The Rapp for Jan. 10

Chili volunteers

Saturday’s Friends of Griffin Tavern Chili Cookoff, a benefit for the Food Pantry, was expected to be sold out by the time the paper came out, but the organizers might still be looking for volunteers to help pull off the event at the Doneheys’ barn (see the event calendar on page 3 for more information). Your willingness to pitch in gets you in for free, of course: email if you’re interested.

CCLC open house

The Child Care and Learning Center (CCLC) held an open house Saturday afternoon (Jan. 5) in an effort to further educate the town of Washington on community-action organization People Inc.’s proposal to add nine new low- to medium-income apartments to the Old Washington School on Mount Salem Avenue.

CCLC chairman John Lesinski walks Mayor John Sullivan and two Washington residents through the layout of the proposed new apartment buildings. Photo by Matt Wingfield.
CCLC chairman John Lesinski walks Mayor John Sullivan and two Washington residents through the layout of the proposed new apartment buildings. Photo by Matt Wingfield.

About 35 people came to the open house, which featured blueprints for the new apartments, petitions encouraging the town council to approve the building’s sale and an informative video on similar apartments People Inc. maintains in Toms Brook.

Mayor John Sullivan was among the attendees, and said he still had concerns about the apartments, which could conceivably house up to 27 people.

“I’m very concerned what people on the street have to say,” Sullivan said. “The fact is, some people on the street [Mount Salem Avenue] are all for this, some are neutral on it and some don’t want it . . . People Inc. has said, right from the beginning, that they would only be interested in the project if there was a consensus and it was clearly something the community wanted, and right now we just don’t have that.”

The matter is once again scheduled to be discussed at the council’s monthly meeting Monday night (Jan. 14), though Sullivan said he was unsure whether the council would also vote on it that night.

– Matt Wingfield

Benevolent Fund dinner

The Rappahannock Benevolent Fund was created by anonymous grants in December 2008 to provide assistance to individuals and families with short-term emergency needs for which no programs are available. Since January 2010, most of the funds have come from the Celebrity Waiters’ Dinner held in late January each year.

Last year, because of a fire at the Sperryville Schoolhouse, instead of a dinner, an evening of hors d’oeuvres and merriment was held. This year, the regular dinner returns. The project recruits “celebrities” to serve dinner. The waiters also provide decor, drinks, appetizers and entertainment for their tables, and often for the whole room. Admission is $50 per person, but come with additional funds because there will be other opportunities to spend money for a good cause.

This year, organizers expect to have 20-plus tables, with a menu and decor that is decidedly Greek. There will also be vegetarian and other foods to eat. Let your waiter know in advance if you have a special request. Maybe the promise of a big tip can get your request fulfilled, since the waiters are competing with each other to raise the largest amount of money.

The average Benevolent Fund grant is about $250 and helps pay for electric, heating, housing, medical, phone, transportation and miscellaneous emergency expenses.

For more information on this year’s dinner — which starts at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26 at the Sperryville Schoolhouse — whether about attending as a paying guest or helping as a volunteer worker, contact a waiter or Bev Atkins (540-675-5370).

Taking the plunge for Special Olympics 

One of Rappahannock County’s own, 72-year-old Bill Jarrett, is traveling to Virginia Beach on Feb. 2 to leap into the frigid Atlantic Ocean.

Bill Jarrett. Courtesy photo.
Bill Jarrett. Courtesy photo.

Jarrett, Grand Knight of St. Peter Catholic Church Knights of Columbus Council in Washington, will plunge into the 39-degree Atlantic waters for a worthy cause: to raise funds and awareness for the Special Olympics Virginia program.

“While I’m pretty excited about jumping into the icy water, I’m also pumped to be able to support a cause I care about,” Jarrett said. “Special Olympics Virginia provides year-round sports training and competition for more than 11,000 intellectually disabled athletes at no cost to the athletes or their families. I hope to generate over $2,300 for spending just a few minutes in the icy Atlantic.”

The Flint Hill resident joins some 4,000 other winter crazies wading into the Atlantic to raise funds.

Contributions in support of Jarrett’s cause can be made at his personal fundraising page:

Bluegrass at the Theatre

On Saturday, Jan. 19 at 8 p.m., the Dark Hollow Bluegrass Band returns to the Theatre at Washington. Regular members of the band are Paul Fincham, five-string banjo and harmony; Larry Haynes, guitar and vocals; Buck Morris, mandolin and vocals; Steve Lamb, upright bass; Bob Cook, lead guitar and vocals; and John Wilson, manager. A fiddle player joins the band for the upcoming concert.

“Local boy” Paul Fincham makes good bluegrass at the Theatre with the Dark Hollow Bluegrass Band. Courtesy photo.
“Local boy” Paul Fincham makes good bluegrass at the Theatre with the Dark Hollow Bluegrass Band. Courtesy photo.

Fincham, spokesman for the group, said the band has been together for over ten years, producing the rich, tight-knit harmony that punctuates classic bluegrass, and is influenced by several classic bluegrass bands, including the Stanley Brothers and Flatt and Scruggs.

