The proposed 400 storage units on the docket of the Botetourt Planning Commission was tabled on Monday Dec. 9. The units were part of a presentation of businessmen and developers Sam Camp and Chris Moore operating as Frontier Land Co. on part of a property that citizens and the Town of Fincastle hoped will become a future bypass.
According to Fincastle Supervisor Jack Leffel who was in attendance ex officio due to the absence of Mac Scothorn, “The standing room only crowd never had a chance to speak. Wade Burkholder of Botetourt County planning staff recommended against the proposal and the two developers asked for more time as they stated they had not received the appropriate feedback from county staff.”
“It wasn’t until late last week that I saw the visual plans. The use of 400 storage units is way too intense. As of last night Sam Camp had dealt with the right of way for the proposed future bypass.” Said Dave Tickner Fincastle town manager. “We have to protect the historic nature of the town and that’s what the plans have been. This is not in the town proper, but it is close and has implications to those plans.” Tickner was among the many from the Town of Fincastle who showed up to speak at the meeting.
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, email@example.com (473-1731) Mary Beth Huwe, firstname.lastname@example.org (819-3224)
Mrs. Moock and Mrs. Williamson’s kindergarten classes at Breckinridge Elementary celebrated Thanksgiving by dressing as pilgrims and Indians and performing songs, poems and finger plays for their parents.
Jayden Alston is proud of the turkey call he made.
Will Montgomery, Reese Wells, and Joshua Allen wait their turns to perform for their parents.
A visit to the Botetourt County History Museum on Courthouse Square in Fincastle details something special for the holidays this year. A new book is for sale, a calendar featuring historic homes and a new ornament are all featured. Better yet for visitors, a new display of antique toys to delight young and old alike premiered.
An Open House for the Timeless Toy display will be on Dec. 7 from 10 a.m. til 12:30 p.m. Hot cocoa and cookies will be served. Patty king of BCHS said, “Children will get to touch some of the antique toys and it is right before the annual parade. Many of the toys were donated by Mrs. Fluke of Blue Ridge.”
The book Dear Nannie…devotedly yours Charlieby Jean Robbins and Gail McMillan is about the love letters of the Figgatt pair in the 19th century. It sells for $45 and is directly linked to this year’s HFI Christmas homes tour of Figatt related properties on Dec. 14. Calendars are $12 and the ornament is $16.
Plus there are dozens of other books about Botetourt, cards and much more on sale every day. The museum is open Monday – Saturday 10 AM-2 PM and Sundays 2-4 PM.
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.”
Cloverdale Elementary School welcomed veterans to attend an assembly on Nov. 11, 2013. Each veteran spoke briefly about themselves, highlighting his or her role in the Armed Forces. Students also celebrated Veteran’s Day by completing “basic training” drills in the gymnasium, participating in marches and cadences during music class, and listening to books about the history of Veteran’s Day in the library.
Local veterans are invited to Breckinridge on Nov. 11
Honoring Those Who Served—Breckinridge will be hosting a Veterans Day Program on Monday, Nov. 11 at 1:15 in the gym. All veterans are invited to participate in this program of singing, reading, and recognition of those who served defending our country. The program will be presented by the students and teachers of Breckinridge Elementary.
The Breckinridge Elementary annual Fall Follies will be presented Friday, Nov. 8 at 7pm in the gym. This year’s theme is “In the Jungle” and will feature acts by individual students, classes, and the teachers. All are invited for a fun night of singing, dancing, playing instruments, and lots of smiles and laughter. Dinner will be provided by Chick-fil-A and will be served from 5:45-6:45. It includes a Chick-fil-A sandwich, chips and a drink for $5. Additional sandwiches are available for $3. Proceeds from the dinner will help defray the costs of the 4th & 5th grade field trip in the spring. Come on out and enjoy the fun.
Luminaries at the National D-Day Memorial, Bedford, Va.
Every year, the National D-Day Memorial hosts a luminary display in memory of the Allied soldiers, sailors and airmen who lost their lives on D-Day. Thousands of luminaries are placed around the Memoria,l making a powerful visual statement about the thousands for whom D-Day was the last day. The tradition began in 2009 as part of the 65th anniversary of D-Day. The luminaries are purchased in honor or in memory of specific individuals by family and friends, veterans’ organizations, businesses, historical and civic organizations, and more. It’s a broad-based, grassroots effort that results in a stunning visual display and a deeply moving experience for all who participate.
