Author: Blue Ridge Muse


Human remains found in Albemarle County

Human remains were found by Chesterfield police Saturday near Old Lynchburg Road not far from Charlottesville in Albermarle County but tests are needed to determine if they are the body of missing University of Virginia Hannah Graham. Police sources say they believe the remains are of Graham and have notified her family and now are

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Buffaloes lose to Glenvar 27-7

Floyd County High School’s Buffaloes fell to Glenvar 27-7 in Roanoke County Friday night. The loss now leaves Floyd at 1-6 for the season and the team heads for Eastern Montgomery County on Friday, October 24 for the next game. Full story by Roger Mannon in next week’s Floyd Press. (Blue Ridge Muse Photographer Doug

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Music and more in Floyd this weekend

Katie and the Bubbatones and The Tune Town Old Time String Band lead music and dancing at The Friday Night Jamboree at the Country Store on Locust Street tonight. The True Life Travelers start the gospel hour at 6:30 p.m. with Katie and her Bubbatones kicking off at 7:30 p.m. and the Tune Towners at

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June Bug Benefit

The June Bug Center in Floyd will host a benefit concert and art auction on March 21 starting at 7 p.m. The show includes live music and stories with nationally-renowned Appalachian folk singer-song writer Andrew McKnight, paintings by Felta Virginia and free hors d’oeuvres, and wine. The Center will be auctioning a framed, oil painting by Felta

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Floyd Radio Show March 1

Floyd’s first-Saturday-of-the-month Radio Show runs Saturday, March 1, staring at 7:30 p.m. at the Floyd Country Store. Singer-songwriter Kat Mills and the Round Peak Ramblers will be the featured. The Floyd Radio Show is an old-timey variety show with original comedy skits, stories, music and more, hosted by Elizabeth LaPrelle and Anna Roberts-Gevalt. Celebrating old

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Mardi Gras fundraiser Saturday

Wasn’t able to attend Mardi Gras in the Big Easy?  Don’t worry.  You can always to to the Mardi Gras Costume Ball at the EcoVillage on Frankin Pike in Floyd County on Saturday, March 1. The event is the flagship fundraiser for Blue Mountain School.  The shindig starts at 6:30 p.m. and runs until midnight.

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Doug Thompson seriously injured in motocycle crash

Our apologies for the delay in updating posts.  On Nov. 9, 2012, Blue Ridge Muse publisher Doug Thompson was returning to Floyd after photographing the high school varsity football team in the first round of the state championship playoffs when he encountered cows blocking the southbound lane of U.S. of U.S. 221 south of Roanoke.

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Data Knight 365: The fat lady clears her throat

My story in today’s Floyd Press outlines the latest chapter in the saga of Data Knight 365 .

That 51.5 acres of undeveloped land in Floyd’s mostly-empty Commerce Park will stay that way for a while. Data Knight 365 (DK3), dubbed “Dark Knight 365” by some in Floyd County,  appears ready to ride off into the sunset, along with its portfolio of unfulfilled promises and unmet goals.

William W. Byler, owner of record for DK3, is vacating his apartment at The Station on South Locust, telling his landlord he will be out by the end of the month — two days before the latest “final” deadline (Dec. 2) for closing on a $900,000 purchase of the land after mssing two previous deadlines for coming up with a $100,000 down payment. DK3 leaves Floyd County with our cash-strapped government owing more than $12,000 in legal bills and little chance of ever collecting. Other governments have tried, and failed, to collect from the folks involved in DK3. Some still try. Others gave up.

While it is still possible that someone might come up with the 100 grand for a down payment, few expect that to happen. “It’s over,” one EDA member told me earlier this week. When the Dec. 2 deadline passes, probably all that will be left of the grand promises of a $67.8 million data center will be the blame game.

For some, that game has already started. Promoter Paul Allen told local contractor Ed Erwin recently that my stories about questionable past dealings of the principals in the deal “drove away investors.”  Dan Delfino, head of Power Direct, the one-time “money behind the deal,” says I poisoned the waters and made it impossible for him to do business in Floyd County.  I’m told that at least one county official will claim publicly that I ruined the deal by writing about the past problems of Allen, Delfino and others in the project.

I doubt seriously that anything I wrote “killed” the data center deal, if it finally dies on Dec. 2. If anything, what I wrote may have prevented some in Floyd County from losing money by investing in the scheme. The DK3 appeared doomed from the start, torpedoed by greed, grandiose promises and the desperation of a cash-strapped county. To some who actually know a thing or two about business deals, this one smelled from the start and was probably dead on arrival before it was announced.

The warning signs were there for anyone who took the time to look closely at DK3 and it principals. The past problems of Allen and his failed company, B-Telecom, the history of Delfino and Power Direct, the overblown claims of jobs and benefits to the county: All served notice early on that the deal most likely would not fly.

