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NRV’s Premier Lifestyle Magazine

New River Valley March / April 2017



Jeanne Stosser


moments watch me go!

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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

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#1 Seller of homes in the Mid-Atlantic and New River Valley*

*Based on information from the Association of REALTORS® (alternatively, from Multiple Listing Service of the New River Valley – NRV MLS) and data supplied by MRIS and its member Association(s) of Realtors®, who are not responsible for its accuracy, for the period January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2016. Does not reflect all activity in the marketplace. Information contained herein is deemed reliable but not warranted. ©All rights reserved.

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March / April





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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 Kelsey Foster Sheila Nelson Emily Alberts Jennifer Cooper Mike Wade PHOTOGRAPHERS Natalie Gibbs Photography Amodeo Photography Always and Forever Photography Tom Wallace Kristie Lea Photography Nathan Cooke Photography SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER Justin Ashwell Cover Photo by

Kristie Lea Photography © 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.


It’s not polite to ask a lady’s age, but as the sweet person across the table was telling me about her photography business, activities, goals and dreams, I just had to ask: “You are, what, 17 years old?” She nodded, adding that she’d be 18 in a couple weeks. Madison Miller is going places, and you can meet her on page 42. For the last seven issues, we have profiled NRV Magazine writers and photographers on the back page. We decided to keep this one page format for profiles of NRV folks, and it’s only a coincidence that this first one presents a photographer and a writer, Michael Abraham. My editor pic here was snapped on Giles Road during the photo shoot at Shelter Alternatives. Not wanting to stand solo sans horse, I have the inset of Noble to honor him as he turns 27 on March 16. We love the Pandapas trails and Smithfield Plantation, which is open weekends in March with an official opening day for the season on Sat., April 1. Noble, Boaz and I will be there, along with our faithful Farm Hand, Rebekah Young. She’s another stellar, soon-to-turn-18, young lady. Madison and Rebekah, along with the Folta guys (my friends Daniel, Nathan and Michael Folta) and other young people I know, give me great confidence in this Z or post-millennial or iGeneration -- not sure which Gen title will stick. They are all smart, kind, thoughtful, talented teens and college students. In fact, I’ve ridden horseback with all of them except Madison. She drives a Mustang, so that’s close. Check out Lori Miller’s stunning mustang, Tonto, on page 41 and her equally stunning video at com/watch?v=YCWlANyM0S0. She placed second in the nation for America’s Favorite Trail Horse five years ago for which this video was made. Our regular readers will probably detect a little disparity in this issue of editorial vs. advertising. It’s a subtle balancing act of interesting,

Pasture Talk

informative features, professional photography and those cherished ads without which there would be no pages at all. Seems like lots of businesses new to NRV Magazine wanted to present their products and services to you all in this particular issue. Patronize them

and mention you saw their ad in New River Valley Magazine. Thus, we had to sacrifice a few of the half and full page photos that usually accompany the articles. Hey, this is a good challenge, and if it keeps up, we’ll expand. In magazine printing, it’s most economical by a long shot to add 16 pages at a time, and with ad interest increasing in this our 11th year, we’ll just wait and see how 2017 unfolds.

Joanne Anderson ManagingEditor

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NRV H o me I mpr o v e m e n t

Are you a Smart Home Owner?


By Emily Kathleen Alberts

The average U.S. home has eight connected devices, and that number is expected to reach 31 by 2020. Home automation technology is finding its way into kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms of homes worldwide. Devices such as Amazon Alexa-Enabled Echo and Google Home are becoming the backup brains of many American homeowners, helping prepare grocery lists, song playlists and even dinner. Connected devices can turn off lights, the stove and that pesky flat iron – all while we are miles away from home. In a world where we are increasingly tied to our phones, these hands-free helpers eliminate the need for a phone altogether. In “always listening” mode, the Echo is ready to solve problems 24/7, so we can get answers and move on with life. For the homeowner who wants a fully integrated smart system, there are dozens of smart hubs, such as the Samsung SmartThings hub. “The variables are nearly infinite, but as an idea of what’s possible, think of a 12


system that detects when someone is home, turns your lights on and off, adjusts the thermostat depending on the time of day or room to room when people are present, interfaces with your home audio system, monitors your house when you’re away, and sends notifications should something seem amiss” (The Wirecutter 2016). With today’s advances in smart technology, devices such as the Nest Cam deliver a functional high-res, wireless security camera at minimal cost. Primarily used for monitoring what’s happening inside the home, the Nest Cam can deliver peace of mind. New parents can pair the NestCam with the Fisher-Price Newborn Rock ‘n Play Sleeper (with SmartConnect) and comfortably and conveniently rock the baby, even remotely, for hours a day. For outdoor home monitoring, the Kuna Toucan is a popular outdoor smart camera, and it retrofits to existing outdoor wall lights via a USB cable, which means no batteries, no wires and no fuss. The Toucan includes a Smart

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Socket adapter to “make a dumb bulb smart,” and cool extras like an alarm and two hours of free cloud storage. Even the neighborhood kids who like to ding-dong and ditch will think twice when they see this virtual eye in the sky. Speaking of smart light bulbs, the Twist is a light bulb that doubles as a portable speaker. The bulb streams tunes from any app, with high quality sound to boot. This “two birds/one stone” gadget eliminates the need for yet another thing to plug into the wall. Another outdoor security camera option is the Canary, which was the Better Homes and Gardens 2017 Editor’s Choice for DIY home security. When it detects motion, it records HD video and sends an alert to your phone. You can even sound an alarm remotely. For people in real estate with multiple properties monitor and manage, smart home devices can save thousands of dollars, not to mention costly insurance claims. If a landlord provides tenants


Kuna Toucan is a popular outdoor smart camera, and it retrofits to existing outdoor wall lights

Twist is a light bulb that doubles as a portable speaker.

with free heating and cooling or a flat rate electric bill, there are devices to track energy usage for all kinds of things, even the laundry. The Wemo Insight Switch sends energy and cost reports to a smartphone and provides tools for saving cash on your next bill.

w Smart water valves that shut off

when they detect a leak? Check.

w Smoke alarms that alert the fire department? Check.

w Apps that can shut off a space heater remotely? Check.

w Air quality monitors that detect the presence of mold? Check!

