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Rubberneck Tour to take place Sunday

October 13, 2011
Times Leader

The 39th Annual Belmont County Drive-It-Yourself Rubberneck Tour is to take place this Sunday, Oct. 16, from 12:30 to 5 p.m.

Chef Mark Glass from The Bethesda Market will be grilling burgers at the Township Building, and the Ohio Valley Cattlemen's Association will be selling steak sandwiches and burgers at Stop #4.

There will be portable restrooms available at stops 2, 3, 4 and 5.

Stop 1 - The Captina Preserve

The Captina Preserve Ltd. provides a family getaway for its owners. The log cabin came from New Philadelphia, Ohio and is an original log cabin from the pre-Ohio and Erie Canal era (1830s). The owners brush hog the valley in the back in stages to provide a variety of natural plant growth. The old mill that was sitting on the site of the barn was too dry-rotted and dangerous to fix, so they had the barn constructed to match the architecture of the mill. The newly formed Captina Conservancy will provide information on how to protect and preserve land for future generations. Kraig McPeek, US Fish & Wildlife Service, and John Navarro, Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife, will provide information on programs that are available to protect streams, fish and wildlife and educational displays. Kelly Capuzzi, Ohio EPA, will conduct a fish shocking demonstration in the creek at 2 p.m. The new Captina Watershed Coordinator will have information on the Captina Watershed and hands-on displays about watersheds.

Stop 2 - The Township Building

The Wayne Township building stands at the intersection of State Route 26, County Rd. 92, and Twp. Rd. 41 in New Castle, Ohio. It has served as an anchor in this rural community. The present building is around 35 years old.

Wayne Township is home to nearly 700 residents. Wayne Township Trustees are charged with maintaining approximately 52 miles of township roads. Trustees are Bill Davis, Rick Hagan, and Rusty Winland. Road foreman is Tom Winland. The Wayne Township Trustees will be offering soup beans, cornbread, and other items to the public during the Rubberneck Tour. Also, The Belmont County Farm Bureau will have an informational display.

Stop 3A - The Ravine

It was "The Raven Rocks" that first attracted nineteen mostly young folks, their average age being 25, with little in the way of financial resources, to the ambitious project of purchasing the Raven Rocks property. They felt that the dramatic ravines, streams, rock formations and woodlands deserved protection and long-term preservation. Raven Rocks, Inc., was organized in 1970 to accomplish this goal by raising and selling Christmas trees with donated labor, which turned into a 40 year project (now completed).

For generations, Raven Rocks has been a favorite place for hikes and outings. "The Raven Rocks," as old-timers called the largest and most accessible of its dramatic ravines and rock formations, have been the chief attraction. That seems to have been true at least as far back as the year 760 A.D., when, according to Kent State University archaeologists, Indians began a 200-year period of regular use of the Raven Rocks for what appears to have been ceremonial purposes.

Who visited the ravine, and for what purpose over the next thousand years, one can only guess. But we do know that for many years, as Elsa Harper has described in her book An Enchanted Childhood at Raven Rocks, which focuses on the early years of this century, Raven Rocks was the favorite place for people from miles around to gather on Sunday aft ernoons. It was their custom to go to church prepared with picnic lunches, and head for the ravines when the services were over. In good weather the parking area above the Raven Rocks was busy with their horses and buggies.

Since 1970, Raven Rocks, Inc., has added important watershed areas around the borders of the original property, raising the total acreage at this time to 1,260. There remain additional acres that should be added if the preservation intent is to be fully realized and is to work well. Some of these include parts of ravine formations themselves, while others are important as watershed.

Stop 3B - The Sidwell House

The earth-sheltered home of Richard and Mary Sidwell, built in 1987, is a two story, passive-solar-heated house, with attached two-story greenhouse. This home has dramatic views of wooded hills from its second story windows. The second floor and roof are made of pre-cast concrete planks, called Flexicore. The use of Flexicore provides economies of time and materials, along with exceptional fire resistance.

The unusual windows are Duraco units combining exceptionally insulating vinyl frames manufactured in Canada, and triple-pane glazing. They can be "popped out" quickly, which allows easy replacement of new units. An energy recovery system that utilizes heat pump principles extracts the heat from the air being exhausted from the house and uses it to heat water.

Stop 4A - Locust Hill

The Locust Hill project, which began as an effort to get environmentally sound housing on Raven Rocks, has grown over the years to include wind and solar energy, organic gardening, composting toilets and other innovative technologies.

It was a large project for the household of six to undertake, and as time has passed

our numbers have dwindled to one and progress has slowed. Th e recent death

of Warren Stetzel, one of our household and the inspiration behind the Raven

Rocks project, and Architect Malcolm Wells, has saddened us all. We hope to get

additional help and resume progress.

4B The Windmill & Photovoltaics

Th is 10 kW Bergey wind machine has been running since 1991 when it was installed

during the fi rst Gulf War. It was originally tied to South Central Power's grid, but its

automatic shut off device designed to protect utility workers became over active. It

now feeds power to an 1100 amp hour battery bank that can hold up to 100 kWh of

usable electricity. An automatic switching device allows use of grid power when the

wind is insuffi cient. Th e tilt down tower design permits maintenance, which is rare,

without climbing the tower. It nicely supplements the PV array, as winters tend to be

windy and cloudy, while summers tend to be calm and sunny.

Th e large 12' x 16' PV array just installed on top the 40' tower represents an improvement

over the original ground mounted fi xed array. Not only does it track the sun from

morning to night, and adjust for the altitude of the sun, but it is high enough that we

won't have to cut down trees to avoid shading. By tracking the sun, we get 40% more

energy in the summer time, and up to 10 kWh on a sunny day, enough to power a

normal energy effi cient house. Plans call for the installation of three more towers in

the coming years, enough to power our walk-in freezer for our organic grassfed beef,

pump water from the pond for cattle, and perhaps even power an electric car.

4C The Energy Efficient Wall Display

Th is mobile energy effi ciency display was developed on behalf of the 24

electric cooperatives that serve Ohio. Th e display demonstrates ways to save

energy and to save money. Some highlights include: insulation; exterior

house wall; outlet switch gaskets and plumbing penetrations; weatherization

products; thermostats; windows; foundation rim sealing; and more.

Th e Energy Effi cient Wall Display will be staff ed by employees of South Central

Power Company, Belmont County's local electric cooperative. South Central

Power Company serves nearly 115,000 residential, commercial, and industrial

customers in 24 Ohio Counties.

4D Organic Grassfed Beef & Mobile Chicken House

Raven Rocks certifi ed organic grassfed beef herd is moved daily to fresh pasture,

enhancing health and growth rate in the herd as well as stimulating new plant

growth and soil biological activity. Our interest in the shared benefi ts of having

cattle and chickens in the same pasture has led us to build a hen house that is

moved with the cattle. Th e nutritional benefi ts of food from pastured, grassfed

animals are superior to that of confi ned grain fed animals.

5A The Rockwell House

John and Wanda Rockwell's house was built by Amburg Danford in 1892

and was occupied by generations without running water and heated only

with fi replaces before standing vacant for a number of years. Th e house was

part of the Raven Rocks purchase in 1970, and Rockwell's began a thorough

renovation in 1976. Inspired by the concept of "super-insulation," architect

Malcolm Wells designed solar features, and earth sheltering for an attached

woodworking shop. John and Wanda's family moved into the cozy woodheated

home with a Clivus Multrum composting toilet in 1981. They have been refining the house ever since, and in 2007 began the addition to complete the fi nal phase. Th e work was interrupted by longwall coal-mining subsidence in 2009 which left the house tilted conspicuously. Extensive repairs this year have straightened the house, which you can tour and see solar collectors for heating water, solar space heating, Window Quilts, an effi cient ductless heat pump for a bedroom over the garage, and more.

5B The Organic Garden

Th is organic Biointensive garden uses the techniques developed by Alan

Chadwick and promoted by John Jeavons and Ecology Action. Th e four feet

wide beds are initially double dug to a depth of 18" to 24" to loosen and aerate

the soil. Subsequent seasons the top 10" are loosened and compost is added

and dug in. Plantings are close together, which provides for ground cover,

holds moisture and reduces weeds. Th e mini-climate and resulting microbial

action creates healthy soil which in turn yields healthy plants resistant to many

insects. Yields per square foot are very high and vegetable fl avor is good. Each

year the soil gets better! We walk on the paths of sawdust or chips, not on the


The OSU Belmont/Monroe Master Gardeners will be at Th e Organic Garden. Th e master gardeners have been very busy with helping communities develop and maintain community gardens. They will have a display and educational fact sheets to distribute. Bring your home yard and garden questions for them to answer.



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