Showing posts with label Tangier Island. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tangier Island. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tangier Needs YOUR Help! ~ CHEER FOR TANGIER

As written in Shore Daily News/WESR
Let's hear it for Tangier Island! Tangier Island, is home to over 500 people and has been referred to as heaven on earth by many. But Tangier Island is facing a serious challenge. Part of the island is eroding and islanders are worried about losing this priceless piece of America.

But there's good news! We can all help, and all you have to do is "cheer" for Tangier! Readers Digest, who says they are the world's largest global editorial brand and have a reputation for "getting to the heart of the matter and "capturing the best of America" is running the "We Hear You America" campaign.
Basically its an online contest where people can go to a specific site and vote "or cheer", as they call it, up to ten times daily for the town of their choice. The top ten towns with the greatest amount of cheers, wins.


The prize for getting the most votes? They call it promotional and economic stimulus. The top ten winning towns of this phase of the contest, which runs until May 16th, will receive funds ranging from $10,000 to the grand prize of $40,000, plus promotional support through Reader's Digest outlets which includes over 30 million readers. Having that kind of publicity could encourage a lot of people to visit the unique island of Tangier and that could definitely stimulate many parts of our eastern shore economy.

But there is a more important reason for you to cheer than stimulating our economy. Shelli Crockett, who is from Tangier and now lives in Texas is spearheading the efforts, using social media like Facebook, to encourage cheering. I talked with Shelli who told me that because Tangier is eroding at an alarming rate, the prize money will go towards a new seawall. "This small island has an important place in history and needs to be saved." says Crockett.

Tangier Mayor William Eskridge says this is a very serious problem. On the east side of the island, there are openings on both sides of the harbor that are quickly eroding and the openings are getting wider every year. They have needed a new seawall since the late 90s but funding has just not been available. A seawall or jetty as some call it would cost at least $300,000.

He said back in the 80's a seawall was put in on the west side and it saved the island. Had it not been done, the airport and some homes would be gone.

Now, when you are competing with the whole United States, it might seem impossible to win this type of competition. But actually, Tangier was in 800th place when they started and has quickly moved to 26th place. Thats really amazing and I believe we can finish in the top ten, if not at 1! So here's the website:

On that site, you can find comments left by those who are cheering, like: "if the old English accents do not draw you to Tangier... Its rich and vast history and amazing natural beauty will. So I ask you to please help save Tangier." Another one reads: "Did you know that Tangier Island played a role in the national anthem, which next year will be 200 years old? Let's make sure Tangier also lives long after that, in part by building a seawall that could get a huge financial boost from this cheer campaign. Francis Scott Key penned The Star Spangled Banner after the British failure at Baltimore - which had been predicted by Joshua Thomas, the Parson of the Islands, who addressed the British on Tangier's beach. The continuing, unique culture of this waterman community and its rich history make it worthy of your cheer!" It certainly does.

Now, when I was talking with Mayor Eskridge, he also told me that Tangier is willing to take barges to provide protection for their island. He has talked with Congressman Scott Rigell about having a barge brought in as an alternative to a rock or concrete seawall. Would you take a few minutes to give Congressman Rigells office a call to tell him that you support this effort? Congressman Rigell's local number is (757)789-5172.

Let's join in together to save this island by cheering to win or by helping to get a barge. And remember to visit everyday to cheer for Tangier!

More Information CLICK HERE TO VOTE!!


Please note that when you vote you will have to put your name and street address plus state- VA.,  zip code, along with your email address.  For street address I used  Main St.  ZIP CODE IS:  23440.  The nice thing is you can vote your  10 times a day all in ONE sitting!    It's so easy!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tangier Island Doctor Dies

TANGIER ISLAND, Va.- Dr. David B. Nichols, the man credited for bringing health care to Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay, died Thursday following a battle with cancer. He was 62.

Nichols died at his home in White Stone, Va., surrounded by family and friends.