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The Klan and racism live on, but there is hope

Some say the Ku Klux Klan is a relic of the past but the Klan still holds rallies in nearby Franklin County and still tries to march in parades in Carroll County. The photos at the left are not from old issues of Life Magazine but a new photo essay on the Life.Com web site.

Some say racism is no longer a problem in this nation but recent studies show racism is actually on the rise since the election of America’s first African-American President. Earlier this year, ABC News filmed an experiment to see if racism still runs in our society. What they found was shocking:

It was 6:30 a.m. on a Friday in downtown Linden, N.J., when two Hispanic day laborers were struggling with their English as they tried to order a coffee and a sandwich at a deli.

But rather than getting served, they got a string of insults hurled at them from the clerk behind the counter. Their broken-English request for food was met with a barrage of racist remarks, including, "Get back in your pickup truck with the rest of your family."

This scene wasn’t real. It was all part of a "What Would You Do?" experiment designed to find out what action, if any, bystanders would take after watching the men’s exchange with the clerk.

Seth Perlman, the manager of All Aboard Bagel and Deli, agreed to ABC News’ using his business to test people’s reactions to bigotry. The racist cashier standing next to him was an actor hired by ABC News, as were his victims.

Here in this working-class neighborhood 15 miles west of New York City, people have a reputation for tolerance. But, sometimes, the reactions were far less open-minded than one would expect.

In the face of blatant discrimination, many people seemed immobilized, some too stunned to react. After being turned away by the cashier, one of the day laborers asked a nearby customer for help. She suggested that he try another store down the street. Many other customers had a similar reaction, quietly walking away after being solicited to help.

Although some customers seemed indifferent, others were quite willing to let everyone know exactly how they felt.

Upon hearing the cashier’s racist attacks on the day laborers, customer Darick Maxis, a black man, seemed to take the side of the clerk.

"If you want me to make you leave, I’ll make you leave," he told the Hispanics. "So leave. That’s all I gotta say. Leave!"

When ABC News’ John Quinones approached the scene and let him know the exchange was a television experiment, Maxis continued his rant.

"You know what I think?" he asked. "I think they’re taking our jobs because we ain’t got no jobs."

Racism is not limited to whites against blacks. It is white against latin and black against latin. The fear and hatred that some feel against blacks is also aimed at other ethnic groups.

But they may be hope. Writes columnist David Squires at the Hampton Roads Daily Press:

They are tired.

They are fed up.

They are not going to take it anymore!

The black man’s new ally is actually a very old friend: white people.

All the celebration and euphoria about a black family in the White House has nearly overlooked the keys to the historic November victory and the only realistic path toward equality.

In the most recent election, 47 percent of white voters cast their ballots for Barack Obama. Still not a majority, you say? Well, it was 17 points higher than the number of whites who voted for the previous Democrat chap who was up for president.

More and more, white people are growing sick and tired of this country being taken away from everyday working folks, and more and more, they are rearing their heads and raising their voices.

One of the strongest voices, and one of the most widely circulated on the Internet, comes from Andrew M. Manis, an associate professor of history at Macon State College in Georgia.

Writing in December for one of my former employers, the Macon Telegraph, Manis bellowed:

"For much of the last 40 years, ever since America ‘fixed’ its race problem in the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, we white people have been impatient with African Americans who continued to blame race for their difficulties. Often we have heard whites ask, ‘When are African Americans finally going to get over it?’ Now I want to ask: ‘When are we White Americans going to get over our ridiculous obsession with skin color?’"

Manis goes on to decry the hundreds of threats and race crimes spurred by the election of a black president and said these occurrences "should frighten and infuriate every one of us."

Then he went on to ask: "How long before we white people realize we can’t make our nation, much less the whole world, look like us? How long until we white people can — once and for all — get over this hell-conceived preoccupation with skin color? How long until we white people get over the demonic conviction that white skin makes us superior?"

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Capturing the moment, part deux

The assignment: Cover the annual Marine Corps Marathon which starts at the Marine Corps Memorial in Roslyn, Virginia, winds through Washington, and ends back at the Memorial.

I had covered an even dozen Marathons before but this one was in 2001, a month after the terrorist attacks of 2001. Some wanted to cancel the event, fearing it would draw an attack. But organizers refused.

Annual events that are big media happenings present a number of challenges. Finding a new angle is difficult. Getting away from the hoard of other photogs is also difficult. I tend to look for locations that are away from the usual gatherings of shooters.

I had decided ahead of time that my focus on this event were the handicapped marathoners, particularly the ones who competed in wheelchairs.  Many are veterans who lost a limb in service to their country. Most run their own race on a shortened course but others, Marines to the core, choose to compete on the full course.

The pride shown by these marathoners is evident and inspring. Like the competitor below who competed every year that I covered the Marathon and always finished. His face said it all:


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