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Eye floaters are annoying, but usually harmless


Many people, especially as they age, will notice what looks like something faint floating in their field of vision.

WebMD explains that these ‘floaters’ are quite common and they can appear as dots, squiggly lines, webs, and rings.

They develop over time as collagen in the gel-like fluid in the back of the eye clump together and cast shadows on the retina. This fluid is called the vitreous, and it creates these clumps as it shrinks during the aging process. They are not usually dangerous and can come and go over time, but severe cases can be quite frustrating if they affect vision in a meaningful way.

In rare cases, these floaters can be a sign of a more serious condition such as eye disease, diabetic retinopathy, tumors, or injury. Harvard Medical School warns that as the vitreous shrinks it can begin to tug on the retina it is attached to as it pulls away. In some cases, this will tear the retina and can lead to retinal detachment and permanent vision loss. This situation will require immediate medical attention to avoid losing vision, and in most cases, the tear can be treated with either laser or cold therapies.

Treating the floaters themselves is not always a realistic option, and over time, most people seem to notice them less often. For those severe cases, the Mayo Clinic explains that there are two main ways to eliminate eye floaters: lasers and surgery. Using lasers, an ophthamologist can pinpoint specific floaters and try to break them up into less noticeable pieces.

Unfortunately, results with this treatment are mixed, and there is some risk of retina damage. The other option, surgery, involves removing the vitreous entirely and replacing it with a similar fluid to support the eye’s shape. Like the laser treatment, results are mixed, and new floaters can develop later. There are also risks of retinal tears and bleeding.

Front Royal Police officers bring cheer to nursing home residents

Captain J. Ryman spends a few minutes chatting with Ms. Dominguez. / Photo:  Norma Jean Shaw

FRONT ROYAL – For the third year in a row, a group of Front Royal Police officers, accompanied by Front Royal Police Foundation volunteers and board members visited local nursing home residents, taking time to sit and chat, as well as bring gifts for the residents to open and enjoy.

Officers Cline and Nicewarner visit a patient at Royal Haven Thursday morning. / Photo: Karen Patton

Royal Haven Assisted Living, on West Criser Road, was one of the facilities visited.  Karen Patton, Activities Director, said the residents were delighted to see the group.  “We are so thankful for everything they did today and everyone behind the scenes that made it happen!! Seeing everyone was priceless! Thank you!”

Based upon the smiles of the officers and the patients, it is difficult to tell which group enjoyed the event more.  Officer Crystal Cline said, “I was so fortunate to be a part of Operation Blue Christmas again this year! We were able to deliver presents to two local nursing homes and sit and talk with the residents! Every single person I talked to had a story to tell and a history that they were proud of!”

The group also visited Heritage Hall Health Care on West Strasburg Road Thursday afternoon.

Detective Waller helps a resident with a gift. / Photo: Karen Patton

Foundation President Patti Baggarly said, “The Officers are fantastic with the residents, sitting and talking to them and opening presents with them. There are great people at Front Royal Police Department. Two nursing homes in one day and we had so many officers there…it was amazing…lots of hugs and smiles. “

The Front Royal Police Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) volunteer organization comprised of citizens who work to raise funds for department needs that are beyond what the town budget can fully support.

The board spends 95-percent of all donated funds; the remaining five-percent is spent on overhead, such as stationery, postage, etc.

Items funded by the Front Royal Police Foundation in the past include: a K9 vehicle, K9 training and a kennel, defensive tactics training equipment, gym equipment and travel expenses for out-of-state training, as well as funding support for community projects such as National Night Out.

FRPD officers and FRPF volunteers and board members visited two nursing homes Thursday as part of their annual Operation Blue Christmas project. / Photo Karen Patton

For more information about joining or supporting the Foundation with a tax-deductible donation, see the Facebook page here: Front Royal Police Foundation.




Differing Christmas wishes across Front Royal’s political divide

Photos/Roger Bianchini

As Christmas 2017 approaches what is being wished for in the way of “presents” along Front Royal’s Chester Street political divide is VERY different.

