Tuesday, May 29, 2007

6/1/07 Memorial Day Silent March, Town Hall Staff, Strawberry Faire, Ashland Library, Relay for Life


I submitted this column late this week because I had to write about one of the best, but hardly known, ways to celebrate Memorial Day in Ashland. For the past four years, our family has attended the Silent March that is sponsored by the American Legion Ashland Post # 206. The procession from the Ashland Library down Hanover Ave. to Woodlawn Cemetery is a small but reverent group. This year they were joined by a Jr. ROTC Color Guard, Boy Scout Troop # 789 from Beaverdam, and a handful of dedicated followers. Under the shade of a giant white oak, the 155 names of Ashland and Hanover war dead were read, and the clear notes of a bugle playing taps (by Michael Voss) echoed across the quiet field. One of the Boy Scouts, Joe Mallory, heard a long gone cousin’s name read with the list of war dead from the Civil War. If you think about it, try and make a note to remember it for next year.

Cathy and Charles Waldrop hosted their annual Memorial Day picnic to the delight of many friends and families. Their yard is always a welcoming place to be where the desserts almost out-number the side dishes!

Join your friends and co-workers for “Lunch on the Lawn” every Wednesday during the summer. This event started May 30, but will run through August 29th. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the beautiful front lawn of the Hanover Arts and Activities Center, located at 500 South Center Street in town.

We are lucky to have such helpful and accommodating staff at Town Hall here in Ashland. The Ashland Pool opened this weekend, and everyone rushed to get their passes before the Treasurers Office closed. When faced with a line out the door at 4:30 on Friday afternoon, the staff patiently snapped pictures for pool passes and gave lollypops to tired kids. They were still laughing when the last folks left at 5:30. I hope they all had a relaxing weekend! The pool looks great, by the way, with lots of beautiful flowering hibiscuses.

Don’t forget, the Strawberry Faire is next weekend, June 9, from 10am to 5pm. It’s an event not to be missed. You can park at either Henry Clay or Gandy Elementary and catch the shuttle bus over to the streets around Randolph-Macon.

The Ashland Library is a cool place to go on a hot summer day. Summer Story Time at the runs from June 11 to August 14. Mondays have Mother Goose (6-24 months with an adult) story time at 10am, and Family (all ages) at 10:45. On Tuesdays there’s Toddler (2yr. olds) story time at 10am, and Pre-School (3-5 yr. olds) at 10:30

If your kids are a bit old for those story times, then send them over for Teen Movie Night on Friday, June 8th from 6-8pm at the Ashland Library. Pizza will be served.

The Summer Reading Program begins Saturday, June 9th, and is a great way to keep your kids, and you, reading through the summer. Prizes are awarded when participants reach their reading goals. Call the library at 798-4072 for more information on any of these events.

Here’s a last minute event, but a worthwhile cause: the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life takes place today, Friday June 1 beginning at 6pm and goes through the night to Saturday morning at 6am. Come out and donate or just support the walkers who will walk to remember or honor the victims of cancer.

Please let me know if you’ve got some news to share. There’s so much that make Ashland such a great place to live: babies, baptisms, church events, school news, scouting awards, everyday heroes, and remarkable tales. What’s the most remarkable thing you’ve seen in Ashland? You can reach me by phone: 804-310-5320,or email: ashlandnews@gmail.com. Have a great weekend.

Monday, May 28, 2007

5/25/07 RMC Bells, Street Party, Kate Melson, CRG Mtg., Soccer, RMC KA

This past Thursday, a few minutes before 2pm, I walked out into my back yard to here the bells at Randolph Macon playing ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. Those bells have been a real joy to listen to since their installation almost a year ago. Not only do they sweetly chime the hours, but apparently they play popular favorites as well.

Mark you calendars early for the 25th Annual Strawberry Faire coming Sat. June 9th on the streets around Randolph-Macon from 10am to 5pm. It’s so nice to have those streets closed off to traffic and be able to stroll along with your wagon or the friends that you’ll need to help carry home all the good things to be found there: hanging baskets, flats of strawberries, hand-made crafts, antiques, and plenty of strawberry shortcake. Linger a while and listen to some great music and cheer on the contestants in the Little Miss and Mr. Strawberry.

