Politics/Government

Town beautification gets uglier

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March 26
A photo in the Dec. 13, 1962 Rappahannock News touted the “facelift” being given to the corner of Main and Middle streets, after Trinity Episcopal Church (far left) had purchased the lot and was tearing down several buildings to build a parking lot.

Efforts made two years ago to beautify the “town square” of Washington have landed the town, and its chief tourist attraction, in court. A lawsuit filed Friday also alleges that Inn at Little Washington owner and town council member Patrick O'Connell violated conflict-of-interest laws.
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Planners OK Castleton’s year-round events

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March 26

The Rappahannock County Planning Commission recommended approval last Wednesday night of two event-related permits for the Castleton Festival.
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Stickers, no. Assessors, yes.

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March 26
supervisorsSticker-5

Two quick reminders from your county government: You don't need a vehicle sticker any more, and assessors will be visiting your property soon.
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Governor orders training for ABC agents

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Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order Wednesday meant to improve the law enforcement arm of the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
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Letter: What are the town’s priorities? 

The hydrant, since painted black.

When will common sense prevail? I am writing this letter because I am simply out of options and tired of the Town of Washington’s inability to make respectable, rational decisions. Several years ago, I returned home on Piedmont Avenue to discover a garbage bag on a fire hydrant located in front of our home....
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Help for septic system maintenance

For assistance with the maintenance, repair or replacement of septic systems, Virginia and the Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District offer a grant-based cost-share program for significant portions of Rappahannock, Culpeper and Madison counties. Homeowners in the eligible watershed areas of the upper Hazel River watershed are eligible for the assistance, which includes reimbursement...
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$12.56 school budget sent to supervisors

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March 19

The Rappahannock County School Board adopted a $12.56 million 2015-2016 budget Monday night that would increase the county’s share of school-division expenses by about $94,000 — or just over 1 percent.
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On Common Ground: Tempests in Paradise

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March 19
Photo by Tom Woolman

Whether your family has been here for generations or just arrived, we all have a sense of being connected to this place. Let's stop defining what is and is not "authentic" Rappahannock, and welcome the diversity that helps define us.
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More early election notes

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March 19
Amy Hitt

One of three candidates for the Hampton district seat on the Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors has changed her mind this week, and another school board member announced her intention to seek reelection Nov. 3. Alma Viator of Harris Hollow, in a email this week, said “. . . to do the supervisor’s job...
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Town complies with FOIA request

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March 19

The lawyer and self-described watchdog who’s been pursuing a Virginia Freedom of Information Act (VFOIA) request from the town of Washington said this week the town has complied, or is in the process of complying, with all his requests.
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Letter: A pay raise for school board members?

They say public service can be a thankless job. Well, the burden should be a bit lighter for members of our Rappahannock County School Board if their proposed 2015-2016 budget is adopted. Buried in the 38-page “Working Document” unveiled Tuesday evening are increased pay and new benefits that amount to a 700-percent pay raise...
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Newly approved powdered alcohol banned in Virginia

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The federal government this week approved a powder that can turn a glass of water into an alcoholic drink, but it’s unlikely that Virginians will be enjoying instant margaritas anytime soon.
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Town will take ‘second look’ at its beautification-project actions

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March 12

Washington Mayor John Sullivan says that the town council will take a second look at the measures it adopted in 2013's town-center beautification partnership with Trinity Church and the Inn. Meanwhile lawyer David Konick is filing a petition in circuit court to force the town to release related emails.
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Letter: Paradise or purgatory?

Rappahannock — with its mountain vistas and magnificent sunsets — appears to be paradise. Unfortunately, some are trying to make it purgatory for others.
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Lee won’t seek Hampton supervisor seat

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March 5
Hampton supervisor Bryant Lee, right, and school board chair John Lesinski, Lee’s choice his successor, shake hands at the courthouse last Friday.

Longtime Hampton district representative Bryant Lee says he will not be seeking a fifth term on Rappahannock County’s board of supervisors come November, and endorses one of the three candidates who say they're running for the post.
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Supervisors simplify motor vehicle tax  

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March 5

At a relatively brief end-of-winter, pre-budget-season meeting, the supervisors agreed to the county administrator’s request that the new motor vehicle tax be applied consistently to all types of vehicles.
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Governor praises budget’s passage

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Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe is praising the Republican-controlled General Assembly for passing state budget amendments that will increase funding for education and provide pay raises for teachers, state troopers and other government employees.
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Transparency, legality of town ‘beautification’ questioned

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Feb. 26
An artist's rendering of what the new Trinity Church parking lot will look like when refinished.

