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Blue Ridge Wildlife Center Patient of the Week: Northern Rough Greensnake

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A species first for us at the Center, a Northern Rough Greensnake, came in for care this week!

Photos / Blue Ridge Wildlife Center

This patient was found by a hiker on the Appalachian trail after a mild jaw injury and blood in the mouth was spotted. It was in care for only a few days on cage rest with staff monitoring the injury, and after making a full recovery was released back at its found location!

This small, docile, harmless species is a primarily arboreal (tree climbing) species, residing in deciduous forests, mixed hardwood-pine forests, field and thicket areas, and the border areas of bodies of water.


They are active during the day and spend nights sleeping coiled on tree branches. If you come across a green tree snake (as they are commonly called), allow it to cross your path and be on your way!

This species only eats invertebrates (including grasshoppers, caterpillars, snails, spiders, and wasps) and have had significant decline in the last decade due to pesticide usage and domestic animal attacks.

This spring season brings good reminders to refrain from chemical plant and insect control on your property and to keep your domestic animals secured/monitored when outside.

The snakes and other native species will thank you by providing you with free, natural pest control!


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.

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Blue Ridge Wildlife Center Patient of the Week: Spotted Salamander

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This handsome Spotted Salamander came in to us after they were found walking inside a barn, dried out and looking lethargic. The finder was kind enough to drive them to us for evaluation.

Salamanders are known to walk miles during breeding season between wetland locations, and it is possible a cold snap got in the way of this one’s trek.

Thankfully, this salamander had no obvious wounds or injuries on exam. We did treat them with antibiotics for any potential cat attack wounds as that may have been why the salamander was found in the barn to begin with, though a cat interaction was not witnessed.

Thankfully, after just a few days of treatment and rest and relaxation, this salamander was cleared for release and returned home!


Thanks so much to the finder who spotted this critter and cared enough to get them evaluated. We couldn’t give wildlife a second chance without caring finders and supporters like you!

Did you know?

The Spotted Salamander is great at eluding predators!

They spend the majority of their time hiding under rocks, fallen trees, or leaf litter to avoid being seen. Plus, the bright, contrasting spots along their neck, back, and tail serve as a warning to predators that they secrete a toxin, which makes them taste bitter.

So even when spotted, they don’t look like a tasty treat!



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.

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Michal Ashby, children’s librarian receives the Elks Distinguished Citizenship Award

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On March 15, 2023, Michal Ashby, children’s librarian at Samuel’s Public Library, received the Elks Distinguished Citizenship Award. “For Outstanding and Meritorious Service to Humanity,” the award was presented by Lodge 2382 of Front Royal.

“The award from Elks Club was the most significant professional honor of my life,” Ashby said. “The people I have met in that group have been some of the sweetest people I have ever met. Their selection of me for the award has positively impacted my life for years to come. Their generosity humbles me.”

This honor does not come out of the blue. Ashby has been instrumental in helping the library maintain a partnership with the local Elks Club for some time. “They are passionate about literacy and have been contributing to our programs for years,” she said. “Like other civic organizations such as Kiwanis Club and Rotary, they make a huge difference in our community.”

To anyone who knows her, it is obvious that Michal Ashby is a passionate human being driven by many goals. One of her greatest passions is the adult and teen volunteer base that serves the library. “Without a foundation,” she said, “a house wouldn’t stand.” She sees her volunteers as being that foundation. “They help us with everything from weeding our children’s garden, cutting out crafts for story-time, shifting books, shelving movies, and doing light cleaning. Sometimes they even offer to dress up in a costume for a special program!”


As Ashby talked about her passion for the library and the community in which it stands, it became evident why she received the award. “Every day, I am reminded why I serve this community,” she said. “Every day, I see parents who thank us for what we do, children who ask us about good books, and teens who tell us how much the library means to them. Our community drives my passion for our department and the library.”

Ashby has served the library since 2006. In that time, the children’s staff and the teen volunteer program have grown. The library has achieved many goals, adding regular art, gardening, and science programs to complement its literacy-based programs. It now maintains a children’s garden, a Storywalk at Eastham Park, and a variety of community partnerships. “I am proud that these things have happened during my ‘stewardship’ of the children’s department,” Ashby said. She also said that her current goal “is to increase our presence and our impact in the community,” chiefly through partnerships with organizations that choose to do programming with the library.

