Bethel Assembly of God (111 Totten Lane, Front Royal, VA 22630) was honored to host Sergeant Major (US Army Retired) James McGruder on Sunday, June 26th, 2022, for a very memorable flag presentation service. The service was arranged by Tim Wolfe, a church member and Warren County resident, and was planned to coincide with the church’s annual Independence Day celebrations.
SGM McGruder entered the U.S. Army in February 1983 and attended Basic and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He was awarded the MOS 13B Field Artillery. After basic training, he was assigned to Fort Hood, Texas as part of the 1st 92nd Field Artillery, 8 Inch Battalion (BN).
SGM McGruder deployed to Iraq with Alpha Battery 5-18 Field Artillery as part of Desert Shield/Storm in November 1990. While in Iraq, he risked his life to extinguish a fire in a M548 ammunition carrier in order to save the M110 Howitzer’s combat ammunition load; he took this action selflessly, without hesitation and without formal recognition of his heroism.
SGM McGruder is passionate about mentorship and ensuring the future success of the NCO Corps. In 2003, as the Senior Professional Development NCO for the Field Artillery Branch in the Human Resources Command (HRC), SGM McGruder managed over 24,000 Soldiers and expertly advised the Branch Chief and Sergeant Major on military education requirements, career progression and Military Occupational Specialty structure. While assigned to HRC, SGM McGruder was selected over more than 26 NCOs to serve as the President of the Human Resources Command, Sergeant Audie Murphy Club.
SGM McGruder has also been instrumental in developing young Officers. In July of 2009, SGM McGruder was selected by the Cadet Command CSM to serve as the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3, United States Army Cadet Command, Fort Monroe, Virginia. His selfless service and devotion to mission accomplishment made lasting impacts in training operations and opportunities throughout the command.
SGM McGruder on August 7, 2014 had the distinct privilege of introducing former president Barrack Obama prior to him signing The Veterans Affairs Overhaul Bill. This bill signed into law a 16.3 billion dollar measure to help overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs, the agency that in recent months had faced intense criticism for long wait time for health care and manipulation of records. This was the first time in American history that an active duty Sergeant Major had ever introduced a sitting president.
SGM McGruder’s last assignment was at Fort Belvoir Garrison operations, where he served as an Enlisted Advisor to the Garrison Commander. After more than 32 years of military service, SGM McGruder retired on February 28, 2015. SGM McGruder is married to the former Tammy Buerl and they have been married for 34 years. They have two children, daughter Jamecia and son James.
The Flag Presentation Service honored Pastor Steven A. Schetrom II for his dedication to the community. Bethel Assembly of God is a growing and community-minded church working to positively impact the Front Royal-Warren County community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As an example of its dedication to the community, the church is currently working to distribute gift bags to community agency employees and volunteers to show their appreciation and support for the hard work those individuals do in the community.
Weekly services are held at Bethel Assembly of God each Sunday at 10:30am. The church also hosts or sponsors several small groups each week. The church’s mission is “to be a vital community of loving disciples committed to building one another up so that each reaches their full potential.” More information about the church can be found online at www.bethellife.org or by emailing email@example.com.
West Virginia roadwork may produce Interstate 81 Northbound delays in Virginia
Roadwork on northbound Interstate 81 in West Virginia at the Virginia state line will potentially cause traffic delays in Virginia.
Motorists should be alert for delays on I-81 northbound in Frederick County, VA., during two periods of pavement repair work in West Virginia. The first period is for preparation work, and the second is for pavement work.
The first work period is 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. on Wednesday, August 17. Significant traffic delays are not anticipated during this time.
The second work period begins on August 17 around 6 p.m., extending into Thursday, August 18, possibly into the midday hours. Significant traffic delays may occur throughout this period.
In Virginia, traffic accessing I-81 northbound at Exit 323 off of Route 669 (Rest Church Road) will be stopped at the end of the on-ramp before entering I-81. This will accommodate anticipated slow or stopped traffic on I-81 at this location.
The Virginia Department of Transportation will monitor traffic back-ups. If back-ups become significant and sustained, the following alternate routes will be recommended.
- Interstate 66 or Route 7 to Route 340 northbound through Warren and Clarke counties
- I-81 exit 310 to Route 37 (Winchester bypass) to Route 522 northbound in Frederick County.
Variable message boards along the northbound I-81 and westbound I-66 corridors will alert drivers of traffic delays and alternate routes as needed.
Additional roadwork on northbound I-81 in West Virginia is anticipated to occur in the coming weeks, with potential traffic delays into Virginia.
Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511. Traffic alerts and traveler information also are available at http://www.511Virginia.org.
The VDOT Customer Service Center can assist with reporting road hazards, asking transportation questions, or getting information related to Virginia’s roads. Call 800-FOR- ROAD (800-367-7623) or use its mobile-friendly website at https://my.vdot.virginia.gov/. Agents are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The Staunton District Twitter feed is at @VaDOTStaunton. VDOT can be followed on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube. RSS feeds are also available for statewide information. The VDOT Web page is located at http://www.VirginiaDOT.org.
