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Abilene News

September 23 – I was recently having a conversation with a new neighbor who had come to Virginia from New York. We spent several minutes discussing the differences between the two states. He then asked me why Virginia is called a commonwealth instead of a state and wondered what's the difference.

The easy answer is there is no difference.

A U. S. state is any one of 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and the state entity. Four states – Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia – use the formal title of commonwealth rather than state. This is just a historically-based title and has no legal effect. To the federal government, all states are created equal.

The U. S. Constitution allocates power between the two entities of federal and state government. Over time, the Constitution has been amended several times and the interpretation and application of its provisions have changed. Historically, the tasks of public safety, public education, public health, transportation, and infrastructure have been considered state responsibilities. However, all of these now have significant federal funding and regulation as well. There has been a general tendency toward centralization and incorporation, with the federal government playing a much larger role. There is an on-going debate over states' rights, which concerns the extent and nature of the states' powers and sovereignty in relation to the federal government as well as the rights of individual persons.

On another subject, this week we celebrated the Autumnal Equinox-the beginning of fall. Of course, the 90-degree temperatures seem more like summer than fall.

The Autumnal Equinox is the point when the hours of daylight and darkness are almost the same. If we were living on the equator, we would have exactly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness each day. But the daylight hours are dwindling now and will continue to do so until the Winter Solstice in December, the shortest day of the year and the start of winter.

In ancient times, the Autumn Equinox was a time for festivals and celebrations. Even today, we enjoy fall festivals and celebrate them as the last of the outdoor events until spring. Today, everyone is excited about the Five County Fair here in Farmville and the State Fair in Richmond.

Friends and Neighbors

On Sept. 17, Andy and Vicie Southall and others from the Bethlehem and Douglas Presbyterian Churches went to Dave Roberts' farm. They had great fun camping, walking nature trails, and horseback riding.

Vicie Southall's school, the Eureka School in Charlotte County, came in #8 in Virginia and received an award. In November, the principal and teachers are going to Washington to meet with the president.

On Sept. 21, the Abilene Homemakers Club met at the Community Center. We started working on Halloween favors for the children at the Piedmont Regional Detention Center. We will finish them up and fill them with candy at our October meeting. Following the meeting, we all enjoyed a “Salad Tasting.” Everyone brought their favorite salad and a copy of the recipe to share with everyone. Everything was delicious! The Abilene Homemakers Club meets at 1 p.m. the third Tuesday of each month. New members, visitors, and guests are always welcome.

Last Sept. 20, there was a Neighborhood Watch planning meeting with representatives of Charlotte and Prince Edward Counties' law enforcement personnel. If you missed that, there will be another meeting Monday, Sep., 27, at 7 p.m. at the Abilene Community Center. Plan to attend to learn what we can do to make our community safer.

If you are looking for something to do one of these weekends before it gets cold, Poplar Forest (Thomas Jefferson's “other” house) in Bedford County, is a nice drive – especially the foliage. Saturday, Sept. 25, is Smithsonian Museum Day. Admission is free with Smithsonian Museum Day Card. The Hands-on-History pavilion will be open and there will be hearth-cooking demonstrations in the kitchen.

For anyone interested in archaeology, on Oct. 9 Poplar Forest will have an Archaeology Open House with tours at 11:15 a.m., 12:15, 1:15, and 2:15 p.m. The archaeologists will share their latest discoveries at the current archaeological site with a visit to the archaeology lab.

The Cardinal Quilt Guild of Prince Edward County will meet Tuesday, Oct. 5, at 10 a.m. at the Douglas Presbyterian Church. New members, visitors, and guests are always welcome.

Belated birthday greetings to Baleigh Mann who celebrated Sept. 19, and Rhonda Adams and Alvina Moon who celebrated Sept. 22. Happy Birthday wishes to Bill Bagby who will celebrate Sept. 25.

If you have any announcements or news that you would like to share, please call me at 223-2271 or e-mail me at kz5ro@kinex.net.