His passing comes less than four months after his biggest dream came true- the Aug. 29 dedication of a new $1.4 million state-of-the-art medical clinic to serve the 525 residents of Tangier Island. The clinic was renamed the David B. Nichols Health Center in his honor. It replaced a clinic that was more than 50 years of age.
First by boat, then by light plane and helicopter, Nichols regularly made the 12-mile trip to Tangier Island on his day off every week for 31 years to see patients there. Nichols continued to treat the sick as the island's primary doctor even after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
more on

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tangier Islands ESPN Commercials Will Air During Monday Night Football

TANGIER ISLAND — A series of ESPN3 commercials featuring Tangier Island began airing on national television Monday, introducing viewers to the remote Chesapeake Bay island — which, as Town Manager Renee Tyler says in one commercial, has “507 residents, one school and no cars.”

Eight episodes of the advertising campaign posted on YouTube had already been viewed by thousands of people Monday morning.

The commercials will air during Monday Night Football on ESPN and are also posted on ESPN’s Facebook page, according to a spokeswoman for the Richmond-based Martin Agency, which created the advertising campaign.

The campaign bills Tangier as “the biggest sports town in America per capita.” The commercials show watermen going about their work and familiar island landmarks including the airstrip and the water tower.

They feature Tangier residents including Mayor James “Ooker” Eskridge, Tyler and others touting the recent arrival on the island of broadband Internet access, including the ability to view live sports programming on ESPN3.

“Electronics enable Tangier to be as in touch as anyplace in the world, for good or for bad,” said John Pruitt, a retired journalist who grew up on the island. Pruitt is the founder of Tangier Pride Inc., a non-profit organization formed two years ago to support the preservation of the island and its unique way of life.

Pruitt said the commercials remind him of the folksy Ocean Spray juice ads that feature two men standing in a cranberry bog, “but these are real people,” not actors.
One episode highlights ESPN3’s college football programming and features resident Harold Pruitt, calling him “the island’s biggest FSU fan.” Pruitt concludes with a Florida State University Seminoles’ tomahawk chop.

In another, Dorthia Pruitt, wearing a Crimson Tide T-shirt, confesses to having a crush on University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban.

The distinctive Tangier dialect is prominent throughout the commercials, each of which begins with a snippet of a sea chantey recorded by the Smithsonian Institution in the 1950s.
“It was really a once-in-a-lifetime experience to get immersed in life on Tangier Island and meet and work with such great people,” said the campaign’s creative director, Rob Shapiro of the Martin Agency.

Shapiro and a production crew spent a week on Tangier in late July filming the commercials, all of which use actual island residents, not professional actors.

The agency contacted the Eastern Shore of Virginia Tourism Commission in June about doing a campaign on Tangier after the Virginia Film office connected the two, Tourism Director Donna Bozza said at the time.

“We kept our fingers crossed that they would go for the ad campaign based on the authenticity of our wonderful Tangier and are so thrilled they did,” she said.

The tourism commission in the next two weeks or so will be posting on its website,, a behind-the-scenes video about the making of the commercials, Bozza said. That footage also will be sent to media outlets as a way to promote the Eastern Shore of Virginia and Tangier.

To see the commercials, search “Tangier ESPN” on YouTube.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Grand Opening of Tangier Island Clinic

Tangier Island, Va. --

TANGIER ISLAND -- The ribbon-cutting on a new, state-of-the-art medical center yesterday turned out to be one of the biggest events in the small island's history.

The much-anticipated occasion also turned out to be much more than the dedication of a building.

"It's a pretty big day for Tangier," said island resident Bruce Gordy, as he hustled to close the Tangier Island History Museum early so he could find a good vantage point for the ceremony. "It's great, but it's sad, too."

The joy and pride stem from the grand opening of the $1.4 million health center that replaces a cramped, dilapidated clinic that has served the island for more than 50 years.

