Saturday, November 13, 2010

OH, Those Pocomoke Hockey Girls!!!


CHESTERTOWN - After a scoreless first half, the Pocomoke field hockey team scored a goal early in the second half to win their eighth consecutive 1A championship as they defeated Patterson Mill 1-0 at Washington College. The championship is the program's 18th overall.

Senior forward Taylor West had the tip-in goal off of a rebound at the 19:30 mark in the half.

info from DelmarvaNow

Oglesby and Mathias Both Claim Victories

SNOW HILL -- Beau Oglesby is the unofficial state's attorney-elect for Worcester County and Jim Mathias is the unofficial state senator-elect for District 38 after the third canvass of absentee votes was held Friday.

In the race for state Senate, Michael James called Mathias to concede and congratulate him on his victory after learning Mathias holds 23,527 votes to Michael James' 22,896 -- a margin of 631.

In a statement to The Daily Times, James said it had been "an honor and a privilege" to participate in the election.

"Though I wish the outcome was different, I truly believe we influenced and helped shape the agenda for the Eastern Shore with our ideas, our positions and with the honest and assertive nature of our campaign," James said.

Jim Mathias was unable to be reached for comment.

With 10,465 votes, Joel Todd will not be able to overcome the 90-vote lead Oglesby holds at the final canvass. Even if Todd receives all possible 85 votes in the final canvass, he would still be 5 votes shy of a tie.

"We are thrilled by the outcome and with the way the campaign was run," Oglesby said. "I am thrilled to be looking down the road and looking forward to being a productive state's attorney."

Oglesby was able to speak to Todd after the votes were totaled and said the two have already been working together and plan to continue working together to bring Oglesby up to speed on pending cases.

In a statement provided to The Daily Times, Todd said he will work to make the transition as smooth as possible.

"It has been my honor and my pleasure to serve the citizens and visitors of Worcester County as a prosecutor since July 1, 1985," Todd said. "The role of state's attorney is at times difficult and demanding with a need, sometimes, to balance what is popular against what is ethical and what is just. During my time in office I have learned that what is popular is not always right and what is right is not always popular."

In total, Oglesby holds 10,555 votes.

The next canvass is scheduled to be held Nov. 22 when 35 absentee ballots will be counted, in addition to 14 overseas ballots, which have already been received by the Worcester County Board of Elections. However, that number is subject to change.

The board mailed out 50 ballots to overseas citizens and soldiers. If they were returned to the board by Nov. 22, they will be counted in the final canvass.

One Arrest In Breaking and Entering Of Runninger's Pharmacy

According to Major Todd Godwin of the Accomack County Sheriff's Office, on October 2, 2010 at approximately 5:29 A.M., deputies responded to a report of an alarm activation at Runninger's Pharmacy in Parksley, Virginia.

Upon arrival on the scene, deputies found that a breaking and entering had occurred and that various items had been taken from the business.

A joint investigation into this incident between the Accomack County Sheriff's Office and the Parksley Police Department, with assistance from the Virginia State Police, has resulted in warrants being obtained against Billy Brandice Kilmon, age 27, of Parksley, Virginia and Walter Hunter Wharton III, age 30, address unknown, charging each subject with one count of breaking and entering and one count of grand larceny.

According to Runninger's pharmicist Emory Hurst, Jr., approximately $8,000 worth of drugs were stolen with a street value of approximately $100,000.

Billy Brandice Kilmon is currently incarcerated in the Wicomico County Jail in Salisbury, Maryland on unrelated charges.

Walter Hunter Wharton III has not been apprehended and anyone with information as to his whereabouts is asked to contact the Accomack County Sheriff's Office at 757-787-1131 or 757-824-5666.

The investigation into this incident is continuing and additional arrests are expected.

Pocomoke High School Hockey Team

Pocomoke High School Field Hockey Team ~ Going for their 8th straight title of East region 1A State Champion. Pocomoke Warriors field hockey team beat the Manchester Valley Mavericks 2-1 on Monday.

Today the Pocomoke High School Girls field hockey travels to Washington College to play Patterson Mill. Game starts at 4:00 PM.



~ Meeting Reminder ~

Pocomoke City's
Community Awareness


New Macedonia Baptist Church
Pocomoke City
Saturday, November 13th, 2010
10:00 AM

Community members meet to discuss concerns for Pocomoke City
coffee/donuts supplied by Lighthouse Counseling

380 Jobs Cut At Northrop Grumman In Newport News

Defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp is cutting 380 salaried jobs at its Newport News shipbuilding facility, citing a need to control costs.

The company that builds submarines and aircraft carriers for the Navy said the reduction of about 2 percent of its 20,000 workers at the shipyard was necessary to improve efficiency and costs.

The announcement marks the first reduction its Newport News facility has experienced in more than a decade.

"While this is a very difficult decision, it is a critical and necessary step in order to control costs, effectively manage overhead, improve efficiency and lower the acquisition costs of our products to better secure the future of our shipyard," Matt Mulherin, vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding-Newport News, said in a statement.

Northrop Grumman, which plans next summer to move its headquarters to Falls Church from Los Angeles, said the cuts are driven, in part, by the completion of major milestones on existing contracts. For example, the company said it is nearing the completion of the design of the Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier.

More than 100 of the affected employees have been identified as having prior trades experience and have been offered hourly positions, such as welders and electricians, the company said.

Northrop Grumman said in July that it was exploring "various alternatives for the potential separation of its shipbuilding business, including a spinoff or sale of the unit."

Last week, the company told private-equity bidders for its shipbuilding business, which includes its Newport News shipbuilding operations, that the company has chosen to spin off the unit to shareholders, three people with knowledge said then.

The company had announced plans in July to shutter the Avondale shipyard near New Orleans in early 2013 and consolidate its Gulf Coast military shipbuilding at Pascagoula, Miss. About 4,600 people now work at Avondale.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Incumbant Worcester County State's Attorney, Joel Todd, conceded the race to challenger Beau Oglesby on Friday afternoon.

Police Coalition Established For Two Counties

SNOW HILL -- The Worcester County Sheriff's Office is no longer restrained by state borders when pursuing certain criminals.

