Friday March 26, 2004 10:54AMon
"Copyright Richmond Times-Dispatch, used with permission."
DELTAVILLE - "Richmond people" and other visitors be forewarned. Bring your provisions if you plan to spend the weekend in lower Middlesex County, because Deltaville's only grocery has been destroyed.
The Town & Country Market burned early Monday morning along with a neighboring pizza parlor and a vacant flower shop. The closest grocery stores are about 20 miles away in Saluda, Gloucester and across the Rappahannock River in Kilmarnock.
And the inconvenience won't stop with Deltaville's considerable weekend and summer population of Richmonders and other visitors who are drawn to the Chesapeake Bay to sail, fish or relax in waterfront homes.
"Hundreds of elderly people relied on it," said Tyler Crittenden, whose farm is across state Route 33 from the charred remains of the grocery, which was still smoldering yesterday.
The loss leaves the area's many elderly without a convenient market and makes grocery shopping that much more of a chore for everyone else, he said.
Crittenden said one grocery store had not been enough for Deltaville for years, especially in the summer when vacationers swell the town's population. "It would take you 30 minutes to get a gallon of milk," he said. Now Deltaville residents will have to drive almost that long just to get to a grocery store.
"I feel really bad for the people down here," said Tammy Ellis, who serves as a liaison between senior citizens and the county Sheriff's Department, where she is a dispatcher. "So many people downhere don't ever leave Deltaville."
A local nonprofit public transportation agency will provide rides to grocery stores in Urbanna and Saluda three days a week. Today is the start of the Monday, Wednesday and Friday shuttles. Bay Transit buses will leave the Deltaville Firehouse at 11 a.m. and return at 1 p.m. A round trip fare is $2.
The fire remains under investigation, Ellis said.
Building owner Larry Pritchard of Gloucester said 11 fire departments from the Middle Peninsula and the Northern Neck worked to contain the fire.
Pritchard said it remains to be seen if he will rebuild. "Right now, everything is up in the air."
He'd like to replace the grocery, though.
Having run the store for about eight years after it was built in 1982, Pritchard knows what it means to a community to have a hometown businesses.
"I had a lot of customers that were really friends."
Contact Lawrence Latane III at (804) 333-3461 or email@example.com