Tag Archives: Waynesboro

Schools out Wednesday, coldest air of season headed to Shenandoah Valley

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Augusta County. Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell.

By Lynn R. Mitchell

Augusta County and Waynesboro City public schools will be closed Wednesday due to snow and icy conditions. Staunton City public schools are on a two-hour delay.

The sun came out Tuesday and helped melt snow and ice on driveways, sidewalks, and roadways cleared by VDOT. The high temperature for the day was in the upper 20s.

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Battle of Waynesboro 150th anniversary Civil War reenactment

Shenandoah At War

By Lynn R. Mitchell

Mark your calendars for Saturday and Sunday, February 28 and March 1, 2015, from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., to experience the Civil War’s Battle of Waynesboro 150th anniversary reenactment. Battle reenactments will take place each day at 1:00 p.m.

If you’re going:

WHAT: Battle of Waynesboro 150th Anniversary Civil War Reenactment
WHERE: 1219 Rockfish Road, Augusta County, Virginia
WHEN: Saturday, February 28, and Sunday, March 1, 2015
TIME: 1:00 p.m.
DIRECTIONS: Reenactment will take place on the east side of Hugh K. Cassell Elementary School. Follow signs.
TRANSPORTATION: Fishburne Military School bus transportation from Constitution Park to “battle” site and back will be available each day, with hourly runs.
COST: Free
MORE INFO: WaynesboroHeritageFoundation.com / (540) 943-3943.

H/T Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation

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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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Augusta County’s Dennis Burnett passes away – updated with obit, memorial service

Dennis Burnett

Dennis Burnett (1964-2014)

By Lynn R. Mitchell

Dennis Burnett, the sunny, all-smiles, friendly and outgoing executive director of the Shenandoah Valley Partnership, a position he took over on September 1, 2013, and former Economic Director for Augusta County, Virginia, has passed away from a brain aneurysm. He was 49.

As news of his passing spread through the community on Tuesday, there was a shock to all who knew the gregarious man who worked at Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport in Weyers Cave before taking on the economic issues of the area.

In August he was appointed by Governor Terry McAuliffe to the Manufacturing Development Commission.

A fixture at Augusta County supervisor meetings and throughout the economic and tourism community, it’s hard to come to the realization that we will no longer see Dennis, reading glasses jauntily propped on top of his head, smiling and laughing at events in the area. What a loss.

Friends are leaving condolences and remembrances on his Facebook page. While all are poignant and touching, one written by Deona Landes Houff stood out:

At 4:30 p.m. today I realized I’d never had lunch. I had been too pre-occupied with Dennis. He was such a supporter when I published eightyone, and I know many a business person can say the same about Dennis’ help with their endeavors. What an amazing man. I have funny memories, too. Don’t we all?

When I got home from work, I headed to the basement and dug out the old eightyones. I first interviewed Dennis in 2000 for a story on the airport. Gerald Garber’s thoughts at the time: “Dennis reminds me of a wind-up toy that has a extra strong spring. It’s just a breath of fresh air to have someone that exuberant in their job. He just doesn’t give up. I think it’s easier to say yes to him than to say no.”

I also interviewed Dennis in 2005 when he left the airport for Colgan. I headlined that little story “Hot Air.” Ha! Get it? The first line was “Dennis Burnett can talk. Ask anyone who’s ever met him. Heck, ask him.”

Elsewhere in the piece, he shared these words of wisdom: “The impossible just takes a little longer.”

And here’s the last paragraph of that story:

“Does he like his new job? ‘I ab-so-lute-ly love it,’ he declares. When accused of loving everything, he cops to it. ‘I do love everything. I’d have a good time in a shoe box.’ ”

Dennis, to you tonight, I raise my a glass and eat a good supper, extra salty with tears. And worry not. I’ll have dessert. We all love you. We are better, as a community and as individuals, for having known you. Thanks, Dennis. For everything.

Our thoughts and prayers go to his family as they try to make some sense of this unexpected loss. As arrangements are announced, they will be posted here.

MORE ABOUT DENNIS in the articles Cherish sunsets, friends, and memories … ‘the moment might be gone too soon.’ and Remembering Dennis Burnett 1964-2014.

UPDATE #1: Among the dozens and dozens of comments left on Dennis’ Facebook page — all touching and remembering a man who radiated warmth and kindness, was this one from Tara Todd, photojournalist and reporter with NBC-29. Her retelling of Dennis’ anecdote about the “dash” in our lifelines really hit home for me:

I am so sad tonight… like so many of us who knew Dennis Burnett.

I got to know Dennis over years of interviews. A sharp dresser, always with a smile, boundless positive energy and for nearly a decade still offering to carry my tripod. Dennis was the kind of person that you just felt better being around.

I’ll never forget something Dennis told me. He said when you look at a headstone it always has a person’s birthdate, a dash, and then the day they died. He said the part that matters is the dash.

Dennis, your dash was entirely too short, but it was impressive!!! I will miss you!

“The part that matters is the dash.” What a reminder to make your dash count….

UPDATE #2: Valley Partnership director dies unexpectedly by Laura Peters at the News Leader.

UPDATE #3: From reporter Laura Peters: “His family has established a memorial fund with the Blue Ridge Community College Educational Foundation in his name. Burnett attended BRCC and was a member of the foundation’s board of directors. Contributions may be made to the Dennis Burnett Fund, c/o BRCC Educational Foundation, P.O. Box 80, Weyers Cave, Va., 24486.”

UPDATE #4: Political reporter Bob Stuart has a wonderful article about Dennis’ professional side in the News-Virginian (Local residents mourn loss of economic development leader) and how he brought badly-needed jobs to Augusta County. Talking with local leaders, Stuart included this from Supervisor David Karaffa:

There are stories about Burnett’s commitment to people. Beverley Manor District Supervisor David Karaffa said he first came to know Burnett when he was running for a supervisors seat in 2011.

Burnett introduced himself and “would answer my questions.” Once elected to the board Karaffa said he would bombard Burnett with questions. “I had a million questions. He would come over to my house after hours and go over something with me even if it wasn’t in my district,’’ he said.

UPDATE #5: Shenandoah Valley Partnership director dies at 49 by Sean Cudahy and Tara Todd, NBC-29.

UPDATE #6: Honored to have WHSV AM 550 use my post in their tribute of Dennis: Dennis Burnett Remembered.

UPDATE #7: Valley Economic Development Leader Dies, WHSV  TV-3

UPDATE #8: Chris Graham at Augusta Free Press has an endearing remembrance of Dennis that taps into the exuberant man whom we were lucky to have known (see Dennis Burnett: A bright light extinguished too soon): “Dennis Burnett cannot be gone. He would be a bright light on a star in the sky; he could serve as a source of energy power for a small town. People like that don’t die; they don’t even fade away.”

UPDATE #9: Staunton News Leader Editorial: Grief for a gifted man that began: “Dennis Burnett was gifted. Positive, solutions-oriented, generous and gregarious, he shared those gifts with this community in economic leadership roles that helped us survive the recession and recover.”

UPDATE #10: Obituary for Dennis….

Dennis O. Burnett

Dennis Owen Burnett, 49, of Staunton passed away unexpectedly Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, at the University of Virginia Medical Center.

Born Nov. 9, 1964 in Waynesboro, he is the son of Vernon M. Burnett and the late Mary (Mills) Burnett. On Nov. 7, 1987, he married the love of his life, Cynthia (Quick) Burnett. The two shared a blessed union of 26 years together.