For personal use, one can use Wemo to set a timer to turn off holiday lights or air conditioning or heat after you fall asleep. It can set a schedule so kids can’t watch more than an hour of TV. Hunt down the power hogs in your house and see if it would be better to hang your laundry instead of dry it. You can ask for notification then the dryer stops to avoid wrinkled clothes.

Get Yourself Connected AND Protected

How much longer until we feel like we are living in an episode of “The Jetsons?” The popular 1960’s HannaBarbera cartoon was actually set in 2062, exactly 45 years from now. We already have the smart watches, tablets and 3D printing capabilities that were popular on the show. The Roomba isn’t too far off from “Rosie” the maid. The latest version of the Roomba can clean for 120 minutes, find its way back to the charging station, recharge and continue to clean until the job is done. Apps like iRobot HOME let you clean, schedule and set custom cleaning preferences all from your smartphone. Did “Astro” the dog ever shed? Not sure, but the Roomba can handle the heaviest of shedders, handle tight corners and turn like a pro. In “The Jetsons,” George is often seen walking Astro on a treadmill, but for dogs who like to wander, Smart tags, such as LINK AKC, use AT&T’s cellular network and GPS technology to track your dog’s location anywhere in the U.S. The LINK AKC collar has a remote turn on sound to aid in training and an LED light to be seen at night.

In this Internet of Everything (IoT) world, securing your Wi-Fi is becoming just as important as securing your front door. Experts estimate that the IoT will consist of almost 50 billion objects by 2020. That’s just 3 years away! Preventive measures like making your Wi-Fi invisible, updating software whenever possible, and changing passwords regularly can prevent hackers from intruding into your virtual (and possibly physical) space. Visit to see whether you have been hacked and get a sense of just how often hacking happens. If you’re not quite ready to take the Smart Home plunge, the website is a great way to get started on linking your favorite services together and becoming a part of the IoT. There are Applets for everything. Emily Kathleen Alberts is an NRV freelance writer and regular contributor to New River Valley Magazine who is very comfortable with science and technology topics.

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NRV H o me

TOTAL Transformation


Text by Jennifer Poff Cooper Photos courtesy of Sean Shannon Photography

When Tommy Clapp, decided to update his circa 1958 Christiansburg home, he did it up right. “I loved this house because of its potential,” he reveals. He had been eyeing the home for three years as it contained unique details like the large picture windows in the living and dining rooms. It was ahead of its time for natural daylight pouring in through such big windows. Clapp purchased the house in January of 2015 and worked on it nonstop for nine months. Almost nothing is the same, especially the very outdated knotty pine and black hinges in the kitchen. “I’ve touched every room, surface and fixture with the exception of the last project, a bathroom. A real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Townside, Clapp gets ideas from NRV houses he tours and shows, HGTV, Houzz, Architectural Digest, movies and TV shows. “When I watch television or a movie,” he explains, “I also



look at the sets and furnishings. I post on Facebook some choices of things I want to use such as finishes and paint colors and ask people to vote for their favorites. It’s been helpful and interesting.” Clapp and his kitchen designer, Chelle White of Home Depot, worked about a month to finalize the overall plan. The footprint of the room did not change but everything inside the room did. A huge island in the middle of this 16’x15’ room was at the top of his list. “I knew what I wanted, and Chelle finetuned things and added components I never thought of, such as expanding the cabinets around the refrigerator that makes a normal fridge appear to be a cabinet depth one, giving it a real custom feel.” The bachelor homeowner used rich gray tones with the warmth and masculinity of darker wood capped off with light quartz countertops. Clapp

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served as his own general contractor. “Being a REALTOR®, I learned quickly to have certain skilled people on my list of contractors, like an excellent tile guy who did the [concrete] backsplash. I searched long and hard for it, and he had to install it almost piece by piece, which he said he would never do again. It took him four full days, but the end result is so worth it.” Other parts reflect Clapp’s philosophy of making it look expensive, but not be extraordinarily costly. For example, he found the flooring online, which is a peel and stick material that was less than $1,000 including material and installation. In the midst of the kitchen remodel, Clapp decided to add a 15-panel coffered ceiling in the kitchen and adjacent den. “With an 8-foot ceiling, it was a risk and an expensive one, but it’s probably the best feature other than the expansive


“Being a REALTOR®, I learned quickly to have certain skilled people on my list of contractors,

“I loved this house because of its potential,”

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NRV H o me



center island,” he relates. “People who see the kitchen love the floors, backsplash and coffered ceiling.” During the fivemonth kitchen renovation, Clapp ate out, brought meals in and made do with a toaster on his bedroom floor and a microwave on a table. When pressed, Clapp cannot single out a favorite aspect of the new kitchen. “Everything!” he exudes. “Each morning I walk through it, and I’m shocked that this is my house and my kitchen. Some friends give me a hard time because it’s just me living with a kitchen made for a caterer. You don’t expect a magnificent kitchen in such a modest house.” The exterior had not been updated since the house was built, and Clapp viewed it as tired and boring. The house was all red brick, which dated it, 16


so Clapp decided to paint. He heard through the grapevine that neighbors could not believe he was going to paint the house. “The painter [Mark Brookner, Painting Consultants, Radford] thought I was nuts when I asked him to paint four swatches of color on the front of my house.” His final choice of taupe turned out pleasing to all eyes. Trendy faux stone replaced aluminum siding above the living room window, a relatively cheap and easy update. Clapp was shocked, however, at the price to replace the roof with simple black architectural shingles. He kept the wooden garage doors for their character, but changing or expanding the garage to accommodate his Chevrolet Suburban proved too complicated. Landscaping was another part of Clapps’ renovation project. Overgrown

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bushes were removed and replaced. “The yard looks terrible this time of year, but the landscaper is coming soon to start lovely, extensive plans in front and back.” “I love transformation, and when you see the before pictures and hear the passion in Tommy Clapp’s voice, it makes you appreciate his vision and dramatic renovation even more,” states staging professional Debbie Campbell of Stage 2 Smile, LLC. She assisted the homeowner with other aspects of the remodeling and was so impressed with all the attention to detail that she suggested the idea for this feature to New River Valley Magazine. Here it is! Thank you, Debbie. And Tommy. And Sean. Jennifer Poff Cooper is a Christiansburg-based freelance writer and frequent contributor to NRV Magazine.


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NRV Pr o fi l e


Visionary Lady in the Hard Hat

Text by Mike Wade Photos by Kristie Lea Photography Jeanne Stosser was on a recent business trip when a younger gentleman asked the 70-year-old grandmother when she thought the day would come that she had worked “enough” and could ease into retirement. He quickly learned what many developers, municipal officials and community members throughout the New River Valley already know. There simply is no quit in Jeanne Stosser. “I told him, ‘Enough was a long time ago’,” recalls Stosser, “but when you’ve spent most of your life doing something, it almost becomes an illness or addiction – and it can never be cured. I’m still motivated by the challenge of making something from nothing and making it pretty in the process.” A native of Wythe County, Stosser has turned that passion into a 18


business empire, amassing an impressive portfolio of real estate over the course of the past four decades that includes everything from single family homes to sprawling apartment complexes. As owner and president of SAS Builders, Inc., and CMG Leasing, Stosser is regarded as one of the region’s leading developers and property owners. Much of her success can be attributed to the fact that her companies have stayed ahead of the game and kept pace with the steadily growing student populations at Virginia Tech and Radford University. “I guess I would consider myself a visionary,” Stosser adds. “It’s hard to explain, but I can look at a piece of ground and visualize what it could become and what would work there… and not just the landscape, but how it

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will be perceived and administered.” Her most recent vision that came to fruition – and the one that she’s most proud of – is The Edge, a contemporary student housing community across from VT campus. “We owned that property since 1993, owed very little on it, and it was performing nicely,” notes Stosser, “But it was also underdeveloped, and we toyed with the idea of something different and then, as they say, the interest rates just got too low, so we decided to move on it. It was a calculated leap of faith. We knew what we had - and recognized the potential - but it required taking a significant income stream out of play for two years. Now that I look back, there’s no question it was a good move. I’m incredibly proud of The Edge and


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consider it a personal success.” Stosser credits her mentor, Carl McNeil, with getting her started in real estate development. She was also inspired by motivational guru Zig Ziglar and says John Schaub’s seminar, “Making It Big on Little Deals,” was the best advice she’s ever received. “When I was young, women had two options - you could find a job or find a man to marry who would take care of you. Well, I would have been fired from any job because I’m too opinionated, and I didn’t do very well with the marriage thing. So, I had no choice. I had to figure out a way to make a living for myself.” Stosser’s sons, Scott and Jeffrey, are senior vice presidents with SAS. Scott handles the construction and development end of the business, while Jeffrey focuses on property management. “When you pour so much of yourself into your business or career, it can definitely be hazardous to your personal life, and I haven’t been able to succeed at all things,” she notes. “I’m a firm believer in what goes around, comes around, and I’ve got my kids working beside me and that’s going great. So, I guess it all eventually worked out.” Not everyone who enters the real estate development industry manages to achieve the level of success that Stosser has. The fact that she is a woman in a field dominated by males has presented its own set of challenges. “I truly believe that women in the workforce can do anything,” says Stosser, “but what I’ve found over the years is that, as a woman, I have to do everything twice as good, in the same amount of time as my male counterparts, and I’m allowed to make zero mistakes.” Despite that extra pressure, she insists the rewards that come with being her own boss far outweigh the idea of not having control of her own destiny. “When someone first referred to me as an entrepreneur, I had to look it up,” she says with a chuckle, “but the financial independence that comes from being able to run my own business has definitely been a driving force. Back in my 30s when I took John Schaub’s seminar, we were challenged to write down our goals. I decided at the time that I was going to position myself so I wouldn’t have to depend on the system or my children to take care of me.” Stosser went on to say that she hopes more young people will follow the same path that she has. “I feel like our society has lost its competitive edge. Competition just doesn’t exist anymore, and we’ve allowed ourselves to believe that everyone is equal – we all get a trophy. Well, we aren’t all equal, and there has to be a leader somewhere.” “So, I’d like to see a whole lot more people in this world starting businesses and creating jobs, but you have to find something you’re passionate about. You have to love it, and if you do, the money comes along for the ride.” 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 20 years. He freelances as a writer, graphic designer, and portrait artist.



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Shelter Alternatives Office Expansion and Renovation Before and After Funky to Fresh Cluttered to Contemporary Workspaces that Work ~ Better Than Ever

Text by Joanne M. Anderson Photos by Kristie Lea Photography The same thoughtful, forwardthinking, environmentally-sound best practices that go into every house design and renovation project were incorporated into the office expansion of Shelter Alternatives. The 26-year-old design-build firm, known for its oneof-a-kind houses that embrace energy efficiency, function and style, recently doubled its office space in downtown Blacksburg. Retaining the character of the 1920s farmhouse that has housed their offices for a decade was paramount, along with improved energy efficiency and a balance between personal workspace and openness for collaboration, comfort and communication. “Besides being a beautiful, comfortable work space, the newly remodeled office is so much 22


quieter than before,” says office manager Gregg Moneyhun. “Groovy touches like exposed siding, lathe, diagonal sheathing and the framed old Blacksburg Mercantile poster [found behind an old wall] mix well with the contemporary Solatube skylights, triple pane windows and lever door handles.” Designer Joe Bassett concurs: “The new office provides a well-lit, pleasant work space. It makes coming to work even more enjoyable than before.” It’s part showcase as well, a place where clients can see the innovative quality that has propelled Shelter Alternatives to a regional leader in home design and construction. In January of this year, the company was awarded the 2016 Design Excellence Award from the New River Valley Homebuilders Association

