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A perspective on the Town Council’s view of creek stabilization – Time to catch up with the 21st Century



During the November 9 Town Council meeting, Melody Hotek, president of the Front Royal/Warren County Tree Stewards was assured by town staff that no trees over 4-inches in diameter had been cut down by the Town Public Works crew along Happy Creek next to Front Street. However, an inventory of stumps along the west bank by arborist David Means and myself revealed that 115 trees of that size or larger had been cut down. Of these, 87% were native species, and 77% measured 5-16 inches in diameter.

Unfortunately, we cannot know the size of trees ripped out by the roots before Means reported the work to the Royal Examiner in October. According to town staff some larger trees had to be removed so that the “bench could be sloped” for the installation of rocks.

Interestingly, the oldest trees were about 20 years old. Asking around, we were told that the Town used to cut the trees down every three years – until about 20 years ago. This would also explain our town manager’s claim that clear-cut banks and rocked-in streambeds “will be beautiful.” Those of us over 50, like myself and the town manager, grew up in landscapes like that, with nature tamed and trimmed, shrubs sheared into lollipops, perfect lawns doused in herbicide, and trees with limbs chopped off like amputees.

After: Expensive 20th Century flood control concepts replacing effective 21st Century solutions along Happy Creek in Front Royal. Courtesy Photos FR-WC Tree Stewards

But times are changing, and we must change as well. Every 21st-century kid learns about water quality and riparian buffers in school nowadays. But those of us who haven’t been to school in a while may have missed the updates – that clean water, flood control, and healthy trees go hand in hand. Most towns and cities are exchanging the riprap our Council is now installing for exactly what we’re yanking out: 35 to 100-foot borders of broad-rooted trees and shrubs, called riparian buffer zones.

Before: A riparian buffer no longer in place along Happy Creek’s bank on Front Royal’s southside as Tree Stewards plant the now ‘deceased’ willow tree on a rainy Arbor Day 2016.

Unfortunately, the “bad haircut” accurately described by Tenia Smith in her recent letter to the editor is the result of misguided and outdated thinking in stormwater management and healthy water quality. A rock-lined stream acts like a water chute, accelerating and building the volume of excess water as it travels downstream, spreading out at first opportunity into town streets, damaging bridges and buildings along the way. By contrast, tree roots not only quickly absorb water, but prevent erosion and filter out pollutants like dog poop and toxins. In addition, they shade us and the stream on hot days, keeping the water cool enough for fish and other organisms that thrive in healthy streams.

Fortunately, the roots of the remaining stumps along Happy Creek not only continue to secure the banks but contain enough energy to re-sprout next spring – if they’re not removed so that “the bench could be sloped.” Had the trees remained undisturbed, the larger ones would have eventually shaded out the weaker ones, leaving a tall and beautiful low-cost water filter while providing cheap flood control.

That’s not to say that there isn’t a role for riprap. Trees are not allowed within 100 feet of bridges, and if you look off the north side of the South Street Bridge, you’ll see two things – a huge culvert draining the South Street hardscape into Happy Creek and erosion caused by the resulting volume of water. This is where a hardscape mixed with low-growing shrubs and grasses would be a great solution, leaving nature to do the work downstream.

Drainage culvert from hardscape into Happy Creek at South Street.

As buildings are added upstream, such as a likely seven-acre housing development between the Martins plaza and Samuels Library, another enormous culvert will start draining stormwater from new roofs and parking lots. A responsible, forward-thinking Town Council would ensure that Happy Creek remains healthy and that we don’t all have to freak out about another bad haircut along Remount Road. For this reason, a plan should be created and shared with residents for comment well in advance by qualified professionals in our community who understand the importance of both housing and clean water. They are not incompatible.

Our town has an Urban Forestry Advisory Commission appointed by Town Council to address tree care and preservation. But did they obey their own town code by consulting these experts? No, ma’am, they chose a $37,000 bad haircut instead of expanding and beautifying our riparian buffers.

Meanwhile, people must understand that flood control is complex, with many variables. For example, the flooding you observed on downtown a few years back was due to overwhelmed pipes draining excess water into poor old Happy Creek, who could not contain it all. Well-managed communities know that excess water is best controlled at its source. Thus proper zoning ensures that runoff is retained where it hits the ground, to be released over a 24-48-hour period into streams like Happy Creek. Nowadays, beautiful equals healthy – for humans, trees, and water.