A coalition between the Worcester County and Accomack County Sheriff's Offices has created the Eastern Shore Drug Task Force, devoted to working together and with federal authorities to seek out and prosecute those who travel over state lines to sell drugs.

Cpl. Nate Passwaters is a member of the Worcester County Sheriff's Office, but he's also deputized in Accomack County and by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

"Drug dealers don't have boundaries like we do," says Passwaters.

Since forming, the task force has charged about 20 alleged drug dealers, all of whom frequently crossed state lines, police officials said. The cooperation between agencies has helped with the flow of information, they say, conducting surveillance operations and getting warrants issued.

"They are under the assumption we are limited in our enforcement," says Passwaters. "It gives them a false sense of security, where they say 'I'm in another state, so it's going to be harder to prosecute me.' "

The select number of officers who serve on the task force may have jurisdiction in other counties, but they can't simply follow suspects wherever they want to. The cases must have a drug component to them.

"I can't just go into Accomack and say, I think I'm going to stop cars today," says Passwaters. He is currently working with Delaware State Police to set up a similar agreement.

Deciding where to prosecute cross-border drug crimes is not complicated by the arrangement. According to Passwaters, if someone is arrested in Virginia, they are prosecuted in Virginia. If they are arrested in Maryland, they are prosecuted in Maryland.

Several cases have been prosecuted on the federal level, based on the quantity of drugs recovered or the presence of firearms, which allows the task force greater access to federal resources and prosecutors. It is also the reason Passwaters is deputized as an ATF officer.

Passwaters says the Sheriff's Office also works with agencies in Somerset and Wicomico counties to share information and collaborate on complex cases.

Oglesby Nears Victory In Tight State’s Attorney Race

Shawn J. Soper
News Editor
BERLIN – While incumbent Worcester County State’s Attorney Joel Todd closed the gap somewhat this week after more absentee ballots were counted on Wednesday, Republican challenger Beau Oglesby appears to have moved closer to his “magic number”.

When the polls closed last Tuesday, it was Oglesby leading Todd by a mere 145 votes and a sense of déjà vu spread across the county electorate closely watching the highly contested campaign. In 2006, in perhaps the closest election in Worcester County history, it was Todd who led Oglesby by a single vote when the polls closed on Election Night. Todd eventually prevailed when all of the absentee, provisional and overseas ballots were counted, but a similar scenario is playing out this week with the candidates switching roles.

On Wednesday, 180 absentee ballots were counted and Todd managed to close the gap, collecting 86 new votes while Oglesby added 75 to his tally. County elections officials were supposed to count 197 absentee ballots, but 17 were rejected for various reasons. For example, 12 were not registered in the county and a handful more were not filed in the appropriate district.

After the batch of absentee ballots were counted on Wednesday, Todd had reduced Oglesby’s lead to just 96, but time, and more importantly, outstanding ballots, appear to be running out on the incumbent.

According to Worcester County Elections Board Supervisor Patti Jackson, roughly 171 ballots remain to be counted, of which 122 are expected to be counted today.

The other 49 outstanding ballots – 14 military ballots and 35 more absentee ballots held back – are expected to be counted on Nov. 22. It’s important to note, the 171 figure is a bit of a moving target because some will likely be rejected and more that were postmarked before the Nov. 2 deadline might trickle in still.

Nonetheless, with an estimated 171 still to count, it appears Oglesby needs just 38 more votes, or about 22 percent more, to win the county state’s attorney race. More simply put, if Todd received 134 of the remaining 171 votes and Oglesby scored 37, the incumbent would win by a single vote.

While the numbers appear to be in Oglesby’s favor, certainly anything can happen and if history teaches one anything about this rivalry, the race is far from over. Oglesby said yesterday he was quietly optimistic with scores of votes still to be counted.

“Compared to four years ago, this is a much better place to be,” he said. “Things look good, but there’s a long way to go and we certainly can’t start celebrating yet.”
Oglesby said the closeness of the race is remarkable, but not surprising given the history between the candidates.

“We’re proud of our campaign and we appreciate the trust at least 50-point-something percent of the county placed in us, and we look forward to proving and demonstrating it was well placed,” he said. “If the counts hold, we’ll look forward to earning the trust of the other 49-point-something percent.”

Todd declined to comment, citing personal reasons.

Virginia To Consider Allowing Verizon To Provide Phone Books Only Upon Request

RICHMOND The State Corporation Commission (SCC) is considering two local telephone industry requests that affect how customers obtain local telephone numbers.

The first is a request on behalf of several local telephone companies to eliminate the provision that allows two free calls per month for directory assistance. The two free calls come with basic local dial-tone telephone service.

The Virginia Telecommunications Industry Association filed the request saying traditional local exchange telephone companies should be allowed to determine the number of free local directory assistance calls they provide to their customers. The two-call allowance has been in place since December 2008 when the Commission lowered the number from three to two.

The second is a proposal from Virginias largest local telephone company to waive the SCC requirement to publish and deliver a telephone directory containing customer listing information. Verizon proposes to make residential white page directories available only to customers upon request. Residential listings would also be available on-line at no charge. Verizon would continue to deliver directories that contain business and governmental alphabetical listings, together with the consumer guide information that is currently provided in white pages directories. Currently, the white pages directory is also included as part of basic local dial-tone telephone service.

An SCC hearing on the proposal to eliminate free directory assistance calls is set for November 10, 2010 at 10 a.m. The hearing will be held in a Commission courtroom on the second floor of the Tyler Building, 1300 East Main Street in downtown Richmond. Any person desiring to testify as a public witness should arrive early and sign in with the bailiff. The SCC intends to webcast the audio of the proceeding via the Internet. Instructions for listening to the webcast can be found on the SCC website at:

The SCC is also providing an opportunity for comments and requests for a hearing on Verizons proposal to waive the requirement to publish and deliver a directory of customer telephone numbers. Correspondence should refer to case PUC-2010-00046 and must be received by November 19, 2010. There are two methods for doing so. Send to the Clerk of the Commission, Document Control Center, P.O. Box 2118, Richmond, VA 23218. Or, submit comments electronically via the SCC website at:

According to an article in Thursday's Virginian Pilot, Pennsylvania agreed to allow Verizon and other telephone service providers to stop providing the phone books unless requested last week.

