Scotch and Cigars Evening to 
Benefit Connect-Vets Organization

By Rebecca Maynard

If you are in search of an entertaining evening and would also like to support an important cause, come on out to the Scotch and Cigars evening on Saturday, May 27. Held from 2 to 9pm at the Berryville VFW Post 9760, 425 S. Buckmarsh Street, the evening will include three tastings and a raffle draw with a $25 
entrance fee. 

“In December 2019, Samuel Marx unknowingly began a mission of hope,” reads the Connect-Vets website. While working with a nonprofit whose mission was to give all that wanted it Basic First Aid Training, he found a need 
for veterans.

Many veterans were coming in, updating their training and sharing stories, and quite a few were the same. They were struggling to pay bills, buy food or even cover copay costs. As a veteran himself, Samuel wanted to find a solution, so he created Connect-Vets, an 
organization that would connect veterans to help in their time of need. Six months into the new venture, it was clear that although there are support services for veterans, many were falling through the gaps or just not able to 
get help.

In Late 2020, Samuel refocused his idea for Connect-Vets and created its website,, which is solely focused on supporting veterans in their time of need. By the end of 2022, Connect-Vets had donated over $450,000 worth of support.

The Scotch and Cigars evening in Berryville was organized to benefit the Connect-Vets organization’s Lights-on/Heat-on/AC-on program, which helps fund veterans struggling to pay their 
utility bills.

“My husband is a Marine Corps Veteran, so helping vets is very personal to me,” said Clarke County resident 
Stacie Garner, Vice President of Fundraising for Connect-Vets. “A friend of mine and I were discussing how so many vets struggle with civilian life after service and there are so many ways they can be helped to assimilate after service.”

Tickets are on sale now a
nd can be bought online at, or by emailing Garner at stacie@

Coach Is…

A Remembrance for Coach Emmart

Clarke County and the Clarke County High School community morns the loss of Coach Brent Emmart. CCHS alumnus Matthew Bass shares this poetic tribute. 

“Coach Is…” 

By Matthew Bass

Coach isn’t just X’s and O’s
Coach isn’t just go hard or go home

Coach is you and I, eye to eye
No lies, only truth between us
Stand up like you mean it
And don’t ever tell me it can’t be done

Coach is we do this together 
You know there is no “I” in team 
Just like there is no “I” in dream
And we live and dream this together
As a team

Coach is whatever you need
Whenever you need it
We hold each other 
Accountable at all times

Coach is hear me now, loud and clear
No such thing as fear
We are crystal clear in our purpose
Out here under the lights nothing can hurt us

Coach is parent, teacher, leader
Part-time babysitter, friend, and mentor
Coach is the voice that echoes across decades

Coach is still Coach when you see them years later
So, when Coach unexpectedly departs
This game of life too soon, the void is great

But Coach is and always will be
No matter the odds, or how tough it may seem
Get it together, play on

Because Coach is I got you, this team’s got you
These people got you, forever
Gone is not forgotten
So rest easy now, Coach Emmart
We got you.

Clarke County Board of Supervisors member Matthew Bass is a 2002 graduate of Clarke County High School, where as a student athlete (baseball/golf) he witnessed firsthand the formation of an iconic coaching brotherhood that endures to this day and mourns the loss of one its foundational members, Coach Brent Emmart.

Viola Brown Lived a Simply Extraordinary Life

Glass Recycling is Back Thanks to One Person Who Volunteered

By Cathy Kuehner 

Thanks to one county resident who is passionate about recycling and reusing material rather than adding it to landfills, other residents can now drop off glass for recycling at the Clarke County Convenience Center on Quarry Road
(Route 612).

Christi McMullen, who lives in the northeast part of the county near the facility for household trash, recently purchased an Expleco glass bottle crusher. It cost her about $7,000. She also purchased a small trailer and heavy-duty liners that make it easier to remove bottles from the trailer. Currently, she sifts the crushed glass by hand, but hopes to one day buy a mechanical sifter for $11,000.

Each weekend in May, McMullen placed her trailer at the Convenience Center as part of a county-approved pilot program. The two unknowns were the level of community support for recycling and the cleanliness of the glass deposited in the trailer.McMullen and county administration are thrilled with the initial results.

Over four weekends, residents placed 2,413 clean glass bottles and jars in McMullen’s recycling trailer. This represents about 2,000 pounds of recycled glass. Those bottles did not go to the landfill; they were ground into reusable sand, and those repurposed bottles saved money for the county.

Joey Braithwaite, county maintenance director, explained, “When the trash compactor is pulled and taken to the Frederick County landfill, Clarke County is charged by weight. With a glass recycling program, the dumpster’s weight will be significantly reduced, which reduces expenses for the Center’s operations.”

Reducing county expenses is good but keeping recyclables out of the landfill is even better. “Clarke County was never able to recycle glass, and when the Convenience Center opened in January 2019, there was no place locally that accepted glass,” Braithwaite said.

Glass is 100 percent recyclable, and it is infinitely recyclable without loss in quality; however, only about 33 percent of glass is recycled in the U.S. Virginia recycles about 10 percent. Why? Glass is heavy and expensive to transport to recycling centers. When glass is tossed into recycling bins, it breaks into bits that are difficult to separate out for recycling. And, since China stopped accepting U.S. recyclables in 2018, recyclers here are increasingly focused on quality and reducing contamination to maintain the value of their recyclable materials.

Many people feel good about placing paper, cardboard, plastic, and glass into recycling bins. But, when other people place materials contaminated with food residue and other trash into recycling bins, it all becomes trash and it all goes to the landfill.McMullen wants to improve the glass recycling rate — at least in Clarke County. “Anyone could buy a glass-crushing machine and do this, too,” she said. “It isn’t hard, but it requires community support.”

Glass is made from sand, and using the glass-crushing machine, McMullen can turn glass bottles and jars back into sand. Once McMullen unloads bottles at home, she sorts it by color, and removes any metal rings that may still be on bottle necks. She places one bottle at a time into the crusher and sifts the crushed glass into different grits or “cullet.” Larger cullet is good for art projects or decorative concrete. Finer grit — coarse sand — can be used in gardens to keep soil moist. The finest cullet is sand, which can be used for children’s sandboxes, flood-prevention sandbags, sandblasting machines, and replenishing beaches affected by coastal erosion. It takes 160 bottles to fill a 5-gallon bucket with fine sand.

Since purchasing the glass crusher in April, McMullen has given away most of the cullet she has made. “We hope to get sand to people who can use it, but it will take a lot of people and more machines to crush all the bottles and jars that would otherwise would go to the landfill,” she said. “I’m not doing this to make money,” McMullen said. “I’m doing this to make 
a difference.”

McMullen wants to be clear. “This is not a recycling business. It is a volunteer project because I love recycling.”

McMullen and her husband John used to move every four years or so because of his work. Now that John is retired, the McMullens have called Clarke County home for the past six years. “We try to give back to our community wherever we live,” she said.

“We are grateful to Christi for coming forward with this idea and being willing to volunteer her time and resources,” said Clarke County Administrator Chris Boies. “This is still a pilot program. At this point we are still evaluating the need and various logistical components of the program.”

Still, Boies hopes McMullen’s glass recycling trailer becomes a fixture at the Clarke County Convenience Center.For the glass recycling project to be successful and continue, all glass deposited in the trailer must be clean. All lids, caps, and corks must be removed. Paper labels are OK. Do not put mirrors, windows, heat-tempered glass such as Pyrex and mixing bowls, ceramic mugs and plates, wine glasses, etc., in the trailer.“

Anybody can reduce the amount of glass that ends up in landfills,” McMullen said. “We can make a big impact in a short amount of time.”

Find more information on McMullen’s Facebook page: Glass Recycling Clarke. Contact her at
Read more about the Clarke County Convenience Center, including its hours of operation, at

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

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