Sonja Carlborg
Front Royal

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Keep control of our local schools in our local hands



Less than a year ago, the National School Board Association colluded with the Biden Administration and the FBI to deem upset parents “domestic terrorists.”  If one thing has become abundantly clear, parents are fed up and want to be heard by their local school boards. Parents do not want large organizations with official-sounding names but no legal authority standing in their way when trying to address the local officials they voted into office.

The Virginia State Constitution gives supervision of the public school system to the Board of Education and supervision of local schools to the elected school boards. Nowhere does our constitution instruct locally elected representatives to hand over their thought and authority to a for-profit lobbying group such as the VSBA.

My concerns with the VSBA began during my first training. This was FOIA training, but there was a conversation about school board members being used to push for gun control in Virginia. One speaker warned us of the “democrat enthusiasm gap,” saying the “realignment of suburban voters could threaten democrat seats.”  They encouraged school board members to develop close relationships with state legislators, saying we could have pull convincing them. They instructed school board members to use the VSBA’s written action alerts to send to state legislators. They said it was important for us to have a “collective voice” because that is where our power is.

Every January, the VSBA invites school board members to attend their “Capitol Conference,” which coincides with lobby day. School board members attend the VSBA “legislative issues briefing,” where lobbyists of the VSBA present their “legislative positions” to school board members. The VSBA instructs school board members to set up private meetings with members of the general assembly so they can advocate for the VSBA’s legislative positions on bills being proposed.

I attended this conference, and it was shocking! Republicans and their bills were openly laughed at and mocked by the VSBA presenter, chief lobbyist Stacy Haney. Delegate Tim Anderson’s school security bill (which included the idea of using veterans as SROs) was presented with the commentary “…the good news is this bill has failed already…that may be the only piece of good news I have to share with you today” followed by a room full of laughter. The presenter then made jokes as she presented a family life education bill proposed by Delegate LaRock. Similar unprofessional behavior followed as she sarcastically presented bills proposed by other republicans such as Delegate Nick Freitas, Delegate Avoli, and Senator Amanda Chase (just to name a few). Bills proposed to increase parental rights, allow parents to opt children out of controversial material, allow review of curriculum/reading material, and allow a full review of budgets were described by the VSBA lobbyist as “the whole republican agenda.”  She then made the comment, “thank goodness for the senate this year” (meaning the democrat-controlled state senate would reject any republican bills passed by the republican-controlled house of delegates). Warren County taxpayer dollars helped fund this event by the VSBA.

Watch leaked VSBA videos from a conference. 

It is important for Warren County taxpayers to understand the cost of $9,521.19 is merely the buy-in for membership with the VSBA; it is not the total cost. In FY 2021, Warren County paid the VSBA $35,454.99 (not including travel and hotel expenses to attend VSBA events). Let us all remember these factual figures when doing our due diligence to compare and explore potential long-term cost/benefit savings by using alternatives to the VSBA.

The Charlottesville-based VSBA does not represent the local culture and values of the small-town Warren County taxpayers. So why would we want them to write our local school policies and train our local board members? It is important to understand that despite having an official-sounding name, the VSBA has no legal authority over us. Leaving the VSBA does NOT mean we will lose out on state or federal dollars, as the VSBA doesn’t bring us any financial benefit.

I ask Warren County taxpayers who you want to represent your values inside our schools. The local citizens you elected and have the ability to contact, the power to influence, and the right to elect or not elect again? Or do you want to give up control to a large for-profit organization that you have no ability to influence? Personally, I believe the Virginia state constitution had the right idea to keep control of our local schools in our local hands. The VSBA has caused a lot of controversy and division in our local school system, and I believe the path to restoring trust in our local schools is to bring that decision-making back to Warren County. I believe the path to saving our local public school system starts by leaving organizations such as the VSBA.

Melanie Salins
Front Royal

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The Pot calling the kettle black – Partisanship and Public Education: a move to isolate, defund, and weaken Warren County Public Schools from within?



