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Attorney General Herring celebrates advancement of cannabis reform legislation

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~ Governor Northam advanced Herring’s legislation that decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana ~

RICHMOND (April 11, 2020) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring today issued the following statement celebrating Governor Northam’s advancement of the Attorney General’s cannabis reform legislation that decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana.

“Our approach to cannabis has needlessly saddled Virginians, especially African Americans and people of color, with criminal records for long enough. It’s a new day in the Commonwealth,” said Attorney General Herring. “Decriminalization is an incredibly important first step and one that many thought we may never see in Virginia, but we cannot stop until we have legal and regulated adult use. With this legislation, we are moving Virginia forward to an even more fair, just, and equal place. This year, we showed that smart, progressive reform is possible here in the Commonwealth and we must continue on that path.

“I want to thank my colleagues in the House and Senate and the advocates for working with me this year to make this a top priority and I look forward to seeing what we are able to accomplish in the years ahead.”

Attorney General Herring has become the leader on cannabis reform in Virginia following his call for decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana, action to address past convictions, and a move towards legal and regulated adult use. In his call for cannabis reform, he cited the unnecessary negative impact of a criminal conviction for possession, the expense and social costs of enforcing the current system, and the disparate impact on African Americans and people and communities of color.

Attorney General Herring reiterated his call for reform when data from 2018 showed a record number of arrests for marijuana possession. In the last decade, the number of first-time marijuana convictions in Virginia has risen 53%, from 6,533 in 2008 to 10,000 in 2017. Arrests for marijuana possession have increased by about 220%, from around 9,000 in 1999 to nearly 29,000 in 2018. The cost of marijuana criminal enforcement is estimated to exceed $81 million each year.

In December 2019, Attorney General Herring held a cannabis summit for policymaking stakeholders in Virginia that focused on policy and included experts from attorneys generals’ offices, state agencies, and legislative operations in states that have legalized cannabis, as well as cannabis policy experts.

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Governor Northam COVID-19 update briefing – July 14, 2020; calls for stronger enforcement of COVID-19 guidelines

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Governor Northam joins the Virginia Emergency Support Team to share the latest updates on the COVID-19 response. Here are the highlights:

  • increasing statewide cases
  • increase testing
  • on average, 10,000 tests administered daily statewide
  • the state should increase the enforcement of face coverings and social distancing
  • reminded business owners that they have the right to deny service to someone who is not following the mask mandate or social distancing guidelines
  • plan to impose an earlier cutoff for alcohol sales at restaurants is also being considered
  • state continues to receive shipments of personal protective equipment, and hospitals have reported no shortages
  • school boards and universities will continue to make decisions regarding this school year
  • update on the rent and mortgage relief program
  • DMV locations continue to reopen
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More images from another Front Royal Historic Downtown weekend

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In addition to the “From the Heart” weekend downtown Front Royal entertainment mentioned in a related story on music, haircutting and styling, this past weekend saw other downtown events and entertainment.

Those events, among others we may have missed from simply not knowing about them until after the fact, included the Mark Clay-led Vinyl Tracks band entertaining with its repertoire of classic vinyl-era music at a Thursday evening Gazebo Gathering;

Vinyl Tracks gathers fans at the Gazebo, early Thursday evening. Below, haven’t we seen that father-daughter/drummer-singer team on stage with their own band somewhere before? – Hint, it was ‘Aftershock-ing’. Royal Examiner Photos/Roger Bianchini

a Saturday vintage car show on East Main Street;

Beautiful over and under the hood

a late afternoon Friday resurrection of the weekly “Yappy Hour” Julia Wagner Animal Shelter/WC Humane Society fundraising event at East Main Street’s ViNoVa wine, beer and tapa restaurant, as previewed by Malcolm Barr Sr. on Royal Examiner’s website;

Pals Rico, left, and Diva at outdoor portion of Friday’s ‘Yappy Hour’ at ViNoVa – Below, ‘Could we have some more water in our bowls, please’ these 2 hot dogs may have been thinking; and water they got under the tent shade.

and the band Starting Early tracing rock history through the 1960’s-‘70’s beginning with a properly suited Beatles set, followed by some classic power trio (Hendrix, Cream) and quartet (Zeppelin) music, among others, followed by some originals in the Virginia Beer Museum back-of-house outdoor Biergarten.

It was too late to be Starting Early by the time the band got to its 1960’s-‘70’s power trio and quartet sets in the Va. Beer Museum Biergarten.

Enjoy these images from those events, and come on downtown for the next installment of Front Royal re-opened, masks and social distancing encouraged, as Warren County and all of Virginia walk the tightrope between pandemic precautions and COVID-19 spikes and economic rebounding this unprecedented summer of 2020.

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From the Heart helps Front Royal celebrate a measured return to business – But can I schedule a haircut and shave after the band is done?

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Unless booked elsewhere, From the Heart plays something for everyone from around 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays in Front Royal’s reopened downtown commercial center. Royal Examiner Photos/Roger Bianchini

It may not be your traditional “Barbershop Quartet”, but to celebrate Virginia’s measured walk-back of COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic emergency management restrictions, punctuated by the Town of Front Royal’s weekend downtown business district street closings facilitating a walking mall ambience to draw residents and tourists back out into the properly social distanced commercial world, “Mr. John’s Barbershop” proprietor John Landes has brought his band From the Heart into play – literally.

As of June 27, according to the band Facebook page, From the Heart has set up in front of Landes’s Chester Street barbershop on Friday and Saturday evenings from approximately 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. to bring their mix of classic country, rock and popular music to Front Royal’s re-opened Historic Downtown Business District.

Yes, the barbershop is closed – the barber is doubling up fronting his band on Friday and Saturday evenings outside his 8 Chester St. business location. Below, May Landes steps in on vocals.

From the Heart gets fans dancing and smiling with material spanning decades and genres – you’re liable to hear favorites from Charlie Daniels to Rod Stewart among others on your personal top of the charts list.

And while you can’t get a haircut while the band is on – it’s hard to sing, play and snip those overgrown locks at the same time – a small contribution to the band’s tip jar might just get you to the front of the line for the barbershop’s next day of business.

From the Heart is, in addition to Landes on guitar, harmonica and vocals, his wife May on guest vocals; Kenny Smith on banjo, guitar and vocals; ‘Bubba’ Ward on rhythm guitar; and Marty Jacobs on percussion.

Kenny Smith

‘Bubba’ Ward, left, with John Landes

Marty Jacobs

A new style ‘Barbershop Quartet’

Downtown visitors Damian and Linda the well-groomed dog, stop for a photo op. Good girl, Linda – don’t look at the band, look at the camera. Linda, are you sure you haven’t been two-timing Mr. John’s at the New Creations Hair Salon next door?

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Don’t miss the Humane Society of Warren County’s Annual Yard Sale

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The Humane Society of Warren County is poised for the biggest yard sale in their history this Friday and Saturday, July 17 and 18. Thanks to a huge outpouring of support from the local community, the donations for this year’s annual yard sale far outnumber any previous year’s donations.

The HSWC Annual Yard Sale has been an important source of funding for the shelter since it began in 2013, typically bringing in $2,000-$4,000. This year, due to the enormous amount of donations, the goal fundraising goal for the shelter is $5,000.

Because the shelter is open by appointment only, there will be a portable toilet and portable hand-washing station available, and social distancing will be required. Shopping will be 10am until 2pm on both Friday and Saturday.

Local non-profit groups have been invited out on Saturday to take anything that will benefit their cause at no charge.

Since it’s beginning, the yard sale has operated using a “name your price” format, which means that there are amazing deals to be found. Highlights for this year’s sale include two sets of golf clubs, a swing set, a leather sectional couch, new with tags clothes and shoes, and kitchenware.

“I hope people come out to shop, there are so many great items, and every dollar spent is used for our life-saving work” says Meghan Bowers, Executive Director at the shelter. “This is one of my favorite events, and I am really looking forward to it.”

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Derrick Leasure of R-MA assumes Front Royal Rotary presidency

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Derrick Leasure – the new president of the Rotary Club of Front Royal. Courtesy Photo/R-MA

Randolph-Macon Academy Assistant Dean of Students Derrick E. Leasure officially took over as president of the Rotary Club of Front Royal at an “actual” ceremony in the town’s community center on Friday, July 10.

Outgoing president Bret Hrbek passed the gavel after his year in office, made more challenging when interrupted by the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, which sent its regular weekly meetings since March to the internet via “Zoom.”

The real-life meeting that greeted Leasure, attended by a dozen past presidents from John Marlow (1977) to the retiring Hrbek, likely will return to “Zoom” as Leasure begins his tenure. After the gavel was passed, Leasure swore in members of the new board of directors, including Hrbek.

“He has a difficult task before him,” Hrbek had said earlier. Like other local organizations, Rotary has taken a hit in its fundraising activities but nevertheless managed to take in $126,000 last year for local and international projects.

Leasure, who came to R-MA’s middle school in 2008, earned his Bachelor’s Degree at Ohio State University and a Master’s in History from the University of Arizona. He is an active member of the Front Royal/Warren County Chamber of Commerce, serving on the education committee. Outside his teaching and later administration posts at the Academy, Leasure has been a student mentor and head coach in golf as well as his promotion to assistant dean.

Married to Michelle Cantlebary, the couple has two children. He joined Rotary shortly after arriving in Front Royal 18 years ago.

(Malcolm Barr Sr., our contributing writer, is a member of the Rotary Club of Front Royal)

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LFCC Professor Mark Sunderlin receives statewide recognition

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LFCC Professor Mark Sunderlin

Professor Mark Sunderlin recently received the George B. Vaughan Leadership Award for Outstanding Adjunct Faculty from the Virginia Community College System with support from the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education.

Earlier this year, Professor Sunderlin was named the 2020 LFCC Distinguished Faculty Award winner.

An adjunct faculty member for the past eight years, he spent many years working for the federal government, before serving as the senior technical manager of AOL for seven years. Currently, Professor Sunderlin is principal data engineer for Verizon Media Services.

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