Clarke County Committee Working to Bring Broadband Internet Access to All

By Rebecca Maynard
Most Clarke County residents seem to love what it has to offer – beautiful scenery, a close-knit community and low population density thanks to a commitment to land preservation.
With low population density, however, comes one challenge that has only become an issue in recent years: access to reliable, fast broadband internet access. Clarke County’s new Broadband Implementation Committee is intent on addressing that challenge and invites interested community members to visit its website,
Committee member Brandon Stidham, Clarke County’s planning director, explained that the Board of Supervisors, at the recommendation of a study commissioned by the Atlantic Group, formed the Broadband Implementation Committee. The committee consists of two Board members, Mary Daniel and Bev McKay; and two Planning Commissioners, Robina Bouffault and Scott Kreider.
The Committee meets on an as-needed basis. Meeting dates are posted to the website.
The purposes of the Committee, which began meeting this May, are to:

Coordinate the efforts of the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission to improve broadband internet access for County residents and businesses.

Work with industry representatives to determine how to expand broadband internet availability and identify obstacles to this expansion.

Work with citizens, business owners, and stakeholders to identify broadband needs.

In the context of Internet access, broadband is used to mean any high-speed Internet access that is always on and faster than traditional dial-up access. About 19 million
Americans still don’t have access to broadband internet, which the Federal Communication Commission defines as offering a minimum of 25 megabits per second (MBPS) download speeds and 3 MBPS upload speeds. Those who do have broadband access often find it’s too expensive, unreliable, or has prohibitive data caps that make it unusable for modern needs.
“People have to be able to run their agricultural businesses, which is a major economic factor, right behind electricity and probably ahead of phones,” said committee member Mary Daniel, who represents the Berryville district on the Clarke County Board of Supervisors.
Both Daniel and Stidham stressed that the new committee is not a provider, but rather a means to work with providers and help residents understand their options. They hope the website will be a valuable tool in providing information.
“The first comment on the website that we got was, ‘Why isn’t the county doing anything about getting internet available for the community?’” Daniel said. “Internet isn’t regulated like a utility and nobody has to have an agreement with the county to even provide it.”
Stidham explained that a request for information was sent to all aspects of the communication industry – such as Wireless Internet Service Providers, companies that lay fiber optic cable, and companies that build cell towers, asking an important question: What efforts can the county focus on to improve broadband and telecommunications access short of investing county taxpayer dollars?
“We expected and received a wide variety of responses to that, and since receiving those responses, the county has been meeting with some of the providers,” he said.
Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) are the best option at this time for many county residents, Stidham said, and there are currently four or five WISPs serving
Clarke County.
“We’re lucky to have several WISPS serving our county, considering there are places with none,” Stidham said.
The service is provided via a special antenna connected to the home or business by the provider, and the challenge is that it requires a clear line of sight to a tower or other structure that houses the provider’s transmission antenna. This method of service can be limited by tree coverage, terrain, or other obstructions to a clear line of sight.
“The line of sight issue is a challenge, but one of the things we learned through discussions with the WISPs is that if they have a pocket of homes that are within close proximity to one another, they can put a short tower on one of the properties that has the best line of sight to where their main tower is and use that as a feeder antenna to beam the Internet to the houses in that vicinity,” Stidham said.
“A lot of folks out there probably don’t even know that that is a possibility,” he said, in terms of identifying homeowners who might be willing to have a short tower on
their property.
Another effort the committee made was working to change the county’s height regulations for towers. Previously, the limit was just 100 feet and the county now allows towers in most places as tall as 199 feet with a special use permit.
One of the goals the committee would like to achieve with the website is to identify local businesses that provide free broadband Internet access to their customers. The Clarke County Library, located in the Berryville Joint Government Center, has high-speed fiber optic broadband which is available free, and the committee hopes to soon add other businesses to the list.
In our quickly changing world, students are relying more and more on the Internet, and to help students succeed who do not have reliable access at home, the Clarke County Education Foundation has donated funding to the Kajeet Project (, which provides students with a small, portable device that allows them to connect to a lightning fast 4G network.
Any Wi-Fi-compatible device students use is filtered specifically for school assignment use; inappropriate and non-education content is filtered and cannot be accessed. The SmartSpot makes it easy for on-the-go students to safely complete their homework and off-campus assignments without worries of abuse and unnecessary distractions.
For more information on the Kajeet project in Clarke County, visit the “News and Projects” section of
Residents are encouraged to take advantage of all the new website has to offer, and anyone with further questions is invited to attend the committee’s next meeting, which will be held Monday, November 27 at 2pm in the Joint
Government building.

A Holiday with History

by Keith Patterson
We are blessed to live in a place that hearkens back to the fondest of our memories. The TV shows, movies, greeting cards, songs and jingles on the radio that seem so iconic in depicting the idyllic America of our collective nostalgia are actually describing the lives that we lead here in Clarke County. And never is it more evident than during the Holiday Season, as we remember those who have come before us, who lived and loved and died and suffered and prospered and all those who are still contributing their collective threads to the rich tapestry that is our ongoing cultural heritage.
There’s an old plaque in Berryville’s town square that gives a nice synopsis of the local history. After you’ve read said plaque, look around and up or down Main Street from where you’re standing. There is abundant history in either direction. Venture into and about our happy and historic town and you will not only encounter that rich history but also discover a whole boatload of happenings, both new and
traditional, the usual raft of drama and intrigue not-withstanding, that you may want to consider for your November and December Holidays Calendars.
On Friday, December 1 from 6–6:30 pm, the Berryville Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony will feature the Community Band playing Christmas carols while the local citizenry in attendance sing along by candlelight. The Clarke County High School Carolers will sing a few songs, the Parking Meter Contest winners will be announced and Mayor Dickinson will officially start our holiday season by lighting our town Christmas tree!
On Saturday, December 2, at 1pm, the annual Holiday Parade down Main Street is a tradition that goes back beyond the reaches of anybody’s memories that I’ve interviewed. It is and has ALWAYS been at 1pm on the first Saturday in December. See you there!
Also on December 2, The Firehouse Gallery at 23 E. Main Street presents a holiday art show, “Animal Portraits,” featuring the work of local artists, including silly cow-face raconteur, yours truly, Keith Patterson, and a wonderful new artist to the Firehouse Gallery, Michelle Sloane. The show will run through the end of the month. On Saturday, December 2, from 3–4 pm, there will be an opening celebration featuring some fine local wines and some live acoustic blues music by Jimi Frank.
Berryville Main Street has been very busy. New Director Liz Ryan is bringing some fresh vision and a lot of energy to the scene. There has been a makeover at the Firehouse Gallery. From the new interior paint job to the updated and improved selections of original artworks, prints, cards, jewelry, woodwork and ceramics, the Firehouse Gallery is one of Berryville’s premier destinations.
To kick-off the Holiday Season, Barns of Rose Hill, our local Cultural Arts Center, is offering-up a very special sale of 19th, 20th and 21st century artworks. This is a wonderful opportunity for art lovers, art collectors and gift-buyers. A Little Art Sale opens in the Upper Gallery and runs December 1– 24. The opening reception will be on December 3 from 1–2 pm. There are several works from such esteemed and beloved artists as Don Black, Ron Heath, Ed Cooper and Eric Mohn, as well as several other works by noted local and regional artists and a set of four 19th Century etchings by Sydney Robert Jones. Whether it’s a classic 19th Century oil portrait, or beautiful, pastoral landscape, you’re likely to find a treasure at the Little Art Sale.
A few of the featured artists:
Don Black came to art from a long career in music. He is now a tenured Professor Emeritus of music at Shenandoah University. In 1984 he began painting in oils and then began mastering watercolors. He has had major retrospectives and is represented in collections throughout the United States, Canada and across Europe.
Ed Cooper has lived, loved and painted the great outdoors since early childhood. He has won many awards for his plein air oil landscapes and has authored a definitive book on the subject “Painting Landscapes on Toned Surfaces with Alkyds.”
Eric Mohn’s watercolors are filled with the American tradition. From his Amish of Lancaster County scenes to his beautiful renditions of historic homes, his passion for his subject matter shines through.
Also at Barns of Rose Hill, December 3 at 2pm, immediately following the reception for A Little Art Sale, there is a Yuletide dance performance by the Blue Ridge Dance Studio. And in the performance hall at 3 pm, following the dance performance, there will be a Holidays Choral Concert by the Clarke County High School Choirs.
The Little Art Sale Reception as well as the dance performance and choral concerts are all free to the public.
Sunday, December 10 brings us the annual Holiday Homes Tour, presented by Berryville Main Street. Come out to Historic Berryville for a self-guided tour of private homes and Rosemont Manor, all decorated beautifully for the holidays.
All tours begin at the Firehouse Gallery 23 E. Main Street. Homes on the tour are not wheelchair or stroller accessible. No food or drinks will be allowed inside of the homes on the tour. Refreshments are available at the Firehouse Gallery.
Free Parking is available at the municipal lot next to Dollar General or along Main Street, Church Street, and Crow Street, where there are decorated parking meters or on Buckmarsh Street and Crow Street near the historic tour homes. Restrooms available at Firehouse Gallery.
Advance tickets are $15 per person (children 12 & under free when accompanied by adult). Tickets will be on sale the day of the tour for $20 per person at the Firehouse Gallery 23 E. Main Street. For information and to purchase tickets visit or call 540.955.4001.
Saturday, December 16 at 6pm, the Barns of Rose Hill presents the Yuletide Feast Holiday Dinner. Tickets are $75 per person. This sumptuous dining experience features extremely limited King’s Style seating. You will be greeted with a cup of Wassail and feted with delicious and kingly delights as the King and Queen preside with pride over a passionate troupe of paid, period performers for your relaxation and entertainment.
Contact or call 540-955-2004 for
more information.

