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Get ready for the Montross Fall Festival

Believe it or not full scale planning for the annual Montross Fall Festival is well underway. Each year the festival seems to get bigger and better.  This year will be the best ever!

Reserve Friday evening October 2 as the start of the Festival and all day Saturday October 3 for the parade, music, booths, kid's zone, food and who knows what all.  Between now and then we'll be providing overall information on the Festival and details on some of the many attractions. As just one example of the size and scope of this year's Festival, we're starting off with some background and thoughts from our Grand Marshal.

GRAND MARSHALL

This year's Montross Festival will honor a true son of the Town and son of the Festival as its Grand Marshall.  Robert J. (Rob) Wittman has been selected as Grand Marshal for the 2009 Montross Festival.  Rob, who lives in Montross, is currently a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the 1st District of Virginia.  The 1st District runs almost to Northern Virginia to include Fauquier and Stafford Counties, the Northern Neck and the Middle Peninsula, King George County, a portion of Spotsylvania and Caroline Counties, and ends in the western portion of the Hampton Roads area. This District includes the cities of Fredericksburg, Aquia Harbor, Gloucester, Williamsburg, Jamestown, and most of Newport News.  In addition to being historically Virginia's "first" district it is a very large and fast growing area.
 
Although he was born in Washington, D.C., Rob grew up in Westmoreland County, worked in the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula, and worked his way up through the elected government ranks. He first served on the Montross Town Council for ten years starting in 1988, the last four years as Mayor.  From 1996 through 2005 he served on the Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors, the last two years as Chairman. In 2005, Rob was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, representing the 99th District, which, of course, includes Montross.  In December of 2007, in a special election following the untimely death of then Representative Jo Ann Davis, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.  The following year he was elected to his current full two year term.

In his spare time, Rob has also managed to obtain a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from Virginia Tech, a Masters Degree in Public Health from North Carolina University, and a Ph. D. in Public Policy and Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University.  He worked for some 20 years for the Virginia Department of Health, most recently as Field Director for the Division of Shellfish Sanitation.  He also worked on the Montross Festival Committee for some 20 years from 1986 to 2005.  Good Grief, when does the man sleep?

Rob and his wife Kathryn, a local girl and still a teacher at Cople Elementary School, have lived in Montross most of their adult lives.  He and Kathryn have a son (Josh), a daughter (Devon) and a granddaughter (Morgan).  He still commutes to his office in Washington nearly every day, leaving home around 5:15 in the morning and returning sometime after 9:00 in the evening ("I like to sleep in my own bed").  When he can't leave Washington by 10:00 at night, he just sleeps in the office.

Last week we talked with Rob in order to get his views on being Grand Marshal and more importantly on how current events in Washington will affect us here on the Northern Neck.  As a first (rhetorical?) question we asked whether we should address him as Dr. Wittman, the Honorable Robert J. Wittman, Congressman Wittman, or what?  Guess what?  We settled on "Rob".

Our first question was what does he see as his job of being Grand Marshal?  His response was to "generate interest and excitement" in the Festival.  We intend to give him that opportunity by getting his input on the various very exciting programs, entertainment, and features we have planned.  We promise that the 2009 Festival will be "interesting and exciting".

Next we asked about his first impressions of life "on the Hill".  His answer reminded us of the answer to the question "What did you think of your first year in the NFL?".  "Everything is faster and more intense." "Things move at break neck speed."  He likened it to his service in the Virginia Legislature except that it's all year long (the legislature only meets for 60 days) and the issues have a much more profound impact on individual people and the country.

Finally, we asked how current and proposed activities in Washington would likely affect us here in the Northern Neck -- good or bad?  Now we got some real animation!  Congressman Wittman  is truly concerned that the growth of government is affecting and will continue to affect our daily lives -- "not in a good way".   

Rob assures us that he will be at the Festival before, during, and after the parade; he asks that you please say hello.

Submitted by Sarah Davis

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