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for this office expansion. It’s the firm’s ninth time receiving this coveted honor. It is well-documented that productivity, quality of life and even sleep and physical activity are enhanced with exposure to natural light. Eight window configurations and five Solatube tubular skylights permit natural daylight to flow into hallways, work spaces and the new conference room, minimizing use of electric lights. Cellulose insulation was added between existing and new walls, and air-sealed ceilings were piled high with R-70 insulation. “I don’t miss wearing long johns while working at my desk or needing three light fixtures to see what I’m drawing,” quips designer Chris Hudson. Hardwood floors from the original house were preserved, and


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Before images

Solatube tubular skylight, all natural light


hardwood continues throughout the addition. Original rosettes and wide trim around doorways are still in place with matching rosettes, custom crafted by owner and president Ed Tuchler himself, and trim in the new wing. Wood wainscoting at the entry is an attractive, eclectic blend of different woods in varying widths, much of it left over from job sites and used here, rather than wasted. John Hile, estimator, shares his observations: “I think it allows us to serve clients better with improved meeting spaces. I also like that we improved the energy efficiency, generate some of our power and provide residential opportunities [second floor renovated apartment] within walking distance of campus and downtown.” Moneyhuns adds a client benefit as well: “ I like that prospective clients can walk in and see the luxury we build in homes, but this is a really practical space. Oh, and a favorite surprise has been the acoustics of the 24


meeting room!” [He must be one of the musicians.] Original exterior siding forms one inside wall, and diagonal wood sheathing discovered beneath siding is now exposed between two offices with a sliding, barn-style, wood door. Passthroughs are common between offices, and the ergonomics of workspaces are given the same care and attention as the functionality of the building design. Employees have the option of standing up at their work stations on gel mats, and many do, including Tuchler. “The ability to shift from sitting to standing positions while working is much better than sitting in a chair for hours on end,” he comments. “The comfort and ergonomic fit of a workstation is important for the long term health of our team members.” In addition to kneeling chairs, draftingstyle stools and desk chairs, most of the desks were built by our team, and many computers are mounted on variable height desk supports that can be raised

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for standing and lowered for sitting.” Exterior Hardie board blends nearly seamlessly with the original clapboard, and the charming red metal roof speaks to the 1920s as well. Solar panels mounted on the roof wouldn’t have been seen back then, but neither, most likely, would the dramatically reduced energy use to illuminate and heat these spaces. Above and beyond the new office space resides a corporate culture grounded in a spirit of cooperation, caring and community. For those who bike or walk to work, there’s a full bathroom and shower, and for the musically-inclined ~ which is not a job requirement ~ there are Friday jam sessions. A healthy corporate culture embraces teamwork to achieve the company’s mission and contributes positively to client impressions, quality and reputation. Shelter Alternatives embodies a commitment to excellence throughout the company that is inherent in its success.


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Walking to Inspiration in Prague

Story and photos by Krisha Chachra Arguably the most beautiful city in Europe, Prague, Czech Republic, is a landscape of storybook castles and cobblestone bridges that stand alongside modern eateries and hipsters creating art and music on street corners. Left largely unscathed by the destruction endured by most of Eastern Europe during World War II, the “City of a Hundred Spires” still has much of its original medieval architecture. Block by block, architectural enthusiasts marvel at different styles: Renaissance morphing into Baroque, Neo-Classical transitioning to Art Deco. Eclectic building elements make the city visually stunning while maintaining its 26


traditional Old World charm. When I moved to Prague to attend the Prague School of Economics in the late ‘90s, the whole country was navigating through a transition from a planned to market economy. Today, the city remains a hub for change and revolutionary thought. After all, the Czech Republic gained its independence in the late ‘80s led by a handful of poets, artists and creative types who rose up against the Soviets. When I lived there, the culture was still adjusting to the immigration that came with newly open borders – a stark change in diversity after being behind the iron

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curtain for so long. Some say Prague still has undercurrents of xenophobia but the new generation of Czechs welcome everyone – including the thousands of tourists and ex-pats who flock to the city in search of inspiration. And that’s what I needed as an aspiring young writer with many thoughts but not enough substance and experience to impart. I didn’t know what I was looking for, but at the age of 21, I found Prague. Without a car or bike, I walked, zigzagging through Prague’s notable and romantic landmarks. The Jewish Quarter, The National Theatre/Estates Theatre – which debuted Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” – and the


Globe Bookstore were places I would frequent. Life in your early 20s can be confusing, and instead of standing around trying to figure it out, I walked. The ideal place to start in Prague is Old Town Square. Although touristy, Old Town Square is steeped in history and lined with outdoor cafes and restaurants, including U Parlamentu, a local’s brewery serving authentic goulash, dumplings and schnitzel. The most prominent attraction in Old Town is the ornate Astronomical Clock. This clock doesn’t tell time, rather it registers the phases of the moon and equinoxes. When the clock strikes, symbolic depictions of fate and sin (including a money bag representing greed, a mirror for vanity and a skeleton to depict death) dance around the top, warning viewers standing below that these vices are looming above them. Across from Old Town Square, I walked to Prague Castle. Perched on a hilltop overlooking the city, this castle is the residence of the President of the Czech Republic and has housed kings and emperors and, of course, the royal bohemian crown jewels. Prague Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage site and showcases several architectural styles from 10th century Romanesque buildings to Gothic structures from the 14th century. In the courtyard, tourists are often treated to a live string quartet or madrigal singing. Make sure you stroll through St. Vitus Cathedral, the Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica and the Golden Lane – where homes have been transformed into a living history corridor to depict how artisans lived and worked in medieval times. My inspiration came from a place that was appropriately the connection between Prague Castle and Old Town Square. In fact, most thirsty creatives need look no further for inspiration than Charles Bridge (Karluv Most). This bridge is where stories are written, art is formed and languages from all over the world are exchanged. Straddling the expansive Vltava River, the 14th century cobbled bridge is flanked by two elegant towers. But the signature feature is the two rows of more than 30 statues of saints. I remember spending hours sitting under the Statue of the Holy Crucifix and Cavalry on the North writing about people, travel and everything I saw. A busker named “Ice” – a musician from the U.S. – entertained me by singing “Country Roads,” mistaking me for a native of West Virginia instead of Southwest Virginia. I appreciated the thought, and it made for a good essay later. I walked the cobblestones on that bridge hundreds of times – talking to visitors, browsing watercolors for sale and shepherding friends who wanted a tour of the city’s finest attraction. It seemed fitting that my shoes wore down so badly you could see through the soles. On my last night, classmates and locals I befriended met me at the bridge at midnight. We toasted to the memories of Prague we made together, laughed in the dark and drank champagne. Then, in a burst of spontaneous inspiration, I took off my worn-out shoes and tossed them over the side of the Charles Bridge. Down they went, splashing into the mighty Vltava. I had walked my way to finding the inspiration that only Prague could deliver. It was time to go home and write my story – and I knew I needed a new pair of shoes. Krisha Chachra serves on the Town Council of Blacksburg and is a regular columnist and author. She has traveled to over 40 countries on 6 continents and reported and hosted shows for public radio and television. Her columns are taken from her journals and personal insights from traveling nationally and internationally throughout her life. Her book about returning to Blacksburg, Homecoming Journals, may be found online or in local bookstores. E-mail her at

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NRV R i de s

1950 Was a Very Good Year . . . for Pick Up Trucks

Text by Karl H. Kazaks | Photos by Tom Wallace

In 2008, Darrell Woodyard retired from Volvo after 32 years, but he did not retire from being a mechanic. He started working on old trucks in the garage outside his Dublin home. His first goal was to restore a 1950 Dodge pickup. “It’s what he learned to drive on,” says his wife, Vicky. After searching online, Woodyard found an old fire truck in Indiana. “You’re not going to believe this,” he told Vicky. “I found a 1950 Dodge.” Vicky then says: “When I saw him load up a trailer, I knew we were in trouble.” Woodyard, who grew up outside Dublin in Little Creek, started the restoration in November of 2011 and finished it 13 28


months later. He worked 8-hour days, sometimes more. “I’d come in at night,” he reveals, “then think of something that needed to be done and go back out.” Vicky explains that once he started, he couldn’t quit. “I guess that’s how he got it done so fast.” The restoration was a head-to-toe project. “There were parts everywhere,” Vicky remembers. On the exterior, everything is original except the bed, which is from a 1950 Ford F1 truck. Under the body, Woodyard put in new suspension and modern brakes and got an original front end from the car show in Hershey, Penn. For other original parts, he searched the

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Internet, sourcing them from vendors in multiple states. A professed Dolly Parton fan, Vicky calls it “the truck of many colors” for all its patchwork assortment of parts, now covered in bright red paint. The engine is a 351 Windsor from a 1983 Ford van with automatic transmission. The Woodyard’s son, Dusty, a painter at Volvo, helped restore the truck. “He did a lot of welding, a lot of beating and banging,” says his dad. “He also painted the truck. Vicky helped, running for parts, staining the boards in the bed, whatever was needed. In the summer of 2012, the Woodyards drove the Dodge out west,





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Come Home to Rockingham

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following Route 66 with family members in their own restored trucks. Woodyard’s brother, Albert, and his wife, Eva, took their 1948 Studebaker. His sister, Dulane, and husband James Repass drove a 1951 Ford. The group went as far as Oklahoma City. “We had a good trip,” Vicky smiles. After their return, it wasn’t long before Woodyard was back at work, restoring another truck, this time a 1950 Ford. When Vicky saw her husband and Dusty in the garage with the Ford, she thought: “It was like kids with a new toy. They were so excited.” The Ford has been restored to its original appearance but, like the Dodge, has a number of modernizations: air-conditioning, power brakes, power 30


steering, new suspension, a sound system and more. The gas tank, originally located behind the seat, was moved to under the bed. Dusty painted the Ford, too. “I love cars just like Darrell,” confesses his wife. She has owned a number of Corvettes, and now Dusty is following in their footsteps. When the Woodyards aren’t busy restoring a truck, they enjoy traveling. They’ve been together since they were high school sweethearts and married for 42 years. Clearly, they are at ease in each other’s company, and Vicky observes: “You don’t usually see one of us and not the other.” They are members of the New River Valley Classic Cruisers and enjoy taking the 1950 Dodge out for a spin.

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“We have a lot of fun with that truck,” Woodyard says. “Going out and hitting them old back roads and curves.” As for restoring trucks, that’s a good time, too. “It’s a lot of work,” Vicky concedes, “but you can make it fun.” With the restoration of the Ford complete, the Woodyards plan to attend car shows this year in Florida and Las Vegas. But Woodyard may find his way back into the garage again, surrounded by some disassembled vehicle. “I’m pretty positive we’re not at the end of it,” Vicky says, while Darrell adds, ““If I find a 1965 Chevy II at a bargain, I’ll fix it.”





for f W all



Accountants and the CPA


Accountants enjoy a number of career options, including public, industrial, governmental/nonprofit and tax accounting, as well as roles in the banking and insurance industries. A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) may work in any of these fields with a greater likelihood of promotion and advancement, especially in public accounting.

Bachelor’s degree (any major)

Completion of this certificate program will further your eligibility to sit for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam in Virginia.* The Virginia Board of Accountancy requires candidates taking the CPA exam in Virginia** to have a bachelor’s degree with 120 total semester hours of credits, including 30 semester hours of accounting and 24 hours of business studies. * Please note that there are additional requirements to be eligible to sit for the exam.

