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Abbreviated Memorial Day Ceremony draws nearly 40 to Courthouse lawn

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The Courthouse clock is about to chime noon as an intentionally reduced for public safety Memorial Day crowd gathers. Royal Examiner Photos/Roger Bianchini – Royal Examiner Video/Mike McCool

Despite minimal public notice, this community’s eighth annual Memorial Day Ceremony always including a nod to the K-9 Dogs of War drew a respectful, partially masked and generally socially distanced between family groups crowd of over 35 to the Historic Warren County Courthouse grounds in downtown Front Royal at noon, Monday.

Following the announcement of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s Phase One partial reopening from mandated Coronavirus pandemic precautions, the now co-Town sponsored event was resurrected under a limited plan to honor America’s fallen and their families without endangering citizens from the still-prevalent COVID-19 Coronavirus that has killed over 97,000 Americans just past four months since the first case was identified on our shores.

For perspective, our war in Vietnam claimed just under 60,000 American lives lost in action over a 20-year period (1955-75); 9/11 claimed just under 3,000 lives on one day in 2001; and Benghazi claimed 4 American diplomat lives on assignment in a terrorist hotspot.

Marine vet and reservist Robert McDougall introduces Michael Williams to say the invocation for Front Royal’s Memorial Day event, 2020.

The theme of sacrifice and struggle symptomatic of, not only wars between peoples, but also once again between new viral disease strains and their animal or human hosts was a part of stirring remarks by both event moderator Marine Corps Reservist Lt. Colonel Robert McDougall and Lay Minister Michael Williams to kick off Monday’s ceremonies as the courthouse bell chimed noon.
Introduced for the invocation by McDougall, Williams set an emotional tone for this Memorial Day, 2020: “Almighty God what an incredible blessing to live in a country where we can freely come together and be thankful.

“What a joy to live in a country where we can come together and peacefully assemble.

“What a joy to live in a country where men, women and a lot of our four-legged friends gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we could do what we do.

“What an incredible blessing that we live in a country where the biggest complaint we have right now is whether we should wear a mask. – Father, how selfish of us.

Forgive us … Please let us be thankful for one another – period. Whether we agree with them or disagree, it’s irrelevant. We live in a country where we can freely differ. And we have that because of the many people who gave their lives for us so that we can peacefully differ … Help us to be humble, not out of a spirit of arrogance, but out of a spirit of kindness.

NOT that kind of mask – an armed ‘Re-open now’ advocate wears a clown mask in a seeming reference to a later ‘American Horror Story’ TV season. The photo was not taken here but from an NBC news report on the COVID-19 closing controversies around the nation.

“Help us to have our conversations; help us to differ respectfully; help us to laugh; help us to love. And let us never forget those who gave that ultimate sacrifice so that we could stand here on that hallowed ground today,” Williams prayed, then acknowledging the Town and County leaders and citizens present to mark the solemn occasion.

“Thank you for our town; thank you for our mayor; thank you for our board of supervisor’s chairman, and thank you … for those who came here today of their own free will to be thankful for the men and women and the many others who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Amen.”

A 12-year active duty Marine who still serves as a reservist, McDougall, then acknowledged participants and continued William’s invocation’s theme of the depth of the importance of Memorial Day as a living memorial, not only to those gone but left behind and all Americans seeking to keep a nation’s democratically based spirit alive.

The laying the wreath, donated once again by Fussell Florists and proprietors Betty and Steve Showers, was performed by Front Royal Mayor Eugene Tewalt and County Board of Supervisors Chairman Walter Mabe. Other elected officials present included Supervisors Delores Oates and Cheryl Cullers and Councilman Gary Gillespie and his canine friend.

Above, Mayor Tewalt left, and County Board Chair Mabe lay the Memorial Day wreaths. Below, one family visits the wreath and courthouse lawn memorial site following the approximately 13-minute ceremony.

McDougall acknowledged Royal Examiner contributor and good friend, British-born Malcolm Barr, a Royal Air Force veteran, for resurrecting this community’s Memorial Day ceremony eight years ago, with its special acknowledgment of the role of our K-9 Corp “Dogs of War” who have been on the front lines with American soldiers in every conflict since World War II. McDougall noted the first military dog training school opened here in Warren County in 1943.

While usually represented by many citizens’ dogs at the normally conducted ceremony at the Gazebo/Village Commons, due to the abbreviated pandemic nature of this year’s ceremony the Dogs of War were officially represented by Barr’s Husky Rescue dog Diva, alone.

