The Rapp for July 27

Fourth Estate Friday

Care to brainstorm with Rappahannock News staff? Then we invite you to the Country Cafe in Washington at 9 a.m. tomorrow, Friday, July 28, for what we call Fourth (Estate) Friday — a “story conference” held on the fourth Friday of every month.

Please bring with you any story ideas, submissions and suggestions for both the newspaper and the website. And yes, we invite your criticism and will address your concerns. We’ve even been known to accept a compliment or two. Tell us what you think, what you like and don’t like about the newspaper, and better yet get to know the faces behind the bylines.

First night a hero

Rappahannock Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Garcia (left) and Sergeant Cody Dodson Courtesy photo

Hats off to Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office (RCSO) Deputy Chris Garcia and Sergeant Cody Dodson, who this past Monday night, July 24, responded to a 911 call for an unconscious person.

Upon arrival, according to the RCSO Facebook site, “they found an adult female on the floor inside of the residence unresponsive and barely breathing. Dodson and Garcia quickly began rescue breathing efforts. Suspecting the subject was in an opioid overdose, the deputies administered Naloxone (also known as Narcan). Upon the arrival of EMS, the female subject was awake and no longer in distress.”

But there’s more to this happy ending, according to Facebook:

“It should be noted as a new deputy with RCSO, Garcia had been field-trained by Sgt. Dodson, and this was Deputy Garcia’s first night as a fully released Rappahannock County Patrol Deputy. This is teamwork at it’s finest. Congratulations gentlemen.”

Russia to Rapp

Volunteers are needed this weekend in Shenandoah National Park — 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday — to hand-pull and spray wavyleaf grass, a nonnative perennial plant that genetically matches a grass native to the Caucasus Mountains in Russia.

No one knows how the grass got to North America. It was first discovered 20 years ago in a park near Baltimore, according to Susan Austin Roth of the Blue Ridge Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM).

The shade-loving, invasive weed threatens to ruin Virginia’s woodlands and forests and even home landscapes. Volunteers are being recruited to work under the guidance of Jake Hughes, Exotic Plant Manager of Shenandoah National Park, and Jim Hurley of Blue Ridge PRISM.

Volunteers of all ages will hand-weed and deploy backpack sprayers to eradicate thick carpets of the ankle-to-knee-high grass in an area that is considered “ground zero.”

“This treatment site is ‘ground-zero’ of wavyleaf’s presence in Virginia,” says Roth. “First discovered in the park in 2005, it now covers several hundred acres there and has spread to 15 counties in Virginia.”

It can actually spread via seeds that glue themselves to animal fur and pant legs, traveling many miles before dropping off and starting a new patch. The danger of the grass is that it dramatically diminishes biodiversity of insects, birds, mammals, wildflowers, native plants, and imperils tree regeneration and timber harvests.

Past eradication efforts of the grass have been successful, including last summer in Shenandoah.

The effort of a group of volunteers in 2016 “on what was one of the hottest and most miserably humid days of the summer suppressed one of the most extensive stands of wavyleaf in the park,” says Hughes. “The results are really impressive. The dense carpets of mature wavyleaf were almost completely eliminated and only scattered seedlings — which won’t produce seed until 2018 at the earliest — remain.”

For this weekend’s exact volunteer gathering point in Shenandoah Park please contact Jim Hurley at or call 703-405-0067.

 Roadeo riders

 It’s known as the Virginia “Roadeo,” except nobody’s riding in a saddle atop a horse.

Rather, these riders, including one highly talented operator from Rappahannock County, recently demonstrated their skills in maneuvering dump trucks, backhoes, motor graders and tractor mowers through obstacle courses and other skill stations.

Held annually since 1988, the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Roadeo provides an opportunity for some friendly competition — there were more than 100 local competitors this year.

Events vary depending on the equipment. The dump truck event included parallel parking, backing into a simulated loading dock and driving forward and backwards through a serpentine course. The backhoe event involved using the bucket to pick up golf balls and dropping them into a succession of small tubes, while the motor grader operators had to deftly maneuver the large blade to knock a series of tennis ball off a post without disturbing the posts.

Among our local operators who scored big in the competition was Michael Smith of the town of Washington, who works at VDOT’s Rappahannock Area headquarters. Smith competed in the single-axle truck category.

Winners will now advance to the statewide competition, and from there to regional finals in the fall.

Film workshops

With the $5,000 Teachers and Technology grant from the CenturyLink Clarke M. Williams Foundation that Wakefield Country Day School (WCDS) received in May, the Flint Hill school is building an in-school film studio. And now WCDS is inviting the public to help them celebrate the studio’s birth by joining its inaugural workshops.

The first workshop, “Storyboarding,” will be held Saturday, August 5, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. And what’s a storyboard?

“Storyboards translate the written ideas or script for a movie or advertisement into visual thumbnails that show the progression of each scene,” explains WCDS. “They are an essential step in shooting quality video. Professional storyboarder Tad Butler will lead a practical, hands-on seminar on storyboarding for aspiring movie makers. While Tad is a talented artist, don’t worry if you don’t know how to draw. Tad’s methods work for the artistically challenged as well as the experienced artist.”

The second workshop, “Camera Operation, Movement, Lighting and Competition,” will be held Monday, August 7, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“Learn by doing as part of a production team while David Brigham guides you through camera settings and operation, composing the shot, and lighting the scene. After explaining the theory and rules in the classroom, David will show you when and why to break them as each team works on laying out, setting up, and shooting multiple shots, both indoors and outside. Participants will also learn why and how to move the camera for more complex shots using a dolly, slider, and Steadicam.

Light snacks will be provided at both workshops, but bring a bag lunch or visit one of the local establishments when the groups breaks for an hour-long lunch at noon.

Registration is open to all members of the community on a first-come-first-served basis. Fees are $25 per workshop or $40 for both. Each workshop is limited to 20 participants, so don’t delay in registering.

Enroll by contacting Jeff Day at, or by calling WCDS, 540-635-8555. Send payment made out to WCDS with “film workshop” in the note to: Wakefield Country Day School, 1059 Zachary Taylor Hwy, Flint Hill, VA 22627.

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