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Identity crisis

Fairlawn – If you Google search this particular 3-mile square settlement on your computer, one hit will tell you that Fairlawn is in Pulaski County, in the Blacksburg-Christiansburg metro area, geographically stamped with a 37.148N latitude and a longitude of -80.578W. Bordered on the South and East by the New River, Fairlawn is often referred to as a suburb of the City of Radford, which is just across the bridge.
In Fairlawn you’ll enjoy the scenic vistas and fresh air from a height of 1,919 feet above sea level. Fairlawn has more than 2,000 residents, according to the latest census. Demographics show there are 16% more females in Fairlawn than males over the age of 18. With a median income of $32,000 per individual and $45,000 per household, the Fairlawnians have little to complain about especially in today’s economic conditions.
There is, however, one perplexing issue. Although an independent entity, Fairlawn doesn’t have a true identity. Although governmentally it’s in Pulaski County, it shares the same zip code as the City of Radford: 24141. All the businesses in Fairlawn have Radford addresses, and that could be puzzling, especially to newcomers and out-of-towners. Postmaster Terry Lucado explains that the postal service, being a U.S. Federal agency, assigns zip codes not by government designations but by geographical locations.
Geographically, one of Fairlawn’s borders starts from the middle of the Radford Bridge toward the intersection of Route 114 and beyond. As you approach Fairlawn from the direction of the City of Radford, you will be greeted by huge, tall, electric sign, proclaiming “Radford Shopping Plaza” with listing of several businesses on its facings. And yet, it sits way inside Fairlawn’s territory.
In talking to local businesses and residents, they say that that Fairlawn has everything in place to manage its own affairs. A fire breaks out, there’s the Fairlawn Volunteer Fire Department; someone gets hurt, there’s a medical emergency unit on standby; and if you dial 911, the Fairlawn satellite office of the Pulaski County Sheriff Department is close by. The only thing lacking is its own government.
No government? “Yes, there is and I’m the mayor,” quipped long time resident Glenn Dalton, who at 88 years of age, built and has lived on the house on 7394 Route 11 in Fairlawn, since 1953. He claims that he was instrumental in forestalling the City of Radford’s attempt to incorporate Fairlawn, 20-25 years ago. “Me and the boys just went down there and told them, we ain’t incorporatin’.”
Dalton said Radford finally settled for a one percent of the four-cent sales tax levied in Fairlawn in lieu of incorporation. A call to the Radford City Revenue confirmed this, but the clerk who answered the phone, stipulated that the percentile varies from business to business, depending on their location in Fairlawn.
“The biggest business here at that time was Water Works,” Dalton continues. “It supplied water for the whole county. Now, it’s been growing ever since. And we like it like that.”
Bob Bolling, a Virginia Tech graduate, who owns his own computer business since 1982 located on the bottom floor of Dalton’s house, echoes Dalton’s sentiments. “We’re just trying to survive here and we like it like it is. There are a bunch of businesses who’d like to get out of Radford and move here,” he adds. “We’ve got plenty of parking space here, not like in Radford. If Radford takes over Fairlawn, I’m gone.”
Business people and private citizens interviewed in person and by phone, echo Bolling’s affinity toward this fascinating spot in Pulaski County.
“I definitely tell people who are looking for us that we in Fairlawn,” stated Karen Quesenberry, manager of Looking Good Family Salon. “We love being connected with this community.”
Ditto for Lynn Seltz, who’s manager of Sign Systems on Route 11. “We’ve got a Radford address and zip code but we tell people we’re in Fairlawn.” Even Tedd Bess, manager of Kroger and the son of a former Radford mayor, expresses his sentiment toward Fairlawn. “I like it here because we get a good mix of clients and people who come from all over, including former customers from Pulaski. (The Pulaski Kroger store closed several years ago).
John Russell, manager of Lemon’s remarks that he doesn’t care one way or the other whether his business address is known as in Fairlawn or Radford. “They’re both interchangeable,” he said, except he wishes his location were in a better-trafficked spot– like near the Wal-Mart Super Center. The same view is shared by Citi Financial branch manager Kim Turner who says there’s no choice of getting another location any time soon. “We’ve signed a 5-year lease, so I guess we’re stuck,” she added with a smile.
While almost all those approached prefer to be known as “doing business in Fairlawn,” Radio Shack manager David Phillips expresses his desire to be affiliated with the name of Radford. “It’s because of Radford University,” he stated, explaining that a well-known educational institution such as RU is a “drawing card,” and prestigious to be associated with.
How did Fairlawn come to be? Danny Collins, who’s lived in the area for many years, surmises that during World War – or even before then and shortly thereafter – Hercules Powder Company (Radford Arsenal) was booming. “People came pouring in from all over: West Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky, in addition to the locals. So, we had a situation of congestion because of the housing shortage. People were renting the same rooms and staying in shifts, to match their work schedules,” he said.
County Administrator Peter Huber confirmed Collins’ account. “There were just too many people and not enough living space, so houses were built to accommodate them in what is now known as Fairlawn,” he added.
Nobody seems to know how the name Fairlawn came about, even those who have been in the area for many years. “I’ve lived here since I was six,” Benny Keister said in a telephone interview. “I grew up here and still I don’t know where the name Fairlawn came from.” He speculates that the U.S. government might have had a hand in developing Fairlawn by way of loans and grants, and possibly gave it its name also.
Whether Fairlawn eventually becomes a town or gets its own zip code remains to be seen. Without a change, it is forever linked to the City of Radford by its umbilical zip code. But one thing is for certain. Fairlawn is a growing business center in Pulaski County that is still searching for its true identity.

