Friday, June 25, 2010

Faces of Culpeper..... Here Comes Summer!

"Here comes summer!  School is out oh happy day!"   That is the opening line from a great oldies song sung and written by Jerry Keller.  What a differences a few months makes.  For this latest blog I went out to see who was around the town.  If you are a regular reader, you know that I commented during winter that no matter what the weather, men were outside everywhere.  The worse the weather the more men were enjoying the outdoors.   Hardley a women was in sight except at Pepperberries or Martins.   Well now it is warm (hot) and the women are out in force and a lot of  men are hunkered down somewhere near an air conditioner and a tv set.  In truth the same number of guys are probably still outside and the women have just joined us.  I like it much better this way.  Let's see who was out and about.

What is more summerish than mowing the lawn?  This is Frank Parker and he mows lots and lots of lawns in his second job.  I see him every week.  He has made my lawn shine.  Frank is long time citizen of Culpeper.  He even graduated from Culpeper County High School.

I was driving down Belle Avenue and saw this young man photographing his car from all angles.  It is an older, bright red and very sweet looking VW convertible.  I had to see what this was about.
This man's name is Brandon and he is a nuculear medicine technician.  He has taken a 1967 VW and retro fitted it with parts from 1953.  The dash board, steering wheel, seats etc are 1953.  It even has a manual choke.  If you don't know what that is, call me and I will explain.  At the same time the fenders and some other things are still 1967.  It is kind of a hybrid.  He also tricked it out with some pretty cool adaptations.  For example if you look right behind the door you will see what appears to be kind of a rectangle.  That my friends is a turn signal that pops out and blinks in the direction he is turning.   He is justifiably proud of this car.  I would have liked to have driven it around the block once just for fun.  I owned a 1959  VW and then a 1972.  I am pretty sure that drive around the block would have stirred up some serious memories. 

This is Jan Wilkerson.  She works in the Culpeper Chamber of Commerce office.  Her boss and I tried to get together for the "Leaders" blog I just posted.  He definitely is a community leader.  He and I did not hook up, but he will be posted in the future.  In the meantime I had the opportunity to meet this lady and chat with her.  I think she works for the busiest man in town.  

Some of these warm summer days just seem to call to the motorcycle people.  On a day when the downtown streets were pretty bare I found Michael and Megan.... a father/daughter team out enjoying the day.  They seemed to be having so much fun.  I caught up to them at a stoplight and asked them to pull over and talk to me.  They did it!  He works for the Office of Homeland Security.  I think they look pretty darn cool together.


I had just finished up my blog on leaders and the next day I pulled in to fill up my car with gas.  This pretty lady was in the next aisle and so of course I asked to take her picture.  She was fine with it.  Her name is Melissa Hart and it turns out that she is the Assistant Registrar for Culpeper County Voter Registration.  So here is another important government employee, but this one even looks good pumping gas!

When I was hooking up with the Culpeper County Treasurer I found two very friendly and sparkly women working in that office.  They are Theresa Settle and Ginny Settle, obviously identical twins.......or not. Actually I will have to research whether or not they are even related.   They were so cooperative that they made my day!  Thanks ladies.

I went out to Mountain Run Lake last week with my grandchildren to feed the ducks.  I was amazed at the size of the swan beautiful.  I saw this gentleman getting onto his boat and so headed over to get a shot of him.  His name is Mike Farrell (no "Mash" jokes, please) and he is a "transit mechanic" which means he works on things like buses.  Pleasant man.... right after I took his picture his hat blew into the water.  He used a fishing pole and about 10 minutes later had the hat securely on his head.  Then the Virginia Fish and Game officer came and checked his registration and his  license which were in order.  I think he was at the lake for a little respite and had some guy taking his picture, his hat hit the water, and a discussion with a police officer.  Some nice respite.

