Archive for January, 2021


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