Posted on May 21 2019 | By

In the beginning wine. Now tales on whatever drives the imagination. Visit our site map for over 400 chronicles.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES

I was standing in line at Walmart and the customer ahead of me had just paid for his order. Turning around, he looked at me quizzically and smiled. Intrigued, I caught up with him, introduced myself, and asked why the soft smile? He laughed and said he was trying to read the logo on my hat. “But now I see. It’s says the American Shakespeare Center.” I asked if I could call him later and learn a little more about his life. He agreed. 

Retired security analyst combines two passions into one Oxford degree

As a kid, Jim Zackrison grew up in various locales in Latin America. As the son of a Seventh Day Adventist minister, his cultural immersion ran so deep his mother eventually homeschooled him. “Mom took me out of the local schools to teach me English,” explained Zachrison.

His bilingual education created a love of history for the many countries where he lived, including Aruba, Curacao, Honduras, and Columbia.

One of the major draws for the adventure-seeking youth was the numerous old Spanish fortifications. They ranged in size from large fortresses to small outposts. When given an opportunity, he loved to crawl through the strongholds and explore their interiors.

By the time young adulthood arrived, he had returned to his birth state of California and began scoring educational degrees. First, a B.A. in history, followed by a master’s in history.

While waiting for his bride, Leila, to graduate from medical school, he earned a master’s in national securities studies. Since he was stuck in California, he opted to pursue a degree that might generate more lucrative employment.

And it did. His wife graduated and got an internship at Georgetown Hospital, and he landed a job as an analyst for Naval Intelligence in D.C. He spent 16 years there, gaining knowledge about modern-day smuggling.

“We lived in Falls Church back then and moved to Fauquier County three years ago.”

But his passion for history was unfilled by his employment. He tried to get the government to help him pursue a Ph.D. but to no avail. So, he retired and got accepted at Oxford University. “I paid for the education myself.”

But before he could graduate, he contracted Lyme disease and lost the better part of a productive decade to the disease. “Often, I was in bed 15 hours a day. I wouldn’t have made it if it wasn’t for my physician wife,” Zackrison recalls.

When he recovered, he was reinstated at Oxford and began writing his thesis on a fort in Honduras since no English language history existed of it.  The history included stories on smuggling throughout the region. He successfully defended the thesis a year ago, and history and adventure coalesced into a doctorate.

Spanish smuggling
Spanish forts in the Americas were originally designed to protect the coastlines from English, Dutch, and French pirates who tried to steal anything of value from the Spaniards.

In the 1500s, the forts assumed the added responsibility of protecting Spain from smugglers who traded in tax-free goods, a benefit to sellers and buyers but not for the King who sought to control all forms of trade.

It was estimated half of the goods headed to the colonies were smuggled. Recent studies, however, show as much as 90 percent of the goods traveling through the formal trade system did not appear on manifests. Smuggling was a hugely lucrative business.

The smuggling cost the Spanish Empire so much money it was unable to meet its national objectives of becoming a superpower. The grand strategy to stop it is what his thesis centers on.

“What I found humorous was the level to which smuggling permeated society.”

Columbia produced a lot of gold, and Mexico a lot of silver. Both places also had chocolate. To support themselves, the missionaries would ship casks back to Spain that contained cocoa beans, making deals with local miners to include bars of gold and silver in the barrels.

The casks would be shipped at the King’s expense back to Spain, where agents opened them, removed the valuable cargo, and delivered it to secret buyers. The King was unknowingly picking up the tab for shipping the goods, and for failing to collect royalties or taxes on the contents.

Other examples abound on how society was regularly subverted to the benefit of the smugglers’ purse. Today, this circumvention of law would be clearly illegal, but it’s useful to recognize that Spain failed in many ways to support its colonies, thus creating the need for alternative systems of trade.

As an example, nuns lived in convents and did not work. Their calling was to pray for humanity. As a result, they would implore the wealthy class to make donations to their cause. One channel of support was from merchants who offered to build a new chapel, but with the caveat, it had to have a warehouse attached to it.

When smuggled goods passed through the merchants’ hands, they would store them in the convent warehouse. At the time, the church had its own legal system of ecclesiastical law making it exempt from civil law.

If the customs police were chasing a smuggler and he took refuge in a convent, they could not pursue him. Instead, they would have to file a petition to have a warrant issued, taking as much as a year. This provided ample time to secret the goods, and the smuggler, out of the convent and on to a ship headed to Spain.

Since the King was also making donations to convents, he was unwittingly supporting both the smuggling trade while losing tax revenues. Zackrison linked many of these tales into a historical fiction novel and would love to have it published.

“I cannot find anyone who can help me publish it. I am doing some academic writing, and getting that punished is pretty much a yes or no proposition. Fiction, not so much. It’s much harder.”

Let’s hope he prevails. A novel centered on a fascinating era and laced with improbable but true adventure stories could well be a best seller.


Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Vita Nova Creatives & Coffee will be family-run embodying its name

A “New Life” may be what most of the world is seeking as the pandemic, hopefully, lifts its lock on humanity and fades to a bad memory.

But there is a tight-knit family in southern Fauquier County that is not waiting to create a new life for themselves and their village that will help speed, in a small way, the transition back to normal.

Tom Millar, 55, and Paula Millar, 53, are the force behind the new business along with some of their children. Paula Millar homeschooled her four children. As adults, their closeness with their parents will be a gift to customers who will enjoy a home-like atmosphere in a shop with unique gifts, art, and all manner of espressos.

The store will be run by Paula Millar and her two daughters, Danielle Millar and Rebecca Ferguson, and her daughter-in-law, Jessica Millar, who is married to their oldest son Alex. Their son Jerrod is in his early twenties.

Many people had expressed interest in a local coffee shop that helped drive their dream forward. There are no comparable businesses in the area.

The shop is expected to launch with a soft opening in June after the interior build-out is completed and the procurement of coffee-making equipment, gifts, and art is done.

The 1,500 square foot shop will be located at 13059 Fitzwater Drive at the Route 28 intersection in Nokesville.

The Millar family has lived in Nokesville for 18 years. Daughters Rebecca and Danielle have worked in coffee shops bringing experience to the family’s first business venture.

“I’ve always enjoyed art and painting,” said Paula Millar. “Tom is one of the pastors at our church, Evergreen Community in Manassas, and a full-time real estate agent. I also ran a children’s church for about 20 years.”

“We considered running a coffee shop back in 2005 as I was getting close to retirement as an Air Force major,” said Tom Millar.” Today, those earlier musings are becoming a reality.

The entire family is all coffee lovers, so envisioning the next chapter of their lives as a business centered on java and art made sense.

Paula Millar had spent years tracking quaint coffee shops and checking out the atmosphere while enjoying a cuppa brew. “I loved how each one had a different vibe, a different feel.”

Rebecca Millar echoes her mother’s feelings. “I worked in a coffee shop full-time for almost a year. It was an experience I will not forget. The relationships I built with the customers are ongoing today. The friendships, getting to know people’s names, and their daily orders was fun. I had many wonderful conversations with customers at the coffee bar.

“Relationships are important to our family. We know people are made in God’s image, and He loves them and us. To have a place where people are drawn to the coffee while enjoying a warm and welcoming atmosphere will be great.”

She underscores that, unlike major coffee chains, people visit the smaller shops to sit and talk with others while getting their coffee fix.

Paula Millar has a broad number of connections within the art community and will draw on them for many of the art items for sale.

Additionally, a line of paints will be available for restoring furniture and recycling home décor items.  Transfers, molds, stamps, and related materials for embellishing crafts, cabinets, and other furniture projects will be for sale.

The Millar’s will also be offering local artisans the opportunity to have their products in the store. Items will include pottery, painted signs, water bottles, towels, and more. “It’s an eclectic mix that works well together,” said Paula Millar.

