Solar Energy Sweeps Into The Valley

My son and I were watching Doctor Who. It was an episode with Daleks. The Dalek armor, he said, always reminded him of Roman shields, a technology the Romans used pretty much unchanged for hundreds of years. “That’s just weird,” he said. “Now things change every year.” He is 15 years old.

It does seem sometimes like things change overnight, but more often a tipping point is reached after years or decades of incremental advance. The efficiency of solar-electricity generation has improved exponentially over four decades. Now look.

In 2021, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, solar made up more than half of all new electricity generated in the U.S. during the first three quarters. By 2050, renewable energy will make up nearly half of all electricity generation, and half of that will come from solar.In Virginia, 416 projects are awaiting review by relevant agencies. Those projects have potential power capacity of 22,679 megawatts (enough to power 3.7 million homes), according to a recent article in Bay Journal. PJM, the manager of our regional grid, is so swamped with applications from operators to join the grid that it has had to pause the process to come up with a plan. Clearly, the solar future has arrived.

There is a Wild West atmosphere in solar development. In the name of sustainability, developers have cleared thousands of acres of forest to plant “clean energy.” This, while federal, state, and local governments are spending millions on tree plantings to clean waterways and mitigate global warming.

There are questions about compatibility with the agricultural landscapes that many private and public entities have worked to preserve. And questions about how the massive introduction of pervious surfaces will impact water quality — again, when so much is being invested to manage stormwater runoff that destroys rivers and streams. 

There is a lot we must figure out, with not much time to spare. This year, the Virginia legislature, supported by conservation organizations, passed a measure establishing reasonable standards in the permitting process, recognizing the importance of farmland and forests, and requiring mitigation when significant impact occurs. A good start.

These are exciting times. Solar and wind energy are accelerating. Major carmakers are moving toward all-electric fleets, which will increasingly be powered by electricity from cleaner sources.

After all these years, the large-scale use of solar energy to power our homes and businesses is not a technological quandary. It’s a planning challenge and, for now, a race to manufacture and deploy as quickly as we can.If we’re lucky, time travelers like Doctor Who will one day visit 2022 to see our exciting beginnings, as we created the systems that gave them the wonderful planet they inhabit.

— David Lillard

Former Planning Director Chuck Johnston Honored with 2021 Conservation Award

By Cathy Kuehner

Charles “Chuck” Johnston, who served as Clarke County Planning Director for 22 years, was honored February 11 with the Wingate Mackay-Smith Clarke County Land Conservation Award.

The award recognized work he did in the early 2000s that continues to support property owners who want to preserve their land from future development.

In the early 2000s, Johnston began designing the county’s Conservation Easement Purchase Program (CEP Program) which was ultimately created by ordinance by the Board of Supervisors in 2002. The CEP program helps preserve land with significant agricultural, natural, scenic, and historic resources. As the CEP program begins its 20th year in 2022, the Conservation Easement Authority wanted to recognize Johnston as the staff person who largely developed the program. He researched conservation easements, established criteria for acceptance, and wrote the code sections for the creation of the Conservation Easement Authority (CEA).

Johnston left Clarke County in late 2011 to take a similar position in Calvert County, Md. When he announced his departure, Johnston told The Winchester Star how impressed he was by the county and town officials who worked together to create the Berryville Area Plan to designate future growth areas. “[Clarke County and the Town of Berryville] had an urban development area before urban development areas were thought of in Richmond,” he said.

Today, Johnston is director of the Community Planning and Building Department for the City of 
Fredericksburg, Va.In 2012, Governor Bob McDonnell honored Clarke County’s CEA with an Environmental Excellence Award for its successful efforts to protect and preserve land. The CEA was honored also for filling an important niche by enabling landowners who might not meet the criteria of other programs to place smaller parcels of land in easement.

Easements are voluntary agreements negotiated between landowners and public agencies in which the landowners agree to place specific restrictions on the use and development of their property in exchange various income and estate tax benefits. In the case of the CEA, there are also payments to the landowner. Clarke County Conservation Easement Authority recorded its first easement in 2003.

