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‘Coming To The Table’ bucks a trend toward racial divide in America

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As the nation marked the one-year anniversary of the fatal confrontation between racist and anti-Semitic neo-fascist demonstrators and counter-demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia, there is ongoing debate over a rising tide of open racism tied to public posturing from prominent points in the contemporary American socio-political landscape.

But away from the lead-story headlines about the potential or reality of racially-tinged violence on the national landscape, another racially-generated movement of a very different stripe is building across America.

“Taking America Beyond the Legacy of Enslavement” is the motto of a national effort to bridge the gap of racial separation in America known as “Coming to the Table”, or the acronym CTTT as referenced on the organizational website.

Currently there are 32 local affiliate groups operating in 13 states, according to Judith James.  James, along with Ira Chaleff are co-chairs of one of those “Coming to the Table” groups, the Northern Shenandoah Valley Chapter that has been meeting monthly in Front Royal since April.

Ira Chaleff, standing to right, starts a ‘Coming to the Table’ circle of introduction at the group’s second meeting here in May. Co-Chairs Chaleff and Judith James have worked successfully to improve the racial mix at subsequent meetings. Photos/Roger Bianchini

Coming 2018 meetings of “Coming to the Table” in Front Royal are slated for August 30, September 27, November 1 and November 29.  Meeting times have been pushed back to 6 p.m. to allow more time for the type of in-depth discussion and interaction they have encountered since beginning “Coming to the Table” meetings here.

We first met James and Chaleff prior to their May 2018 meeting at an appropriately-named location, the “What Matters Open Space” at 213 East Main Street.  For what could matter more than bucking a trend toward divisive political rhetoric centered on racial, ethnic and religious differences within American society?

And that is what “Coming to the Table” chapters across America aim to do – unite us through familiarity and healing.

“Coming to the Table” offers a platform for Americans to reach across the artificially-imposed social and psychological barriers of centuries, toward each other and the common humanity we all share regardless of race, faith, economic class or national heritage.

We share more than we might know across racial, ethnic and whatever other boundaries some would create to keep us from realizing our common humanity. (art Selah Bridge Project)

We asked James and Chaleff about their involvement with “Coming to the Table”.

Chaleff, coming from a Jewish background and a current member of the Unitarian Universalists of the Blue Ridge in Rappahannock, said a personal goal is to help “create bridges between Rappahannock and Warren County, especially regarding racial history, connection and healing.”  Pointing to the diverse membership of the Northern Valley Chapter, Chaleff believes “Coming to the Table” is the perfect vehicle for that mission.

In addition to his Unitarian ties, he notes membership in the Northern Shenandoah Valley group ranging from a rabbi from Winchester to several pastors from largely African-American churches in Rappahannock and Warren Counties.  We also noted secular humanists welcomed with open arms this spring.

James points to a 2014 invitation from Phoebe Kilby, whose family name is certainly familiar in Warren County’s history of racial relations, to attend a planning meeting at Eastern Mennonite University to discuss establishing a “Coming to the Table” Chapter in the Shenandoah Valley.  The Eastern Mennonite University campus in Harrisonburg is a pivotal site in the creation of “Coming to the Table”.

Judith James, black and white patterned shirt at right, leads one of the smaller target-interest groups meetings often break into.

Bridging the gap

The organization dates its inception from a meeting of two people, Will Hairston and Susan Hutchison in 2003, and a consequent retreat held in January 2006 in Harrisonburg, Virginia, on the campus of Eastern Mennonite University.  However, the connection between Hairston and Hutchison that led to the creation of “Coming to the Table” goes much deeper into the fabric of American life and history.  Both Hairston and Hutchison are descendants of prominent slave-owning families who had life-transforming experiences 23 years apart.

Those experiences, in 1980 for Hairston and 2003 for Hutchison, were attendance at family reunions. – BUT the family members these two white Americans mingled with were black, 800 strong in Will Hairston’s case when he was an 18-year-old boy accompanying his father, Waller Staples Hairston, invited as guest speaker at the black Hairston family event at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Washington, D.C.

From the CTTT website:

“Waller Hairston descended from a dynasty that, at its height, controlled nine plantations – encompassing upwards of forty farms – stretching from the tidewaters of Virginia to the backwoods of Mississippi.  Many thousands of African American people worked their lands as slaves, making them one of the richest families in the antebellum South.  It was only recently that black and white Hairstons would have gathered for such an affair.  It is a story that few from the family’s storied past would have ever believed possible.”