The sadness surrounds Dr. David Nichols, 62, the White Stone physician who has filled the role of primary physician for Tangier's 525 residents, traveling to the island on his day off every week for 31 years. Last month, only weeks before he would begin seeing patients in a new facility that had been his dream for years, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He said he could have only a few months to live.
Yesterday's festivities were bittersweet, said Jimmie Carter, the Northern Neck developer and friend and patient of Nichols' who spearheaded the public-private partnership that built the center and established a foundation that will help ensure high-quality health care for islanders for years to come.

Under a cloudless sky and a relentless sun, hundreds gathered outside the new facility -- christened the David B. Nichols Health Center -- to cheer the building and honor its namesake.

It's a testament to the affection for Nichols that on such a hot day the crowd filled the narrow lanes around the building in folding chairs and the island's ubiquitous golf carts -- patients and former patients, islanders and mainlanders who came across the Chesapeake Bay by ferry or flew in by small plane or helicopter, making Tangier's small airfield look like a major airport for at least a day.

The center's front porch was filled with local and state officials, including Gov. Bob McDonnell and Rep. Robert J. Wittman, R-1st, who represents the island in Washington. McDonnell said he made the trip simply "to shower more love" on Nichols.

In welcoming everyone, Tangier Mayor James "Ooker" Eskridge stood at the top of the steps of the new clinic and said, "The Bible tells about God using certain people for certain jobs at certain times. Dr. Nichols, we appreciate all you've done and all you're doing, and we love you."

Schoolchildren sang "This Land Is Your Land." Representatives of Staff Care, the organization that chose Nichols as "Country Doctor of the Year" in 2006, came from Texas to present Nichols with its first "Country Doctor of the Decade" award. Elected officials bestowed resolutions and commendations upon him. One declared Nichols "A True Tangierman for Life."

Inez Pruitt, the Tangier-born physician assistant who was mentored and inspired by Nichols to follow her calling, praised his commitment and compassion and said she is "the most blessed woman in the world."
"I wouldn't change a thing," she said, "except for time -- and more of it."

After the ceremony, the crowd meandered over to the island's schoolhouse for a reception that was more of a community picnic -- with tables laden with soft-shell crabs, clam fritters and ham, as well as homemade salads and cakes. The cups of iced tea went fast.

"All these people," marveled Hedy Bowden, who was among the kitchen volunteers scurrying about replacing empty bowls and platters.

Bowden, 63, grew up on the island and was trying to remember a bigger community event but couldn't.

"This is the biggest I've seen," she said.

Throughout the day, the cheers, laughter and posing for photographs inevitably were mixed with hugs and tears. Anyone who was asked what Nichols has meant to the island invariably said, "Everything."

"He's going to be greatly missed," Bowden said.

When it came his turn to talk, Nichols said not to worry.

"While I will leave you in body," Nichols told the gathering, his eyes red and his voice catching, "I will never leave you in spirit.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

DR. COPTER: 30 Years On Tangier

Tangier Island, Va.

TANGIER ISLAND For more than 30 years, Dr. David Nichols has piloted a plane or a helicopter across the Chesapeake Bay on his day off each week to provide medical care to this community of 500 that has no resident physician.

He has tended to the islanders in an old building with a leaky roof and holes in the walls, no hot water and outdated equipment held together in some instances by duct tape.

The island will celebrate the opening of a stunningly modern clinic with an official dedication on Aug. 29. The clinic is the realization of Nichols' dream and the culmination of a remarkable fundraising effort that spread far beyond the island.

But the joy of this momentous occasion will be tempered greatly because as the island gains a new medical facility, it braces for an enormous loss.


The island's family doctor is dying. The 62-year-old physician survived melanoma of the eye six years ago, but he learned in July that the cancer had spread to his liver. He said last week that, based on his diagnosis, he could have about four months to live.

"I actually feel very well, but I know it's coming," Nichols said Monday soon after touching down on Tangier following a short flight from the mainland in the family's single-engine Cessna piloted by his son, Davy. Since his diagnosis, Nichols has given up flying.

