It has been my pleasure and privilege to have written over 250 articles that have been printed by the Rappahannock News. A lot of them were human interest, public interest or more personal items, like gardening, fishing, hunting and many of them about the beauty of Rappahannock. I have been humbled by the many emails and phone calls that I have received from people commenting on what I have written. For the most part, the comments were positive with some of them thanking me for writing what I did. I do not believe that any of my past columns has been as important as this one has the potential to be.
Alan Zuschlag’s commentary in last week’s paper should be required reading for every member of the Board of Supervisors and every individual on any boards and panels in Rappahannock County. What I said a couple of weeks ago, Mr. Zuschlag stated much more eloquently: There is no affordable housing crisis in this county. That doesn’t mean that some people won’t try to convince you otherwise.
There are people among us who want to “fix” this county. In many cases, their improvements will chip away at all we have been blessed with here in Rappahannock, and what so many generations have worked to secure.
You may have read in the Rappahannock News a week or so ago that they are organized and have been having meetings for some months. Much of what they are about has been off the radar. I’ll let them tell you why that is the case. But here is what I know.
I know they have been reviewing the public records at the courthouse, the clerk’s office and the revenue office. I know they have been gathering lot numbers and ownership information on parcels of land in Rappahannock. I can only imagine that they are looking for lots that they might be able to acquire, through gifts or outright purchase. I know they have been to some of these lots and looked them over. I know that is the case in Flint Hill.
In Flint Hill we have one piece of land, adjoining the fire department, that county records say is owned by the fire department. It is about the only piece of semi-public land in Flint Hill. Most of the children in our community and nearby communities call it “sledding hill,” because when it snows enough, Linda and I can look out the window and see the kids and their parents having a big time sliding and sledding. The lot is a favorite of dog lovers, who come to let their pups stretch their legs. It is also used by walkers and people trying to get some exercise. The fire department has a fellow come and mow it a couple of times a year for the bale or two of hay he gets, and that keeps it from getting overgrown. It adjoins our lot, and we mow a strip or two of it to try to keep the ticks off the grandkids.
The fire department uses it when they have a piece of equipment they want to check out, and they also use it for training fire department members on how to use the pumps and nozzles and other systems on the fire trucks, brush trucks and other equipment. The grounds are frequently used for family gatherings, often after weddings or funerals and churches use the property for meetings of the faithful and revivals and other types of get-togethers. And it is always used as a parking lot when we have the Fodderstack Race.
Are we going to stand by and let these people dictate what will be done with parcels of open land such as this one? No one person can stop this kind of desecration of our beloved Rappahannock County. These people are organized and determined to fix Rappahannock. They will stop at nothing to get their improvements put in place. It is going to take every one of us who loves this county and wants to keep it beautiful and clean and peaceful. If we don’t stand up and let it be known, loud and clear, that this is not what generations of people in this county have worked for, it will all be gone in a decade or two.
Talk to your county supervisor. Talk to anyone you know on the county boards and panels. And talk to your neighbors. If they ever bring these meetings into the light of day, attend these meetings, if they will allow it. Tell them we don’t want their improvements. We don’t want low-income housing. And we don’t want what little open land the county and the fire departments have to be used for subsidized housing or any other improvements that they can come up with. And if they are still compelled to use their skills to fix something, ask them to consider going to the individual fire departments and asking what they can do to help. Can they organize some fundraisers? Could they volunteer to help the fire departments do administrative work, or operational work, if they have the skills and desire? I don’t think they will be turned away.
Friends, I ask you to stand up for Rappahannock County and all the generations that have worked so hard to make this county what it is today. We owe our forebears a great debt. But most of all we need to honor their hard work and vision by doing everything we can to keep Rappahannock the beautiful place it is today.
Now, don’t be mean and speak ill of the people who have these misguided ideas. I can only assume they just don’t know any better. And don’t tell them to go back where they came from. We shouldn’t wish that on anyone. Instead, welcome them to Rappahannock and do your best to educate them about all we have been blessed with here in this little bit of paradise.
Last of all, don’t be quiet. Don’t be still. Stand up and be counted and make your voice heard. And if it takes some shouting, have at it. It will not be easy. The very same kind of ideas and “improvements” have been used, by the same types of people, to make Culpeper what it is today. Fauquier is not far behind. And parts of Loudon are losing their beauty. Rappahannock does not have to be next. We do not have to bend to the will of a handful of people who feel the need to change this place so they can feel good about themselves. We do not have to stand by and watch all that we love go down the drain.
It will take a mighty force to quell the attack on this beautiful place. The opposition will stop at nothing to get their “improvements” implemented. For the love of God and Rappahannock County, don’t let them win.