Reinventing Retirement, Boomer style

By Karen Cifala

What do you get when you Google the word retirement? Enough blah blah blah to put you to sleep: “Do I have enough to retire?” “How to retire in 10 steps” Or, “9 things you absolutely shouldn’t do when you retire.”

We’ve all heard that after the so-called “retirement” many Boomers will be, and are, challenged with the fact that they will most likely outlive their retirement savings. Great news, huh? But most are still fresh and active and full of wisdom, and are taking the alternative route of reinventing themselves or embarking on a second “encore” career. This can actually be exciting, and quite a few Boomers are looking forward to retirement. So I went searching for happy retirement stories.

Take Kathy Donovan for instance. A DC-area native having retired from the corporate world of IBM, who moved to Bluemont, Va., with her husband Joe, in search of an encore. After realizing that they would be responsible for paying five years of back real estate taxes on a piece of property they wanted to buy, Kathy started to work out how to remedy that situation. To qualify for the lower tax rate, Kathy needed to have some kind of farm business in order to get the county to change the tax status to their advantage. So, after talking to many people, she concluded that horses were too big — so were cattle — and that bees and bears on the mountain didn’t mesh well.

She ultimately settled on raising Karakul sheep, which are known for their fur that is used for carpets, garments, and footwear. After meeting Kathy and her sheep, I was amazed to see how perfect a choice being a “shepherd” was for her. As exciting a choice this has been for Kathy, being a shepherd is not an easy job day in and day out. She had to learn everything about raising sheep from scratch, from birthing to feeding, shearing, and protecting them.

She has three large Anatolian shepherd dogs that were raised with the sheep to protect the flocks, which comes naturally to the breed. Kathy has expanded her interest by learning how to spin and dye her wool, teaching punch needle rug classes, and participating in festivals. As Kathy reflects back on her choice, which started as a dream, her excitement is obvious as she exclaims, “I have a whole new life of my own!”

Kathy has also started writing a book in her spare time. Search for Checkmate Farm on Facebook to learn more or to get in contact with her.

We all experience the comfort of daily routines from our jobs, the feelings of contribution, and the satisfaction of solving problems. Relationships with other workers and friends give meaning to our lives and are some of the benefits that I have experienced in my past career jobs. Losing those benefits can be hard for some people, whereas carrying that wisdom and knowledge forward after retiring can allow you to experience those benefits in a different way. It may be the key to a positive retirement. Recognizing your past accomplishments can possibly help you find new meaning and help you find a new course in life.

Another fine example is Clarke County resident Jesse Russell, recently retired after 20 years with Clarke Co. government as zoning administrator and economic development guru. I caught up with Jesse and asked what he was up to after his retirement. After a trip to Scotland last year, he says he rides his motorcycle more and is catching up on home projects. With his infinite knowledge of Clarke’s zoning laws and ordinances, it’s no wonder people still seek him out when they have questions. He says he is happy to be of assistance; in fact, he is also lending his expertise as a consultant on special projects for others.

Jesse’s love of history and his community led him to start a research project documenting the integration and desegregation of Clarke County during the 1963–1966 civil rights years. Jesse’s family has been living in Clarke County since the late 1700s.
“This is a story I want to tell for future generations,” says Jesse. “We all know the national story with Rosa Parks, but we don’t hear the small town stories.” In particular, he is documenting one of Clarke County’s famously known sports figures who, because he was black, by law in the early 1960s, was not allowed to hold the Virginia State Championship honor. “This is a story that shouldn’t be lost,” says Jesse.

He is using both written and video documentation for his project. If anyone who lived in Clarke County during those years would like to contribute to his research project, Jesse encourages them to get in touch with him.

Will Rogers once said, “Half of our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save.”

Then there’s this from “Tomorrow can be the beginning of new adventures, new joys and greater successes – how you spend it is up to you.”

Karen Cifala is a realtor with Remax Roots out of the Berryville, Va., office. She can be reached by email at or by phone at 540-955-0911 or her cell, 303-817-9374.

So You Want To Buy A Second House?

By Wendy Gooditis

Every time my husband and I go somewhere nice, we fantasize about buying a house there as a getaway. Our vacation-home fantasies have taken the form of weathered-gray, old-fashioned beach houses, ginger-bready Victorian cottages on a lake or river, sleek little condos near ski resorts — just to name a few.

But then we come home and get back to our everyday lives, and maybe start to think about finances and investments, and start to talk about buying a residential property locally as an investment, to rent out and resell some day. We know there are people out there who have retired very comfortably on income from multiple rental properties.

And then I go to my office and start looking at the day’s new listings, and with every fixer-upper that crosses my screen, I contemplate buying it to fix it up and sell it, as I have done before. All of these second-home purchases have an up-side and a down-side. Some people are suited to these purchases financially and emotionally, while others are not.

First of all, when considering a second house as a vacation house, it is important to be clear about finances. If you want to own the beach house without renting it out, you should understand that many banks require a down payment of up to 30 percent, that the interest on the mortgage may or may not be deductible (depending on the amount of mortgage debt you hold between the two houses), and that you have now doubled your upkeep costs — plus have added the cost of paying someone to do routine maintenance (basic landscaping or repairs) because you’re probably too far away to do it yourself.

If you decide you must rent it out in order to afford it, understand that banks still want to make sure you have a large cushion in case of a lack of renters or major needed repairs. If it is going to be officially rented out as much as possible, you can only use it yourself for up to 14 days. (There is a small window of opportunity for a bit more time in paradise, however, because technically if you’re there doing “maintenance,” that doesn’t count in the 14 days. Shhh…)

The taxes are much too complicated to go into here, but the rental method certainly makes the vacation place affordable for lots of buyers. Some of these buyers plan to retire to that second home, which can make the whole thing pretty practical in terms of what it does or does not do to your capital gains tax situation. Ask an accountant about these aspects of vacation-home ownership.

Next on the list is the question of owning rentals. Depending on your nature, your finances, your choice of property and location, and your luck, this could be the best or the worst idea you’ve ever had! One of our clients always has five tenants, and she absolutely loves being a landlord. Is she just lucky with her tenants, or is it just because she’s incredibly smart and good at being a landlord? You got me. I know she’s smart, but so is another friend of mine who has been much less fortunate, and can’t seem to get a good tenant in his very nice rental house in Winchester.

In the long run, owning good rental properties seems to be a good thing financially. But you have to take it seriously as a sort of part-time job, and decide if you have room in your life to deal with the issues as they arise. A great long-term tenant is wonderful, but a tenant who trashes your house, doesn’t pay, and then costs you money to evict is a huge stress, obviously. If you have bought a good property in a good location, its value may go up as it earns a small income for you each year. Again, talk to your accountant about what goes on with the taxes in this scenario: Between depreciation of the house’s cost, your income bracket, and hopeful rising of property value, the tax game can really work in your favor here over time.

And finally — my personal favorite — is the flip. As attractive as this idea is, it should not be entered into lightly, nor without PLENTY of money to go on with, plus more to fill in the gaps, and a final stash to get you over the time hump. And if you are not able to do a lot of the work yourself, you had better have a really fantastic and ultra-reasonably priced contractor who will commit virtually 100 percent of her/his time to your project to turn it over fast (carrying the costs month-to-month are a huge part of the risk in flipping).

It is possible still to buy a run-down house cheaply enough in a nice enough area that it is worth the money, time, and labor financially to fix it up for a quick resale. But so many people have figured this all out that good prospects are fewer in this area than you might think. And when one does get listed, the house price is often higher than makes sense to flip a house and then sell a few months later, subtracting real estate commissions and closing costs from the profits.

Hopefully you have gathered that the purchase of a second house for any of these purposes can be a great thing for you, but requires lots of research, commitment, and, of course, financial ability. In your research, get up-to-date information from the professionals: an accountant, a lawyer, a mortgage banker, and of course, a real estate agent.

Wendy Gooditis is a real estate agent on the Chip Schutte Real Estate Team with ReMax Roots at 101 East Main St., Berryville, VA 22611, phone (540)955-0911. Wendy would be happy to answer any questions you may have about real estate, and can be reached at or at (540)533-0840.

Progressive Evolution and Contemporary Development

By Jess Clawson

This month concludes a series on the history of vocational and technical education in the U.S. This installment  focuses on the evolution of vocational education during the Progressive Era and current developments. Jess Clawson has a Ph.D. in education history from the University of Florida.

“When I went through school and graduated in ’91, at that point in time, it was called vocational education and it was primarily for students who were going to work, or weren’t sure what they were going to do immediately after high school,” says Cathy Seal, the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Clarke County Schools. “So if you were on a college track, then vocational education wasn’t for you.”

Career and technical education (CTE) has changed quite a bit over time. Its origins reside in black education in the Reconstruction-era South (outlined in Part II of this series). Now, the Commonwealth focuses on college and career readiness for all students, so each student needs a CTE certificate to graduate.

The Progressive Era of the early 20th century brought about vocational education for far more students, especially white students in the urban North. Urbanization and industrialization were significant to centralization of the US after the Civil War.

Industrialization brought people to cities for jobs and directly affected school legislation because schools began to develop a new work-related curriculum. At the same time, the poverty gap widened and became more visible in urban areas. This era came to be seen as one of excess and conspicuous consumption.

Because schools were by this time meant to be a solution for the nation’s social problems, school concerns began to take center stage. School planning became more centralized, comprehensive, and detailed. This resulted in a codified, organized, and hierarchical collection of educational institutions.

At the same time, the federal government came to be dominated by Republicans who believed in the benefits of an intelligent and educated populace. One of the initiatives was the Morrill Act of 1862, which was a land-grant act that gave financial support to agricultural and mechanical education.

Rapid industrialization brought about the birth of large corporations. Big companies had to hire professionals to manage operations because owners could no longer do it themselves. This changed the way business operated, but also meant that people had to be educated for middle management positions as well as for assembly line manufacturing.

All of this set the tone for the educational activities of state legislatures, primarily in passing compulsory attendance laws. Much of the support for these laws came from people who feared the influence of immigrants. They tended to be Protestant, middle- and upper-class white people, who would come to be known as the Progressives.

Progressivism was a reform effort meant to correct the supposed evils of urbanization and industrialization. Progressives then did not like the sanitation problems that accompanied overpopulation, the corrupt city governments, or the rising immigrant culture as more diverse populations moved to the cities. They believed in an activist, interventionist government; ideas around efficiency and scientific progress in which society was led by experts; and white Anglo-Saxon Protestant values they intended to enforce with the interventionist government. All of this promoted their support for increasing school attendance.

Opposition to compulsory school attendance was more scattered. Some people disliked federal government compulsion at all. Others needed their children to help work and support the family. Most early school compulsion laws — before 1890 — were unsuccessful in their enforcement, but the laws symbolized the public’s commitment to schools and concern about the children who were not attending school.

Urban schools were not especially common before this time, especially public schools. But as city populations grew, they became more popular. These urban school systems tended to be organized by age grading, provide uniform courses of study, and use exams as records of what was taking place in the classrooms—all unusual for schooling at the time.

Students in these schools were socialized into the authoritarian order they would have to deal with at work in factories that were developing in the cities.

Schools were also supposed to be a force for homogenization, given the emphasis on order and conformity.

However, there was a tension built into the way schools did things: Education was also supposed to be for economic mobility. The curriculum taught about individualism, mobility, and political participation and agitation. However, the hidden curriculum — that which is not on a syllabus but is enforced by the school nonetheless — promoted conformity to the new industrial life.

Progressives centralized schools gradually. Community members outside the schools who thought schools were ineffective imposed centralization. These people wanted to rid cities of neighborhood-controlled public schools—they believed them to be corrupt and unable to effectively educate their students, even though they were enormously popular amongst the families whose children attended them. Many of the parents were immigrants, who were skeptical of the new schools because the increasingly-powerful school boards were not sensitive to their religious beliefs or neighborhood concerns.

The curriculum in these schools became more diversified, as education was less about moral virtue than it had been in the 1800s and instead served an economic purpose. The differentiated curriculum could prepare students for the economic roles they would play in their lives.

Progressives expanded the reach of public schools through structural expansion measures, like kindergartens and junior high schools, as well as through functional expansion, primarily in the case of the comprehensive high school. Progressives debated whether all students were capable of benefiting from an academic curriculum, and began to introduce non-academic, vocational courses to reduce dropout rates and prepare lower-class students for what they saw as their destinies in blue-collar fields. The comprehensive high school housed students on both academic and vocational tracks, encouraging them to intermingle in the cafeteria and auditoriums.

The guidance counselor profession emerged as a result—they were meant to have expertise in what a child should study, and to what he or she should aspire. Most teenagers were influenced, if not pushed, into a particular track. While schools preached equal opportunity through their curricular options, it was equal opportunity within prescribed limits, determined by scientific measurements in the form of heavily-biased intelligence tests.

Overall, the Progressive Era was one of assimilation and centralization. The Progressive reformers wanted to eliminate the influences of immigrant culture while putting those immigrants and poor native-born people to work in the factories. Schools needed to socialize students to these conditions by steering those teens the guidance counselors deemed suitable for factory work into vocational jobs. Schools also began to implement bell systems, like what was found in factories.

Now, “vocational education” has become almost a taboo phrase, replaced by “career and technical education,” and is required for all students. “Career and technical education encompasses more things now,” says Seal. “Many of our health and medical courses are actually considered a CTE course.” Advanced computer classes and engineering are also considered CTE courses.

Like the Progressives, Seal sees this as beneficial for the students’ futures. “When you look at the labor market today, career growth is in areas where kids need a CTE background,” she says. She encourages students to attain skills through CTE courses that will help them get into college, even if they intend to pursue humanities backgrounds.

Seal, however, appreciates an important evolution since Progressive-era thinking. “It’s not an either/or pathway anymore, which I’m glad of, because we were really doing some dividing of students,” she says. “You were either on the college pathway or you weren’t. And now it’s starting to become a meshing of the two, and how to reach your career goal.”

Further, Seal notes that the stigma around not going to college is fading and people with CTE backgrounds are able to make a good living. Clarke County High School (CCHS) Principal Dana Waring notes that CTE can also give students “a step up when they go to their prospective colleges” because admissions offices are looking for students with different work experiences that can give them a boost over what other applicants may have.

Another important distinction from the Progressive Era, Waring notes, is that students now have open enrollment at CCHS. “We never want to exclude a student from anything,” she says. Guidance counselors now, instead of steering students towards a particular path, help the students ascertain which courses they need to reach their individual goals. The CCHS guidance counselors encourage students to “look ahead and take the most challenging coursework so they have all those doors open and all those opportunities.”

