by Carla Bream
Thursday was the annual Virginia Federation of Republican Women’s Legislative Day in Richmond. A delegation from the Roanoke Valley Republican Women traveled to the state capital to meet with legislators, old and new, as well as the Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General.
Lt. Governor Bill Bolling sponsored the continental breakfast for the 300 plus women in attendance. The chairwoman for the annual event was Jean Ann Bolling, wife of the Lt. Governor. The morning program featured Governor Bob McDonnell, who welcomed women from all over the state of Virginia. The morning’s keynote speaker was the First Lady of Virginia, Maureen McDonnell.
Mrs. McDonnell talked about the three months of filming that took place at the state capital for the new Steven Spielberg movie about Abraham Lincoln. She said they brought in literally tons of dirt to cover the streets. Filming ran from 5:30 a.m. to past 10 p.m. every day, with horses and covered wagons all over the grounds and movie extras milling around in period clothing.
She also spoke about the Governor’s mansion, which opened in 1813 and has housed 52 first families. This fall starts the bicentennial celebration, “Two centuries with Virginia’s First Families.” Mrs. McDonnell said that when their family first moved into the mansion she decided to snoop around when she was alone one day, opening all the drawers and cabinets, looking for a piece of history left behind.
Mrs. McDonnell has several special projects this year in honor of the bicentennial. She has commissioned five artists to create portraits of all of Virginia’s First Ladies, with the finished works to be hung in the mansion. She is also resurrecting the grapevines from England, that were originally planted in 1813. Her new plants should yield enough grapes to make an estimated 1,800 bottles of wine with the proceeds going to support military families. She is also a supporter of SOS (Serving Our Service Members), whose volunteers help out military families left behind with yard work, planting flowers, babysitting and home upkeep.
At noon the banquet room quickly filled with a majority of the state’s legislators walking over from the capital to join the women for a luncheon. The purpose of this event was to let the legislators know of the concerns of women throughout the state.
Ladies from the Roanoke Valley voiced their specific ideas about transportation, education, jobs and views on how this part of the state can prosper. Joining the local women were Sen. Ralph Smith, Del. Greg Habeeb, Del. Chris Head, Del. Charles Poindexter, Sen. Steve Newman, Sen. Bill Stanley and Del. Joseph Yost. At age 25, Yost has the distinction of being the youngest State Delegate in history.