Tag Archives: Shenandoah Valley

Shenandoah Valley has lost another of the greatest generation

By Lynn R. Mitchell

A sad loss this week for Polly Campbell, long-time volunteer for the Republican Party of Virginia and secretary of RPV’s state central committee for 40 years. Her husband, Loren, passed away on Tuesday after losing his battle with pneumonia.  I have written in the past about Polly and her connection to Shenandoah National Park (see Polly Yager Campbell … growing up in the shadow of Shenandoah National ParkLunch with Polly Campbell … surprise presentation of RPV resolution, Resolution honoring Polly Campbell for 50 years with Republican Party of Virginia, Judge James Turk … ‘his one wish was to become a judge’).

Our thoughts and prayers are with Polly and her family at this sad time with gratitude to Loren for his service to our country.

December 18, 1922 – January 6, 2015

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Condolences to Statler Brother Phil Balsley on loss of wife Wilma

By Lynn R. Mitchell

It’s a sad holiday season for the Statler family of musicians and for Statler Brother Phil Balsley who lost his wife, Wilma, on Sunday, two-and-a-half years after their son Greg drowned in the Atlantic Ocean at Nags Head.

Many in the Staunton area are grieving the loss:

WILMA K. BALSLEY
SWOOPE, VA

Wilma Lee (Kincaid) Balsley, 73, wife of Philip E. Balsley of Swoope, died Sunday, December 28, 2014, in Augusta Health. She was born July 17, 1941, in Staunton, a daughter of the late William Lee and Geraldine (Woodell) Kincaid and step-mother, Myra G. Kincaid.
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Dominion, environmentalists, and pipeline hypocrisy

Joel Salatin 1By Joel Salatin
Owner, Polyface Farm
Guest Post

This is acute for people in our locality, but has broad applications for similar tensions around the country. Dominion (sounds ominous, no?) is a large energy development company in Virginia (Old Dominion) proposing to install a 42-inch high pressure gas line from West Virginia fracking fields down to North Carolina and out to Yorktown (a major seaport).

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Valley Republicans are needed to up the vote margin

By Lynn R. Mitchell

One longtime Valley Republican said the region could become pivotal in a close Warner-Gillespie race. “This will be a close election and the Valley may be important,” said Kurt Michael, the former chairman of the Augusta County Republican Committee. “If Staunton, Waynesboro and Augusta voters want to see Gillespie in there, they have to turn out.”

Michael recalls the 2005 state attorney general’s race between Republican Bob McDonnell and Democrat Creigh Deeds. “The turnout in the Valley put him (McDonnell) over,” Michael said.

Michael said divisions within the Republican Party locally may be contributing to a less effective ground game for Gillespie. “I’m not seeing the yard signs, the door knocking and I’m not seeing the literature dropped,” he said. “It’s a reflection of the party. We’re in a civil war now between the tea party and the mainstream party. They are so busy infighting they are not getting people elected.”

Political reporter Bob Stuart with the News-Virginian talked with political leaders in the central Shenandoah Valley about Tuesday’s election that has Republican Ed Gillespie and Democrat Mark Warner running for the U.S. Senate seat (see Senate race has meant for scant Valley visits). Turnout turnout turnout is the key.

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Grayson County’s first snow, autumn 2014

By Lynn R. Mitchell

Grayson County snowFirst day of November and there’s 6.5 inches of snow in Grayson County. This photo is by my cousin who lives outside Independence in southwest Virginia. It’s beautiful! In the Shenandoah Valley we’ve got overcast skies, blustery winds, and temps in the mid-40s. It’s fall in Virginia….

Photo by Linda Osborne
November 1, 2014

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Remembering Dennis Burnett 1964-2014

By Lynn R. Mitchell

???????????????????????????????Looking out over Elliott’s Knob in western Augusta County. This one’s for Dennis.

[Editor’s Note: When I left Augusta County almost two weeks ago to spend time with family in Florida, Dennis Burnett was working at his job bringing jobs to the Valley. When I returned last night, he had passed away and been buried. How quickly life can change in the span of a week. I wrote this while in Florida, reflecting about this friend to so many. See also Augusta County’s Dennis Burnett passes away and Memorial Service today for Dennis Burnett.]

“I like your pictures of the county!”

Dennis Burnett was across the room heading my way after a board of supervisors meeting at the Augusta County Government Center, trademark reading-glasses-on-top-of-head, with that wide Dennis grin on his face. I looked at him quizzically. Had he been looking at my blog?