Malcolm Barr and his dog Diva – event moderator Lt. Col. McDougall noted Barr’s leadership role in resurrecting a local Memorial Day event here eight years ago. Good work, Malcolm – and Diva, Lt. Col McDougall, and all participants.

“Freedom is not free. And for so many families, every day is Memorial Day. Please do what you can to support the families of service members that did not come home,” McDougall reminded us of the ongoing nature of sacrifices made, with a nod at one point to Able Forces Veteran Services CEO Skip Rogers presence.

“Cherish each day of the freedom that these brave men and women provided us. Remind those you gather with this weekend about the TRUE MEANING (emphasis in context) of Memorial Day – for it is both a day to mourn and to celebrate the courageous sacrifice that has been made to protect our way of life.

“May God Bless the fallen, and may God Bless America. Thank you for being here today,” McDougall closed in acknowledging those present, adding a heartfelt, “Semper Fidelis”.

Saluting the flag during National Anthem as ceremony opens at noon.

And you too can be there to memorialize, commemorate and remember what the sacrifice of those who have gone before us has preserved for us all in this exclusive Royal Examiner video recording. – Come, celebrate Memorial Day 2020 with us:

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Virginia restaurants grapple with plastic foam container ban

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From vermicelli bowls to crispy chicken, Pho Luca’s, a Vietnamese-owned Richmond restaurant, uses plastic foam containers to package takeout meals. That may soon change after the General Assembly recently passed a bill banning such packaging.

After negotiations on a Senate amendment, the House agreed in a 57-39 vote last week on an amendment to House Bill 1902, which bans nonprofits, local governments, and schools from using polystyrene takeout containers. The Senate passed the amended bill in a 24-15 vote.

“We’re just leveling the playing field,” said Del. Betsy B. Carr, D-Richmond, about the amendment. “So not only do restaurants, but nonprofits and schools will be subject to this ban in 2025.”
Food chains with 20 or more locations cannot package and dispense food in polystyrene containers as of July 2023. The remaining food vendors have until July 2025. Food vendors in violation of the ban can receive up to $50 in civil penalty each day of violation.

Carr said she is glad Virginia is taking the lead to curb plastic pollution and that the measure will “make our environment cleaner and safer for all of our citizens (by) not having styrofoam in the ditches and in the water and in the food that we consume.”

This is the second year the bill was sent to a conference committee. Last year’s negotiation resulted in a reenactment clause stipulating the bill couldn’t be enacted until it was approved again this year by the General Assembly.

The COVID-19 pandemic loomed over this year’s bill dispute as businesses shift to single-use packagings, such as polystyrene, to limit contamination.

Lawmakers skeptical of the polystyrene ban spoke out on the Senate floor, arguing the ban will hurt small businesses who rely on polystyrene foam containers, which are known for their cheaper cost.

“The places that give me these Styrofoam containers are the places that are struggling the most right now,” said Sen. Jen A. Kiggans, R-Virginia Beach.

The pandemic has financially impacted the restaurant industry. In 2020, Virginia’s food services sector lost more than 20% of its employees from 2019, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Like many small businesses, Pho Luca’s has relied on polystyrene foam takeout packaging because it is affordable and functional.

Dominic Pham, the owner of the Pho Luca’s, said he has been in contact with several vendors that sell polystyrene alternatives, but it has been a challenge for Pham to find suitable alternatives.

Pho Luca’s currently uses plastic foam containers that cost about a nickel per container, Pham said. The alternatives will cost about 55 cents more. However, Pham said he is willing to make the change, recognizing that polystyrene containers are detrimental to the environment.

Pham said he distributed surveys to consumers on the possibility of raising prices to offset the cost of polystyrene alternatives. The results were overwhelmingly positive.

“Even if we have to upcharge them a dollar for the recyclable, reusable containers, people (are) happy to do that, they don’t mind,” Pham said.

The use of plastic foam containers has risen during the COVID-19 pandemic. Several states and cities have reversed or delayed restrictions and bans on single-use plastics since April 2020, according to a USA Today report.

The pandemic also has resulted in an increase in single-use plastics, such as plastic bags and personal protective equipment. A 2020 report in the Environmental Science & Technology journal estimated plastic packaging to increase 14% as consumers seek out prepackaged items due to sanitary concerns.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic sparked renewed interest in single-use plastics, environmental organizations and businesses have spoken against the use of plastic foam containers. Polystyrene biodegrades slowly and rarely can be recycled, posing a risk to wildlife and human health, according to Environment Virginia.

