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Shenandoah Riverkeeper Mark Frondorf


MAY 2021

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Community Dispatch

At Last…We Dance! By Rick Kerby

It’s been over a year since life as we know it came to a grinding, pandemic-caused halt; schools and businesses shut their doors, toilet paper became scarce, and apparently everyone bought RVs and went hiking. We missed the close connections with our fellow human beings and the opportunity to reward ourselves for putting in our 40+ hour work weeks by unwinding with a meal out or some live music or any of the many varieties of performing arts that delight and enrich our lives. Now, as we cautiously emerge from our isolation, the Blue Ridge Studio for the Performing Arts in Berryville is offering the community an opportunity to experience the arts once again with a freeto-the general public performance of its 2020–2021 production, At Last…We Dance! The shows will take place on the main stage of the Clarke County Ruritan Fairgrounds on the evenings of Thursday June 3 through Sunday June 6. The Junior Company (comprising students from age 3 up to pre/early teen) will take the stage at 7pm on Thursday June 3 and Sunday June 6. The Senior Company will perform at 7pm on Friday June 4 and Saturday June 5. In lieu of an entrance fee, donations will be gratefully accepted. This free public performance of four shows is the gift of the Blue Ridge Studio’s artistic director Nela Niemann in celebration of the Studio’s 30th anniversary bringing performing arts to the Clarke County community. Nela grew up immersed in the arts. Her mother, Cornelia, had

been a professional actress, and in our little rural community of Clarke County (motto: our cows are better than your cows!), Cornelia directed all the plays at CCHS and founded two theatre groups: Battletown Players for kids and Blue Ridge Players for adults. Nela herself started taking dance lessons at age 7 under instructor Dorothy Ewing for whom the dance studio at Shenandoah University is named. She opened the Blue Ridge Studio in Berryville in 1991. For those not familiar with the Studio, there are classes in ballet, tap, jazz, modern, hip hop, and lyrical. Student ages range from 3 through adult. Classes start up in early September, and continue throughout the school year ending in the annual performances in early June. Nela and her fellow teachers combine fun with an expectation for higher levels of technical expertise as students advance in age and experience. Overriding it all is the love and commitment the teachers and students have for each other which creates an atmosphere that feels very much like family. Putting on any kind of live performance in this pandemic age presents many unique challenges. Last spring/summer, when the rest of us were busy hoarding hand sanitizer and attending zoom meetings in our underwear, Nela and her team of instructors were planning for a safe reopening of studio classes for the fall. Throughout this year, students have followed strict protocols for entering and exiting the Stu-

Artistic director Nela Niemann.

dio. Screening is done on each student each class and grids marked off to allow safe distance between dancers. Everyone, from the 3-year olds to the adults, wears a mask while at the Studio (the 3-year olds look way cuter). The result has been a successful year of practice and rehearsals and our Studio family being able to say, after 14 long months, At Last…We Dance! Performances have typically been held in high school auditoriums which are set up for these things with lights, curtains, a sound board, and a danceable floor surface. Performing on the fairgrounds main stage will be a big change for the Studio dancers and stage crew and we are excited to make this new venue come alive with sound and color and movement. Come see us and celebrate the hard work, dedication, and professionalism of our performing family, because it’s been too long, but At Last… We Dance!

MAY 20 21






David Lillard, Editor/Publisher Jennifer Welliver, Associate Publisher Aundrea Humphreys, Art Director Hali Taylor, Proofreader

MAY CONTRIBUTORS Rick Kerby Cathy Kuehner Rebecca Maynard JiJi Russell Claire Stuart

COVER IMAGE Photo courtesy of Clarke County


Jennifer Welliver, 540-398-1450

Advertising Information: 540-398-1450 (Mon-Fri, 9-5)


Clarke prints signed letters-to-the-editor of uniquely local interest. Letters containing personal attacks or polarizing language will not be published. Letters may be edited. Send letters to the editor of 300 or fewer words to: editor@clarkeva.com.





The Great Emergence

I have been thinking (and talking) about things I can’t wait to do as the world reopens from the pandemic. Right now, though, I’m totally stoked about swarms of insects that should be climbing out of the ground right about now — brood ten of the 17-year cicada. We published a fine article by Claire Stuart last month. But that was prep; now is the countdown to the deafening sound from a space alien movie. We’re delighted to share this illustration of a happy skunk family and a Magicicada —magic cicada — by the amazing Doug Pifer.

And a re-emergence

Thanks to Rick Kerby for sharing news, page 2, from Blue Ridge Studio for the Performing Arts that the group will unfurl its wings and bring the arts back to us with At Last…We Dance! This free public performance of four shows, writes Rick, is the gift of the Blue Ridge Studio’s artistic

director Nela Niemann in celebration of the Studio’s 30th anniversary bringing performing arts to the Clarke County community. Thanks to the Studio, and to the incomparable Nela Niemann!

