Local News

Local News
Front Royal Lions Club dedicates bench at Warren County Middle School
March 16, 2018

Lions Club members pose outside the Warren County Middle School with some of the students who will enjoy the new bench. / Courtesy photo.

FRONT ROYAL – As part of its on-going commitment to community service, members of the Front Royal Lions Club participated in the dedication of a new bench for the use and enjoyment of students at the new Warren County Middle School. This donation will be recognized as a “Centennial Service Project” by Lions Clubs International as part of its one hundred year anniversary.

Speaking on behalf of the Lions, Lion President Daryl Funk gave a brief presentation on the history of “Lionism.” Funk stated, “In response to the call to service by Helen Keller, the famous advocate for the disabled, Front Royal Lions have provided thousands of free sight and hearing exams and glasses and hearing aids for Warren County residents.”

Funk continued, “Lions fill a critical gap in healthcare. Medicaid and Medicare do not pay for glasses and hearing aids, only exams; and we are the only entity filling this need. Further, this bench represents our continued commitment to youth. This year, our club purchased a Spot Vision Screener, which is a handheld, portable device designed to quickly and easily detect vision issues in children as early as six months. We intend to use this device to offer screenings in our local preschools and other schools lacking sight programs.”

In accepting the donation, WCMS Principal Amy Gubler said, “The Front Royal Lions Club were gracious enough to purchase the bench for our new school, and I want to thank our partners for the donation of this beautiful bench.” Several WCMS students and staff gathered to participate in the dedication.

Founded in 1934, the Front Royal Lions Club meets every second Tuesday at 6:15 PM at the Oak Grill, 107 Water Street, Front Royal. Visitors are welcome and encouraged to attend. For more information on the Spot Vision Screener, click here.


Local News
Local service agencies holding volunteer fair to find those interested in giving back
March 15, 2018

FRONT ROYAL – Area residents who are interested in volunteering will be able to “shop” amongst local agencies and nonprofits that need volunteers during a first-ever upcoming Front Royal event.

The first of its kind “Volunteer Fair” is slated to be held Friday, April 20 , from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Community Center, located at 538 Villa Avenue in Front Royal, according to a press release from Dawn Graves, executive director of the United Way of Front Royal-Warren County.

The release states that local nonprofits and agencies are cooperatively sponsoring the event that will allow citizens to find the for which they would like to help give back to their community.

County Fire and Rescue Chief Richard Mabie noted, “There isn’t really a competition between fire and rescue and other agencies for volunteers because each program has a unique mission and requires different interests and skills.” Chamber of Commerce President Niki Foster agreed, saying that a coalition of agencies and programs has been assembled to address the need for connecting volunteers with service organizations in the area.

Area agencies and nonprofits may reserve a space at the upcoming Volunteer Fair by contacting:

Dawn Graves, Executive Director
United Way of Front Royal-Warren County
Phone: 540 635-3636 office or 540 931-2306 cell
Email: dawn@frontroyalunitedway.org

The reservation fee of $25 will be refunded to agencies or nonprofits who exhibit.

Local News
Want to save America’s wildlife? Call your congressional representatives
March 14, 2018

The U.S. Congress is on the cusp of voting on a bill that could have life-and-death consequences for animals and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is asking people of Warren County, and, indeed, the nation, to urge their legislators to protect America’s horses and wildlife.

The legislation is the spending bill for Fiscal Year 2018. The national Humane Society urges support for legislation that would, in part, ensure:

— The ban on operating horse slaughter plants in the United States is maintained.

— America’s wild horses and burros remain protected from mass killing.

— Harmful wildlife provisions are excluded, particularly language that would allow cruel trophy hunting methods on some National Park Service lands in Alaska.

–Congress maintains critical Endangered Species Act protections for species such as the gray wolf.

The number to call in Washington is (202) 224-3121, leaving a message for Congressman Bob Goodlatte and Virginia U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine to the effect that they work with leadership to ensure that the Final FY18 spending bill protects America’s domestic and wild horses from slaughter and mass killing.

Additionally, request the delegation’s help in safeguarding America’s wildlife from harmful changes to the Endangered Species Act and provisions allowing extreme methods of killing grizzlies and wolves on some Alaska Park Service lands.

Local News
Winchester attorney dead from apparent suicide
March 14, 2018

GREAT CACAPON, W VA – A Winchester attorney was found dead Tuesday evening in a vehicle in a remote area of Great Cacapon, W.Va., in Morgan County. Morgan County Sheriff K.C. Bohrer said Wednesday the man had been identified as Christian J. Griffin, 58.