Cumulative GPA of 2.5 or better (4 point scale) Prerequisites: ACTG 211 and 212 or equivalent

Coursework Required classes: 18 credit hours ACTG 311 Cost Accounting ACTG 312 Accounting Information Systems

** The requirements for other states may vary.

ACTG 313 Intermediate Accounting I

To enroll, visit:

ACTG 314 Intermediate Accounting II and click on Apply as a Non-Degree-Seeking Student

ACTG 411 Federal Taxation ACTG 414 Auditing

For more information, contact:

Electives: (Take two)

Dan Davidson, J.D., chair, Department of Accounting, Finance & Business Law Radford University Radford, VA 24142-6951 540-831-6595

ACTG 401 International Accounting ACTG 412 Advanced Taxation ACTG 413 Advanced Financial Topics ACTG 416 Governmental and Not-for-Profit Accounting

Make your reason our business

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New River Valley Home Builders Association

The New River Valley Home Builders Association once again opens its Home Expo to everyone in the New River Valley interested in enhancing their living spaces for comfort, function, aesthetics and convenience. Homeowners, condo, apartment and townhouse dwellers, as well as renters, property managers, future homeowners and dreamers browse booths with ideas galore for enjoyable indoor and outdoor lifestyles. Then, there’s the cooking! Akin to the Food Network’s TV show “Chopped”, three teams from local non-profits are challenged to create an appetizer, entree and dessert. Each recipe must incorporate two secret ingredients, and not only do the judges get a small plate for expert tasting and casting their vote, but 50 samples are shared among Home Expo folks as well. The food fun begins at noon on Saturday, 32


and you can watch it all, nibble yourself on creative delicacies and participate in the People’s Choice vote. This year’s organizations are: l Micah’s Backpack l United Way l Plenty! So, while you pick up some cooking tips, you can also browse the booths for ideas on home decor, building, remodeling, roofing, landscaping, hardscaping, windows, bathrooms, kitchen fixtures, repairs and maintenance and much much more. As you wander with the bag you receive at the door (with the current New River Valley Magazine in it!), you can add candy, business cards, magnets, a rubber duck, note pads and all kinds of useful advertising specialties.

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While the Home Expo showcases members’ products and service, the NRVHBA contributes tirelessly year round to NRV communities and causes like Habitat for Humanity, Montgomery County Emergency Assistance Program, Little Libraries, and Toys for Tots. The entire membership embraces high quality standards in business and in life.


Christiansburg Recreation Center Friday, March 10 ~ 4 - 8 p.m.

Saturday, March 11 ~ 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. Sunday, March 12 ~ 12 noon - 5 p.m.

Ticket Price: $5

Children ages 18 & under FREE


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NRV Pr o fi l e


Entrepreneur, U.S. Army Lt. Colonel


Text by Mike Wade Photos courtesy of Henry Bass

When someone who makes his living in the technology industry suggests that we should spend less time looking at screens of our electronic devices, it certainly gets your attention. “Too often, we are victims of our own technology and aren’t ‘unplugging’ so we can have more real-world connections,” says Henry Bass, president and owner of Automation Creations, Inc. (ACI), a Blacksburg-based company specializing in custom software solutions for technology-driven companies worldwide. “When my wife and I were in Germany for the Army, fresh out of college, the commander advised us to get out and tour the country at least every other weekend,” recalls Bass. “Pick a place and go there. The same is true here - every spot has a story.” Bass has incorporated that same idea into his business, and it appears to be paying off. Many of his team members have been with ACI more than 10 years. “The approach at Automation Creations is to provide great benefits and a flexible 40-hour work schedule so employees can grow their families, enjoy our surroundings and balance a wide variety of work projects and diverse recreational opportunities.” The New River Valley has been the backdrop for much of Henry Bass’ own story. A son of two IBM employees, 34


he came here to pursue a masters degree in mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech after serving three years in the U.S. Army. In 1996, Bass started ACI in the Corporate Research Center developing software and web applications for commercial and government entities. Several projects have achieved success on an international level. While he could potentially find more lucrative deals in Silicon Valley or other larger tech-based communities, Bass is proud to call southwest Virginia home. “Our company and our family love being in this region!” he declares. “For me, it has the right amount of infrastructure without being too busy or crowded. Of course, it’s wonderful having Virginia Tech, Radford University and New River Community College within 10 miles, and it’s not too hard to get to the Roanoke Airport, Greensboro or even Charlotte.” According to Bass, ACI’s team of software developers, designers and trainers not only build software but also design and host websites for hundreds of businesses in the New River Valley. “Our best customers are small businesses that we can meet one-on-one to discuss ways to automate their process,” explains Bass. “Maybe they have an idea for a mobile app or need to synchronize their inventory across multiple store locations plus web sales.”

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“We spend a fair amount of time helping connect software that is already written, customizing it for our customers and helping them avoid reinventing things that are out there and tested,” he continues. “When we do write custom software, we price it based on a thorough estimate of the time required, and we involve our customers in the design process.” ACI’s project credits include everything from the mobile app for Blacksburg Transit to, a website that features a searchable database of material properties geared toward engineers. The company also works with several Fortune 1000 companies. Now entering its third decade, ACI continues to grow and evolve. Last year, the firm completed a merger with Interactive Design and Development (IDD). “Bringing Mary Miller, Ph.D., and her employees into the ACI family has been a very successful partnership,” Bass says. “They’re doing some fantastic work for the Smithsonian and its traveling exhibits. We now have a great cloud-based kiosk system that IDD built which gives our clients a way to tell their story from interactive touch-screens.” Bass went on to say that he believes the New River Valley is ideal for technology-based businesses and that particular sector could see tremendous




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CHRISTIANSBURG making you happy

220 Laurel Street NE


Spring at Home

223 Gilbert Street, Blacksburg, VA 24060 (540) 552-6446

Validated Parking available at the North End Center Garage

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growth if startups become more aware of all the New River Valley region has to offer. “The internet infrastructure of the Corporate Research Center, combined with tech-friendly leases and continuous efforts to encourage networking, contributes to making this area a fantastic opportunity for developing almost any technology-based business,” he adds. “This is certainly a banking-friendly community, and I believe there’s a growing base of investors who are interested in businesses willing to stay here.” “The challenge we face is encouraging people to get plugged into our community,” continues Bass. “Whether it is college students or relocated families – many people simply aren’t aware of all the great organizations, opportunities and resources in the New River Valley.” 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 20 years. He freelances as a writer, graphic designer and portrait artist.



