Sperryville column for Sept. 20

The bridge is open!

After many weeks of anticipation, the crew on the bridge finally received the long-awaited guardrail bolts, replaced the last broken drill bit and finished the job. We can all rejoice that the U.S. 522 bridge opened about 1:20 p.m. last Saturday (Sept. 15). Project supervisor Tommy Quarles called photographer Ray Boc and told him to come over because the last bolts were installed and the orange barrels were coming down. The new bridge looks lovely and we look forward to resumption of normal traffic patterns. Remember to drive 25 everywhere in the village, especially on Main Street, on 522 south of the Corner Store and on Water Street. Welcome to Sperryville!

Taking tourism to the next level

We have written extensively in this column over the last six years about the “Renaissance of Sperryville.” Indeed, the entire county has enjoyed a steady influx of new and upgraded small businesses which have added to the quality of life of the residents and continue to draw visitors to Rappahannock County. At the same time, our tourism infrastructure has grown and we now have a website, a visitors center (public/private partnership), a visitors’ guide, a part-time tourism consultant and the RHVA (the Rappahannock Hospitality and Visitors Association, a private, membership-based organization). The nature of our businesses (farms, entertainment, shops, wineries/distillery, art galleries, restaurants, vacation rental homes and B&Bs) and our proximity to Shenandoah National Park have protected the quality of life which we all cherish while increasing our county tax base during the last fiscal year.

Is it time to take the tourism to the next level? All of our new shops won’t stay open and private investment will be lost if people in the D.C., Charlottesville, Fredericksburg and Richmond metropolitan areas don’t know that we are here. It takes staff and professional expertise to promote Rappahannock County. What are the creative ways that we can find more funds to promote the many resources that we have? Perhaps it is time to reconvene the Economic Revitalization Committee to meet jointly with interested members of the Board of Supervisors, and the tourism community to begin to brainstorm some ideas.

In the meantime, the next few weekends have so many gallery openings, vineyard activities, new shops opening, theater events, a Farm Tour and a Civil War Heritage Day, and Shop Sperryville activities, that it is hard to choose what to do first. Come on over that new bridge to all the shops and restaurants in Sperryville and enjoy our gorgeous fall weather.

Civil War Trails markers tell Sperryville’s story

We started with one plaque next to the footbridge over the Thornton River at the Sperryville Schoolhouse about Sister Caroline, a freed slave who lived and worked in Sperryville and who helped found the Hopewell Baptist Church, just one-half mile from the marker. Her life was immortalized in the writings of the Sperryville resident and her grandson, the late James Russell. Now we have three more stories to discover. Two additional plaques have been installed at that same location by the river.

One, “Sperryville – Important Crossroads,” describes troop movement through the village by armies of both North and South. Another, “A Hint of Total War – ‘Pope must be suppressed,’ General Robert E. Lee” describes the confiscation orders which enabled the military to confiscate “livestock, produce and personal property” from residents who were not loyal to the Union and supported “the Southern cause.” This included slaves and, according to the plaque, the “Confiscation Act became one of the steps that led to the Emancipation Proclamation.” On Main Street, in front of Haley Fine Art, but historically the office of Dr. William Amiss, the plaque “Medical Miracle – ‘A Chance in Twenty’ ” describes the unprecedented recovery of Maj. Richard S. Andrews who had been disemboweled in battle and was miraculously saved after surgery by doctors Thomas and William Amiss in a field hospital. Be sure to come and read these Civil War Markers in their entirety when you are in the village.

Master Naturalists place in photo contest |

Master Naturalist Jack Price’s award-winning photograph.
Master Naturalist Jack Price’s award-winning photograph.

This photo of insects on bull thistle was taken by Sperryville resident and Master Naturalist Jack Price along Skyline Drive and took second place in the flora category of the Virginia Master Naturalists’ statewide photo contest. Another Master Naturalist, Pat Temples, took second place in the fauna category with a beautiful photo of great blue herons. The contest was held as part of the annual statewide Master Naturalist conference which was convened this year at the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville, Va., Sept. 7-9. Photos were judged by a panel of three professional photographers and were on display in the museum, where they will remain through mid-October. While Jack has been shooting pictures for more than 45 years, this was the first time he ever entered a contest, so he was delighted to have such a great result.

More options at Mountainside

The opening of Mountainside Dance Center (MDC), a small, recreational dance school directed by Anne Williams at Mountainside Physical Therapy on U.S. 211 in Rappahannock County, expands MPT’s program offerings. In addition to getting treatment for what ails us in PT and building core strength with pilates classes, we can now learn to dance at MPT. The mission of the dance school is to teach dance and movement performance for everyone, from athletes to the physically challenged. For more dance information contact renowned dance instructor Philip Rosemond at 540-987-9390 or philip@rosemond.net. For Pilates info, call Cindy Griffin at 540-522-9062. Mountainside Dance Center, Mountainside Physical Therapy and Mountainside Pilates are located at 12625 Lee Hwy., Washington.

Public Safety Day

The first Rappahannock County Public Safety Day will be held at the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office from 10 to 2 Saturday, Sept. 29. You will be able to see a variety of demonstrations including K-9, fire and rescue, vehicle extraction, Taser and animal control. One of the valuable but “unseen” services of the sheriff’s office is their kind and consistent contact with senior citizens, especially those who are alone and more isolated. Be sure to thank them for that service while you are there. For information, call Lt. Janie Phillips at 540-675-5300.