From all the essays in the Ashland Library, you know that we’ve got some kids in our town who are involved citizens and who really care about this place. Here’s what Kate Melson, a second grader at Henry Clay Elementary has to say about Ashland: “What I like about Ashland is that I have the best town and everybody is nice. We have a great community. We get to bike ride and I walk my dog. Especially, I like my parents and my wonderful teacher, Miss Smith at Henry Clay. She is very nice and caring. I love Ashland very much! I'm so glad to be here.” We sure are glad that you’re here, Kate!

What a time we all had this past Saturday at the Street Party! We look forward to them every summer, and you couldn’t have asked for a better evening to be out under the stars. The weather was cool, like a California evening, and the waxing crescent moon paired up with the planet Venus for a stunning backdrop above the Library. The band, Alibi, was lively and talented, playing a wide variety of music from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Jimmy Buffet to Keith Urban. A surprising benefit from the work on the train track was that the trains crept through town and didn’t drown out the band. As usual, the dancing was slow to start. Maybe people wait for the sun to go down and shadows to fall, or to have a glass of wine before they try out the dance floor, but I am always impressed by the talent that is eventually displayed. Lee and Amanda Sloppy are an especially enjoyable pair to watch.

There was beer- poured by the Ashland Jaycees, wine from James River Cellars, food from the Smokey Pig, and ice cream from the Club Car. Tabitha Boothe painted faces for three hours as a representative of her beloved Ashland Community Preschool. Her children, Dalton, Lane, & Emily, enjoyed the fun and displayed wonderful patience as well. There were babies and kids everywhere, a moon bounce to help tire them out, balloons from TownHound.com, and a wonderful pot-bellied pig to giggle and point at. We had to leave around 9pm as our baby had fallen asleep, but we walked away smiling and laughing from such a great evening with good friends. What could be better? Mark your calendar for the next Street Party on July 21st, and check out the pictures on http://www.townhound.com/.

Wish A.C. Bruce a Happy Birthday if you see him this weekend!

On May 30th, at 7pm at Ashland Library, The Citizens for Responsible Growth will be holding an open meeting for all Ashlanders regarding the application from Lowe’s to build a home improvement store on Route 1 behind Slash Cottage. Mayor Faye Prichard will be in attendance. Whether you support Lowes or not, your opinion is important to the town and your voice should be heard.

There were some sad faces Sunday afternoon as the U6 division of the Ashland Youth Soccer wrapped up its final games on the beautiful fields of Poor Farm Park. It’s been a great spring season and the players of Bob Brown’s team were disappointed to hear that Bob will not be returning to coach in the fall. His daughter Madison was drafted by the Kicker’s Travel Soccer Team and won’t be returning to recreation soccer. They will both be missed by many.

Speaking of soccer, Henry Clay Elementary was the lucky recipient of two soccer goals from the Richmond Strikers Soccer Club. On hand to assemble the goals were Alan Abbot, Greg Calabrese, Mike Spence, Bryan Cline, Sharon Stiles, and Keith Hunter. Many thanks to these parent volunteers.

Randolph-Macon’s graduation is this Saturday, June 2nd. Ashland is a little quieter over the summer without the students, but we miss their energy and community involvement when they’re not here. A good example was the Kappa Alpha fraternity who spent much of a Saturday putting together the new playground equipment for St. Ann’s Catholic Church, under the guidance of parishioner Dave Kliz.

Thank you so much to everyone who has mentioned that they’ve read this column and enjoyed it! I’m having a great time putting it together and hopefully will improve as time goes by. We’ve got a wonderful town with lots of interesting people, so there’s no shortage of interesting stories and fun events. Let me know if you’ve got a graduate to brag about, a new baby to welcome, or a neighbor who makes this world a better place. You can reach me at 804-310-5320, or ashlandnews@gmail.com Have a great weekend!

5/18/07 Plant A Row for the Hungry, Street Party,

What a beautiful spring we’re having this year! We’ve had green days of low humidity and over-night showers to keep the pollen down. Irises and azaleas are blooming all over town, and it’s been hard to get the kids to come inside in the evenings.

The Ashland Farmer’s Market is open every Saturday behind the Town Offices from 9:00 am to noon. Get there early to find the sweetest organic strawberries and maybe some spring peas. Those legendary Hanover Tomatoes should be appearing in a few weeks.

Honoring Our Veterans- This Thursday, May 24th at 7:00pm, Delegate Frank Hargrove will be speaking at the Ashland Library. Refreshments will be served and the event is sponsored by the Friends of the Ashland Library.

As the parking lot in the Hanover Shopping Center is under construction, don’t forget that some restaurants are still open, or “abierto”, for business!

While you’re planting your garden this spring, consider planting a row for the hungry. The Central Virginia Food Bank is asking for gardeners to help stock their shelves with healthy vegetables this summer. Collection boxes will be available throughout the area starting in June. Call Annette Pelliccio for more information: 798-9280.

‘Hope to see everyone tomorrow (Sat.) night from 6pm to 11pm at the 1st Street Party of the summer behind the Ashland Library. There’s hardly a way to have more fun in town on a Saturday night then to come and dance with your neighbors.

Memorial Day is coming up soon, and although it’s usually a great day for picnics and cookouts, think about setting aside some time to remember our veterans who sacrificed their lives so we might live in the wonderful country.

These beautiful days won’t last for long. The heat and humidity of our tropical summers will be upon us shortly. Leave the car at home and walk around your beautiful town while the air is sweet and the flowers are blooming. Drop me a line if you’ve got any Ashland news that you need to spread. Call me at 310-5320 or email ashlandnews@gmail.com Have a great week! Meriwether

5/11/07 Blue Moon, Street Party, MOPS, Flippo Gallery Show

Did you know that there’s going to be a Blue Moon this month? A “blue moon” is the term given to a second full moon in one month, and it doesn’t happen very often, so that’s why we say, “Once in a blue moon!” There was a full moon on the 3rd, and there will be another one on the 31st. A perfect place to view this celestial event is the Keeble Observatory at Randolph Macon which is usually open on Tuesday evenings from 7:30 to 10pm. Call the Keeble information line at 752-3210 or contact Prof. George Spagna at 752-7344 to make sure that it’s open.

Are you ready for Mother’s Day? You’ve got a day or so left to find something special for your mom, wife, or daughter, plus you don’t have to leave town to find something nice. We have so many great shops right here.

Andrew Datovech celebrated his sixth birthday with one of the best ice cream sundae parties that Henry Clay Elementary has seen. A good time was had by all.

Don’t forget! The Ashland Town Council Meeting is this Tuesday, May 15th at 7pm. You can find out what’s on the agenda by calling the town at 798-9219.

The First Street Party of the Season is this Saturday May 19th, 6 to 11pm behind the Ashland Library. The music will be provided by Alibi- lots of classic rock and roll from the 60’s to the 90’s. You should see how many good dancers we have in Ashland. Bring your lawn chairs and blankets, and come hungry for some barbeque from the Smokey Pig. Admission is $5 for adults; children 12 and under are free with a paying adult. Visit www.ashlandstreetparties.com for more information.

The St. Ann’s MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) is having its monthly meeting this Wednesday, May 16th from 9:30 to 11:30 at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Ashland. This is a great opportunity to meet other moms, and to share the ups and downs of motherhood. Call Angela Cicirello for more information- 550-8119.

The Town of Ashland is considering a change to its curbside trash collection. Go to the Town website to fill out an on-line survey www.town.ashland.va.us

From May 6th to June 10, there will be an exhibit of paintings and sculptures by artists Joel Stoehr and Eung Ho Park at the Flippo Gallery at Randolph Macon College (211 N. Center St.-across from the Post Office). Both of these talented artists use their imagination to transform ordinary city skylines and everyday objects into formations that mirror our own human existence. The Gallery is open Monday through Friday, from 10am to 4pm, and on the weekend by appointment. Call 752-3028 for more information.

We are so lucky to be living in such a wonderful town- I’m sure you’ll get tired of me saying that. There are so many things going on that it’s easy to get out and socialize. I have often found that a whole week will go by and I haven’t left town on one single errand because everything that I needed was right here. When I lived in Westmoreland County, I was used to driving at least 30 minutes to get anywhere, and am now spoiled by living in town. Ten minutes to get to Virginia Center Commons? Oh that’s too far! Some days I don’t even want to cross Rt.1.

Call or email me with your news and events. What’s going on in your church this week? I’m sure we’ve got some graduates who need some recognition for their hard work. 804-310-5320, or ashlandnews@gmail.com

5/4/07 Plant Sale, Farmer's Mkt., Pool, Planning Comm. Mtg.

It is a late spring this year- my tomatoes were planted on April 25 and I am sure that I won’t have any ripe by the 4th of July. That was the date that my Uncle always aimed for, but it’s hard with these late frosts that we’ve had. The irises are opening now, and you can see the first real glimpses of shade over our yards; it’s my favorite time of year.

One of the best kept secrets is happening again this year- the 7th Annual Backyard Plant Sale to benefit the Nature Conservancy in Julie Erickson’s back yard. This is a sale full of native plants that are perfectly suited for our Central Virginia climate. Most of the plants are donated by your neighbors or gardens in the area, like Maymont and Lewis Ginter. All of the plants are carefully inspected to avoid any invasive species. I don’t believe you’ll see any morning glory for sale here! The sale starts this Friday May 4th, 4pm-dark and then on Saturday, May 5th 9am-1pm. The sale is at 203 Howard St., 1 ½ blocks west of the tracks in downtown Ashland. You can call 752-7671 or email jberickson@concast.net for information.

I have been waiting for the Farmer’s Market to open ever since Washington’s Birthday, because I’ve always heard that you should plant peas on that day. There’s nothing better than a fresh tilled field and all the bright green shoots emerging from that black Hanover soil. You can find a wonderful selection of locally grown fruits, vegetables, and plants, herbs, honey, and fresh-picked flowers. I would suspect you’ll see some strawberries, organic lettuce, maybe some peas, and lots of potted herbs, perennials, and flowers. Farmer’s Market Opening Saturday, May 5th from 9-12pm. The market is in the parking lot behind the Town Hall in Ashland. Call 804-798-9219 for more information.

Sunday, May 6th is the Spring Choral Concert at Randolph-Macon at 2pm in Blackwell Auditorium, Ashland. The spring performance will focus on African and African-American folk music. Call 804-752-7200 for more information.

Have you joined the Ashland Pool yet? That wonderful manager- Hunter Hoy is back again to make our summer fun and safe. They have talented lifeguards, plenty of umbrellas, and the ice cream truck is usually there at the top of every hour. Call the Town for more information. 804-798-9219

The Ashland Planning Commission is meeting this Wednesday, May 9 at 6:30pm at Town Hall. That’s earlier than usual because they have a lot to discuss: Ashbury is back, but is now called East Ashland and has changed some since we saw it almost two years ago. They’re also discussing the proposed Lowe’s store on Rt. 1 behind Slash Cottage. Come out and give your opinion! The involvement of this community is what sets it apart from the rest. No one could ever call us apathetic.

Teacher Appreciation Week is May 7-11. It’s a great opportunity to tell a teacher how much we value the hard work they do!

Don’t forget to stop at those cross walks in town if you see someone trying to cross the street. It would only take a few seconds out of your drive and would greatly increase the happiness of the pedestrians in town.

This column is lots of fun for me to write, but it’s your stories that make it newsworthy. Send me your stories, your news, your favorite things about living in Ashland. Call me at 804-310-5320 or email ashlandnews@gmail.com

4/27/07 Va Tech, Marchetti baby, Tom Bass's b-day, Spring Fling, Ukrop's Parking Sign

Our hearts broke last week for the victims at Virginia Tech, their parents, the students, and alumni. Thank you to Nikki Giovanni for her beautiful words: “No one deserves a tragedy. We are Virginia Tech. We will prevail.”

Before we knew about the horror in Blacksburg, we had the occasion to come through our town on the Amtrak Auto Train from Florida. Seeing Ashland from the train windows was a wonderful experience. Kristen Reihl came out on her front lawn to wave to us, as did Cathy, Mary, and Betty Lee Miller (a customer) from Cross Brothers. I wanted to shout to all the passengers in the car: “Look! This is MY town! Isn’t it beautiful?”

Let’s extend a big welcome to our newest Ashland resident, Ellis Isaak Marchetti, born April 17, 2007 and weighing a respectable 8lbs, 3oz. Ellis’ arrival was greatly anticipated by his parents, April & Stefan Marchetti, and his big-brother Parker who is ready to play with him in the backyard.

Happy Birthday to Tom Bass, who turned 75 this past week! Tom came to town in 1950 as a freshman at Randolph-Macon and then returned to live with his wife, Carlene in 1956. He was the announcer for the first nine Variety Shows and has always had a love for the theatre. Does anyone remember the fun that was had by the Huckleberry Players? He spent his birthday surrounded by old friends and family- his children: Stephen, Alison, & Warren; and his grandchildren: Bates, Candace, Jason, & Chip. Tom’s talent, sense of humor, and common sense have graced our town for many years.

Did anyone wonder where the “Parent & Baby” parking signs in the Ukrop’s parking lot went? I loved those spots so much that my sister joked that they were one of the reasons that we had our third child! Apparently the sign was run over, twice, and they are in the process of getting another one.

There are some great websites that can keep you informed and connected here in Ashland: http://www.townhound.com/, http://www.hanoverarts.com/ , http://www.town.ashland.va.us/

This Saturday, April 28th, is the Gandy/Henry Clay Spring Festival held from 11am to 2pm at John M. Gandy Elementary School (201 Archie Cannon Drive). This is a wonderful event that benefits the Henry Clay PTA and the Gandy Student Council Association. Come walk in a cake walk, slide down an inflatable slide, or bid on a silent auction basket- Mother’s Day is right around the corner!

My fingers are crossed that the fledgling non-profit, The Ashland Classic Theater Foundation (ACT), will have great luck in negotiations to revitalize our Ashland Theater. The plans are to have a summer film series- with children’s movies on Saturday afternoons, and classic movies for the grown-ups in the evenings. Having that theater open really adds a magic touch to our town.
Did everyone turn out for the Ashland Library’s Ashland Poetry Celebration 2007 last night at the Library? Every year I’m impressed by the amount of talent we have in our town. Stop by the Library to read the winning poems and be inspired. While you’re there, check out the work that has begun on the Plaza out front. Paving bricks are available for purchase to help with the cost of construction. What a lovely way to leave your mark on Ashland with your own personalized brick. Call the Ashland Library at 798-4072 for more information.

You know, our vacation to Florida was wonderful- so sunny and bright, but I couldn’t live there. Give me a creaking wood floor of a musty old house and the surprise of an Easter snow any day. I often thought that I could never live anywhere else besides the Northern Neck, but am now resigned to finding a good cemetery plot in Hanover County. When we first moved here, all my phone calls to friends would begin the same way- “You never believe this..”, and I would go on to tell them about walking my girls to school at sweet Henry Clay, seeing my first Variety Show, or Santa on the back of a fire truck at 9 o’clock at night. These days I keep my mouth shut more often than not. I’m somewhat afraid that they don’t believe me anymore, but more worried that they might move here!

Let me know your Ashland news! Get in touch with me at ashlandnews@gmail.com, or 804-310-5320. See you next week.

Issue One

Wanted: Ashland News!
Hello Ashlanders! The big news here is that Ashland is joining the H-P’s Neighborhood Network. I’m really excited to be your correspondent for all the wonderful news and events happening in town. My name is Meriwether Gilmore and I grew up in Westmoreland County in the Northern Neck- near a small town much like Ashland. My family and I have lived in town for four years now, and loved it the first time we drove down Thompson St. I hope that you’ll call or email me with your Ashland news: babies, baptisms, church events, school news, scouting awards, everyday heroes, and remarkable tales - all those interesting stories that make Ashland such a great place to live. You can reach me by phone: 804-310-5320,or email: ashlandnews@gmail.com. See you next week!