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NRV’s Premier Lifestyle Magazine



March / April 2018


No matter what home means to you, we will get you there. We’ll help you explore neighborhoods, connect with real estate professionals, and find the perfect place for you. And we’ll do it all for the love of home. Find your agent at

Priscilla The

DARIN GREEAR R E A LT O R ® of Long & Foster Real Estate

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of Long & Foster Real Estate

Priscilla Morris REALTOR®


of Long & Foster Real Estate of Long & Foster Real Estate

Chris McMurray REALTOR® 540.641.3477

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Long & Foster was named “America’s Most Trusted Residential Real Estate Brokerage” by Lifestory Research.


BUSH WOMEN Hair and Other Stories

Saturday, April 28, 2018, 7:30 PM Hair and Other Stories is a multidisciplinary work addressing matters of race, gender identity, and economic inequality in the lives of African American women.


Binge-Worthy Journalism

Saturday, March 24, 2018, 7:30 PM

$20-$45, $10 students with ID and youth 18 and under

Award-winning podcast Serial has become an internet sensation, downloaded more than 300 million times since it launched in 2014. Serial co-creators Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder discuss how they used the tools of narrative journalism to report an in-depth story with twists, turns, and suspense.

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


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OU T O F T H E A S H E S 1 0 STON E S TA I RCA S E S 1 6 S O L A R P O WE R 20





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P. O. Box 11816 Blacksburg, VA 24062 o: 540-961-2015

PUBLISHER Country Media, Inc. Phillip Vaught MANAGING EDITOR Joanne Anderson ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Sabrina Sexton DISTRIBUTION MANAGER Dennis Shelor WRITERS Joanne Anderson Karl Kazaks Krisha Chachra Sheila Nelson Emily Alberts Jennifer Cooper Mike Wade Becky Helper Astleigh Hill Nancy Moseley PHOTOGRAPHERS Kristie Lea Photography Always and Forever Photography Tom Wallace Silver Pebble Photography Jamie Johnson Bunker Nathan Cooke Photography Š 2018 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.


Just in case you think this editor is not doing a very good job and/or our ace NRV Rides writer, Karl Kazaks, isn't checking his facts, the smart fortwo passion coupe is accurate. A division of Mercedes-Benz, smart or smartusa, does not use capital letters. They also run together fortwo, referring to the 2-seat capacity. It's reminiscent of e e cummings, aka Edward Estlin Cummings [1894-1962]. The esteemed American poet penned some 2,900 poems and is known for his eccentric use of grammar and punctuation and occasionally signing his name in all lowercase. Peeling potatoes has been on my mind since writing a little missive to a friend about my grandmother, the only one I had. It was back when children were seen and not heard, so we didn't have many conversations, but the short story is this: She was taken out of school at age 15 to work in a factory. Her mother took her paychecks for a trip to Hollywood in the early 1900s (without grandma). She had five children, all born at home into poverty, then buried her husband and 3 of her 4 sons in the late 50s. She told me: "I read the Bible, understand what I can and take all the rest on faith." And the townsfolk in a very small, very poor place in N.Y. on the southern Vermont border said: "You can set your watch by Mary Brown taking those boys to church." She never complained the years she lived in a state home for the poor, as she adamantly refused to move in with my parents [out of state was like a foreign country]. Grandma expressed disappointment when the inspection team came through and informed her that she could no longer peel potatoes because she might get hurt. She went downhill after that. I bet she never considered "leaving a legacy," but her unwavering faith and my memory of her humble spirit lives on in my heart. And it always brings a March/April

Pasture Talk

smile remembering that my mom once overheard my grandma say: "Did you hear? They named the new baby after me and Joe." C'est moi. Joanne Mary or Joe and Mary. It hadn't occurred to my mom, but from that day on, I was named for my grandpa and grandma,

after the fact. This issue kicks off a 4-part series by Nancy Moseley on Virginia State Parks - a little history, a little trivia, a little overview with the NRV's Claytor Lake State Park in the spotlight. Next she'll take us to the north, then east, then south with more state park knowledge and facts. You read it here every year that spring, like true love, is all the sweeter for the wait. And we have waited, if not through feet of snow, certainly through wicked cold winter days and nights and mud in place of slush. Happy Spring!

Joanne Anderson ManagingEditor

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Out of the Ashes

Text by Joanne M. Anderson | Photography by Kristie Lea Photography


There are many reasons for buying a certain house, and a best friend across the street is one that prompted Catherine Breske and her late husband, Paul, to purchase their Blacksburg home on a quiet dead end lane outside of town in 1977. "His best friend, Posey Jones, had recently moved out here. Our house had just been built, and over the years, we added several rooms," Catherine says, "and held many Christmas parties." Their four sons grew up in that very large, traditional, brick, tri-level home. Through the night and morning of Dec. 22-23, 2009, the house burned to the ground. "It literally went out in a blaze of glory after a wonderful party," Catherine recalls. An electrical fire was ruled the cause, and no one was hurt. As Catherine set about coming to her senses, she realized her passport was gone because the day before she had taken it out of a bank safe deposit box and brought it home for her New Zealand trip just days away. Getting a



new passport on Christmas Eve is rather challenging, but not impossible for a woman determined to travel with one son to join another in the Land of Kiwi some 7,700 miles away. When the insurance company called to say they could meet right after Christmas, Catherine exclaimed: ""I am going to New Zealand! I'll see you in a few weeks! I had a wonderful trip and bought the first piece of replacement furnishings, a copper piece of art with the Maori symbol of new life, the koru, an unfurling fern leaf." While she loved her house and never had a dream home in her mind, when forced into her options, Catherine decided to rebuild on the same almost 2-acre parcel with a modern house and one level living for her. "I wanted a master suite with an office and sitting room, pocket doors and a handicap-accessible master bathroom. The upper floor would have three bedrooms and its own lounge area with a pool table and kitchenette." With her architect

Mar/Apr 2018

While she loved her house and never had a dream home in her mind, when forced into her options, Catherine decided to rebuild on the same almost 2-acre parcel with a modern house and one level living for her.


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friend Mary Ann Weimer Poole, Catherine started putting ideas into drawings. "Against good advice to put in hardwood floors, I went with the California look of tile in the main living areas. I love the open, linear concept anchored by an Italian modern kitchen on one end and the Mexican onyx wall behind the TV and fireplace at the other end." The kitchen sports an orange accent wall, sleek high gloss, no hardware, dark gray cabinetry and concrete countertops with the smooth feel of Corian. The kitchen island counter is white, and the kitchen countertops are beige with flecks of glass. Catherine's antique dining room set fits in perfectly with the overall traditional-meetsmodern style. The master suite off the living room does have wood floors. "Mahogany is my favorite wood," she relates. "I inherited a mahogany credenza from my parents (lost in the fire), and I always loved it. To me, mahogany has a '40s vibe." Two sets of pocket doors and her four-poster bed are also mahogany, which exudes a warmth in the 2-room master suite. A red Turkish rug and the blue glass panels from an old house in New York flanking the king bed add to the alluring charm. The bathroom has a 15-foot ceiling, two skylights and wonderfully designed wall of different porcelain tile, another project Catherine measured and laid out herself. She designed the entire wall of Mexican onyx on the floor, and the installation man picked it up piece by piece to place it on the living room wall. The biggest loss, of course, was family pictures. Her most treasured piece of furniture 12