When CEP Program properties are included with other conservation holdings, such as those held by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, about 25 percent — 26,790 acres — of Clarke County is permanently protected, and hundreds of dwelling unit rights have been retired as of January 2022. At 178-square miles (113,920 acres), Clarke is the eighth smallest county in Virginia. The county also maintains a sliding scale zoning policy that preserves large tracts of land by permitting fewer dwelling unit rights per acre for larger existing parcels.

Since 2015, the Wingate Mackay-Smith Clarke County Land Conservation Award has honored individuals, groups, and organizations for their significant contributions to the preservation and protection of open spaces in Clarke County. The award also draws attention to the need for land conservation and the role easements play in preserving natural and historic resources.

Mackay-Smith was the first recipient of the award as she was instrumental in helping the Board establish the Clarke County Conservation Easement Authority, and she helped negotiate the authority’s first easement purchase — historic Greenway Court — the colonial-era home of Sir Thomas Fairfax. Other Wingate Mackay-Smith Clarke County Land Conservation Award recipients are: Holy Cross Abbey (2015); G. Robert Lee, Margaret Maizel, Robert Mitchell, and A.R. “Pete” Dunning (2016); Melvin Kohn (2017); Joe and Denise Sipe (2018); J. Michael Hobert (2019); and the American Battlefield Trust and Shenandoah University (2020).

For information about conservation easements, contact Clarke County Easement Authority Specialist Alison Teetor at (540) 955-5177 or Learn more at

A Proud Moment

By Carol L Coffelt

There are many events in one’s life that are memorable. But one Clarke County family is busting at the seams with pride because they have a rare memorable moment that few families have, when one of your children is awarded a top honor from the United States Air Force.

That family is ours. Leaders from the Virginia Air National Guard recognized the organization’s top performers of the year during an annual awards ceremony held on February 20, 2021 held at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. Virginia National Guard Air Component Commander Brig. Gen. Toni M. Lord hosted the event and presented group, state and national-level awards to Airmen alongside Col. Christopher G. Batterton, 192nd Wing Commander, and Command Chief Master Sgt. Richard A. Roberts, 192nd Wing command chief.

Faith Olivia Coffelt, my step daughter and a fourth-generation resident of Clarke County, was one of those awarded Outstanding Airman of the Year for the 192nd Medical Group of the Virginia Air National Guard. General Lord also recognized the 192nd and presented the group with the first Adjutant General’s Air Readiness Trophy for overall readiness in effective manning, training and recruiting, and retention efforts. The 192nd MDG was also recognized for its role and impact on the year’s federal and state missions where they organized and deployed to provide support during the coronavirus epidemic. This mission is ongoing today.

Faith turned just 20 years old in August, 2020. Her accomplishments since she turned 16-years-old rival most adults. Not only was she the youngest female EMT at Boyce Volunteer Fire Company, she also went on to obtain her Firefighter 1 and Firefighter 2 certifications. She then joined the Virginia Air National Guard after High School. Even though she would not be a full-time active duty Airman, she still had to undergo basic military training and over a year of tech schools to become an Air Force Medic. At 20, she has already served over eight months on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle, testing and vaccinating communities all around the Commonwealth.

As her father has been a member at Boyce Volunteer Fire Company since 1984, you can guess that Faith grew up around ambulances and firetrucks. And even though she has completed fire training and has gone into burning buildings, her first love is still helping people as a medic. Her full time job, when not activated by the Virginia Air National Guard, is an ER Tech at Valley Medical Hospital in Winchester. Her response to finding out about the accolade was, “Really? I don’t know why.” Because to her, doing an excellent job, leading and caring for people no matter who they are is just who she is. These inherent traits are skills these jobs require but cannot be taught.

Congratulations to Faith Olivia Coffelt for this amazing honor, and thank you for your service.

VDOT Fields Concerns, Presents Route 9 Project Mitigation Plan for Clarke County

By Rebecca Maynard

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) approved last month a town of Hillsboro plan that will temporarily divert some Route 9 traffic to Clarke County roads, causing concern for many residents that increased traffic will mean increased problems in the county, particularly during rush hour.

The plan calls for Route 9 to be closed on weekdays during construction, other than a single eastbound lane which will be open from 4–9am to allow morning rush-hour traffic to move through town. One westbound lane will be open from 3pm on Fridays to 5pm on Sundays. For up to 60 non-consecutive days over the project’s 14-month timeline, the highway will remain closed through the town all day.

