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February 8, 2022 | Noon - 1:15 PM | JMU Icehouse - Room 117

The Wonders of Chocolate: A Brief History of Cacao and the Chocolate-making Process

Presenter:  Matt Sibley

Chocolatier, Matt Sibley, will discuss the history of the cacao plant, the historical and current use of cacao in Mexico and Latin America, along with a brief talk about the bean to bar process of making chocolate. Matt Sibley is a JMU alum (2011) who decided to make the valley his home after moving back to the area in 2015. He is a former Spanish teacher and medical interpreter who became a self-taught chocolatier along the way.

February 22, 2022 | Noon - 1:15 PM | JMU Icehouse - Room 117

Financial Planning

Presenter:  D. Clay Arthur, Jr.

Clay is a financial advisor who owns DCA Financial Group, LLC, a financial planning practice based in Strasburg, VA with satellite offices in both Winchester and Harrisonburg.  Clay began his career in 2000 as an apprentice at a financial planning firm in Columbia, SC. In 2003, he moved back to his hometown of Strasburg to lead the financial planning department at a local community bank. After his tenure there, Clay left to form DCA Financial Group, LLC in 2009, where he and his staff specialize in working with clients through comprehensive financial planning and investment planning and management. Clay is a graduate of the University of Virginia with both a Bachelor of Science in Education and a Master of Teaching degrees.  He currently lives in Strasburg, VA with his family and, in his spare time, enjoys playing music and golfing.

March 8, 2022 | Noon - 1:15 PM | JMU Icehouse - Room 117

Practical Solutions for Plastic Pollution

Presenter:  Elly Swecker

“I became afraid about the future of our planet and what plastics are doing to human health and marine life.  Rather than staying fearful, I felt led to use my skills for the betterment of our local environment and for the city I love.” Elly Swecker, a Harrisonburg resident since 1975, has spent most of her career in service to others, from children to seniors.  She was the Executive Director of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Free Clinic during a time of significant expansion. Her career also included serving as Executive Director for Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Director of Annual Gifts at VMRC. Through research and talking with others who have been active in environmental organizations, she is learning more every day about environmental problems and solutions. She has particulalry studied the issue of plastic waste and the harms and the opportunities leading to this presentation, Practical Solutions for Plastic Pollution.

March 22, 2022 | Noon - 1:15 PM | JMU Icehouse - Room 117

The Gray Haired Tech 

Presenter:  Ron Doyle

Do you use a computer, tablet, smartphone? If not, why are you here today? Are there any things you should avoid on the web? (Are you kidding me?) How do you avoid them, what do you do with them, how do you avoid being hacked? How about phishing, trojans, spam, (canned or not), worms and other icky things. Do you have money…you better if your get ransomware(d) or will you need money? Bring a pencil and paper or hey, even a computer to jot down some thoughts. Ron Doyle is originally from the Tidewater area of Virginia, coming to the Shenandoah Valley in 1991. He is currently employed as the IT Administrator for a law firm with offices in Harrisonburg and Charlottesville. Ron says he decided to work with people of a hair color like his own, hence the column title in the DNR, “Gray Haired Tech”. You can also hear Ron chatting with Jim Britt on WSVA the third Monday of each month. He enjoys providing training and advice about computers and software to those of us who might otherwise depend on our grandkids for advice. You can visit his site at GrayHaired.Tech.

April 12, 2022 | Noon - 1:15 PM | JMU Icehouse - Room 117

The Alchemist: Turning Driveway Rock into Gold 

Presenter:  Stuart Mercer

Stuart’s talk will discuss his passion for the transformation from rock to gemstone. You will see before and after examples of that transformation. He will explain where and how he finds the cutting materials, and the lapidary techniques used to change a rock into a valuable piece of jewelry. Stuart Mercer, a born rock lover began his lapidary career in grade school. By the 5th grade he knew a geology degree (JMU 1975) was the next step to fulfilling his passion for creating jewelry. Mercer has owned and managed Elk Run Mining Co. for 9 years. 

