Historical Project at Chatham, Va Train Station Depot may yield corruption
On May 9, 2012. I was approached by a young woman that lives at 323 Whitehead Court in Chatham, Va. She was happy that the Depot was having much needed repairs done to bring it back to a business and tourist friendly area. However, after a further inquiry into the project that concerns were raised in the oversight and construction of this project.
I went up to the Town of Chatham, Va city hall with the young woman after she complained that the construction workers and supervisors of the project was unwilling to cooperate with her concerns that they may be taking the value away from her property, as well as causing financial hardships that she had no control over. Due to construction, the road in which she stayed on made it considerably hard for the Post office to deliver mail. She received a letter from the Post Office of Chatham, Va, that an investigation had been done and she would have to obstruct her mailbox and move it to another location in order to have mail delivered to her address. It is uncertain that the Pittsylvania Historical Society got permission to do work on a public road that would alter this woman entitlement to receive mail that has always been delivered to her address for years. It is certain that the Town of Chatham, Va did not give permission or have in their possession any authorization for work done on the outside of the building, and the permits held in the Pittsylvania County Permit office only shows that construction was allowed only inside of the Depot Train Station. It is very possible that the work being done on the street and near her property may have been done without getting approval by the Town of Chatham, Va council or the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors or its agents et al. A fence has been resurrected to keep people out with plastic orange wrap which may be in violation because no permit for building a fence or a similar structure has been approved by Town of Chatham, Va or Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors or its agents.
Moreover, after visiting her home, we went up to Pittsylvania County, Va Permits Office off of Main Street to speak with a representative in regards to the project and permits that was approved. They said that they only carried permits which allowed for making alterations to the inside of the project but none to the parameter. Moreover, the official said that the Pittsylvania Historical Society project fell under the Town of Chatham, Va jurisdiction.
Consequently, we went back to the Town of Chatham, Va to tell them what was said by the Pittsylvania County permit office and then officially filed a Virginia FOIA request in regards to all communications, documentations, account statements, employee salaries involved in the project, and permit information in regards to the Pittsylvania Historical Society. Finally, we were told no information even existed and that the Town of Chatham, Va does not issue permits for the Pittsylvania Historical Society and that they can do whatever they want. Also, the railroad a.k.a Norfolk Southern was held responsible for being able to throw their weight around in regards to what they do with the land which they donated to another entity.
Thirdly, we went to the Pittsylvania County planning office to search for information on the Zoning in regards to the project. The County Administrator was not in the office and an assistant took the information in regards to the concerns of the woman, and stated that they would take a look at whether Pittsylvania Historical Society was acting appropriately in regards to the project. However, they did not realize that a Building Permit official had already stated that Pittsylvania County did not have anything to do with the project and it was under the Town of Chatham, Va.
Moreover, we found out that Langhorn Jones and a Mr. Giles oversaw the project. I believe they allowed a project to go so unsupervised that they knowingly allowed the project to build without permits or oversight through the color of the law. They took away Pittsylvania County and the Town of Chatham, Va authority to approve building permits that would have been necessary. I believe there was no recommendation given by the Planning Department and no vote on the matter by either branch of local and county government. They may have possibly violated this woman civil rights of due process and overstep their authority in not informing the other Town Council and Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors of construction that might have had to be voted upon in regards to the project. I believe there exist, an illegal encroachment and aeasement onto the property by the Pittsylvania Historical Society, without consideration or compensation given to those affected by the project, that might be subject to have a downgrade in property value. Very possible 5th and 14th amendment violations. Also if a fence is erected, than the view that the property once had would be greatly diminish and might show a significant change in the enjoyment of the property, before the changes was made to bring the Depot to its final outlook. I also believe the Town of Chatham, Va and Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors are in direct violation of the Dillon Rule, in which if changes was made to a public road or area without getting authorization from the State than it would mean a local entity would be acting under the Home Rule and not the Dillon Rule.
Last but not least, a Historical District is not supposed to disturb the aesthetics of other private property that is located near the project. Building a 6 foot high fence without a permit would obviously change the aesthetics of the neighbor’s property that is located near the project. It is clear that a lot of favors are being done without other public official involvement because of the leaders that oversea the project and their positions at the time in which the project was approved.
Furthermore, this project receives a federal grant but in the process is possibly violating federal laws. I do not know who is getting paid to allow this Society to bypass the rules that everyone else has to follow. But due to the leadership in this area, it is clear that other state officials need to come in and bring much needed oversight and possibly an investigation into why a local and county government cannot produce records that they knowingly should have in regards to this project. What makes this project so special to the point that the people within the locality cannot obtain or view their public records because they are being leaded to believe that they don’t exist?