The approved plan will install two roundabouts on either end of the town of Hillsboro in western Loudoun County, build sidewalks, and bury utility lines. According to a town statement, VDOT’s approval of the traffic plan was based on data-driven analyses and recommendations made by it and the town’s traffic experts.

All community members were invited to a public information session on October 29 in the Berryville-Clarke County Government Center, where VDOT engineer Ed Carter gave a talk about a mitigation plan designed specifically for Clarke County. He welcomed questions and concerns from residents. The Clarke County Board of Supervisors and Sheriff Tony Roper attended.

The VDOT plan for Clarke County is based on current data analysis. Construction may begin by the end of this year, but detours and road closings affecting Clarke County will likely not begin until spring. Carter presented the following components of the mitigation plan.

Increased law enforcement: Speeding is a major concern with existing traffic. It is anticipated that instances of speeding will be amplified with the increased traffic from the detour. Funds have been approved for dedicated law enforcement along the detour route during the construction phase of the project.

Signal modifications for U.S. 340 & Va. 7 intersection: Both left turn movements from U.S. 340 south onto Va. 7 east and U.S. 340 north onto Va. 7 west will be upgraded to “flashing yellow” operation. This will allow left-turning vehicles to proceed after yielding to oncoming traffic when the oncoming traffic has a green signal indication. The three signals will have equipment installed establishing high-speed communications, allowing continuous monitoring of the intersection and live signal-timing adjustments based on changing traffic conditions.

Widening west-bound Va. 7 off-ramp at U.S. 340: The Va. 7 off-ramp will be widened for 500 feet at U.S. 340 to establish two lanes on the ramp. This will allow continuous right turns onto U.S. 340 north and alleviate stacking on the ramp during evening peak-hour traffic.

Mitigate cut-through traffic on Route 612 during peak hours: Restrict Route 612 to “Local Traffic Only.” Prohibit left turns onto Route 612 from U.S. 340 southbound (north of Berryville) during morning peak traffic. Prohibit right turns onto Route 612 from Va. 7 westbound (east of Berryville) during evening peak traffic. Establish traffic count stations to monitor traffic counts on Route 612 throughout the project.

Upgrade warning lights at Va. 7 and Route 601: Dynamic warning flashers will be installed eastbound and westbound on Va. 7 to detect vehicles on Route 601 attempting to enter the intersection. These flashers will activate only when the vehicle approaches the intersection instead of continuously as they do now. Law enforcement will be stationed at the intersection with emergency lights activated as needed.

Several citizens living on feeder roads to Va. 7 expressed concern that increased traffic will make it difficult for them to turn onto Va. 7 during rush hour. “I already sit there for 7 to 10 minutes every morning waiting for an opening,” said a resident who lives on Blue Ridge Mountain Road (Route 601) near Bluemont.

Carter said that he hopes increased police presence and more speeding tickets being given will help, along with the dynamic warning flashers. He also explained that a traffic light at Route 601 was not possible because it would pose a danger in icy conditions.

Several residents from Shepherds Mill Road (Route 612) expressed concerns about increased traffic on their road, and also about the current speed limit of 55 miles per hour. Jo Bighouse, owner of Serenity Farm Store on Shepherds Mill, recently lost her dog Colby after a speeding driver hit him and did not stop. 

Bighouse and other supporters of the Slow Down Shepherds Mill Road campaign (found on Facebook) asked VDOT to consider lowering the speed limit, and Carter responded that it cannot be done unless an engineering study supports the change. An engineering study of the road was done within the last couple of years, he said, and the data at that time did not support the lowering of the speed limit.

Board of Supervisors Chairman David Weiss (Buckmarsh district) said that he understands his constituents’ concerns and is happy to meet with anyone who wishes to discuss Route 612 or other issues.

Multiple people wondered how the prohibition of Route 612 turns during rush hour would be enforced.

“If nothing’s keeping them from doing it other than a sign, they’re going to do it,” a 
resident said.

“We’re planning on a significant law enforcement presence who will be ticketing, which should deter people,” Carter said.

“I really do appreciate your comments and I haven’t heard a single suggestion this evening that wasn’t legitimate,” Carter said to the room of concerned citizens. He thanked them for their courtesy and explained that the mitigation plan is fluid and will be evaluated on an ongoing basis.