Waring thinks this may be a cultural shift from a time when students were assumed to be incapable of courses like higher-level math. She points out that students may assume they do not need math, but certain programs, like HVAC training, actually require quite a bit of math.

There is still an element of socialization necessary in contemporary CTE coursework. “Every CTE course has what they call workplace readiness skills embedded in the curriculum,” says Seal. Businesses need employees who have the necessary knowledge, but “we also need them to know about showing up to work on time, how do you dress, what’s appropriate workplace behavior, when do you talk on the cell phone and when you do not… That’s critical to CTE resources as well. It’s content knowledge, but it’s also behavior, attitude.”

The CTE program in Clarke County will be growing over time as the administration determines what changes need to be made, and will eventually widen its pool of participating students, as well as local businesses.

The encouraging evolution of vocational training to career and technical education to provide opportunities to all students is a shift from the historical approach of divisiveness and class entrenchment. Time will tell if the new ideas and programs provide upward mobility for students, but for now, they are worth examination and consideration as the county moves forward with attempting to help students attain career security in adulthood.

16 Things I would want, if I got Dementia

By Karen Cifala

I didn’t realize this, but like most people I tend to interchange the words Dementia and Alzheimer’s, when in fact there are nine different types of dementia — Alzheimer’s is one of them. Dementia is a general term for loss of memory and other mental abilities that are severe enough that they interfere with everyday life. In general, dementia is caused by physical changes in the brain. Normal aging includes slowing down of our bodies and brain, although our intelligence remains stable. Dementia is usually a set of symptoms that will include more than one of the following brain functions with memory impairments:

  • Recent memory (the ability to learn and recall information),
  • Language (the ability to write or speak, or to understand written or spoken words),
  • Visuospatial function (the ability to understand and use symbols, maps, etc., and the ability to correctly judge where objects are),
  • Executive function (the ability to plan, reason, solve problems and focus on a task).

Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60–80 percent of dementia cases. By 2011 guidelines for Alzheimer’s, diagnoses recommended that it is considered a slow progressive disease that begins well before symptoms emerge.

Vascular dementia used to be known as multi-infarct or post-stroke dementia and is less common, accounting for about 10 percent of cases.

In dementia with Lewy bodies (DBL), patients often have memory loss common to Alzheimer’s; however, early symptoms might arise such as visual hallucinations, gait imbalance similar to Parkinson’s features, and sleep disturbances.

Mixed dementia is more common than previously thought. For example, Lewy bodies can be present at the same time as Alzheimer’s.

Parkinson’s disease is a very progressive form of dementia, and is similar to Alzheimer’s or Lewy bodies.

Frontotemporal dementia symptoms include changes in personality and behavior and difficulty with language.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is a rare fatal brain disorder affecting people and other mammals, like cattle, where “mad cow disease” has been transmitted to people under certain circumstances.

Normal pressure hydrocephalus is caused by fluid in the brain and includes symptoms of difficulty in walking, memory loss and inability to control urination.

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is a chronic memory disorder caused by lack of Thiamine (vitamin B-1) and the most common cause is alcohol misuse.

Thank you to the Alzheimer’s Association website for this great info!

As we age and possibly become caregivers for our loved ones, it is important to treat them as a human being and not just someone who needs our help. Where safety and personal care might be our main concerns, and can be overwhelming at times, it is vitally important to nurture them both physically and mentally. I’ve heard that a good rule of thumb when caring for someone who has dementia: Remember that having dementia doesn’t mean that they can’t interact with you.

This thought provoking list of rules below was written by Rachel Wonderlin, a dementia practitioner, and is published on People with dementia are worthy of our respect and love, despite their disease. Enjoy!

  • If I get dementia, I want my friends and family to embrace my reality. If I think my spouse is still alive, or if I think we’re visiting my parents for dinner, let me believe those things. I’ll be much happier for it.
  • If I get dementia, I don’t want to be treated like a child. Talk to me like the adult that I am.
  • If I get dementia, I still want to enjoy the things that I’ve always enjoyed. Help me find a way to exercise, read, and visit with friends.
  • If I get dementia, ask me to tell you a story from my past.
  • If I get dementia, and I become agitated, take the time to figure out what is bothering me.
  • If I get dementia. Treat me the way that you would want to be treated.
  • If I get dementia, make sure that there are plenty of snacks for me in the house. Even now if I don’t eat I get angry, and if I have dementia, I may have trouble explaining what I need.
  • If I get dementia, don’t talk about me as if I’m not in the room.
  • If I get dementia, don’t feel guilty if you cannot care for me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s not your fault, and you’ve done your best. Find someone who can help you, or choose a great new place for me to live.
  • If I get dementia, and I live in a dementia care community, please visit me often.
  • If I get dementia, don’t act frustrated if I mix up names, events, or places. Take a deep breath. It’s not my fault.
  • If I get dementia, make sure I always have my favorite music playing within earshot.
  • If I get dementia, and I like to pick up items and carry them around, help me return those items to their original places.
  • If I get dementia, don’t exclude me from parties and family gatherings.
  • If I get dementia, know that I still like receiving hugs or handshakes.
  • If I get dementia, remember that I am still the person you know and love.

Memory loss like mild forgetfulness can be a normal part of aging; however, because dementia itself is not a disease, it is important to find out the disease responsible for the symptoms.

Karen Cifala is a SRES Realtor for REMAX Roots and can be reached at 101 E. Main St., in Berryville, VA or by email at or by phone 303-817-9374. 

Education As An Instrument Of Equality

How the Feud Between W.E.B DuBois and Booker T. Washington shaped education 

By Jess Clawson
This is the second installment in a series on vocational education in the U.S. The March piece focused on the roots of vocational education in the post-Reconstruction era South.
Clarke County High School students have new opportunities for career and technical education this spring, with continued growth in upcoming semesters, thanks to the county’s collaboration with local business owners and professionals, as well as their work with Lord Fairfax Community College.
Career and technical education — once called vocational education — has been the subject of debate in U.S. education for about 125 years. Stakeholders in vocational education and in classical liberal arts education have been at odds since Reconstruction ended in 1877, at which time the Union troops left the South and a reign of white supremacist terror and intimidation began in order to keep black people from exercising their political rights. Schools in particular were targets of Ku Klux Klan and other terrorist group activity.
The southern black community believed in the centrality of education. This desire was not derivative, not mimicking the habits of white people, but was rooted in the values and aspirations of black culture. At the end of Reconstruction, several groups of northern white people involved themselves in black southern education. One group, missionaries — typically middle class northern Protestant white women — wanted to give black students a classical liberal arts education and thought they would move into the mainstream of society.
The second group, northern philanthropists, favored vocational education and perpetuated racial accommodation. They wanted the north to stay industrial and the south to stay agricultural, and so they funded agricultural education in the south to keep black people working on southern farms.
Of course, black people were neither passive in educational attainment nor unified in their views about what sort of education would serve their communities best. The feud between Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois exemplifies the debate and the rise of vocational education in the U.S. before the Progressive era.
Booker T. Washington was born in slavery. After emancipation, he attended the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (now Hampton University), then an agricultural training program for black people. Washington’s political views were gradualist: he wanted racial equality, but he did not think that black people were educationally advanced enough to compete with white people in classical liberal arts settings. Thus, he preferred they gain equality through learning a trade and becoming economically independent, and gradually integrating into society. He became president of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama in 1881 with the intention of acting on his vision.
Washington wanted black people to conform to white cultural values and expectations. He did not want black people to risk their lives by voting, running for office, moving off the farms and into the cities, or in any other way potentially attracting violence from white people. Thus, at Tuskegee, he trained black people in industrial vocational skills. He wanted to restore dignity to manual labor that slavery had taken away in the hopes that this would be a step toward economic self-sufficiency for black southerners.
This concern about the dignity of manual labor continues today. “In CTE, when working with kids, you’re fighting old stereotypes,” says Cathy Seal, director of curriculum and instruction for Clarke County. “Plumbing is a great profession, but kids aren’t interested in plumbing because they think that entails working on commodes and toilets. They don’t understand the construction realm, and all that could possibly be.” The stigma attached to anything that is not considered white-collar remains.
In 1895, Washington laid out these ideas in a speech at the Cotton State Exposition, addressing industrial leaders. His words, which came to be known as the Atlanta Compromise, encouraged the white industrialists to “cast down your buckets where you are.” He wanted white people to employ black people in the south, because if industrial leaders would accept the black population and integrate them into the economic system, he believed, they would have better race relations. Washington was convinced that vocational education and a gradual integration would prevent racial violence, even if it would not foster political equality.
Washington’s primary opponent was W.E.B. DuBois. Born in 1868 in Great Barrington, Mass., to a middle class family, he had a different perspective on racial equality than did Washington. DuBois was highly educated, earning his undergraduate degree at Fisk and his Ph.D. from Harvard — he was the first black person to do so. In 1903, he published The Souls of Black Folk, which introduced the idea of the “Double Consciousness.” He argued that black people were unique in the U.S. because they have two impulses: to integrate into white society and to prioritize their African heritage. The two cultures pulled black people in separate directions.
Because he was more ambivalent about integration than Washington, he was skeptical of Washington’s plan for achieving equality. He wanted to provide the opportunity for some black people to receive the classical liberal arts education that he had. This would give black people the tools to grow their communities. Thus, he vehemently disagreed with Washington on gradualism and the emphasis on vocational education.
DuBois, however, did agree with Washington that not all black people were prepared for classical liberal arts education. He wanted what he called the Talented Tenth — or the top ten percent of academically gifted black people — to get the liberal arts education he valued. These people would bring about equality for everyone else, because they would be the lawyers, physicians, politicians, and other members of the professional class with the capacity to advocate for black communities on the whole. The remaining 90 percent of black people could get the vocational education Washington recommended.
The disagreement between DuBois and Washington was not really about how the majority of black people should be educated. Rather, it was about how to train the leaders, or whether black communities should have leaders at all in a way white society would recognize. DuBois was so vehement in his disapproval of Washington’s plan that in 1905, he formed the Niagara Movement to challenge Washington. This led to the formation of the NAACP in 1909, meant to bring about racial equality, totally and quickly. DuBois and the NAACP supported the black freedom movement of the 1960s (DuBois died in 1963), which fought for rights to vote, equal opportunities for jobs, and equal education facilities.
Washington’s gradualist strategies and preference for vocational education were more successful in the short term because they appealed to the industrialists and raised a lot of money. However, DuBois’s strategies have had more long-term success in the ongoing efforts to bring about equality for black people in the U.S.
Clarke County includes a piece of this history. In 1882, freed people built the Josephine City School to provide children with grade-school education. The school, operated primarily under the principles embraced by Washington, eventually was renamed as Clarke County Training School. In 1966, after public school desegregation, it again underwent a name change and became the Johnson-Williams Intermediate School, serving students of all races until closing in 1987. The original Josephine City School is now on the National Register of Historic Places, and in 2003 became the first museum devoted to the history of Clarke County’s black community.
Whether vocational education could serve the purpose to uplift underprivileged people, or whether it was meant to maintain their status as working class, would remain a primary topic of discussion for educators for more than a century.
The debates about vocational education gained a great deal of traction in the Progressive era, when they migrated to urban schools for northern white people. These will be discussed in the next installment. Jess Clawson lives in Winchester, Va. She has a PhD in education history from the University of Florida.

How do you know when it’s time to hang up your driver’s license?

By Karen Cifala

I bet each one of us knows an elderly or disabled person that has refused to give up their driver’s license and the list of reasons is long. Truth is, and I understand this is a touchy subject, a survey done by AAA reported that almost 90 percent of senior drivers polled said losing their license would be problematic for their lives. It still doesn’t change the facts. Making a decision about driving is not really about age or disease specifics, it’s about driving performance.
Three true life situations below suggest differing perspectives on this very topic. Here is what they had to say about their personal driving situation.
Situation #1: Woman 83 years old, COPD, lost sight in one eye and has a severe case of atherosclerosis that is life threatening, doctors says she shouldn’t drive but she still does.
“Hopefully most people are aware of the changes going on in their body. I drive to and from the nursing home (1/2 mile back roads) and to the grocery store. I do have moments of uncertainty about my own proficiency and I do have some close calls, especially in a large parking lot. When someone pulls in front of me I am aware that my reaction time is not very good. You can’t kid yourself, and you have to be able to admit it to yourself that your driving is not so good anyway. I believe self-doubt is the primary reason I would eventually stop driving altogether”.
Situation # 2: Woman 90 years old, good health, still drives and lives by herself.
“If you think it’s going to snow, go to the store early and pick up your medications. I don’t drive in bad weather anymore because I don’t see as well. Of course, it makes sense that if you feel bad or are dizzy you shouldn’t get in your car, or if you are in a bad mood. I always wear at least one of my hearing aids when I drive and of course sometimes my car won’t start. I am much more alert in the morning, and there is less traffic, so it’s a good idea to make your doctor appointments in the morning”.
Situation #3: Man, 70 years old, diagnosed with early-onset glaucoma and lives with his wife who is in good health.
“I am basically blind in one eye, and I have lost my peripheral vision in the other eye. Even though this was an unanticipated intrusion I felt it was necessary to make the call to stop driving for my own safety, and I didn’t want to put my wife in an unsafe position or anyone else. My whole life changed considerably and I don’t get out as much as I used to. I miss having the independence, but I am very fortunate to have my wife who can drive which does give me more flexibility than if I was alone”.


Any of these sound familiar? From what I’ve learned a self-assessment is always a good place to start. Ask yourself “Am I still a safe driver”? If you can answer “yes” to any of the following, then a follow-up may be needed to ensure safe driving. Virginia GrandDriver website offers the following signs for self-assessment: Have you ever …

  • Suffered a stroke, heart attack or diminished eyesight?
  • Experienced difficulty in negotiating sharp turns and intersections?
  • Hesitated over right-of-way decisions or situations you once took for granted?
  • Been surprised by the sudden presence of other vehicles or pedestrians?
  • Received negative feedback from other drivers?
  • Become lost on familiar routes?
  • Felt nervous or exhausted after driving?
  • Been cited for traffic violations or found at fault in crashes?
Self-awareness is the key to making a good decision. Sometimes even your best intention of letting a loved one know they should not be driving seems like the hardest thing you will ever have to do. The Virginia GrandDriver website ( has a whole host of resources and publications to learn more about how to compensate for aging changes for Seniors, Caregivers, and Professionals.
In The State of Virginia has special rules that apply to drivers over 75 years old that seek to renew their licenses. They must renew every five years; drivers younger than 75 must renew every eight years. Drivers 80 and older must renew in person. For those 80 and older a free vision test is required and can be done at the DMV. An exam can also be performed by an outside ophthalmologist or optometrist within 90 days of the renewal request and they must complete a Customer Vison Report. A written and road test may be required at renewal in the discretion of DMV personnel.

