Author Archives: Lynn R. Mitchell

George W. Bush To Attend Ed Gillespie Fundraiser

Ed Gillespie will have help on his gubernatorial campaign when a fundraiser to be held this weekend in Texas will be attended by his old boss, former President George W. Bush.

Gillespie, who was the state chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia in 2006, left to serve as the president’s top aide toward the end of the Bush administration. Gillespie also served as chairman of the Republican National Committee.

CNN reported:

“Ed will travel to Dallas this week to raise money for his campaign. He’s proud to have the support of President Bush and conservative leaders from across the commonwealth and the country,” said Abbi Sigler, a Gillespie spokeswoman. “This is a crucial campaign for Virginia Republicans, and Ed will work tirelessly to ensure we have the resources necessary to defeat Ralph Northam or Tom Perriello in November, and bring conservative leadership back to Richmond.”

The latest polls show Gillespie 25 points ahead of his nearest competitor, and ahead of both Democratic candidates in a hypothetical head-to-head contest.

Here are the numbers:

Head to Head Match ups:

  • Gillespie 40, Northam 39
  • Gillespie 39, Perriello 39
  • Northam 41, Stewart 33
  • Perriello 40, Stewart 34
  • Northam 40, Wagner 34
  • Perriello 38, Wagner 35

Among Independents:

  • Gillespie 40, Northam 30
  • Gillespie 40, Perriello 30

The Republican Primary is June 13 when Gillespie will be on the ballot with Corey Stewart and Frank Wagner. The winner will go on to compete in the general election against either Democratic Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, or former Congressman Tom Perriello.

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Blacksburg Millennials Share Tech-Savvy Talents With Non-Profit Community

Colin Lord

Saturday was a mild, early spring day in Blacksburg but inside, hunched over computer screens, a 12-hour giving-back-to-the-community design and development marathon was unfolding as more than 50 tech-savvy millennials donated their day to team up and pool their creative abilities.

The result when it ended was newly designed and updated public relations resources for 18 non-profit organizations, tools to utilize and help them promote their groups.

Welcome to the third annual “Make a Mark,” an event that brings together a wide-ranging pool of talented professionals from within the local technology community in the shadow of Virginia Tech University, known for turning out countless computer gurus. Reporter Paris Holmes at VirginiaFirst.com wrote:

54 different local web developers, illustrators, videographers, and other creatives  divided up into teams to make new websites, mobile applications, logos and other marketing materials for 18 different local non-profits.

This group of millennials, all too willing to help the world around them by sharing their biggest assets of time and talent, shows the generous side of an often-maligned generation.

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Ernesto Sampson Announces for HOD-72

Ernesto Sampson has officially announced as a candidate for the House of Delegates seat being vacated by Delegate Jimmie Massie:

Today, I’m announcing my candidacy for the House of Delegates representing the 72nd District.

Our nation was built by a band of young Virginians willing to sacrifice for a cause greater than themselves. As Virginians, this heritage inspires us to answer the call to serve. My mother, a United States Army veteran, instilled my earliest lessons in service while raising me on her own. Later, at VMI, the principles of honor, loyalty, hard work, and sacrifice formed the bedrock … on which I have built a family and career here in Henrico County.

I want my own daughters to know there is no higher calling than to serve your country and your community. For this reason, I am announcing to my friends and neighbors my intention to seek the Republican nomination for the Virginia House of Delegates.

My own life experiences have taught me that our shared conservative principles are the foundation for a strong Virginia, and especially for the least among us.

As your Delegate, my priority would bringing those principles to bear on the issues most important to our community—bringing good jobs and workforce development to our communities, making our streets safe for our families, and ensuring every Virginia child has the quality of education I would wish for my own kids.

Savon and I have been proud to call Jimmie Massie our Delegate and we wish him and his family the very best in this next chapter. It would be my honor to succeed this great public servant as your next Delegate from the 72nd District.

In the coming days, we will be hitting the streets to talk to our neighbors about the issues and to earn your vote.

Sampson has garnered the support of former 7th Congressional District Chairman Linwood Cobb who wrote, “You have my support Ernesto! Thanks for running.”

Sampson’s community involvements have included serving as a trustee at Virginia Military Institute (VMI), board member of Southside Community Development and Housing Authority, and board member of the Benedictine Society of Virginia Finance Advisory Board.

Eddie Whitlock, Henrico Republican Committee chairman, has also announced for HOD-72.