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Identity crisis

Fairlawn – If you Google search this particular 3-mile square settlement on your computer, one hit will tell you that Fairlawn is in Pulaski County, in the Blacksburg-Christiansburg metro area, geographically stamped with a 37.148N latitude and a longitude of -80.578W. Bordered on the South and East by the New River, Fairlawn is often referred to as a suburb of the City of Radford, which is just across the bridge.
In Fairlawn you’ll enjoy the scenic vistas and fresh air from a height of 1,919 feet above sea level. Fairlawn has more than 2,000 residents, according to the latest census. Demographics show there are 16% more females in Fairlawn than males over the age of 18. With a median income of $32,000 per individual and $45,000 per household, the Fairlawnians have little to complain about especially in today’s economic conditions.
There is, however, one perplexing issue. Although an independent entity, Fairlawn doesn’t have a true identity. Although governmentally it’s in Pulaski County, it shares the same zip code as the City of Radford: 24141. All the businesses in Fairlawn have Radford addresses, and that could be puzzling, especially to newcomers and out-of-towners. Postmaster Terry Lucado explains that the postal service, being a U.S. Federal agency, assigns zip codes not by government designations but by geographical locations.
Geographically, one of Fairlawn’s borders starts from the middle of the Radford Bridge toward the intersection of Route 114 and beyond. As you approach Fairlawn from the direction of the City of Radford, you will be greeted by huge, tall, electric sign, proclaiming “Radford Shopping Plaza” with listing of several businesses on its facings. And yet, it sits way inside Fairlawn’s territory.
In talking to local businesses and residents, they say that that Fairlawn has everything in place to manage its own affairs. A fire breaks out, there’s the Fairlawn Volunteer Fire Department; someone gets hurt, there’s a medical emergency unit on standby; and if you dial 911, the Fairlawn satellite office of the Pulaski County Sheriff Department is close by. The only thing lacking is its own government.
No government? “Yes, there is and I’m the mayor,” quipped long time resident Glenn Dalton, who at 88 years of age, built and has lived on the house on 7394 Route 11 in Fairlawn, since 1953. He claims that he was instrumental in forestalling the City of Radford’s attempt to incorporate Fairlawn, 20-25 years ago. “Me and the boys just went down there and told them, we ain’t incorporatin’.”
Dalton said Radford finally settled for a one percent of the four-cent sales tax levied in Fairlawn in lieu of incorporation. A call to the Radford City Revenue confirmed this, but the clerk who answered the phone, stipulated that the percentile varies from business to business, depending on their location in Fairlawn.
“The biggest business here at that time was Water Works,” Dalton continues. “It supplied water for the whole county. Now, it’s been growing ever since. And we like it like that.”
Bob Bolling, a Virginia Tech graduate, who owns his own computer business since 1982 located on the bottom floor of Dalton’s house, echoes Dalton’s sentiments. “We’re just trying to survive here and we like it like it is. There are a bunch of businesses who’d like to get out of Radford and move here,” he adds. “We’ve got plenty of parking space here, not like in Radford. If Radford takes over Fairlawn, I’m gone.”
Business people and private citizens interviewed in person and by phone, echo Bolling’s affinity toward this fascinating spot in Pulaski County.
“I definitely tell people who are looking for us that we in Fairlawn,” stated Karen Quesenberry, manager of Looking Good Family Salon. “We love being connected with this community.”
Ditto for Lynn Seltz, who’s manager of Sign Systems on Route 11. “We’ve got a Radford address and zip code but we tell people we’re in Fairlawn.” Even Tedd Bess, manager of Kroger and the son of a former Radford mayor, expresses his sentiment toward Fairlawn. “I like it here because we get a good mix of clients and people who come from all over, including former customers from Pulaski. (The Pulaski Kroger store closed several years ago).
John Russell, manager of Lemon’s remarks that he doesn’t care one way or the other whether his business address is known as in Fairlawn or Radford. “They’re both interchangeable,” he said, except he wishes his location were in a better-trafficked spot– like near the Wal-Mart Super Center. The same view is shared by Citi Financial branch manager Kim Turner who says there’s no choice of getting another location any time soon. “We’ve signed a 5-year lease, so I guess we’re stuck,” she added with a smile.
While almost all those approached prefer to be known as “doing business in Fairlawn,” Radio Shack manager David Phillips expresses his desire to be affiliated with the name of Radford. “It’s because of Radford University,” he stated, explaining that a well-known educational institution such as RU is a “drawing card,” and prestigious to be associated with.
How did Fairlawn come to be? Danny Collins, who’s lived in the area for many years, surmises that during World War – or even before then and shortly thereafter – Hercules Powder Company (Radford Arsenal) was booming. “People came pouring in from all over: West Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky, in addition to the locals. So, we had a situation of congestion because of the housing shortage. People were renting the same rooms and staying in shifts, to match their work schedules,” he said.
County Administrator Peter Huber confirmed Collins’ account. “There were just too many people and not enough living space, so houses were built to accommodate them in what is now known as Fairlawn,” he added.
Nobody seems to know how the name Fairlawn came about, even those who have been in the area for many years. “I’ve lived here since I was six,” Benny Keister said in a telephone interview. “I grew up here and still I don’t know where the name Fairlawn came from.” He speculates that the U.S. government might have had a hand in developing Fairlawn by way of loans and grants, and possibly gave it its name also.
Whether Fairlawn eventually becomes a town or gets its own zip code remains to be seen. Without a change, it is forever linked to the City of Radford by its umbilical zip code. But one thing is for certain. Fairlawn is a growing business center in Pulaski County that is still searching for its true identity.

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