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County Republican Committee Election endorsement mail-out under scrutiny for use of Registrar’s Office return address

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A pre-election mail-out from the Warren County Republican Committee (WCRC) urging Warren County voters to cast ballots for committee members it endorsed for the Front Royal Town Council and Mayoral elections, as well as 6th District Congressional candidate Ben Cline, that used the return address of the Warren County Registrar’s Office has come under scrutiny. The Warren County Registrar’s Office is a neutral, non-partisan county office that oversees election processes and integrity with no connection to either county political party committee.

Copies of the mail-out postcard viewed by Royal Examiner staff did not have the registrar’s office name in the return address, nor the committee’s, simply the well-known 15th Street (Suite 800) Health & Human Services Complex address at the location of the former Warren County Middle School.

 

Information Royal Examiner has is that the Republican Committee had no authorization or known reason to utilize the Registrar’s Office for a return address since it is not located in the Health & Human Services Complex. Attempts to reach County Registrar Carol Tobin for comment on Monday, November 7, the day before the election, were unsuccessful as of publication.

Contacted Monday morning in response to queries to the WCRC about the use of the Registrar’s Office return address, current Committee Chairman Robert Hupman said he had no knowledge of the mailer and would “look into it” and get back to Royal Examiner staff. However, Huppman had not responded by early-evening publication time.

Also contacted for a reaction was County Democratic Committee Chair and Outreach Coordinator Paul Miller. “I won’t guess at what motivated local GOP leaders to put the Registrar’s Office as a return address on their mailer, but I think most people around here are smart enough to know there is no connection between the Warren County Republican Committee and the Registrar’s Office. Under Carol Tobin’s leadership, the Registrar’s Office is professional, non-partisan, and a shining example of untainted ethics during a really confusing and highly contentious period in American politics. Whether or not local GOP leaders thought to mislead or confuse voters, the average citizen of Warren County has more on their minds than partisan trickery,” Miller told Royal Examiner on the eve of a national mid-term election seen as pivotal to the future of the nation from both sides of the political aisle.

Town Councilman Skip Rogers posted on the WC Beer Drinkers & Independent Thinkers website today:

“As we approach election day (finally), I want to refer our community to today’s OP/ED in the Royal Examiner (https://royalexaminer.com/vote-politics-out-of-front-royal/), submitted by Michael Graham.

“Let me say that I have voted Republican every election since 1976. I am a solid Republican. However, I am not a member of the Warren County Republican Committee, which is the focus of Mr. Graham’s Op/Ed and this posting. For at least the last five years, I have been concerned about the flagrant disregard to our Town Charter and its specific language regarding non-partisan elections. It states:

Ҥ 6. C. Candidates for town council and mayor shall be nominated only by petition in the manner prescribed by general law. Candidates for town council and mayor shall not be nominated or identified on the ballot by political party affiliation or in any other manner that would disqualify them for candidacy under any law of the United States or the Commonwealth of Virginia.

“Whether it be Republican or Democrat, it must stop. I call on our community, in particular voters within the town, to make every effort to disregard political party candidates and begin to re-establish non-partisan elections as explicitly defined in our town charter. The reasons for this are highlighted in the Op/Ed. Tomorrow, I ask you to begin this change.

“As your non-partisan, community-focused Councilman, I will make every effort to formally begin this change. Help me by voting for non-partisan candidates. Thank you,” Rogers concluded.

Royal Examiner also reached out to the Virginia Department of Elections regarding the highly irregular use of the county registrar’s office address in a GOP mailer. Virginia Department of Elections External Affairs Manager Andrea Gaines wrote in a late-afternoon email that “Title 24.2-Elections of the Code of Virginia does not address return addresses on political advertisements.”

So, while not a violation of existing Virginia Election Codes, one is left to wonder why a partisan political committee would choose to use a return address other than its own on a pre-election mail-out, particularly the address of the local voter registrar’s office.