“I appreciate you not purporting to have all the answers,” said Berryville District Supervisor Mary Daniel, who thanked Carter for his willingness to listen and make changes as necessary.

Carter addresses the Board of Supervisors at each of their monthly meetings, which are held at 1pm the third Tuesday of the month and are also open to the public. He said that future public information sessions will be held, so interested or concerned citizens should visit or call 550-955-5175.

Recounting The Glory Days Of CCHS Football

A new book recounts The Streak, a magnificent winning run for the hometown Eagles

By Robert M. Moore

In the early to mid-1960s, Clarke County High School football was synonymous with winning. Games against the Eagles were dreaded by opponents — and with good reason. 

Clarke County High School had success with its football program in the late 1950s after Coach Don Maphis came to Clarke County. His 1958 team had a record of 8-1-1. The 1959 team had a record of 5-3-1. 1960, however, was different. The Eagles won the first District championship in the history of the high school. The team had a record of 7 wins and 3 losses while scoring 213 points and allowing only 94 points throughout the season. The Eagle defense had four shutouts in the 10-game season. 

It appeared that the 1960 season might be an outlier. Nineteen players were lost to graduation from that 1960 team. The entire offensive backfield was lost. When you consider the fact that only 26 players appeared for the first practices of the 1961 season, the 19 players lost to graduation was a great concern. It was generally thought that 1961 would be a rebuilding year.

As it turned out, that was not the case. The Eagles, led by three dominant running backs (James “Pickles” McCarty, Gene Strother and a 15-year old sophomore named Dickie Longerbeam) and a 15-year old quarterback named Dave Childs, went undefeated and won the second District championship in the history of the High School.

Success did not end with that 1961 season. The 1962 and 1963 teams also went undefeated. The teams in those three seasons not only won every game, but they won in a dominant fashion. The 1961 team won its games by an average margin of 30.6 points per game. The 1962 team beat its opponents by an average of 29.9 points per game. The 1963 team was the most dominant of all — winning its games by an average margin of 31.6 points per game.

By the end of the 1963 season, the Eagles were chasing a record in the state of Virginia. Norview High School had set a state record by going undefeated for 37 games. By the end of the 1963 season, Clarke County was ranked as the Number 1 team in the state in its size grouping. More importantly, the Eagles had won 29 games in a row and the record was in sight. 

The 1964 Clarke County High School Eagles would have the opportunity to break the unbeaten streak record in the state. During that 1964 season, after 32 wins in a row, the winning streak ended with a 0-0 tie against the Elkton Elks. While the winning streak had ended, the unbeaten streak continued. 

On October 30, 1964, the Clarke County High School Eagles set a new Virginia high school record of 38 games without a defeat. For almost four years, the Eagles had not lost a football game. When the Eagles set the record with its 38th game in a row without a defeat, Lyndon Johnson was in the White House. The last time the Eagles lost a football game, Dwight Eisenhower had been President. In other words, the Clarke County did not lose a football game during the entire Kennedy administration.

The unbeaten streak came to an end in the last game of the 1964 season. The streak ended with a 7-6 loss to James Wood High School. To this day, the referee’s call that the James Wood extra point was good is disputed throughout the County. Even more frustrating, the Eagles’ last drive of the game ended at the James Wood four-yard line on a fourth-down play that was one foot short of a first down. 

The streak ended with that loss to James Wood on November 6, 1964. The unbeaten streak set by this small team from a small county was an outstanding achievement. However, the response by the Clarke County Eagles to that heartbreaking loss epitomized the character of the high school, the team, the coaches, and the fans. The 1965 Clarke County Eagles went undefeated. The 1965 team ended its perfect 10-0 season with a dominant win over James Wood and, in doing so, ended James Wood’s 19 game winning streak — which was the longest winning streak in the state at that time.

When the 1965 perfect season ended, the record of the Clarke County High School football team from 1960 through 1965 was an unbelievable 54-4-1. On average, the teams in that span of six seasons won their games by a margin of 22.4 points per game. In other words, for six years, the Eagles won their games by more than three touchdowns per game. Legends were made during these Glory Days of Clark County football — names that should never be forgotten like Ramsburg, Longerbeam, Buckner, Childs, McCarty, Denney, Fuller, Potts, Stoneberger, Tumblin, Combs. Winning may not have been everything during that six-year period, but it was the only thing.

