On Monday, September 14, a ship of dreams set sail on the most recent leg of its journey in memory of one human spirit that set an example for us all. That ship is affectionately known as the Glenn Ship <glennship.com> or as christened by its skipper Glenn Mikulak, the K’nector of the Seas.
With the assistance of some Front Royals finest encountered at Skyline Middle School, the K’nector of the Seas most recent port of call, the ship estimated to be assembled from 10,000-odd K’NEX pieces was moved in its massive glass case to the C&C Frozen Treats complex at 413/409 East Main Street, in Front Royal’s Historic Downtown Business District.
“Overseeing” the operation was Glenn’s mother, Glenda Mikulak Roberts, husband William “Billy” Roberts, and C&C proprietor William “Willie” Huck. We asked, first mom Glenda, and then Huck about the relocation to a downtown place of prominence. Ironically, or perhaps magically, the Glennship’s new port lies in the shadow of the Town Gazebo where the K’nector of the Seas laid anchor with several hundred mourners, including Class of 2010 Warren County High School classmates of Glenn’s at his October 24, 2010, Memorial Service.
“It was October 19 when Glenn sailed to his distant shore. And my daughter, Robin Mikulak Dodson, got together with Willy (Huck) at C&C Frozen Treats, and they had a plan to move it down here. So, we executed their plan today, and we’re going to hang up some information on Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne’s particularly, and remind people how somebody with a disability could really go way and beyond and make a creation like the one with over 10,000 pieces here.”
As some “docking” logistics were being ironed out and Glenn’s K’nector of the Seas already began drawing attention from passing East Main Street foot traffic and perhaps a passing motorists horn honk, we asked Huck about the genesis of the Glennship relocation born of conversations with a C&C Frozen Treats customer, Glenn’s sister Robin.
“She asked me if we could do it, and I was like ‘most certainly’ and (wife) Nina was like, ‘YES, we’d LOVE to!’. There are love and magic in the ice cream shop, connectors, connections all over. And K’nector, connections – it all just fits. It truly is about the connections and it’s an honor to host this in the ice cream shop so the magic can continue to live. This truly represents our community coming together and that’s the most important thing,” Huck observed of Glenn’s K’nector of the Seas sailing C&C Frozen Treats way.
“To have this young man’s legacy live on in our building is a little overwhelming because I never met the man, didn’t know him, wasn’t in Front Royal at the time. But I can see his passion for life. And the ship that he’s done – I’m about love and magic, and this is his love shining to the world to see the magic that he’s created,” Huck said.
“The research behind what he has done with this ship says that it’s passion. And that’s what he lived with. Even to his end, he lived with passion and wanted to touch people. And we’re about memories and about celebrating – and the adventure, there’s always an adventure. And … we can all load on and take an adventure anywhere we want to go, anywhere we want to be.
“Glenn’s adventure continues, and he’s going to continue to touch people even in his passing. And to be a part of his legacy is an honor here at C&C Frozen Treats,” Huck concluded, locking in on the importance of the example Glenn Mikulak gave us all during his 18 years with us. As a footnote to this story, Glenda reminded us that Glenn’s First Mate, his dad Robert Mikulak, aka “The Ratchetman”, rejoined his son’s crew on that far, shining shore in November 2012.
“Interesting in the 10 years since Glenn has been sailing away, they have come up with some really good treatments, and they’ve got some good trials going for Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy. So, we’re hoping that something really good will evolve from 2020, maybe. In my lifetime I want to see a successful treatment/cure for Duchenne’s,” Glenda said of the deteriorative muscle disease that took aspiring engineer Glenn’s life.
In addition to its stops at various Warren County Public Schools, Glenda noted a year’s port of call in Winchester’s Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum; and she asked for a shoutout for the Glennship’s massive protective glass enclosure case, made courtesy of Mark Dick’s MD Construction. And not one to miss perhaps cosmic irony, Glenda pointed to the company owner’s connecting initials to the disease Glenn battled throughout his life.