Thanks to river volunteers

Shenandoah Riverkeeper Mark Frondorf, featured on this month’s cover, and four volunteers paddled more than 6 miles — from the Farms Riverview landing in Warren County to the Berrys Ferry

landing in Clarke — loading their three rafts and two canoes with whatever trash they found. After five hours on a cold and windy Earth Day, they arrived at the boat landing under the U.S. Route 50 bridge with more than 20 tires, countless glass bottles and single-use plastics, hundreds of beer cans, car parts, hand tools, rain gutter, fence posts, a water heater, plastic lawn chairs, plastic barrels, and miscellaneous detritus. Thanks, y’all. And to Cathy Kuehner and Clarke County for the photo, page 16.


MAY 2021

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Jenni Kreer believes tattoos are a statement of who someone is, and she is passionate about her work as an artist at her business, The Body Gallery, located on Crow Street in Berryville next to Reed’s Pharmacy. Kreer also owns a location in Leesburg, and recently closed her Sterling location before making the move to Berryville and opening in December. “I love it here in Berryville,” Kreer said. “The older I get, the less I like hustle and bustle and I’m really glad to be out here.” Some of her artists also live in this area and love it, Kreer added. She has enjoyed meeting some of Berryville’s friendly people and visiting its restaurants. “Tattoos aren’t just for bikers and criminals anymore,” Kreer joked, noting that they are very mainstream these days, and have greatly risen in popularity in recent decades. The Body Gallery also offers piercings, which are offered on Fridays from noon till 8pm. Kreer’s website and Instagram page showcase many examples of the quality art offered onsite. She explained that while many people prefer to have an artist create a custom design, The Body Gallery

also has a wide range of premade designs, some of which are displayed on the walls of the new location. Her team of artists are committed to working with each client to ensure a satisfying experience. The many rave reviews from satisfied customers on The Body Gallery website speak for themselves: “Top, professional, friendly and great to work with,” said Greg. “Got my first tattoo here today and had an amazing experience!” said Katy. “Hands down my favorite tattoo shop!” said Brea. Kreer also makes and sells jewelry, some of which is artfully displayed in a glass case near the front of the business.

She said she hopes to expand and carry other craft items as well, so even if you are not in the market for a new piercing or tattoo, the shop is definitely worth visiting. Speaking of visiting, prospective customers are welcome to drop in anytime the shop is open, or they can also call to make an appointment. Currently, store hours are Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 8pm, but customers are encouraged to call or check the website for the most up to date hours. “A tattoo stays with you forever, and it’s a statement of who you are,” Kreer says. “At The Body Gallery, we make beautiful tattoos that will turn your body into a living masterpiece to be admired. With more than a decade in business and over 20,000 tattoos made, The Body Gallery of Northern Virginia will provide you with a fantastic experience by our talented artists.” “We always work in a clean, professional, and friendly environment to bring your tattoo to life. Your skin is our canvas.” Visit www.thebodygallery.net, visit their Instagram page, or call 540-955-8160.


MAY 20 21

Reckoning With Our History Blandy Seeks Clues To Honor Identities Of Enslaved People Who Lived And Died On The Land

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Matt Turner of GeoModel conducts a groundpenetrating radar survey of the cemetery. The 700 acres of land where Blandy Experimental Farm sits today has seen its share of local history. The land has known different configurations and many owners over the past 200 years. During the past two centuries, Robert “King” Carter, Nathaniel Burwell, Benjamin Gaines, Christopher Crigler, Joseph Tuley Sr., Joseph Tuley Jr., and Colonel Upton Boyce each owned at least some parcel of land within Blandy’s modern boundaries. It was Graham Blandy who consolidated the properties that Blandy now comprises, and it was, of course, Graham Blandy who donated those 700 acres to the University of Virginia upon his death in 1926. The history that went along with those 700 acres included not only those recognizable names from Clarke County history — it included a long history of enslavement. The most obvious reminder of the property’s legacy of slavery is the east wing of the Quarters building, which served as a barracks for many of the enslaved laborers of the Tuleyries. Another part of that legacy has remained hidden from view — an unmarked cemetery located near the eastern edge of the Arboretum. We know of the existence of the cemetery from a plat copied in 1925 from a 1904 property survey, but its exact location remained a mystery until recently. State Arboretum Curator T’ai Roulston was able to use existing landmarks from the century-old plat to develop latitude and longitude coordinates to mark the likely corners of the cemetery. We then contracted with a Leesburg, Va., company (GeoModel) to survey the site with ground-penetrating radar. The radar can detect anomalies in the soil structure to depths of about

15 feet. It turned out that Dr. Roulston’s translation of the old data was remarkably accurate. GeoModel was able to detect evidence of 40 graves within the projected boundaries of the cemetery. Outside of those boundaries, the radar detected no soil anomalies, indicating that nobody had ever disturbed the soil to the depth of a typical grave. This gives us reasonable confidence that we were able to detect all of the graves. Given what we know now, each of those 40 graves represents a person who lived and died in bondage, treated as property in life, and intentionally left to be forgotten in death. The way that graves are grouped suggests that families perhaps were buried together. They were mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, but we do not know who any of them are. We may never know. Now, they are no longer completely invisible, nor is the shameful history that ties them to this property. The effort to find these graves is just one of several initiatives we are taking to bring the history of the Blandy property to light. Our efforts will not provide justice for the enslaved who lived and died here, but we will strive to ensure that they are not forgotten. We know that much of the history of slavery is scattered and hard to find. We suspect that some of that information might be held by local families, perhaps by those who have a personal connection. If you know about records or family stories linked to the history of slavery in Clarke County, if you would like to share and be a part of our attempt to connect this history to the living, please contact Blandy at blandy@virginia.edu.

