Supervisors study roads, and some much older Trails

The Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors initiated two requests for road quality tests by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and heard a presentation on the county’s Civil War Trails program from John Tole at its monthly meeting Monday afternoon (Feb. 4).

One road study will take place on Route 637 (Jericho Road), to reevaluate the current 45-mph speed limit sign at the soon-to-be-replaced Jordan River bridge, a one-lane 1931 structure that VDOT has proposed replacing with a two-lane concrete-slab bridge, tentatively starting in spring 2015.

The supervisors expressed a concern that the road’s shift from asphalt on one side of the bridge to gravel on the other side could pose a hazard to drivers, especially after the bridge is expanded to accommodate more traffic. The board gave McCarthy instructions to petition a road study from VDOT to assess the road condition.

The second approved study was on Rolling Road (Route 681), a scenic Sperryville road in need of several improvements, including a permanent fix for the potholes and a potential widening of the road. Piedmont supervisor Mike Biniek noted that the road is often traveled by tour buses because of its scenic character, and called it a “treasure.”

On the Civil War Trail

The board also heard a presentation from local Civil War historian John Tole, who has been documenting the war’s local impact with commemorative Civil War Trails markers around the county.

In Rappahannock, where Tole’s project began in 2005, there are now 33 markers and, at the Visitors Center, a kiosk with maps to all the markers. Tole addressed the board because everything covered under the project’s initial grant – the markers, visitor’s kiosk and maps – have been completed.

Tole’s talk highlighted many of the markers, which cover events that began just before the war and continue until several years after it ended. Tole recounted some of the county’s more remarkable tales for the board, including that of Kitty Pryde, who was freed twice and even temporarily housed in what’s now Rappahannock County Jail.

Others whom Tole spotlighted included 19th-century county official Horatio Moffett, who originally voted not to secede from the Union; Peyton Anderson, the first Confederate wounded in battle; and Albert Willis, one of Mosby’s Rangers who volunteered to be executed in place of his fellow captive, and whose gravesite was recently restored and rededicated at Flint Hill Baptist Church.

“In great deeds, something abides. On great fields, something stays,” said Tole, quoting Joshua Chamberlain, a college professor who volunteered for the Union Army. “These are people worth remembering.”

A welcome and a farewell

The board was also formally introduced to interim superintendent Kathleen Grove by school board vice chair Aline Johnson.

“I’m pleased to have the opportunity to serve this county,” Grove said. She then outlined some of the goals for her tenure, such as maintaining smooth operations at both schools, planning and developing a budget, and assisting in the search for a permanent superintendent to replace Aldridge Boone, who resigned in January.

The board unanimously passed a resolution of appreciation for Jackson Newbill Miller, the lifelong and highly influential county resident and community leader who passed away last week. The resolution expressed appreciation to Miller for all his contributions – including as the county’s youngest chairman of the board of supervisors at age 28, in 1964. A signed and framed copy will be presented to Miller’s wife, Carolyn.

Hampton district supervisor S. Bryant Lee offered to deliver the resolution to Miller himself, along with an American flag in honor of Miller’s military service.

“I’ve known him all my life,” Lee said. “He was the one who got me into politics . . . he told me when I was younger, ‘Bryant, you talk all the time. You should be a politician.’ . . . And he tried to keep Rappahannock as it was.”