NRV Magazine May-June 2021

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New River Valley May/June 2021


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May/June 2021



10 Pasture Ta l k



Let's go f l y a ki te 1 0 A ppal ac hi a n Trai l 1 4 NRV Homes: Lo g Hom e 1 8 The comfor ts of campi n g 22 7 deca des of ar t 28


Motormi l e S p eedwa y 32 Ba seba l l 's comeba c k 3 6


Pi c k-up truc ks 3 8 NRV Ri des 40


A round t he NRV 4 4 Adver t i sers I ndex 4 6


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May/June 2021









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


ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Kim Walsh DISTRIBUTION MANAGER Dennis Shelor WRITERS Joanne Anderson Karl Kazaks Krisha Chachra Emily Alberts Jo Clark Emma Beaver Becky Hepler Nancy Moseley Kameron Bryant PHOTOGRAPHERS Kristie Lea Photography Kevin Riley Tom Wallace Billy Bowling Photography Nathan Cooke Photography © 2021 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.

I’ve had a few nicknames with family across the years, and one that stuck from my brother was Jag. I’m not sure if this is connected or not to my love of Jaguar cars, but I had in my head for a long time that when I got old, I would own and drive a Jaguar. Horses came into my life late, and later still came the pick-up truck to haul them -- a white, 1998, 4-WD, ¾-ton, Chevrolet Sierra 2500 with a manual transmission. One local business owner offers me $10,000 cash on the spot when I pull into his parking lot. That would turn a small profit for me, but I’m not sure I’d sell it for twice that. I named it Thunder, and I like the Stillwater, OK, sticker on it from some previous sale. I don’t have any of the accessories I wrote about in this issue. It’s nice to know they’re out there if I ever wish to modernize my wonderful, reliable, perfectly running, old truck. It has a radio and a single CD slot. I put real gas in the tank, no ethanol, and it’s fun to drive. One of my brothersin-law cites the manual transmission as a contemporary anti-theft device. Our recently launched magazine [Fins Life] has been rebranded (already!) to The Mango, Hey, sometimes things move fast, even in SW Virginia. The new baseball team at Calfee Park is the Pulaski River Turtles (formerly Pulaski Yankees), and speaking of fast, check out the recently announced NASCARrelated partnership at the Motor Mile Speedway & Dragway. Life in the slow lane for me runs around 4 mph at a walk, unless I click Boaz into a trot. Then we’re neatly moving down the trail twice as fast, 8 mph or so. Transporting the horses, however, does include speed. My trusty truck loves 65 mph getting to and from the national forest trails.

Pasture Talk

It’s the posted speed limit, so, ya know, that’s what I do, mostly. I bought a gray sweatshirt many years ago at Exper-T’s on N. Main next to Food Lion in Blacksburg. I had VERMONT put on the front in large dark green letters. I love sweatshirts and buying local, so I went back. They still carry the Gildan sweatshirts ($22.95), and she produced a book with thousands of designs. I couldn’t decide, so I ordered 3 – one with two horseshoes, another with cowboy boots and a hat, and the third one will have a small mountain scene with evergreens and a sun - all small for the upper right area. The design is $10; embroidery is $9. It’s my sweatshirt headquarters. Spring is delightful always, but we can’t get stuck here. Philosopher and poet George Santayana says so: “To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” But we can love and enjoy it immensely right up to June 20!

Joanne Anderson ManagingEditor

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Fe at ure


FLY A KITE! Text by Jo Clark

“…With your feet on the ground, You’re a bird in a flight With your fist holding tight, To the string of your kite… Up through the atmosphere, Up where the air is clear Oh, let’s go—fly a kite!” David Tomlinson (song performed in Mary Poppins by Dick Van Dyke)

Serena Jacobs gets the credit for her husband Donald’s addiction. Ten years ago, while vacationing at Myrtle Beach, he found a broken kite and tried his hand at repairs. That big smile on his face told his wife: “I want my own kite!” When she spotted a kite shop, Serena encouraged him to purchase his first kite. Little did she know they would be in search of wind from that day forward. Serena serves as pit crew for Donald, storing kites in duffle bags and preparing them for lift-off. There will be more than 100 stowed in the vehicle when they attend a kite festival, giving Donald a wide selection. After all, you wouldn’t want to fly the same kite as someone else. 10


Kites are colorful, easy to fly, and just plain fun to watch. Flying kites is entertaining for children of all ages; Donald confesses most fliers are kids who never grew up. He says: “When somebody tells me, ‘Oh, go fly a kite’ – I happily say, ‘OK.’ It’s the pure joy of flying a kite—it doesn’t matter which kite is on the end of that string.” Flying kites provides a sense of freedom. It is an activity that crosses cultural, generational, societal and national divisions. Every corner of the world has a kite club. Try an Internet search to find one, no matter where you are. And your kite habit doesn’t have to break the bank. “We see people buy a $500 kite, and it flies just like the $5.99 special,” Donald confides. You can even build your own at a festival. May/June 2021

Kite “clubs” don’t have regular meetings, but they do provide a network of kite addicts who contact each other en masse—made easy in today’s climate of social media. When word goes out, “The wind is nice, let’s go fly at the park,” everyone shows up. Find a local club or festival on www.kite. org, contact the group to learn where they go, and they will help you get in the air!

Kite Competition At festivals, there are competitions of every description. Fliers are judged in type-based divisions, like two-string, four-string, inflatable or glider. Part fashion show,

part beauty pageant, kites are judged on stitching, design, material layout and colors. Then they are rated on flight— how easy the kite is to get into the sky, how well it flies, how stable it is, and how the kite looks in the air. Enthusiasts also compete by testing their flying skills. They use delicate “steering” to maneuver their kites. Think figure skating --- there are compulsory figures, like squares, circles, even stairsteps. Competitors must perform all the required elements. They are judged on how straight and sharp the figures appear and how prominently the figure is “drawn.” Then there is the freestyle event, consisting of 3.5 to 5 minutes of flying to music. Remember? Like figure skating — only warmer! May/June

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Donald Jacobs modestly admits that he took first place in Delta kite-making at a national convention in Ocean City, Md. The Delta is a triangular-shaped kite. “I do festivals for the camaraderie, not the trophies; I’m there to have fun. Trophies are something else to dust.”