Community Meeting This Saturday

Pocomoke City's
Community Awareness

New Macedonia Baptist Church
Pocomoke City
Saturday, November 13th, 2010
10:00 AM

Community members meet to discuss concerns for Pocomoke City!

Donuts/coffee supplied by Lighthouse Counseling

Virginia Bill Would Create Tea Party-alligned License Plate

RICHMOND Want to publicly express solidarity with the spirit of the tea party movement and its principles of limited government, fiscal austerity and less taxation?
Del. John O'Bannon has just the bill for you.

At the request of constituents, the Henrico County Republican has filed legislation to establish a "Don't Tread On Me" license plate featuring the rattlesnake emblem and yellow background of the historic Gadsden Flag, which has become a rallying symbol for the tea party and like-minded conservative activists.

912 Richmond, a group under the umbrella of the Virginia Tea Party Patriots federation, is soliciting motorists to apply for the plates on its web site. Last month, members promoted the plate concept at the statewide tea party convention.

So far, a group official said, 600 people have expressed interest.

Karen Miner Hurd, the leader of Hampton Roads Tea Party, was excited about the plates and said she'll order them.

"You're talking to someone who flew a 'Don't Tread On Me' flag in 2000," she said.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli loves the idea and would put the plates on his car, spokesman Brian Gottstein said.

"I hope they're everywhere," added Richmond tea party activist Colleen Owens.

Not everyone shares that perspective, however.

"Even as families across the commonwealth struggle to make ends meet, John O'Bannon and Virginia Republicans are more focused on printing license plates for political allies than on creating jobs, improving education or fixing transportation," said Brian Coy, a spokesman for the Virginia Democratic Party.

Before a specialty plate can be issued in Virginia, 350 prepaid applications must be submitted to the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Virginia has more than 200 such plates, featuring military insignia, college logos, and nods to special interest groups and hobbyists.

Often, the General Assembly approves new license plates without much fuss.

But not always.

Proposed plates with messages that can be perceived as political have sparked battles in the legislature, as was the case earlier this year when Sen. Janet Howell, a Fairfax County Democrat, sponsored a bill to create a "Trust Women/Respect Choice" license plate. Her bill came a year after lawmakers approved a plate with an anti-abortion "Choose life" message.

Those are revenue-sharing plates, which provide the state and a beneficiary organization a portion of the money generated after the first 1,000 plates are issued.

That's not the case with the "Don't Tread On Me" plates.

O'Bannon's bill serves as a reminder of the growing influence of the tea party movement, whose members and compatriots advocate a legislative agenda that includes limits on eminent domain powers, tougher immigration enforcement, and a constitutional amendment allowing two-thirds of state legislatures to repeal a federal law.

In an interview, O'Bann on cautioned that his bill shouldn't be made into too big a deal.

"I'm not trying to make any political statement by carrying it," he said, adding that he's considering whether to put "Don't Tread On Me" plates on his personal vehicle if the design is approved.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The boy brimming with pride, the fanatics burning with hate...two faces of Armistice Day

He was 3ft tall in his shiny black shoes and he wore his great-uncle’s medals with pride as he stood to attention in the rain.

Jonny Osborne, seven, symbolised the face of a new generation yesterday as he marched shoulder to shoulder with servicemen and women to honour those killed by war.

But three miles across London from the Armistice Day ceremony at the Cenotaph, another face of Britain was on display. It was contorted with hatred, poisoned by politics, and fuelled by flames from a giant, burning poppy.

Enhanced by Zemanta

War, inevitably, linked the two events, yet they could hardly have been more different. At one, violence and venom. At the other, dignity and deference.

At the Cenotaph, Jonny shared the crowd’s applause as he walked behind a cluster of Victoria Cross and George Cross 

These were the Muslim extremists who brought shame to the memory of the dead yesterday by breaking the traditional two-minute silence with chants of ‘British soldiers burn in hell’.

Ironically, it was the freedom for which thousands fought that allowed them to stage their demonstration at the stroke of 11am – the exact moment the nation came to a halt at the Cenotaph, across the country, and after parallel services at British bases in Afghanistan. 

The protesters were even given a police escort to their protest venue near the Victoria and Albert Museum in Kensington, thankfully the closest they were allowed to the focal point of Britain’s remembrance tribute yesterday.

Absent on parade, but still fondly remembered, were the likes of Harry Patch, the last Tommy from the trenches of the First World War. A stalwart of these occasions, he died last year aged 111

Which was why young Jonny and other youngsters had an important role to play yesterday, an occasion born of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, when the guns finally fell silent in the 1914-1918 fighting. 

As the number of survivors and their widows dwindles with time, new generations have become word-of-mouth messengers for those who gave their lives.

Jonny told me: ‘All I know really is that people should not forget. I tell everybody about the war – as many people as I can. It’s my favourite thing.’

His great-uncle, Sapper Lawrence Burton, was killed in fierce fighting on the beaches of Greece in 1941 while serving with the Royal Engineers. 

Jonny wore three of his medals yesterday as a guest of the Association of Veterans of Foreign wars, of which his U.S.-resident grandfather Terry Burton is president.
His other great-uncle, Len Burton, was shot by a German sniper in Italy in 1945.

So yesterday the great-nephew they never met added a few medals of his own to his blazer, among them a Spitfire emblem alongside Union Flag and Stars and Stripes badges.

Jonny, who attends a Church of England primary school near his home in North London, added: ‘I said a prayer for them. I like praying to God. I think people should. There were lots and lots of people praying for these guys.’

The ceremony honoured the dead from all wars and remembered the loved ones they left behind.
Even in the blustery and occasionally heavy rain, increasingly frail legs managed to keep certain sections of the crowd standing ramrod straight. 

When it rained like this in the trenches, everything turned to mud. Yesterday it conveniently
disguised the tears that were shed for fallen friends.

Nearby at separate commemorations, poppy petals filled Trafalgar Square fountain and the Duke of Edinburgh visited the Field of Remembrance and the Grave of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey.