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An image from the ground-penetrating radar showing four graves. The radar detects anomalies in the soil profiles. Notice that in this image the less dense (light blue) soil that is normally near the surface, extends to a depth of 4 feet in four adjacent spots. Each of those anomalies indicates the location of a grave.

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MAY 2021


Ladybug, Ladybug By Claire Stuart

Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home Your house is on fire and your children will burn

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When I was a kid and I found a ladybug, I’d recite those words, then blow on it until it flew off. Do children still do this in our electronic age? I don’t recall any adult teaching it to me, so it must have been one of these things passed along through generations of children. The little ditty has been traced back to 16th Century Britain. Ladybugs, sometimes called ladybirds, are correctly called lady beetles, since they are beetles, (Family Coccinellidae) not bugs. They are extremely beneficial predators of aphids, as both larvae and adults. They earned the name Beetles of Our Lady when they were believed to have saved crops from aphids in answer to prayers to Virgin Mary. Hops were an important crop, and lady beetles laid their eggs on hop vines, where aphids were plentiful. Farmers burned the hop fields off in fall. Adult lady beetles would fly away, but any larvae left there were burned. Just about everyone knows what a lady beetle looks like—round, orangey-red with black spots, and generally described as cute. Larvae resemble tiny lizards. Different species have different numbers of spots. Some have bands, splotches or stripes instead of spots, or no marks at all. Some are slightly tan and some are pink with more oval bodies. Less-common species are black with red, orange, yellow or white

Imported Asian Multicolored Lady Beetles with various numbers of spots.

spots, but they have the typical lady beetle shape. A very tiny (about a millimeter) solid black lady beetle in our area eats mite pests of fruit trees. The mustard-yellow “bad ladybug,” the Mexican bean beetle, eats bean leaves, not aphids. While some lady beetle species are named for their number of spots, the imported multicolored Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis)— I’ll call it IMAL for short— causes confusion because it comes in several shades of red with various numbers of spots (or none). The easiest

way to identify it is by examining the pronotum, the collar-like section behind the head, which is white with a black mark resembling a letter M or W, depending on how you are looking at it. IMALS were introduced deliberately for biological control in orchards, and introduced accidentally several times, becoming established in the 1980s. They are voracious consumers of aphids and other pests and eggs of various pests. Unfortunately, IMALS have become an annoyance to humans because of their


MAY 20 21

hibernation habits, which are different from those of our native lady beetles. In their Asian homes, IMALs fly to south-facing rock cliffs and hibernate in cracks in the rocks, so they look for similar habitat here. In fall, usually around Columbus Day in our area, IMALS are attracted to lightcolored houses and other structures, especially on hills, with south or southwest-facing walls that reflect sunlight. They congregate by the thousands and look for cracks and crevices around windows, doors and roofs that let them into crawl spaces, attics and between walls. If the hibernation site stays too warm, the beetles stay active instead of sleeping, and they sometimes get into living quarters. However, if they can’t hibernate, they die. With warm weather, the beetles awaken and try to find a way back out into the world. That’s when they again come to our attention if they get into our living space. If they are active in

your house around now, they are not coming in—they’ve been hiding and asleep. Now they are trying to leave, so it’s a good time to take inventory of cracks and crevices in your home that need to be caulked before next fall. Native lady beetles are often sold for biocontrol in gardens. The commonest ones hibernate by the millions in caves in the mountains. Sellers harvest the sleeping beetles, refrigerating them until ready to ship. The problem is that when the beetles awaken, they are not hungry, and instinct tells them to fly back to where they came from, to eat and lay eggs there. Their built-in navigation system tells them how far to fly. When you release those purchased lady beetles into your garden, they are primed to head for home. I have seen ads for lady beetles “preconditioned” to stay put and lay eggs, so I would advise you to get a guarantee from the seller that they won’t fly away! And you must have aphids on your plants to keep the lady beetles around—you

can’t just buy them for “protection” and hope they stay. I was asked if IMALs were introduced to fight gypsy moths. NO! Lady beetles are predators, not parasites, and they eat small, softbodied insects, not big caterpillars. The introduced enemies of gypsy moths are tiny wasps whose larvae are specialized internal parasites, more properly called “parasitoids.” True parasites like fleas and lice live on their hosts, hopefully without killing or seriously harming them, to guarantee food for generations. Parasitoids live inside their hosts and devour their internal organs, killing them when they emerge. The parasitoid larva bursts out of the host’s body (like that horrible scene from the classic “Alien” movie), pupates, then transforms into an adult wasp. The adult finds an unfortunate caterpillar, injects her eggs into it and the cycle continues. Insect questions? E-mail me at: buglady@wv.net


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MAY 2021


Around Clarke County Promote your event in Clarke. Send notices by the 1st of the preceding month to jennifer@clarkeva.com. Keep event descriptions to 125 words, following the format of these pages. One or two CMYK photos, saved as tiff or jpg at 200 dpi, are always welcome.



