Archive for December, 2018


Getting into the Spirit

Posted on Dec 29 2018 | By

Old Dominion pouring tumblers of whiskey success…and more

The distillation of beer and wine dates to the 8th century. An alchemist named Geber developed the alembic still, noting that the heated wine from the vessel released a flammable vapor “of little use, but of great importance to science.”

Little did he know of its joy as a social lubricant.

In Virginia, the history of distillation was largely driven by the failure of the English to make palpable wine. As with any business endeavor, the Virginia Company, who sponsored the intrepid colonists, was created to make money.

Upon landing in Jamestown in 1607, the newcomers noted it was a land “where wild vines grew so profusely, cultivation would produce veritable rivers of wine.” Alas, ‘twas not true. The wine tasted awful.

Home pot still

The inability to make wine set the stage for the distillation of fruit and grains and led the young Nation on a course of distilled spirits production, largely maintained until craft beer and artesian wine gained traction in the 1980s.

Wine and beer are produced through fermentation and while spirits by distillation. The former is a spontaneous action—albeit managed—the latter fully controlled by man. Distilling is simply removing the alcohol in wine and beer, aging it and then bottling.

Today, Virginians are circling back to their whiskies, gins, brandies and more. The industry is poised for dramatic growth.

George Washington might be smiling as he gazes down on what’s unfolding in his native state. In the 1780s, Washington was producing 11,000 gallons of rye whiskey a year at Mount Vernon. He was the largest producer of spirits in the young country.

Elijah Craig, a Baptist preacher from Orange County, Virginia is credited with producing the first bourbon in the late 1780s. His secret was to age the alcohol in charred oak casks, a process that gives bourbon its reddish color and unique taste.

Colorful Past
Rich in fabled history, Virginia does possess a few skeletons in its liquor closet; most notably the production of moonshine.

In the distance past, distilling was an economic necessity, enabling farmers to convert any surplus corn crop into a lighter weight liquid easily deliverable to market via mule trains. Twenty-four bushels of corn could be converted into two eight-gallon kegs of whiskey.

Whiskey farming enabled the backwoodsmen to buy nails, sugar, coffee and other necessities.

These hardy pioneers peacefully distilled until 1791 when the Federal government implemented an excise tax on whiskey. The frontiersmen’s wrath erupted in the form of the Whiskey Rebellion as 5,000 hot-tempered home distillers descended on Pittsburgh in an unsuccessful attempt to torch the town.

In 1794, George Washington, in command of 13,000 troops persuaded the rebels to forgo their cause without any loss of life. Illegal distilling was driven into the hills and hollows of Appalachia.

As for the traditional moonshine trade in Virginia, in 1941, the ABC Division of Enforcement seized an all-time high of 1,771 illegal stills. In 2011, a collaborative four-day air and ground operation between the ABC and Virginia State Police resulted in the discovery and destruction of just 25 inactive but operational stills in Franklin, Pittsylvania and Carroll counties.

Clearly things have settled down since the heyday of moonshiners.

Bright future
With a legendary past and an unlimited future, the Commonwealth today is home to 70 licensed distilleries, up from 30 just five years ago. Whether your glass longs for bourbon, rye, single malt, legal moonshine, gin, brandy, rum or vodka bottles are available from all quarters of the state.

Even more exotic spirits such as aquavit, absinthe, pastis and a variety of flavored liqueurs can be found in the Commonwealth.

And nothing succeeds like success. In 2017, Virginia distilleries sold spirits valued at over $14 million. The state is riding the wave of craft spirits driven to an extent by commercial brewers who recognized mashing grain was just a step away from a more ‘spirited’ enterprise.

The industry’s impact on Virginia’s economy is valued at $163 million. It supports 1,477 full-time jobs, paying wages of $60 million. Over 296,000 spirits lovers dropped by a craft distillery last year.

Chuck and Jeannette Miller own Belmont Farm Distillery in Culpeper. Featured on the Discovery Channel’s “Moonshiners” show, theirs was the first craft whiskey distillery in the United States. “We were also the first to introduce “farm-to-table” spirits. We feel our pioneering spirit set a path for others to follow,” said Chuck Miller.

Concurrent with the industry’s expansion is accolades pouring in on the success of master distillers around the state. The Virginia Distillery Company in Lovingston won the Whiskey Magazine award for Best American Single Malt Whiskey for its Virginia Highland Malt.

The A. Smith Bowman Distillery in Fredericksburg was awarded the World’s Best Bourbon title for its John J. Bowman Bourbon Single Barrel Straight Bourbon Whiskey. It was the second time the distillery had been thus recognized.

By any measure, Virginia craft distilling is on a flavorful roll.

In support of the burgeoning industry, the Richmond based Virginia Distillers Association is focused on legislative and marketing efforts that will propel the state even further forward in the future.

“I think Virginia is going to be the next Kentucky or Tennessee as far as distilling goes,” said Amy Ciarametaro, executive director of the association. “We have the provenance more than any spirits region in the country. Our story is rich and layered beyond the Jamestown settlement.”

Ciarametaro points out that unlike our neighboring states also known for whiskey production, 70 percent of Virginia’s product is produced largely by raw materials grown in the state. Kentucky and Tennessee bring in a considerable amount of neutral spirits from western states for production and aging.

“I won’t give a number for Virginia’s future growth but we will absolutely see a lot of growth, especially in small and medium distillers maturing into larger ones. It’s coming down the pipeline,” said Ciarametaro.

The importance of the Virginia spirits industry—coupled with the wine and craft brewery trade—cannot be understated on the impact on the state’s tourism efforts. The Old Dominion is gifted with the richest historical story in America. Showcasing that history in concert with a thriving libation industry can only produce positive benefits for the state and its citizens in the decades ahead.

As Mark Twain reminded us over a century ago, “Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.”

For a list of Virginia distilleries and much more break the seal on this valued website:

Published in the Winter 2019 edition of Dine, Wine and Stein magazine.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

The gift of warmth

Posted on Dec 27 2018 | By

Hope Center of Fauquier Warming Station comes blanketed with love

For the vast majority of us the idea of being homeless is unimageable. No rented room, no apartment, no home. Simply roaming the streets seeking shelter wherever. And yet, it’s a condition that over a half a million people in the U.S. experience every night.

Poverty, mental illness, and addiction come to mind when the subject of street people surfaces. In fact, 20 percent of those seeking shelter out of doors are mentally ill or suffering from chronic substance abuse. The rest are poor, stuck in low paying jobs, experiencing domestic violence or simply cashless in a wealthy Nation.

The resources brought to bear to counter the problem at the national level are staggering: $11 billion annually. Still the plight persists. Social service agencies nationwide struggle to deal with what seems an intractable condition.

The case can be made that human nature will always include those who cannot—for whatever reason—care for themselves. Our better natures and belief in the respect of the individual compels us to act. “There for the grace of God go I.”

The dated term Noblesse oblige encapsulates the concept that nobility requires a person to fulfill social responsibilities. Before charity, justice.

But family, work and social commitments often bury our obligations to the less fortunate as we focus on the pressing needs of our own lives. So, it is unique when a small group of people band together to help what many believe to be a hopeless situation.

Enter Reverend Tyrone Green, pastor of Hearts Delight Baptist Church. The pastor works in concert with two other churches, Zoar Baptist and Mount Horeb United Methodist Church.  All three are located in Catlett and augment Fauquier and Culpeper Counties in assisting the homeless.

Hearts Delight Baptist
Reverend Green was the youth pastor at Oak Shade Baptist church in Catlett for 10 years before being asked to lead Hearts Delight Baptist. The church was founded 150 years ago and has a long history of serving the community.

The congregation may not have realized they were bringing a whirlwind on board when they asked Green to take charge. They learned soon enough. “My pastor at Oak Shade told them I was going to drive them crazy. And that’s essentially what happened. I don’t sleep. I love working in prison ministries, the singles ministry and more.

“What the world needs now is not just to hear about the love but to see the love,” said Green.

Within minutes of meeting Green, a listener can get swept up in his enthusiasm. Here is a man who sees every problem as an opportunity. And has the charisma to ignite that passion in others.

“To tell the truth, I see a lot of churches but I don’t always see a lot of God’s love in those churches,” said Green. That’s not a problem at Hearts Delight.

Oak Shade Baptist where Green honed his ministry skills is one the largest African-American churches in the region with some 200 members. Hearts Delight has about 50 members and it gave Green the opportunity to take charge on his own terms. A responsibility he eagerly embraced.

“Hearts Delight is not just an African-American church. We don’t do colors. We do Jesus. It was a great opportunity and honor for me to make the move in January 2016.” In almost three years at the helm much has been accomplished.

Green believed his focus was to embrace the entire community through his church. He sponsored talks by a number of local and state politicians and successful men and women in the private sector.

Ken Harvey, a former linebacker with the Redskins and sports columnist for The Washington Post, and Tracey Morgan, an award-winning broadcaster and highly respected Gospel music show host were among guest speakers at his active program.

Additionally, he held community-wide fairs at his church, mother-daughter teas, and painting classes for people who had never seen a blank canvas. He even organized distribution of free turkeys with side dish ingredients to the all police and first responders in Fauquier and Culpeper County.

No avenue to build the love of God was ignored.

Warming Center
In the midst of his growing activism Green began getting calls asking for help with the homeless problem. He learned the local governments had only so much room and limited resources to tackle the vexing issue.

“I told them, ‘you have a partner to help you’.” Hearts Delight joined forces with Zoar Baptist and Mount Horeb United Methodist to create the Hope Center of Fauquier Warming Station.

