Getting Everyone to the Table Discussions About Senior Living Options

Clarke Monthly asked the staff of Commonwealth Senior Living for advice on how to plan for a loved one’s transition from living alone “at home” to a community setting. We appreciate them providing the information below which was a guest blog post by Mindy Godding of Abundance Organizing. The original post can be found here.

You may have noticed signs a loved one is struggling to maintain the demands of their home while you were visiting over the holidays. Many of us agonize over the uncertainties of approaching our loved ones about these concerns or with suggesting the idea of senior living. Perhaps you’ve tried to broach the topic with family members in the past, only to have the dialogue break down in frustration. While it might be easier to avoid the topic, doing so can lead to bigger challenges. Like returning an overdue library book, today’s fine is better than tomorrow’s compounded fees. Seems logical, yet we all can get caught walking the path of least resistance. If we know it’s best to act, why do we leave the “elephant in the room?

”Here are a few reasons:

We think it’s too far in the future. The longer you delay, the harder these conversations become because options be- come more limited. Don’t wait for a triggering event. Crisis is the absolute worst time to have this discussion. Focus on building a plan, rather than jumping into action.

We think it’s depressing or upsetting. These conversations don’t have to be heavy or sad. Instead of steeling yourself for a moment that’s formal or stiff, let your curiosity be your guide. Resist allowing fear to drive your agenda or tone.

Our loved one is afraid to lose control. Make sure your loved one knows they are firmly in the driver’s seat during discussions impacting their future. Even if you have no concerns and your loved one doesn’t need to move any time soon, it’s valuable to have a plan. The most productive dialogue happens when every- one feels safe and secure. For someone who values control, the worst thing you can do is avoid the opportunity to share your feelings and advocate for yourself while you have the time and space to reflect with- out stress.Understanding everyone’s concerns and interests around this sensitive topic can lead to a more meaningful conversation. Sometimes we must start gently or be prepared to circle back to the topic con- sistently over time. When everyone has come to the table, here are tips on maintaining a meaningful dialogue.

Don’t go in with an agenda. It helps to gather facts and in- formation first, however the primary goal is to initiate a dialogue, answer questions, or problem solve. If you have concerns, state what you’re observing without assigning judgement. Ask lots of open- ended questions. Park your emotions at the door. Stick to the facts, and be ready to listen.

Be prepared to have these conversations any time. Listen for relevant anecdotes about family friends, neighbors, or others in casual conversation. If you get deflected, ask: “If not now, when?” These conversations tend to get easier the more you revisit them. Many people need to process for a while before they feel confident making what they perceive to be a big or high
stakes decision.

Use whatever tools you need. There are many helpful tools online like conversation-prompting flashcards, note-taking worksheets, and topic checklists to help guide
the conversation.

Involve a professional. If emotions run high, a neutral third party can often diffuse tricky situations and distill a conversation down to actionable steps. This could include someone from the senior living community you are considering or a councilor who
specializes in transitions.

Stay present. Concentrate on listening to understand versus listening to respond. Listen for themes in your loved one’s stories and repeat key points backtoconfirmeveryone’son the same page. Record the conversation so you can focus on listening, not taking notes.

Focus on areas of agreement, not dissent. Many of us tend to back our position so rigorously we can’t see the forest for the trees. Meaning we risk losing creativity that could lead to compromise. Find areas of common ground and leverage those as your starting point for building further consensus.

These conversations are never predictable and can seem daunting, however they may be easier than you think. Reaching understanding can give everyone a sense of deep relief but getting started is often the hardest part. For more information, visit

The Bradford Pear Story

Story and illustration by Doug Pifer

It sounded like springtime in December. Three dozen robins were singing and scolding on Christmas morning. They had gathered to feed on the fruits of Bradford pear, an ornamental tree that was the darling of landscapers thirty years ago and is now black listed by many gardeners and nature lovers.

Bradford Pear, Pyrus Calleryana, has an interesting history that began early in the 1950s when pear orchards in the Pacific Northwest were decimated by fire blight, a disease that kills fruit trees. Agricultural researchers discovered that the Callery pear, a thorny wild tree native to China, had rootstocks highly resistant to the disease. They grew imported Callery pear trees in nurseries where branches from choice pear varieties were grafted onto their roots. This eventually saved the commercial pear business from being wiped out by fire blight.

