The Rapp for March 8

Middle Street and Madison art

Photographer Phil Napala’s digital photography of scenes from the Civil War, including the one shown here – though actually captured at the 150th anniversary reenactment at Manassas last year – features colors, according to one reviewer, “like a painter’s palette, and the result has the best aspects of a watercolor – fresh and spontaneous . . . Though it is captured with the most modern of digital technology, it is rendered like a watercolor sketch – exactly the same way artists traveling with the Civil War sketched troops on the move 145 years ago.” Napala, a NASA engineer, will have his works on exhibit at Middle Street Gallery, next to River District Arts at Sperryville’s Rappahannock Central, through March 29. (Gallery hours are 10 to 5 Friday-Sunday; call 540-987-9330 for more information.)

Meanwhile, Firnew Farm Artists, with their many Rappahannock connections, will present “BLUE,” an art show to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Madison from March 18-25. Here are the details of the event. The show will be held at the Waverly Yowell Cafetorium on from 4 to 7 Monday-Thursday and will feature student work as well work by members of the Firnew Farm Artists. An open house is 4:30 to 7 p.m. Friday, March 23, at the Kemper Residence, 412 Main St., Madison. Refreshments will be served and music provided by the Possum Ridge String Band. Donations will be gratefully accepted and will benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Madison. More information online at

Reconnecting . . . please wait

Some recent local developments on the rural telecommunications front worth noting: Nearly a year after the county approved its permits, AT&T is apparently proceeding with its plan to build cell towers in Rappahannock County – but . . . very . . . slowly. And a local wireless broadband company reports that a recent legal settlement with a shareholder has freed it to finally pursue expansion of its radio-based system in the county.

The county recently received notices of required filings on two of the five cell towers from the State Corporation Commission, says County Administrator John McCarthy, referring to documents that specify where to route 911 calls made within the coverage areas of the proposed AT&T facilities in Amissville and Ben Venue – both of which are extensions of existing Sprint towers to 199 feet. And the steel extension – minus its crown of antennae – has actually been erected on the Ben Venue tower.

Construction on new 199-foot AT&T towers in Sperryville, Boston and at the high school – which supervisors approved last spring after much public debate – has not begun. Permits will have to be renewed, McCarthy said, if ground is not broken within about a month (although the renewal process does not require another round of public hearings).

Meanwhile, Piedmont Broadband president Rich Shoemaker says a recent settlement with one of the four-year-old Amissville company’s original investors means that “our service and follow-up will be 180 degrees from where it’s been” for most of the last two years.

As of last week, Shoemaker said, he has hired his son, Matt Shoemaker, 28, to serve as the company’s full-time customer service and technical director – to respond within 24 hours to help requests, and especially to requests for new service. Castleton computer systems consultant Martin Henze will also rejoin Piedmont as a contractor, Shoemaker says.

Piedmont was forced to be “vague and unbusinesslike,” Shoemaker says, about new service requests while the company’s future was in question – as was ownership of its network equipment and the line-of-sight radio receivers on rooftops and mountaintops that provide high-speed internet service to several hundred customers in Rappahannock, western Fauquier and northern Culpeper counties.

The ongoing legal battle over the company’s assets and ownership has now ended in an agreement, Shoemaker says, that gives him complete control over the company he’s run since its original founder, Tom Gordon, departed after fighting his own court battle over the company’s assets in 2009.

“I want to express our gratitude to our loyal customers,” Shoemaker said. “We are absolutely ready to expand. We can do whatever we want to do right now without any restrictions from the corporate side of things.”

– Roger Piantadosi

The annual Rapp spring clean-up begins!

As many citizens, property owners, families, friends, churches, schools, businesses, internet chat groups and other organizations and individuals as possible are encouraged to participate from March through mid-April (as well as any time throughout the year) by taking the time to pick up trash and debris along roads and streams in Rappahannock County.

Participants may choose any road(s) or stream(s) they like, and may use either their own bags, or may obtain sturdy orange bags provided by our local Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) office, located across from the Flatwood trash and recycling facility on Rock Mills Road.

Participants may either take the bags of trash and debris to the Flatwood or Amissville facilities, or they may let us know where their clean up took place, and where the bags and debris are located, and VDOT will provide assistance in picking up the trash at the locations.

Participants are asked not to take wood or metal to the Flatwood facility, and if bags are left by the road at their pick up location, it is requested that they be located in a place where the VDOT trucks can safely stop to pick them up.

Due to budgetary cutbacks, there is currently no administrative staff at the Flatwood VDOT facility, so to obtain bags or let them know about pickup locations, participants must either go by the facility and speak with one of the staff or may call or email cleanup coordinator Hunt Harris ( or 540-987-8888), or call the county administrator’s office at 540-675-5330.

Let’s all grab some bags and participate in this spring cleaning of our beautiful Rappahannock County!

– Hunt Harris

Local Angus news

D. Brooke and Ann H. Miller of Washington had a registered bull included in the American Angus Association’s 2012 Pathfinder Report, one of just 231 sires included in the annual listing of superior Angus cows based on recorded performance traits that promote efficient beef production. Elisabeth J. Jones of Sperryville had four registered Angus cows included in the report.

Only 2,027 of the nearly 30,000 American Angus Association members are represented in this year’s report, according to Bill Bowman, chief operating officer and director of performance programs of the St. Joseph, Mo.-based association. More than 1.9 million eligible dams and more than 6.5 million weaning records were examined to determine Pathfinder status.

The 2012 Pathfinder Report lists 8,791 individual cows and 231 sires and is available online at

Courtney Logan Pooton of Sperryville, meanwhile, will exhibit Angus cattle at the 2012 Mid-Atlantic Junior Angus Classic (MAJAC) Regional Preview Junior Angus Show in Harrisonburg this weekend (March 9-11), reports Robin Ruff, director of junior activities at American Angus Association.

Courtney, a junior member of the association, is one of 215 young people from 15 states who have entered a total of 439 Angus to compete for championship honors in the show, sponsored by the American Angus Association and the Northern Virginia Junior Angus Association. It is one of seven junior Angus shows the national organization sponsors each year for its nearly 7,000 active junior Angus members in the United States.

Roger Piantadosi
About Roger Piantadosi 544 Articles
Former Rappahannock News editor Roger Piantadosi is a writer and works on web and video projects for Rappahannock Media and his own Synergist Media company. Before joining the News in 2009, he was a staff writer, editor and web developer at The Washington Post for almost 30 years.