Bohrer said sheriff’s deputies responded to investigate a call regarding a deceased male found in an SUV Tuesday night off W.Va. 9 under the bridge where the Cacapon River empties into the Potomac River.

Bohrer said Griffin died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The witness who discovered the body told police that he first had saw the vehicle Monday evening and then saw it again on Tuesday morning. It was only after taking a closer look at the vehicle that the man saw the body inside the SUV and alerted authorities, Bohrer said.

A Morgan County medical examiner investigated the scene and police have no reason to believe that a suspect is at large in connection with the death, Bohrer stated.

Griffin’s license to practice law was active and in good standing on Wednesday, according to the Virginia State Bar. Griffin’s license was issued on April 28, 1988.

Local News
Kiwanis Club of Front Royal helps celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday at Samuels Library
March 13, 2018

Dr. Seuss’s birthday was recently celebrated at Samuels Public Library. Portraying the famous cat was volunteer Nathanael Jacob. / Courtesy photos.

FRONT ROYAL – The Youth Services Department of Samuels Public Library  recently celebrated the children’s success during Winter Reading Club. Over 350 children and teens participated, reading almost 10,000 books.

The Kiwanis Club of Front Royal joined in the celebration of Winter Reading Club and Dr. Seuss’s birthday with breakfast for all during a special family story time. Kiwanis members were readers during the story time and Samuels Library volunteer Nathanael Jacob portrayed the Cat in the Hat.

“We are grateful for all of the support that we receive from the Kiwanis Club of Front Royal,” noted Michal Ashby, Youth Services Supervisor at Samuels Library. “They have been serving the children of our community through their service and donations to the library for years. Today they not only donated the food for the breakfast, but they brought volunteers to be a part of this event, which was a huge success.”

Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world one child and one community at a time. Kiwanis members help shelter the homeless, feed the hungry, mentor the disadvantaged, and care for the sick. They develop youth as leaders, build playgrounds, raise funds for pediatric research, and much more. Locally, they also offer college scholarships to graduates of Warren County High School and Skyline High School.

Samuels Public Library is a community resource which enhances the quality of life for residents of Warren County/Front Royal by fulfilling their personal, occupational and recreational needs through services, programs, and a collection of materials that is current, balanced and responsive to those needs. The Library strives to stimulate and broaden community interests in literature, reading and learning, and has been doing so for more than two centuries.

Further information about Samuels Library is available here or by calling (540) 635-3153.


Local News
UPDATE: 10 children transported to hospital following Monday Warren County school bus accident
March 12, 2018

This Warren County Public School bus was struck by a car  Monday morning as it traveled along Royal Avenue. /Photos by Mike McCool


This 2017 Subaru struck the bus after failing to stop at a stop sign at the intersection of 2nd Street and Royal Avenue.

FRONT ROYAL – A Linden man, Donald G. Muterspaugh, has been charged with reckless driving after failing to stop at a stop sign and striking a Warren County school bus Monday morning as it traveled along Royal Avenue.

Front Royal Police Department spokesperson Captain Crystal Cline said Muterspaugh, of 200 Freezeland Manor Rd., Linden, was traveling west on 2nd St. around 10:43 a.m. and did not stop at the stop sign at its intersection with Royal Avenue. The front end of Muterspaugh’s 2017 Subaru struck the rear driver’s side of the 2002 school bus, just forward of the wheelbase.

25 students were on the bus. Cline said 10 children were transported to the Emergency Department of Warren Memorial Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Sherry Pugh, of Linden, was the driver of the school bus; she was not injured. Muterspaugh refused to be examined by Warren County Fire and Rescue EMTs.

Local News
Loaded Warren County school bus struck by car Monday morning
March 12, 2018

This Warren County Public School bus was struck by a car (below) Monday morning as it traveled along Royal Avenue. Below: ./Photos by Mike McCool


FRONT ROYAL – A Warren County school bus was involved in a crash with a passenger vehicle  Monday morning at the intersection of Second Street and Royal Avenue.  The bus was carrying about 20 students, according to a first responder at the scene.

None of the students appeared to be injured in the incident and the car’s driver, whose identity has not been confirmed, refused treatment at the scene.

A witness who saw the accident occur, who asked not to be identified, said the car that struck the bus failed to stop at the stop sign on Second Street and “t-boned” the bus as it  traveled south on Royal Avenue.

