FRONT ROYAL – A total of nearly 100 people gathered peacefully in the Front Royal Village Commons area Saturday afternoon, March 10, despite several days of sometimes inflammatory social media posts suggesting an armed counter-demonstration to the planned “Vigil and Protest for Victims of Gun Violence”.
As reported by Royal Examiner on Friday, several aspects of the anti-gun violence vigil involving local high school students and the Selah Theater group comprised primarily of area teens were cancelled due to the tone of some gun-rights posts on the “What’s Up Front Royal” Facebook page and the call for anti-vigil demonstrators to show up with open carry firearms.
And while two of the approximate 15 to 25 gun rights advocates did show up with openly-displayed semi-automatic rifles, including an AR-15 like the one used in the Parkland, Florida high school shooting, those demonstrators, Emmy Bossung and Todd Kern, told us their weapons were unloaded and they did not want to create any undue anxiety among the vigil participants gathered to pay homage to gun violence victims. Rather, Bossung and Kern said their appearance with the weapons was intended to illustrate the right of Americans to bear arms within local and federal legal parameters.
And it is the idea of strengthening those legal parameters, particularly as they apply to background checks, waiting periods on gun purchases, age, and increased emphasis on mental health parameters as a viable part of background checks that separated the approximately 60 anti-gun violence demonstrators from the 25 to 30 gathered to emphasize their right to bear arms as American citizens.
And there was some civil discussion across those opinion lines and the barricades put in place by Front Royal Police prior to the 1 p.m. start of official anti-gun violence vigil activities. And other than a few isolated yells and some passing motorist horns momentarily drowning out some of the vigil speeches, for the most part the opposing sides remained civil, if separated philosophically.
Sixth Congressional District candidates Jennifer Lewis, Peter Volosin and Charlotte Moore appeared in support of the anti-gun violence vigil, while the county’s three state delegates though invited, did not. Those delegates, Chris Collins (29th), Todd Gilbert (15th) and Michael Webert (18th), Webert particularly, drew the ire of organizers for pro-NRA stances and past votes against gun law reform.
One local teen did speak and another’s essay was read at the anti-gun violence vigil. Madeline Phoenix, 14, read an essay written by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student and shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez; and Ell Phoenix read an essay penned by a local high school student who
elected to remain anonymous in the wake of the sometimes ominously-worded social media posts in recent days.
One the gun violence vigils most emotional moments was when participants went to the microphone at the Gazebo to take turns reading names of the deceased at recent mass shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14 and at the Las Vegas musical concert on October 1, 2017.
WATCH: American Legion Community Band 2018 Christmas Concert
The American Legion Community Band presented its annual Christmas Concert on Tuesday, December 18, 2018 at 7:30 pm in the R-MA Boggs Chapel in Front Royal. It was a free concert although a love offering was collected totaling $785 for the local C-CAP charity. There was music to please everyone, including traditional carols, a beautiful chorale and light-hearted selections delighting kids and grown-ups alike. The Royal Examiner’s camera was there to capture the event. Now take time, watch and welcome Christmas with the celebration of music presented by the American Legion Band.
The American Legion Community Band performs at a variety of concerts and community festivals throughout the year. All performances are free and open to the public. Their repertoire is both versatile and traditional with works ranging from classical to popular, marches and operatic overtures to modern works for band. The band is sponsored by the Giles B. Cook Post #53 of the American Legion.
We spoke with the Conductors Ed Richards, Ron Dye and Kristen Fristoe after the concert.
Also there was a special guest in the audience. All he said was his name was “Nick”.
Daytime lane closures for lane striping on I66 between Route 28 and I-495 on December 19th
FAIRFAX, Va. – Rolling double-lane closures will take place on eastbound I-66 between Route 28 (Sully Road) and I-495 between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., and westbound on I-66 between I-495 and Route 28 between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., Wednesday, December 19. Crews will be refreshing pavement markings as part of the I-66 Outside the Beltway Project.
Drivers are advised to use caution and expect potential delays.
Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over and Checkpoint Strikeforce
The Front Royal Police Department will be participating in Virginia’s 17th annual Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign and enforcement will be from December 18th – January 3, 2019. This campaign is geared toward spreading awareness and to combat the rise in drunk driving deaths this holiday season. The 2018 campaign, which Governor Northam helped launch in August, combines high-visibility enforcement with researched based advertising to remind likely offenders to get a safe ride home.
Partnering with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” enforcement mobilization, the Front Royal Police Department will be conducting checkpoints and extra officers will be conducting saturation patrols during this holiday season.