The passion of Michal Ashby extends to every part of her life. Her hobbies include gem mining, rock hounding, history, genealogy, and reading. “I am an avid reader,” she said. “Recently, I have been enjoying our non-fiction. I love to read about space, geology, and Egyptology. Children’s books are quick reads in comparison to adult non-fiction. I also recently have been re-reading the classics such as 1,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne.”

Bringing the community every interest imaginable with a built-in mechanism for reaching out to other libraries, Samuel’s is truly a product of evolution in the eyes of those who remember presenting their selection of loans to a librarian, as they can now handle the check-out process themselves with the assistance of cutting-edge computer technology. Despite such improvements, the library continues to be a friendly place where magical things can happen, protected by the stewardship of people like Michal Ashby.


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Laurel Ridge celebrates expansion of manufacturing and trades lab space on Middletown Campus

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Laurel Ridge Community College leaders, employees, and instructors were joined by elected officials, industry partners, economic development representatives, chamber of commerce members, and private donors Friday morning to celebrate the ribbon cutting for the newly-expanded Alson H. Smith Hall on the college’s Middletown Campus.

A 3,500-square-foot addition has recently been completed at the facility, which also houses the college’s dental hygiene clinic, a black box theater, and a nursing simulation lab. Now, it has plenty of space for three mechatronics (advanced manufacturing) labs and labs for welding, HVAC, electrical, and heavy equipment operator programs.

An $800,000 GO Virginia grant helped provide the state-of-the-art equipment needed for the mechatronics program, Laurel Ridge President Kim Blosser said prior to the ribbon cutting.

“When you take a tour of the labs, you will see a lot of impressive equipment with sleek robotics and controls,” she said. “This is the kind of high-tech resource and training that will help make the Northern Shenandoah Valley an attractive location for new businesses or for current business expansion.”


Laurel Ridge President Kim Blosser tours labs.

Manufacturing is the second-largest industry sector in the region, said Jeanian Clark, vice president of Laurel Ridge Community College Workforce Solutions and Continuing Education. The more than 90,000 manufacturing jobs in the region have average salaries above $50,000, she said. Still, about 3,100 more positions need to be filled, and if they were, according to Clark, they would bring an additional $1.4 billion in economic output.

She shared the following statistics about the increasing need for trades specialists within the Laurel Ridge service region:

  • There are 40 jobs posted for the HVAC industry. HVAC techs have an average annual salary above $55,000.
  • More than 30 additional electricians, with an average salary above $60,000, are needed.
  • Nearly two dozen welding jobs are open. Those positions average more than $50,000 annually.
  • Just shy of 100 construction trades positions are open, with an average pay of nearly $50,000 a year.

“We are fully committed and passionate about supporting the current and future growth of our community and the workforce,” said Vice President Clark.


Del. Bill Wiley was one of several speakers at Friday’s event. Wiley is a real estate broker and is the business development manager for Howard Shockey and Sons Inc.

“I can’t say enough in terms of the need for this,” he said. “Our area is all about this type of work.”

Mike Powell, senior manager of maintenance at Trex Co. Inc., said many of his employees received training through Laurel Ridge Workforce Solutions.

“Laurel Ridge is a critical part of our region’s workforce development,” he said. “I have firsthand knowledge of the experience they gained here. That has really refined our team’s technical abilities.”


There is grant funding available through programs such as FastForward and G3 to cover much of the costs of the trade programs for qualified Virginia residents. Learn more at LaurelRidgeWorkforce.com/funding. Visit LaurelRidgeWorkforce.com for more information on trades programming.

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EDA in Focus

Town Mayor Cockrell and County Economic Development Director Petty react to the Shenandoah Rail Trail event and public feedback

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Royal Examiner asked several local officials who participated in Thursday evening’s Shenandoah Rail Trail presentation what they thought of the project, the public turnout, and feedback about the project. Front Royal Mayor Lori Cockrell introduced the evening’s event and some Rail Trail Partnership and local officials present for it, including Warren County Director of Economic Development Joe Petty. We queried both the town mayor and county economic development director on their perspectives.

Front Royal Mayor Lori Cockrell and County Director of Economic Development Joe Petty were among local officials mingling before the 7 p.m. start of the program’s agenda.

“I think the partnership prepared an excellent event. It provided information as well as opportunities to ask questions and share concerns and input. There was a large group of engaged people in attendance. I think I counted between 120-130 people,” Mayor Cockrell began, adding, “I was very encouraged by all the positive feedback I received. I even spoke with people who have previously lived in other communities with rail trails who have moved to our area. They were excited about having an opportunity like this locally.

“I also spoke with people who had concerns because they lived on property that borders the rail corridor. I think they had valid concerns. I connected them with members of the partnership who could gather their concerns and hopefully address them moving forward. That’s what last night was all about, getting the community’s input,” Cockrell concluded of the ongoing process of developing a citizen-friendly project.


County Economic Development Director Petty concurred with the mayor’s overall perception: “I thought the meeting went well and there was a good turnout. I was able to have open conversations with members of the community that are in support, have questions, or concerned with the project; and look forward to continuing those discussions with all of them in the future. I believe meetings similar to last night are important in order to engage with the public,” Petty said of the project’s developmental process.

Many citizens and officials arrived early and perused informational table displays manned by Shenandoah Rail Trail Partnership volunteers and staff.

“I also spoke with individuals regarding the economic impacts as defined in the Economic Impact Analysis, and how we can further highlight and explore the local benefits as well as expand on the regional benefits,” Petty concluded.

Mayor Cockrell concurred on the importance of the Economic Development Analysis:


“One area that was not focused on during the event was the specific numbers that came out of the Economic Impact Analysis. Benefits to our community were shared, but I think if citizens had the opportunity to see actual predicted numbers, actual dollars, they might be even more enthusiastic about the project!” she concluded with an exclamation point by email.

It was a full Fire & Rescue Company 1 parking lot – trust me, way beyond the front section pictured here – for the Shenandoah Rail Trail public informational meeting of March 23rd.

 

Shenandoah Rail Trail Partnership makes its case as a beneficial project, not only to Front Royal, but communities throughout the Valley

 

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EDA in Focus

Shenandoah Rail Trail Partnership makes its case as a beneficial project, not only to Front Royal, but communities throughout the Valley

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On Thursday evening, March 23rd, representatives of the Shenandoah Rail Trail Partnership gathered with local municipal officials from the Town of Front Royal and Warren County at the community meeting room of Front Royal Fire & Rescue Company 1 on Commerce Avenue for an informational presentation and community feedback opportunity.

Front Royal Mayor Lori A. Cockrell initiates the meeting agenda with a welcome from the host town government, and introduction of other local and Rail Trail Partnership participants. Below, it was a well attended event. Some present were still at surrounding informational tables as the official presentations began.

The Shenandoah Rail Trail project would convert abandoned railroad lines to community and tourist-friendly “walking, hiking, jogging, cycling (non-motorized it appears) and more” non-intrusive recreational uses. The proposed project would connect, not only communities from Front Royal/Warren County on its northeast to Broadway in Rockingham County at the south end of the trail, but also sections of each community to each other.

“Up and down the route, the trail connects students to school, employees to work, customers to shops, diners to restaurants, and community members to parks, rivers and historic sites,” a pamphlet available to attendees notes in its summary of the project. Of the planned path, it adds: “The rail corridor, once a community and economic hub of towns from Broadway to Front Royal, has not seen trains as far back as 1989. The tracks are now overgrown and, in some areas, completely unusable.”


Abandoned, overgrown railroad tracks or a transformed ‘Rail Trail’ connecting communities for low-impact recreational walks and bike rides. Below, informational tables drew members of the public, here including FR Councilman ‘Skip’ Rogers, left in white shirt, and WC Supervisor Walt Mabe, right blue shirt, prior to official agenda presentations.

