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May 14, 2018

Faces of Fauquier: She has logged 200 town meetings

Photo/Don Del Rosso
“I do everything except zoning,” Nancy Brady says of her work for The Plains.
I think we’re going to have a lot more development. I half kind of think eventually Fauquier and Gainesville are kind of going to run together — as far as townhouses and businesses and shopping centers.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
For almost 22 years, she’s had a front-row seat at The Plains Town Council meetings.

“That’s a lot of meetings,” says Clerk/Treasurer Nancy Brady, who otherwise works from her Delaplane home. “But it flies. You know what they say: ‘The older you get, the faster the time goes.’ It’s true.”

A Fauquier native who grew up north of The Plains, Mrs. Brady probably can count on both hands the number of meetings she’s missed in the last three decades.

A few years ago, an undiagnosed neck aliment caused her to miss a meeting. Vacations or other personal commitments also may have prevented her from attending some.

Except for that, Mrs. Brady can be found at 7 p.m. on the third Monday of the month in the second-floor meeting room of The Plains Volunteer Fire Co. on Loudoun Avenue —  witnessing the words and actions of Mayor Blake Gallagher, the seven-member council and the public.

“We never know how a meeting’s going to go,” she says. “Sometimes it’ll be a real long agenda, and we’ll be out of there in 15 minutes. Other times, it’ll be a short agenda and it’ll go on for an hour or two.”

To hear Mrs. Brady tell it, The Plains council during her time largely has been controversy-free.

Nothing that has caused a big stir comes to mind — not even the council’s decision last year to adopt a 2-percent meals and lodging tax, she says.

“A lot of the restaurant owners said they had been expecting it,” Mrs. Brady says.

The meals tax affects just four businesses — three restaurants and a mostly to-go eatery that operates in the Sunoco station at Main Street and Loudoun Avenue.

The meals tax will generate about $61,000 a year, according to Mrs. Brady. The town’s fiscal 2018 budget totals $170,100.

“Sometimes” council meetings can be interesting, says Mrs. Brady, smiling. “Sometimes they’re boring. Don’t put that in there.”

Besides new restaurants and an affordable housing project completed several years ago, little has changed in The Plains, she says.

“It’s been busier, especially with the restaurants, on weekends. As far as population, no.”

In 2000, The Plains’ population stood at 266, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. By 2010, it declined by 18.4 percent, to 217 residents, according to the bureau.

Mrs. Brady began her working life at age 18, holding two part-time clerical jobs in The Plains — one for a Realtor, the other for the rector of a local church.

In her first local government foray, she served as executive secretary to Warrenton Town Manager Ed Brower from 1966 to 1986. Mr. Brower retired that year and moved to Augusta County.

Though some found him aloof and unapproachable, the two had a respectful and friendly professional relationship, Mrs. Brady recalls.

“He was very nice, very easy to work for. He didn’t want any growth. And it seems like once he left town, everything just started growing.”

Mrs. Brady retired from Warrenton town government in 1986, after which she spent the next 10 years working for two heavy equipment companies — Carter Machinery Co. in Warrenton and Rish Equipment Co. near Opal.

Through her husband, she learned that The Plains Clerk/Treasurer Judy Heflin had planned to retire after 25 years on the job.

“Judy asked Jim if I was interested in part-time work,” Mrs. Brady says. “And that’s how it happened.”

While the town clerk works Monday through Friday, her schedule changes depending on the time of the year.

“I have a lot of work to do in the winter, because I send out (real estate) tax bills” and issue vehicle decals. “From October through May, I’m busy. I’m issuing business licenses right now. So after the 15th, it slows down.”

Mrs. Brady adds: “I do everything except zoning.”

The town’s only other employee — part-time Zoning Administrator Steve Gyurisin — processes planning and land-use documents.

Perpetually active, Mrs. Brady walks up to four miles a day, bowls, golfs and takes weekly Zumba and aerobics classes at the Marshall Community Center.

Because the town clerk likes the work and the mayor and council, she has no immediate plans to retire.

“I know I’m eventually going to have to think about it,” Mrs. Brady says.

But she’ll continue to serve the town as long as her health allows.

“I love working. Maybe if they were hard to work for, I wouldn’t keep doing it. But they’re not; they’re just so easy.”

• Age
Declined to give her age.

• Home 
Delaplane

• Work
Town clerk/treasurer, The Plains, 1996-present; clerk, Rish Equipment Co., 1994-96; clerk, Carter Machinery Co., 1986-93; executive secretary, Town of Warrenton, 1966-86.

• Why do you do the job?
I love working. They’re easy to work for — the town council and the mayor; they’re the nicest people in the world.

I don’t think I could stand to not have something to do all the time; I’ve always worked.

• Family
Two daughters, a son; seven grandchildren; one brother. (Her husband Jim died in 2015 at the age of 75.)

• Education
Vienna (Ohio) High School, 1959. (Except for the last half of her senior year, Mrs. Brady attended Fauquier schools. In January 1959, she moved to Ohio, where her husband Jim had been stationed with the Air Force, and graduated from Vienna High School, just north of Youngstown.)

• How long have you lived in Fauquier?
About 75 years.

• Why do you live here? 
Because it’s home. I’ve always lived here. And, I don’t like the city; I don’t like living in town.

Before my husband died (in 2015), he tried to get me to sell this place and move in town (Warrenton or Marshall), because he said if anything ever happened to him I would be able to take care of it myself.

I said, “I don’t ever want to live in town, because I’ve always lived in the country.” I’m a country girl.

• How do you describe this county? 
Friendly people; country. I love the mountains. When we used to go to Florida to visit, I never could get home fast enough, because it’s so flat in Florida.

• What would you change about Fauquier?
It needs more golf courses, a movie theater, bowling alley.

I play golf. In the summer time, I try to get out once during the week and once on the weekends. I do nine or 18 holes. The Front Royal area has at least five golf courses.

We have to go to Manassas or Front Royal to bowl. We have to go to Manassas or Gainesville or Winchester or Front Royal to see a movie.

• What do you do for fun? 
Golf, bowl, read, walk several miles a day; take Zumba classes twice a week, step aerobics with weights once a week; spend time with grandchildren; shopping; going to the (movie) theater.

• What’s your favorite place in Fauquier?
Home.

• What will Fauquier be like in 10 years? 
I think we’re going to have a lot more development. I half kind of think eventually Fauquier and Gainesville are kind of going to run together — as far as townhouses and businesses and shopping centers.

I think Marshall’s going to grow some more. Growth brings more people, and it helps the businesses.

Sometimes I’ll go into a restaurant in Marshall and I won’t see a single soul in there I know. And even in Warrenton now, the same thing. The traffic is terrible in Warrenton, no matter what time of the day. I just hope it doesn’t get out here to Delaplane.

• Favorite TV show?
“I Love Lucy.”

• Favorite movie? 

“The Sound of Music.”

• Favorite book?
I don’t have just one. My favorite writer is Mary Higgins Clark. She’s a mystery writer. You get into her books almost instantly.

• Favorite vacation spot?
Myrtle Beach, S.C. 

• Favorite food? 
Spaghetti.

• Who’s your hero and why?
My dad. He was just quiet and easy-going. He was just a good person. Don’t remember ever seeing him get angry. He didn’t have a mean bone in his body. People say I’m like him, and I hope I am.

• What would you do if you won $5 million in the lottery? 
I’d distribute it between my three children and save some for me.
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