Spring Fling Art Show and Sale Opening


Wood Turning Demonstration with Mike Fraser

Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. Demonstration will present various types of woodturning and remove some of the mystery from the process. It will include spindle turning, faceplate turning, and variations. We will discuss various mounting methods for the work and will explain how and why various tools are used to form common shapes and objects. Held outdoors on the Barns of Rose Hill patio.12–1pm. Free. www.barnsofrosehill.org. 540-955-2004.

Long Branch Historic House and Farm. 830 Long Branch Lane. Millwood. The Shepherdstown Friday Painters present a collection that is a mirror of their experiences, from hiking the Appalachian Trail to a simple flower in one’s garden. Open daily, 10–4pm, and weekends, 12–4pm. Exhibit runs through June 30. 540-837-1856. www.visitlongbranch.org.


Yoga-inspired Group Riding Lesson

Sandstone Farm. 3805 Millwood Rd. Millwood. Sign up for a series of yoga sessions and riding lessons, also May 21 and 28. 4:30pm. For more information, contact www.hotyogawinchester.com or brownlindy@gmail.com.


Moonlit Poetry Walk

Blandy Experimental Farm. 400 Blandy Farm Lane. Boyce. Experience the arboretum as the full moon

rises and listen to poems of nature at night, interpreted by Kristin Zimet. Bring a flashlight, wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather. Masks and social distancing required during the program. Meet at the flagpole at the front parking lot close to the “Arboretum Information” kiosk. 8–9:30pm. 540-837-1758. www.blandy.virginia.edu.


High School Miller School

Burwell-Morgan Mill. 15 Tannery Lane. Millwood. Join the Clarke County Historical Association and learn the process of grinding grain in an 18th century historic mill. For ages 14 to 18; closed toe shoes required. Lunch will be provided. 10am–2pm. $15. www.clarkehistory.org.

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Matthew Bell Memorial Blood Drive

Clarke County Fairgrounds Ruritan Building. 890 W. Main St. Berryville. 12–7pm. www. clarkecountyfair.org/event/ matthew-bell-blood-drive.



Clean the Bay Day

Sky Meadows State Park. 11012 Edmonds Lane. Delaplane. Learn how fences and tree plantings improve water quality, stop by the Ex-


MAY 20 21 plorer Outpost table and hear how we all can play a role in keeping bay water clean. Free; $10 parking fee. 10am–1pm. 540-592-3556.


Poe’s Home Improvements New Building & Remodeling Est. 1976

No Job Too Small

Christian Lopez Concert

Bobcat and Small Backhoe Work Land Clearing • Interior / exterior painting Tree & Brush Removal • 60’ Man-Lift Service

Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. With the will of his voice and the stomp of a steady beat, Christian Lopez is pioneering his own brand of Alt. Folk Country Rock. 7–9pm. $20 in advance, $25 at door. 540-955-2004. www.barnsofrosehill.org.



A.B. Poe, Jr. “Pig Eye”


–12 Blast From the Past 5K Virtual Run

Join the Clarke County Historical Association for their Blast from the Past 5K. Each participant that completes the 5K within a week span (choose your own times and locations) will get a Burwell-Morgan Mill T-shirt and a completion medal. Those who dress up as their favorite decade while running and tag CCHA on social media will be entered to win a $100 value prize. $40. www.clarkehistory.org. Trivia Night

Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. Clarke County Historical Association and Clarke County Library team up once again to bring live team trivia. Categories include History, Movies, Literature, Science and more. Prizes donated by local area businesses. Barn doors open at 6:30p.m., trivia begins at 7pm. Free. 540-955-2004. www.barnsofrosehill.org.


Historical Downtown Berryville Walking Tour

Clarke County Historical Association. 32 E. Main St. Berryville. Join us for a Historical Downtown Berryville walking tour to dive into what it was like then versus now. 2–4pm. Members $10, nonmembers $15. www.clarkehistory.org.



Anne McIntosh | REALTOR® 703.509.4499 annewmcintosh@gmail.com

Ongoing Clarke County Farmers’ Market.

317 W. Main St. (Berryville Primary – Clarke County School Board office). Customer entrance and parking is off West Main Street. All patrons are asked to comply with statemandated requirements related to COVID-19, including social distancing and face coverings. Find a list of vendors at clarkecountyfarmersmarket. com/meet-our-vendors/ 8am– 12pm every Saturday through the end of October. manager@ clarkecountyfarmersmarket.com.

Spring Fling Art Show and Sale

Long Branch Historic House and Farm. 830 Long Branch Lane. Millwood. The Shepherdstown Friday Painters present a collection that is a mirror of their experiences, from hiking the Appalachian Trail to a simple flower in one’s garden. Open daily, 10–4pm, and weekends, 12–4pm. Exhibit runs through June 30. 540-837-1856. www.visitlongbranch.org.