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President Loses Interest In Negotiating Trumpcare, Willing to Leave Obmacare as Law

After two months in office, Donald Trump appeared to be giving up on his vow to supporters to repeal and replace Obamacare with his Thursday night ultimatum. Congress, he said, was to pass the Republican version of health care aka Trumpcare, or he was going to move on to the next item on his to-do list.

Never mind that many feel that this process is eerily reminiscent of eight years ago when Obamacare was jammed down the throats of unwilling Americans, and Nancy Pelosi infamously said the bill had to be passed before we could know what was in it. Conservatives were livid. They marched on D.C. to protest. They showed up at town halls to express their displeasure.

It did no good. Democrats passed Obamacare because they were in control and outvoted the dissenting Republicans. That was in December 2009, eleven months after Obama took office as president. It was a stunning rebuke of the opposite party and an obviously unhappy electorate.  At mid-term Democrats paid a huge price.

Fast forward to today — Friday, March 24, 2017. Perhaps it’s fitting that today is cold with rain and sleet in the nation’s capital because the reality was an ultimatum had been issued from the White House. It was now or never on health care.  That could work either way: jump on board, or dig in heels against the bill. With a vote scheduled for this afternoon, the morning hours were spent whipping up additional votes to try and pass the legislation that has been deemed ObamacareLite by those familiar with the bill.

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On this day in 1775 … ‘Give me liberty, or give me death’

[It has been 242 years since Virginia’s own Patrick Henry issued his “Give me liberty or give me death!” speech at St. John’s Church in Richmond. Remembering that important part of Virginia and American history, I was reminded of 2007 and a special recognition presented from Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling. Originally published March 11, 2007.]

In 1775, unrest in America was growing (see background history here). When Delegate Patrick Henry stood up to speak, his words rang out in St. John’s Church but it was the closing lines that most remembered, then and today.

“Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

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Back Creek Farms pure maple syrup … Highland Maple Festival

Originally published March 2014….

If you’re looking for personality, look no further than Pat Lowry who, with his wife Valerie (in the background talking with a customer) owns Back Creek Farms Sugar House. His quick smile and friendly conversation combined with an ease around newcomers make this fourth-generation farmer a natural salesman. Each year during the Highland Maple Festival they have a tent set up on Main Street in Monterey near the Courthouse where their pure maple syrup, crafted on the farm in the southern end of the county, is sold along with maple fudge and other products.

Pat noted that this year sugar water production was down 75 percent because of the cold winter. “Some days it might not start until 4:00,” he said, referring to sap rising in the sugar maple trees, “and then stop at 6:00 when the sun goes down.” That affects not only the amounts available but also the taste. This year it is exceptionally yummy.

We’ve been purchasing their syrup from the festival for a number of years but were pleasantly surprised to see it for sale last summer in the gift shop at Monticello. The Lowrys have found a number of other outlets as well.

This year Back Creek’s syrup has a buttery-caramel taste and is thick and rich and oh so good on pancakes and anything else.

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McAuliffe Vetoes Glenn Davis Bill That Would Have Protected Taxpayers

On Monday Delegate Glenn Davis, the pro-jobs Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor, denounced Governor McAuliffe’s third consecutive veto of Davis’ bill to protect taxpayers from skyrocketing local taxes and keeping Virginia a right-to-work state.

“The Governor vetoed taxpayers once again by vetoing HB1753, which stops local governments from demanding union-level expenses from contractors. That drives up the costs of local projects and local taxpayers pay the price,” said Davis, who labor unions have always seen as a threat. In fact, labor unions have given over twice what the House Democratic Caucus has given to his liberal opponents since 2013 to try to defeat Davis, who has consistently prevailed.

“When government demands private companies pay union wages, you’re on your way to being a union state,” added Davis. “No wonder Virginia’s falling behind among the best states for business. We need to lower the cost of doing business and stop government from imposing greater costs.”

Virginia’s current Lt. Governor, Ralph Northam, also voted against this bill in the Senate in an effort to prevent its passage.

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David Rockefeller Dies at 101, Family Saved Colonial Williamsburg

David Rockefeller died Monday. He was 101 years old, the grandson of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller Sr., last survivor of John D. Rockefeller Jr’s children, the youngest of his siblings. As heir to the Standard Oil fortune, David Rockefeller was a billionaire who made his way in the world as a banker, a philanthropist, and a patron of the arts with an art collection estimated to be worth $500 million.

John D. Rockefeller’s children and grandchildren were taught that with great wealth comes great responsibility, and over the years numerous projects have been the benefactors of the family’s generosity.

