Every once in awhile I feel the need to explain myself to the readers of this column; this is such a time. It used to be that when I would see my column had been placed on the editorial page, I would cringe a bit, and think, why did they do that? I have to remember that the editorial page is headlined, Editorial and Opinion. But no matter where in the paper they put my column, the contents thereof are still just my opinion.
I have been blessed by the management of the Rappahannock News, both past and present, to write a few human interest columns for our paper. I am often humbled by emails and telephone calls from people who don’t know me who tell me they enjoy my columns. To show you what I mean, some months ago I got a call from a Mrs. Huff, a former resident of Rappahannock who now lives in Front Royal. I had written the previous week about two of my favorite topics, the garden and old times, the way things used to be. Mrs. Huff left me a message saying she enjoyed my columns and was delighted with my article about foddershocks.
A few days ago I received a call from Mr. Alan Zigler who lives in Rockingham County. We had a 45-minute conversation about deer, coyotes, squirrels, hunting, trapping and a myriad of other topics in which we have a mutual interest. I have never met Mr. Zigler. He told me how much he enjoys Pam Owen’s column and mine. He subscribes to the Rappahannock News, having never lived here, but he likes those columns.
Once, when I was writing about hunting on Sunday there was the occasional letter to the editor expressing sentiments that didn’t exactly line up with mine. At that point, I received some wonderful advice from the current editor. Roger Piantadosi told me that I had to be careful how I responded to criticism. He reminded me of the privilege I have to have my own “bully pulpit” as it were, and to write my columns and have them printed, sometimes almost verbatim, in the newspaper. I have tried to remember that. No one likes an abuse of authority, whether from a politician or a columnist.
I see this column as something that might cause you to recall some fond memory when I write about the old days. I hope this column might even bring a smile to your face if I write well enough to tell the story with some humor in it. I also see this column as informing you about some news or event that may not have caught your attention.
What I want the reader to remember is this: This column is my opinion. It is not endorsed by the management and owners of the Rappahannock News. Although at times I might write with an abundance of passion, still, I try not to write things that are insulting to individuals. The bosses wouldn’t print it anyway. And, hopefully, I wouldn’t do that. But, apparently, some think I occasionally cross the line. Here’s what’s on my mind this week.
Last week I wrote an article about an action taken by the board of supervisors to send a letter to the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, recommending that Rappahannock County come under the provisions of the Earn A Buck program. I thought the action was ill advised, and said so. I still feel that way. Since then, I have talked to a number of my friends who hunt in this county, and not one of them disagreed with me.
The purpose of this article is not to re-argue the action taken by the board. That is what it is, and will work for good or ill. I think they made a mistake, but they are all humans and I doubt that, even collectively, they have made as many mistakes as I have.
However, if even one person who reads my column thinks that what I wrote was a personal attack on an individual, then I have failed in my duty to the readers. For the record, Roger Welch, the chairman of the board of supervisors, talked to me on the phone and met with me, before the column was printed. He was forthcoming with information about the meeting, how the subject came up and how it was handled. I did my level best to relate those events to the reader.
Obviously, the column was quite critical of the action taken by the board. It is possible that I overstepped my bounds. Towards the end of the column, I attempted to lighten the mood a bit by telling an old, old story, that I thought was funny. It has come to my attention that some people saw that as insulting. For that, I am truly sorry. So, I wanted to say, publicly, Mr. Chairman, Roger, I apologize if I crossed the line. I had no intent to insult, belittle or tell disparaging stories. I will do better.
In the interest of full disclosure, I would like to tell you of a lengthy phone conversation I had, initiated by supervisor Chris Parrish. Mr. Parrish advised me that he had spoken in favor of the program, and thought it a reasonable effort to address what he believes is a problem of too many deer. We can agree to disagree on this issue. I appreciate Mr. Parrish’s call.
I still think the action taken by the board was a mistake. I wish they had done just a bit of research or talked to a few of the people who stand to be impacted by their action. I wish they would rescind it. If you agree with me, you may contact your supervisor or the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. For those of us who go afield with rod or gun, the last thing we need is another layer of regulations. Dear reader, you have been informed of my opinion on this matter.
Finally, I would like to tell you to mark your calendars for March 7. From 7 to 10:30 a.m., there will be an old-fashioned country breakfast buffet at the Flint Hill Fire Department. I’m talking about sausage gravy, biscuits, eggs, bacon and on and on. This breakfast is put on by the Flint Hill United Methodist Church and every penny goes to our Relay for Life team. I would surely like to see you there. I am told there might even be some live bluegrass music. Folks, this is a great cause. Thanks to the Flint Hill Fire Department for sponsoring and letting us use the fire hall. Our contact is Mary Frances Bywaters at 540-675-1566. I’m getting hungry, already.