Saturday, April 30, 2011

Grace Christian Boots & Bandana Auction ... another successful year

 The 12th annual Grace Christian School's Boots & Bandana auction was another success this year. It's always fun to see friends, some who will not be seen again until next year. It's all for a good cause to help support Grace Christian as they continue to educate students in grades K-12 in the SWAC area.
 Pam and Kurt Michael were on the bleachers watching the action.

This little John Deere toy tractor was quickly snapped up.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
30 April 2011

Kurt Michael for Augusta County Supervisor

The latest fashion statement in Augusta County ... Kurt Michael for Supervisor.

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell
30 April 2011

Grace Christian Boots and Bandana auction today

Today is perfect to don your your boots, tie a bandana around your neck, and head out for a fun evening with friends and neighbors for the 12th annual Boots & Bandana Benefit Auction at Grace Christian School in Staunton.

A favorite year after year, the proceeds benefit the school while providing bargains for those who bid on donated items. Mix in some lively bluegrass music, a silent auction, fellowship with friends, and a BBQ supper followed by the live auction that runs into the night, and you have the makings for an entertaining event.

Hundreds of folks attend every year. Located in the Grace Christian Activities Center on Middlebrook Road, registration begins at 3:00. Cost is $15 per person (18 and older) which buys you a ticket into the event and BBQ supper. The silent auction will open at that time for browsing and bidding.

Beginning at 4:00 and for every 15 minutes until 5:00, silent auction tables will be shut down; i.e., 4:00 signals the end of bidding for the RED tables, 4:15 WHITE tables, 4:30 BLUE tables, 4:45 GREEN & ART tables, 5:00 YELLOW tables which contain the Super Silent Items.

At 5:00 they begin serving the BBQ supper with entertainment provided by a local blue grass band.

At 6:00 the Live Auction starts ... and that's when the fun begins. Be ready with your bidding skills ... there are some sharp shoppers ready to bid you down on an item they have their eye on! Don't leave early ... door prizes are drawn before the live auction and you have to be there to win.

Come on out to the auction and be prepared to have a good time.

Jason Bibeau announces run for Augusta County Treasurer

 Angela Bibeau listens as her husband announces he is running for Augusta County Treasurer.

It was a beautiful spring day at the Augusta County Government Center in Verona.

Current Treasurer Richard Homes, who announced he was running for reelection for his third term, was at the announcement along with his wife.
Francis Chester and Jason Bibeau
NBC-29's Dannika Lewis had coverage after the announcement at the breakfast gathering.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
30 April 2011

It's gone viral ...

It's gone viral with almost 4 million YouTube hits in seven days ... Carrie Underwood and Vince Gill. What a wonderful way to start the day....

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell
Grayson County, Va

Friday, April 29, 2011

It was a Milmont day....

 What's not to like in a sea of beautiful colorful flowers?
 Impatiens ... they are gorgeous in shady areas and perfect for my back yard.
 Early spring flowers were marked half-price at the entrance on Friday.

 Look at that view ... the Blue Ridge Mountains never fail to awe me.
 My cart of flowers ...
 ... and Barb's cart of flowers. This was our first run of the season ... we plant and then return to buy what we need to fill in the extra places.

Again ... what's not to love about that view? Flowers ... and then mountains....
Isn't he adorable?! In my yard, he could direct the nightly symphony of tree frogs in the woods behind the house.

It was time for Barb and me to make our annual trip to Milmont ... two flower lovers buying annuals to plant in flower pots and window boxes. After a long, leisurely lunch at McAlister's in Waynesboro, we drove the few miles to Milmont Nurseries in Stuarts Draft to search for just the right flowers.

We weren't disappointed, and the place was hopping with folks doing the same. Hanging baskets, planters, do-it-yourself four-packs, and vegetables were waiting inside the hot houses. Bushes, trees, and annuals were outside where the view looked across the fields to the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. Enjoying that scenery, I never fail to pinch myself as a reminder that I'm fortunate enough to call this beautiful place home.

I also picked up some veggie plants ... jalapeno peppers, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and banana peppers. We'll plant seeds for most everything else.

The safe frost date for the Valley is May 15th so I'm not putting anything outdoors yet. They will be potted and kept close until I feel sure the cold or frost won't damage them.

It's always a good day in the Valley when it's a Milmont day....

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
29 April 2011

Jason Bibeau to announce for Treasurer of Augusta County

Augusta County resident Jason Bibeau will announce on Saturday at 9:00 a.m. at the Government Center that he is a candidate for the position of Treasurer of Augusta County. Come out hear his announcement, then join Jason and Angela afterward for a dutch-treat breakfast at the Staunton Shoney's in the private dining room.