But possible it was – and as a consequence of that possibility realized in Washington, D.C. in 1980 by Will Hairston and his father; and again in 2003 when Susan Hutchison gathered with descendants of her grandfather to the sixth degree, Thomas Jefferson, and his black slave and mistress Sally Hemings, it is a possibility spreading into communities from coast to coast.

Susan Hutchison and Will Hairston – Photo/Coming to the Table website

The genesis of “Coming To The Table” began to crystallize after Hutchison met author Henry Wiencek at that 2003 family reunion and asked to meet others like her descended from slave owners, but also willing to cross that racial divide into a common ground.  Wieneck had authored the book “The Hairstons: An American Family in Black and White”.  Wieneck introduced Hutchison to Will Hairston, and the rest you might say is “history” – being reassembled person by willing person across America’s racial divide.

And fittingly only 70-odd miles northeast of that original 2006 Harrisonburg retreat, the Front Royal-Warren County community is one of those where people are gathering on a monthly basis under the “Coming to the Table” banner.  And under that banner you will find black, white, brown, Christian, Jew, Muslim and others trying to learn, grow and reach out across the legacy of division, fear, ignorance and stereotyping that slavery and racism have left us with.

For as some local participants noted in “Coming To The Table” meetings attended by this reporter, whether we realize it or not we are all impacted to some degree by ignorance of, assumptions about, or just unfamiliarity with people who are different from us at some basic level.

Reaching beyond that multi-layered veil to find the common denominator of our shared humanity is the bottom line of “Coming to the Table”.

In group to left, one participant in a blue T-shirt can be seen holding the talking stick passed around as members share their experiences, hopes and goals for personal and cultural progress on racial and human understanding levels.

Literature that greets participants notes: “The Northern Shenandoah Valley Chapter of Coming to the Table is a forum for racial connection, healing and action; and provides leadership, resources, and a supportive environment for dialogue.  The approach for achieving our vision and mission involves four interrelated practices:

  • Uncovering History: researching, acknowledging, and sharing personal, family and community histories of race with openness and honesty
  • Making Connections:  connecting to others within and across racial lines in order to develop and deepen relationships
  • Working Toward Healing:  exploring how we can heal together through dialogue, reunion, ritual, the arts, apology and other methods
  • Taking Action:  actively seeking to heal the wounds of racial inequality and injustice and to support racial reconciliation between individuals, within families, and in communities

“The VALUES upon which Coming to the Table operates are inclusion, respect, tolerance, honesty, truthfulness, transparency, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, love, peace, nonviolence, transformation and reconciliation.”

Building bridges & the arts

Building bridges with the arts – from the Selah Bridge Project of June 9

As for the working through “the arts” found in that third bullet above, on June 9, Front Royal’s Selah Theater – named 2017 “Non-Profit of the Year” by the Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce – hosted an event in collaboration with the United Shenandoah Valley Artists.

“The Bridge Project” featured over 120 pieces of art with the theme “Connecting across Differences”.  The art pieces were assembled into the shape of a bridge.  The event at which we saw several people we have also seen at “Coming to the Table” meetings also featured music, poetry and supplies for making more pieces to add to the bridge, as well as a reception.

Beating the drum to get the Selah Theater Bridge Project underway

Selah Theater pre-event publicity for the well-attended event noted: “The idea is to get people thinking about how they connect across differences of race, class, gender, age, religion, culture, etc. EVERYONE IS INVITED!!!!!!”

On that June day in 2018 Selah Theater and Coming to the Table seemed like a cultural marriage made in heaven.

So, if on the one hand national headlines remind us that racism and its consequences of division, ethnic and religious hatred remain a part of the American landscape, there are signs of hope.

More art from the Selah Theater ‘bridge’ to our collective interconnectivity

A rise in interest of the “Coming to the Table” mission is one of those signs.  In addition to an increase in the number of chapters in states as diverse as Virginia, New York, South Carolina, Delaware, Georgia, New Mexico, California, North Carolina, Maryland, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington state and Washington, D.C., James points to other signs of growth.

