January

With a year-end total of nearly 69 inches of rain, the Northern Piedmont Research Center reports that 2018 was the wettest year in its 77 years of record-keeping.  

The board of supervisors approves $220,000 worth of renovations to the former Orange County Rescue Squad station on Berry Hill Road, with the goal of getting a rescue unit back in Orange as soon as possible.

Noah Smith, 20, of Unionville is released on bond after his arrest on Dec. 23 following a crash in Rhoadesville that left a woman dead and four others injured. Smith is charged with vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence.

The county begins construction of a $12.2 million public safety facility on Bloomsbury Road, near the Orange County Airport. Completion is slated for September of 2020.

February

For the second time in less than a week, a pedestrian is killed by a vehicle on Route 3 in eastern Orange County. No charges are issued in either case.

Orange County High School celebrates Standards of Learning scores from the fall semester. Results show county students earned their highest marks on the state-mandated exams in five years.

Orange Town Council considers a budget of $8.2 million for the upcoming fiscal year that will involve no increases in taxes or fees.

Ngawang Tashi Bapu, a Tibetan Buddhist lama, launches a series of discussions in Orange, organized by the lama’s local friends, Lyle Sanford and Karla Baer.

Joshua Vaughn Miller, 37, of Unionville pleads guilty in Orange County Circuit Court to operating a marijuana business out of his home.

The Orange County High School wrestling team ties for eighth place at the Virginia High School League Class 5 State Championship in Fairfax, with Hornet star Chance Bowers falling just short of a state title and finishing his senior season with a 38-4 record.

The seven Hornet wrestlers—led by Chance Bower’s second-place finish--totaled 65 team points among more than 50 teams participating.

The county announces plans for single-stream recycling at collection centers across the county.

March

Horton Vineyards’ 2016 Petit Manseng, a white wine, wins the Virginia Governor’s Cup competition among state wineries.

Don Waugh, founder of Waugh Enterprises, the highly successful Harley-Davidson dealership on Route 20, dies at age 85. Waugh was known across the state and beyond for his stewardship of the shop, now under new ownership as Stonewall Harley-Davidson, and celebrated locally for his support of community endeavors, including the Orange County Children’s Toy Box.

Orange County Public Schools respond to increased instances of trauma among students by introducing calming techniques in elementary classrooms and hiring specialists to advise teachers on ways to minimize disruptions during class.

The Town of Orange begins finalizing plans for phase one of the town’s Main Street enhancement program, designed to enhance the appearance of the downtown area.

Ronald E. Snead, 63, dies after being struck by a train near the May-Fray Avenue and Barbour Street intersection in Orange.

The Orange County Board of Supervisors votes down a proposed restriction on large-truck traffic on Route 615 (Rapidan Road) after numerous complaints from residents describing close calls with speeding trucks.

Orange County High School dedicates the new Sizemore Fitness Center, named in honor of legendary OCHS coach Paul Sizemore, and pays tribute to the late Judy Carter, a school board member who championed the project.

The Virginia Department of Transportation recommends construction of a $5.5 million roundabout at the intersection of U.S. Route 33 and Route 20.

April

The county proposes a consolidated $106 million budget for fiscal year 2020, with no tax increases.

Guy Christopher Wilde, 50, of Orange County pleads guilty to involuntary manslaughter and a hit-and-run charge, both felonies, in the death of a jogger in Greene County.

The Dolley Madison Garden Club’s centennial garden tour attracts 1,500 visitors on a beautiful sunny Saturday.

May

The Four County Players hold a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the official start to a construction project called “Build a Backstage.”

The Center for Natural Capital, a non-profit conservation enterprise based in Orange, announces plans to move its operation to the old mill in Rapidan.

For the second year in a row, Orange County Public Schools teachers and other employees receive a 3% raise.

Orange County dedicates the newly renovated fire and EMS Rescue Station 23 on Berry Hill Road.

Dominion Energy announces plans to shutter its Orange distribution district office on Route 15.

The Germanna Foundation opens the Hitt Archaeology Center next to the Germanna Visitor Center on Route 3 in eastern Orange County.