Another Democratic tracker

 Democratic tracker following George Allen

NovaTownhall reports that an intrusive Democratic tracker (pictured above) attended a George Allen event Thursday night in Loudoun County, making himself a nuisance to ordinary people who were trying to talk with Gov. Allen. Joe wrote:
At a political event in Loudoun County tonight, a young man from an organization called Bon Bon Man was following former Virginia Governor and Senator George Allen, attempting to videotape Mr. Allen by standing as close as possible, sometimes with his video camera barely a foot from the head of Mr. Allen or another member of the conversations Mr. Allen was attempting to have.
And so it continues....

Allen campaign adds social conservative Steve Waters

Cross-posted at the Washington Examiner....

The news on Wednesday that conservative activist Steve Waters, 46, of Richmond, will be joining the George Allen campaign on May 1 sent a ripple through the Virginia blogosphere.

Waters' hiring as the campaign's advisor on family policy issues emphasized Allen's seriousness about reaching out to social conservatives. As Washington Examiner colleague Norm Leahy noted, including that group of voters is a big deal for Virginia Republican candidates.

Allen, who was known as a conservative leader during his years as Governor and U.S. Senator, was instrumental in the passage of the bipartisan parental notification bill through the Virginia General Assembly that required physicians to notify at least one parent or guardian before performing an abortion. While in the U.S. Senate, Allen co-sponsored a partial-birth abortion bill and opposed federal monies for overseas organizations that funded abortions.

Waters, who has a long list of social conservative credentials including a stint at the Family Foundation and the Virginia Christian Coalition as well as his work to see the passage of the Marriage Amendment in 2006, will complement the conservative credentials of Allen.

Waters is perhaps best known as campaign manager for Del. Bob Marshall's 2008 U.S. Senate campaign when Marshall narrowly lost the Republican nomination to former Governor Jim Gilmore. He has been part of various conservative campaigns including Patrick Muldoon in 2009 when Muldoon challenged and lost the Republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor against incumbent Bill Bolling.

Waters, reached at home Wednesday afternoon, was enthusiastic and said he was happy to be joining the Allen campaign. "George Allen," he told me, "led on social conservative issues in the past, and he has expressed a strong commitment to these issues for this campaign."

He added, "This race is critical at this time for our country. Do we need to have a senator in Virginia who is an extension of the Obama administration, or do we want to have a senator who's committed to Virginia values and the strengths and principles of our Republican Party."

Allen welcomed Waters to the campaign. In a released statement, he said, “Steve’s experience in organizing and educating grassroots activists will be valuable to our grassroots insurgency as we take our positive, motivating message to men and women throughout Virginia. Susan and I are grateful that Steve is joining as a leader on our team.”

The likely Democratic candidate will be Tim Kaine, a long-time supporter of President Barack Obama. National political pundits are already talking about the possible match-up between two former Virginia Governors if Allen wins the Republican nomination. If the Allen-Kaine race happens, Virginia will be considered one of the Top Eight 2012 races in the nation.

The field of challengers continues to grow with four opponents who have declared and possibly others on the sidelines. With the media exposure this race is expected to receive, unknowns who have little chance of winning the nomination will see it as an opportunity to get some name recognition for future endeavors.

12 years later: what we've learned since Columbine

Cross-posted at the Washington Examiner....

Twelve years ago, on the quiet spring morning of April 20, 1999, in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, a vicious shooting attack unfolded on students and faculty at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.

Hitting the airwaves for all to see, it unnerved parents nationwide as two students, Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, went on a shooting rampage that would kill twelve students and one teacher, injure 21, and end with the suicides of the two killers.

More than a decade later, as the facts have been sorted through and time has given perspective on the shooting, more has been learned after the first frantic days and weeks of Columbine.

In 2009, on the tenth year anniversary of the tragedy, reporter Greg Toppo at USA Today had an in-depth article about the shooting, noting corrections to discrepancies that were reported at the time of the event. He wrote:
They [Harris and Klebold] weren't goths or loners.

The two teenagers who killed 13 people and themselves at suburban Denver's Columbine High School 10 years ago next week weren't in the "Trenchcoat Mafia," disaffected video gamers who wore cowboy dusters. The killings ignited a national debate over bullying, but the record now shows Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold hadn't been bullied — in fact, they had bragged in diaries about picking on freshmen and "fags."
The "bullying" factor was played up in the days after the rampage by mainstream media looking to make victims of the two who caused so much mayhem. However, years later and after much evaluation from reading the diaries and blogs, and talking with acquaintances of Harris and Klebold, it became clear the act was not random and the killers were not victims.

USA Today noted that psychologist Peter Langman, author of, "Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters," wrote in his book, "These are not ordinary kids who were bullied into retaliation. These are not ordinary kids who played too many video games. These are not ordinary kids who just wanted to be famous. These are simply not ordinary kids. They are kids with serious psychological problems."

On that April morning, using weapons with names like Intratec TEC-DC9, Hi-Point 995 Carbine, Savage 67H pump-action shotgun, and Stevens 311D double barreled sawed-off shotgun, Harris and Klebold opened fire around 11:19 on defenseless fellow students. Eyewitness reports said the two laughed and taunted their victims, often belittling and tormenting them before shooting.

