Saturday, April 30, 2011

Jason Bibeau Enters Race for Treasurer

Confidendiality, Customer Service and Awareness

Jason Bibeau.

Jason is currently serving as a law enforcement supervisor, a US Army veteran, NRA life member, and a former volunteer rescue squad member. He has experience in the financial services industry and plans to bring his experience to bear on the operations of the treasurer's office.

Citing the need for confidentality, Bibeau says: "The treasure's office maintains large amounts of our citizen's financial data. I believe that it is of UTMOST importance to not share your information without proper and just legal cause." He plans to take concrete steps to assure treasury data is properly protected. Looking to his experience in the financial services market, he plans to aid compliance by improving the office's customer service. He sees a day when payment options will be available in partnership with your bank or credit union and the "trip to the window" will become a rare event.

Bibeau plans to report quarterly to the citizens of the county, letting them know the state of county affairs and generally making citizens aware of the function played by the revenues collected.

He and his wife, Angela, are members of Blue Ridge Church of Christ in Fishersville where they play an active part in children's ministries. Today he announced his Candidacy [click to read] at the County Government Center in Verona.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Praying for Reagan Bowman

A Family's Faith in the Face of Trials

Virginia Rally
Walker Bowman's shirt made my blog last year.

Last year I met Daryl and Tara Bowman and their children on a bus to a rally in Washington DC. This Article [click to read] tells of their month-long ordeal as daughter Reagan recovered from a serious head injury. Today Reagan is back at home, back in school, and doing amazingly well with her recovery. We have been praying.

On Sunday, May 15th there will be a benefit luncheon and silent aution to help the family with the expenses. The event will take place at 11:00am - 4:00pm, May 15th at:

Pleasant Valley Church of the Brethren
91 Valley Church Road
Weyers Cave, VA

After 10am service on May 15, 2011, a BBQ Luncheon, silent auction, and live Gospel Bluegrass music will be held. All proceeds will benefit Reagan Bowman, who is now out of UVA after an 8 week stay. Meal includes pork/beef BBQ, seven layer salad, green beans, fruit salad, mac and cheese, assorted deserts. The band is "Appalachian Rain" from Dayton Mennonite Church. Silent auction will contain an assortment of items! More details forthcoming. More information about PVCOB can be found at

Silent auction items include a portrait of your home or farm by artist Bob Kirchman and a Child's Mural for bedroom or playroom by Mural Artist Laney Riley [who is painting the mural at Staunton Alliance Church].


Modelling a Church Interior

Model for a Pipe Organ Installation

Model of an organ enclosure designed by Xaver Wilhelmy.

Iris in the Garden

An Especially Beautiful Spring

The iris are especially beautiful this Spring.

He is Risen!

He is Risen Indeed! Easter Greetings from the Journey

Dogwood flowers and new oak leaves.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume III, Issue XVII

THYME's Guide to the Most Influential

If, as Jefferson states, "the most important level of politics is local," then it follows that the most important political figures are those who represent your own community.

While the 'other' weekly news magazine looks for its 100 most influential people, THYME went looking for the heroes of hometown politics. We didn't have far to go.

Augusta County, Virginia is situated at the junction of two major US interstates but is still a fine mix of rural and urban elements. Manufacturing, Agriculture and Transportation exist in a balance that makes the area desirable as home or as a potential business location.

The mix that makes Augusta rich in potential also creates unique challenges for local government. Old paradigms are not adequate for addressing these challenges.

Fortunately Augusta is seeing a renaissance in citizen involvement in the process that should inspire people across the fruited plain.

Every Election Matters Now

Typically 'off-year' elections were uninspiring events with low turnout and predictable outcomes. That was before Augusta's current board of supervisors rubber stamped a fatally flawed assessment and set in motion a citizen protest directed at their lack of having a voice in Verona [the seat of the Government Center].

The unrealistic assessment numbers resulted in reduced distribution of state revenues. Public safety and education resources were understandably stretched. Pastures supervisor Tracy Pyles is already in the fight, having previously introduced a motion to discard the new assessment. This election cycle sees some new candidates stepping forward to seek seats in other districts. David Karaffa is running for the position in the Beverley Manor District and Dr. Kurt Michael in adjoining Wayne.