The first step was to gain more information on the scope and nuances of the situation. Working with the Culpeper Housing & Shelter Services he learned how they ran their shelter and when their 15-bed facility reached maximum capacity.

“CHSS provided a lot of information. For example, I thought if you offered a homeless person a place to stay, they would accept it. Not so. They first have to learn to trust you,” said Green.

It’s emblematic of street life that it hardens individuals and makes them wary of strangers, no matter how well-intended they are. Once the learning curve was mastered, the Warming Station began serving the needy.

It is open seven days a week from November 1 until March 1. The police or county shelters contact the center and arrange to have a person stay in one of the three participating churches. Each church provides up to five days lodging per person on a rotational basis.

In each church a multi-use room is set up with cots, blankets and pillows. Food is also served.  “We let them sleep there but also have someone available to talk with them. But our main focus is not to minister to them. We want them to see the love of God not just hear the word.

“Some nights there is no one there and other nights one or two people. We do not want anyone to die during the winter months because they have no place to stay,” said Green.

It’s reassuring when a community comes together to meet a need, especially if that need involves a possible loss of life. It’s also reassuring in a world of increasing self-centeredness that average citizens can extend a hand to pull someone back from the abyss.

For more information, contact person and phone number to access the Warming Center visit their Facebook page at:

Published in the December 26, 2018  edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Dining with Three Blacksmiths

Posted on Dec 25 2018 | By

European-style cuisine. American execution. Yesteryear ambiance.

It’s always exciting to be the first to discover something. Isaac Newton and gravity. Christopher Columbus and America. Alexander Fleming and Penicillin. James Watkins and DNA.

Oh, and you and the Three Blacksmiths. Yes, the Sperryville dining establishment is gaining that level of traction. If you haven’t broken bread there yet, consider becoming an epicurean discoverer.

The village is tucked a few miles below Skyline Drive where it crosses Thornton Gap.

Over 100 years ago, it was a sleepy little hamlet of 300 souls. Back then it supported five general stores, six mills, an apple packing plant, saloon, barbershop, pharmacy and…three blacksmiths. Not a lot has changed over the ensuing decades, including the population.

This suits the locals just fine. Growth is not embraced in Rappahannock County as it is elsewhere. The county has some 2,500 fewer residents today than in 1850. Seriously.

But what it does have is eight wineries, two breweries, two distilleries, many inns, restaurants, quaint shops and the internationally known Inn at Little Washington. All nestled in one of loveliest regions in Virginia.

The population is small but the delights are multitudinous.

The most recent illustration of this bucolic gem is the appearance of the Three Blacksmiths restaurant at 20 Main Street, its namesake originating from the important shops of a century ago.

Created and executed by John and Diane MacPherson, the creative duo are not interlopers from distant parts. Rather, they are an established team with a reputation for hospitality and food earned while operating the Foster Harris House bed and breakfast for 13 years in little Washington.

Their sous chef Ethan Taylor rounds out the Three Blacksmiths team.

Conceived in Europe
After selling their popular inn in 2017, the MacPhersons undertook an extended tour of Europe staying and dining in small inns to embrace their magical ambiance.

Our building and the space we created came from a lot of inspiration and travel in Europe. We wanted something that would fit the village and also have a timeless European sense to the exterior and interior,” said John MacPherson.

The result is a simple yet classic two-story building with European style windows creating an understated but elegant look. “It looks good here but would also look good in a little village in Austria or France.”

The building they had purchased was a blank palette ready for a total make over. McNeill Baker Design Associates designed the exterior and Jolly Construction Inc. completed the work.

The interior of the establishment was completed by the owners, family and friends. The dining room was not designed with a specific concept in mind. Rather, it evolved slowly as the build-out unfolded and turned out better than the coupled had anticipated.

“It has the feel of those wonderful restaurants in the French Alps or Austria. There is a lot of wood and no modern touches of glass or chrome. It feels like it’s been here for a while. It’s warm, inviting and not crowded,” said John MacPherson.

In fact, a crowded venue will never be encountered at the Three Blacksmiths. And not because of a lack of business. The dining room has been mostly sold out since opening on June 9, 2018. But consider it seats only 16 guests and there is just a single sitting each evening.

Diners experience a relaxed and evenly paced dinner that bears a close resemblance to enjoying a repast at a friend’s home. Service begins at 7 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and satisfied guests often drop their napkins on the table around 10 p.m.

Local Focus
In creating a typical dinner the MacPhersons seek local and regional ingredients to the extent possible. Given where the restaurant is located, sourcing menu items typically means a drive of less than five miles from Sperryville.

If you are what you eat, dining at the restaurant conveys honorary residency in Rappahannock County.

The establishment has 15 “partners” who supply much of what appears on your table. The purveyors include local wineries, breweries, a distillery, farms and gardens.