This goes beyond cool clear to waaaayyyy coool.  This gentleman is Aaron Mason and he works for Luck Stone Company.  They have a quarry just a few miles east of town on the way to Fredricksburg.  It is one of seventeen quarrys in Virginia that is owned by the company.  It is about three hundred feet deep and a mile long.  Aaron is kneeling down and brushing the dust off a dinosaur footprint!  There are over four thousand of those footprints in this quarry.  Some sections of rock have been hewn out and are displayed in the Smithsonian Institute.  I am told that this quarry has more footprints that any other area in the world!!!!!  It's right here next to the Pepper, boys and girls!  The quarry has been closed to random visitors, but groups can arrange for a tour by calling the office.

I caught Sherri Schwalm heading home to her three kids after a busy day.  She works at the Gannt Insurance Agency. 

I don't know why it is, but when I take pictures of guys fishing, their fishing poles disappear.  At least in the picture they do.  You will just have to take my word for the fact that Jamie is fishing at Mountain Run Lake Park.  In other words, it may appear that he is just sitting with just one pole instead of the two he had in the water, but he is productively engaged...well that is his story, he is fishing, you know.  It is worth the trip to this park just to see the swans.

Wild Bunch!  On Memorial Day weekend there were tons of motorcycle guys and girls in town, or at least passing through.  Many of these guys looked pretty rough and many were not citizens of the Pepper, but their faces were here even if just for a short time they were Faces of Culpeper.  These guys are  geographically diverse  but are all in one club.  Some are from as far away as South Carolina.

I realize that I did a whole blog on Yowell Meadow Park, but it still is the happening place.  My wife and I try to be there by 7 am to take our walk each day..... sometimes it works!  I don't carry my big camera gear when I am walking, but I do keep a "point and shoot" camera with me most of the time.... just in case.  Thursday morning I ran into these guys talking and laughing.  I told them I was going to call the picture, "Three men and a dog."  Catchey, huh? I don't know about you, but it does my heart good to see friends enjoying each other's company or friends and brothers in this case.  That is John on the left, Rod in the middle, and Jay on the right.  Rod and Jay are brothers.  They obviously have finished their workout. Well, maybe not Jay.

What says summer more than flowers?  I have been thinking for some time that I was going to stop at Meadow's Farm Nursery and see if I could find a good subject to shoot among the flowers.  I finally stopped and was lucky enough to find an excellent subject for that shot.  She is Shirley and she was shopping for flowers....what else?  

Sometimes I just happen upon pictures and sometimes I have to hunt and hunt.  The other day when it was about 98 degrees I went out to see who was braving this weather.  I saw almost no one, but I went to the ice cream place and here were these two good friends sharing ice cream.  Danielle is a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) and works at the Culpeper Rehabilitation Center.  Rick is a Marine Reservist and works and the North Anna Power facility.  My opinion is that they look darn good together.


That's it for this time.  If you would like to drop me a line to comment or express an opinion or to suggest blog subjects, please do.   

Monday, June 14, 2010

Faces of Culpeper ..... I'm Just Watching the Wheels Go Round and Round ...leaders

Just stealing a John Lennon song title here...."Watching the Wheels...."   Since I moved to  the Pepper I have been curious about how the local government operates and just who the people are who make "the wheels go round and round."   I set out to find who some of these people are and what kind of folks they are.  What a treat!  It started with  my son asking his law partner,  Butch Davies who would be the first person I should talk to.  He suggested Bill Yowell.  I called Mr. Yowell and got the warm reception that I got from all but one official I contacted.   He suggested that we meet the next morning at the "Raven's Nest" restaurant where he bought me a coke!  We talked for almost an hour and he filled me in on his own history especially as it related to Yowell Meadow Park and then gave me a bit of an overview of the political construct of the town.  It was so much good information!  Bill could not have been nicer.

I will not try to include all of the leaders from government or community this time.  I may have included some folks who will surprise, but to me, being fairly new to the Pepper, these leaders are a great place  to begin.