The two-minute silence was observed so strictly that the stillness it brought to this part of
London was startling. 

In what is normally one of the busiest sections of the capital, I heard a dried-out leaf hit the ground after it fell from a plane tree in Whitehall.

Over at Kensington, however, the fanatics from Muslims Against Crusades, as they labelled themselves, were just kicking off. 

No silence was observed here. Captured on film, they burned a large model poppy, and chanted slogans protesting at what was happening in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Spokesman Asad Ullah said: ‘We find it disgusting that innocent people, innocent children, have been killed in an illegal and unjust war and we are demonstrating against that.’

Jonny’s grandfather shook his head when he heard what had happened.
‘I’m stunned,’ he said. ‘Almost speechless.
‘It’s totally disrespectful to those who gave their lives. It’s absolutely insulting.’
Back at the Cenotaph, Jonny went marching home.
With luck, the word-of-mouth message he spreads will

VIA: MailOnline

Second Suspect Wanted In Corner Mart Robbery Gets Arrested

According to Major Todd Godwin, on Tuesday, November 9, 2010, the second suspect in connection with the October 10th armed robbery at Corner Mart in Oak Hall was arrested by the Chestertown, Maryland Police Department.

Information was received by the Accomack County Sheriff's Office on November 9 as to the whereabouts of Denzel Maurice Timmons. This information was forwarded to Maryland officials who were able to locate Timmons and take him into custody. Timmons is currently incarcerated in the Kent County Detention Center awaiting extradition to Accomack County.

On November 2, Dijon Ryheem Smith of New Church, Virginia was arrested and charged with Robbery and Use of a Firearm in the Commission of a Felony, in regards to this incident. He is currently incarcerated in the Accomack County with bond denied.

Mike McDermott Could Resign As Mayor of Pocomoke City

SNOW HILL -- In the wake of Nov. 2 elections, Mike McDermott is wearing three hats: working as a sheriff's deputy, serving as mayor of Pocomoke City and most likely being a delegate-elect to the Maryland General Assembly.

That's two hats too many to do a good job as delegate, McDermott said in an interview. He said he'll resign as Pocomoke mayor in a matter of weeks, and will retire from law enforcement later in 2011.

"I'll resign from being mayor as soon as I take office," says McDermott. "The vice president of the council will continue to run the meetings until the next city election, which is the second week in February."

Bob Hawkins, who represents District 1 on the Pocomoke council, is the current vice president.

If nothing nudges him from his current place in the race to represent District 38B along with longtime delegate Norman Conway, he'll be sworn in as a member of the General Assembly on Jan. 12, when the legislature convenes. Another candidate, Marty Pusey, would have to gain 1,468 or more votes compared to McDermott in a final count of remaining absentee and provisional votes to overtake him, and that appears unlikely to happen given the amount of ballots left to count. The last ballots mailed from overseas are set to be counted by Nov. 22.

McDermott doesn't have the option of being Pocomoke's mayor and representing it in the legislature as well. Since the position of mayor is elected and paid, McDermott cannot hold it while holding another elected, paid office in Maryland, says Raquel Guillory, public information officer for the state Attorney General's Office.

As for his duties as deputy in the Sheriff's Office, McDermott said he expects to continue being in charge of the Criminal Investigative Division through next year. He will take saved-up vacation time during the 90-day legislative session before retiring from the department.

"I knew I couldn't hold office and [be mayor]," McDermott said. "I ran knowing I would step down if elected, but my retirement decision wasn't relative to the election."

McDermott said he wanted to make sure he would be able to devote his time and energy to being a state delegate.

"Although the session is only 90 days, it's a year-round responsibility," said McDermott. "I wouldn't have wanted to take that on without having the time to do it."

Virginia Deer Hunting Season

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries says it's trying to lure former hunters back to the deer woods.

The agency says it's started sending postcards to former hunting license holders. The message encourages them to return to the sport and to share the experience with others.

The recruitment drive comes as Virginia's main deer season approaches. The gun season is scheduled to open Saturday.

While hunters kill about 250,000 deer a year in Virginia, the Game and Inland Fisheries Department says it needs hunters to keep the 1 million-strong population in check.


THANK YOU. How simple that one sentence is. But what an impact it can have, depending on the situation in which those two words are used. "Thank you for holding the door." "Thank you for the Christmas present." "Thank you for the birthday gift." Then in a short time the gift, the favor, tho is never forgotten, just fades. I'm guilty of it and so are many of you.

Today is Veterans Day. Today IS the ONE day in which THANK YOU should have, must have, true meaning, lasting meaning and be said with a convincing voice and smile.

These Veterans are men and women we may never know. Yet, what they have done for us and our great country should still account for everything....even what we take for granted. These people are my relatives.... and they are yours.

This Veteran is the kind man that bags my groceries when I shop. We don't talk about war or the military when he scrambles to get my groceries bagged, but I know he is. I've heard him speak about it a time ago and remembered. I never thanked him when I saw him on Monday.

The old, wrinkled man scuffing down the sidewalk that I grew impatient with because I "thought" I was in a hurry was probably a Veteran. Yet, I never bothered to ask or slow down to give him even a grin. I just hurried on my way. How selfish of me to put myself first in front of a man that was probably putting his life on the line for we while I was still in diapers.

Veterans are all around me. Veterans are around all of us. They are the husbands, sons, daughters, brother-in-laws, nephews, nieces, cousins, uncles..... the list goes on for me as I am sure it must for all of you. And I am deeply proud of all they have given to keep me and my country safe. But I don't thank them enough. And maybe I've never thanked them. But I say THANK YOU inside my head with my heart when I have dinner with you, when I speak with you, when I see your photo. I am proud of all of you and know deep in my heart how much you care and how much American and I mean to you.

I spent alot of summer evenings years ago sitting on the porch with a Veteran of World War I. "Mac" knew alot about our great county. He knew alot about war and though he tried hard to fight back the tears most times he always let me know that he knew he made a huge sacrifice for his country and he was proud he did. "Mac" is gone now. But he loved America and was glad for every day he gave to keep this land free.