Handley Library System

Virtual programs for kids and teens with crafts, puppets, yoga, video game night, and

more. www.handleyregional. org/blog/virtual-and-liveprograms-kids-teens Hoopla – Handley’s online streaming service for movies, TV, music, eBooks, audio books, and comics. Also, Hoopla is offering additional downloads for free on select content that do not count against your 6. More info on how this works. at www.handleyregional.org/hoopla.

FISH of Clarke County

540-955-1823. FISH will continue delivering to clients who can’t get out, but will now also meet clients by appointment on Wednesdays, 8:30–11am, for no contact food pickup. Anyone interested can call 540-9551823. For monetary donations, the mailing address is PO Box 1154, Berryville, Va, 22611.

Barns of Rose Hill

The Barns of Rose Hill, at 95 Chalmers Ct., Berryville, has reopened its art exhibits, gift shop and Visitors’ Center. Hours are 12–3pm Tuesday through Saturday. Donations are appreciated, as many programs have been canceled. Follow Barns of Rose Hill on Facebook, or contact the Barns at 540-955-2004 or info@borh.org.


Maria Eldredge | REALTOR® 540.454.3829 maria@middleburgrealestate.com

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C L A R K E V A . C O M

MAY 2021



This is Our Blue Ridge Volunteer Fire Company By Cathy Kuehner

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The Fox & Pheasant Antiques • Décor • Interiors

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a three-part series highlighting Clarke County’s volunteer fire companies: Boyce Volunteer Fire Company, Blue Ridge Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company, and John H. Enders Fire Company & Rescue Squad. All need volunteers — firefighters and EMTs to run calls and individuals to help with events and fundraising — and all need the support of the entire community. A 1975 house fire on the mountain claimed the life of its resident, and neighbors felt more than sadness. They felt galvanized. Men and women who lived on the mountain organized, raised money, and trained with the goal of quickly responding to their neighbors in need. The Blue Ridge Volunteer Fire Company received its charter on Aug. 13, 1976. “This station has always put the emphasis on response and getting to our neighbors,” said Chief Jason Burns, who noted that from the start Blue Ridge firefighters are women and men — often married couples — who live on the mountain. “We need firefighters at any time day or night.”

Blue Ridge President Mike Cornett (left) joined the volunteer fire company while in high school in 1994 at the urging of his friend Jason Burns (right). Because of its location, Blue Ridge is the first responder for the Appalachian Trail, and its nearness to the river means Blue Ridge volunteers respond to water rescues, too. For Burns, being a firefighter comes naturally. “I’ve been around it my whole life. There was never any doubt what I wanted to do.” When he is not volunteering with Blue Ridge, Burns is a career firefighter-

114 East Main Street Boyce, Virginia

Thursday - Saturday 10 - 5 Sunday 12 - 5


Fairfax County donated this piece of firefighting equipment to Blue Ridge in 1980. Blue Ridge President Tommy Pilkington stands at left and the Fairfax chief is at right. In the middle is young Jason Burns – now Blue Ridge chief – standing with then-Chief Gene Gray.

paramedic for Loudoun County. Burns became a firefighter in 1992 at age 16. He has served as Blue Ridge VFC chief for 24 years. “Jason got me interested in firefighting when we were in high school,” said Mike Cornett, a firefighter-EMT and Blue Ridge VFC president. “Back then, it was an adrenaline rush to respond the lights and sirens to emergency calls. As I matured, I began to understand the importance of helping someone during their absolute worst moment.” Burns and Cornett say anyone who wants to become a firefighter needs to have a passion for the work and a strong desire to help neighbors. “Most of what you see on TV is not true to life,” Burns said. One needs the strength to wear 75 pounds of equipment and the composure to remain calm during extraordinarily difficult situations. “In a community like Clarke County, there is also a high


MAY 20 21 potential you will run a call and it’s someone you know — and you must remain calm,” said Cornett. These are also the reasons volunteer firefighters love what they do. “There is tremendous pride, knowing you saved someone in cardiac arrest or responded to a fire and saved someone’s property,” Cornett said. Burns added, “In a community like Clarke, you feel very connected.” The men and women who established the Blue Ridge fire department held meetings in an old highway department building along what was then Va. 7 (now Pine Grove Road). In 1977, Virginia Department of Transportation leased the property to Blue Ridge to house its equipment and host fundraising events. When the property was sold, the new owner allowed Blue Ridge to continue using the building until a proper firehouse could be built. John H. Enders Volunteer Fire Company in Berryville as well as Loudoun and Fairfax county fire departments lent, donated, or sold Blue Ridge its first apparatus. The new company was operational by the end of 1977. In June 1980, mountain resident Dorothy Gordon donated three acres of her land to Blue Ridge. The fire company saved enough money to begin construction in October 1981, and the building was dedicated on June 12, 1982. From the beginning, Blue Ridge Volunteer Fire Company has had about 20 operational

A training exercise for new firefighters.

volunteers who run calls. “Of that, less than 10 are very dependable and come for most calls,” said Burns. “We would love to double our operational number, so we can provide better coverage.” Operational members receive free firefighting and EMS training, and Clarke County offers a 50 percent personal property tax discount for any county resident who volunteers with a fire company. All gear is provided at no cost. Individuals with medical backgrounds are well suited to become EMTs. Those who would rather not run calls could help by teaching, Burns said. Blue Ridge Volunteer Fire Company also needs more nonemergency volunteers to help with building maintenance, administrative work, and managing various fundraising events. “More non-operational volunteers would take a load off those who are running calls,” Burns said. “When people ask how they can serve, we ask, ‘What do you like to do?’ because it takes all kinds of work to run a fire department,” said Cornett. It also takes money. Cornett said the Blue Ridge VFC annual budget — between $130,000 and $140,000 — is for apparatus and building maintenance, utilities, and various other expenses. To raise that money, the fire company hosts annual buffet dinners, a cash party, and sends fundraising letters. The company also applies for grants when it can. Blue Ridge recently applied for a federal grant to purchase a much-needed brush truck that costs about $100,000. The grant will cover 80 percent with Blue Ridge paying the rest. The Pine Grove-based, nonprofit Horseshoe Curve Benevolent Association has hosted an annual barbecue dinner and auction to support the Blue Ridge VFC since 1993. To date the association has given more than $100,000 to the fire company.

Then came the coronavirus. Cornett estimates the fire company lost about $13,000 last year because of canceled fundraising events. Blue Ridge members are grateful for Hog-It-Up BBQ, a local food truck that has been setting up from noon to 7 p.m. on Sundays in the fire station parking lot on Retreat Road (Rt. 643). Hog-It-Up BBQ donates 10 percent of its Sunday sales to the fire company. And, the Horseshoe Curve Benevolent Association benefit barbecue dinner and auction is back this year. The Blue Ridge VFC fundraiser begins at noon Saturday, June 26, at the Horseshoe Curve Restaurant on Pine Grove Road. “Our company started because of a tragedy, and our emphasis has always been on our community,” said Cornett. “Clarke County is where I live,” Burns said, “so I do what I can to help.” Find Clarke County’s 2020 Fire & EMS Annual Report at clarkecounty.gov. For more information about volunteering, donating, or fundraising events, follow “Blue Ridge Volunteer Fire and Rescue, Company 8” on Facebook, visit its website (blueridgefire.org), or contact the Blue Ridge VFC at (540) 955-4000.


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MAY 2021


Community Dispatch

Clarke County Education Foundation Announces Finalists for the Rosemont Leadership Scholarship Created to recognize the student with the most leadership potential from Clarke County High School’s Class of 2021, the Clarke County Education Foundation (CCEF) is pleased to announce the first-ever nominees for the Rosemont Leadership Award. The Rosemont Leadership Award is the CCEF’s newest and largest scholarship to date, with the recipient receiving a $10,000 award. The scholarship models the Star Leadership Award, a scholarship from the Byrd Family of Newspapers, which was given locally for many years and was discontinued in 2018. The award will be presented June 6 at CCHS’s Senior Recognition Night, which will be held virtually this year. “When the Star Leadership Award ended, it left a huge gap in the recognition of students in the senior class each year. Not only was the

Isreal Terrence Preston, Jr.

Maria Sonoski

Ben Thompson

Hannah Ventura

scholarship a huge help financially to one student, but it gave students in the graduating class something to aspire to and was truly such an honor to even be nominated.” said executive director of the CCEF, Beth Williams. Biff Genda, owner of Historic Rosemont in Berryville, approached the foundation with the idea of starting this

new scholarship. He offered to donate $5,000 toward the scholarship each year in exchange for the CCEF matching that amount, making the scholarship a total of $10,000 annually. He also offered to open Rosemont to the foundation for its annual gala, free of charge, to assist the foundation in its fundraising efforts.

The scholarship is being judged by a 4–person committee of local community members. This year the committee members are Johnny Milleson, retired president of the Bank of Clarke County; Gwendolyn Malone, a retired Clarke County Public Schools teacher; Tony Roper, Clarke County Sheriff, and Lauren McKay Cummings, executive director of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Substance Abuse Coalition. The teachers and staff of Clarke County High School voted on the top four leaders from the Class of 2021. A point based system was then used to select the final nominees. Listed in alphabetical order, the nominees are:

do well in the organizations he is a member of.” He is a lay reader, an acolyte, and a member of the vestry at Grace Escipopal Church. At school, he participates in the Clarke County Screaming Eagle Marching band and Indoor drumline while also being the President of the National Honor Society. In June of this year, he expects to be considered for his Eagle Scout Award. He is overall an energetic person who loves to teach and help others.

