Developer offers clarifications about Ridgley Lane
Regarding your recent article in The Fincastle Herald Wednesday, September 20 about Ridgley Lane completion, I offer the following clarifications.
The first concern expressed about Ridgley Lane being in a bad situation looming this winter is totally wrong. Ridgley Lane is a paved road and poses no problems or safety concerns, now or in the future. True, the final riding course of asphalt has not been placed. The developer has delayed placing the final course of asphalt until most of the houses were built in this subdivision. This is normal procedure because construction traffic will damage the riding course of asphalt and cause long-term maintenance problems. The developer has and will continue to perform maintenance and snow removal until the road is taken into the VDOT system. Since the developer has performed snow removal, you can be assured that the snow was and will be removed quicker than if VDOT is responsible.
To keep communications on going, with the town and the people living on Ridgley Lane, regarding final completion of Ridgley Lane and VDOT taking the road into the VDOT system, it is important you know that the developer has signed an agreement with Adams Construction to place the final paving course of asphalt. The agreement was executed on April 18, 2023. However, due to Adams Construction’s heavy paving schedule, the work has not been completed but is scheduled to be performed this fall.
In closing, the condition of Ridgley Lane is totally safe and operational. The final paving course will be placed this fall when it can be scheduled by Adams Construction. The developer has never left the town or the residents on Ridgley Lane “hanging,” as you stated in your article. When work is complete and VDOT takes Ridgley Lane into the VDOT system, and you are waiting for VDOT to plow the snow or handle some other maintenance issue, you will then question whether your push to bring Ridgley Lane into the VDOT system was made in haste.
Moore Investment Corporation
Thanks for BPA’s music show
Wow! What and outstanding music program put on September 23 (at Attic Productions Theatre) by the Botetourt Preservation Alliance. Our thanks to Richard Flora, Bo Trumbo, Robin Reed and all those who helped to make this event so enjoyable.
Scott & Susan Critzer
A tribute to Frances Stebbins
On September 30, I went to Frances Stebbins’ funeral. It was a pretty good turnout for someone who was 94. Often when we reach that age, everyone we knew well has gone, but Frances obviously was able to maintain connections with people of different ages all the way to the end of her life.
I met Frances when we both worked for The Roanoke Times. She was a reporter and the religion columnist from 1953 to 1997, and I am a freelancer. Frances went on to work for this newspaper and for the Salem Times-Register.
I looked around the sanctuary for our old colleagues, but didn’t see too many. I had to remind myself – as I always do when I attend services for former newspaper employees, which happens rather often these days – that she left a quarter-century ago, and a generation of reporters and editors have come and gone in that time. Most of her contemporaries are either gone themselves, or perhaps were unable to attend.
My most enduring memory of Frances took place in the mid-’80s, when The Roanoke Times had just upgraded to computers that used a mouse. Frances tried hard, but she just couldn’t get the hang of rolling the mouse across the pad. So she picked up the pad and slid it against the bottom of the mouse instead.
At the time, I was still young and I felt very clever and very superior. I told myself that Frances was a nice but silly old lady who simply would never get it. Now that I’m a (hopefully) nice but silly old lady myself, I understand that Frances was actually being resourceful. Instead of walking out in frustration and refusing to learn something new, she figured out a way to make it work for her. And yes, at the end, she did learn to use a computer just fine.
She also understood the power of the handwritten note. I got one from her about two years ago, after I’d written a Cornershot about the illness of my aging cat. She commiserated with me and sent me one of her own clippings from a column she had written in The Herald about her cats. It and the note dispelled any worries I might have had about her retaining her faculties.
In fact, Frances wrote her own eulogy – an admirable undertaking, since most of us lack the perspective to sum up our own lives. But I guess by the time you reach your 10th decade, nobody knows you better than you do. And it made me smile.
Toward the end of the service, they tolled the bell for every year of her life. It was a solemn few moments as between clangs, the bell rocked twice in its yoke, seeming to count out the years with each thump. I found myself wondering if, when you help lay to rest someone from your past, are you also laying to rest that part of your own life?
Frances’ death wasn’t unexpected, and no one could say hers hadn’t been a life well-lived. But there were still some tears among the congregation. Even when your death is timely, you’re never too old to be missed by those who treasured you.