The citizens of Virginia and the nation benefitted greatly from the Rockefeller family’s generous philanthropy that made possible the restoration of a forgotten and run-down Colonial Williamsburg, a premiere living-history museum that is known around the world. The family’s financial support of Williamsburg exceeded $100 million over the years, beginning in the 1920s when David Rockefeller’s father became involved in the restoration and re-creation of this national treasure.

America owes a great deal of gratitude for this influential family’s part in preserving a very important part of our history.

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First Day of Spring 2017

The first day of Spring arrived at 6:29 this morning and, in Virginia, it comes after a lackluster winter that saw little snow and wildly fluctuating temperatures with plenty of spring-like days.

This first day of spring is brought to you by the animated spring equinox Google doodle. Click here to see the latest in a line of creative entertainment from the premiere search engine — but hurry because it will only be there one day — March 20, 2017.

Spring equinox marks the time of year when day and night are equal — 12 hours each — and then days become longer until the summer equinox on June 21. This year it offers the pleasing nugget of being on a Monday. Kind of take the edge off this first day of the week, doesn’t it….? Spring flowers, spring temperatures, spring sunshine, spring cleaning.

Enjoy spring!

Photo by Mark Robbins

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Shenandoah Mountain to Sapsuckers, a Photo Trip Through Maple Syrup Country

The sun was just beginning to peek over the horizon Saturday morning when we left our house in western Augusta County on the annual trek to Highland County’s Maple Festival. The air was cold, and we had experienced a wintry mix of rain, sleet, and snow the previous night. Our destination had snow on the ground before more fell on Friday so we were hopeful there would be plenty of photo ops since the last time I had photographed the festival in snow was 2013. Road trip!

I clicked a photo of the sunrise from the road, and then we turned west onto Route 250, pointed toward the Appalachians. By the time we reached Deerfield in far western Augusta County, the ground was covered in snow and from that point on we were in snow until we returned home. The temperature was hovering just above freezing, and we still had to cross four mountains before reaching Monterey. Driving up Shenandoah Mountain, the fog set in, snow was deeper on the sides of the road, and snow plows passed going in the other direction. Mr. Mitchell, who had worked for VDOT while in high school, gave a wave to the drivers we passed. Thanks to them, we were about to make this trek on clear roads. The top of Shenandoah Mountain was socked in with fog and the historical overlook was empty — no view to be seen in all that fog.

At the bottom of Shenandoah Mountain we passed through the sleepy berg of Headwaters. The little general store, a popular stop for many over the years, is closed and for sale. Fog lifted for a bit at the lower elevation …


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Highland’s Laurel Fork Sapsuckers On Top of the World

Originally published in March 2014….
Okay, these guys get the prize for best view … and that’s saying a lot in Highland County where it’s impossible to find a bad view. Located on top of Alleghany Mountain that straddles the Virginia-West Virginia line ten miles west of Monterey, Laurel Fork Sapsuckers has the highest elevation of the seven sugar camps. How high? Try 4,400 feet. The breath-takingly spectacular scenery alone is worth the drive. They are also the newest camp. The land has been in the family for four generations but the camp has been operating since 2010 and features eighteen acres of sugar maples. This was our first visit but it won’t be our last.

Earlier in the day we had been to Duff’s Sugar House south of Monterey so when we left we took Rt. 84 from Duff’s to Rt. 600 at Back Creek and followed it north to Rt. 250, a drive we’ve done many times in the past. The pavement turns to gravel as this scenic back road climbs the ridge that parallels the Back Creek valley, and it was muddy and soft in many places but frozen over with ice in others. When we emerged onto Rt. 250, it was only a few miles further west to Laurel Fork Sapsuckers Sugar Camp. Why not, we thought … let’s go!

First thought when we turned at the very unassuming looking yard sign that said “Laurel Fork Sapsuckers:” Top of the world. Second thought: Oh my gosh, there’s so much mud. The sun was shining, snow was melting, and the parking area just off Rt. 250 was soft as we backed into a grassy-muddy spot.

A young man was standing nearby, dressed for the cooler-than-Monterey weather at that high elevation, and he walked toward us as we tried to get our bearings. Where was the sugar house? Where were the people? All I saw were a couple of parked cars, what looked to be an abandoned house, and mountains as far as the eye could see.