“Monthly visitors to the website has increased from 3,500 per month to an average today of more than 12,000.  Subscriptions to the monthly newsletter have grown from a few hundred to 2,300. The Facebook group has more than doubled to 4,400 members,” she says.

And there are plans for publication of two books recounting the “Coming to the Table” experience, James noted.

“In 2019, two books will be published, an anthology of stories by 2 dozen CTTT members, ‘Shared Legacies: Narratives of Race and Reconciliation by Descendants of Enslavers and the Enslaved’ by Rutgers University Press in May, and ‘The Little Book of Racial Healing: Coming to the Table for Truth-Telling, Liberation, and Transformation’ by Tom DeWolf and Jodie Geddes.”

So, if on the one hand national headlines remind us that racism and its consequences of division, ethnic and religious hatred remain a part of the American landscape and even at the forefront of contemporary political discussion, there is hope.

A rise in interest of the “Coming to the Table” mission is one of those signs.  And perhaps another is the number of white supremacist demonstrators versus counter-demonstrators that did show up in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, August 12, 2018, to revisit their relative perspectives on events a year earlier in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Organizers of the “Unite the Right” demonstration sympathetic to last year’s white nationalist Charlottesville demonstration had anticipated a turnout of about 400 according to national media reports.  What they got was reported as “about two dozen” of what was described as “thousands of demonstrators” who gathered in D.C. on Sunday, August 12.

But one small victory in numbers, and non-violence in the nation’s capital on one weekend day in the summer of 2018 does not mean victory in the ongoing battle for compassion, equality and understanding at the heart of the American soul.

“Coming to the Table” offers an ongoing and substantial effort to improve each of us as people, and collectively as a nation.  And what could matter more than that as we approach the end of the second decade of the 21st Century?

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Downtown business, property owners offer Main Street wish list

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A written suggestion (above) for Front Royal’s downtown historic district that received several dots (a.k.a. votes) from business and property owners attending a January 16 town forum. All photos by Kim Riley. Video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

FRONT ROYAL — Historic Front Royal property and business owners on January 16 submitted their suggestions for what Town officials should consider in drafting policies and procedures for events held in specific public spaces in the historic district near and along Main Street.

Their ideas will help inform the Front Royal Town Council’s establishment of policies and procedures for use of the Village Commons area, parades and Main Street events and road closures, said Interim Town Manager Matthew Tederick, who helped lead the Thursday night meeting held at the Warren County Community Center.

“The Town Council for many years has been struggling to find the right policies and procedures for the utilization of the Village Commons area, various events and parking,” Tederick said during his opening remarks at the forum. “Over the last year, there’s been multiple business meetings and I think it’s culminated in this meeting tonight.”

Hopefully, at the end of the three scheduled meetings — the next two being held at the community center on January 30 and February 13, both at 6 p.m. — Tederick said the suggestions submitted by the property and business owners will become part of a draft he submits to the Town Council to consider as it sets policies and procedures for the historic district.

The area has become a hot spot among an array of business and property owners who remain challenged by road closures, parking lot shutdowns and other event-related consequences that have pitted them against one another over the years.

Tederick said he thinks the current framework “is too loose.”

“I’d like to see a better framework and a framework that would get majority buy in and consensus from the business and property owners in the historic district, but also from the citizens,” he said.

Interim Town Manager Matthew Tederick (center) mingled with historic district business & property owners during a January 16 forum held at the Warren County Community Center.

Local author Charles “Chips” Lickson facilitated the meeting, meaning he held court as a so-called forum cop tasked with setting the ground rules, managing the crowd, and keeping the process rolling. Similar formats will be used during the remaining two meetings.

A former practicing lawyer, federal judge’s law clerk, U.S. Army officer, mediator, and adjunct associate professor of political science at Shenandoah University, Lickson told forum attendees that he was hired “to run a tight ship,” which he said basically distinguishes regular meetings from facilitated meetings in that there’s a specific process established for participants to follow.

For instance, historic district property and business owners verbally participated in the Thursday meeting, while historic district residents were invited to submit their comments and contact information to Felicia Hart, the Town’s community development and tourism director.

And Lickson held the audience to the ground rules.

“We are soliciting your ideas with regard to the public spaces in the gazebo area — the historic area — and this includes closures of roads and closures of parking lots,” he said, instructing the property and business owners to not interrupt one another nor attack a speaker for his or her comments.

“This is not the place to make a speech about what your issue is,” said Lickson. “It is a space to make solid suggestions.”

Like Tederick, he called the current Town event process “flexible” and “less cumbersome” compared to some of Front Royal’s neighbors, a few of which charge organizers to hold downtown events to recoup the costs of providing associated town services.

But, Lickson noted, “the truth of the matter is, the Town has got to know what you need.”

Prior to collecting suggestions from the crowd, Tederick said the current process is that an application must be submitted for a special event under a section of chapter 7 of the Town Code, which outlines the related requirements. For example, for a full or partial closing of Main Street, the Town Code says such events may occur two times a month during one calendar year.

Tederick then shared data with forum attendees showing what it cost the Town to provide services during certain events held last year (Graph A); and a comparison of the numbers of events held from 2017 through 2019 in Front Royal’s historic downtown district (Graph B).

For example, he reviewed the total number of Main Street/Chester Street closures during 2017, 2018, and 2019 (top, Graph B) for the number of events held in each year, which totaled 16, 8, and 7, respectively.

“As Town Manager, what’s the right number?” he asked the crowd. “I don’t know what that number is. I’m hoping through this process that we can come up with what the right number is. Should it be 20 (each year)? Should it be five? I’m not here to provide input one way or the other.”

Graph A: The number of larger events held in the historic district of Front Royal during 2019 and the related costs to the Town for providing specific services. Source: Matthew Tederick, Front Royal Interim Town Manager.

Graph B: Comparison of the numbers of events held and related road closures from 2017 through 2019 in Front Royal’s historic downtown district. Source: Matthew Tederick, Front Royal Interim Town Manager.

Meeting organizers then distributed index cards for property and business owners to write down one suggestion per card about what they think is needed in public spaces in the historic downtown. The recollected cards then were tacked up so that each attendee could read the idea and vote only one time on each suggestion using a marker to place a dot or mark on the card. If a person didn’t like the idea written on a card, then no mark needed to be made.

Attendees then lined up at each board and began the voting process for each suggestion, which ran the gamut and included those such as:

 “Keep downtown events free from Town fees;”
 “Eat more ice cream;”
 “Limit Full Main Street Closures to One Per Month;”
 “Notify Main Street businesses when parking lot will be closed 2 days before event;” and
 “Street closures should be less.”

After voting, the forum organizers took down the cards, counted the marks on each, combined similar ideas, and then read the votes for each card having upwards of three votes.

Downtown Front Royal business and property owners lined up to vote on suggestions for Main Street.

The suggestions submitted by historic district property and business owners were varied. More suggestions will be collected during upcoming meetings on January 30 and February 13.

Ultimately, all the suggestions compiled from all of the meetings will be used by Lickson to write a report that he will submit to Tederick, who then will draft recommendations on policies and procedures to submit to the Town Council for possible action.

And the Town Council will be familiar with the process and the suggestions as several of them attended the meeting, including Front Royal Mayor Eugene Tewalt; Vice Mayor Bill Sealock; and Front Royal Town Council members Letasha Thompson and Gary Gillespie.

Some of the process items will be tweaked for the next two meetings, said Lickson, who thought the overall meeting was productive and informative.

Watch the Envisioning Town Commons meeting on this exclusive Royal Examiner video:

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Front Royal Christian School Warriors split games with Fresta Valley Christian School

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Front Royal Christian School Warriors boys and girls basketball teams traveled to Fresta Valley Christian School Thursday, January 16, 2020. FRCS middle school boys defeated Fresta Valley Pioneers 43-17, with Braeden Majors scoring 10 points and George Kassel scoring 9 points. The FRCS middle school girls lost 11-16, with leading scorers being Emma Tutton and Mary Lindsey.

Front Royal Christian School Warriors / Photos courtesy of FRCS

“The boys rallied with good team effort and ball movement, with a lot of hustle” said FRCS Warrior Coach Bear Campbell. “Ethan Frost and Brady Knight led the offense, while Braeden Majors and George Kassel led the defense.” Emma Tutton was identified as the MVP for the girls game by FRCS Warrior Coach Scott Babcock. “Tutton was one of the leading scorers and strongest on rebounds.” Next FRCS middle school games are January 17th, starting at 4:15 p.m at Wakefield Country Day School.