Isreal Terrence Preston Jr. Isreal Terrence Preston Jr. is in the 12th grade at Clarke County High School. He will be attending Virginia Polytechnic Institute after graduation to study statistics and hopes to one day become a data analyst. Before that step in his life, “he just wants to graduate high school and

Maria Sonoski Maria moved from Loudoun County to Clarke County six years ago. Throughout her high school years, she ran on both the Track & Field and Cross Country teams. Besides running, Maria loves cooking, being crafty, and serving the community. This summer, she started a service project sewing face masks to donate to those in need. “As for academics, this school has given me endless opportunities in the field of health sciences. Not only have I challenged myself by doing clinicals and learning


MAY 20 21 skills for a nurse aide certification, but I also serve as the fundraising chair for our HOSA organization.” said Maria. She is a first-generation college student, and will be going to the University of Virginia in the fall to study nursing. Ben Thompson Ben has e​ njoyed being an active member in his school and community while growing up in Clarke County. Before coming to Clarke County High School, Ben attended Powhatan School in Boyce and played many seasons of Clarke County Youth Sports. At CCHS, he has been involved with numerous student groups and teams, including Scholastic Bowl, FIRST Robotics, JV and Varsity Baseball, National Honor Society and InterAct Club. As a member of the Scholastic Bowl team, he has helped the team appear three times in the state tournament and has served as team captain this past season. He also played a key role on the FIRST Robotics mechanical team, building the robot and operating it in competition. He has taken on many community service roles, including being a project manager for InterAct Club (CCHS’s community service club) as well as organizing multiple community ser-

vice projects such as a local river cleanup. Academically, he has challenged himself by pursuing an IB Diploma, advanced summer coursework, and math competitions. In his free time, he enjoys outdoor activities such as fishing and hiking. After he graduates, he plans to attend Virginia Tech University as a member of the Honors College to study mechanical engineering and pursue a career in automotive engineering. Hannah Ventura Hannah moved to Clarke County six years ago, and in her words, “throughout my time here I have taken advantage of every opportunity possible.” As a student athlete she balances rigorous academics and sports throughout the school year. She has been a member of CCHS’s Cross Country team for four years, serving as team captain and a varsity runner. Hannah has also competed as part of our school’s Track and Field team. She is a member of the National Honor Society and DECA chapter, this year serving as the CCHS DECA Chapter President. She has also competed at the international level for the DECA club. Through her involvement in business CTE classes and DECA, she has learned more about the field

of business and developed her interests. In the fall, she will attend the University of Virginia, majoring in commerce where she has been selected to join the commerce cohort as a first-year student. Hannah is a firstgeneration college student. The Clarke County Education Foundation, established in 1991, is an independent public charity dedicated to promoting, expanding, and augmenting the educational opportunities for students and staff in the Clarke County Public Schools, by generating private support and involvement to enhance these publicly-maintained services. The CCEF has provided more than $2.8 million in student scholarships, teacher grants, system demonstration grants, and donor-defined projects through a combination of fund-raising and endowment income since its inception. For more information visit www.ccefinc.org. For more information regarding this scholarship, The Rosemont Leadership Award, how to donate to this fund or information regarding the CCEF, please contact Beth Williams, Clarke County Education Foundation Executive Director, at 540-955-6103 or ccefinc.berryville@gmail.com.

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MAY 2021


Building Strength Through Laundry and Stairs A little muscle building goes a long way to stave off the downsides of aging by JiJi Russell

Perhaps one upside to living through a pandemic year has been the discoveries, or rediscoveries, that many of us have made around healthy habits, like getting outside, cooking, or strength training. For many people, time saved from commuting, traveling, or doing any number of usual activities has enabled a reset. I used the early pandemic months to finally study for and take the personal trainer certification exam. It had been a few years in the making, but I never seemed to have the time or focus to put my head fully into the books, until home confinement stripped away most of my excuses. During this time, I received ample confirmation that movement – walking, dancing, hiking, lifting weights, running around with my puppy

– movement brings me great enjoyment. As I age, strength training also helps me deal better with whatever life throws my way. My studies put all this into academic perspective. Have you tried strength training? Here are a few reasons you might want to try or re-try: 1) It’s fun to challenge yourself, and your brain likes it, too. When we learn something new, our brains build new connections between neurons (a process known as “neuroplasticity”), which can lead to greater overall feelings of contentment. Doing something new can also trigger the release of the reward chemical dopamine in your brain; eating dessert isn’t the only way to get that dopamine hit.

2) It helps keep your muscle mass. The biological trend for any of us is to lose lean muscle mass at a rate of 3 to 8 percent per decade after age 30, and at an even higher rate after 60, according to the National Institutes of Health. Combine muscle loss with the tendency for many of us (especially women) to gain weight (i.e. fat) in middle age and beyond, and boom! Suddenly, we’re less strong and more flabby. Not inspiring. 3) You’ll feel good. If you like feeling good as you simply live your life, a little weight training can add endurance to all your “doing.” Grandparents, be the one that jumps in for the fun – the one that inspires others to tumble and play. March those grandkids kids up a mountain. Build your own confidence and ex-

pose the children in your life to something wonderful. 4) Reduce risk for serious illness. There is much research showing that strength training can prevent cancer and cardiovascular diseases, improve metabolism, and fight aging, but I believe one needs to enjoy something in order to make it stick. I always like to think of ways to make the work fun. Invite a friend; involve kids or a puppy; turn up some great music.

How to start

You can begin strength training with what you already do to run your household every day or every week. Make those things more active, and perhaps





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MAY 20 21 add a little weight to the task. Here are a few examples: The laundry lift: Fill your basket, and then stand with your feet wider than your shoulders, toes pointed slightly outward. Drop into a squat with your back straight, head up, and pick up your basket. Lower and lift it a few times before walking it to your washing machine. Aim for 5 – 10 reps. Maybe next time, toss a full water bottle (or a puppy! Did I mention my new pup?) into the basket before you lift/lower/lift. Master the stairs: Instead of cursing yourself for forgetting something upstairs, take it as a sign that you need the exercise and you’re lucky you can get up and down the steps as many times as you need to. Toss a couple of water bottles or small The ACE Exercise Library provides photos, videos, and instruction details on hundreds of strength training moves: www.acefitness.org/ education-and-resources/ lifestyle/exercise-library. “Muscle Up, How Strength Training Beats Obesity, Cancer, and Heart Disease, and Why Everyone Should Do It,” a book by P.D. Mangan Search Bodyweight Workout on YouTube to find hundreds of videos featuring exercises you can do without any equipment. Add small weights if you find particular exercises too easy, but do start small. For women over 40: “Fitness with PJ” on YouTube offers a huge library of strength workouts, plus helpful “Fit Tips” covering topics like modifications for osteoporosis, sciatica, and more. Weekly “Yoga HIIT” class (via Zoom) with Berryville’s Turiya Yoga + Wellness offers a mix of weight training with small weights and bodyweight exercises; cardiovascular exercise; and stretching. Find out more at turiyayogawellness.com.

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JiJi Russell, strength training in her yard, with a little help from Clover.

weights into a backpack or bag, and walk those stairs with a little more weight on the muscles and bones. If you hold a weighted bag in one hand, you have to work a little harder to maintain your balance as you walk up and down. This is a good thing. Switch hands if you go one-sided, and maybe make an extra trip until you feel a bit of a burn in your legs. Add pushups. Any chore can be punctuated with a set of pushups. Set a goal for yourself, like: After I sweep the kitchen, I’ll do five pushups. Use a ledge or countertop, place your hands just wider than the shoulders, then drop your chest between your hands with your body in a straight line (like a tree falling); then press yourself back to the starting position. Aim for 5 – 10 reps. Starting with your hands high (on a kitchen counter or a porch railing) is more sensible than dropping to the floor and expecting yourself to nail 10 perfect pushups after not doing them for 20 years. Fly like Superman. To strengthen your entire back, lie face down. Place your arms out to your sides in a cactus or goal post-type formation with the palms down (elbows bent at 90

degrees). When you’re ready, try to “fly” just above the floor by lifting your legs up, and hovering your chest and arms off the floor (all weight on the belly and low torso). Hold for two or three full seconds, then lower. Repeat six times. This exercise is fantastic for “waking up” your back after sitting for long periods. It also helps build the muscles in your upper back that support good posture. Be a pusher. If you happen to own a wheelbarrow, you’ve got a sweet home gym just waiting for you. The action of loading the wheelbarrow, squatting, and lifting the handles, then pushing the wheelbarrow works a bunch of muscles, from legs, butt, and core, to arms and chest. So go at that, but again, start small (maybe just put that puppy in the wheelbarrow). With a little curiosity and creativity, you can build strength training into your day without too much time or equipment. Perhaps once you start to feel the difference that a little extra strength makes in your life, the bug will truly bite. JiJi Russell, certified personal trainer and registered yoga teacher, can be reached at www.jijirussell.com

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MAY 2021


Community Images

LEFT: Matt Wolanski of the Virginia Department of Forestry (center) makes official Berryville’s Tree City USA designation on May 1 at the Clarke County Farmers’ Market. Accepting a plaque and a Tree City USA street sign from Wolanski are Berryville Mayor Jay Arnold and Berryville Tree Board chair William Bigelow. Standing at left are Tree Board members Sharon Strickland and Howard Morrison. Standing at right are Tree Board vice chair Lillian Ledford and arborist Aaron Piselli of Bartlett Tree Experts who distributed free seedlings at the market. The Arbor Day Foundation named Berryville a Tree City USA last year in recognition of the town’s efforts to promote best practices for urban forest management. RIGHT: Volunteer John Hayes, Shenandoah Riverkeeper Mark Frondorf, and volunteers Chris Fordney, Alan Lehman, and Travis Edens stand with the mound of garbage and debris they pulled from about a 6-mile stretch of the river in Clarke County on Earth Day. PHOTOS PROVIDED BY CLARKE COUNTY.

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Profile for Clarke County Observer

Clarke monthly May 2021  

Clarke covers the people and public life in Clarke County, Va.

Clarke monthly May 2021  

Clarke covers the people and public life in Clarke County, Va.


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