Questions for the community

Written by

|

April 23, 2010

2:25 AM

By Walter Hickey

__While at college, it is easy to get stuck in the on-campus bubble and forget about the world outside of class, eating at the cafeteria and planning for the weekend. When taking time to step outside of the bubble, students realize that there are fascinating individuals all around them in the Williamsburg community, who have their own stories to tell. In these five interviews, business owners, local officials and familiar faces take a moment to discuss what attracted them to Williamsburg, how they ended up living here, what they love about the town and how they’ve interacted with students.__

*Scott Owen, Daily Grind Proprietor*
*How long have you lived in the area?*
I live in Surry, where I’ve lived for 16 years, and before that [I lived in] Richmond.

*How did you get involved with the Daily Grind?*
The Grind started one year before I owned it. It opened in the year 1999 or 2000, after spring break. The contract was given to Williamsburg Coffee and Tea, which is a local coffee supplier and roaster. They manned it, and the owner is a good friend of mine, and after one year he realized he couldn’t do both. He asked me to come in and take over as a part of his company, and we still have the contract. It’s been great, it’s been awesome, just a completely different kind of lifestyle.

*How has your interaction been with students in the past decade?*
It’s been great. It’s unique in that it’s a temporary family, one that you really get to know for four years. Some you get close with, some not so close. Even [with] those where it’s not so close, it’s still that recognition factor, and then it sort of comes to an end and you have to say goodbye. It’s sometimes easy, sometimes not so easy, and sometimes people come back, they don’t.

*I heard you’re a cyclist in the area. How’s Williamsburg for biking?*
It’s great. There’s a good group of people locally and regionally — the Eastern Virginia Mountain Bike Association. Some local bikers have done a good job keeping up the trail networks. Williamsburg’s got some great trails, some legal, some not so legal. I think the College has come to realize that it’s actually the mountain bikers who do trail maintenance and keep them up, as opposed to the runners and walkers who use them. They’ll step over the trees, whereas the mountain bikers will go in there with their chainsaws and clean things up.

*Chief Don Challis, William and Mary Police*
*How long have you been in Williamsburg?*
I started my seventh year in September. I started three days before Hurricane Isabel. We don’t have hurricanes back home in Iowa, so it was a unique situation.

*What did you do before you ended up in Williamsburg?*
I’ve been in campus law enforcement and security since ’88. I worked at the University of Iowa for eight years and St. Ambrose University — a small private university in Davenport, Iowa — for seven years, and then I had a short stint at a school in Chicago for two years. I moved out here when the chance came up, but I’ve been involved in this department for quite a while.

*How do you like Williamsburg?*
I like the area. My undergraduate [daughter] studies history, so it was very fortuitous to move out here where all you have is history, and you always have something to do. When you realize that half the city is students, it makes you see how important the College is to this city.

*How has your relationship with the student body been?*
I think pretty good. Since I’ve worked on a campus for 22 years now, sometimes I worked directly with student affairs, other times I worked indirectly — but closely — with student affairs. I have a pretty good understanding of what students are like. I’m raising my own daughters now, one’s coming here next year — by her own choice, I didn’t make her. She loves this place, she keeps me young, and the students here keep me young. This is a really unique place. You can’t bring your B-game to a student meeting; you can’t suggest a B-level program because the students, faculty and staff demand more. So this place keeps you sharp, keeps you on your toes, and keeps you creative.

*Do you have a favorite place in Williamsburg?*
My home. I’m a little homebody, and I like to work around the house. It seems like when I have friends over is when I go to Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown, Jamestown, ride the ferry — all those touristy things. I don’t seem to make time for those activities on my own because [my mindset is that] it’s always here. I [say] I’ll go there tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes.

*Is there anything else you particularly like about the College?*
I really enjoy working here. The students are fantastic, and the mistakes they make are mistakes of youth and not so much intent. Our biggest problem is not the students, it’s the community around us that sometimes infringes, but I find our students to be engaging, bright, thoughtful and creative in how they find ways to conduct themselves.
I had somebody call [about] the Triathlon and how often we come across that. We don’t come across it very often. When you’re running naked through the Sunken Garden, you don’t dawdle. You run, you get done and you get your clothes on. You don’t spend a lot of time in the Crim Dell — that’s not the kind of water you want to get in and soak in. You jump in [and] jump out. Sometimes we’ll find a pile of clothes and track down who they belong to and maybe tell them how unsanitary or unsafe it is. We don’t have any of the dangerous traditions that other schools have. If the Triathlon is one of our most outrageous events, I can live with that. Take a look at the events at James Madison a few days ago. That wasn’t a protest, it was a party. Our students protest so democratically, they debate back and forth about issues, and they’re very polite when they are having a protest of sorts. We don’t have students who bust stuff up; we have students who break things, but we don’t have students who bust stuff up. It’s just a really great place to be. They want to be here, they’re very driven and need to relax once in a while, but it’s a very good place to be.

