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Democratic Committee Meeting

Friday, June 19, 2015

2015 James River Bateau Festival

The evening before, all is quiet and serene on the James.

This is Philip deVos, he got me interested in doing this story.   Philip is a Board Member of Virginia Canals and Navigations Society.   They offer a varied selection of information about the bateau and it can be purchased by the general public.   Sign up as a supporter, $25 single - $35 family and get discounts on everything plus the fun of getting together with other like minded History and Nature lovers. 

Click to  Visit

The flag has dropped and the bateau's are off and there is a cannon firing loudly on the river and the sounds of cheers and applause.

Until Philip filled me in I had no idea the bateau was created right here in Amherst County by the Rucker brothers and granted patent status shortly after the elder Ruckers passing or that famous Virginian Thomas Jefferson plays a part in the story.  

Normally Treasurer Deanna Sweeney is on the river in a bateau enjoying the trip to Richmond but for this occasion she was working at the information table which was constantly filled with visitors who like me knew little about this fascinating slice of local history but were really enjoying learning.

Click Here and Visit Website

The James River Bateau was a shallow draft river craft used during the period from 1775 to 1840 to transport tobacco and other cargo on the James River and its tributaries in the state of Virginia. It was flat bottomed and pointed at both ends. The length of the bateau varied greatly, 58 feet (17.5 m) being a common length. The bateau was propelled by bateaumen pushing with long sturdy poles. Alternate spellings of bateau include batteau, batoe and the plurals bateaux, batoes, and batteaux. Bateau is the French word for boat. In the colonial days, bateaus were used extensively in rivers throughout the eastern part of the United States.

Anthony Rucker the Elder was the original inventor and constructor of the James River Bateau in 1775. It was a boat essentially different from any before that time used on the rivers of Virginia. Rucker’s design was successfully patented many years after its development.   (Lynchburg Virginian, August 17, 1821.)  Jones Memorial Library, Lynchburg, Virginia. The earliest known reference to the bateau comes from Thomas Jefferson’s account book, dated April 19, 1775.   Jefferson had been present at the first launching, and forty-six years later he was witness to the successful patenting of the bateau by heirs of Rucker. 

Unfortunately, none of the original bateaus exist.   Some remains were uncovered by construction workers at the site of the James River and Kanawha Canal Basin.

Even though the working bateau is no longer used, historians and river enthusiasts still keep the memory alive.   Replicas of the bateaus have been built around the country and bateau river cruises are available in a number of states.   Since 1985, the James River Batteau Festival has promoted a bateau run from Lynch's Landing in Lynchburg to Maiden's Landing in Powhatan, a distance of about 120 river miles (200 km). 

Seventeen batteaux crews and many canoeists participated in the 2005 festival. The number of Batteau's on the river during the festival has increased to 25 in 2009.   Just counting the bateaus on the James friday evening the 2015 Festival will blow the earlier ones away.

The James River bateau was designed for freight and for ease of navigation in the shallow rocky waters of the Upper James. Thomas Jefferson, in 1775, recorded the purchase of a bateau in his account book, stating, “Apr. 29. Rucker’s battoe (sic) is 50. f. long. 4.f. wide in the bottom & 6.f. at top. she carries 11. hhds & draws 13½ I. water.”   Typical bateaus were thought to be about 58 feet (17.5 m) long, some shorter, some longer. They had no keel to interfere with navigating river rapids and were well adapted to shallow water, having a draft of about 12–18 inches (30–45 cm) when loaded. They measured 6–8 feet (1.8–2.4 m) at the beam. The sides varied from 18–24 inches (45–60 cm) in height.   Very long planks, fastened to ribs, formed the sides and bottom.   The nose cones were built and attached separately to facilitate maintenance since the ends of the bateau received abuse from the river rocks.   The bateau had no rudder and was guided by long sweeps that engaged notches formed in the tip of the nose cones.   The cargo versions had no seats.  Passenger versions had a canopy and some had oar locks.


A Study of the James River Batteau

By Thomas D. Mackie

Director, Amherst County Historical Museum

In the late 18th and early 19th Centuries, the inland rivers of Virginia and surrounding states teemed with graceful river boats known as Batteaux.   Flat-bottomed and pointed at each end, these craft were the invention of two brothers from Amherst County, Virginia.   Although nearly forgotten for over a century, the Bateau has been the object of revived interest in the 1980's.

The two Amherst Brothers credited with inventing the Bateau, Anthony and Benjamin Rucker, were part of a large, influential family in Amherst and Nelson Counties.  Five Rucker brothers who settled in Amherst in the mid-18th Century became very active in the public life of the community.  Benjamin Rucker was a lawyer, justice of the peace, trustee of Warminster Academy, a member of the Amherst County Committee of Safety, and a captain in the Revolutionary War.

Anthony Rucker, the youngest brother, was also a Revolutionary War captain, as well as 
Amherst's Commissioner of Provision Law in 1781 and Tobacco Inspector in 1792. (1)

The first Bateau was launched in April, 1775. The primary purpose of this craft was to move tobacco, packed in hogsheads, down the James River and its tributaries to Richmond.   The earliest known reference to the Bateau comes from Thomas Jefferson's account book, dated April 19, 1775. 

Jefferson had been at that first launching and forty-six years later was to witness the successful patenting of the Bateau by heirs of the Ruckers.