Clarke County offers several transportation assistance options if you don’t have a caretaker or family member that can drive you to an appointment. Plus it might give you a chance to get out and socialize a bit as well as continue to help yourself maintain your independence. It’s never too late to try something new.

WellTran, 540-635-7141 Option #1
Offered through Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging. Fee based for persons over 18 who have a disability, and persons aged 60 and older.
Virginia Regional Transit, 540-955-9333 Offered Mon – Fri 9am to 1pm $1.00 per ride. Pick up directly from your house in Clarke Co. Mondays they go to Winchester and Thursdays are free.
FISH of Clarke Co., 540-955-1823. Offered to all Clarke Co residents, all volunteer free service to doctor and hospital visits and appointments. Can provide long distance drives to Martinsburg or Charlottesville if needed.
Karen Cifala is a senior real estate realtor for Remax Roots, 101 E. Main St. in Berryville. Please continue your generosity of contributing gently used iPods for donation to the Hospice Music Therapy program. You can drop them off at her office or call or email her at 303-817-9374,

A Threat to Our Black Walnut Trees

 By Shawn Walker, Trees 101 LLC

Ash trees in our region have been hit hard by the emerald ash borer (EAB). In my work with clients last year I came across numerous dead trees. And even among the living ones we would choose for treatment a significant proportion showed signs of infestation ranging from decline in the crown to larvae revealed under the bark. If you have ash trees on your property and have not taken steps to address EAB now is a good time to contact an arborist or forester to come up with a plan.

Well, guess what? There is another threat to our trees looming on the horizon. It is called thousand cankers disease (TCD) and it aggressively kills black walnut trees. TCD results from a fungal pathogen native to the western US transmitted by an insect called the walnut twig beetle. The fungus causes patches of dead tissue, known as cankers, that coalesce and lead to the death of entire branches and ultimately the entire tree (see image). A few years ago the disease was detected as far east as Tennessee and it has been working its way up the I-81 corridor since then. Warming climate conditions are pointed to as a promoter of this spread.

Treatments for the disease itself are not available, so the remaining options include controlling the beetle and/or making plans for walnut tree mortality in coming years. I have learned from University of Maryland entomologist Mike Raupp that good control of the insect in individual trees should be possible using the same chemical some arborists use for EAB control (Tree-Age® or emamectin benzoate).

There are no reported detections of TCD in West Virginia but the state has issued an exclusionary quarantine due to confirmed detections in surrounding states (see map). In my unofficial opinion this means that the disease is present in parts of our state and it is simply a matter of time before it is detected.

According to West Virginia’s Department of Agriculture black walnut has an estimated value of $500 billion in the eastern US. Additionally it comprises a significant portion of our forest ecosystem and is a cultural favorite of many West Virginians. I have met people who think of their walnut trees as their college fund – plant a grove at the time of your child’s birth and harvest the timber in time to pay for college tuition. And how many woodworkers out there appreciate the beauty and versatility of walnut wood?

If our experience with EAB is a guide, we should not wait until TCD is recognized as a region-wide problem before developing a plan. We got caught behind the curve with our ash trees and should take steps to keep ahead of the curve with our large walnut tree population.

Visit this multi-agency website for more information on TCD:

Shawn Walker is a consulting arborist at Trees 101 ( based in Shepherdstown.

Make a Little Plan Sam

Moving an idea from dream to reality begins with getting it out of your head

by J.C.Coon 

I recently had the opportunity to attend a Small Congregation Training Day sponsored by the Winchester District United Methodist Church.

The guest speaker was a great fan of the singer/song writer Paul Simon; hence his presentation was seasoned with quotes (or mis-quotes) from Simon’s music. The one that keeps rotating in my brain is Make a Little Plan Sam. The lyrics are about how to leave your lover, and the original words were “Make a New Plan Stan”.

How many of us have ‘lovers’ that we need to leave? The opening lines remind us that “the problem is inside your head.”

“Take it logically; I’d like to help you in your struggle, to be free.” What wise words. Our struggles are often just inside our head, and they hold us hostage. As a writer, I like to sit down with pencil and paper, and with my own hand write out my thoughts. Writing my thought down takes it out of my brain. I like this saying by E.M. Forster: “How do I know what I think till I see what I say.”

Putting my thoughts on paper takes them out of my head (where they often float around in a random pattern) and begins the process of going from a dream or an idea to a reality. Think of putting what is in your head on paper as a comparison to taking a seed and planting it in the soil.

