A number of interesting recent developments could have some impact on Rappahannock County’s economic future.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office announced Wednesday that Rappahannock County had won a $20,000 planning grant through the governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund to help the county (and Fauquier and Culpeper counties, who are partners in the project) study the feasibility of a “woody biomass aggregation facility” on the site of the former landfill at Rappahannock’s Amissville recycling and trash collection center.
Meanwhile, the Fauquier Health Foundation has given its largest grant of the spring cycle to Rappahannock at Home, a $39,800 planning grant to study the feasibility of a continuing “village” program, which coordinates business and volunteer services that allow senior citizens to remain in place — at home — as they age.
The AFID grant pays for what County Administrator John McCarthy says will be half the actual cost of the feasibility study, likely to be conducted by a consultant and completed, he hopes, by early this coming winter. Rappahannock County is funding $6,000 of the effort, Fauquier and Culpeper $2,000 each, for a total of $10,000 in matching funds.
The remaining $10,000, McCarthy said, will come from in-kind contributions from each county — including the hourly cost of each county administrator’s time spent explaining what a “woody biomass aggregation facility” is.
“All three of our counties generate a fair amount of waste wood,” McCarthy emailed Wednesday, giving it a shot, “be it debris from operations of VDOT, power or other utility right of way maintenance, or simple landscaping activities. To a certain extent, some of this material is burned on site or mulched up for other uses, but it also constitutes an untapped resource. The proposed study is to see if we can gather together in one spot enough of the wood waste produced in our area to consider converting it into an alternate fuel supply, which might then fuel some public or private facilities.”
Elsewhere in the state and country, he said, residential care facilities, hospitals and schools are fueled by such wood waste converted into a energy supply (usually by turning it into some type of pellet fuel).
If the project proves feasible, he said, then the counties will tackle the task of getting it built and operational.
Rapp at Home
Rappahannock at Home (aka Rapp at Home), an emerging organization seeking to help seniors stay in their homes and active in their communities as they age, was recently awarded $39,800 by the Fauquier Health Foundation — the largest of the 17 grants the foundation made to area organizations this spring. The organizers of Rapp at Home will use the grant to help plan, develop and pilot a community-based, senior village program in Rappahannock County.
Eve Brooks of Sperryville is one of the organizers of Rapp at Home. “The grant will give us a year of funding to do the necessary planning for this complex organization,” said Brooks. “We need the time to develop the organization’s structure, essentially a network of trained volunteers who will provide a wide range of services. Planned services include everything from providing transportation options to cleaning gutters, whatever will help the seniors in the county stay in their homes longer.” Rapp at Home is currently looking to hire a planning coordinator. To learn more, visit rappathome.org.
The Fauquier Health Foundation will award $350,000 through its spring grant program to assist area organizations with general operating and planning support. Other Rappahannock organizations named as recipients in this round include Aging Together ($30,000 for general operating costs), Child Care and Learning Center ($15,000 to support nature-related learning), and the Headwaters Foundation ($25,000 in general operating support). For a complete list of recipients, visit fauquierhealthfoundation.org/news.cfm.
In other business-related developments around the town of Washington, Farm at Sunnyside owner Nick Lapham says he has bought out David Cole’s interest in the Sunny View LLC that Cole and local landowner Jimmie DeBergh created after entrepreneur Cole’s departure from Rappahannock County a decade ago.
“No earth-shaking developments are planned,” Lapham said by phone Wednesday of the transaction, which partners he and Harris Hollow neighbor DeBergh as owners of two 50- to 60-acre tracts in Harris Hollow (near but not adjacent to Lapham’s organic-farming operation at Sunnyside), as well as two properties encompassing about 10 acres just outside the town border along U.S. 211 — often referred to as the Sheetz tracts (for the possibility that the gas-and-convenience store franchise would eventually find attractive such commercially zoned properties fronting a four-lane highway).
The town of Washington unsuccessfully sought grants three years ago to enable it to purchase those properties, which it hoped would become a park-like extension of the adjacent former Avon Hall estate and nature trail.
“I hope everyone will feel comfortable with the fact that I can’t imagine doing anything with [these properties] that would not be in the best interest of the county and the town,” said Lapham, who manages the Krebser Fund, which merged last year with the nonprofit Rappahannock County Conservation Alliance, and whose own 400-acre farm is a model of conservation-minded and environmentally sensitive practices.
“This was just an opportunity that presented itself,” Lapham said, after former AOL executive Cole apparently found that it was time to “depart fully” from Rappahannock County, where he’d created the Sunnyside Farm that Lapham eventually took on, as well as ambitious retail operations in Sperryville and Washington.
Patty Hardee also contributed to this report.