Front Royal Christian School is a Pre-K through 12th-grade school in Front Royal, Virginia, that fosters your student’s innate learning potential. From special needs to gifted, FRCS is committed to the spiritual, moral, and intellectual development of its students and mediates a sense of competence, confidence, and belonging. FRCS provides the 21st-century learner, exceptional and challenging educational experiences, including college preparatory courses with a dual enrollment program with LFCC, performing arts, life skills, and athletics. For more information, call the school at 540-635-6799 or visit www.FrontRoyalChristianSchool.com.

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Skyline High School continues to fight chronic absences

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FRONT ROYAL— With schoolwide chronic absences reaching almost 30 percent last year, the administrators at Skyline High School (SHS) have had to come up with some creative solutions.
One of the most effective practices currently being used at SHS has been an administrator’s knock on the door at the home of a regularly absent student.

“We have gone to several homes of students who don’t want to come to school after we’ve called the parents, who say they just can’t get them there. So I said, ‘Do you mind if I come to your house?’” SHS Principal Michael Smith explained to members of the Warren County School Board during the work session portion of their January 15 regular meeting.

“It’s been pretty effective because the principal is standing there at the front door, almost at their bedroom door, opening it up and asking, ‘Why aren’t you at school?’ The parents get a good kick out of it and it works for the kids; they don’t want us coming back to their house,” said Dr. Smith.

SHS Principal Michael Smith

“Whatever works,” he added. “All of my administrative staff has had to do that, so we’re doing everything we can to get them to school.”

During his presentation to the School Board, Smith said that SHS had an academic review on November 6, 2019. The overall findings and problem identified during the review was that chronic absenteeism at SHS received a Level III performance standing, meaning accredited with conditions, he said.

Melody Sheppard, interim superintendent for Warren County Public Schools (WCPS), told School Board members on Wednesday night that SHS is one of the school district’s two schools dubbed accredited with conditions, and the board next month will hear from Principal Shane Goodwin about similar efforts under way at E. Wilson Morrison Elementary School to curb chronic absenteeism.

Following the academic review, Smith said the subsequent SHS corrective action plan was submitted to the Virginia Department of Education on November 18, 2019, while essential actions to improve the chronic absenteeism rate have been added to the SHS school plan for the 2019-2020 school year.

Additionally, attendance expectations for accurate reporting of attendance were added to the staff handbook; an annual staff training was conducted on the attendance protocol; and attendance data will be reviewed monthly to identify students on track to be chronically absent and to prioritize students requiring Tier 2 and Tier 3 levels of support, he said.

Tier 2 level students are those who have missed nine days at the mid-school year point, while Tier 3 level students are chronically absent from school, said Sheppard, who noted that students are allowed a total of 18 excused absences in a school year.

And according to WCPS attendance policy, absences are excused for a funeral, illness, injury, legal obligations, medical procedures, suspensions, expulsions, religious observances, and military obligations that parents are aware of and support.

In addition to the impromptu at-home visits, Smith said another current practice is to assign teacher mentors to Tier 2 and Tier 3 level students for daily and weekly contact. “It’s usually their first block teacher or another teacher they’re comfortable with,” he said, adding that the goal is for the teacher mentor to get information from the student about why he or she isn’t attending school.

The subsequent data that the teacher mentors put into an online Google form describes when they met with students, what they talked about, and what they determined were some possible solutions. Smith said this data also provides useful evidence for future decision-making around making individualized attendance plans, for example.
Smith outlined several other current practices that are ongoing at SHS to stem the chronic absenteeism problem.

Every Sunday, for instance, Smith sends out a weekly phone blast to relay pre-recorded information about the upcoming week, as well as the importance of regular attendance.

Other practices include what Smith called “simple things,” such as teachers greeting students as they enter the classrooms and administrators greeting students in the morning as they enter the school building. These are county-wide policies aimed at fostering positive relationships across an entire school, he said.

“I actually have two assistant principals at the entrances to the school,” Smith told School Board members. “They open doors and greet every single kid who comes into the school.”

There also has been an attendance committee with parents developed at SHS that already has met twice. “Parents were surprised at the number of students who miss substantial amounts of classroom time,” said Smith.

During the attendance committee meetings that Smith holds with students and their parents, they develop an Attendance Success Plan for each student. He’s so far held 66 meetings.
Second attendance meetings also are held between Smith, the parents, students, and the SHS truancy officer, with 15 having been held thus far. “It’s nothing punitive, it’s just about getting students to realize the importance of what they’re missing when they’re not in the classroom,” said Smith.

Smith also sent out 890 letters to every SHS household asking parents to come in and discuss the chronic absenteeism situation. The parents who did respond to the letter, he said, were the ones whose kids regularly attend school, but who said they wanted to learn how to share the value of coming to school with other families and students.

Additional current practices include a Principal’s Cabinet that consists of class officers who discuss the atmosphere of the school and what incentives might help improve attendance.
During the last meeting, Smith said cabinet members commented that for those students who regularly miss school, they likely wouldn’t attend “no matter what incentive we have.”

The SHS attendance secretary also notifies parents every day to determine why students are absent.

Going forward, Smith told School Board members that SHS will continue to: run the teacher mentor program; meet with students and parents; and send the Sunday phone blasts.

Warren County School Board Vice Chairwoman Catherine Bower asked what the most common reasons are for the chronic absences. Smith said there’s a wide array of excuses.

For instance, many students say they just don’t want to get out of bed or that they’re bored at school, which essentially relates to instruction, said Smith.

Sheppard pointed out that all the current practices at SHS to fight chronic absenteeism are evidence-based practices. “It’s all about building positive relationships with kids,” she said. “Whenever a student comes to school, they have somebody there that they can have a conversation with and not feel uncomfortable.”

“It is about the relationships, the rapport and the trust,” agreed School Board Chairman Arnold Williams Jr., who told Smith to “keep doing what you’re doing. Keep moving forward. I know you can get there.”

“We will,” Smith told him, noting that last year, SHS was at 29 percent chronic absenteeism and this year’s goal is to reduce that mark to 24 percent. “If we can get there, that would be a huge decrease.”

Watch the latest Warren County School Board work session where SHS Principal Michael Smith discusses this problem with the board:

Chronic absenteeism impacts accreditation at Skyline High School

Warren County School Board hires superintendent search firm

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Front Royal Christian School Lady Warriors score high

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Front Royal Christian High School Lady Warriors hosted Eukarya Christian Academy Lions in girls high school basketball. The final score was 63-10, with leading scorer Nichole Hillaert at 20 points, an all-time career high for Hillaert. Emma Tutton surpassed her record on rebounds. This brings the Lady Warrior season record of 3 wins and 1 loss. Additional scorers were seniors Baily Coughenour with 12 points and Hannah Johnson with 8 points. Senior Hannah Fletcher scored 7 points and freshman Audrey Moya scored 8 points. Next FRCS Varsity Girls home game is January 29th at 4:30 p.m. The Lady warriors will face off against Virginia Academy.

Front Royal Christian School is a Pre-K through 12th-grade school in Front Royal, Virginia, that fosters your student’s innate learning potential. From special needs to gifted, FRCS is committed to the spiritual, moral, and intellectual development of its students and mediates a sense of competence, confidence, and belonging. FRCS provides the 21st-century learner, exceptional and challenging educational experiences, including college preparatory courses with a dual enrollment program with LFCC, performing arts, life skills, and athletics. For more information, call the school at 540-635-6799 or visit www.FrontRoyalChristianSchool.com.

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Wagner Animal Shelter counts noses – ‘No Kill’ status retained in 2019

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The year 2019 at Front Royal’s Julia Wagner Animal Shelter was a busy one in terms of intake – 1,216 animals from dogs and cats to rabbits, horses and a couple of pigs – and fundraising, more than $200,000 including $22,000 from the revived Waggin’ for Dragons boat race last August, and $80,500 from its annual donation program, the Save the Paws Alliance.

Shelter Manager Kayla Wines also reported 887 adoptions completed and 200 lost animals returned to their owners in her Community Impact Report at year’s end – though the shelter’s two big ol’ pigs are still there, she noted.