MOM’s Organic Market, a mid-Atlantic grocery chain, has used compostable containers and cups since 2005.

“I think that it’s the right thing to do for the environment, for communities, for our residents,” said Alexandra DySard, the grocery chain’s environment, and partnership manager.

DySard said purchasing compostable takeout containers instead of polystyrene foam containers has not financially hurt the chain. She said using a plastic lid that can be recycled locally is a better alternative than using polystyrene foam.

Polystyrene alternatives will become more affordable and accessible the more businesses use those products, DySard said.

“If it’s a statewide change, that’s kind of the best-case scenario because everybody makes the change at once,” Dysard said. “And it’s driving demand for the product up and costs down.”

The bill now heads to the governor’s desk. If signed, Virginia will join states such as Maryland and Maine to ban polystyrene foam containers.

By David Tran
Capital News Service

Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.

Virginia moves closer to ban plastic foam containers

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Lydia Lancie of Front Royal Named to Cedarville University Deans List

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Lydia Lancie

Lydia Lancie of Front Royal, VA, was named to the Cedarville University Dean’s List for fall 2020. Lydia is a freshman at Cedarville and has maintained a 4.0 GPA. The Dean’s List recognition requires a 3.5 minimum GPA while carrying a minimum of 12 credit hours.

Lydia is majoring in Social Work, with a minor in Art. Judy and Mark Lancie of Front Royal, and her two sisters, are very proud of her accomplishment.

Lydia choose Cedarville University based on its Social Work accreditation that allowing graduates to complete the Master of Social Work program in about one year. Some have gone on to complete a law degree and have become legal advocates for the poor and disenfranchised.

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,550 undergraduate, graduate, and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, strong graduation, and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and high student engagement ranking. For more information about Cedarville University, visit www.cedarville.edu.

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Virginia lawmakers pass COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation bills

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The Virginia General Assembly passed multiple bills allowing health care workers and first responders to receive workers’ compensation benefits if they are disabled or die due to COVID-19.

“We did it!” Del. Chris Hurst, D-Blacksburg, said in a Twitter post. “Health care heroes who got COVID on the job will get the retroactive workers’ comp presumption they deserve!”

Hurst’s House Bill 1985 expanded workers’ compensation benefits for health care workers “directly involved in diagnosing or treating persons known or suspected to have COVID-19,” including doctors and nurses. The bill provides coverage from March 12, 2020, until Dec. 31, 2021.

The health care worker must have been treated for COVID-19 symptoms and been diagnosed by a medical provider to qualify for compensation before July 1, 2020. The individual must have received medical treatment and a positive COVID-19 test to be eligible for compensation after July 1, 2020.

The bill also said health care workers who refuse or fail to get vaccinated for COVID-19 will not be eligible for workers’ compensation. The aforementioned rule doesn’t apply if a physician determines vaccination will risk the worker’s health.

“This is how we honor our brave health care heroes that put themselves in harm’s way to treat those infected with this horrible virus,” Hurst said in a press release. “They sacrifice for us and deserve our utmost praise and admiration, but they also deserve our help.”

There were concerns about the bill’s costs, according to Hurst. The Senate tried to remove the bill’s retroactive clause, but the bill passed the House and Senate with bipartisan support following negotiations.

The Virginia Nurses Association said the bill will make it easier for nurses to access benefits.

“Unfortunately, too many Virginia nurses caught COVID-19 while treating patients,” the association said in a Facebook post. “For those that got very sick, there is no easy way to file for workers’ compensation, and many have suffered not only physically, but financially.”

Senate Bill 1375 and HB 2207 cover workers’ compensation for first responders who are diagnosed or died from COVID-19 on or after Sept. 1 of last year. The measures include firefighters, police officers, correctional and regional jail officers, and emergency medical services workers. The bills require an official diagnosis through a positive COVID-19 test and symptoms of the disease.

The House bill, sponsored by Del. Jay Jones, D-Norfolk, originally included a retroactive clause that compensated cases going back to March 2020, but that was taken out of the legislation’s final version.

“We fought tooth and nail to provide our first responders – the real heroes of the pandemic – coverage under workers’ compensation for COVID, and we got it done,” Jones said in a Twitter post.

By Sam Fowler
Capital News Service

Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.

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Fauquier Health moves from zero-visitor policy to a limited-visitor policy

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Prior to the holidays on December 11, 2020, Fauquier Health implemented a zero-visitor protocol at the hospital due to the documented increase in confirmed positive cases in our region. Fauquier Health has since announced, that due to the decreased number of confirmed positive cases, they have been able to move back to a limited-visitor policy. This decision comes after the recent trends reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).

