The Rapp for Aug. 9

Smoot to trial

An expected three-day criminal trial for local resident Randy Lynn Smoot, who is charged with first-degree murder, will get underway next Wednesday, August 15, at the Rappahannock County Courthouse.

Smoot, 47, of Flint Hill, was charged last Oct. 22 in the death of Jonas “Jay” Alther of Harris Hollow. Smoot allegedly assaulted Alther with a heavy object, believed to be an industrial flashlight, on Oct. 19.

After a preliminary hearing in Rappahannock County District Court on December 28, Judge Melissa Cupp certified the first-degree murder charge to a grand jury. Smoot has been out on bond awaiting trial.

Getting darker

Clare Cassel and Torney Van Acker from the Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection’s Dark Skies Initiative “did all the leg work to organize and replace all the street lights in the Thornton River Grille parking lot,” relays Craig Batchelor, owner and manager of the TRG operation that includes the historic Sperryville Country Store.

“They replaced a total of four old light-polluting lights with new ‘downward directional’ lights that help keep our Rappahannock nightscapes dark. All of this was a zero cost to me,” notes Batchelor.

“This truly was a wonderful service provided, not just to our business but to the greater community,” he added, hoping other businesses will join in the effort to further darken the county’s skies.

Christmas in August

Yes, Virginia, preparations for the Christmas season begin in August in Rappahannock County.

An annual highlight of the holiday season and also of the Rappahannock Association for Arts and Community Theatre year is the Christmas play. Open auditions for “Charlotte’s Web,” the 2018 RAAC Community Theatre Christmas play, will take place on Friday, Aug. 24, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and Saturday, Aug. 25, from 10 a.m. to noon. Callbacks will be Sunday, Aug. 26, from 2 to 4 p.m. All auditions will be at the RAAC Community Theatre, 310 Gay St. in Little Washington.

The RAAC Theatre Christmas production is always a tremendously enjoyable community effort, with actors of all ages, tastes, and talents as shown in this photo from the 2017 play, “St. George and the Dragon.” By Ray Boc

The performance dates for this year’s play will be Friday and Saturday, Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, and Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Dec. 7, 8, 9.

“Charlotte’s Web” offers acting opportunities of all kinds. There are parts for humans of different ages and for numerous barnyard animals (and a very important arachnid). The parts vary from major speaking roles to roles with very few or no lines. Children trying out should be at least seven years old and be accompanied by a parent at the audition.

The Christmas play is also an excellent “starter experience” for anyone interested in the many support activities: stage manager and assistants, sound technician, lights, set design and construction, makeup and hair, costumes, props, publicity. Prior experience is not required. If you’d like to know more about Theatre support activities, contact Patty Hardee, RAAC Theatre Artistic Director,

Night Sky Festival

Shenandoah National Park will celebrate our connection to the universe during the third annual Night Sky Festival beginning tomorrow through Sunday, August 10-12.

Park rangers, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Solar System Ambassadors, amateur astronomers and a veteran NASA astronaut will be on hand to encourage visitors to value dark skies through a variety of special programs and activities. Programs will take place at Dickey Ridge Visitor Center (mile 42.5 on Skyline Drive), Byrd Visitor Center (mile 51), Skyland Amphitheater (mile 42.5), Big Meadows Amphitheater (mile 51) and Loft Mountain Amphitheater (mile 79.5).

Ranger-led programs will focus on night-active animals, recent discoveries in space and constellations. There will be opportunities for stargazing, constellation tours, safe solar viewing through a telescope, a planet walk, Junior Ranger activities and more.

Delaware North, the park concessioner, will sponsor presentations by two guest speakers on Saturday, August 11, in Byrd Visitor Center auditorium. Veteran astronaut and space scientist Tom Jones will present “Beyond Earth: Humanity’s Future in Space” at 4:30 p.m. and “Sky Walking: An Astronaut’s Journey” at 7 p.m. NASA Solar System Ambassador Greg Redfern will present a program, “Shenandoah Skies and the Perseids” at 8 p.m. and again at 9 p.m., before heading out into the Big Meadow to view the night skies and watch for meteors (weather permitting).

NASA Solar System Ambassador and Park Ranger Kristin Hendershot will present “How’s the Weather in Space?” at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, August 11, at Byrd Visitor Center, and also “Meteor Showers: Hot and Cold” at Big Meadows Amphitheater at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, August 12.