Vote politics out of Front Royal

 

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Front Royal Welcomes the New Chapter of ‘Play Favorites’ Toy Store

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A Fresh Start for a Beloved Local Business.

Play Favorites, a cherished local toy store in Front Royal celebrated its grand re-opening under new ownership. The event was marked by a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by community leaders and enthusiastic locals.

Nike Foster Cales, Executive Director of the Front Royal/Warren County Chamber of Commerce, opened the ceremony, expressing excitement about the store’s future under the stewardship of Brett and Hannah Bement. Josh Ingram, a Town Council member, emphasized the store’s unique role in the community, highlighting its appeal to kids and adults.

Warren County Supervisor Walt Mabe praised Play Favorites for its blend of educational and fun offerings. The new owners, Brett and Hannah, shared their journey to acquiring the store, driven by a passion for preserving a local toy store in their community.

In an interview with publisher Mike McCool, Brett Bement discussed their unexpected journey into the board game business. Hannah Beeman, a teacher and local craftsman, continues her educational role while contributing to the store’s new look and product offerings.

Play Favorites stands out for its welcoming atmosphere and community engagement. The store offers game nights, collaborates with local game designers, and maintains a focus on educational toys. Under the new management, Play Favorites promises to be more than just a store; it’s a community hub that celebrates the joy of play across all ages.

 

 

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Warren County High School Buzzing with Holiday Activities and Achievements

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From Parades to Pancakes: A Community Engaged in Celebration and Success.

The festive spirit is in full swing at Warren County High School, as highlighted in a recent discussion with Mike McCool at the Royal Examiner’s studio. The school, under the leadership of Ken Kneash, the principal, and the energetic efforts of secretary Nora McMackin, is bustling with a series of events and accomplishments that showcase the vibrant school community and its commitment to student involvement and success.

A Parade of Pride and Pancakes

The excitement kicks off on December 2nd with the much-anticipated Kiwanis Club Pancake Breakfast hosted at the high school from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m., a beloved event that brings together community members and students in a festive setting. This will be followed by the participation of both Warren County and Skyline High School bands in the local Christmas Parade at 4 p.m., a sign of the school’s revitalized involvement in community activities.

Third Annual Holiday Bazaar: A Community Hub

On December 9th, the school will host its third annual Holiday Bazaar from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This event, expected to be bigger than ever, will feature over 30 local vendors, making it an ideal spot for holiday shopping. The inclusion of unique offerings and the visit from Santa Claus adds a special touch to the event. DECA students, showcasing their entrepreneurial skills, will manage food services, offering breakfast and lunch and supporting the Toys for Tots campaign.

Student Achievements in the Spotlight

Beyond the festivities, the school is also celebrating significant student achievements. The band, having won second place in a recent competition, exhibits high talent and dedication among the students. Similarly, the theater group’s victory at the Region 3B Super Regional competition, earning them a spot at the state level, is a testament to their hard work and creativity.

Building a Strong School Community

These events and achievements are part of a broader effort to build a strong sense of community within the school. Initiatives like the Teachers for Tomorrow program address the national issue of teacher shortages by encouraging students to pursue careers in education. The program’s success is evident in its growth and the positive response it has received from the community.

Warren County High School is a hive of activity and achievement as it heads into the holiday season. From engaging in community events like the Christmas Parade and Pancake Breakfast to celebrating student successes in music and theater, the school exemplifies a strong, inclusive, and vibrant educational community. These efforts enrich the student’s learning experience and strengthen the bonds between the school and the wider community.


Town Talk is a series on the Royal Examiner where we will introduce you to local entrepreneurs, businesses, non-profit leaders, and political figures who influence Warren County. Topics will be varied, but hopefully interesting. If you have an idea, topic, or want to hear from someone in our community, let us know. Send your request to news@RoyalExaminer.com

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Community Events

The Blue Ridge Arts Council launches its ‘Deck the Halls’ Christmas Tree and Festive Decorations sale Thursday and Friday

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Blue Ridge Arts Council’s annual “Deck the Halls” — now in place in downtown Front Royal for almost two decades — opens today, Thursday, November 30, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and extends tomorrow, Friday Dec. 1, from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the BRAC headquarters, 305 East Main Street, several doors west up East Main from the Gazebo.