Now don't start thinking that I am not patriotic. Ask anyone who knows me just how much I love this country and the American flag. Ask ME about how patriotic I am.........but only if you have the time.

I haven't been saying THANK YOU to Veterans like I really should. I'm sorry for that. But you can bet that every time I see that great American flag, large or small, I think about the brave souls that have given of their time for me, and for you, to leave during peace time or for war, wherever that may be, to keep all of us safe and to enable all of us to remain free.

It is at the sight of the great stars and stripes known as the American flag that I say THANK YOU to every Veteran young and old.

It is because of them that I have the freedom of speech so that I may write this and you may read.

Thank you to ALL Veterans, with love.
God Bless You and America.
"Land of the free because of the brave."

History Of Veterans Day

World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

Soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse in France.

Soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse in France, wait for the end of hostilities. This photo was taken at 10:58 a.m., on November 11, 1918, two minutes before the armistice ending World War I went into effect

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"

The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m.

The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:

Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and

Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and

Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.

An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as "Armistice Day." Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in its place the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

Later that same year, on October 8th, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first "Veterans Day Proclamation" which stated: "In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible."

President Eisenhower signing HR7786, changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day.

President Eisenhower signing HR7786, changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day. From left: Alvin J. King, Wayne Richards, Arthur J. Connell, John T. Nation, Edward Rees, Richard L. Trombla, Howard W. Watts

On that same day, President Eisenhower sent a letter to the Honorable Harvey V. Higley, Administrator of Veterans' Affairs (VA), designating him as Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee.

In 1958, the White House advised VA's General Counsel that the 1954 designation of the VA Administrator as Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee applied to all subsequent VA Administrators. Since March 1989 when VA was elevated to a cabinet level department, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs has served as the committee's chairman.

The Uniform Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)) was signed on June 28, 1968, and was intended to ensure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. It was thought that these extended weekends would encourage travel, recreational and cultural activities and stimulate greater industrial and commercial production. Many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holidays on their original dates.

The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on October 25, 1971. It was quite apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of our citizens, and so on September 20th, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978. This action supported the desires of the overwhelming majority of state legislatures, all major veterans service organizations and the American people.

Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs

Free Items and Discounts Offered To The Veterans

Restaurants and retail stores plan to salute America's veterans -- past and present -- by giving out a variety of discounts this Veteran's Day holiday.

On Thursday, Applebee's locations nationwide will offer veterans free meals from a special menu, which will feature a sirloin steak, among other items.

Many local restaurants are also participating.

Zia's Italian Grill in Salisbury will give out a free lunch on Thursday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. to anyone who's ever served in the military, said owner Alex Bubas.

Bubas served in the U.S. Army infantry during the Vietnam War from 1967-70. He saw action in the Tet Offensive, he said.

"Who said there's no free lunch? There is at Zia's on this special day," Bubas said.

Larry Layton, the owner of Layton's Restaurant in Ocean City, said vets should have an easy time finding his restaurant -- it's the one flying nine American flags. Layton serves in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves and plans on giving all veterans a 20 percent discount Thursday.

"I think we all know that too many people forget why we're all here and how we have this beautiful beach here and why we haven't had five more 9/11s. People think it's all free, but it's not," Layton said.

Golden Corral restaurant will hold its free Military Appreciation dinner for all veterans Monday night.

BJ's on the Water in Ocean City will give veterans a free meal during the restaurant's traditional Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving day.

Stewart Davis, the president of the Local Owners Restaurant Association, said his restaurant, Chef Stewart of Flannery's in Fruitland, will give veterans Thursday the special of buy one pit sandwich, get one free.

Davis said he realizes that a free sandwich is a small token of respect for the sacrifices made by America's military men and women.

"A lot of the time, they're really underappreciated. Anybody that comes up here, I'm always shaking their hand and thanking them, saying 'thank you' for my freedom," Davis said.

Carol Nicholson, the club manager for the American Legion Post 64, said her father served in the U.S. Navy for several decades and would have appreciated the growing support from American businesses during Veteran's Day.

"It's a good feeling, being a child of a veteran, seeing this more and more. I wish my dad was still alive to see it," Nicholson said.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Video: Inside Volkswagen's cutting-edge Transparent Factory in Dresden

There are a lot of impressive things about the Volkswagen Phaeton. Like the notion that a Vee-Dub could share its underpinnings with a Bentley, and the sheer chutzpah of taking the People's Car up-market to compete with the likes of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7 Series and its own sister-company's Audi A8. But few factors stand out quite like the Transparent Factory.

While most automotive assembly plants are greasy behemoths sequestered off on the fringes of industrial cities, the assembly plant that puts together the Phaeton (as well as the Bentley Continental Flying Spur, until its transfer to Crewe in 2006) stands as a squeaky-clean, glassed-in pantheon to the automobile right in the heart of downtown Dresden, Germany.

Volkswagen developed a number of brilliant technologies for use in the factory, from the moving wood floor and electronically-tracked nuts and bolts to the magnet-driven robots that shuttle the parts around the facility and the cargo tram that delivers them there. All of this and more is on display to visitors as well as customers coming to take delivery directly on premises. It's a wonder to behold: Discovery's MegaWorld series went by to check it out, and you can too with the video after the jump.

X-Ray Trucks Can See Inside Your Vehicle

Feel Like Somebodys Watching You? They Are

  American Science & Engineering X-Ray Truck. ASE©

It sounds like something straight out of George Orwell’s 1984: Government vans, equipped with full-body X-ray scanning machines, have been deployed on the streets of our cities, monitoring an unwitting populace for signs of illegal activity.

You could simply be going about your daily activities, not even doing something that should invite the suspicions of the authorities, but it doesn’t matter. The police can still scan you and the contents of your vehicle, and if they see something that arouses their suspicions, stop you immediately and search you, your vehicle, and its contents.

It might seem improbable, like Big Brother is watching you, but it’s fact, not fiction: According to the manufacturer, American Science & Engineering, the biggest buyer of its “mobile backscatter X-ray technology” has been the Department of Defense operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. It goes on to admit, however, that domestic law enforcement agencies -- that’s right, agencies inside in the United States -- have also deployed vans equipped with the technology to search for vehicle-based bombs.

