Local News

Local News
R-MA Innovation Lab Sparks Creativity
January 8, 2018

R-MA eighth grade student Cecilia Paredes works on a LEGO robot at the R-MA Middle School Innovation Lab.

It is a classroom that is never quiet. Students get up from their seats to obtain supplies, ask each other questions, and look for guidance on the internet. They question, collaborate, cooperate, and create. They identify problems and build solutions. Even during the periods when there are no classes scheduled, students from other classes appear in the doorway in need of various supplies for projects, their faces alight with excitement and their voices eager. This is the R-MA Middle School Innovation Lab.

The lab is the result of the work of many hands, including former R-MA Middle School Principal Derrick Leasure, current Principal Tony Ballard, Craig Campesi of the Technology Department, and Middle School teacher and Innovation Lab keeper Stephanie Wagner, whose enthusiasm is contagious.

The lab is full of various objects that engage the students: Ozobots, Little Bits, Spheroballs, iPads, Lego robots, and 3D printers, just to name a few. As Wagner describes her innovative classroom and its many components, a student wanders in to borrow clay and camera for a “Claymation” production, and before long an entire World History class joins her as they prepare to build chariots out of unusual objects. “They’re not allowed to use the wheels from Legos,” Wagner explains. “Some of them are building the chariots out of popsicle sticks and CDs.”

Wagner explains that the Innovation Lab environment is built on the idea of “constructivism.” “When you make it with your hands, you will remember it forever,” Wagner says. “These students will always remember that Greece and Rome had chariots.”

In addition to providing a place for other teachers to think “outside the box” and assign projects that are more than just poster board presentations, Wagner is teaching a Robotics class and two computer science classes that will become “Makers” classes for the spring semester. Her philosophy of continuous change and engagement for all is evident as she describes how she changes the groups around in the Robotics class every other week. “With different groups, students are given different jobs, and it helps get the quiet, reserved kids engaged,” she explains. For the computer science classes, the students are focusing on coding—and she found a way to challenge them early on, when she had the students create submissions for the Congressional App Challenge.

With a Lego wall, a robotic dog named Chip, TinkerCad programs, and dozens of other avenues for creativity and innovation, R-MA Middle School students are more engaged in their education than ever.

Local News
Shenandoah Farms house fire displaces occupant Monday
January 8, 2018

Firefighters work to extinguish a blaze at a Shenandoah Farms home on Monday, Jan. 8. Courtesy photo.

WARREN COUNTY – A home in the Shenandoah Farms area of Warren County was destroyed by fire Monday morning, according to officials with Warren County Fire and Rescue.

A media release from Warren County Fire Chief Richard E. Mabie’s  office  says that  at  9:16 a.m. Monday, Warren County Fire and Rescue Units were dispatched for a reported house fire at 439 Young’s Drive in Shenandoah Farms.

The release states that, “Fire and Rescue units arrived on the scene to find a single story, single family home with fire throughout the first floor and through the roof.”

No one was home at the time of the fire according to Chief Mabie.  It took firefighters about 30 minutes to bring the blaze under control, with firefighters remaining on scene for several hours to ensure the fire was fully extinguished.

The lone occupant of the home has been displaced as a result of the incident; he is receiving assistance from the American Red Cross.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the Warren County fire marshal’s office.  There were no reported injuries to firefighters or occupant. The fire caused an estimated $180,000 in property and contents damages.

Firefighters from Warren County Fire and Rescue responded on the call with mutual aid assistance and 22 personnel.

Clarke County provided a Tanker truck to assist with extinguishing the blaze  and Fauquier County (Upperville) provided an Engine and Tanker on scene.


Local News
Front Royal Business District Revitalization $ 700,000 in Community Development Block Grants
January 6, 2018

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced $2,149,346 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding for four projects in Virginia. This funding will support projects that improve sewer infrastructure and foster economic development in localities across the Commonwealth.

“This program has long been providing funding for projects that improve the quality of life for thousands of Virginians every year,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Through Community Development Block Grants, we are able to address needs across the Commonwealth including critical infrastructure, such as water and sewer service, as well as improve economic development opportunities, ensuring job creation in rural areas. I congratulate the four grantees and look forward to the success of these projects in Virginia.”

Since 1982, the federally-funded CDBG program has been administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Nearly three hundred non-metropolitan cities, counties, and towns are eligible for this program in the Commonwealth. Most of the approximately $16.5 million Virginia receives annually is allocated among local government applicants through a competitive process using objective scoring criteria developed in consultation with eligible localities. Other funds are available through several open-submission funds where projects that meet thresholds established in the CDBG program design are eligible for grant offers as long as funding is available. Most CDBG projects, in accordance with federal law, principally benefit low- and moderate-income persons or communities. Other projects are targeted for the prevention or elimination of slum and blighting conditions or in response to community development needs of a particular urgency.

“Through the CDBG program, we are utilizing all available resources to continue addressing community issues associated with housing, economic development, health, and safety,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore. “We are able to leverage this program together with local and private resources to maximize opportunities and ensure that all communities have the tools they need to flourish in the new Virginia economy.”

CDBG Community Economic Development Grant Award:
Locality Project Name CDBG Award
Scott County Riverside Development Phase III $ 250,000

CDBG Construction Ready Water and Sewer Grant Award:
Locality Project Name CDBG Award
Amherst County Old Town Madison Heights $ 500,000

CDBG Competitive Grant Award:
Locality Project Name CDBG Award
Town of Front Royal Front Royal Business District Revitalization $ 700,000
Town of Narrows Narrows Business District Revitalization $ 699,34

Local News
Beth Medved Waller Receives # 1 Ranking in Warren County Sales in 2017
January 3, 2018

Beth Medved Waller, former broker of Team Waller Real Estate and current Associate Broker of her Front Royal “Mega Agent” office of KW-Solutions, Keller Williams Realty (based in Northern Virginia), had a monumental 2017 in both her real estate and self-proclaimed “video reporter” careers. She ended the year with a prestigious national ranking for her community video work with Jennifer Avery of Jenspiration, LLC and regained her position as top selling residential Realtor in the Warren County resale home market.

“I was encouraged to open up my own real estate company for a decade, and I resisted because I couldn’t imagine enjoying being behind a desk instead of meeting strangers and opening their closets at listing appointments on a daily basis, “she laughed. “It turns out, I was right,” says Waller of her August 2015 decision to leave Weichert, Realtors and open up a boutique real estate brokerage on Cloud Street in downtown Front Royal. “I was surrounded by fantastic community support and amazing people at Team Waller, and we were dominating the market with only 5 active agents. But I couldn’t get used to seeing a sign with my name on it in a yard of a home I’d never been in,” she recounted.

“When I traded my long-time role as the number one listing agent in Warren County for Broker/Owner of Team Waller, it was as if a part of my heart stopped beating, and I couldn’t adjust to not listing properties myself,” added a choked up Waller. “I hired business consultants, a CEO, a Business Manager, therapists, and literally traveled all over the world attending entrepreneurial and self-development seminars. I tried everything I could think of to adjust to my role as the owner of a fast-growing real estate company. Nothing worked. Because I missed doing what I love, which is listing properties and working directly with clients. And to make matters worse, I didn’t have the time or funds to invest in my volunteer work since owning a startup real estate company absorbed my hours and income. So basically I was paralyzed, unable to do my two favorite things—list homes and be a leader in the nonprofit world,” Beth explained.

“My 2017 new year’s resolutions were to fire myself as a broker and become a listing agent again and to find time to do more videos and What Matters Initiatives. I’m glad last year was the first year I actually followed through with my resolutions,” she smiles as she recalls her newfound appreciation for being on the “front lines” listing properties again and on the “front lines” giving back to her local and global communities through her new not-for-profit company, What Matters.

“I don’t regret opening Team Waller and will always be thankful for the agents, clients, and community support that made it possible. But I’m thrilled to have finally gotten my real estate business to a place where I can work to live, not just live to work. I also have a new appreciation for listing properties after my absence, and a renewed passion for the real estate industry that has given me a career that is now able to fund my dream of expanded nonprofit work,” says a glowing Waller. Currently, Waller is working under the Manassas, VA brokerage of Keller Williams Realty and listing homes herself with the support of Jennifer Avery’s consulting company, Jenspiration. Jen helps with marketing and is co-founder of What Matters and the video creator for What Matters Initiatives. “Partnering with Keller Williams and the support staff, Bridget Rosensteel (who helps behind the scenes on every transaction) has been the answer to a decade of prayers. KW provides amazing resources and a connection to the Northern Virginia market I’ve always longed for. Keller Williams enabled me to close on nearly 50 properties last year and still have time to get back into the nonprofit arena.”

In 2017, Beth officially launched a philanthropic company, What Matters, named after her favorite song with lyrics that have always reminded her that “What Matters is your Heart.” The song encourages following dreams and passions, so she created a company that combines all of hers: Real Estate, Fundraising, Outreach and Community. From providing a free community meeting space on Main Street to hosting a non-profit center at her real estate office on Cloud Street, from sponsoring a $5,000 match campaign (that sent $10k to support children in Africa) to spending thousands per month producing community videos to promote causes and events, Waller is so thankful for her clients and community for making What Matters possible. “I’ll never forget the time Jen took the iPad from me and filmed me on my first guided house tour in 2015. Little did we know then that moment marked the launch of a path that would lead us to following our dreams: Jen’s of inspiring/supporting/promoting and mine of spreading the word about amazing causes and people.”

Thanks to Jen’s self-taught video expertise, last month Beth was named a “Top 10 Video Influencer in the Real Estate Industry” by Bomb Bomb’s “Top 50 Real Estate Video Influencers” project presented by Tom Ferry. Tom is the #1 ranked Real Estate Educator, a best-selling author and international speaker whose charisma and personality have captivated audiences around the world, both online and on stage. “Ranking in the top 10 or being honorably mentioned is a tribute to the pioneering spirit and impressive accomplishments of these agents and teams,” says Steve Pacinelli, Chief Marketing Officer for Bomb Bomb. The company watched more than 5,000 videos to determine the winners.

When asked what she forecasts for 2018, Beth beams with excitement, “I plan to continue listing around one house per week, doing at least two What Matters videos per week and am in the process of obtaining 501-c3 nonprofit status. I have so many ideas floating through my head involving real estate and philanthropy and am excited to see which ones make it out of my mind and into the world in 2018!” For more information visit www.whatmattersw2.com or search Beth Medved Waller on Facebook [email protected] or 540-671-6145

Local News
Mother of 2010 Warren County High grad Glenn Mikulak offers scholarship in his memory
December 30, 2017

Glenn Mikulak built a replica cruise ship after a trip to the Caribbean

– Glenda Mikulak was mother to a most extraordinary son. In sprite of the challenges of having Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and being confined to a wheelchair, Glenn Mikulak lived his life as fully as any other boy—right up until he died at the age of 18.

In his short life, the 2010 Warren County High School student touched many lives, including his late grandmother, Linda F. Hogoboom, as well as the students and teachers at his alma mater.
In fact, Glenn’s model of an eight-foot, six-inch replica of a cruise ship on which he sailed, is housed in the library at WCHS. Glenn was inspired to build the ship—dubbed the “Glennship” — with 10,000 K’NEX pieces while still on a cruise with his family.

Everyone who met Glenn knew he had a brilliant future ahead one him; he had planned to become an engineer. His mother is certain he would have achieved his goals, had he lived and gone to college.

That is why Glenda Mikulak decided to create the Linda F. Hogoboom Memorial/Glenn Mikulak Scholarship—to provide a $500 award to one college-bound senior at both Warren County high schools who has helped special needs peers and has a desire to contribute to society. Royal Examiner Editor Norma Jean Shaw chatted with Ms. Mikulak in front of her son’s creation, the “Glennship” recently…

Click to download application.

Local News
Snow covers roads throughout Shenandoah Valley
December 30, 2017

File photo / Royal Examiner

STAUNTON – (6:00 a.m.) Up to two inches of snow has fallen since Friday night in parts of the central and northern Shenandoah Valley, blanketing roads and creating dangerous driving conditions early Saturday morning. Snowfall is expected to taper off over the next several hours, but temperatures in the teens and low 20s will prevent snow from melting. Motorists are urged to check road conditions before driving and use extreme caution on snow-covered roadways.The Virginia Department of Transportation has crews plowing and treating roads as needed throughout the 11-county Staunton District.

Here are the conditions as of 6 a.m. Saturday:

Interstate 64 – Clear in Alleghany, Rockbridge and Augusta counties.

Interstate 66 – Moderate conditions in Warren County.

Interstate 81 – Moderate conditions in Rockingham and Frederick counties. Minor conditions in Augusta and Shenandoah counties. Clear in Rockbridge County.

Primary roads – Moderate conditions in Rockingham, Page, Shenandoah, Frederick, Clarke and Warren counties. Minor conditions in Highland and Augusta counties. Clear conditions Alleghany, Bath and Rockbridge counties.

Secondary roads – Moderate conditions in Rockingham, Page, Shenandoah, Frederick, Clarke and Warren counties. Minor conditions in Highland and Augusta counties. Clear conditions Alleghany, Bath and Rockbridge counties.

For winter weather road conditions go to 511 Virginia, look at the orange bar on the top of the page and click on “Text Views” and then click on “Road Condition Table”. Look at the pull down box that lists all jurisdictions, then select a location to check road conditions.

Local News
Official: Osage Street fire under investigation, seeking public’s help
December 29, 2017

Warren County Fire & Rescue personnel tackle a camper fire Thursday afternoon on Osage Street. / Courtesy photos.

FRONT ROYAL – Investigators from both the Warren County Fire Marshal’s Office and the Front Royal Police Department are seeking information regarding a Thursday afternoon fire on Osage Street that destroyed a mobile camper and damaged a nearby parked vehicle and apartment building.

In a media release Thursday evening, Fire Marshal Gerry R. Maiatico said that on Thursday, (December 28) at 4:38pm, first responders were alerted to a reported camper fire in the 300 block of Osage Street in town.

Arriving units found a mobile-type camper fully involved with fire which threatened a nearby apartment building. Maiatico said crews were able to quickly contain the blaze, but not before it destroyed the camper and damaged a nearby vehicle and apartment building.

Firefighters worked in bitter cold temperatures Thursday to contain a camper fire, before it could spread to a nearby apartment building.

Maiatico  said bystanders, along with Front Royal Police Department officers, helped evacuate the apartment building.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, Maiatico stated in the release, saying that “while the fire was quickly contained, this fire incident could have quickly spread out of control and could have easily posed a serious threat to the occupants of the neighboring apartments.”

No one was injured in the incident.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Warren County Fire Marshal’s Office at (540) 638-3830 or Detective David Fogle, with the Front Royal Police Department, at (540) 636-2208 or [email protected]

Local News
WATCH: Valley Forge – “The Crisis”
December 28, 2017

The story of George Washington at Valley Forge is told by Abel Johnson. Johnson’s history lessons aren’t about dates and data. Dressed as a man named Abel Johnston, a Revolutionary War veteran who happened to be Johnson’s great-grandfather six times removed.

The program tells of the horrid suffering 240 years ago of soldiers fighting for American Independence. The speaker is the Rev. Larry Johnson, the great(x4) grandson of a Revolutionary War Soldier from North Carolina.



Local News Seasonal
A Christmas visit to RSW Jail reminds us of the holiday’s true meaning
December 27, 2017

Inmates in one cell block gather around the trio of Christmas evening visitors after hearing a message of love and redemption. Courtesy Photos/RSW-Russ Gilkison

WARREN COUNTY – Well it wasn’t Santa and reindeer, but it WAS a Christmas evening visit that brought a message of hope and seasonal cheer to inmates of the RSW Regional Jail. And if not a contingent led by a famous red-nosed reindeer, it was led by an almost-equally-famous animal of Hollywood fame – Warren County’s own Grace the performing mule, along with trainer Stevie Foster and musician Kirby Covert.

Grace, whom actor Robert Duvall told this reporter rates “right up there at the top” of all the famous leading ladies he’s worked with over a stellar movie career, was accompanied by Foster and guitarist Covert on a mission of faith, redemption and Christmas joy.

Grace is lit up like a Christmas tree under the watchful eye of handler Stevie Foster.

RSW Superintendent Russ Gilkison explains that Foster and Covert visit the jail weekly and that Foster has included RSW in his Christmas jail visits with a message since its opening.

“Stevie has been visiting inmates on Christmas day for 20 years and has been coming to RSW on Christmas since the opening in 2014. This marks the first year for Grace the mule to accompany Stevie on his annual visit,” Gilkison told Royal Examiner, adding of the visit, “Grace, adorned with garland and lights, performed a few tricks like counting out her age by stomping her hoof and smiling for the crowd, bringing holiday cheer and laughter to the jail on a day that is usually quiet and somber.

“This was followed by Kirby Covert playing his guitar and singing Christmas songs such as ‘Silent Night’ and ‘New Star Shining’. Stevie would then say a few words about his personal story of drug and alcohol addiction, spending Christmases away from his family until he final gave his life to Jesus Christ and turned his life around. Steve then lead them in prayer and let them know this could be their best Christmas, if they would make the choice to let God into their lives to help them.

“I saw many men and women with tears in their eyes and then a smile on their face as Grace would do a final trick waving a handkerchief goodbye as we moved on to the next housing unit.”

Kirby Covert sings a holiday message during visit.

Gilkison shared the thoughts of a father of one of the RSW inmates after speaking to his son following the visit.

“I would like to thank you and all involved for the special Christmas luncheon served, the commissary gifts, as well as the visit by Steve Foster and his Amazing Grace. I spoke with (his son) last evening and he explained all that happed yesterday and it was the first time in months that he had a sound of excitement in his voice.

“I’m sure yesterday’s events had a positive effect for all involved and did give hope to those that could not be home with their families. I also want to thank you personally for taking time from your family to accompany Mr. Foster and Grace during their visit.”

Thanks to Superintendent Gilkison for sharing this story with us; and a special thanks to Steve Foster, Kirby Covert and Grace for reminding us what the true meaning of Christmas is all about.

Community Events Local News
Little Caesars Love Kitchen to serve public lunch at Winchester Rescue Mission on Friday
December 27, 2017

The Little Caesars Love Kitchen will make a stop in Winchester on Friday, Dec. 29 at the Winchester Rescue Mission. / Courtesy photo.

WINCHESTER, VA – The Little Caesars Love Kitchen will roll into the Winchester Rescue Mission on Friday, December 29, to serve a free pizza lunch to community members.

The big-rig doubles as a mobile kitchen and travels across the United States, feeding the hungry and homeless, as well as disaster survivors.

Little Caesars local franchise owners donate the resources necessary to make each Love Kitchen serving a success. An estimated 50,000 franchisees, their employees and corporate colleagues have volunteered over the years to support the program in their local communities.

Brandan Thomas, Executive Director of the Winchester Rescue Mission, said, “It’s a real treat to have Little Caesars come out and support us. It shows the guys the community is behind them.”

The pizza chain reached out to the nonprofit organization that serves homeless men after they “saw the work we were doing and wanted to partner with what we were already accomplishing, “ Thomas said in a Wednesday interview.

The Mission doesn’t typically serve lunch, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to help spread the message of love to those in need. Free pizza will be served at noon at 435 N. Cameron Street. Everyone is welcome to eat.

The Winchester Rescue Mission serves between 2,500 and 3,000 meals each month.  Dinner is served at 5:00 p.m. daily and is open to any man, woman, or child who is in need of a meal.

“Our nightly dinners continue to grow,” Thomas said.  “We pride ourselves on being a safe and welcoming environment for everyone in our community.  We have very generous volunteers who’ve been able to keep up with the high demand this winter.”

As word of the Love Kitchen is spreading throughout the area, members of the community have stepped forward to offer additional help.  Some have donated sodas to be served with the pizza.

Others have brought new coats to the facility to give to the residents.  Items needed include: warm socks, gloves, hats, coats,  and gift cards to purchase items.  A list of the Mission’s most needed items can be found here: Current Mission needs.   Donated items can be dropped off at 435 N. Cameron Street between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.

More information about the Winchester Rescue Mission,  which has been serving the community since 1974, is available at winrescue.org.

A chief goal of Thomas’ is to educate the public about the issue of homelessness.  Often, he says, the public tends to view a homeless person as lazy, drug-addicted or worse.  It is more likely that the person has experienced one or more circumstances that combine to contribute to homelessness.

Many Americans these days are only a paycheck or two away from dire circumstances, and the loss of a job, or having an illness without sick-days to provide for missed work hours can be enough to create homelessness.

“These people are no different than you or I, “ Thomas said in the interview.  “They are often the victim of multiple circumstances.”

While no solid figures were available for the current homeless population in Winchester-Frederick County, a count last year put the number somewhere north of 200.

In addition to his role of nearly two years at the Mission, Thomas serves as Pastor of the Canvas Church, which meets at the Virginia Ave. Elementary School.  In fact, he relocated to the city of Winchester to begin the church.

Little Caesars has two trucks in operation, which are in service 365 days a year. The restaurants on wheels have served more than three million people, according to the corporate website.

The Love Kitchen has been recognized for its charitable efforts, receiving The President’s Volunteer Action Award Citation from former Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. The Reagan administration also awarded the Love Kitchen a Presidential Citation for Private Sector Initiatives.