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Ruritan deal falls apart in Culpeper

BY DONNIE JOHNSTON

The Culpeper Ruritan Club thought it had a Culpeper Day compromise worked out prior to Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting.

When the voting was done, however, club representative Billy Walter himself felt a bit compromised.

Walter said that through meetings with Councilman Dave Lochridge, whom the council had asked to negotiate the matter, he thought a compromise had been reached.

That agreement would have allowed closing of the 200 block of East Davis Street for the  Culpeper Day event in early May, but keep the 100 block of the busy avenue open.

And that was the motion Lochridge put on the floor. However, the council then accepted Bobby Ryan’s amendment (which Lochridge voted against) that would allow only half of the 200 block of Davis Street to be blocked off.

“That’s the way we do it for the Third Thursday Concerts,” Ryan said, adding that some merchants in the 200 block had complained about the street closing.

The council then passed the motion with the rider attached.

Since the late 1970s, all of Davis Street east of Main has been closed for the annual event, which is well attended. Proceeds from Culpeper Day are used to help fund Ruritan scholarships and other community projects.

Last night’s vote also blocks off Commerce Street near the Depot and gives the Ruritan Club the use of the farmers market parking lot, subject to approval by the town parking authority.

Is that enough space for the Culpeper Day event?

“We’ll have to make do,” Walter said after the meeting. “That’s not what I was told in my discussion, but I guess we’ll have to make do.”

Moments later, however, Walter said that his club might have “more to say” about the controversial issue in coming days.

In other action, the Town Council voted 8–0 to allow the Smokehouse to use a 24-  by 24-foot outdoor area between that Commerce Street restaurant and the Depot as a patio for patrons. The town will collect $90 a year during the five-year lease arrangement.

The council also named Chris Hively as its new assistant town manager. Hively’s current title is town operations manager, and he oversees the water and sewage treatment plant functions.

“The ‘operations manager’ title has created some confusion at conferences,” Human Resources Director Mary Murphy explained to the council. “‘Assistant town manager’ is a more recognized title.”

Mayor Chip Coleman stressed that Hively will not be getting a raise or be given added responsibilities.

He will, however, be available to take over should the town manager job suddenly become vacant.

Culpeper has had an assistant town manager position for more than a decade, but it has been vacant for about six years.

Donnie Johnston:

djohnston@freelancestar.com

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