The county hires Lewis Foster as its first broadband program manager. Formerly of Georgia, Foster is charged with forming partnerships and winning grants that will bring affordable internet access to residents across the county.

Montpelier announces it is severing ties with the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, effective in November. The outcome of disagreements between TRF management in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and its local board of directors, the move means that 49 horses will need a new home.

June

Bradley Hanner, a 2017 graduate of Orange County High School, is drafted by the Minnesota Twins.

Blue Run Baptist Church in Barboursville celebrates its 250th anniversary.

The Orange County Planning Committee recommends to county supervisors that they adjust the definitions of “camping” and “campground” to accommodate the notion of “glamping,” upscale camping on private property.

The county mourns the death of Henry Lee Carter, 83, a longtime Orange attorney and leading member of the local Democratic Party.

After four years on the job, Orange County High School Principal Kelly Guempel resigns from his post to become principal of Spotsylvania High School.

The Orange Downtown Alliance hosts its 10th annual ribs and brews fest on Short Street in Orange.

The Orange County Fair enjoys big crowds and the best weather the fair has seen in nearly 20 years, according to Kaci Daniel, Orange County extension unit coordinator.

Orange County Parks and Rec staff and local officials celebrate the opening of the new disc golf course in Lee Industrial Park.

School board members vote themselves a raise of $2,000 per year and award Superintendent of Schools Dr. Cecil Snead a raise of $7,000 and a contract extension until 2023.

July

In the midst of his reelection campaign, Del. Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) learns that he neglected to file his candidacy paperwork on time and is therefore not eligible to be on the ballot in the 30th District, which includes Orange, Madison and part of Culpeper County. After several attempts to get his name on the ballot via appeals to the state election board, he launches a write-in campaign against Democratic candidate Ann F. Ridgeway of Madison County.  

After more than a dozen years, Four County Players bring “Shakespeare at the Ruins” back to the Barboursville Ruins, with a production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Montpelier announces that it is placing an additional 1,024 acres under conservation easement. The move brings the total land protected on the 2,700-acre property to 1,939 acres.

Orange County’s Darron Breeden places second in the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Contest, a national competition in Coney Island, N.Y.

County supervisors unanimously reject a revision to zoning definitions that would have allowed “glamping”—upscale campgrounds on private property.

Twenty-five young African leaders come to Montpelier to study the history of the U.S. Constitution as part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship Program, a national initiative.

Kat Imhoff, president and CEO of Montpelier for nearly seven years, announces she will step down in the fall.

August

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice pays $225,694 in back taxes to Orange County on multiple properties spanning 1,674 acres and valued at more than $8 million.

Joshua Miller pleads guilty to charges related to a marijuana operation that he and his wife ran at their home in Unionville and is sentenced to four and a half years of active time in prison.

Michael Alan Humphries II, 37, is found competent to stand trial for murdering Alistair C. Smith in a Locust Grove laundromat on Feb. 13, 2018.

The school board hires Wendell Green, an Albemarle teacher and football coach, as the new principal of Orange County High School. Green previously taught special education at OCHS.

The Orange County Education Foundation honors retired music teacher and local volunteer Judy Peterson at its annual “Celebration of Education” fundraiser.

Alonte Pernell, 25, of Locust Grove receives a 7-month jail sentence for his involvement in a bizarre case in which he chased an intruder from his home—a woman stabbing him in the head while he was asleep in bed—and shot her in the leg. He is given credit for time served and released.

Germanna Community College opens for fall classes with more than 6,700 students—a 9% increase over last year.

September

Election season goes into high gear. In local races, Orange defense attorney S. Page Higginbotham III challenges 16-year incumbent Orange County Commonwealth’s Attorney Diana Wheeler O’Connell, and Ellen Pitera announces a write-in campaign against District 3 supervisor Teel Goodwin.

The James Madison Museum of Orange County Heritage hosts an exhibit on the history of the American Silk Mills in Orange. The curator is Mary Knighton, a professor at a Japanese university whose family members had worked at the mill.

Rep. Abigail Spanberger holds a town hall in Locust Grove, one of a yearlong series of meetings with her constituents across the 7th District.