“This time of year brings loved ones from all over the Commonwealth together to celebrate the holiday season,” said Chief Kahle Magalis “With the increased traffic, extra law enforcement officers will be working to apprehend impaired drivers and ensure our citizens get home safely to their families.”
High Knob home destroyed in Sunday fire, cause unknown
WARREN COUNTY – A late-night Sunday evening fire destroyed a Warren County home in the High Know Mountain neighborhood, according to a media release from Warren County Fire Marshal Gerry Maiatico.
The release states that around 11 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 16, fire and rescue units were dispatched to 81 Trent Trail Court for a reported residential structure fire. The 911 caller reported that visible flames could be seen on the exterior of the home and that the blaze had spread to two parked vehicles and the siding of the home.
The first unit arriving on the scene around 11:10 p.m. reported two passenger vehicles and a single-story, single family home involved in fire. Additionally, the fire was threatening additional structures and wildland areas surrounding them because the house was situated below the grade of the adjoining access road, as well as being perched along a steep ravine.
Maiatico said firefighters took a defensive approach and attempted to protect exposures until the arrival of additional resources.
During the incident, according to the release, firefighters encountered extreme hazardous conditions, including: below freezing temperatures, prevailing winds, icy roads, limited water supply, and difficult access. Firefighters remained on the scene throughout the night and morning to ensure full extinguishment of the fire and to ensure there was no threat to adjoining properties.
The cause of the fire was investigated by the Warren County Fire Marshal’s Office. Maiatico said that though Investigators have worked meticulously alongside the homeowner’s insurance company to determine the cause of the blaze, no conclusion has been reached.
The home, two vehicles, and an outbuilding were deemed a total loss. There were no reported injuries.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Fire Investigator Raymond Cross at 540-636-3830 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elks Lodge, Police provide an early Christmas to some area families
Front Royal World War II veteran’s memory honored 74 years on
On Dec. 17, 1944, a 21-year-old soldier from Front Royal was killed on the World War II battlefield in Europe.
On Dec. 16, 2018, 74 years later, members of his family gathered at his grave site in Front Royal’s historic Pioneer Cemetery to honor his memory.
Todd Lewis, who recently moved to Warren County and is a self-styled wartime historian, brought the group together after researching the soldier’s history. His narrative will be cited and the local soldier will be honored at next year’s Memorial Day ceremony at the Gazebo.
The soldier, who lost his life in the famed Battle of the Bulge – specifically the Malmeday Massacre – was Samuel Albert Hallman, born and educated in Front Royal and, when he enlisted, was working on the building of the former American Viscous site under the aegis of the Civilian Conservation Corps. Hallman, in the final year of the war, arrived in Fort Sill, Oklahoma for boot camp, then immediately was assigned to active duty in France and Belgium.
Less than a few months later, Hallman, a fresh-faced private with Battery B, 285 Field Artillery Observation Battalion, was dead, his name later etched on the memorial to all local Second World War veterans who died in the conflict. That memorial stands in the Warren County Courthouse grounds in downtown Front Royal.
Among family survivors who live in Warren County, and who were at the Pioneer Cemetery last Sunday, was Charlotte Partlowe of Stephens City, Hallman’s one remaining sister, now in her eighties and seven years younger than her brother, Sam. She said after the war their mother, Odessa, received Samuel’s decoration, the Purple Heart, from the war department. She recalled Sam going straight out to work from grade school to the CCC as a construction worker.
“Those were days (in the 1930s) when times were poor and jobs hard to get,” she recalled. She said her brother had turned 21 when he died. She would have been about 14. Charlotte recalled that during his youth Samuel was an ardent hunter and fisherman.
While there are more Hallmans in and outside the area, those who mourned at his graveside Sunday included three nephews, William, 60; John, 54; and Sam, 46, all of Front Royal. Sister Charlotte attended along with a niece, Belinda Hallman.
Faulkner, who did the research on Hallman, said the Malmeday Massacre, part of the better-known Battle of the Bulge, involved German SS troops firing first on Hallman’s battery, many of which stood, hands raised in surrender. They were mowed down by the German troops. Faulkner said Hallman survived the initial assault, making it to the shelter of a hedgerow, making plans to escape. In a break for it, Samuel was hit and severely wounded. Members of a tank crew walked down the lane where the Front Royal man was lying with his fellow soldiers. The German SS shot each of them to death with their pistols.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower spread news of the killings among American troops, later described as “the biggest massacre in U.S. Army history,” to effectively spur them on to eventual victory in the key Battle of the Bulge.
Samuel Albert Hallman – R.I.P.