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Grundy, Virginia and the $200 Million Bridge to Nowhere
by Lewis Loflin
(Above) From the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (a government agency). A view of Grundy, circa 2005. The flood control project is on the left.
Quoting a Grundy, Virginia resident, nothing ever changes. And he was right, questionable pork-barrel government projects in Grundy have gone whole hog. After five years of work (as of 2007) to clear a 13-acre site for a new downtown, they still hope to build a new town.
At least that's what town officials hoped, but it didn't turn out that way. After moving 2 million cubic yards of rock/dirt and costing as much as $200 million, we get a Wal-Mart. with a population of about 1100 in 2000, that's $182,000 per resident.
This super-duper Wal-Mart Supercenter is "unique" being built atop a parking garage. The idea was to save space at the 10 or 13 acre site, the press can't seem to decide. Commonwealth Development Co., a Knoxville developer that is supposed to invest $20 million in the super strip mall, had to have a way to cross the river to start construction.
Public officials built them a $1.8 million bridge. As of August 2007 the bridge is only open to contractors. U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher, D-9th. Boucher helped pork-out $76 million in federal funding for so-called flood control, while VDOT porked-out $33 million to purchase the mostly vacant buildings and property for the road project that will cost another $25 million.
According to news reports, (Washington Post) the former business owners pocketed the hefty taxpayer loot they got for the government tearing their mostly closed businesses. They have no plans at all to reopen and this has generated outrage among many Virginia residents. As usual they are claiming hundreds of new jobs to the area.
To quote, "It's going to be a big improvement in convenience. Right now the stores are located in different places. There is not very much parking. The closest Wal-mart right now is 40 miles away." This was according to a student at the local law school. That too is another taxpayer creation being bottle-fed an endless diet of government economic development money. I hope he plans to work at Wal-Mart. They also put in a pharmacy school.
Also Appalachian School of Law shootings
Update August 2007. Here is another example of how government plays silly games with employment numbers. Economic developers made a big deal about opening a new processing center for employment claims at an industrial park in Buchanan County, Virginia. This is the site of several failed businesses lured in with tax dollars.
These "new jobs" like most government jobs pay far more than the low wage private sector jobs they brought in before and aren't as likely to close down. Then we get this, they are firing other workers in Bristol, Virginia, etc. These are not new jobs, just more jobs relocating a few miles down the road.
Guess they need something in those costly taxpayer funded industrial parks. The Virginia Employment Commission planned to lay off most hourly, part-time staff, the plan calls for eliminating more than 50 jobs at seven field offices across the area. (40 percent cut in staff.) Funding for the Employment Commission comes from the federal government based on the number of unemployment insurance claims filed in the state. Claim filings have dropped by about 40 percent in 2005. The Employment Commission to handle a $20 million budget cut from $74 million this year to $54 in 2006.
Also see The Truth About Unemployment
1984 flood in Grundy, Virginia
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