The coffee shop area will seat up to 25 people, including a children’s play corner. There are plans to offer art painting, furniture painting, macrame, jewelry making, and more in the fall. The classes will be held after hours in the evening.

Coffee selections will also include a selection of pastries, including gluten-free and vegan choices.

The coffees will be produced using a professional espresso machine and include cappuccinos, frozen coffee beverages, and various teas.

The Millar’s volunteered the costs of starting a small venture offering a peek to others who might be considering doing something similar.

The startup costs will be about $110,000. A coffee shop consultant cost $5,000 but included the equipment; $9,000 was for the architect and about $40,000 for the interior design build-out.

The Millar’s have put $25,000 of personal funds into the shop. They also secured a $50,000 loan but are hoping not to use it all.

To further help with expenses, they created a crowdfunding page at  People interested in supporting their efforts can make contributions at

Their goal is to generate $30,000, $8,000 of which has already been raised.

The shop will be opened six days a week from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed on Sundays.

A soft opening is targeted for June and a grand opening in July. For more information on the shop, visit their Facebook page at

Tom Millar said, “We love the community aspect of our new business and are looking forward to providing something the local community has been clamoring for for a long time.”


Published in a March 2021 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Out of the Attic

Posted on Apr 16 2021 | By

Home in The Plains antique shop is one of a kind

A typical antique shop sells items the owner has recently purchased. Quick turnaround is the goal. Sell it and replace it with another recent buy. Capitalism in action.

But it’s hard to give away a life of passion and even harder to assure those rare finds from history’s vault will go to good homes, continuing to provide pleasure to others well into the 21st Century and beyond.

There’s a passionate antique collector in The Plains that turns the conventional model on its head. Having amassed hundreds of rare collectibles over forty years, today, she is slowly bringing numerous rare pieces out of storage and making them available to the general public. Her work is your reward.

Lillian Waters, 64, is an antiquarian searching for fellow antiquarians who will move history forward, one rare piece of Americana at a time.

Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, she is half Irish and half Navajo-Spanish. As a youth, she saw much of the country serving duty as an Air Force brat. At age 16, the family settled in Virginia.

Today she lives in Middleburg. Before that, she had a farm in Fauquier County called Last Resort which housed her first antique shop. Two years ago, she was widowed. Last year she sold the farm.

“I went from 6,000 square feet of space down to about 1,200 square feet,” said Waters, describing her new shop.

Antiques have always been her enthusiasm, but working for Loudown County schools for 18 years helped pay the bills; among her accomplishments was creating the county’s student field trip program. Later she turned to real estate and today is an active realtor for Washington Fine Properties.

The lady, however, has never rested on her laurels. She also owns Middleburg Wagyu, a purveyor of high-end beef originally raised in Japan.  It’s known for its marbled appearance and exceptional tenderness.

She owns both the herd and a large farm in southern West Virginia, where the cattle are raised. The beef is wholesaled to regional restaurants, including Magnolias in Purcellville. The cattle are processed by Gentle Harvest Custom Processing, the only humane beef processor in Virginia.

The shop
As customers enter Home in The Plains, located at 6482 Main Street, they will be greeted by Waters and a host of rare and historical antiques. “Your first reaction in coming into the shop is to likely ask, ‘Is this a museum’? There are no price tags on anything. Is everything for sale?’” Indeed.

The collection showcases Waters’ interest in primitive, homemade style antiques, often dating from pre-Colonial America to the mid-1800s. “I do not go to auctions just buy anything they drag across the stage. I only buy what I like. Often, it’s a one-of-a-kind item.”

Such as? For starters, there is a pre-Civil War broom-making machine invented by an enslaved person. It was found on a plantation near The Plains. The origin of the invention was based on the reality that slaves could not legally marry. They formed bonds and raised families.

One of the traditions in their culture was “to jump the broom.” The ceremony was a sign that the couple had formed a relationship and started housekeeping together. The invention provided a source of brooms for both practical and ceremonial uses.

Two handmade fabric tables date to the mid-1800s and were used in the Morrisonville General Store near Lovettsville. There is an inlaid desk with impressive brass fittings made in Paris, France, that is over 160 years old.

One of the larger pieces is a six-by-six mirror originating from Russia. It came out of a D.C. mansion, possibly a diplomat’s home. A mid-1800s British campaign desk that can be disassembled for travel and used by officers during combat is also for sale.

There is a three-by-one-foot military telescope lens case with brass corners and an oilcloth wrap dating to World War II. The lens itself is on display at the Marine Museum in Quantico. There is the main horse tack trunk used by Colonel Harriman, who owned the original Salamander Farm in Middleburg in the early 1900s. The trunk held boots, bridles, blankets, and more.

Most of the items are rare and expensive. Pieces range from a few hundred dollars apiece to over $10,000. But what’s in play here are serious antiques representing extended searches and travel acquired over four decades.

She owns a farm in southern West Virginia and stores much of her collection in a barn on the property and in a home in Marshall she owns.

“Anybody that knows me knows that I want everyone to succeed and be happy. Everyone. I will give you my last dollar and last pairs of socks,” said Waters. That said, do not look for her gifting her precious antiques, but she will sell them and she will negotiate.

As the shop depletes its current inventory, she will pull additional prized pieces out of storage.

Other items for sale are provided by two good friends and include a collection of beautiful mineral rocks and art from an exceptionally talented artist.

The shop is open each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit its Facebook page for photos and more information on its inventory.

Published in a March 2021 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Fauquier Excellence in Education Foundation focused on county’s future

Officially incorporated in 1987 as the Committee for Excellence in Education, the organization was originally created to support teachers in Fauquier County public schools. It provided instructors funds to take classes, seminars, and attend conferences supporting their professional growth.

In 2013, the committee’s name was changed to its current title while considerably broadening its agenda. Today, both teachers and children are reaping the benefits of the nonprofit’s expanded agenda. To date, the Foundation has awarded over $275,000 in grants to teachers, administrators, aides, and support staff.

The change was triggered by parents, the school board, and county supervisors, all who agreed new ways were needed to help fund educational programs that could directly benefit public school education.

Today, those programs include multi-sensory literacy, My first Book Club, A-R Topography Sand Box, educator grants, summer camps, new teacher dinners, and teacher of the year awards, among other initiatives.

The Foundation is headed by a ten-member board led by Executive Director Stacie Griffin.

Coming from a background in radio and television management on the West Coast, the birth of Griffin’s son, Hazen, 17 years ago dictated a move east. “My husband and I did not want to raise him in the Hollywood scene. We wanted him to learn the lessons of life in his own backyard,” said Griffin.

She was born in Maryland, and her husband always liked the region, so the move to Virginia was a good fit. Today, the family resides in The Plains. Griffin, 54, works full-time for the Library of Congress in Culpeper.

She is the only paid Foundation employee working some 25 hours a month. “Our hard-working board is the heart of the Foundation. I help coordinate their efforts,” emphasized Griffin.

Griffin’s passionate take on education best characterizes the Foundation’s programs. “I never want any child’s experience or education dependent on money or the size of their parent’s wallet. I want every child to have a great experience in life.”

She further underscores that some of the wealthiest people in the world live in the county but it also has two schools on free and reduced lunch programs.

For these reasons, the original committee felt, “We’ve been doing this for some twenty years. We need to grow our vision beyond just teacher grants,” recalls Griffin. The Foundation’s direction was expanded, with Griffin contributing her skills to help realize the new goals.

Educator Grants
An essential focus of the Foundation is helping teachers get professional development which they would otherwise have to pay for themselves. The purpose to better their skills and return to the classrooms, directly impacting student advancement.

STEM and Environmental Studies

The Foundation supports STEM and Environmental Studies. STEM is an approach to learning and development that integrates science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Through STEM, students develop critical skills including problem-solving, creativity, critical analysis, teamwork, independent thinking, digital literacy, and more.