The patent, issued on April 3, 1821, was disputed by the Lynchburg Virginian newspaper.   It was thought that the Bateau was too common a craft to have been developed from a single source.   By August of that same year, however, the editors of the Virginian retracted their attacks and 
stated their belief in the Ruckers' patent claim:

When we first heard that such a patent had been obtained, we were also inclined to the belief that it had been granted improvidently either from inattention on the part of the keeper, or some defect in the laws on the subject of Patent rights Nevertheless, when we came to inquire 
more particularly into the circumstances under which the Messrs. Ruckers, claim the privilege of Patentees . . . (t)here can be no doubt, that Anthony Rucker the Elder, was the original inventor and constructor of the James River Batteaux, and that it was a species of boat essentially different from any before that time used on the waters of America. (2)

The article goes on to state that Thomas Jefferson, who had been in attendance at the original launching, would be willing to testify to the Ruckers' claims.   Anthony Rucker is named and is given sole credit for the Bateau, but in Deed Book "P" at the Amherst County Courthouse, dated 
November 23, 1821, is a document according equal credit to Benjamin and Anthony Rucker. (3)

While the primary historical sources clearly reveal the identity and importance of the inventors of the Bateau, only scant detail is given regarding the design of the craft.

Thomas Jefferson made notes in his account book describing this new river boat in 1775: "Rucker's battoe is 50 f. long 4 f. wide in the bottom & 6 f. wide at the top.   She carries ll.hhds. & draws 13 ½ water."(4)    

Twenty years later, Isaac Wald described these boats as "from forty-eight to fifty-four feet long, but very narrow in proportion to their length. (5)

Another major source of contemporary references to the Bateau is the Calendar of Virginia State Papers, a collection of military and civilian correspondence dating from the 17th to early 19th Centuries.   Although there is no direct description of a Bateau in these papers, they do give a fairly clear picture of the boat's uses.   One 1780 letter records, The commandant at Pittsburg has..... informed me that there was about 50 Light Batteaux at Fort Pitt, which might be had by an order from the War Board I think it (Bateau) is much better calculated for these rivers than barges, as they run over shoals where a keeled vessel must be carried. (6)

According to this letter, five years after the Ruckers' launching, boats called Batteaux were used in numbers on shallow rivers in the North. 

They were not a keeled vessel but flat, to enable them to "run over shoals".

Several references in the Calendar of Virginia State Papers highlight the construction and use of Batteaux by the Continental Army.   Batteaux were used to move troops, munitions and supplies on the shallow inland rivers during the Revolutionary War.  They were carefully built craft as they were often mentioned as being built by a boat builder or "ship's carpenter." (7)   This evidence infers that the crafts known as "James River Batteaux" were strong, shallow-drafted vessels.  They were a valuable military asset and were considered a major loss if captured by the 
enemy. (8)

Another military communication mentions that two Batteaux left Kaskaskia on November 15, 1779.  They carried twelve men and "three or four" families west toward the Ohio Falls.   From this we observe that both cargo and significant numbers of passengers were sometimes transported 
long distances on the inland river system by means of Batteaux.    Unfortunately for settlers, the boats apparently appealed to Indians as well, for this particular group suffered an attack along their voyage.   One of the Batteaux was seized and its crew killed. (9)

During more peaceful periods the Bateau was described by travelers and scholars along the James River.   The earliest illustration of a boat believed to be a Bateau is in a book about the tobacco trade, written by William Tathams in 1800.   The boat is labeled with the vague term "upland boat." Tathams states that "there are a number of boats (similar to those upon the Grand Trunk Canal) which carry on this business professionally." (10)

A first-hand description of a Bateau and Bateau life is given by Porte Crayon (David Strother) in Virginia Illustrated.   While visiting Lynchburg in the 1850's Crayon reminisced about his Bateau journey twenty years earlier.   During the narration of his adventures he described the Bateau as gliding down the current controlled by three men who "poled their batteau through the shallows, or bent to the sweeps on the 
long stretches of still water." (11)   His sketches show the Batteaux with rounded bows coming to a peak and tall arched awnings covering the center of the boats. The oars in the sketch on page 231 indicate that the bateau was at times rowed.

Another noted traveler, Mrs. Ann Royal, was impressed by the freight boats (Batteaux) at Lynchburg, and their ability to carry heavy hogsheads on shallow waters.   After some questioning Mrs. Royal was told that each hogshead weighed 1500 pounds and that a Bateau could transport 9000 pounds of cargo or more, depending on river conditions. (12) During this time (1820-1840), there were at least 500 Batteaux and more than 1500 
Bateaumen operating between Lynchburg and Richmond alone. (13)

The primary sources describing the Batteaux decline sharply after the 1840's, when the James & Kanawha River Canal reached Lynchburg.   When David Strother was in Lynchburg in the 1850's he bemoaned the loss of the "picturesque".   "There are no boats on the river now… This cursed 
canal has monopolized all that trade, I suppose." (14)    Apparently with the coming of the packet boat and rail the Batteaux were relegated to the backwaters and continued to fade from use.   Eventually even the appearance of the Bateau, once commonplace, was forgotten.

The reproduction Batteaux of the 1980's have begun to illustrate one aspect of Virginia's heritage and to stimulate a popular interest in its River culture.   Though the era of the famed James River Bateau is past, it is once more being remembered and celebrated.


Jean Brydon Robinson, The Rucker Family and the Tobacco Bateau (unpublished family history, April 27, 1985, Amherst County Historical Museum 

Archives), p. 4.
Lynchburg Virginian
, August 17, 1821. Jones Memorial Library, Lynchburg, Virginia.

Deed Entry to Nelson C. Dawson and Ambrose Rucker, Nov. 23, 1821. Amherst County, VA, Circuit Court Archives, Deed Book P, p. 6.

"Thomas Jefferson's Account Entry", April 29, 1775, University of Virginia Library, Manuscripts Department, Thomas Jefferson's Account Books.

A.J. Morrison, "Travels in Virginia in Revolutionary Times." Isaac Wald, 1796 (Lynchburg, VA: J. P. Bell Co., 1922), p. 105.

William P. Palmer, ed. "Letter from W. Harrison to Gov. Jefferson", Calendar of Virginia State Papers, Vol. 1, 1652-1781, (Richmond, VA: James F. Goode, Printer, 1881), p. 493.

Palmer, "Military Letter May 8, 1781". Calendar, Vol. 2, (Richmond, VA James F. Goode, Printer, 1881), p. 90.

Palmer, "Letter of the Loss of Nachez, Aug. 10, 1781". Calendar, Vol. 2, (Richmond, VA James F. Goode, Printer, 1881), p. 315.
Ibid., p. 358.

Melvin G. Herndon, William Tatham and the Culture of Tobacco (Coral Gables, FL: University of Miami Press, 1969), p. 65.

Porte Crayon (David Strother), Virginia Illustrated. (New York: Harper Bros., 1857), p. 232.

Ann Royal, Mrs. Royalls Southern Tour (Washington D.C.: By the Author, 1830 p. 112.  Ibid.   Crayon, Virginia, p. 231.


Primarv Sources

Amherst County Circuit Court Archives, Deed Book "P"
Crayon, Porte. (David Strother) Virginia Illustrated New York: Harpers Bros., 1875.
Henning, William, Henning's Statutes at Lar_ge Vol. 2, 1785-1788. Richmond, VA: 1823.

Herndon, Melvin G., William Tatham and the Culture of Tobacco "Including a facsimile reprint of An Historical and Pract-cal Essay on the Culture and Commerce of Tobacco by William Tatham", Coral Gables, FL: University of Miami Press, 1969.
Lynchburg Virginian.

, August 17, 1821, Jones Memorial Library.
Morrison, A.J., Ed. Travels in Virginia in Revolutionarv Times, Lynchburg, VA: J.P. Bell Co., 1922.

Palmer, William, Ed., Calendar of Virginia State Papers Vol.1, Richmond, VA: James F. Goode, Printer, 1861.

Palmer, William, Ed., Calendar of Virginia State Papers Vol. 2, Richmond, VA: James F. Goode, Printer, 1861.

Palmer, William, Ed., Calendar of Virginia State Papers Vol. 4, Richmond, VA: James F. Goode, Printer, 1861.

Royal, Ann, Mrs. Royalls Southern Tour, Washington, D.C.: (by the author), 1830.

Secondary Sources

Christian, W. Asbury, Lynchburg and Its People, Lynchburg, VA: J.P. Bell Co., 1900.
Dunn, William, Gibson Hobbs, Jr., Ed. , Historical Sketches From the Iron Worker, Lynchburg, VA: Lynchburg Historical Foundation, Inc., 1984.

Amherst  Democratic News


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Candidate Night, Meet The Candidates for Office

The three candidates for Sheriff  are  retired Police Officer Jeff Rowe,  Lt. Stevie Angus and Investigator E W Viar Jr. .

E W Viar Jr.

                               Jeff Rowe                                   


Thursday June 18 at 6 PM 

Madison Heights Library Community Room


Come and meet the candidates:

For Supervisor District 1 -Kenneth Campbell,

For Amherst Circuit Court Clerk -Deborah Coffey Mozingo

Debora Mozingo is FULLY Qualified and has a plan for Amherst Counties future that protects our rich past and fragile documents.   Amherst Democratic News is proud to endorse Debora Coffey Mozingo.   Deborah started at the bottom in the clerks office and has 32 years of experience in every facet of the job.   Amherst Democratic News recommends a vote for Debora Coffey Mozingo.




My name is Deborah Coffey Mozingo and I am running for the Clerk of the Court in Amherst County, a job that requires a great deal of hard work, responsibilities, dedication and time.   I am a life long resident of Amherst County and for the last 32 years have been a Deputy Clerk of the Amherst County Circuit Court Clerk's Office.  I have made my career energetically serving the citizens of Amherst County and am both excited and enthusiastic about the potentials of the office.

For several years I have held the position of Chief Deputy Clerk.  I started out at the entry level position, working up thru the system to my current position.  I have trained and worked under two different Clerks during my career, gaining the experience that has allowed me to work in all phases of the job requirements of the County Clerk.   The Clerk has numerous responsibilities that include Financial Management, Case Management, Civil and Criminal, all types of Accounting duties, budgeting, payroll and many other duties such as issuing marriage licenses to probating wills.

My goal as Clerk is to assist the public in a friendly and helpful manner.   I plan to continue working on bringing our Clerk's Office up to standard with other Clerk's Offices this size, continue working on upgrading the Supreme Court Case Management System that will allow the scanning and electronic filing of documents with other state agencies.  As funds allow, either through the Budget or the use of Grants, I would like to expand the website to the public, pursue paperless filing of both Criminal and Civil cases, set-up e-filing for Attorneys and obtain Grants to preserve the old records and purge the old Deed Books all of which will make the system more user friendly.

I have known both the new Commonwealth Attorney and new Judge for many years, both socially and professionally and look forward to working with them in their new roles.

I am most grateful for the support I have received from citizens of this county over the years.   I now ask for your vote and support of my candidacy for the position of County Clerk and with your help, I look forward to continuing my service to the County as County Clerk. 

Roy C. Mayo, 111 also Endorses Debora Coffey Mozingo.

Share your concerns, and learn how they plan to help the citizens of Amherst County.   We will talk about the real issues that affect our lives.

Refreshments will be available.

Ned Kable, Chair: Amherst County Democratic Committee

                  Happy  Birthday
Happy  Birthday

Sheriff L.J. “Jimmy” Ayers III -  Retiring at years end.

After spending the last 30 years serving Amherst County, Sheriff L.J.   “Jimmy” Ayers III said it’s the people he will miss the most when he retires at the end of this year.   Jimmy attends many of the local events and he can rest assured the people will miss him also.   There is no reason the 
former Sheriff can't continue to make the local events and that's what we hope he will do.

A day after announcing his planned departure Jimmy revealed,  “Since yesterday, the phone calls, text messages and emails … you know, it’s somewhat 

overwhelming, but people have been my life … but if anything that I will miss, it would be the people.”

Ayers surprised many last Thursday when he announced his plans to not seek another term as sheriff.  But he paved his departure with gratitude and the endorsement of Investigator E.W. Viar Jr., who now is one of three candidates who have filed to seek the office as of Monday.

December will mark the end of Ayers’ fifth term and will count as 30 years and two months with the sheriff’s office.

“On November 7, 1995, I was humbled when the citizens of this county elected me as their sheriff,”  Ayers said in his Thursday press release. “…I was tossed into another world that I would not have been able to survive without the help and support of my staff and the citizens of this county.”

Ayers, who first joined the office as a corrections officer in 1985 at age 22, announced the decision first to his staff in a Thursday morning meeting.  He said as he leaves, he has no regrets and will be leaving the office with a “fine team of men and women dedicated and committed to serve this county.”

“Thirty years in a law enforcement profession … it’s a long time,” Ayers said. “Especially for the last 20 years as sheriff, it’s your life.”

His 30 years of service have gone by in a flash, said Ayers, a native of Amherst, but he feels he has fulfilled his obligation to residents and attributed his successes to his fellow staff, past and present.

During Thursday’s announcement, Ayers told his co-workers that the reason he is retiring can be attributed to politics.

“The political end of it I despise, I hate it,” Ayers said.   “I’ve thought about it the last week and a half, two weeks, opposition came up, and that is it.  Looking at everything… I just didn’t want to deal with the political end of an election again.”

Until someone goes through an election, he said, they just do not know how much of an extra job and additional stress it is.

In 2008, Ayers underwent a quadruple-bypass heart surgery two days after feeling a sharp pain in his shoulder and discovering he had four major blockages in his heart.

“The heart surgeon, he talked to me about stress, you know, every aspect of every part of that,” Ayers said.   “And I’ve never been a drinker, I’ve never been a smoker, if I had an addiction it was probably somewhat to eating and to work, because I work constantly.”

And as far as future plans are concerned, once retirement kicks in, Ayers said that he has none, though he has been asked by quite a few people.

“Everybody thinks that I’ve got a cat in the bag,” Ayers said.   “No, I will fulfill my obligation here through the end of the year and in January, if the good Lord has a plan for me, I hope he will have me on the path at that time.   If not, I’ll take it a day at a time.”

As Ayers’ final term winds down, three candidates already said they will seek the position in the November election — Viar, retired Amherst Police Officer Jeff Rowe and Lt. Stevie Angus of the Amherst County Sheriff’s Office.

In a news release, Viar said he decided to run in this year’s election after conferring with Ayers.

“I had always promised Sheriff Ayers I would not run against him in an election,”  Viar said in the release.  “After he approached me with the news of his December retirement, and with his support, I plan to seek to replace him as Amherst County’s Sheriff.”

Viar, like Turner, said he also was shocked when he heard that Ayers planned to retire.

“I understand it, I know he’s worked hard,”  Viar said.   “This man has given it 24/7 as sheriff, 20 years — I know.”

Viar recounted one night when he was out on call until after 4 a.m. and Ayers called to check in and see how things were going.

“I said, ‘Man, do you ever sleep?’” Viar recalled.   “And I know, as a deputy that works here, and we all do, that he didn’t.  He listened to the radio, he listened to everything all the time.   I’ll miss that.

“The man’s been a good all-around person, I mean, the man really cares about his community and where he lives and is very outspoken about his community.   He has deep ties to his community.”

If elected, Viar said he would like to continue working toward getting the force accredited, both on a state and national level.   Viar said that this is something that Ayers initiated and that he would like to continue.

As he prepares to leave, Ayers voiced support for Viar, while also calling Rowe’s platform “20 years of animosity and a vindictive desire fueled by disgruntled individuals.”

Rowe’s response to that statement was simply,  “It’s not true.

“I’m not a vengeful person and I never will be; I was not brought up that way,”  Rowe said.  “Why he would say that?  I don’t know, except it’s an election.”