May 4, 2022 | Noon - 1:15 PM | JMU Icehouse - Room 117

Estate Planning

Presenter:  Matt Sunderlin

We will discuss the major pitfalls and mistakes in the estate planning process: 10 simple mistakes to avoid to save your family the stress, cost and heartache which can be caused by your procrastination or failure to complete. Matt Sunderlin is a native of Winchester,Va. he graduated from Hampden Sydney with a BA in 1989 and from Regent University School of Law in 1995 with a Juris Doctor degree. He has been with the firm of Clark and Bradshaw since 1999 and became a partner in 2003. Matt represents the elderly,the disabled, their families and advocates. Elder law includes estate planning, trust administration, power of attorney, advance medical directives among other things.

May 10, 2022 | Noon - 1:15 PM | JMU Icehouse - Room 117

Remembering the Lee Boyd Malvo Trial 

Presenter:  Craig Cooley

Do you recall watching the news every evening to see if there had been a new sniper killing in northern Virginia? Do you recall the young man being caught and charged with participation in these crimes? Do you recall the attorney chosen to defend him? Join us for an interesting hour as defense attorney, Craig Cooley of Richmond, shares with us his experience defending this young man, Lee Boyd Malvo, who was caught up in a horrific situation. Craig Cooley will share with us his decision to defend this young man, how he planned his defense case based on the evidence and his relationship with Lee in the aftermath of his incarceration. Craig Cooley is an attorney who represents clients in the Richmond, Virginia area. He is recognized by peers and was selected to the Super Lawyers from 2006-2021. As one of the few attorneys to garner the distinction of Super Lawyers, Cooley has earned the respect of his peers as one of the top-rated attorneys in the nation.  Craig Cooley chose to pursue a career in law after completing undergraduate studies. He passed the bar exam and was admitted to legal practice in 1977. He represents clients with Criminal Defense issues in Virginia. Craig is a Harrisonburg native and graduated from Harrisonburg High School in 1965.

May 18, 2022 | Noon - 1:15 PM | JMU Icehouse - Room 117

Better With Age #2

Presenter:  Bob Bersson, Jack Greer, & Friends

Please come enjoy these local authors as they share with us observations about the better years of our lives. Bob Bersson and Jack Greer will introduce their collection of essays and speak about it’s development. They will introduce us to wine-lovers Larry and Donna Barber who will be reading their essay, ‘Aging Lessons from the Fruit of the Vine’. They are followed by Rich Harris, a former Director of Service Learning at JMU for twenty years. His essay in the ‘Transitions To Retirement’ section is entitled, ‘Pursuing a Life Well Lived’. Lee Yoder, former administrator at EMU and Bridgewater College, follows with ‘Nine Years in Egypt: An Expanded Worldview’. Our final reader, Jack Greer, reads his essay ‘The End of the Line’ which centers on the Countryside Garage Band. Come join us, relax and sip a glass as we celebrate getting ‘Better with Age’ Presenters are Robert Bersson and Jack Greer. Bob is a musician, writer, visual artist, and lifelong educator coming to the Shenandoah Valley in 1980 to teach a wide range of art courses at JMU. He is a community activist on issues from downtown revitalization and open, responsive government to greenways and bike/pedestrian pathways and a prolific contributor to the DNR’s editorial page.  Jack Greer’s passions are writing, drumming, sailing, and the environment. In their sixties, he and his wife, Bobbie, sailed their forty-foot sloop from Annapolis, Maryland, to the Lesser Antilles and back, spending the better part of four years exploring the Caribbean. He has authored articles about marine science and policy and co-authored the nonfiction book ‘Chesapeake Futures’ and a collection of short stories, ‘Abraham’s Bay & Other Stories’. 

May 24, 2022 | Noon - 1:15 PM | JMU Icehouse - Room 117

Blue Ridge Railroad & Blue Ridge Tunnel: The Laborers

Presenter:  Mary Lyons

Mary E. Lyons is the author of three printed books concerning the Blue Ridge Tunnel: The Blue Ridge Tunnel, The Virginia Blue Ridge Railroad, and Slave Labor on Virginia’s Blue Ridge Railroad (all published by The History Press). Her fourth title about the subject is an e-book for Apple devices: Claudius Crozet and the Blue Ridge Railroad: Selected Letters. Prior to writing books for adults, Lyons was the author of nineteen books for young readers. She will present a 3-D Timeline PowerPoint: “Blue Ridge Railroad and Blue Ridge Tunnel: the Laborers”

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