GLORY DAYS, Clarke County High School Football and “The Streak” was recently published by the author. It is available for purchase at the Bank of Clarke County in Berryville and Boyce, Virginia. All proceeds from the sale are donated to the Moore Family Scholarship administered by the Clarke County Education Foundation.

Fire House Gallery To Close

The Berryville Main Street board has decided to close the Fire House Gallery retail shop so the organization-legally known as Downtown Berryville Inc. – can focus all its attention on promoting and supporting downtown businesses and the Town. The gallery, located at 23 E. Main St., will close on September 30.

The Fire House Gallery opened on January 9, 2010, as an economic development project featuring distinctive handmade arts and crafts from local and regional artist to enrich the local culture.

It was able to provide incubator spaces that were rented to start-up business owners who needed space to launch their businesses.

The Town of Berryville owns the historic, two-story former fire station building and has rented it to Downtown Berryville Inc. Town Manager Keith Dalton said Downtown Berryville has expressed interest in utilizing the second-floor space for its Berryville Main Street office. The Town will find a new tenant for the former gallery space.

Berryville Main Street president Nathan Stalvey said by closing the gallery, board members and Berryville Main Street volunteers can put all its energy and resources into projects and events, with the continued support of the Town of Berryville.

Events include the hugely popular Berryville Main Street Summer’s End Cruise-In in late August, the Berryville Main Street Yard Sale on the second Saturday in April and September, and Berryville Main Street Music in the Park on Friday nights throughout the summer. Berryville Main Street also organizes

a decorated parking meter contest during the winter holiday season and a Christmas tree lighting event. It supports the annual Christmas parade along Main Street.

Residents formed Downtown Berryville, Inc., a 501© (3) non-profit organization to promote the town much like a Chamber of Commerce might. The following year, the Berryville Historic District was listed in the National Register, and the town became a designated Virginia Main Street community in

1992. That’s when Downtown Berryville, Inc. adopted the Berryville Main Street moniker.

“The Berryville Main Street board appreciates all the volunteers and staff who worked in the gallery over the years,”Stalvey said. “We are also grateful for the many local artists and craftspeople who kept the gallery filled with their extraordinary work.”

The Town of Berryville is one of more than 2,400 American communities in the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Main Street Program, and it is one of only 29 Virginia towns with the designation. Nearby, Harrisonburg and Luray also have Main Street designations.

The Virginia Main Street program, managed by the Virginia Department of housing and Community Development, aids in providing assistance and training to communities so they can increase the economic vitality in downtown commercial districts by focusing on their unique heritage and attributes.

Stalvey and the board want to assure the community, “Downtown Berryville Inc. is not going out of business. By closing the gallery, we won’t have to worry about running a business while trying to promote other businesses.”

Clarke County Historical Association Bids Farewell to Mary Morris

Longtime archivist retires after three decades

By Rebecca Maynard

Clarke County Historical Association (CCHA) archivist Mary Thomason Morris has retired after more than 30 years, but her infectious enthusiasm for preserving local history has not diminished. She has been with the organization since 1987, during which time she has seen incredible changes.

“One thing I love to focus on is how the dissemination of information has changed from 1987 to today,” she said. “When I look back, when I came on board, there was no computer and I was working on index cards. Everything had to be written out unless I typed it on the typewriter, and there was no way to get information out about what we had unless people came in.”

“Today, it’s all online and accessible through the Google index,” Morris said, noting that people as far away as Dublin, Ireland, have accessed the information she has archived.The CCHA archive, found at, contains church and burial records, historical photographs, newspaper files, maps, drawings, and other materials. A large portion of their archives is available to search online, and the search function is intended to be user-friendly even for those who are not computer literate.“K.I.S.S.,” Morris quipped when referring to the ease of the search function. “Keep it simple, stupid.”

In the late 1980s, Morris worked for the CCHA, Handley Library, and the Warren Heritage Society in Front Royal all at the same time before the CCHA became her sole employer in 1990.

