Future is bright for Isle of Wight

Published 11:37 am Saturday, June 11, 2016

Editor’s Note: Supervisor Rex Alphin has graciously allowed The Tidewater News to reprint his speech at the recent State of the County breakfast.

It is with pleasure that I have been allowed to chair the Isle of Wight County Board of supervisors these last two years. Permit me to introduce my fellow board members:

Vice Chair Rudolph Jefferson, Hardy District

Joel Acree, Windsor District

William McCarty, Newport District

Dick Grice, Smithfield District

Let me first of all thank all in this room for what you do to make this place we call our home what it is today. You are the leaders, and thus at the forefront of this continuing effort to enrich, beautify, and protect this place we call home. The 36,000 residents embedded in these 315 square miles constitute, in my opinion, that sort of people necessary to create and establish communities devoted to the pursuit of what is good and true and beautiful.

The statistics speak for themselves:

• A school system that tops the state average with a 91.6 percent on-time graduation rate

• We issued141 residential and commercial building permits in 2015, a 4 percent increase

• We approved 154 new business licenses in 2015, a 16 percent increase

• We boast 10 major private sector companies employing 100-plus employees including The Smithfield Packing Company, Keurig Green Mountain, International Paper, Cost Plus World Market, and Riverside Regional Medical Center.

• Average sale price for existing homes rose to $244,408, a 10.5 percent increase over 2014

• Within our borders lie 213 family farms, or over 75,000 acres. Of the 95 counties in Virginia, we rank third in cotton and peanuts, fourth in hogs, seventh in soybeans and ninth in wheat.

• We cut the ribbon on three new county facilities last year: The Isle of Wight County Health Department, the brand new Isle of Wight Volunteer Rescue Squad building and the Mary W. Wells Senior Center.

• Our award winning fair was attended by 29,337 people.

And the list goes on.

Looking forward, I believe we have a wonderful, opportunistic future. During my last five years tenure on this board, we have had to continually rely on tax increases and withdrawing funds from our unassigned fund balance in order to achieve a balanced budget. It has been quite a challenge.

Next fiscal year, 2016-17, we shall fund our schools properly, provide support in all areas of public safety, meet our debt obligations, and we shall sustain all necessary county operations without withdrawing a single dollar from the unassigned fund balance and with no tax increase whatsoever. All while maintaining our excellent AA credit rating.

The future is indeed bright as Isle of Wight remains one of the most attractive destinations in all of Hampton Roads. But I would like to take a slightly different turn and address a growing concern.


I have noticed in the past decade, in my limited observations, a gradual shift in the attitudes and stances of the general populace as it relates to public institutions, especially government at all levels, organizations, businesses, and the general outlook on the activities of life itself. It is a move towards the embracement of cynicism. Some have called it the spirit of the age.

It is cynicism that is constantly searching for a thousand “half-empty” glasses. It is cynicism that suspects behind every action, every deed, every effort there is some misguided motive lurking in the shadows. It seeks to find fault wherever it rests its eyes, and if such fault does happen to surface somewhere, it is the first to say, “See, I told you so.”

It is always suspicious and always critical. It paralyses initiative and strangles hope.

I suggest to you today that we, as a people, decry such a stance. For I contend that what we do, as a people, matters.

Whether we are “planning and zoning,” “human resourcing,” “administrating,” “economic developing,” “touristing,” “parks and recreationing,” “convenience centering,” “firefighting” or “EMCing,” it matters.

When a grandfather attends his grandson’s first baseball game at the Windsor Athletic Field, it matters

When a group adopts a highway in Carrsville and picks up trash they did not discard, it matters

When a woman in Smithfield takes a cherry pie to her neighbor who was just diagnosed with cancer, it matters

When a pastor in Carrollton stands up on a weekly basis and proclaims, “We are not alone”, it matters

When a mother in Rushmere tells her five year old daughter, for no reason at all, “I love you,” it matters.

When an old farmer in Zuni walks out in July to pull up one weed in the middle of his peanut field, it matters.

When an eight year old boy from Walters catches his first fish ever from the Blackwater River, it matters.

When a thousand people do a thousand things like this in a thousand different ways, it is what makes a good, rich,noble community.

And I am convinced, that is the kind of people we are. Thank you.

REX ALPHIN of Walters is a farmer, businessman, author and county supervisor. His email address is rexalphin@aol.com