A typical menu in late summer included a tomato salad, Maryland crab cakes with watermelon gazpacho, sweet corn tortellini with Burgundy truffles, duck fat braised lamb loin, Applewood ice cream and grilled nectarine Napoleon.

Focusing on the last menu item John MacPherson said, “I went to the orchard last week to get nectarines for dinners that week. The owners understood my needs and hand-selected the fruit by the condition of its ripeness. Three trays were provided according to the days it was predicted they would ripen.

“You can’t get that level of service unless you actually know the farmers and they know you,” said John MacPherson.

Each course is paired with either a Virginia, domestic or international wine. “Our distributors are set forth to find unique wines that are often difficult to locate.”

Time to dine
The responsibilities for each meal is segmented by kitchen and dining room assignments with the owners involved when each course reaches the table.

Upon arriving, guests are seated in leather captain’s chairs or a sofa surrounded by a palette of rich brown flooring and walls with an exposed wood ceiling. The immediate impression is one of relaxation.

Diane MacPherson has responsibilities for the dining room and John MacPherson and Ethan Taylor craft dinners behind an open-viewed kitchen at the back of the room.

Once seated, you are served an introductory flute of sparkling wine, often from Barboursville Vineyards.  “It’s a beautiful expression of a sparkling wine and guests are always surprised it’s not a champagne and that it comes from Charlottesville,” said Diane MacPherson.

Throughout the evening wines are individually paired with each course. While some of Virginia’s best wines are served, quality selections from all points worldwide will grace a typical meal.

“It’s wines we have enjoyed in the past but often very hard to find. We want to introduce people to some very interesting things they may not have tasted before. That’s the impression we’re trying to create during dinner,” said Diane MacPherson.

And there is a specific goal to the dinners. “The best way to describe our food is we try to assemble an entire menu instead of simply a number of dishes one after another. Without question our ingredients make a flavorful difference.

“The dinner has a kind of arc to it. It feels like it’s moving in a certain direction. We accomplish that with a minimum number of ingredients and without too much fuss. Most of our dinners don’t have 20 components to them. We find something we really like and use it,” said John MacPherson.

Reaction to the restaurant has been positive and gratifying to the MacPhersons. “Working the dining room, I probably hear more because of my interactions with the guests. Recently several guests said it was the best dinner they’ve ever tasted. That’s really nice to hear,” said Diane MacPherson.

Payment for the dinners is unique. The multi-course tasting menu costs $99 per person plus a $70 alcohol charge; gratuity and tax not included. Both reservations and payment are made online.

A $50 deposit per person is levied when reservations are made. On the morning of the dinner the remaining bill is charged to the guest’s credit card. “When guests arrive they just sit down, enjoy their meal and leave when they’re finished. There’s no business transactions during dinner,” said John MacPherson.

With just a few months of experience under their aprons, the owners are enjoying the newest chapter of their hospitality dreams. “We’re having a lot of fun. It’s hard work but we come in every day and there’s no feeling of stress. The only stress we have is getting ready for the dinners and that’s really nice.

“It’s very satisfying to get to do this with the people you want to work with and a place you want to do it in,” said Diane MacPherson.

For information on the current menu, photo gallery, reservations and more swing by the region’s latest fine dining venue at:

Published in the 2018-19 Winter Issue of Dine, Wine & Stein magazine.       

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Lack of funding often stops the cameras from rolling

Creative artists have long suffered from a lack of capital and the ensuing ability to sustain a living. Even Mozart struggled financially because musicians were not held in high regard in his day. And yet, he was one of the finest composers in the history of music.

The same can be said today about a legion of underfunded artists. The talent and imagination to create is thwarted by a lack of capital. Enter Ron Newcomb, stage right.

Newcomb, 45, and a resident of Bealeton is many things: former Marine, former police officer, holder of an MBA degree, and a filmmaker who toils daily in the information technology sector to put bread on the table.

But his heart is in film.

“There’s no sustainability in filmmaking. Instead of looking to others to solve the problem I believe the local community can do that through the power of equity crowdfunding.”

Say what?

If the accepted business term is new to your ears, you’ll likely be hearing more about it. Due to a change in financial regulations a few years back, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission now permits the solicitation of money online that provides equity ownership in the company being invested in.

Prior to the change, small investor equity creation could not occur. “Instead of one or two wealthy people funding a project as in the past, now we can mobilize an army to fund a film project ourselves,” said Newcomb.

Taken to its logical conclusion, the new form of raising capital paves the way to keeping dollars in the local economy where it originated. Further, it can boost local employment and give artistic voice to its investors.

When Tip O’Neill, the late speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives said, “All politics is local,” he encapsulated crowdfunding’s potential.

Under Newcomb’s scenario anyone, but especially a writer, actor or filmmaker, could make an investment as small as $100 in his company, Mid-Atlantic Studios, and become much more than just a passive investor. Moreover, if the film that’s produced turns a profit, a share is returned to the investor.