In a later interview, Ayers said he wishes Rowe well and the utmost success in his campaign, just as he does for Viar.

“I wish neither of the candidates any ill will at all,”  Ayers said.   At that time, Angus had not yet filed to run.  “At the end of the day, may the best man win.”

Ayers said that what he wanted to convey was that, no matter who the candidate is, always check their platform and what they stand for.

Rowe said one aspect that drives his desire to run is the “need [for] a change here in Amherst County.”

One of his goals, should he win the sheriff’s seat, would be to increase patrol visibility in the county and ensure that U.S. 29 is not the only place being watched by Amherst’s officers, because “being seen deters crime.”

Another pursuit of Rowe’s would be a more watchful eye out for texting and driving.  He said that while a lot of kids hear about this problem, he would like to have law enforcement go into schools and teach students about it.

“It’s a pet peeve of mine,” Rowe said. “...You can’t take your eyes off the road.”

On a more personal level, Rowe said he wants to encourage the Sheriff’s Office to be like a big family — that all law enforcement agencies are part of a team effort, from the federal level down to the local level.

“If one person takes the credit, it’s not a team,” Rowe said. “It’s about team effort.”

The most recent candidate to put his name in the race is Angus, who said he has worked at the sheriff’s office for close to 26 years but never ran before this point out of respect for Ayers.

Before his time in Amherst, Angus served in the Army, National Guard and at a maximum-security prison.

“I’ve always served in some kind of way,” Angus said.  “Community … and country.  ”One of Angus’ interests if he wins the seat is creating a “Bill of Rights” for deputies, who he said “don’t have a lot of protections.”

Officers have no job security, Angus said, and their jobs are in jeopardy every four years.  When a new sheriff comes in, he has “the power to let you go,”  Angus said.

Angus also would like to see a new emphasis property crimes and crimes against people.


Thursday June 18 at 6 PM 

Madison Heights Library Community Room


Come and meet the candidates:

For Supervisor District 1 -Kenneth Campbell,

 For Amherst Circuit Court Clerk -Deborah Mozingo. 

For Amherst County Sheriff, -Jeff Rowe..

and others..

Share your concerns, and learn how they plan to help the citizens of Amherst County.   We will talk about the real issues that affect our lives.

Refreshments will be available.

Ned Kable, Chair: Amherst County Democratic Committee

Thank YOU JIMMY, Terrific Job, Well Done

Sheriff  L.J.Ayers III, better known to the citizens of Amherst County as "Jimmy", was sworn in as Sheriff on January 1st, 1996.  Sheriff Ayers has built his administration with a strong emphasis on integrity and community service.  He has shown over the past several years that he holds his deputies to the same standards he holds himself to.

Demonstrating his strong commitment to the citizens of Amherst County, Sheriff Ayers has implemented several programs to address community issues and concerns.  In 1999 using grant money he instituted the School Resource Officer (SRO) program in the High School.  Since then this program has grown to include an SRO in each of the two middle schools and the alternative school.  In 1997, by the creation of the Crime Prevention Unit, Sheriff Ayers has offered the citizens of Amherst tips on how not to become a victim and how to make their homes and businesses crime resistant.  In 2000, Sheriff Ayers saw a burgeoning need to supplement the volunteer rescue squad system and help in its preservation.   

A native of Amherst County, Sheriff Ayers has dedicated his life to making it a safer and better place for all to live.  Joining the Sheriff's Office in 1985 he started as a corrections officer in the "old jail"'.   Over the next ten years he worked his way up to Field Operations Sergeant, deciding in 1995 to run for Sheriff.

Sheriff Ayers' commitment to the community also extends to his personal life.  He is a member of the Madison Height Lions Club, Amherst/Monroe Ruritan Club, and AF & AM Clinton Lodge #73.  He and his family are members of Madison Heights Baptist Church.  Sheriff Ayers and his family have been known to attend many other churches and community events including homecomings, revivals, and funerals.

Since taking office Sheriff Ayers has striven to bring the Sheriff's Office into the 21st century by implementing programs and services that benefit every citizen.  Many of these programs where instituted and sustained utilizing both state and federal grants and local donations.  Some of these programs are:

K-9 Unit - Currently consisting of four dogs trained in narcotics detection, tracking, and patrol operations.

School Resource Officer (SRO) Program - Provides specially trained deputies in the high school, both middle schools, and the alternative school.

Tactical Unit - Provides specially trained deputies to serve search warrants and intervene in high risk situations.

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) - Provides specially trained deputies to 1st respond to medical emergencies, supplementing the counties paid and volunteer system.

DARE (Drug Abuse Response Education) - Provides the drug awareness program in each of the counties eight elementary schools.

Crime Prevention Unit

We Care- A program where the dispatchers contact at-risk senior citizens by phone daily.

Neighborhood Watch- Neighbors watching out for neighbors and reporting unusual behavior or incidents.

Triad- Police chiefs, Sheriffs and citizens working together towards the safety of senior citizens

Citizen and Youth Police Academy- An introduction to law enforcement offered in the summers.

Project Lifesaver- A program designed to assist in locating missing Alzheimer's patients and other at risk residents.
Explorer Post 930- In cooperation with the Boy Scouts of America open to all Amherst County high school age teens offering law enforcement training and out door excursions.