This observer finds the Warren County School Board debate over continued membership in the Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA) disturbingly ironic and troubling in its timing. The latter as the county board of supervisors plods along six weeks into the new fiscal year without an approved public schools budget and cuts on the table that could lead to program and staffing cuts and additional losses, including a potential exodus of teachers facing contract cuts here to surrounding communities still looking to fill post-COVID teaching vacancies at already approved wage levels. And that public school budget debate here continues despite no increase in local funding being sought to support that FY-2023 WC Public Schools budget proposal.

See: “Teachers remain uneasy about ongoing delays in approval of FY-2023 Public Schools Budget”

As for irony, the move for withdrawal from VSBA appears to be led by home-schooling mother and North River District Public School Board member Melanie Salins. Salins, with some public support offered, including by fellow Warren County Republican Committee member and Front Royal Town Councilwoman Amber Morris, has set about to label the VSBA a partisan lobbying organization openly critical of Republicans.

A logical question prior to a vote to disassociate from what appears to have been a longstanding and productive relationship for Warren County Public Schools would be that if, in fact, the VSBA lobbies, what does it “lobby” – or as its website states: “advocate” – for? The answer from information on its website appears to be for the interests of its School Boards membership, as in adequate funding of and state policies to the benefit and protection of public education in the Commonwealth of Virginia. If that is a “partisan” agenda might it be because those labeling it as such have made it so?

Is it surprising that an organization created to protect and promote public education in Virginia would be at odds with people, including members of a political party, who appear to have embraced ways to reduce funding for public education? And this is not to say that all Republicans favor reduced community support of public education. But as the Grand Old Party as the GOP tag comes from, fights internally to determine who and what philosophy will control the Party’s future direction, one side of that in-house political struggle steeped in a universe of “alternate facts” and conspiracy theories seem to have found willing allies within the reduced funding of public schools community.

But is there such a defunding of public education agenda in motion in Virginia?  Evidence would seem to be mounting, including right here in Front Royal and Warren County, which may be the perfect petri-dish for such a policy experiment. And if it were to exist, what strategies would indicate that existence and how would such a defunding-of-public-schools agenda be pursued?

A 3-step game plan

For starters, the candidacy and election of like-minded people approaching public school operations from a cynically negative perspective. And that is not to demean honest due diligence in exploring budget variables and cost proposals, just acknowledgment that “due diligence” can sometimes be used as a cover for other motives.

Second, isolate the target – perhaps remove the local School Board from a statewide support group of school boards, especially if it provides independent legal representation and advice for its members’ protection. For those wishing to shift the impetus of community education away from factually based, non-partisan public education, withdrawal from membership in an organization like the Virginia School Boards Association would seem a logical strategical step in isolating your target. That second step would likely be followed shortly by proposals for a fundamental shift in taxing policies supporting the community’s educational systems.

That third step, and this is where the endgame begins, would be to reduce operational funding to public education, as noted above is currently being debated in the halls of the Warren County Government Center.

One way to limit that funding not yet on the table here – but how close might it be? – would be the offering of tax exemptions regarding support of public schools, first to home and private schooling parents, and ultimately perhaps to anyone who does not have a child in the public school system. Such exemptions if achieved would essentially be an economic death blow to public education as we know it.

To those supporting such a reduced public schools funding agenda, public education is no longer a critical part of the entire community’s life to be supported by all that community’s taxpayers to the ultimate benefit of the community as a whole, as in an ability to attract significant economic development and better jobs to that community. Rather, it is a philosophical enemy to be weakened and dismantled to the political and economic benefit of special interest groups with their own ideological lobbying interests in tow.

Disturbing irony

So, does openly stated opposition to those politically advocating reductions to public school  funding make VSBA a partisan lobbying organization? An answer reflects the “disturbingly ironic” part of the question on the table.

If critics of VSBA as partisan lobbyists are themselves part of a philosophical and/or political ideology targeting support and funding of public education because it does not advocate for or teach their preferred ideological beliefs, attempting to identify public educational advocacy from an alliance of statewide School Boards as “partisan lobbying” seems overwhelmingly ironic, and more particularly hypocritical and self-serving. Excuse me if I am skeptical of Salins’ qualification against lobbying from any political perspective.