On December 13-15 from 6pm to 10 p.m., thousands of luminaries will shine in recognition of D-Day’s fallen and in tribute to those who have served this nation. A Christmas wartime display with a period encampment and living history re-enactors will also be part of the event. Luminaries will line the path from the Memorial’s entrance all the way to the Memorial’s wall of names in the main plaza.
The Memorial is asking for support for the purchase of luminaries to create this powerful three-day display. Luminaries can be purchased in honor or in memory of someone who has served or who continues to serve our nation. Donations received by December 1st will be included in the printed program that is distributed to visitors during the luminary weekend. Every luminary purchased will also recognize D-Day fallen. Luminaries are $20 each or 6 for $100. All sponsors are named in the illumination program. Businesses and civic organizations are encouraged to participate. Luminaries can be purchased online at www.dday.org or by calling 800-351-DDAY. Donations can also be mailed directly to the Memorial at: National D-Day Memorial, PO Box 77, Bedford, VA 24523.
WWII veteran Willie Edward Vassar of Buchanan grew up in Botetourt County. During the Great Depression he was one of seven children orphaned during the 1930s. “We were farmed out to relatives. Some of my siblings didn’t feel like it because we were not together long.” Nor did he get to finish high school. He worked on his uncle’s Troutville farm. “I also worked on the Skyline Drive for $12 per week and $1 went to Social Security.” In December of 1942 and January 1943, he helped build the Naval Air Field in Patunxet River Air Station. He lived in Leonardtown, Maryland while he worked on the air field. Soon after he was drafted.”I could have looked for an easier way to go, but everyone I knew had been called-up. I wanted to serve, too.”
This past June on Vassar’s 91st birthday, his daughter Sandra Vassar Gray took him to visit the air station in Maryland. “It really has changed since I was there,”said Vassar. He was fortunate enough to get a tour from Capt. Heidi Fleming and Master Chief William Lloyd- Warren. The interaction was arranged by his daughter and a member of the staff. It was also the birthday of Master Chief Lloyd-Warren who came in especially to meet Vassar.
A heavy equipment operator, Vassar laid the ground work for the naval airfield. He was drafted into the US Army, though. He spent his war career in the South Pacific with the 1874th Aviation Engineer Battalion building island airfields attached to the Army Air Corps. He served in New Guinea and made the landings when the Philippines were retaken by the US Army in the fall of 1944 and into 1945. “I was on Mindanao when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We were preparing to invade Japan. I am glad that did not happen.”
He came home and married Cornelia Hite Vassar and they had three children, Steven Vassar, Sandra Vassar Gray and Gary E. Vassar. When he returned to civilian life in 1946, he drove a lumber truck for Pulaski furniture, worked at the rug mill in Glasgow and spent the rest of his employed life at Lone Star Cement in western Botetourt County from where he retired.
“Never went to a reunion, but one guy in my company did stop by once and tried to find me but I was not at home,” said the spry veteran who still drives. He and his daughter plan to attend the Veteran’s Day ceremonies at Troutville Elementary School on Nov. 11.
The ties that bind have come full circle. Nannies Market and Primitives has reopened. The late Nannie Harris first opened the little market next to her home well over 50 years ago. After a series of business owners and closures, the market at 4919 Catawba Road has her granddaughter and associated other relatives working there.
Tom, Debbie and Kendra Blevins have reopened the quaint cabin business. They are cousins. Angela Goad Italiano is Nannie’s granddaughter and a cook for the business. The food is all home cooked and just like the old timers recall it! Italiano’s mother, Nancy Harris Goad and her Uncle Johnny Harris were all on hand the first day of business on Nov. 1.
Blevins, a Lord Botetourt graduate, is excited about the potential. “We have specials everyday. We want you to know until football season ends, we will be open Friday night until 10 pm, then go back to closing at 8. On Saturday mornings during hunting season, we will open up at 6 am.
Regular fare covers breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu includes biscuits, BLT’s, sausage gravy, hot dogs, hamburgers and and much more. And yes, the famous bologna sandwich is back! Homemade desserts are also available.
Daily specials are featured during the week. All specials come with two sides like pintos, chili or fries along with macaroni and potato salads and a roll for $6.00.
Deli meats, potato and macaroni salads are also for sale to carryout. Italian and her mother Goad– stressed home made. The back of the store features primitive gifts. The Blevins also have a store in Vinton. A great place to grab a gift cloes to home for western Botetourt County.