Meanwhile, one agricultural nursery grew a Callery pear tree that was sterile, had a beautiful shape, profuse flowers, and no thorns. This cultivar was named “Bradford” after its discoverer. Bradford pear became the ideal landscaping tree in the 1980s. It had a lovely, symmetrical shape. It thrived in a variety of climates and soils. It even tolerated the polluted air and compacted soil next to city streets, shopping centers, business parks and parking lots. Its shiny green leaves turned from yellow to orange to deep red and stayed on the tree until late fall. Its white blossoms made a spectacular show in early spring.

As they matured, Bradford pear trees became problematic. They were short lived. Their narrowly forking branches and soft wood were prone to breakage. A windy spell would 
frequently tear a large Bradford pear tree apart. The clouds of white blossoms, while stunning, smelled bad to some people. While the original Bradford variety was sterile, most trees you see now have been cross pollinated and bear small, pinkish brown “pears.” Most of these trees also have thorns. If you park your car under one of the fruiting trees after a night of heavy frost, you may return later to find your windshield smeared with their thawing, fallen fruit. Robins, starlings, and other fruit-eating birds gorge on these little pears during late fall. The birds, in turn, disburse the seeds.

Now Bradford, or rather Callery, pear trees grow everywhere.

Localities in several states have banned Bradford pear trees. People are urged to dig up and destroy Bradford pear trees on their property. Disposing of them isn’t easy. After a tree is cut, its roots must be destroyed before they send up new shoots everywhere. A tractor brush hogging a field can get thorn-slashed tires. Putting cut branches though a wood-chipper creates mulch which may contain pear seeds that sprout in the spring.

A wild Chinese pear tree once saved the American pear industry and then became a favorite landscaping tree. Now reverted to its Callery roots, it has become what many would call a scourge.

The Moton School Story of Courage and Hope

In the Spring of 1951 the student body of Robert Russa Moton High School, in Prince Edward County, Virginia, walked out in protest of unequal educational facilities. The resulting school desegregation lawsuit was part of the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education, which concluded that “in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place.”

These are the opening lines of the “Moton School Story: Children of Courage,” the remarkable story of courageous high-school students who wanted nothing more than equal treatment under the law. Farmville, Virginia’s former Robert Russa Moton High School, now a National Historic Landmark and museum, is the birthplace of America’s student-led civil rights revolution. The 1951 Moton Student Strike produced three-fourths of the plaintiffs in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the landmark Supreme Court decision desegregating U.S. schools.

From 1959 to 1964, Prince Edward County closed its public schools to avoid integration.

Cameron Patterson, executive director of the Robert Russa Moton Museum, visits Berryville to share the story of the students of Prince Edward County who helped to expand the meaning of equality for all — see advertisement on page 17.

The program will highlight the lock-out generation of students, who were impacted when public schools closed in 1959 in Prince Edward County for five years. You can learn more about this chapter in Civil Rights history at

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

Voting In Clarke County: A Guide To Election Districts

By Cathy Kuehner

When the Circuit Court established the Clarke County Board of Supervisors in 1870, the county was divided into four townships for representation: Battletown, Chapel, Greenway, and Long Marsh. Over the past 152 years, townships became districts, district names changed and, in 1991, a fifth district was added as the result of Census data and a growing population.

One thing has not changed: Where you live determines where you vote and in which election districts you vote.

A mayor and Town Council represent everyone who lives within Berryville and Boyce town limits. All Clarke County residents, including those who live in Berryville and Boyce, are represented by one of five Supervisors, who collectively make decisions for the county and voice local concerns to elected officials in Richmond. Members of the Virginia General Assembly (delegates and senators) and Congress represent the residents from their districts at the state level.

Virginia General Assembly and congressional districts were recently redrawn based on 2020 Census data. The Virginia Supreme Court approved this redistricting on Dec. 28, 2021. Clarke County was in state Senate District 27, represented by Sen. Jill Vogel, R-Upperville, and the 10th Congressional District, represented by Democratic U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton. Parts of the county also are in two state House districts: the 10th, represented by Del. Wendy Gooditis, D-Boyce; and the 33rd, represented by Del. Dave LaRock, R-Hamilton.

With redistricting, Clarke County, surrounding counties, and the City of Winchester are in state Senate District 1 (a new district) and House District 31. Clarke County is also part of the newly redrawn 6th Congressional District.However, the elected officials who currently represent Clarke County — Vogel, Wexton, Gooditis, and LaRock — continue to represent the county until their terms expire; that is January 2023 for Congress and January 2024 for the state house and senate.

At the county level, the Board of Supervisors has determined that Clarke’s population has increased proportionally across the county, so its district boundaries will not change.