The project includes the communities of Front Royal, Strasburg, Woodstock, Tom’s Brook, Edinburg, Mount Jackson, New Market, Timberville, and Broadway. Of the benefit to the
average Shenandoah Valley citizen of these communities, the Shenandoah Rail Trail group observes that many of the existing trails in National Parks and elsewhere “are remote and, by the nature of the terrain, suited for advanced trail users.

“Our rail trail is flat, primarily rural and scenic, and easily accessed from many towns and neighborhoods. It will be a safe and easy way to get outside to walk, run or roll with family members of all ages and abilities.”

Perspectives from the Shenandoah Rail Trail Partnership website


The rail trail group also points to potential economic benefit from realization of the project in improving easily accessible amenities for area citizens – a plus for companies looking to locate in areas that provide “a high quality of life to the folks they employ” — and those folks could include locals recruited by new businesses moving into the valley.

The friendly nature of a flat, scenic walking, hiking and biking trail can also attract regional tourists, expanding the customer base for local shops, restaurants, and other businesses accessible from the rail trail.

Learn more by visiting <shenandoahrailtrail.org>

Town Mayor Cockrell and County Economic Development Director Petty react to the Shenandoah Rail Trail event and public feedback

 

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Randolph-Macon Academy participates in the NYC St Patrick’s Day Parade

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For the first time since COVID, R-MA participated in the NYC St Patrick’s Day Parade. Cadets soaked in the big city as they marched the streets in perfect time.  Approximately 30 blocks were covered during the parade as they passed huge skyscrapers all the way to Central Park.

Music Director, Michael DeMato remarks, “It’s an amazing feeling to be back at this parade after missing several due to COVID. We are looking forward to many more in the future.” DeMato helped organize the NYC adventure and brought wonderful excitement to the cadets as he shared stories of growing up in Queens.

In addition to the marching band, we had a parade unit under the direction of Col Mark Allen and CMSgt Ken Evans (both retired), led by C/LTC Henry Scott including a flag corps composed of all 50 state flags! Students did an amazing job holding the flags proudly throughout the whole parade route.

The band was led by Drum Major Cadet 2nd Lieutenant Sarina Winters. Winter’s leadership was a joy to watch as she led the band through the streets of New York City. At times she stopped forward marching to allow pedestrians to cross the street as seen in the following video.


Following the parade, students toured NYC seeing various museums, local restaurants, Times Square and other big-city sights, including the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum. St. Patrick’s Day weekend will be something these young cadets will remember forever. Go Jackets!

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Thank You to our Local Business Participants:

@AHIER

Aders Insurance Agency, Inc (State Farm)

Aire Serv Heating and Air Conditioning

Apple Dumpling Learning Center

Apple House

Auto Care Clinic

Avery-Hess Realty, Marilyn King

Beaver Tree Services

Blake and Co. Hair Spa

Blue Ridge Arts Council

Blue Ridge Education

BNI Shenandoah Valley

C&C's Ice Cream Shop

Card My Yard

CBM Mortgage, Michelle Napier

Christine Binnix - McEnearney Associates

Code Ninjas Front Royal

Cool Techs Heating and Air

Down Home Comfort Bakery

Downtown Market

Dusty's Country Store

Edward Jones-Bret Hrbek

Explore Art & Clay

Family Preservation Services

First Baptist Church

Front Royal Independent Business Alliance

First Baptist Church

Front Royal Women's Resource Center

Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce

Fussell Florist

G&M Auto Sales Inc

Garcia & Gavino Family Bakery

Gourmet Delights Gifts & Framing

Green to Ground Electrical

Groups Recover Together

Habitat for Humanity

Groups Recover Together

House of Hope

I Want Candy

I'm Just Me Movement

Jen Avery, REALTOR & Jenspiration, LLC

Key Move Properties, LLC

KW Solutions

Legal Services Plans of Northern Shenendoah

Main Street Travel

Makeover Marketing Systems

Marlow Automotive Group

Mary Carnahan Graphic Design

Merchants on Main Street

Mountain Trails

Mountain View Music

National Media Services

Natural Results Chiropractic Clinic

No Doubt Accounting

Northwestern Community Services Board

Ole Timers Antiques

Penny Lane Hair Co.