Pigs need loving homes too – well-dressed Petunia is one of two pigs currently housed at the Wagner Shelter. Courtesy Photos/Wagner Animal Shelter

A highlight of her report, although relegated to the penultimate paragraph, was the shelter’s protection of its “no kill” status in 2019, a milestone emphasized by Humane Society of Warren County Executive Director Meghan Bowers at a recent “Yappy Hour” event. Also, Bowers said registrations for the shelter’s major fundraiser, the August boat race, are already being taken (wagginfordragons.com/team-registration) and sponsorships are well in hand for the upcoming Polar Plunge into Culpeper Lake February 1 at the Northern Virginia 4-H Center in Harmony Hollow (contact the shelter at 635-4734, area code 540, for sponsorship information).

Bowers, who completed her first year on the job in December, also reported a joint partnership with the Middleburg Humane Foundation and the “For the Cats’ Sake” group in Front Royal to address Warren County’s cat over-population issue.

Meanwhile, a leap into the 21st century by the shelter was reported by Wines. The shelter on January 1 opened an online store through a website called Bonfire. The store features one of a kind HSWC merchandise including shirts, tote bags, coffee mugs and so on.

Wines took a practice shot with Bonfire towards the end of last year. “I believe there is a little something for everyone (at the store),” she said. “Each product has a different slogan or quote on it, some funny, some more serious… to include the importance of spay and neuter, fostering, or volunteering.”

Above, Petey competes with Petunia for best dressed adoptable pet; below, Peaches and Graham the cats seem more skeptical of the ‘best dressed’ competition.

The return of the weekly “Yappy Hour” at East Main Street’s ViNoVa last September has also resulted in $1,615 being donated to shelter operations, Bowers said. The event is held each Friday, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Izzy, Raeven and Rain, respectively, display varying levels of interest in the ‘best dressed” adoptable pet competition.

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I-81 Lane closures and slow rolls will be part Crossover Blvd bridge work

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WINCHESTER – Frederick County is proceeding with the construction of the Crossover Boulevard bridge over Interstate 81. The construction site is located south of I-81 exit 313.

During late January and early February, crews will be installing bridge beams, which will require some lane closures and slow roll operations.

· Monday, Jan 27 – Beam placement operations. From 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. northbound and southbound left lanes closed. Bridge beams will be staged in the left lanes. From 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. four slow rolls conducted by Virginia State Police from I-81 exit 310 to exit 315. All I-81 northbound and southbound lanes will be closed simultaneously in the slow roll area. I-81 exit ramps 310, 313 and 315 will be closed as the slow roll passes by. Ramps will reopen after slow roll is clear of the ramp area. Beams over I-81 left lanes will be placed.

· Tuesday, Jan 28 – No lane closures. Crews working in median.

· Wednesday, Jan 29 – Beam placement operations. Northbound and southbound left lanes closed 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Bridge beams will be staged in the left lanes. From 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. four slow rolls conducted by Virginia State Police from I-81 exit 310 to exit 315. All I-81 northbound and southbound lanes will be closed simultaneously in the slow roll area. I-81 exit ramps 310, 313 and 315 will be closed as the slow roll passes by. Ramps will reopen after slow roll is clear of the ramp area.

· Thursday, Jan 30 – Southbound right lane closure at bridge site south of I-81 exit 313. State trooper posted at lane closure. Lane closures will be 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. Beams over I-81 right lanes will be placed. No slow roll closures.

· Monday, Feb 3 – Southbound right lane closure at bridge site south of I-81 exit 313. State trooper posted at lane closure. Lane closures will be 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. Beams over I-81 right lanes will be placed. No slow roll closures.

· Tuesday, Feb 4 – Northbound right lane closure at bridge site south of I-81 exit 313. State trooper posted at lane closure. Lane closures will be 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. Beams over I-81 right lanes will be placed. No slow roll closures.

· Wednesday, Feb. 5 – Northbound right lane closure at bridge site south of I-81 exit 313. State trooper posted at lane closure. Lane closures will be 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. Beams over I-81 right lanes will be placed. No slow roll closures.

· Thursday, Feb 6 – No work

In case of inclement weather on Jan. 27 or on Feb. 3 the entire operation will be moved back a week. In the case of inclement weather on Jan. 29 the work will be done on Jan. 30. Inclement weather on Feb. 5 will move the work to Feb. 6

Changeable message boards will be posted along I-81 with messages announcing the lane closures. These boards will be displayed beginning on Jan. 20.

All work is weather permitting.