Wind Toys Once hooked on flying, many people decide to make their own kites. Patterns and directions are available at Material such as ripstop, a nylon/ polyester blend, or banner material is available at most fabric stores. The most popular kite is the “traditional” diamond shape. Called the “Eddy Kite,” it is the easiest to fly. And one can be made with sticks and newspaper, without sewing, and at no cost. If the letters DIY don’t happen to be your initials, kites are available in stores and specialty shops. They can also be found from kite-makers such as Ken McNeill of Lenoir, N.C., who has spent 25 years designing and crafting highperformance kites. []. Teachers or homeschoolers can download an online course, Kites in Classrooms, from The curriculum covers weather, wind, humidity and weight — all based on grade level. Now that your kite is headed for the wild blue yonder, you might wonder how high it can go. According to Jacobs, the answer is: “How much string ya got?” You have to remember that it takes a long time to rewind it. Plus, if your line breaks and it is up as much as 100 feet, the kite could 12


travel a half-mile before crashing, perhaps becoming tangled in a tree or power line or smashing on a rooftop or in the middle of a road. Such a landing can wipe out a kite, so if you love your kite, you might consider the best string length for a great flying experience as well as a sensible recovery technique to bring it down and fly again and again. Jo Clark is a happily-retired teacher, travel writer, photographer, food and wine lover.

Kite Flying Tips • Find a local club or kite shop • Learn about how the wind blows where you will fly • Children around 5 years old can enjoy this, knowing to hold tightly onto the string and not just let it go when they are finished flying • Find an open field; secure landowner permission if appropriate • Have a helper • Don’t fly near power lines • Learn from Charlie Brown and stay away from kite- eating trees • Let out enough line to get the kite up • Have the wind hit the back of your head • Practice • And LET GO – but not of the string!!

May/June 2021


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Miles to Go

exploring Virginia's section of the Appalachian Trail


Text by Nancy S. Moseley

In order to assay the grandiosity that is the Appalachian Trail, one need look no further than the inspired words of author and novice hiker Bill Bryson ("A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail"): To my surprise, I felt a certain springy keenness. I was ready to hike. I had waited months for this day, after all, even if it had been mostly with foreboding. I wanted to see what was out there. All over America today people would be dragging themselves to work, stuck in traffic jams, wreathed in exhaust smoke. I was going for a walk in the woods. I was more than ready for this. Spanning from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine, the 2,193.1-



mile linear footpath ambles along 14 eastern states. It took more than a decade to build and was declared completed in 1937, though improvements and minor reroutes continue. In fact, this year commemorates the 100th anniversary of Benton MacKaye's article entitled "An Appalachian Trail: A Project in Regional Planning" that inspired the creation of the famed trail system. Published in the “Journal of the American Institute of Architects,” the article refers to the divides and ridges of the mountain chain as the "Appalachian skyline" and pitches the benefits that recreational development of the area could have being within a day's drive from more than half the nation's population.

May/June 2021

The woods are alive, and we visit them in a desperate attempt to feel alive ourselves.


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Photo by Michael and Diane Weidner The Commonwealth of Virginia hosts a solid quarter of the entire trail, clocking in at 555.1 miles. Here in the New River Valley, the A.T. is often, quite literally, in our backyard. Our proximity to America's longest hiking-only path in the world is not only convenient, but also feels kindred.

Southern Highlands to the New River Valley This section includes Mt. Rogers, Virginia's highest peak at 5,728 feet in elevation. Damascus is home to the annual Trail Days celebration every May. Now in its 34th year, the festival has been known to attract as many as 20,000 attendees. Continuing north, Dismal Creek Falls is a picturesque spot that sits just .3



miles off the A.T. After Angels Rest, a popular 5.6-mile summit outside of Pearisburg, the A.T. crosses the New River along a bridge on Route 460 (try to spot the hallmark white blaze trail markers painted on the bridge.). The trail then turns up to Rice Fields (5.1-mile day hike) and straddles the West Virginia/Virginia border along a ridgeline for 10 miles. In the the Mountain Lake Wilderness, the largest wilderness area in Jefferson National Forest, Wind Rock overlook is a drivable highlight, followed closely by Kelly Knob, an 8.2-mile day hike from Route 42 in Craig Country. Also just off Route 42, the Keffer Oak is a 300-year-old white oak tree and is the second largest tree on the Appalachian Trail.

Roanoke to the James River Outside of Roanoke, this section contains colossally popular Dragon's Tooth and McAfee's Knob summits, two of the local "Triple Crown" designees (Tinker Cliffs being the third). Heading north along Tinker Mountain affords views of Carvin's Cove Reservoir before crossing U.S. 220 in Daleville. In Bedford County, the trail teams up with the Blue Ridge Parkway for the first time, and the two journey together for eight miles. An offshoot from the A.T., take time to visit Apple Orchard Falls before hiking along Apple Orchard Mountain (ironically void of apple trees). Pass through "The Face" (James River Face National Wilderness Area) with a side trip to Devil's Marbleyard, a unique geographical destination featuring an 8-acre boulder field.

May/June 2021

Northern Virginia As soon as the trail crosses Interstate 64 near Afton, it begins to wind adjacent to Skyline Drive and eventually enters Shenandoah National Park. You can cross the A.T. more than 30 times in Shenandoah National Park without getting out of car. Big Meadows, the park's largest open space, is a well-known destination for stargazing. The A.T. leaves Virginia just south of Harper's Ferry. We use the trail for many things, not the least of which as a refuge from the dance of everyday drudgery. Unlike more remote trails in the West, the Appalachian Trail affords us the lure of getting lost with the safety net of civilization. The foresight of those who crossed the proverbial bridge well before us is what gave us a bridge to cross at all. Bryson eloquently states that woods, "... make you feel small and confused and vulnerable..." later adding, "...and they are alive." Perhaps this is why more than 3 million people leave the pavement behind to pass the threshold of white blazes every year. Fatigued from being big, we desire a chance to be small, to lose control, to let the trail take care of us. The woods are alive, and we visit them in a desperate attempt to feel alive ourselves. Nancy S. Moseley is a freelance writer from Blacksburg who delights in finding white blazes throughout her travels along the eastern seaboard. It's like spotting a rare bird. Or Sasquatch.


