TODAY'S NEWS

The Shenandoah Valley-Herald

Foundation to hold bus tours of battlefields

NEW MARKET — The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation is launching its Fall Bus Tours program with sojourns through northern Shenandoah County in September and October. Scott Patchan, a Civil War author and historian, will lead tours of the Fisher’s Hill battlefield on Sept. 23 and the Cedar Creek battlefield on Oct. 21. Bill Miller, author of “Decision at Tom’s Brook,” will lead a tour of the Tom’s Brook battlefield on Oct. 7 to mark the 153rd anniversary of the Battle of Tom’s Brook. The tours will focus on the strategies and impact of U.S. Gen. Phillip Sheridan’s 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign, during which he and his troops set fire to farms, mills and buildings in the area in a series of events known as “The Burning.” The Fisher’s Hill and Cedar Creek tours cost $50 for foundation members and $60 for non-members. Between Patchan’s “encyclopedic knowledge” of the campaign and the unveiling of recently-preserved areas of both battlefields, participants will see more than the usual sites, according to Terry Heder, the foundation’s director interpretation, education and history.

Mount Jackson asked to help buy mountain land

MOUNT JACKSON — A national environmental group is asking Mount Jackson for help in preserving a piece of area property, but disagreement exists over whether the town should be responsible for it. Heather Richards, senior representative of The Conservation Fund, asked Town Council during its meeting on Aug. 8 to consider contributing all or some of the $50,000 the group is trying to raise to purchase a 137-acre parcel of the Massanutten Mountain ridge colloquially known as “The Knob.” The Culpeper-based nonprofit must raise $75,000 by the end of the year, Richards told council.The amount represents a gap between what property owner Patricia Blackbourne is asking for the land and what the nonprofit can pay, she said. The group has received $25,000 from a private donor in Northern Virginia, she said. Blackbourne lives in Kingsbury, Texas, and no longer wants to maintain the property, Richards said. The land is valued at $383,900, according to Shenandoah County land records. Richards declined to reveal the sale price as it is a private real estate transaction.

Pig Scramble under spotlight

WOODSTOCK — A long-standing tradition of the Shenandoah County Fair is the subject of two separate petitions two weeks ahead of the fair’s opening. Strasburg resident Lee Snarr launched a petition on the website Care2 on July 26 calling for the elimination of the Virginia’s Largest Greased Pig Contest. The event, a scramble held at the fair for more than 30 years, involves 300 to 400 children chasing and catching 100 pigs around the fair’s grandstand, according to Tom Eshelman, the fair’s general manager. The petition had received 48,625 signatures worldwide as of Wednesday afternoon, with 916 of them from supporters in Virginia. The petition has a goal of 50,000 signatures. The fair runs from Aug. 25 to Sept. 2 at the county fairgrounds in Woodstock. The Greased Pig Contest is scheduled for opening night at 7 p.m. with free admission.

New Market manager to retire Sept. 15

NEW MARKET — New Market’s town manager is retiring after 28 years of service – but he doesn’t plan on spending his golden years being idle. On Aug. 1, Mike Ritchie announced his resignation to Mayor Doug Bradley and Town Council. The announcement is effective Sept. 30, but he plans to use vacation time before he leaves, making his last day Sept. 15, he said. Ritchie, 55, grew up in Rockingham County and attended Broadway High School. He started working for New Market as an equipment operator at the old wastewater treatment plant in 1989. He was promoted to wastewater superintendent, then became the town’s public works director in 2007. He was named town manager in July 2014.

Council approves Triplett rezoning

MOUNT JACKSON – Town Council voted to clear the first hurdle in turning part of the old Triplett School property into a duplex neighborhood during its regular meeting on Tuesday. Council granted a request from Todd Holtzman and Dexter Mumaw to rezone 4.2 acres at 6044 S. Main St. from central business to medium-density residential. The pair agreed to purchase the school and 5 acres of surrounding property for $250,000 in August 2016 to build homes and turn the school into commercial space. The town still owns the property and will transfer ownership once all of the required permits and paperwork are approved, according to former Town Manager Charles Moore, who facilitated the sale.

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