The Dolley Madison Quilters Guild celebrates its 30th anniversary with its biennial quilt show.

October

A mistrial is declared in the first-degree murder case of Michael Alan Humphries after his attorney, David Randall, is hospitalized. A new trial is scheduled for April of 2020.

The Orange Police Department marks the ninth year of its search for Samantha Clark, an Orange woman who vanished late on the night of Sept. 13, 2010.

Jennifer Bryington of JB Cakes in Unionville wins the Quad County Business Summit pitch competition and pockets a prize of $4,750 to help her expand her business.

Tammy Collins resigns as director of the Orange County Chamber of Commerce after 21 months on the job.

The Orange County Planning Commission recommends a denial of a Dollar General store in the Barboursville Village Overlay District. The proposed store, which was to be built at the intersection of routes 20 and 33, exceeded limits for size in the district.

November

Nick Freitas prevails in his write-in race against Ann Ridgeway, incumbent Bryce Reeves beats Amy Laufer in the state senate race and Teel Goodwin retains his seat in District 3. Incumbent Diana O’Connell tops Page Higginbotham by 28 votes in the race for commonwealth’s attorney, but Higginbotham requests a recount, leaving the outcome in suspension until Dec. 11, the day of the recount.

Unopposed school board members Jim Hopkins, Mike Jones and Sherrie Page and supervisors Lee Frame and Jim White are all re-elected, as are unopposed constitutional officers Sheriff Mark Amos, Commissioner of the Revenue Renee Pope and Treasurer Dawn Watson.

Two weeks after his re-election to the general assembly, Nick Freitas announces he is running for Congress.

The iconic Gordonsville Tastee Freez, in business since the 1950s, closes after the managers learn that the owners intend to sell the property.

Montpelier hosts the 85th running of the Montpelier Hunt Races with more than 15,000 spectators in attendance.

In light of a denial from the planning commission, giving a thumbs-down to a Dollar General at the intersection of routes 20 and 33, a Tennessee developer withdraws his rezoning and special-use permit application from the county supervisors’ agenda.

Roy C. Mayberry,46, of Stafford County is sentenced to 40 years in prison, with all but six years suspended, for embezzling funds from the Lake of the Woods Association and related money-laundering charges.

OCHS star running back Jaylen Alexander completes football season by breaking the school’s rushing record with more than 5,000 yards.

December

A recount confirms that Commonwealth’s Attorney Diana Wheeler O’Connell will retain her seat. Although the tally of provisional ballots had reduced her margin of victory to 27 votes, the number bounces back to 28 after the recount.

Mandy Rae Walker, 30, pleads guilty to16 felony charges involving sexually abuse of a 13-year-old boy. Sentencing is scheduled for March 23, 2020.

Laura Thompson, 62, longtime director of The Arts Center In Orange, dies at a Richmond hospital after being diagnosed with cancer earlier in the year.

County supervisors adopt a resolution declaring Orange County a “Second Amendment sanctuary,” after hearing from numerous gun-rights advocates. Two weeks later, they hear from gun-safety advocates decrying the resolution as well as others thanking them for the resolution.

Ulysses Percy “Pete” Joyner, 87, attorney and retired clerk of the Circuit Court of Orange County, dies at his home in Orange. In addition to serving as clerk, Joyner was the first county attorney for Orange County and worked as the attorney for the towns of Orange and Gordonsville. He also was a historian and author of books about Orange County history.

Gordonsville Police Chief Clayton Corbin announces his resignation due to health reasons.

Volunteers for the Orange County Toy Box deliver toys to more than 500 children in need. In addition to toys provided by local residents and books donated by the MPS Book Distribution Center, the Toy Box receives $27,000 in cash—all spent on toys, clothes and essentials for county children.

County supervisors terminate County Administrator Bryan David’s employment contract. The termination agreement allows David to leave his position on Jan. 17 and collect his full salary and benefits for 11 months after that.

A new locally run organization, the Virginia Thoroughbred Project, takes over the off-the track horse sanctuary at Montpelier previously run by the Retired Thoroughbred Foundation.

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