The VDOT Staunton District serves Frederick, Shenandoah, Clarke, Warren, Page, Rockingham, Augusta, Highland, Rockbridge, Alleghany, and Bath counties.
17th Annual Route 11 Yard Crawl will bring thousands to the area
Bargain hunters can break out the fanny packs Saturday morning as the 17th Annual Route 11 Yard Crawl begins at 7 AM. The event is always held on the second Saturday in August and covers over 43 miles of yard sales and business sales along the Old Valley Pike, U.S. Route 11. According to the event’s website, the official crawl is from New Market (I-81 Exit 264) to Stephens City (I-81 Exit 307).
The Route 11 Yard Crawl has become a huge draw for bargain hunters and a source of revenue for residents, businesses and nonprofit organizations participating in the well-attended event. Localities see revenue added to their coffers through lodging, meals, and sales taxes.
Following a break during the Covid pandemic, the Yard Crawl Scavenger Hunt returns this year, with an app, the Free Traipse App. By visiting 15 of the 43 businesses, participants can get an official Yard Crawl t-shirt and be entered into a drawing for a $100 gas card. Download the free app here.
Sarah Paul, a Middletown resident whose home is along the Rt. 11, has had yard sales in the past, but won’t this year. She said, “We’ve sold things every couple of years, but for me, the best part is rocking on the porch and people-watching!”
Mrs. Paul’s daughter, Elise, could not contain her enthusiasm, saying, “Yard Crawl? Fun! Money!” Elise’s sister, Abigail chimed in, “It’s great because you can get rid of the stuff in your house you need and make a profit!”
Tina Maddox, of Strasburg, says, “My husband and I have been going to the yard crawl every year since it started. We’ve weathered the blazing hot weather to gully washers and everything in between. We’ve come home with truckloads and there was a time we had to come home, unload and go out again.
My favorite story is from several years ago when we stopped at a house where two gentlemen were swinging on their front porch swing. My husband went up and sat down right in between them and asked them how they were doing. After they got over being dumbfounded, they chatted briefly before we left. Every year after that, we would go there and do the same thing. We all looked forward to it each year. Recently my husband met up with one of those men in a job in a surrounding area. Small world!”
Alex Shaw, a Stephens City native who now lives in Durham County, NC relayed, “Last year’s Yard Crawl was my first one back in almost 10 years. It was so much busier and so much more overpriced junk than I remembered from my earlier years going.
I used to love going so much, and found many wonderful treasures in the past, but I most likely won’t make the trip this year.”
A number of local businesses will have special discounts and sales during the event. Those offering “Crawl Specials” will display gold mylar balloons outside their business. Shoppers can expect specials such as half-price or ‘buy one get one” (BOGO) items, sidewalk sales, freebies, event-related items, drawing for prizes, and more.
Teresa Lamb, with Front Royal business Strites Doughnuts, says she will be selling her tasty wares on Rt. 11 at Dixie Glass and Mirror beginning at 7 AM.
The official Yard Crawl t-shirts are collectible, with each year featuring a different color. This year’s 17th Crawl t-shirt is a royal blue heather and costs $15 and $20, depending on size. They can be purchased at these locations:
- Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation in Middletown
- Edinburg Mill Museum in Edinburg
- Main Street Classics in Stephens City
- Route 11 Potato Chips in Mt Jackson
- The Flea Market in Edinburg
- The Strasburg Emporium in Strasburg
- Shenandoah County Chamber of in Woodstock
- Shenandoah Valley Flea Market in New Market
- Travelers Treasures in Woodstock
The Route 11 Yard Crawl is a collaborative effort between Shenandoah County Tourism, the County Chamber, and the Towns of Strasburg, Woodstock, Edinburg, Mount Jackson, New Market, Middletown, and Stephens City.
For more information on the Crawl, inquire about vendor spaces available, or participating businesses, visit www.Route11YardCrawl.org or call 540-459-2542.
Senator Tim Kaine visits George Banks Blvd
On August 11, 2022, Senator Tim Kaine visited George Banks Blvd and met in the front yard of Cornelia Banks, along with her family, and friends.
On Saturday, June 25th, friends, neighbors, and town officials gathered to officially open George Banks Boulevard on the Town of Front Royal’s north side from East 13th to 16th Street near Edgemont and Scranton Avenues.
Belle Grove to host Jerome Bias as an artist-in-residence
Belle Grove Plantation will host North Carolina furniture maker, Jerome Bias, as an artist-in-residence August 27-October 2.
Mr. Bias has been making period furnishings and studying southern decorative arts for more than 20 years. He was a joiner for Old Salem Museums and Gardens in Winston-Salem and has been a presenter at Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library, and with the Slave Dwelling Project.