Signs displayed December 13 on the Len Sherp-organized Vigil for Democracy side indicate a growing desire to see impeachment proceedings launched against the president as charges are leveled and guilty pleas entered amid mounting Special Prosecutor’s evidence of Trump staff and family pre-2016 election interactions with Russian operatives designed to help gain Trump’s election.  A variety of other wishful issues are displayed toward the end of this story.

On the other side of the street, the pro-Trump contingent that joined original Trump supporters Ralph and Michael Waller in front of their pawn shop in late May had reduced its focus to prayers and honks of support for the president, with a nod toward prayerful swamp-draining.  Of course that reduced focus could have been impacted by the fact there were only two members of that faith-based contingent present on a chilly second Wednesday of December.  On the Vigil for Democracy side numbers were also down somewhat, but continued in double figures at a head count of 15.

The Wallers continued to sport the original Trump-Pence campaign sign they displayed in March after first Sherp alone on March 8, and then supporters appeared across the street at the Front Royal Town Gazebo.  And this week Ralph added one sign reflecting the religious tone of the newer pro-Trump contingent negatively portraying liberals as “DESTRUCTORS OF GOOD GODLY MORAL ORDER” and “TERMITES IN GOVT”.  If anything, that sign reflects the astonishingly-wide gap in perspectives of pro and anti-Trump citizens of this town and nation.

Below, a dialogue continued …

But despite that negative portrayal of anti-Trump liberals, both Ralph and Michael Waller crossed the Chester Street political divide to re-engage vigil organizer Sherp and Bob Hill in a conversation that began in early May. see related story

And as we have reported before – perhaps seeing opposing sides of such an emotionally-charged debate finding some common ground for discussion is the most promising development of Front Royal’s dueling political demonstrations.

In August it was Bob Hill’s turn to cross Chester St. to continue a dialogue with the Wallers seeking common political ground – it was first found in a mutual concern for the environment.

But as for those Christmas wishes, there surely remains a divide …

Len Sherp acknowledges the Dec. 12 Alabama Senate election result, as well as the earlier Virginia State House swing toward the Democrats.

Rockland resident celebrates 103rd birthday – with a game of pool!

Marvin Reifsnyder – Royal Examiner File Photo/Malcolm Barr Sr.

Marvin Reifsnyder of Rockland chalked up another one December 10 – another birthday, that is.

On that day, World War II veteran Reifsnyder was 103 years old and celebrated with the visit of his son, Alan and his wife Libby, visiting from Florida, plus several neighbors who stopped by individually to say “Happy Birthday!”

“Uncle Marvin” who some call him (behind his back) was born in 1914, the year World War I, the “war to end all wars”, broke out in Europe.  Unfortunately that assessment of an end to war was wrong, and Reifsnyder enlisted in the U.S. Navy after the U.S. entered World War II some 27 years later. He served in the Pacific aboard a destroyer, which was anchored off the island of Iwo Jima the day in 1945 the Japanese surrendered.

Marvin lives alone – or rather with a caregiver – at the home he moved into with his late wife in 1986. She died in 2006 after 69 years of marriage. He is a native of Pennsylvania and worked in the Department of the Army at the Pentagon almost 50 years.

Despite diminishing eyesight, he is driven to the American Legion in Front Royal each morning to play pool, and once in awhile takes his place at a poker table. “I’m having trouble sometimes, seeing the ball, but I still enjoy going there,” he said.

Marvin is well remembered at the Shenandoah Valley Golf Club (SVGC) where he played the course into his mid-’90s. For exercise, he leaves his home for a daily stroll on the golf course, weather permitting.

“We still remember Marvin,” said Janet Maucione, banquet manager at SVGC, when told of his 103rd birthday at a Rockland Christmas banquet December 14.

State, municipal officials continue to express concerns over tax bill

State economic development official Sandra McNinch told municipal officials to alert their congressmen to concerns over economic impacts of some provisions of the Republican tax bill. Photo/Roger Bianchini

Comments by a Virginia state economic official at a December 8 joint meeting of the local Economic Development Authority, Warren County Board of Supervisors and Front Royal Town Council pointed to multiple fronts upon which the Republican tax reform bill still on the table could negatively impact municipal governments’ ability to finance several types of capital improvement projects.