Bill Yowell

After our meeting at the "Raven's Nest" we said goodbye and then he left ahead of me.  When I hit the door he was just outside  and told me that he had two more men for me to meet.  They were the Mayor-Elect (until he takes office on July 1 and becomes Hizzhonor) Chip Coleman........ and a member of the Town Council, David  Lochridge.  We chatted for a good twenty minutes and I told them that I had fairly recently moved from Fairfax to Culpeper.  It turns out that Chip Coleman  and David Lochridge had both grown up in Alexandria and gone to high school there graduating from Hammond High School the year before the events that were memorialized in the movie, "Remember the Titans" occurred.  But here is the "small world" part of this story......  both of these guys had been high school students of my aunt, Hazel Rigby at Hammond  High School  AND they really liked her!  Circles of life are so tight  sometimes.  

Here is Chip Coleman the Mayor Elect

And member of the Town Council, David Lochridge

I walked the short distance to the train depot to introduce myself to the people in the Culpeper Chamber of Commerce office and the Culpeper Department of Tourism.  Both of these groups have recommended this blog on their Facebook sites.  I thought that was pretty cool and wanted to meet them.  What a great group I found  in Tourism....perfect for their jobs!  We all really hit it off there.  We started grinning the moment I walked in and did not stop until we parted.  Here is Beth Burns (white sweater), Director of Tourism and her staff.  From the left is Bud Worman who is a permanent volunteer, Beth, Caroline Smeltz and Lori Sorrentino.  If I am any example, these ladies know how to show a visitor a good time!

I dropped in on the Culpeper Town Clerk Kimberly Allen.  Sometimes it is not too good to surprise people by coming unannounced and then taking their picture.  Kimberly could not have been more gracious.  She told me about working in Manassas before coming to the Pepper and then made a comment that I am finding to be so true.  She said, "Here in Culpeper, everybody has a story."  That is an astute observation.  She is an interesting and thoughtful lady. 

Then it was on to the Culpeper Town Manager Jeff Muzzy.  This guy and I could be friends, seriously.  In fact I am going to call him for lunch one day.  I found that before coming here as Town Manager,  he had worked in Bosnia and Serbia.  Talk about having a story! 

The next person is the Chairman of the School Board.  Since I spent my career in school administration, I recognize how important this position is to a community.  If we don't value education for our kids then what do we value?  George and I have a couple of things in common besides an interest in the schools.  We have both gone through pretty painful surgery on one of our hands and we both have been married to our wives for forty three years!  He was very easy to talk with and has an amazing background.   I found that he moved to Culpeper years ago to live in a part of a community that included an airstrip for private planes.  Flying is a major interest of his.  I also learned that he is the former Vice President of Lockheed Martin for "Domestic Submarine Development."  I am astounded to discover the calibre of people who live here.  AND this man is willing to give so much of his time and effort for the well being of our kids. As Board Chair  he is facing large budget cuts locally while maintaining the quality of the schools.  He has an exceptionally difficult job.

I was thinking about wrapping this up with just those previosyly mentioned and holding off  on others for later.  My son told me that I really should include the Culpeper County Treasurer, David Dejarnette.  David like others invited me right in and we talked a little Tech football, SUVs and some other guy things and then got down to business.  He is one of the officials, and I have not met many, who was born right here in the Pepper.  He went to his window and pointed to the street where he was born.  He could easily walk there from his office.  He is responsible for collecting all taxes and fees.  He then makes payments on behalf of the government.  I would imagine that he has some tough days in that job, but his demeanor in no way gives that away.  

Terry Yowell is the Culpeper County Commissioner of the Revenue.  It is her job to see that property is fairly assessed.  My son had told me that she was "as nice as the day is long."  Yep!!  We had a good discussion about the ups and downs of assessment in the last few years.  She seems very sincere in her desire to see that everyone gets a fair deal.  Terry is another Pepper native who was born quite near where she works. 

That's it for now.  Next time it is back on the streets to find more folks of Culpeper. If Jimmy Buffett lived here he would no doubt call us "Pepperheads!"  That's what we call us.  :)    If you have any thoughts or comments about this blog, ideas for blogs, or anything else, be sure to share them with me at: