You are here: Home Mayor's Desk Newsletters From the Mayor's Desk Volume 1, Issue 10

December 2011

Grissom Library’s Out of This World Learning Opportunity

Public libraries in Newport News and throughout the country are cherished community resources that educate and engage citizens. I think that the Public Library System (NNPLS) in our City does an exceptional job of serving our citizenry in this capacity and continues to find new and innovative ways to connect with residents of all ages and backgrounds. As such, there is an exciting new space exhibit at Grissom Library that I would like to highlight, and hopefully you will have an opportunity to see it for yourself before it leaves on February 15th of 2012.

Visions for the Universe
The Visions for the Universe exhibit opening on November 29th, 2011.

Visions for the Universe: Four Centuries of Discovery is a traveling exhibit that was created to commemorate the International Year of Astronomy in 2009. Since that time, the exhibit’s cross-country tour has been extended, and it has been traveling to additional sites throughout our nation. The exhibit combines documents, diagrams, and photographs to capture how our understanding of the universe has progressed and drastically improved over the centuries. The Grissom Library staff will also be holding various interactive programs to highlight both the exhibit and our local history of space exploration. While most of our residents know of Grissom Library, what you may not be aware of is the history that accompanies its namesake, Virgil “Gus” Grissom. Lieutenant Colonel Grissom was selected as the command pilot for the first three-man Apollo flight, but tragically died in a flash fire during a launch pad test at the Kennedy Space Center in 1967. Prior to his service with NASA, Lieutenant Colonel Grissom was a distinguished Air Force pilot during the Korean War, where he flew 100 combat missions in F-86s with the 334th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. It is because of his brave service and sacrifice that our City chose to posthumously honor him with the library naming.

I encourage you to take some time to visit the exciting Visions for the Universe exhibit, and while you are there be sure to stop by the new and improved exhibit honoring Virgil “Gus” Grissom. Both are wonderful opportunities to learn about space exploration in our community and our nation.

Holiday Safety Tips

Holiday Safety

The holidays are a festive and joyous time of year; however, as with all times of year, citizens should make a conscious effort to ensure the safety of themselves and their loved ones. To help in this endeavor, you will find below some safety tips from both the Newport News Police Department (NNPD) and the Newport News Fire Department (NNFD). Adhering to these safety guidelines is extremely important in helping to make sure you have a happy and incident-free holiday season.

Crime Prevention safety tips from the NNPD

(in case you missed the article on
  • Do not buy more than you can carry. Plan ahead by taking a friend with you or ask a store employee to help you carry your packages to the car.
  • Shop online with companies you know and trust. Check a company's background if you are not familiar with it. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
  • Save all receipts. Print and save all confirmations from your online purchases. Start a file folder to keep all receipts together and to help you verify credit card or bank statements as they come in.
  • Consider alternate options to pay for your merchandise, such as one-time or multi-use disposable credit cards or money orders, at online stores and auction sites.
  • Wait until asked before taking out your credit card or checkbook. An enterprising thief would love to shoulder surf to get your account information.
  • Deter pickpockets. Carry your purse close to your body or your wallet inside a coat or front trouser pocket. If you do find yourself the victim of a robbery, larceny, etc. do not resist, give the thief the property. Nothing is worth being injured or worse.
  • Have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle. Check the back seat and around the car before getting in.
  • Do not leave packages visible in your car windows. Lock them in the trunk or, if possible, take them directly home.
  • Tell a security guard or store employee if you see an unattended bag or package. The same applies if you are using mass transit.
  • If you are shopping with children, make a plan in case you get separated. Select a central meeting place and make sure they know they can ask mall personnel or store security employees if they need help.
  • Park in well lit areas as close as possible to the entrance of the store or mall area you intend to use.
  • Don't drink and drive—have a friend as a designated driver or take a cab. Also, drive defensively as there will be those drivers that have consumed alcoholic beverages.

Fire Prevention Tips from the NNFD

  • Check your building codes to find out if you are allowed to have a natural tree.
  • Do not place your holiday tree close to a heat source like a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited.
  • Water your tree daily. Never put holiday tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove.
  • When your tree becomes dry, remove it from the house. A dry tree can easily ignite.
  • Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wire, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive wear.
  • Use only Underwriters Laboratories (UL) approved lighting. View a full list of companies recommended by UL for decorative lighting strings.
  • Do not overload outlets and connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet.
  • Never leave holiday lights on when you leave the house or go to bed.
  • Try to avoid using lit candles—however if you do use them, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning.
  • Check your smoke alarms to make sure they are functioning properly.
  • Plan and practice a home fire drill. Find two ways out of every room and designate a place to meet outside. Share your home escape plan with family members visiting during the holidays.

NNTV: A Unique Resource for Newport News Residents

When I was growing up, there were a limited number of ways one could receive news about the community and our nation—reading your local newspaper, watching the evening news, or listening to a radio broadcast. Given that you are likely reading this publication online, you are keenly aware that “the days” I have referenced above have long since passed.

NNTV covering the 2011 Holiday Frost event at the Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center.

People are no longer waiting until six o’clock to hear the latest happenings of the world around them, nor are they relying solely on the morning’s printed paper for their information. Americans are leveraging technology to experience the world around them like never before. Similarly, Newport News residents are in a unique position to experience the inner workings of our local government while also gaining knowledge of events and programs that could be of benefit to them. Newport News TV (NNTV), an award-winning cable television channel owned and operated by the City, provides local viewers the opportunity to stay informed about the happenings of our local government from the comfort of their home or the convenience of the internet. From City Council meetings and specials on the local budgetary process to coverage of community events such as Hollydazzle—NNTV gives residents of Newport News a great chance to be engaged in their City. I strongly encourage everyone to watch NNTV to learn more about the great things that are happening in Newport News.

For those who have cable television, NNTV can be found on Cox channel 48 and Verizon channel 19, however, the programs can also be viewed “on-demand” by visiting or the NNTV Youtube page For additional information about NNTV, including program descriptions, please visit

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

The holiday season is important to many people for many different reasons. It gives us a chance to visit with loved ones we don’t often see, offers an opportunity to dote with gifts those we care about, and lends a chance for us to reflect upon the many things we are thankful for. Like many of you, I enjoy the holidays for all of these reasons, and cherish the giving spirit that seems to permeate through communities during this special time of year. I believe an important aspect of this joyous season is expressing praise to those who have helped us throughout the year.

Happy Holidays

It is no secret that we all must depend on others to get through our daily activities. For everything from driving to work in the morning, to eating at your favorite restaurant, we count on the hard work of others for our safety, entertainment, income, and everything in between. Though I believe we are all grateful for the services others provide, we are not often afforded a chance to thank the traffic engineer who meticulously works so that signals are timed properly, or the local chef who transforms an entrĂ©e into an art form. However, during this time of year, we can. Every person you see or pass by is important to the fabric of our community and deserving of our kindness. Say “Happy Holidays,” thank someone for a service or favor they have provided you, or simply tell a stranger to have a pleasant day.

Holiday miracles do not always take the form of a majestic occurrence; they can be as simple as brightening someone else’s day. I want to say thank you to all of the City employees for their hard work throughout the year, the gracious members of the City’s boards, commissions, and committees for giving their time and energy to better our community, and the citizens of our great City for allowing me the opportunity to be your Mayor and for making Newport News a place I am proud to call home. May you all have a blessed and merry holiday season.

Powered by Plone CMS, the Open Source Content Management System

This site conforms to the following standards: