hazel20160120

DiRosario jailed four days before Colonial Beach mayoral election

DiRosario jailed four days before Colonial Beach mayoral election

Wayne DiRosario, one of two candidates for Colonial Beach mayor in Tuesday's election, had planned t...

Colonial Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad earns VAVRS recognitions

Colonial Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad earned several individual and group awards at the annual conve...

Concerns about schools, taxes, growth highlight Beach forums

Candidates for Colonial  Beach mayor and town council participated in two separate forums held ...

Bids withdrawn for sale of Eleanor Park

The long-simmering tensions involving the sale of the Eleanor Park property in Colonial Beach has ca...

Colonial Beach’s Guadalupe Free Clinic serves area’s poor

Colonial Beach’s Guadalupe Free Clinic serves area’s poor

When the Guadalupe Free Clinic opened on the grounds of St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Colonial Be...

Outdoor showing of Mamma Mia a big hit in Colonial Beach

It was so cool.  

Cheering, clapping and singing to music of the Swedish pop band Abba while w...

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Delayed Boardwalk Arts and Crafts Festival attracts thousands

Tropical Storm Hermine blew through the Northern Neck Saturday with high wind gusts that blew away the first day of the 50th Annual Boardwalk Arts & Crafts Festival at Colonial Beach.

Organizers of the popular event cancelled Saturday's activities and added Labor Day to get in the full two-day event.  

Read more: Delayed Boardwalk Arts and Crafts Festival attracts thousands

Colonial Beach Community Center to hold summer outdoor movie nights

The Colonial Beach Community Center will host the first of a series of summer outdoor movie nights Sept. 3 at 8 p.m. The hit musical “Mama Mia” will be shown on a big outdoor screen on the grounds at 717 Marshall Ave.

Read more: Colonial Beach Community Center to hold summer outdoor movie nights

George Washington's Birthplace joins celebration of NPS 100th anniversary

President Woodrow Wilson and Congress created the National Park Service in 1916 to preserve and protect America's most beloved places. Last weekend, more than 130 current and former employees of George Washington's Birthplace National Monument Park gathered to honor the 100th anniversary of the park service's founding.

Read more: George Washington's Birthplace joins celebration of NPS 100th anniversary

Historic St. Elizabeth's has new altar and new stained glass window

A new altar and a new stained glass window were consecrated Friday by the members of St. Elizabeth's Church in Colonial Beach, one of the oldest Roman Catholic churches in the Northern Neck.

The new wooden altar with a marble top and the new stained glass window, which took two years to plan and complete, will be important symbols for those worshiping at St. Elizabeth's, which has been located along the beachfront in Colonial Beach for 110 years.

The new window features an image of Mary that was taken from a stained glass window saved from the first St. Elizabeth's church building built in 1906.

"Mary is the heart of the church," said Father Francis de Rosa, who has been guiding the St. Elizabeth's parish for almost eight years.

"We had an old altar from the 60s made of stone with a wooden top," said de Rosa. "The altar is the centerpiece of the church , it is a very important of our worship."  

In addition to the stunning image of Mary, the new stained glass window contains images of four Old Testament prophets and nine canonized popes, and honors the Holy Trinity.

"We had quite a team of all Catholic firms working on this project," de Rosa said. They included the general contractor, Trinity Builders of Colonial Beach; other firms working on the project included Rappahannock Millwork of Calio, Pugo Stone of Lorton, Eastside Glass of Colonial Beach and the Conrad Schmidt firm of Milwaukee, WI.

 By Richard Leggitt

Colonial Beach Town Council postpones sale of Eleanor Park property

The Colonial Beach Town Council agreed to postpone the sale of the Eleanor Park property pending investigation of a possible conservation easement purchase by the Virginia Outdoor Foundation.

In remarks before the council, town resident Erik Nelson asked council members to consider a preliminary proposal from the foundation to purchase a conservation easement on the 1.89-acre property for up to 80 percent of the appraised price. An appraisal performed for the council in 2014 put the value of the property at $1.2 million. The council put the property up for sale in 2014.

A representative of the foundation met with town staff, interested residents and some council members Aug. 24, the day before the council meeting. According to Town Attorney Andrea Erard, a foundation representative said at the Wednesday meeting that the foundation board would be able to consider beginning the process to purchase a conservation easement in March 2017, after which foundation staff would determine the conservation value of the property, and arrive at a sum to be paid to the town for the easement.

Council members expressed reservations about the lengthy process, and about the uncertainty of the sum that eventually could be paid to the town. In the end, however, the council voted unanimously to bring a foundation representative to meet with the council as soon as possible, preferably within the first two weeks of September.

To date, the town has received two offers to buy the property from developers seeking to build single-family homes on the plot, which is across Irving Avenue from the Potomac River waterfront. Randy Hirsch made a $900,000 offer, and Robert Matherly offered $950,000.

Five of the seven council members stood ready to vote in favor of selling the property. Council members Tommy Edwards, Burkett Lyburn, and Mike Looney, Vice Mayor Eddie Blunt and Mayor Mike Ham all said they were in favor of selling the property.

Ham summed up the arguments in favor of the sale, noting that the town’s infrastructure is badly in need of upgrades, including water lines that had been constructed of plywood decades ago. He said that the town spent $150,000 last year, and is scheduled to spend a further $150,000 this year on paving roads in Riverside Meadows. Other improvements include a new water tower to improve water pressure to homes in the town, water line replacements and sewer line improvements.

Blunt said that citizen opposition to the sale only arose after Hirsch’s initial offer, saying the property has been for sale for two years, but no citizens opposed a sale until an offer had been made.

Lyburn said his decision to support the sale was made on the basis of the greatest good for the greatest number of the town’s 3,500 residents. He said citizens opposing the sale touted the property as a valuable park, but “I’ve only seen one person walking through the park. Maybe you were sitting there when I wasn’t going by.”

Lyburn said the prospect of property taxes going to the town from homes built on the park property would be a long-term source of income for the town, in addition to the proceeds from the sale.

Council members Wayne DiRosario and Wanda Goforth spoke against selling the property. DiRosario cited his contact with many citizens of the town. “Not one person has been in favor” of the sale.

Goforth said the property is more valuable to the town as an attraction for visitors than a source of one-time cash.

Several town residents spoke against the sale. Terry Gaasterland brought the history of the parcel to the council’s attention, noting that it had originally been deeded to a trust “for the benefit and enjoyment” of town residents in the 1890s. She urged the council to “pursue the alternative” of the possible conservation easement.

Planning commission chairwoman Robin Schick noted that the commission had cited several options besides selling the parcel, including  development as a park with more amenities and a public-private partnership.

By Joel Davis

Colonial Beach resident one of nation's first female national park rangers

Colonial Beach's Pocahontas Schuck, 76, was honored last weekend to work as a volunteer at the National Park Service's Humpback Rock Visitors Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway, reprising the role she filled as a 29-year-old who was one of the nation's first female park rangers.

Schuck said she was inspired to take one last turn working for the Park Service because this year the NPS is celebrating its 100th anniversary.  

"The Park Service people are some of the greatest people on earth," Schuck said. "They don't make a lot of money, they do it for the love of people and the love of nature," Schuck said.  

A high school science teacher, Pocahontas joined the Park Service as a summer employee in the late 1960s at a time when the U.S. Department of Interior employed few woman as park service rangers.

"Our uniforms were hand-me-downs from Delta Airlines in the 1940s," Schuck said. "Later they put us in short skirts and go-go boots which were not what we wanted to wear."   

Pocahontas' first posting as a Park Service ranger was in Glacier National Park in Montana.

"I was assigned to take overnight tours on hikes to Granite Park Chalet, about seven miles," Schuck said. "I had no radio, no bear spray and no way to communicate. I asked what I was supposed to do if we ran into a bear? My superiors told me just to take it slowly so I did not surprise the bear."

"They weren't happy about having a woman as a ranger, but basically I was a naive person in those days," Schuck recalled. "I did not realize the guys didn't want me around."   

One of the first female rangers, Schuck said she faced challenges, but "times began to change when they saw how hard we worked."

"Today there are many women who are superintendents of parks," Schuck said. Her Park Service career, which was in two phases, because she took time out to raise a family, took her to seven national parks and included time working at the White House.

She also worked at George Washington's Birthplace as well as the Richmond Battlefield Park.

"I always enjoyed meeting people, answering questions and interpreting the history and the flora and fauna," Schuck said. Her Park Service career, which she fulfilled while also teaching high school in Virginia and South Carolina, included five years as a member of the Ranger Honor Guard where she carried the nation's flag in parades and ceremonies in Washington, DC.

"It was all very exciting," Schuck said.   

Richard Leggitt

Colonial Beach hosts 37th Rod Run to the Beach

Cars, cars and more cars.  

Colonial Beach hosted the 37th Annual Rod Run to the Beach last weekend. The event on Town Hill attracted large crowds of car enthusiasts to the Beach to examine, antique cars, classic cars, custom cars and hot rods from Virginia and several adjoining states.

The Colonial Beach Chamber of Commerce sponsored the two-day event, and with the help of the original Colonial Rod Club raised funds for scholarships for graduating seniors from Colonial Beach High School. Over the years, the yearly event has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to help deserving students.  

"It was a very good weekend," said Westmoreland Supervisor Larry Roberson, who lives in Colonial Beach.  "Very pretty cars. There was a beautiful 67 Mustang fastback that looked great to me. The weather was sunny Saturday, just right for a car show. Sunday, there was some rain, but it was still pretty successful."

The Rod Run to the Beach attracted registered vehicles from as far away as New York and South Carolina. Vendors were on hand on historic Town Hill to provide food and music for the event. The crowds were large and happy.

The Rod Run to the Beach was started in 1978 by Steve Young, one of the founders of the Colonial Rod Club. When Steve passed away four years ago, his brother Al Young continued to work with Steve's wife, Linda, to keep Steve's hot rod car show dream alive.

The Colonial Beach Chamber of Commerce, with the advice and guidance of Al Young, took over the sponsorship of the event this year.

"Al's wisdom and expertise are often called on and his wishes will always be followed," said Carey Geddes, president of the Colonial Beach Chamber of Commerce.

With the help of many volunteers, the Rod Run to the Beach is one of Colonial Beach's most popular summer events. Thousands show up to view the more than 130 cars on display and revive memories of their heydays.

This year vehicles from a 1904 Rambler to a wide range of classic Corvettes and Mustangs and classic cars from the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s were on display. Judges at the car show awarded trophies for the Top 15 cars, Best in Show and a Founder's Choice Award.

Richard Leggitt

Fundraising benefit held for Vickie Coffman

Photos by Richard Leggitt

Chelsea Padgett of Daytona Beach, Fla., helps arrange the dozens upon dozens of donated silent auction items at the very successful Saturday fundraising benefit for Vickie Coffman of High Tides Restaurant in Colonial Beach, who is battling brain cancer.

There was a large crowd and a beach atmosphere at the Saturday fundraiser in Colonial Beach for the Saturday benefit for Vickie Coffman. Coffman, one of the owners of the High Tides Restaurant, is in a fight against brain cancer.

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