Thanks to all for a successful Fincastle Festival
On behalf of Historic Fincastle, Inc., we wish to thank the many intrepid individuals, businesses, and organizations from throughout the area that contributed to help make our soggy Historic Fincastle Festival a surprising success for those who participated. Our wonderful “Presenting Sponsor,” First Bank, along with their advertising and monetary support, had a booth in support of the day. Our other main sponsor, Jay Kilby and ReMax, had a booth where festival visitors could memorialize this soggy day by having a picture taken noting they were at the festival!
First and foremost, we thank the visitors and hardy vendors who still came to Fincastle for the festival. A special thanks is also extended to the townspeople who helped clear the streets of vehicles and who embraced the festival and visitors coming into our historic town for that one day – many of who donned their rain gear and joined in the day!
A festival, known for its artists, crafters, food, and special offerings, was again blessed by the crafters who came despite the weather. They offered beautiful artwork, varied and wonderful woodcrafts, lovely clothes and items for our younger population, locally grown flowers in amazing colors and varieties, an array of beautiful jewelry, special items to assist any cooks in the crowd, and such an assortment of creative items for almost every need.
Food choices, though smaller than in past years, still offered a nice variety. Seafood from Ferguson Family Provisions, hot dogs from Teen Challenge, and many options from the Fincastle Cafe provided main items to eat. However, visitors could also get delicious breads from Nona, amazing cookies from GiGi’s Walking Cookies, homemade cakes and pies from Abbey Fedor and her fellow chefs, and popcorn from the Cub Scouts! So again, no one should have gone home hungry!
Special venues this year allowed our visitors the chance to “come in from the rain” as something was happening at various points along the festival’s modified layout. At the Episcopal Church as many folks arrived up Roanoke Street, visitors were treated to the amazing musicians who are students of Mike Lee; at the Wysong Blacksmith Shop, blacksmith Dewey Baker demonstrated the art of smithing to old and young alike, and “History Talks” were conducted in the classroom at the shop as well.
Among the history shared, Tommy Moore again “became” the first Clerk of the Court when Botetourt was founded, and he shared fascinating tidbits of history from 1770. After lunch, a group of locals from town gathered in the classroom and shared their memories of growing up in Fincastle during the 1940s-1960’s…given some of the shenanigans discussed, it’s a miracle Fincastle still stands! The ongoing partnership between HFI and the Botetourt County Historical Society once again enhanced the day with the History Museum remaining open to visitors throughout the day, and hosting both a book signing by Robert McRae and a demonstration of spinning and weaving using locally sourced wool!
Lastly, as visitors walked down Main Street past the museum, they stopped in at the old Baptist Church to see the amazing quilt show with those lovingly created quilts draped across the pews and hanging from quilt stands.
For those lucky enough to be there at noon, folks were able to witness the emotional awarding of two “Quilts of Valor” to two of our military heroes from the Vietnam War: Chuck Geiger and Kip Burton. What an event!
Music rocked the Courthouse Square again with talented musicians. “The Wayfaring Whistle Pigs” entertained our hardy visitors during the morning, and then “The Red Hands” with their special brand of bluegrass took over for the afternoon. Specific thanks go to Steve Hartman, Mike Lee, Tony and Jacob Holdren, and Chip Lawrence. Thanks also to the music sponsors: Lucas Construction, Austin Electric, Blake Construction, CED-John Hatfield, Neighbors Electric Co., State Farm Insurance -Leslie Owens, and McVey Property Management LLC.
Other sponsors and amazing folks who stepped up for this event are: Cathy Henderson, Marsha Campbell, and Jay & Yvonne Saunders for the Quilt Show; Shawn Ulrich and Apex for signage; and Mill Creek Baptist Church for the shuttle and the shuttle drivers, John Caldwell and Mack Neighbors.
Many hands went into bringing about this festival (including Mother Nature’s little surprise), but special thanks are needed for Kirk Taylor and the Fincastle Fire Dept. for their help throughout the day, and Sink’s Septic & Drain for having their vehicle at the Touch-a-Truck venue. Other tireless workers included John & Danielle Alexander, and just about the entire Board of Directors of Historic Fincastle, Inc. We had a rainy good time together!
Lastly, the publicity and coverage of the festival, both before and after the event, by The Fincastle Herald and associated papers were a significant help in our success.
Historic Fincastle, Inc.
Scenic trail not safe for residents
I am writing in regarding the proposed Craig/Botetourt Scenic Trail: Sharing roads with a trail will put residents in a dangerous situation on a daily basis.
There have been “close calls” with cyclers. “Almost” an accident doesn’t get reported. Residents are already intimately aware of what it’s like to interact with trail users in Oriskany (the good, the bad, and the ugly). Folks here also know what the realities and issues are, firsthand, every day, but there are residents all over the mountain who take issue with this trail proposal. It’s not mere inconvenience. It’s up close and very personal. No one wants to be in harm’s way or to hurt others. It is the residents who would live with the consequences for the rest of their lives.
People can already enjoy this place in relative safety by comparison. Common sense should tell you that if you draw lots more people to these roads, the odds of injury and death will increase just as quickly, especially for residents! Of course landowners and residents are upset and feel vulnerable that they are planning to force them into this alarming position! There was one CTB meeting, one VDOT meeting in Craig and Botetourt counties (= about six hours) and 10 days to respond to a proposition that would change our daily lives forever. I have found that people like Delegate Terry Austin, Botetourt Supervisor Bailey, and Woody Lipps (a “citizen rep”) have not uttered one word to represent us and our concerns regarding about how unsafe this trail proposition is.
Did you know that when Craig Creek rises, it floods on Route 615 on both sides of Oriskany for a three-plus mile stretch? The “high road” is the only way out. The old rail bed is our emergency road. There is no better solution than to leave it as it is. (With a trail, that creates other problems. We don’t need a trail.)
Trails and vehicles do not mix, especially not on single lane, narrow roads and bridges, or on the steep, narrow, winding roads to get up here. Routes 606, 615, and 817 jump to mind. It is not safe for lots of traffic. The safety and lives of the land-owning, taxpaying people (who already financially support surrounding cities and towns, far and wide) and renters who live on this mountain should matter more than any amount of money that’s being dangled before you.
People are more important and so is rural life on this mountain. This thing runs straight across the town square, in and out of Route 615, through people’s land and homes, through working farms with large animals, near a school, on people’s only access roads (not just in Oriskany). We have skin in the game.
Downed trees and wandering wildlife are common scenarios here. Large animals are unpredictable: horses, cows, bears, deer, dogs, etc. And snakes. Especially horses sharing the road with vehicles. U.S. Mail carriers, delivery and service people will also be put more at risk too, and school buses with kids.
On top of that, and this is no small thing, there is no cell service or Internet access on much of the mountain. There is also no EMS, fire and rescue, or police nearby. Even if you could call them, response time is one to three hours more, once contacted.
And frankly, there is no guarantee for economic prosperity for our two small counties. (We all know where the amenities are and where most visitors will be most drawn to.) Taxes aren’t going up during the planning. It is pure speculation and political propaganda from the beginning when with Terry Austin first announced it. I’ve seen a clip where he said there are only 14-15 people against this trail (then laughter!). Do you know he was recently handed a petition with approximately 867 signatures and there’s lots more added since? Do you know it was Terry Austin when he was on the Board of Supervisors who pushed for the trail in 2001 when it was defeated? Those reasons remain unchanged. That should have settled it. A trail here has always been a bad idea. Comparing this unique place to other trails is also speculation.
But when I speculated, based on past experiences of local testimonies – partying, drunkenness, drug use, violence, home invasion, disrespect towards residents, trespassing – that drawing more people here would draw more of the same (not only “the good people”). Also things that are happening on other trails: attacks on women (their bodies were found), abductions and vandalism, along with other legitimate concerns like littering, pollution, and vandalism of our beautiful little church, pavilion, and grounds, all of these things were all utterly dismissed by VDOT reps. They want the trail. These things are acceptable and don’t concern them to be dismissed so easily. Well, they matter to me!
I would have thought that the first thing they would have done is to have an in-depth study of the 26-mile proposed trail (11-plus miles of which are rural routes and secondary roads!) of Craig Creek (people would flock to it because of the trail) for endangered species before starting to plan any of it.
Developing will not make it safer here. On the contrary. We are warning you of the dangers. So, when people are injured or killed, at what point are the CTB and VDOT be held accountable responsible for bringing this upon us? None? VDOT, your signs really only protect you. The rest of us are on our own.
This is frivolous spending for a trail that we don’t need here. It’s not safe. I honestly don’t see how this will make more than they are planning to spend to develop it and no one needs a raise in taxes. Every dollar is already taxed coming and going.
The safety and lives of people who live on this mountain should matter more than any amount of money that’s being dangled before you. In Oriskany, there are no benefits, only consequences!
There is much more that could be said, but I will leave it there. This letter is going to Kelly Dunn, VDOT, CTB members, Boards of Supervisors in both counties, and to newspapers.