CONTACT: Jamie Smith 540-387-5250 (office) SALEM 92
TRAFFIC ALERT: DETOUR SCHEDULED FOR NORTHBOUND I-81 FOR BRIDGE REPAIRS IN BOTETOURT COUNTY
SALEM – On Wednesday, Dec. 11 and Saturday, Dec. 14, a detour will be in place on northbound Interstate 81 for repairs to the northbound bridge over Route 606 (Blue Ridge Turnpike). Traffic will exit the interstate at mile marker 156 and return to northbound I-81 at exit 162.
The detour will be in place beginning at 10 p.m. both nights and will reopen by 6 a.m. the following morning. The detour is necessary to allow the contractor to raise the bridge’s riding surface slightly to make repairs.
Northbound traffic will exit I-81 at mile marker 156 onto Route 640 (Brughs Mill Road) to northbound Route 11 (Lee Highway) and will return to northbound I-81 at exit 162. Flaggers will control traffic on the detour route.
Mary Beth Ladenheim Huwe is chairman of the Fincastle Big Spring Park committee. The spacious park has a gazebo, a walking bridge and unfortunately has lost two trees in recent years. The BSP committee has elected to use the willow tree that fell and had to be removed this fall. A community bonfire will be held on Dec. 22, snow date Dec. 29. “We want to spread awareness of the park and its multiple uses.”
The park is located on Back Street next to Fincastle Presbyterian Church and the part of the original land grant of King George II to Israel Christian in the 18th century. A spring is located at the park and one of the future plans is to open up the spring to be more visual.
Fincastle during the late 18th and 19th centuries had visitors from all over the colonies and states that followed, in search of waters from the “curative” spring.
Today, however the vision is to return the community to the park. “We may have bands, music and other events and it is sort of a natural ampitheater,” pointed out Fincastle town manager Dave Tickner. “We even have a walking pathway design from Engineering Concepts,” he said. A local Eagle Scout, Trent Smith built a tricorner kiosk for the BSP. It will include information about the park, a donor wall and a message board for residents.
Big Spring Garden Club decorated the area fencing, gazebo and walking bridge for Christmas.
The BSP committee came up with some standard plans in September and presented them to Town Council:
Park purpose: The function of the park is for passive recreation, reflection, picnicking, and as a green space. This is not a park for “play equipment,’ and modifications will keep and restore the space’s natural state.
Park plan: The overall plan the committee proposes includes repairing or removing certain decaying or deteriorating structures, opening part of the spring itself for viewing and touching, and adding habitat appropriate plantings.
The first priorities include: determining tree planting location, removing dead willow tree, choosing habitat appropriate plantings, opening the spring, working on entryway.
• Entryway: Similar in design to the Engineering Concepts plan, but with the turnstile intact if possible. The group proposes that the turnstile be decorative, with plenty of room to get around it with a stroller.
• Trees: To line edges of park, but not block visibility. Willow needs to come down.
• Spring: Open a small area into a shallow pond for visitors to be able to splash around in. Pipe over into current “drainage ditch.”
• Plantings: Add color and cheerfulness to park with wetland appropriate plantings. Group will do research.
Other plans include:
• Remove: Street light/power line if possible, move monument benches
• Fix: trim trees, gazebo steps, clean mold off gazebo, paint fence (?), wooden bench
Funding: Solicit donations of goods and capital, volunteers, fundraising events.
Members of the committe are: Emily Babish, Ed Bordett, Lynne Burton (alt), Peggy Davis, Mary Beth Huwe, Valerie Lucas.
Here is the invitation to the community for the bonfire:
Big Spring Park Bonfire Sunday, December 22, 2013 snow date Dec. 29
5:30 – 7 pm
• See plans for the park.
• Free marshmallows for roasting.
• Bake sale (proceeds to park projects.)
• All ages welcome.
Please bring a comfy chair or blanket for sitting.
For more information or to help, contact: Emily Babish, firstname.lastname@example.org (473-1731) Mary Beth Huwe, email@example.com (819-3224)
Fun-tastic Friday at the Buchanan Library in December
The Buchanan Library’s children’s program, Fun-tastic Friday will be held at 2:00 on Friday, December 13. The program is designed to give home-school families an opportunity to get together for activities, demonstrations, games, etc.
The schedule for the monthly program has been changed. Originally planned for the fourth Friday of each month, Fun-tastic Friday programs will now be held on the second Friday of each month.
The program will be a science demonstration presented by Kathy Atkins.