One might ask what the $9,521.19 annual VSBA membership fee does for the county’s public schools. As reported by Royal Examiner’s Kim Riley (story link below), VSBA offers its members: “a variety of services, including governance training; strategic planning services for developing and implementing focused plans of action; assistance with searching and selecting a superintendent; networking; subscriber policy services based on state and federal laws, regulations, and case law; legal information and limited attorney consultation; and collective bargaining services”. Riley further quoted Public Schools Superintendent Chris Ballenger observing that “VSBA also offers high-quality webinars, conferences, conventions, meetings, podcasts, and other trainings for school board members and for school board development.”

See: “School Board debates membership in Virginia School Boards Association”

Hmm, legal information and attorney consultation, as well as policy services based on state, federal, and case law; not to mention a statewide network of School Boards bringing their own perspectives and group unity to evolving issues faced by public schools in this third decade of the 21st century.

Action Agenda

I suggest the citizens and taxpayers of this community not philosophically connected to a desire to weaken independent, non-partisan, fact-based public education not wait to see how this debate concludes. Rather, proactively contact your School Board members immediately with a demand the Warren County School Board maintain its membership in VSBA. I searched “Warren County Virginia School Board” online (Google search engine) and clicked on the first link to get a full email/phone # list of members.

But with a potential vote on the FY-23 school budget as early as Tuesday, August 16, don’t stop there. Also contact and urge the Warren County Board of Supervisors to insist that public schools receive adequate Operational funding independent of past or current Capital Improvement Project debt service variables, with additional tax revenue when and if necessary (not this year), for what, along with Public Safety, is one of the two most important functions of county governments – Public Education. I searched “County of Warren Virginia Board of Supervisors”, clicked on first link, then on “Government” on top row, then to left on “Board of Supervisors” and scrolled down several turns to get emails and phone #s for all members.

For if this battle is lost, prepare for the rest of those above-described strategies to eventually be put on the table at the long-term expense of, not just Warren County Public Schools and the students and staff in them, but this community as a whole.

Roger Bianchini
Front Royal

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Why Should You Care About Extrinsic Versus Intrinsic Motivation?



What motivates you to work hard? Is it the potential for more money? Or perhaps it’s the satisfaction that comes from accomplishing something amazing? These questions will help you to determine whether you should pursue a job that pays well or a side hustle that provides satisfaction.

When you think of motivation, what kind of things come to mind? Do you think of extrinsic or intrinsic motivation?

You may have heard the two terms before, but what exactly do they mean? We’ll discuss these concepts and their implications for your life, career, and business.

Are you looking to improve the performance of your employees? Do you want to see higher productivity? Or perhaps you’re looking to motivate your team to work harder?

This is a topic that gets brought up quite often, especially by the leaders who have been through the transformation process. And while the theory behind intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is pretty simple, there’s a ton of confusion around the difference between them.

And that leads to a lot of leaders wondering which type of motivation works best for them.

So let’s break it down and explain why you need to care about intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation.

What is Extrinsic Motivation?

Extrinsic motivation can be defined as behavior that is driven by external rewards. It is possible to have tangible or intangible rewards, such as money, grades, or fame.

Extrinsically motivated people will continue to perform a task, even if it is not itself rewarding. For example, they might work overtime or accept less pay than their colleagues.

Extrinsic motivation is when someone or something is motivated to behave a certain way due to the reward or consequence that comes from the behavior.

This type of motivation can be very effective. Think of the many examples of things you do in your own life that you do for external reasons.

What is Intrinsic Motivation?

Internal rewards include activities such as exercise because they give us pleasure or satisfaction.

In other words, the motivation to work on a goal arises from within because it is naturally satisfying to you.

A person’s intrinsic motivation is influenced by his or her personal beliefs and values.

When you pursue an activity for the pure enjoyment of it, you are doing so because you are intrinsically motivated.

No external reward is associated with the behaviors you’re attempting to change.

Which Is The Strongest Motivation?

When it comes to motivation, most people will look at it as an internal source of drive and desire instead of external sources. However, that’s not actually true, and it’s more of an idea than it is anything else.

Your motivation comes from the outside in, not the inside out. If you want to become a more successful individual, you’ll need to learn about the difference between the two.

It’s important to understand why it’s okay for you to have a high degree of motivation coming from the external world. If you’re looking to be a successful person, you’re going to have to put a lot of work into getting there.

You’ll need to be motivated in the face of a lot of obstacles and challenges. External motivation can be extremely powerful, and it’s going to help you get through those hurdles.

That doesn’t mean that you should only look to other people to be your motivator, though. Instead, you should try to create your own goals and aspirations and then find a way to motivate yourself to reach those goals.

Instead of only looking at external motivators, you should also have internal ones. If you want to be a successful person, you should think about what you will do with your life and how you will make it happen.

In addition, you should also come up with a long-term plan of how you will make it happen. Then, once you’ve developed those, you can start setting up external motivators that are going to help you reach your goals.

The best thing you can do is make not only sure you have both but also make sure that your motivation comes from the right place. Instead of looking to other people as your motivators, you should focus on yourself and your internal desires to make it happen.

Think of what you want to accomplish in the future and what you want to do to get there. Don’t let other people dictate how you can be successful. But instead, decide for yourself how you’re going to do it.

Motivating someone is to make them want to do something and then reward them once they do it.

This isn’t a new concept, but it’s still true today. We hear a lot of people talking about extrinsic motivation, which is often defined as extrinsic rewards or rewards in exchange for doing something.

One of the biggest problems with this is that it’s very easy to abuse it. You can do things with people just to get something in return, like getting free stuff, paying them, or simply asking them to do things for you.

These are all examples of things people will do just to get something back, which is a big turnoff for people. If someone is only motivated by these types of rewards, they’ll eventually stop listening to you and just do whatever they think you want them to do.

It’s great to keep in mind that motivation comes from within. You don’t need to have some form of external reward to keep people interested and motivated.

How To Maintain Motivation?

Many people struggle with motivation, especially at the beginning of the week. Maybe it’s just a new work schedule, or you’re just struggling with a bad mood, but staying motivated during the work day can be a bit challenging.

You might think that motivation is something that’s not something you can control, but that’s just not true. While it might be hard to find it, you have a little control over how much motivation you want to give your efforts.

In most cases, it’s important to make sure that you’re not putting too much on yourself. This means you must pick a goal and stick to it.

If you try to achieve too much, you won’t be able to focus on any one thing, but that’s not necessarily bad. In fact, you should be able to take a few steps back whenever you feel the need to.

That’s how you get yourself motivated again, and you’ll be more focused on your task in the long run. You’ll also be able to accomplish more than you ever would have been able to if you were pushing yourself to the limit on every single project.

Another great way to keep yourself motivated is to make sure that you’re accomplishing something. There’s no point in just sitting around and doing nothing. It can get boring, and it can also be very draining on your energy.

Instead, you need to find a goal you can accomplish and stick to it. That way, you’re not only getting the reward of accomplishing your goal but also staying interested and engaged in your own work.

It can also be helpful to set some milestones along the way. This can keep you focused and help you figure out what to work on. As you get closer to your goal, you can adjust accordingly to ensure that you’re on track and moving forward.

Remember that sometimes you might have to take a step back to take a couple of steps forward. It’s a simple matter of setting up your plans and goals correctly. You might even consider looking into a vision board, a great way to keep yourself motivated as you work on your goals.

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Why Poor Self-discipline Can Destroy You



When you are self-disciplined, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. When you are undisciplined, you can’t even get started.

Self-discipline is one of those things that we all have, but few of us practice.

Have you ever thought about how much your life would change if you were more disciplined?

How would you feel if you lost weight, got healthier, or made more money if you just set goals and made a plan?

If you are lacking in self-discipline, you’re missing out on a lot. We all need discipline. It’s required for our daily lives.

Self-discipline is what allows people to get things done. Whether you’re a professional athlete or a college student, you need the self-discipline to succeed in life.

But there’s a flip side to self-discipline. You can either use it to achieve your goals or let it get in the way.

There’s nothing worse than being a slave to your own bad habits. Most people fail in life because they don’t discipline themselves enough to do what they need to do to succeed.

Bad habits can ruin your life, and there’s no way around them. Even if you want to change, it’s not easy. You must be very strong-willed to overcome these habits and start a new life.

Keep reading, and we’ll talk about how to beat your bad habits so that you can create the life you deserve.

