I have been trying to wrap my head around this bike trail business and the deep divide that seems to be everywhere and about everything, whether it is on Capitol Hill or in Rappahannock County. I have, frankly, been stunned at some of the comments from those that do not seem to understand why there would be any resistance at all to something as mundane as a bike trail.
I never was big on the “been here-come here” issue, and I’ll tell you why. There are many recent arrivals in our midst that seem to embrace what is here and want to be a part of it, and have jumped in and volunteered and helped out wherever our communities needed them. You know who they are. You see them working at the food pantry, volunteering for all sorts of activities at our fire departments and rescue squads. They just seem happy to be here and have a gracious and charitable heart.
From what I gather from the people opposed to the bike trail idea is that it is just not a good fit for Rappahannock County. We are a small county with limited fiscal resources. I continue to hear that this county building is deteriorating and this one has a leaking roof, etc., etc. Most folks think these should be the priorities for our limited resources. And no one I have talked to thinks we won’t wind up spending our tax dollars for this bike trail.
Some folks on the pro-bike trail side of the issue don’t want to hear that. One individual even said I want this county to provide me with a bike trail and I don’t care what it costs. Well now, would you like fries with that? Others point out that Fauquier County has a bike trail and Warren County has a bike trail. Why shouldn’t we have one? The antis respond that we are not Fauquier County and we are not Warren County, and God willing, we never will be.
And it is not, as the pro-trailers often say, simply resistance to any change. Look around. We are changing, like it or not. The trick is to manage that change so it doesn’t detract from what we already have and love.
For that we are going to need some good managers and visionaries in our county government. Right or wrong, it is hard to argue that the Board of Supervisors’ position on this issue wasn’t responsible for a modicum of excitement last election day. My personal prediction is that when, not if, the first tax dollar leaves the county coffers to build, manage or maintain this bike trail, you are likely to see a bit more excitement.
In defense of the Board, some are saying they were given a bum’s rush to approve the resolution on the trail. If that is true, however, you might have thought there would have been some additional support, save the singular motion, to table this issue for further study.
To be honest with you, I don’t know if it is a cultural thing or not. But it goes deeper than just the Board being snookered on a “free money” ruse. The closest I can come is the feeling that it is just not a good “fit” for the county, that it is not who we are, and, apparently, not who or what we want to be. I suggest, however, that in the meantime we greet our friends and neighbors with the respect they deserve, no matter their position on a bike trail.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention the loss of two of our valuable citizens. The first is the passing of Mrs. Louise Eastham. From my earliest memories, Mrs. Eastham has always been here. She always lived in that beautiful brick house at Ben Venue. Mrs. Eastham’s late husband, Tommy, and my dad were friends. If memory serves, Mr. Eastham was a pallbearer at my father’s funeral.
When I was a child, we always wanted to drive by the big house at Ben Venue, because across the road were three little brick cottages, and we would give names to the people we thought lived there, usually Tom, Dick and Harry. Mrs. Eastham worked tirelessly in her church and her community and touched many lives. In recent years I would see her at the Lenten Services, or at the bank or the gas station. I would always speak and tell her who I was, and she would say, “I know who you are.”
The other loss was Reverend John Pendleton, who lived here in Flint Hill. Like Mrs. Eastham, Mr. Pendleton was one of those people who, in my memories, was always here. He was a wonderful, kind, soft spoken, God-fearing man. My mother was a good judge of character, and she had nothing but good things to say about Rev. Pendleton and his wife. As a small tribute to Brother John, as so many called him, I will tell you that when we mentioned his passing in church, it seemed every person had a heart-warming story to tell about him.
To the families and loved ones of these two standard-bearers of what is good about this place we call home, you have our deepest sympathy and fervent prayers. May the memories of their beautiful lives soften the sorrow in your hearts, and may they rest in God’s peace.