In fact, Virginia Economic Development Partnership General Counsel Sandra McNinch suggested that local officials call their congressmen to alert them to their concerns about the proposed elimination of private activity bonds, New Market Tax Credits and Historic Structure Rehabilitation Credits.  All three help make capital improvement projects more affordable to municipalities and their citizens.

On December 8, VEDP General Counsel McNinch said as much as $34 billion in funding variables could be impacted by removal of the private activity bonds.  Of most concern are impacts on “charitable” facilities such as hospitals and schools.

Among items on the local capital improvement agenda that could be impacted are the new Front Royal Police Headquarters (New Market Tax Credits), any chance of saving the shell of the Afton Inn (Historic Tax Credits), the long-discussed new Warren Memorial Hospital slated for land off Leach Run Parkway, and perhaps even long-term financing options for already completed projects like the new middle school.

Municipal and economic development projects like some on the table here, including a new police headquarters and the potential of saving the shell of the Afton Inn, could suffer from drafts of the Republican tax reform bill.

As Royal Examiner first reported in a November 13 exploration of the initially-unveiled Trump-House Republican tax reform bill, the elimination of private activity bonds immediately got the attention of local officials. see related story

“The issue here is really about the ability to refinance bonds when the interest rates come down,” Warren County Administrator Doug Stanley told us, observing, “The Board of Supervisors has been able to save a significant amount of money in past few years when we were able to refinance bonds associated with school construction.”

“In addition to a dramatic cut in the corporate tax rate, the recently announced House tax bill takes serious, direct aim at the municipal bond market.  Both measures are sure to interfere with state and local governments’ ability to cost-effectively provide financing for projects,” long-time county consultant Springsted wrote in alerting its client base of the brewing problem.

“Some of the proposed tax cuts and job acts could be detrimental to the economic development of not just this community, but the nation as a whole.  Economic development relies on some of these very successful programs to create jobs and tax revenue for the community,” local Economic Development Authority Executive Director Jennifer McDonald added.

Following the December 8 EDA joint meeting, we asked McDonald to elaborate on the range of concerns local and state economic development officials have in various drafts of the Republican tax reform bill.

“As mentioned in the report from Sandi McNinch, General Counsel for the VEDP, there are several items that could directly impact IDA’s/EDA’s in future economic development activities:

  1. The elimination of private activity bonds. The IDA currently can issue bonds to charitable organizations such as schools, private schools, hospitals, etc. and pass along the tax exempt rate for those entities.  With the new tax reform this option would be eliminated, which would cost those organizations more money to build new facilities, renovate current facilities, etc.  The increased cost would then be passed along to the ultimate user (patients), locality, and/or State – it could have a big economic impact on localities.
  2. New Market Tax Credits – The House version eliminates them all together, but the Senate version does not mention elimination for 2018 and 2019. This could impact several projects the Town and County are looking at financing through the NMTC program.
  3. Historic Rehab Credit – the House version repeals it with a transition whereas; the Senate version repeals 10% credit and 20% credit claimed ratably over a 5-year period. This could impact projects that may have utilized the program for historic renovations in the Town.

“Those are the major impacts to economic development with the main hit being the elimination of private activity bonds.”

McDonald also forwarded us an e-mail from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) addressing the proposed Republican tax legislation.  Like McNinch, the IEDC urged economic officials across the nation to join them in seeking changes to the Republican tax bill.

“There is still time to raise your concerns with your Members of Congress, particularly if one of them happens to be on the conference committee. IEDC remains committed to protecting the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds (including Public Activity Bonds), historic tax credits and New Markets Tax Credits and we continue to communicate those views to Congress,” the IEDC wrote.

“Please continue to encourage your elected officials to include EDA in future disaster supplemental funding requests,” the IEDC added.  “Be sure to include any examples you may have of how EDA has supported your community following disasters. If you have been fortunate enough to not need EDA in these circumstances, you should include a project or two from your community that has used EDA funding in the past. These past few months have seen unprecedented disasters impacting multiple states across broad regions. While your community may not be impacted, it is important to recognize that disaster can strike any community and when it does, resources like those offered by EDA will be there to help you rebuild only if we continue to show strong support for them today.

“Your voices as economic development practitioners and constituents will always resonate more and it is critically important that you reach out to your elected officials and speak up in support of federal economic development resources and a tax plan that supports responsible growth,” the IEDC concluded.

Attempts to pin down any changes on these fronts included in the Republican House-Senate tax bill compromise reported on December 14 were unsuccessful prior to publication.  The status of private-activity bonds, New Market Tax Credits and Historic Rehabilitation Credits as the Republican Tax Bill progresses toward a possible vote prior to the end of the year will be addressed as that information becomes available.

Warren County cuts ribbon on Farmview Drive Rural Addition Project

From left at the Farmview Drive ribbon cutting, County Administrator Doug Stanley, Shenandoah Farms POA Board Chairman Ralph Rinaldi, North River Supervisor Dan Murray, Farms POA member Willy Surface, Shenandoah District Supervisor Tom Sayre, and Deputy County Administrator Bob Childress. Courtesy Photos/WC

On Thursday, December 14, Warren County cut the ribbon marking completion of the Farmview Drive Rural Addition improvement project.  Present were members of the Shenandoah Farms Property Owners Association Board and County officials.  The project totals 0.31 mile in length and represents “a major milestone for the POSF Board,” according to a press release issued by the County.

In 2006, the POSF Board established Farmview Drive and the adjacent Fellows Drive and Youngs Drive as priority Rural Addition projects.  The stated reasons were safety concerns for schoolchildren and bus traffic in the area.  Shenandoah Farms is one of the outlying county’s most densely populated areas.

Farmview Drive was the Farms Sanitary District’s number two Rural Addition priority in the County’s Capital Improvement Plan.  The CIP includes both VDOT Rural Addition/Revenue Sharing Projects and “in-house” projects in a prioritized list to provide guidance for staff to implement road and drainage improvements.

The completion of the Farmview Drive improvements represents the 14th project totaling about three miles of Farms roadway the County has developed and constructed through the Rural Addition Program (RAP) since taking on the administration of the Shenandoah Farms Sanitary District road system in 2010.  The Rural Addition Program allows private subdivision streets to be upgraded to minimum State standards, allowing their addition into the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) Secondary Road System.  Since completion late last month, Farmview Drive has been accepted by VDOT for maintenance.

Improving rural roadways to minimum VDOT standards to allow their admittance as state secondary roads allows for the redirection of Sanitary District funds to the maintenance of other local roads.

Farmview Drive was re-constructed to provide an 18-foot-wide paved travel surface with 2-foot stabilized shoulders.  Roadway culverts and private entrance pipes were replaced and/or supplemented throughout the project.  Side ditches were constructed where necessary for improved drainage, and according to the release safety signage was also installed.

Work as it progressed on Farmview Drive

In the press release Warren County Administrator Doug Stanley said, “The VDOT Revenue Sharing Program allows the County to administer these types of projects at a much lower cost.  Since we don’t have all the overhead costs that VDOT does, we can complete them much more cost effectively.”

Stanley credited Deputy County Administrator Bob Childress, who manages the Shenandoah Farms Sanitary District, for development and daily oversight of the project.

“Bob’s background and experience in road maintenance and construction with VDOT prior to his employment with the County have proved to be invaluable as we seek to make significant improvements to the infrastructure of the Sanitary District.”

Childress noted that the project “was completed well within budget.”  Childress explained that was due in large part to being able to avoid “existing fiber optic telephone cable” leading to a much shorter construction time-frame.  The original project design and estimate included significant adjustments to the telephone cable.

And that’s a RAP

According to the County, the originally-approved VDOT Revenue Sharing funding estimate for the project was $312,000.  And while not all-final billing has yet been processed, Childress said it appears the project has been completed for approximately $150,000.  The work took about a month, beginning in late October and ending in late November.

Through its Revenue Sharing Program, VDOT provides 50-percent of eligible costs.  Warren County and the Sanitary District split the remaining costs.  The Sanitary District’s 25-percent share of the final cost is now estimated at approximately $37,500.

Childress acknowledged road and drainage work by General Excavation, Inc. of Warrenton, with the asphalt surface being placed by Carroll Construction Company, Inc. of Winchester.  He also acknowledged good weather as a factor in the timely completion of the project – “We were very blessed to experience good weather this fall and to have had knowledgeable contractors on our team which allowed us to complete the project within our tight construction schedule”

Stanley added that, “Several other Rural Addition projects within the District are currently in various stages of planning and development.  The remaining 0.20 mile section of Tomahawk Way, an access roadway shared by the Shenandoah Farms and Blue Mountain Sanitary Districts, is currently in the design stage.   We are hopeful of having this important project under construction during the summer/fall of 2018.  The County has also recently submitted an application to VDOT for Revenue Sharing funds for the Old Oak Lane Phase IV, and Youngs Drive, Phase II Rural Addition projects.”

If you have any questions about this recently completed project, planning for future projects, or management of the Sanitary District, please contact Mr. Robert B. Childress, Deputy County Administrator, at (rchildress@warrencountyva.net) or Douglas P. Stanley, County Administrator, at (dstanley@warrencountyva.net).

(Information assembled from a County press release)

The Catholic Church: A brief history and Christmas Mass schedule


FRONT ROYAL – For the last two years, there has been a “second lung” of the Catholic Church, quietly ministering in Front Royal.

What is this “second lung” as St. John Paul II called it? Why did he call for the Church to breathe with “both lungs?”

What exactly is the Catholic Church, anyway? It is a community of 24 self-governing churches, united under the Pope, the Bishop of Rome. Remember how St. Paul would write to the church in this city or that city?

As those churches developed and still others were founded by the Apostles and their successors, they shared the same faith and the same sacraments though  the ways of expressing that faith and celebrating the sacred liturgy often differed. Thus, the Catholic Church is more that just the Western Roman Church (one lung).

The “second lung” is comprised of the Eastern Catholic Churches. The Ukrainian Catholic Church is the largest of the Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. Must one be Ukrainian to attend? No more than one must be Roman to attend a Roman Catholic Church.

Meeting in the chapel of Human Life International, at  4 Family Life Lane in Front Royal, families attend Divine Liturgy (Mass) in English, at SS. Joachim and Anna Ukrainian Catholic Church each Saturday at 4:00 p.m.

A Christmas Day Divine Liturgy is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. This community is a mission of the Archeparchy of Philadelphia. Two priests serve the community from the Ukrainian Catholic National Shrine of the Holy Family in Washington, DC. This will be the third Christmas Season for the new faith community, which began in the late summer of 2015.

This Byzantine Liturgy was written by St. John Chrysostom and dates to the 300’s.  Everyone is welcome to attend the Mass.

Governor McAuliffe and the Virginia Council on Women Announce the 7th Annual STEM Essay Contest

Members of the Virginia Council on Women after the 2017 meeting.

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe and the Virginia Council on Women today announced the 7th Annual STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Essay Contest for high school junior and senior women. The Council will award at least five $5,000 scholarships to young women, in their junior and senior years in high school, who will be pursuing a STEM career at an institution of higher education. One scholarship will be awarded in each of five geographic regions across the state. Additional scholarships may be awarded at the discretion of the Council.

“Growing the new Virginia economy depends on our ability to prepare young people to succeed in the workforce of the 21st century,” said Governor McAuliffe. “This essay contest is a great way to encourage our female students to pursue careers in the science, math, engineering and technology fields that will set the course for the global economy in the years to come. I want to thank the Virginia Council on Women for hosting this STEM essay contest and encourage Virginia’s young women to put their best ideas forward this year.”

“I am honored to be a part of the this year’s Virginia Council on Women STEM essay contest,” said Governor-Elect Northam. “Encouraging young women to pursue careers in high demand fields like science, technology, engineering and math is critical to making sure Virginia’s economy is strong and 21st century ready. I want to thank the Virginia Council on Women for their dedication to helping young women explore their passions and pursue careers in STEM fields.”

The STEM Essay Contest was launched in 2012 with 170 young women from across the Commonwealth submitting essays focusing on their vision for a future STEM education or career. In its first year, the Council raised $10,000 and made three scholarship awards. Now, in its 7th year, the Council has awarded more than $150,000 in scholarships. The Council partners with the Math Science Innovation Center, which, since its establishment in 1966, has served as a regional math and science center, to administer the contest.

Last year, the Council received more than 500 essay submissions and, thanks to the generosity of sponsors, awarded $35,000 in scholarships to high school women.

Amy Eckert, Co-Chair of the Essay Contest commented, “this contest is personal to me. I recognize the importance of financial aid. Scholarships, such as those awarded from the STEM Essay Contest, afforded me the opportunity to attend college.”

“We are excited to be kicking off our scholarship essay contest,” added Carol Rick Gibbons, Co-Chair of the Essay Contest. “It is always inspiring to see how many talented young women in Virginia are passionate about pursuing STEM careers. Working with our generous donors to help our winners achieve their education goals is extremely rewarding.”

To be eligible, one must be a female or identify as a female, reside in Virginia, be a junior or senior in high school and hold at least a 2.5 GPA. Applications and guidelines are available online.

Entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on February 8, 2018. Essays will be judged by a panel of Council members and individuals who represent STEM fields. Winners will be notified by March 23, 2018. The scholarship awards will be presented at a reception at the Executive Mansion in Richmond, Virginia, in April 2018.

About the Virginia Council on Women

The purpose of the Virginia Council on Women is to help women reach their potential and maximize their contributions to society and the Commonwealth as wage earners and citizens. The Council has initiated several projects to meet this goal. Find more information on the Council or on available sponsorship opportunities here.

Urban Forestry Advisory Commission Vacancy


The Town Council is searching for citizens interested in assisting the community by serving on the Urban Forestry Advisory Commission (UFAC) to fill an unexpired term expiring December 20, 2021.

UFAC is a 6-member panel appointed by Council and they are responsible for the development, implementation and maintenance of an Urban Forestry Management Program, for the education of the general public about proper tree care practices, and to support the efforts of other groups interested in urban forestry in the Town.

Those interested must be citizens living within Front Royal or Warren County.

If you are interested in serving on this Board, please complete an application form and/or resume with a cover letter by mail or in person to:

Clerk of Council
P.O. Box 1560
102 E. Main Street
Front Royal, Virginia 22630

Applications are available at https://frontroyalva.com/DocumentCenter/View/129

Christmas Eve tourtiere is the toast of Canadian tables


Tourtiere, or meat pie, is a traditional part of French Canadian Christmas and New Year’s Eve fare, although the dish is enjoyed throughout Canada.

Like many traditional dishes, the exact ingredients vary by family with recipes handed down throughout generations.

Typically, the meat pie consists of tiny cubes of pork, veal and beef, slow cooked and served in a pie shell. Meats very often differ based on availability by location. You’ll find fish served in some meat pies in coastal areas, for example.

Spices also vary. Some tourtieres feature a festive spice combination of cinnamon, cloves and all spice. Others feature sage and thyme, or a combination of spices.

This recipe from hiddenponies.com features ground pork plus bread crumbs. Many recipes call for mashed potatoes instead of bread crumbs.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 pounds ground pork
1 1/2 cups beef stock
3 onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups finely sliced mushrooms
1 cup finely chopped celery
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon summer savory or thyme
1/3 teaspoon cloves, ground
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
Pastry for a double crust 9-inch pie
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon water

In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat and cook pork, breaking it up, until no longer pink. Drain fat.

Stir in stock, onions, garlic, mushrooms, celery, salt, cinnamon, pepper, savory and cloves. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes or until 2 tablespoons of liquid remains.

Stir in bread crumbs and parsley.

Refrigerate to allow the flavors to meld.

Spoon filling into bottom shell, situated in deep pie plate or iron skillet. Cover meat mixture with top pastry and press edges to seal. Cut vents in top crust.

Brush top crust with egg and water.

Bake at 375 for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.