REC member receives Unsung Virginian Award

March 20, 2017

A local retiree's volunteer community-improvement efforts, including work to improve trails within our nation's historic battlefields, has earned him a statewide honor bestowed by Virginia's electric cooperatives. REC member and Lake Wilderness resident Dorse Counts received the Unsung Virginian Award in a ceremony held March 17 at Lake Wilderness in Spotsylvania. The award is given by the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives (VMDAEC).

This award recognizes a citizen for services rendered to the Commonwealth without thought of personal gain. Counts was nominated by fellow REC member Christine Piel, who included letters of support detailing Counts' decades of service to several local organizations. Much of his work benefited the National Park Service (NPS), Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park, which seeks to preserve area Civil War battlefields.

Fellow NPS volunteer Bob Johnson explained, "Dorse was serving as Trail Overseer for the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club's (PATC) Federal Line Trail in Spotsylvania County when he encouraged me to become Trail Overseer for the Gordon Flank Attack Loop Trail in Orange County."

Together, Counts and Johnson started the Wilderness Battlefields Ground Force, whose members maintain and improve the trail system according to rigorous environmental and preservationist PATC standards.

"The reports I send to the National Park Service and PATC note that Dorse is in the woods nearly every day of the year removing blow-down trees and litter, chalking up one-half man-year of volunteer effort for many years now," Johnson added.

After noting with concern the fragile banks of Wilderness Run on the Federal Line Trail, Counts designed and led construction of several pedestrian bridges. "These have greatly improved our visitors' experience when hiking along this four-mile trail," said Park Superintendent Kirsten Talken-Spaulding.

Dorse's efforts attracted the notice of the Germanna Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Orange County, Virginia that seeks to preserve the heritage of original German settlers in the area.

"Dorse and I were approached by Foundation representatives for help improving access to historic sites in their 179-acre Siegen Forest," Johnson continued. "He designed, cleared and marked four historic trails that allow visitors to experience the beauty of the Rapidan River."

In honoring Counts with the Unsung Virginian Award, VMDAEC Board Chairman Larry Howdyshell noted, "Because of volunteers such as Dorse, important sites in the history of our nation are being preserved for countless generations to experience and appreciate."

Counts' skills have also benefited area youth. He supported Teen Challenge of North Central Virginia by doing the carpentry needed to upgrade three buildings in the Beauty for Ashes Women's Shelter, and led several Eagle Scout projects involving the Wilderness Battlefield.

REC President and CEO Kent Farmer applauded Counts' initiative. "I've met exceptional volunteers across our 22-county service territory, but Dorse stands out, and we're proud to count him as one of our members."

VMDAEC President & CEO Richard Johnstone concluded, "Dorse embodies the 7th cooperative principle of 'concern for community.' His tireless efforts truly embody the tradition of our Unsung Virginian Award."

REC provides electric service to over 161,000 connections in parts of 22 Virginia counties. With its general office in Fredericksburg, Va., the Cooperative operates and maintains more than 16,000 miles of power lines through its service area, which ranges from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the tidal waters of the Chesapeake Bay. Follow REC on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Founded in 1944, VMDAEC is the trade association for 15 consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric distribution cooperatives that serve Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, including REC. Nominations for the Unsung Virginian Award are solicited annually from the members of Virginia's 13 electric cooperatives. The Glen Allen, Va.-based Association provides its member cooperatives with safety training, government relations and legislative support, and communications services, including the publishing of Cooperative Living magazine. For more information, visit, or

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REC member receives award - photo

Spotsylvania resident Dorse Counts (with plaque) received the Electric Cooperatives' Unsung Virginian Award in a March 17 ceremony. From left: Larry Howdyshell, board chairman of the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives (VMDAEC); Dorse Counts and his wife Maureen; REC President & CEO Kent Farmer; Bob Johnson, a friend and fellow volunteer.