Their first victim was Rachel Scott, 17, who was killed as she ate lunch outside on a grassy area, dying from gunshots to the head, torso, and leg. A companion, Richard Castaldo, 17, was shot in the arm, chest, back, and abdomen but survived.

Entering the school, the teenage gunmen gunned down fellow student Daniel Rohrbough, 15, killing him with a shot to the chest. Sean Graves, 15, was shot in the back, foot, and abdomen while Lance Kirklin, 16, was shot in the leg, neck, and jaw.

The carnage continued. Michael Johnson, 15, was shot in the face, arm, and leg. Mark Taylor, 6, was shot in the chest, arms, and leg. Anne-Marie Hochhalter, 17, had gunshots to the arm, chest, abdomen, back, and left leg while Brian Anderson, 16, was injured by flying glass and teacher Patti Nielson, 35, was injured by shrapnel.

They shot Stephanie Munson, 16, in the ankle, and killed teacher Dave Sanders, 47, after shooting him in the neck and back and leaving him to bleed to death.

As the killers moved throughout the school, they left death and destruction behind, setting off homemade bombs and randomly shooting at furniture and walls in the building. They killed Kyle Velasquez, 16, shooting him in the back and head while Patrick Ireland, 17, survived gunshots to the arm, leg, head, and foot as well as Daniel Steepleton, 17, who was shot in the thigh and Makai Hall, 18, shot in the knee.

Other students killed were Steven Curnow, 14, shot in the neck; Cassie Bernalll, 17, shot in the head; Isaiah Shoels, 18, and Matthew Kechter, 16, both shot in the chest; Lauren Townsend, 18, shot in the head, chest, and lower body; and John Tomlin, 16, killed by gunshot wounds to the head and neck.

More wounded victims included Kacey-Ruegsegger, 17, who was shot in the hand, arm, and shoulder; Lisa Kreuta, 18, shot in the shoudler, hand, arms, and thigh; Valeen Schnurr, 18, injured with wounds to the chest, arms, and abdomen; Mark Kintgen, 17, shot in the head and shoulder; and Nicole Nowlen, 16, shot in the abdomen.

Winding down their rampage, Harris and Klebold injured Jeanna Park, 18, by shooting her in the knee, shoulder, and foot, and went after Jennifer Doyle, 17, who was injured by gunshots to the hand, leg, and shoulder, and Austin Eubanks, 17, shot in the head and knee.

The last three students killed were Kelly Fleming, 16, who took a gunshot to the back; Daniel Mauser, 15, shot point-blank in the face; and Corey DePooter, 17, who was blasted in the chest and neck.

The deaths, injuries, and destruction were not as much damage as Harris and Klebold had hoped to cause but their time was running out as police closed in on the building and horrified Americans watched events unfold on live television. Sometime around 12:08 pm, after approximately 50 minutes of random terrorism, the two committed suicide in the library. Eric Harris killed himself with a single gunshot in the mouth. Dylan Kelbold shot himself in the head.

The surviving students are mostly now in their mid- to late-20s and have moved on with their lives although not necessarily without emotional and physical scars from that day.

However, the optimistic words from Patrick Ireland, now 29, stand out. "I choose," he said, "to be a victor rather than a victim." Now married and working in the financial services field, he is probably best remembered as the student who tumbled out the second-story library window into the arms of SWAT team members, a scene that was watched by millions.

One lesson learned after Columbine is that, even with heightened awareness and the use of metal detectors and psychological evaluations, we cannot prevent another tragedy.

Almost eight years later to the day, on April 16, 2007, a disturbed student at Virginia Tech shot and killed 32 and injured dozens more on that bucolic campus in western Virginia before turning the gun on himself. It remains the worst campus shooting in U.S. history.

However,  school officials remain vigilant, hoping to avoid future campus tragedies and ever on the lookout for the next shooter who may decide to take his irrational anger out, not only on himself, but others around him.

Meanwhile, many mark this sad day as a date they will never forget and a day of remembrance of those who were killed and injured while in the confines of what should have been a safe haven ... their school.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

North Mountain Estates ... Augusta County storm damage

UPDATE: National Weather Service confirms it was a tornado.

Dry Branch was at full bank and here it flooded the low-water concrete crossing. It's difficult to tell how much the water was roaring and how loud it was standing at this place. The road across the creek is the only way to nine houses located on the mountain ridge.

Photos - Morris Mill Road tornado damage

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
28 April 2011

Augusta County ... Morris Mill Road storm damage

UPDATE: The National Weather Service confirmed it was a tornado.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
28 April 2011

Bear Branch Lane in Augusta County ... tornado damage

UPDATE: The National Weather Service confirmed it was a tornado.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
28 April 2011