA over a year ago is now jointly administered by the Society's Attorney General and webmaster, Susan Godman Rager. It is slowly growing with postings from admitted members that range from news of events and exchanges of ancestors' names to some interesting items from the Jamestown Rediscovery Facebook page.

While the Society's website has yet to offer a link to it or even acknowledge its existence, much less confirm that it could serve as one of its official organs, the FB page now has 227 members and is seemingly creating a following that is more representative of contemporary demographics than one would discern from the leadership in many of the companies or the Society itself.