News briefs for Oct. 2

New RSW superintendent appointed

The Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail Authority voted last Thursday (Sept. 25) to hire William T. Wilson as the new superintendent of the regional jail. Wilson, 58, is the current local facilities supervisor for the Virginia Department of Corrections. His starting annual salary is $90,000; he officially began work yesterday (Wednesday, Oct. 1).

“The authority is pleased to appoint Bill Wilson as jail superintendent,” said Doug Stanley, Warren County Administrator and RSW Regional Jail Authority chairman. “His experience with the Virginia Department of Corrections will be invaluable to the jail going forward. Bill has worked with all of the regional jails across the Commonwealth for the last decade, and brings a wealth of knowledge about regional jail operations to the RSW.”

“He has a great reputation as an expert on correctional facilities and brings with him a vast number of contacts with other jail superintendents,” Stanley continued. “In addition, his connections in Richmond, including the Department of Corrections, governor’s office and General Assembly, will also aid . . . with state funding for the jail.”

Stanley thanked interim superintendent Russ Gilkinson for his leadership over the past three months. Gilkinson, Stanley said in an email Monday (Sept. 30), is staying on as deputy superintendent.

“On behalf of the authority board, I want to express my sincere thanks to Russ for his efforts in stabilizing the organization and helping us work through the issues encountered with the opening of the jail. Given the challenges that we have faced in opening the facility, Russ did an admirable job. He stepped up to the plate and accepted the opportunity, working each day to improve facility operations. I personally want to thank him for the sacrifices he has made over the past three months to keep the operation running smoothly.”

For questions or more information, contact Stanley at 540-636-4600 or

Matt Wingfield

Luthi family apartment approved

It took less than 20 minutes — combined — for both the Rappahannock County Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals to approve the lone special-use permit before them in September: A family apartment request by Sperryville residents Michael and Sue E. Luthi.

The Luthis were represented at both last Wednesday’s (Sept. 17) planning commission and Monday’s rescheduled BZA meeting (Sept. 22) by contractor Darren McKinney. McKinney explained that the couple wanted to turn 520 square feet of their existing garage into a one-bedroom family apartment for themselves.

The couple’s daughter, McKinney said, would be living in the main house after the Luthis moved to the smaller space, which was built several years ago. The garage/apartment already has its own drain field and septic system, McKinney added.

Neither the commissioner nor the BZA members had any objections to the permit. “This looks pretty simple to me,” said Jackson district supervisor Ron Frazier at the planning commission meeting — a sentiment echoed Monday night by BZA member Christopher Bird.

“This is the least controversial application I’ve ever seen,” agreed Alex Sharp, who sits on both boards.

Both bodies approved the permit unanimously, 5-0 (Gary Settle and chairman Charles Strittmatter were absent from the planning commission’s meeting).

“This one was 8:55,” joked County Administrator John McCarthy at the BZA meeting. “You didn’t beat the planning commission’s time.”


ARB accepts Rare Finds, Gooch cabin projects

The Washington Architectural Review Board gave its unanimous approval to two renovation projects, one commercial and one residential, at its last regular meeting Sept. 18 at town hall.

After a brief review of Stew and Eve Willis’ plans for 211 Main St., the home of attorney Doug Baumgardner and his firm until the Willises last month purchased the building, where they plan to open the antiques and gift shop Rare Finds, the board members focused on the owners’ proposal to install two large bay-type display cases in the front.

Board chair Ernesto Flores and member John MacPherson each made a case that the proposed size of the windows — and in particular the notion to have them extend three feet out from the front of the painted-brick building — would detract from the building’s charm (as well as impinge on the small parking area on Main Street). The Willises agreed to reduce the size, to two feet, of the display windows, which are meant to be large enough to showcase substantial furniture pieces.

The board quickly approved the signage, on the north end of the Willises’ building, for attorney Michael Brown, the former Baumgardner firm member who will remain a tenant.

Town resident Ray Gooch’s plan to repair and protect the rear walls of his 200-year-old log cabin home at 132 Gay St. (with appropriately aged board-and-batten siding) was also approved by the board, after a lengthy discussion of the materials and precedents for such a project.

Gooch, who said he is pursuing the siding and repair because centuries of wear and moisture have degraded some of the logs, told the board that doing the project properly means as much to him as anyone in town, and has hired highly regarded historic preservation expert Douglass Reed to do the work.

The section of the town’s architectural-review guidelines covering historic log structures, as MacPherson pointed out, is in fact illustrated by a photo of Gooch’s cabin.

Roger Piantadosi

Three Rappahannock rabies cases in 2014

As part of its annual sponsorship (with the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association) of Rabies Awareness Week, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced there had been 311 cases of animal rabies confirmed in the state in 2014.

Rabies Awareness Week ended Sept. 28, but awareness of the lethal disease is best adopted as a year-round pursuit. VDH’s Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District, for example, also reported investigating 382 incidents in 2014 of potential exposures of humans and animals to rabies.

Of those incidents, there were 16 confirmed cases of animal rabies in the district, including three in Rappahannock County, one in Culpeper, eight in Fauquier and two each in Madison and Orange counties.

Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. Infection can occur through the bite of an infected animal, or by getting saliva from an infected animal into the eyes, mouth or an open wound. Rabies is not spread through urine, feces or blood. If left untreated in humans and animals, rabies is fatal.

Bats, skunks, raccoons, foxes and coyotes are the most frequent carriers of the rabies virus in the United States. However, people are most likely to become exposed through contact with unvaccinated cats and dogs that become infected, or through contact with infected bats. Among domestic animals in the U.S., cats are now the most common carriers of rabies virus.