“At his funeral, we carried it down the street here, 350 people went to the Gazebo where we had a little ceremony. And as we were driving up in the truck today, it reminded me of the emotions as we were bringing it down, and we came in that same direction,” Glenda said, also recalling a certain camera-toting reporter jogging to the front of the procession as the K’nector sailed into this downtown neighborhood the first time.
In 2010 this reporter covered Glenn’s ship being brought into his high school for display under his watchful eye his senior year; and just months later of his passing in a story titled “An Improbable Tale of the High Seas: A captain among men, Glenn Mikulak sails toward a brighter shore”. In reporting on his creation’s latest port of call at C&C Frozen Treats, I will include passages from that latter story, including references to the earlier story:*
Ten years gone
For most people, me included, memories of a nice trip, whether it be on a ship or by another mode of transportation, are generally recorded in our sometimes flawed memory banks or on photographs soon to be curled and yellowing in some forgotten scrapbook.
But for Warren County High senior Glenn Mikulak, the memories of a 2006 trip with his late grandmother, Linda Hogoboom, on a Caribbean cruise were translated into an astonishing reconstruction of a cruise ship. On April 28th Glenn’s ship christened “K’nector of the Seas … was brought for display in the Warren County High lobby. The reactions of classmates, teachers and even Principal Ernestine Jordan mirrored my own.
“Glenn, that’s incredible – did you draw a picture of it first?” “No, I just started building it,” Glenn replied.
“I couldn’t do that if I had my whole life to finish it,” one student exclaimed.
The fact Glenn oversaw the event from his wheelchair underscores perhaps the added awe with which his classmates viewed his achievement. Glenn suffers from a form of Muscular Dystrophy known as Duchenne, an irreversible deterioration of the muscular system. As a consequence of his condition, Glenn has a reduced life expectancy and must face that fact each day …
Glenn’s outlook is an inspiration to all. We asked him how he does it.
“Designing and building is my passion,” he told us. “I try to use all that I have and make the best of it. I anticipate a cure in the future and while it’s getting harder and harder for me every day physically, I am doing all I can. It’s discouraging at times, but I am still creating and building. I hope I’m an inspiration to other people. This ship will be my legacy.”
But Glenn was wrong, at least in part. It isn’t just his ship that is his legacy. Rather, as repeatedly commented on by emotional friends, family, and classmates at his Oct. 24 (2010) Memorial Service, it is Glenn’s spirit that is his most enduring legacy … Glenn’s legacy to all of us is the example of achievement under duress; of hope where hopelessness might seem the answer; of life lived to the fullest under the constant shadow of death.
Glenn was dealt a lousy hand physically – but spiritually he carried a full deck.
His hand played out on his mother’s birthday, Oct. 19, 2010. Captain, permission to leave the bridge of the “Royal K’nibbean Line’s K’nector of the Seas” is granted. Please take your next duty station on the bridge of another ship of dreams, a ship without unwanted anchors, a ship sailing into a port of call on a distant and shining shore.
Back to the present
As the 10th anniversary of his passing approaches, Glenn’s ship has sailed a familiar route into a new port of call his mother called, if not a shining shore, a “shining store” in downtown Front Royal. And in coming months for those of us willing to really look into that perhaps magical C&C Frozen Treats complex storefront window, we will be reminded, not only of who Glenn Mikulak was but of who we can be with a little more focus, a little more effort and a little less complaining about the hand we are dealt in this world.
Check-in with Glenn’s Ship on Facebook where you can share thoughts, photos, and a dream or two can mingle with others touching those afloat in the wake of a visit to the K’nector of the Seas.
Footnote*: Excerpts from stories first published in 2010 in the Warren County Report.
Facts about Glenn’s ship:
- Length: 8 feet 6 inches
- Width: 1 foot
- Height: 2-feet-5-inches
- Build Time: 6 weeks in 2006
- Upgrading Time: 3 weeks in 2010
- Estimated K’NEX pieces used: 10,000
Blue Ridge Wildlife Center Patient of the Week: Northern Flicker
When we know better, we do better.