This means that Fauquier Hospital is limiting visitors to the facility if they are essential for the patient’s physical or emotional well-being and care (e.g., care partners). Some exceptions may still apply that prevent a visitor from entering the facility. The hospital still encourages the use of alternative mechanisms for patient and visitor interactions such as video-call applications on cell phones or tablets.

Points of facility entry will continue to be limited to ensure all patients and visitors can be properly screened for any symptoms of the COVID-19 illness. If fever or COVID-19 symptoms are present, visitors will not be allowed entry into the facility.

Fauquier Health also announced that the Bistro on the Hill is now serving outside patrons for takeout only. Anyone coming into the bistro to grab a to-go-meal between the hours of 7 am and 2 pm, will still be required to enter through the main lobby to receive screening. Outside patrons are not permitted to dine in and will be required to exit the facility upon completing their meal purchase.

Fauquier Health reminds the public to continue doing their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing, avoiding large gatherings, washing your hands regularly, and wearing a mask or face covering while in public.

For a detailed list of policies and updates, please visit the COVID-19 Preparedness page at FauquierHealth.org.

COVID-19 Vaccine Update and Registration Details

Fauquier County is operating under Phase 1B of the vaccine rollout as directed by the Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District (RRHD)/Virginia Department of Health (VDH). Community members who are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine include frontline essential workers, persons aged 65 years and older, people living in correctional facilities, homeless shelters, migrant labor camps, and people aged 16 through 64 years with a high-risk medical condition or disability that increases their risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Eligible community members can visit the Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District’s website to learn how to register or click on the link below to pre-register through the new statewide system at vaccinate.virginia.gov.

All individuals who have previously filled out a survey or signed up for a waitlist to be vaccinated through their local health district will be automatically imported into the new statewide system. Individuals will maintain their current status in the queue and will be able to search that they are in the new system

Questions or concerns? If you need any assistance registering or have any registration questions, please contact the Fauquier County COVID-19 Call Center at 540.422.0111 or email covid.registration@fauquiercounty.gov.

About Fauquier Health
Fauquier Health is a community health system dedicated to high-quality, patient-centered care in a unique environment that considers the multiple facets of healing and respects the individuality of each and every patient. Located at 500 Hospital Drive in Warrenton, Virginia, Fauquier Health serves the residents of Fauquier and several surrounding counties. It comprises Fauquier Hospital, a fully-accredited, 97-bed hospital; Fauquier Health Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, a 113-bed long-term care and rehabilitation facility; the Villa at Suffield Meadows, an assisted living facility; the Wound Health Center and a medically supervised Wellness Center offering health and wellness programs. Fauquier Health also operates nine physician’s offices, including primary care and specialties. More information on Fauquier Health is available online at FauquierHealth.org or by calling 540.316.5000.

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Crime/Court

Sheriff’s Office seeks information on man sought for assault on woman morning of March 1

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The Warren County Sheriff’s Office has released details of the Monday morning search for a man being sought for the reported assault of a county woman. That release states:

“On March 1, 2021, Warren County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call from the 100 block of Barnett Road. The caller stated a male previously known to her had broken into her residence and assaulted her. Deputies responded to the residence where the suspect, identified as William Edward Jenkins, 40 years old, had fled on foot before arrival. Deputies and K9 teams from Warren County Sheriff’s Office, Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office and the Virginia State Police searched the area with no results.

William Edward Jenkins

“At this time William Edward Jenkins is wanted for §18.2-57.2 (Assault & Battery against a family or household member), additional charges are pending. Warren County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank Front Royal Police Department, Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office and Virginia State Police for their assistance throughout the investigation.

“Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of William Edward Jenkins can contact Warren County Sheriff’s Office at 540-635-4128.”

(From a WCSO press release)

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No COVID slowdown for Blue Ridge Wildlife Center as record number of animals treated in 2020

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Blue Ridge Wildlife Center treated a record 2,864 mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, during 2020 at its Boyce hospital and, similar to previous years, it reported a survival rate of over 75% among animals that lived through the first 24 hours of hospitalization. Executive Director Annie Bradfield said that in the past 20 years, since the center was opened, more than 24,000 native wild animals have been treated.

“Each year, as awareness of (the center) grows, so does our impact. In 2020, despite the pandemic, we hit a new record of over 2,800 animals treated, and we expect that number will continue to rise each year,” Bradfield said.