In the world of psychology and personal development, we see a lot of people struggling with self-control and self-discipline.

They might not be able to control themselves enough to stay on track with the things they need to accomplish in life, so they wind up in situations where they feel like they’ve been defeated.

Self-discipline is difficult for many people to grasp, and most of us have been trained to believe that discipline and self-control are mutually exclusive.

This is one reason why so many people struggle with being able to control themselves and manage their own lives. They might give up on self-discipline and self-control, which they believe they’ll never have to deal with, and they wind up with situations where they’re incapable of controlling themselves, which they then get frustrated over and angry at.

It’s important to understand that self-discipline is an ability that all people have. It’s just that they’re not doing anything with it, or they’re not using it properly.

What’s important is that you’re able to use your self-discipline and self-control to help you live your life. You can’t just sit back and expect that someone else will take care of everything for you, and you can’t always rely on luck to pull through for you.

If you do, then you’re in trouble, and you’ll never be able to grow to your full potential. You need to have some sort of plan in place and be able to stick to it and follow it through. You also need to be able to handle any challenges that arise along the way.

Bad Habits Can Ruin Your Life

Some people have a tendency to make the same mistakes over and over again. These people might not even realize that they’re doing it.

In fact, they don’t even realize that they’re doing it, until it’s too late. The bad habits these people have become addicted to are ones that they’ve done for years and are now part of their subconscious, and they aren’t aware that they’re doing it.

They’re doing it unconsciously, and they might be able to identify why they do it, but they just don’t want to change. If you’re one of these people, you’ll have to devise a plan to beat the habit.

If you’re a smoker, you might have been smoking for years. You might be able to give reasons for why you do it, but if you were to try quitting, you’d realize just how difficult it is. It might be easier to just quit cold turkey.

It might be difficult to quit something like smoking, but it’s not impossible. You just need to put in the effort and willpower, and you’ll eventually be able to break the habit.

It’s possible to stop doing the habit altogether, but you need to be dedicated to stopping it completely. Don’t just go through the motions of trying to quit. If you don’t stop, then you’ll find yourself back at the same old point, and you’ll be repeating yourself and setting yourself up for failure.

You don’t want to do that. Your whole purpose in life should be to quit and never go back to being a habitual smoker. You shouldn’t set yourself up for failure because you’re hard-headed.

You’ve seen people who are addicted to drugs, but they’ll tell you that it’s a choice they make. They’re able to quit, but it’s a struggle because they can’t seem to break the habit.

It’s much harder to break a habit than it is to form one. While it’s true that habits can be formed, it’s almost impossible to break them. People do things over and over again because they’ve been doing them for years, and it’s ingrained in their subconscious.

When you’re able to break the habit, you’ll feel like a new person. It might take you a few days, weeks, or months to get to that point, but it’s worth it. You’ll be able to do a lot more with your life once you finally get past that point.

You Need Self-Discipline To Succeed In Life

If you were asked to think back to your childhood, you might remember a few things that you used to do and enjoy. Maybe you were a picky eater, or you had a short attention span. These habits might not be anything that would ever really stand out in your adult mind as being too problematic.

But they could be, and when it comes to breaking free of bad habits, it’s something that can easily happen. The only way to break these habits is to be aware of them, and to realize that you need to be disciplined enough to rid yourself of them.

Self-discipline is an incredibly important part of your life, and it is what will allow you to make changes that you might not be able to otherwise. There are a lot of things that you can’t control in your life, but you can control yourself and your choices.

In other words, you can’t control the world around you, but you can control how you react to things that happen to you and how you respond to people and situations.

If you have any type of addiction or a bad habit, then you can’t just “get over it” and magically forget about it. Your self-discipline has to be strong enough to let you put your bad habits to rest, and to let you change your lifestyle in order to do so.

If you don’t believe in yourself, then you won’t do it. It’s as simple as that. You need to have faith in yourself, and you need to see yourself as worthy of doing things that you normally wouldn’t have the desire to do.

You can’t just want to do something and have it magically come to fruition, because it never will. You need to make it happen. If you want to do it, you’ll need to be the one to actually do it.