"I feel very blessed to have lived the life I have," he said. "Tangier is definitely on my short list of things I most appreciate in my life. The people of Tangier are family to me."

As he walked the island's narrow lanes, one islander after another, seeing Nichols for the first time since hearing the news, stopped to shake his hand, give him a hug, share a tear.

"He's been coming here since I was a little girl," said Jamie Bradshaw, sitting in one of the island's ubiquitous golf carts and wiping her eyes after an embrace with Nichols. "I don't know what we'd do without him. I can't even describe in words what he's meant to all of us."

Near Swain Memorial United Methodist Church, whose majestic steeple accounts for much of the Tangier skyline along with the island's freshly painted water tower, Nichols ran into an old friend: Robert Thorne, who was mayor in the late 1970s when the young physician first broached the subject of bringing medical care to the island, asking if Tangier needed help.

"We sure do," Thorne recalls replying.But it took a few years for the islanders, a private, skeptical sort, to believe Nichols meant what he said about making a long-term commitment to the close-knit community of watermen. Other visiting docs had come and gone, but Nichols kept coming week after week.

"He didn't do it for his glory," said Inez Pruitt, the island's physician's assistant and Nichols' longtime sidekick at the clinic. "He's done it for the people of Tangier."

Nichols is a gentle, soft-spoken Canadian who came to Virginia after medical school in large part because his parents had retired to the Northern Neck. He set up his primary practice in White Stone, but Tangier became his defining mission.

Practicing medicine on a shrinking island that has been hit hard by erosion and the changing nature of bay economics has always been a money-losing proposition for him. Yet he thought it important to continue because of its history and beauty -- but mostly its people.

"Paradise" is the word that popped into his mind the other day as he flew over the glassy bay and the island came into view. It's the word that always pops into mind when he thinks of this wisp of a place known for its old English dialect, soft-shell crabs and (mostly) car-less roads. "It's a pretty easy place to be enthralled with if you're so inclined," he said.

Medically, though, Tangier is not easy work. Because of genetics, diet and lifestyle, chronic illnesses are common on the island. Residents have to be evacuated by air to hospitals at a rate of once a week, often for heart attacks and strokes.

Education and empathy have been primary tools of Nichols, who has handled everything from emergencies to house calls on the island, showing up in all kinds of weather.

"He's saved so many lives," Pruitt said. "He's just always been here -- someone to depend on for strength, not only physical but spiritual and mental."

In 2006, Nichols was named Country Doctor of the Year by a national health-care company that honors the work of rural physicians. He was nominated surreptitiously by Pruitt because, she said, Nichols never would have allowed her to submit his name.

Pruitt was a 17-year-old high-school dropout when she first came to Nichols as a patient. Pruitt, whose family has been on the island for generations, later went to work for Nichols as a nursing assistant. He taught her like an apprentice and encouraged her to go to college -- in her late 30s, with her children grown -- to become a physician's assistant. For six years, she commuted by ferry to the Maryland mainland to attend classes.

In 2006, she became what Nichols believes is the first native licensed medical-care provider in the island's history.

"I am," said Pruitt, who sees patients daily, "a reflection of him."

Nichols and Pruitt banter like brother and sister, mentor and protégé. They sometimes call each other Wilbur and Homer, from one of their favorite movies, "The Cider House Rules," a 1999 film based on the novel by John Irving. The story revolves around a physician (Dr. Wilbur Larch) at a Maine orphanage who takes an orphan under his wing (Homer Wells) and teaches him obstetrics. Pruitt even has a lab coat stitched with "Homer."

As new equipment and furniture arrived at the new clinic last week, Nichols and Pruitt led a justly proud and good-natured tour of the place, extolling the facility's many virtues and needling each other all the way.

