Staunton Stories

Staunton Stories is a collaboration between the SDDA and 106.3 WQSV. Each Thursday evening at 6p.m., WQSV will stream an interview between Greg Beam, SDDA Executive Director, and a local business owner or community member. These are the voices of the folks who contribute to our vibrant and unique downtown community, and we’ll hear their stories, strategies, and goals for the future. Below is a listing of past interviews, and links to their respective episodes. 

Ep. 9 - Sarah Skrobis

Ms. Sarah Skrobis has been a librarian for fifteen years and is the current Director of the Staunton Public Library. Originally from Wisconsin, Sarah moved south to join AmeriCorps and build houses with Habitat for Humanity. It was while she was working alongside low-income families that she committed herself to a career in public service and enrolled in a Master’s of Library and Information Science program.
When she’s not at the library, Sarah can be found working on her farm, dreaming of her next travel adventure, and – of course – reading.

Ep. 8 - Janie Ballurio

Ms. Janie Ballurio has certainly worn many hats over the years and many folks may know her from the numerous roles she played both on and off stage! Janie grew up in Hew Holland, Pennsylvania. Janie later met her husband, Jack while they were attending Bridgewater College. Remember the Bookstack? Janie and her business partner opened The Bookstack in 1978 at the Plaza (the Staunton Mall) before moving the business in 1983 to 1 East Beverley Street in downtown Staunton.
What was it like owning a bookstore in downtown in the 1980’s and 90’s? What were some of Janie’s favorite roles she played on stage? Who was Abner the Mouse and most importantly, what’s the next chapter for Janie Ballurio?

Ep. 7 - Wavley Groves

Mr. Wavley M Groves III, owner of EccoHollow Art and Sound grew up playing guitar and trumpet and tinkering with electronics. As a teenager, Wavley was a part of several punk bands around Norfolk and Virginia Beach. In his 20s, Wavley worked in record stores, guitar shops, and played in some awesome indie rock bands, and music venues. Years later, while recovering from a car accident, Wavley used this time to go back to school to study electronics engineering which later landed him a job at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s Central Development Laboratory’s Low Noise Amplifier Lab (yea…say that three times fast!) as he completed a degree in electronics. Wavley started EccoHollow Art + Sound part-time in 2015. It was when he was awarded an SDDA Brite Rewired grant in 2019 that he left science to go full time with his business.
Are you into music, bands, instruments, engineering, science and extremely powerful telescopes? If you said yes, make sure to tune in for this conversation with Wavley Groves.

Ep. 6 - Sarah Butterfield

Don’t miss our next Staunton Stories, with Ms. Sarah Butterfield. Sarah and her husband, Brian own Blue Mountain Coffees which was located on Byers Street in historic Wharf district of downtown Staunton. 

Listen as Sarah shares her stories of growing up in
Mechanicsville, VA and also the decision to later move to Staunton in 1997,
when she and her husband Brian purchased Blue Mountain Coffees. Sarah shares her thoughts and lessons learned from being a small business owner—how the business grew over the years, the importance of being “a third place”, being consistent with customer service and why it’s more than just a cup of coffee.

How did Sarah choose to react to business challenges over the years–which included pivoting during a pandemic and responding to devastating floods?   

Ep. 5 - Katie Campbell Spurlock

Katie Campbell Spurlock is the owner of the historic H.L. Lang Jewelers—located at 11 West Beverley Street in downtown Staunton.

Katie has lived in the area since 1971. When she was two years old her family moved from North Carolina to Augusta County, when her father has the opportunity to serve as manager of Scott & Stringfellow in Staunton—which he did for thirty years.

After attending Beverley Manor Elementary and Stuart Hall School, Katie lived in Richmond where she studied psychology and art at VCU. It wasn’t long after returning to Staunton in 2000, that Katie discovered her interest and talents in hand engraving. This is what led her closer to her next move in 2015 when Katie purchased H.L. Lang Jewelers—which has been operating since 1885. Katie shares that purchasing Lang’s was one of the easiest and most exciting decisions she has ever made.

Ep. 4 - Gonzalo Accame

Before arriving in Staunton and becoming known as “The Chicken Man”, Gonzalo Accame, owner/operator of Gonzo’s Pollo was known as a national and international bilingual producer and cameraman.

He has produced and shot for diverse clients including PBS, Travel Channel, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, ESPN, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, BBC, PGA Productions, NFL Productions and NFL Films, Discovery and Discovery Latin America, The Learning Channel, The History Channel, Animal Planet, National Geographic, and the Jim Henson Heritage Foundation to name a few.

Gonzalo has had the opportunity to work with such personalities as Mother Teresa, Dan Rather, Larry King, Geraldine Ferraro, Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Dole, Michelle Obama, Ted Koppel, Isaiah Washington, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Pope John Paul II, Barbra Streisand, Roger Daltrey and Peter Townsend of the Who, Stephen Colbert, Robin Leach, Dolly Parton, General Colin Powell, Jim Henson and six U.S. Presidents. Who was the MOST memorable?

Ep. 3 - Damon Strickland

Damon Strickland is the General Manager for Crestline Hotels & Resorts at Staunton’s Hotel 24 South. Before arriving in Staunton, Damon, (a graduate of the Hospitality & Tourism Management Program at Virginia Tech) held General Management and Operations Management positions with brands such as Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, Hilton, Marriott and InterContinental Hotels Group. During his career he has assisted in the opening of 8 hotels and resorts across the country with several earning AAA 5 Diamond awards within the first year of operation.

Ep. 2 - Sabrina Burress

Sabrina Burress, a Staunton native and mother of two sons, in the Executive Director and co-founder of ARROW Project, a Staunton based nonprofit agency providing accessible mental health services throughout our local community. Sabrina has dual master’s degrees one in Human Services and one in Clinical Medial Health Counseling. She has worked in various roles in the mental health and human services field over the past 15 years. Sabrina attributes her own mental health journey to her passion and determination in the work that she currently does in the community. Sabrina has raised two sons here and recognizes them as a beacon—a lighthouse in the midst of storms, rainbows of hope and inspiration.

Ep. 1 - Sarah Lynch

Sarah Lynch was transplanted from Los Angeles, California to a spooky Hessian house in Greenville, Virginia at the age of 8. After Riverheads High School, she attended the University of Virginia to study Biology and Psychology, vowing never to return to rural Virginia—but in 1998 she come home to open Baja Bean Restaurant y Cantina in downtown Staunton.
Sarah loves her home and is a proud ambassador for the City of Staunton. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Staunton Creative Community Fund, Staunton Tourism Advisory Board and Staunton Downtown Development Association. She is founder and organizer of Queen City Mischief & Magic, a three-day, all volunteer Harry Potter fan festival attracting 15,000 plus muggles and wizards each year. When Sarah isn’t Jazzercising, running Baja or planning a festival, she is happiest spending time with friends and with her favorite muggle, Henry, her teenage son.