Above, Annie Bradfield is enjoying her first year as BRWC executive director. Below, Dr. Jennifer Riley, director of veterinary services, and Jessica Andersen, BRWC program manager, treat a bald eagle. Courtesy Photos BRWC

The types of animals that wind up at the center include raptors, songbirds, doves and waterbirds. Rabbits (Eastern cottontails) lead the mammal group, followed by opossums, squirrels, foxes, bats and raccoons. Then there are the turtles (209 of them) and 42 snakes followed by a small number of toads and frogs.

The Clarke County-based wildlife center covers 14 contiguous counties including the nearby counties of Warren (267 sourced cases), Frederick (599), Fauquier (285), and Clarke (229).

Treated animals that cannot be released back into the wild serve as “ambassadors”, greeting visitors from a “Wildlife Walk” area adjacent to the administration and hospital building. In addition to wildlife rehabilitation, educational outreach programs were highlighted last year following Bradfield’s arrival on the job.

Four baby killdeer, whose parents were killed in a mowing incident, were raised at the center and successfully released.

In 2020 the center took in $811,083, including contributions totaling $498,462, with $547,367 having been spent in support of operations. Beatrice von Gontard of Warren County heads an eight-person board of directors, while Bradfield’s “team” includes Jennifer Riley, DVM and a staff of five others, plus a wealth of volunteers which contributed almost 7,000 hours last year, as well as 26 interns whose hours added up to 4,453.

Blue Ridge Wildlife Center is located at 106 Island Farm Lane, Boyce. Its hotline is 540-837-9000.

More than 300 opossums were treated in 2020, including this guy!

Juvenile bobcat, victim of predator attack, possibly by an adult bobcat, naps during recovery.

Northern saw-whet owl, the smallest owl species seen in Virginia.

This Eastern copperhead snake was found tangled in garden netting. Homeowner was considerate enough to seek help of BRWC for an animal “so often persecuted for merely existing,” the center observed.

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King Cartoons

Front Royal
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Upcoming Events

Mar
3
Wed
9:00 am Community Blood Drive @ Front Royal Fire and Rescue Department
Community Blood Drive @ Front Royal Fire and Rescue Department
Mar 3 @ 9:00 am – 2:00 pm
Community Blood Drive @ Front Royal Fire and Rescue Department
The Front Royal Police Department is sponsoring a blood drive on Wednesday, and all eligible donors are encouraged to log onto redcrossblood.org to schedule a donation of the GIFT OF LIFE! Jeff Farmer and the[...]
9:00 am Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Mar 3 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Free tax preparation will be available again this year through the AARP Tax Aide at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Front Royal, Monday and Wednesday mornings beginning Feb. 15th. To make an appointment, please call[...]
Mar
9
Tue
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 9 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]
Mar
13
Sat
10:00 am HSWC Polar Plunge @ Culpeper Lake at the 4-H Center
HSWC Polar Plunge @ Culpeper Lake at the 4-H Center
Mar 13 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
HSWC Polar Plunge @ Culpeper Lake at the 4-H Center
The Humane Society of Warren County “Polar Plunge” delayed from February 20 due to “too-polar” weather here in northwestern Virginia has been rescheduled to Saturday, March 13 – Don’t worry, it will still be a[...]
Mar
16
Tue
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 16 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]
Mar
23
Tue
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 23 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]
Mar
28
Sun
2:00 pm Pictures with the Easter Bunny @ Warren County Community Center
Pictures with the Easter Bunny @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 28 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Pictures with the Easter Bunny @ Warren County Community Center
Come join the staff of Warren County Parks and Recreation and get your picture taken with the Easter Bunny! Pictures will be taken and printed on site; upon departure you will be given an Easter[...]
Mar
30
Tue
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 30 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]
Apr
3
Sat
12:00 pm Egg-stravaganza! @ Sky Meadows State Park
Egg-stravaganza! @ Sky Meadows State Park
Apr 3 @ 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Egg-stravaganza! @ Sky Meadows State Park
Eggs are popping up all over Sky Meadows State Park. Visit our egg-laying free-range chickens by taking our Chicken Walk. Go on an egg-citing Geocache adventure. Kids, use your scavenger hunting skills using clues from[...]
Apr
17
Sat
all-day Shenandoah Epic @ Caroline Furnace
Shenandoah Epic @ Caroline Furnace
Apr 17 all-day
Shenandoah Epic @ Caroline Furnace
This tried and true Epic 24-hour AR will test your biking, paddling, trekking, and navigation skills as you explore two state parks (one of them brand new!) and national forest lands. Join soloists and teams[...]