The Blue Ridge Arts Council Center pictured from the Town Clock area in front of Main Street Pawn at the intersection of E. Main and Chester Streets. Royal Examiner Photo Roger Bianchini

A variety of decorated Christmas trees, holiday wreaths, and other seasonal items will be on sale throughout the month. Proceeds support ongoing programs of the arts council. For the first two days, refreshments will be offered.

This year the “Deck the Halls” display features an in-place art exhibit of the work of former Warren Sentinel Editor Kevin Seabrooke, “Browntown and Beyond”, that opened at the BRAC center October 14, running through January 12, 2024.

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St. Michael Dojo Young Karate Stars Shine at National Tournament

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Impressive Medal Wins for Local Dojo at Prestigious Karate Championship.

In a remarkable display of skill and discipline, fifteen members of the St. Michael Dojo, including a spirited group of fourteen youth, made their mark at the 43rd International Shotokan Karate Federation / US National Karate Championship Tournament. Held in Columbus, Ohio, from November 10-12, 2023, this event drew 180 karate enthusiasts from across the nation, spotlighting the rising talent of the local dojo.

The tournament kicked off with an impressive start for St. Michael Dojo, particularly through the performances of William and Warren Dooley, ages eight and eleven, respectively. These young brothers set a high bar, each securing gold medals in both Kata (form) and Kumite (sparring) events, showcasing the effective training and dedication nurtured at St. Michael Dojo.

11-year-old/ orange belt Warren & 8-year-old/ yellow William Dooley with Cammack Sensei. Gold medalist: Kata & Kumite

While competing in intermediate categories, Fiona Riccio and Joseph Spiering continued this winning streak. Riccio’s grace in Kata and Spiering’s prowess in Kumite earned them gold, further cementing the dojo’s reputation for excellence.

Green belt/ 16 yr old Fiona Riccio. Gold -Kata & Silver in kumite with Cammack Sensei & Agnes

Overall, the young participants from St. Michael Dojo bagged an impressive total of twenty medals, a tally that included six golds, eight silvers, and six bronzes across individual and team events. This demonstrates the breadth of talent at the dojo and the effectiveness of their training regimen.

Notably, silver medals were claimed by Samuel Fidero, Fiona Riccio, Joseph Spiering, and Agnes Cammack in various age and belt divisions. Additionally, bronze medals were earned by Dominic and Jonny Fidero, Isabella Fidero, Joseph Spiering, and Jacob Carlson, showcasing depth in both skill and competitive spirit.

17 yr old/ green belt Joseph Spiering Youth Division: Gold-Kumite, Silver- Kata, Collegiate Division: Silver- Kata, Bronze- kumite

The youth kata team, representing the East Coast Region and led by black belts Agnes Cammack, Gianna Parente, and Margaret Carlson, with Jacob Carlson as an alternate, battled against numerous teams from around the country, ultimately securing a well-deserved silver medal.

15 yr old/ Black Belt KATA TEAM Captain Agnes Cammack- Silver medalist Team Kata & individual Kata competitions

Behind these remarkable achievements is the guiding hand of Majal Colon-Cammack Sensei, who operates St. Michael Shotokan Karate with dojo locations in Front Royal and Fort Valley. Their affiliation with the International Shotokan Karate Federation, under the leadership of Shihan Hiroyoshi Okazaki, has been instrumental since 2007 in nurturing these young talents.