Mar/Apr 2018


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lost was her late husband's grand piano. "He was a music professor at Virginia Tech and conductor/arranger for The New Virginians until he died, and the piano meant a lot to me. We used to perform together and spent many hours rehearsing at that piano." A cymbal from one of her son's drum set was found among the debris from the fire and now has a beautiful verdigris finish which makes an interesting conversation piece in the powder room. Buying new furniture and decorative pieces was not hard. "I was happy to be able to buy all new furniture. What a treat! No guilt about replacing old furniture." The self-contained upstairs can be closed off at the bottom of the stairs with its own door. There are guest rooms, one with its own private bath, another full bathroom, kitchenette and the large lounge she 14


wanted with a pool table and media entertainment space. The house also has a two-car garage, lovely deck with cable railings adjacent to the living and dining room and her beloved ball and chain. The rain chain by the front door dictated the entire butterfly roof line design. She added the ball so she could call it her ball and chain. She enjoys watching rainwater flow or viewing the ice on this massive rain chain. It is part of the reason for the glass wall in the front foyer. The front doors are glass to accentuate a stunning piece of Italian rainforest marble on the foyer wall. It is about 1 1/2 inches thick and measures nine feet long and five feet high. The home design is interesting for sure, but part of the overall interior intrigue is in her art selection. An avid supporter of local artists with a keen eye for unusual international pieces,

Catherine has a knack for mingling wide-ranging pieces in aesthetic ways. She has a 13-foot long obi from Japan, along with works from local artists Alex Crookshanks, Zoey Katz, Leslie Roberts Gregg, Joni Pienkowski and an original Jan Bos woven tapestry. One of her all-time faves is the signed Bob Dylan print "Woman in Red Lion Pub" near the piano. The whole process of settling with the insurance company, design and build took about a year and a half. Ted Heller was the builder. The creativity in design and decor blends comfortably with Breske's warm personality and talent as a singer and musician herself. Out of the ashes she has crafted a beautiful home maximized for function with fine craftsmanship, aging-in-place accoutrements and the cozy appeal of uncompromising quality.

Mar/Apr 2018


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Spiral Stone Staircases Text by Joanne M. Anderson | Photos by Kristie Lea Photography

Some 20 years ago, David Conroy built a fireplace for Jimmy Tannahill's parents, Jim and Lori Tannahill. About 10 years ago, Jimmy, owner of Tannahill Truck and Bus Repair at exit 109 off I-81, purchased a 102-acre parcel with a mountaintop site and 100-mile views one ridge over from his folks in rural Montgomery County. He moved up a single wide trailer. "You hauled that trailer up the narrow, winding, dirt driveway?" someone asked incredulously. "Oh, no, there was no driveway back then. We pushed it up the side of the mountain with a front end loader," Jimmy says with a grin. Like many homeowners with a vision, Jimmy 16


sketched the house on a piece of scrap paper, first the prow front all glass west and south facing structure, then the fireplace and spiral stone staircases behind it. Conroy, 53, is a brilliant, creative, stone mason, so Tannahill asked him to build two very unusual staircases. "He wanted an all natural, locally-sourced, stone chimney three floors high with curving stone staircases behind two fireplaces, one from the open lower level to the first floor and the other to the second story master suite," Conroy explains. "Plus a stone section behind the lower level fireplace for a woodstove and another one on the second story. Plus

lighting. And three electrical outlets. And cantilevered stone seats. It was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of project." David Conroy was destined for a career as a stone mason since childhood. His parents, John and Loretta Conroy of Floyd County, had to make a rule when they went camping that David could not bring home a rock bigger than his fist because of his penchant for collecting rocks. Later, when he no longer accompanied the family on camping trips, Loretta would find a rock to bring back for him. No bigger than her fist, of course. He was enamored at a young age with stone castles in a children's book. He does not recall the title, but when

Mar/Apr 2018


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Jimmy asked him about constructing a 3-story, native stone fireplace with two spiral stone staircases behind it, Conroy remembered seeing such a thing in his castle book. He had the vision before they began the plan. Jimmy sketched out his ideas, and Conroy knew they'd need some approvals. He took it to Z. Van Coble, licensed architect and assistant provost for academic space at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. "The great challenge was being code compliant in terms of height and width," Coble recalls. "You need 6 feet 8 inches of clear height and clear width of 36 inches. This was tight, and the stones would take up some of that vertical space." Reluctant to be the only one sealing the document, Conroy brought in Mike Fitzgerald, a structural engineer with Balzer and Associates. "He had some great input," Coble continues, "including how to support the stone 18


arch overhead which was shallow." To Fitzgerald, it was the most unique stone and concrete structure he'd worked on. In fact, he still has the drawing on the wall in his office. The chimney and fireplaces were constructed first from the bottom up. "The whole thing rests on bedrock, and we estimate it weighs around 150 tons," says Michael Bailey, Conroy's lead mason and right-hand man. The entire project consumed 120 tons of stone, which was handpicked, loaded, transported and unloaded by Conroy and his crew of three. They hauled all the rock in Stone Age Masonry's 1979 Ford F-450, 4WD, red truck which Conroy bought new off the showroom floor. It was dumped outside the still open framed house, then loads were driven into the basement in a Bobcat T190. Bailey has been working with Conroy for 17 years, and he recalls: "The

whole room was a big rock pile. We set up two stone tables, two by three feet each to work on; there's no way any of us wanted to break our backs splitting and facing rocks on the floor for six months." "Before starting the stairs, I had to figure out where every stair tread would be. We're only permitted a 3/8" variance on the stair riser, and we needed to plan the lighting." Conroy drew the details on a wall in the lower level where the staircase construction commenced. They built a wood arch out of 3/4-inch plywood with radius cut at the top and a wood 2 x 4-inch wall on each side, then laid everything in sand first. "Once you have the forms in, you can't get back in there, so everything has to be planned precisely," Conroy states. "The lights needed to be equally spaced at the right heights in the staircase wall." All the electric wires are encased in 1/2"

Mar/Apr 2018

The mantle on the main floor is one single, 8 1/2-foot long, one ton piece of rock, polished on the top.

PVC pipe for conduit, which they designed and installed as they went along. There are 3-way switches at the top and bottom of the staircases. The second staircase was just as challenging as the first one. The rocks have not been polished smooth and some still have lichen attached to represent the most natural appearance. According to Jimmy, the materials in his mountaintop retreat are: "All God made except stainless steel and glass."

Rock: 120 tons Crew: 4 men Build Time: 6 months Overall height: About 40 feet Concrete: Roanoke brand Portland straight type 1 Stair Treads: 32 total Keystone: rock from Jim's dad's project 20 years ago, "two ridges over" [location] Price Tag with discount: $70,000 Forever Stone Staircases: Priceless


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It’s Always Sunny When You’re Saving Money

Staircase Photo and Video

Text by Emily Kathleen Alberts Solar energy is a fairly mature and stable technology, and it's been used since the 1950s for things like satellites and space exploration. The first spacecraft to use solar panels was the Vanguard 1 satellite, launched by the United States in 1958. Solar panels are kind of like sandwiches, two slices of silicon to be specific. The “grain” in this silicon bread would be the smaller units called photovoltaic cells. To work, these cells need to create an electric field (think magnets/positive and negative poles). To separate the opposite charges, manufacturers seed phosphorous into the top layer of the silicon sandwich – producing more electrons and a negative charge -- and boron into the bottom layer, producing fewer 20


electrons and a positive charge. This field is now the meat of a sandwich, and once created, a photon of sunlight can enter and knock an electron free. (Oops, mustard on the shirt!). The plates for the nice sandwiches would be the metal conductive plates that collect these free electrons and transfer them to wires where they can flow like any other source of electricity. Though solar energy has been around for decades, the industry has experienced a huge boom in recent years, thanks to improvements in the technology and reductions in cost. Commercial, residential and industrial solar energy have all rocketed skyward. “The cost of equipment is half of what it was when I started in 2010,” says Patrick

Feucht of Baseline Solar, a Blacksburg-based company. He has helped install rooftop solar panels, ground mounted panels, solar water heaters, and solar-powered water pumps for farm use, so farmers can get water to their livestock. “Most of the solar installs out there are systems that are connected to the electric grid,” Feucht adds. These “grid-tied” systems produce energy that is either used immediately at the house if it's needed at the moment or fed back into the grid to be used down the street where someone else needs it. The solar panel owner gets the credit for producing that energy so that later, when the sun goes down, that credit can be used.

Mar/Apr 2018


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Photo from Bryan Walsh

Photo from Baseline Solar

Photo from Baseline Solar

To bank credits in this way, the utility company puts in a special meter that will count in both directions, and when the meter turns backwards, the solar user gets a credit for putting energy back on the grid. It is a one-for-one credit ratio, so for putting 10 kWh (kilowatt hours) on the grid, a solar user gets 10 later. This process of “net metering” is a great system because there is no need for storing the electricity somewhere. It is used where it’s needed. People are looking for ways to reduce energy costs by installing energysaving appliances and connecting their homes with apps to turn off lights and set the thermostat remotely, so it makes sense that solar panels are gaining ground. Though there is an initial investment upfront, the eventual payout can be huge. Bryan Walsh started Solar Connexion, also in Blacksburg, in 1993. He says that more and more home designs are taking solar energy into consideration, with south facing roofs that have minimal dormers, few obstructions and a 30-degree pitch. “Newer construction consumes two22


Photo from Baseline Solar

thirds or even half of the energy of homes built 20 years ago, so there is enormous potential for solar to offset energy bills. The general rule of thumb is for a two-story home with a south

“Newer construction consumes two-thirds or even half of the energy of homes built 20 years ago, so there is enormous potential for solar to offset energy bills. . . facing roof surface area, filling 50% of it with solar panels can create 100% of the power for the house.” Though staunch environmentalists might long to be completely off the grid, batteries are a costly necessity. “It's a tradeoff between budget and battery capacity. Believe it or not, it often makes more sense from a fiscal and environmental standpoint to just

have a generator for periodic power outages rather than a battery bank,” Walsh explains. Ready to go solar? In most cases, it only takes a week to install the panels. Of course, the initial legwork of creating the contract and securing permits takes a little longer. Both Feucht and Walsh have solar panels on their homes. Thanks to the extension of the federal solar tax credit of 30% for both residential and commercial systems, the solar industry continues to grow in the New River Valley and across the nation.

Mar/Apr 2018


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Just the Kitchen Sink

Text by Jennifer Poff Cooper Photos courtesy of The Ewing Companies The kitchen sink is one of the most popular and heavily used work spaces in the entire house, so choosing it with care can make a big difference in how a kitchen looks and functions. According to the 2018 Kitchen Design Trends released by the National Kitchen + Bath Association, the single bowl sink remains a favorite. Rick Hyatt, owner of Atmosphere Builders, says that most sink bowls are at least eight inches deep. A single, deep basin means you can easily wash a big pan or prepare large quantities of food. A disadvantage is that performing two tasks at once requires a bit of juggling. A more useful configuration is two basins of differing sizes (a 60/40 or offset sink). This allows separate tasks to be performed more easily, though smaller or split basins may not accommodate large pans comfortably. Locally, according 24


to The Ewing Company’s staff designer Sara Jones, the preference is about half and half between the one and two sink configurations. “It’s comical how strongly people feel about it,” says Jones, but “you use it every day for every little thing.” Todd Fitch of Blacksburg installed a four-foot triple basin sink and loves it. “A colander fits perfectly in the middle,” he says. Elle H-Millard, Certified Kitchen Designer and a 2018 National Kitchen + Bath Association insider, says that the farmhouse sink is gaining popularity and taking on more of a furniture look than a sink. It is a large, single basin sink, typically porcelain, stainless steel or granite composite with a distinctive apron front and vintage feel. Hyatt says that his company is doing fewer country style kitchens with farmhouse sinks. The website

recommends sizing your sink based on several factors: kitchen size, the size of the window above the sink, whether you want the sink to be a focal point, budget and if your style of cooking works better with two sinks. Cost, function and aesthetics all weigh in when selecting sink material. “We are seeing a variety of materials and finishes, although stainless steel is still the most popular,” H-Millard shares. It is durable, easy-to-clean and does not harbor bacteria in the material; it is often required in commercial kitchens. The metal can scratch, but most marks can be buffed out. Houzz notes that it is flexible, tending to blend into any environment — traditional or modern. Hyatt recommends thick stainless steel – at least 16 gauge – for soundproofing and durability. Porcelain is a traditional material that looks authentic in kitchens with a

Mar/Apr 2018

A single, deep basin means you can easily wash a big pan or prepare large quantities of food.


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vintage style, and the color choices are practically endless. However, porcelain can chip, and metal pans can leave marks or scuffs that are difficult to remove. Among the new trends is granite composite. It resists scratches and chips and does not show water spots. There are many colors to match or contrast with countertops and overall kitchen decor. “I chose the Blanco granite sink and have no regrets. It's beautiful, durable and easy to clean," relates Deborah Simpkins of Christiansburg . "Never will I go back to porcelain or stainless steel.

“Undermount sinks are here to stay, and the drains are becoming more integrated into the bowl to eliminate bacteria build up. This gives a more modern, sleek aesthetic . . ." It comes in beautiful colors, and I have received many compliments.” A natural stone sink — soapstone being the most common — can exactly match your countertop material and give any kitchen an authentic period look. It is costly and can require special maintenance. Copper, concrete and hammered metal are other options, though they are more uncommon due to budget constraints. “Undermount sinks are here to stay, and the drains are becoming more integrated into the bowl to eliminate bacteria build up. This gives a more modern, sleek aesthetic to the bottom of the sink,” H-Millard explains. Jones also notes that an undermount sink eliminates the lip to clean around that a drop-in sink creates. Sink manufacturers are making the sink work even harder with myriad accessories like cutting boards, prep bowls, knife blocks, colanders and racks for dishcloths or cleaning utensils. Hyatt mentioned a stainless steel grid that fits in the bottom of the sink to help prevent scratches. 26


With all the new — and old — designs available, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when choosing a faucet. Chrome, nickel, brushed nickel, polished brass, oil-rubbed bronze, white, black and stainless steel are some of the standard finishes. Jones says that two-tone faucets and mixed metals are becoming popular. A tall gooseneck faucet is perfect to accommodate large pots and promotes an industrial feel. The pull-down faucet is in demand because it only requires one hole and has a nice, clean look. Hyatt concurs that, especially with stone countertops, a one hole faucet is preferable to enhance appearance and simplify cleaning.

While you may look around the kitchen at everything but the kitchen sink, just the kitchen sink alone can set the tone and style of this entire heart of the home. It is where people inevitably gather, and the sink is the work horse in the kitchen. Jennifer Poff Cooper is a Christiansburgbased freelance writer. When her kitchen was remodeled by Ewing a decade ago, she selected an undermount, offset, stainless steel sink with double bowls and four holes in the granite for two handles, a spigot and sprayer.

Mar/Apr 2018

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First in a 4-part Series

Virginia’s 14th State Park

exploring the on-land and underwater wonders of Claytor Lake State Park

Text by Nancy S. Moseley They range from riverside to lakeside, from the edge of the coast to the top of the mountain, all carefully corralling the natural and historic wonders that surround Virginia residents. The Commonwealth is steeped in diverse geography and reverent historic events, and our award-winning state park system (National Gold Medal Award, 2001) masterfully packages it all up, puts a gatehouse out front and enthusiastically welcomes us in. Thirty-seven strong, there are state parks that highlight:

shoreline (Kiptopeke) highlands (Grayson Highlands) southern poets (the Tabb Monument) Native Americans (Occoneechee) natural phenomena (Natural Tunnel) the Civil War (Sailor’s Creek Battlefield) bicycle routes (High Bridge) Colonial settlers (First Landing) antebellum mansions (Chippokes Plantation)  and, simply, pretty views (Breaks Interstate).         

In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was visiting the Virginia mountains near the future Shenandoah National Park. He solicited thoughts on his 28


newly created Civilian Conservation Corps from William E. Carson, then chair of the State Commission on Conservation and Development. Carson opined that CCC men were doing good work on federal lands, but might be better suited to develop a system of state parks. Roosevelt agreed to give the Commonwealth muscle and material from the CCC if Virginia could demonstrate to the rest of the nation the benefits of such a park system. In less than a year, Virginia capitalized on Roosevelt’s offering and opened its first six state parks: Douthat, Fairy Stone, Hungry Mother, Seashore (now First Landing), Staunton River and Westmoreland. --------------------------------------------

Tucked in Southwest Virginia sits Claytor Lake State Park, the New River Valley’s locally lauded state park. The lake itself was formed in 1939 when Appalachian Power Company completed a hydroelectric dam on the New River. It was named after William Graham Claytor, who served as both vice president and director of Appalachian Power. Many years later, Mr. R.G. Stevens, president of the Radford Chamber of Commerce, led the charge alongside local citizens for development of a state park

adjacent to the lake. In 1947, $10,000 in federal funds was procured along with 320 donated power company acres. Shortly thereafter, 117 additional acres were purchased from the Howe family, whose original homestead serves as the park’s offices and visitor center. Adjacent to the Howe House stands the reconstructed stone chimney from the 1771 home of Colonel William Christian. Christian (for whom Christiansburg is named), resided in the colonial era settlement known as Dunkard’s Bottom, named after the first white settlers of the area in the mid-1700s. Lake waters flooded the settlement and all remaining structures except the chimney, which was saved by the Count Pulaski Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Officially dedicated in 1948, Claytor Lake State Park is unique in that it’s one of the smallest in size (472 acres), but top five in revenue and top 10 in attendance (270,000+ in 2017). It was also the first state park created solely by the initiative and determination of the local community. Chris Doss has been the park manager at Claytor Lake State Park for 7.5 years. “We’re small, but we offer everything that any other park has. We have the public beach area, and we offer

Mar/Apr 2018

water sports, mountain biking, camping and interpretive programs,” Doss states. In the near future, he hopes to capitalize on the “glamping” trend by adding four yurts. The park has even caught the attention of Bucknell University’s rowing team. Every year they escape frozen conditions in Pennsylvania to stay in the cabins and use the lake for their winter practice intensive. Behind the scenes, there is a huge effort to protect and preserve existing natural resources. The park works diligently on habitat management by holding regular sessions of underwater aquatic vegetation planting in the coves. And if you don’t feel like decorating the curb with your retired Christmas tree, donate it to the park. After the holidays every year, they submerge donated trees to enhance fish and reef habitats. As an additional method of conservation, AEP regularly drops the lake level down to give the park and private homeowners a chance to inspect docks and stabilize various structures. However, during the drop, thousands of

indigenous mussels become exposed on the shoreline. The park hosts a day where volunteers, adults and kids alike, walk the shore and return the mussels to their underwater home. “One of my favorite parts of being a park manager,” Doss concludes, “is watching young people grow up in the park; seeing them enjoy it in different ways year after year.” Most public libraries across Virginia, including the MontgomeryFloyd Regional Library, participate in the Nature Backpack program. The backpack is available to check out and includes a weeklong park pass and relevant activities to complement a child’s experience in the park. Promoting an early interest in the natural world will directly affect the sustainability and future success of state parks everywhere. Finding a way to tap into that childlike wonder, at any age, is probably exactly what Roosevelt was betting on when he challenged Virginia to lead the charge for a greater state park system. As it turns out, now with more than 80 years

NRVHBA Builder of the Year 2014

of experience, he tasked the right people with the job. Nancy S. Moseley is an NRV-based freelance writer and frequent new contributor to New River Valley Magazine.


~ Catch the boat-launched fireworks show at the summer festival (June) ~ Rent a bike and bike the seven miles of trails ~ Test your balance skills in a paddleboard yoga class with ~ Take your kids for a hike on Shady Ridge Trail, a designated TRACK Trail Adventure hike ( ~ Register for the Claytor Lake Sprint Triathlon (September) or the Claytor Lake Ness Monster Obstacle Course Race (April)

Phone: (540) 552-3377

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500 South Main Street Blacksburg, VA 24060 Phone: (540) 552-3377 FAX: (540) 552-2972 Email:


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Decorative Lawn Mowing

Text by Astleigh Hill

Mowing season is almost here,

and there's nothing quite so lovely as the

fresh scent of cut grass to ring in spring and summer. Yards transform from sullen

browns to vibrant shades of green when

the grass perks up after winter weather. And before you know it, the need to trim the grass is a weekly activity that will run well into the fall.

When seeking some desirable

curbside appeal, use the yard as a way

to give your property extra charm with decorative lawn mowing. By cutting a pattern into the grass and relying on the

reflection of sunlight off blades of grass, a

new dimension can be incorporated into 30


your lawn care routine that not only helps

intricate and most effective on long, flat

an aesthetic bonus.

mowing stripes, then mowing again at a

the grass grow healthier, but also provides






infuse that extra design element into a freshly cut lawn, starting with the most common




lines and checkerboard. The easiest of these is stripes, which is done by cutting the grass long with one of the highest

settings, thereby bending the rows of grass in opposite directions (think north to south). Start by mowing the perimeter of the grass, then mow down your lawn in opposite directions.

A checkerboard pattern is more

lawns. To create this look, one starts by

90-degree angle. Or rather, mowing north

to south, then east to west. Similarly, to

create a diagonal look, mow horizontal or

vertical stripes, then mow back over the lawn with a diagonal direction.

Not all mowers are created

equal when it comes to making stripes. "Some mowers come with lawn rollers,

but most do not," says Phillip Vaught of

Giles County. "Push mowers have a plastic flap on the back of the mower for safety,

but it helps with stripes." There are special striping kits on the market for some riding

Mar/Apr 2018


2 0 1 8


mowers, and universal kits are available

directions weekly or biweekly, which keeps

of the grass can be achieved. While adding

riding mowers have this feature, but less

grass down in the same direction."

seem intimidating, with a little practice or

for around $250.

Most higher end

expensive ones may not. "I made my own

striping kit for $30 out of a piece of angle iron and a rubber door mat bolted to the

back of the mower," Vaught continues. "It worked well, but only lasted one season."

When it comes to deciding which type of decorative mowing pattern, Brent Jacobs of Curb Appeal Landscaping &

Tree Service in Christiansburg says: "We

determine the pattern by surveying the lay of the land and assessing the view of

the lawn from the main road when passing

by. To prevent turf damage, we alternate 32


the mowers from continually pushing the




technique into your landscape is a creative way to manicure your yard, achieve a unique look on the lawn and add to the

overall appeal of a property. "It usually takes mowing two to three times before

deep lines are formed," Jacobs points out.

Besides the aesthetics of a

beautifully cut lawn pattern, there are several benefits to mowing patterns.

Attention can be detracted from imperfect

a decorative grass pattern may initially help from the landscaping professionals,

the look can be accomplished, and the

reward is well worth it. So while the last days of winter are dwindling down, begin planning ahead for the kind of lawn

striping you would like to see in your yard this summer.

Astleigh Hill is a freelance writer and blogger mom in Christiansburg. Check out for home and lifestyle tips.

patches. Certain areas of your property

can be highlighted, and better fertilization

Mar/Apr 2018



2 0 1 8


Keeping A Decorated Home While Raising Littles

Text by Astleigh Hill

Whether the holiday season is in





full swing or it's the transition from winter

expectations reasonable, both for children

personal style and taste with decorative


to spring, a home is a place to express touches.




console table to accents arranged with purpose on shelves, most of these glass,

sentimental, delicate, special pieces are in perfect reach of an adventurous, curious

toddler or child. The temptation to remove it all and store it away until they are grown

may seem like the only option, but with some useful tips and tricks, anyone can

and décor, and maintaining flexibility




home for children, not only for safety, but also for enjoyment. With clear,

communicated guidelines, kids can

boundaries and sticking to them enables

freely enjoy the home environment while

while enjoying the beauty of a curated

around them. Make the breakable and/

one to create spaces where children thrive creation.



 Implement boundaries in the

keep a home nicely decorated year-round. 34


o Set rules and boundaries in your


being respectful and mindful of things or valuable, whether sentimental or

monetary, pieces off-limits or “no-touch.”

This allows decorating a little more freely without feeling like every object must be out-of-reach-of-little-hands.

Mar/Apr 2018

The secret is keeping expectations reasonable, both for children and dĂŠcor, and maintaining flexibility without compromising style.


2 0 1 8


Look for ways to organize all the toys while complementing the style of your home. Options include using baskets that match . . .

 Set items out that are decorative and okay for play.

part of the home design is rewarding for kids and parents.

o There is no need to taunt a child with only untouchable décor. Include pieces

 Make the play space part of the

around the house that are play-friendly,


and return at the end of day before

o Oftentimes the toys run amok in

season keep some plastic pumpkins out

camouflage those brightly-colored

items that a child is welcome to handle bedtime. For instance, during the fall

a home, and it's not always easy to

and about that are fun for imaginative

plastics. Look for ways to organize all

play and add a little autumn flair to any

the toys while complementing the style

in a basket that sits at child height or

baskets that match the décor for storage;

There are lots of ways to incorporate

of the room; using children's' books

room. Maybe it's a plush, spring pillow

of your home. Options include using

a pastel spring basket for storing toys.

working bigger toys into the aesthetic

child-approved décor in subtle ways.

as accents on shelves or coffee tables,

Making decorative pieces available to a 36

child so the little one can feel as much a


seasons and holidays. Instead of fighting the toys, make them work for you.

So there it is! A family-friendly +

styled home that is cozy and welcoming

is certainly attainable. These are just a handful of the ways to maintain a

decorated house year round with a little(s) running around. Seasonal, festive touches

delight their little hearts while inspiring their own ways to express creativity.

Astleigh Hill is mom to one 2-year-old little with another one on the way. Her home almost always looks like a magazine cover as she changes themes with the seasons and holidays and invites her little one into the process. Her home and lifestyle blog is

swapping them in and out based on

Mar/Apr 2018

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2 0 1 8


Handmade Gateways to Magic

Little Free Library’s story sharing mission

Text by Nancy S. Moseley Chances are you’ve probably seen one, because … they’re everywhere: a random neighborhood street corner, a shelf at your local coffee shop, a box at your favorite park, a basket at the nearby elementary school. Spotting one might even feel like a serendipitous discovery, not unlike catching a glimpse of a fabled creature, like Big Foot. Stephen King once said: “Books are a uniquely portable magic,” and Little Free Libraries, in their subtle yet tenacious way, are portals to that magic. Headquartered in Hudson, Wisconsin (30 minutes east of Minneapolis), Little Free Libraries is an 38


international nonprofit organization that cultivates unfettered access to millions of books through a “take a book, return a book” exchange program. It started in 2009 when Todd Bol built a model of a one-room schoolhouse, filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard. It was a tribute to his mother, an educator who loved to read. The gesture was beloved by Bol’s neighbors and friends, several of whom requested a schoolhouse of their own. Bol eventually collaborated with Rick Brooks, a social entrepreneur who was an outreach program manager at the

University of Wisconsin. The two launched the official Little Free Libraries movement in 2012 and now there are more than 65,000 registered libraries in 84 countries and in all 50 states. “We’re working to inspire a love of reading, build community and spark creativity by fostering neighborhood book-sharing boxes around the world,” says Margret Aldrich, the marketing and communications representative for Little Free Libraries. That’s precisely the beauty of the crusade; it’s a big idea that’s executed on an intimate, local level. Salena Sullivan of

Mar/Apr 2018

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the Montgomery-Floyd Regional Library remarks that the strongest part of the little library mission is that it often starts with the initiative of individual community members. “It’s people who saw a hole in their own neighborhood and wanted to fill it,” offers Sullivan, “which is wonderful to see. As librarians, we want the library walls to be porous, so people not only know about us inside the library, but outside the library, too.” So how easy is it to pioneer your own little library? First, decide on a location. An area with a lot of foot traffic is best, like a park, farmer’s market, playground or bike path. Be sure to work with local government on the legalities. Second, decide who will act as the library’s ongoing caretaker. Anyone can be a steward of a little library: scout troops, school groups, local organizations or individual community members and families. In Giles County, the Giles Early Education Project (GEEP) is a steward of several little libraries. They used the opportunity to promote literacy by engaging with area youth to help paint and install the libraries. “The children artists love seeing their artistic creations being used to offer books in their communities. The libraries are being used regularly, and the children are quite invested since they helped create them," says Karen Yolton of GEEP.

Meet the Artist

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(540) 552-6446


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A Sampling of Local Little Free Libraries Montgomery County Nellie's Cave Park Margaret Beeks Elementary School Blacksburg Children’s Museum Christiansburg Aquatic Center Heritage Park Rosie’s Beauty Shop, Shawsville Floyd County Plenty Food Bank Oak Haven Lodge Barter Clinic Pulaski County Randolph Park Pulaski County Visitor Center Kiwanis Park Giles County Hilltop Grocery, Newport Hope House, Narrows Giles Mountain Vineyard & Winery

If you’re not into building one from scratch, offers various blueprints for download or premade libraries for purchase. Once built, official registration with the company will award you a charter plaque and placement on the interactive online world map. There is even a Little Free Library Stewards Facebook group to join. However, the process can be significantly more informal. Sally Warburton, of the Pulaski County Library, relates that the county’s first little library started with a Dublin resident who simply put books in her front yard for people who walked by. No blueprint kit, no official registration and no charter 40


sign, just a container of books. The deeper philosophy, however, was the same: encourage a sense of community and spread a bit of joy by putting free books in the hands of those who may otherwise have prohibitive barriers. “And the spontaneity is great,” Warburton adds, “to be able just to pick up a book in a beautiful park and read.” Public libraries don’t necessarily play a role in every little library; after all, any passerby can take a book or return a book. But they are always willing to partner with interested stewards to help keep them stocked and refreshed on a regular basis. Most welcome book donations at any time for distribution to

the little libraries. They don’t have to be in new or perfect condition, just loved enough to share. Children’s books and popular adult fiction, expectedly, usually circulate the best. To watch the Little Free Library movement grow is as impressive as it is inspiring. An empty box tells its own story of success; a story of truly reaching people despite busy, hyper connected lives; a story of giving folks of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to enjoy a free book; a story of connection, of creativity, of community. A little library, in itself, feels magical; the way they sometimes just appear along the way. And what a charmed responsibility it is to help the gateways stay open, so the magic keeps moving right along. Nancy Moseley is a Blacksburg-based freelance writer who has been an avid reader since childhood. She hopes to pass on the magic of reading to her two sons.

Mar/Apr 2018

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Finding the Story

is the Heart of Marketing

Millennial mom excels in careers with sincere connection to people

Text by Nancy S. Moseley | Photos by Silver Pebble Photography It almost sounds like the beginning of a bad joke: What do a police officer and CEO of a marketing company have in common? For Caitlyn Scaggs, 31, who has spent her professional tenure finding, finessing and celebrating the connection between those two career choices, the punch line is simple. Both require a genuine awareness of the needs of other people and strong enough communication skills to solve for those needs in a way that assures success. Growing up, Scaggs always wanted to be a police officer. She is a graduate of Blacksburg High School and 42


Radford University [class of 2007] with a major in criminal justice and a minor in psychology. A self-touted list of personality traits that includes “driven,” “focused,” and “responsible” (and even sometimes “nerd”) means her list of accolades isn’t short. In high school, she was a resource officer and answered the crisis hotline, often responding to the hospital as an advocate for sexual assault victims. In college, she was a 4.0 student, volunteer at the Women’s Resource Center, intern for the FBI and president of the Criminal Justice Fraternity. After graduation, she was a police officer in Roanoke County for four-and-a-half years.