Warren County Public School Transportation Director Aaron Mitchell, who was on the scene of the accident, said a statement would be forthcoming from Superintendent Greg Drescher.

Local News
Gun violence vigil, counter-demonstration go off civilly
March 11, 2018

Two perspectives on the right to bear arms versus the right to a safe public environment, especially for school-age children – Photos/Roger Bianchini

FRONT ROYAL – A total of nearly 100 people gathered peacefully in the Front Royal Village Commons area Saturday afternoon, March 10, despite several days of sometimes inflammatory social media posts suggesting an armed counter-demonstration to the planned “Vigil and Protest for Victims of Gun Violence”.

As reported by Royal Examiner on Friday, several aspects of the anti-gun violence vigil involving local high school students and the Selah Theater group comprised primarily of area teens were cancelled due to the tone of some gun-rights posts on the “What’s Up Front Royal” Facebook page and the call for anti-vigil demonstrators to show up with open carry firearms.

And while two of the approximate 15 to 25 gun rights advocates did show up with openly-displayed semi-automatic rifles, including an AR-15 like the one used in the Parkland, Florida high school shooting, those demonstrators, Emmy Bossung and Todd Kern, told us their weapons were unloaded and they did not want to create any undue anxiety among the vigil participants gathered to pay homage to gun violence victims. Rather, Bossung and Kern said their appearance with the weapons was intended to illustrate the right of Americans to bear arms within local and federal legal parameters.

Above, Emmy Bossung, far left, and Todd Kern, center, said they came with unloaded semi-automatic rifles to make a point, not intimidate anyone; below, an anti-gun violence participant chats with “new gun laws may not be the answer” advocate Gary Kushner prior to the beginning of Saturday’s dueling demonstration – dialogue is always good.

And it is the idea of strengthening those legal parameters, particularly as they apply to background checks, waiting periods on gun purchases, age, and increased emphasis on mental health parameters as a viable part of background checks that separated the approximately 60 anti-gun violence demonstrators from the 25 to 30 gathered to emphasize their right to bear arms as American citizens.

And there was some civil discussion across those opinion lines and the barricades put in place by Front Royal Police prior to the 1 p.m. start of official anti-gun violence vigil activities. And other than a few isolated yells and some passing motorist horns momentarily drowning out some of the vigil speeches, for the most part the opposing sides remained civil, if separated philosophically.

Sixth Congressional District candidates Jennifer Lewis, Peter Volosin and Charlotte Moore appeared in support of the anti-gun violence vigil, while the county’s three state delegates though invited, did not. Those delegates, Chris Collins (29th), Todd Gilbert (15th) and Michael Webert (18th), Webert particularly, drew the ire of organizers for pro-NRA stances and past votes against gun law reform.

One local teen did speak and another’s essay was read at the anti-gun violence vigil. Madeline Phoenix, 14, read an essay written by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student and shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez; and Ell Phoenix read an essay penned by a local high school student who
elected to remain anonymous in the wake of the sometimes ominously-worded social media posts in recent days.

One the gun violence vigils most emotional moments was when participants went to the microphone at the Gazebo to take turns reading names of the deceased at recent mass shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14 and at the Las Vegas musical concert on October 1, 2017.

As anti-gun violence advocates supporting stronger laws regarding gun purchases gather within the FRPD fenced in perimeter, anti-new gun legislation advocates gather at the edge of that perimeter.

As Heather Davis kicks off the WC Va. Indivisible anti-gun violence event, participants on both sides of the barricade reflect varying perspectives. Some gun rights advocates, including AR-15-packing Emmy Bossung with ‘Gun Free Zones create victims’ sign carrier below, carried their message around the Vigil Against Gun Violence perimeter – not sure if that made those inside feel safer or not.

Towards the end of the organized WC Va. Indivisible anti-gun violence event one pro-gun rights advocate unveiled a Confederate flag emblazoned with an AR-15 . Anti-gun violence demonstrators took a different view on civil rights, quoting Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student survivors’ statement ‘We call BS’, as illustrated here surrounded by photos of the Parkland, Florida high school dead.

With a little support from a friend, teen Madeline Phoenix reads from essay by Parkland, Florida high school shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez; below vigil participants line up to read the names of the dead at Parkland, Florida and last year’s Las Vegas concert shootings. Below the honoring-the-dead line that saw 75 names read from those two shootings within the last 6 months, pro-gun rights advocates at the police perimeter and across Chester Street; and one family inside the perimeter’s take on the issue.


