Down Memory Lane for Jan. 14

Nov. 6, 1980

In today’s transient world few people have been born, reared and lived in the same place for more than a half century. James and Tom Lee of Washington are among the exceptions and this year were recognized for outstanding achievement in the conservation of natural resources by the Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District.

All of their conservation practices have taken place on the family farm; land they have tilled and grazed, orchards they have worked and harvested, all of their lives.

The Lee’s are also exceptional because they are among the declining few people or families in Rappahannock or the area who make their entire living from the land. The family is composed of Tom Lee, his wife Loretta Sutphin Lee, also a Rappahannock native, and their sons, Tom, Jr., Bryant and Patrick and a daughter, Carolyn and Tom’s brother, James. They are the Lee Partnership.

Four barns on C. E. Ned Johnson’s Sperryville farm were burned to the ground last Friday, Halloween night, in what is suspected to be the third case of arson in the county in the past several months.

According to Johnson, approximately 750,000 pounds of hay were destroyed in the blaze. “It was the darnest pile of hay you ever saw,” said Johnson, reporting that the four buildings were crammed with 400 to 500 of the big, 1,500 pound round bales. In addition, the fire also took a rick two bales wide topped with loose hay between two of the barns, as well as assorted machinery, apple crates and part of a corn field.

One of the barns destroyed was 140 years old. “It was built by my great-grandparents,” Johnson said.

The Johnson home is one-half mile from the site of the barn fires. “We could see it all right after we heard the siren. It was horrible.”

At a special meeting held election day morning, the Rappahannock Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously approved issuance of a special use permit to George Cook for construction of an apartment over a two-car garage on his 1.6 acre lot near Flint Hill.

Before voting to grant the permit, the BZA members reminded Cook that his special use permit allows only the construction of an apartment over the garage and doesn’t authorize use of the garage itself for commercial purposes.

Nov. 3, 1988

The long-delayed completion of a divided Route 211 to Sperryville has been approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board.

The go-ahead came at the board’s meeting last Thursday at Natural Bridge. According to Virginia Department of Transportation public information officer John Redmond, the $14.8 million project was given unanimous endorsement by the nine-member board. The motion for approval was made by Constance Kincheloe, the board’s Culpeper District representative.

“That sounds great…I’m delighted, absolutely delighted,” said Piedmont District Supervisor Charles K. (Pete) Estes, who has been pushing for approval of the project since it was first delayed back in the late 1970s. “I’ve been hearing about this since I was a small child — since before World War II — people have been talking about widening that road.”

Avtex Fibers Inc., the largest employer in the northern Shenandoah Valley and a mainstay of the economy of the Town of Front Royal, will close today, Nov. 3. The announcement was made at a press conference Monday by Avtex chairman John N. Gregg, who blamed increasing foreign competition for the decision to close the 49-year old mill.

However, earlier this year Avtex was threatened by as much as $16 million in fines for safety, health and environmental violations related to the plant.

The action by Avtex management is not covered by the recently enacted federal plant closing bill, which requires that workers be given 60 days notice of a decision to close a plant.

“It’s very hard to run a fine arts gallery in the city, and it’s impossible to run one in the country,” says Cynthia Schaal. And she knows whereof she speaks. Ms. Schaal is not the only the regional coordinator for the Virginia Commission for the Arts; she is also the former owner of a city gallery.

Probably the only businesses with a higher failure rate than new restaurants are new fine arts galleries, so in 1981 when Middle Street opened in Washington, Va., it’s understandable if the experts raised their eyebrows. A gallery in a town of 230 people, the county seat for an agricultural county of just over 6,000 people? No way it could last, the experts sniffed.

But the prognosticators didn’t reckon with the inventiveness and dedication of Rappahannock County community of artists. Middle Street Gallery has done more than just last. With a group show opening Sunday, Nov. 6, the non-profit artists’ cooperative celebrates its seventh anniversary and begins a milestone year of ambitious undertakings.

May 1, 1996

Two 11-year-olds are walking away with the biggest share of the $100 prize offered for the best effort in last week’s cleanup of Rappahannock’s roads.

Aron Weisgerber and Gaelan Finney-Day filled 25 bags with roadside trash, in addition to collecting 17 tires and a small amount of metal parts.

Hunt Harris of the Ragged Mountain Resource Center awarded the two boys $34 for their large collection as well as for the wide territory they covered. They cleaned Old Hollow Road, along the Shade Road and on Red Oak Mountain.

“The majority of the trash was beer bottles and cans,” saId Aron’s mother, Jane Mullan. “There seemed to be a lot of drinking at spots. It looked as if people pulled up on the side of the road, drank and then threw everything out.”

Mrs. Mullan accompanied the boys on their cleanup outings, which she said added up to perhaps 16 hours of work over the week.

The Water and Sewer Authority is hoping the state’s Department of Environmental Quality will keep the cidery from discharging into Sperryville’s sewer system.

Twice the sewer plant has been disrupted by discharges from the cidery.

At a meeting in April member Carson Johnson said he visited the plant last summer when he heard it had been opened to determine how much the charges should be increased because another business had opened in the building, which is owned by Alex Sharp.

He learned that the cidery had been ordered to stop discharging into the Thornton River and the owners of the business had installed a large tank at a lower elevation than the sewer system’s tank and a grinder pump to pump to the sewer tank. He said the drain to the new tank also collected rainwater from the roof, and that means the business is contributing to inflow problems at the plant whenever it rains.

“Red flags went up right then,” he said, when he saw the new installation.

However, the primary problem with the discharge from the cidery has been the high biological content of the material sent to the Sperryville plant when tanks are washed out before a new batch is put in them.

Last Saturday, April 27, was a very special day for the Rappahannock Athletic Association (RAA). Exactly 20 years earlier the first official game was played on Stuart Field in Amissville.

Saturday’s ceremony also included the dedication of a dogwood tree in memory of Clarence D.”Boosie” Dodson who recently died. He was recognized for his many years of service to community youth.

Boosie was a member of the first team to play on Stuart Field, the “Early Birds,” sponsored by John and Lorraine Early of Early’s Carpets. He was a coach most of those 20 years and worked with Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts. His dedication to area youth will long be remembered.