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The embodiment of a championship community

   Last Friday, it was a magical time and an historic moment for the Colonial Beach community to witness the Drifter varsity basketball team capture the 2009 Group A, Division 1 State Basketball Championship, at the Stuart C. Siegel Center, in the Alltel Pavilion, on the campus of VCU, in Richmond, Virginia. It was the first time in history that the school has ever won a state championship in any sport.
   The venue was ablaze with the electricity associated with Drifter madness. Beach fans, wearing the colors of their alma mater covered three sections of the sports venue. From the moment Dylan Farinet ripped the final rebound from the outstretched hands of East Montgomery players, the gymnasium exploded with cheers and screams that left the referees temporarily deaf in both ears.
  Many may disagree, but few can rival, the true devotion of a Colonial Beach fan. Whether you’re a fan of the “Black & Gold” or a basketball enthusiast, you have to appreciate the devotion that the Town of Colonial Beach has given to its athletic programs. From the opening day of the quarterfinals, when the Beach defeated Riverheads, 70-58 to the finals, when Colonial Beach stoop atop the high school single-A basketball world, fans both young and old, male and female have driven to Richmond to support their favorite sons.
   From 1962, when the Drifters boys varsity basketball team lost against West Point during a Regional quarterfinal game, at the College of William & Mary gymnasium to their loss against Franklin during the Regional championship, the Drifters have dreamed of one day owning the hardware associated with the big show. Win or lose, the one common denominator that has sustained the Drifters throughout its athletic history are the fans that travel throughout the school year to support their teams.
   The age old answer of what separates Drifters fans from other fans may be found in the hallowed walls that sustain one of two independent schools in the state of Virginia.
For 39 years, former Colonial Beach Athletic Director Wayne Kennedy has seen generations of families excel on the courts and fields associated with the Colonial Beach High School. “There is a lot of pride in having an independent school within your town,” said former Drifter athletic director, Wayne Kennedy. “And also, there are a lot of families made up of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins connected with the current student body.”
   The bond that connects generations of current and future Drifter varsity stars was seen in nearly every corner of the Siegel Center. Among the notable Drifter fans were the CBHS student body, former Drifters stars and coaches from yesteryear, current Drifter faculty members, Colonial Beach council members, Colonial Beach business owners and a host of adoring basketball fans from Westmoreland County.
   While the partisan Drifter crowd drowned out the East Montgomery fans, the Drifters took care of business on the court for an historic win over the Mustangs from Elliston, Virginia.
   “Some places don’t have it as good as we do—coach Jeremy Jack [Drifter Athletic Director], coach Swope [varsity boys’ head coach], and all of our assistants deserve a lot of credit in involving the community and making them feel a part of their championship win,” Kennedy said.

 

CB Festival fireworks may be phased out

   For 54 years there have been fireworks at the Potomac River Festival; a long-standing Colonial Beach tradition and an aspect of community pride for many.  But maybe not in year 55.
   The Festival is an event which is planned and put on by the Chamber of Commerce and its many volunteers each year.  Almost as soon as one ends, the next one is in the works.  This year will mark the 55th Anniversary of the Potomac River Festival, and this year, fireworks may become a thing of the past.  
   Because, although in prior years the Town has helped with the cost of fireworks for this event, this year, they are saying no.  
   A recent note sent to Chamber members says, “The financial problems of today that are being felt internationally, have affected the Town of Colonial Beach as well.  The budget is tight and under these conditions the Town is unable to fund the fireworks this year.
   "Therefore, the Potomac River Festival Chairperson Byran Stepp, all of the volunteers and the Chamber are asking for your help.”
   An October 21, 2008 letter from then Acting Town Manager Val Foulds may have given the Chamber of Commerce a little heads up as it said, “At this time the town is not prepared to commit any funding toward radio advertisements or the fireworks display for the Potomac River Festival in June 2009.”  
   Recently the Town reached its decision and made it official.  Citing financial reasons, they have said they will not fund fireworks for the Festival, but they will fund for Fourth of July 2009.  However, some people are wondering why they said no, because according to the Town’s budget, they had $10,000 in the fireworks account; money left over from last year’s 4th of July.  President of the Chamber of Commerce, Carey Geddes says that the Town Manager has the authority to veto line items in the budget and that is what has been done.  
   The Chamber has now received its contract for Festival Fireworks and the amount on the table is $8,800, with a deposit of $2,200 due by April 30.  Geddes says that the Chamber is really going to try and raise the money to save this town tradition.
    “We are going to host a big event on Town Hill on the Fourth of July to try and attract the kind of people, the families, that we want visiting our Town.  There will be something for everyone to do.”  
   A member of the community, who wishes to remain anonymous, has made the first donation to the Chamber’s “Save the Festival Fireworks” account in the generous amount of $1,000.  But Geddes says the Chamber still needs the help of the community and encourages people to reach out to Jimmy Stanley, a Chamber volunteer, heading up the effort to save the fireworks display.  Jimmy Stanley can be reached at the Colonial Beach Chamber at 224-8145.  Checks should be made out to the Colonial Beach Chamber of Commerce and may be mailed to P.O. Box 475, Colonial Beach, Virginia 22443.

Anne Congdon

Hershfield loses house in Col. Beach

   For many years there has been a quiet on-going battle on Horton Street.  The prime objective?  To rid the Town of Colonial Beach of the eyesore belonging to Mr. Charles Hershfield; the owner of a property who allowed it to atrophy past the point of reclamation.  Hershfield has had similar issues with property he owns in King George across from Potomac Elementary School.
   Chuck Bird, the Zoning Administrator for the Town, says the battle with the Horton Street property was already underway prior to his arrival and since Bird has been here for 6 and ½ years that’s a pretty long time.  The initial conflict with the property owner began over the tall grass and then as one town employee put it, “then we saw a house there”.  Bird says that when he first arrived, the property was probably still salvageable, but over time and with the help of the elements, the property declined past the point of salvation.  That’s when the Town started proceedings to take down the house and that’s when Hershfield began claiming the property was, in fact, a wildlife sanctuary.
   Bird said the Town Attorney drafted documents against Hershfield outlining the criminal complaint, but the Town had trouble serving the papers.  Bird said they could never find Hershfield at home in Fairview Beach where he resides, nor could they catch him at the Colonial Beach property.  But the Town found a way around the need to serve him personally and went the route of declaring the property a public nuisance.  The Town Attorney drafted a petition to bring to the court which meant that personal service was no longer needed, notification could be sent via First Class Mail.  The Judge agreed with the Town’s petition and found the property to be a public nuisance and ordered an inspection of the interior.  The Town did the inspection and provided both a report and pictures of the inside as well as a 6-7 minute video.  Bird said nothing moved on the video; no birds, no animals, nothing.  “What you can hear on the video”, commented Bird, “are the remarks about the Poison Ivy.  It was everywhere”.
   The judge ordered that the house be removed by the end of the summer of 2008 and if it was not that the Town would be allowed to remove the structure themselves and attach a lien to property to recoup the cost.  Last week, since Hershfield did not comply with the Court’s order, the Town Attorney, Andrea Erard, drafted a 48-hour demolition notice and sent it to Hershfield and his attorney.  This morning, Chuck Bird, accompanied by a law enforcement officer, entered the property to verify there were no inhabitants and then the structure came down.  All that remains is a pile of rubble, a fresh No Trespassing sign and a For Sale by Owner sign.  For those interested, the price has been dropped to $37,000.

GO DRIFTERS!!

   Sometimes a person comes along and makes a special place for themselves in your life.  Sometimes a business comes along and does the same thing for their community.  That was Bud Tressler's philosophy with his restaurant Fat Freda's and although his passing may be mourned by many members of the Colonial Beach community, for some it may be comforting to know that his wife Linda Tressler is stepping in right where her husband left off.
    This Sunday, March 15, from 1:00 to 5:00, WIN (or lose) there will be a party thrown in honor of the Colonial Beach Varsity Boys Basketball Team who seem well on their way to helping keep Colonial Beach on the map by bringing home the State title.  The gift certificates have already been written; one for each player, coach and the team's manager.  Family and friends are donating time and desserts to make the event a special one and a DJ has been hired.  “This is what its all about”, says Fat Freda's employee, Serene Dickerson, “being a part of the community”.
   All the employees of the restaurant enjoy that aspect of working at Fat Freda's “doing the extra things”.  Sharon Soaper, Elsie Balderson, Tim Olson, Karen Phelps and Serene Dickerson all say, “Go Drifters! Take us all the way, but no matter what you guys have done great.  You've done us proud.”  Fat Freda's invites fans, friends and family to join the fun on Sunday.  
   The Varsity Boys will be leaving Colonial Beach High School at 9:15 Thursday, to battle Altavista High School at the Siegel Center at VCU in Richmond.  Before leaving town, the bus will stop at the elementary school where students have made banners and signs to cheer the team on.  Then just before 9:30, the bus will come up the street towards Lenny's and make a left hand turn onto Colonial Avenue to leave town.  Everyone who is a Drifter fan is invited to join in the fun and line Colonial Avenue in the spirit of the day and root on the mighty Black and Gold Drifters.

Foulds comments on Bird's departure

   Director of Zoning Chuck Bird, who has held the post in Colonial Beach for the past 61/2 years, will be leaving a little earlier than previously expected.  
According to Town Manager Val Foulds, Bird's last date has been changed to March 17th.  Foulds says, “When Mr. Bird resigned he gave three options.  I picked Option B which gave him a 30-day window.  After I had a chance to think about it from a budget perspective, I thought I could use these funds and put them in a reserve for using him as an on-call person.”  
   Foulds says she doesn't want to be in the position of having to call Bird with questions after he is gone and keeping him on the phone for an hour and not being able to compensate him for his time.  “That's what happened with the former Town Manager,”she added.  Foulds says that Town Attorney Andrea Erard is going to be working on and finishing the Flood Plain Ordinance, a matter of high priority.  But with regard to finalizing the sub-division plat submitted by Potomac Crossing or handling things like Conditional Use Permits, things with attached deadlines, Foulds doesn't yet know how the Town will proceed.  “In a less challenging time it would be so straightforward”, she sighs.  Foulds says the one thing she “doesn't want to do is what's been done in the past, which is put a band-aid on it.”
    The Town has also not yet filled the position of Building Official.  Foulds says she is “weighing the volume to support one here in town at this time.”  However, to help ease the burden on the zoning department, Bill Seay, a member of the Colonial Beach Police Department, has been appointed to act as a “liaison from the zoning office”.
 Foulds says that Seay was appointed based on his “Planning Commission experience, his familiarity with the ladies who work in zoning and his people skills”.  Foulds elaborated saying that Seay knew how to problem solve and was resourceful.  Seay previously served on the Planning Commission.
   Whomever the Town appoints to serve in the capacity of Director of Zoning will be responsible for interpreting the Town's zoning laws.
 

Anne Congdon

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