Down Memory Lane for May 11

Dec. 29, 1983

In 1932 Matilda Gardner came to Rappahannock as part of a depression relief program designed to help country women make the most out of what they did have — preserve food safely and properly, and introduce some new dishes into diets lacking in fresh food. Gardner was called a “Home Demonstration Agent” and in 1932 she spent her year here going into the homes of farm and village women. She also mobilized the home oriented talent all around her for the benefit of those lacking skills.

Garner’s successor, Georgia Wilkerson, also concentrated on food preparation and went back in Rappahannock’s hollows to show “modern” food preparation and storage techniques. Ruby Jenkins was hired as extension office secretary during Wilkerson’s years there, and she assisted her and eighteen other Home Agents before her retirement in 1979.

After Wilkerson left in 1945 it gradually became a joke around the county that each demonstration agent would stay only a short time, leaving after a year or two to marry.

Although most Rappahannock farm families grew some fruit, C.B. Wood is credited with the start of commercial apple growing in Rappahannock. He is the one who is said to have sent a barrel of Albemarle Pippins to Queen Victoria. P. H. O’Bannon bought and shipped many of the Sperryville area’s apples. For a while, there were two apple drying businesses in Sperryville, followed by packing, cider and cold storage operations.

For many years, Rappahannock ranked third in the state in apple production.

Nov. 1, 1995

Dave Shaffer is the first male librarian that the Rappahannock County Library has ever had.

He was recently hired as the new Library Director, replacing Patti Holmes. Mrs. Holmes’ last day is this Friday, as she is moving to Utah with her husband. Mr. Shaffer has been training with her since Oct. 23.

His main duties at the library will be to select books for the adult collection, manage the budget, and supervise volunteers and staff. His previous library experience was at a large public library in Prince George’s County, Maryland where he was a reference librarian. That library had a staff of 30 to 40 people.

Mr. Shaffer has a MLS degree from the University of Pittsburgh and did his undergraduate work at Penn State, where he earned his degree in the Classics.

Mr. Shaffer said that he really loves living in Rappahannock, and said it is a big change of pace from Prince George’s County, as people here are much nicer. He rents a house from the Sneads in Gid Brown Hollow.

Rappahannock County taxpayers may be asked to come up with an additional $500,000 just to keep the school budget next year funded at the same level in terms of employees and programs.

School Superintendent David Gangel said in a comparison between this year and next year — holding enrollment at 1,010 for the two-year period — the new composite index will mean Rappahannock County receives $360,000 less in total state aid including sales tax, a decrease of 18.1 percent.

Increased enrollment will result in some increased state aid, but not nearly enough to make up for the change in the LCI. Enough increased enrollment to get the same state aid would mean hiring more teachers, Dr. Gangel said.

Picking up an additional $500,000 from local taxes would mean a 10-cent increase to the real estate tax rate. That would not include normal step increases for school system employees or any cost of living adjustments to pay scales.

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