The Rapp for Sept. 21

Pumpkin view

Autumn arrives tomorrow at 4:04 p.m., and with the new fall season undoubtedly will come the semi-annual invasion of stink bugs. How large an army of the brown marmorated pests remains to be seen, although their field scouts have already arrived.

On a brighter note, the fall foliage season is likely to be quite colorful in Rappahannock County.

The leaf color forecast is “excellent” for the Allegheny Mountain Range to the west and north and “fair” to middlin for the southern Appalachians from the Carolinas to Georgia. Which puts Rappahannock County smack in the middle of the predictions, which are impacted each season by temperatures and precipitation amounts recorded as far back as the previous winter, through the spring and summer, and even into early fall (the warmer and wetter the September, for example, the less vivid the leaf color).

Leaves in Rappahannock peak on average each year between Oct. 15-25, depending on elevation. Skyline Drive, as we speak, already has some trees and plants revealing dazzling autumn shades, although it’s still early in the game. Fortunately, Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, top to bottom, have one of the longest leaf-peeping seasons in the entire nation, lasting over a month.

The best way to determine the peak of any fall foliage season, of course, is by lacing up your tennis shoes or hiking boots, stepping outdoors, and discovering for yourself. And around these parts, one needn’t venture far. As American essayist and poet Henry David Thoreau noted, he absorbed autumn by simply sitting on a pumpkin, where he found he could “have it all to myself.”

Fall butter

Is there a surer sign of autumn’s arrival than seeing the Rappahannock Lions Club selling apple butter at Quicke Mart?

Stop by starting this Saturday to stock up on the Lions Club’s authentic apple butter. Lions Club members are more than happy to send you home with the dark, rich spread (same price as always: $6 per pint; two for $10). The Lions will be cutting apples today at the Co-op on Lee Highway and cooking it up at the community kitchen in Keezletown all day Friday, so this batch will be as fresh as it comes.

Some Lions Club members preparing this year’s batch of apple butter. Photo by Larry Bud Meyer

When you visit the Lions’ sales trailer on weekends this fall you can also pick up Virginia peanuts and upgrade your old-fashioned brooms. Whether apple butter or brooms, all proceeds benefit Rappahannock County causes throughout the year.

Also, mark on your calendars the club’s annual ChiliFest and Drawdown on Oct. 14. More than a dozen sponsors, local cooks and neighboring restaurants participate in the popular fundraiser that raises more than half of what the club gives away in community service each year. A limited number of $100 Draw Down tickets remain for a shot at winning or splitting $5,000.

Lions Club members Jim Manwaring (540-987-8433) and Larry Grove (540-987-8612) can answer any and all questions about apple butter, chili, and one’s favorable odds of winning the Drawdown, which even if not participating is incredibly fun to observe.

1000 Faces

The 1000 Faces Mask Theater will perform a new play this Saturday, Sept. 23, at the Castleton Festival Theatre grounds.

Among the 1000 Faces at this Saturday’s Castleton performance. Courtesy photo

The production is entitled, “The Half Hour News Hour From Planet Earth,” featuring “Liberty and Justice Go Looking For America.” The play is made possible in part by a grant from RAAC’s Claudia Mitchell Arts Fund.
The opening act will be “Them Thar Hills,” which includes Rappahannock County locals

Miranda Hope (guitar, vocals), Robert “Smiggy” Smith (guitar, vocals), and Terry Waggoner (bass).
The grounds open at 4:30, Them Thar Hills perform at 5, and 1000 Faces at 6. Please bring blankets, chairs, and a picnic. If it rains, everybody moves inside the Festival Theatre.

Contact Peggy Schadler at 540-987-8823 or

LOVE the sign

The group Businesses of Rappahannock invites county residents to attend tomorrow’s unveiling of a LOVE sign at the Visitors Center, 3 Library Road in Washington.

“The sign represents the LOVE we have for visitors to our beautiful county as well as our appreciation for the rich agricultural history of Rappahannock,” says the group. “Come out and help us spread the word — LOVE is in the air! The ceremony begins at 5 p.m., with a group photo at 5:30.”

Bridge closed

This Monday, Sept. 25, the Route 604 (Green Road) bridge over the Hughes River at the Rappahannock-Culpeper county line will close for rehabilitation.

The bridge, which was built in 1954, will be closed for six weeks. Motorists are advised to use alternate routes.

Nuts wanted

Do you have a lot of nuts around your house?

If so, the Virginia Department of Forestry needs your assistance — or more specifically 13 species of nuts or acorns that can be planted at its state Forestry Center to grow into tree seedlings and become the forests of tomorrow. Those willing to collect nuts and acorns are asked to follow the following guidelines:

Place the nuts and acorns in a breathable sack or bag (no plastic, please, or the nuts will suffocate). It doesn’t matter if acorns still have the caps on them. On the sack/bag, please label the species and date of collection. Drop them off at any VDOF office no later than Oct. 13.

Species the tree nursery needs this year: Black Oak, Black Walnut, Chinese Chestnut, Chestnut Oak, Live Oak, Northern Red Oak, Pin Oak, Sawtooth Oak, Southern Red Oak, Swamp Chestnut Oak, Swamp White Oak, White Oak and Willow Oak.

“Donating acorns and nuts to the VDOF nursery is fast and easy, but the tremendous appreciation we have for those who do is long lasting,” says nursery forester Joshua McLaughlin, who can answer any questions at 540-363-7000.

Affordable care?

Pointing out that it has been committed for more than 80 years to ensuring that all Virginia residents have an option for health insurance coverage, Anthem Healthkeepers Blue Cross and Blue Shield has suddenly reversed course and will continue to offer Obamacare plans to Rappahannock County residents.

But there’s a catch.

Anthem had announced in August that it would discontinue individual Affordable Care Act (ACA) health plans in Virginia in 2018 because of mixed signals it had been receiving from President Trump and his administration.

“Unfortunately, uncertainty in the health insurance market does not provide the clarity and confidence we need to offer affordable coverage to our members in 2018,” the insurer wrote last month. But now a change of heart.

“Since learning that 63 counties and cities would not have access to individual health plans, Anthem has been engaged in further evaluation and discussion with regulators to ensure that no bare counties or cities exist in Virginia,” Anthem stated, filing necessary paperwork in recent days to revise its individual health plan offerings for 2018.

That said, Anthem premiums are projected to skyrocket in 2018 for current ACA policyholders — as high as 65 percent.

To Haymarket

Greg Napps is leaving as CEO of Novant Health UVA Health System Culpeper Medical Center to become the new president of Novant Health UVA Health System Haymarket Medical Center and Novant Health UVA Health System Prince William Medical Center.

“Greg has done a tremendous job here at the Culpeper Medical Center, as evidenced by our string of consecutive Leapfrog grade A’s,” said Charles Barrell, chairman of the Culpeper Medical Center board of trustees. “He will be sorely missed, but he has committed to mentoring our interim and replacement leader and plans to continue to reside in the Culpeper community.”

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