Tag Archives: Scott Dreyer

Winsome Earle-Sears Makes the Case in Roanoke

Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears speaks in Vinton. Photo by Scott Dreyer.

by Scott Dreyer

On a late summer Thursday evening at the Vinton War Memorial Senior Center, the Roanoke County GOP met for a fundraiser barbecue dinner to support Sen. David Suetterlein’s fall campaign and to fire up the room full of party faithful.

Following the meal, several people on the ballot this fall introduced themselves and addressed some key issues facing the region and state.

But the Roanoke star that evening was Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears. Continue reading

Roanoke’s Remarkable Symphony Under the Stars

Maestro David Stewart Wiley took the baton and launched the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra’s 71st year.

by Scott Dreyer

As more folks are putting the Covid lockdowns in the rearview mirror, larger gatherings are occurring, as seen by the crowds at the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra’s (RSO) “Symphony Under the Stars” on Saturday, August 26. The hillside amphitheater in Roanoke’s Elmwood Park was packed by music-lovers as the sun went down, the temperature dropped, and the excitement rose as Maestro David Stewart Wiley took the baton and launched the RSO’s 71st year.

In an age tarnished by so much disappointment with failed leadership, Wiley stands out as a bright success. The RSO board just announced they had extended his contract for another four years, making him the longest-tenured conductor in their seven-decade history. In fact, Maestro Wiley was recently honored during his 25th season leading the RSO by the governor and a joint bipartisan resolution in the Virginia General Assembly. Continue reading

Decency and Democracy Prevail in Roanoke County

by Scott Dreyer

In recent years, much of America has been convulsed by riots, arson, looting, and mayhem to the point where basic safety and simple dialogue have become impossible. When faced with shocking headlines, many can only shudder in horror and be thankful they don’t live in such places.

In what some call “the Virginia Way” and “the Roanoke Way,” however, our region has largely avoided such large-scale disorder. Even during the tumultuous days of school integration in the 1950s and ’60s, when many U.S. cities had riots, violence, and police brutality, integration in the Roanoke Valley was largely peaceful, thanks to a generation of both white and black leaders who acted like adults and generally shared a common Christian worldview.

Thus, when the July 27 Roanoke County School Board meeting fell into chaos, it made headlines, shocked many, and showed that mob rule threatens to derail dialogue and official proceedings.

For over two hours, Board members listened to 27 people speak during the public comment period. Then, when School Superintendent Dr. Ken Nicely was discussing new regulations from the Virginia Department of Education in Richmond, he was interrupted with heckling that included profanity.

Chairman Brent Hudson warned that profanity would not be tolerated, but it continued. Since Nicely was unable to clearly continue his presentation, Hudson took the remarkable step of ordering the room cleared. Two agitators refused to leave: one is a Roanoke City resident and the other a County resident who confronted Hudson in a threatening manner. Police arrested both. Continue reading

The Value of an Old School Roanoke County Education

by Scott Dreyer

These remarks were shared with the Roanoke County School Board by email on August 17, 2023.

I share these thoughts with the Roanoke County School board as someone who grew up in the County from ages 1 to 18 and attended County Public Schools from grades 1-12 until graduating from Northside.

I am profoundly thankful for the education I received over those twelve years. The content shared here is not meant to sound boastful; it’s not about me. The intention is to give honor and gratitude for the fine educational foundation the Roanoke County Schools gave me, and to share this with the community so we can appreciate what we have and build on it, and not let it be neglected or destroyed.

The education and leadership opportunities I received in County Schools, (in tandem with lessons learned at home, in Scouts, at church, in the community, etc.) gave me the tools to enjoy a rewarding and successful life and career.

And my experience is not unique. I am the youngest of four; all of us graduated from County schools and then attended and graduated from William and Mary. Clearly, Roanoke County gave us tools in our toolkit to take our studies and lives to the next level. Continue reading

Roanoke County Quietly Extends Contract For $109,000 Year Registrar But Questions Persist

by Scott Dreyer

For many historical and cultural reasons, America has traditionally been what sociologists call a “high-trust” society. As reported in this report from the Pew Research Center, cultures with high trust (such as Canada and Sweden) usually have low crime and corruption while the reverse (such as South Africa and Peru) is also true.