Backscatter X-Rays: A Revealing Technology Is Revealed
The Z Backscatter Vans, or ZBVs, as American Science & Engineering calls them, bounce a narrow stream of X-rays off and through nearby objects, and analyze which rays return. Dense material, such as steel, absorb the rays. Scattered rays indicate less-dense objects that can include explosives, drugs, or human bodies. That capability makes backscatter X-rays powerful tools for security, law enforcement and border control.

So should the use of this technology make us feel safe? Or is it just another sign of the government using the war on terror (or is it the war on drugs?) as a convenient excuse to strip away basic Constitutional rights of an unaware populace? And is it even legal?

Improbable Technology Vs. Probable Cause
“First, it’s not clear that it is legal,” says Dr. Daniel Steinbock, professor of law and interim dean at the University of Toledo College of Law. “In fact, the Supreme Court has already ruled in Kyllo v. United States, that the use of similar technology, in this case, thermal imaging, is illegal under the Fourth Amendment’s restraint on the government performing searches without probable cause.”

Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), agrees; in fact, EPIC is currently suing the Department of Homeland Security to stop the usage of full-body-scan technology in airports. “It’s no surprise that governments and vendors are very enthusiastic about the vans,” he said in a recent interview with Forbes. “But from a privacy perspective, it’s one of the most intrusive technologies conceivable.”

 American Science & Engineering X-Ray technology shows explosives in car trunk. ASE

In response, American Science & Engineering states that the ZBV’s primary purpose is to screen vehicles and containers for contraband and security threats. If a person, such as an illegal stowaway, is present in the vehicle or container being scanned, the system creates only a silhouette of that person, with no facial or body detail. The system cannot be used to identify an individual, or the race or age of the individual.

Health Concerns as Well as Privacy Concerns?
So there are definitely some invasion of privacy issues to consider, as well as the legality of the whole operation. But what about from a health perspective? Certainly a machine capable of providing such detailed images must be blasting some pretty powerful X-rays.

For comparison purposes, the X-ray dose received from the backscatter system is roughly equivalent to the radiation received in two minutes of airplane flight at altitude. Newer technologies require even less scanning time, further reducing individual X-ray exposure. The backscatter advanced imaging technology meets and exceeds the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard for personnel security screening systems using X-rays.

American Science & Engineering X-Ray technology shows drugs hidden in truck. ASE

Freedom at What Price?
Advocates of the technology might argue that its use is necessary to preserve our freedoms and the American way of life, reasoning that sounds a lot like, “In order to preserve the Constitution, it is necessary to destroy it.”

Dr. Steinbock sums it up quite succinctly. “Without a warrant, the government doesn’t have a right to peer beneath your clothes without probable cause,” he says. Even airport scans are typically used only as a secondary security measure, he points out. “If the scans can only be used in exceptional cases in airports, the idea that they can be used routinely on city streets is a very hard argument to make.”



DANA POINT, CA, November 10, 2010... Surf dog Ricochet, the SURFice dog who surfs for fun, wins dog surfing contests, and most notably surfs tandem with disabled adaptive surfers while raising funds and awareness for human/animal causes will be at the Best Day Foundation's "Day at the Beach" event at Doheny State Beach in Dana Point on November 13th & 14th.

Best Day Foundation, which helps kids with special needs build confidence and self esteem through safe, fun-filled adventure activities, will be hosting two half-day events which include surfing, bodyboarding and kayaking.  The "Best Day at the Beach" event is free for kids with special needs including Autism, Downs Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Blindness, Cancer, Spinal Cord injuries, and other physical and developmental challenges.

When Max Montgomery, Best Day Co-Founder and Executive Director heard that Ricochet surfs tandem with disabled kids, he invited her to participate.  "We're stoked to see Ricochet surf at Doheny State Beach after watching her all over the internet. The kids are thrilled to meet Ricochet, and we're grateful to her for helping bring more awareness to Best Day's first events in Orange County."

Ricochet will be surfing with Ian McFarland, a six year old boy who suffered a brain injury in a horrific car accident that claimed the lives of his parents. Ian used to surf with his father, but was fearful of getting back on a board after the accident. That all changed when he surfed with Ricochet the first time.  His fears were replaced with excitement, and now Ian says "I want to wipe out with Ricochet!" See for your self!...

Patrick Ivison, a 16 year old quadriplegic surfer, the first to ever surf tandem with Ricochet will also be hitting the waves with her on a tandem surfboard generously provided by Surftech Surfboards.  In addition, Ricochet will surf solo as a demonstration to further promote confidence building... "if a dog can do it, so can you!"  She will offer encouragement, and help kids who show any apprehension of getting on a board. She will be busy with meet & greets, and of course offer lots of cuddling on the beach too!

Trained volunteers are paired with each kid, and they begin their Best Day with fun exercises before hitting the water.  The safe, fun activities are designed to expand their potential, create excitement, and connect them with new friends. After an exciting day at the beach and a warm lunch, each participant is individually honored for their achievements during an award ceremony.  All the children are gold medal winners at Best Day's events!

For more information, contact Judy Fridono at 707-228-0679 or, or visit

About Ricochet
Ricochet was slated to be a service dog for a person with a disability, but, due to her interest in chasing prey, she had to be released from that role.  She went from service dog to SURFice dog, and is now raising funds and awareness for human and animal causes.  She has raised over $51,000 this past year, and continues to inspire people all over the world with her positive energy, and charitable, paw it forwawrd lifestyle. 

She has an inspirational video on YouTube that went viral "From Service dog to SURFice dog" and has almost 3 million views. Most people are brought to tears as it touches them on many different levels.  For more information, visit: or on Facebook

About Best Day
Best Day is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit (Tax-ID: 26-2223078) based in Santa Cruz, CA. Best Day helps kids with special needs build confidence and self-esteem through safe, fun-filled adventure activities including surfing, body boarding, kayaking, snow-tubing and more. It was founded in 2008 by Max Montgomery and Brooks Lambert, two long-time Ride a Wave volunteers who wished to bring similar services to other communities. A 100% volunteer organization, the experienced team is supported by generous sponsors who help keep the programs free for all. Best Day chapters make a big impact in their communities. For more information, visit:

Oglesby, Mathias Hold Lead In Worcester County

SNOW HILL — Republican candidate for State’s Attorney, Beau Oglesby still holds the lead over democratic incumbent Joel Todd, after provisional ballot were counted in Worcester County today.