Several critics of the town of Washington say the town’s council broke at least one state law in the summer of 2013 when it voted to contribute $20,000 to a effort by the Inn at Little Washington to improve the Trinity Episcopal Church parking lot.
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Editorial: Hoping for a spring thaw

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Feb. 26

A critical look at the Rappahannock News' coverage (or lack thereof) of the so-called "Inn crowd conspiracy," and a possible step toward a spring thaw.
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Up in the Hollow: ‘They Destroyed Paradise, Put Up a Parking Lot’

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Feb. 26

Let's review: The Inn got a free street and a nicer parking lot for the church, a lot the Inn uses. The church asked for and got $20,000 from the town for their parking lot, and the town apparently broke the law in the process.
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Almost all-in-one

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Feb. 26
By Roger Piantadosi/Rappahannock News

Letter: Let’s decide

The article “Virginia still deciding if women are equal” lands at the very least on the last page of the Feb 19 issue of the Rappahannock News. But it sure caught my eye. I hope it stirs more than some thought in our citizens as it has definitely stirred my heart. I hope it...
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Marijuana extracts OK’d for epilepsy treatment

By O'Dea via Wikimedia Commons

Two types of medical marijuana extracts would be legal to possess and recommend for epilepsy treatment in Virginia under legislation passed by the state Senate on Wednesday and sent to the governor for his signature.
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Virginia bans powdered alcohol

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Cocaine isn’t the only white powder on drug authorities’ radar these days. They’re also targeting Palcohol — powdered alcohol that can turn a glass of water into a mojito. The General Assembly this week gave final approval to legislation that would outlaw the possession, sale, purchase or use of powdered or crystalline alcohol in...
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Assembly blocks out-of-state access to handgun permits

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It is now up to Gov. Terry McAuliffe whether to sign into law legislation that would prohibit certain out-of-state police agencies from accessing information regarding concealed weapon permits issued by the commonwealth of Virginia.
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Governor signs law allowing Uber, Lyft to operate

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After operating under a temporary agreement for the better part of a year, ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft now have a law allowing them to transport passengers in Virginia after Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed a bill that sets licensing procedures and standards for drivers.
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Storm-free budget season ahead?

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Feb. 19

Following two consecutive years of 4-cent increases in Rappahannock County’s property tax rate, early signs point to an annual local-government budget season this spring that might offer taxpayers a break from bad news.
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Draft school budget starts by holding the line

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Feb. 19

Although school board members spent some time afterwards discussing adding more than $100,000 for athletics-related positions, superintendent Donna Matthews presented a draft 2015-2016 budget last Thursday (Feb. 12) at the high school that would increase last year’s $9.09 million county-funding tab by just $27,700.
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House kills anti-gerrymandering bill

Sen. John Watkins discusses his bill, SB 840, with (from left) Dels. Steven Landes, Buddy Fowler and Margaret Ransone. The three would shortly vote to table SB 840.

A bill aimed at taking some of the politics out of redistricting was struck down by a House subcommittee early Thursday morning.
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Clark Hollow Ramblings: What you see is what you get

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Feb. 19

Columnist Richard Brady is thankful to be able to tell stories in the Rappahannock News, and apologetic about one in particular.
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Senate passes ‘Tebow Bill’ for home-schoolers

By Peter Merholz via Wikimedia Commons

The Senate passed a bill this week that would allow home-schooled students to participate in extracurricular activities such as sports, debate and band at their local public school.
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Presidential summit

By Raymond Boc

Virginia still deciding if women are equal

An ERA parade at Virginia Commonwealth University in 1979.

In 1972, Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment and asked the states to ratify it. Forty-three years later, Virginia is still deciding whether to ratify the ERA, which would guarantee women and men equal rights.
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Conservation easement bill passes first Senate test

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The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources has approved a bill that would establish an authority to mediate between land conservation owners and easement holders.
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Dominion bill wins final passage

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The House gave final approval Thursday to a bill that freezes Dominion Virginia Power’s base rate for five years but prevents the state from forcing the company to reimburse customers if the utility company earns excessive profits.
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Castleton founders receive Outstanding Virginians award

At the governor’s mansion in Richmond Tuesday following the General Assembly’s recognition of Lorin and Dietlinde Maazel as Outstanding Virginians of 2015, are (from left): Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Dietlinde Maazel, County Administrator John McCarthy (rear), First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe and Orson Maazel.

Lorin and Dietlinde Maazel, founders of Rappahannock County’s annual Castleton Festival, were honored Tuesday (Feb. 10) by the Virginia General Assembly as the “Outstanding Virginians of 2015” at a ceremony on the floor of the State House in Richmond.
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School budget tonight — but first, some appreciation

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Feb. 12

The school board — which holds its first public hearing on its 2015-2016 budget Thursday, Feb. 12 in the high school auditorium — took a few lighthearted moments between controversy and budget-crunching at its regular monthly meeting Tuesday night to appreciate its staff (and be appreciated in return).
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New home, new gallery, familiar names on town’s agenda

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Feb. 12

The Washington Town Council took the first steps at its monthly meeting Monday night (Feb. 9) toward bringing a new weekend home and a new gallery to Gay Street.
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Letter: Virginia’s domestic violence solution: Get your own gun

Woman with smoking gun via Wikimedia Commons

According to the House Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety, victims in domestic disputes in Virginia should purchase a gun, sleep with one eye open for months, waiting for an ex to launch an attack. And if said attack ends in a shootout in front of kids, that’s okay, as long as the...
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Clark Hollow Ramblings: The responsibility of leadership

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Feb. 12
Special deer hunts at Virginia State Parks this year.

Do most county residents feel they are getting a fair shake from our county leaders? Though he's inclined to think that we are better off than most, the supervisors' recent decision to participate in the state's "Earn a Buck" program is worrying columnist Richard Brady.
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