Real Newcomers' Guide to Roanoke
Gossipman – I’m thinking hard about moving to Roanoke, but as with any new town, I worry about how to access city services. Can you give me a quick guide? -L.P., NYC
A: t’s simple as pie down this way, L.P. Whatever you need – the city manager, police help, the civic center, you name it – just call 1-800 ASK CHRIS* and ask for, um, Chris. That way, you’ll get to talk to Chris, in the person of:
• Chris Morrill, city manager.
• Chris Perkins, chief of police.
• Chris Connolly, civic center manager.
• Chris Blakeman, environmental administrator.
• Chris Chittum, planning and building administrator.
The city’s HR department has a few openings but – you guessed it – unless you’re Chris Rock applying for the public information position or maybe Chris Columbus applying for a position in the Department of Gratuitous Holidays For City Employees, forget it.
* Hey, that totally made-up number actually gets you the Art Institute of Philadelphia. And just in case you’re interested, ask for Chris Griswold in admissions.
Dear Gossipman, Geez, I just moved here in the fall and I wasn’t clear on the leaf pickup situation and so now I have had to go ahead and compost all those leaves. But next year, I want to take full advantage of city services in that realm. Can you explain how it works? -B.C., SW
A: Probably not, B.C.– mostly because city council comes up with a new leaf collection plan about every three months just to keep city residents on their toes. But the way it worked this past fall may at least provide a clue for next year: On every third Thursday if the city is collecting glass and cans for its recycling program, leaves may be set out next to the recycling bin, but only if they are packed into 48-inch burlap bags with the city’s logo on them and they are all facing in a southeast direction. On the third Tuesday of the month, when the city is collecting paper, leaves may be set out next to the city’s “Big Blue” garbage cans, but only if they are loaded into plastic bags that are of a color that is compatible with blue, such as red, orange or yellow, and only if it is still all by the calendar. Both the burlap bags and colored plastic bags, by the way, are available only at Big Kickbacks R Us, which is open the second Monday of the month and sells the bags at prices that will make you wonder if you should just eat the damn leaves.
Gossipman, I’m a new resident of Roanoke County and neighbors have warned me to stay away from Colonial Avenue/Merriman Drive area. Can you tell me why? -H.T., SW
A: Could be one of several things going on over in that part of the county, H.T:
1. Spillover from the Railroad Wars currently being fought in nearby Montgomery County, where Norfolk Southern is trying to build a giant intermodal railyard near Elliston while Montgomery County is firing away with a lawsuit.
2. Could be a traffic backup from shoppers anticipating the coming – at last! – of a Kohl’s store. People have been lining up for months to be the first in when the Wal-Mart moves down toward Rocky Mount a little ways to make room for the best store in the whole wide world!
3. Or it could be as simple as one word, H.T.: Roundabouts! Yes, along Colonial and coming soon to Merriman are these sort of European intersections where you have to read the Yield signs and drive in a little circle for a few seconds instead of sitting at a red light reading the paper for five minutes.