Examples of how an individual could benefit from this risk-reward financing provide an intriguing picture of the logic behind the concept. “An investor can draw an actual check if the film is profitable but he also can become a member of the cast and crew.

“They will get notices about such opportunities to participate in the filmmaking. A writer will also have an opportunity to submit other projects for the studios’ consideration. When production actually begins, all the hires will be local talent.”

Moreover, Newcomb has a library of film he has created over years on the art of filmmaking. If an investor bumps up his stake in the firm to $250, he gains assess to the library.

Leverage in the company jumps even further with an investment of $10,000. “You would actually become an advisor and help greenlight projects to the final stage of filmmaking.”

Often such regional projects are spearheaded by West Coast companies who fly in to produce a film with much of the needed management and talent in tow. Newcomb points out today is the golden age of television with episodic films being produced by Netflix and many others offering serials running for months based around a common story.

His first round of investment is seeking to generate $100,000. If he doesn’t get the funding by April of next year the opportunity goes away. “It can’t stay open in perpetuity. You must have a window of opportunity.”

If he achieves his goal, his production company will undertake three film projects. The first two have been written by him and a third will be submitted by a member investor. “The third project will be left open giving people an opportunity to submit ideas of their own.

“If we do well, it will be the gift that keeps on giving. We just roll those funds back into the studio and keep on producing films,” said Newcomb.

The first two projects offer a glimpse into the entrepreneur’s imaginative creativity. The first is a western sci-fi project set in space and the second a futuristic dystopian tale of what would happen if America broke out in civil war and how the tragedy would unfold.

Newcomb points out another problem within the film industry. “We are graduating people from film schools at a large rate with the expectation there’s going to be a job waiting for them on the other end. That’s just not the case in our region.

“All these young people are graduating but there’s no jobs for them so they end up moving out of the area. The only way we are going to solve the problem is we ‘the collective’ come together.”

To learn more about the opportunities being offered by Mid-Atlantic Studios and listen to a brief video on the concept, visit the company’s Facebook page at:

Published in the December 19, 2018 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Contributions to county mental well-being recognized by Chamber

On November 3, an integral part of Fauquier County’s mental health system was recognized by the Fauquier Chamber of Commerce as Nonprofit of the Year.

The award was presented to Executive Director, Sallie Morgan, at the Chamber’s 32nd Meeting & Awards Gala held at the Stoneridge Events Center. Morgan has headed the organization since 2011.

“We were delighted to receive the award,” said Morgan. “I do think we do good work. What the award said to me is the community really values the whole struggle to improve mental wellness in the community. It’s an issue our community is embracing and engaging in.”

Established in 1964, the organization is a grass roots nonprofit advocacy and action group working to increase awareness of mental health and substance abuse and decrease the stigma often associated with mental illness and addiction.

In the early sixties there were no mental health services in Fauquier County and few, if any, providers. “People came together and said we need to do something about it. They formed the association and then went on to obtain a grant from the state to start the very first mental health clinic in the community,” said Morgan.

Over five decades later both organizations are thriving and providing much needed comfort and cure for depression, addiction and a host of other mentally related illnesses.

A few years after the clinic was created, the state established the Community Services Board and the clinic became part of the board, known today as the Fauquier Behavioral Health Clinic located on Hospital Hill.

It is a separate organization from Morgan’s association but both entities work closely together.

For many years the association operated with no paid staff. In the early 2000s, a large private donation triggered the hiring of its first executive director who subsequently moved on in 2010.

The vacancy created an opportunity for Morgan who had been working for the Community Services Board for over 30 years. “I was looking to make a change. I had been involved in the direct delivery of services so the Mental Health Association was a great opportunity to look at the system itself. That’s what drew me to work for the association,” said Morgan.

Until last February, Morgan was the only staff person. In a coordinated effort, a strategic planning process was undertaken that culminated in the decision to bring an additional person on board. “We hired a fabulous young woman, Brittany Dwyer, as a community outreach coordinator.”

A third part-time staff member, John Waldeck, is a behavioral health consultant. Waldeck ran the clinic for many years and is deeply knowledgeable about the challenges facing the community.

Much has been accomplished with these three professionals guiding the association.

Cutting to the heart of how Morgan views her role is her mantra: “There is no health without mental health. You really can’t separate the two. If you can improve mental health status, your physical health will improve.

“More than half of us are going to face a mental health issue some time in our lives.”

One of the unique obstacles in delivering mental health cures is drawing out sufferers who are often reluctant to discuss their problems. Experience shows that many people are fearful of seeking help or even talking about their struggles.

The average time from when a person starts experiencing symptoms to actually getting treatment is 10 years. “One of the main things we are trying to accomplish is providing enough information and education to reduce the stigma of seeking treatment.