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NRV Home

Where Rustic Meets Elegant Quite Comfortably

Text by Joanne M. Anderson Photos by Kristie Lea Photography

There’s one angle to log houses that awakens a passion for nature and a sentimental feeling toward this rustic home environment and its western flair. Visions of pioneers chopping down trees, sizing logs and building their own homes are blended with the simplicity of an uncomplicated lifestyle. Then there’s the perspective of today’s contemporary log home with all the amenities, comforts and luxuries of stickbuilt houses, while still exuding the enchanting, natural warmth that only logs can deliver. This Blacksburg property gracefully melds the nostalgic longing for a natural ambiance with the desire to live with modern accoutrements. The large front porch spans the entire width of the house and offers copious options for a bistro dining set, thick chair pads on wicker and the requisite rocking chairs. There’s plenty of space for dining, relaxing and rocking. In just the past 18


18 months, the homeowner has meticulously removed dying or crowded trees, and installed some professional landscaping. The circular driveway, leading to a 3-car garage, has been smoothly paved. Curb appeal here is 10 on a scale of 1-10. Stepping inside envelops the visitor instantly in a warm aura. From the generous foyer space, one can turn right, pass a powder room and stroll into the spacious gourmet kitchen. Straight ahead, natural daylight streams through windows and the new, high quality patio doors into a spacious open living room. These Pella sliding doors flank the stone fireplace [gas], which is outfitted with the ease of remote operation. Miniblinds encased in the glass offer convenience of shading as needed without any strings or manual up-down motion. This recent update opens to a newly expanded deck facing south in a fenced yard. The property has woods behind and in front, with minimal traffic on a short, dead-end street. While only a May/June 2021

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mile from shopping, it feels like a frontier oasis. Five substantially large, log, vertical columns create interest like sentries supporting the log open balcony. A soaring, cathedral ceiling lowers to offer a more cozy feel in the adjacent dining room, which can comfortably seat a dozen or more. The kitchen is welldefined with a large breakfast or wine bar 20


on the dining room side. New slide inout shelving in a very large pantry offers convenience for seeing what’s there and retrieving it. The center island offers the gas range and oven with counter space on both sides, and there is the requisite kitchen window over double sinks. Granite counters nudge up to a log backsplash for the natural materials, while stainless steel appliances provide state-of-the-art

aesthetics and advantages. Kitchen lighting has been strategically placed with five glass pendant lights over the island, classy track lighting over the breakfast bar, and motion task lights under finely-crafted oak cabinets. There’s an appropriate 4-light strip of bulbs over the sink and a couple small double small ceiling track lights. Larger single ceiling lights near the

May/June 2021

ADVENTURE COULD BE IN your backyard...



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interior living room wall are perfect for spotlighting pieces of art. Also on the main floor is a comfy home office, which can be a nursery, personal retreat or small bedroom. The master suite is tucked off the main activity center with a very substantial walk-in closet. The master bath features a toilet closet, stand-alone soaking tub, separate shower and double vanity. The upstairs open loft is beautiful to view from downstairs and just as lovely to be on, looking down at the living room. Space at the top of the staircase, replete with wood railings and a gate at the top, can be an entertainment space, playroom, home office, reading nook or craft center. There are two large bedrooms on the second floor, each with drywall walls for color and decorative



benefits. There’s a full bathroom and an attractive array of small wood doors with brass hardware leading into various storage spaces. And there’s more. The mud room between the garage and entering the house holds the laundry facility and utility sink, hooks for jackets and plenty of room for boots. Another door in the garage leads up to an efficiency apartment - a cute, cozy, comfy space entirely separate from the main house. This is one property that can honestly deliver rustic elegance with an Americana atmosphere and a contemporary lifestyle. The grandeur of space and design offers a sophisticated home with abundant natural materials and timeless charm.

The 9th U.S. President, William Henry Harrison, ran as the “log cabin candidate” in the 1840 election, partly to shore up votes from the frontiersmen, though Harrison himself was anything but. He was born into what could have been dubbed Virginia nobility. He won by a landslide, delivered a two-hour inauguration speech on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in very cold weather, caught pneumonia and died 32 days later. The 13th and 16th U.S. Presidents, Fillmore and Lincoln, were also born in log cabins.

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Fe at ure

All the Comforts of Camping a good night under the stars can be a great night with the right gear Text by Nancy S. Moseley

Perhaps we all have that friend. That friend who enthusiastically seizes any opportunity to publicly brandish the joy of zipping into a sleeping bag to slumber under the stars. Maybe we are that friend. With the onset of spring comes the onset of camping season. We start to crack open the house with a cautious optimism, letting in warm sun and cool air. The same occurs with the stowed away bins of musty outdoor gear. When setting up house anywhere besides, well, your house, especially when sleeping on the ground is the main event, primo gear is key. Gear that will make you cherish, not chide, the hobby. There are two main types of camping: car camping and backpacking. Car camping means you are never separated from your car, which affords you more, bulkier, and perhaps gratuitous, equipment. Backpacking means you are carrying all necessary gear on your back. The most important factor with backpacking is getting the best possible items at the



lowest possible weight. Unfortunately, low weight typically equals high price, so before you start weighing gear, weigh exactly what type of camper you aspire to become.

Car Camping Hands down, if children are participants, car camping is the way to go. Kids require a lot of stuff best mobilized on four wheels. Size-up the size of your family and buy a tent accordingly. Consider adding a fake person to allow for extra storage space. Look for tents that are quick and easy to assemble (how many people does it really take?) or with pre-attached poles that pop up in seconds. Evaluate whether or not there are interior pockets, "room" dividers, or loops for hanging lanterns and Bluetooth speakers, all handy features. A rain fly is a must. If you decide most of your camping will be during warmer conditions, your sleeping bag doesn't need to withstand temperatures

below 30 degrees or save you from frost bite. Shape is a personal preference (rectangular or mummy), as is insulation (synthetic or down). Synthetic is cheaper, down is pricier but more durable. Be sure to store any sleeping bag according to package directions so it will not lose loft while hibernating for the winter. Sleeping bags that come with a stuff sack vs. being rolled up and tied will save copious amounts of patience. Sleeping pads can be inflatable, a simple egg crate, or go big and invest in a camping cot to put some distance between you and the unpredictable ground. Some brands even market a pad and bag that attach together. This is a nice feature for squirmy kids. For cooking, any propanepowered camp stove will do, but go for at least two burners. Look into cookware that stacks into itself for easier storage. As you're loading up the car, go ahead and throw in some battery- or solar-powered string lights. Who doesn't love string lights? (Note: Bugs also love string lights)

May/June 2021

Photo by Tommy Lisbin


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Backpack/Backcountry Camping Again, the name of the game with backpacking is weight. There is no magic number to target, but now it's not only about personal preference, but also physical capability. Start with your needs (backpack, sleeping bag, pad, tent, sustenance) then consider your wants (pillow, coffee supplies, camp shoes, string lights). Very generally speaking, 30 pounds is a reasonable total pack weight. When purchasing a backpack, it's worth the extra time and attention to get properly fitted for one at your local outfitter. Evaluate the packeddown size of your gear, measured 26


meticulously in ounces and inches. Your sleeping bag should utilize a compression sack and your tent should probably not accommodate more than two people. Many sleeping bags come with a pouch at the top to stuff in clothes to make a pillow. Check the weather and determine if omitting the rain fly is a gamble you're willing to take. For water, consider a filter apparatus to safely take advantage of natural sources. For food, decide if you want to pack non-perishables like beef jerky, nuts, dried fruit or tuna packets or bring on board a small canister stove system so you can boil water and rehydrate freeze-dried bag meals. Once everything is loaded

into your backpack take a warm-up lap around the neighborhood or hit the stair climber at the gym to see how it all feels. And don't forget a trusty spade for burying your business. Sleeping alfresco with the night sounds whirring and the stars twinkling is a transformative adventure everyone should experience at least once. However, if you're the type who would be just as content sleeping under glow-inthe-dark sticky stars scattered across the ceiling of your climate-controlled, memory-foamed bedroom ... that can be just a magical, too. Especially with the sounds of whirring central air.

May/June 2021



8th Annual Online Giving Day

JUNE 23, 2021

The 8th Annual Online Giving Day is June 23rd, but you can make a secure, online gift anytime between June 1st and June 23rd to help your favorite organizations win additional grant money from the Community Foundation!

Help us raise $430,000 for NRV nonprofits!

Photo by Kevin Laneselli

Meet the Artist

Gallery Open House May 29-30

Favorite NRV Car Camping Spots: Claytor Lake State Park, Dublin Gatewood Reservoir, Pulaski White Rocks Campground, Newport Foster Falls Camp, Max Meadows

Saturday 11-4 pm, Sunday 12-3 pm

Favorite NRV Backpacking Spots:

Dismal Falls to the New River along the A.T., Pearisburg Rice Fields A.T. shelter, Giles County Rock Castle Gorge Trail, Floyd Nancy S. Moseley is a freelance writer and happy camper. Having stayed in everything from rooftop tents to tent cabins, and currently operating with a four-man tent she can't put up without a curse word or two, she prefers a simple two-man tent experience. No rain fly.

Painted Spirit

216 S. Main Street, Kent Square Blacksburg, VA 24060 (540) 552-6446


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7 Decades of Local Art and Creativity

Text by Gerri Young Photos courtesy of BRAA Small art associations come and go. Struggles to survive seem to be part of the fabric as times change over the years. I joined the Blacksburg Regional Art Association (BRAA) in 2010 soon after arriving in town when it was at a bit of a low point. Today, at the age of 70, it is better than ever. In recognition of that milestone, our newsletter editor, Lois Stephens, and I spent many hours searching old files to piece together the path from its beginning in 1950. We found no files from the ‘50s, but plenty of things after that. One old document provided a timeline up to 2000. 28


The biggest surprise was how involved Virginia Tech was in the creation and life of the association. In 1949, a group of artists on staff, formed a small group for “critical discussion” of their own art. On Jan. 13, 1950, they formed a community art club for those “interested in increasing the opportunities for enjoyment of the arts in Blacksburg.” The association’s first exhibit was held in February, 1950, featuring works by Horace Day. After “formal organization,” they held a 2-day show in May the same year with sculptures by Dean Carter and paintings by May/June 2021

John Laurent. That same month, they offered a show featuring architecture students. The art department was not yet formed. Five years later, the first Blacksburg Art Festival included an exhibition, art auction, concerts, art movies, lectures and demonstrations. Our dive through history files (many handwritten) reveal that we still have members who were instrumental

in the ‘50s. Others include the late Nadine Allen, who still receives great credit for her early involvement. She is honored every two years with an award in her name in the New River Art Biennial, last held in 2019 at Virginia Tech’s Moss Center for the Arts. Wellknown artist Joni Pienkowski and her husband, Robert, of Blacksburg have belonged since the 1950s. A hand-


written piece by Pienkowski is by far my favorite find in our dive through the files. Robert Miller, owner of Miller off Main St. Galleries, still lives and works in Blacksburg, supplying framing and photography services to our members and more. Miller and Pienkowski held offices over the years and were involved in many aspects of the organization. Another long-term member is

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Frances Frederick. All members over 80 are in Club 80, earning them free membership. In 1966, BRAA became a chapter of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. Files reveal an active partnership with the museum. While much less formal now, the relationship continues with BRAA using guest speakers from the museum and their art instructors for workshops at local high schools. In 1991, the New River Art Juried Exhibition was created and now rotates among BRAA, Floyd Art Center and Fine Arts Center of the New River Valley in Pulaski. Known today in BRAA ranks as “the biennial,” this art event will be held this year in Pulaski. In 2019, the biennial was held in the Moss Arts Center, garnering what is believed to be the largest art reception attendance in the history of the show and the Moss as well. In 1998, the 501(c)3 non-profit status was established, and the following year, the group was temporarily housed in the Old Town Hall on Jackson Street. Our source brochure, written for the 50th anniversary, ends here, and our history investigation has untouched documents yet to be discovered. BRAA has survived many changes, but nothing as challenging as the covid-19 pandemic. In lieu of our preferred in-person monthly luncheons, we have been meeting in open air pavilions. Last winter pushed us online with Zoom. The artists who came before us had it good. They were full of promise for BRAA and built the foundation we are working hard to hold together. We are all pretty good at taking bits of paint, paper and ephemera and art gel and making masterpieces. We expect the BRAA masterpiece organization to survive for many more years. New member are always welcome!



Joni Pienkowski and Robert Miller, standing in front of two of Joni’s works, were involved with BRAA from the early days. Joni, a Club 80 member, has continued her membership non-stop. Robert supports the many artists of the organization and others through his gallery and frame shop. (Photo by Teri H. Hoover)

Joni Pienkowski (right) in 1976 at the exhibition entitled “Malissa of Tom’s Creek and Brush Mountain.” Joni befriended and assisted Malissa (left) through a support program called FISH and was so fascinated by her and her way of life, she made Malissa the star of her exhibition. Behind the real Malissa are three portraits of her in two paintings by Pienkowski. (Photo by Robert Miller)

The early years relied on typing, handwriting and 15-cent stamps.

May/June 2021


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Like a Freight Train . . .

In 1952, the New York Yankees won the World Series over the Brooklyn Dodgers 4-3; and on the car front, the first Corvette prototype was finished and shown the next year at the General Motors 1953 Motorama show in New York City. Just four years earlier, in 1948, the newly formed National Association 32


for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) hosted its first race at Daytona Beach. The winner, Red Byron, began racing before serving in World War II as a flight engineer on B-24 Liberator bombers. Not to be deterred by a war injury, Byron raced and won until health issues forced his retirement from the driver’s seat in 1951. He remained active helping others

in the auto racing realm. While these events were monumental in different ways, on the local New River Valley scene, a naturallyshaped, dirt, oval piece of ground on a farm in Pulaski County began hosting car races. Many a weekend evening was spent under the stars, driving, fixing, watching, cheering and enjoying the

May/June 2021

. . on Steroids Text by Joanne M. Anderson Photos courtesy of Rusty Wallace Racing Experience

sound and the scene. Fast forward to 1988, and the track is paved, has had several renovations and re-opens as a NASCAR-sanctioned race track. Just over six months ago, Motor Mile Speedway joined forces with Rusty Wallace Racing Experience [RWRE] to enhance and expand the race programs

and entertainment options, adding “& Dragway” to the name. It is now the home track for the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience. “The dragway has already hosted a couple of events, and our Pure Speed Drag Racing Experience is just getting started,” says Mark Ebert,


president of RWRE. “We are so excited to have taken over this amazing facility. With the addition of our go-karts and driving experiences, this may well be the most interactive motorsports facility in the world right here in the New River Valley.” NASCAR champion Rusty Wallace has been inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, International Motorsports Hall of Fame and Motorsports Hall of Fame of America for his stellar career. He began driving race cars in the late 1970s, making his NASCAR debut in 1980. While he has raced until a few years ago, Wallace also has enjoyed a broadcast career with ESPN and ABC. He made a cameo appearance in “Days of Thunder”, the 1990 movie starring Tom Cruise. Wallace is enthusiastic about making the oncedirt oval in the New River Valley his new base of operations. “Motor Mile Speedway & Dragway is one of the finest grassroots facilities in the nation,” Wallace believes. “The opportunity to call this amazing short track home for our more advanced programs has us primed for 2021.” David Hagan, owner of the track, is totally on board with the coming changes. “The vision offered by RWRE ensures that the venue will continue to build on its rich past and remain a leading motorsports destination for years to come.” Giles County native Sabrina Sexton has been a car fanatic all her life. The first Christmas decades ago that she and her husband, Charlie, were together, she bought tickets to Rockingham [North Carolina] for their Christmas gift. “We went, and I was hooked,” she recalls. “My first visit to Talledega Superspeedway [Alabama] was thrilling. The cars are going over 200 mph. It sounds like a freight train on steroids and feels like the wind and air are pulling you out of your seat, and

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Steve Curtiss Photography

you’re rising up.” Being a spectator at car races is not for the faint of heart. It is a heartpounding adventure for the speed, the blended aroma of popcorn and gasoline and the collective roar of vehicles minus full mufflers. The fans are as varied as fingerprints, no two alike. They cross all age, socio-economic and demographic barriers, and people-watching can be as amusing as race car-watching. The benefit of being in the stands and not the pit in the middle is that you can see all the vehicles without spinning yourself like a top. While the Motor Mile track permits one 6-pack cooler per ticket holder, half the fun is springing for the concession food and drink like hot dogs, popcorn, soda and beer, for the over 21 crowd. The Sextons have been to races all up and down the East Coast. “It develops into a passion,” Sabrina explains. “You find a driver you like, follow him or her, buy the team shirts, a ball cap and other stuff. I feel like I’m a



real part of the team when my favorite driver gets behind the wheel.” “David Hagan has brought racing to life here,” she states of the owner. “The facility is top notch, and he’s spared no expense in the suites, adding the drag strip and other upgrades. The new RWRE team with its extensive racing experience can only add to the personality, amenities and attraction.” “We can't wait for Rusty and Kenny Wallace to join us this summer. Bobby Labonte and the SMART Tour will be here in the fall,” Ebert relates enthusiastically. “The new high speed go-kart track is open weekends. Add to that the NASCAR style racing experience going wide open for groups and individuals on the oval, and it’s an exciting time.” Ebert and the entire RWRE team are courting not only regional race fans, but everyone. “Heck, we can't wait to get non-race fans in here,” Ebert concludes, “so we can show them how much fun we're having at Motor Mile Speedway & Dragway and convert them into race fans!"

