Next time, someone should ask first

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The moral of this lesson might be, don’t show up to a private party uninvited and expect to be greeted with open arms.

The state government this week announced that it has selected 10 Virginia sites for consideration by the U.S. Navy as potential locations for a new 8,000-foot runway that would be used to augment touch-and-go training that now takes place at Oceana Naval Air Station and at Fentress Naval Auxiliary Landing Field.

Four of the sites lie within Southampton County or along its border with Sussex.

Problem was, nobody told local elected officials about the decision. Those local officials are plenty upset with the governor’s office for its secrecy, and rightfully so.

An announcement was made on Tuesday, following a Monday session that was not open to the public. The Office of Commonwealth Preparedness issued a statement detailing the proposed locations.

&uot;We were completely left in the dark by the governor’s office,&uot; said Jay Randolph, the county’s assistant administrator, He said the county staff was notified by the preparedness office just minutes before members of the media began calling for comment.

&uot;I was a little disappointed in the governor’s office,&uot; he added.

The discussions that will take place here will certainly begin with the clandestine manner in which the decision was reached and the statement was released.

And that’s only the starting point of the discussion. Once the public is invited to provide input, the collective opposition will be powerful and ferocious.

&uot;People are very concerned,&uot; said county planner Michael G. Drake. &uot;It’s going to be a big issue.&uot;

It already is.