Dubious Achievement Awards 2010
The year 2010 is behind us now and, at least in some contexts, it couldn’t be soon enough. Here is the first of three installments of this year’s Dubious Achievement Awards!
Is That The Same Spot Where They Talked About Building A Downtown Baseball Stadium?
The Taubman Museum of Art took a series of hits during 2010, including seeing its staff cut to 17 (from an initial 52), the resignation of key board member, project funder and museum namesake Jenny Taubman, as well as rumors of its demise without outside support. By November, the museum tucked its tail completely and admitted what the rest of the world had known since the beginning: There will be no international-destination art museum with 270,000 annual visitors in Roanoke, Virginia. Try 80,000 on for a goal.
French Quarter U?
Tanglewood Mall, which has struggled to keep its retail spaces full for years, in August took on a new kind of tenant, welcoming Miller-Motte Technical College to the general area of the mall where the old French Quarter flourished two decades back.
Triple Bogey Award
To the city of Buena Vista, which – in order to build a golf course – put up as collateral its city hall, police station and the golf course, only to realize it wasn’t going to be able to make a $662,000 payment last summer and might lose them all. As we go to press the situation is not resolved.
Hey, Better Bears Than Those Daggone Dukes Coming Back
Blacksburg was invaded by a young black bear in June, which wandered into and then back out of the University Mall parking garage.
Getting Your Goat (Into The Trunk?!) Award
To a Washington D.C. resident who got through a Bedford DUI checkpoint OK back in June . . . but then hit a little snag when an officer heard noises from the car’s trunk and opened it to discover a goat with its legs tied together.
Oh, You Mean Panty Raids Are Supposed To Stop After The Undergrad Years!?
The 28-year-old assistant athletic director for VMI resigned in June after Rockbridge County authorities charged him with breaking into a home and stealing women’s panties.
Look Out, Here Come The Eels!
After some 60 years of the American eel being precluded from coming any further up the Roanoke River than a 100-foot dam at Roanoke Rapids, N.C., Dominion Power in June installed two eel ladders at the dam – the first step in a process that could eventually bring the eels back to part of their habitat before the coming of the dams – in Roanoke!
No Bleeps Award
To Virginia Tech head football coach Frank Beamer, who in May, after falling while getting off a plane – resulting in a torn biceps and a purple arm – was quoted with this reaction: “How clumsy can you be? Geeminy whiz!”
No Fumble Either Award
To Coach Beamer’s wife Cheryl, who a few weeks after her husband’s fall tripped over a family pet while carrying one of the couple’s infant grandchildren; grandmom suffered six broken ribs, a broken collarbone and had pins inserted in both legs – all while protecting the child from any serious injury.
The End Of An Error Award
To Virginia’s Explore Park, which last summer cut ties with would-be developer Larry Vander Maten after at least two extensions to a start date deadline on his proposed $200 million Disney-in-the-woods destination resort off the Blue Ridge Parkway, and after refusals by Vander Maten to help with the cost of maintenance of the park or to allow a study on how to create public access to the proposed extension of the Roanoke River Greenway through the site.
What The Hell’s Fishin’ Without The Drinkin’ Award
To the 25-year-old Wirtz man whose 31.4-pound catfish and two-pound crappie were disqualified from winning some $2,000 in first-prize money last summer because the fisherman was found to be too drunk to take the polygraph test given to all winners. The DQed winner, who said he had a witness that he’d caught the fish, asserted not only that he didn’t cheat but also trotted out the classic line of nearly every busted drunk: “I had two or three beers!”
Oil And Water Award
To the Virginia legislature, which, over the protests of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, passed a law mixing guns and booze, though of course with the proviso that only those not drinking in the bar may carry a concealed weapon into it.
The Show Of Hand Award
To the 162-member (former) Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, four to whom voted to keep the chamber going when a poll was taken in August on whether or not to close down.
Next Thing You Know, They’ll Kill The Phone Book… Hey Wait…
It may have been a sign of things to come in August when UVa removed nearly 4,000 landline phones from residence halls, citing the overwhelming reliance on cell phones. By November, the state as a whole was preparing to consider abandoning the requirement for phone companies to print residential phone books.
Out Of The Mouths Of Politicians Award
To Congressman Bob Goodlatte, who countered the general pattern of meaningless, self-serving blather from elected officials when he proposed the following solution to the controversy over a bust of Joseph Stalin at the D-Day Memorial in Bedford: Remove the bust itself, but leave the empty pedestal and the plaque explaining Stalin’s role in World War II.
The Ol’ “Went To A Boxing Match And A Lacrosse Game Broke Out” Award
To an East Roanoke County youth lacrosse coach who in May asked the league’s governing body to remove a certain referee from his team’s games, resulting in a general boycott of East County by the ref’s fellow officials, the cancellation of games and parking lot confrontations involving balled fists, lots of bleepable words as well as arrests on charges of assault and resisting arrest.
Plus She Could Get Cold
State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in May handed out lapel pins to his staff with the state-seal goddess Virtus with her exposed left breast covered by an armored breastplate.
Adolf, Martin And John Award …Wait, Adolf!?
Portraits of Martin Luther King, John Kennedy and Adolf Hitler, painted by the late George Solonevich and donated to Roanoke College, mysteriously disappeared in April, only to show up in a Roanoke College driveway two months later.
Yes, It Was 2009, But It Was Late 2009 And It Mustn’t Go Unrecognized
Hollins University’s three-season, 63-game basketball losing streak came to an end in the opening game of their ‘09-’10 season, with the team then embarking on a fresh 21-game losing streak and finishing the season 2-23.
Maybe Just Mulch The Policy Right Along With The Leaves?
Roanoke City Council, in what is becoming an annual tradition, last fall made its leaf collection procedures even more complicated than before, devising a system using plastic bags some weeks, paper bags other weeks, an unlimited amount of bags some weeks, only six on others, plus instituting fines of $50 if the wrong bags show up on the wrong week and sit there too long.
Will Wiley Drive Ever Stay Open?
With two low-water bridges needing repair and bigger flow beneath, with one-way car traffic still a beef for some, and with a brand-new bridge at its eastern end, at least the surface of Wiley Drive is not getting worn out, as it continued in 2010 (and into 2011) to be closed to cars, bikes and pedestrians as often as it’s open.
New Terrorist Threat To DMV?
The Virginia DMV, hyper-vigilant for fraud and threat since 9/11, in August found itself among more than 20 state agencies with computers shut down as the Virginia Information Technologies Agency – run through a $2.3 billion contract with Northrup Grumman – once again fell victim to what state lawmakers have pointed to as a pattern of cost overruns, delays and shutdowns.
PR Agency Of The Year Award.
To Chicago’s GolinHarris Agency, part of whose signature reads “2010 PRWeek Large PR Agency of the Year,” for a pre-holiday electronic press release that begins this way: “ROANOKE, Va. (November 17, 2010) – Holiday shoppers in pursuit of capturing the spirit of the season and uncovering value-driven incentives will find both at Piedmont Mall.” We checked, but alas, Piedmont is still in Danville; we’d get back to Goli-Harris and let them know, but we’ve decided not to be able to remember if Chicago is in Illinois or Indiana.