Inside this week’s News (Feb. 11)

Here’s a quick look at this week’s Rappahannock News — at newsstands, mailboxes and inboxes now.
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Wakeup call: The volunteers are aging

The current county volunteer fire and rescue system may be in peril. There is serious concern among local authorities that the increasingly rigorous training demands from the state, coupled with an aging fire and rescue volunteer population, are challenging the viability of the system — and that means we could have to pay first responders, just like everyone else in the region.

Four fire and rescue company representatives and Emergency Services Coordinator Richie Burke crowded into a small board room on the second floor of the Visitors Center Friday afternoon, invited by Deputy County Administrator Debbie Keyser to discuss an uncertain future for the volunteer fire and rescue system.

The bottom line: The volunteers are aging, and the younger generations are not stepping in to do the heavy lifting. This year, an 82-year-old man ran over 400 emergency response calls, that’s about 75 percent of the calls for his company.

Courtesy photoCourtesy photo
Conference champs celebrating the team victory at the Rappahannock River 1A Conference Championships in Lancaster last Thursday.
“Each year we’ve gotten better,” said 26-year-old varsity wrestling coach Alex Coffroth, after the team breezed through the conference tournament Saturday. “I mean this year produced the first tournament championships, as well as individual tournament championships, that this program has seen, which just proves that we can compete, top to bottom, with the best programs in the state.”

Panther wrestlers slash competition

The varsity wrestling team dominated the Rappahannock River 1A Conference Championship this weekend. The guys traveled to Lancaster County Saturday (Feb. 6) and competed for the team prize, and to qualify for the regional tournament in Northampton next weekend. Of the 14 weight classes that comprise a varsity team, the Panthers sent 13 wrestlers to the finals, producing seven champions and six runner-ups. Team scores: Northumberland, 80; Essex, 84; Lancaster, 139; and Rappahannock, 204.5.

The entire team qualified for the Region 1A East Championship to be held this Saturday, Feb. 13, at Northampton High School. To advance to the state championship in Salem, Feb. 19 and 20, wrestlers must finish in the top four in their weight class.

35 homes at Avon Hall? Too much

Don’t shoot the messenger, Town Attorney John Bennett sighed after 45 minutes of discussion of a potential use of the 12-acre Avon Hall property, which just went on the market at last month’s Town Council meeting.

The Council considered Monday night (Feb. 8) the construction of 35 houses on the property, an idea introduced by Bennett, on behalf of an anonymous interested developer.

Budget hearing next Thursday, school calendar set

The School Board is hosting a public hearing on the budget next Thursday (Feb. 18) in the high school auditorium. Schools Superintendent Donna Matthews said that the hearing is a way for the Board to hear about what the needs are in both the county and the schools, and she noted that it is not a question and answer session. Since the governor has not yet announced how much funding the state will provide to local schools, residents in attendance should not expect a concrete budget from Matthews.

The Rapp: Honors (and diamonds) for Rappahannock inns

Once again, two Rappahannock inns were picked for AAA’s elite Diamond lists. Each year AAA reviews nearly 28,000 hotels including resorts, historic inns, B&Bs and more. Just 0.4 percent make the AAA Five Diamond list, which again includes The Inn at Little Washington. The Inn has been on the list since 1989, and it’s the only hotel in Virginia among this year’s Five Diamond winners. And The Inn is also a Five Diamond restaurant.

979 acres in county added to conservation easements

Rappahannock landowners placed nearly a thousand acres of land into conservation easements in 2015, according to a Piedmont Environmental Council report released last week. The addition of 979 acres last year brings the total county acreage in easements to 32,345.

The PEC reports that a combined total of 11,517 acres were protected in Albemarle, Clarke, Culpeper, Fauquier, Greene, Loudoun, Madison, Orange and Rappahannock Counties, last year.

Of stones and words: An interview with Flint Hill’s John Henry

Rappahannock County is blessed with an abundance of interesting individuals doing interesting things, often not widely known. In the interest of community-sharing and in the first of an occasional series, Rappahannock News’ Walter Nicklin does a Q&A with Flint Hill’s John Henry.

Wild Ideas: Nature Notes: Plastic in oysters, nature events

Microplastics threaten oysters, and upcoming nature events include the Great Backyard Bird Count, conservation forums and woodland walks, in this week’s Wild Ideas column.

Plus: The Sperryville and Washington column, Events, the Crossword and more.

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