Philip Vaught Real Estate Management

Phoenix Project

Reaching Out Now

Rotary Club of Warren County

Royal Blends Nutrition

Royal Cinemas

Royal Examiner

Royal Family Bowling Center

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Oak Computers

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Spice

Ruby Yoga

Salvation Army

Samuels Public Library

SaVida Health

Skyline Insurance

Shenandoah Shores Management Group

St. Luke Community Clinic

Strites Doughnuts

Studio Verde

The Institute for Association & Nonprofit Research

The Studio-A Place for Learning

The Valley Today - The River 95.3

The Vine and Leaf

Valley Chorale

Vetbuilder.com

Warren Charge (Bennett's Chapel, Limeton, Asbury)

Warren Coalition

Warren County Democratic Committee

Warren County Department of Social Services

Warren County DSS Job Development

Warrior Psychotherapy Services, PLLC

WCPS Work-Based Learning

What Matters & Beth Medved Waller, Inc Real Estate

White Picket Fence

Woodward House on Manor Grade

King Cartoons

Front Royal
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Upcoming Events

Mar
29
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Mar 29 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Mar
31
Fri
5:00 pm No Foolin’ Warren County Rocks @ First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall
No Foolin’ Warren County Rocks @ First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall
Mar 31 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
No Foolin' Warren County Rocks @ First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall
Warren Coalition’s No Foolin’ Warren County Rocks includes a team Scavenger Hunt for prizes! Top teams in each category will receive $25 gift cards for each team member, and the overall championship team will receive[...]
Apr
1
Sat
9:00 am Breakfast with the Easter Bunny @ Living Water Christian Church
Breakfast with the Easter Bunny @ Living Water Christian Church
Apr 1 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Breakfast with the Easter Bunny @ Living Water Christian Church
Living Water Christian Church will once again be hosting our Pancake Breakfast with the Easter Bunny on April 1, 2023, from 9am – 12pm. Come on out and enjoy a great breakfast, pictures with the[...]
12:00 pm Settle’s Kettle @ Sky Meadows State Park
Settle’s Kettle @ Sky Meadows State Park
Apr 1 @ 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Settle's Kettle @ Sky Meadows State Park
Log Cabin in the Historic Area. Follow your nose to the Log Cabin to see what is cooking on the hearth. Immerse yourself within the 19th century enslaved culture and its foods. Explore the taste[...]
12:00 pm The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Apr 1 @ 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. The forge is fired up and the blacksmiths are hard at work showing off their skills. Members of The Blacksmiths’ Guild of the Potomac have set up shop in the forge, located behind[...]
1:00 pm Front Royal Bluegrass Music Jam @ The Body Shop
Front Royal Bluegrass Music Jam @ The Body Shop
Apr 1 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Front Royal Bluegrass Music Jam @ The Body Shop
New Bluegrass and traditional music jam the first Saturday of each month starting Feb. 4th, from 1pm till 4pm. All levels of playing invited to attend.
2:00 pm Community Easter Egg Hunt @ Fantasyland
Community Easter Egg Hunt @ Fantasyland
Apr 1 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Community Easter Egg Hunt @ Fantasyland
Pre-Registration begins March 15th! Provide Name, Age, Child/Pup, Email and Phone in one of three ways: FACEBOOK MESSAGE Email Sheree Jennings at sheree@billpowersagency.com OR call the office at 540-635-2825
Apr
5
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Apr 5 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Apr
8
Sat
10:00 am Patriot’s Day @ Warren Heritage Society
Patriot’s Day @ Warren Heritage Society
Apr 8 @ 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Patriot's Day @ Warren Heritage Society
Join the fun with reenactors, a blacksmith, the outdoor kitchen, our smokehouse, and tours all day of Balthis House. Sons of the American Revolution will fire muskets at 3 pm. Free event for all ages![...]
11:00 am Egg-stravaganza! @ Sky Meadows State Park
Egg-stravaganza! @ Sky Meadows State Park
Apr 8 @ 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Egg-stravaganza! @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. Eggs are popping up all over Sky Meadows State Park. Welcome spring with a day of egg-citing family activities. Explore the diverse park landscapes that allow our egg laying species to thrive including[...]