Amateur astronomers invite visitors to view the heavens through their telescopes at the “Night Skies” program starting at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, August 10 in the Big Meadow (mile 51). Visitors may join them again starting at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday to stargaze and view the Perseid Meteor Shower. Outdoor night sky viewing events depend on clear skies.

‘The Post’

The make-up date for the rained-out Film-TalkBack event, featuring “The Post,” is set for this Saturday, August 11, at 7 p.m. at the Little Washington Theatre.

RAAC is joining with Foothills Forum to offer its first Film-TalkBack event, followed by a discussion led by two local luminaries: Jay Ward Brown, an eminent First Amendment lawyer, who has defended organizations in delivering news to the public and litigated privacy and access issues from around the country, all the way to the Supreme Court; and Andy Alexander, former ombudsman for The Washington Post and Washington Bureau Chief for Cox Newspapers, who is a nationally respected expert in the public’s right to know and dangers of government secrecy.

In lieu of ticket sales, donations will be collected for the nonprofit Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Second Saturday

The days are long, the evenings are light and the temperatures are warm . . . and August is for Art on the Rappahannock County Artisan Trail. Leave the dogs and cats at home and indulge in a day of art and entertainment before school starts up again.


Magnolia Vineyards & Winery welcomes the return of Acoustic Soul, Steven Shaffer and Bruce Turner playing classic rock, rhythm and blues 2 to 5 p.m. Sit outside to view vines full of ripening grapes while you indulge in a tasting! Open 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Narmada Winery offers Wine and Chocolate, Vineyard Picnic pairings, and three different tasting flights. Mack Rowe invites you to “Enjoy your trip into my visual adventures,” with the exhibition of his watercolors and photographs created with non-digital technology and close-up lenses. The Kathy Davis & Bradley Bishop duo draws from bluegrass, old time, and swing influences to create a magical performance from 2 to 5 p.m. Open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Flint Hill

Griffin Tavern prepares your meal with love and fresh local produce! Since August is for Art, it’s a fine time to check out the photography exhibited upstairs and down. Complete the day with dancing to Vinyl Tracks’ classic rock from 8 to 11 p.m. Open from 11:30 a.m.


Before and After introduces CatBoneFace playing an acoustic set of Hendrix, Dylan, Mathews and The Who. Meet this artist of many talents and see his expressive paintings on display while enjoying mouthwatering hors d’oeuvres and soul-warming wines. Open at 8 a.m. Artist reception 5 to 7 p.m.

De’Danann Glassworks  teaches beginners how to make a mosaic using stained glass as a medium. Create the artwork and then grout it with guidance from artist Patricia Brennan. Fee $55. 10 a.m to 2 p.m. or call 540-987-8615 with questions or to reserve.

Martin Woodard Art Studio hosts Susan Dienelt of Juba Mountain Pottery who will display her work and discuss producing functional salt-fired stoneware that is designed for enjoyment and use in everyday life. She will talk about the creative process, share some of her tips and talk about her technique. Noon to 3 p.m.

River District Potters will guide you in creating a colorful ceramic marker for your vegetable or flower garden or potted plant. Potter Sara Adams provides instruction from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Allow an hour to create your marker. Email: or text: 202 256-7005 to reserve. Free.

Emergency care

Virginia’s first-of-its-kind Emergency Department Care Coordination (EDCC) Program has launched, connecting all emergency departments in the state — Culpeper to Warrenton, Front Royal to UVA — and facilitating near real-time communication and collaboration among health care providers, health plans, clinical and care management personnel for patients receiving emergency medical services. The program also integrates the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program and the Advance Healthcare Directive Registry.

“With this secure technology we can provide emergency medical personnel with access to a patient’s critical medical information in a timely way, which will increase effective and efficient care, avoid duplicative tests, reduce unnecessary costs, and improve health outcomes,” says Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.

“Near real-time, up-to-date information in an emergency department can assist health care providers in so many ways, from treating patients with chronic disease to knowing what medications to avoid prescribing to a patient with allergies,” says Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Daniel Carey. “When you have the right care and the right information in the right setting, you are able to make the best decision for the individual patient.”

Virginia is the first state in the nation to connect all of its emergency department systems in this way.

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