Dennis was a graduate of Fort Defiance High School. Following high school, he attended Blue Ridge Community College and currently served on the Board of Directors of the BRCC Educational Foundation. He was currently serving as Executive Director of Shenandoah Valley Partnership. Being an active member of the community, Dennis was involved with the Greater Augusta United Way, Greater Augusta Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club of Staunton-Augusta, International Economic Developers Council, Virginia Economic Developers Association, Virginia Agricultural Directors Association, and the Virginia Manufacturing Development Commission.

In addition to his mother, he was preceded in death by his sister, Patsy Painter; father-in-law, Harry A. Quick III; nephew, Christopher Norene.

In addition to his loving wife and father, survivors include his sisters, Denise F. Brugler and husband, Tom, and Sandy Skillman Rooney and husband, Mike; brothers, Larry A. Skillman and Michael J. Skillman; mother-in-law, Charlotte Quick Hodge; brother-in-law, Jeremy Quick and wife, Teresa; sister-in-law, Brenda Norene and husband, Kevin; as well as a number of aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and extended family.

A private service will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, for family only at the Waynesboro Chapel of Reynolds Hamrick Funeral Homes, 618 W. Main St. A public memorial service for friends, colleagues, and the community will be at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014, at the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences/Mary Baldwin College, 100 Baldwin Boulevard, Fishersville, VA.

In lieu of flowers, those desiring may make memorial contributions to the Dennis Burnett Fund, c/o BRCC Educational Foundation, P.O. Box 80, Weyers Cave, Va., 24486 or a charity of your choice.

Relatives and friends may share condolences and memories with the family online by visiting http://www.reynoldshamrickfuneralhomes.com.

UPDATE #11: Bob Stuart, political reporter with the News-Virginian, covered the memorial service (see Hundreds remember economic development leader Burnett).

UPDATE #12: Laura Peters with the News Leader also covered the memorial service (see Hundreds mourn Burnett’s death).

 

Cross-posted at SWAC Girl

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Early autumn lunch with Barb and the wisdom of Dove chocolates

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As we enjoyed the warm autumn afternoon, my friend Barb and I caught up on all the goings-on in the area as well as life in general. We were at an outdoor table at McAlister’s Deli in Waynesboro, soaking in the warm breeze and relishing the second day of October over iced tea — sweet for her, unsweetened for me — and sandwiches.  It was a long, leisurely, much-needed catching-up, a respite in the middle of busy days and, for her, moving to Fishersville from north of Waynesboro.  I like the new abode because it’s closer to our circle of friends, not that distance has ever kept us apart.

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Vehicle fire on Afton’s I-64

By Lynn R. Mitchell

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The rollback wrecker was on fire Tuesday afternoon on the shoulder of I-64 westbound coming down Afton Mountain around Milepost 98 outside Waynesboro. Flames can be seen shooting out from under the hood and the man running up the shoulder had stopped his truck a safe distance away and had a fire extinguisher. Two men were on the shoulder uphill from the truck.

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell
September 23, 2014

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Staunton needs restaurant with a view

2By 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.

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.

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No more home newspaper delivery

Waynesboro News-VirginianBy Lynn R. Mitchell

This morning we received  another indication that print media is fading. A notice was included with our Waynesboro News-Virginian and Richmond Times-Dispatch newspapers notified that home delivery was being discontinued to our area beginning Sunday and the remainder of our subscription will, instead, be mailed.

Since our mail is delivered in the afternoon, that eliminates reading the hard copy over breakfast on the deck.

Granted I read many news reports online but there has always been a certain comfort in that hard copy in my hands.

Yet another nail in the coffin of print media.

Our carrier had talked about his aging vehicle and that he would be unable to continue once it gave out because there was really no financial incentive to continue home delivery. Last week his truck was whining as he delivered the Sunday papers. Monday began substitute carriers.

Then today came the notification, dated August 12, 2014, read:

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Festivals, Saunders Brothers, Blue Ridge Mountains … just another day in paradise

By Lynn R. Mitchell

??????????It’s summer with all the festivals and events that are available in the Shenandoah Valley and beyond so today we decided to spend the day just going where the wind took us. We plopped our straw hats on the back seat — I burst out laughing when I saw them and had to take a picture — and off we went. Our first stop was at our friends’ house near Crimora for a garage sale. After visiting a while and paying for our purchases, we headed to Waynesboro where the first day of the 2014 Extravaganza was going on.

