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Virginia Canal Society Meeting Here

  • Written by submitted

The annual conference of Virginia’s canal preservation organization, the Virginia Canals & Navigations Society, will take place at Glen Maury Park April 25-27, with activities focused on the Maury River.

Friday’s activities will get under way with a tour of the archaeological dig at Jordans Point that has been undertaken by students at Washington and Lee University.  Jordans Points was a busy port beginning with the batteau era.  Students are finding artifacts from the 19th century industry located there.

At 6 p.m. that Friday, there will be a gala reception at the Paxton House, followed at 7 p.m. by talks on Scenic Rivers and Water Trails by Jennifer Wampler and Lynn Crump with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.

A rafting trip on the Maury River from Lexington to Buena Vista is planned for Saturday with stops at the historic locks along the way. Concurrently, there will be a walking tour of the canal locks from along the Chessie Nature Trail. These will conclude with an afternoon tour of the Buena Vista flood control project.

The organization’s annual meeting and banquet will be held at the Paxton House Saturday evening with local historian Dr. Horace Douty speaking.

On Sunday, a driving caravan will take participants on a tour of the locks and dams below Buena Vista along River Road. Participants will stop in Glasgow to honor Frank Padget, who lost his life saving others on the James River in the 1800s, and then proceed to the overlook near Balcony Falls to see where Padget died.

The conference is open to everyone. For additional information and to register, contact Philip de Vos at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. at (434) 299-5249.

VDOT Plans Work On Bypass

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The Virginia Department of Transportation will close the U.S. 11 bypass on-ramp at Va. 60 in Lexington for nighttime work on April 27 to 30.

Crews will be brush cutting in the area nightly, 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. on those days.  VDOT asks motorists to be alert for signage and aware of possible delays in the area during this work.

Sups Propose 4.5-Cent Tax Hike

  • Written by Ed Smith


A 4.5-cent increase to Rockbridge County's tax rate is contemplated in a proposed budget that's being taken to a public hearing.


The Board of Supervisors on Wednesday voted 5-0 to advertise a real estate tax rate of 71.5 cents per $100 assessed value. There's actually quite a bit of uncertainty over the budget because of an impasse on a spending plan at the state level.


“The Board agreed to move ahead using the most conservative state figures,” said County Administrator Spencer Suter, who prepared a budget document with Steve Bolster, the county's director of fiscal services.


The budget includes step increases for eligible county employees that would take effect July 1, and 1 percent raises for all county employees, effective Dec. 1. The latter of these proposals is based on the latest proposed pay hikes for state employees.


Among the planned new expenditures in the county are $71,737 for a human resources officer that would cover salary and benefits, $400,000 for contracted ambulance services and $110,000 for a major upgrade to the Lake Robertson pool.


A more detailed account of the proposed budget will be in the April 16 print edition of The News-Gazette. A public hearing hearing on the proposed budget will take place Wednesday, April 23, at 6 p.m. Adoption is scheduled for the following week on April 30.


Ex-BV Fire Chief Pleads Guilty

  • Written by Roberta Anderson


Former Buena Vista fire chief Butch Lawhorn pleaded guilty Monday in Buena Vista Circuit Court to 22 charges relating to the fraudulent certification of other first responders in swiftwater rescue.


Lawhorn pleaded guilty to 11 counts of taking money under false pretense and 11 counts of forgery.


Buena Vista Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Russell told the court that Lawhorn had represented himself as an instructor certified by the California-based company Rescue 3. He accepted approximately $21,000 in payment for courses that he had taught to both individuals and to fire departments from neighboring jurisdictions between 2011 and 2013. Lawhorn used course materials from Rescue 3 without the company’s permission, Russell said; and forged course completion certificates from Rescue 3.


Lawhorn had originally been indicted on 50 counts of forgery and 27 counts of taking money under false pretenses following an investigation by the Virginia State Police.


Attorney David Natkin who represented Lawhorn told the court that Lawhorn had been certified by Rescue 3 in 2007, but had not renewed his certification when it expired in 2010.


Sentencing in the case has been set for June 20.


Plogger Resigns From BV Council

  • Written by Ed Smith

Lewis Plogger on Thursday night tendered his resignation as a member of Buena Vista City Council. Plogger made the surprise announcement at the end of Council’s regular meeting.

After the last item on the agenda had been dispensed with, Plogger said he’d like to make a statement. Saying it has been an honor to serve on Council the past six years, “the last two years have felt more like a job than service.” Since he retired as police chief seven years ago, he’s been able to do what he wants to do, but lately the duties of Council have been hard on him and his family, he said.

“As of tonight, I resign my seat on City Council,” he concluded.

“That came out of the blue,” responded Mayor Frankie Hogan, who turned to City Attorney Brian Kearney for advice on what Council’s options were in regard to Plogger’s announcement. Kearney said Council could either accept the resignation or not.

Hogan opted to postpone having Council make a decision until its next meeting.