Washington column for Jan. 13

Photo courtesy of Jan Palmer

Walking buddy moves on

Back in the fall, as I was taking my afternoon walk around the town, I came upon Jan Palmer, who was walking also. We took a break and chatted for about half an hour. Although I had seen her around town, I never had gotten to really know her until that afternoon. Now it seems like I have known her forever. I consider her a wonderful friend.

Jan works at the county extension office in town as an administrative assistant.

I found out she is leaving us. Here are her memories:

“I remember so clearly coming to work at the extension office after Ruby Jenkins, who had been here for 41 years, and thinking that I would never know what she did or be here nearly as long as she had, and now 30 years later, I’m the one who is retiring.

“It has been great. What a wonderful community in which to raise my son, who is now 21, and what wonderful people I have met and worked with. There have been many changes since I started so many years ago. We left the little building where the county administrator now resides and moved over to Peter Kramer’s building. So many people that I worked with at the beginning are no longer here. 4-Hers have grown up and now have their own families and their kids are going to camp. The Rappahannock National Bank moved out of town, so I could no longer walk down the street to make our deposits.

“I will miss pulling up on Gay Street every morning and seeing Pat Davis and Donna Foster or Cindy Sumner or Jan Clatterbuck walking in the morning. I will miss walking to the post office every day to get the mail and talking to whoever happens to be in there at that particular time.

“I will miss my country ham biscuit from the Cafe. I will miss walking out to Fairlea at lunchtime and having the sheep and the donkey follow me as I walk up the driveway. I’ll miss waving at every vehicle that drives by because if I don’t, I will get a call the next day asking me why I didn’t wave! I will miss all the 4-Hers and their parents and calling to remind everybody to get their forms in for camp. I’ll miss all the farmers who call and come in, sometimes just to say hello.

“I have so many memories . . . walking over to John Walker Jenkins’ auction house with Birgitt Thornhill and getting a mid-morning snack; Newbill Miller coming into the office; Bill Lyne, a former extension agent, coming in to keep us all straight; walking at lunchtime with Marion Sharp and Nancy Freeman; Eileen Day’s Christmas parties; the Extension Homemakers Christmas parties — I still have ornaments from those gatherings; shopping after Christmas at Talk of the Town; making Christmas cards for the 4-H Livestock Club; Pickin’ Parties at Hackley’s Store; talking to Beth DeBergh about our “boys”; reminiscing with Marti Cannon about kindergarten days; Tommy Williams checking in now and then even though he’s no longer the extension agent; lunches with Rap Owings, who hired me, and Irv Kenyon who helped us make birdhouses at 4-H day camp (I still have one hanging at my house); seeing Bob and Roberta Anderson at almost any community event, our 4-H volunteers and club meetings in our conference room; Cheryl Taylor coming in to bring us eggs; our wonderful volunteers, Barb Dennis and Gloria Allen, who came into the office whenever I was on leave; the Fruit School at Graves’ Mountain Lodge to which one of the local farmers always invited me to lunch because it was free . . . the list goes on and on.

“To all of you who have been a part of or touched my life in any way because of my job, I thank you and I will miss you. I am going to be working at the Farm Service Agency in Warrenton, so I will still see some of you there. And I will still get my personal mail here in town, so I know I will run into some of you now and then. My best to all of you! On to the next chapter.”

Jan, you will be missed around town. The good memories will always stay with us.

Good luck at your new job!

News from the WVF&R

At its most recent meeting, the Washington Volunteer Fire and Rescue Squad elected officers for 2011. Gary Jenkins will serve as chief, with Bobby Smoot as assistant chief and Opie Crawford as second assistant chief. Each has been with the squad for more than 20 years. Other officers are Marc Deal as fire captain, Daniel Coffey as fire lieutenant and Keith Ward as fire second lieutenant. Rescue captain is Russ Collins, rescue lieutenant is C. Ray Crawford and David Dike is rescue second lieutenant.

Outgoing chief Ann Spieker is taking the role of training coordinator and will continue to respond to medical emergencies.

Please stop by Saturday’s breakfast at the fire hall to thank Ann for her tireless years of service as chief and meet the new chief. For this special occasion, the breakfast is free. The next fundraiser dinner will be Saturday, Feb. 12, with servings of ham and oysters. Please mark your calendar as you do not want to miss this very popular dinner.