“Honestly”

Twenty-eight-year-old Liberty University pastor Johnnie Moore is a beacon of energy. I’m trying not to sound cliché but on stage, online and in person, he exudes positive energy like very few people do. If it’s an act, he deserves an Oscar. He just finished his first book, “Honestly: Really Living What We Say We Believe.” To me it seems like a potentially controversial topic, considering the professors at LU are under just as strict behavioral watch as the students. I photographed him last night at the pre-release book signing event, where he sat alone at a table facing an endless stream of students bearing books and Sharpies. He told me, “I feel really awkward, I don’t know what I am supposed to do.” Surprising for a man who regularly addresses a crowd of thousands of at Thomas Road Baptist Church. The News & Advance reporter Liz Barry wrote the accompanying article and I think I’ll borrow her copy of the book soon to see what he’s about. If nothing else, I am curious to hear his story.

Almost Eleanor

Almost a month ago I was out looking for hot weather wild art and I came across a beautiful orange Ford Mustang up on blocks in a driveway. I noticed that there were tools lying out so I thought the owner must be nearby, maybe inside for a drink or a sandwich. But after waiting for 15 minutes no one appeared. So I moved on. But I stored the location away in case I needed to find wild art again some day. Several weeks later I was out hunting again and I revisited the house with the Mustang. It was in the same spot with the same tools out but still no one in sight. Again I moved on. Then last week I was told we had space to fill so my first stop was the Mustang House. Third time’s a charm. Scott Howe was outside finishing up some engine work and was happy that his car had attracted the attention of a passer-by. I got a few shots of him re-attaching an air filter and talking to a neighbor who had wandered over (another car enthusiast) and I was feeling good. Then he said, “I have to take it to the station to refill the air brakes, do you want to come along?” HA! Yes. On the way he told me that his inspiration for buying the car was seeing “Eleanor” (the 1967 Shelby Mustang GT 500 featured in “Gone in 60 Seconds“), at which point he knew he had to have one. “But it’s hard to find that car for less than $100,000,” he told me. So the 1968 Mustang fastback would have to do. Close enough for me.

Above it All

The historic Lynchburg Courthouse downtown is getting a makeover. The restoration team recently set up scaffolding that spanned the roof enabling them to access to work on the weather-beaten cuppola. After some scheduling negotiations and a few weeks of waiting, I met up with the team one morning and enjoyed one of the best views in town that no one gets to see.

They wear hazmat suits to minimize their exposure to paint dust containing lead.


Oh, The Memories…

First day for Lynchburg City Schools is tomorrow, and it makes me so, so, so glad to done with homework, tests, bus stops and backpacks. Of course life was simpler when all that was expected of me was to listen to a story and not spill chocolate milk on my neighbor but after 20 years of the same, my life post-graduation has been comparatively wonderful.

  • Matthew Overstreet holds onto his mother, Theresa Holdren, as they find his new desk in Mrs. Sylvia Key’s second grade classroom at Bedford Elementary School in Bedford, Va.

Bedford Standoff

As I got off the phone with my colleague Jill on Monday afternoon, the last thing she said was, “…it sounds like a pretty big deal.” There had been two people shot at a residence in Bedford, Va., about 20 minutes away. The shooter then shut himself in his own house and the first deputy on scene heard more shots come from inside. Also, there was smoke coming from the house. During my next phone call, my editor told me, “if you hurry you can get there before the helicopters.” They were planning on shutting down the main highway in order to land two medical choppers to airlift the victims to a hospital. “So where am I going? What exit?” I asked. “You can’t miss it, trust me,” was the reply. Twenty minutes later, as I came over a hill on U.S. 460, I saw the cluster of flashing lights from a half-mile away.

After a nearly 2-hour standoff, the suspect again started his house on fire (the fire department had put it out the first time) and rescue workers burst in to get him out. The first photo and last photo below are from the final minutes of the ordeal, when he was taken by stretcher to a waiting ambulance.

Hometown Heroes

The Dixie Youth “O” Zone World Series was held in Madison Heights last week, just across the river from Lynchburg, and the Madison Heights team – only participating because they were the “hosts” – beat the odds and made it all the way to the champsionship game, losing only to the reigning winners from Florida. I covered six of the seven days and put together a selection of my favorite pics from the Series, including the disappointing last game.

Summer Days

On days when we have a hole to fill in the paper, one (or all) of the photographers heads out to find “wild art.” Also known as “feature hunting” or “enterprising,” the basic strategy is to drive around creepily and find anyone doing something interesting and then talk your way in to photographing them. We try to save parks for desperate days but kids still tend to be the most active subjects and the least bothered by a camera. I was actually following a call about a porch on fire (spot news comes through in a pinch!) but the fire engines were just leaving when I got there; apparently it was n.b.d. Around the corner, I came to this house that I thought was a day care because so many kids were out playing in the yard. But Patricia Brophy, the homeowner, said no, this was just the neighborhood hangout. “I’m a mother of eight, so I know what kids like and how to set up a space for them.”