Bill Turner

Can someone help me secure a 100-year lease for the front side of Mill Mountain?

Roanoke is always trying to increase its tourism attractions, and I’ve got an idea. Borrowing from the Southwest corner of South Dakota, Roanoke could have its own Mount Rushmore, with, of course, a couple modifications.
The boys in Dakota have the dibs on Presidents, but with newspapers historically being the lifeline of American communication, ingenuity and current events, it only seems natural to have a monument honoring the greatest newspaper publishers in history. Looking at Mill Mountain from I-581 (amateurs, please don’t stop and get out of the car to gaze), it appears there’s room for 5 of the best, which would put us 1-up on Rushmore.
I’m not going the typical “study it for 5 years” route, but picking 5 to be immortalized in stone was a little tough.
 #1, Ben Franklin. Founding father, owner of the Pennsylvania Gazette, publisher of Poor Richard’s Almanack from 1733 to 1758 where he coined witty sayings like “Fish and visitors both smell after three days,” plus signer of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, Ben is in, with or without his kite.
#2, Frederick Douglas. Born into slavery in Maryland, Douglas escaped north in 1838 by disguising himself as a sailor, lecturing on the evils of slavery. Self-taught, he toured Great Britain and returned to New York in 1847 to start an abolitionist newspaper called the North Star. Ahead of his time, he coined the phrase “Right is of no Sex–Truth is of no Color–God is the Father of us all, and we are all brethren.” Easy pick here.
#3, Joseph Pulitzer. Hungarian-born, he founded the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch and later bought the New York World, turning it into the largest-circulating paper in the country. Known for investigative journalism and innovations like sports coverage (you the man, Joe) and color comics, Pulitzer was a trailblazer. He established the prestigious Pulitzer Prizes, awarded annually since 1917. On my list, especially if the Pulitzer committee is looking for more winners.
#4, William Randolph Hearst. Gaining the San Francisco Examiner from his father in 1887, Hearst went on to own 28 newspapers and 18 magazines, and is often connected to innovative methods that used sensationalized, exaggerated and manufactured stories to build up a following. Sound familiar?
#5 was a tough call, but with it being the mountain in Roanoke, it has to be The Chief. His  kind eyes and firm jaw looking across the valley makes sense, especially for the founder of The Roanoke Star-Sentinel (now, The Roanoke Star), that has avoided negative news stories for nearly a dozen years; a refreshing rarity in today’s world of journalism. Plus, if The Chief is sculpted, I get a lifetime pass and possibly a raise for the nomination.
The plan is set. Tourist and history buffs will flock to Roanoke. The Star Line Trolley will be overflowing with riders to the top of Mount Sentinel (hey, we’ve already got The Star up there, so the name makes sense), and with a little ingenuity, the trolley can do the return route through Carillon Hospital on the way down to let riders catch an appendectomy in progress before stopping at Macado’s for a Wild Bill Burger and a craft brewery near downtown. Yes, you always learn things when you read this column.
Now, to local sports where the end of the hockey season, the start of baseball, high school basketball playoffs, a local sports club meeting and an announcement on a PGA event all get equal billing without any chiseling.
Following the conclusion of their current 11-game road trip, The Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs finish out March with home games scheduled for March 22 (Knoxville), 23 (Fayetteville) and 29-30 (Pensacola) at the Berglund Center. Puck drop is 7:05 for each. The Dawgs then finish the regular season with a pair of road game in Birmingham before the unique SPHL playoff drawing, which will decide Roanoke’s opening round opponent.
The Salem Red Sox open their 140-game 2019 campaign on the road April 4th with a 7-game road trip before returning for the home opener set for Thursday, April 11 at Haley Toyota Field. Four games with the Frederick Keys followed by three with the Down East Wood Ducks highlight the opening 7-game home stand. The Sox finish April with another 7-game home stand beginning April 26-28 against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, followed with 4 straight against Carolina April 29-May 2.
In other Salem Sox news, Club President and GM Ryan Shelton is stepping down to take a new Vice President job at Michigan International Speedway. Allen Lawrence, a long-time familiar face with the Sox, moves up to interim GM for the 2019 season. Advice to the Boston management–remove the “interim” tag tout-suite.
Congratulations go out to 5 “Big-11” teams for advancing to the VHSL state tournament rounds where both the Patrick Henry and William Fleming girls were defeated  in the state Class 5 quarterfinals. The Lord Botetourt girls advanced to the Class 3 state semifinals before losing to Spotswood, and the Cave Spring boys reached the Class 3 semifinal at Roanoke College before losing to Northside. Northside, the only “Big-11” team to reach the finals in Richmond, took advantage of the opportunity to pull off the 2-point win over Phoebus, the Vikings first basketball state title in school history.
The Roanoke Valley Sports Club welcomes former Va. Tech and NBA basketball star Bimbo Coles to its Monday, March 18th meeting at the Salem Civic Center. The social starts at 5:45 with dinner at 6:15, followed by the program at 7 PM. Contact Maggie Drewry at 540-353-1103 or go to www.roanokevalleysportsclub.com to make reservations.
Big news out of White Sulphur Springs, WV. A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier (formally the Greenbrier Classic PGA TOUR event) returns to the historic Old White TPC September 9-15, 2019. This year’s event coincides with the anniversary of September 11, 2001. The tournament week will also include the Greenbrier Tennis Classic.
Until next time, when we coincide NCAA March Madness with the latest new sets of popular late-night product reviews paraded on the airwaves, keep your eyes peeled for the first profile of The Chief edging ever-so-slowly outward from mountainside stability.
Bill Turner

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