In support of accommodating Cooter’s

I am writing in support of Ben Jones, Alma Viator and the McNear family and their request for county approval of changes to accommodate activities at Cooter’s. While recognizing the need for rules, they also need to be flexible.

I certainly do not want to see Rappahannock fall prey to the sprawl and development that Charlottesville became, one reason I left there. But I do not see that being the case with this very reasonable request by this business.

Might point out that back when I was just a “sprout” growing up in the county, there were three  businesses, stores and service stations on 211 between Gid Brown Hollow Road and Old Hollow Road. The Wayland family had one, there was one run by George and Mary Wood, and one run by George Wood’s sister Irene Wood Buckley and her husband Larry, near where Indigo Lane begins now.

Small or medium locally-owned or -based businesses need to be encouraged. We are not talking about turning the county into a cookie-cutter strip mall with the same chains found everywhere you go.

Cooter’s is a treasure. Fans of the “Dukes of Hazzard” show are wonderful people. It is not going to become some dive where drunken brawls break out every Saturday night! Actually I much prefer music venues that are not bars, are alcohol-free. Love to see a coffeehouse establishment like those in the 1960s in Greenwich Village, or Charlottesville’s wonderful Prism. Acoustic music, poetry readings, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, hot cider in the winter and a quiet, cultured and somewhat bohemian atmosphere.

I attended the Hazzard Homecoming at Ben Venue in 2012 shortly after my arrival here.Wonderful. Think once I told someone, “Think Woodstock without the drugs!”

Hear a lot about the need to promote tourism in the county. Perhaps we need an annual event like Highland County has with its Maple Festival. Highland County makes Rappahannock look almost like Manhattan in terms of its population. In fact, if I had not had roots in Rappahannock, I would want to live there.

For two weekends each year hordes of people pack the roads and small towns for the maple festival, traffic jams and the like. But people accept it, for the needed revenue it brings and for being something that gives the county its identity.

Maybe that’s how we need to view what Ben wants to do, as something positive in every way. With the future of the Castleton Festival uncertain and the need for something other than the Inn, wineries and bed and breakfasts (all fine things in their own way) to attract visitors, I strongly urge that the county government approve this application.

Patrick Alther

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