“It was good that I was able to tap into all three of those county histories, because Warren and Clarke are the last two daughters of Frederick County,” she said, explaining that Clarke County was founded in 1836 and a number of planters from the Tidewater area sent their sons and enslaved people to the county.“

One of the first people I had contact me was a lady from Georgia who said she knew her great-grandfather was in Virginia during the Civil War,” Morris said. The man had deserted and was sent back to a different regiment, but after July 1864, the family never knew what became of him.

Morris wondered whether he had been killed in Berryville’s Battle of Cool Springs. She was able to verify her hunch thanks to a book with the list of names in the Confederate section in Mt. Hebron Cemetery in Winchester. “I was able to write these folks to tell them, after 130 some years, and they were able to put a marker on his gravesite beside his wife saying where he died and his death date, after generations of no one knowing,” she said.“

At that time, I was still working with pencil and paper,” she recalled. “To me, watching the progression from then to now is the biggest thing, to see things go from boxes on a shelf that maybe no one would look at for 50 years, and now they’re catalogued and indexed online.”

Local history doesn’t have to be grand or of great interest to those outside Clarke County for it to be important, Morris believes. “History can be people enduring their lives, for good or for bad,” she said. One of her goals in her 30 years with CCHA was to make sure that everyone in the county, regardless of circumstances or family history, was included.

“Mountain people, small farmers, people who came here after 1900, their history is as much Clarke as the Tidewater planters,” she explained.Morris also hopes that young people realize the importance of genealogy and local history and over the years enjoyed having fourth graders visit the CCHA office, where she would show them photographs on microfilm. On one occasion, she showed the children a photograph of a basketball player. “One little boy looked at me and said, ‘There’s my daddy!’ He figured out that his father and he were both history, and that people make history every day,” she said.

“Think of kids getting out of  high school today, how many wars they’ve been through,” Morris said. “They don’t think they make history, but they do. Children are like trees: They need roots before they can stretch to the sun, and having a sense of belonging to a place are the main roots for a child, knowing that they are part of the history of a place.”

“Mary is so dedicated,” said CCHA director Nathan Stalvey. “Every historical association needs someone like her, who loves what she does. She’s inspiring, but she’s humble.”

“As for proud moments, my highest is when I passed the miller’s class and became a legal, bona fide grinding miller for the Burwell-Morgan Mill,” Morris said. ”You wear many hats in a small organization, including sometimes potty cleaner!”

Morris received CCHA’s Professional Achievement Award in 2004, and was awarded the Heritage Hero Award by the Mosby Heritage Area Association in 2016. She also helped Clermont Farm in Berryville catalog its collection and created a database of more than 3,000 people associated with the property over the years.

“Mary has never, ever been about attention grabbing,” Stalvey said. “She genuinely just loves what she does and people see that. It reflects back and that’s why people love to listen to her stories.”

Morris is stepping down for health reasons, but has been involved in the interviewing and hiring of her replacement, whom she plans to help become acclimated to the position. She also hopes to remain involved with CCHA on a volunteer basis.

“It’s all going to depend on health, but over the years I’ve said there’s a plank in the office for them to carry me out, because I always figured I’d never leave,” she joked. “I’m keeping the plank around. I can’t give up the CCHA and I can’t give up learning. If I stop trying to help, I stop living.”

Clarke County Historical Association is hosting a retirement party for Mary Morris Sunday, July 21, at 2pm, at the CCHA headquarters at 32 E. Main Street, Berryville, VA 22611.

Conservation Groups Meet At Cool Spring

Nearly 30 area conservation groups and land trusts met June 20 at Shenandoah University’s Cool Spring Campus for a summit of the Blue Ridge Conservation Alliance. They gathered to explore more cooperation and collaboration to protect what is considered one of the most threatened mountain landscapes in the Eastern Seaboard, the Blue Ridge and surrounding area from Front Royal, Va., to the Potomac River in Harpers Ferry, W.Va. 

The Blue Ridge Conservation Alliance, or BRCA, is a network of partners working to protect the natural, scenic, and historic values of this landscape, and to conserve land, safeguard watersheds, and preserve the historic landscape along the Appalachian Trail corridor and the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. Its steering committee includes representatives from Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Friends of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Land Trust of Virginia, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, Piedmont Environmental Council, Virginia Working Landscapes, and Berryville-based The Downstream Project.

Guest speakers at the event included Trail Conservancy (ATC) staff members working on two initiatives with direct impact in Clarke County. Dennis Shaffer, ATC’s director of landscape conservation, described how partnerships like BRCA are collaborating along the trail’s 2,180-mile corridor to conserve land and become more connected with the towns within the trail’s view-shed — Berryville, for example, is a recognized Appalachian Trail Town. Anne Baker, ATC landscape partnership manager, invited local groups to tap into Wild East, a promotional campaign that highlights the role of the Appalachian Trail as a vital natural corridor for wildlife, plants, and quality of life for people. 

Dan Holmes, policy director for Piedmont Environmental Council, gave a presentation on utility-scale solar energy farms cropping up in the Shenandoah Valley. He urged partners to work with local planning agencies to develop ordinances that protect agricultural lands and scenic values while enabling expansion of solar energy. Learn more about BRCA at

The Berryville Beat

Dispatches from the Berryville Town Council

As 2019 dawns, there is a lot going on in the Town of Berryville. The Town Council is hard at work on several initiatives as we draw closer to the annual budget season.In addition to our monthly Town Council meeting, the council also has five council committees. The committees serve as a time for members to review initiatives, programs and more, and provide a recommendation to the full council at a future meeting. As always, all Town Council business and committee meetings are open to the public, and we always welcome your input.

Personnel, Appointments & Policy is chaired by Recorder Jay Arnold, and includes Mayor Patricia Dickinson and Council Member Erecka Gibson. Streets & Utilities is chaired by Council Member Diane Harrison, and includes Mayor Dickinson. Public Safety is chaired by Council Member Donna McDonald, and includes Council Member Harrison and Mayor Dickinson. Budget & Finance is chaired by Council Member Gibson, and includes Council Member Kara Rodriguez and Mayor Dickinson. Community Development is chaired by Council Member Rodriguez, and includes Council Members Harrison and McDonald.

The Personnel Committee is looking to allow an additional line of communication for Facebook followers, as the Town Council will be reviewing a social media policy that could establish Facebook pages for the Town of Berryville and the Berryville Police Department. This policy would also outline social media guidelines for town employees and elected town officials. Policies will be adopted to meet the legal requirements of archiving all content. 

At January’s Streets & Utilities Committee, members discussed the results of the surveys submitted by citizens as it related to stormwater issues, or non issues, they were having at their property. We found a number of situations that were new due to 2018’s wet weather, but also a number who have had a history of issues in basements and yards. These homes have experienced an increase in the water this past year. We looked at three areas to have the town manager look into having engineered: the Jackson Pond, the Town Run, and homes abutting the Battlefield Estates development and including impact to Walnut Street if changes were made. This will be presented to council in February to release funding from the monies already in the stormwater fund.

The Public Safety Committee is in the process of reviewing Chapter 20 of the town code, which focuses on special event regulations on town property and public spaces. The objective of the review is to first formulate a policy that incorporates the interests and safety of the event sponsors, as well as members of the public in the use of public space. The regulations and processes within the policy, once reviewed by legal counsel, will then be incorporated into the town code. The committee is simultaneously reviewing Chapter 8 of the town code in the same fashion. Chapter 8 concerns regulations associated with garbage and recycling. Further, we anticipate changes to the town trash collection program, particularly in regards to recycling. At our next council meeting, February 12, the council will be considering whether to eliminate glass collection from our 
recycling program. 

The Budget & Finance Committee, like the rest of the council, is anticipating the arrival of budget season, as we prepare to review the fiscal year 2020 budget, which will take effect July 1. The committee’s next meeting, Thursday, February 28, at 10:30am, will be the first work session on the town manager’s proposed budget. The full council will have its first budget work session Tuesday, March 12, ahead of our regularly scheduled monthly meeting. In January, the committee also continued its review of online payment options for water and sewer bills, something we hope to implement in the future.

Finally, the Community Development Committee went over potential changes to the website, as the council has previously indicated a desire to revamp the website. We received a briefing on the logistics, pricing and timeline for such an update, and took a look at website updates that have worked for 
other municipalities. 

This monthly column is authored by the members of the Berryville Town Council. For more information on town government, including meetings, agendas, and contact information for the Town Council and town staff, visit