Narcotics Unit - A specialized unit that falls under the Investigations Division and enforces street level criminal interdiction that includes drug enforcement.

Computer Crimes Unit - A division of the investigation unit charged with the responsibility of investigating computer related crimes.

Amherst Democratic News


Sunday, June 14, 2015

The GOP is Going the Way of the Dodo Bird

GOP Crashing:   Why the Republican Party Should Disband

I've always found Joe McQuaid, the publisher of the Manchester Union-Leader, to be a good fella even though he presides over a very strange newspaper.   He also is a troublemaker, and there is a generous amount of trouble to be made with the potential bag of walnuts that is the Republican presidential primary field.   You may have noticed that the folks at the Fox News Channel decided pretty much on their own that they would take it upon themselves to winnow down the number of participants in the primary debates.   They devised a method to do so based on polling.   To this, McQuaid said phooey, and threatened to host a kiddie table debate among those folks who didn't make the cut on August 6, the night of the first varsity debate in Cleveland.

Union Leader Publisher Joseph W. McQuaid said the newspaper has been considering such a forum for some time.  He said an open protest letter sent Wednesday to Fox and the Republican National Committee from 56 prominent state Republicans should be a wake-up call to everyone in New Hampshire.   "What Fox is attempting to do, and is actually bragging about doing, is a real threat to the first-in-the-nation primary,"  McQuaid said. "Fox boasts that it will 'winnow' the field of candidates before New Hampshire gets to do so. That isn't just bad for New Hampshire, it's bad for the presidential selection process by limiting the field to only the best-known few with the biggest bankrolls.   Why the RNC and, especially, its New Hampshire representative, Steve Duprey, would defend this and be a party to it is baffling."

Faced with McQuaid's defiance, Fox folded and announced that it, too, would be holding a repechage round from Cleveland on the afternoon of that first debate.   At this point, I fully expect one of the Murdochs to come out from the wings when the latter is over and hand Chris Christie a participation trophy. 

The announcement capped a chaotic three-hour stretch that began when the New Hampshire Union-Leader published a story announcing it would host a forum on August 6.

So, yes, the Republican primary process already is spinning out of control.   A television network and a local newspaper are calling the shots.   And where, you might ask, is the stern, guiding hand of obvious anagram Reince Priebus, the emptiest suit in American politics?    He's ducking behind a spokesman is where he is.

Minutes later, Duprey called to say that he'd spoken with RNC spokesman and chief strategist Sean Spicer, who had been in touch with people at the Union-Leader.   RNC officials had been given assurances, Duprey said, that the candidates would appear on stage one at a time.   That specific provision—candidates giving individual speeches into the camera, rather than interacting with each other and a moderator—would allow the event to comply with RNC rules.   But shortly after ??National Journal published a story reporting that RNC officials had been given such assurances and felt confident the New Hampshire forum would comply with its rules, McQuaid emailed to say that wasn't the case.   "[Y]our report about our newspaper having only one candidate at a time is false,"  McQuaid wrote.   "Whoever fed you that is full of B.S."   Asked to clarify whether his forum would have multiple candidates on stage at the same time, McQuaid replied,  "Yes."

So, I have a modest proposal before everything gets completely out of hand and we find Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson pitching blenders against each other on QVC.   Why is it necessary at this point to have a formal Republican party structure at all?   The RNC can't control the size of the field, because any breathing primate who knows a friendly gozillionnaire can stay alive through the entire process.   The RNC can't control the debates, because the interests of the FNC and/or the Union-Leader are treated within the conservative movement especially as being equal or superior to the party's interest in an orderly process.   Times have changed. Back in the day, a party chairman could have felt free to tell McQuaid -- and the candidates participating in his forum -- to pound sand.

Change the formal Republican party to a purely advisory institution, a benign logistical clearing house, helpful but not vital.   If candidates and media institutions are going to go their own ways anyway, let them do it.   Make sure the RNC is there when they need it -- to offer advice and book the halls and, at least at the start, organize the convention -- but make sure everybody understands that it has no real authority.   This is now the second consecutive election cycle in which the Republican primary field is essentially made up of independent bodies orbiting their own private suns.   It's a miracle of nature.    They should leave that system alone to evolve in its own way.   That is, after all, the Prime Directive.

Duggars and the Fox Sellout

Last week, it was announced that Ma and Pa Duggar, of the incredible pullulating Duggars of Arkansas, would be going on Fox News with tough-gal news hawk Megyn Kelly to discuss how they buried for over a year their eldest son's molestation of several young girls, including (allegedly) his sisters.   Alas, it appears that Megyn has decided to go deeply into the tank.

KELLY:   I'll take that reputation as a tough but fair journalist.   However, this isn't going to be a cross examination of a family.   It's going to be an interview.   I want to hear their story.   And I think America wants to hear their story now.   And what's been remarkable to me as, I admit, somebody who doesn't watch this show, is to see how many in the media have handled it.   From jumping to  "They're the worst, the house of horrors, this family's sick, sick, sick"  to people like this woman on CNN trying to make this the problem of the Republican presidential field.

Right at the bottom of the tank, she encounters Howie Kurtz, who set up shop there 15 years ago.

"Where is the media outcry over the fact that someone in law enforcement leaked to In Touch Weekly and to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Josh Duggar's juvenile police records, which are supposed to be sealed and sacrosanct?   " Kurtz asked.   "Some critics enjoying this scandal so much, Megyn, they can't even be bothered to mention that."

Antonin Scalia is unfit to serve:   

A justice who rejects science and the law for religion is of unsound mind.

Readers of this column already know that faith-derangement syndrome has stricken the highest levels of the executive branch of government, afflicting President Obama and virtually all his potential successors.   Now we have evidence that it has spread to the top organ of the judiciary, the Supreme Court.

But first, a clarification.   Sufferers of faith-derangement syndrome (FDS) exhibit the following symptoms:  unshakable belief in the veracity of manifest absurdities detailed in ancient texts regarding the origins of the cosmos and life on earth;  a determination to disseminate said absurdities in educational institutions and via the media;  a propensity to enjoin and even enforce (at times using violence) obedience to regulations stipulated in said ancient texts, regardless of their suitability for contemporary circumstances;  the conviction that an invisible, omnipresent, omniscient authority (commonly referred to as “God”) directs the course of human and natural events, is vulnerable to propitiation and blandishments, and monitors individual human behavior, including thought processes, with an especially prurient interest in sexual activity.

Secondary symptoms exhibited by sufferers of FDS comprise feelings of righteousness and sensations of displeasure, even outrage, when collocutors question, reject or refute the espousal of said absurdities.   Tertiary symptoms, often present among individuals self-classifying as “evangelicals”:   Duggar-esque hairdos and Tammy Bakker-ian makeup, preternaturally sunny dispositions and pedophiliac tendencies, sartorial ineptitude and obesity.

Back to FDS and the Supreme Court.   Last week, Justice Antonin Scalia delivered a commencement speech at an all-girls Catholic High School in Bethesda, Maryland.   He warned the assembled, “You should not leave Stone Ridge High School thinking that you face challenges that are at all, in any important sense, unprecedented.   Humanity has been around for at least some 5,000 years or so” – sic, italics mine – “and I doubt that the basic challenges as confronted are any worse now, or alas even much different, from what they ever were.”

At least one “challenge” (anthropogenic global warming) is indeed unprecedented, and scientifically demonstrated, and, considering the threat it poses to humanity, not something to ho-hum about.   But what is science to a man suffering from faith-derangement syndrome?   Not much.

Arguably one of the most visible members of the nine-member body charged with the decisive resolution of our republic’s most contentious legal matters, Scalia confronts us with a sui generis challenge of great urgency:   how to go about declaring a magistrate appointed for life of unsound mind and thus unfit to serve?   Scalia rejects the fact of evolution – the foundation of modern biology – in favor of the opening chapter of a compendium of cockamamie fables concocted by obscure humans in a particularly dark age, evidence that his faculty of reason has suffered the debilitating impairment associated with acute FDS.    He therefore cannot be relied upon to adjudicate without prejudice and should be removed from the bench henceforth.

We have even more damning evidence of Justice Scalia’s FDS-related impairment, and it came to my attention thanks to the website of the New Civil Rights Movement.    A couple of years ago, Scalia nonplussed a contributing editor at New York magazine, Jennifer Senior, who made the understandable mistake of assuming that the Harvard-educated SCOTUS potentate lived in the real world, and not in a phantasmagorical realm of djinns and genies and junk cosmogony.

Senior interviewed Scalia for her magazine.   She asked for his opinion of the pope.   Scalia reacted with untoward prickliness, saying he would not “run down … the Vicar of Christ.”    Nothing surprising, really.    A Reagan-era appointee, Scalia has long been known for his staunch Roman Catholicism.

But then the interview took a comic, almost sinister turn.   Senior asked Scalia about homosexuality.   Though professing to be “not a hater of homosexuals at all,” he said that he accepted “Catholic teaching that it’s wrong.”   She pressed him to evaluate how such a position will look to people 50 years from now.   He responded, “I have never been custodian of my legacy.   When I’m dead and gone, I’ll either be sublimely happy or terribly unhappy.”

“You believe in heaven and hell?”

“Oh, of course I do.   Don’t you believe in heaven and hell?”

No, Senior answered, she did not.   Scalia then proffered an entirely serious aside about Judas Iscariot’s current location in the hereafter, prompting an uncomfortable Senior to remark, “Can we talk about your drafting process?”

No.   Here Scalia’s FDS recrudesced in full.     He leaned toward her and whispered, surely with eyes ablaze,  “I even believe in the Devil  …  he’s a real person.   Hey, c’mon, that’s standard Catholic doctrine!   Every Catholic believes that.”

By this time, Senior must have been scanning the room for the emergency exit.   But she pulled herself together.   “Have you seen evidence of the Devil lately?”

Scalia replied, “You know, it is curious.   In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things.  He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot.    And that doesn’t happen very much anymore …  because he’s smart.”  Scalia attributed the spread of atheism to Satan, who was “getting people not to believe in him or in God.   He’s much more successful that way.”  Satan had, in Scalia’s estimation, become “wilier,” which explained “why there’s not demonic possession all over the place.”

One can only imagine the look of bug-eyed incredulity on poor Senior’s face.   Scalia certainly noticed it.

“You’re looking at me as though I’m weird,” he declared.   “My God!   Are you so out of touch with most of America, most of which believes in the Devil?   I mean, Jesus Christ believed in the Devil!   It’s in the Gospels!   You travel in circles that are so, so removed from mainstream America that you are appalled that anybody would believe in the Devil!   Most of mankind has believed in the Devil, for all of history.   Many more intelligent people than you or me have believed in the Devil.”

Clearly a traveler in circles of folks far saner than six out of 10 Americans, Senior nevertheless observed the societal convention according to which we are to keep calm, nod and act normal when victims of FDS solemnly utter their characteristically rank inanities.   She responded, “I hope you weren’t sensing contempt from me.   It wasn’t your belief that surprised me so much as how boldly you expressed it.”

Scalia replied,  “I was offended by that.   I really was.”

Oh really, Justice Scalia?   You were offended?  You had just committed an outrage against reason, voicing belief in Beelzebub, a comic-book bugaboo the pedophile pulpiteers of your creed have deployed to warp the minds of their credulous “flocks” for two millennia.   You had just declared yourself a biblical literalist, and therefore an enemy of historical fact.   Your position on the Beelzebub question in particular gives reason to dread how your court will rule if, as seems inevitable, a test case reaches your bench involving one of the many Religious Freedom Restoration Acts disgracing the legal codes of far too many states.   You managed all this, and you are offended?

Justice Scalia, to call your worldview Neanderthalic would be an understatement.   It would also probably be inaccurate, given that you surely hold that Neanderthals never existed.   The Lord, you might say, just stashed those pesky fossils underground to test our faith.

Scalia’s peevish demoniac harangue clearly had its roots in the past decade or so of New Atheist assertiveness.   The faithful sense the mounting impatience among rationalists with beliefs that are not just wrong, they are, especially when influencing public policy, education and legislation, dangerous and regressive.

Battered by the rising winds of godlessness, the devotees of an invisible celestial tyrant (or those cynically pandering to such dullards) are gearing up for a fight.   Republican presidential candidate (and ordained Southern Baptist minister) Mike Huckabee does not  “necessarily”  accept Darwinian theory, but has allowed that “if anybody wants to believe that they are the descendants of a primate, they are certainly welcome to do it.”    (We are not only descended from primates, we are primates.)   His colleague Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker refuses to say what he believes, though he does “think God created the Earth.”   Their rival, the neurosurgeon Ben Carson, has opined that,  “Somebody says [the human brain] came from a slime pit full of promiscuous biochemicals?   I don’t think so.” No? Take a refresher course in biology and see how.

Faith-addled intrusions into public life extend beyond denying the fact of evolution.   Another Republican contender for the presidency, Rick Santorum, has admonished the pope for his forthright stance on climate change, but urged Catholics to concentrate on “what they are really good at, which is theology and morality.”

Morality?   Is Santorum making a sick joke?    Pope Francis has continued the long-standing policy of his predecessors of sheltering child rapists, no matter what P.R. stunts he mounts purporting to show otherwise.    Curiously, the pope recently felt compelled to ask atheists to send him “good vibrations.”    What we ought to do is send in the vice squad.    Perhaps it would turn up more than the mere hundred thousand child porn videos and photographs the Vatican’s own (oxymoronically named) promoter of justice reportedly discovered on the computer of accused child rapist and former Archbishop Josef Wesolowski.   We might then send representatives to the United Nations demanding it strip the Vatican of the statehood granted it by Mussolini’s fascist Italy in the 1929 Lateran Treaty.    And we should certainly send out notice that the votaries of the bizarre Catholic cult are to stay well away from our children.

The current Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton, even though as a child she claims that she “talked with God, walked with God, ate, studied and argued with God,” gives us less reason to fear than do her Republican brethren in Christ.  ”Schools,” she has said, “may not provide religious instruction, but they may teach about the Bible or other scripture in the teaching of history or literature, for example.”   Fair enough.  She has every (constitutionally guaranteed) right to her faith, and the Bible, key to understanding Western civilization, needs to be studied.

Most of us have heard Christians talk of “living their faith.”   I challenge them – and I’m addressing Justice Scalia, Santorum, et al. — to really do it.   To all who profess to believe in the Genesis version of our species’ origins, and disbelieve the fact of evolution:   go right ahead, live your faith for real.    Since the concept of evolution through natural selection forms the basis for modern biology (without which modern medicine would not exist), go ahead, renounce visits to all doctors who have graduated from accredited Western medical schools.   Cease use of all medications developed post-1859, the year Darwin published his  “On the Origin of Species.” Divest from all pharmaceutical companies producing medication developed by researchers with biological backgrounds.   Picket hospitals and clinics dispensing such medication or employing graduates of accredited medical and nursing schools.   Withdraw your children, or dematriculate yourselves, from any educational institution teaching biology.

Tough out the rising rate of disease and death to come among your ranks!    Your diminishing numbers will positively affect electoral results nationwide.   True, we rationalists will have less to guffaw about, and fewer targets for satire and outright ridicule, but this is a price we are willing to pay.

Back to Scalia. Justice Scalia, until you’ve cured yourself of your FDS, please spare us your gaga musings about the history of humankind, desist from imposing your obscurantist dogma on impressionable young minds, and interpret the law in accordance with how the secularist Founding Fathers conceived it.   You profess to be, after all, an originalist.

Better yet, Justice Scalia, resign.

Jeffrey Tayler is a contributing editor at The Atlantic. His seventh book, “Topless Jihadis — Inside Femen, the World’s Most Provocative Activist Group,” is out now as an Atlantic ebook. Follow @JeffreyTayler1 on Twitter.

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