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Autumn travel and leaf peeping in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

By Lynn R. Mitchell
Originally published in the Washington Examiner, October 4, 2010 – Updated

Blue Ridge Parkway at Humpback Rock.

Now that autumn has arrived in the Shenandoah Valley, October’s calendar is full of festivals and events for those who wish to enjoy cooler temperatures and colorful leaves. If waiting until the fall color show hits its peak, be sure to check out Virginia Tourism’s Fall Color Hotline at 1-800-424-LOVE or check the Fall Color report.

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The Great Pumpkin rises again at Cestari Pumpkin Fest

??????????By Lynn R. Mitchell

Augusta County’s famous lawyer and sheep farmer Francis Chester welcomes visitors with a broad smile to celebrate fall at the Cestari Pumpkin Fest at his family’s central Shenandoah Valley farm in Churchville that runs this weekend, October 11-12, and next weekend, October 18-19.  Spend a day outdoors in the fresh country air, enjoy the Appalachian Mountain vistas and colorful autumn leaves, and take part in fun fall activities on the farm that include:

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Apple Crisp Lite

??????????By Lynn R. Mitchell

All the Virginia apples we’ve bought the past few weeks have gone into fall recipes that are always popular at this time of year. I’ve cooked apples that we’ve eaten with meals but today I made a lighter version of apple pie’s cousin, Apple Crisp. It was good — the flavor was nice — although a bit drier than most crisps (next time I’ll add some liquid), and perhaps needs a smidge more butter to moisten the oatmeal in the topping. I also increased the amount of cinnamon. We had it with vanilla ice cream after grilling pork chops. In the cool autumn air while dining on the deck, it was a good ending to a good meal. Happy baking!

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Edinburg farm

??????????Edinburg farm just off Rt. 11 surrounded by the George Washington National Forest.

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell
September 22, 2014

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Appalachian sunset

By Lynn R. Mitchell

??????????Tonight’s sunset in my corner of the world … Buffalo Gap.

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell
September 25, 2014

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Staunton needs a restaurant with a mountain view

9By Lynn R. Mitchell

How can it be that a city like Staunton surrounded by the Blue Ridge and Appalachian Mountains doesn’t have a restaurant that looks out over those million-dollar views? I have asked that question since moving here in 1996.

In North Carolina we lived about 45 minutes from Blowing Rock, a small resort town nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains beside the Blue Ridge Mountains. It, along with other towns in the North Carolina High Country, were on top of the mountains and views were spectacular.

Afton Mountain used to have a restaurant at the Holiday Inn with huge windows that overlooked the Rockfish Valley. Years ago the franchise was lost and it turned into the Inn at Afton that is now run down along with everything else on the mountain. What a perfect location for a restaurant with a view since much of the other mountaintop land is federally owned.

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Bryce Resort in Shenandoah County, Va.

By Lynn R. Mitchell

??????????Bryce Resort continues to grow in Bayse, Virginia. On a September day, the golf course was busy with the cold of winter a distant thought.

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Augusta County’s ‘Chapstick Girl’ has gone viral, AP, Fox News calling – UPDATED: School board responds

Karaffa, GraceBy Lynn R. Mitchell

Ten-year-old Grace Karaffa’s common sense question asking why it is against Virginia’s Augusta County School Board rules to carry Chapstick to school has gone viral. Now Fox News has come calling.

Grace attended last week’s school board meeting armed with petitions that included over 200 signatures asking that they reconsider the rule prohibiting students from carrying lip balm to school. She has become the Shenandoah Valley’s “Chapstick Girl.”

I wrote earlier this week (see Grace Karaffa, 10, petitions Augusta School Board to allow Chapstick in schools):

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Massanutten Lodge … Skyland home of early 20th century renaissance woman Addie Hunter Pollock

By Lynn R. Mitchell

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Within Shenandoah National Park is a hidden gem enjoyed by many but what many don’t realize is that Skyland Resort existed before the park (see history of Skyland). Established in the late 1880s, its location on Stony Man Mountain is at the highest point of the Skyline Drive at Milepost 42.

Within Skyland Resort is this mountain summer home called “Massanutten Lodge” (see Skyland Resort … Shenandoah National Park) that was owned by Addie Hunter, a Washington, DC, divorcee who later married Skyland developer George Pollock “when she was almost 40 years old,” the lady ranger-interpreter told us. When they married, she said, he had financial issues and she was wealthy but, well, almost 40. Theirs was an interesting relationship that eventually floundered but is part of the overall history of Skyland.

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