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Thompson thanks his ‘good neighbor’

At this mid-May time of the year I want to express my sincere appreciation for several great contributions that our good neighbor, Longwood University, has made to the increasing quality of life here in Farmville.

My wife and I experience these things almost daily since we live only one block away from the campus. We would like to say several particular thank yous to our Longwood friends, and especially to Longwood President Taylor Reveley IV.

First, every single year the university graciously extends its hospitality to our energetic Heart of Virginia cultural festival, even though the presence of thousands of people tromping along the edges of its campus places a lot of burdens on those who are responsible for the campus appearance. How many of you have realized the tremendous contribution the university has made to this festival by the recent simple addition of new electrical outlets at the base of many of those new High Street lampposts? Those base outlets made such a difference for numerous vendors and group booths this year!

Secondly, Reveley’s decision to move the university’s commencement exercises one week later, beginning this year, has meant that no longer will our two colleges’ graduations sequentially occur on the same pressure-filled Saturday/Sunday weekend. This, in turn, will mean such a difference in vehicular traffic, restaurant reservations, and local overnight hospitality opportunities … to say nothing of its boost to our local economy! Numerous Longwood personnel have told us what a “relaxed difference” it has made for them not to have festival and their exams and commencement all jammed up together.

Thirdly, let’s be sure to mention Longwood’s offer to help Farmville with the expenses of the important traffic study that is seeking the best solution for alleviating the intensity of traffic (and the impatience of both drivers and pedestrians alike) at the complicated intersection of High Street, Griffin Boulevard, Appomattox Street and Oak Street. No one knows yet what the recommendation will finally be, but it certainly helps to have the university and the town working on this important issue together.

Fourthly, many of us appreciate the sensitive care that Longwood has displayed in establishing its background supportive role in undergirding the continuing importance of the educational role of the R.R. Moton Museum, whose local civil rights stories of both the early and the late 1950s need to be told and re-told to increasing state, regional and even national audiences.

Fifthly, Longwood has been a significant partner in the exciting successes of Farmville Downtown Partnership with its focus on improving our town’s appearance, as well as its local economic development. The beauty, ambience and inviting accessibility of the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts has been such a great hit, and the liveliness of that same downtown corner will be further enhanced with the opening of the Longwood Bookstore there later this year.

Farmville is such a great and growing place to live and work, with Green Front’s proven importance here for decades (and Hampden-Sydney’s for centuries), and now we even have two local state parks (High Bridge and Sailor’s Creek). While we are glad that Longwood briefly brought national and international focus here in the Vice Presidential Debate last fall, we are more thankful and excited about its current role as our present and future good neighbor.

Plus, our dog Bandit really loves the pizza pieces that students invariably leave along our campus route, and for 10 days after this year’s festival, he was still sniffing and snarfing up some of its greasy and aromatic leftovers in the grass along the High Street sidewalk.

Rev. Dr. William Thompson is a retired Presbyterian minister. His email address is zebra@kinex.net.