Census data shows that Clarke County’s population increased from 14,034 in 2010 to 14,807 in 2020.

According to County Administrator Chris Boies, each of the county’s five voting districts should have an “ideal population” of 2,961 based on population growth and state laws. Specifically, districts must be within plus or minus 5 percent of that number, or have a population between 2,813 and 3,109, he said.Each Clarke district is within that range based on 2020 Census data.

• Berryville District has 2,997 residents (2,852 in 2010)

• Buckmarsh District has 2,827 residents (2,854 in 2010)

• Millwood District has 3,021 residents (2,729 in 2010)

• Russell District has 3,082 residents (2,896 in 2010) 

• White Post District has 2,880 residents (2,703 in 2010)

As this edition of Clarke Monthly went to press, the Board of Supervisors held a public hearing on Feb. 15 to make two changes to the Code of Clarke County. The first change simply updates the population for each district using 2020 Census information. The second is technically a correction, changing the “voter election district” to the accurate term “voter election precinct” for the central absentee voting.

Except for occasional special elections or primaries in the spring, all voters go to the polls in November to elect officials who begin serving their terms in January.

Director of Elections & General Registrar Barbara Bosserman said the Clarke County Office of Elections will send letters to all registered voters prior to the next election. The letters will outline changes to election districts and remind voters where they cast their ballots. Polling locations are not changing, Bosserman said.

The next election for Clarke County Supervisors is November 2023; their four-year terms begin in 2024.

“Supervisors are the governing body for the county,” explained Boies, who as county administrator oversees the day-to-day operations of county government and reports to the Board.

The Board is responsible for the budget, ordinances, land-use decisions, and it sets priorities for county government. Supervisors also correspond with state and federal officials to make the needs of Clarke residents known.

Individually, each Supervisor responds to constituent concerns and requests. If warranted, a supervisor will take concerns to the full Board.Residents also can express concerns during each monthly Board meeting. Regular meetings on the third Tuesday of the month include Citizens Comment periods, when individuals may speak for three minutes on any subject.

David Weiss, who was first elected to the Board in 2003, has served as its chair since 2015. He represents the Buckmarsh District. Buckmarsh was carved out of the Berryville District after the 1990 Census and redistricting in early 1991.

At its January organizational meeting, the Board unanimously elected Millwood District Supervisor Terri Catlett to serve as vice chair. She was first elected in 2015.

White Post District Supervisor Bev McKay was first elected in 2011, and Supervisor Doug Lawrence was elected in 2019 to represent the Russell District.In May 2020, Matthew Bass was appointed by the Board to fill the unexpired Berryville District Supervisor term of Mary Daniel after she was named a General District Court judge for the 26th Judicial District. Bass then won a special election in November 2020.

Clarke County was created on March 8, 1836, when the state Senate officially separated the new county from Frederick County. After the Constitution of 1870 established the Clarke County Board of Supervisors, the first to step up and serve were Philip H. Powers, John Morgan, John M. Gibson, and John R. Nunn.From the beginning, Clarke Supervisors have placed high value on the county’s natural resources and agrarian heritage. A March 1936 editorial in the Clarke Courier newspaper concluded, “The duty, therefore, has become ever more insistent upon the men and women of this generation in Clarke County to care well for this lovely land which is now observing its one hundredth birthday as a separate county. In fertilizing the soil they are preserving the interests of their children for the years to come so that its richness may be preserved forever like the grandeur of the Blue Ridge Mountains that encircle this county with their ageless might.”

What was true then, remains true now.

Find more information about your Board of Supervisors, including a district map, meeting agendas, and contact information, at Use the drop-down menu under “Government,” go to “Boards & Commissions,” and click on “Board of Supervisors.”

Clarke County’s Kaylee Anderson Named Most Outstanding Wrestler at State Tournament

Story by Rebecca Maynard
Photo by Tricia Nalls

Clarke County High School senior Kaylee Anderson made the whole community proud on January 29 when she earned the Most Outstanding Wrestler award at the Virginia Girls’ Championship state wrestling tournament.

“I’ve never gotten one of those types of awards before, so it was pretty cool, and shocking,” Anderson said.

Anderson won the girls’ invitational in the 146 pound weight class. She won her first two matches on Saturday with first period pins. Leading by just one point while competing in neutral, Anderson scored a takedown with 18 seconds left and added two near fall points to win 6-1 over J.R. Tucker’s Victoria Harris.

Saturday’s tournament featured 11 weight classes and 13 divisions with girls from 58 high schools in Virginia. (The 100 and 127 classes had two divisions.) Anderson was the only girl from the five local high schools who competed.

