Local Commentary

Senator Whipple’s Richmond Report

This fall I’ve had many trips around Virginia as part of my Senate duties. I have been reminded over and over again what a diverse and beautiful state it is.

Of course I often go to Richmond and surely we do have a beautiful, renovated Capitol designed by Thomas Jefferson. The city has much to offer from scenic views along the James River, historic sites and museums, the Library of Virginia and much more.

Then I was in Norfolk, another city on the water, with a revitalized downtown. My meeting was at Old Dominion University, a real up and coming college providing a great education to both full-time and part-time students with a particular emphasis on distance learning.

The Rural Planning Caucus asked me to speak at their annual meeting held at Mountain Lake not far from Blacksburg. The fall colors were beautiful as we wound our way up the steep curving road to the resort. Unfortunately drought and geology have conspired to drain the lake dry so business is slow, though there are still great trails to hike, tennis courts and many other activities.

Then it was off to Montpelier, the restored home of President James Madison. Members of the General Assembly attended a Constitutional Seminar led by the resident scholar Dr. Will Harris and also taught by A.E. “Dick” Howard who wrote the draft of Virginia’s newest constitution adopted in 1970. We learned about the differing views of Madison and Jefferson on Constitutions, all in beautiful surroundings with glorious views of the Blue Ridge. Montpelier is well worth a visit!

The Senate Ag committee retreat was at Bear Lake State Park. There are nice new cabins and multiple activities. Virginia’s state parks have a lot to offer and are great locations for intergenerational family gatherings.

Last week I was in Pittsylvania County, staying in a lovely bed and breakfast home in the charming town of Chatham. Large old homes line Main Street and the pace of life is a contrast to our hectic pace in Northern Virginia. Coles Hill, an historic home near Charham dating back to around 1805, is featured on the cover of the guide to this year’s tour sponsored by the Garden Club of Virginia.

All of these trips have enriched my knowledge of the many different areas of the Commonwealth. There is much to see and do right here in Virginia and we should all take advantage of it.

I also learned why rural legislators don’t understand our transportation problems. There are lots of good roads and very little traffic! So now we need them to visit us here and get a first hand look at what we face on a daily basis as we try to commute to work or run our errands.