In conclusion, Pittsylvania County has been responsible for some of the largest losses of tax payer money in the area. Pittsylvania County had to settle a 7.5 million lawsuit filed by the State in regards to money missing from the At Risk Youth program. There are even more programs that show Pittsylvania County is clearly irresponsible with money or that they allow for its actors to violate state and federal laws without consequence. I ask for an independent investigation into this project and the government structure of Pittsylvania County because their officials are not qualified for the offices in which they hold. One official in the Town of Chatham, Va did not know how to handle a Virginia Freedom of Information Act request and was trying his best to give back the request because he was claiming that the records of Pittsylvania Historical Society does not exist. The Public Works Supervisor did not want the request because he knew that the records would expose more corruption in Pittsylvania County. I ask the State of Virginia and Federal Authorities that handle grants or local government investigations to come in and do a thorough investigation of the County coffers and public officials.
On May 10, 2012, I released a letter to numerous state and federal agencies asking for assistance in responding the problems that we was having in getting answers to overall outlook of this project and too whom may be affected by its business practices. At 7:00pm, we could see Town and County officials meetings secretly at the Train Depot. Acourse, I can not comment on there conversation because the meeting was done inside of the building. It was very odd to see the concerns on their face as they arrived. I even took a couple of pictures with my phone to record images of this historic meeting.
On May 12, 2012, I would receive another response from the Virginia Department of Transportation. The woman would finally receive her mail on this same date. The shocking thing going through all of our minds was why the Town of Chatham, Va post office stated that they had not receive any mail for this woman previously. Now, all the mail that they had receive was waiting in her mailbox. However, earlier in the day she had called me to say a Black Truck with two men was sitting right in front of her house. She had never seen the people before and they did not come out to speak. The reason for them being there is still unknown to this day. If there was nothing being done wrong by the Town and the County than why did the mail show up on this date and not anytime before. It clearly showed that the Town and County had a influence on the Federal mail distribution in this area.
It is like the Town and County had a cookie and forgot that Merle Rutledge could still be holding the glass of milk. I did not come to the Town for any controversy but I was sure I would not be harass, intimidated, or bothered by the continued day to day operations of the town. However, I read in the Star Tribune that Chatham Town Attorney Gott responded to the dismissal of my lawsuit against Officer Roach, by saying “It’s over.” Now really, Mr. Gott, do you really believe that now. I haven’t begun to fight. I’m just getting warmed up.
I believe the Town and County is stealing money from its tax payers. Building permits is tax revenue for much needed services within the Town and County. When these are avoided, than it is stealing from the tax payers. The responsibility and accountability departments for these counties are responsible for the continuing losses of funds that continue to haunt the area. They have workers in the Town that do nothing but sit there and continue to frustrate those that come in and ask common sense questions. They avoid transparency and disclosure on basic government practices and responses. All these public officials are getting a extra paycheck by calling themselves the Government of the Town of Chatham. The Charter for the Town of Chatham should be revoked and given back to Pittsylvania County.
There are more qualified people that are ready to work hard and put the Town of Chatham and Pittsylvania County back into a efficient running governmental machine, but they are being passed over for incompetence. The Town and County should give them a pink slip and state that your services and your cookie jar routine needs to be stopped and dismissed. Why is money always missing, its because public officials are always losing it. I believe it is a lot of embezzlement and I know if those records are finally released than it would expose the corruption of the Town of Chatham and Pittsylvania County. I believe certain individuals are responsible for making a great project with the Train Depot in Chatham, Va into a cover up for greed by those that oversea it. If you don’t believe me than ask for records, permits, and account statements for just this project and see for yourself, the answers that they relay back to you. It is alarming and definitely not appealing to any person with common sense. People talk about wasteful spending than they need to start with their locality and than address it in state and national governmental jurisdictions.
In conclusion, I would like to see the immediate resignation for all those individuals that participated in the corruption, embezzlement, and deception in regards to this project and to any all other issues that resulted in the lost of tax payer funds and the publics trust. The resignation should be effective immediately. Your extra paycheck and hedgefund is about to over on the Town and on the County watch. The only reason I believe that Pittsylvania County is asking for a increase in taxes and asserted other fees onto its citizens is because of the lawsuits in which it has had to settle with the State over their own failure to account for funds that was already there. I’m sorry a extra 7.5 million might be more than enough, if found, to avoid having to raise taxes.
Also, Republicans on the Board of Supervisors that claim the need or have pledge to not raise taxes are putting their foot in their mouth, right now! It gets a lot deeper and I guarantee that I will find out the mess and put it before the public, so that they can see, its not the public causing fiscal irresponsibility. It is the individuals that they elected and let run wild with no accountability. If they spent more time hiring based off qualification and not nepotism than they would probably not be in this mess in the first place. How about you cut your salaries and keep taxes and other fees, as your responsibility. Stop trying to throw the burden on the citizen, when it was your house that was out of order. It was not the ederly, low income, middle class, or children. It was you, the elected official.
A woman at the elections place ask me was I looking to recruit someone for each seat up for election for the Town of Chatham. I told her, you forgot! Im looking to recruit someone to replace everyone, in a supervisory capacity, in the Town and in Pittsylvania County.
Merle T. Rutledge Jr