The Rapp for July 26

Fourth Estate Friday

Fourth (Estate) Friday, this newspaper’s monthly invitation to readers to join us for coffee, constructive criticism and story ideas, is upon us. We will gather this last Friday of July, the 27th, at 9 a.m. at the Country Cafe on Main Street in Washington.

Rappahannock News staffers will be on hand to buy your coffee and hear your thoughts. Questions? Email editor@rappnews.com or call us at 540-675-3338.

County probe continues

Virginia State Police have recently conducted interviews with at least two persons in the ongoing criminal probe surrounding possible misappropriation of Rappahannock County government funds, this newspaper has learned.

A State Police investigator just recently turned written reports of those interviews over to Culpeper County Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Walther for his review.

Reached this week, Walther had no comment on the investigation.

But a source familiar with the case said Tuesday that the commonwealth’s attorney is personally handling the investigation, which is proceeding “very slowly” but thoroughly. It is hoped that the investigation can be wrapped up by “next month,” the source said.

The same contact said last May that “one question [has led] to another” in the investigation.

Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey W. Parker signed a written order naming Walther as special prosecutor after Rappahannock County Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff recused himself, insisting that “he is so situated with respect to the accused in this matter that it would be improper for him to act . . .”

The probe was launched by the State Police in February 2017 after a letter that same month from Rappahannock County Treasurer Debbie Knick to the Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors called attention to apparent instances of one or more employees failing to follow proper expense and payroll procedures, and not conducting sufficient oversight of the county’s spending.

Any such investigation is automatically triggered if there is suspicion of wrongdoing, intentional or not.

Chester cheetahs

The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) north of Chester Gap has just welcomed a litter of seven “chirping” cheetah cubs. The cubs were born on July 9 to first-time mother, Erin.

By Adriana Kopp/Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.
Seven cheetah cubs are enjoying a healthy start to life at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.

The mom has been attentive and immediately started caring for the cubs, which appear to be healthy. Keepers will perform a health check on the cubs when Erin is comfortable leaving them for an extended period of time. In the meantime, the keepers will continue to monitor the mother and cubs closely through den cameras and visual checks to ensure they are growing and developing normally.

“It is really exciting to have such a large and healthy litter of cubs, especially from first-time parents,” said Adrienne Crosier, cheetah biologist. “Two of these cubs’ grandparents also live at SCBI, so they are the third generation from some of the first cheetahs to ever live and breed here. That’s really good news for the cheetah population worldwide. A global self-sustaining cheetah population in human care is becoming even more important with the continued decrease of animal numbers in the wild.”

This is the first litter sired by the cubs’ father, Rico. All told, it’s the 12th cheetah litter at SCBI, bringing the number of cubs born there since 2010 to 53.

Bass angler

Bass fisherman Micheal Sharp of Rixeyville was among the top 10 co-anglers (7th place) at the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Shenandoah Division tournament on the James River this past weekend. Sharp’s largest bass weighed more than 3 pounds.

FLW is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers the opportunity to compete for millions of dollars in prize money across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, FLW and their partners conduct 286 bass-fishing tournaments annually around the world, including the United States, Canada, China, Italy, South Korea, Mexico, Portugal, South Africa and Spain.

FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW” television show, broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, while FLW Bass Fishing magazine delivers cutting-edge tips from top pros.

PATH illumination

The Path Foundation has provided additional information on its awarding a $24,150 “Make it Happen” grant to the Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection [RLEP] for its “Saving Dark Skies: Dark-Sky Compliant Outdoor Lights” — in this case to benefit Rappahannock County Public Schools.

The Saving Dark Skies project focuses on protecting Rappahannock County’s star-filled night sky by replacing unshielded, excessively bright outdoor lights with lights that supply equivalent or better illumination to reduce glare, help protect wildlife and save electricity, while ensuring safety and security.

The funds to RLEP, as reported last week, will replace 85 high-intensity outdoor lights at the county’s high school, elementary school and school board office building with dark sky compliant lights.

“This is such an interesting project and solution on several levels, and we congratulate RCPS on this innovative idea,” says Christy Connolly, PATH Foundation president and CEO.

Have unshielded lights? Contact RLEP at Rick@RLEP.org or call 540-675-RLEP (7537).

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