Chester Gap column for Sept. 15

Hello again

Well hello to you, all friends, neighbors, and relations. It has occurred to me that the Chester Gap area is without a voice in our local newspaper, and that is an injustice definitely in need of correction. So folks I will do my sincere best to fill in until someone more qualified happens along or the editor tires of me, whichever happens first. So with the latter more likely [Editor’s Note: It is not.], let’s get this started and see how far we can run with it.

Chester Gap VFD update and open house

To catch everyone up on the goings on at the Chester Gap VFD, which has been responding to more calls this year than ever before, with 290 to date: The fire chief is still Todd Brown (why mess with a good thing, right?), who is assisted by Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Williams. The fire captain is Shane Wood and fire lieutenant is Danny Lambert, while on the EMS side the EMS captain is once again the determined Angelica Vittitow, assisted by the EMS Lt. Thomas Nowell.

The board of directors consist of President Chris Ubben, Vice President Michael Wolnevich, secretary is Phillip Charles, treasurer is Maybelle Gilkey and member-at-large, Junior Jenkins.  All these men and women are working exceptionally hard to ensure that each and every time anyone calls for help that they get it and get it fast.

The department’s annual Open House is set for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday (Sept. 24). The day plans to be a big hit with fire and rescue demonstrations, a moonbounce, kids’ games, law enforcement demonstrations, raffles and free hot dogs and chips. Also a big part of the Open House will be the Sportsman’s Raffle, with prizes including a 10-foot kayak, AR-15, Mossberg 12 gauge and a Savage .22; if you’d like to purchase any tickets please ask a member or contact the department at 540-635-5482. This event is always a lot of fun for the kids and adults alike and a great chance to come out and meet the members and your neighbors as well.

One mountain, two churches

Chester Gap Baptist Church wrapped up a fantastic Vacation Bible School this year with a tremendous turnout from the local children, who appeared to thoroughly enjoy themselves. The church makes it a point, and justifiably so, to engage the local youth through numerous programs, including a vibrant youth group, movie nights and various trips and annual events. A huge part of the success is the determined youth leader, Matthew Williams, who recently dressed as the incomparable Willy Wonka while hosting a movie night showing of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” If you ask any of the kids who attended (and why yes, I did indeed ask some), they will tell you that Matthew and his wife Stacy are a driving force behind their beginning attendance with the youth group and a huge help in their beginning walk with God.

If a more nontraditional church service is what you’re looking for, Pastor Jim Williams and his Open Hearts Ministry is where you might just want to attend. They meet every Sunday morning at 11 in the banquet hall at the Chester Gap VFD and invite you come as you are and worship with them. Jim has a very down-home subtle manner and speaks from his heart and own experience and makes it a point to make all feel welcome. You have small kids, well, no problem, says Jim, if they need to get down and walk a bit or if they get a little loud it’s not going to stop the message. And as Jim says, “What better place for the kids to be than in church learning about Christ?”

Bear, snakes and turkeys, oh my

If you haven’t had any issues with bears this year then consider yourself lucky, because several of your neighbors have. The bears seems to be exceptionally active this year, attacking not only bird feeders and trash cans but also chicken coops and pets. If you can try to raise your bird feeders 10 foot or higher above the ground and keep other food sources and garbage contained within a locked building or container. If you experience what some of your neighbors have with the bears breaking into your buildings, chicken pens or houses, please contact the Virginia Game Commission at 804-367-1258 — or for an immediate emergency, contact the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office at 540-675-5300.

Also making news, well local news anyway, was the discovery of several rattlesnakes by a local gentleman whose property borders Shenandoah National Park. To date (well, to the date of my last update), he has found four rattlesnakes on or around his porch averaging three to four feet in length. While they are important to the environment and a catch and release policy might be the established and preferred method these were, so I’m told, relocated to a deep fryer owned by a local “woodsman” who reports that they were delicious and should no longer be a problem.

And to end on a more positive note, I hope that you all have been able to see our local turkey flock that seems to have taken to strolling about the area while feeding. Please keep an extra eye out and be careful as they don’t seem to respect any laws of the highway and will just walk right out in front of your vehicle. As this area hasn’t had a true established resident population of turkeys until within the past few years, it’d be a shame to lose any to simple negligence.