A Passion for Art and Dachshunds

By Claire Stuart
Clarke County artist Constance Belle Fisher invites you to visit her Northlight Studio open house on December 9 as part of the Top of Virginia Artisan Trail’s Open Door Tour. Influenced by the French Impressionists, Fisher loves to explore the use of mood and light in her works. She enjoys painting the old barns, churches and small towns of rural America, and she has worked in watercolor, oil and acrylic. Her paintings are in private collections across the United States and exhibited in many competitions.
“You’ll never make a living doing that,” countless hopeful artists have heard from their parents, including Fisher. However, there are many practical ways that determined artists can make a living, even if they are not exactly what the artist dreamed about. They pay the bills (and can be quite interesting) while artists continue to pursue their dreams of doing fine art.
Fisher, born in Pennsylvania, started showing her talent as an artist as a small child. When she was just in fourth grade, she won a scholarship to Carnegie Mellon College of Fine Art’s Saturday School, where she studied until her father was transferred to Baltimore. She continued to study art at Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore Community College, Towson University and Johns Hopkins University.
Upon the recommendation of her high school art teacher, she applied to Hopkins’ Department of Art as Applied to Medicine. There, she worked as a medical illustrator, a highly-specialized field in which anatomical structures have to be rendered in extremely accurate detail. Fisher spent several years at Hopkins, providing
illustrations for doctors to use in their seminars and publications in prestigious
medical journals.
“Some of my work appeared in a book on the history of cardiac surgery,” she reported.
Over the years, she worked designing ads for the Yellow Pages phone directory and as a staff artist for a four-color magazine in Washington, D.C., a job she describes as
graphic oriented.
She has lived in Clarke County over two decades, and over the last ten years, has gotten back into fine art. She has continued to study with well-known artists and to keep growing her skills, and she was getting ready to head for a painting workshop.
“I’m trying to reinvent myself,” she declared, “and I try to combine different techniques. I even did one painting with a palette knife! I quit oils years ago because the only thing you could thin them with was turpentine, and the smell was overwhelming! Now I’m into acrylics because you can water them down, and like oils, you can still build up layers of thickness.”
While her earlier art had generally been representational, she is now exploring the freedom of abstracts. “I’m trying to be looser, more expressive. I’m hoping to evolve.”
Art is not Fisher’s only passion. She loves dogs, especially the standard long-haired Dachshunds that she has been breeding and showing for 30 years. She has met a lot of interesting people through their connections with dogs, including her husband, whom she met at the Westminster Dog Show. One of her dogs, Meri Cassatt, won a prize at Westminster in 1991. She and her husband are both American Kennel Club judges, and she has travelled as far as Australia for judging.
Through dog shows, she met her best friend, Sidney Frissell Stafford, whose mother was a famous photographer, Toni Frissell. Frissell had worked for Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Life, and became the first woman photographer for Sports Illustrated. She photographed American troops in Europe during World War II and the rich and famous, from movie stars to Eleanor Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. She photographed John Kennedy’s wedding. When she died, she bequeathed her photos to the Library of Congress.
After her mother’s death, Stafford decided to put together a book of her mother’s photos. “She wanted me to be a part of the book project,” Fisher reported, “and I went with her to the Library of Congress.”
They sifted through mountains of photos and papers, and then, of course, the book needed a publisher. Jackie Onassis was then an editor at Doubleday, and Stafford was sufficiently connected to pitch it to her. Onassis met the women at the Library of Congress and took them to lunch! The book, Toni Frissell Photographs 1933-1967, was published by Doubleday in 1994, with an introduction by George Plimpton, and Fisher’s assistance is acknowledged in the book.
Stafford passed away six years ago, and Fisher adopted one of her dogs, who now works as a reading therapy dog at the library.
Fisher hopes to see everyone at her Crum’s Church Road studio on December 2. Original paintings as well as limited edition giclée prints will be available for purchase. And Fisher will be happy to talk to you about dogs!
Visit her web site at:

Margaret Barthel, Berryville Treasure

By Edith Welliver
Berryville is lucky to have held a little population of delightful people over the years, drawn in from the surrounding county. One particular such asset is Margaret Barthel, the attractive little lady in neatly pressed slacks with numerous sidewalk conversations along the way. She is someone everyone wants to talk to.
Margaret was born in Gaylord, up by the West Virginia line. She remembers the town’s post office and granary and railroad tracks. In fact, as a child she had the rare privilege of hanging up the mail bag for a postal agent to grab from its hook as the train rolled past. However, she entered school in Berryville while Gaylord’s small elementary school was temporarily out of service. She started at the Academy Street brick school house, of which reused bricks still survive in homes on the site. She stayed through graduation from Berryville High, before it became Clarke County High School.
In high school Margaret had a teacher for commercial subjects who formed a little orchestra and introduced her to the violin, which became a particular joy, although she wasn’t able because of gas rationing to continue out-of-town lessons. The friendship grew even after Miss Mary Roberts Pugh, nicknamed Robbie, moved away, married, was eventually widowed, suffered gracefully and independently through macular degeneration until she finally had to move to an assisted living community. Their intermittent correspondence, regular every Christmas, found Margaret as the information source about Berryville people whom Mary remembered and inquired about over the years until her death last February at ninety-nine.
The commercial courses paid off when Margaret graduated and looked for a job. For a while she joined her elder sister Clara at the telephone company, but in an odd way the local draft board redirected her. It summoned repeatedly a young man employed at the Bank of Clarke County without inducting him. When he finally was actually called into service, the bank drafted Margaret as his replacement in the
bookkeeping department.
From there she learned other new duties and became a teller for years, popular with the many many customers she tactfully served. She has a smile as she recalls the procedures with pen and ink and adding machines that have disappeared today. It was policy, for instance, not to correct customers’ errors while they were present with others waiting. The corrections were indeed made, but quietly when no one else would witness the mistake.
In 1963 Margaret and Clara moved from Fairfield into the house on Chalmers Court, where Margaret lives today amid the family heirlooms. She was the driver for the household, so people regularly saw the two sisters together. Margaret sadly lost Clara in 2016, but she still drives a veritable taxi service for a number of friends. When she is not behind the wheel, she loves to “dig in the dirt”, she says, growing vegetables and flowers and living close to nature as the
seasons revolve.
Wars came and went. Margaret worked for the Red Cross as a volunteer, and, though she says she isn’t a “joiner”, she was—and is—active tirelessly in the church. As a very little girl she was an Episcopalian, but by the time she entered school, her family changed to Berryville Presbyterian Church, following a men’s Sunday school teacher whom her father particularly admired.
She went from the children’s Sunday school classes and community-wide summer Bible school sessions, in which a number of churches participated, to youth activities and then, with her mother and sister, to Presbyterian Women. She has especially appreciated her contacts through the women’s group with others across the district, the Presbytery. For a period she served as chairwoman for an area that included parts of West Virginia as well as the upper Shenandoah Valley.
On Sunday, November 5, Berryville Presbyterian Church awarded Margaret a well-deserved Honorary Life Membership status in Presbyterian Women, with a certificate and pin to recognize her years of devoted service. She is as much involved as time permits, rehearsing and singing with the choir, contributing to Bible study circle discussions, and managing the little local treasury for an international Least Coin missions project. When a member recently introduced the congregation to a program that creates sleeping mats made from plastic shopping bags, Margaret joined the weekly work days of
the women.
She keeps the Berryville congregation aware of district, national, and international activities by reporting from her reading of the Presbyterian Women’s Horizons publication and the wider church’s Presbyterians Today. She is an avid reader.
If you are one of the few people in Clarke County who haven’t yet met Margaret Barthel, don’t miss the opportunity. She is modestly, gently a “people person”, easy to talk to, a fountain of knowledge, and a pleasure to know.

You said what? Not hearing can have unintended consequences

By Karen Cifala
Picture a woman sitting on the exam table getting a check-up and the doctor says, “Big breaths,” as he listens to her chest. And she says “they used to be.” We make fun of that type of misinterpretation every day and we can laugh at it, but for many people, living with a loss of hearing has far-
reaching implications.
Statistics show nearly 48 million people in our county experience age-related hearing losses, including seniors between the ages of 70-79, yet only one in seven uses a hearing aid, mostly due to the high cost. Medicare and most private insurance plans do not cover hearing aids, and the out of pocket costs run anywhere from $900-$3,500 or more per ear, not including the batteries and other supplies. Being unable to fully engage in life because of a hearing loss can negatively impact a senior’s health when it’s left untreated.

If you, or someone you know has a hearing loss, here are some of the symptoms and their associated consequences that you should be aware of;

Anger, stress and loss of alertness that affect your daily activities. These may progress into more serious outcomes such as physical safety  in completing daily activities.

Withdrawing from conversations or discussions. This may create a feeling of isolation by not admitting you can’t hear or fear of appearing weak or helpless, you just stop socializing with others.

Depression or being sad and lonely. It can creep up on you from being isolated, and may result in not only lack of socialization, but other personal risks like unhealthy eating and unintentional weight loss, sedentary days with no exercise that can create weakness and eventually loss
of independence.

Signs of dementia. Even with moderate hearing loss, research shows the cognitive loss triples the risk, and a severe hearing loss increases dementia risk by five times. Muscles atrophy when you don’t use them-so does your brain when you have hearing loss.

Falls. When you have a hearing loss, you miss the signals that your ears usually pick up that help with balance.
So here is the good news:  A bi-partisan bill was passed in August 2017 called the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act as part of the Food and Drug Administration Reauthorization Act of 2017. Sponsored by Massachusetts Senator Democrat Elizabeth Warren with the help of Republican Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, this bill creates a new class of hearing aids that you can purchase over the counter without a doctor’s appointment. The cost will
approximately be a tenth of the cost of traditional hearing aids. The Senate voted 94-1 to pass it, and the president signed it into law. This bi-partisan support will have a life changing effect for millions of Americans. For those with mild to moderate hearing impairment, this legislation will ensure that these hearing aids meet the same high standardsas all FDA-regulated medical devises.
Make a commitment this season to get yourself and your senior loved ones engaged in the holiday conversations around the table this year. Reconnecting your loved one to the world around them is a gift and it will greatly improve your senior’s quality of life. Bypass the old excuses for not wearing one, and let them know that technology has made great strides for hearing aids making them more user-friendly
and wearable.

Where to start when purchasing or helping your senior purchase a hearing aid:

Visit an audiologist. There may be a reason for the loss of hearing that a hearing aid
can’t fix.

Don’t buy a cheap, low-quality hearing aid. These just amplify all the sounds making hearing conversations more difficult.

Seek out options. If you can’t afford to buy a good hearing aid or need a referral, consult
these resources.

Lions Club. For information, call Sharon or Greg Hart at
540-955-6229. Each Lions Club is independently run, and they each have ongoing relationships with audiologists in the local areas where you live. The Lions Club has access to help make hearing aids available and help reduce costs. They provide a free service with The Sight and Hearing Mobile Screening Unit which is outfitted with two vision screening stations, two hearing booths with new state-of-the-art audiometers, and one station for
glaucoma screenings.

Starkey Hear Now. The program helps low-income clients with the purchase of a hearing device. Call 800-328-8602 or email, or visit

Audient. An alliance for accessible hearing care, Audient provides low-income hearing care through a network of providers – 866-956-5400 or go to .

Social Services in Clarke County. Call the agency at

Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging. Call 540-635-7141 or visit

Learn more at the Wellness Festival. On February 24, 2018, Valley Health and Shenandoah University sponsors The Lions at the Wellness Festival at Apple Blossom Mall from 10am. to 6pm. They will be doing free sight, hearing and glaucoma, and children’s vision screenings.
Encourage your senior to wear the hearing aid regularly so they can reap the rewards. Keep them clean and take good care of them. If possible, get insurance for them to cover misplacement or loss or forgetting to take off before getting in the shower (some are waterproof though).  The technology has come a long way, and some of them can even be connected to smartphones, MP3 players, TVs etc., and can be recharged similar to recharging a smartphone, eliminating the need
for batteries.
Karen Cifala is a Remax agent in Clarke County. She can be reached at her office located 101 E. Main St. in Berryville, 540-955-0911, on her cell 303-817-9374 or by email

Functional Training For Everyday Health And Fitness

By Claressa Mees, Manager, Anytime Fitness

When it comes to getting into the routine of consistently working out, there are many challenges we can face — lack of time, lack of motivation, and oftentimes lack of guidance. We are excited to share with you some tips to help you as an individual get to a healthier place in your fitness journey. These two tips are general and may vary for each individual depending on where you are  in your fitness journey.
1. Accountability: The power of accountability is endless. Whether it is a friend, family member, or even a trainer; accountability will get you on the right track to helping you reach your health and fitness goals.
Here are 5 tips to helping you stay accountable:
Schedule out your training sessions ahead of time. Don’t wait until the last minute to schedule your weekly workouts. Plan ahead.
Communicate your goals (both long and short term). Tell one or two people who will check up on you and make sure you are still on track to reaching your goals.
Plan your daily meals. Don’t get caught in a crunch where drive-through dinner is the easiest route. If you plan ahead, you can plan to pack a healthy meal on days or evenings when you cannot cook at home.
Write out your goals and put them somewhere you can see them everyday.
Get plugged in. You cannot do this alone. You need a support system, motivation and guidance to help you reach your health and fitness goals.
You don’t want to miss out on all of the benefits getting your health journey started will bring you. So the question that remains is this, why not start today?
2. Functional Training: Functional training is a style of exercise which involves training the body for daily life activities. These exercises equip your body to handle real-life situations.
Most functional exercises contain multi-joint movements. What do I mean by that? I mean that in most functional exercises, you’ll probably use your knees, your hips, and possibly even your shoulder joints. It all comes down to being practical.
Functional training is important because you use various muscles in the upper and lower body at the same time, functional fitness exercises also emphasize core stability.
Here are some benefits of functional training:
Increases Strength. Functional exercises increase your strength.  This is because most functional exercises can increase your core strength and stability. The more stable your foundation, the stronger you are.
Most exercises on machines have a great purpose and isolate your muscles. This is excellent for mass building, but if you want to increase your strength, you should build the stability muscles.
By increasing your core strength and surrounding muscles, you can go up on your maximum weight for those isolating exercises.
We rarely encounter isolating movements in our day-to-day life. If I’m shoveling dirt in my flower bed, I’m not just using my biceps and my triceps to move the shovel. I’m using my legs (quads) to push the shovel, my lower back to bend over and lift, and my arms and abs to move the dirt away.
Improves balance and stability. There are plenty of things in life that can throw off your balance or stability. It’s important to emulate these things in the gym so we can prepare ourselves for the outside world. Remember, a truly fit lifestyle is not about how fit we look, it’s about how fit we live. What good is working out if it doesn’t prepare us and strengthen us for every day activities?
A great example of a functional exercise that increases stability is a lunge with a shoulder press. If you ever find yourself reaching for a box above the cabinet or a shelf and then walking backwards after you grab it, you’ll be glad you practiced this exercise.
Reduces risk of injury. Functional exercises can greatly decrease your risk of injury in the outside world. In my time in the fitness industry, I have never seen one person injured by a proper deadlift or a squat. I have, however, seen plenty of people who have been injured picking up a brick, a potted plant, or lifting soil bags and throwing out their back.
These injuries occur to your smaller muscles when you least expect it. A great exercise to equip you for these movements is a Lateral Shuffle Bar Pickup. This will help you train for the simple movement of picking something up and moving it over.
Functional Training is for everyone!

As the Crow Flies Wrens: The Cave Birds

 Story and illustration by Doug Pifer
As the sun broke through the rain clouds, a Carolina wren sat on the arm of a wooden yard chair next to our big forsythia bush, singing for all he was worth. His wet and molting feathers looked bedraggled but the sun was shining, his mate was perched nearby, and all was right in his world.
I love wrens. They go cheerily about their business hunting spiders in shadowy places, tails cocked upwards, wings quivering and eyes aglitter. Hereabouts we have the house wren, the Carolina wren and the winter wren. Two others, the marsh wren and the sedge wren, are less
often seen.
House wrens are summer residents, arriving in April with their bubbling songs and distinctive chatter. I can tell if a house wren has taken over a birdhouse when it’s stuffed with small sticks and twigs.  In spring, the unmated males frantically build “dummy” nests in strategic spots within their territories. Desperate to show off their skill at house building to prospective mates, they know that a female house wren will select the male whose nest suits her best. As she investigates each nest, the male lurks nearby, looking fretful and nervous. Should she choose to stay, his fluttering wings and shivering tail betray his joy — “she likes it!’
Wrens seem to prefer spiders as food, but also do them a service by providing a winter home. When I clean out my bird houses in the early spring, I notice the old wren nests are full of the white, silky cocoons that jumping spiders surround themselves with to hibernate. One wren nest might contain twenty or more hibernating jumping spiders, each snugly encased in a
silken hibernaculum.
Carolina wrens are year-round residents who prefer nesting near humans, building their mossy nests in unusual places. Over the years we’ve had Carolina wrens nesting in a bucket hanging in an old shed, a forgotten Christmas wreath, and in the container under a hanging plant. Pairs of Carolina wrens sing and call to each other all day long throughout the year, but around the nest site they’re so quiet they’re often undetected until the young are ready to fledge.
The seasonal counterpart of the house wren, the winter wren shows up here between October and April. Tiny and dark brown with a stubby tail, this is the “Jenny Wren” of Britain and Europe. In the USA, it summers in the North Woods of New England and Canada. Winter wrens haunt woodsy streams with mossy rocks and overhanging tree roots. There they skulk and chatter, making a lot of noise for a bird the size of my thumb. Last year toward the end of March I heard one singing from the little stream that runs through our woods. Softly repetitive, it reminded me of one of those antique clockwork birds. The winter wren is the quintessential wren, more mouse than bird.  Its scientific name, Troglodytes, “cave dweller,” is also the name of the wren family, the Troglodytidae.
Truly “cave birds”, wrens boldly investigate every cleft in the rocks, tree cavity, brush pile, barn, shed, or bird house, whether occupied or not.

American Conservation Film Festival Screens 15th Season

46 Exceptional Films on Wildlife, Rivers, Climate Change, Trees, and Conservation Heroes
The 15th annual American Conservation Film Festival opens Thursday, October 12th with a festive reception and free film screening and culminates with its Encore Award Winners Weekend October 20-22. The Festival brings together the finest conservation films and filmmakers from around the world and features discussions with scientists and educators, professional workshops, family programming, and social events — all with the mission of engaging, informing, and inspiring its audience through the power of film.
Green Fire Award winning film, Disobedience, tells the story of the powerful movement coming together across the globe to defend our planet from fossil fuels and climate change and the profound legacy of civil disobedience that has inspired these courageous activists to action.
The Gateway Bug, the 2017 Green Spark Award winner for Inspiring the Next Generation, exposes America’s disconnect with food as climate catastrophe, uncovering daily habits individuals can change to fix our broken food system.  The film is followed by a special tasting of bug protein products with local entomophagy enthusiast Steve Bailes preparing some tasty treats to share with film-goers in the Frank Center lobby!
As a special free event during our Encore Weekend, ACFF presents a film block dedicated to the relationship between earth stewardship and faith, with a presentation by Randy Tremba, recently retired Pastor of Shepherdstown
Presbyterian Church.
At four venues in and around Shepherdstown, ACFF invites its audience to explore the world through an offering of 46 compelling films. Several filmmakers and subject matter experts will be present during the festival and participating in discussions following the screenings of their films.
The Conservation Filmmaker Workshop is offered October 13 and 14 at the National Conservation Training Center and Byrd Center of Congressional History & Education to aspiring and professional filmmakers who wish to hone their craft, exchange ideas in a creative and collaborative environment, and expand their professional network with colleagues and industry leaders.  An exceptional opportunity awaits filmmakers who wish to pitch a film idea to a Pitch Panel of industry experts and compete for a $2,000 prize sponsored by The Allemall Foundation.
ACFF presents seven cash awards to outstanding festival films: the Green Fire Award for overall excellence in filmmaking; Green Spark Awards for highlighting sustainability, a conservation hero, and inspiring the next generation; International Film Award; Short Film Award; the Student Filmmaker Award, a $500 cash prize awarded to an emerging student filmmaker sponsored by The Friends of NCTC; and the Audience Choice Award. All of the award-winning films will be shown on the encore weekend of the Festival, October 20-22.
Full festival passes, allowing entrance to all films over both festival weekends are $55; First weekend passes are $40; second weekend passes are $25; and block tickets are $10. Senior discounts are available. Students 18 & younger are admitted free to all films as
space allows.
2017 Festival Trailer:
Film descriptions, schedule,
and ticket info:
Follow ACFF on:
Facebook (,
Instagram (@conservationfilmfest)
and Twitter (@ConservationFF).

Love at First Bite

by Claire Stuart

There is one thing that all human cultures have in common — life’s most important events are celebrated over food.  We all have cherished memories of a holiday meal from our childhood or a special dish that Mom or Grandma made.
Lisa Trumbower-Sheppard of Love at First Bite never planned to become a caterer. She studied to be a professional photographer, taught photography, sold cameras, and landed a job with a master photographer who ran a high-end photo studio in Great Falls. They frequently photographed lavish parties, and she was fascinated with the catering process, from the unloading of the food and setting up the mobile kitchen to the artistic presentation of the food.
“It was creative,” she recalled, “and you were part of an important event. That’s when I knew it was what I wanted to do.”
Trumbower-Sheppard got to know the Great Falls caterer through those events and eventually asked if she’d take her on.  The caterer did, and the rest is 27 years of history!
“I started on commission only, doing off-premises catering. Then I went on to Lansdowne Resort as Director of Catering and did on-premises corporate catering.”
Her own catering business began as a hobby and grew, but she keeps it at low volume to maintain the warmth and creativity that goes into
every event.
“We are not a cookie-cutter caterer. Every event is custom created for the client’s needs, from the menu and decorations to the equipment and the staff. It’s fun to talk to clients and get to know them.”
The number of staff varies with the event’s requirements, but Trumbower-Sheppard has a core of people she depends on. She emphasizes that they are an essential part of the process and lend their personal touches to the creation of
successful events.
“We work as a team. I can’t do it by myself.”
 Love at First Bite caters everything from parties and life events to corporate functions, galas and fund-raisers. They’ll even do an all-dessert event if you want one!
“We can adapt to any degree of formality, from moon-bounces to champagne brunches. We’ve done white-glove fine dining for 10 people and company picnics for 500. We are well-known for providing something for everyone—picky eaters, hearty appetites, vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free diets “
Trumbower-Sheppard is always ready to try new things.  She says that she works very hard when she is at work, but when she’s off, she likes to travel and absorb the food culture, try things and think about how she can adapt them. For the past four years, she has attended a catering convention in Las Vegas to learn about what’s new.
“I try them out in my own kitchen,” she reported. “Then I have a ‘guinea pig party’ for tasting new things.  If they are appealing, then I find the right event to introduce them.”
She says that her favorite events are heavy hors d’oeuvre receptions, “with lots of little nibbles. They give us an opportunity to display food artistically. It’s the most fun!”
The local auction is a source for all sorts of interesting props and accessories that make for unique “tablescapes.” Trumbower-Sheppard noted that appealing presentation of the food is essential for any event.  “Every event is like a canvas that I get to paint!  It’s well-known that you ‘lead first with your eyes.’”
She was always aware of the warmth and impact that food provided as she watched her mother prepare meals. “Mom was a cloth napkin lady,” she recalled. “We never had a jar of ketchup on the table—it was always in a bowl with a spoon. That’s what we try to do—make it really special.”
Her own favorite main dish is chicken curry. Her favorite dessert is the hot milk sponge cake that her Grandma made. “I still have her hand-written recipe card and her sponge cake pan.”
There is no hard-and-fast rule about how far in advance an event needs to be booked. Some events are booked a year or more in advance, but you might get in the same week. It all depends on the event size and how busy they are. Some things, of course, like celebrations of life, can’t be planned in advance.
Love at First Bite can create memorable meals and a festive atmosphere for most holidays and seasonal celebrations, but they do NOT do Thanksgiving!
They have travelled as far as Washington, D.C. and will serve a radius of about 50 miles, but most of their business is around Winchester, Clarke County and western Loudon.
As Trumbower-Sheppard reminds us, “The most important ingredient is love—and that’s why we are called Love at First Bite.”
For more information and a look at menus, visit or call