I just got back from Supervisor Gerry Hyland’s 25th Annual Town Meeting at Mount Vernon High School. The meeting started at about 9:15, but for an hour or so before that, you can visit the 30 vendors with tables displaying their wares. The Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce, the Park Authority, INOVA Hospital, George Mason University, etc., all have tables so it’s a great opportunity to learn more about what resources we have in Mount Vernon.
Then, at 9:15 we listened to several speakers: County Chairwoman Sharon Bulova, Congressman Gerry Connolly and County Executive Tony Griffin all give updates. The interesting tidbit that Mr. Griffin shared was that he will be proposing a budget to the Board of Supervisors that maintains the current tax rate (which means if your assessment goes up, you’ll pay more taxes). He also will recommend that the county give a little more money to the school system.
After the speeches, Gerry Hyland did his popular “Bus Tour,” where he simulates being on a bus going up and down Richmond Highway (by the way, he asks that everyone not refer to it anymore as “Route One”). This “tour” provides an update on all the development in the area. So, the audience learned that the new Costco will be completed by the Spring of 2013, the new Mulligan Road that will lead us all to the new Wegman’s will be done by September 2013, and that the Gum Springs community is adamantly opposed to a new Transit Center at the corner of Boswell and Route One, uh, excuse me, Richmond Highway. We also learn that they want to put a new turf field in at Grist Mill Park. Lots of good info. The “tour” will be available on the Supervisor’s website in a short while. It’s worth a look.
Now that I’ve done my “reporting” thing, I must now make a few observations:
I’m sorry but can’t folks stay off their friggin' cell phones and give the speakers their full attention? What is so vital to know on a Saturday morning? Do you really need to get an update on your son’s soccer game or your daughter’s dance class? And this goes for the speakers on the dais. Yep, one of the speakers actually had his head down during most of the presentations, looking into his lap. Now, sure, he may have just been fascinated with a bug crawling on the floor but I think his bobbing elbows gave it all away.
In future meetings, give everyone a name tag. This is the meeting that most of the movers and shakers come to but many have yet to put a face to a name. Gerry’s staff might be interested in meeting (or running away from) a constituent who they may have been talking to over the phone for weeks. It’s just a nice, social thing to do.
He would never say anything, but I think it was insulting to have Dan Storck, our school board representative, as the last speaker – even after the bus tour. If there is a topic that is more important than education, I’m open to suggestions. But, after the bus tour, half the room empties out and the ones that are left are too preoccupied with lining up to the microphones to get ready to hear themselves talk. Dan deserves better.
A shout-out to the MVHS Academic Boosters Corp for getting to Starbucks at the crack of dawn to have coffee for the attendees. And thanks for the low fat donuts! And good decision on charging for the breakfast. For too many years, I watched in horror as too many people just took the coffee and food and never made the suggested donations.
Anyway, it was a useful event and Gerry and his staff should be commended for doing this year after year. It’s a great public service – it's just too bad that most of the public does not attend.