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Dr. Damian Fedoryka will be remembered and treasured with deep gratitude



On Wednesday, around 3:00 pm, there may be a traffic jam downtown because an hour earlier at St John the Baptist Church will have been the final farewell to a remarkable man, Dr. Damian Fedoryka. His extraordinary life was a connection here in Front Royal to a piece of history we don’t usually think about.

Damian Fedoryka was born in the Carpathian Mountains of Western Ukraine on November 2, 1940. By the time he was four, his father was in Auschwitz concentration camp. His mother could tell that the Russian occupation was inevitable, so she fled with Damian, his sister Marta, and baby brother Leo. His brother Leo “Levko” died in their walk to freedom from dysentery and was buried in a field by a farmer’s house. The trauma burned the memory into Damian’s mind, and years later, he returned to the same spot with some of his own children to finally complete the grieving process. When the war ended, the family was reunited in a Displaced Persons camp outside of Regensburg, Germany.

In 1948 they arrived in the United States, where Damian cleaned the poop out of their first home: a re-purposed chicken coop in someone’s back yard. The Catholic education system was still strong in those days, so the children were able to attend Catholic schools. They were in Mahwah, New Jersey, by the time Damian got a scholarship to Regis High School in New York City, and for four years, he rode the train an hour each way to attend. After high school, he got another scholarship to the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. There, he and other poor students lived with an old Ukrainian priest whose kindness he remembered his whole life.

After college, like the good American he was, Damian joined the Army and became a second lieutenant. The night before he was going to accept a permanent commission and deploy to Vietnam, he went to a dance at a Ukrainian community in New York City and met Irene Kondra, so he decided to stay in New York and pursue a Master’s Degree in Philosophy at Fordham University, and then a Ph.D. in Salzburg, Germany. He and Irene were married in 1966 and went on to have ten children. She died in 2010.

He taught at the University of Rhode Island and the University of Dallas, and in 1985_ he became President of Christendom College here in Front Royal. It was under his leadership that Christendom retired its earlier debt, built two new residence halls, and received its first full accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. These significant accomplishments created the foundation that allowed Christendom to launch its subsequent growth.

But Damian Fedoryka was called to do more. When Communism fell in Ukraine, he returned to his native land to help open the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv in 1992 – the first Catholic university to open on the territory of the former Soviet Union and the first university ever opened by an Eastern Catholic Church. He also taught philosophy at Franciscan University of Steubenville (Gaming Campus in Austria) and at Ave Maria College in Michigan. Soon after the passing of his beloved wife, he moved back to Front Royal, where several of his children had settled. He was the oldest member of Saints Joachim and Anna Ukrainian Catholic Parish on Linden Street in Front Royal.

All who met him knew him as a kind and patient man and a sage to countless people right up to the end. He leaves behind a close-knit family spread across the country: ten children and their spouses, thirty-five grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and thousands of former students. His sons Alexander and Danylo are the founders of the Celtic/folk/rock band Scythian, which organizes the Appaloosa Festival to be held at Skyline Ranch Resort on Labor Day weekend.

Connie Marshner 
Front Royal

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Until we meet again, my friend



Recently, I attended a celebration of life for my departed friend Dr. David Carter Blanton.

When Pastor Roberson opened the floor up for comment, I found myself speechless as my emotions, remembering our life growing up, overcame me.

David and I were what I might define as Rust Belt friends (friendships that survive all lapses in time). As young boys, we became friends on Doc Sherman’s field located on Sherwood Avenue on our sandlot baseball and football field, emulating our favorite pro sports teams.

On that day, he became my quarterback and helped me establish a strong moral and ethical path in life. He demonstrated strong leadership skills by keeping a bunch of unruly kids in line by enforcing etiquette.

As a young man, I remember David being interested in topics such as futuristic vehicle designs, space travel, and medical science. As an adult, he continued his thirst for knowledge about new research and technology improvements.

A brilliant person with a sense of humor who was grounded and could fit into any social setting. Many of us remember his Dentistry practice, but his real contribution was his unselfish personal contributions to community charities.

David loved his family, community, and his country. In his final days, we never got to say goodbye, but I guess that was how it was supposed to end. He was my Quarterback, and I was blessed to be part of his life. Until we meet again, my friend.

Bruce Rappaport
Front Royal, Virginia

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