His interest in working at Belle Grove, and at other sites of enslavement like it, is to bring attention to the skilled and talented craftspersons who had significant roles in shaping Southern decorative traditions. These furniture pieces represent the local areas in which they were made, and became a way for the makers, though enslaved, to survive and thrive. Learning and demonstrating these furniture making techniques and skills has been a way for Mr. Bias to connect with his enslaved ancestors, get a glimpse at the pain, trauma, and joys that they experienced, and begin a process of healing. His current project is reproducing pieces of furniture from six areas of the United States in which his family was enslaved, including a buffet from South Carolina, and a china press from Louisville, Kentucky.
While at Belle Grove, Mr. Bias will have both indoor and outdoor workshop spaces where visitors can learn about the pieces he is making, their history, and the history of the craftspersons who inspire him. He will be demonstrating during Belle Grove’s Wine Festival on Saturday, August 27, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Thereafter, he will be doing demonstrations Wednesday-Sundays when Belle Grove is open (10 a.m.-4 p.m. and 1-5 p.m. Sundays). For a specific schedule, please visit bellegrove.org/calendar/artist. Access to these demonstrations will be free of charge.
Another way Mr. Bias has connected with experiences of his ancestors is learning about the foodways of enslaved communities. He will share his experience and talents with hearth cooking during a free program by the Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Park Ranger Shannon Moeck, “Kneading in Silence: A Glimpse into the Life of the Enslaved Cook Judah.” It is Sunday, September 4, at 2:30 p.m. in the historic kitchen of the Belle Grove Manor House. Attendees of the program will see first-hand the wide variety of skills, intense labor, and personality characteristics that Judah had to have in order to be the head cook.
Support for Mr. Bias’s residency has been provided through the Interpretation and Education Grants of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
“Belle Grove is delighted to host Mr. Bias for this residency, and we are excited to share his craft and insights on African-American history with our guests, ” said Executive Director Kristen Laise.
Belle Grove is actively researching and interpreting the African American history of the site and honoring the lives of those enslaved and free. More information may be found at
bellegrove.org/about/enslaved. Some of the stories of the people enslaved at Belle Grove are featured in a monthly newsletter found at virtual.bellegrove.org.
About Belle Grove—Belle Grove Plantation is located off Route 11 at 336 Belle Grove Road just south of Middletown, Virginia, and is conveniently situated to I-81 (exit 302) and I-66. Belle Grove Plantation is a non-profit historic house museum that is a National Trust for Historic Preservation historic site (www.savingplaces.org). It is also one of the legislated partners in Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park (www.nps.gov/cebe).
Blue Ridge Wildlife Center Patient of the Week: Virginia Opossum
Do you know what a baby opossum is called?
Baby opossums are called joeys!
This litter of orphaned joeys came to the Center as tiny, eyes-closed babies after their mom was hit by a vehicle.
Joeys take a lot of work to raise, requiring 5-6 feedings per day, constant cleanings, and lots of enrichment. But everyone in this group is now fully weaned and eating on their own, and they will be moved out to larger, pre-release enclosures soon!
Adult female Virginia Opossums traditionally have litters of babies beginning in February and another in late spring. Each litter can produce as many as 13 babies (though we typically see closer to 5 or 6).
Most of the joeys we admit come to us on hit-by-car moms. Please make sure to watch your speed and pay attention while driving. Do not expect wildlife to simply get out of your way. Though many are hit at night, nocturnal mothers are also foraging during the day to support their large families!
If you see a hit opossum on the roadside or accidentally hit one, and are in a SAFE area to pull over, please check to see if they are alive or if you see any movement in the pouch. Look around for slightly older joeys that may be walking near the body. If the mother is alive or if there are living babies, please call a licensed rehabilitator right away. We are available 9-5pm, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to help!
Looking for an easy way to help native wildlife? Become a monthly BRWC donor! For as little as $5/month, you can provide year-round, sustainable support that helps us fulfill our mission.
VDOT: Warren County Traffic alert for August 8 – 12, 2022
The following is a list of highway work that may affect traffic in Warren County during the coming weeks. Scheduled work is subject to change due to inclement weather and material supplies. Motorists are advised to watch for slow-moving tractors during mowing operations. When traveling through a work zone, be alert to periodic changes in traffic patterns and lane closures.
*NEW* or *UPDATE* indicates a new or revised entry since last week’s report.
Mile marker 0 to 15, eastbound and westbound – Right shoulder closures for utility work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Saturday (August 13).
Mile marker 8 to 7, westbound – Right lane closures for utility work, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Saturday (August 13).
Mile marker 299 to 300, northbound and southbound – Right shoulder closures for utility work, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Saturday (August 13).
Route 55 (Strasburg Road) – Shoulder closures for utility work in the area of Route 664 (Whipporwill Road), 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. through August 19.
No lane closures were reported.
Vegetation management may take place district-wide on various routes. Motorists are reminded to use extreme caution when traveling through work zones.
Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511. Traffic alerts and traveler information also are available at www.511Virginia.org.
The VDOT Customer Service Center can assist with reporting road hazards, asking transportation questions, or getting information related to Virginia’s roads. Call 800-FOR- ROAD (800-367-7623) or use its mobile-friendly website at my.vdot.virginia.gov. Agents are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.