Local News
FRPD plans to separate dueling gun violence demonstrators on Saturday
March 9, 2018

‘The vigil is about honoring people who have died. Speakers will be reading the names of people who have died and I would hope they will be respectful of that,’ WC Indivisible VA organizer Heather Davis says of events planned for March 10 at the Front Royal Town Gazebo. Photo/Roger Bianchini

An organizer of Warren County Indivisible’s “Vigil and Protest for Victims of Gun Violence” scheduled for Saturday afternoon, March 10 in Front Royal say they will proceed despite the promise of an open-carry, pro gun-rights counter-demonstration.  Multiple responses indicating a desire to participate in the suggested pro-gun counter-demonstration were posted online in recent days, some of a nature reported to raise safety concerns among some planned participants.

Heather Davis confirmed that some vigil against gun violence activities scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. at the Town Gazebo, including the bulk, if not all of the planned Selah Theater group presentations by local high school students have been cancelled out of fears of what might develop from the presence of armed, pro-gun rights advocates.  However, as of Friday one student essay is still slated to be read as part of the program, Davis told Royal Examiner.

Davis said that she had spoken to Front Royal Police Chief Kahle Magalis about FRPD’s planned handling of what has developed into dueling demonstration agendas revolving around gun violence.  Davis said Chief Magalis told her FRPD planned to cordon off the Gazebo area where the vigil will be held, while placing gun-rights activists in the vicinity of the nearby train caboose.

Royal Examiner contacted Chief Magalis, who confirmed the plan to separate demonstrators while not infringing on anyone’s right to express their opinion.

“We will have extra personnel, security and guidance so that both sides can have a platform to express their beliefs in a manner that everyone is safe, secure and that the businesses downtown are not disrupted,” Magalis said.  He noted that social media posts had indicated a potentially sizable turnout for both demonstrations, and that FRPD would assign personnel accordingly.

Vigil against gun violence organizer Davis noted that the event’s major focus is the acknowledgement and honoring of victims of gun violence and a move toward more sensible gun laws, not a call to strip American citizens of their right to own guns.

“I hope they won’t be disruptive,” Davis said of pro-gun rights activists, “The vigil is about honoring people who have died.  Speakers will be reading the names of people who have died and I would hope they will be respectful of that.”

The March 6 Warren County Indivisible press release announcing the event noted that the names of two of the most recent, and worst mass shootings in U.S. history, the Las Vegas concert shooting of October 1, 2017 (58 dead) and the 2018 Valentine’s Day massacre at a Parkland, Florida high school (17 Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS students and teachers dead) will be read aloud at the vigil.

Sixth District Congressional candidates Peter Volosin, Jennifer Lewis and Charlotte Moore are still slated to appear.  Also invited but not indicating they will participate were Warren County’s three Republican state delegates, Michael J. Webert (18th), Chris Collins (29th) and Todd Gilbert (15th), as well as members of their staffs. Indivisible of Warren County, VA bills itself as “a non-partisan group of concerned citizen activists who put country before party, and stand against any erosion of our historic democratic principles of liberty, justice, and equality.”

On Thursday, this reporter spoke to one person expressing an interest in participating in the pro-gun rights demonstration.  Told the other demonstration was “against gun violence” of the kind students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School experienced last month, rather than against the right of law-abiding citizens to own guns, he replied, “Well, I think everyone is against gun violence.”

I guess at least on the local front here in Front Royal and Warren County, Virginia, we will find out tomorrow afternoon if he is right.

Local News
R-MA Interact Club adds a penny-plus to ‘Penny Wars’ fund drive
March 9, 2018

The Randolph-Macon Academy middle school Interact Club, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Warren County, has raised $570.01 (who donated the extra penny?) in its annual “Penny Wars” fundraiser, bringing to about $11,000 the total the club has raised for charity in the past eight years.

The middle school kids, now led by R-MA faculty member Danielle “Dani” Clingerman, voted to donate the funds this year toward helping the family of a local child who recently succumbed to cancer.

Earlier recipients of “Penny Wars” funding include Feed My Neighbor (formerly Stop Hunger Now); Able Forces, a local organization assisting wounded veterans find meaningful employment; the Salvation Army; and families affected by natural disasters.

Club members, since 2010, have donated more than 8,000 hours of community service to those in need.