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DISTRIBUTION MANAGER Dennis Shelor WRITERS Joanne Anderson Karl Kazaks Krisha Chachra Sheila Nelson Emily Alberts Jennifer Cooper Mike Wade Becky Helper PHOTOGRAPHERS Kristie Lea Photography Always and Forever Photography Tom Wallace Silver Pebble Photography Jamie Johnson Bunker Amodeo Photography Nathan Cooke Photography SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER Justin Ashwell Š 2017 Country Media, Inc. Country Media, Inc. will not knowingly publish any advertisement that is illegal or misleading to its readers. Neither the advertiser nor Country Media, Inc. will be responsible or liable for misinformation, misprints, or typographical errors. The publisher assumes no financial liability for copy omissions by Country Media, Inc. other than the cost of the space occupied by the error. Corrections or cancellations to be made by an advertiser shall be received no later than 5 p.m. the 20th of each publishing month. No claim shall be allowed for errors not affecting the value of the advertisement. Paid advertising does not represent an endorsement by this publication. Content cannot be reproduced without written consent from Country Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Real Estate advertised in this publication is subject to the Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968.


Aeschylus (circa 525-455 BC) was an ancient Greek tragedian most wellknown for "Prometheus Bound," though some believe his son may have written it. He is reported to have mentioned horse flies as "driving people to madness through their persistent pursuit." [Wikipedia] I'm not sure how those very large flies got here from Greece, and I won't go mad over them, but I have learned a new way to deal with them. On a recent Pandapas trail ride, Susan Meacham not only came trotting up behind us riding her Quarter Horse, Apache, and ponying her other horse, Jake, but also she was brilliantly outfitted in leather farm gloves. You can see in the small photo how she deals with a horse fly from one horse to the other. And me? Now I wear leather farm gloves, too, which makes hitting them when they land on Noble or Boaz much more bearable than using a bare hand. Luckily, my horses stand still for the hit and afterward, so they also will not be driven to madness for the persistent pursuit of these one-inch, ugly, big, bad, biting bugs which can have a wingspan exceeding two inches and a distinguished drone sound. There was a little flurry of feedback on the last issue because Krisha Chachra mentioned in her tagline in the small print that she is running for mayor of Blacksburg. Krisha has been writing for New River Valley Magazine for all 11 years on myriad topics including international and regional travel, Top 5, Top 8 and Top 10 places in the NRV to take photos or take a picnic and other topics of interest. I think she's been on Town Council seven or eight of those years. As a contemporary, virtual company of freelance writers and photographers, we do not keep track of which positions they hold, what elected office they may be seeking, what company they own or what board of directors with which they might be

Pasture Talk

affiliated. Krisha is a valued contributor, and we let her and others submit their own taglines. If they choose to plug themselves, their company or favorite non-profit, it is but a wee benefit for their professional efforts. My brother and I have two favorite days: the day after Labor Day and Monday of the first full week in January, simply for the return to routine from the lazy hazy days of summer and

the flurry of weeks of holidays. There's comfort in somewhat structured days and unremarkable weeks. Of course, in our region, fall is wildly punctuated with Hokie football, Sinkland Farms' Pumpkin Festival, Oktoberfest events and other special occasions heralding harvest 'n tailgates, crispy mornings and changing leaves. The New River Valley is the best place to live in autumn. [Well, maybe except for my home state of Vermont.]

Joanne Anderson ManagingEditor jmawriter@aol.com

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A Trip Down Memory LANE Text by Emily Kathleen Alberts

The year was 1892. The place was a stony bean field (or was it wheat?) at Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College, a swath of land that would become the Drillfield. The people were Techmen, outfitted in the school’s original “prison-like” colors, black and cadet grey. These men were the college’s first football squad, to use the term loosely. The field was marked off with a plough and: “Ran up and down hill, with interesting little hollows which hid the play from spectators on the other side,” according to The Bugle. Whoever got the ball ran with it, and there was no form of actual team play. No ticket sales, no concessions, nary a row of bleachers. Admission revenue was whatever folks put in a hat passed along the sidelines. This stony patch of land came to be known as Sheib Field, and on Friday, October 21, 1892, the boys of St. Albans traveled to Blacksburg in three horse-drawn surreys crossing the New River on a ferry, to meet VAMC for their first official game. Season by season the football program prevailed, and in 1896, VAMC became VPI, and school colors changed to Chicago maroon and burnt orange. The new name required a new cheer, and the prize went to O.M. Stull, for his now famous: “Hoki, Hoki, Hoki Hy!” The term “Hokies” was born! 10


Sheib Field - 1892

That same year, a small wooden grandstand was erected at Sheib Field, which eventually became Gibboney Field (the field was graded and leveled and the grandstand was enlarged), then Miles Field (the area was sodded and marked), then Miles Stadium. It was here that the groundwork was laid for the future of Hokie football. Located near the present Lee and Pritchard dorms, Miles Stadium was built in sections using class donations. The stadium cost roughly $100,000 to build and seated 3,750 spectators, then 17,000 with temporary bleachers.

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1893 Football Team

1896 Football Team NRVMAGAZINE.com

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Miles Field - 1892

After 40 years at Miles Stadium (66 wins, 25 losses, 4 ties), the stadium was razed, and construction of present-day Lane Stadium commenced. The four-year project kicked off in April of 1964 and cost about $3.5 million. The new stadium seated 35,050 fans and featured a three-tier press box for guests, writers, stats crew members, scouts and coaches. Lane Stadium remained generally unchanged until 1980, when the east stands grew to 52,500 capacity. Two years later, the stadium installed a lighting system that would help the team get its first nationally broadcast game on WTBS, a 21–14 win over state rival University of Virginia. Lighting was updated again in 2005. In 1991, the scoreboard containing all the Big East Conference logos was installed in the South End Zone, which was replaced with the Jumbotron in 2005. The “Hokie Vision” scoreboard came in 2013, which makes the Hokies home to the third largest scoreboard in college football, a far cry from the 1968 scoreboard featuring the head of the gobbler! The auxiliary scoreboard in the North End Zone was installed in 1994, then replaced with Hokie Vision in 2000. In 1992, the field at Lane Stadium was dedicated as Worsham Field in honor of longtime supporters. Nine years later, Worsham Field received top of the line natural grass turf, drainage,

Miles Stadium

Miles Cadets

Lane construction 1964 12


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Lane construction East side

Lane construction West side

Lane Stadium 1972 Prior to the 1968 season, the East stands were expanded to the same level as the West stands, and Lane Stadium stood in that capacity of approximately 40,000 seats until 1980, when the East stands were increased to the high, deep configuration today.

Lane construction West side 2005 Lane construction South end zone 2002 NRVMAGAZINE.com

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area. The project was completed prior to the 2005 season for a capacity of 66,233 fans. (Capacity was later amended to 65,632 for the 2014 season and beyond, following some modifications to the West stands.) Sitting at 2,057 feet above sea level, Lane Stadium has been rated one of the “Top 10 Scariest Places To Play” (2007) and “The Number One Home Field Advantage in all of College Football” (2005). This is because, decade after decade, one thing hasn’t changed -- the steadfast hunger of the Hokie fan. The sea of orange and maroon, the raucous student section, turkey calls and keys jingling at just the right moment…it all comes together in perfect unison to rattle the opposing team and drive the Hokies forward. From humble beginnings with local teams crossing the river in horse-drawn carriages to an extraordinary present, with dedicated fans flying in from all over the country and the world, Lane Stadium shows that persistence pays off, big time.

Old press box - Spring 2000

Emily Kathleen Alberts has been a Hokie fan since coming to Virginia Tech in the Fall of 1999, which happened to be Virginia Tech’s most successful football season ever!