The new clinic is perhaps five times bigger than the old one, which was constructed in the 1950s, and is as bright as the other is dingy. It was built large so it can accommodate many patients at once since Nichols and the physicians who succeed him have only limited time on the island. It is so well-equipped, with gear such as a digital X-ray machine, because in such a remote place medical care often requires emergency action.

"I honestly believe there's not a more modern clinic for family medicine anywhere in this country," Nichols said.

Aesthetically, the structure fits in with its surroundings, looking from the outside like a well-appointed beach house. The immediate neighborhood is what one might expect on a small island where everything is compressed: The clinic is just a few steps from Swain Church, the island's schoolhouse and its water tower. Next door is the house where Pruitt was born.

Much of the equipment and many of the services were donated or provided at discounted prices, a result of a wide-ranging, four-year effort to raise funds and awareness about the island and the plight of its medical center.

The drive started after Nichols took friend and patient Jimmie Carter to the island for lunch. The Northern Neck real estate developer was appalled by the condition of the clinic and vowed to help Nichols raise the money for a new building.

The public-private venture has included state and federal funds, grants from private foundations and contributions from organizations ranging from Rotary Clubs to Girl Scouts, as well as money from more than 500 individual donors, said Carter, who set up the Tangier Island Health Foundation.

"It's been heartwarming to see such an outpouring of interest and support," Carter said. "If there's one thing we've seen, Tangier's got a lot of friends."

The foundation has raised $1.7 million. The first $1.4 million paid for construction of the clinic. The rest will establish an endowment to pay for upkeep of the building and the equipment and make certain Tangier residents have high-quality health care for years to come, Carter said.

Two years ago, Nichols affiliated his White Stone and Tangier practices with Riverside Health System as a way to carry on his work after he retired. He just didn't count on being gone so soon.

"It's the journey that's counted for me," Nichols said, as he sat in the old clinic. "Sure I'll miss being able to do all those things I'd planned to do, but, gosh, this was so rewarding."

He nodded toward the handsome white-frame Swain Church.

"I want to be buried over at that church, at the graveyard," he said. "Just put my ashes there."

That way, he can keep an eye on things. The cemetery is next door to the new clinic.

Slideshow: Tangier Click here to see the wonderful photos of the new Tangier facility and the wonderful people of Tangier.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

ESPN Te Film Commercial On Tangier Island

TANGIER ISLAND — Tangier residents will star in a new ESPN3 commercial being filmed on the island this week.

The broadband Internet network delivers live sports programming — including NCAA football, NCAA men’s and women’s basketball, NASCAR, NBA basketball and others — via the Internet, even in remote locations like this tiny island in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay.

That accessibility is the theme of the ad campaign, according to Dr. Neil S. Kaye, president of the Tangier History Museum, who was involved in the effort to attract ESPN to the island.

“The gist of the whole commercial is that Tangier Island is the biggest sports place in America per capita,” said Town Manager Renee Tyler. The 2000 Census reported its population at 605 people.

Production crew members began arriving on the island Saturday and on Monday were beginning to interview residents with a view to casting some in the commercial. The film crew will begin shooting Wednesday.

“It’s complete mayhem and craziness,” said Kaye.

Crew members involved in filming the commercial have rented virtually all available rooms in the island’s bed-and-breakfast inns, as well as some rooms in private homes, Tyler said.

“They’ve booked every room, every golf cart, everything,” Kaye said, adding the publicity that will come to the island from the commercial in the long term will be invaluable to the island’s tourism industry.

Kaye credited the Eastern Shore of Virginia Tourism Commission and its director Donna Bozza with working to attract to the island Richmond’s Martin Agency, the advertising agency responsible for the ESPN3 commercial.

The Tourism Commission was approached in June by the Martin Agency after the Virginia Film office connected the two, Bozza said.

“We kept our fingers crossed that they would go for the ad campaign based on the authenticity of our wonderful Tangier and are so thrilled they did,” Bozza said, adding, “The promotional value of ESPN’s spotlight will be immense for the island and the entire Eastern Shore tourism industry for years to come.”

