ESVA Chamber’s Eggs and Issues Breakfast held at NASA’s Rocket Club

April 6, 2024
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Chairman Robert Crockett Eggs and Issues April 2024-5146

The ESVA Chamber took their post session Eggs and Issues Breakfast to the Rocket Club at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility on Thursday morning.

Speakers included David Pierce, the Director of the Wallops Flight Facility, Northampton County Chairwoman Betsy Mapp, Accomack Board Chairman Robert Crockett, Senator Bill DeSteph, Delegate Rob Bloxom, Tyler Edmonds with Congresswoman Jen Kiggans’ office, and Nicolas Profitt with Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares.

Pierce gave a presentation on the current NASA operations and a glimpse into the future. He said following an effort to close the facility down in the 1990s, the operations were re-imagined as a support to commercial space flight, which has literally and figuratively taken off in recent years. He pointed out that Elon Musk’s company Space-X is taking up a lion share of the launch opportunities at Cape Canaveral, which has smaller companies looking to Wallops to conduct their own launches. The operations currently include 285 personnel, 865 contractors and an annual budget of $335 million. In addition to supporting commercial flight, they are continuing to conduct a variety of types of experiments with their own launches on topics such as weather, hypersonic technologies, satellites, unmanned aerial vehicles and more. He also discussed the new bridge to the launch pad which is scheduled to be built in late 2025.

Crockett and Mapp both touched on the current controversy over reassessments. As Crockett pointed out, the local press covered the reassessments, but the message apparently didn’t get out. While property values have gone up, the localities are forbidden by State law to increase the amount paid by tax payers too much. Some land owners may see a slight uptick in their tax bill, but most won’t.

Coastline Chemical hiring Welders

Crockett also discussed the recently passed budget for the County, which he said had the most money for economic development since his time on the Board.

Mapp touched on the recent issue at the Sea Breeze apartments in Cape Charles. She said Northampton was working closely with the town of Cape Charles to find an amicable solution.

Senator Bill DeSteph spoke for the first time at the Eggs and Issues Breakfast, and discussed bills which the General Assembly either tried to pass or did pass which would he said would adversely affect small businesses. Virginia’s Democrat controlled General Assembly wanted to pass bills which would create a state fund where deductions would be taken from employee pay rolls, with matching payments required from companies with 10 employees or more, which would be administered by the Virginia Employment Commission to give out to people in the event of a health issue or death in the family. Bloxom echoed DeSteph’s remarks on these bills, adding most of the complaints he had gotten over the last three years were about the VEC, and he didn’t support adding to their work load.

Bloxom also spoke on the situation of the budget, saying he saw a tough road ahead. He is anticipating Governor Youngkin issuing a record number of vetoes, corresponding with the large number of bills the General Assembly sent him. Bloxom felt certain most of the budget would have to be rehashed in a special session in May. Should no compromise between Youngkin and Democrats be reached, Virginia’s government will shut down on July 1.

Edmonds with Congresswoman Kiggans office touted recent ear marks the Congresswoman was able to get for the Eastern Shore for infrastructure around broadband and the Hampton Roads Sanitation District.

Profitt discussed efforts by the Miyares administration to lower violent crime in the Commonwealth’s cities, as well as initiatives to prevent illegal use of fentanyl and child trafficking.

Following breakfast and speeches, several of the attendees took a tour of the facility.

You can see a gallery of the event here courtesy of Emily Machen with VisitESVA.

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