Library Board of Trustees Appoints New Library Director

The Amherst County Public Library Board of Trustees is pleased to announce the appointment of Jacob Etter as Library Director. Mr. Etter assumed the position on July 1, 2021. Etter previously served as Branch Manager of the Lovettsville Branch of the Loudoun County Public Library, where he initially worked as the Children’s Librarian. During his time in Loudoun County, Etter oversaw 400 Library programs and doubled attendance in two years. Some of his proudest accomplishments include increasing the number of participants who completed the Summer Reading Program and achieving a circulation rate well above the national average.

His education includes a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and a Master of Library Science from University of North Texas. Amherst County Press Release

Director of Amherst County Public Libraries Retires

Steve Preston, Library Director of the Amherst County Public Library for the past 17 years, retired effective June 30, 2021. When a regional library system was proposed, Mr. Preston maintained the viability of the Amherst County Public Library as an independent library over the past few years.

Preston’s accomplishments include supervising switching the library’s online circulation system to Evergreen, a librarian-created and State Library-recommended circulation system. He also upgraded library technology, added an information technology position to the library staff, switched the internet connection to fiber optic, replaced all public and staff computers, and switched the telephone system to serve both ACPL libraries. Amherst County Press Release

Bell Donated to Amherst Welcome Center

An antique train bell was recently installed at the Amherst County Welcome Center. Eldon and Martha Cox donated the bell to the Depot in memory of a dear friend, Paul Wailes.

Originally a locomotive bell in Denver, Colorado, in 1953, the bell was installed at the family home of an Air Force Colonel in Cameron, NC. The bell then made its way to Amherst, Virginia, when the Colonel’s sisters passed the bell on to the Cox family after living next to one another for 20 years. Amherst County Press Release

New Playground Installed at Mill Creek Lake Park

The Amherst County Public Works Department has recently installed new equipment at Mill Creek Lake Park. The playground is a Registered National Demonstration Site through PlayCore and includes a sign with a scannable QR code visitors can use to provide feedback. This research will help Amherst determine what features citizens would like to see at other playgrounds and provide the manufacturer with data about what users would like to see in future designs. This project is part of an ongoing effort to improve Mill Creek Lake Park and provide activities for all ages Amherst County Press Release

Amherst County Sheriff’s Department Earns Accreditation

The Amherst County Board of Supervisors presented the Amherst County Sheriff’s Department with a Commemorative Resolution at a 2021 meeting, congratulating the Sheriff’s Department for earning accreditation and acknowledging the many years of hard work it took to do so.

The accreditation process required the Sheriff’s Department to undergo, a complete review of its policies and procedures for evaluation against established measurements of the Virginia Law Enforcement Profession Standards Committee. On June 14-16, 2021, three assessors from different law enforcement agencies evaluated Amherst County on 190 standards and found it to be in 100% compliance. This compliance level is a rare accomplishment and exemplifies the high standards that the agency and personnel are held to.

The Amherst County Board of Supervisors extends their congratulations to Sherriff Viar and his department and thanks them for their hard work and service to the citizens of Amherst County and their dedication to continuously improving that service. Amherst County Press Release

Library Now Providing Internet Hotspots

Are you unable to get reliable internet in your home? The Library can help with that!

Both Amherst County Library branches provide free internet hotspots for library cardholders to checkout, take home, and use for a month at a time. These hotspots use the Verizon data network to provide wireless internet and can provide reliable internet in many homes that do not have internet coverage. To check out an internet hotspot or to learn more, visit the Amherst or Madison Heights Library.

The Amherst County Board of Supervisors is committed to bringing broadband internet access to all of Amherst County. They have dedicated significant portions of both CARES Act funds as well as ARPA funds to this project. The Board of Supervisors expresses its thanks to the Amherst County Library and other organizations that have stepped in to help provide internet access as we work toward county-wide broadband. Amherst County Press Release

Randal Nixon Joins County Staff as Recreation Specialist

Amherst County would like to welcome Randal Nixon to our staff. Mr. Nixon will be filling the position of Recreation Specialist for Amherst County Recreation and will be managing all of our sports programs.

Randal holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation Administration from Radford University. He has  27 years of experience in Parks and Recreation, including nine years as the Athletic Program Manager for the Campbell County Parks and Recreation Department. His primary role is to provide youth and adult athletic programs for county citizens but will be fully involved in all other aspects of county recreation and tourism. He has a passion for athletics, recreation, and the positive influence they bring to a community.

“To me, recreation is about family, community, and having fun. My goal is to try and improve upon the existing programs and offer new programs,” said Nixon. Amherst County Press Release

Monacan Indian Nation Growing

The Monacan complex is near the intersection of Rt. 29 & Dixie Airport Rd.