In March 2019 a contract valued at $17.6 million was awarded to Perry Engineering Inc. of Winchester, Virginia for construction of Crossover Boulevard.

Frederick County is constructing a new roadway and bridge over I-81: Construction began in March 2019 on the $20 million Crossover Boulevard project, which includes revenue sharing funds. Frederick County is administering the project. Perry Engineering, Inc. is the contractor. The project includes a new four-lane roadway and bridge over I-81 connecting Route 522 at the Airport Road intersection to Crossover Boulevard in the City of Winchester. This project will include a roundabout for future intersecting roadways and upgrades to the Route 522/Airport Road intersection to accommodate the new roadway at that location.

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Upcoming Events

Jan
18
Sat
11:00 am Kooky Chefs Cook the World @ Samuels Public Library
Kooky Chefs Cook the World @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 18 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Kooky Chefs Cook the World @ Samuels Public Library
Alaska. What do people eat in the snowy, frozen state of Alaska? Come to Kooky Chefs to find out and help prepare some Alaskan dishes. For ages 8 and up. Registration begins December 18.
12:00 pm Peter Muhlenberg Commemoration @ The Historic Court House in Woodstock
Peter Muhlenberg Commemoration @ The Historic Court House in Woodstock
Jan 18 @ 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Peter Muhlenberg Commemoration @ The Historic Court House in Woodstock
Program Moderator: The Rt. Rev. Larry W. Johnson Call to Order: Larry Johnson Posting of the Colors: James Wood II Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution Color Guard Pledge of Alliance: Dale Carpenter,[...]
3:00 pm Open a Book @ Samuels Public Library
Open a Book @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 18 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Open a Book @ Samuels Public Library
The award-winning team at Rainbow Puppets has created a new musical review that shares the joy of reading through music, dance, puppetry, and story-telling. It’s a travelling early reading program designed around our new children’s book. And thanks[...]
Jan
20
Mon
9:00 am Martin Luther King Prayer Breakfast @ Esbie Baptist Church
Martin Luther King Prayer Breakfast @ Esbie Baptist Church
Jan 20 @ 9:00 am – 11:00 am
Martin Luther King Prayer Breakfast @ Esbie Baptist Church
Monday, January 20, 2020, starting at 9:00am, Esbie Baptist Church will be having their annual MLK Prayer Breakfast. The speaker of the hour will be Rev. Dr. Donald Reid, Pastor of Mt. Parah Baptist Church[...]
Jan
21
Tue
2:30 pm Inspiring speaker Rodney Smith t... @ Boggs Chapel at Randolph-Macon Academy
Inspiring speaker Rodney Smith t... @ Boggs Chapel at Randolph-Macon Academy
Jan 21 @ 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Inspiring speaker Rodney Smith to visit R-MA @ Boggs Chapel at Randolph-Macon Academy
On Tuesday, January 21st, at 2:30 pm, in Boggs Chapel at Randolph-Macon Academy (R-MA), the public is invited to be inspired by Rodney Smith, a man who has chosen to make a difference in the[...]
4:30 pm Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 21 @ 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! Tuesday, January 7 – Based on books about Balto, we will learn more about service dogs this week. For ages[...]
Jan
22
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 22 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, December 18 and Thursday, December 19: Something we all enjoy this time of year is giving and receiving gifts. Our stories, songs, and craft will[...]
Jan
23
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 23 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, December 18 and Thursday, December 19: Something we all enjoy this time of year is giving and receiving gifts. Our stories, songs, and craft will[...]
Jan
24
Fri
9:00 am Veterans Services Meeting at Abl... @ Able Forces
Veterans Services Meeting at Abl... @ Able Forces
Jan 24 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Veterans Services Meeting at Able Forces @ Able Forces
Able Forces Foundation will once again be hosting a visit by Andre Miller, Resource Specialist, Virginia Veteran and Family Support, Department of Veteran Services, Commonwealth of Virginia, and Danielle Cullers, Homeless Veteran Advocate-Volunteers of America[...]
Jan
25
Sat
11:00 am Goldilocks and the Three Bears @ Samuels Public Library
Goldilocks and the Three Bears @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 25 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Goldilocks and the Three Bears @ Samuels Public Library
A Story Ballet. Join us in a celebration of classic literature through dance! The whole family will enjoy this ballet performance, presented by the Northern Virginia Academy of Ballet.