Over 350 children are on the list for assistance through the angel tree program at Botetourt County Social Services. ”Kroger is our biggest angel tree collection site for Botetourt County. The Bank of Botetourt, Bank of Fincastle, churches, civic groups and businesses also sponsor our angel trees in their establishments. There are still angels on the trees. We are very fortunate that Toys for Bot-E-Tots program also donates toys just for our children here,” said director of Social Services Bill Burleson.
The Social Services angel tree program is based on case enrollment and a child has to be part of an enrolled case. For a county of about 33,000 people, as of Nov. 2013, there are 1615 plus Medicaid cases, 883 SNAP and 38 TANF cases making the aid less than 2 % of the population. Cases can include multiples of people in a family.
“What you hear about Botetourt is a prosperous county is mostly true, however those in need are generally very much in need,” said Burleson. He spoke of a case where a single parent family had rented a storage unit and lived out of the unit. “The mother worked, there was no real address, we helped with housing.” Another family lived in a barn, several have lived in cars or vans.
So far the collection is going well. Angels are due back the beginning of the week of Dec. 15. The toys are given out as an addition to the wrapped and returned angel gifts and are usually two per family.
“We fill the social hall at the Church of the Transfiguration in Fincastle. Clients come in to pick up their packages and choose toys. It is a huge undertaking,” he said.
It is Marianne Baldwin’s first year in charge of the angel tree program. She and Samantha Linkenhoker met on Dec. 2 to see how things were going. They were happy that many of the angels are taken and some of the gifts have been returned already. Many of the angel tags were colored by former special ed students of Baldwin in Roanoke County.
“We could still use monetary donations to fill-in the blanks on the trees,” said Burleson. Many of those left are teens whose requests tend to be more costly. ”We also like to give a Kroger card so people can get a meal put together for the holiday. Call Social Services at 540-591-5960.
Nellie Ward who heads up the Toys for Bot-E- Tots campaign wanted to remind people there is still time to donate toys. “We are behind on toys on this year, so we can definitley use the help. Collection sites are BTEC, CAMS, LBHS, Country Cookin’ and Pizza Hut in the Exit 150 area, Dollar General in Fincastle, Fincastle, Buchanan and Eagle Rock Libraries, and North Star restuarant in Buchanan. Toys will be picked by Dec. 17th.”
Donations can be sent to Dept. of Social Services, PO Box 99, Daleville, VA 24083.
The Town of Fincastle is the county seat of Botetourt.
Fincastle town manager Dave Tickner sent this vision statement that has been up for public review since September. “People don’t realize that each of us, even if we don’t live in Fincastle, have an interest in what happens here.” Fincastle is the County seat and it also is a historic town that adds tourism dollars to the county
Town Council has been working on adopting a vision and mission statement to help set a direction for the Town, and to create a set of ideals and goals that will serve as a stabilizing framework in times of decision-making and change.
Before officially adopting the results of its work, Council is inviting public comment on the proposed vision, mission, and major goals. The purpose of this document is to explain the ideas Council is considering.
Preserving the past and embracing the future.
What that means:
• Fincastle’s unique historical character is one of its signature aspects. This is true not only in terms of the town’s architectural composition, but also with the community of people who live here.
• In order to continue to have a thriving citizenry, Fincastle needs to change without losing its identity as a historical treasure.
To preserve, enhance and promote the unique identity of the community.
What that means:
• Fincastle is interesting, different, and one-of-a-kind in our region. The mission points to taking care of that character, making improvements as necessary, and sharing our efforts with each other and the greater community.
3. The 6 Major Goals
i. Foster a friendly community
This means growing community assets and building community, both in the Town and with our surrounding neighbors. Initiatives include objectives like improving the sidewalks and creating and supporting Town events.
ii. Encourage economic vitality
This means creating an environment that small business owners want to be a part of, and attracting businesses that townspeople want to support. Initiatives include objectives like creating a building use and reuse plan, and improving Town communication with existing businesses by creating a directory and a media kit.
iii. Design for planned growth
This means taking charge of our future so that our growth is commensurate with our citizens’ needs and the Town’s ability to meet those needs. Initiatives include objectives like modifying and updating Town ordinances and promoting Springwood Road Extension.
iv. Support community-wide cooperation
This means being a vital partner in a vibrant community, and increasing our capacity to positively contribute to our region’s health and prosperity. Initiatives include objectives like working with various civic groups and the County in projects and programs, and developing working relationships with the other Botetourt towns.
v. Promote and maximize historic assets and natural resources
This means recognizing and valuing our unique position as an area rife with historical landmarks and natural beauty. Initiatives include objectives like improving Big Spring Park and creating a Lewis & Clark historic tour.
vi. Provide a high level of services and communications
This means creating and maintaining a safe and connected community. Initiatives include objectives like sidewalk repair and maintenance and continued development of private external services (phone, Internet, gas, cable) as well as improving communications with business, residents, and friends of Fincastle.
Please feel free to submit comments either by email or letter. Your name and address must be included in order for the comments to be considered.
Buchanan Mayor Larry Hall watched as John Manspile and Clarence Stinnett readied to begin the dig for the Kanawha Canal gauge lock on the town park grounds. In sight of the James River, the lock represents the heyday of 18th and 19th century trade in the Town of Buchanan. The Kanawha Canal was a brain child of George Washington. Planned to go from Richmond to the Ohio Valley, the Civil War and the expanding railroad ended the canal system. (We had a previous story.)
The gauge lock represents how goods were weighed and measured on Packet Boats and Batteaux that traversed the river from Richmond and Lynchburg bringing and taking goods—much of it iron ore from Botetourt County back down the river.
17 years ago after a flood in 1996, Terry Austin of Austin Electric had excavated the area and found part of the lock which has been filled-in for between forty and fifty years. In September, ground penetrating radar( for that story click here,) mapped out the likely whereabouts of the lock under about two feet of soil. A snow fence and stakes located where the lock may lay mostly intact. Austin said, “We loosely filled in where we excavated and you can see the sunken parts.”
“A great deal of work to get permission from the DEQ, The Marine Resources Corps of Engineers and the Army Corps of Engineers to begin the initial dig on Dec. 3rd,” said Hall. “Whether this is at river level or above will depend on having to get a further permit. Below river level would require one.”
Manspile who is a local heavy machinery operator as well as Volunteer Fire Chief, began the dig a bit after 9. He and Stinnett head of Maintenance for the town soon found something—it appeared to be part of the old elementary school. However a few more digs deeper and the crew by then comprised of Bo Finch as well as a hired archeologist Michelle Zulauf of Appalachian Archeological Resources were busy watching each scoop.
By 10 a.m. much of the back wall about a foot down and the beginnings of the eastern side were exposed. Town Improvement manager Harry Gleason armed with a broom swept away the soil from the top of the wall. Zulauf took pieces of what appeared to be old artifacts. A Mountain Dew bottle unearthed did not qualify nor did a handmade and a manufactured brick found in the soil. Town Planner Wayne Atkins examined the Mountain Dew bottle circa 1971 as he watched the dig continue. The soil from the dig will be removed to Austin’s property and gone over with a metal detector, too. Local historian Joe Obenshain popped by to watch the dig. He knows a great deal about the iron ore traffic from Buchanan to the Tredegar Ironworks in Richmond during the 19th century.
Gleason who knows a great deal about the canal said, “I believe it was about 12 feet deep and 10-15 feet wide.” A painting hanging in the Bank of Botetourt shows the gauging lock mid- 19th century on the river as does its reproduction on the information kiosk. The lay of the land is a bit different today due to fill in over the years by the Town as well as large floods.
At one time during the Kanawha Canal’s prime, a dam just east of the bridge held the river level higher than it is today.
“The Town of Buchanan hopes to use this as part of a further historic draw for tourism,” said Hall who has been enthusiastic as have Town Council and the Town Planning Commission about the gauging lock. Austin remarked, “If interest continues to grow about the Kanawha Canal from Richmond to Botetourt then legislation to support it may come.”
The Greenfield Education and Training Center in Daleville will host the Department of Motor Vehicles mobile unit on Friday, December 13 from 10am – 2pm. With the latest technology, the wireless office on wheels offers all DMV services including applying or renewing driver’s license – take road and knowledge tests; get your picture taken. You can also obtain vehicle titles, license plates, decals, and transcripts. Order disabled parking placards or plates on-site. If you have recently moved, you can stop in to update your address on your DMV record. At the same time you can update your voter registration address and organ donor status.
Please call the Greenfield Center at 540.966.3984 with any questions.
Botetourt’s wild turkeys, bear and deer depend on acorns for nourishment.BV file photo
The Acorn Crop is very light this year in Botetourt County and through out the state. Oaks are among the most common hardwood tree species in many parts of Virginia. Because of their importance both as a source of forest regeneration and as a mast crop for wildlife, each year’s acorn crop is the subject of much attention. It seems almost every year there are concerns as to why there is either an over-abundance or scarcity of acorns. This year is no different. Many reports from various parts of the Commonwealth indicate that the acorn crop this fall is very light, according to officials at the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF).VDOF Research Program Manager Jerre Creighton said, “Acorn production varies widely – from nearly zero to a quarter million or more acorns per acre. Different locations, years, species and even individual trees produce extremely different crops, and heavy ‘bumper’ crops occur only every two to seven years.”While it is impossible to pinpoint one specific cause that would explain the acorn crop for an entire region in a given year, there are many factors – such as weather, insects and disease – that collectively influence acorn development from the time of flower initiation to acorn maturity.Most flowers seem to be aborted between the time of initiation and pollination. Late spring freezes and high humidity during pollination are primary causes (we experienced both of these over much of Virginia in 2013). Later, immature acorns can be lost due to summer droughts, high temperatures or insect predation. In addition, research has shown that the inherent cycles between bumper crops and light crops may be an adaptation to allow the trees to restore their resources following a bumper crop.
Creighton said, “In other words, a large crop one year may reduce the trees’ resources resulting in lower production the following year(s). Since 2012 was a bumper crop of acorns for much of Virginia, this could be another explanation for this year’s light crop. The overall consensus seems to be that there are inherent cycles of reproduction that are modified by the impact of weather conditions in a particular location.”
Several observers have questioned whether the periodical cicadas that emerged in much of the Commonwealth this year could be a factor. According to VDOF Forest Health Program Manager Dr. Chris Asaro, that is unlikely.
“I don’t think they have anything to do with it,” Asaro said, “because the mast failure seems to be a lot more widespread across the state, including areas that saw no cicadas. Plus, cicada activity was pretty spotty even in the outbreak areas, yet mast failures still seem to be occurring just about everywhere. While I think it’s physiologically plausible that some heavily attacked trees saw lower mast yields than they otherwise might have, I don’t think it’s a complete explanation for what’s going on.”
Gary Norman of DGIF said, “Acorn production in Virginia in 2013 was low – comparable to the previous low in 2008. The white oak crop appeared to uniformly fail across the state, while some pockets (generally in eastern Virginia) of good red oak production were found. Mast production has alternated from high to low levels since 2010. The impacts of acorns on wildlife populations are extensive and complex. And they are most dramatic where there is little diversity of habitat types and few alternative food sources to acorns.”
DGIF officials are concerned about a light crop because acorns are a preferred food for many wildlife species, including white-tailed deer, black bear and wild turkey. Acorns are rich in fat, soluble carbohydrates and energy, which are important nutritional needs that contribute to the animal’s body condition, survival, harvest rates, reproduction and, eventually, population status. The roaming range of black bear and wild turkey can increase two- to four-fold in years with mast failures, and long-range gray squirrel movement can be significant as they search for acorns.
Norman said, “Oftentimes the search for food creates situations that bring wildlife closer into residential areas to find human-related food sources resulting in unwanted interactions between animals and people.”
In addition, deer may over-browse their habitats when acorns are not available, thus reducing their habitat’s carrying capacity for future deer populations. Black bear tend to den earlier when fat-rich acorns are scarce, and this tends to limit the build-up of their nutritional reserves (fat). And bear cub survival tends to decline in years with mast failures.
–submitted by VDOF Joe Boswell, Area Forester Botetourt-Craig
Pete Peters of Parks and Recreation explains the grading of the new ballfields.
Parks and Recreation Director, Pete Peters detailed the grading for the new ballfields to be built at the Botetourt Sports Complex to the Board of Supervisors on Nov. 26. The new Botetourt Sports Complex athletic fields were approved to begin in the 2014 budget.
Ten bids were received for the project. Earthmovers of Fincastle came in with the low bid at $157, 950. The two new fields will be located just south of the current complex and between the complex and Greenfield Elementary School. 69,000 cubic yards of materials will be graded to prepare a site for the future athletic fields.
The fields will be constructed in a series of steps and $160,000 was available in the 2014 CIP for the project.
Children’s Trust Roanoke Valley is seeking nominations by Dec. 1 for their annual Golden Halo Awards celebration. The Golden Halo Awards were created to recognize and honor the outstanding contributions of individuals to the cause of child abuse prevention, intervention and advocacy in the Roanoke Valley.
A nominee will have distinguished themselves in one of the following categories: Child Protective Services, Law Enforcement, Legal/Judicial, Medical Professional, Mental Health Professional, Community Volunteer, Foster Parent or Educator.
Anyone may nominate an individual for a Golden Halo Award. You may do so by visiting our website at: www.roact.org or you may contact our office directly at 540.344.3579. The winners of these awards will be chosen by a Selection Committee and the results announced in December. The Golden Halo Awards celebration will be held on April 10, 2014 at the Jefferson Center.
Children’s Trust Roanoke Valley strives to prevent child abuse and neglect and provides continuous support for children through investigation and court proceedings. We help to make kids safer and adults better parents through education.