Here are candidates who are stepping up to create solutions in such areas as fire protection. They are putting together real proposals for real problems. They deserve a hearing and your vote on November 8th.

Look for another important hat being thrown into the ring on April 30th. Augusta County will become a model for other localities to follow. Jason Bibeau invites all concerned citizens to come out to the Government Center at 9:00am this coming Saturday. THYME will have more on this important story as it unfolds.


Jason Bibeau, 38, a resident of Fishersville, will announce his candidacy for Augusta County Treasurer Saturday, April 30, 2011, at 9:00 a.m. at the Augusta County Government Center, 16 Government Center Ln., Verona, VA, 24482

"Dutch Treat" Breakfast to follow announcement at Staunton Shoney's in front private dining room.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Easter Story in Sand

Artist Joe Castillo Paints a Story in Sand

Joe Castillo's sand image on a light table.

See Him Create an Image [click to watch].

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Stroke of Boldness

Why Not Eliminate the IRS AND the Welfare Bureaucracy

IMG_0922Springtime is tax time. Dogwood Photo by Bob Kirchman

Once again American tax season has come upon us. Many have again put forth the idea of a simpler and fairer tax system. It is an idea that is gaining interest. Here's an interesting Article [click to read] about an idea put forth by Milton Friedman. His idea is both revolutionary and simple, a NEGATIVE income tax.

If the bureaucracy necessary to collect taxes is ridiculously complex, the bureaucracy necessary to redistribute makes our current system twice as cumbersome. Statistics tell us that about 30% of welfare dollars actually get to beneficiaries. The rest is consumed by the agencies that manage the programs.

"Republicans would do well to revisit Friedman’s alternatives. The most familiar is the school voucher, which students could use as tuition at any school, public or private, willing to accept them. But one of the most inventive and potentially effective of Friedman’s alternatives to statist bureaucracy receives far less attention than vouchers do. Liberals tend to dismiss Friedman as an extremist libertarian, a blind advocate of selfishness, an enemy of any kind of social help. This was always an absurd charge. In his 1962 book Capitalism and Freedom, Friedman acknowledged that some form of welfare was necessary in capitalist societies and that the state would likely play a role in its provision. The trick was to imagine a very different, radically improved, and more efficient form of welfare—what Friedman’s son, David, also an economist, calls “libertarian redistributionism.” What kind of program could help protect every citizen from destitution without granting excessive power to bureaucrats, creating disincentives to work, and clogging up the free-market economy, as the modern welfare state has done? Friedman’s answer was the negative income tax, or NIT." -- Guy Sormon

Monday, April 18, 2011

The View fron Turk Mountain

A Fairly Easy Mile Hike from Skyline Drive

IMG_2921Mountaintop View from Turk's summit.


IMG_2917Lichen on the rocks.

Stroke of Genius!

Miss Riley Creates an Auk

AukIllustration of an Auk, Coloured Pencil, by Laney Riley.

Recently we worked on a very interesting project, some educational illustrations for Civitas in Great Britian. They are using some images I developed for Core Knowkledge Foundation but needed some more that were specific to the continent of Europe.

My partner in the mural helped to produce the animal and floral icons for the illustrated maps. Her work speaks for itself.

Connemara PonyConnemara Pony, Coloured Pencil, Illustration by Laney Riley.

IMG_2970Consultant position specially created for the occasion.

IMG_2936Preparing map images.

Why You MUST Vote in the 2011 Election

Augusta County Election Presents Unique Opportunity

IMG_2992Candidate for Wayne District Supervisor, Dr. Kurt Michael holds a copy of the Augusta Fire Report.

Much ink has been spilled in the press over the woes of local governments in the wake of today's difficult times. I recently listened to a news report bemoaning the fact that across the nation it is hard to find qualified candidates to run for local office. Politics has aquired a bad name and people simply don't have a sense of serving their community anymore.

I am happy to report that that is not the case in Augusta County where Saturday saw another excellent candidate enter the race for county supervisor. Dr. Kurt Michael, a respected educator, announced his bid from the Preston Yancey Fire Company in Fishersville. In addition to his understanding of educational issues, Dr. Michael showed a keen understanding of the need to develop real support for our community's volunteer first responders. The person who rushes into a structure fire to save lives [at the risk of his or her own] gives untold hours to service and training, pays for a lot of their own equipment and uses his or her own gas to get to the fire station.

Support for the volunteer community is crucial and will involve some hard choices. Reimbursing milege, training and equipment costs will help the county retain these valuable citizens in service and is a fiscally responsible alternative to allowing volunteer service to wither. You see, leaders who serve will lead others to serve. That is a deep part of the American Dream I know.

IMG_2989David Karaffa makes complex issues understandable and will make the office of supervisor accountable to the people.

IMG_2994Staunton's Alex Davis introduces Dr. Kurt Michael.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Dr. Kurt Michael for Supervisor

Seeking Seat for the Wayne District

Kurt----------------Supervisor Candidate Dr. Kurt Michael

This Saturday [click to read] Dr. Michael will announce his bid for supervisor at 9:00am at the Preston Yancey Fire Department in Fishersville.

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

thyme0316 Volume III, Issue XVI

Imagine There's No Heaven...

John Lennon wrote a song in which he invited the listener to imagine away Heaven and Hell and live for today. That would be fine if we knew that all that there is is just what we see. Thousands of years of human tradition speak of some sort of afterlife and generally there is a distinct separation of evil from the described paradise.

If this theme appeared only in Christian tradition or perhaps solely in Islam it might seem appropriate to dismiss it but the fact remains that the theme appears in most belief systems and there is a recurring theme of Paradise and Paradise Lost.

Men may disagree heartily on the way salvation from the corrupt to the incorruptable is achieved or imparted, but most would agree that the horror of, say, a Hitller must certainly exclude him from the hope of Paradise. Certainly Paradise MUST exclude the unhindered workings of what might be commonly called sin and yet if it does, who can rightfully enter at all?

Christianity asserts that man cannot enter Paradise on his own merit and that Jesus' sacrificial death and ressurection provide the only antidote to the deadly condition of the human heart.

The Enigma of Rob Bell

The 'other' weekly news magazine references a controversial new book by Rob Bell and asks on its cover: "What if There is No Hell?" Many feel that Bell preaches a universalism that is not compatible with the Judeo-Christian teachings on afterlife at all. Others are quick to assert that Bell simply removes the traditional language of 'Churchianity' that would seem to say to the unbeliever: "My way or the highway," thus allowing for someone who would be offended by the Gospel as traditionally rendered to work around the 'narrow' language to partake of its fruits.

I've read one book by Bell and I have no ready answer to the enigma. Bell raises some good questions and makes one think, but in the end there is still the really tough question of what lies beyond the narrow realm of the world we see. Afterlife and its implications was a big deal to our forefathers, who saw death on a fairly regular basis. Modern man has relegated it to a lesser place. No longer is the parlor the room for the dead of the family to be placed in. Funeral homes remove most of that reality from our sight. Modern churches can preach to present happiness if they wish and satisfy the spiritual yearnings of many in a modern culture.

It might be fair to say that people in earlier times had more of a sense of urgency about getting it right.

Scripture says that G-d is a "rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." I would be inclined to err on the side of diligently seeking rather than seeking the percieved path of least resistance.

Update: Media Missing Message?

Years ago I saw the local paper write an article about a Penticostal pastor I knew. The reporter stated that the pastor had said: "People are saved by speaking in tongues." I KNEW the pastor well enough to know that this was a gross misrepresentation of his true theology. He would NEVER have said that. Spiritual matters are often hard to capture in the fast pace of an interview. Many reporters do not have the background and rely on 'talking points' put out by someone who's already made their mind up. This is hardly condusive to real investigation.

"People ask questions about the faith for a variety of reasons and I want to sketch four — there are of course other reasons. Some ask questions because they want to know. This sort of person asks a good question and then sifts through the Bible and sorts out theological history and intellectual options in an attempt to find the truth. Some people ask questions in a more careless fashion — they ask questions, some of them quite good — like How can God be all powerful and all good and have a world like this? — but don’t seem to want to find answers. They just don’t work hard enough. They are proud of having good questions. Some ask good and middling questions but the questions are a cloak for doubt. They don’t ask to find an answer but they soften their overt doubts or unbelief by expressing them in a question. Others ask questions to befuddle and to bewilder — all with a desire to confuse in order to lead to other questions that are behind those questions in order to find deeper answers." -- Jesus Creed

The current controversy surrounding Rob Bell's book: Love Wins seems frought with such thinking. This Blog [click to read] offers a more thoughtful look at Bell's latest work. Those of us who have read C. S. Lewis' The Last Battle will recall that Lewis wrestled with some of the same issues. The 'other' weekly news magazine might have done the faith community a real service by digging a little deeper.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My Wife Creates Her First Painting!

Plein Air Painting Day at Miller School

IMG_0643Weather that was a bit soggy did not dampen our enthusiasm. My wife has painted with preschoolers plenty of times but this was her first work on canvas! Photo by Annie Knepper.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Young Organists Carry On Tradition

Christ Lutheran's Twenty-one Year Old Organist

mrgreer001Photo of Jonathan Greer by Laney Riley.




Here [click to read] is an interesting article in today's News Leader about two young talented organists in our community. Jonathan Greer is the boyfriend of the very talented Laney Riley.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Plein Air Painting at Miller School

A Rainy Day by the Lotus Pond

IMG_2884Albemarle County's Miller School held its second plein air painting event Saturday. The weather was cold and rainy so I enjoyed painting wet-on-wet.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

thyme0315 Volume III, Issue XV

There are Two Americas

Red and Blue America are Worlds Apart

The 'other' weekly news magazine asks why we're still fighting the Civil War. THYME asks why the media ignores the real rift in America today. Dennis Prager [click to read] in Jewish World Review has the story that matters.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Joy in the Journey

The Art and Skill of Creating More Moments of Joy

hayley_mills-------Hayley Mills played 'Pollyanna.'

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin writes on the art of living in the here and now His Article [click to read] in Jewish World Review will inspire you to make the most of every day.

"Here is the way to achieve lives of joy, courage, love and serenity is to live in the moment, to see the wonders of the present, to feel gratitude for what is happening right this minute. Right now we're writing our life stories, and we can choose how the script will read." -- Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

Many of us remember the movie 'Pollyanna' with Hayley Mills. While the theme may have been overstated in the story it is aa good one to remember nonetheless. Many of us have dealt with the depressed economy and underemployment -- even unemployment. It is a good thing to remember that the condition of our spirit does not depend directly upon the fulfillment of our physical well-being.

The Almighty Isn't Doing too Well

Dennis Prager [click to read] has some insight into that in Jewish World Review. This is a brilliant column!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

thyme0314 Volume III, Issue XIV

An Energy Policy for the 21st Century

The 'other' weekly news magazine has discovered shale fracturing. They admit that the technology could supply our energy needs for a hundred years. They are quick to ask though if it can be done 'safely.'

There is risk in every technology man has ever employed. Innovation has been employed to reduce those risks and mankind has benefited from the advances.

America is at a crossroads. We can allow 'green' technology to push us towards higher unemployment and eventual disaster or we can take a new role in world leadership. We can show the world how to use and manage resources by using and managing our own. There is no one 'magic' solution to our energy needs. Instead, there are many good ways to power our society.

Just because it comes out of the ground does not make a source 'bad.' Just because it has solar panels and batteries does not make it automatically 'good.' Battery arrays are horribly environmentally unfriendly to manufacture.

Efficient technologies using petroleum might be the right solution in many cases. Simply designing cars that last longer would have a very positive environmental inmpact.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Robert E. Lee's Faithful Horse

Traveller is Buried Outside Lee Chapel

IMG_2550 When Robert E. Lee became president of Washington College in Lexington his beloved horse, Traveller, lived in a stable adjoining his house. Today Traveller's monument is just outside the Lee Family crypt in Lexington.

IMG_2554 Virginia Military Institute cadets march past Lee Chapel in Lexington, Virginia.