Meeting Minutes

April 17, 2015 – 7:30p – Vinton Fire Department

Vinton, VA



David Socky – Chair

Carl Cornett

Marian McConnell – Secretary

Al Stewart

Karen Kastening

Doug Feller

Susan Burr

Pat Sims

Bill Walker

Stephanie Petri

Bob Gulden – Vice Chair

Courtney Johnson*

Dusty Gulden

Nicole Gulden

Odin Gulden*

Michael Rowland & Family (6)






a.    3/21/15 – Boar Hole, WV – Susan Burr, Doug Feller, Stephanie Petri, Brian Williams, Bill Walker, Trish Geiger, Jeff Huffman went in through Carroll Bassett’s entrance.  Also in the cave were about 25 Boy Scouts who were visiting the cave with Bill Balfour.  (See Carbide Dump).

b.   4/11/15 – Shovel Eater Cave, WV – Stephanie Petri, John NLN, Adam NLN, Mindy NLN, and 2 Romanians (?) went in and carried a tank back; 12-13 hour trip.  17 places to rig ropes.

c.    4/12/15 – Elkhorn Mountain Cave, WV– Stephanie Petri, John NLN, etc. and 12 other people.

d.   3/10-22/2015 - China Caving 7.2 km of survey - David Socky, Andrea Futrell, Philp Schuchardt, Sara Fleetwood, Joe Myre, Becka Lawson, and Erin Lynch. Dave said they did thirteen straight days of caving.  Found 13 new caves and surveyed 8 of them.  Feng Dong (Wind Cave) was the longest at 4.2 km long.

e.     4/9/2015: Unnamed Cave, VA, 7 hour trip - 570 feet of survey - David Socky, Mark Hodge, and Phil Lucas.  We surveyed the entrance room and did some survey clean-up in the historic section.  The water was too high to go into the further reaches of the cave.

f.     2/28/15 – Island Ford Cave, VA – Marian McConnell and Carl Cornett led a group through Roanoke City Parks & Recreation.  Carl slid into a crevice (near the peep hole where you are supposed to stay “high”) and it took teamwork and Marian’s webbing and Carl’s perseverance to get him out.  One of the participants, “Kyle,” was wearing a Go-Pro and got video and is making a video about it.  (Marian has a copy of the unedited video.)  That passage has now been dubbed “The Bunny Trap” (since Carl is the “Energizer Bunny.”)

g.    4/5/15 – Island Ford, Cave, VA - Carl Cornett, Mary Sue Socky, and Marian McConnell took Becky Freemal of Fox 21/27 News, and her videographer/husband, Curt, in the cave a little way for Becky’s “Out and About” show.  The show aired on 4/15 just in time for Virginia Cave Week and was well done.  They even saw 2 bats. 

h.   4/?/15 – 4 caves at Virgin Falls State Park in Sparta, TN – The Rowland family visited the caves which included Big Laurel Falls, Sheepshead Cave, and Virgin Falls. 

i.     4/4-5/15 – Grand Caverns, VA - Karen Kastening, Mary Sue Socky, Meredith Weberg, Bob Thren, etc. had about 25 people for the conservation efforts.  The young folks hauled gravel and the cavers cleaned algae off the formations.  Three painted the wood at the entrance and exit.  16 gallons of paint was used.

j.     4/11/15 – Luray Caverns, VA – Marian McConnell, Meredith Weberg, and members of the Virginia Cave Board were treated to a tour of the caverns before the meetings.  Spectacular! 

k.   April BRG Trip – No official trip at this time.

l.     May 16 BRG Trip – TBA.


2.   PROGRAM – David Socky’s photos of his caving trip to China (outstanding!)


3.   TREASURER’S REPORT – (David Socky for Mary Sue Socky, Treasurer)

$120 – Petty Cash

$0 – Cave Bucks

$235.36 – Equipment Fund

$160.64 – Conservation Fund

$ 3,506.98 – General Fund

$4,022.98 – GRAND TOTAL



a.    Newsletter – Last month we had a “big Dump.”  (LOL)  Thanks to all who contributed.

b.   Membership – Nothing new.

c.    ROCKS – Nothing new.

d.   Safety & Techniques – Pending Marian & Dan to schedule.

e.    Virginia Cave Board Report – Marian reported that it was an excellent meeting at Luray.  You will get copies of 2 letters from the VCB to the 2 pipeline companies.  Also, still looking into the possibility of getting Virginia Cave license plates; must have 450 people committed to purchasing them before they will make them.  Marian is working on a mock-up (they would use the Virginia Cave & Karst logo) and send out a poll on Facebook, email, and the VAR List Serve.


5.   MEMBERSHIP PROPOSALS – Bill Walker.  Bill was voted in unanimously. 



a.    Potential new caves on the Blue Ridge Vineyard Property – Marian will ask about possibly BRG folks coming May 16 (as the BRG cave trip for the month).

b.   Blacksburg Cave Rescue – Stephanie gave a report, she is Chair of the equipment committee.  They have been busy writing Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s).  They got full coverage (funding) for the NCRC (National Cave Rescue Commission) training and she got her application in.

c.    New River Cave Fund – Wil Orndorff is the manager.  Per Pat Sims, they are working on the trail up to the cave, along with another trail for an overlook view too.  $23,000 is still owed on the property; they need another $1,000 donated this month.  They did get a CCV Grant of >$2,500 to help fix the trail, create a kiosk, fix up parking, etc.  A meeting will be held during VAR to set up work dates.  The parking area is very small – perhaps room for 4 vehicles, right before the railroad tracks.  Can still park where we used to but will have to walk to the trail entrance.  Some discussion about having a kiosk; although it provides educational safety and conservation information, it “advertises” the cave which potentially could lure vandals, etc.  To gate the cave would be expensive and quite a project. 

d.   Natural Bridge Caverns conservation project – defer until May meeting when Mary Sue returns, as she’s in charge.

e.    Spring VAR is next week; pre-registration closes today.  There are already 249 people pre-registered!



a.    “Over the Edge” fund raising event for the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program is May 1-2.  It’s a 110’ rappel off the Patrick Henry Hotel.  Volunteers must first attend the Friday night training session, and can rappel themselves if they wish.  Then Saturday it’s all about being “belay slaves” but for a great cause.  Lots of work afterwards helping to break down all the equipment and carry it to their vehicles. Very nice folks.  Pat, Stephanie, and Carl planned to participate.

b.   Should we have a BRG meeting in July, since many will be at the NSS Convention in Missouri?  It was voted unanimously to CANCEL the July meeting.

c.    If you want to lead any caving trips during VAR, please contact Sarah Richards.

d.   Rest in Peace Ray Powers.

e.    The next Virginia Cave Board meeting is planned for Saturday, June 6, in the Roanoke area.  Marian has tentatively reserved the Catawba Center for 11a-5p for the planning meeting, lunch, and then the official meeting which is open to the public. (Waiting to hear back if it has wi-fi for all the high tech folks with laptops!)  The Center is only about 4 miles from Murder Hole, so VCB members would be welcome to take a look at it before or after the meetings.  Marian asked if any BRG members would be willing to help provide a pot-luck lunch for the Cave Board – enough for about 15-20 people (+ add BRG members who want to come).  She is willing to buy the “main course.”  Please let Marian know (540) 309-4707 or if you are willing to help.

f.     Cole Semone’s husband John passed away; a sympathy card was passed around for signatures.

g.    Marian gave Dave & Mary Sue their copy of the “Destination Unknown – Josh Gates – Beale’s Treasure” DVD from Shannon Green.

h.   Marian, Randy Walker, and Dave Socky had videotaped and photographed Murder Hole for the “Virginia Voices” project back in 2014.  Randy and Marian were notified that a part of the video would be used in the final film, but recently learned it’s just a quick shot and one quote.  The film will be shown at the Grandin Theater on Saturday, May 2 at 1:00p for free.  [Marian plans to request permission to use the footage they did NOT use (99% of it) for the Murder Hole documentary we are working on.]



a.    Spring VAR is April 24-26 at the Caverns at Natural Bridge.  2 vendors!

b.   YTR May 15-17 hosted by VPI Cave Club at RSS Field Station.  $10/person.  Must RSVP.

c.    May 16 – Have been asked by Connie at Dixie Caverns to take 3 family members in to New Dixie – vertical skills and gear a must. Details to follow.

d.   VAR Project at Grand Caverns/Fundraiser – October 3 – details to follow.

e.    Murder Hole books still available from Marian McConnell.  NSS members get a discount.

f.     Safety & Techniques – Let Dan McConnell know if you have any requests or suggestions for training.  Practices usually held at River Rock Climbing Gym on Wasena, or Catawba Murder Hole.

g.    Tri-Counties* Forestry & Wildlife Association – Marian has been one of their Board members in the past, and BRG members have attended some of their functions.  They will be having a meeting at the Roanoker Restaurant on April 21 from 6-9p; the speaker is Pete Eshelman of “Roanoke Outside” who will be talking about outdoor things to do in the Roanoke area.  (*Roanoke, Craig, and Botetourt).