• As an Army Reserve logistics officer, Bass was deployed as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2008, earning a Bronze Star and promotion to Lieutenant Colonel. • In addition to his masters degree from Virginia Tech, Bass holds an engineering degree and MBA from Washington University [St. Louis], as well as professional certifications in software development and systems engineering. • Bass serves on the Board of Directors for the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council and the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce. He was recently appointed to the Montgomery County Educational Foundation and serves as the moderator for two business leadership forums with LX Council. • He is co-founder of the New River Robotics Association, where he helps coach the “Tuxedo Pandas” competitive robotics team. Bass’ team is the only Virginia team to qualify for the World Championships more than twice, and the group is currently working on its fifth consecutive bid for FIRST Tech Challenge World Competition. • Bass and his wife, Lisa, have been married for 27 years and have two sons, both of whom attend Virginia Tech.

Recommended Reading - from Henry Bass The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan

“Loaned to me by Ed Lawhorn ~ very insightful into the Manhattan Project, women’s roles in World War II and the culture that grew from building a secret town completely from scratch – less than 250 miles down I-81 from here.”

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Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath “Excellent decision-making and problem framing techniques ~ I recommend it highly!”



JOY OF GIVING 4th Annual GiveBigNRV Giving Day Make a secure, online gift on April 26th directly to any of the 100 charities featured on the GiveBigNRV website and help that charity win a grant from the Community Foundation of the New River Valley.

And, maximize the impact of your gift by donating to The Fund for the NRV supporting dozens of organizations working together to: • Expand access to affordable, high-quality childcare • Give fresh, nutritious food to neighbors in need • Enable aging NRV residents to stay in their homes • Provide professional training to local nonprofits


An initiative of

COMMUNITY FOUNDATION of the New River Valley

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DECISIONS *Amount varies by account type.



Experience the power of local banking. Get your switch kit today! SOMEBODY













M a r / A p r 2 0 1 7 OAN L




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

Step aside Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks and Green Mountain Coffee. Red Rooster Coffee, based in Floyd, is commanding attention and collecting awards on the national stage. Started seven years ago by the owners of The BlackWater Loft coffee shop as a little venture to offer excellent coffee in their cafe, the business has grown consistently for its specialty blends and responsible coffee source selection.

Opening Fall 2017 Valley Classical School Classical, collaborative, Christian ~ Proven teaching methods that align with a child’s natural developmental stages ~ comprehensive K-4 curriculum in science, math, chronological history, literature and poetry, English grammar, spelling, writing, Latin, Spanish and the arts.

500 kilometers of motorcycle riding great routes, wonderful dining, pig roast and party, tent and RV camping, scenic overlooks and more. Also, 40 miles of off-road trails.



Sponsors: Kairos, Tangent Outfitters, GearHead Moto Tours, Go Race, Inc., Loud N Clear, Bull & Bones, The Palisades Restaurant

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4th annual GiveBigNRV day Wednesday, April 26 The Fund of the NRV helps with professional training for non-profit staff, fresh food and nutrition provisions for residents, affordable child care, elder assistance and home care and much more. This is neighbor helping neighbor ~ in a BIG way!

Blacksburg Chocolate Festival

Friday evening, April 14 Chocolate Gala P. Buckley Moss art gallery, Gilbert St. heavy hors-d’oeuvres by HazelBea wine tasting by Vintage Cellar $50 per person -----------------------------

First of its kind motorsport event in the NRV April 7 - 9 Glen Lyn ~ Giles County

Experience the JOY OF GIVING

Sat., April 15, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., Downtown Blacksburg 20,000 pieces of artisan chocolate live music, wine and beer garden, kids activities $20 per person ------------------------------Rotary Club of Blacksburg distributes proceeds among organizations like Interfaith Food Pantry, Montgomery County Christmas Store, Community Health Center, Women’s Resource Center, high school scholarships and more


5th Annual

Color Me Cameron 5K Color Run / Walk Saturday, April 1, 2017

On a rainy afternoon five years ago, Cameron Fitzwater, 18, died in a single vehicle accident on his way to work. To honor his adventurous spirit, zest for life and lofty dreams, his mother, Terri Fitzwater Palmore, organizes this fun, crazy, zany race every year. The Cameron Fitzwater Memorial Scholarship Foundation awards four $1,000 scholarships annually to Pulaski High School seniors heading for college or technical school. Participants and crowds increase every year, topping 1,000 last year ~ a worthy tribute to her precious son. 540-980-1736

When you need a horse trained for ground manners, starting under saddle, competing, confidence building, jumping and more, contact Lori Miller:

When you need a horse transported from point A to point B, contact Lori Miller:

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Madison Miller


A.A. Milne’s famous poem, “Now We Are Six”, counts up the first five years and ends: “But now I am six, I’m clever as clever; So I think I’ll be six now forever and ever.” Six was a big year for Madison Miller. She took her first photo, with help from her photographer Dad, who also took her to a car show. “I fell in love with a car and asked what it was,” she recalls. Ford Mustang. She set her heart on two things that year: becoming a photographer and buying a Mustang. She saved all her money from birthdays, grandparents and Christmases, and when she saw a 1966 maroon Mustang on craigslist at Claytor Lake, Madison pleaded with her parents to see it. She paid cash, 3rd owner, 25,000 miles. She’s a bona fide member of New River Valley Classic Cruisers. At age 14, she started her photography business, opened a Facebook business account and made business cards and a flyer. Madison graduates from Christiansburg High School in May where she has completed the cosmetology program, is a member of the National Honor Society and plays on the tennis team. She’s enrolling in New River Community College, then Radford University for a degree in photojournalism and minor in dance. She has been dancing since 12, and it’s likely she’ll dance right out of high school and into the college scene. For her, it’s just as likely that the sky is the limit. “My boy friend, Luke, and I explore back roads and small town,” she says. “I always find something interesting and ask him to pull over, a shop, a photo op. My parents [Eddie and Kim] love that I always push to take pictures. If it wasn’t for my wonderful parents, I don’t know where I’d be today!” Memories by Madison Photography Studio

A native of Christiansburg, Michael Abraham is a graduate of Virginia Tech with a degree in mechanical engineering. His varied career crosses through engineering, sales, marketing, and business and real estate management in the New River Valley and formerly in Seattle. He is an accomplished entrepreneur, currently managing two business, The Threshold Center, a multi-tenant industrial shell building in Christiansburg and Pocahontas Press, publisher of Appalachian-based books in Blacksburg. Michael resides in Blacksburg with his wife, Jane, two dogs and four treasured motorcycles. He is active in the community, a member of the Blacksburg Rotary Club and writes for local, regional and national magazines plus a regular column in the News Messenger. Chasing the Powhatan Arrow is the most recent of his eight books, all of which are about Virginia and West Virginia. They can be found at regional museum shops and bookstores or ordered from his website or other online booksellers.