*City Manager Jackson Tuttle*
*How long have you been in Williamsburg?*
I was the city manager in the city of Gulf Breeze, Fla., which is right outside of Pensacola, and moved [here] in ’91 to take the job of city manager. The prior city manager was retiring and Williamsburg solicited nationally. I saw it in the International City Manager Association newsletter and I sent my resume in, and one thing led to another, and here I am.

*How is your job going?*
It can’t be too bad if you’ve made it through 19 years. [My family and I] love Williamsburg, and this line of work is something that I enjoy doing very much, and you can’t find a better place to do it than in Williamsburg.

*Do you have a favorite place in the city?*
I have lots of favorite places. My very favorite place is where I live on Newport Avenue, so I actually back up to William and Mary property. I love living in the center of the city. I’m very partial to City Square. Since I’ve been out here, we’ve developed the community building, expanded the library, the parking terrace, the parking garage, the chamber building, the plaza with the fountain, and that’s a special area for me. We call it “City Square” as opposed to “Merchant’s Square” being the business district, and then “Market Square” in the heart of Colonial Williamsburg. Another spot that I think is special is Cedar Grove Cemetery, which the city has owned since the 1850s. But that’s just a few. I could go on and on.

*How is your relationship with the students in town?*
It has personally always been wonderful because of the students I’ve gotten to know. At my church, we do an adopted students program for the students who attend the College. I have an adopted student at William and Mary. She and a friend came over for Easter dinner at our house with a couple of other folks. So whenever I have those opportunities, I really like doing that. It’s one of the benefits of living in a college town. One particular thing about this college town is that you have really great kids, — smart, engaged — and it’s just wonderful living in the same town with them.

*Peter Tsipas, Paul’s Deli Co-Owner*
*How did you wind up in Williamsburg?*
I came to work at Macita’s in Williamsburg, which is right on Richmond Road, back in 1981. My father was a chef, and me and George, my brother [and co-owner] came and worked as maître f’s to help my father, and at the same time open up the Seafare [of Williamsburg]. We worked for the Seafare for five years, from ’81 to ’86. In 1986 we bought Paul’s Deli. I was 27 years old at the time and George was 21 when we bought it; it was only half the deli, it wasn’t the whole thing. The other side — where the bar is [now] — was the bike shop. They moved the bike shop downstairs, and we bought the other side and made it a bar. We actually needed the space [because] it got really crowded at night. We’ve been fortunate, and we’ve worked pretty hard to be successful. It’s not only a College student hangout, but also a local people’s hangout. We do a lot of business with the tourists, but we really like working with the College students and the local people.

*How have your interactions with students been over the years?*
It’s been great. You’ve got to understand when I came here I was 27 years old — I wasn’t an old man. I got to form lots of friendships, I’ve met a lot of people, and all the alumni, pretty much the ones I knew over the years, are my friends. Thousands of people that I know, I met working here. Some of them successful, like [Steelers Coach] Mike Tomlin ’85 worked for me. So many guys —like Jon Stewart ’84. Liebo — that was his [nick]name — we knew him because he was a soccer player here. We’ll see the people that we know getting married, starting families and bringing the kids here. It’s just a great thing. I’m very, very pleased and very fortunate to be around this school, it’s one of the best colleges in the country.

*Robert Hamilton, Wawa*
*How long have you been in Williamsburg?*
I’ve lived here [for]16 years. Before that [I was in] Newport News; before that Pittsburgh. I’ve moved around a lot.

*What did you do before you worked here?*
I worked for Cracker Barrel. I was the general manager at Cracker Barrel for 13 years.

*Do you have a favorite place in Williamsburg?*
I love the Bonefish Grill, that’s my favorite restaurant.

*How have your interactions with students while you’ve lived here?*
Good, for the most part. The only thing that’s been a little bad is the language and the stealing … I’d be careful about that, but — nah, I have no problems with the students.

*Do you have any hobbies?*
I love to garden. I have about 35 tomato plants out in my backyard.

__While students tend to stay in the college bubble, venturing out of that bubble can lead them to interactions with community locals like these five people. While it may feel like the College is it’s own world at times, stepping off of campus and into WaWa, Paul’s, or City Hall can lead to meeting very interesting and entertaining people in the community. Having a conversation with a resident can be entertaining and enlightening, providing a nice respite from the constant world of college, classes, and upcoming exams.__

Share This Article

Related News

Tribe Square evicts The Crust leaving ground floor empty
As gubernatorial primary nears, students get out the vote
College mourns death of online MBA student, Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken

About Author

Walter Hickey
  • Walter Hickey

Senior Staff Writer Walter Hickey '12 is an Applied Mathematics major from Harriman, N.Y. He was previously Online Editor.