The parent company for The Roanoke Times may sell part of all of its assets, including the nine daily newspapers they own.
Employees at The Times got the word along with 12,000 other employees of Landmark Communications of Norfolk, which bought the Times along with the afternoon World-News in 1969 (the World-News was later absorbed into The Times).
“I can confirm that Landmark Communications has retained investment banks JP Morgan and Lehman Brothers to assist in exploring strategic alternatives, including the possible sale of the company’s businesses,” said Richard Barry, vice chairman of the company.
“We are exploring strategic alternatives, and that can entail a number of possibilities, one of which is the sale of the company’s businesses,” he said. “It’s very early in the process.”
He declined to say whether the company would be sold in whole or part, or at all. He also would not say why a decision was made now to explore the sale of the company.
Landmark also own The Weather Channel, considered the most valuable of all the company’s properties.
For The Times, the sale comes at a time when newspaper properties are declining in value. Last year, the paper forced a number of longtime employees into early retirement and more cutbacks are predicted for the paper.
"The mood around here today ain’t the greatest," one Times staffer told me today. "The New Year is not starting off to be a good one.Continue reading …
The Federal District Court in Roanoke has repeatedly slapped down arguments by Blue Ridge Parkway rangers who claim they had the right to stop and search vehicles in a Gestapo-like manner during last year’s Floyd Fest. The court said the Rangers lied.
In fact, the federal courts have also expressed outrage and anger at the behavior of the Park Police’s Criminal Interdiction Team during the annual music event.
Consider these comments in a recent federal ruling on a stop by Park Rangers:
The court cannot find, even under the relatively low Terry standard, that the government has met its burden and that the search in this case was legal. No reasonable articulable suspicion existed to justify the prolonged detention and questioning of Moore. Ranger Gagnon testified that as he approached the vehicle, Moore placed both his hands outside of the vehicle, demonstrating his willingness to cooperate. Moore’s continued cooperation, talkative demeanor and friendly attitude does not suggest that crime was afoot. Finally, Ranger Gagnon testified that Moore was breathing heavily, sweating, and taking his hat on and off during the stop, but the video does not bear this out. Review of the video shows that Moore did not take his hat on and off in a nervous manner as the Ranger testified. Instead, Moore took his hat off once when Ranger Gagnon ordered him out of the truck. Rather than appearing nervous, shifty, or suspicious in any degree, Moore appeared cooperative and friendly on the video. Furthermore, in the video, Ranger Gagnon explicitly states to Moore that he wasn’t "sweating when [he] got out of the vehicle" and only began sweating after the Ranger patted him down and found the marijuana pipe.
The video shows that Ranger Gagnon requested Moore’s license and ordered him to exit the vehicle immediately after Moore told Ranger Gagnon that he was at Floydfest. At this point in the stop, a mere twenty-five seconds into it, the only activities that Ranger Gagnon witnessed to provide any basis for a reasonable articulable suspicion were Moore’s placing of his hands out of the truck’s window as Ranger Gagnon approached vehicle and Moore’s statements that he thought he had his lights on, was looking for a place to get coffee, and that he just left Floydfest. Ranger Gagnon does not ask any questions about why Moore had his hands out of the vehicle or otherwise mention it, thus leaving Moore’s statement as to where he had been as the only possible source of suspicion. In contrast to the Ranger’s testimony, on the video Moore does not seem nervous, his responses seem perfectly normal, and there is no indication that he is breathing heavily.
Thus, the only basis for any suspicion that the court can glean from the video is Moore’s statement that he had been at Floydfest.
A review of hearings from the many tickets issued by the Criminal Interdiction Team shows the vast majority of them were dismissed because the Park Rangers did not have any real reason to stop the cars except for, as the court noted, that the drivers "had been at Floydfest."
Park Superintendent Phil Francis, in a meeting with Congressman Rick Boucher, lied outright by claiming the CIT unit had not been dispatched to FloydFest, a lie that contradicted statements by his own Chief Ranger and evidence presented in court.
Of course, Francis also lied to Boucher by claiming my encounter with his storm troopers never happened. He also claims the video camera in the ranger that threatened me with arrest was not working.
How convenient.Continue reading …
The marquee sign for Blue Ridge Muse went up Wednesday — the first one signifying the various businesses in The Village Green. Others are slated for installation Thursday.
Owners of the Village Green concept too often faced a recalcitrant — and some might say backward thinking — Floyd Town Council reluctant to approve the designs for the project. Some council members say they fear the town will become a tourist destination (my God…imagine that). After much haggling, approval finally came but progress seldom comes easy as each step forward appears to require two steps back.
