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March 8, 2018

Throwback Thursday: Guv says Vint Hill base closing

1993: Col. Rick Davis, Vint Hill’s commander, says he has heard nothing about the potential closure of the 51-year-old Army base near New Baltimore.
25 Years Ago
From The Fauquier Citizen edition of March 12, 1993

Wilder: Vint Hill closing planned

The Pentagon plans to put the screws to Vint Hill Farms Station, Fauquier’s single largest employer.

The military has included the 701-acre Army facility on the hit list of bases it believes should be shut or realigned to help cut defense spending.

Off Route 215 near New Baltimore, the base periodically has been recommended for closure during the last two decades, but in each case has dodged the budget blade.

This time, it could be the real thing.

Gov. L. Douglas Wilder let the cat out of the bag Tuesday after a two-day conference in Richmond on how Virginia’s defense industries might begin to convert to peacetime uses.

Airport plan calls for 275 more acres

Warrenton/Fauquier Airport Manager Ron Gatewood thinks people will be hard-pressed to come up with legitimate reasons for not expanding the facility near Midland.

“I don’t want to sound too enthusiastic, but it’s hard to argue against, when development would be self-sustaining and could help the county tremendously,” Gatewood suggested.

An employee of Tracey Corp. of Warrenton, the county’s contract operator of the 122-acre airport, Gatewood naturally supports a proposed 20-year master plan that calls for the purchase of 275 acres and the extension of the main runway.

The extension from 4,100 to 5,000 feet would allow the facility to accommodate turbo and jet aircraft, fulfilling its “reliever airport” status.

State Department signs SPR lease

Financially-strapped SPR Corp., the county’s most visible and controversial commercial real estate developer, will get a boost from Uncle Sam this spring.

The State Department on Feb. 18 signed a six-year lease for the fourth floor of the Human Services Building on Hospital Hill. The top floor has been unfinished and vacant since September 1990, when county government reneged on a 30-year lease/purchase agreement for the building.

SPR, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November, will receive $126,480 in rent annually from the federal government.

“It’s a nice building,” said Bernard Minakowski, a contracting officer for the Government Services Administration in Philadelphia, who signed the lease. “It was by far the best facility we looked at.”

The State Department will use the space for training, according to Minakowski, who said the facility will be affiliated with the Army’s nearby Warrenton Training Center.

County prepares for annual assault on gypsy moths

The curtain next week will rise on another act in the long-running environmental thriller — the Gypsy Moth Program.

This year, however, for the first time since Fauquier County in 1988 began actively attempting to suppress the spread of the voracious caterpillars, homeowners will take a more active role in the campaign.

The Landowner Cooperative Gypsy Moth Suppression Program will be explained form 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, at the Warren Green Building during he county county gypsy moth office’s sixth annual public meeting.

Beginning this year, landowners who want their trees treated must help pay for it and they must request spraying a year in advance. It will cost $8 per acre.

You can still buy one bolt or just visit Marshall Hardware for gossip

When the O’Bannons opened their Marshall Hardware Co. in 1945, naysayers warned them.

Failure, the young couple heard, lurked just around the corner. Forty-eight years later, however, Lou O’Bannon, who launched the store with her late husband John Norris, keeps plugging away.

“Everyone said, ‘You can make it. You can make it.’ I guess I’m just like the little engine that could,” Mrs. O’Bannon, 75, says proudly.

Despite several difficult recessions and the death of her husband, Mrs. O’Bannon and her 54-year-old son John have kept the store flourishing.

Several other mom-and-pop hardware stores still exist in Fauquier, but many have closed, hooked up with national chains or lost their old-fashioned feel.

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