The Monacan Indian Nation, a federally recognized tribe, has purchased nearly 1300 acres on Laurel Cliff Rd. in Monroe for $5.5 million. Chief Kenneth Branham said the tribe is considering development ideas that may include a retirement community and a rehabilitation center for alcohol and drug addiction.

The October 2021 Groundbreaking for a new 13,000 sq. ft. health clinic.

The property currently has three houses, two of which are being rented out. One of the houses could eventually become a wedding venue with beautiful scenic views. The land will also provide a site for the Monacan’s powwow, a popular event in the spring that brings thousands of visitors to Amherst County. Previously, the tribe had rented land in Elon for the powwow.

Early in 2021 the tribe opened a new complex at 111 Highview Drive in Madison Heights (near the intersection of U.S. 29 and Dixie Airport Rd.) with offices, a meeting space, and a food bank that is open to all residents of Amherst County.

Masonic Lodge Honored Amherst Habitat Director With Community Builders Award

Born in the outskirts of Paris, France, Maryvonne LaParlière spent her early years in Rueil-Malmaison near Malmaison Château, home of Empress Josephine the first wife of Napoléon. She admired Josephine’s interest in nature, architecture and decorative painting and has carried with her the image of Josephine’s lovely  rose garden, immortalized by Pierre-Joseph Redouté. It was also the place where Monet and Renoir depicted so well the boating, picnicking and dancing along the charming  banks of the Seine. LaParlière says, “those childhood influences were imprinted on the canvas of my soul as an artist.”

At age 16, LaParlière’s family moved to France’s Loire Valley, with its beautiful châteaux full of art and charming villages. She pursued her love of painting in Tours where she studied at the prestigious art school, Les Beaux Arts.

In 1988, LaParlière came to America’s west coast where she began restoring furniture and painting full scenes on them, exhibiting and selling her work, and being featured in the media. Her talent was noticed by Beverly Hills celebrities, and she was commissioned to do furniture, paintings, trompe l’oeil and murals in the homes of celebrities including, Priscilla Presley (her main collector for many years), Larry Hagman, Steven Seagal and Kelly LeBrock to name a few. LaParlière became adept at translating a family’s history and dreams into a perfect mural, or turning an armoire, desk, table or cupboard into a beautiful work of art that was personal to her client.

As LaParlière’s career progressed, she moved to Santa Barbara, California, where she exhibited and was active in the art world. The stunning 70-feet of murals she completed at the Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara illustrates perfectly the unlimited dimension of her talent.

For more than 30 years, LaParlière has built an acclaimed career, with both international and American clientele. She has done work on site at home and abroad for the Orient Express Hotel Chain, several universities and hospitals, in the homes of diplomats, and at beautiful estates and châteaux. Her work has been featured in numerous exhibitions and in local, national and international media.

In 2010, after a solo exhibition at the French Embassy, LaParlière was decorated by the French Ambassador as a “Knight in the Order of the Palms” in recognition of her talent and for bringing French culture to so many in America. She continues to explore the field of decorative art, creating wall frescoes in the Greek and Roman style, faux finishes and decorating old wood with angels and other figures. She works to transform furniture with even more unique, intricate hand-painting to create pieces of museum quality.

After living in California, LaParlière moved to the east coast opening galleries in Charlottesville and Gordonsville, Virginia. And now with the acquisition of an historic building in Amherst, LaParlière has been able to collect many examples of her work in one place and is realizing a dream of opening a “museum of decorative art.”

As she says, “My mission is not yet complete!”

VFW POST 9877 Named Non-Profit Award Winner by Amherst County Chamber of Commerce

The Amherst County Chamber of Commerce held their Annual Awards Presentation last September 23, 2021. The winners were announced live via the Chamber’s Facebook Page. Due to the increase in COVID cases locally, the Board of Directors voted to forgo an in-person dinner and announce the winners on Facebook Live for the second year in a row.

The VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) Officers are: Commander Steve Poleski; Sr. Vice- Commander Adon Jennings; Jr.; Vice-Commander Caleb Bailey; Quartermaster Norman (Mickey) Ryan;  and Chaplain Ron Tomlin.

The VFW purpose is to foster camaraderie among United States veterans of overseas conflicts. They serve our veterans, the military and our communities, and advocate on behalf of all veterans.

Their largest fundraiser is the Buddy Poppy Drive. The VFW Buddy Poppy program provides compensation to the veterans who assemble the poppies, and provides financial assistance in maintaining state and national veterans’ rehabilitation and service programs.