Although, Oglesby received 75 votes to Todd’s 86, he still maintains the lead with 10,505 votes, while Todd holds 10,409; a margin of 96.

In the State Senate race, Jim Mathias gained 97 votes and Michael James gained 67; leaving Mathias in the lead by a margin of 494 votes.

Two additional absentee counts have yet to take place to count an additional 171 ballots. The first will be held on Friday, followed by the final count on Nov. 22.

~ Birthday Today ~



Veterans Day Service In Cape Charles

CAPE CHARLES -- Veterans Day, the annual time for remembering the end of World War I and the brave Americans who served in the "war to end all wars" also draws from the news headlines of the day.

What is now called "Veterans Day" began as "Armistice Day." It is historically significant that this day continue to be observed on the month, day and hour that the guns fell silent in World War I.

While the day has strong historical roots, current events continue to add meaning to the day. Today, thousands of Americans are serving in uniform.

They sacrifice in the war on terror and in hundreds of locations around the globe so that we may remain free. They, too, are veterans.

To mark Veterans Day in Northampton County, American Legion Posts 56 and 400 will be conducting a Veterans Day Service on Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. at the Veteran's Memorial on Mason Avenue in Cape Charles.

All members of the community are invited to attend.

PHS Field Hockey Team Heads Back To State Finals

ANNAPOLIS -- The Pocomoke field hockey team will get the chance to claim their eighth straight title after the Warriors downed the Mavericks of Manchester Valley 2-1 on Monday night in the 1A MPSSAA state semifinal.

The Warriors scored twice in the first half, getting tallies from seniors Beverly Weaver and Taylor West, and were able to hold off a late charge from the Mavericks. Pocomoke will play in the title game Saturday at Washington College.

"I'm so pleased with how we played. We finally got a full good game," said Susan Pusey, Pocomoke's head coach. "Manchester Valley was a good team and they played well; it was nice to have that competition to get ready for the final game."

Manchester Valley made good use of the opening possession of the game. Off of the opening whistle, the Mavericks created one of their best scoring chances of the contest, sending a shot just wide of the post.
Pocomoke (16-2) responded by charging down to the opposite end of the field and scoring just 92 seconds into the match. Senior Kasey Tapman put the initial shot on goal, only to see it get deflected up and over the goalie. A scrum on the Mavericks goal line ensued before Weaver knocked it across.

"If you can score within the first five minutes of the game you set the tempo and the tone of the entire game," said West. "I think we dominated the game the first few minutes, but then they had their points where they were dominating as well."

Pocomoke continued to pour on the pressure, peppering the Mavericks with shots and earning multiple penalty corner opportunities. The Warriors doubled their lead with 12:36 remaining in the first half, as West stole a pass and immediately went to goal. West dribbled inside of the circle before unleashing a shot that punished the back of the Manchester Valley cage.

"Abby (Bunting) works really well with me, and she was able to force the ball to me. So we created a double," said West, explaining her goal. "From there I intercepted it and pulled right, and that was inside the circle, so I just looked up and saw an open corner."

Pocomoke continued to dominate the run of play in the second half, as the Warriors out cornered the Mavericks five to one during a 14-minute period, but they were not rewarded for their efforts.
While Pocomoke went scoreless on their many corner opportunities, Manchester Valley was able to take advantage of one of their own. Sophomore Sarah Bach inserted the ball into play for the Mavericks before a pass finally found the open stick of Jennie Frock. Frock, a freshman, was unmarked in the center of the circle and sent a shot to the bottom right corner of the Warriors' net that found its way into the back of the cage to halve Pocomoke's lead.

The Mavericks (8-6-1) pressed on for the tying goal, but it never came as Pocomoke was able to keep the ball in or near the Manchester Valley circle as time ticked away.

When the final horn sounded the Pocomoke sideline erupted with joy, as the Warriors raced on to the field to revel in their accomplishment and the chance to play in yet another state championship.

"No one can explain this feeling really -- they never get old, keep them coming," said Pusey of her multiple state final appearances. "I'm fortunate to have good kids that play hard, play well, and do what I ask them to do. As long as we keep on playing like we are, hopefully we will come out on top again."

'Missile' Off California Still Unexplained By Pentagon

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon said Tuesday it did not know what created a vapor trail that crossed the skies off the Southern California coast and resembled a missile launch.

Video posted on the CBS News website shows an object flying through the evening sky Monday that left a large contrail, or vapor trail. A news helicopter owned by KCBS, a CBS affiliate in Los Angeles, shot the video.

Pentagon officials were stumped by the event. "Nobody within the Department of Defense that we've reached out to has been able to explain what this contrail is, where it came from," Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said.

While the vapor cloud captured on video resembled that created by a rocket in flight, military officials said they didn't know of any launches in the area.

One expert called it an optical illusion. "It's an airplane that is heading toward the camera and the contrail is illuminated by the setting sun," said John Pike, director of the U.S.-based security analyst group

The North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, issued a statement jointly with the U.S. Northern Command, or NORTHCOM, saying no Department of Defense entities reported a missile launch — scheduled or inadvertent — at the time of the contrail, and no foreign military missile launch was detected.

NORAD said it determined there was no threat to the U.S. homeland.

The Federal Aviation Administration ran radar replays from Monday afternoon and they "did not reveal any fast-moving, unidentified targets," the statement said. No pilots reported unusual sightings to the FAA.

NORTHCOM is the U.S. defense command and NORAD is a U.S.-Canadian organization charged with protecting the U.S. from the threat of missiles or hostile aircraft.

Pike said the object could not have been a rocket because it appeared to alter its course.

"The local station chopped up the video and so it's hard to watch it continuously," Pike said. "But at one place you can see it has changed course — rockets don't do that."

Pike said he didn't understand why the military had not recognized the contrail of an aircraft. "The Air Force must ... understand how contrails are formed," he said. "Why they can't get some major out to belabor the obvious, I don't know."

