The Rapp for Feb. 7

The News, renewed

Notice something different about this page? Hint: Look really closely, at the very top, just a few inches from these words.

Dick Pierson updated his 1980s flag (shown here in on a 1986 front page), itself an update of the original 1950 nameplate (inset).
Dick Pierson updated his 1980s flag (shown here in on a 1986 front page), itself an update of the original 1950 nameplate (inset).

We’re proudly flying a new “flag,” the flowing lettering that has spelled out “Rappahannock News” atop this page for generations. Like so much else in our unique corner of the world, this “new” visual identity is firmly rooted in tradition – but infused  with a contemporary injection of refinement that is, indeed, unique to Rappahannock.

I asked Amissville’s Dick Pierson, a master letterer whose notable work was chronicled on this front page in 2011, to re-draw the iconic Rappahannock News flag that ran from 1950 into the ’60s. It was a return engagement for Dick: He did a similar revival in the 1980s, creating a nameplate that some readers might remember.

Sadly, that uniquely Rappahannock creation disappeared in years past, replaced by a generic, computer-generated faux imitation. No longer. Pierson expertly drew a flag based on his original heritage-inspired design. Then, Louis Spirito, a veteran artist and editor for National Geographic, The Washington Post and Baltimore Sun, created a digital version suited both to the rigors of newspaper reproduction and high-definition screens.

The result? Hopefully, one that is – once again – uniquely Rappahannock.

Dennis Brack
President, Rappahannock Media

Bland Music Contest

The Bland Music Contest, sponsored by the Rappahannock Lions Club, is 2 p.m. this Sunday (Feb. 10) at the Theatre in Washington, and is a talent show you shouldn’t miss. Some 23 students in grades 3 to 12 who live or attend school in Rappahannock County will vie for more than $900 in prizes in vocal or instrumental categories in an annual competition sponsored locally by the Lions, with winners going on to regional and statewide competition. For more information about the free-admission show, contact the Lions’ Bob Chappell at 540-522-1420.

A new superintendent – at the park

Jim Northup, a 32-year National Park Service veteran with a track record of working closely with neighboring communities and organizations, has been selected as the new superintendent of Shenandoah National Park and Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park.

New Shenandoah National Park superintendent Jim Northup.
New Shenandoah National Park superintendent Jim Northup.

“Jim has a strong track record of building and communicating a vision and modeling the best qualities of a 21st-century leader,” says Dennis Reidenbach, northeast regional director for the National Park Service. “His demonstrated ability to interact and forge truly productive working relationships with a wide variety of individuals and organizations both within and outside the National Park Service makes Jim an ideal candidate to lead these two parks at this moment in time.”

Former park superintendent Martha Bogle retired Jan. 3. Bogle, who’d been with the Park Service for 33 years, began her career as a seasonal park ranger at Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1978.

Northup has served as superintendent of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for the past eight years. Unlike any other place on Lake Superior, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore preserves and protects a spectacular and diverse segment of the Lake Superior shoreline. The park includes the 200-foot high Pictured Rocks cliffs, beautiful white sand beaches, waterfalls, inland lakes, five square miles of pristine sand dunes and numerous historic resources, including the Au Sable Light Station, built in 1874.

“I am delighted and truly honored to have this opportunity to serve as the superintendent of Shenandoah National Park and Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park. I look forward to working with the dedicated park staff, partners, visitors and the surrounding communities to preserve and manage the natural and cultural resources, the compelling stories and the wonderful visitor opportunities that exist at both parks. My wife Phyllis and I are both very much looking forward to moving to the area and becoming fully engaged in the communities.”

Before Pictured Rocks, Northup was the chief ranger at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Other assignments have included work as a field ranger, resources management specialist, fire and aviation specialist and in interpretation at Grand Teton, Big Bend and Grand Canyon National Parks, Cape Hatteras and Fire Island National Seashores, and Buffalo National River.

His first seasonal ranger position with the National Park Service was at Shenandoah National Park in 1979.

The Park Service also announced early this week that Amy Brooke Bracewell, a historian and education coordinator at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, had been selected as the new site manager for Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park, reporting to Northup.

More on Northup and his appointment can be be found here.

Wait your turn to burn

Virginia’s 4 p.m. burning law goes into effect Feb. 15, the start of spring fire season. The law prohibits burning before 4 p.m. each day until April 30 if the fire is in, or within 300 feet of, woodland, brushland or fields containing dry grass or other flammable materials.

On the books since 1950, the law has been credited with saving hundreds of thousands of acres from wildfire damage. “The 4 p.m. law is one of the most effective tools we have in the prevention of wildfires,” said John Miller, director of resource protection at the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF). “By adhering to the law and not burning before 4 p.m., people are less likely to start a fire that threatens them, their property and the forests of Virginia.”

Why 4 p.m.? After 4 p.m. the winds calm, the temperature decreases and the humidity increases – all these factors contribute to safer burning conditions. Just because it might be “legal” to burn, it might not be wise to do so. This is especially true if it has been several days since rain, the winds are high or if you don’t have the tools and equipment to contain or control your fire. To learn more about the law and how to protect yourself and your property, visit

A violation of the 4 p.m. burning law is a Class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine. In addition to the criminal violation, those who allow a fire to escape are liable for the cost of suppressing the fire as well as any damage caused to others’ property.

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