RWRE is the largest racing school in the country, offering NASCARstyle driving experiences on more than 80 tracks. The North Carolina company was founded in 2005 and offers a diverse collection of driving schools. Among the comingsoon activities is the interactive opportunity for a racing fan to get behind the wheel of a NASCARstyle Late Model, rear engine dragster or a racing go-kart.

Seen on a race car trailer: Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in one pretty and well-preserved piece ... but to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, worn out, and defiantly shouting "wow, what a ride."

May/June 2021






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Baseball Comes Back Swinging

Photo by Mike Bowman Text by Emma Beaver Photos courtesy of the Pulaski River Turtles Built in 1935, Calfee Park in Pulaski is one of the oldest ballparks in the nation that is still filling the stands with fans. In its history, the park has held horse shows, fairs, other sports games and community events. The year 2020 marked another change at Calfee Park, as its longtime baseball team was rebranded as part of a restructuring of the Appalachian League. The Pulaski River Turtles (formerly the Pulaski Yankees) will bring another season of top baseball talent to Calfee Park for the 2021 summer season. The 10-team Appalachian League is now part of a joint initiative of Major League Baseball and USA Baseball. It will showcase more than 300 top college freshman and sophomore players from across the nation in wood-bat play. Under the new league, the team is no longer a minor league affiliate. 36


J.W. Martin, general manager of Calfee Park, assumed this role late last fall. He says that the new team name represents the park’s commitment to the family-friendly environment it has cultivated in the New River Valley. After taking feedback from the community, the team landed on River Turtles. The new identity was created with young fans in mind. And while the structure of the team has changed, Calfee Park will remain a staple in the New River Valley in the upcoming season packed with 27 home games. “We are not reinventing the wheel; we are continuing to move forward, building on past seasons and those successes,” Martin explains. “Whether it’s our Appalachian League program or the special events we put on this summer, fans who have enjoyed Calfee Park in seasons past can expect exactly the same thing.”

Calfee Park was built as a field for various community events under a New Deal program following the Great Depression. Because of its rich history, the park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register. While the park has been updated through the years, its original features have remained intact. A historic sprawling stone wall marks the park’s entrance. “I am focused on continuing to build on the very solid foundation of this park,” Martin continues. “We have constructed a great reputation, and we have a wonderful family-friendly atmosphere. A lot of folks come out to enjoy what we have going on at Calfee Park.” While the team’s season was canceled last year because of covid-19, Calfee Park held unique events that

May/June 2021

brought the park back to its origins as a multi-use facility. This year, Martin relates, the park plans to bring back many of the successful events it has held — some unrelated to baseball. Additionally, the park will hold youth travel team games. The calendar, which will be officially announced online this spring, is marked for approximately 50 dates at Calfee Park. Additionally, the park has added 750 more seats. “We will have more events on the calendar than we had in seasons past,” he adds. The season also will draw players, coaches and a new manager to the New River Valley for the summer. Clark Crist, manager for the River Turtles, spent years playing professional baseball and working as a Major League Baseball scout. He is bringing his insight to the Pulaski River Turtles for its inaugural season under

the restructured league and new name. The staff and roster will be released later this spring, but Crist says coaches will be stepping in from the professional ranks, and the players will continue bringing high-caliber baseball to Pulaski. He also plans to encourage coaches and players to get involved in the community during the season. “I want people to know I am absolutely excited to be here,” states Crist, an Arizona native who will spend the season in Pulaski. “I am looking forward to the challenge. I see it as an opportunity to build something, and to be a part of that is special. I want the players to realize that it’s an opportunity for the first time; let’s take advantage of that and make it the best league we can and make it enjoyable to the fans so that they want to come see us play.”


Despite the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and state restrictions, the 54-game season with potential playoffs is set to start June 5 and end August 7. It includes slightly fewer games than past years, but Martin thinks it will be a more favorable schedule for everyone. So far, the indicators including ticket sales are tracking with 2019 levels, and he feels optimistic. “It’s exciting that the Appalachian League has survived a very tumultuous 2020,” Martin declares. “We are in a position to grow in new ways, and I think once we get fans back in the stands, and our season gets underway, everyone will enjoy themselves and it will be back to baseball as usual here at the park.”

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For the Love of Pick-up Trucks

Photo by Caleb White @_caleb_white_ Text by Joanne M. Anderson Not a lot of things top the charts, statistics, moods and whims of American buyers for more than just a few months, never mind for years, yet the Ford F-150 has been the top selling pick-up truck for 43 years. The appeal includes its full size, usefulness, reliability and towing capabilities mingled with style, comfort, luxury and technology. Pickup trucks in general are kind of an American icon, like apple pie, Johnny Cash, cowboy boots and Route 66. There are not so many of them in other countries, by far, and of the top 25 vehicles sold in 2020, according to, the top three are pickup trucks: Ford F-150, followed by Chevrolet’s Silverado and the Ram pickup. Two more pickups grace the list of the top 25, and there’s one van, nine



SUVs and 10 cars. The accessories for pick-up trucks can add a lot of protection and convenience. According to pickuptrucks. com, the top 10 most popular add-ons are [in order from number 1 to 10]:          

Heavy-duty trailer hitch Satellite radio Running boards Fog lamps Custom floor mats Spray-on bedliner Custom wheels Tailgate protector iPod/MP3 connectivity Wheel splash guards