Pocomoke Hockey Team Wins State Semifinal

Monday, November 8, 2010 - Annapolis, Maryland

The Pocomoke field hockey team celebrates its 2-1 victory against Manchester Valley in a Class 1A state semifinal.

Way to go PHS Hockey Team !!

Global Chocolate Crisis Looming?

Forget oil and freshwater -- the world may soon be running out of a precious resource that some Americans simply can't live without: chocolate.

"In 20 years chocolate will be like caviar," John Mason, executive director of the Ghana-based Nature Conservation Research Council, told Britain's Independent. "It will become so rare and so expensive that the average Joe just won't be able to afford it."

To American consumers used to grabbing a cheap Hershey bar in the checkout line, that might seem unfathomable, but the simple economics of cocoa cultivation may be working against that cheap global supply. Cocoa is a labor- and time-intensive crop, and the West African farmers that produce it just don't have the price incentives to continue a cultivation process that takes three to five years.

In addition, years of intensive cocoa cultivation have drained the soil in places like Ghana and the Ivory Coast. As a result, every year's cocoa crop shows a diminishing return. In the meantime, chocolate consumption in both Western and developing countries is only increasing, and so a dwindling supply could translate to skyrocketing prices. In July, one British hedge fund manager made a huge bet on that phenomenon and bought 240,000 tons of cocoa beans in what seemed like an effort to corner the market. He didn't see the dramatic price increases he was hoping for, but even so, the price of chocolate rose steadily to a three-decade high in August.

The effects of dramatic cocoa price increases will change our conception of candy. Cheaper bars could be made with significantly lower chocolate contents or substitutes like carob, and high-cocoa dark chocolate could become a treat for only the wealthy.

In 2008, chocolate price increases made it so that Hershey's new, cheaper recipes couldn't even be legally called chocolate.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Chincoteague Restaurant Destroyed By Fire

CHINCOTEAGUE — An Asian-themed restaurant on Chincoteague burned Monday evening.

“It’s a total loss. We just thank God no one was hurt,” said Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company public relations officer Denise Bowden.

The Great Wall II restaurant, located at 6341 Maddox Blvd., was fully involved when firefighters arrived on the scene minutes after a 911 call came in around 7:30 p.m., with flames were showing out of the roof and front windows of the one-story brick-facade wooden structure, Bowden said.

No one was at the restaurant at the time the fire broke out because it is closed on Mondays. No one was injured in the blaze.

Chincoteague Assistant Chief Harry Stanley Thornton was the first to arrive on the scene within two to three minutes of the fire being reported and was the officer in charge.

A nail salon next door to the restaurant also was left with damage to its exterior as a result of the fire, but Bowden credited the quick action of firefighters with preventing the blaze’s spreading to other nearby businesses.

“All the men and women did a fantastic job,” she said.

Firefighters extinguished the flames in less than an hour but remained on the scene for two to three hours, Bowden said.

An investigator from the Virginia State Police also was at the scene of the fire, the cause of which is not known as yet.

Units and personnel from Chincoteague, Greenbackville, Atlantic, New Church, Wallops and Saxis responded to the fire.

Kruno Filipic of Chincoteague owned the building, which was rented to the restaurant business.

Verizon's Problems With Repair Complaints Being Investigated By SCC

Richmond, Va. -- The State Corporation Commission is investigating why Verizon landline customers have had an unusually large number of complaints about the company's repair service.

"These complaints also raise the question of whether Verizon has, or is devoting, sufficient resources to maintain reasonable adequate service quality and to comply with standards in the rules," the SCC said.

The commission, which regulates public service companies such as Verizon, will hold a hearing on the issue Dec. 14.

Though neither Verizon nor the commission would release the figures on repair-service complaints, total complaints rose 44 percent in the first nine months of 2010, compared with the same period in 2009.

According to Verizon, the average number of out-of-service complaints has been about 100 per month this year, though the problems spiked to unacceptable levels in the summer months, Verizon spokesman Harry J. Mitchell said.

The phone company has taken steps to correct the problems, and "customer complaints have come down significantly since the summer months," he said.

Although it has told the commission, the communications giant would not say publicly what measures it had taken to fix the problems.

"Verizon classified virtually all of its reports as confidential," according to the SCC staff, which has objected to keeping the information from the public.

Its customer service measures are competitive secrets, the New York-based company said. Verizon also would not disclose how many customers it has in Virginia, though it did say it had lost 40 percent of its hardwired phone lines over the past decade.

According to the SCC, the increased out-of-service complaints involve:

• how long Verizon tells customers without phone service that they will have to wait before service can be restored;

• how Verizon gets customers to agree to go without service for extended periods;

• how long customers are without service while waiting for Verizon to make repairs;

• how often customers are without service;

• how long customers wait on the phone when trying to contact Verizon; and

• the effect on customers with medical needs.

In case of a service interruption, the SCC said, most Virginia phone customers should expect their landline service to be restored within 48 hours and no longer than 96 hours. Any customer who has a medical need should be back in operation within 24 hours.

The SCC said it continues to receive complaints from customers and government officials about Verizon's service.

From Jan. 1 to Oct. 31, the SCC received 3,601 complaints for all causes about Verizon Virginia Inc. and Verizon South Inc.

Verizon Virginia and Verizon South make up Verizon's landline operations in the state, and the commission refers to them both as Verizon in its proceedings.

The commission said it could direct the company to comply with current regulations or with other service standards. The commission also said it could fine the company or apply other penalties.

However, Mitchell said, "Verizon is both complying with the commission's rules and meeting its service obligations under Virginia law."

Fewer than 2 percent of the company's customers on average have an out-of-service problem in any given month, Mitchell said, and only a small fraction -- fewer than six in 100,000 -- file complaints about being out of service with the SCC.

"I'm not minimizing these complaints," Mitchell said. "Verizon is focused on delivering quality service for all its Virginia customers and, overall, we do just that."

Last year, the commission revised its rules governing the quality of local phone service in Virginia.

The new rules established minimum standards for protecting the public health and safety, the SCC, said, while allowing competition to offer customers choices exceeding the minimum requirements.