Year in review

Culpeper County Emergency Service workers pose together after receiving their first dose of the Moderna vaccine.

It’s no secret 2021 was one for the record books. With a second year of COVID-19 under the belts of Culpeper County residents, they all seemed to rise above it and make the best despite bumps in the road.

The changes throughout the county be it social or political, are palpable.

Here’s a glance back at Culpeper spanning the last 365 days.

COVID-19

As the pandemic continued to rage throughout the country and Commonwealth, Culpeper County did not remain untouched.

In January 2021, Culpeper reported 23 total deaths and 3,119 cases since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. 

According to the Virginia Department of Health, there were 73 deaths and 5,314 cases in 2021.

Since March 2021, there have been 96 deaths and 8,433 cases in Culpeper County.

In January 2021, there were 317,913 cases and 5,191 deaths statewide.

Currently, there have been over 1.16 million cases and over 15,000 deaths.

Culpeper County Public School began publishing a weekly report of the impact of COVID-19 in its 12 schools on Aug. 27.

The first report, accounting for Aug. 21-27, indicated 28 confirmed cases among students and three among staff.

The same report showed 101 students in quarantine - 22 from close contact in school and 79 outside of school. Only one district teacher entered quarantine, and it was due to contact with an infected person outside of school.

Four months later, a report accounting for Dec. 11-17 confirmed 55 cases among students and five among staff.

A same report showed 213 students in quarantine - 129 from close contact in school and 84 outside of school. Five district staff entered quarantine due to close contact at school.

Data collection for the report begins on Saturday and runs through Friday. Reports are published on Friday afternoons and can be found online at www.culpeperschools.org.

TOWN

During a Feb. 9 meeting, Culpeper Town Council voted 5-4 Lake Pelham should be renamed and referred the matter to the committee for further action.

Although never formally adopted by the council, the man-made body near Route 29 has been referred to as Lake Pelham for decades. The origin of the name, which is after John Pelham, an Alabama slave owner who died in Culpeper after being wounded in battle, is unclear.

Former councilman and current Mayor Frank Reaves Jr. brought forward the idea, noting that he had received requests that the lake be renamed.

Former Councilman Jon Russell opposed the renaming by explaining there was no documentation as to who the lake was named after.

Local businessman Joe Daniel, who led the charge in seeking a name change, offered $50,000 to offset any related costs.

Following committee meetings, the name Lake Culpeper was decided upon, however, during a May 11 meeting, council members voted in a split vote not to change the name.

After announcing he would not seek reelection in the Spring, Mayor Mike Olinger’s seat was up for grabs.

Come November, council colleagues Reaves and Russell went head to head in a battle of old versus new Culpeper.

Just after 8:40 p.m. on Nov. 2, Reaves defeated Russell with 2,755 votes compared to Russell’s 2,374 - a difference of 381.

Reaves said he has “several” main goals following being sworn into office.

“One of my main priorities is for the council and I to get on the same page,” he said. “It is very important to me that the council and I have a great working relationship and that we are able to work together for the betterment and enrichment of the entire town. We may not all agree all of the time but we should be able to communicate that in a safe, courteous and respectful manner.”

Three new council members were also elected in November: Janie Schmidt, Joe Short and B. Travis Brown. Incumbent Bill Yowell kept his seat while former Councilman Pranas Rimeikis did not.

COUNTY

Culpeper community leaders celebrated the dedication of the state-of-the-art Culpeper Technical Education Center with a ribbon-cutting and grand tour of the $17 million facility on Aug. 5.

The facility on Frank Turnage Drive features a sleek design with modern amenities. The entrance welcomes visitors with a 428-foot-long hallway illuminated by skylights. The hallways are lined with classrooms for automotive, building trades, cosmetology, culinary arts, cybersecurity, computer drafting, diesel, emergency medical technician, maker space, nursing and industrial maintenance courses.

“The career and technical education theme has been something that our county board of supervisors has been interested in for a great number of years,” Culpeper County Administrator John Egertson said at the ribbon cutting. “They have focused on that, as has the School Board. It’s safe to say it’s an entire community that has pulled together and it’s a reality that we can be proud of.”

On a cold November morning, over 100 community leaders and Culpeper residents watched the ceremonial breaking of ground of the Culpeper Field House near Eastern View High School.

The construction of the 17,000-square-foot building, which officially began days before the ceremony, is expected to open this fall. The building will have a full-sized gym, classrooms and an aerobics studio.

Earlier that November, two incumbent Culpeper County Supervisors were defeated at the ballot box. 

David Durr defeated incumbent C. Jack Fraizer in representing the Cedar Mountain District with 1,255 votes compared to Fraizer’s 1,151.

Susan Gugino beat out incumbent Bill Chase with 1,415 votes compared to his 715. Chase came in third place behind challenger Laura Rogers, who received 843 votes.

OTHER

On May 2, Culpeper Town Police talked a man down who they say was "yelling suicidal statements” as he climbed the 250-foot-tall Verizon cell phone tower off Old Brandy Road.

Officers were able to de-escalate the situation and the man was safely returned to the ground and transported to the hospital for a mental health evaluation and treatment of self-inflicted injuries.

The town terminated its lease with Regal Cinemas in February after a long stint of closure as well as financial and operational struggles courtesy of COVID-19.

The movie theater has operated out of a building on the town property at 210 S. Main St. since 2000, but closed October 8, 2020. 

The contractual details allow the lease to be terminated if Regal Cinemas ceases operating a movie theater for 120 days. The theater was one year into a five-year lease extension.

maria@culpepertimes.com

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.