“My mother always said I was a very determined and impatient learner. I wanted to master everything yesterday,” Scaggs concurs. Once she decided to start a family, she found herself at a career crossroads. Continuing in law enforcement, she felt, would result in a long-lasting, chronic scheduling conflict that would demand more of her than she was willing to give as a mother. When a position in marketing opened up at her father’s company, Polymer Solutions in Christiansburg, Scaggs analyzed what transferable skills she might have. “I immediately started to self-educate. I read

Mar/Apr 2018

Clients often don’t understand how to communicate their brand across social media. We help them find their voice so it feels true and authentic, so their audience can connect in a way that’s real and meaningful. ~ Caitlyn Scaggs


2 0 1 8


books on branding and marketing and paired myself with a marketing mentor. I watched online tutorials. I threw myself into it. My ‘master this yesterday’ gene kicked in.” She accepted the director of marketing position in July of 2012 and fell into step immediately. Armed with an elemental devotion to valuing people above all else, Scaggs assured the company’s success externally by fostering an environment of excitement and passion internally. She was a natural at corporate culture, business development, public relations and all things marketing. “My friends started to ask for marketing advice,” she laughs. “They’d buy me lunch to pick my brain.” It wasn’t long before local businesses started to seek her out for long-term help. She worked on lunch breaks and after her children went to bed for her own clients, soon realizing that the worklife balance she had so faithfully pursued was off. At the suggestion of a friend, Scaggs launched her own marketing company, Blue Mobius, in May of 2017. “Blue” to honor the thin blue line and “Mobius” because the shape is an integral part of the Polymer Solutions logo. A lover 44


of storytelling, she intentionally crafted a company name that embodied the story of her personal career path. Blue Mobius works with forprofit and nonprofit clients from a variety of industries including healthcare, software development, construction, science and technology and consumer products. The firm helps companies achieve their objectives by shaping a marketing story that promotes not only the business, but also the people in it. A lot of the company’s success stems from an intrinsic understanding of how best to use social media as an impactful marketing tool. As a card-carrying millennial, Scaggs grew up comfortable with computers, technology and software programs and has mastered an understanding of how digital marketing and social media strategy can not only complement, but also propel, a campaign. But how can online tools like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn be used to broker tangible relationships offline? It all cycles back to Scaggs' impeccable communication skills coupled with her “people first” philosophy. “We facilitate conversations that wouldn’t happen otherwise. We use social media

to encourage face-to-face interaction. Companies can be numb to how awesome they are. We are a fresh set of eyes with a contagious excitement, and people value that. Sometimes we forget that businesses are made up of people with stories to share.” Scaggs and her two full-time employees moved into bigger office space at the Corporate Research Center this past January and hired a new account manager. She is constantly challenged by how best to maintain the balance of smart growth, while respecting the intimate, family-like corporate culture she has worked passionately to preserve. "We think a lot about our ‘why’ and encourage clients to do the same. Why do you go to work every day? When you love what you do, you will be successful." Scaggs has grown a successful business by listening to and understanding her clients from a human-to-human point of view. A true believer in the power of storytelling, she confidently and simply lives and works by one rule: when you put people first, the rest will take care of itself. Nancy Moseley is a Blacksburg-based freelance writer who met Caitlyn Scaggs at a birthday party while their kids played in the bounce house.

Mar/Apr 2018


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One in a Million Man Danny Yopp

Text by Emily Kathleen Alberts | Photos by Silver Pebble Photography

“Danny Yopp is one in a million,”

motto is 'Service Above Self'," says Tommy

coordinator for Montgomery County and

Committee at the Blacksburg Rotary Club.

responders, as a way to pay respect for

says Neal Turner, emergency services lifelong friend of Danny Yopp. “The man is

just always there. When the call goes off,

you are waiting on him to check in, and if he doesn’t, something is truly wrong.”

A first responder in every sense

of the word, Danny Yopp has been with the

Christiansburg Volunteer Fire Department for more than 43 years, and his dedication to service is what made his name come to

the forefront when the Blacksburg Rotary

Club was looking for the inaugural recipient of their First Responder of the Year Award. 46





Loflin, chairman of the Vocational Service “We do many things throughout the year

to honor those folks who are really living

this way, like the Citizen of the Year Award. This honors someone who is not a Rotarian

but lives the Rotarian ideals and mottos. We

look for people in the business community, primarily, who are operating their businesses

and personal lives according to these values.”

For 20 years these citizens have

been recognized, but along the way they began to notice that nobody does more, or

is more deserving of an award, than the first responder crews.

“We decided it was time to

start a separate award, JUST for these first all they do,” Loflin continues. “Good lord,

they walk out the door in the morning, and they never know if they’re gonna make it back.” And not many people know

that nearly every single first responder in Montgomery County is a volunteer. “Danny

Yopp is a volunteer,” Turner explains. “As the emergency services coordinator, I hold one of just five paid positions in the county.”

“At one time, Chris Tuck, Chair of the

Montgomery County Board of Supervisors,

calculated that the contribution of volunteer men and women was something to the tune

Mar/Apr 2018


2 0 1 8


of $13 million,” Loflin states. “So, in addition

Thus, finding volunteers willing and able to

“When the call goes off, Danny is typically

also a huge help for us financially.”

says Turner. “I am in the habit when a call

to being there when we need them, they are

Loflin admits that the award,

which comes with a $500 donation to the Christiansburg Fire Department, is a “drop in the hat” compared to everything they do for

us. “When you get right down to it, they are unsung heroes.”

Yopp is one of the individuals who

has made time to fulfill all the necessary courses, put in countless hours of training,

take the required classes (which might only

be offered during the week) and invest himself in this major commitment to the

volunteer team. When asked about the time investment, Yopp simply replies, “If you are truly interested in being a firefighter, you find

a way. It is becoming harder for businesses

to allow firefighters to leave their jobs when a call goes off. About 90% of people probably

believe we are a career-based organization.” 48


serve is on the decline.

What keeps him coming back?

“Well, when I was just a boy, I lived next door to a firefighter here in Christiansburg.

I was always excited about the lights, sirens

and big fire truck … but now, it is the people. The act of helping others, knowing that you can help stop someone’s home from being

damaged and help save a family.” It is also

about camaraderie. "We have 40 active members, and when we get a new member

they very seldom leave except at their death. One gentleman has been here for 56 years,

and that keeps pulling me to continue what I do.”

Yopp was completely surprised by

the award. “I had no idea! I was so honored.”

While the Rotary Club knows there is no shortage of dedicated individuals worthy of

receiving this award, Danny Yopp’s friends

checking in within two or three minutes,” goes off, I listen to see where Danny is.”

Danny Yopp has devoted his adult

life to serving all facets of the first responder

unit. “He is an excellent inaugural recipient because he epitomizes what this is all about,” says Loflin. “He has worked non-stop and

gotten involved with some of the regional and




programs to teach others. He is immersed in this whole thing.” During the award ceremony at the Rotary meeting, Yopp

spoke to everyone and shared some stories. “We are so grateful for his service, and for the service of all our first responders."

Emily Kathleen Alberts is a New River Valley freelance writer and frequent contributor to NRV Magazine.

and colleagues describe him as a true leader.


Mar/Apr 2018


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Smarty Pants

The Car and The Boy

Text by Karl H. Kazaks | Photos by Tom Wallace

Denny Carlyle has a custom

license plate on his 2008 smart fortwo

passion coupe: “TPANTS.” At first glance,

it's a little perplexing, but put together with the name of the car’s make – SMART – right above the plate, it reads: Smart TPANTS or Smarty Pants.

Carlyle has lived in Blacksburg

since 1975, when he relocated from

Northern Virginia. He accepted a job as controls engineer at the Radford Army Ammunition Plant, where he had

previously consulted for two years. “It was

pretty much a manually-operated place,” Carlyle recalls of the arsenal. “There was a lot of opportunity to be innovative.” 50


His work largely involved automating the

happy with it.

finished products.

he admits, “but I found it to be well-built. It

processes which turn raw materials into

After 32 years working to turn the

arsenal into a more modern, automated

facility, Carlyle retired in 2006. One of the things on his bucket list was to get one of

those cool cars he and his wife Jan had seen when traveling in Europe. In early 2008, Daimler – the maker of smart cars – announced it would sell the microcar in

the United States, and Carlyle signed up for one of the two-seaters. It took almost

a year for the vehicle to be delivered, but ever since Carlyle picked it up from the dealer in Winston-Salem, N.C., he’s been

“I really bought it as a novelty,”

got to the point where I use it all the time. As a controls engineer, I can say whoever

designed the controls for the automated manual transmission did a masterful job. It’s really, really well thought-out.”

In the nine-plus years Carlyle has

had the vehicle, he’s driven it more than 50,000 miles and only had to perform

ordinary service – changing the oil, putting

on new tires and brakes – a service record which Carlyle calls “extraordinary," adding: “It still has its original battery.”

The car – at just under nine feet

Mar/Apr 2018


2 0 1 8


in length – also offers great flexibility when

Millennia and a Ford Explorer. The smart

people use these in Europe,” Jan chimes

cylinder, 70-hp, 61-cubic inch engine, rear-


it comes to parking. “That’s why so many in. “Parking is more difficult there.”

fortwo passion coupe has a rear, three-

wheel drive and a 5-speed transmission. It

Today, smart offers an electric

version of the fortwo. Carlyle wishes would




roadster which they made and sold for

Despite its diminutive size, the fortwo has good crash test ratings, thanks to its rigid steel safety cage. Designed somewhat like a roll bar, the cage is exposed and makes up a big part of the car’s exterior appearance . . .

a few years. Even though his fortwo isn’t

more than 1,800 pounds empty,” Carlyle

doesn’t have cruise control. Carlyle wishes

who – Carlyle eventually reveals – had the

taking the little vehicle on large roads.

Despite its diminutive size, the

fortwo has good crash test ratings, thanks

to its rigid steel safety cage. Designed

somewhat like a roll bar, the cage is exposed and makes up a big part of the

car’s exterior appearance: a big curving C-shape runs from behind the front tires

to the hatchback and then along the roof

line to the windshield. "The car weighs explains. “It has a lot of steel in it.”

It also has all the options which

were available when the car was released, including heated seats, a feature he wishes he had on his other cars – a Mazda 52


it did, but that doesn’t prevent him from

“There’s still enough novelty to the car that when I’m on the interstate highway

low-slung like the roadster, it does hug the road well. “It’s sprung pretty hard. It’s

not cushy. It takes curves well and is really stable.”

That’s the kind of performance it

takes to impress someone who spent his

life as an engineer, someone who naturally pays close attention to details. Someone

kind of attitude that led his mother to give

him a certain nickname when he was a kid: Smarty Pants.

people point and wave,” he smiles.

Mar/Apr 2018

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The Lyric

Text by Joanne M. Anderson The first year of the Great

of-the-art cinema venue for its day, but its

America for many people, though there

when a loaf of bread costs 5 cents and

production in itself, which included:

Depression, 1930, was a tough year in

were a few whimsical kinds of events and inventions. A.A. Milne signed the first

literary character licensing agreement for Winnie-the-Pooh merchandise, and

Mickey Mouse and Betty Boop made their first appearances. Twinkies were invented.

A loaf of bread was nine cents,

gallon of gas 10 cents, and you could

purchase a new Pontiac Big Six Car for

$745. Television was a luxury, and going to the movies, like today, provided a marvelous diversion of entertainment.

The Lyric Theatre in downtown Blacksburg opened in its current location as a state54


story begins more than 20 years earlier gallon of gas 6 cents.

In 1909, a couple of enterprising

The opening night program for

each show, 6:30 and 9 p.m., was a bit of a

the actions and antics of the cast. The

 Invocation  Singing  Talk  House Lighting Effects  A Dance  Specialty Act  Stage Lighting Effects

more times than it moved before settling


on April 17, 1930 with "The Girl Said No," a

an orchestra pit, air-conditioning, modern

men - one an electrician, the other a

college student - opened The Lyric, no doubt featuring a black and white, silent film where gestures, mime and title cards provided some narrative to accompany movie house changed hands as many or

in its College Street home. It opened there romantic comedy starring William Haines and Leila Hyams, released by MGM.





comfort for its time, The Lyric in 1930 had

sound system and 900 seats. Hot-rivet

construction, also used the same year for

Mar/Apr 2018

The Heart of a Community




2 0 1 8


the Empire State Building, was employed.

to establish personal connections within

performances were no longer shown. In

padding under the carpet and jacquard

had access to current movies.

the formation of The Lyric Council in 1994,

Luxury and function blended in horsehair velour seat backs, both promoting sound absorption.



drapes were flame proof.


Getting movies was not an

easy task. Most of the big movie studios

controlled distribution and craved a

personal relationship with people who requested to show their films. Local

wheeler-dealer Vane Kelsey had joined the newly formed Commonwealth Theatre

Corporation in 1929 to participate in building The [new] Lyric. A few years later, he took his family on a California vacation 56


the movie industry and assure The Lyric

Its trademark exterior comedy-

tragedy masks on the parapet atop the

building were removed in the 1950s for having some deterioration and concern

about falling on passers-by below. Replicas

were installed in 2006. Technological advances in audio visual equipment has

challenged The Lyric all along the way. The theatre transitioned from 35mm print film

to all digital cinema with the installation of a 4K digital projector in 2013.

Though the building was used

between 1989 and 1994, movies and

film jargon, the theatre went dark. With interest in reviving the theatre grew, and

in February of 1996, The Lyric opened once again for film and other programs

to enhance the cultural scene downtown. Two years later, it was closed for major renovations, reopening once again in 1999.

The Lyric has enjoyed a stellar

presence in the heart of Blacksburg not only for featuring current movies at

affordable prices, but also for hosting community events and being a great

date night or family performance venue.

Mar/Apr 2018

Blacksburg High School graduates received their diplomas

at The Lyric until 1946, and despite unexplained ghost-like phenomena, the beautifully restored theatre continues to anchor the College Avenue promenade in the heart of

Blacksburg and hearts of residents, college students and visitors.

The Lyric is owned and operated by The Lyric Council, Inc., a 501(C)3 not for profit organization. Thus, donations, membership (many levels) and volunteers are always welcome. Office phone: 540-951-4771 Movie Line: 540-951-0604

"The Lyric Theatre: The Heart of Blacksburg" ~ $23 by Lesley Howard, Su Clausson-Wicker, Cheryl Ruggiero published Nov 2015 by Pocahontas Press Can be purchased at The Lyric, Artful Lawyer, Alexander Black House and the Community Arts Information Office. March/April

2 0 1 8


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

For 42 years, the New River Valley Home Builders Association has been representing the interests of residential and commercial builders, remodelers, suppliers, subcontractors and other providers involved in building throughout the region. Its mission is to "create an environment of free enterprise where regulations can be kept at a minimum, and products and services can be produced at optimum value." Every year, NRVHBA recognizes 10 of its outstanding members for building and design excellence. The organization sponsors education events to keep members up to date on building codes, legislation and business changes. The NRVHBA also embarks on many community events to raise money and awareness for worthy causes like NRV Habitat for Humanity, Toys for Tots and the Montgomery County Emergency Assistance Program. It awards a scholarship annually to a local college-bound student, and members donate time and materials for a variety of needs in our communities. The Home Expo and Cook Your Heart Out cooking contest draw residents from all over the region across three days in March.

Augustine College is a one-year, intensive, Christian classical liberal arts education, founded to strengthen the hearts, minds and souls of students heading to a university, vocational training or the workplace. The original Augustine College opened its doors in Ottawa [Canada] in 1997, and the first location in the U.S. will open in Blacksburg in September this year. Student applications are being accepted, and more than 17 professors are on board. Information meetings include a 30-minute presentation followed by Q&A, discussion and refreshments. Monday, April 2 Thursday, May 3 ~ Friday, June 1 ~ 7 – 9 p.m. Downtown Blacksburg Learn more and sign up for information meetings 58


59th Annual Virginia Tech International Street Fair April 22 - noon to 4 p.m. College Avenue, downtown Blacksburg Free Admission ~ rain or shine Organized by the Council of International Student Organizations and Cranwell International Center [hint: take cash, some vendors are not equipped to process credit or debit cards]

Walker Creek Barn

A beautiful, new, 5,600-square-foot venue space with lodging, weddings, conferences and agritourism opportunities is opening in June. Britt and Leigh Stoudenmire own and have operated New River Outdoor Co. and Walker Creek Retreat for 14 years and see tons of potential for their new venture. "The barn was developed with ease of access in mind. We offer plenty of parking, restrooms, prep kitchen, adequate sound and AV wattage and handicappedaccessible amenities," says Britt. Views from the 10acre mountaintop retreat encompass Angel's Rest, Cloyd's Gap, Walker Mountain, Sugar Run and the stunning Giles County countryside. "It's a balanced design of rustic elegance and natural beauty," Leigh adds.

Mar/Apr 2018

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

St. Patrick's Day March 17 Wear green, drink green, think green, be green! Green beer at MACADO'S and every other watering hole on this day

Soil Testing "Explorations" by NRV artist Christy Mackie Alexander Black House and Cultural Center Opening reception: Fri., April 6, 5-7 p.m. Exhibit runs from April 6 through May 6

Jeni Benos of made her debut with her charming Zodiac Ponies more than a decade ago. She developed a line of bullet jewelry and patented Pistol Petals before introducing her currently evolving line of nature-inspired silver jewelry. This new collection explores the subtlety of nature with creatures hiding in their environments. Having such a creative, talented silversmith, gemologist and jewelry designer based in Giles County enhances the New River Valley's reputation for innovative spirit in fine craftsmanship as well as technology.

For 80 years, the Virginia Tech Soil Testing Laboratory has been analyzing soil samples submitted by the public and university researchers. More than a third of garden samples reveal too much lime and one in seven lawn samples tests low in phosphorus. March is the most busy month as everyone wants to know how to balance their soil for maximum fertility, whether growing farm crops, flowers, vegetables, grass or fruit bushes and trees. More than 10,000 samples run through the instrumentation in March alone, so plan ahead if you are inclined to submit some dirt. There is no charge for Virginia commercial farm samples. Others pay a nominal $10 fee for the routine test package, plus $2 to analyze soluble salts and $4 for organic matter. Results are usually available by snail mail or e-mail in three or four days from dropping off your sample with the appropriate form. The lab is affiliated with both the Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences. Additional information and forms, such as for farms and horse pastures, are available at March/April

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Mac ' n Cheese .....

NR V F o o d F a re

The first day of spring may be on the horizon for March 20, but chilly nights, rainy, snowy days or slush and NRV temps that dip into the mid-30s call for comfort food that's warm and delicious. Mac 'n cheese delivers on all counts ~ mega comfort, ultra warm and uber delicious. The first recorded recipe of a macaroni and cheese dish appeared in Liber de Coquina (Book of Cooking), a 13th century Italian cookbook. And we can put one more notch in the belt of Thomas Jefferson's accomplishments. He enjoyed it so much in Italy that he brought back a pasta maker, and mac 'n cheese was served at the White House in 1802. The woman who assumed hostess duties after Jefferson's wife died included a macaroni and cheese casserole recipe in her book "The Virginia Housewife," published in 1824. A century plus five years later [1937] on the heels of the Great Depression, Kraft introduced its boxed version, which sold eight million boxes the first year at 19 cents each. Today, a million boxes are sold every day. Compiled by Joanne M. Anderson

Fried Mac 'n Cheese Bites 6 servings

1 pound elbow macaroni 2 Tbl. unsalted butter 2 Tbl. all-purpose flour 2 cups milk, warmed, plus 2 Tbl. for egg wash 1 pound grated cheddar 1 pound grated smoked Gouda Salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 large eggs 3 cups seasoned bread crumbs Vegetable oil, for frying Marinara or Alfredo sauce, to serve Cook the macaroni according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Drain again and set aside. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Sprinkle flour into butter and stir it with a whisk, cooking 2 minutes. Whisk warmed milk into the flour mixture, working out lumps. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add the cheeses, stirring until melted and smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the cheese sauce into cooked macaroni. Pour everything into a shallow pan and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours. Shape the cold mac and cheese into meatballsized balls and place on waxed paper-lined tray. Freeze the balls overnight. Beat eggs and 2 tablespoons milk together in a shallow bowl. Put bread crumbs in another bowl. Dip frozen balls into egg wash then roll in bread crumbs. Put balls back in the freezer until ready to fry. Heat oil in a deep-fat fryer to 350ยบ F. Fry mac 'n cheese balls until golden brown and center is hot, about 5 minutes. Serve hot with marinara or Alfredo sauce or both for dipping. 60


Mar/Apr Mar/Apr 2018 2017


Mac 'n Cheese with Bacon and Chives Serves 6

Note: Any cheese combinations work. I use all seriously sharp Cabot white cheddar. (~jma) 1 pound elbow macaroni (or other) 6 slices bacon, cooked and diced 1 Tbl. butter 3 Tbl. all-purpose flour 2 cups milk 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper 1/2 pound sharp cheddar, shredded 1 cup Colby Jack cheese, shredded 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded 8 slices American cheese Cook macaroni. Cook bacon, drain keeping 2 Tbl. bacon fat. Add the butter and whisk in flour. Add milk slowly, then salt and pepper. Bring to boil over medium heat; reduce heat, simmer a couple minutes. Add cheeses. Mix in most of bacon pieces. Place everything in a greased casserole dish or greased individual oval ramekins. Sprinkle with the rest of bacon and chives (optional). Bake covered at 350º for 20 minutes.

Hamburger Mac 'n Cheese in a Skillet 6 servings

1 pound ground beef

1/2 Tbl. no salt seasoning salt

• • • • • •

1 Tbl. granulated garlic (or 2 cloves of garlic, minced) 4 cups beef or chicken broth

1 pound elbow macaroni, uncooked 1 cup milk

4 cups shredded Colby Jack or other cheese Fresh parsley for garnish

Season beef with garlic and seasoning salt, then

brown in large cast iron skillet. Drain grease and add broth. Bring to simmer and stir in macaroni. Simmer about 20

minutes until macaroni is tender. Add milk and stir. Add

cheese, stirring until melted. No need to bake! Serve hot.

M a r c h / A p r i l

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Mar/Apr 2018

The Official Entertainment Destination of 1450 South Main St. Blacksburg, VA 24060 First & Main Blacksburg


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The full report including various areas within the New River Valley is now available online at NEST REALTY | 400 NORTH MAIN STREET | BLACKSBURG, VA | 800.325.NEST | NESTREALTY.COM

NRV magazine March-April 2018  
NRV magazine March-April 2018  

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