Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Fighting For Our Way of Life, Fighting For Our Community!

When Serve Our Willing Warriors founders, John and Shirley Dominick, chose the location for the Bull Run Warrior Retreat they knew that they had zeroed in on a little piece of heaven. Situated in The Rural Crescent of Prince William County, the property offered up a peaceful haven of 37 acres with a view of the beautiful Bull Mountain range. Not only was the location less than an hour drive from the two hospitals of Walter Reed at Bethesda and Fort Belvoir, but it was surrounded by the beautiful scenery of Virginia Hunt Country and encircled by the "perfect neighbors":  The Boy Scouts (at nearby Camp Snyder), The Winery at La Grange, The Rainbow Center for 4-H Therapeutic Riding, Silver Lake Regional Park, the Bull Run Conservancy, plus the historic Antioch Baptist Church and Chapman's Mill.

John and Shirley had found a place where Warriors and Their Families could come and experience the beauty of nature coupled with access to an incredible mix of activities and sights within a five mile radius.
It was THE perfect place.  

It still is. 

But . . .

There is a threat looming on the horizon for the retreat and all our wonderful neighbors. Dominion Power has plans to install 100-foot high power lines throughout our area. One of the proposed routes runs along Antioch and Waterfall roads right to the Bull Run Warrior Retreat and throughout the properties alongside it.  There may even be the possibility of towers ON the retreat property.

If you have not yet heard about the proposed plan to construct miles of new power lines through the area, we hope you will take some time to educate yourself about this threat to the beauty and serenity
of this area. A grassroots organization has formed called The Coalition to Protect Prince William County (protectpwc.org) and SOWW has joined their ranks to work with our local and state representatives to prevent the power lines from being built along historic, scenic, rural and residential roads. The coalition is requesting that the power lines be routed along Interstate 66 as the alternative to cutting down trees to run the lines through neighborhoods, small farms and historic sites. The impact of placing the towers on our Rural Crescent roads will be enormous for many of the residents, businesses, livestock and wildlife in the area.

When Dominion Power representatives created the proposal mapping for this power line, they simply 'didn't see the forest for the trees'. That is to say, they just didn't see what was really behind all the trees lining Antioch and Waterfall Roads.

We would like to share some of the hidden gems, organizations, people and businesses that are residing just behind our privacy-affording tree cover.  Allow us to take you along a mere four mile stretch of roads; from the junction of Antioch Road and Hwy 55 to the Bull Run Warrior Retreat to illustrate "who and what" would be impacted by the proposed "New Alternative" route for the 100-foot high towers.
The List of "Those at Risk"
N0. 1
The Boy Scouts + Their Campground

As soon as you turn onto Antioch Road and cross the I66 overpass, you are driving alongside Camp Willam B. Snyder -- a 325 acre Boy Scout campground. But it could be easy to overlook Camp Snyder from the roadside if you don't spot the entrance. This is due to all the trees lining the road that give privacy to the rest of the campground.

N0.2 + N0.3
The Rainbow Center for 4-H Therapeutic Riding + Silver Lake Regional Park

These two special neighbors are right across the road from Camp Snyder and also hidden behind a deep line of trees.  But the power lines are much higher than the trees and it is likely many trees will be removed to install the towers.

After you drive (slowly please) past the therapeutic equestrian school, Rainbow Center, you arrive at the beautiful Silver Lake Regional Park -- a 230 acre home to fishing, hiking, boating, picnicking and exquisite scenery.

The proposed power lines would be seen just above and behind the line of trees on the far side of the lake if they are installed alongside Antioch Road.

N0.4 + N0.5
The Small Farm Lifestyle + Livestock

Continuing down Antioch Road, we see small homes and, of course, more trees.  But what you can't see is what is in the backyards along this road in The Rural Crescent.  It is only when you  drive behind the trees that you will see the livestock and the small-farm lifestyle the foliage shields and protects. In addition to the livestock, we are blessed with a great deal of wildlife living in the treed areas.

The Access Roads to Historic Sites and Areas of Natural Beauty

How could the representatives from Dominion Power know that one of the little roads right off Antioch is the back entrance to the historic Chapman's Mill and The Bull Run Conservancy?  Somehow, marring the short drive down a dirt country road to such beautiful sites with towering power lines seems very wrong!

But let's get back onto Antioch Road. 

The Winery at La Grange

Next we pass more small farms, a neighborhood of 10 acre parcels and arrive at the entrance to  The Winery at La Grange! The local community was thrilled that the winery's proprietors took such care with the local history when they purchased the La Grange estate for their vineyards. They restored the beautiful circa 1790 manor house on the property and gave Prince William County its very first winery.

The Winery at La Grange has become a wonderful place for wedding receptions and special events year-round. Somehow, it is hard to imagine tall power lines running alongside this enchanting environment. (We believe that visionary businesses, like The Winery at La Grange, should be rewarded for investing into and improving a local community. They certainly should not find themselves in a situation where their business and property is suddenly and thoughtlessly impacted in a negative and unnecessary way.)

Large Farms (+ The Scenic Beauty)

Just past The Winery at La Grange, Antioch Road ends in a 'T' as it meets Waterfall Road. The edge of a large farm sits at the corner of this junction and serves as the grazing pasture for horses. Usually one or two horses trot over to greet you if you happen to be out on a walk. This lovely corner epitomizes the rural, idyllic setting we are blessed to live in as Haymarket residents in The Rural Crescent.

But this hardworking farm isn't the only sight to see at this particular spot.

Historic Sites + Sacred Sites

The historic Antioch Baptist Church + cemetery sit right alongside this corner pasture.  The Antioch Baptist congregation formed in 1837 and the present church building was constructed in 1901. The church is still in use and its members have unanimously signed a petition against allowing the power lines to cross through their property and this area.

I must also mention that this little stretch of Haymarket was a strategic avenue in the Civil War known as Hopewell Gap.  It is a designated Civil War Trail.  (It probably will feel a little less historic if it has 100-foot high power lines hovering over it.)

N0. 10
The Bull Run Warrior Retreat for Wounded, Ill and Injured Warriors + Their Families

Less than a mile further down the road is The Bull Run Warrior Retreat, founded by Serve Our Willing Warriors and supported by our community at large.  This is the "home away from home" we are creating for our Warriors + Their Families here in God's Country. It has already become a gathering place for members of our community to come and 'give back' in a tangible way to our beloved military veterans.

As I stated before -- the location of this property was everything that anyone could ask for to build a retreat! Not only could we offer our Warrior Families a quiet, scenic property for a respite away from the hospital environments; we could offer them a community filled with wonderful people and wonderful places that offered family and individual activities such as fishing, hiking, riding, picnicking, swimming, etc.  All of it is just outside our very own yard; all of it lying within a four-five mile radius. It is perfect. We intend to keep it that way.

Please help us protect this area!

We beg you to help us fight this battle to prevent the installation of unsightly, unnecessary, out-of-place, 100-foot high power lines that will devalue and detract from the natural, historic and spiritual vicinity of this Warrior retreat + the homes, farms, businesses, and lifestyles of our wonderful neighbors.

Please visit ProtectPWC.org.  

Get informed.  
 Take action.  
Fight the good fight.
Serve Our Willing Warriors will be on the front lines.  
 After all, we learned about fighting battles and overcoming great odds from the very best:  
Our Willing Warriors!

Members from Serve Our Willing Warriors (circled in yellow below) at the recent  Coalition to
Protect Prince William County Town Hall meeting held at Battlefield High School on January 12.  
It was standing room only and the meeting lasted from 7-10 PM.

Many local residents voiced their fears, their outrage and shared sobering facts about the negative impacts of the possible pathways of the proposed power lines. We heard from a broad spectrum of folks that included concerned doctors (worried about the EMFs affecting the health of the residents) to local beekeepers (worried about bee colony collapse) to homeowners faced with the terrible possibility of power lines straddling their property.  

The evening was incredibly informative and inspiring.

We are so grateful to everyone who came and to The Coalition to Protect Prince William County for making it happen.  God Bless Us Everyone!

Please forward this post and create more awareness! 
Thank you!