Lane Stadium 2016 an air vacuum and blower system and a remote monitoring system to control field conditions and maintenance procedures. Able to handle up to 16 inches of rain an hour, the drainage system is quite impressive. In the winter of 2003-04, a heating system was installed to keep the grass at an optimum temperature during winter. This system is in place in just under a handful of stadiums in the world, making Worsham Field a true luxury to play on. In a two-phase program, approximately 5,500 metal bleacher seats were added to the North end zone from 1999 to 2000. Just in time for the 2002 football season, an 11,000 seat structure to enclose the South end zone was constructed with 15 luxury suites, club seats, media rooms and a visitors’ locker room. In 2003, the athletic department expressed the need to increase capacity yet again. With the support of fans, the Board of Visitors approved the $52.5 million plan, adding professional stadium lighting, several lounges, 23 luxury suites, new indoor and outdoor club seats, and a new President’s Box. The West Side exterior was landscaped with walkways and a weekday parking lot. Concession stands were added, as well as a ticket office, athletic funds office, an Athletics Hall of Fame and a student academic services 14


Whatever did these hungry fans eat prior to smoked turkey legs? In the early days,

concessions were scarce. The stadium was small, and concessions were like a high school game. Hokie lore sometimes cites that “Hot Dr. Pepper with Lemon” was the beverage of choice. Legend has it that a guy wearing a backpack came around and poured it, then squeezed fresh lemon in it. Since Dr. Pepper has been around since 1885, it is possible. As attendance grew, concessions of hot dogs, popcorn, candy bars, soda, and hot chocolate for the cold weather games, appeared. And let’s not forget that tailgating has been around since the dawn of football, and Hokie fans have always had an appetite for the tailgate party.

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New River Valley AUBURN High School


Football Football Schedules Schedule





The 2016 Football Schedule brought to you by Blue Ridge Heating & Air



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Football Schedule 2017 FLOYD COUNTY High School

NARROWS High School

Football Schedule Football Schedules


GILES High School 8/25 9/1 9/8 9/15 9/22 9/29 10/6 10/13 10/20 10/27



8/25 9/1 9/8 9/15 9/29 10/6 10/13 10/20 10/27 11/3




PULASK COUNTY High School 8/25 9/1 9/8 9/15 9/22 9/29 10/6 10/13 10/27 11/3





The 2016 Football Schedule brought to you by Crab Creek County Store


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NRV Fo o t bal l

High School Football around the New River Valley Text by Mike Wade

Local fans of high school football may struggle to keep track of all the changes this fall. Several teams find themselves in different districts or classifications, with some facing a slate of new opponents and even a new coach at one school. Despite the shakeups, it promises to be another exciting autumn -- filled with thrilling Friday night showdowns! Here’s a quick guide to the 2017 season for each of the New River Valley’s nine varsity programs

Auburn High School

Christiansburg High School

The Eagles enter the year as new members of the Mountain Empire District after having been affiliated with the Three Rivers District for decades. Cam Akers, who begins his second season as Auburn’s head coach, will have his team looking to bounce back from a disappointing 3-7 finish in 2016. Auburn’s Mountain Empire District opponents include Galax, George Wythe, Rural Retreat and Fort Chiswell.

The Blue Demons won’t be changing districts or classifications in 2017, but they will be answering to a new boss on the sidelines. Earlier this year, school officials tapped Glenvar assistant Alex Wilkens to take over the program. Wilkens succeeds Tim Cromer, who stepped down from his post at the end of the 2016 campaign after 15 seasons. Wilkens played high school ball at Floyd County for coaching legend Winfred Beale, and he is tasked with getting the Blue Demons to shake off any memory of last year’s 1-9 finish including the season-ending blowout at the hands of crosscounty rival Blacksburg.

brought to you by:

brought to you by:

Blacksburg High School brought to you by:

Eastern Montgomery High School brought to you by:

Blacksburg fans got an early Christmas gift last year as the Bruins fought through the playoffs on the way to the school’s first appearance in a state championship game since 1989. They took full advantage of the opportunity, capping the season with a stunning 28-20 upset of Staunton River in Williamsburg last December. Thad Wells, who led the team to the 3A state title and a 10-5 record in his second year on the job, was named Coach of the Year. Unfortunately, Blacksburg won’t get an opportunity to defend its state championship. The Bruins move up to Class 4A due to enrollment guidelines established by the Virginia High School League (VHSL). While Wells and his club remain in the River Ridge District, they face perhaps one of the toughest schedules in the state – going up against a gallery of perennial playoff teams that include Lord Botetourt, Amherst, Richlands and Salem.



Head coach Jordan Stewart and the Mustangs are also on the move this season. Like Auburn, Eastern Montgomery has left the Three Rivers District and will start play in the Pioneer District. Narrows also joins the Pioneer District, which is rounded out by Covington, Craig County and Parry McCluer. East Mont will be looking to right the ship after their 1-9 finish last season, when they were outscored on average by more than 31 points per game. Stewart is hoping the team’s extra emphasis on weight lifting in the off-season and an intense summer workout program will pay off as the Mustangs make their way through the schedule.

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NRV F o o t bal l

Floyd County High School

Pioneer District, head coach Kelly Lowe will be without the services of standout quarterback Cole Blaker, who graduated in June and is now a walk-on with the Hokies. Fortunately for Lowe and his staff, they will be able to lean on the leadership and experience of veteran players like seniors Gavin Pruett, a wideout, and Mikey McKinney, an outside linebacker and Narrows’ defensive juggernaut for the past two seasons.

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The Buffaloes finally turned the corner in 2016. After struggling through a handful of consecutive disappointing campaigns, Floyd County ended the year with a 6-5 mark and their first postseason appearance in years. Winfred Beale, who is remarkably entering his 37th season as head coach of the Buffaloes, has reason to be optimistic about what lies ahead. The majority of last year’s starters are returning, giving the veteran coach one of the most experienced squads he’s had in recent memory. All eyes will likely be on junior Ian Bary, who returns for his second season as Floyd County’s starting quarterback. The tandem of Bary and his older brother, Josh Bary, provided the Buffaloes with a formidable passing attack last season, and the duo will certainly be looking to connect with a high rate of frequency once again this year.

Giles High School brought to you by:

Pulaski County High School brought to you by:

The Cougars stumbled a bit in 2016, falling flat near the end of the season to finish with a 7-4 record that included a first-round exit from the post-season. Improving upon that mark will require more consistent effort from head coach Stephen James’ team. If Pulaski County is to make a deeper run in the playoffs, they’ll have to find a way to replace the offensive firepower of the school’s all-time leading rusher, Hunter Thomas, who has graduated. Coach James will also need to get his defense to put the clamps on the opposition’s offense. The Cougars gave up an average of more than 20 points per game last season.

Radford High School Head coach Jeff Williams led the Spartans to a 7-4 finish in 2016 – including a win over eventual 3A state champ Blacksburg and a ticket to the playoffs. Almost any other program would consider that a banner year, but considering the long-standing history of success at Giles, you can bet that the Spartans will be looking to regain their championship swagger this season. While the program is best known for its legendary single wing offense, Williams will undoubtedly want to tighten up the Spartan defense, which allowed more than 17 points per game last season.

brought to you by:

brought to you by:

Although the Bobcats did reach the post-season last year, 2016 was somewhat of a roller coaster ride for Radford fans. Head coach Matthew Saunders saw his team struggle to produce points on the board at times, while the Bobcat defense allowed opponents to score an average of more than 24 points per contest. Radford will remain in the Three Rivers District, but the school is being bumped up from Class 1A to 2A this season due to VHSL enrollment guidelines. The Bobcats, along with Giles, Floyd County and Glenvar, will be joined in the Three Rivers by newcomers Alleghany and James River.

The Green Wave reached the post-season for a second straight year in 2016 and finished with an overall 6-5 mark. As Narrows begins its first season as a member of the

Mike Wade is a lifelong resident of the New River Valley. He has worked as both a journalist and public relations professional for more than 25 years. He freelances as a writer, graphic designer and portrait artist.

Narrows High School



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Jim Stroup

Text by Becky Hepler | Photos Courtesy of Virginia Tech What does it take to keep you safe at a Virginia Tech football game? A tremendous amount of planning, lots of staff and, ultimately, the fact that most people are going to be well-behaved. Tom Gallemore, Community Services Sergeant for Virginia Tech Police and point man for security at the games, says they plan for the worst and hope for the best. His planning includes checking with the FBI to see if there’s any chatter from terrorist groups about soft targets, and he brings in bomb-sniffing dogs to sweep the stadium before every game. Then his biggest challenge is to ensure 22


that the march into the stadium of the Corps of Cadets, a tradition beloved by many Hokies, doesn’t snarl traffic so bad that people are delayed getting to their seats before kickoff. Being prepared means lots of people. Tom Gabbard, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Facilities and Operations, estimates it takes about 1,000 people to run a successful football game While that would include those selling drinks and hot dogs, more than half of that number is devoted to protecting the health and security of the fans. Tech has a third-party contract for unarmed security

services with Rhino SES, which is licensed in Virginia. More than 300 people direct parking around campus, check bags and scan tickets of fans entering the stadium and usher them into the stands or on the fields, if needed. The Virginia Tech Volunteer Rescue Squad coordinates the emergency medical services provided during a game, as well as pre-game in the parking lots. These 50 people include mostly its members, both current and alumni, and also a few personnel from other area squads and a doctor on hand for very serious issues and to sign off on anyone

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Jim Stroup

who receives care from the squad. Like Gallemore, they prepare for the worst. “Every game is a great practice run for a mass casualty event for our members,” says Michael Geary, captain of the squad. Gallemore coordinates 200-plus police officers who keep vehicles flowing through town and into parking lots, maintaining order in the stadium, protecting the team players, staff and officials and being there in the event of an emergency. These are drawn from the Virginia State Police and many sheriff and police departments in and around the New River Valley. They are deputized into the Montgomery County Sheriff’s department so they can legally carry out the duties they are authorized to do. A magistrate’s office is set up in one of the stadium rooms so when someone is arrested, the person can be processed immediately and turned over to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s department. That allows police officers to get back on duty quickly. All of this police presence would seem to suggest lots of arrests, but actually no. “The 2016 season records show 41 arrests and 25 ejections,” Gallemore states. Nearly all of those arrests involved alcohol. There are several factors that affect how busy the law enforcement officers can be during a game, including game time, weather and the nature of the opponent. Earlier games don’t give as much time to tailgate and party and lead to less police challenges, as Gallemore calls them. Bad weather depresses turnout and party time, whereas higher ranked opponents can increase the energy and the level of feistiness in the crowd, which can lead to potentially more challenging times. 24


“These same factors have an identical effect on the type and number of injuries,” says Geary, who sees mostly problems of dehydration, heat exhaustion, injuries from falls and alcohol poisoning. On very rare occasions, if it’s a very exciting game, there can be some heart issues, but normally that is not the case. Given the impact of alcohol on all of these issues, Gallemore says the attitude of the security folks is remarkably mellow. “Most people think we are here to arrest every drunk, but that’s not our job at all. We are here to help people and ensure that everyone has a good fan experience. You have to be pretty special, you have to really stand out to be that person arrested.” Even then, Gallemore suggests that attitude can keep you watching the game. “In most cases, if you are being as cordial as the officer is, then we can find a solution as opposed to an arrest or a summons or an ejection. But it comes back to making sure that all fans have an opportunity to enjoy the game, not just about the one individual. If you are being difficult, I’m going to make sure you are not making it difficult for others to enjoy the game, so others can have the fan experience they expect. It is not our goal to arrest anybody. We prefer to give a warning and say ‘Hey, calm down, go back in and enjoy the football game.’” As for tips for a safer, more enjoyable game, Gallemore suggests arriving in plenty of time to get to your seat before kickoff, staying hydrated and treating people like you would want to be treated (meaning don’t throw up on their shoes). Becky Hepler is a long-time freelance writer and former library for Blacksburg High School.

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Opening the Oyster Text by Jennifer Poff Cooper | Photos by Kristie Lea Photography

Pearl is the item associated with a

30th anniversary, and that is exactly what

house on Progress Street, owned (still) by

Blacksburg Baptist Church and was open

to low income Blacksburg and McCoy

five days a week as the client list grew

situations, including homeless individuals

the Interfaith Food Pantry is to Blacksburg

once a week. Ten years later, it opened

30 years the Pantry has been fortunate to

and grew. Thanks largely to a donation by

with its three decades of quiet service. “For

provide food to the community without interruption,� says director Vern Simpson.

T. Marshall Hahn, the Pantry moved five

a building designed for its purpose. More

Food Pantry. It found a home in a brick 26


each month are valued between $150 and

Methodist Church, at last able to occupy

the hunger problem in Blacksburg.

They ultimately formed the Interfaith

and families. The groceries and staples

$400 depending on family size and food

on property owned by Blacksburg United

from different churches met to discuss

residents, or to those in emergency

years ago into new and larger quarters

In 1987, four local residents

offers basic food supplies once a month

than 25 congregations support the Pantry.






As of June, 2017, the Pantry

serves about 600 persons each month.

Family size ranges from one to eight.

Potential recipients are screened for

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eligibility by the Montgomery County

a major “food drive” is sponsored each

While some of the recipients do work,

Carriers. The North Main Food Lion and

them to feed their families. Each partner

with Bimbo Bakeries and Little Caesar

Emergency Assistance Program (MCEAP.) minimum wage jobs do not always enable church provides an opportunity for

members to bring food for the Pantry to

the church and then onward to the Pantry.




donations of food as well. “Food drives” sponsored by various civic and school

groups bring in sizeable donations, and NRVMAGAZINE.com

gardens and family farms bring in bushels

May by the National Association of Letter

of fresh vegetables.

the University Mall Kroger stores, along

directly are purchased at a discount at

Pizza, make available numerous items of

funds gifted by churches and generous

foodstuffs each week. About a dozen retail restaurants and food shops offer





Feed America, Food Lion and Kroger with individuals. Numerous persons load

Kroger gift cards which are usually

items periodically. In addition, churches

designated for meat purchases. In the

peanut butter, rice, detergent, dried beans,

provides a large supply of processed cuts

provide items such as milk, eggs, cereal,

potatoes and meat. In the summer, family

fall, the Hunters for the Hungry program

of deer meat for the pantry. The NRV

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Glean Team helps with produce on a year-round basis from

various venues including Red Sun Farms in Dublin.

The Pantry passes on some food to the Salvation Army,

MCEAP, Virginia Tech’s student food pantry, Fieldstone pantry and an emerging food pantry in Giles County. All of the work,

unloading, filling shelves, picking up donated foods and assisting

food pantry patrons is done by some 200 volunteers. The director

and Advisory Board members are also unpaid. The success in

staffing, according to Simpson, is due to the informal coalition of many local churches. There is a “church volunteer coordinator”

in each member church who helps keep a supply of volunteers


In addition to having physical space and volunteers, a

main challenge of food pantries is adequate food supplies, says Simpson. Even as the Pantry’s recipient rolls grew rapidly from

2007 to 2009 during the recessed economy food donations

continued unabated. “Blacksburg is a community that cares and

provides,” relates Simpson.

Jennifer Poff Cooper is a Christiansburg freelance writer and frequent contributor to New River Valley Magazine. 28


Come Celebrate Blacksburg Interfaith Food Pantry 30th Anniversary Community Celebration Sunday, October 15, 2017 12 noon – 3:00 p.m. 706 Harding Avenue, Blacksburg Free Food: Hot dogs, pizza, drinks and more. Live Music: Singer-song writer Kat Mills, the Panjammers Steel Drum Band, and the New River Valley Boys bluegrass group. Family Fun Activities: Face-painting and familyfriendly games with prizes. Water bottle and t-shirt giveaways donated by the Virginia Tech University Bookstore and Volume Two Bookstore. Community Recognition: A proclamation from the Town of Blacksburg with town representatives present. Commemorative 2018 Calendar: Available at the October 15th celebration, featuring information about the Food Pantry with pictures and recipes.

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Retirees comprise a significant proportion of the

Pantry’s regular volunteers, including director Vern Simpson. “Our retirees mirror the Blacksburg community in that we

come from a wide variety of locations and careers.” After returning to the Blacksburg area to be near family, Simpson

and his wife, Linda, who graduated from Virginia Tech and

Radford University, respectively, became involved in the

Pantry through their church. After longtime director Fredda Cromer stepped down, Simpson stepped up. “The Pantry has

a fantastic Advisory Board that doesn’t just advise – they are extremely hard workers and make the position of director

much easier.”

The amount of time he devotes to the Pantry varies

week to week, but averages around 15 to 20 hours. “My wife is very involved as well, and we both love it. We both believe

in continuing to ‘work’ after you retire, and if you can help your neighbors at the same time, so much the better.”


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Heritage Park’s Nature Play Space Inspires Conservation, Promotes Healthy Children

Text by Justine Brantley

Photos by Silver Pebble Photography Folks of a certain age remember a time when the main job of children was to go outside and play. A combination of increased fear, “plugged-in” play, school reform that doesn’t allow for direct outdoor experience and overscheduled family agendas mean that today’s children are playing outside less. Nature play stimulates all of the senses and promotes every aspect of healthy child development including physical, cognitive, creative, social, emotional and spiritual. It includes digging in the dirt, cloud watching, tree 30


climbing, catching bugs, wading — unstructured free time in the backyard, in the woods, on a farm or even in a vacant lot. Thanks to a partnership between the New River Land Trust, Back to Nature Landscaping and the Town of Blacksburg, Heritage Community Park and Natural Area in Blacksburg now includes a Nature Play Space to inspire a love of the outdoors in young children. Heritage Park is unusual as a town park because of its rural character. Visitors walk mowed paths through rolling hills dotted with hay bales,

observe the beautiful pond and Tom’s Creek which meanders through the land, and walk among old farm buildings still standing on the 169-acre site between Glade Road and Meadowbrook Road, which both have parking access areas. Development of the Nature Play Space began in August of 2016 with new features added this summer. Families can reach this enchanting corner of Heritage Park from the Glade Road entrance. Hike down past the pond, take a right at the first fork in the path and then a left once up into the field. A welcoming arbor

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entrance leads to an inviting gathering spot made of boulders and logs. Interpretive signs invite and encourage families to play. A sand pile offers endless creative play options and a Little Free Library extends an invitation to sit and read outdoors. With a little observation, visitors find that wildlife abounds, plants enchant and nature works its magic. When the New River Land Trust reached out to Back to Nature Landscaping to see if they wanted to partner to build the Nature Play Space, owner James Ulmer was immediately on board. “At a very young age, I spent the majority of my time outdoors — hunting, fishing, climbing trees, exploring the woods — you name it, I was doing it. Maybe that is why I enjoy landscaping and construction so much. The Nature Play Space at Heritage Park is personally important and will always be one of my most favorite projects. My company decided to work on this space and donate construction of the arbor entryway.” Historically, the New River Land Trust’s work has been educating and assisting landowners to protect their land through conservation easements. It also helps keep family farms in agriculture, while encouraging forests and open spaces stay wild and scenic, and historic places are preserved forever. Since 2002,

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5:08 PM 33

L-R: Justine Brantley, James Ulmer, MacKenzie Ulmer

Have you ever wondered why leaves turn beautiful colors in the fall? Or what it might feel like to be a leaf spinning in the wind? Join us for an art and nature workshop inspired by autumn. Gather at the Glade Road parking lot.

Upcoming events in the Nature Play Space are part of the Town of Blacksburg’s Sustainability Week:

Nature Play Date Sat., Sept. 17, 1 - 3 p.m.

Donations accepted. Bring kids for a play gathering. Experience the joys of free-play with other children in nature. Meet play ambassadors from the community and fellow outdoor play lovers.

Outdoor Family Class: The Art of Autumn Sat., Sept. 23, 9:30 - 11:30 a.m.

Donations accepted. FREE, registration required, youthoutreach@newriverandtrust.org to save your spot. 34


www.newriverlandtrust.org www.backtonaturelandscaping.com http://sustainableblacksburgva.org To support the Nature Play Space, contact youthoutreach@ newriverlandtrust.org or 540-951-1704

the New River Land Trust has conserved 51,000 acres and more than 25 miles of New River frontage. In 2010, it added a Youth Outreach component. “Nature play is fun, promotes healthy childhood development and fosters environmental stewardship in young people,” states executive director John Eustis. “The Nature Play Space is an effective way to engage with and give back to our community. We support healthy kids and land conservation all while getting to play!” The New River Land Trust hosts seasonal Outdoor Family Classes in the Nature Play Space. Classes are free, but registration is required. If they can find a sponsor, Outdoor Family Classes will continue at no cost to participants. The organization also coordinates field trips for local school and youth groups with a particular focus on underserved children. The New River Land Trust encourages families from the New River Valley to visit and play in all seasons. Justine Brantley is the Youth Outreach Coordinator for New River Land Trust and loves getting outside with her own two children in the New River Valley.

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NRV R i de s

Slant Six

-- the guy and the engines

Text by Karl H. Kazaks | Photos by Tom Wallace There’s no ignoring the sound that comes from Lou Madsen’s garage when he steps inside one of his Mopar racecars and turns the crank. It’s a combination of an impressive, charged thrum, a controlled mad fury and the sound of a sky-darkening swarm of angry hornets on the move coming from a 1968 Dodge Dart. His modified 1966 Plymouth Valiant (with a 1964 Dodge Dart front; 36


he says: “You can call it a Vart,”) lacks all pretense of restraint, completely wideopen, the sound of that same mass of hornets in full attack mode, banging and clanging, unrestrained and red on fire. Lou Madsen is a Virginia Tech chemistry professor whose studies include research into safer and higher energy density batteries. He has published in technical journals such as Advanced

Materials. There’s a clear connection between Madsen’s official work and his automotive hobby. In his garage, he builds high energy racecars, ones that certainly qualify as assemblages of advanced materials. The 1968 Dart has been in Madsen’s family from day one. His parents inherited it in 1982 from his little old greataunt, who was its original owner. Madsen,

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who recalls tinkering with mechanical things back to his earliest memories, did his first automotive modifications on the car in the mid-1980s, rebuilding the carburetor and redoing the brakes. In 1988, he bought the car from his parents, put on bigger wheels and better suspension, then rebuilt and hotrodded the engine. The modifications have been continuous since. “There’s always something to do,” he relates.

Thanks to the various improvements Madsen has made over the years, the car has triple the horsepower while also being 30% more fuel efficient as compared to the car’s original specs. It can also run the quarter mile in a flat 13.0 seconds, and pull close to 1G in corners. Madsen takes the car to race tracks in places like Hagerstown, Bristol and Knoxville, and he plans to run an autocross and road course “track day” this fall. He has

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a Dodge van to trailer the 1966 Valiant if he wants, but the 1968 Dart is a true street car. “I drive the Dart everywhere, I want to be able to drive anywhere I race the car and drive back.” This has included at least four coast-to-coast trips over the years. Since rebuilding the engine in 1988, Madsen has put 180,000 miles on it. The body has more than 260,000 miles. Madsen does all of the mechanical work himself, hiring out paint and body

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work. Recent improvements to the Dart include a crank-trigger ignition, new front suspension and bigger disc brakes. He also installed a 2004-R four-speed automatic transmission, which shaved three-tenths of a second off the car’s quarter-mile time. This winter he’s looking at installing new door panels, carpet and a headliner. New rear suspension is also on the horizon. “It still has leaf springs in the rear,” he says. When life is what he calls “really good,” meaning he is not too busy with long work hours, Madsen spends a little bit of time every morning in his garage, plus half the weekend. To accommodate his mechanical mania, Madsen has expanded his freestanding garage, raising the ceiling and putting in a lift. His wife, Chris, is fully supportive 38


of her husband’s dedication to Mopars and all things automotive. It’s one of the things which attracted her to him, going back to their first date, in the 1968 Dart, during their senior year in high school. “It was a great date,” she recalls. “I knew someone with that much concentration and passion would be fun. He was doing something personal and turning it into something impressive. Slant six guys are different than other car folks; they are not run-of-the-mill.” The Dart and Valiant both have the slant six engine, distinctive for the 30-degree inclination of its cylinders, allowing for a lower overall engine height, long intake manifold runners and a low hood line. In Madsen’s case, the engine is now turbo charged and fuel injected. The

hood, like the bumpers, is fiberglass to reduce the car’s overall weight. The front seats are bucket seats taken from an 80’s Honda CRX. The 1966 Valiant-Dart is completely stripped down, with a roll cage and single seat behind the wheel as its dominant interior features. There is no headliner, no door panels, no carpet, but there is a fire extinguisher. In addition to the racecars, Madsen also has a 1992 Dodge Spirit 2.5 turbo. Even though Madsen likes to work on cars every day, he doesn’t always drive them. When it comes to deciding what to take to work every day, Madsen points to his feet. “I mostly walk or bike to work or around town. It keeps my energy up for more wrenching and racing.”

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The Fountain of Youth: Four-Legged and Furry Text by Emily Kathleen Alberts

Monica Daly and Ceili

Science has long touted the health benefits of pet ownership. Owning a dog has not only been reported to reduce the risk of heart disease [American Heart Association, 2013] but also in people over 60, having a canine pal is associated with a 3.34 mmHg decrease in systolic blood pressure [The Columbus Dispatch, 2016]. And the benefits go far beyond health. Furry friends help to give lives meaning and purpose. In a world that increasingly takes place behind a screen, 40


forming social connections is proving more difficult. Pets are a bridge for social interaction. Getting up and out on a daily basis has many benefits beyond the exercise. We tend to communicate with others in meaningful ways, and pets can be great ice breakers when meeting and greeting anyone. “My 12-year-old dachshund, Gracie, wants to be with me wherever I go, unless she is eating, sleeping or playing with my wife, Paula,” says Christiansburg

resident Richard Taylor, 64. “She loves riding in my truck on my lap or looking out the window. If we have a family meeting, she is there, and she’s happy to see me whether I’ve been gone a few days or a few minutes.” Senior citizens are great candidates for pet ownership because many can commit more time, due to no longer being in the work force full time. This is especially true for special needs pets who may suffer from separation anxiety. The unconditional, nonjudgmental love pets bring to our lives helps reduce our own stress and anxiety, too. Many pets have already pretty much mastered the art of retirement, and dogs especially can provide a sense of security for a solo older person still in their home. Blacksburg resident Monica Daly, 68, raised her Belgian Shepherd, “Ceili”, from a pup. Now nine and a half, the duo can often be seen at The Meadow above Nellie’s Cave Park where children flock to Ceili, which is Irish for “dance”. “They love her and she loves them,” Daly relates. “It’s really amazing how Ceili draws attention from kids and adults. I’ve gotten to know the whole neighborhood.” She can do tricks, is amazing with a frisbee and listens well. She also barks when visitors arrive. “The shepherd breed is the third smartest, after collie and poodle,” she brags, “which is great because it is a little like having another human with me.” For active seniors who travel but still long for a pet, volunteering at the local shelter is the perfect way to share a love of animals with those who need it most. From walking dogs and cuddling cats to fostering a dog or cat until a permanent owner is found, there are many ways to be part of the local pet community. Tambra Dixon, director of

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Paula Taylor and Gracie

marketing and development for Warm Hearth Village, affirms the benefits of pet ownership among seniors. “As a community, it is important to allow our residents to bring their pets. The transition from home to facility is a difficult one, and pets allow new residents to feel that connection to home.” With 220 acres and many walking trails, the village is a wonderful place to take a dog for an evening stroll. “We see many therapy dogs and cats in our long-term care facility. It is harder for these seniors to maintain their own pets so they much enjoy visits from therapy pets, service dogs and family members with pets.” Dixon says that trainers often bring service dogs to the Kroontje Center to help socialize them. “It goes both ways. The pets enjoy the socialization as much as the people!” While dogs may be slightly easier to bring into public spaces for socialization, cats offer the same therapeutic benefits. The simple act of petting a cat reduces one’s stress level and improves mood. And it doesn’t take much to make a cat happy, as evidenced by the steady purr in return for attention. Pets can improve our lives all the way from year one to year 101. As babies, being around animals can reduce the likelihood of developing asthma and allergies by strengthening the immune system. As seniors, pets not only keep hearts healthy, but they also keep hearts full.

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Emily Kathleen Alberts is a regular contributor to New River Valley Magazine. Although she is only 35, Emily is already “Grandma” to a young kitten named “Lana” that her 8-year-old daughter recently adopted from MFACC. The family also has “Skippy,” a small mixed breed dog they found as a stray in April.

The Montgomery County Friends of Animal Care & Control, Inc. (MCFACC) is currently putting together a program called “Senior Pets for Senior Owners” that will offer adoption discounts for aging pets placed in the care of seniors.


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Goat Yoga

Text by Joanne Anderson | Photos by Kristie Lea Photography

Having baby goats in a yoga

session raises the bar on the fun and frolic and brings out new people who may not otherwise approach the yoga scene. "We saw goat yoga events in

other parts of the country," states Kacy

McAllister, one of the yoga instructors with Blacksburg Yoga Collective and

the box office and student engagement manager at the Moss Arts Center. "The

novelty of being with goats is the attraction; not many 42


people have the opportunity to interact with these playful little creatures." So, last spring,

Hoof Hearted Farm in Blacksburg teamed up with the Blacksburg Yoga

Collective and hosted goat yoga weekly at the farm.

Holding a goat yoga event at

about all the activities, programs and

performances throughout the academic year. "Adult goats do not jump like the

little ones," McAllister says. "They are

exuberant and funny and will jump or climb on anything, including a yoga participant.

Their little hooves are soft, and they're

the Moss Arts Center during move-in

lightweight." The sponsors see that the

to enjoy the goats and the yoga, as

creating a very casual, relaxed, outdoor

week was planned, in part, for students

goats break down barriers to yoga for

well as see the building and learn

environment. It's a win-win-win for


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Robert Gibb and Joe Furrow, Agents 102 Marlington Street, Blacksburg, VA rginsuranceassciatesllc@gmail.com

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NRV Ho me

Peaceful in Every Way

Text by Joanne M. Anderson Photography by Always and Forever Photography On a ride around her Blacksburg neighborhood with her friend Elsie, who enjoys going for rides and looking at neighborhoods, Mercedes (Merci) Quinones saw a very attractive, small ranch house in a pretty setting with a For Sale sign in the front yard. “I was not particularly considering moving,” she remembers. “But the gray house with white trim and wonderful curb appeal and setting, along with the For Sale sign, kept running through my head.” Knowing that she wants to retire and live independently in the New River Valley prompted her to take a look. She loved it and requested a second opinion from her son, Michael. He was very direct in his assessment: “If you 44


do not buy it, I have a friend who probably will.” And, the rest, as they say, is history. The 1700-square-foot house was 21 years old in very good condition when Quinones purchased it three years ago. The open living room, dining area and kitchen

“I replaced the carpeting with new red oak hardwood floors and had the living space floors refinished, so it all matches,” had old hardwood floors, and the hall and three cozy bedrooms were carpeted. “I

replaced the carpeting with new red oak hardwood floors and had the living space floors refinished, so it all matches,” she says. Tile on the kitchen floor is the same, and updates in place when she moved in include granite counters, oak cupboards some with glass doors - and stainless steel appliances. There are three counter areas for plenty of work space - on both sides of the sink, which has a window facing the backyard and farmland beyond; smaller sections flanking the smooth glass JennAire stovetop and under the glass front cupboards across from the stove. The open floor plan flows seamlessly in a circle around a narrow wall section with a piano along one side in the

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“The sun shines in the front windows and with the light pale straw colored walls, it feels like the whole sun is right inside my house,”



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Tim Hudson tim@nestrealty.com ph: 540.320.5499

Nancy Massey nancy@nestrealty.com ph: 540.250.3222


A licensed Realtor for twenty years, Nest agent Tim Hudson brings fun to everything he does, and he does it with a smile on his face. Always the consummate optimist, his approachable style puts everyone he meets at ease, and his attention to detail is second to none. That’s one of the things we love about having him at Nest Realty, and we know it’s just one of the many things that his clients have said about him, as well! Tim’s devotion to his family, and his community, are well known. As the father of four, he knows that every day is different, and he knows that every day is a chance to put a smile on someone’s

face. Whether it’s helping with homework, cooking for the family (his slow-roasted pork ribs? Out of this world!), or enjoying a camping weekend with family and friends, with Tim fun is always on the agenda. We’re thrilled to have Tim Hudson as a Realtor at Nest Realty, and we’d love for you to get to know him as we do. The process of buying or selling a home can be stressful, but we guarantee you this – working with Tim, you know you’re going to have a good time. Just don’t let him trick you into the “smell this lasagna” trick … trust us on this.

If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do? When posed with that question, Associate Broker Nancy Massey said “I’d walk around the White House.” Wow – what a cool idea! Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised by her answer, since Nancy often has some of the coolest ideas. Nancy launched her real estate career in 2006 after becoming an open house junkie with her husband, John, and brings her love of architecture to work every day here at Nest Realty. Our resident design expert, she’s always good about taking questions from clients – and her fellow agents – regarding the latest design options, popular styles, and trends to avoid. Her pallet? Green in nature, blue in clothing

(have you seen her Chuck Taylors?!), and white in a house. Hmmm … wonder if that’s why she loves the White House? A perfect day for Nancy? A beach house full of laughing teenagers, walks, bike rides, topped off with the perfect scoop of ice cream. There’s probably some time in there for some of her favorite books as well, like Charlotte’s Web, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, or The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. See, she’s not just about real estate. Like the books, Nancy’s also about humor, love, hope and kindness, as well.

Meet Tim, at NestRealty.com/TimHudson.

Meet Nancy, and learn more, at: NestRealty.com/NancyMassey.

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living room and the stove and counters on the other. A brick gas fireplace sports a thick, white, wood mantle. The ceiling rises in cathedral style from the front side of the living room to the back edge of the kitchen, peaking across the width of the home. This bright open space, along with a charming bar height table near the breakfast or wine counter and sliding doors to the back is especially cheerful in winter. “The sun shines in the front windows and with the light pale straw colored walls, it feels like the whole sun is right inside my house,” she states. On her first days living here, she marveled at how bright and sunny it was, and that sense of wonder and joy has never faded. The master bedroom with crown molding and a modern bathroom en suite faces the back of the house and is as cozy and inviting as the guest room and home 48


office. She did upgrade the main bathroom when she moved in, and her plans for future renovations include extending the flower beds and improving the already lovely landscaping. “Gardening is one of my favorite pastimes when I am not at work. Also, if I could afford it, I would turn my deck into a sun room.” Quinones relocated to the New River Valley in the early ‘80s from Florida, and she intends to stay. “I live in the New

“I live in the New River Valley because I love the mountains, the changing seasons and the people.” River Valley because I love the mountains, the changing seasons and the people.”

She must love it, since her job as a lactation consultant takes her to Roanoke Memorial Hospital five days a week, and that is not exactly right around the corner. The backyard is stunning not only for the greenery and adjacent farm land, part of the Wall farm, but also for two very small, very delightful spaces. What looks like your basic shed is anything but. This little freestanding room at the back of the property sports a wood bench, desk, bookcase and chair with toss pillows, antiques and country decor. Behind it, there are two Adirondack-style chairs for quiet time and devotions with only fields of corn or hay in view. “What I like most about my home is its openness and my backyard. I love the farmland that adjoins my property. It is peaceful in every way.”

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Sweet Home


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Autumn Flavors ... NR V F o od F a re

It’s autumn and both our wardrobes and our plates should feature more orange. With Hokie colors of orange and maroon ~ the only such color combination among colleges and universities in the country ~ the New River Valley is well-positioned for the wardrobe infusion of orange. Farmers markets and health food and grocery stores can supply the fresh produce bounty of fall. Enjoy these comfort foods that warm your tummy and fill you with a broad spectrum of good nutrition at the same time. Compiled by Joanne M. Anderson

Pumpkin Pancakes

8-10 pancakes 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 2 Tbl. sugar 2 tsp. baking powder 1/2 tsp. kosher salt 1/2 tsp. cinnamon 1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/8 tsp. nutmeg pinch of ground cloves 1 cupmilk 6 Tbl. pumpkin puree 2 Tbl. butter, melted 1 egg

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices In separate bowl, mix milk, pumpkin puree, butter and egg. Fold into dry blend. Melt butter on skillet or griddle. Pour 1/4 cup batter per pancake. Cook about 3 minutes per side. Serve with butter, maple syrup, honey, nuts, blueberries or other topping. ~ courtesy of MarthaStewart.com



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.... Hokie Colors

Butternut Squash Soup 4 servings

2 Tbl. butter 1 small onion, chopped 1 stalk celery, chopped 1 medium carrot, chopped 2 medium potatoes, cubed 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cubed 1 32-oz chicken stock or broth salt and pepper to taste Melt butter in large pot. Cook onion, celery, carrot, potatoes, squash 5 min. to lightly browned. Pour in chicken stock to cover everything. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover pot, simmer 40 minutes ‘til veggies are tender. Transfer for blender; blend to smooth. Return to pot and add chicken stock to desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with crouton, pumpkin seeds, sour cream, fresh parsley or other garnish.

