Down Memory Lane for May 24

Dec. 27, 1990

When Frances Thornton became Rappahannock County’s first public health nurse in 1950, she faced a county filled with people who in too many cases were unaware of the importance of proper medical care, especially for children.

During her 36 years on the job, she started programs to teach parents the importance of proper medical care, then saw some of those same programs discontinued because the education was so successful.

As a native of Rappahannock County, Mrs. Thornton had first-hand experience with the problems of the small, rural county, and it gave her a head start as she organized what became, for many years a one-woman health department.

When the county’s supervisors cut off the money for a program that brought dentists to visit the schools for regular examinations and treatment, Mrs. Thornton and Mrs. Snead raised money and support from the county’s residents, going to Richmond to argue in favor of the program with officials at the Health Department. They returned with a dental chair — and a promise of continued service using recent graduates of the state’s dental schools.

The May Day program, for example, was finally discontinued because Mrs. Thornton had done such a good job of educating both parents and children about the importance of regular medical examinations, Mrs. Snead said.

Rappahannock News honors long-time Rappahannock County public health nurse Frances Thornton as its Citizen of the Year. The honor is bestowed each year on behalf of the county’s residents to an individual who has made a substantial contribution to the county and to the people.

After meetings with his top advisors and Cabinet officials, state agencies were directed to cut five percent across-the-board from their budgets.

Local governments — including Rappahannock — responded to the governor’s order by preparing for the inevitable loss in state aid from Richmond. The problem was compounded by the fact that the cuts were ordered after local officials had approved their budgets for fiscal 1990-91; budgets already pared to the bone in the expectation of state cutbacks.

And Rappahannock County officials are bracing for a corresponding reduction in state aid next year, which will possibly force local taxes up even higher.

Fall bought more excitement to the region in the form of the political contest for the Seventh Congressional District seat. Three-term incumbent D. French Slaughter Jr. was challenged by Democratic newcomer David M. Smith of Winchester.

March 25, 1998

Commercial cattle farmer Mike Massie of Hampton Stock Farm near Flint Hill recognized the importance of marketing and business in the farming industry while he was still in high school. “My feeling was that if I could get a good business education, I could learn about farming from my dad,” he said in a recent interview. Also critical were the years he served as manager of the Front Royal Livestock Exchange. “That was the best education I could have gotten — a tremendous learning experience.”

Massie put his training to work purchasing calves at weaning, then reselling them at market weight. In a year’s time, he would turn over 1,000 head, “but it’s hard to put together trailer loads of like cattle.” He is now headed in a new direction — switching from marketing to the breeding end of the cattle business.

The farm is a family operation. “I do everything relating to the cattle marketing myself,” said Massie, but “breeding is more of a family thing, so we all get involved. My wife, Toni, is very important. Without her support and help, operating the farm would be impossible. Even the kids — daughters Sophie, age 10, and twins Jackie and Laura, 8 — can bring the calves into the house and help raise them, if needed. A family working together and sharing experiences, that’s what the Massies are all about.

The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award given in Girl Scouting. Earning this recognition provides a Senior Girl Scout the opportunity to cap her years of achievement in Girl Scouting by making a commitment to herself and her community.

The Virginia Skyline Girl Scout Council is proud to have had over 200 Senior Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award. Dawn Havstad and Kylene Wolfe are the first to earn the Gold Award in Rappahannock County. The pin, which was presented to the girls, is a symbol of their outstanding achievement. The gold trefoil with the sun’s rays, represents the Girl Scout influence on the wider community and the interdependence of Girl Scouting and the community.