Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Morgan Griffith's Snow Days

From U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith (R-VA-9)...Because Gate City got a slow, steady snowfall off and on for five days, with some melting while more was falling, it's hard to say exactly how much snow the Cat Sanctuary got. Where the sun hit it the snow was exactly as deep as my taller pair of boots (sold as knee-high, actually just above the curve of my legs); in the shade, it was almost all the way up to my knees. It was deep enough to close down everything in Gate City, anyway.

Much of the Ninth District escaped the worst of the recent big snow – Salem, for example, unofficially received approximately a foot of snow, Covington unofficially got approximately 17 inches, and Independence got approximately 11 inches.  The Washington, D.C. region saw snowfall in amounts around 20 inches and, as a result of “the severity of the winter storm in the D.C. area, and its adverse impact on travel,” votes in the House of Representatives were cancelled for this week. This appears to be the first time days of votes were cancelled for weather since February 2010.
VA09 in the NASCAR Hall of Fame
On January 22, Floyd County native Curtis Turner – the “Babe Ruth” of stock car racing – was inducted posthumously into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  By today’s standards, Turner started driving when he was young.  The Roanoke Times recently reported that Turner “…made his first moonshine run at age 10 on the dangerous back roads of Southwest Virginia.  Four years later, he dropped out of school to work at his father’s sawmill for 10 cents an hour.  By 16, he was hauling liquor at $50 a keg and started making his own a year later.  At 18, he had made enough money to buy three sawmills and several thousand dollars worth of equipment.”
This led to an impressive career as a race car driver, with Turner racking up more than 350 wins.  WDBJ and others note that this Southwest Virginia boy – who lived most of his adult life in Roanoke – won his last career victory in a Ford Galaxie with sponsorship from Harvest Ford in Salem. 
Turner is making the Hall of Fame in his sixth year on the ballot.  I congratulate his family and loved ones, many of whom still reside in the Ninth District, on this long overdue recognition.
Headlines of Note
Sometimes newspaper headlines not wholly accurate, but nonetheless, these in the Roanoke Times print edition caught my attention recently when not out shoveling or in the snow with my kids:
  • Kerry: Money will go to terrorists.  “It’s likely that some of the billions of dollars in sanctions relief granted to Iran under a landmark nuclear deal will go to groups deemed to be terrorists, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday.”
  • Armed professor hailed as hero in attack.  “After terrorists killed about 150 people at a school in northwestern Pakistan 13 months ago, officials started arming teachers and gave them weapons training… a Pakistani teacher armed with a pistol is being credited with saving lives during a terrorist attack Wednesday at Bacha Khan University in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.”
  • Virginia Tech researchers fought for Flint in water crisis.
I have been following with great sadness the crisis in Flint, Michigan in which the water has been shown to have been contaminated with lead, a powerful neurotoxin that is very harmful, particularly to developing children.  The work of a group of 25 Virginia Tech researchers, led by professor Marc Edwards (a known expert on municipal water quality) was vital in exposing this crisis.
In fact, the Roanoke Times reports “The team spent almost $150,000 of Edwards’ discretionary research funds he earned from consulting and his personal money” on their work, all because it was the right thing to do.
Unfortunately, officials from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) initially pushed back on their work.  Emails released through the Freedom of Information Act indicate that “…officials worked together to make sure testing would come back to rule that water was safe under EPA guidelines in Flint…”  Additionally, “As Tech researchers released their Flint water system findings — which contradicted those of the DEQ and EPA — they were ridiculed by the environmental agencies.”
Though it was difficult to be ignored, Tech researchers kept on.  And as the result of their efforts, the public is now aware of and horrified by lead poisoning in Flint.
I commend those on the Virginia Tech Flint Water Study Team for their determination and hard work.
I also can’t help but to encourage those at the EPA to redirect their focus from constantly developing new regulations aimed at what they project may happen 50 years from now to paying attention to real, immediate problems in the world such as this situation in Flint.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office.  You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671.  To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.  Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.