I looked forward to boredom. After too many years of covering excitement around the world, I was hoping for a quiet, boring life of relaxation in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwestern Virginia.
But the Floyd County I came home to after 39 years away was not the one I left — not even close.
Crime, driven by crystal meth, dominates the news. Government, sleepy at best back in the 1960s, now appears just as political and hidden-agenda driven as what we left in Washington.
Boredom is not part of the modern lifestyle here.
Drug cases dominate crime news and fill the Circuit Court agenda. Sex-related crimes — too often involving family members — aren’t far behind.
I sat in Floyd County Circuit Court one day and heard a convicted sex offender tell the judge that he molested his granddaughter because he loved her “too much.”
Another grandfather defended his grandson’s sexual abuse of a sister as “just the normal growing pains of a teenager.”
An assignment editor in Washington roused me out of bed one morning and told me to grab my cameras and head over to Virginia Tech because someone was shooting students and faculty. It turned out to be the largest mass killing on a college campus in history.
Bored? No way.
Last week had news of the chairman of the board of supervisors admitting he overcharged customers on sales tax for at least a year and probably longer. Residents gathered later in the week to listen to ideas on how to stop a natural gas pipeline from carving up the county.
A former restaurant owner faces felony charges of embezzling from the town of Floyd because she didn’t pay the taxes she owed. The former head of the county’s Farm Credit office and his son are in prison for engaging in child pornography. A former county official lost his job for using a government computer to access child porn.
When I left Floyd County in 1965, Circuit Court met — at most — once a month. Now it hears cases weekly. The docket for Tuesday of this week is long.
When Floyd County became part of the New River Regional Jail system in Dublin, the estimate for prisoners from the county on a daily basis was a dozen at most. Now the count tops 100 on many days.
The headstrong leader of Angels in the Attic is engaged in a bitter public fight against popular local charity Floyd Cares.
At the local Mexican Restaurant, several bad checks hang on the wall behind the cash register is the notice saying El Charro no longer accepts checks. General District Court each Thursday listens to many cases involving bad checks.
On Wednesday, I head for the grounds of FloydFest to cover five days of music, camping and activities just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. At the same time, one of the original investors of the event 13 years ago walks around the streets of Floyd wearing a “FloydFraud” t-shirt.
Bored? Nope. Don’t have time. Too much going on.