This female Northern Flicker came to the Center after a window collision that caused bleeding into the lungs and brain injury.
In the past, after a window strike, rehabilitators (ourselves included) typically recommended containing the bird and allowing it to rest for a few hours before seeing if it could fly off. That’s no longer the case!
When we know better, we do better. Even when these birds have no obvious injuries and are able to fly off, it’s been found that many suffer ongoing internal bleeding, eye damage, and delayed effects of traumatic brain injury. These issues are likely to result in death if released without professional care.
We don’t expect humans to “walk it off” after high-speed collisions – we get them medical attention. For birds, who need to be in top physical shape just to survive in the wild, this is even more important.
Just remember, if the birds hit hard enough that you can grab them and contain them, they should be seen ASAP by a rehabilitator – don’t let them go, even if they seem like they’ve “recovered”!
After a few days with supplemental oxygen and anti-inflammatories, this woodpecker patient is feeling better and has moved out of our intensive-care area.
Help protect our birds by taking steps to prevent window collisions in your own home!
- Vertical or horizontal lines, spaced no more than 2” apart, are very effective at preventing strikes (lines should be at least 1/8” wide and can be made using tape, washable tempera paint, or specific products you can purchase for this purpose).
- Decals can be effective, but only if spaced as described above – a few decals on a large picture window is not an effective deterrent.
Close shades when not in use. Turn off lights after dark to help nighttime migrants.
UPDATE: Last week’s Patient of the Week has now been returned to its found location at Sherando Park!
This goose was lucky to not sustain any fractures, only soft tissue damage, when it became entangled in fishing line. After a week of time to rest, this goose was ready to get home.
Please help wildlife that live near ponds, lakes, rivers, beaches, etc. by taking your trash home with you and cleaning up lures and fishing lines when you see it out in the environment!
Although there were no geese in the lake at the time of release, geese tend to frequent the same spots and they are regularly seen at this lake, so we suspect this patient will find its flock again quickly.
Watch the release video here:
Building Community, One Tree at a Time
On Saturday, November 13th, community members from Front Royal came together to do their part in helping our town achieve its Tree City USA designation by planting six Willow Oaks at the Gertrude E. Miller Community Park. The tree planting was made possible through leadership from the Warren County Democratic Committee (WCDC), in collaboration with the Town of Front Royal Public Works, Warren County Parks & Rec, the Front Royal/Warren County Tree Stewards, and Town Arborist, Jim Osborn. Funding for the trees was procured by WCDC through the Virginia Department of Forestry’s (VDOF) Virginia Trees for Clean Water grant.
“This was a great opportunity to get our membership involved with a project that benefits the community and our local environment,” commented Paul Miller, outreach director for the WCDC. “What we all have in common here in Front Royal is a love and respect for our beautiful valley.”
More than 20 volunteers assisted with the planting at the Gertrude E. Miller Community park, adjacent to Bing Crosby Stadium. The location was chosen because the newly planted trees will offer shade to the playground equipment, which is hot to the touch in summer months, and because it accomplishes one of the key metrics of the DOF grant — to convert turf to trees. Osborn explained the choice of tree: “We chose Willow Oaks because they are hardy and can tolerate various soil conditions. They grow up to 60 ft tall with a roughly 35 ft spread, which means they’ll provide good shade and a healthy canopy for residents and wildlife to enjoy.” After a planting demonstration, all six trees were in the ground within two hours, firmly staked to keep them growing straight and lined with a mesh to keep the bark safe from any wildlife inclined to rub or nibble.
Justin Proctor, a local conservationist assisting with the effort, was excited to see months of planning come to fruition. “Planting trees around our town is a win-win for everyone — we all get to share in more aesthetically engaging landscapes, we create habitat and food for our birds and pollinators, and we cool the town down during our hot summer months. The added benefits of carbon sequestration and oxygen production just sweeten the deal!”
After such a successful planting, everyone is eager to keep the momentum going. Melody Hotek, President of the Tree Stewards, sums up that feeling well: “Our Town has held the Tree City USA status for over 20 years, and that’s something to be proud of! Planting and caring for trees is such an all-around rewarding experience, but it takes time, effort, and collaboration to continue fostering healthy urban forestry throughout Front Royal. We really encourage more of our residents to get involved by contacting our group.”
If you’re interested in learning more, and/or participating in a future planting, don’t hesitate to connect with the Tree Stewards via their website: treesfrontroyal.org. And be sure to swing by the playground at the Gertrude E. Miller Community Park to see the new Willow Oaks!
Warren County EDA reaches bank agreement on McDonald parcel, moves C-CAP rental forward among other actions in final meeting of 2021
The Board of Directors of the Front Royal and Warren County Economic Development Authority (EDA) held the combined November and December meeting via Zoom. All Board members attended the meeting.
The Board adopted two resolutions. One resolution to approve C-CAP using Suite C located at the EDA office building to store food for distribution. The use of Suite C is at no cost to the organization while it transitions to a lease in Suite B and C-CAP will provide evidence of an insurance policy to cover the use of Suite C. The EDA and C-CAP will negotiate the terms of a lease on Suite B and possibly Suite C at the Kendrick office location at an agreed rental rate.
The second resolution authorizes the EDA Chair and Treasurer to finalize details of an agreement with Atlantic Union Bank where it gives up its claim in the Jennifer McDonald bankruptcy and the EDA will release its claim on the property formerly owned by “Little Rugratz” on Virginia Avenue. The existing bank loan is more than the value of the property and the release of the EDA claim allows the bank to sell the property. In return, by the bank releasing its claim in the bankruptcy, the EDA can recover a higher percentage of the recovery from the McDonald bankruptcy and save money in attorneys’ fees.
The Board is working with Public Works to address the maintenance issues at the Kendrick Lane building including HVAC repairs and installation of water shut-off valves.
The EDA and County are working on soliciting bids for appraising all the EDA properties. The first priority is the Baugh Drive building.
Chair Jeff Browne updated the board on Nature’s Touch and the VDOT grant. Scott Jenkins stated all the marketing material for the Commonwealth is updated and was approved by VEDP (Virginia Economic Development Partnership).
Greg Harold presented the final draft of three Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) that will be used as guides for EDA and prospective purchasers of EDA property. He stated the documents were not “static”, but are “living” documents that will be modified as needed. The three SOPs approved are Letters of Intent, Contract Management, and Property Disposition Due Diligence. The documents will be posted on the website by December 15.
The EDA and Warren County are working on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to govern the transition of EDA’s staff moving to the County payroll and EDA’s role in future economic development in the county. One change beginning immediately is the County will permanently take over receiving and coding EDA bills prior to the EDA Chair and Treasurer approving the expenses.
The EDA Board approved the meeting schedule for 2022 and future meetings will be in person. The next EDA meeting will be on Friday, January 14th at 9 a.m. The location will be posted on the website as well as the remaining dates for 2022.
(From an EDA Press Release of December 5th)
WATCH: Christmas Parade 2021
If you missed the Christmas Parade or want to see it again, sit back and enjoy!
This year the Front Royal/Warren County Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade was hosted by Mike McCool, Publisher of the Royal Examiner. Thanks to Connor Clark for operating the video camera and the parade sponsor Lindsay Chevrolet.
Winners in this year’s parade are:
Best in Show – Edward Jones
Walking Group – Warren County High School Band
Best Large Float – White Horse Car Wash
Best Small Float – Samuels Public Library
Explore Art & Clay opens on Main Street Front Royal
Explore Art & Clay has opened a gallery at 501 East Main Street in Front Royal. The Gallery features locally handmade pottery, ornaments, mugs, glasswork, plates, paintings, cards, ink work and so much more. Local potters, artists, photographers, and makers work added every day. Love Front Royal? Love Virginia? This is the shop for you!