Roasted Carrots 4 servings

2 cups 2-inch diagonally cut carrot pieces 1 Tbl. melted butter 1 tsp. olive oil 1/4 tsp. kosher salt 1/4 tsp. black pepper cooking spray Coat cookie sheet with cooking spray. Combine all ingredients on the baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes at 425Âş. Sprinkle with parsley to serve. NRVMAGAZINE.com

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Wilderness Road Chorus: Sisters in Harmony Text by Mary Ann Johnson | Photos by Kristie Lea Photography “Ring that chord,” encourages Wilderness Road Chorus director Lavelva Stevens. When the women of this barbershop-style chorus sing the notes just right, an overtone moves through the room, and the audience hears a “ringing.” It is high praise when Stevens tells the singers that the chord is “ringing.” That means they are succeeding at performing the unique American musical genre known as barbershop harmony. “Barbershop harmony is, along with jazz, one of only two styles of music developed in the United States,” Stevens explains. The style dates to the 1850s and 52


1860s. Wilderness Road Chorus, which takes its name from the region in which its members reside, has been performing at community events for about 30 years. The singers are women who come from different communities along the historic Wilderness Road to sing four-part harmony, a cappella, barbershop style. The chorus is not only about singing, but also music education. The singers learn vocal production and performing and sing at community events such as fairs, though its most favorite mission is to sing at assisted living centers and hospitals throughout the year. It has

done shows at all of the centers in the area. The singers also learn about choreography, presenting a show package with a few jokes, and they do it wearing sparkling costumes. “We love sequins,” states chorus president Jo Burroughs of Christiansburg. Wilderness Road Chorus does a lot of fun events. “We have had the honor of singing the National Anthem at a couple of Pulaski Yankees games at Calfee Park in Pulaski,” she adds. “And it is really great fun to do Singing Valentines, a special project the singers offer for Valentine’s Day. If anyone wishes to

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Barbershop Defined Barbershop harmony is always sung a cappella, which means there is no instrumentation. There are four parts: • lead, a solid sound • tenor, a light, sweet harmony part sung above the lead • bass, a rich, mellow part consisting of the lowest notes of the chord • baritone, a harmony part crossing above and below the lead.

surprise a friend, they make arrangements for the singers to visit the recipient of the Valentine, for example, at the work place, and sing a love song such as “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” Wilderness Road Chorus is a community organization that brings together women who love to make a “joyful noise,” not only because it’s fun but also because it’s good for the body and soul. Chorus director Stevens, who is music director at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Wytheville, offers a list of health benefits associated with singing. Medical studies have shown that singing lowers blood pressure; helps produce oxytocin, the hormone that makes you feel good; eases breathing, even when there has been some disease; and reduces the feeling of stress and anxiety. Historians don’t know exactly how the music sound got its name “barbershop”. They do agree that barbershop harmony is an American art form that started in the mid-1800s. The barbershops may have been those of European immigrants and African Americans. In the mid 1800s, barbershops were social places in neighborhoods 54


where the men got together and talked ... and sang. Historians have noted barbershops often served as community centers. Presumably, where people gathered to socialize, they also gathered to harmonize. The barbershop sound developed as the singers made up their own harmonies. It got defined formally in 1938 and spawned an organization. A couple of salesmen in Tulsa, Okla., organized a singing event that attracted so much interest, it evolved into a national men’s singing group called the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America. Women singers loved the sound, too, and they organized as Sweet Adelines in 1947. Both organizations continue promoting the style and the sound under the names the Barbershop Harmony Society and Sweet Adelines, International. According to Stevens, you don’t have to be able to read music to become a member. No special musical background is required. “We learn the songs at rehearsal, and recordings are made available for singers to practice their parts at home,” she relates.

The melody is often sung by the second voice down, called “lead,” and sometimes moves among different voice parts at different times. The purest form of the genre consists of four singers, but the Wilderness Road Chorus has four times that number and always welcomes new members. All the parts blend to create the unique sound that is described as “ringing the chord.” When all four notes in the chord are sung correctly, the audience hears a fifth tone ringing through the room. The barbershop sound can be achieved with all kinds of music — patriotic, traditional, gospel, country and Broadway — from a variety of musical eras.

Wilderness Road Chorus on Facebook www.wildernessroadchorus.org 540-998-0555 joburroughs120@gmail.com Wilderness Road Chorus rehearses Monday evening, 7 to 9 p.m. at Luther Memorial Lutheran Church, 600 Prices Fork Road, Blacksburg. Women 16 years of age and older are invited to visit a rehearsal to learn about the style and the sound.

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Rolling our Own:

Over the Hill and Making Hay

Text by Donnie S. Coleman Photos by Tom Wallace Horses are amazing creatures. They are not only imposing and powerful, but also quite fragile. They actually have delicate constitutions that make them sensitive to poor diet. Hay that contains mold or noxious weeds that do not bother a cow can be deadly to a horse. After years of buying hay, it became apparent that we had to do better. The last straw was a particularly bad load that contained briars, mature milkweed pods, large sticks, several flattened beer cans, a plastic milk jug and even a disposable baby diaper! 56


That hay supplier commented: “A horse will eat anything if it gets hungry enough!� We decided right then to do whatever necessary to make our own hay on our own land. This was a big decision for two senior citizens with none of the necessary equipment or experience. Making hay is a serious undertaking that requires a lot of equipment that is large, heavy and expensive. Our small fields complicate the problem in that they are hilly and oddly shaped, which makes for awkward and

difficult handling of mowers, tedders, rakes and balers more at home on 80acre fields than in the narrow confines of our two 4-acre pastures. Likewise, tractors that handle large hay implements are themselves large, heavy and expensive and consume a lot of fuel. The bigger-is-better approach to agriculture in America is unsympathetic to the small farmer, so we decided to take an engineering approach to researching options for making hay. Alternative agriculture in other parts of the world

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uncovered small-scale farming methods that are more in line with our situation. A key innovation for us turned out to be miniature round bales. They are popular in Europe and Asia where land is extremely expensive, and farms and equipment are much smaller than in the U.S. The Italians developed haymaking implements designed for walk-behind tractors, which was a revelation for us, but not something that an older couple cared to entertain. More promising were the mini balers designed for familiar tractors with 3-point hitches and power take-off (PTO), just much smaller. Such balers are common in Japan with the IHI Star baling equipment being of particular note. This mini NRVMAGAZINE.com

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round baler is very small — only about four feet square and very compact. Best of all, the baler requires less than 25 HP to operate, which made it possible to use a smaller, more efficient tractor than would otherwise be possible. The search for a U.S. importer of the mini round baler led to Small Farm Innovations [smallfarminnovations.com], an aptly named firm in Caldwell, Texas, that sells and distributes compact hay equipment for small acreage farms. After many emails and conversations with the owner of SFI, we purchased an MRB 850 mini round baler, a multi-purpose gyro rake and 55-inch drum mower, which are all very well-matched to a John Deere 38-HP 4X4 diesel tractor. Learning to make our own hay has certainly been an adventure. With study and good mentoring from SFI, we learned the key processes of mowing, tedding, raking, moisture testing and baling. Making good hay in this climate requires about three days of work: three days to mow and rake to properly dry the hay and a few hours of baling. The quality of hay has been consistently excellent, and the compact hay equipment has proven to be reliable and efficient. A typical cutting of our two small fields produces approximately 300 bales and consumes 58


about 18 gallons of diesel fuel in the process. A neighbor who had previously made hay on the property said that his much larger tractor would burn three or four times as much fuel for the same job. Haymaking on our small acreage was a challenge that led to learning new skills, and we experience a lot of personal satisfaction in the process. We are very happy with the results, as Diane, who handles the mini round bales daily, confirms: “The effort to make good hay for our horses is a labor of love. It is a big job for a couple in our early 60s, and we work hard at keeping our horses and ourselves healthy. The pastures benefit as well. The quality of hay is terrific since we took over stewardship of our fields. The mini round bales weigh about 40 pounds and are around 20 inches in diameter and 28 inches long. They’re easy to handle and can often be rolled rather than carried to where they are needed. The horses are thriving on it, too!” Donnie Coleman is an electrical engineer by profession and farmer by avocation. Diane Coleman is a former art teacher who loves the equestrian life on their farm.

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StarCityGreyhounds.org Also find us on Facebook!


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Newsy Relevant Valuable A round-up of items of interest across the NRV

Celebrate the joy and science of entomology. Bug zoo, spider lair, butterfly exhibit, flea circus, displays, bug whisperer, bug balloon sculptures, fun activities and information.


Blacksburg Battles Cancer has been raising funds for cancer-focused non-profit organizations in the New River Valley for four years and has donated more than $100,000.

5th annual Blacksburg Battles Cancer Golf Tournament Mon., Sept. 25, 1 p.m. Blacksburg Country Club

Saturday, October 14, 10 am to 5 pm Inn at Virginia Tech FREE Admission

Saturday, October 7

This worthy event is organized by the Blacksburg Country Club’s Women’s Golf Association (WGA) with the title sponsor of Carilion Clinic since the beginning. Beneficiaries for this year’s tournament include Students vs. Cancer, Carilion Clinic NRV Hospice and Good Samaritan Hospice. Open to the public.


The Howls and Meows Charity Fundraiser in conjunction with Blacksburg Brew Do is marking its 7th year of raising money for worthy critter causes. Crazy Cat Lady Animal Rescue, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based on Christiansburg, is this year’s selected organization. You can find out more on the web or Facebook or at its booth at Brew Do where tee shirts and raffle tickets will be sold, and kittens will be looking for their new families.

Try some craft beer, meet and make friends, enjoy the food, demos and live music and adopt a kitten. All in an afternoon! Organic Black Garlic by Blacksburg-based Obis One is an aged and fermented organic raw garlic, sweet and savory and soft like dried fruit. The Lloyd family has spent years developing reliable, organic, sustainable methods for high quality, premium black garlic. Bonus ~ no garlic breath. Their facility has been approved for organic production by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Virginia’s Finest® Trademark Program developed by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Available at Annie Kay’s. www.obisone.com. 60


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The New River Valley Chapter of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association awarded scholarships to

several NRV high school grads who are now freshmen at Virginia Tech. Criteria for selection included academic achievement, participation in school activities and community engagement. • • • • • • • •

Jonnina Volpi, Blacksburg Juhi Patel, Christiansburg Stephanie Rice, Dayspring Christian Academy Carl Derfler, East Montgomery Riley Carr, Floyd County Emily Santolla, Giles Brendan Guthrie, Pulaski County Conner Murphy, Radford

The 11th year of week-long events focusing on sustainability efforts - a collaborative event of Virginia Tech, Town of Blacksburg and Sustainable Blacksburg. All three entities are recipients of the Silver Governor’s Environmental Excellent Award. “With a guiding mission of Celebrate-EducateMotivate, each Sustainability Week has been designed to highlight innovative ideas and exemplary practices, while providing participants with realistic, practical steps to integrate sustainability into every facet of their day-to-day lives.” ~ Carol Davis (Town of Blacksburg Sustainability Manager)

Bike parade Electric Car Discussions Homesteading Skills Workshops Farm Tour with Solar Demonstration Kid-Wind Practice Challenge And More ...


John K. Hale Lecture Series presents: Knowing that one’s gut affects every aspect of physical and emotional health has prompted one local company to develop Pervida, a revolutionary functional water. Infused with the scientifically proven immune properties of cold-pressed pomegranate seed oil, Pervida is lightly carbonated with no calories and no sugar. This triple filtered sparkling water contains a proprietary blend of small batch craft essences and is rich in vitamins and antioxidants. Available at Our Daily Bread, Tillerman Coffee, Annie Kay’s and 7-11 stores.

www.pervida.net NRVMAGAZINE.com

An Evening Conversation with President Thomas Jefferson Sept. 12 ~ 6:30 p.m. Patrick Henry: Champion of Liberty Oct. 25 ~ 6:30 p.m.

Giles County Historical Society 208 N. Main St., Pearisburg www.gilescountyhistory.org

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It’s a person - place love affair. Barbara Hobbs Giles County. Closing in on eight decades of residency, the former town clerk of Rich Creek, one-time county administrator and acting county administrator and five-term member of the Board of Supervisors wouldn’t live anywhere else. From her home on a country road, she reveals her travels in each direction: East to the Atlantic Ocean; North to the Keystone State of Pennsylvania; West to Illinois; South to Florida. “It doesn’t fascinate me to go other places,” she says. “I like to know about them through reading or watching television.” Then after a little hesitation, she adds: “I’d like to take a short trip to Alaska.” Maybe someone should let her know that there’s no such thing as a short trip when 3,658 miles separate Pearisburg from the state capitol in Juneau. The lady is passionate about government and does not mince her words. “I love government because it’s all about the people, as long as elected officials pay more attention to the people who put them in office than looking to and formulating their strategy for the next election. The fact is we have taken responsibility away from the people and give away too much. Civic groups, charities and churches used to fill the needs of those who fell on hard times. We had to work for everything we wanted, but now many politicians measure serving the people by how much they can give away.” Two years ago, she decided not to run again for the Board of Supervisors, and she spends her time visiting friends, piddling in flower beds, canning and preserving with her daughter and caring for one of her sons who lives at home -- totally content with her slice of life in Giles County.

Peter Gwazdauskas is the main character in “Educating Peter.” He played himself as the third grader that he was, and the film took the 1992 Academy Award for best documentary short subject. The sequel, “Graduating Peter”, was released in 2001 and chronicles Peter’s unique experience in Montgomery County schools from 6th through 12th grade. Before his acceptance into the mainstream classroom at Gilbert Linkous Elementary School, children with Down syndrome or similar challenges, attended special education classes where all the pupils had significant disabilities. Peter’s parents, Frank and Judy, were intent on their son having the same school experience as most kids, and they took their case to the director of special education at the time, Christina Gilley. Ms. Gilley and a cadre of teachers embraced not only the idea, but also Peter himself. While Peter may not have been as calm, cool and collected as many children in the school setting, kids and teachers alike seemed to gravitate to him, learn about his behavior and personality and include him in special activities. “Pete was the pioneer for inclusion,” one teacher aptly noted. And it may be tricky to sort out who gained the most -- Peter, his classmates or the teachers. Once in school, even at the tender age of 8, Peter expressed his happiness by humming frequently. He did his best with learning whatever the other kids were working on. This special boy made friends and confirmed the notion that children with disabilities can attend mainstream public schools. Life today for Peter, 38 and the youngest of four, includes weekdays with a local host family, weekends at home with his parents, watching wrestling, attending Virginia Tech football games, walking, swimming and participating in Knights of Columbus meetings and projects with his dad.


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Thursday, September 28, 2017, 7:30 PM After personal upheaval, driven only by blind will, Cheryl Strayed hiked the 1,000-mile Pacific Crest Trail alone. Strayed describes her experience, which was the subject of her best-selling book and an Oscar-nominated film. $25 general admission $10 students with ID and youth 18 and under

Lyrical Geometry

Friday, October 6, 2017, 7:30 PM

Virtuosic, energetic performance celebrating the possibilities of percussion.


Trip the Light Fantastic: The Making of SuperStrip

Friday, October 13, 2017, 7:30 PM

Washed up superheros try to reinvent themselves as a non-profit think tank for do-gooders.

PERFORMANCES l EXHIBITIONS l EXPERIENCES 190 Alumni Mall, Blacksburg, VA 24061 | artscenter.vt.edu | 540-231-5300

Profile for New River Valley Magazine

Nrv mag sept oct 2017 web  

Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Radford, Giles County, Floyd County and Pulaski County,

Nrv mag sept oct 2017 web  

Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Radford, Giles County, Floyd County and Pulaski County,


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