Unfortunately, polls show Americans’ trust in major institutions has been on a downward slope for the past 15 years or so. Gallup first measured confidence in institutions in 1973 and has done so annually since 1993. A Gallup poll from June 2022 showed significant declines for 11 of the 16 institutions tested and no improvements for any.

Those who expressed “a great deal” of confidence in the three branches of the federal government, newspapers, TV news, big tech, and the criminal justice system were all at 26% or below.

On the issue of voting, most Americans have generally trusted the system, although documented cases of stolen elections exist. One example is the 1948 Democrat primary Senate runoff in Texas. Then-Congressman Lyndon Johnson (D) was initially behind until some mysteriously “uncounted ballots” were found in a ballot box called Box 13. Johnson then won with an 87-vote margin, earning him the nickname “Landslide Lyndon.” Johnson went on to defeat the Republican candidate in November and from the Senate later became John F. Kennedy’s vice president and then president after JFK’s assassination. Continue reading

Town of Bedford Honors June 6 D-Day

by Scott Dreyer

World War II saw conflict across Europe, North Africa, Asia, and the oceans of the world. However, the charming Central Virginia town of Bedford is the site of the famous D-Day Memorial. Bedford sent 35 men to land at Normandy, France.

The memorial honors the 19 local boys who died on June 6, 1944, in the heroic struggle to liberate Europe from Nazism. Before the end of that campaign, four more Bedford boys lost their lives. Bedford’s mind-numbing 65 percent death rate means that on a per capita basis, the town sacrificed more residents than any other American community in that epic fight between good and evil.

Because of the fog of war and poor communication then, horrific news of those casualties did not begin to come into Bedford until July 17th, a month and a half after D-Day, when the first 11 deaths were reported. Reports of the other deaths trickled in over the following days and weeks.

Notably, since telegraph messages then were sent from town to town, news of Bedford’s losses first came through the Western Union telegraph office in Roanoke. One Roanoker had the terrible task at work of sending these five words to the Bedford office: “Good morning, we have casualties.”

“The youngest one was just about to turn 21 and the oldest was 30,” said Linda Parker, co-director of the Company A Bedford Boys Tribute Center.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin spoke at Tuesday’s commemoration (June 6th) at the D-Day Memorial to honor the 79th anniversary of that event. Remembering the sacrifices of those who went before, the Town of Bedford has festooned the lampposts along Main Street with banners featuring the names and photos of those Bedford Boys who never made it home from WWII, along with U.S. and French flags, since the site of the landings, the Normandy beaches, are in Northwest France.

As our state and nation face today’s many challenges, we can take hope and encouragement from the bravery, patriotism, and sacrifice of those who have gone before.

Republished with permission from The Roanoke Star.

Sens. Warner, Kaine Visit Roanoke To Tout New Bridge But City Council In The Dark About Scope of Project

by Scott Dreyer

On a picture-perfect April 12 with a backdrop of the sparkling Roanoke River and dogwoods and redbuds in bloom, Virginia’s Senator Mark Warner (D) and Senator Tim Kaine (D) visited the Roanoke Greenway at Roanoke City’s Smith Park.

The occasion was for the two senators to present a cardboard poster representing a check to Roanoke City for $2.5 million for the replacement of the low water bridge on the popular Greenway just a few yards downstream from Smith Park. The senators stated the funds came from the roughly $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.

An email invitation from the City to reporters claimed the new, higher bridge will not only allow kayakers to travel under the bridge unimpeded (at low water levels) but also help the endangered Roanoke logperch swim up and downstream more easily.
Continue reading

Sen. John Edwards Calls It Quits

by Scott Dreyer

In a highly-watched move, Democrat State Senator John Edwards announced this week he will not seek re-election after his current four-year term ends in January, ending his 40-plus-year run as a politician. Edwards, who will turn 80 in October, has been the subject of much speculation as to his intentions. Reportedly, he hosted a fundraiser just this past January and public records show he has a campaign war chest north of $100,000. Those aspects indicate his decision to retire to be somewhat mystifying.