The national tournament’s success is a testament to the individual skills of these young karatekas and the community and support system built around them. St. Michael Dojo’s philosophy of fostering discipline, skill, and a competitive spirit shines through in these remarkable achievements. As these young athletes continue to train and compete, they raise the bar for themselves and set an inspiring example for their peers and the wider community.

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Blue Ridge Wildlife Center Patient of the Week: Eastern Gray Squirrel

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Cue the Jaws theme for a squirrel with a shark fin-shaped bandage! This young male Eastern Gray Squirrel was brought into care after the finder noticed him limping on the front right leg. Radiographs revealed a broken radius (one of the forearm bones) most likely due to a cat attack, given the cat-sized puncture wound over the fracture site.

Fractured limbs can be difficult to treat in most wild mammals, especially smaller ones with sharp teeth and claws to rip off bandages, their e-collars (“cones”), or even surgical hardware. It’s especially tough when the injury occurs in a species that is highly mobile and all about climbing.

To combat some of these factors, our vet team placed a sling to immobilize the affected limb (they had to get a bit creative and fashioned a padded “shark-fin” vest to prevent him from chewing it off). After recovering from anesthesia, we are happy to report that he wasted no time in figuring out how to continue his squirrely antics with the remaining three limbs.

We will be tracking his progress closely over the next few months as the bone heals by performing regular physical therapy and monitoring his bandage site for complications.

These creative solutions are common in wildlife medicine where you are dealing with hundreds of different species, all with different illnesses and injuries, and at every stage of life. Help us continue to create creative solutions and provide high-quality medical care to 3,500+ patients annually, covering over 165 different species, by donating to Blue Ridge Wildlife Center.

To learn more about the incredible work at BRWC, we invite you to watch this video:

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Virginia Colleges Launch Innovative Program to Address Teacher Shortage

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Lab Schools to Train High School Students as Future Educators.

Virginia is taking a significant step towards addressing its teacher shortage with the launch of a groundbreaking partnership between Laurel Ridge Community College, Germanna Community College, and James Madison University. This initiative, part of the state’s broader College Partnership Laboratory Fund, is not just a solution to a critical issue but a beacon of hope for future educators.

The Virginia General Assembly established the College Partnership Laboratory Fund in 2022, committing $100 million to this cause. Following the success of the first lab school associated with Virginia Commonwealth University, the Virginia Board of Education recently approved two more lab schools, including the Future Educators Academy.

Dr. Kim Blosser, President of Laurel Ridge, expressed excitement about collaborating with Germanna to operate the lab school at the Middletown and Fauquier campuses. “Our public school divisions, especially rural areas, face acute teacher shortages. This program is a step towards addressing that need, focusing on educating high school students who will eventually serve their local communities,” said Dr. Blosser.

The Future Educators Academy is a unique approach designed to bridge the gap in the teaching workforce. Students enrolled in this program will simultaneously work towards an associate degree and a high school advanced studies diploma. Moreover, they will receive guaranteed admission into JMU’s College of Education, potentially earning their bachelor’s degree in education within two years.

This accelerated and rigorous program is inclusive, targeting all students with a passion for teaching, including at-risk groups and those who have experienced pandemic-related learning setbacks. Governor Glenn Youngkin, who prioritizes establishing lab schools, highlights the program’s accessibility and commitment to educational recovery.

Dr. Janet Gullickson, president of Germanna, explained the vision behind the Future Educators Academy. “Our goal is to create a no-cost, accelerated path for students to fill teaching positions quickly. The idea is to nurture our K-12 teachers who will contribute to their home communities,” she stated.

The initiative is timely, considering the current challenges in the education sector. It offers a sustainable solution by empowering young aspirants to step into the teaching profession equipped with early training and a sense of community responsibility.

Germanna’s lab school students will begin in fall 2023, while Laurel Ridge will welcome its first cohort in fall 2025. This strategic timeline ensures a steady flow of trained educators into Virginia’s school system in the coming years.

The Future Educators Academy is a testament to Virginia’s commitment to resolving the immediate teacher shortage and fostering a new generation of educators equipped to face the challenges of modern education.

