The Rapp: Histories, mysteries, ecologies and some grand ol’ new music

Wild Rappahannock (past and future)

If your interests run to protecting the environment and/or the history of Rappahannock County, there are two events of note this weekend:

Histories and Mysteries of Rappahannock CountyOn Sunday (Nov. 22) at 3 p.m. at Washington’s Town Hall, the Rappahannock Historical Society and the Rappahannock News co-sponsor a book discussion and signing of the Society’s newly published “Histories and Mysteries of Rappahannock County, Virginia,” a volume of stories, images and not-very-urban legends of Rappahannock of old, some of them based on articles published in the News, plus three distinctive image-filled posters, also available for sale by cash or check. For more information, call 540-675-1163.

Saturday (Nov. 21) at 7, the Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection (RLEP) holds its annual meeting at the Wasmunds’ Copper Fox Distillery in Sperryville, an event where current and prospective RLEP members will hear updates on the county’s new solar co-op, dark skies initiatives, weather stations and invasive plant management. Refreshments served. There are also new RLEP member categories and levels, says President Rick Kohler, to help make supporting RLEP “painless and rewarding.” For more information, email or call 540-675-RLEP (7537).

Grand Ol’ Night at the Theatre Saturday

Will Hopkins
Will Hopkins

The Theatre at Washington welcomes Will Hopkins, Danika Portz and Scott Mulvahill for a fun Bluebird Café-style evening of country music this Saturday (Nov. 21) at 8 p.m.

Born and raised in Rocky Mount, Va., Will Hopkins began writing songs in 2000, and he was quickly hooked. He left the full-time practice of law in 2001 to concentrate on songwriting and now splits his time between Flint Hill, D.C. and Nashville — where he is co-writing, performing and recording. Honors include the 2005 Tennessee Songwriters Association award for Most Promising Male Writer and Grand Prize of the 2004 Mid-Atlantic Songwriting Competition for “He Knew” (co-written with Mersaidee Soules).

Danika Portz
Danika Portz

Since moving to Nashville, Danika Portz has caught the attention of several record labels and publishers around town. Her distinctive sound and style is what sets her apart from the typical country act as her music has been described as a mixture of Mumford and Sons, Kacey Musgraves and Katy Perry — with a voice on par with Norah Jones. Lyrically grounded in country music, yet unafraid to think outside the box melodically, Danika phrases things in such a way that grabs the listener and makes them want more.

Scott Mulvahill
Scott Mulvahill

Scott Mulvahill has shared the stage with some of the greatest artists of modern music, including Ricky Skaggs, Alison Krauss, Barry Gibb, Bruce Hornsby, Brad Paisley, Peter Frampton, Steven Curtis Chapman, Emmylou Harris and many others. A full-time member of Skaggs’s band Kentucky Thunder, Scott has written songs that have won honors in the International Songwriting Competition, John Lennon Songwriting Contest and American Songwriter magazine’s 30th anniversary contest, and he has numerous cuts on other artists’ albums. He released his first, self-titled album in 2011 and his EP “Share the Sky” in 2012. He’s excited to continue his evolution as a writer and musician and is currently working towards his next album.

Tickets for the 8 p.m. Saturday performance ($25, $10 for students 17 and younger) available at 540-675-1253 or

Giving thanks for . . . alumni basketball

The winning men's team players pose with their trophy after last year's PTO Alumni Basketball tournament.Courtesy of RCPS PTO
The winning men’s team players pose with their trophy after last year’s PTO Alumni Basketball tournament.

Rappahannock County Public Schools’ PTO has organized another fun-for-the-family, two-night Rappahannock Alumni Basketball Tournament — 6 p.m. both the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving (Nov. 27-28), again featuring both men’s and women’s teams of players who first honed their skills on a court in Rapp — where they’re still playing, or will again for the tourney while visiting family at home for the holidays. This year’s tournament adds an alumni volleyball game on Friday, and “golden oldies” basketball game (men 40 and older only) on Saturday. Admission to the benefit tournament is $5 ($2 for kids). For more information, contact Katherine Todd at 540-522-6656 or

Backyard conservation funds available

Conserving water while using attractive gardening and landscaping practices beautifies your yard, attracts beneficial pollinators, adds curb appeal and also helps improve the environment by reducing the amount of stormwater runoff from your property. Creative management of those small areas of your front or backyard to address problem areas (too wet, too dry, doesn’t drain, won’t grow grass, etc.) now has funding available to support simple, on-the-ground landscape practices that benefit both you and the local environment.

The Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District has just received a significant amount of grant funding available to all owners of residential, institutional and commercial properties to implement such practices. Payment rates vary among the practices but generally are focused on providing up to 75 percent of the cost; sometimes the payments may cover all costs. Implementation of these practices in spring of 2016 should include some planning over the winter, so now is a good time to contact the district to get further information and submit an application. Some practices could even be started now.

There are 11 different type of practices that are eligible for funding: rainwater harvesting to provide the homeowner with additional yard water; small or large wildflower meadow plantings to increase the yard attractiveness and support pollinators and reduce the need to mow large expanses of turf; attractive permeable paver stones to replace impervious surface and encourage groundwater replenishment; tree planting; green roofs to lower energy needs and reduce storm runoff; various water drainage practices to better drain problem sites; rain gardens and drywells to both reduce runoff and add attractive plants to your yard; and more.

The soil and water district will provide technical assistance for your planning efforts and visit your site to better understand what you hope to achieve. For more information, contact CSWCD’s Richard Jacobs at 540-825-8591 or email

Funding available for forestry practices

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is now making $470,000 available through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) to help increase adoption of forestry practices statewide. Offered in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF), the RCPP Forestry Program offers landowners an opportunity to help establish and maintain the forestlands that are fundamental to clean air and water, wildlife habitat and recreation/tourism. Interested individuals should sign up by Dec. 18 to be considered for fiscal year 2016 funding.

VDOF foresters will help eligible landowners develop a plan to manage their land for specific purposes, such as recreation or wildlife habitat. This Forest Management Plan outlines the landowner’s goals and objectives, recommended conservation practices and an implementation schedule. Financial assistance is available for creating this plan as well as installing the following conservation practices: prescribed burning, critical area planting, riparian forest buffers, firebreaks, tree/shrub site preparation, tree/shrub establishment and forest stand improvement.

More information on Virginia RCPP projects is online at Visit to learn more about technical and financial assistance available.

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