Continue reading …
Floyd County citizens had a chance Tuesday night to voice their thoughts on road improvements over the next six years. Thirteen residents showed up for a public hearing at the court house and seven spoke.
The hearing was over in 20 minutes.
So much for concerned citizens.Continue reading …
Delegate-elect Charles Poindexter, the Franklin County Republican elected to represent Floyd, Franklin and part of Pittsylvania County, dropped by the Board of Supervisors Tuesday to offer his outlook for the upcoming legislative session.
Poindexter talked a lot without saying much. After a 30-minute spiel to the board before lunch, he returned in the afternoon to go over the county’s wish list with the Board. Yet in 90 minutes of talk, our new delegate-elect managed to avoid taking a position on any of the issues that affect Floyd — no position on local taxing authority, no position on road improvements, no position on mandates.
On the issue of improving Rte. 8 through the county, he asked the board is they were willing to take the risk that such improvements might bring: traffic, subdivisions and uncontrolled growth but he never said how he felt on the need for road improvements.
Ah, politicians.Continue reading …
Two water fountains at Willis Elementary School tested postive for lead contamination recently and the school and administration tried to downplay the seriousness of the situation.
Reports The Roanoke Times:
Water in two Willis Elementary School fountains tested outside of regular limits for lead contamination in October.
School officials did send out at least one notification of the problem, but the announcement was on pages 9 and 10 of the school’s regular newsletter, sent home with children Monday, the date the November issue was distributed.
Pages 9 and 10? Such news should have been on Page 1 and probably merited a special alert to parents. One mother said she hadn’t read the newsletter yet and didn’t know about the problem until the newspaper contacted her.
The Times also had problems reaching someone in charge, reporting:
Willis Elementary School Principal Sandra Montgomery and Floyd County Schools Superintendent Terry Arbogast were not in their offices Thursday or Friday, according to their office assistants, and could not be reached to comment on the report. A school employee did promptly fax a copy of the newsletter to The Roanoke Times on Thursday.
The newsletter couched the problem in typcial bureacratic language, saying:
Two water fountains tested high for lead concentration. The results were 20.3 ppb and 57.5 ppb. Upon receipt of the results, these two fountains were immediately removed from service.
Floyd County parents have a right to expect more candor from their schools and the school administration. This is not the first time we’ve caught them trying to gloss over bad news and such behavior needs to stop. Spending for the school system is a primary reason why the county is in severe financial trouble right now and a school system that strains the county budget should, and must, be more accountable.Continue reading …
Blue Ridge Muse, the studio and gallery, is now open at The Village Green at 201 East Main Street in Floyd.
We’re in Suite #6 at the right front corner of the complex and open Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Fridays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays noon to 3 p.m.
We may modify the hours after the first of the year and close on Sundays from January through the end of March.
At the moment, we’re featuring our photography plus the work of photographer Don Johnson, writer-photographer Fred First and musical CDs of Bernie Coveney. Others will be added as we bring the studio up to speed.
If you’re in Floyd, drop by and see us.Continue reading …
Lunch Monday at El Charro, Floyd’s new Mexican eatery: Good food, fast service and reasonable prices.
As expected for a restaurant open for just the second day, the place was packed. Two of Floyd’s lunch spots are closed on Mondays bu things were humming at El Charro in the basement of Winter Sun and upstairs at Cafe del Sol.
The menu is large and varied with a good selection of traditional Mexican entries. I had the lunch plate with a taco, burrito and rice. So did two companions at the table. One wanted beer but the restaurant does not yet have its ABC license (apparently, you have to be open for a while to get one) and, this being Floyd, the drinks are limited to wine and beer but you can get a non-alcoholic margarita or daiquiri.
El Charro is a welcome addition to Floyd’s restaurant offerings and fills the gap for those who want choices of where to eat on a Monday as well as the rest of the week. They should do well.Continue reading …
Survived the Grand Opening of both the Blue Ridge Muse office and gallery and The Village Green Saturday. Large crowd, lots of well wishers and a ton of interest.
While eating brunch at Oddfellas Cantina today, heard the new Mexican restaurant in the basement of Winter Sun opened at 1 p.m.
Will try the new Mexican eatery soon and report.Continue reading …
Construction and delivery delays have forced us to postpone the planned opening of Blue Ridge Muse at the Village Green in Floyd to Saturday, November 17.
Please join us for the grand opening ceremonies which being at 10 a.m. (ribbon cutting at 11 a.m.)Continue reading …