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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 Mountain Creative Consulting

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 Jamboree LLC

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

Front Royal/Warren County C-CAP

First Baptist Church

Front Royal Treatment Center

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

Jean’s Jewelers

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 Arc of Warren County

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, VA
45°
Fog
7:12 am4:51 pm EST
Feels like: 45°F
Wind: 1mph NNW
Humidity: 99%
Pressure: 30.01"Hg
UV index: 0
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63°F / 48°F
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Upcoming Events

Dec
1
Fri
all-day Hoopin on the Hill @ Randolph-Macon Academy
Hoopin on the Hill @ Randolph-Macon Academy
Dec 1 all-day
Hoopin on the Hill @ Randolph-Macon Academy
HOOPIN ON THE HILL Basketball Tournament at Randolph-Macon Academy This weekend, Friday (Dec 1) and Saturday (Dec 2!), come out and cheer some excellent athletes on!!! Call Jennifer Avery at 540-683-0790 with questions. We would[...]
Dec
2
Sat
all-day Hoopin on the Hill @ Randolph-Macon Academy
Hoopin on the Hill @ Randolph-Macon Academy
Dec 2 all-day
Hoopin on the Hill @ Randolph-Macon Academy
HOOPIN ON THE HILL Basketball Tournament at Randolph-Macon Academy This weekend, Friday (Dec 1) and Saturday (Dec 2!), come out and cheer some excellent athletes on!!! Call Jennifer Avery at 540-683-0790 with questions. We would[...]
10:00 am A Tree-mendous Hike @ Sky Meadows State Park
A Tree-mendous Hike @ Sky Meadows State Park
Dec 2 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am
A Tree-mendous Hike @ Sky Meadows State Park
Sensory Explorers’ Trail. Explore the rich natural history of trees guided by a Virginia Master Naturalist. Discover the tips and tricks of basic tree identification and the tree-mendous roles that trees play in our environment.[...]
10:00 am Kris Kringle Market @ Trinity Lutheran Church
Kris Kringle Market @ Trinity Lutheran Church
Dec 2 @ 10:00 am – 7:00 pm
Kris Kringle Market @ Trinity Lutheran Church
The Trinity Lutheran Church Kringle Market will take place on Saturday, December 2, 2023 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.  The Kringle Market is centrally located in the Newtown–Stephensburg Historic District in the Trinity Lutheran[...]
10:00 am SPCA Thrift Shop Grand Reopening @ WASPCA Thrift Shop
SPCA Thrift Shop Grand Reopening @ WASPCA Thrift Shop
Dec 2 @ 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
SPCA Thrift Shop Grand Reopening @ WASPCA Thrift Shop
After months of renovations and hard work, the Winchester Area SPCA is thrilled to welcome you back to its thrift store, where every purchase supports the mission of caring for and finding loving homes for[...]
1:00 pm Front Royal Bluegrass Music Jam @ The Body Shop
Front Royal Bluegrass Music Jam @ The Body Shop
Dec 2 @ 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.
Dec
3
Sun
3:00 pm Valley Chorale “Once Upon a Chri... @ Calvary Episcopal Church
Valley Chorale “Once Upon a Chri... @ Calvary Episcopal Church
Dec 3 @ 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Valley Chorale "Once Upon a Christmas" Concert @ Calvary Episcopal Church
Join The Valley Chorale for a family-friendly concert featuring favorite carols, hymns and songs of the Christmas season!
Dec
6
Wed
5:30 pm Free Holiday Meal @ Trinity Lutheran Church
Free Holiday Meal @ Trinity Lutheran Church
Dec 6 @ 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Free Holiday Meal @ Trinity Lutheran Church
If one has read the Surgeon General’s 2023 report on America’s epidemic of loneliness and crisis of disconnection, one can then understand the significance that a Holiday Meal can have on the community at large. [...]