The Fleming family in Blacksburg likes the side steps, aka

running boards, on their red 2016 Ram sport. “It makes it much easier to get in and out of the truck, especially for shorter people, elderly folks and when parked on a hill,” states Kristie Fleming. “And it adds protection from rock chips being thrown up as well as protects from bushes and rocks rubbing on the finish when you find yourself off pavement.” Surprisingly, tonneau covers were not on the above list, but they are very popular to protect whatever you place into the truck bed, which, of course, has a bed liner before you put anything in it. Bed liners come in a custom fit for many models; the full bed liner goes up the sides and over the wheel wells, while a simple one only lines the floor of the truck bed. Mats are useful for just the floor part, and there are several tailgate

May/June 2021

mats as well. There are spray-on liners, too, for both the professional job and the home do-it-yourselfer. The Flemings, who also have a 2004 Ram 1500 sport, prefer the sprayon liner which not only protects the bed, but also reduces things sliding around. “The drop in bed liners can collect debris under them and corrode the paint,” explains Brett Fleming. The folks at B&K Truck Accessories in Christiansburg relate that most people seem to prefer the spray-on bed liner. They also concur with number one of the list above. They sell – and install – lots of trailer hitches, along with bed or tonneau covers. In fact, they install all the accessories they sell plus electronics installation and welding. Kristie touts the soft tonneau cover because it is easier to roll up and

take off when hauling large things. It is, however, a bit less secure. “It’s great for protecting cargo from the weather,” she relates. “I love it for travel. As a mom, I tell everyone to grab a laundry basket and all your stuff must fit in it. Then I take one extra basket for odds and ends like towels, sunscreen and supplies.” Seat covers also may not have made the top 10, but the Flemings are fans of the Bartact ones (www.bartact. com). “They provide protection with lots of storage in my Jeep,” Kristie says. “And they preserve the seats for re-sale value. The brake controller is a great safety add-on for towing our UTVs (universal terrain vehicles) and just as useful for those hauling horses, a camper, boat or tiny home. In fact, it saved us one day when our brakes failed.” There’s a testimonial that means something.


There is a combination of pick-up truck accessories for aesthetics [custom wheels and fun floor mats, for example], pleasure [upgraded sound and connection], protection [bed liners] and practicality [running boards and trailer hitches]. Locking tool boxes are invaluable for HVAC and other technicians and veterinarians who make house calls. Bed lights might be a musthave if you’re fumbling often in the dark back there. The truck fridge might not be necessary, but a tow rope, emergency kit and basic first aid supplies could be useful. Whatever you do, enjoy having a pick-up truck, with or without myriad accessories, and expect your car owner pals to enjoy having a friend with a pickup truck.

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NRV R i de s

A Smooth Purring Sunny Day Ride

Text by Karl H. Kazaks Photos by Tom Wallace One recent weekend, Donny Dunbar had his restored and modified, sunburst orange, chrome-bedecked 1965 Chevy C10 in his yard, preparing to go to a cruise-in – if the rain held off. “I like the way it rides and drives,” Dunbar states about his prize. “It doesn’t drive like a truck. It drives more like a sports car.” The truck’s easy driving quality is in part due to modifications which have been made to the shortbed classic, but even if it had been restored to factory specs, it would be a smooth ride. That’s due to the vehicle’s independent suspension – a new feature to the C10 in 1965. That factory design change 40


permitted the truck to handle more like a sedan and permitted the vehicle’s designers to opt for a more low slung body style, a look which has helped the pickup become a classic. Dunbar’s specimen is a stepside. It sports a narrower bed and fenders situated on the bed’s exterior with a platform in front of the fenders permitting access to the front of the bed. The bed itself has a wooden bottom and, as you can see on its interior walls, exposed rivets indicating where the fenders are attached to the cargo box. (photo on page 42)

The interior of the truck’s cabin is spartan but spacious, easier to enter

than preceding years’ models thanks to a wider door swing. The 1965 is also the first year the C10 had standard airconditioning (underdash). This truck has power windows as well. Dunbar lives in Pembroke, where he has worked at Celanese for three decades. He grew up in Giles County, where his WW II veteran father, Eugene, and his older brother, Duane, enjoyed working on cars with a younger Donny. Some of the cars the Dunbars worked on were classic cars before they became classics, like Eugene’s 1972 and 1975 Camaros. Donny himself restored a 1971 Camaro and worked on a 1985 Monte Carlo SS and a 1953 GMC pickup.

May/June 2021

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He bought the C10 a few years ago from a friend and co-worker with whom he had gone to scout the pickup a couple years before. Compared to the other special rides that he’s had, Dunbar jokes that what he likes best about the 1965 Chevy is “that it’s done.” Dunbar performs regular maintenance on the pickup, up to and including replacing head gaskets. But for the most part, the care is minimal, and most of the work he does is getting it ready for car shows in the warmer months. Every year he drives the pickup around 500 or 700 local miles. Much of the truck as it exists today is not original. For example, the engine is a small block Chevy (SBC) 400 – bored to performance levels at 30/1,000 of an inch – which was manufactured from 1970 to 1980. The 42


SBC was introduced in 1955 and is today widely acknowledged as one of the classic engines produced by the American automotive industry. Multiple models were made. All of them tended to be durable, and they were also interchangeable across years, in the sense that you could pull parts from one engine and use it on another even when the engines were manufactured decades apart. The SBC 400 was built as a high-torque, low-performance, weighthauling type of engine. But like other SBCs, it lends itself to aftermarket modifications, and gearheads over the years have modified the 400 to turn it into a racing engine. The 400 is equivalent to 6.6L, yet even though its displacement is

bigger than earlier versions of the SBC, its external dimensions are roughly the same, permitting it to be swapped in and out of other vehicles. The 400 was able to maintain its external dimensions but has more power by increasing the bore and increasing the crankshaft stroke. The result is a smooth purring, good sounding engine – not what you would hear from a factory original 1965 C10 engine, but a delight nonetheless. “It definitely sounds good,” Dunbar reflects. “It’s got a good tone.” And he’s not the only one to believe that – plenty of people have offered to buy the pickup from him. But Dunbar wants to keep it for himself, to enjoy while cruising around the New River Valley – on sunny days.