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We were fairly early to this annual event that features spectacular fireworks, ahead of the crowds that began showing up by the time we left. Crafters, artists, games, pony rides, carnival rides, food vendors, and live entertainment … there was plenty to do. We enjoyed talking with local photographer Brent McGuirt (www.brentmcguirtphotography.com) whose stunningly beautiful work showcasing the Shenandoah Valley and beyond was on display. (Check out his Facebook page for his latest works.)

It was great to run into Bill and Jean Ann Bolling who were spending the weekend nearby in the cool of the mountains.

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Picnicking along the Blue Ridge Parkway

By Lynn R. Mitchell

Blue Ridge Parkway 1It was a good day to pop up to the Blue Ridge Parkway for a picnic lunch at Humpback Rock picnic area so that’s exactly what we did.  With a brisk breeze, the temperature in the mountains was a comfortable 82 degrees in the middle of the day, perfect to meander along the Parkway and check favorite hideouts.

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Waynesboro’s Zeus Theater breaks ground for new restaurant

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Ground has been broken at Waynesboro’s Zeus Theater for their new restaurant, a dream of owner Brett Hayes that is now becoming a reality.

I posted about this on December 31, 2013 (see Waynesboro’s Zeus Digital Theater to next build a restaurant):

Walking into Waynesboro’s Zeus Theater is like walking into a high-end movie theater in a big city, thanks to an entrepreneur who had a dream that has benefited the entire area.
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Groovin’ at the Greenway: Waynesboro Wednesday music series begins today

Waynesboro Groovin' music seriesBy Lynn R. Mitchell

Groovin’ at the Greenway music series will begin today, June 4, and continue each Wednesday in June at the Dominion Shelter located in Waynesboro’s Constitution Park. Bring a chair, spread your blanket, and enjoy free entertainment on the banks of the South River in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Groovin’ at the Greenway – 6-8:00 p.m. – Constitution Park
Food and drink vendors will be be available.

June 4 – Hound Dog (bluegrass)
June 11 – Sun-Dried Opossums (rock)
June 18 – The Findells (rock)
June 25 – Righteous Friendz (reggae)

See you at the Greenway….

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Sunday: ‘Art in Bloom’ by Children’s Art Network at Frontier Culture Museum

By Lynn R. Mitchell

Frontier Culture Museum 5

Sunday, June 1, will be an exciting event at Staunton’s Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia. “Art in Bloom” will take place beginning at 2:00 p.m. with a wide variety of almost 300 art and craft items for sale, designed and created by artists of all ages. Local schools, the Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School senior art students, and members of the community have contributed to this event.

For a sneak look at some of the items, check out their Facebook page. Cost for entry to the sale and auction is $10 per person or two for $15.

Children’s Art Network takes enriching, hands-on programs directly into elementary schools in Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County.

 

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Memorial Day: Augusta County, Staunton City public schools in session

American flags ArlingtonBy Lynn R. Mitchell

Students in Augusta County and Staunton public schools are in class today, one of the last snow makeup days after the long, rough winter of 2013-14.

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Lindsey Graham censured for not being ‘Republican enough’ … Waynesboro GOP not as successful with Boehner

Lindsey GrahamU.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has found himself under attack from some within his own party. On Monday the Charleston County Republican Committee passed a resolution, by a close vote of 39-32, to censure Graham. There was immediate reaction:

The vote was immediately criticized by Republican National Committeewoman Cindy Costa as “foolish” on the eve of an election.

“Terrible. It’s a dumb thing to do,” said Costa, who did not take part in the vote but said precedent is being set to now “censure” Republican politicians any time they stray in the slightest.

 

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