However, with President Biden being less than one year older than Edwards, but with glaring displays of cognitive decline, and Americans increasingly on-edge regarding those gaffes and the president’s ability to function in a time of the Ukraine War, Edwards’ running for re-election as an octogenarian under increased scrutiny may have carried significant liabilities.

A native Roanoker, Edwards was born in the Star City in 1943, the son of the late Judge Richard T. Edwards. Growing up and attending school during the Jim Crow Era, Edwards graduated from the then-all-white Patrick Henry High School in 1962, because the school had not yet integrated.

According to Edwards’ campaign website, which is still up, “he was the first president of the student government [at PH]. He was a record setting pole vaulter and state high-school champion and voted by his classmates as ‘most likely to succeed’.”

Edwards graduated from Princeton University in 1966 cum laude. After graduation, he attended Union Theological Seminary in New York City for a year, and later graduated in 1970 from the University of Virginia Law School. Ironically, at UVA Edwards was a writing instructor assistant to Professor Antonin Scalia, who later became a well-known conservative Supreme Court Justice while Edwards went politically to the left.

Edwards served his country during the Vietnam War in the U.S. Marine Corps as a Captain from 1971 through 1973, as a JAG officer based first in Japan and later in North Carolina.

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter (D) appointed Edwards United States Attorney for the Western District of Virginia.

In 1993, Edwards was appointed to fill a vacancy on Roanoke City Council and was elected in 1994 to a four year term and as Vice-Mayor. In 1995, Edwards defeated a Republican incumbent to win a seat in the Senate of Virginia, representing the 21st District. He was re-elected in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, and 2019. In a few of those races, he faced no or only token opposition.
Continue reading

Calls Increase for Judge Bennett’s Resignation

Adrianne Bennett

by Scott Dreyer

As reported here, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) recently released a scathing report on the former Virginia Parole Board scandal from early 2020. As documented in 69 pages, the former board repeatedly broke both laws and the board’s own procedures to illegally release many prisoners convicted of violent crimes, and failed to notify the victims’ families.

The statute of limitations has since expired, so no members of that board will face any legal repercussions. One of those members was Roanoke City Mayor Sherman Lea Sr. (D). However, the former Chair of the Board, Adrianne Bennett, was later appointed to be a state judge in Virginia Beach before the parole board scandal became public knowledge.

Seeking some accountability, Del. Chris Head (R-Botetourt/Roanoke) as reported here has called on Judge Bennett to resign due to what the OAG described as a pattern of illegality and endangerment to the public.

Del. Head seems to be tapping into a large reservoir of voter ire. This frustration regards what to many appears to be a lack of accountability for political figures who do wrong and a two-tiered justice system that quickly punishes normal people but lets powerfully-connected individuals get off scot-free. Continue reading

Del. Chris Head Calls for Controversial Judge Adrianne Bennett to Resign

by Scott Dreyer

In a bold move, Valley legislator Del. Chris Head (R-Botetourt/Roanoke) has called on controversial judge Adrianne Bennett to resign her position.

Bennett was formerly the Chair of the Virginia State Parole Board. During March and April 2020, when most people were distracted if not paralyzed by fear from the new Covid pandemic, Bennett led the Board to release an unprecedented number of prisoners and broke countless laws and procedures by doing so. As news of that scandal began to go public, The Roanoke Star ran an August 19, 2020 commentary.

However, before the news became public, Bennett resigned from the Parole Board and was appointed by the General Assembly to be a state judge in Virginia Beach, a position she still occupies. However, for unknown reasons, Judge Bennett has recently not been hearing cases or presiding over trials. Continue reading

After Arctic Blast, Do We Still Want to Californicate Our Grid?

by Scott Dreyer

An old saying goes, “You don’t miss the water till the well runs dry.”

In modern days that might be, “You don’t miss the electricity till you lose the lights. And heat. And hot water. And wifi. And TV. And microwave. And phone charger. And electric blanket, and The Roanoke Star….”

Around here, blackouts were common over Christmas weekend. Some lost power for a day or two, but one friend today told me her Roanoke Valley suburb lost juice Thursday night and didn’t get it back till Monday evening. Those extended power outages, combined with the brutal temperatures, high winds, and the fact that it was Christmas weekend, caused misery for many. The death toll nationwide from the storm is already 60, and might climb higher as more bodies are found.

One Roanoke insurance agent told me her office has been flooded (pardon the pun) with calls from policy holders reporting frozen pipes and now water damage.

At my home office, it was 6 degrees Saturday morning. Ironically, friends of ours were in upstate New York for Christmas, where it hit a low of 7, so it was colder here than there. A friend in southwest Roanoke County recorded 2 degrees. At Paint Bank, on the western edge of Craig County near the West Virginia line, it was -5.

Another feature of the storm was its magnitude. Last Friday, some 240 million people were under a weather warning or advisory; that was more than two-thirds of the entire U.S. population of 330 million. The map of wintry hazards “depicts one of the greatest extents of winter weather warnings and advisories ever,” the National Weather Service said.  It was freezing in Atlanta and flurrying in Miami.

I would be remiss not to point out the incredible irony. Granted, one weather event–no matter how extreme–does not prove a trend. However, it’s remarkable how, after years of being warned the world is getting hotter and hotter, we just endured a storm that broke record lows in some places. In March 2000, the British newspaper Independent warned that, due to Global Warming, it was likely that in the near future English children would never see real snow.

The extreme cold should have showed us (again) the need to have affordable, reliable energy. Continue reading

Will W&L Wall Off Historic Site?

The recumbent statue of Robert E. Lee

by Scott Dreyer

Virginia, known as “The Cradle of Presidents,” has held an important and honored place in American history. For example, due to British explorers founding Jamestown along the James River in 1607, the Old Dominion became the birthplace of English-speaking America. Signage from the National Park Service explains that, owing to Richmond serving as the capital of the Confederacy from 1861-1865, the Richmond area has by far more Civil War-related sites than any other region in the country.

Even after the guns fell silent across Virginia following General Robert E. Lee’s surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox on Palm Sunday in 1865, countless aftershocks and fallout from that war have influenced and haunted the nation.

Whereas in most countries in world history, when the leader of a rebellion is defeated and captured, the winning side executes him. In an amazing example of grace and forbearance, however, the victorious Union did not kill Confederate General Lee. In contrast, they let him go free into a peaceful retirement where he could choose his own path for the remaining five years of his life. Continue reading

Blue Ridge Pregnancy Center Targeted in June Attack

by Scott Dreyer

According to the Catholic New Agency’s “Tracker: Pro-abortion attacks in the U.S. continue,” there have been over 90 attacks on crisis pregnancy centers, churches, and other pro-life targets since May 2022. That was when the draft opinion in the U.S. Supreme Court’s Mississippi Dobbs case was leaked to the public. To date, not one attacker or vandal involved in these hate crimes has been sent to jail for these acts.

The first attack after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and returned the abortion issue to the states as had been the case until 1973 came on June 25, 2022, less than one day after the high court has issued its landmark decision. That first target was the Blue Ridge Pregnancy Center in Lynchburg. Continue reading

Sneering at Flyover Country

by Scott Dreyer

Thoughtful people are concerned about the growing divisiveness in our culture, with so many “fault lines” like those from earthquakes cracking up our country. Much of the tension relates to groups pitted against each other: Democrat vs. Republican, men vs. women, older vs. younger, skin color A vs. skin color B, college-educated vs. high school graduates, rich vs. working class, etc.

As Americans who value our country and its freedoms, we should know that Marxism is based on the idea of “class struggle.” Brainwashing groups to hate each other has long been a way for tyrants to weaken a country internally by dividing its people into mutually-hostile factions, at which point it’s easier for a small clique to take over.

The longer I live, the more I believe a major fault line in the U.S. is between largely urban “coastal elites”… and the rest of us. Continue reading

A SW Virginia View of the Budget Impasse

by Scott Dreyer

Virginia’s headline-grabbing elections last fall put Republicans back in the top three statewide offices for the first time in about a decade and a Republican majority back in the House of Delegates. However, since state senators enjoy four-year terms and none were up for election last November, senate Democrats still hold a slender 21-19 majority. Led by Senator Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, who, according to the Virginia Mercury, owns a shop that sells illegal and misidentified marijuana products with labeling targeting children, Senate Democrats have promised to be a “stone wall” against GOP-led proposals from Governor Glenn Youngkin and the House of Delegates. Continue reading