May/June 2021


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Around the NRV Text by Deborah Cooney

The New River Valley is richly

is a riverfront estate that resembles a

station is enchanting.

forests, country roads and beautiful

any event. The Great Road on Main in

Sharkey’s Wing and Rib Joint in

endowed with rolling hillsides, lush views. Being within a day’s drive of half of the country’s population makes our

region a natural attraction for special events.

The Andrew Johnston House/

Giles County Historical Society hosts

small events in the manor house and

larger gatherings in the Barn. Apple Ridge Farm in Copper Hill sits on 96 acres with hiking trails, Airbnb caboose stays, Virginia LOVE letters and more.

Ingles Castle , built in 1892 in Radford, 44


Scottish castle. It’s an elegant space for

downtown Christiansburg was restored

in 2017 for gatherings. The Celtic Hall boasts beautiful stained glass, and the

loft and conference spaces have been comfortably updated.

Make the most of work with






Golf Course & 19th Hole Clubhouse. Another meeting space is found at

the Pulaski Train Depot. Built in 1888 and crafted from Peak Creek granite

by Italian stone masons, the restored





Radford, offers 5,000 square feet with a full bar and DJ booth. Chantilly Farm

in the beautiful mountains of Floyd offers a grand outdoor pavilion stage,

a hilltop venue, the rustic Springside Stage and a new garden venue.

The historic Lyric Theatre in the

heart of Blacksburg is a unique venue for an indoor wedding. Couples have

married on the stage while guests relax in comfy theatre seating. Selah Springs is a hidden gem in Riner with striking

May/June 2021

views, a beautiful barn, pavilion and

Pulaski the perfect place for a charming

and operated as his dairy farm.

offers lovely, tree-shaded grounds. A

which hosts wonderful receptions. Also

is housed inside a former church.

gazebo by a pond. Historic Smithfield beautiful timber and stone pavilion with a fireplace is a wonderful covered,

open air space next to the 250-yearold colonial home.

Kairos Resort in Rich Creek

is home to multiple race and event

weekends all year. Features include yurt

lodging year-round and a reception hall for 250 including Dinner Under the Stars (coming Fall 2021).

Historic tradition with modern

style makes The Village Chapel in

ceremony. It’s near Draper Mercantile in Pulaski County is Rockwood Manor, a wedding destination for all things

old world with southern charm. From

an elegant lawn to a rustic, country barn, amenities include lodging, full breakfasts, and tables, chairs, and linens.

The Eighty Four in Floyd is a

1946 dairy barn on an 84-acre farm.

Renovations here have been especially meaningful to the owners as the barn was built by their great-grandfather


Long Way Brewing in Radford

Vaulted ceilings and original stained

glass highlight the interior. There are indoor and outdoor spaces, and craft beer is available.

The New River Valley not

only offers a nice variety of places to hold meetings, weddings, showers,

reunions, corporate functions and anniversary milestones, but also has the stellar service mindset to work with

you every step of the way to make sure everything runs smoothly.

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NRV Small ‘n Bold small businesses with bold entrepreneurs

Advertisers Index 23 3 13 17 35

Floyd Jewelry


6 610 E. Main St., Floyd, (540) 745-4653 327 E. Main St., Pulaski, (540) 994-9436


For more than two decades, this exquisite, small-town jewelry shop has specialized in worldclass diamonds, beautiful jewelry and superlative customer service. With a goldsmith on staff and an intentional low overhead to pass savings to every buyer, Floyd Jewelry has made its mark in the NRV for bridal jewelry as well as custom appraisals and repairs.

Custom lumber and landscaping supplies are the mainstay for this decades old, locally-owned business. You can find mulch in different colors, decorative landscape gravel, sand, river rock and the best air-dried firewood. Rusty and Tania O’Dell also perform logging services in the region.


4 35 39 19 41 43 23 17 6 13 27

Scoops Arcade and Ice Cream Shop 610 Snidow St., Pembroke, (540) 626-5959

Great family atmosphere, super clean, friendly staff. Ice cream parfaits in multiple flavors, banana splits, milkshakes, sundaes, homemade ice cream sandwiches, cookies, birthday and special occasion party packages. More than a dozen arcade games. They even sponsor Jamie Lafon’s #93 race car at the Motor Mile Speedway!

Eats Natural Foods 708A N. Main St., Blacksburg, (540) 552-2279

Premier natural health foods store since 1947. Organic, natural and gourmet food, cleansers, personal care products, fresh produce, herbs, spices, teas, nuts, a variety of granola (of course!), wine and beer making supplies, books. Terrific place to shop for gifts for any occasion.

43 31 2 41 41 47 29 21 23 13 13 35 31 27 35

Blue Ridge Heating and Air 925 Cambria St., Christiansburg, (540) 381-1137 The winter fiasco in Texas before our own ice encounter and loss of power in some places revived interest in generators. In reality, we can lose power any time of year for many reasons, and with it, lights, refrigeration, warmth, cooling and computer capabilities. Blue Ridge Heating and Air is a reputable dealer in Generac generators. The whole house model covers everything, and portable generators can keep the basics going, as well as help out powering tools and campers away from the house without running extensions cords. “Be Prepared” may be the official motto of the Boy Scouts, but it’s worth embracing as a homeowner motto as well. 46


5 19 48 6 23 21 8 15 31

A-1 Heating & Cooling Albimino & Stenger Beliveau Farm Bonomo's Brick House Pizza Brown Insurance Carilion Clinic CELCO Credit Union Citizens Collision Plus Corner Market DeHart Tile DogTown Roadhouse Dwight & Kelly - Nest Realty Energy Check Eyes on Main Freedom First Giles County Joba Designs Kesler Contracting Long & Foster Realty Macado's Matrix Gallery Mitchell Law Firm Nesselrod on the New Nest Realty New River Art & Fiber Next Home Northpoint Insurance NRVIP Law Original Frameworks P Buckley Moss Gallery Pearis Mercantile Professional Door Progress Street Builders Pulaski Va Tourism Shaheen Firm, P.C. Shelter Alternatives Slate Creek Builders Southview Development Summit Community Bank VA Shoreline

May/June 2021


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