“We’ve become much more involved in working with substance abuse which is hard to separate from mental health issues. Often people start off self-medicating and it exacerbates whatever mental issues they are experiencing. One of the primary things we do is provide information and refer people to treatment for either condition,” said Morgan.

Just one example of reaching deeper into the community is the recent launch of its redesigned website.

Even a cursory look at the site impresses with its scope of help available to those in need. It provides information on programs, resources, publications and more.

The pain and heartache of an emotionally suffering person is highlighted in the list of resources available to treat a spectrum of problems such as: anxiety, bullying, depression, bipolar disorders, eating disorders, PTSD, suicide, substance abuse, and schizophrenia.

One important group targeted for improving well-being is young people. Research shows about half of mental health issues emerge about the age of 14 and a full 75 percent present by 24 years of age.

“You can make a huge difference with young people in building low self-esteem because mental health issues often develop from that. We put a lot of emphasis on working with our school system and other organizations that deal with young people.

“We have about 25 organizations that come together, including law enforcement. We have a good system for identifying those children who are struggling.”

Morgan sees three components to her organization’s success: A good prevention program. A process to identify those in need. And solid intervention strategies.

One point of pride in executing this three-pronged effort was a survey of over 1,400 middle and high school county students. A significant amount of information was gained about opioid and other substance abuses among this vulnerable cohort.

On a positive note, Morgan says the high rate of neonatal drug births and overdose deaths of just a few years ago appear to be easing. “A big difference came from working with the sheriff’s department and the town police. Also, the introduction of Narcan has seen the death rate go down.”

Narcan is a drug often administered by first responders and works by rapidly reversing the effects of an opioid overdose by restoring normal breathing.

The Mental Health Association of Fauquier County accomplishes a great deal on a modest annual budget of $250,000. Anyone wishing to help support its efforts will find a donation link on its website at:


Published in the November 14 , 2018 edition of the Fauquier Times.


Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Chamber spotlights well-known local insurer

On November 3, the Fauquier Chamber of Commerce awarded Puffenbarger Insurance & Financial Services Inc. its coveted Large Business of the Year prize.

Established in 1989 by Keith Puffenbarger, the firm is emblematic of a successful company that has thrived though flush times and thin to contribute to the well-being of 10,000 customers and over 700 businesses.

As it approaches its third decade of success, the family-owned firm is poised to continue its prosperous run well into the future.

Insurance companies play a pivotal yet often unsung role in the heart of the Nation’s economy. National columnist and television host Suze Orman once noted, “If a child, a spouse, a life partner or a parent depends on you and your income, you need life insurance.”

The leadership team at Puffenbarger knows full well its role and focuses on delivering security and financial performance to its legion of current and future customers.

When you buy insurance, you’re buying a promise. It’s a promise that if things go awry your insurer is there to make your personal or business life whole again. It’s the tick inside the clock.

“My dad started the business in 1989. He started in Gainesville and we now have offices in Warrenton, Manassas and Culpeper and employ 22 people,” said Jennifer Puffenbarger, director of marketing and partnership relations.

Puffenbarger is a member of the firm’s leadership team that includes her father Keith, brother Scott, Vicki Elmore, Wilton Elmore and Jack Mallam. The six-person lineup oversees all of the company’s portfolio.

In addition to serving local customers the company is licensed in six states and D.C.

The industry is closely tied to the success of the economy. As an example, Puffenbarger notes that if new housing starts decline so does the insurance revenue stream from that industry.

She also makes a counterintuitive observation. “Job security can slow down entrepreneurs. People do not feel the need to strike out and create a business if they are gainfully employed.

“A lot of people today are working in northern Virginia for big corporations. They are not worried about losing their job and they’re getting regular pay raises. They don’t see a need to go out and start their own business. That impacts the growth of the commercial insurance business.”

It also highlights one of the reasons for the company’s success. It knows it must work hard to seek new clients and marketing helps achieve that goal.

Marketing and Partnerships
There are always insurance needs emerging within the individual and business community. Puffenbarger, 35, has honed her skills—and continues to do so—to identify those needs. She is often the one to guide the firm toward future success.

One of the vehicles in making that happen is the chamber of commerce. “When I was first getting out in the community and making business connections, I had no idea was I was doing.

“The chamber was very welcoming and very supportive. I wouldn’t have achieved what I have without the chamber mentorship.”

Impressed with its value to her, Puffenbarger was instrumental in reestablishing the Young Professionals group within the chamber.

Joe Martin, the chamber president & CEO, underscores the importance of the group saying, “We have a very vibrant Young Professionals Council. The way the millennials communicate with each other can be very different than the way the rest of us communicate.”

Recognizing the impact of digital communications in today’s business world, Puffenbarger is currently studying for her MBA in Digital Entreneurship. “I can use those skills to help grow the businesses we are working with. I can be a resource in moving them to the next generation of marketing.”

“I serve on various committees in the county and get our word out by focusing heavily on Facebook, Twitter and other digital platforms. I publish a monthly newsletter and produce videos on a variety of subjects.”

Beyond providing security for local families, farms and businesses, the management team also contributes time and sponsorships to several nonprofit organizations including the Allegro Community School of the Arts, Rotary, Young Life and others. “We want to give back to the community,” said Puffenbarger.

How does her father Keith feel about his children and partners leading the way to future success?

“In the not to distant future dad will be able to enjoy his retirement. We try to get him out of the office as much a possible. Mom’s job is making sure dad’s personal life is very well taken care of,” said a smiling Puffenbarger.

It’s obvious dad must also be smiling with pride with what he has created and the team that will take his original one-man shop forward during his golden years.

For a full description of the personal, business and financial plans offered by Puffenbarger Insurance visit:


Published in the December 12, 2018 edition of the Fauquier Times.  

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

A Valentine’s Day tale

Posted on Dec 13 2018 | By

Discovery Publications honored as Small Business of the Year

Take a successful, loving couple and watch what happens when they get creative. More success.

On November 3, the Fauquier Chamber of Commerce recognized the accomplishments of Kathy Harper and her late husband Bill by naming Discovery Publications Small Business of the Year.

The launch of their publishing company fittingly occurred on lover’s day February 14, 1991. It originally targeted readers in a four-county area, including Fauquier. Today, there are two publications, Discover Fauquier and Discover Western Prince William, closing in on three decades of success.

Many of its readers characterize the free distribution paper as “the good feeling publication,” because of its focus on positive stories about local businesses.

Sadly, Bill Harper passed away of pancreatic cancer in 1996, but Kathy Harper and her staff of 14 have carried on and created a legacy for the man who conceived the idea for the paper.

Bill Harper was marketing director for Jefferson Savings and Loan Association and had previously started a similar paper called Leesburg Today. “The Discover publications were the brainchild of my husband and was first published on Valentine’s Day 27 years ago.

“Bill had requests from local businessmen to help them promote their businesses during a recession. The paper started in a one room office in the Ben Franklin store,” said Harper.

The Harpers hired a graphic designer, Susie Eastridge, after its first issue was released. She has been with the paper ever since. One of the hallmarks of the paper is the length of service of many of its employees; a justifiable point of pride for Harper in an age of employment hopping.

Prior to his death, Bill Harper taught his wife the marketing business. As a quick study and successful career woman in her own right, the lessons paved the way for the subsequent long running success of the company.

Today, her daughter Katie Quadrini is the sale representative for the Western Prince William edition of the paper. “Katie has worked for the paper for years, even when she was in school,” said Harper.

Her son Paul was in the Marine Corps for seven years attaining the rank of captain before leaving to begin a separate career of his own.

The two newspapers are published about 10 times a year generating some 85,000 copies per issue; 36,000 for the Fauquier edition and 41,000 for the Western Prince William paper. They are delivered free to residents via direct mail.

In addition to company profiles, a hallmark of the paper is editorial support for local businesses and nonprofits, including the hospital and sheriff’s department.” We focus on the positive slant. Our mission has always been to support the community with high quality advertising and friendly articles. A typical paper will range from 36 up to 56 pages,” said Harper.

In 2011, the publication launched a home and garden show held each spring so local businesses and clients can connect face-to-face. The 8th annual show was held at Fauquier High School last April.

The show brings together artisans and businesses in a tradeshow format and features a host of items for sale to beautify home and garden. Shopping, food and live entertainment make it a fun event.

Experience breeds success
Achieving the role of a successful publisher is not surprising when one considers Kathy Harper’s resume. She logged her first career at the United States Information Agency working at the Voice of America and for its Office of General Counsel.

“I worked in Canada, Iran, London among other places telling the American story. What I do today is tell the Fauquier and Prince William stories. Both Bill and I had communications backgrounds; me with the government and him in the private sector. We were also good communicators together,” said Harper.

The job is not without its challenges. Recently she received a compliment from a hospital employee for all the paper had done to support its programs, adding, “How do you guys make money with it being free?”

Harper explains it’s not easy given the cost of paper and postage today. “It’s very expensive to produce the paper. We have no subscriptions so we need to make money on the advertising.”

A loyal community of businesses is key to its survival so the laser-like focus on showcasing merchants in the two counties served is critical for success.

A testimonial from Ashley Simmons with Sky Meadows State Park is representative of the feedback Harper often receives, “Thank you for helping Sky Meadows State Park reach a wide audience with information about the fun things people can enjoy at our park.”

Another supportive comment came from the past president of the Piedmont Symphony Orchestra, Cooper Wright, who said, “I hope everyone had a chance to see the wonderful article on the Piedmont Symphony Orchestra in the March edition of Discover Fauquier.

Kathy Harper reflects the positivity created by the Discover newspapers saying, “Life has been a good ride for me. I can’t say I regret any of it. I’m sad my husband isn’t here to share all of the good stuff that has happened with the paper. But I know he watches down on me and my employees.”

To catch the latest editions of Discover Fauquier and Discover Western Prince William visit:


Published in the December 5, 2018 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Winter wellness

Posted on Dec 13 2018 | By

Ten steps to a healthier you

Seasonal long-range forecasts are fun to peruse but don’t hold your breath they’ll come to pass. When we can get accurate weekly forecasts down pat, we might be more inclined to believe a three month one.

But, warm, cold, wet or dry you can be certain all of it will be visited upon us during our coming Mid-Atlantic winter. Now is the time to prepare for the messy onslaught to maintain peak health.

Spring will ultimately prevail and you want to be healthy to enjoy the returning balmy breezes.

A host of information is available from the internet on how best to survive and thrive during the winter months. But perhaps the most reliable source of enlightenment is to chat up a physician who has experienced winter’s woes first-hand and seen what it can do to his patients.

Fortunately, Fauquier County has a singular resource on the subject matter in the person of Dr. William Simpson. Simpson, co-founder of Piedmont Internal Medicine, has 25 years of experience under his stethoscope.

The good doctor sold his practice last year and this spring launched Doc At Your Door. It’s a throwback to how medicine was practiced a century ago. The concept is gaining traction as modern medicine becomes increasingly more impersonal.

We caught up with Dr. Simpson as he darted around the Fauquier County region visiting both homebound and ambulatory patients in their homes. His “office” has four wheels and fires up whenever there’s a need to treat patients ranging from youngsters to septuagenarians and older.

Dr. William Simpson

So doctor, what are your recommendations?

1.Protect yourself with flu and pneumonia vaccines. Everyone over six months of age should get a flu shot. The shots are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and are proven safe.

The vaccines have been used for years and we see positive outcomes with their use. People with shots have less incidence of infection and if infected it’s less severe. The older you are the flu shot is even more important.

You also should have both pneumonia shots. They are typically indicated for people over 65. The first is called Pneumovax23 and protects against 23 types of pneumonia. A year after the first shot you should get a second one called Prevnar13 which protects against an additional 13 types of pneumonia.

Anyone over 70 that comes down with pneumonia can have a terminal outcome so it’s important to avoid infections with these shots.

If you do get the flu, get anti-viral medicine within 48 hours of the first symptoms. It can really diminish the severity of the flu.

  1. Wash your hands frequently and that includes using hand sanitizers in restaurants. You are handling menus and salt and pepper shakers that other people have touched. In restrooms grab a paper towel and turn the water off with the towel.

Also, don’t share or accept food from other’s plates or drinks at parties.

  1. Avoid getting damp and chilled. It’s not the dampness and chilliness that’s the problem. But if you have a virus in your system or not enough sleep, it allows those viruses to propagate.
  2. Be aware of enviromental dangers such as frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning, shoveling snow, power outages, and stranded vehicles. Orthopedists see a spike in injuries after ice storms. The point here is be alert to these potential dangers and act in preventive ways to avoid them to the degree you can.
  3. Watch your weight. During winter there is a tendency to gain weight. You’re eating more and are often less active. It’s important to watch the calories; eating slowly is important. Avoid going back for second and third helpings and drink lots of water.

New Year’s resolutions are often centered on diets. But remember, the faster you lose weight the faster you are likely to gain it back.

  1. Avoid crash workouts. Jumping on a treadmill for 45 minutes to make up for a lack of exercise or to lose weight can result in tendinitis and shin splints. Start any exercise program slowly. Again, this is time of year orthopedists see a lot of such injuries.
  2. Take shorter showers and back off the real hot water which can dry the skin out. Avoid deodorant soaps like Dial and Safeguard and use ones like Dove which are gentler on the skin that don’t dry it out as much. Use body creams on dry areas to reduce itchiness.
  3. Be alert to stomach reflux. Don’t lay down for two hours after eating dinner because that aggravates the reflux response. Nicotine and alcohol further worsen reflux so eliminate tobacco and reduce alcohol consumption.
  4. Be alert to Seasonal Affected Disorder, or SAD. With diminished daylight during winter, depression can become a problem. Increasing the lightning in your home will help counter the problem. Also, the use of bright light therapy can help counter the effects of the syndrome. Such lights are widely available for home use.
  5. Finally, any urge to rake leaves or trim landscape during the winter months should be undertaken with caution. While the leaves of poison ivy plants will have dropped, the vines can still inflame skin with a rash. Be cautious when handling them.

All good advice. And for those medical emergencies or flu symptoms that needed immediate treatment, consider calling Dr. Simpson. A house call by this experienced professional may well be just what the doctor ordered. Visit his office at:     


Published in the December 5, 2018 edition of the Fauquirer Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES