“Town” of Blacksburg Under Consideration

by Clare Rigney–

The Town of Blacksburg is bringing an idea off the back-burner that could greatly affect local businesses and the community. The Blacksburg Town Council is considering changing their status to a city.

According to the Roanoke Times, the idea has reappeared after being shelved years ago due to Blacksburg’s inability to buy back the former Blacksburg High School from the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors. When the county offered a bid of $3 million, an appraisal with which Blacksburg officials disagreed, Blacksburg mayor Ron Rordam brought it up once more.

“We’re a public entity, so we can’t afford commercial pricing for land,” said John Bush, who is in his third term as a member of Blacksburg Town Council.

Town Manager Marc Verniel will be responsible for presenting what steps Blacksburg would have to go through to make the conversion.

There are greater responsibilities that come with city status. According to the Washington Post, cities must have “schools, courts and jail, and constitutional officers such as a sheriff, prosecutor and Circuit Court clerk.”

A change such as this would potentially require Blacksburg to increase the real estate tax rate, but the people would no longer pay county real estate taxes. Bush also says that the town and county share responsibility for a lot of services, such as rescue and emergency services.

“Being a city would afford us some autonomy,” said Bush, “On the other hand, it might be quite trying for our schools who may be affected by the split.”

Something to consider is whether or not Blacksburg will be able to generate the necessary revenue from its population.

The prospect of becoming a city is an enticing one for many Blacksburg citizens, but Bush says that the “likelihood of that is small.”

“Unfortunately, there is some bad blood in the past between the county and the town but I don’t think it has to remain that way … There’s no sense in just continuing to hold grudges and not try to move forward because, at the end of the day, we’re bound by location. We’re neighbors,” Bush said.

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BLACKSBURG, Va. Town Council member John Bush. Photo credit: blacksburg.gov

A Lesson in Love: The History of Valentine’s Day

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Photo courtesy of www.mechtron.com

by Clare Rigney–

Few people would say that Valentine’s Day is their favorite holiday. On this hyper-commercialized day, people express love to their significant others by buying things like chocolate or flowers, but how did it become this way?

Some may know of one of Valentine’s Day’s origin stories: according to History.com, a Catholic priest in Rome named Valentine was executed for marrying Christians after Emperor Claudius II made it illegal. However, according to NPR, there are records of two Catholics named Valentine being executed during the third century. The man was executed after helping Christians escape Roman captivity. He allegedly fell in love with his jailer’s daughter and began sending her notes written, ‘From your Valentine.’ However, the records are cryptic and may be describing the same man in both stories.

The Church wanted to honor Valentine (whichever one he was) and had little difficulty picking a day. A violent annual pagan celebration known as Lupercalia, in which men would beat women with animal hides, took place between February 13 and 15. Around the year 496, Emperor Galasius I declared February 14 as Valentine’s Day in order to replace Lupercalia, according to The Telegraph.

So how did a Christian holiday that overwrote a pagan fertility festival become so commercialized? According to History.com, the letters of love related to this holiday that we know as ‘Valentines’ appeared around the year 1400. Before then, people were gifting things to lovers, but it wasn’t common to write them down because of large-scale illiteracy. Writers like Chaucer and Shakespeare then further romanticized the date by mentioning it in their works. In 1847, Esther Howland of Worcester began selling the first mass-produced Valentine’s Day cards in America. Hallmark jumped on this trend in 1913. This day now sees the second most cards of any American holiday besides Christmas, with over one billion cards being sent every year.

Normally overshadowed by front runners like Christmas and the Fourth of July, Valentine’s Day has a connection to Roman emperors and Renaissance enlightenment that creates an, unsurprisingly, violent and romantic history.

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Photo courtesy of www.history.com