The daughter of Tricia and Anthony Nalls, Anderson has been wrestling since 6th grade. “My cousin [Lexi Nalls] was on Team Virginia, and I’d heard about her doing big things in wrestling,” Anderson said. “At the time I was playing softball, but I was horrible at it and needed a new sport! I thought maybe I could try what she was doing.”

Anderson went to a wrestling practice at the middle school and the rest is history. She explained that currently, there is no sanctioned girls-only division in the Virginia High School League (VHSL). Girls wrestle male athletes during high school meets.

“Girls’ wrestling is growing really fast and we’re trying to get it sanctioned,” she said. “There are not many girls’ tournaments in this area, and I’m on Team Virginia, so I know when the tournaments are, but it’s harder for other girls who don’t have those people to talk to and figure out where the girls’ tournaments are.”

“Coach [Jon] VanSice has helped me a whole lot, getting me into tournaments, and his son Kyle VanSice has helped me a whole lot too, sticking up for me, and helping me with my confidence,” she said.

Outside of wrestling, Anderson said a memorable teacher for her is Mary Roberts. “She helped me whole lot, especially when we went virtual, with remembering to stay on task and get everything done and turned in,” she said. 

Anderson plans to attend Shenandoah University in Winchester, where she hopes to study exercise science and/or nutrition, with the goal of becoming a personal trainer. She is close with Tim McGuire, Shenandoah’s wrestling coach, who helped train her for World Team Trials in Texas and flew out on his own dime to help coach her. She has been talking with him about trying to start a women’s wrestling team at Shenandoah.

“He said, ‘We’ll try to help you,’ so that’s my plan,” she said. “We’re going to have to start off as a club first, and build the program, but I’ll still be able to wrestle in women’s college tournaments and he’s going to recruit me to the men’s team.”

While she looks forward to a new chapter at Shenandoah, she currently has the goal to once again make it to boys’ state this year, after becoming the first girl from Clarke County to do so. 

“I was really proud of myself when I made it to boys’ state as a freshman,” Anderson said. “It showed me that I was capable of doing anything.”

Main Street Chamber Orchestra Presents The Nutcracker

originally published in our September edition

By Claire Stuart

All human societies have some sort of music, and Jonathan Goldberg believes that timeless music resounds with human nature.

Although some people consider classical music a relic of the past, Goldberg vehemently disagrees. He counters that they are simply not familiar with it. With that in mind, Goldberg founded the Main Street Chamber Orchestra to make classical music a relevant part of life for everyone in the community. 

Retired from a lifetime in music, primarily as a conductor in performances from New York City to El Paso, Texas, Goldberg has worked with Leonard Bernstein (“and I’ve got the pictures to prove it,” he laughed) and William Shuman, president of Lincoln Center. Goldberg and his wife Felicia moved to Berryville from Ashburn to help their daughter, Helena, who operates the Goldberg School of Music in Berryville.

Not content with retirement, Goldberg serves as Adjutant Professor of Music at Northern Virginia Community College, Loudoun Campus, and for three years he was conductor of the Rose Hill Chamber Orchestra. He tells of playing excerpts from famous pieces by Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, and others to a music appreciation class, asking whether students were familiar with at least one. All of the students answered in the affirmative, proving that classical music is alive, whether we realize it or not.

Traditionally, chamber music is defined as classical music that could be played by a small group of musicians in a palace chamber or large room. Goldberg explained that many pieces of great music are never played because symphony orchestras are too big for colleges and universities, and there are no small orchestras available for those venues. He noted that there are no professional orchestras in Northern Virginia west of Fairfax.

Confident that the community wants and will support a chamber orchestra in the region, Goldberg debated starting one himself. “I talked to many people, and they said YES! I talked to Nela Niemann (of Blue Ridge Dance Studio), and asked her if I was crazy to try this. She said I was, but that she was told the same thing and has been here 30 years!”

That settled, the Main Street Chamber Orchestra still needed a home. Goldberg spoke to Justin Ivatts, Rector of Grace Episcopal Church and Wendy Oesterling, the church’s Music Director, and the orchestra will be playing in the church hall.

Then came the big question of funding. Fortunately, the orchestra obtained grants from the Marion Park Lewis Foundation, the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the Bank of Clarke County Foundation. In addition, they had a successful Go Fund Me campaign. “Now we can already pay for the first concert,” Goldberg reported.

Goldberg explained that the orchestra is not an amateur or volunteer group although community groups may participate in performances. He stressed that the orchestra’s musicians are all paid professionals. Musicians (and the arts in general) have disproportionately taken a financial hit with the Covid pandemic. Performances have been cancelled and many musicians were forced to find other work. Ticket sales never meet the needs of musicians, hence the need for fundraising.

Performers will vary with the needs of the pieces to be played, and they come from a pool of area musicians. “Our number one horn player plays in the Baltimore Symphony,” Goldberg noted, “and we’re blessed in this region with military bands. The musicians want to play stuff they don’t get to play often. This is a pool to grow with, but with the military, scheduling can be a problem.” 

The next big fund-raising event will be October 3 at The Mill at Carter Hall, featuring world-renowned pianist Brian Ganz in a benefit for the 2022 spring concert. “It’s a big coup to get someone of his stature,” Goldberg declared. “Brian has many friends in the area, and there isn’t much room, so this concert will be by invitation only. But if someone really wants a ticket, I may be able to get one if they contact me.

”Three members of the community will be playing with Ganz: Akemi Takayama, Vasily Popov and Donovan Stokes. Takayama and Stokes are both Professors of Music at Shenandoah University. 

The orchestra will present a free family concert each year, designed to appeal to young people, starting with their first concert on December 11. They will perform the perennial favorite, Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, and showcase dancers from Nela Niemann’s Blue Ridge Studio for the Performing Arts. The performance will take place at 3pm at Grace Episcopal Church in Berryville.

Next year’s free concert will be Handel’s Messiah, featuring Wendy Oesterling’s Piedmont Singers, in addition to singers from local churches. Planned for next spring is a performance of Leos Janacek’s “Nursery Rhymes” (not  children’s music) with help from Ms. Kristi Snarsky’s Clarke County High School Choir.

Says Jon Goldberg, “The transformative power of classical music to enrich our lives can illuminate our shared humanity, reminding us that, in the words expressed in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, ‘All men are brothers.’”

Visit the website for information on upcoming performances:

Burwell-Morgan Mill History Still Being Made

For one Clarke County woman, the mill is part of her story. And she’s not alone.
Based on Kathy Hudson’s writing, with support from David Lillard

Back in 1985, Kathy Hudson had a decision to make. A recently minted college graduate with a degree in education, she had interviewed with — and would subsequently receive offers from — Clarke County Public Schools and Charles County, Md.

By Kathy’s telling, the Burwell-Morgan Mill in the village of Millwood, helped tip her decision to move to Clarke.

Now retired, she coordinates volunteers at the Art at the Mill event, sponsored by the Clarke County Historical Association and scheduled October 2 through 17.

“When I came to Clarke to interview, I first met Assistant Superintendent William Overbey in the administration offices,” recalls Kathy. “After our interview, John McCuan (my future principal at Boyce Elementary School) picked me up in his Subaru to take me to see Boyce School.” After the interview, on the drive back to Berryville, McCuan took Kathy on a short scenic drive of Clarke County through Boyce to Millwood. “As we passed some of the grand houses on that road, I was charmed,” she said. “Coming from the suburbs of Pittsburgh, I had seen my share of old neighborhoods and estates (albeit with not much property tacked on,) so it was nothing unusual. When we got to Millwood, however, I knew I was hooked on Clarke County.” 

It was on that trip that McCuan pointed out the Burwell-Morgan Mill.

“I took one look, and I was enchanted,” said Kathy. “I love history; knowing that roots in the county went back to the 1700s made Clarke County my choice to come and work.”

Kathy married in 1987 — “a native Clarke County boy,” as she says — raised two sons, and retained her love of the region’s history and landscape. Shortly before she retired from Boyce Elementary School in 2015, her good friend Kathy Campbell, who was then Clarke County Historical Association’s president, called for a favor. She asked if Kathy would coordinate the volunteers for the upcoming art show at the Mill.

“I begged off, since I was still working,” said Kathy. “And, truthfully, I did not think I would be able to do a very good job with it. I told her to get back in touch with me after I retired.”

Campbell didn’t let Kathy forget that promise. In the fall of 2017, Kathy started making phone calls for volunteers. She also volunteered at the art show; and this opened a new world for her. “I really enjoyed meeting the artists, seeing their artwork, and meeting the public and patrons who came to the show,” said Kathy. “I’ve been involved with the art show ever since.”

In 2019, she joined the historical association’s board of of directors. “Since I have been retired, I have termed this the decade of giving back,” says Kathy. She also served on the board of The Barns of Rose Hill, from 2015–2020, and the Clarke County Education Foundation since 2019. “When I was working full time for CCPS, I did not feel I could take on additional roles in the community,” she said. “One of the things that I took to heart from my service on the Barns of Rose Hill board was to ‘give of your time, talent, and treasure.’ As a retired school librarian, I may not have much ‘treasure,’ but I certainly have the time and skills to help our community, and I am thrilled to be involved with the CCHA.”

Kathy is especially gratified to know that the efforts of past committees and the current Art Show Committee (Kathy Campbell, Gwen Casey-Higgins, Snow Fielding, Candy Means and Janet Bechamps) and a myriad number of volunteers help keep the historic mill going — millers, junior millers, others who volunteer for a few hours during the show.  “Never in my wildest dreams in 1985 did I envision becoming involved with this beautiful, restored building,” said Kathy.

The art show is the largest fundraiser for the Clarke County Historical Association; it helps keep the water wheel in the Burwell-Morgan Mill turning. “Thanks to the purchase of the mill by the CCHA in 1964, its leaders over the years, and efforts of the Art Show Committee, started by Sally Trumbower in 1990, the Burwell-Morgan Mill continues to thrive,” Kathy added.

Art at the Mill includes artists from the mid Atlantic region, featuring varying styles and prices.

The show runs from October 2–17, from 10am till 5pm 10-5 on Saturdays and noon till 5pm Sunday through Friday. 

You can preview artwork at, then navigate to the web gallery. You must call the Burwell- Morgan Mill at 540-837-1799 during art show hours to purchase.

Become a CCHA member on when you visit and enjoy free admission; admission for non-member adults is $5 and $3 for seniors. Students can attend for free.

CDC guidelines will be observed, and there will be no Patron’s Night.

Old Tree Saved As Wildlife Habitat

By Doug Pifer

For the past five years, every time it stormed we worried that a big limb would break off our beloved old Kentucky coffee tree and destroy our entryway fence. Now our property is safe from that disaster, and a magnificent old tree remains as wildlife habitat.

I invited Erik Berndt, certified arborist and owner of Viking Tree Service, LLC, to inspect the nearly dead tree. My wife and I wanted to save as many main branches as possible while minimizing the risk of damage by falling wood. He agreed our tree was an excellent candidate for trimming as a wildlife habitat tree. He encouraged me to look at some of the standing dead trees at Morgan’s Grove Park, which his company cares for, to see examples of his work. We were impressed when we examined several standing dead trees there. Each was trimmed to look like a natural dead snag in the woods. After years of cringing whenever we saw a big shade tree with branches crudely lopped off, we were overjoyed to find a company willing to trim our tree the way we wanted. We were also delighted to find a tree service that considers a wildlife habitat tree an actual “thing.”  

The Viking Tree crew showed up at the appointed time with an impressive array of equipment and machinery. With block and tackle they ascended the main trunk and carefully removed the outer branches. When they encountered a heavy limb whose weight would stress the tree in a storm, they removed it with surgical precision. But they didn’t stop there. They made a series of V-shaped cuts at the top of each large limb to allow moisture to enter the dead wood, so the tree decays from the top down. This allows the main trunk to remain sound and stand for many years. Furthermore, cuts carefully made at various angles made the limbs look like they splintered and broke off naturally.

For hard-to-reach limbs, a large lift was necessary. Each cut made the tree look safer and less likely to drop a branch to crush our fence or garden shed.

By 4pm the crew had completed the finishing touches, and I admired the balanced, sculptural quality of the tree and its remaining branches. It was a piece of art.

While it’s now official, this tree had already been wildlife habitat for a long time. Several trunks have woodpecker holes in them. The lowest branch sprouts a tuft of stunted Kentucky coffee tree leaves. Years ago, a bird dropped a seed of bush honeysuckle into the crotch between two main trunks about ten feet up. The seed has grown into a sizeable bush. More bits of green include poison ivy and Virginia creeper vines, and a young Kentucky coffee tree shoot that has sprouted next to the trunk, growing from the original 
root system.

A tree is home to an amazing amount of life. As it matures and declines, it hosts an increasing number of organisms — from mold and bacteria to algae and fungi, to insects and spiders to woodpeckers and raccoons. Fallen limbs continue to feed and shelter numerous life forms as they decompose and enrich the soil.

For an old tree, dying isn’t an occurrence but more of a gradual transformation. Our Kentucky coffee tree demonstrates how a treasured old tree need not be destroyed. It can stand for many years as wildlife habitat.