I would like to make the residents of Cumberland County aware of the courage, passion and eloquence of one of their fellow citizens. This past Monday, (11/26), I was fortunate to be an interested observer in Judge T. J. Markow’s courtroom in Cumberland County Va. as Mr. Hubbard Sprouse argued to appeal the County Board of Supervisors’s decision to convert his residential community’s zoning from agricultural/residential to Heavy Industry so that a 1200 acre Mega-Landfill could be developed in their midst.
County Attorney, Vivian Giles, cited all the legal codes and statutes and argued that Mr. Hubbard’s arguments were procedurally invalid because he did not file the necessary paperwork on time. Apparently, Mr. Sprouse did not cross all his T’s and dot all his I’s as he filed his appeal at the 11th hour. Not one of his elected officials nor county administrators had let him or his fellow citizens know that they had a right to appeal the BoS’s decision to turn their neighborhood into an industrial zone. So on the 30th and final day of the deadline, when Mr. Sprouse finally learned of right to appeal the zoning decision, he arrived at the courthouse to file the necessary paperwork. He had only hours to get his “facts” right and “supporting documents” in order.
Mr. Sprouse reminds me of Santa Claus. He has a white beard, is gentle and humble, is full of kindness, and extremely giving. When he learned of Muriel Miller Branch’s dream of restoring the Neighborhood Pine Grove School and of her desire to beautify the grounds one weekend, Mr. Sprouse approached Muriel and said he would be honored to help. The following Friday he alone bushogged the entire grounds. He rode his tractor for several hours, quietly clearing the grounds of trees, saplings, overgrowth, bees nests, and snakes. The following morning family members of the Agee Miller Mayo and Dungy Family Association were joined by new and old friends to pick up where Mr. Sprouse had left off. Thanks to Mr. Sprouse’s efforts on that Friday afternoon in October, Pine Grove School was able to get the attention she long deserved and began the return to her place of honor in the community.
At the Court hearing, Mr. Sprouse did not have the benefit of legal counsel. He prepared his case singlehandedly. He spoke from the heart. He became emotional. On occasion he needed to take a breather. But through it all Mr. Sprouse never lost sight of his passion. He spoke for all of those of us who would be affected by this “Mega-Dump”, this stinking “Pile of Garbage”, and to this “Monetary Monster” that is threatening our community and our way of life. He repeatedly expressed his exasperation with Cumberland County officials and their determination to hurry the approval process. As Mr. Sprouse would say the “lightning speed” by which they rushed their plans past Cumberland County citizens “boggles the mind!” Over Three Billion pounds of garbage will be deposited in eastern Cumberland County Annually for the next 35 Years because the Cumberland County Board of Supervisors did everything they could to follow County Waste’s script and breakneck schedule; all the while dismissing citizen concerns, input, and vocal opposition.
Mr. Sprouse, you are indeed a very special and courageous person who deserves the utmost respect and admiration of your fellow citizens for single handily standing up to the powers that be. We thank you for your advocacy and representation. We are fortunate to have among us a man of your character, passion and dignity. The other side had its legal mind but you, Mr. Sprouse offered compassion, sincerity, thoughtfulness and common sense. I was so proud to be among your supporters in Judge Markow’s courtroom on that Monday morning in November.