Special Opinion to the Mirror by Mary Strock
A common question that someone who has moved to the Eastern Shore of Virginia is asked is “where are you from?” And once determined that they did not hail from this peninsula, more often than not they are branded as a “come here”. That tag, to most, is not often a compliment and seems to relegate the newcomer to a status less than stellar, in the eyes of those who use your origins as a barometer of who or what you are.
The reality is, unless we are of the Powhatan tribe, we are all “come heres”. Captain John Smith, when he landed here in 1608 was not born on the Shore. He came here on the Phoenix and found what most “come here’s” find….a fertile land, a vibrant fishery, an inviting climate, pristine waters, clean air, and a relatively friendly reception from the “been here’s” (in his case,the friendly Powhatan).
Most of us “come here’s”, once discovering the Shore, bring significant investment once we settle. We pay real estate and personal property taxes, hire local contractors to build or remodel our homes, frequent local shops, restaurants, and grocery stores. We buy our fuel from local stations, and our electricity from the local cooperative. We give to local charities, support our volunteer services, and make very fine neighbors. In short, we contribute.
But many of us who have collectively invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Accomack County’s economy are asking ourselves if we would have made that investment today as we look at hundreds of industrial poultry factories being constructed at a near-manic pace. We worry about our drinking water, air, community health, real estate values and even the scarring of our visual landscapes from these tin-clad monsters.
The Accomack County Board of Supervisors, perpetrators of this assault, proudly count their dollars as they roll in from mostly foreign investors in the poultry expansion. It is wild that these foreign nationals are not dubbed “come heres” but are called “major drivers of the local economy”, while the real drivers of this economy (us) are fiscally and environmentally pummeled.