Raised in Rappahannock, Fincham now resides in Madison County, and described the other members of the band as “local boys” from Madison, Manassas and Unionville. Though “local,” the band plays a wide venue and performs in major bluegrass festivals throughout Virginia and Maryland, as well as North Carolina.

Tickets for the event are $25 ($10 ages 17 and younger). Reservations are recommended. A portion of the Theatre’s seating is available as complimentary or at reduced price for those who would not otherwise be able to afford it. For reservations, call 540-675-1253 or email

Jericho Road bridge hearing

The proposed replacement of the Route 637 (Jericho Road) bridge over Big Indian Run in Rappahannock County is the subject of an upcoming VDOT public hearing at 4:30 p.m. next Wednesday (Jan. 16) at the Rappahannock County Library.

VDOT has proposed replacing the existing 1931 bridge with a two-lane, prestressed concrete slab bridge which, at 24 feet wide and 28 feet long, meets current design standards. Construction is proposed in phases to maintain a single travel lane on the bridge throughout the 12- to 15-month project, which is expected to begin in spring 2015. A temporary signal will control two-way traffic through the work zone.

A 2011 VDOT traffic count showed that about 250 vehicles use Route 637 daily. The project’s estimated cost is $1.88 million and is subject to change as the design is finalized.

VDOT staff will be at the hearing to discuss it and answer questions. Project plans and environmental documents, as well as right of way and easement information, are available for review then, as well as at VDOT’s Culpeper District Office (1601 Orange Rd.). Written comments can be submitted by Jan. 28 to project manager Howard Tomlinson, 1601 Orange Rd., Culpeper, VA 22701. Call 540-829-7500 or 800-367-7623 for more information.

Down-to-earth advisors wanted

The Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District (CSWCD) is seeking Rappahannock farmers, business owners, elected officials and residents to train high school students for Envirothon, the largest environmental science competition in the country.

The CSWCD Envirothon team investigates a soil pit. Courtesy photo.
The CSWCD Envirothon team investigates a soil pit. Courtesy photo.

Envirothon works with high school students who compete in teams of 5-7 in the topics of aquatics (performing chemical tests and identifying macroinvertebrates); forestry (identifying and measuring trees); soils (identifying soil types and layers), wildlife (identifying tracks, scat, pelts, feathers and skulls) and a special topic.

This year’s special topic is sustainable grassland management. The special Virginia-based version of the problem is related to managing mixed land uses in Rappahannock county. Teams must deliver a 20 minute presentation addressing the problem and presenting a solution, using at least one visual aid not requiring electricity.

CSWCD is hosting statewide training on Jan. 26 at Graves Mountain Lodge, where interested Rappahannockers can sit on a panel from noon to 2 p.m. and discuss life in Rappahannock and their opinions on balancing agriculture, tourism and water quality. More than 100 students are expected to participate in the training.

For additional information, contact Stephanie DeNicola at or 540-825-8591.

‘Rappahannock Creates’

River District Arts (RDA) has announced a special exhibit open exclusively to artists who create art in Rappahannock County, entitled “Rappahannock Creates.” The exhibit runs from April 6 to May 31 in RDA’s Confluent Gallery.

Jim Allmon, art and marketing director of RDA, encourages artists interested in submitting work for consideration to visit for specifics.

Allmon said that the exhibit was conceived to bring attention to the abundance of artistic talent here in Rappahannock. “We are following in the footsteps of the very popular Artists of Rappahannock Studio and Gallery Tour held each year during the first full weekend of November.” He added that “the art tour is a very successful event but is only once a year. We thought we would give additional exposure to the local artist community by having an event in the spring. Although this is not an official RAAC event, ‘Rappahannock Creates’ will complement their efforts.”

Jurors for the exhibit are Amy Lust, gallery curator and exhibition manager of the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, Va., and Mark Staples, founder and CEO of Richmond-based Staples Fine Art.

At Workhouse Arts Center, Lust is responsible for the curation and installation of three exhibition gallery spaces, as well as marketing and promotion for art calls and exhibitions. She curates and installs 30 exhibits annually and oversees the associate artist community. Previously, Lust managed photographic and production teams for large-scale clients such as the March of Dimes, Rhythm and Roots Reunion, and the Bristol Motor Speedway.

Staples is one of the original giclee ateliers in the United States and is a preeminent force in the artist career services business. As experts in the fields of collaborative original fine art prints, reproductions, photography and multiples, his firm has produced work for a client list that includes the National Audubon Society, the White House Historical Association, Gary Player Foundation, Lego Corporation and the American Battle Monuments Commission, as well as numerous individual artists. A painter, sculptor and printmaker, Staples’ latest endeavor is Birdland Sculpture Gardens, a three acre expression of his creativity and artistic vision in Powhatan, Va. comprised of more than 30 of his sculptures.

As part of the Rappahannock Creates exhibit, Allmon said there will be artist demonstrations and gallery talks by participating artists spaced out over the two months show to make it a more participatory and educational event.

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