Bozza is on the island this week assisting with the production.

The Tourism Commission also is working on a behind-the-scenes video of the making of the ESPN commercial, which it will use in future marketing efforts, Bozza said.

“The Eastern Shore brand could easily extend to “ ‘The Eastern Shore of Virginia — You’ll love Our Sports Nature,’ ” she said.

ESPN sponsored an ice cream social Monday evening at Tangier Combined School for islanders to meet the production crew and hear more about plans for the commercial’s filming, which is expected to wrap up on Friday.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Tangier Bone Mystery Solved

Skeletal Remains Return from Medical Examiner

The Accomack County Sheriffs Office received information from the Medical Examiners Office in Norfolk, Virginia regarding the aged skeletal remains found on Tangier Island last week.

According to Sheriff Larry Giddens, the remains have been confirmed to be that of a human body and have been declared by the medical examiners office to be prehistoric with a time of death estimated at 75 to 150 years ago.

According to Sheriff Larry Giddens, on Wednesday, January 27, the Accomack County Sheriffs Office received a report from the Virginia Marine Police regarding skeletal remains that were found in a box near a dumpster on Tangier Island. The aged skeletal remains were transported by the Investigations Division to the Medical Examiners Office in Norfolk, Virginia.

The remains are believed to be of a historic gravesite on the island of Port Isobel by Tangier residents. The findings of the medical examiner reinforce this belief.

Friday, January 29, 2010

More On Skeletal Remains Found On Tangier

According to Sheriff Larry Giddens, on Wednesday, January 27, the Accomack County Sheriffs Office received a report from the Virginia Marine Police regarding skeletal remains that were found in a cardboard box near a dumpster on Tangier Island. The aged skeletal remains were transported by the Investigations Division to the Medical Examiners Office in Norfolk, Virginia.

Sheriff Giddens stated that the investigation is continuing. As of now, it is unclear who gathered the skeletal remains and why they placed them in a cardboard box.

Residents believe the remains found is an old grave that washed away from the neighboring island of Port Isobel. There is an old cemetery on the shoreline of Port Isobel, which has been eroding for quite some time now.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

TANGIER: Skull and Human Bones Found in Box

By Carol Vaughn
Staff Writer

TANGIER ISLAND — A couple out for a ride Wednesday afternoon found a skull and other human bones in a cardboard box lying behind the town trash receptacles on the northern end of this Chesapeake Bay island.

The skeletal remains appear to be old and officials speculate they could have washed ashore from a cemetery on Uppards, a small uninhabited island just north of Tangier.

“It was not intact. The skull was there; there were definitely arms and ribs,” said Mayor James Eskridge, who was called to the scene. He informed Tangier police officer John Charnock and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission about the discovery.

“It was not an everyday thing,” he said of the grisly find.

Accomack County Sheriff Larry Giddens said Thursday morning he is sending an investigator to the island to examine the scene. Giddens said the remains will be taken to a forensic laboratory in Norfolk for further investigation.

Eskridge is curious about who gathered the bones and put them into the cardboard box, as well as why they would leave the remains behind the trash dump.

“They were definitely placed there,” he said, adding, “What the story is, I don’t know.”

The bones could have washed ashore on Tangier’s northern point after a grave on Uppards fell into the Chesapeake Bay, he said. The Uppards cemetery holds the remains of four families that once lived on the island. Graves there date from the 1800s to about 1930, Eskridge said.

Summertime visitors to Uppards in recent years have reported seeing human bones as they walked along the shoreline there, he said.

“I actually know one of the graves up there was an Eskridge...It was getting ready to go in the water,” Eskridge said. He had those remains reburied on Port Isobel, next to Tangier, because the deceased person likely was his relative.

This story should make a good conversation among the locals. If these bones are drifting from the island nearby isn't it time the state of Virginia does something about it?