THUMBS-DOWN: We want to know what’s going on with the city of Harrisonburg’s budget. After all, there are some pretty big things we’re waiting to hear about.
Where to start?
How about what the future of the city’s second high school is after it froze construction a year ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s also the expansion of Middle River Regional Jail, which if approved, the city will have to pay into. Then there’s Heritage Oaks Golf Course.
Really, a year into the pandemic, the list goes on and on and on. And the list is important, since it will impact city taxpayers.
The city denied our Freedom of Information Act request to get our hands on the draft budget and pass along that information to you, citing state code that allows localities to be exempt from providing City Manager working papers, a denial that made Megan Rhyne of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government “uncomfortable,” since other members of staff also have a hand in crafting the budget, such as department heads.
But we just can’t shake the city’s reasoning, relayed through spokesperson Michael Parks, about why it’s not too keen to share the working document.
“Some things we're considering doing this morning may be, by the afternoon, off the table,” Parks said Thursday.
We understand that. And, as Rhyne put it, “that's why they're proposals.”
THUMBS-UP: Bergton volunteer firefighter Bo Baker saved Susan Brown’s life — or, at the very least, from serious injury. It’s what he did in the early morning of March 21 when, answering his volunteer firefighter call, he passed the blazing Bergton Grocery and stopped to find Brown standing on the roof of the front porch.
So, at her behest amid the chaos, he knocked down the garage door, grabbed a ladder and got her down safely and away from the blaze.
Baker was out at the former site of Bergton Grocery on Saturday, as members of the northwest Rockingham County communities gathered for a few hours of remembrance of the now-ashes landmark.
“It was very emotional. It was very touching,” Brown said Saturday while sitting in a fold-out chair flanked by friends and family. “I know it’s a tight community. People are very caring, but it meant a lot to me.”
One of those people was Baker, who, in the heat of the moment, exuded what all firefighters — volunteer or career — are trained to do. He helped.