My First Book Club
The program focuses on literacy at the pre-K level. Research has shown the importance of early literacy in the long-term educational development of youth. Each child receives a free book each month to keep. Often, it is the first book the child has ever owned.

The teacher works with each child and then gathers the class together to discuss the book, just like a traditional book club. The students talk about the book’s story, sharing their thoughts and feelings, and creating peer interaction in the process. The children are also encouraged to take the books home and begin building a little library.

Special Education
The program supports life transitions for students with special needs who can attend high school through the age of 22. The effort is to create employment opportunities by teaching real-life-skills since many students will not go onto college.

Goals would include working in jobs like local grocery stores, learning how to do their laundry, and fundamentally taking care of themselves as functioning adults.

Multi-Sensory Learning
The program centers on literacy and dyslexia. It trains instructors that students learn in different ways. “We want to give our teachers the tools they need to help students with individual needs,” Griffin said.

A-R Topography Sandboxes
The curriculum explores the importance of water, watersheds, hydrology, topography, land forms, geology, the effects of weather, earth science, and more. It’s been made available through a grant from Dominion Energy and uses Augmented Reality 3-D Topography Sandbox Tables to learn.

The Foundation’s website enumerates these programs and more. Each one has a “Donate” button as part of the program description.

The public can select to support one or more of the initiatives with a simple click. “We are a 501c3 tax-exempt nonprofit, so donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law. We invite everyone to look at the website and find a program that speaks to them.

“Every penny received is coded and goes directly to the program selected. That’s how the public can best help our educators and students,” said Griffin.

Another traditional fundraising source is its annual golf tournament. For 21 years, the tournament has been an important source of funding for the Foundation. This year the event will be held at the Stonewall Golf Club in Gainesville on June 21. The fee is $150 per person. It’s anticipated it will generate over $15,000. The money will go primarily to teacher grants. Golfers can sign up on its website.

Give Local, sponsored by the Northern Piedmont Community Foundation, is another vital source of funding.

“I am proud of the Foundation. I’m proud of our board of directors, who donate their personal time and expertise. It’s a group of volunteers who really support our public schools,” Griffin said.

For a complete description of the programs of the Fauquier Excellence in Education Foundation, visit its website at


Published in an April 2021 edition of the Fauquier Times

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Legislation will stop online sales of vaping products shipped through the U.S. Postal Service

Some might view it as a win-win situation. In early April, Federal law will prevent the sale of nicotine vaping devices and e-liquids unless the buyer’s age can be verified.

The law will apply only to residential addresses. It is formally referred to as the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act.

The impact is not likely to increase or decrease vaping product sales but rather shift them from one buying channel to another. Early on, it appears to benefit vape shops while curtailing sales to youths.

While legally applicable to only shipping via the U.S. Postal Service, major carriers such as UPS and FedEx will voluntarily comply with the law. DHL already prohibits the shipping of vaping and nicotine products in the U.S.

It is expected to take effect in early April after the comment period set by the Postal Service closes toward the end of March.

The law intends to stop sales to minors who purchase the products online and cannot have their age verified as over 18. The law would mandate online age verification for the sale of all e-cigarettes products, and require in-person confirmation upon physical delivery.

As a result, it will significantly reduce such sales by online retailers and likely drive their former adult customers to brick and mortar vape shops. The kids will be out of luck, which is the intent.

There are almost 10,000 vape shops in the U.S. and an estimated 8 million users.

Most vape shops are small businesses with just a few employees. Moreover, while the industry is viewed negatively by some, many customers are either reducing their dependence on nicotine or attempting to eliminate it altogether. A vape shop can offer a transition path to tobacco independence.

One Warrenton shop has already seen an impact of the change in law even before it’s taken effect. “The new law has saved my business. I now will be able to survive,” said Jeff Giocondo, owner of Wikivapes, located at 579 Frost Ave. in the Warrenton Towne Center.

Giocondo, 52, purchased his business just before Covid-19 hit and saw his early sales crash after the lockdown was implemented.

During the later months of Covid-19, when his shop was able to reopen, sales were still sluggish. “People were sitting at home on their computers and thinking, ‘I need some juice. I’ll just order it online instead of going to the shop,’” said Giocondo. That buying option will soon go away.

He is grateful his landlord reduced his rental costs for a few months in mid-2020 to help him get by.

“Recently, I’ve seen a 100 percent increase in my business. I’m getting up to 20 customers a day,” said Giocondo.” Many of those sales were digitally fulfilled in the past by online retailers. The early surge is due in part to some businesses shutting down in advance of the law’s enforcement.

His customers range in age from 21 years old to seniors. Older buyers comprise as much as half of his customers. “I would also say 50 percent of the people who come in here are trying to stop smoking or trying to cut down,” Giocondo said. “We fit those people with the right device and right product for what they need.”

He underscores the benefit of vaping is that no tar is inhaled into the lungs, the main cause of lung cancer, emphysema, COPD, and heart disease, among many other illnesses.

Jenna Causin is the retail face of the business. “There is a perception that users are blowing out these really big clouds and alarming others, saying, ‘What is that doing to my lungs?’

“It’s just the opposite. It’s a lot safer because there is no second-hand smoke you are exposed to. It’s just water vapor people are seeing. It’s environmentally safe,” said Causin.

She added, “And you can also dial back your use slowly if you are trying to stop altogether. You can go down to zero nicotine and only taste the flavoring.”

Tobacco smoke contains at least 70 cancer-causing chemicals, which can lead to all manner of health issues. Tar is the culprit left behind in the lungs from the incomplete burning of tobacco. The only thing ingested with vaping is nicotine and flavoring.

But where there are winners, there may also be losers. Online retailers will see their customer base evaporating since they will not be able to comply with the age verification mandate on orders, a complex problem not easily overcome.

However, many of them are also wholesalers who will be able to retain that business channel since those sales will not go to residential addresses but rather businesses, mostly shops like Wikivapes.

“This is a case that some might see as government overreach, but it’s benefiting my business while protecting young people,” said Giocondo.

The Tobacco Hut Vape shop at 294 Lee Highway did not respond to a request for comment on the subject.

Published in the March 2021 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Main Street anchor unable to replace experienced floral arranger

The power of the individual is often overlooked in today’s corporate world. The company rules. But what if the company is centered on one talented person? And she decides to retire.

So goes the story of a flower and gift business that has served Fauquier County for 35 years. Designs By Teresa has been a ubiquitous part of Warrenton’s life. Countless birthdays, holidays, weddings, graduations, and deaths, have seen the company’s flower arrangements grace the occasion.

The owners of both the building and the business are David and Virginia Gerrish. They are not selling the building. In fact, except for the impending retirement of Tina Colver, the daughter of the original shop owner, Teresa Bowles, the Gerrish’s would have continued to stay in the flower trade. Colver has been the principal floral arranger for almost 30 years.

The building, located at 7 Main St., was built in 1882. It was the town’s post office until 1910. It went on to serve as a restaurant, tack shop, and antique business.

In addition to the flowers and plants, the full-service shop has offered a unique line of fountains and garden ware, as well as home accents such as lamps, custom silk flower arrangements, statues, and gift baskets.

All non-flower items are now on sale, and its expected inventory will be exhausted by late March.

“The reason we are closing is we have been unable to find a high-quality floral arranger,” said David Gerrish.

Virginia Gerrish has been managing the shop since 2019 when the Gerrish’s purchased the business. “Virginia is very good at running the business. She will order the flowers, manage the books, take customer orders, help process flowers before they are arranged, and make some floral arrangements. But it’s not like she has 30 years of experience arranging flowers.”

The beautiful arrangements produced over the decades have been the shop’s hallmark of success. “We would love to find a replacement for Tina. We’ve tried hard to do so. There are a lot of people who like to arrange flowers. There are not a lot of people who are both creative and willing to own a retail floral business.”

Gerrish points out that the business is demanding since it’s essentially a manufacturing enterprise dealing with perishable products. “You have to work at it daily to make it sustainable.

“We’ve reached out to businesses in Northern Virginia and the D.C. area that teach floral arranging to see if they knew of somebody who would be interested. And we’ve exhausted all our contacts in the surrounding counties. We’ve not found anyone who is willing and able to come forward and own and run the shop.

Given the fading hopes of keeping the shop open, the Gerrish’s are concurrently looking at ways to repurpose the building into other types of businesses.

David Gerrish considers the building a prime business location on Main St. “Hopefully, it will be a retail business that goes into the building rather than office space.”

There is no intent to sell the building since they purchased it a year and a half ago from Teresa Bowles.

The Gerrish’s moved to Fauquier County in 1975 and moved to High Street in 1994. David Gerrish is the branch manager at Wells Fargo Advisors at 70 Main St. “I’m very familiar with Main St.”

The Gerrish’s have no plans to relocate. He has worked for 40 years in town, and they have lived there for 27 years. “We love Warrenton. We have loved Warrenton from the day we’ve moved here.

“Over the years, we’ve done everything we can to promote Old Town for both businesses and residents. We’re not going anywhere. I have no plans to move to Florida!”

As a testament to his love of Warrenton, David Gerrish chaired Experience Old Town Warrenton for several years and embodies the welcoming banner line on the organization’s website that reads in part:

“…love as you mean it, to break down the barriers that divide us, and to connect with someone in your life–a family member, a friend, even a stranger. Watch walls disappear when you love out loud.”

Until a specific closing date is set, the shop will continue to be open during March, Tuesday through Saturday.

In the interim, if there is a skilled floral arranger interested in purchasing a business with a stellar reputation, drop by the shop and start a conversation. The Gerrish’s are waiting to talk.


Published in a March 2021 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Moe’s Southwest Grill debuts in April

Posted on Mar 16 2021 | By

High energy restaurant with south of the border vibes poised to please

When daffodils are blooming in Warrenton, look for a highly rated Mexican Tex Mex grill opening its doors. The eatery will be located at 95 Broadview Avenue, the site of the former Pizza Hut.

As each guest enters the restaurant, they are greeted with a chorus of “Welcome to Moe’s!” from the employees. Fun is the companion to tasty for this unique establishment noted for serving custom-designed platters with prompt and friendly service.

The operation will draw on a successful franchise founded 20 years ago in Atlanta. Today, Moe’s has some 700 independently owned restaurants, scattered mostly east of the Mississippi.

Frank and Carol Maresca are the owners of the Warrenton rendition. Frank Maresca, 51, is centered on day-to-day operations of their current four Moe’s restaurants; two in Richmond and one in Chantilly, and one in South Riding. Carol Maresca covers the backstory of the eatery.

They opened their Chantilly and South Riding franchises in 2006, with the Richmond locations following later. There are a total of 16 Moe’s locations in Northern Virginia.

The Marascas are not lifelong restaurateurs. His wife, Carol, 46, was an elementary school teacher, and he was in medical sales. “But we always had a desire to do something entrepreneurial. We just didn’t know exactly what.

“We were working in Atlanta in 2002. It’s also where the Moe’s franchise was founded. We fell in love with our first Moe’s Homewrecker Burrito. We spent two years researching the brand and then jumped in with both feet,” said Frank Maresca.

The timing was incentivized by a newborn with another baby on the way. “There was no opportunity for failure. It was simply, ‘make it work!’” said Maresca laughing.

Frank Maresca underscores that with the opening of their fifth restaurant their goal is not to become too big. “One of the things we like is having that local feel in each of our Moe’s. When I walk into our restaurants, I know everybody. Not just the managers. I know the names of every employee.”

As the hungry walk through the doors of Moe’s and hear the welcoming greeting, they fall in line, literally, to choose their entrée and then have their selections customized with a choice of 20 fresh ingredients.

The corporate website sums up the fun and whimsical approach to its food: “From the second you walk into a Moe’s, you’ll notice there’s something different. You feel welcomed. Ever since our employees at the first location in Atlanta, Georgia in the year 2000 shouted “Welcome to Moe’s!” –which probably scared the first guests–the phrase has embodied our entire culture. Everybody is welcome at Moe’s. Except, of course, fugitives.”

The foundation of the meals is natural chicken, grass-fed steak, or organic tofu. These are offered in burritos, quesadillas, tacos, nachos, burrito bowls, and salads.

“One of the most popular items is our world-famous queso. It’s by far the best queso on the planet. If you haven’t had it, it likely will be a life-changing experience,” Maresca proudly emphasizes. “Customers call it our liquid gold.”

The company characterizes its full lineup as a “souped-up version of the taco bar.” As diners moved down the serving line, staff adds toppings as directed. Once completed, the meal, which includes chips, is further enhanced with a stop at the free, freshly made salsa bar.

A self-serve soft drink machine and southern sweet tea wrap things up before diner’s head to their seat or vehicle.

Customers can also order ahead for curbside pickup or through the drive-thru window.

Entrees are in the $8 range.

“Last summer, I had no intention of expanding during a pandemic. Zero. It wasn’t even on my radar,” Maresca said. “But when the opportunity in Warrenton came along to have a free-standing Moe’s, on Broadview Avenue, with a drive-thru window, we jumped on it. I know how great Warrenton is and how great this market is.”

To make all this happen, Maresca will be hiring about 30 employees. For those interested, he asks that they drop by the restaurant for now. A website is being built with a new hire application feature.

The restaurant will be open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. There will be outside patio dining for up to 24 people in the front of the building. The inside dining room will hold 60.

“The location is great, and the drive-thru option will be fantastic. We look forward to doing what we’ve done in our other locations, becoming part of the community. We love working with schools, churches, youth sports teams.

“We are very excited to be coming into Warrenton,” Maresca said.


Published in a March 2021 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

In-home charging stations for electric vehicles available now

There’s a gas station coming to your home. Except it won’t be pumping gas. Instead, electrons will be quietly refueling that electric vehicle in your driveway or garage. That is if you own one.

If this sounds a bit farfetched, consider the Tipping Point phenomenon. That is a point in time when a small change tips the balance of a system and brings about a major change. The EV industry has that point in its crosshairs.

And there is as a young entrepreneur who is positioning himself to be ready when the moment occurs.

Justin Mauch,27, is a calm, thoughtful young guy who thinks big. And he has experience in following his dreams. A native and current resident of Loudoun County, he opted to delay college and chase the experience of competitive cycling.

For six years, he raced with the USA National Cycling Team and other trade teams. He competed all over Europe, China, South Africa, and North America. And while he still competes, 2020 has seen no sanctioned races given the pandemic, and he is no longer pursuing a cycling career.

Since competitive cycling is not a stable endeavor, in 2017 Mauch decided to pursue a degree from the University of Virginia in economics and foreign affairs.

“Last September, I was talking with a friend about the $103,000 Porsche Taycan electric vehicle. The thought ran through my head that after purchasing such a vehicle, how do buyers regularly charge it,” said Mauch.

“Little guidance is given to new owners other than to call an electrician. What typically follows are technical questions from the electrician as to the type of plug and amps needed. Both the vehicle owner and electrician often don’t know how to easily proceed.”

Mauch saw an unfilled need, and while the need is small at the moment, the numbers are striking. There are one million EVs on the road today. By 2030, that number is projected to jump to 18 million. The tipping point will likely follow soon after.

“A few years ago, Tesla was the big player. That’s completely changing. Now you’ve got Volvo, Porsche, GM, Ford, Cadillac, Subaru, Toyota, and more. Everyone is bringing EVs or hybrid electrics to market.” And all those new owners will need convenient and accessible charging stations.”

To further explore the potential for his idea, Mauch canvassed electricians asking if they installed EV chargers. He found no one was serving the niche market. His entrepreneurial spirit was ignited.

The Product
Mauch began forming his company in the Fall of 2019 and officially launched it in January of this year. The first installations occurred in March, and then the business was put on hold due to the pandemic.

Today, he is targeting both residential and commercial installations, including auto dealerships and office buildings, where multiple installs are performed. Wineries, bed and breakfasts, and small airports are other prime industries.

To leverage his sales, he provides EV car dealerships with literature on his company so vehicle sales can include information on how the new owner can purchase a “one phone call” charging system.

Pricing depends on where a customers’ electrical panel is located in the home. The unit itself can be mounted on a weatherproof post abutting a driveway or inside a garage. If the electrical panel does not have adequate space, an additional 50-amp circuit can be installed.

The charger is about 12 inches high and 7 inches deep with a 25-foot rollup electrical cord. A recent new product offering will allow for an overhead boom permitting the owner to reach up and pull the cord down to the car.

The cost of installation, including the charger and the county inspection permit, averages between $2,000 and $3,000 and includes a three-year warranty. Mauch underscores if any operational issues arise, his technicians will respond quickly to resolve them.

When considering installation costs, Mauch advises there is a Federal tax credit providing up to 30 percent off the cost of the hardware and installation. For a $2,000 installation, the buyer could earn $600 off their Federal tax bill.

The electrical costs accompanying the shift from a conventional automobile to an EV is about $6 per “tank” for an empty battery to full charge. With a 300-mile driving range and filling a “tank” once a week, it would add an estimated $24 to a home electrical bill.

A 2018 study from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute found that electric vehicles cost less than half as much to operate as gas-powered cars.

Charger installations are proceeding on pace, and Mauch has set a goal of 500-unit sales for 2021. He has installed three Fauquier County units in the last few months and is confident the number will rise significantly in the next few years.

“Effortless Electric exists to make it ‘effortless’ for EV owners to install a convenient and time-saving electrical automobile charger,” said Mauch.

For information on sales, service, and more, visit

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Banking on Diversity

Posted on Feb 18 2021 | By

The Fauquier Bank joins forces with regional banks to support minority firms

Thanks to creative thinking among four community banks, minority businesses can now access interest-free loans to start or grow their companies.

The criteria for securing the money are straightforward. The firm must have a Minority Business Enterprise certification, have annual revenues that don’t exceed $1 million ($500,000 for farms), and be located in one of seven regional counties.

New businesses must exist for a least three months and existing businesses for more than two years.

Loan amounts are up to $50,000 for existing businesses and $10,000 for new ones.

For 119 years, The Fauquier Bank has served countless northern Piedmont businesses and residents’ banking needs. Last year, in a merger of equals, it joined forces with the Virginia National Bank of Charlottesville.

Today, it has six offices in Fauquier County and five in Prince William County, with 150 employees and $850 million in assets. By any measure, the organization exemplifies a successful community bank.

Leading the institution is an experienced banker in the person of Marc Bogan, President and CEO.

Bogan, 54, has been a banker for 30 years, the last five with The Fauquier Bank. His resume reflects time spent with large banks, like Legacy Wachovia and Bank of America, early in his career and progressively moving to several small community banks. In 2016, he took the reins of The Fauquier Bank.

“The diversity loan program is a four-bank collaboration,” said Bogan. “The Bank of Clarke County, the Bank of Charles Town, The Fauquier Bank, and First Bank in Strasburg and Winchester created and executed the concept. We call it ‘Banking on Diversity’”.

Like many recent creative business ideas, the loan program was an outgrowth of dealing with the pandemic in its early days. The banks initially huddled to work on safety and security issues of operating during Covid-19, the execution of the Paycheck Protection Program, and other financial needs.

“That early collaborative work morphed into a peer group of bank CEOs. We started to share ideas on things beyond the scope of Covid-19. One of those follow-on ideas was assisting the minority business community.”

Numerous studies have shown that minority small businesses do not have access to capital in a way a lot of non-minority business do. The interest-free loan program emerged as a way to address that shortcoming.

Moreover, the banking industry is charged by its regulators to invest in their local communities and specifically those with low to moderate incomes.

“The goal of the program is to provide capital for underserved minority and small businesses that need help building their businesses,” explained Bogan.

Often such businesses do not have traditional banking relationships. The ultimate goal is to grow their businesses, create jobs, and contribute to the broader community through increased commerce and taxes.

It is a pilot program, and adjustments will likely occur over time, including the terms. “We wanted to go to the market with an attractive program to get the attention of the targeted groups,” said Bogan.

What’s the incentive for the participating banks to make monies available interest-free?

Job creation and tax contributions are fundamental. Moreover, banks have a Federal mandate through the Community Reinvestment Act to provide capital through loans, investments, and services to low and moderate businesses and census tracts.

“We are not giving somebody money and hoping they’ll simply do something good with it. There is an expectation the loan will be repaid,” said Bogan.

The program was announced on February 9, in support of Black History Month. It has generated interest among the four sponsoring banks, but no loans have yet been extended.

“We are now in the question-and-answer phase as eligible businesses see if the program can be of value to them. One application has been received, and more are expected shortly.

“We are committed to making this offer available for one year. Each bank is contributing $250,000 for a total of $1 million. We are looking to place the money directly into the hands of small minority businesses,” Bogan said.

He goes on to underscore it’s not a large amount of money for the banks involved citing assets of $850 million for his institution alone. “But, it’s a lot money to these small businesses that are looking to grow and thrive.”

The Future
For those firms who apply and receive a loan, will the recovering local economy offer a hospitable environment for success?

“Everybody was concerned about the economy last year, even fearing a deep recession. Because of the Federal economic stimulus, I think the economy has stabilized. I also think Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic region are doing better than most areas.

“We made more money in 2020 than we have in any single year in the bank’s 119-year history. The indicators and metrics I see for 2021 are all very positive. The economy is not in a place where it was last year.”

For qualifying firms interested in learning more about Banking on Diversity, visit


Published in a February 2021 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Small is beautiful at Hometown Imprints

Posted on Feb 18 2021 | By

Warrenton shop embroiders its way to a company’s bottom line

In the scary world of Covid-19, building a brand that conveys a sophisticated, secure, and established image is goal number one. Like a book, customers judge companies by their covers.

Fortunately, the Fauquier County community has a local resource to put images, logos, and more on all manner of items visually telegraphing the message, “Buy from us. We’re successful”.

On a more personal vein, having your name stitched on a golf towel introducing yourself to others while carding birdies is the ticket to lower scores. Well, maybe.

Hometown Imprints at 5439 Old Alexandria Turnpike uses thread and ink to energize a company’s profits or an individual’s image. Visual marketing keeps you from blending into the landscape while graphically building reputation and respectability.

Unlike most other promotional forms, embroidering and screen-printing logos on value items turn them into walking promotional tools; billboards with personality.

Hometown Imprints owners Jen Riggleman ,52, and her husband Buddy,50, have lived in Warrenton for almost 20 years. Buddy Riggleman founded Peak Roofing Contractors that today employs 50 people.

“Originally, Buddy was using a company down in North Carolina to supply logo work-apparel for the company. About two years ago, it occurred to him he could own his own printing company and serve his needs and those of other firms as well.

“He told me I was going to run the business. I said, ‘Excuse me!’ At the time, I was working at St. James Episcopal School. I was shocked. I told him I had a job but in truth, I was ready for a change,” said Jen Riggleman smiling.

With the purchase of an embroidery machine, the former school aide found herself running a business.

As with most things today, the company centers on the digital world. Images often come in a PDF format and from there are embedded onto uniforms, sports apparel, casual wear, and more.

If it drapes a body, a logo can be displayed on it. Typically, a digital design is ordered from a contractor and then stitched into a design through digitalizing or sublimation.

Once digitalized, the design is stitched in the order of the thread drop and color. Riggleman saves the image to her laptop that “talks” to the embroidery machine. She then final adjusts for size and colors.

In addition to embroidery, screen printing and vinyl heat printing make up a sizeable portion of other customized items.

While the technical side of the business is fascinating, customer interest centers on quality and beauty. To personalize an item conveys a sense of ownership, giving it the power to attract and hold attention, essential to building a brand.

As an article moves toward final production, a final review is provided to a customer for sign off, resulting in some back and forth until the last thread or shade of color is spot on. Once a customer approves the artwork, it takes about ten days to produce the deliverable.

What gets embroidered or screen-printed? Name it and its eligible: saddle pads, blankets, ball caps. beanies, jackets, stockings, golf towels, dress shirts, sweatshirts, tote bags, cups, mousepads, and more. There is no limit to what can become a company promotional tool.

The firm’s growth has mostly come through social media and advertising, but Riggleman underscores that walk-ins and individual piece items are welcome. When looking for an unusual gift or a personalized article of clothing or equipment, it’s a sure bet an item displaying an individual’s name or symbol will be a cherished gift.

An essential asset in working with the firm is the personal attention given to every order. Just three people staff the “factory”: owner Riggleman, the designer, and her two assistants, Caitlyn Watkins, responsible for marketing, and Oscar Riggleman, the screen-printer.

One of several customer reactions found on its website sums up the service, “The staff were super responsive to all inquiries and were able to produce the desired product. I plan on using them in the future and highly recommend their service.”

Prices for products are based on the production technique employed and the number of items ordered. Individual items like a t-shirt can cost as little as $10 to $15, including the shirt. Clothing items can be purchased on-site, or customers can supply the product. Bulk orders tumble in price based on the numbers ordered.

“We are looking forward to 2021. Covid has had a negative impact on us as it has everyone. Much of our business was centered on summer camps, churches, family reunions, sports teams, and high school spirit-wear. All of that business has been affected.

“We have custom-designed face masks, including orders for the Town of Warrenton and the volunteer fire department.

“I think people sometimes don’t think about a micro-business as a buying option. One of our strengths is customer service. We even deliver orders if it helps our customers. We are focused on personalized service,” said Riggleman.

Small is not only beautiful, it’s an avenue to quality products and service.

Hometown Imprints is opened 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Visit for photo albums showcasing its products.


Published in a January 2020 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Traditional Irish fare to be offered by native Irishman

When the Piedmont countryside begins to turn Kelly green, Fauquier County residents will be tucking into Irish lunches and dinners with an accent on farm-to-table ingredients. The background “music” will be a lyrical Irish brogue heard around the room.

The location of the gustatory experience will be the former McMahon’s Irish Pub and Restaurant at 380 Broadview Avenue. The decades-old building has solid bones, so freshening up the interior is currently job one for the town’s newest entrepreneurs.

If it seems a tough time to jump into the restaurant business, years of international and domestic experience are in play here on what appears to be a preordained success.

Co-owners Jerry O’Brien, 45, and his wife Amanda O’Brien, 33, have traveled widely since embarking on their separate hospitality careers.  Among his long list of accomplishments, Jerry O’Brien managed country singer Toby Keith’s restaurant in Las Vegas.

The Old Sod
The Irish personality is widely known for its ever-ready smile and friendly disposition. Why? A case could be made that growing up in one of the most beautiful countries in the world creates an ebullient life view.

In Jerry O’Brien’s case, his birthplace was a small village on the Ring of Kerry, a must-see destination for international vacationers. Its beauty is renowned.

His life’s work life began at age 12 at a local bakery, shifting to a hotel in Killarney as a night porter and then night manager.  Subsequently, he moved on to another hotel in the town before relocating to Las Vegas to join a pub concept group that ran several Irish pubs in America.

His role was troubleshooting restaurants that had management issues. Assignments included Indiana, Washington, D.C., and even back in Dublin.

Meanwhile, Amanda, born and raised in Manassas, started her career at upscale Virginia golf clubs, then moving to a Charlotte, N.C. restaurant, advancing from server to banquet manager. A move to Las Vegas was prompted by a sister living there and resulted in landing a job with the same company Jerry O’Brien worked for.

“That’s how Jerry and I ended up meeting,” said Amanda O’Brien. A move back to Virginia offered the two professionals a chance to lease the former McMahon building. “Jerry will be the general manager, and I will cover catering and bar management.”

During his six-year stint in Las Vegas, Jerry O’Brien was offered a job at Toby Keith’s restaurant in Harrah’s. Within six months, he was promoted to general manager, a position he held for over two and a half years.

The decision to move back to Virginia was based on the birth of their son. “We didn’t think Vegas was a great place for our son to grow up.” underscores Jerry O’Brien.

Upon arriving here, he was hired as the manager at Harry’s at Airlie for two months. Then, Covid-19 struck.   

The pub
Once back in Virginia, the couple explored Warrenton and quickly spotted the building they ultimately leased. “As we drove past McMahon’s the first time, we looked at each other and said it would be a perfect spot for a pub.

“We’ve always had a dream of opening a place together,” said Irish Sessions band,. They have a five-year lease with a five-year option. Their goal is to buy the property outright.

Currently, an interior facelift is underway, including brightening the bar area and showcasing its beautiful wood. The building holds 267 people but will be operating under COVID-19 restrictions at 50% occupancy. An outdoor patio will also be available with picnic tables for folks feeling safer dining out-of-doors.

Negotiations are underway with a chef emphasizing farm-to-table fare. It will be an Irish menu featuring products from local farms.

Dishes such as shepherd’s pie, beef and Guinness stew, fish and chips, bangers, and more will be showcased. Some Irish meats will grace the menu too, including bacon and sausage that will be imported from the Emerald Isle.

Initially, there will be 25 employees, including, hopefully, some Irish natives. But finding the best servers will be paramount. “Our service standards will be really high,” explains Jerry O’Brien.

The pub will be opened seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Final operating hours have yet to be set. Hopefully, business will justify breakfasts on the weekends, and if that’s successful, three meals a day would be offered throughout the week.

Entrees will be priced in the $15-$17 range and up to $25 for dishes featuring local meats like pork chops and steaks. Beer is a given, 12 taps will sport both traditional Irish beers and local craft brews. Domestic and local wines will also on the drinks list.

Covid-19 restrictions will dictate final hours, but the goal will be to be open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

The Irish Sessions band, who previously played at McMahon’s, will be brought back. They are eight talented musicians showcasing jigs, reels, and hornpipe tunes.

The O’Brien’s are also committed to supporting the community and anticipate hosting golf tournaments and other fundraisers. “Around Thanksgiving and Christmas, we’re going to see if we can feed some of the less fortunate folks in our community,” said Jerry O’Brien.

If it’s true everyone has a wee bit of Irish in them, look for glasses to be raised high in affirmation at O’Brien’s.


Published in a February 2021 edition of the Fauquier Times

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Fauquier County Chamber of Commerce pivots

Posted on Jan 22 2021 | By

100th-anniversary agenda seeks to restore business vitality

The definition of optimism in 2021 is an organization envisioning growth. But after one of the most difficult financial years in history, tentativeness might be a better option.

But not for the Fauquier County Chamber of Commerce. It was founded in 1921 and has been an economic force ever since. A pandemic cannot alter its track record, and a vigorous plan to return to normalcy is now on its docket.

As the largest and most experienced business association in Fauquier County, the chamber promotes its members exclusively while representing the county’s commercial interests as a whole. Its goal this year is to double down on past successes and revitalize the business community.

Last year, under chairman Chris Coutts’ tenure, the chamber had to cease meeting in person. Since all of the organization’s events were in-person gatherings revenues plummeted, forcing a host of retrenchment actions, including the release of its executive director.

Faced with such challenges, Coutts developed a vision of starting over and created a playbook full of fresh ideas.

Now, a new chair has taken the reins in the person of Marianne Clyde, a respected businesswoman. Her goal is to further ramp up the chamber’s online presence in the first part of the year. Then, hopefully with the easing of Covid-19, return in the latter half of the year with face-to-face programs that will restore the chamber’s luster.

“The chamber’s strength is face-to-face networking, but we are now pivoting so we can be more directly beneficial to members’ businesses. We will be offering better advocacy and better programs for online networking, including a new video program called “Chamber Chat,” a by-monthly effort to keep members up to date on recovery actions,” explained Clyde.

The Governor’s December executive order limits gatherings to 10 or fewer people. It’s anticipated that will be lifted on January 31.

One asset is a contract with Premier Hospitality, which was formerly the chamber’s event contractor. Today, the firm handles staffing, event planning, online presence, administrative functions, and membership duties.

The sunny spot in the chamber’s dark skies is membership. It was anticipated a significant drop in roster numbers would occur. It didn’t happen.

“We did not lose many members,” said Clyde. “Membership is now about 525, which is not much off the mark from early 2020. That was a real blessing.”

Annual membership dues range in cost depending on the size of the company. Dues have not been raised. Non-profits pay $165, agricultural entities $200, small businesses $245, then ranging upward based on the firm’s size. It tops out at $1,125 a year for companies with over 100 employees. There are eight membership categories.

New strategic plan

A new plan calls for increasing community relationships, increasing access to chamber resources, and revitalizing performance, all the goals harnessed to a shift in direction.

“In January, everything we do will be online. We are having a Zoom town hall meeting on January 15 in partnership with Fauquier Health. An expert panel will discuss the county’s rollout of the vaccine. Both members and the public are welcomed to attend,” said Clyde.

Another Zoom get-together will be held on January 20 called “Business Heroes Celebration”. It will honor chamber and business community members who have gone above and beyond in their efforts during these challenging times.

To sign up for public Zoom meetings, go to the Events link on its website.

“We are trying to include the community in a lot of our new offerings. One of our goals is to make the economy better community-wide while also making it easier to do business for our members.”

100th anniversary
Many of the 2021 programs will be centered on the number 100. There will be a business challenge to achieve 100 new engagements on social media. Without leaving home, and at no cost, members can go to the chamber Facebook page and place their social media addresses on it.

Members can then “Like” and follow each other’s accounts. Its intent is to build familiarly among the members and support their businesses.

There will also be a 100-mile challenge. Participants will walk, run, swim, or bike for 100 miles on a pace and segmented distance set by themselves. The miles are individually recorded, and when the goal is achieved, the “athletes” submit their names to the chamber.

Participation in the challenge will be open for six months allowing ample time to achieve the goal. Later in the year, there will be a live awards ceremony (safety permitting) recognizing the winners. The registration fee is $35.

A 100th-anniversary leadership luncheon series via Zoom will showcase business coaches. The experts will offer ways to improve business performance and will provide tangible tools to do so. The series is scheduled to run once a month throughout the year.

On February 17, a series of inspirational speakers will debut on Zoom as a monthly educational offering. The first meeting will feature an internationally known adventurer who is seeking to become the first woman to sail the seven seas and climb the Seven Summits, the highest mountains of each of the seven continents, “She is fascinating,” assured Clyde.

Starting in March, a return to old times will be attempted when in-person lunches will be reestablished. “The first couple of meetings will likely be in a hybrid fashion with a limited number of live attendees and the rest participating via Zoom,” Clyde said.

“Our ultimate goal is to benefit the community through education, inspiration, and networking. We want to be a multifaceted clearinghouse of information.”

By July, the chamber is hopeful that much of its conventional meeting format will be safely in place, including the ever-popular spring festival that will be hosted in the fall.

The year will hopefully close out with its 100th-year gala celebration in November.

“We are optimistic and excited about the direction our chamber is going. We expect to have 100 new members by this time next year,” said Clyde.  


Published in a January 2021 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Golden Rule Builders presents a fresh face

Posted on Jan 21 2021 | By

In 1987, Joel Barkman strapped on his carpenters’ belt and began building homes. Today, some 700 homeowners in Northern Piedmont are enjoying the results of his commitment to quality housing and remodeling.

On November 12, the company celebrated 34 years in business by launching its new brand with a ribbon-cutting at its office at 3409 Catlett Road, Catlett. The Fauquier County Chamber of Commerce, former clients, and the general public attended the event.

“We rebranded to further fulfill the community’s need for exceptional homes and lifestyles, to continue to be profitable, and for God’s glory,” said Barkman.

In March, Stephanie Kennedy joined the firm as its marketing manager and quickly assessed the rebranding need. Her goal was to increase sales, especially within the remodeling business. “I saw a need to create new a logo to help further drive sales,” said Kennedy.

The new brand is a sleek, modern-looking logo showcasing a bold GRB underscored with a thin line design reading Golden Rule Builders. The new symbol will grace its fleet of 20 vehicles, all its signage, stationery, business cards, and related promotional materials.

Companies typically rebrand to better differentiate from competitors. It can help a business stand out by showcasing what makes them different and better. Even the largest organizations rebrand when needed.

It also reenergizes the company’s leadership and employees by focusing on a recommitment to the firm.

In the beginning, GRB had only a modest goal of building two or three move-in-ready homes a year. Around 1990, that evolved to a focus on custom home construction. Such houses typically take a year or more to design and build. Remodeling projects can run from 30 days to three months.

Recently, the concept has been expanded to include a Golden Rule Lifestyle Homes division. Using conventional designs and deliverable in a three-month period, the model better matches younger families’ timing and budget needs while maintaining the firm’s reputation for quality.

Remodeling rounds out the company portfolio.

“Today, our goal is to produce 50 percent new homes and 50 percent remodeling. We’ve had an increase in new home construction recently, but our goal is to strive for an equal balance between the two businesses.

“I’m particularly proud of our in-house design capability,” said Barkman. We have always done our own designs, but we’ve stepped up those efforts quite a bit.”

New home construction is divided into two contracts. One is the design/build, followed by the contract to deliver. Design is a critical aspect of the effort since all else follows on its correct execution.

In 2013, GRB moved to its location in Catlett. The quarters include a company showroom where clients can make exterior and interior home selections in one location.

The firm serves the nine counties surrounding Fauquier County, which is its home base. “We try to stay within an hour’s drive time for any project. But the majority of our homes are in Fauquier. It’s where we love to be. It’s where people know us the best.” said Barkman.

The firm has 30 employees with about half administrative staff and the remaining field employees.

“We feel very blessed to have thrived in today’s environment,” said Barkman. The firm created a structure so it would not have to shut the company down if anything like the pandemic hits again.

There are four different office entrances, separate restrooms, and a shift to conducting all virtual meetings. “We have minimized direct contact among the staff. That’s both good and bad. It kind of wears on some staff who are more communicative and like group interaction.”

Concerning actual construction, at first, a few remodeling projects were put on hold by customers. Otherwise, Covid-19 has had no impact. “It’s probably promoted more work because people are sitting at home saying, ‘We’ve been wanting to do this project. Now’s a good time to start’,” explains Barkman.

About eight remodeling projects are in progress.

New home construction has grown, too, especially with the favorable interest rates that are available. Currently, 10 homes are in various stages of construction.

“Our greatest asset is our people. Our team is highly competitive, skilled, and produce excellent work. I am proud of all of them. We are not here to see how big we can get. We are here to serve the community.”

When asked about the name he chose for his company over three decades ago, Barkman said, “Being a Christian and having the belief that we are here to serve our fellow man, I wanted to focus on who we are rather than using my name.

“I chose Golden Rule Builders because it’s the rule we live by it in our business dealings. It also helps our employees and myself stay centered on why we’re here.”

For a comprehensive description of its design/build services, materials, and more, visit


Published in a January 2021 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Death Ridge Brewery springs to life

Posted on Jan 12 2021 | By

Barley and hop emporium puts Jeffersonton on the map

On January 9, the grand opening of Death Ridge Brewery will herald the arrival of craft beer to Jeffersonton, a small village in northern Culpeper County. The locals are excited. Folks unfamiliar with the place will be also after their first visit.

Eight hundred gallons of freshly brewed beer await guests.

The brewery is the culmination of a year’s labor by owners Zach and Lauren Turner and their family and friends. They have two sons, ages 11 and 13. The brewery sits on the 240-acre Higher Ground Farm originally purchased by Turner’s father in 2001. In 2015, Zack Turner bought the farm from his dad.

Turner,39, manages the farm, raising longhorn cattle, haying, logging, growing Christmas trees, and pick-your-own strawberries, pumpkins, and tulips. Hops have been planted and will be trellised when firmly rooted, then used to make some of the beer.

To keep the checkbook in balance, he also works as an insurance estimator for a roofing contractor.

So how did the brewery get its unusual name? “My extended family has lived in and around Jeffersonton for generations. We’ve always enjoyed hearing about the history of the town and our property. The Civil War was a large part of that story.

“The name Death Ridge evolved from William Deatherage’s last name, who, along with his two brothers, settled in Culpeper County in 1675. The King of England granted them 950 acres.

“Being a working farm, we wanted to honor its history while also doing something we love. Death Ridge was born out of its historical past,” said Turner.

The brewery was built on a former Civil War campsite. Many relics have been found in the surrounding fields from soldiers passing through the area. Some of the beers will tear a page out of Civil War history by bearing names such as Rattling Sabers, Dead Generals, and other war-related nomenclature.

The Turners live on the farm, as does his father, sister, and his wife’s brother.

The Brewery
“We’ve always wanted to build a brewery. With financial help from some relatives, the idea took form and resulted in today’s operation.

“In addition to making all the beer, we built the brewery by ourselves. We had a crew put the roof on, but other than that, we touched every piece of wood in the building. We went to a sawmill that was giving away runoff. We ended up milling that lumber for all our inside and outside walls,” said Turner.

The taproom is 2,400 square feet with a vaulted 25-foot ceiling with safely distanced tables. There is also a Members Lounge upstairs. Eventually, the lounge will lead to a rooftop terrace for outdoor seating.

Club memberships cost $125 annually and entitles the bearer to reserved seating, special tastings, and a free shirt or hat. There will also be a tie-in to the farm products for sale throughout the year. For example, members can come out early during the Christmas season and tag a tree before sales open to the general public.

Members will also be able to get the “pick of the litter” on farm produce.

There are two outside covered porches with 400 square feet of seating each. Firepits and chairs are spaced to provide both safety and warmth during chilly weather.

The beer
When the doors swing open on January 9, there will be six different brews on tap: Passion Fruit Sour, American Wheat, Amber Ale, American Stout, West Coast IPA, and a Hazy IPA. More selections will soon follow.

All of the beers fall into the $5 to $6 a pint range. Growlers are available for taking memories home. Plans are to also offer half growlers and 12-ounce cans to go when the $3,000 canning machine is in place.

“The entire operation has taken a lot longer than we anticipated. We were initially hoping to be open mid-summer. But everything came to a slow crawl when the Coronavirus hit.

“I want everyone to know we’ve put our heart and soul into the brewery. We’d bring our camper up to the building on weekends to work. My kids were out there playing, we’d build a fire, and friends would stop by and have a beer with us. It was a family atmosphere the whole time we were building.

“That’s the same atmosphere we’re hoping will come across when people visit. It’s been my life dream.” Turner said.

During the grand opening, the Graze to Griddle food truck will be onsite. The rest of the time, basic bar food will be available during operating hours. It will include pizzas, pretzels, nachos, wings, and similar offerings. Live music will periodically be part of the weekend events.

His father-in-law plays the banjo, so look for some “Jimmy Jams” on Sundays.

Brewery operating hours are Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 10 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Death Ridge Brewery is located at 5393 Higher Ground Trail, Jeffersonton, VA. 22724.



Published in a January 2021 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Gabriela Fleury on Forbes “30 Under 30” science list

For the past decade, Forbes magazine has annually recognized the best and brightest rising stars under the age of 30 in 20 industries. It’s an honor for 600 individuals worldwide, and it’s embedded with the prediction of greater things to come for the chosen few.

Among this year’s winners is Warrenton’s own Gabriela Fleury, 29, known to all as Gabi. She was cited for her conservation work and is one of just three conservationists chosen globally to make the science list. The annual 30 under 30 Class of 2021 was announced on December 1.

Fleury works as the conservation partnerships officer for the Rainforest Trust, also based in Warrenton. With a resume sparkling with achievement, her work in Namibia, where she led a research team to test ways to reduce cheetah-livestock conflict, was one of the projects that caught Forbes attention.

She will soon be testing scent deterrents to keep African wild dogs away from commercial farms safely. Her life goal is to make the world a better place to live, especially among those most in need.

“It’s very rare for a wildlife conservationist to be on the list,” said Fleury. “It’s usually geared toward physics, engineering, and health care. It’s a recognition by Forbes on the importance of wildlife conservation.”

Fleury is a Brazilian-American born in the states and has traveled the world in pursuit of her passion. “I knew what I wanted to do since I was three. There was no defining moment when I realized it. It happened before I can consciously remember,” said Fleury.

One of the prosaic but essential projects was her work centered on predators killing livestock in Africa. In such situations, farmers respond by killing the predators. After habitat destruction, brute force wildlife control is the most significant negative impact on threatened species.

Another interesting phenomenon is her work on jackal control and livestock depredation. “Community education is important. For example, when you kill predators like jackals, they will reproduce faster and end up eating more sheep. We talk to the herdsmen about the ecology behind a bad idea for them economically,” said Fleury.

She spent almost five years in four different African countries studying ways to solve these and similar problems. She found the work fascinating because it involved animal behavioral ecology plus working with rural communities and their cultural perceptions of risk.

At the Rainforest Trust, Fleury manages the organization’s Fellows and Guardians programs. Her efforts center on supporting rangers and park guards by providing them the resources to achieve their conservation work while offering recognition for what is often a difficult job.

After graduating from James Madison University, where she majored in geographic science, she earned a master’s degree in conservation biology from the University of Cape Town in South Africa. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in conservation biology because “I can’t get enough of it!”

She is currently in a holding pattern for a Fulbright because of Covid-19. She received the grant earlier this year to work with African wild dogs. During the study, a Fulbrighter works and lives with the host country’s people, sharing daily experiences.

The program allows the grantee to appreciate others’ viewpoints and beliefs, the way they do things, and the way they think. Fleury envisions the next ten years as working in a large non-profit that functions independently of the government as a team leader working on conservation issues.

Since she has worked in southern Africa, she would like to return to that part of the world while being based stateside. “It’s a difficult lifestyle to live in-country full time. I think you can achieve a better work-lifestyle balance living in the U.S.

“My abiding interest is to be able to apply academic research, so it’s practicable with on the ground conservation.”

One of the reasons Fleury attributes to her drive is she is a pediatric cancer survivor. From the ages of 7 to 9, she underwent chemotherapy. “Today, I don’t take anything for granted. I have a sense I’m here for a reason. I want to be able to contribute my skills in the best way possible.”

Fleury hopes that being on the Forbes list brings more attention to wildlife conservation. As a black scientist, she thinks it’s good to be on the list and show people that scientists come in different ages, colors, and genders. “I hope it gets other people excited about wildlife conservation and wanting to learn more.”

So, is our honored scientist all work and no play? Not at all. She is co-founder of the indie video game studio Bright Frog Games Studios.  “And, I like cats, caffeine and Marvel comics, and write fiction novels in my spare time.”

The world of science is in good hands with overachievers like Gabi Fleury.


Published in a December 2020 issue of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES