BCA: Serving Bluemont in Many Ways
January 6, 2009
By Susan Freis Falknor
“People sometimes worry that they are too busy to participate,” comments Patti Pettit, President of the Bluemont Citizens Association (BCA). “But in order to live a rich and full life, choose to volunteer and become involved in your community.”
To find out what’s going on in Bluemont, to propose a civic project, to get buy-in for a pet project, to make an announcement, or to meet and work with some of the most capable people in local affairs, consider attending a BCA meeting.
Initiated in 1955, BCA is structured like a community association, dedicated to the betterment of the Bluemont area. It is a 501(c) 4 organization that serves residents of the Bluemont zip code (20135 in Loudoun and Clarke counties) or with a 540-554-xxxx telephone number. The meetings are held the first Wednesday of the month at 7:30 p.m. (for example, February 4, March 4, April 1, May 6, etc.), and all are welcome to attend. Although Bluemont Community Center classes have temporarily moved to Round Hill as the center’s 1920s-era home base undergoes extensive renovations, BCA will continue to meet at the Bluemont Community Center (at 33846 Snickersville Turnpike) until actual construction begins later this year.
The organization plays many roles.
- BCA is the rock that supports the remarkable production of the Bluemont Fair, held annually during the third weekend in September. The all-volunteer-organized fair began in 1970 and generates funding for all BCA projects. The Fair Committee, now under the leadership of Jan Richardson, hammers out all the many details involved with the event and makes progress reports at the monthly BCA meetings.
- Proceeds from the fair fund Bluemont’s modest but essential infrastructure, including sidewalks and streetlights, since, as an unincorporated area, Bluemont collects no municipal taxes.
- Partnering with Loudoun County, BCA has obtained several grants, mostly public funding, to preserve the historic E. E. Lake Store. The county holds the property title while BCA’s Lake Store Committee, led by Anne Plaster, plays a managerial role, for example, keeping the lawn mowed, rotating the displays in the plate glass windows. The committee is currently working with Loudoun County to get a water/septic and heat/air conditioning system installed so the building may be used regularly for public functions.
- At the suggestion of then-resident Robert Hoffman, and with the assistance of Evelyn Porterfield Johnson, BCA privately printed and now markets copies of From Snickersville to Bluemont: The Biography and History of a Virginia Village. This updated version of Jean Herron Smith’s 1970s original, Snickersville: The Biography of a Village, is available for $25.00 at the Bluemont General Store; the Balch Library in Leesburg; and Very Virginia, 109 S. King Street, Leesburg.
- When the Bluemont United Methodist Church organized a work day, including many volunteers and a contractor donating his time, to re-roof the home of a local family, BCA helped out with volunteers and a contribution.
- BCA has taken formal positions on issues of general concern; for example, petitioning the Loudoun Zoning Board to waive a requirement that would have forced the Village Montessori School (then preparing to open), to install a broad asphalt walkway all along the front of its property. This requirement would have sacrificed several mature trees and the old stone walls.
- BCA regular Henry Plaster (also active with the Snickersville Turnpike Association) plays an essential role as watchdog and advocate with the Virginia Department of Transportation (V-DOT) for Bluemont road maintenance.
- Jen Stone manages the Bluemont neighborhood email list. To be included on the list, email email@example.com.
- At the suggestion of Bluemonter Jen Stone, BCA established and updates the events sign in front of the Bluemont Community Center.
- BCA also organizes local road trash cleanup under the auspices of Keep Loudoun Beautiful (KLB) every April, an effort that Patti Pettit has for years led locally.
- BCA purchases the bedding plants that a group plants in the village flower barrels in May, refreshing them with fall chrysanthemums just in time for the Bluemont Fair.
- BCA sponsors community forums, such as one with the zoning commission in 2005 on the proposal to require a large board fence around Butch Nielson’s commercial property in the village; and another meeting on Lyme disease prevention with Dr. David Goodfriend of the Loudoun County Health Department in 2008.
- It is BCA regulars who light up the enormous village Christmas tree each December next to the Bluemont General Store.
- The monthly BCA meeting is a good place to go to gain support for an idea. When Eagle Scout Vincent Herrington came up with a project in 2006 to build a picket fence to divide the Community Center playground from the parking areas, BCA chipped in. Friends of Bluemont originally formed as an offshoot of BCA, first organized by Evelyn Johnson to preserve the Snickersville Academy.
BCA supports neighbors in need of assistance: providing Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners as well as Christmas presents for needy local families; making food bank donations; supporting the Volunteer Fire Department; donating two chairs at the Franklin Park Arts Center; contributing to alcohol-free “After Prom” and “After Grad” celebrations for high school seniors; and responding to special needs at the Community Center. The association also awards scholarships to graduating seniors who have performed community service in the Bluemont area – over $10,000.00 in total over three decades, estimates Patti Pettit.
The regular BCA gathering is a forum for announcements about local events and developments: upcoming Community Center classes, its annual Easter egg hunt, the Snickersville Turnpike Association’s Walk/Bike the Pike event in October; progress on a project such as the privately-funded “Welcome to Bluemont” sign erected on Clayton Hall Road in 2008, Friends of Bluemont’s annual “Art in the Foothills” spring show; homemade-soup-and-music nights at Bears Den Hostel; and ad-hoc fundraising events organized in response to an urgent need, such as “Patty’s Picnic” in 2005. The monthly BCA meeting is an excellent spot to learn about new stores opening or changing hands in Bluemont; the progress of V-DOT’s work on (for example) the Hibbs Bridge, 8 miles down Snickersville Turnpike; Rosemary Stanger’s reconstruction of the W&OD train station on Railroad Street; and much more.
“Attend a meeting,” says Patti Pettit. “Get involved. Be a role model of good citizenship for your children. Exercise your responsibility as a citizen, lead by example and volunteer your time and energy within your local community.”
Officers of the Bluemont Citizens Association
Anne Plaster, Secretary; Kim Labash, Vice President; Patti Pettit, President; George Sweet, Treasurer