Highlights of the Botetourt Area

By Summer Williamson and Adaline Bisese

Nestled between the cities of Roanoke and Lexington lies the quaint community of Botetourt County. On the surface it may seem as though this county has nothing entertaining to offer, but this is simply not true. It takes a local to know where to find pearls among the curvy backwood roads and sprawling forests. Here, we will give you a brief tour of this beautiful Blue Ridge county that includes several calendar events, recreational activities, and places to eat.

Botetourt hosts quite a few annual events each season. The town of Buchanan serves as Botetourt’s hub for festivals. Every year the Buchanan Garden Festival kicks off the season of spring, followed by the Carnival during the 4th of July, and Mountain Magic in the Fall. In the winter, both Buchanan and Fincastle host a Christmas parade which features the locals and commemorates their services. Each season hosts its own variety of activities.

Along with these events is the Botetourt Open Studios which are held every year in October. They allow people to view local artists’ studios and purchase artwork. Hundreds of people set aside their Saturday and Sunday for this tour around Botetourt. Artists include Dreama Kattenbraker, Vera Dickerson, Mark Woodie, Linda Atkinson, Edward Bordett, and many others including guest artists Lois Bisese, Claudia de Franko, Mary Anne Meador, and more. In addition to these artists, Botetourt Open Studios showcases the talent of high school art students from both Lord Botetourt High School and James River High School. Student art can be purchased on the tour, and a portion of the proceeds are donated to the League for Animal Protection Services, a local no-kill shelter. For more information on future tours, visit the Open Studios website here.

Aside from festivals, the town of Buchanan offers a bountiful array of antique shops, an Amish furniture shop, and an art gallery all delivered with a historic appeal. If you’re looking for a meal served with a retro vibe to go with all your antique shopping, then we suggest the Fountain and Grill Restaurant which specializes in sandwiches. The town is positioned directly beside the James River and has a public boat ramp which is immediately next to Twin River Outfitters, a local business that provides kayak and raft rentals and a shuttle service. If you opt to float along the James. there are multiple trips worth venturing. I am biased, but I suggest starting in Buchanan, paddling under the Swinging Bridge, past some baby rapids, and ending at Arcadia. If you’re still hankering for something to do, then swing by the Buchanan Theatre for a cost-friendly movie in a traditional theater.

There are many recreational things to do just a few miles outside of Buchanan. A couple minutes along the Blue Ridge Parkway (connected by Route 43 at the turn right near the Burger King and Stop In) is the Peaks of Otter Lodge and Restaurant, located between three mountains. Here there are a variety of activities within walking distance. The Peaks of Otter Lodge is right next to Sharp Top Mountain, Flat Top Mountain, and Harking Hill. For those looking for a more challenging hike, Sharp Top Mountain is a 1.5 mile, nearly vertical climb up the scenic mountainside to the peak. The Peaks of Otter Lodge and surrounding areas are visible for miles at the top of this trail. The second mountain making up the Peaks of Otter is Flat Top Mountain. This trail is longer than Sharp Top Mountain at 4.8 miles, but it is an easier and less strenuous hike. The final trail included in the Peaks of Otter is Harking Hill. Unlike the other trails, Harking Hill is a 3.1 mile leisurely walk. It is great for those working towards Sharp Top Mountain and Flat Top Mountain, or those looking for a quiet afternoon walk. If you’re not in the area for a hike, the Peaks of Otter Lodge and Restaurant is open to the public.

Further along the parkway is the National Jefferson & Washington Forest surrounding the area of Arcadia. While some consider this to be the middle of nowhere, this peaceful region offers many areas for fishing, hunting, hiking, and swimming. The Appalachian Trail is accessible from Jennings Creek Road which follows a serene creek which has some hidden picturesque waterfalls and swimming holes. At the end of North Creek Road are the trails Apple Orchard Falls and Cornelius Creek Loop. If you are looking for somewhere to eat after a day of being outside, the Foot of the Mountain Restaurant has an excellent menu.

For people looking to stay longer, there are the friendly and nearby options of the Watstull Inn, Camp Bethel, Middle Creek Campground and North Creek Campground. Camp Bethel is located off of Lithia Road, also known as the popular Bicycle Route 76. Summer camps are offered part of the year as well as yoga retreats and periodic dances. The camp is great for people of all ages, and it even has hiking trails around the campground. Another campground is the friendly and family owned Middlecreek Campground which is located in the Jefferson National Forest. It offers a pool, home cooked food, as well as two ponds for fishing and swimming, all right by the Appalachian Trail. There are open spots for your camper, caravan, or motorhome for three seasons. Due to its proximity to the national forest, many hiking trails are within walking distance from the camp including the Peaks of Otter, which is only a few miles away.

Botetourt also has several equestrian farms within its borders. Amethyst Acres Equine Center, Freedom Farms, and Stars and Stripes Farm are included. Freedom Farms is located on Lithia Road, in the same area as Camp Bethel. It offers equine therapy to veterans working with PTSD, injury, and other service related disabilities. Along with private therapy sessions, they also have periodic events open to all veterans and their families.

Down Route 11 heading towards Troutville, Fincastle, and Daleville is the Limestone community pool (a popular attraction during the summer), North Star Restaurant, Greenwood Restaurant, Good Times Cafe, and the Gathering Place Restaurant. Across the county is the quickly growing town of Daleville and Fincastle. The Daleville Town Center has recently gained popularity as an expanding hub for businesses and housing. Daleville has recently welcomed a YMCA to its list of businesses. The YMCA includes a pool, workout equipment, indoor track, and other activities. Monday, January 21st, 2019, Lord Botetourt will be hosting the first swim meet at the new facility with James River High School as one of their rivals. Apart from the new YMCA, there are the restaurants Tizzone Wood-Fired Kitchen and Wine Bar, Town Center Tap House, Rodeo Chico, and Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee. On Saturdays, a farmer’s market sells locally grown items from farmers in the area as well as locally made goods. The newly available amenities in the town of Daleville make it a great place to hang out during your free time.

Overall, Botetourt has many activities available to everyone: take a long float down the James River, dine in the Daleville Town Center, hike in lush forests at the Peaks of Otter, stay at a friendly campground, buy fresh produce from local farmers, and pick up some local artisan works along the way. Botetourt offers it all.

Berglund Center Ice Skating Review

By Elizabeth Rice

I was nervous to go ice skating at first, but the Berglund Civic Center made ice skating enjoyable. My friends and I went ice skating together last Sunday on January 5, 2019.

I thought the whole process of getting tickets and ice skates was smooth and successful. Luckily, by the time we got there, which was about 2:30, the line wasn’t long, so we were able to get the tickets pretty quickly.

The rental for ice skates line was longer, but the employees moved quickly and efficiently. It also helped that there were two lines. One of the line was for returning skates and one for receiving skates.

I thought the actual ice skating rink had room for a good amount of people to be able to skate around comfortably. However, most of my friends thought it was so crowded that they were worried of skating into someone.

It is important that the ice is safe to skate on, so I liked that there is a certain amount of time between skating when everyone clears the rink for a ice resurfacer to come through. This makes the ice clean and smooth, so there there is no worry rather the ice is safe to skate across.

The employees were nice and helpful. One employee that stood out to me was the employee that stood right outside of the rink’s entrance. She helped a girl to feel more safe by giving her a cone to skate with since there were no blue balancing walkers available at the time.

I was worried about falling, but there is a wall surrounding the rink to hold onto. They also had as I mentioned before seven blue walkers made for kids who needed help with balancing while ice skating.

I will say though that at one point I had to use the restroom, and it was difficult to find. I would recommend a sign directing people to the bathroom just like there were signs that directed people to the roller skater rink and the the line to rent skates.

There were not that many employees around the rink to ask for instruction, so I had to wait in the skate rental line just to ask an employee for instructions. I would also recommend more employees around the rink because the only employee I saw was the employee outside of the rink’s entrance.

I also wish the ice skating was open at more times. The only days that it is open are Sundays and Wednesdays which is the day of or before school or work for most people. A Friday evening or Saturday might fit around people’s schedules more. However I do realize The Berglund Center has other events than ice skating which might make the center’s schedule tight or difficult to make room for more ice skating.

Overall, The Berglund Center gives people a great way to spend time together. If you are looking for entertainment, I would recommend ice skating at the Berglund Center.

Try Ice Skating Out Yourself!

This was my view, but everyone views and experiences things differently. You can try it out yourself to get a personal experience!

Where: Berglund Center

When: January 9th  6:00pm - 9:00pm

January 13th  2:00pm - 5:00pm

January 16th  6:00pm - 9:00pm

January 20th  2:00pm - 5:00pm (Talecris Plasma Resources Night)

January 23rd  6:00pm - 9:00pm (90's theme - 18+)

February 10th  2:00pm - 5:00pm ("More than Pink" Valentine's Skate Day)

March 24th  2:00pm - 5:00pm

March 31st  2:00pm - 5:00pm


Theme Events:

Talecris Plasm Resources January 20th- Enjoy a night with Grifols (Talecris) Plasma Resources family and friends! Plan your afternoon of skating and learn how you can "be more with us!"

90's-Themed Adult Night January 23rd- 18 and over only! "What's the 411?" Put on your overalls and chokers and come skate on this "totally" awesome night! Alcohol will be served. Skate at your own risk.

"More than Pink" Valentine's Skate Day February 10th- Bring out your significant other for a pre-Valentine's Day celebration! Join Susan G. Komen Virginia Blue Ridge in helping end Breast Cancer forever! $2 for each skate rental will be donated to Susan G. Komen Virginia Blue Ridge to help fund local breast health services and innovative Breast Cancer research.

Price: Two dollars to rent skates and six dollars for admission

Link to tickets: http://theberglundcenter.com/792/Public-Ice-Skating-18-19

Address: 710 Williamson Road Roanoke, VA 24016

Phone Number: 540-853-2241

Where Do We Go From Here?

A Seniors Guide To Graduation and Choosing The Perfect Path

By Sydney Newcomb

May 22nd is going to be here before we know it. We have big decisions to make and some of us have even bigger moves to make. Being a senior we always get asked questions like “Where are you going next year?” or “What colleges are you thinking about?” and sometimes these questions get pretty overwhelming. How are we so sure we’re going to pick the right college for us? Here are some Steps to helping you find the perfect college:

Photo by Sydney Newcomb

Photo by Sydney Newcomb

1) Think about you first

You’re going to college for yourself, to get a good education, to have a good job, and so you can excel in the future. Don’t let anyone pressure you, not even your parents. Even if they are helping to pay for college, you still have say it’s fully you’re decision.

2) Do You Feel Comfortable?

You should definitely feel like you’re at home whenever you’re at college, if it doesn't feel that way it might not be for you. You might have dreamed of going somewhere your whole life but once you visit there you’re not in love, it might not be your dream college anymore. Can you see yourself being there for up to four years?

3) Make Sure You Give Yourself Options

Make sure you visit all colleges you’re thinking about so you get a feel for all of them. By visiting them you really get to know the environment and the way you’ll feel while you’re attending that college. When visiting colleges you have to look at things such as the size of the college, the dorms, the campus layout, the halls, everything!

4) Don’t Base Where You Want To Go On Where Your Friends Are Going

It always hard to leave your friends behind when you go to college, but basing one of the biggest decisions of your life based on them could greatly impact you, and not in the best way. You and your BFF don’t always agree on things right? So how could you possibly agree on the same college? Whether it’s your best friend or your boyfriend or girlfriend you still shouldn’t base your decision solely on their decisions. Make college your own, don’t follow in somebody else's footsteps.

5) Cost

Cost can definitely be a big issue in some cases, but if that’s the only thing holding you back from your dream college GO FOR IT! You can apply for scholarships and apply for financial aid which can help significantly. Even community colleges offer great scholarships like CCAP and Dabney Promise where you could attend those community colleges for up to three years for free! There are plenty of options that can help financially with college, so don’t let cost be the only thing holding you back.

6) Don’t Wish It All Away, Enjoy The Last Part Of High School

I know, college can be SUPER stressful. All these essays and applications we have to do, when is it ever going to end right? You’ll get there I promise, May 22nd is closer than you think. Don’t wish your time away while you’re here once you’re gone you’ll miss  it. Make the most out of every little moment you have left!


Is College right for me? College isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay! There are plenty other options, you can go straight into the workforce or Join the military. Only 34.4% of Americans don’t enroll in college after high school, whether that’s taking a gap year, going straight into the workforce, or the brave few that join the military. So how do you know if college isn’t for you?

  1. You’ve been in college for a couple years and still have no idea what you want to do.

  2. You feel like the only reason you’re going to college is for your parents.

  3. You already know what you want to do or already have a job lined up.

According to Cornerstone.edu, Georgetown did a study showing people who get a college degree earn around $1 million more than those who choose not to. It’s always worth a shot to go to school, even if its community college. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with going to community college! If you find that college really isn’t for you, that’s okay! Pursue whatever you feel like you have a strong career in and can make a living at.

Whatever you decide to do next year, just be confident in your own choice. Whether it’s college, the military, or you go straight into the workforce you’ll know once you get there if you made the right choice. You have family and friends behind you supporting you no matter what you decide to do!