Keepers of the Tradition is a non-fiction compilation of portraits of contemporary Appalachians, with artist Leslie Roberts Gregg l Orange, VA is a novel of political intrigue l War, WV is a novel of the fight for justice in the Appalachian coal fields l Providence, VA is a novel of inner strength found in adversity l Harmonic Highways is a non-fiction travelogue on Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, The Crooked Road l Union, WV is a novel of loss, healing and redemption in contemporary Appalachia l The Spine of the Virginias is a non-fiction account of journeys along the border of Virginia and West Virginia.

l March/Apri l


VA Brick &Stone

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NR V F o od F a re

Hearty Recipes

These hearty recipes hit the spot as we endure the last chilly days before spring takes hold. The individual chicken pot pies are a fun way to dress up a classic recipe, though you will need individual cast iron pots. Potato corn chowder is another comfort food classic and freezes well if you have leftovers. To complement the soups, try zucchini cheddar muffins which are filled with zucchini, cheddar cheese, spring onions and a little chopped fresh thyme for extra flavor. All three recipes are sure crowd pleasers and a great way to share warmth and comfort with friends and family.

Zucchini Cheddar Muffins (Yield: 1 dozen)

3 cups all-purpose flour 2 1/2 tsps. baking powder 1 tsp. salt 1/8 tsp. ground pepper 2 cups whole milk 1 egg

2 Tbls. canola oil + extra for greasing pan 1 cup grated zucchini 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese 1 spring onion, chopped 1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped

Pre-heat oven to 325Âş. Grease muffin tin with canola oil and set aside. Sift flour, baking powder, salt and ground pepper into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, egg and canola oil. Add wet ingredients into dry and stir until combined. Squeeze out extra moisture in the zucchini with a paper towel and then fold in zucchini, cheddar cheese, spring onion and thyme, just until mixed. Spoon the batter into muffin compartments and place in oven. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until fork inserted into muffin comes out clean. Remove from oven and serve or store up to 3 days in airtight container in fridge.

Potato Corn Chowder (Yield: 4-6 servings)

1/2 pound thick-sliced bacon 2 carrots, chopped 4 stalks celery, chopped 1 onion, diced 2 Tbls. butter 2 Tbls. flour

2 cups whole milk 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced 1 can corn kernels, drained and rinsed 1 bay leaf salt and pepper, to taste

Heat a cast iron pot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until crispy, about 10 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a cutting board and chop. Add carrots, celery and onion into pot with bacon grease. SautĂŠ until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. In the middle of the pot, add butter and flour, stirring vigorously with a fork until a roux forms. Pour in milk and stir to combine. 44


Add broth, potatoes, corn and bacon, reserving about 1/4 cup of bacon bits for topping, if desired. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add bay leaf. Let soup simmer until potatoes are softened, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm, or freeze for later use.

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Text, recipes and photos by Kelsey Foster Video by Prime Factory

Individual Chicken Pot Pies

(Yield: 3 pot pies) 1 chicken breast 1 carrot, chopped 1 leek, chopped 1 yellow onion, chopped 1 clove garlic, chopped 1/2 can green peas, drained and rinsed 1/2 can corn kernels, drained and rinsed 2 Tbls. butter 1 Tbl. flour 1 cup whole milk + 1 tablespoon 1 cup low sodium chicken broth 1 tsp. fresh thyme 2 frozen pie crusts, defrosted according to package 1 egg salt, pepper, olive oil Pre-heat oven to 400Âş. Heat olive oil over medium heat in large cast iron pot. Add chicken, seasoning each side with salt and pepper. Cook until done, about 5 minutes per side, remove and let rest a few minutes. Chop and set aside. Add more olive oil to the pot, and add carrots, leeks and onion. SautĂŠ until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes, then stir in garlic, green peas and corn kernels. Cook, stirring often, for another 3 to 4 minutes. In the middle of the pot, add butter and flour, stirring vigorously with a fork until a roux forms. Pour in 1 cup milk and stir to combine. Add broth and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add chicken back into pot, stir in thyme, and let reduce for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the individual cast iron pots. Roll out pie crusts on a floured surface. Using a pizza cutter, cut 6 circles into the dough. Press one circle into each cast iron pot for the base. When soup is ready, carefully ladle into each pot, then cover with remaining pie crusts, pressing down on the sides to form a seal. Beat egg with 1 tablespoon milk in a small bowl and lightly brush over each chicken pot pie. Bake until crusts are golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Let cool a few minutes and serve.

Kelsey Foster is a freelance writer, blogger extraordinaire and California transplant to the New River Valley who writes a clever food and lifestyle blog,, with tips on food, fashion and home decor. Her excellent recipes, creativity and photography appear in every issue of NRV Magazine.


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STUART PIMSLER DANCE & THEATER MATINEE Contemporary dance Saturday, April 22, 2017, 7:30 PM


BE CURIOUS The Moss Arts Center nourishes your craving for thought, reflection, and deeper understanding.


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

DORI FREEMAN Traditional music

Thursday, June 8, 2017 7:30 PM

NRV Magazine Mar-Apr 2017  

New River Valley, Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Radford, Giles County, Pulaski County, Floyd County, Virginia.

NRV Magazine Mar-Apr 2017  

New River Valley, Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Radford, Giles County, Pulaski County, Floyd County, Virginia.