Thursday, January 25, 2007

No More Lefts at Lucado

The DOH got it right. In spite of pressure from Charleston City officials, who were responding to pressure from the affluent residents that use this intersection most, the Division of Highways traffic planners refused to put a stoplight at the intersection of Lucado Road and Corridor G. Instead they chose to restrict left turns from Lucado. Bravo. This story in today's Gazette covers it well.

People that live on Smith Road and its recently added (and ever growing) tributary streets, who normally use Lucado for a quick detour to Southridge will simply have to take a little longer route now. This will save lives and property.

Lucado is too heavily traveled. It always has been. In the late 1970's, long before this section of Corridor G was built, Lucado was the site of frequent wrecks because it emptied onto Oakhurst Drive in a downhill curve. The grade of the intersection forced cars to slowly exit Lucado onto Oakhurst. Cars coming down Oakhurst had no warning that slow moving cars were ahead and the reult was frequent t-bone or rear-end collisions. A friend of mine that drove Oakhurst every day on the way home from GWHS remarked once that he thought every person in South Hills lived on Lucado because of the never ending stream of traffic that eminated from this little street. The population that uses Lucado now is far greater since all of the development on Smith Road has occurred.

To allow these cars to turn left across what is effectively four lanes of traffic was never a good idea. The downhill grade on the southbound side of Corridor G made it even more dangerous. Putting a light there would have made it worse, since cars who beat the light at Oakwood would be at full speed when coming down the hill. There would be very short notice of a red light and on wet roads the result would be carnage.
Good for the DOH for not bending to the pressure of an affluent group and doing the right thing.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

"To each his own..."

When the YWCA board and management announced their decision to close down the building on Quarrier Street and abandon their fitness program in favor of programs that were more in line with their mission, howls of protest came up from many sectors of the city's population. Rev. James Lewis, perennial protester he, led a disparate group of disgruntled citizens to form an organization that would scream bloody murder until the YWCA board reversed their decision to sell the bulding, which they did.

Today a meeting will be held to formally launch the fundraising campaign that will raise the $1 million or so that is needed to keep the building open. See the Gazette's story here. It should be noted that the Gazette was influential in assisting Lewis' group in getting a foothold and that its reporting has definitely shown a bias against Y management on this subject.

Chuck Avampato, head of the most influential and richest funder of comunity projects in town, the Clay Foundation, is quoted in the article as saying "“I think it’s a big waste of time and money,” he said. “To me it’s spending an enormous amount of money on something that’s not program related. But to each their own."

He's exactly right. It is a huge waste of money. The building, while a landmark in downtown Charleston, is decrepit and completely unsuited for the YWCA as it exists today. The Y staff and board made a good business decision when it decided to sell the building. It would direct more money to the Y's programs and provide more people with vital serices it provides. But this decision was over ruled by the desire to keep an old building from the wrecking ball. To each his own.

A few years ago, just after the Multi-Cap fiasco came to a head, The Gazette railed against non-profits who owned property that was ill-suited for the programs they ran. They questioned the need for non-profits to own large buildings whose upkeep drained resources from programs. Tunes change, I guess. It's their paper, they can say what they want. To each his own.

So the YWCA will be raising a million and the library is already underway with raising its $30 million, this on the heels of the Clay Center's 10 year anniversary of sucking the community dry of every dollar it can get every year. Meanwhile non-profits who are trying to raise money in the community to address basic human needs are turned away because donors are tapped out, or have been convinced that buildings are worth more than people. To each his own.

At least the hungry, sick, hurting and homeless can have some nice buildings to look at.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Toasted, Schmoasted - Bellacino's

I was hungry but in a hurry today at lunchtime. While I was driving up Capitol Street I caught sight of the newest eatery, Bellacino's, and when I looked inside I saw that it didn't look too awfully busy so I thought I'd take a chance. I parked at a nearby15 minute meter and filled it to the brim with two dimes and a nickel. I knew it was a gamble, but like I said it didn't look busy.

I walked right in and straight up to the register where you place your order. I thought I'd better order something straight off the regular menu with no substitutions that would take more time. I opted for a Mountaineer Grinder which has roast beef, turkey and ham. This would be called a club at Subway and it would be toasted. "Toasted Schmoasted" says the Bellacino's employee's tshirts, "We're oven baked!" That, apparently, is what a Grinder is: A baked sub. The bread is crustier and it's a little bigger, but it's a baked sub.

The sandwich was pretty good, but not worth the price I paid. You see, after I paid my $6 for the nine inch sandwich I was told it would take 15-20 minutes. "15 to 20 minutes?" I asked? For a sub? "A Grinder," the register person corrected me. "A Grinder is prepared to order by hand. Quality takes time."

"So a sub isn't prepared by hand?" I thought, but I didn't want to delay my order by arguing.

22 minutes later I got my sub, er Grinder, and headed back to my car. And with perfect timing I turned the corner just in time to see the parking enforcement jeep pulling away from my car, leaving behind a nice little flourescent green greeting card. $10.

So my sandwich cost me $16.24. Grinder Schminder. Next time I get a toasted club where parking is free.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Pizza Hut, Papa Johns and the locals

I have heard so many people say recently that their favorite pizza has changed from Pizza Hut to Papa Johns. It's nearly an epidemic. I. too, have recently switched but not because Papa Johns has gotten better; I have decided that I no longer even care for Pizza Hut pizza. It was my favorite for decades. Something has changed. I can't put my finger on it, but it's just not the same.

Having said that, I still have a thing for locally owned pizza joints. I truly prefer them over any chain. The best thing about a chain is that it is consistent from location to location. A locally owned place is subject to many more variables and is therefore somewhat unpredictable. But, then again, maybe that unpredicatbility is what I like. Who knows.

Anyway, my favorite local place was always Lorobi's in St. Albans. I haven't been there in years so I can't vouch for it today. Lately I've found good pizza at the Giovanni's on Spring Street. They have a Mediterean topping pizza that is to die for. Giovanni's is a chain, but a local one.

The Anchor has great pizza, but the restaurant is definitely not in compliance with the Kanawha County smoking ordinance and I can't stand to eat in the place. When someone gets it to go, though, count me in for a few slices.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Tony Cavalier: The Hardest Working Man in Weather

This evening's 6:00 weathercast opened with video of a towboat heading up the Ohio River through the dense fog that set in today. Voiceover Tony (singing): "Dashing through the fog, In a one horse open barge, o'er the Ohio we go, splashing all the way..." and he proceeds to sing an entire verse of this "Jingle Bells" parody. Then, when the singing's over, he spends another 20 seconds explaining to the viewers what he meant.

I'm gonna have to get a TV card so I can capture his daily quirkiness. Much of it is simply beyond my ability to explain.