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.
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: