Surry County, Virginia


Surry County, Virginia

Infobox U.S. County
county = Surry County
state = Virginia




map size = 225
founded = 1652
seat = Surry | area_total_sq_mi =279
area_water_sq_mi =31
area percentage = 10.06%
census yr = 2000
pop = 6829
density_km2 =9
web = www.surrycounty.govoffice2.com|

Surry County is a county located in the South Hampton Roads region of the Commonwealth of Virginia, a state of the United States. As of 2000 census, the population is 6,829. Its county seat is SurryGR|6.

In 1652, Surry County was formed from a portion of James City County in the Royal Colony of Virginia south of the James River. In 1676, a local a Jacobean brick house was occupied as a fort or "castle" during Bacon's Rebellion against the Royal Governor, Sir William Berkeley, later becoming known as the current landmark of Bacon's Castle. One hundred years later, Surry County became part of the new Commonwealth of Virginia, one of the first 13 United States after winning independence from Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War. During the American Civil War (1861-1865), the Confederate Army had units called the Surry Light Artillery and the Surry Cavalry.

It is known for raising hogs processed at nearby Smithfield and harvesting lumber, notably Virginia Pine. In over 350 years of existence, Surry County has carefully guarded both its heritage and rural nature. However, it is located only a short ride on the Jamestown Ferry from Virginia's Historic Triangle of the colonial era, featuring the major tourist attractions of Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown, linked by the National Park Service's Colonial Parkway. The county itself hosts several small towns, several of the James River plantations, and a state park.

In 2007, the county and its residents found themselves thrust into the national and international spotlight following discovery of a 15-acre estate property which had been allegedly developed as the base for multi-state criminal operation of dog fighting enterprise known as Bad Newz Kennels. The property is owned by famous NFL star Michael Vick who was among those charged by federal authorities with operating the six-year long “continuing criminal enterprise.” As details emerged, the extraordinary brutality against the animals, said to be uncommon even in the normal course of that controversial blood sport, allegedly included hanging, drowning, electrocution, and shooting dogs which were not vicious enough. Vick himself was accused of direct participation in some of the executions, including those of 8 under-performing dogs earlier in 2007, and directly handling cash payouts of thousands of dollars in the related gambling.

The "Virginian-Pilot" noted that county officials and the 7,000 residents "aren't used to much attention from outsiders. They mostly live among farm fields and along rural lanes." [http://content.hamptonroads.com/story.cfm?story=125893&ran=122078 Commonwealth's attorney under pressure in Vick case | HamptonRoads.com | PilotOnline.com ] ] Citizens have been both shocked and cautious as expressed to various news media regarding both comments and opinions about Vick's possible guilt. However, one county resident who sells Virginia hams, feels that damage has already occurred no matter how the legal cases turn out. She lamented in a published news report:

:"Before, Surry County was only well-known for our nuclear power plant; now everyone will know us for dog fighting."

Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 310 square miles (804 km²), of which, 279 square miles (723 km²) of it is land and 31 square miles (81 km²) of it (10.06%) is water.

History and transportation

Surry County was formed from a portion of James City County in the Royal Colony of Virginia in 1652. It was named for the English County of Surrey. It included all of the portion of James City County (itself formed in 1634) which was located south of the James River. Surry County initially consisted of Lawne's Creek Parish and Southwark Parish (of the Church of England).

Nearby, in 1665, Arthur Allen built a Jacobean brick house which later became known as Bacon's Castle because it was occupied as a fort or "castle" during Bacon's Rebellion against the Royal Governor, Sir William Berkeley in 1676. (Contrary to popular folklore, the rebellious Nathaniel Bacon never lived at Bacon's Castle, but rather, resided at Curles Neck Plantation in Henrico County about 30 miles upriver on the northern bank of the James River).

The first town, Cobham, was established in 1691 where Gray's Creek empties into the James River. Neighboring Sussex County was formed from the southwestern end of Surry County in 1754.

In over 350 years of existence, Surry County has carefully guarded both its heritage and rural nature. However, it is located only a short ride on the Jamestown Ferry from Virginia's Historic Triangle of the colonial era, featuring the major tourist attractions of Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown, linked by the National Park Service's Colonial Parkway. The county itself hosts several small towns, several of the James River plantations, and a state park.

The county is bisected by State Route 31 and State Route 40, as well as its major artery, the historic path of State Route 10 which follows the general line of the south bank of the James River between Prince George County and Isle of Wight County.

Demographics

As of the censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 6,829 people, 2,619 households, and 1,917 families residing in the county. The population density was 24 people per square mile (9/km²). There were 3,294 housing units at an average density of 12 per square mile (5/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 46.87% White, 51.60% Black or African American, 0.25% Native American, 0.13% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.25% from other races, and 0.86% from two or more races. 0.75% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 2,619 households out of which 30.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.50% were married couples living together, 14.10% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.80% were non-families. 23.70% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.61 and the average family size was 3.09.

In the county, the population was spread out with 25.20% under the age of 18, 7.20% from 18 to 24, 27.80% from 25 to 44, 25.70% from 45 to 64, and 14.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 93.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.00 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $37,558, and the median income for a family was $41,234. Males had a median income of $31,123 versus $21,143 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,682. About 9.70% of families and 10.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.40% of those under age 18 and 14.80% of those age 65 or over.

Points of interest

*Bacon's Castle
*Chippokes Plantation State Park
*Claremont Manor Plantation
*Jamestown-Scotland Ferry
*Surry Nuclear Power Plant
*Surrey House Restaurant & Country Inn [http://www.SurreyHouseRestaurant.com link title]
*Michael Vick's former house and property (sold recently) that housed an alleged dog fighting ring

Communities

Incorporated towns

Incorporated towns in Surry County include:
*Claremont
*Dendron
*Surry

Unincorporated communities

Unincorporated communities in Surry County include:
*Cabin Point
*Scotland
*Spring Grove
*Carsley
*Elberon

Current events

Dog fighting investigation

Beginning on April 25, 2007, Surry County Sheriff Harold D. Brown and part-time County Commonwealth's Attorney (prosecutor) Gerald G. Poindexter found themselves in embroiled in a high profile dog fighting investigation after authorities investigating Davon T. Boddie, 26, searching for narcotics found evidence of dog fighting activities at a home and property in Surry County where he lived which is owned by his cousin, Atlanta Falcons NFL football player Michael Vick. They confiscated 66 dogs, 55 of which were pit bulls, and other evidence. A ESPN source later alleged that Vick was a "heavyweight" in dog fighting and had been known to wager $40,000 on the outcome of a single bout.

On May 30, Commonwealth's Attorney Poindexter told ESPN: "We have people who are volunteering to make those allegations." Poindexter said. Asked whether there was evidence that placed Vick at dog fights, Poindexter said, "Yes."

"If he did anything, he won't get away with it, if we can prove it. But it's not easy," Poindexter said. ..."we're moving carefully, slowly...to build a strong case." [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=2888085&campaign=rss&source=NFLHeadlines ESPN - Source: Vick probe receiving increased attention from feds - NFL ] ]

On June 7, 2007, federal authorities from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) joined by the Virginia State Police revealed a parallel investigation and conducted their own additional searches of the Vick property under federal search warrants that day, and again on July 6. A source close to the investigation told ESPN's Len Pasquarelli that the events of Friday [July 6] were "very helpful in the overall and ongoing investigation into an alleged dogfighting ring at that property. ... Remember, this is an investigation into what has been considered an enterprise involving many people... From our standpoint, it never has focused on an individual and it still doesn't." [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/columns/story?columnist=pasquarelli_len&id=2928795 ESPN - Vick shouldn't exhale yet - NFL ] ]

On July 2, 2007, federal investigators filed court documents which did not name Vick or any other individual, but described an interstate dog fighting operation which was called Bad Newz Kennels which had operated over a period of five years based at Vick's-acre estate (assessed for county real estate taxes for 2007 at over $700,000) at 1915 Moonlight Road, where they claim dog fights were also held. Copies were obtained by the news media under the Freedom of Information Act and made public on July 6. WAVY-TV (Portsmouth, VA) made it available online at [http://www.wavy.com/Global/link.asp?L=253800 WAVY-TV online copy of July 2 document obtained under Freedom of Information request about the "Bad Newz Kennels" interstate dog fighting investigation] . On July 17, 2007, Vick and three other men were indicted by a federal grand jury in Richmond and faced federal charges. Authorities contend the Moonlight Road property was purchased and developed specifically for the criminal enterprise. They each face felony and misdemeanor charges, under the laws which were in effect before a new harsher federal law was signed by which convictions carry penalties of prison terms of up to six years and fines of $350,0000, and forfeiture of proceeds and property involved. Arraignment and detention hearings for the four men were held on July 26 in Richmond, who were released on bail under court supervision. The case was assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson.

Copies of the 18-page federal grand jury indictment issued on July 17 were posted online by The Smoking Gun and other web sites ( [http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2007/0717072vick1.html Federal Indictment online] ). Details revealed included allegation of exceptional brutality involving Vick himself, even within a highly controversial and unlawful blood sport of dog fighting in the United States, including incidents of dogs allegedly being executed by hanging, drowning, electrocution, and shooting. Vick was also accused of direct participation in the execution of 8 under-performing dogs earlier in 2007. Within days, these were drawing widespread comments of public criticism, expressions of outrage, extraordinary statements by members of the U.S. Congress, protests by animal rights groups, and demands that NFL and Atlanta Falcons officials take immediate action pending the outcome in court.

On July 23, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell directed him not to report to training camp; Falcons owner Arthur Blank stated that he should not anticipate playing again until the matter is resolved. There is a possibility that Vick could be banned for life from the NFL for his alleged involvement in the years of multi-state gambling activities. However, Goodell has stated he wants the legal process to run its course before he rules on Vick's future in the league. [ [http://www.inrich.com/cva/ric/news.apx.-content-articles-RTD-2007-08-17-0137.html Goodell discusses Vick case - News - inRich.com ] ]

Companies employing Vick for endorsements and producing or selling Vick-related products apparently reacted to the negative publicity. Nike, Inc. announced it was suspending the release of the Zoom Vick V, a new line of shoes, adding it "has suspended Michael Vick's contract without pay, and will not sell any more Michael Vick product at Nike owned retail at this time." although the company said it had not terminated the contract, as animal-rights activists had urged the company to do. [ http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2007/07/27/ap3962325.html ] Adidas announced its Reebok division would stop selling Vick football jerseys. The NFL said it had pulled all Vick-related items from NFLShop.com. [ [http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-vick28jul28,0,3541076.story?coll=la-home-sports It will be difficult to find a Vick jersey - Nike suspends sales of the quarterback's apparel and shoes. Reebok will take back unsold jerseys. - Los Angeles Times ] ] Trading card companies including Donruss and Upper Deck soon followed with similar actions. St. Louis-based sporting goods manufacturer Rawlings, which used Vick's likeness to sell merchandise and modeled a football using his name, ended its relationship. The same day, the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution" reported that Dick's Sporting Goods and Sports Authority stores, part of a major chain, have also stopped selling Vick-related goods. [ [http://www.ajc.com/news/content/sports/falcons/stories/2007/07/31/0801_rawlings.html Rawlings cuts ties with Vick | ajc.com ] ]

By August 20, all the defendants on the initial federal charges including Vick had agreed to guilty pleas under plea bargain agreements, apparently avoiding facing the possibility of additional and more serious charges under the powerful Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/columns/story?id=2974225 ESPN - Two more plea deals spell serious trouble for Vick - NFL ] ] Vick agrees to plead guilty in dogfighting case http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=2983121] While terms have not been disclosed, prosecutors reportedly offered Vick a deal which would allow him to plead guilty only to a single felony charge. Based upon sentencing guidelines, the defendants would likely receive sentences of 12 to 18 months in federal prison. [http://www.timesdispatch.com/cva/ric/news.apx.-content-articles-RTD-2007-08-16-0203.html Vick deal to include year term - News - inRich.com ] ] However, Judge Hudson, who is not bound by sentencing recommendations in plea agreements, had previously advised two of the defendants that the aggravated circumstances involving executing the dogs warranted an upward revision of the sentencing guidelines. Vick will appear before Judge Hudson on August 27 to submit his own guilty plea. In a statement released by his lawyer, Vick agreed "to accept full responsibility for his actions and the mistakes he has made."

In addition to federal actions, a parallel local investigation had also been underway. Surry County prosecutor Gerald L. Poindexter stated on August 17 that he will seek indictments from the county grand jury for violations of Virginia laws in September, although no individuals were specifically named. He described the information contained in the federal plea agreements "a road map to indictments in Surry County." [ [http://www.wvec.com/news/local/stories/wvec_local_081707_poindexter_on_pleadings.428eb3b2.html Exclusive: Surry Co. prosecutor expects dogfighting indictments | LOCAL NEWS | WVEC.com | News for Hampton Roads, Virginia ] ] Plea bargains with federal prosecutors would have no official standing in the local cases against any of the four federal co-defendants. (Double jeopardy concepts would not apply to state and federal overlapping cases). ESPN reported that Vick could face up to 40 years in prison on state charges. [http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=2980323 ESPN - Plea agreement may not arrive until Monday - NFL ] ]

The "Virginian-Pilot" noted that county officials and the 7,000 residents "aren't used to much attention from outsiders. They mostly live among farm fields and along rural lanes." Poindexter said he thought most people in the county didn’t know about the alleged fights. "It's an underground, well-guarded crime," he said. He also noted that he has also learned a great deal about dog fighting recently which he hadn't known before.

Citizens have been both shocked and cautious as expressed to various news media regarding both comments and opinions about Vick's possible guilt. However, one county resident who sells Virginia hams, feels that damage has already occurred no matter how the legal cases turn out. She lamented in a published news report

::"Before, Surry County was only well-known for our nuclear power plant; now everyone will know us for dog fighting."

References

External links

* [http://www.surrycounty.govoffice2.com/ Surry County official website]
* [http://www.surreyhouserestaurant.com/ The Surrey House Restaurant & Counrty Inn]


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