The young man was named Ladd and he pointed toward the road that continued up the mountain beyond the parking lot and disappeared into the snowy woods. That’s where everything was located, he told us. The road was bordered by deep snow which made it a gully that had a river of water running downhill.

“You need four-wheel drive to get up there,” he told us. Hmm … our four-wheel drive had moved away when our daughter married.

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Del. Jimmie Massie Will Not Seek Re-election in HOD-72

Facebook has certainly become the crossroads of political announcements recently, and Saturday was no exception. Republican Delegate Jimmie Massie (72 HOD)announced his decision not to run for reelection:

Representing my 72nd District constituents in the Virginia House of Delegates, for the past decade, has been the greatest honor of my professional life! I have always been immensely humbled by the trust and confidence my constituents have bestowed upon me to represent them in the oldest continually meeting legislature in the United States. Interacting with, helping, representing my constituents and all the persons I have met over the past 10 years from all walks of life has been the best part of the job.

After a tremendous amount of prayer, numerous consultations and deep thought I have decided not to seek re-election this year. This was a very tough decision!

I want to thank my constituents for their trust in me, my family for their sacrificial support of me, all the great Virginians I have met on the political and public policy trails, all the volunteers who have helped me, my wonderful colleagues in the House of Delegates (Republicans, Democrats and Independents) and the hardworking staff at the General Assembly. May God bless you all!

The news had barely begun making the rounds when a candidate announced his intention to seek the seat, again by Facebook. Attorney Edward Whitlock III, who serves as chairman of the Henrico County Republican Committee, wrote:

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Battling for the Heart and Soul of the Southern Baptist Convention

For those who have not been paying attention, there has been religious fallout following Donald Trump’s election as U.S. President.

Many have been following the saga of Dr. Russell Moore who is president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention who stood up against supporting Trump for president, but he is by no means the only person of faith who resisted Trump. Among them are pastor and author Max LucadoDr. Michael Brown, and NC pastor and blogger John Pavlovitz.

Moore’s resistance to Trump made him the subject of a Trump tweet during the campaign: “Russell Moore is truly a terrible representative of Evangelicals and all of the good they stand for. A nasty guy with no heart!”

I dare say Donald Trump never took the time to read the doctrine of the Baptist denomination but he cavalierly deemed Moore a nasty guy with no heart.

Dr. Russell Moore, 45, is a man of courage. It is difficult to stand up to the overwhelming majority, a head wind he has faced since splitting from the (as it turned out) overwhelming decision within the evangelical community to vote for Donald Trump (an estimated 81 percent of evangelicals backed Trump).

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Late Winter Snow Mixes With Spring Flowers in Shenandoah Valley

“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.” —Hal Borland

As a frigid breeze blew across my front yard Monday afternoon, I decided to take my camera and snap some pictures of our blooming plum and cherry trees because snow was moving in later in the evening. The temperature had dipped into the teens over the weekend, already causing blossoms to fall to the ground, limply piled up under the trees, but enough were left on branches to get some decent photos. Icicles were on the wind and I shivered as I reached out in the stiff breeze to steady a branch with one hand while focusing my camera with the other.


Pink and fragile-looking, these little guys are hardier than expected. The blooms in these pics had withstood the teen temps but I wasn’t sure they could withstand snow along with cold. So I clicked away, walking around the trees to try differing angles to showcase them in the best way possible.


Monday night the snow showed up right on time although we only saw about three inches instead of the 4-8 inches that had been in the forecast. However, what we got was pretty and so I returned to the trees Tuesday morning, again with camera in hand, to get pictures of soft pink blossoms covered in fluffy white snow.

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Why Are Fox News Watchers Calling For Anchor Shepard Smith’s Head?

On Monday afternoon and then again on Tuesday, Shepard Smith was right there in his anchor chair at Fox News Channel’s top-rated Shepard Smith Reporting. So much for the rumors of his demise. Over the weekend, some Fox viewers were calling for the chief news anchor’s head over at the fair and balanced network.

Smith, who is also manager of the network’s breaking news division and has been with Fox since its inception in 1996, was frustrated last week at the never-ending news of Russian connections with members of the Trump administration, and the lack of answers forthcoming from the White House.

After it was learned on Thursday that fired national security advisor Michael Flynn had just registered as a foreign agent for Turkey, Smith’s exasperation overflowed when he bluntly blurted out that there was too much smoke, too much Russia, and too much lying going on.

That was apparently more than some Fox News supporters could bear, and now they are beating the drum to see Smith dismissed, spreading fake news that he had already been removed or was about to be removed.

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