So back to the Plan Sam. We all have dreams/ideas/plans. If we have a Plan Sam it might help us to make better choices. If we take the time to actually put that Plan Sam on a piece of paper (or maybe in your ‘Notes”), it gives you something to look at, a goal to work toward.

Many years ago I gave up on New Year resolutions. I wrote the same ones every year and broke them all before Martin Luther King Day. I think a Plan Sam is a wee bit different than New Years resolutions. A Plan Sam is a lifetime goal. Go big. where do you want to be in 5 years? 10 years? Write it down.

Next write an outline of an action plan. Now tuck it away in your sock drawer. Let it sit there till you run out of socks. Open it up look at it, edit it. Put it back in the sock drawer, repeat. Who knows where that dream/idea/plan will lead you but at least you now have a Plan Sam.

Oh, one more thing we learned in our training session. You actually, right now, have everything you need to make your plan happen. Be creative, use the resources you currently have. Think about it.

Hill High Bakery and BBQ Company

By Claire Stuart

If you’ve travelled east of Berryville on Route 7, you no doubt passed the covered wagon that marked Hill High Country Store in Round Hill. And, it’s likely that you may have stopped to sample some of their famous pies. Sadly, they closed in 2014, but that doesn’t mean that you have to go pieless!

On July 4, 2015, Hill High opened in a slightly different incarnation on Route 340 just a bit south of downtown Berryville. It’s now called Hill High Bakery and BBQ Company, owned by Debbie Heimburger and her daughter Kyla. It is carryout only, but there are picnic tables outside for use in good weather.

Debbie was working nonstop as she talked, mixing up a huge tub of salad dressing, then quickly transitioning to chopping apples. “My in-laws owned Hill High Country Store,” she says, “and Kyla worked there weekends and school vacations. She now co-owns this store with me. We’re an all woman-owned business. There is no guy behind the scenes smoking the meat for us!”

She stresses that all the food is freshly prepared, and all of the meats are smoked right there. They make their own sausages—English breakfast, Italian and chicken. “And we will be smoking our own bacon.”

They feature pulled pork, ribs, beef brisket and chicken barbecue, for sandwiches, meals or by the pound. There is a long list of freshly-made popular sides like coleslaw, mac-&-cheese, baked beans, and potato salad. Most people commonly think of pulled pork when they think of barbecue, but Debbie says that an increasing number of people are choosing brisket as their favorite.

“Once they taste the brisket, they keep coming back,” she reports. Debbie is a certified judge in the Kansas City Barbecue Society. Why Kansas City? Because Virginia doesn’t have a barbecue society. And what does it mean?

“I can judge barbecue for taste, tenderness and texture. And they have meetings, and I get to go and eat a lot of good food!” she laughed.

She went on to explain that Hill High makes North Carolina style barbecue. “It’s all dry rub and we make a big variety of sauces.”

Kyla added, “We make all of our own soups and chili. We make chili daily and a soup of the day. What other soup we make depends on the weather. We try to use local produce in our soups.”

Along with barbecue, the big attraction is the pies. They regularly bake around 20 kinds of pies, as well as cakes, cookies, bread, rolls, quickbreads, and cheesecakes.

In addition to the pies you would expect — apple, cherry, and blueberry — there are surprises like walnut-caramel-apple, French silk, and five fruit (apples, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and rhubarb).

“I love the pumpkin pie,” Kyla reported. “I could eat it all year round.”

Some days they bake half a dozen pies, some days three or four dozen, and more on weekends. They start baking early in the morning, and additional pies are baked as needed because they do not want them left over. They will bake pies for special orders.

Debbie and Kyla are happy that two women who worked at the old location made the move with them. Meghan Snapp does all sorts of baking and Kay Bowman runs the smoker.

Says Debbie “We all like to play with food. We’ll make different soups and try them on each other. Soups are a big competition.”

“Meghan bakes the cakes and cookies and things,” says Kyla. “If you want something special, she’ll bake it for you.”

Debbie explained that they relocated from Round Hill because she wanted to make changes to the property but they did not have a lease. They were excited when the present location became available.

“Lots of our old customers found us, and lots of new ones discovered us,” she says, “and the people in this area have been terrific to us and very encouraging.”

She threw in a plug for the talented yearbook production students of Clarke County High School who designed a new logo for the business.

Their biggest focus now is getting their catering business up and running. They can do large or small parties, weddings, and fund-raisers as well as pig roasts, meat-and-cheese platters, tubs of chili, and special occasion cakes.

“We can do anything from pick-up catering to full service,” says Debbie.

You’ll also find a big selection of locally-made foods in the store, including jams and jellies, honey, apple butter and salsa.

Debbie and Kyla are very environmentally-conscious, so they offer a rather unusual service. They will share their fresh produce trimmings for composting to anyone who brings their own bucket—first come, first served!

Hill High Bakery and BBQ Company is located at 6967 Lord Fairfax Highway (Route 340). Open Tuesday through Thursday 8am–6pm; Friday & Saturday 8am–8pm, Sunday 9am–5pm; closed Mondays.