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County Republicans avoid continuation of tensions over recent meeting speaker gaff



A “Tempest in a Teapot” over former conservative independent Happy Creek District county supervisors candidate Bruce Townshend’s remarks at a May 1 Young Republicans Club organizational event was avoided at the Thursday, May 27th monthly meeting of the Warren County Republican Committee (WCRC).

Co-Young Republican (that’s 18 to 40) event organizer Wendy Kurtz apologized to Republican Happy Creek District nominee “Jay” Butler; Butler accepted Kurtz’s apology; and Tim Ratigan apologized to the committee as a whole, including Young Republican Club event hosts Mike and Melanie Salins, for going outside the committee chain of command in raising an objection to the independent opponent of the committee’s nominee being allowed to speak and reference his campaign at the Young Republican event.

Mistakes have been made – But it’s all good now, seemed to be the prevailing message of Thursday night’s Warren County Republican Committee meeting, illustrated here by a post-meeting pose by, from left, Melanie Salins, Tim Ratigan and Mike Salins. Royal Examiner Photos by Roger Bianchini

As former committee chairman Steve Kurtz, Wendy’s husband, told Royal Examiner several days earlier it was all a mistake, a quickly re-directed one once Townshend’s remarks turned toward his candidacy for the Happy Creek supervisors seat committee member Tony Carter appears poised to vacate this year.

At Thursday’s meeting, Wendy Kurtz verified that she didn’t know who Townshend was when he responded to an offer for guests not on the official speakers’ list to make remarks later in the meeting attended by over 150 people. But when Townshend’s remarks turned toward the Happy Creek campaign, he was quickly informed remarks were supposed to focus on the direction and organization of the new Young Republicans Club, to which he then complied.

However, a major in-house brouhaha appeared in the making after a story written by former committee member Tom Sayre in a local paper on Townshend’s withdrawal from the race featured highly critical quotes by WCRC Chairman John Smith regarding Townshend’s appearance and remarks at the Young Republican event. While allied politically, it was explained to Royal Examiner by Steve Kurtz that the Young Republicans are not officially under the organizational umbrella of the WCRC. Townshend withdrew from the race due to Hatch Act prohibitions on federal employees running for office in partisan political elections. Once a political party forwarded a nominee in the Happy Creek District, Townshend became ineligible to run.

“It was a beautiful event! You should have come!!! I won’t participate in making a non-issue into an issue,” Sayre reported Melanie Salins texting him in response to a query on Townshend’s presence at the Young Republican event at her family home.

“Chairman Smith reacted by stating, ‘This is a big issue because it undermines everything we do. It does not look good on us at all … People should know better, and for her (Salins) to keep justifying it, she either does not understand or I do not know what. She just does not get it. The Warren County Republicans and the WCRC will not think it is a non-issue,’ Smith said,” Sayre wrote in the Late May edition of the WC-FC Report.

But by Thursday evening, May 27, as noted above, the mood had shifted toward reconciliation.

Above, from left, WCRC Vice-Chair Vicky Cook, Chairman John Smith, and Treasurer Amber Morris oversaw a wide-ranging committee meeting as election season 2021 approaches. Below, Wendy Kurtz admitted mistakes and apologized to Happy Creek Committee nominee ‘Jay’ Butler’s for the brief campaigning done by a former independent opponent at May 1 Young Republican organizational meeting – Apology accepted.

“I’ve come up here because I want to specifically look at Jay and say, Jay, I am so sorry. Please accept my apology,” Wendy Kurtz told the committee’s Happy Creek supervisors nominee, adding,

“And I want you to know that I’m 100% for getting you elected. And any candidate that gets the nomination or endorsement by this committee, that’s my commitment, to get them elected. So, I hope you can accept my apology.”

“I do,” Butler replied.

“Thank you so much, I appreciate it,” Kurtz responded, leading to a rousing round of applause from the 28 committee members signed in to the meeting. Continuing to acknowledge her mistake, Kurtz suggested the committee more clearly present and explain bylaws for newer members, as she termed herself, to help explain procedural guidelines and standards to try and avoid such mistakes in the future.

A short time later, Ratigan rose to address the committee. Acknowledging a role in putting the Townshend speaking issue “out there” he observed, “I being a Navy veteran, I should be ashamed of myself because I have always been taught to follow the chain of command … I’m going to come forward and tell you right here and now, I was the one who asked the question publicly. That was the wrong way to go about it.

“I want to apologize to Wendy, definitely want to apologize to Melanie and Mike. These people have joined the committee all gung ho, volunteering and just putting their hearts and soul into it.

And I want to give them the credit where it is due,” Ratigan said. He added that rather than taking the issue public, he should have gone straight to Committee Chairman Smith to allow it to be dealt with internally, rather than in a public forum.

Building on Wendy Kurtz’s earlier observation about procedural information for new members, Ratigan suggested that new member committee sponsors be tasked with educating those they sponsor on procedural and related matters.

When Ratigan finished, Wendy Kurtz returned the favor extended to her earlier by “Jay” Butler, telling Ratigan – “I accept your apology” before continuing on the theme of bylaws, and new member orientation to bylaws and procedural standards. Committee Vice-Chair Vicky Cook told the membership she would oversee the activation of the Bylaw Committee.

At the conclusion of that discussion a past chairman and on-again, off-again committee officer Matt Tederick told the membership: “I’ve never been more proud to be a Republican Committee member than I am tonight,” leading to another round of applause from the membership.

Let’s all just get along was the mood of the evening for assembled Republicans.

The balance of the nearly hour-and-a-half meeting was occupied with more mundane matters, including magisterial district chairman reports, including two chair vacancies; how to proceed with ZOOM meeting connections and other sound issues at meetings; committee updates – including a regretful farewell to two members preparing to move to Arizona; and on the less mundane front a schedule of events and dates leading up to the November elections. Among those were a fundraising Fishing Tournament targeted for early July; a candidates forum and endorsement date in mid-June; a site for the annual Pig Roast; and a revisiting of last year’s gun fundraiser – make sure you call it a “sweepstakes”, not a “raffle” Commonwealth Attorney John Bell informed the membership of legal guidelines on such things.

It was noted that in addition to statewide races this year, the Fork and Happy Creek District seats were up for election on the county board of supervisors, while only one council seat was on the town election schedule. That is due to the special election to fill now Mayor Chris Holloway’s former council seat for the final year of its term that is now held by a still legally disputed council appointment of Jacob Meza.

Near the meeting’s end, last election cycle unsuccessful town council candidate Bruce Rappaport introduced himself to the committee and noted he would be running in that special election for the council seat. Tederick, seated in the rear of the room with Mayor Holloway, asked if Rappaport was seeking to join the committee.

“Sure,” Rappaport responded.

Bruce Rappaport said he would join the committee before his second run for town council in two years.

Following a brief wrap-up, a group sigh of relief soon greeted the motion for adjournment.


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Front Royal’s Town Council Race: Candidates Share Visions on Housing and Blight



Candidates Open Up About Their Plans and Backgrounds at Recent Forum.

On September 27, the Warren County Builders Association played host to a riveting forum featuring candidates eyeing a seat on the Front Royal Town Council.

Melissa DeDomenico-Payne: A familiar face in the Front Royal political scene, Melissa has been serving on the Town Council since her appointment in January 2023. A local resident since 1971, she vividly remembers the water pollution issues from Avtex during her younger days. Melissa’s approach to blighted properties leans heavily on beefing up the enforcement of rental rules and town codes. She’s vocal about the need for affordable housing. Melissa’s rich background in public service was a focal point during her closing, and she urged builders to establish better communication channels with the council.

Connie Marshner: Branding herself as the “uncandidate,” Connie brings a fresh perspective, free from the binds of political history. She moved to Front Royal in 1995 and recalls a childhood dictated by her Navy family’s frequent relocations. Her take on neglected properties echoes a common sentiment—more hands on deck. She envisions Front Royal as a “lifelong community” with houses everyone can afford. Ending her segment, Connie painted a picture of Front Royal at a crossroads, emphasizing the need to cherish its unique charm and walkable streets.

Glenn Wood: A true Front Royal son, Glenn’s roots trace back to his school days in the local institutions. After dedicating half a century to manufacturing and human resources, he hung up his professional boots, although his heart remains tethered to community service. Glenn expresses deep concern over blighted properties, advocating for prompt actions. On the housing frontier, he’s all for partnerships that benefit those earning under $50k annually. In wrapping up, Glenn put his planning commission experience on display, pledging to ensure the well-being of Front Royal’s residents.

Missing from the forum was the fourth candidate, Skip Rogers, who couldn’t make it to the event. The discussions from that evening painted a clear picture of each candidate’s vision for Front Royal, especially on burning topics like blight and housing affordability. As election day approaches, the residents of Front Royal are undoubtedly better equipped to cast their votes.

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Warren County Builders Association Spotlights School Board Hopefuls: Pence & Mabie Talk Education



Candidates Pence and Mabie Weigh in on Bullying, Homeschooling, and Community Engagement.

With the Warren County Builders Association as the backdrop, a pivotal discussion surrounding the direction of local education was presented, showcasing school board candidates Kristen Pence of the South River District and Amber Mabie of the Shenandoah District. Their perspectives, experiences, and solutions took center stage, providing Warren County residents with an in-depth look into their educational aspirations for the region.

Kristen Pence: A Warren County High School alumna, Pence has roots deeply embedded in the community. With a dual role as a veterinarian and a parent, Pence leveraged her four-year tenure on the school board, emphasizing her unwavering commitment. She drew attention to her consistent efforts over the past term, treating the board seat as a full-time job, and her constant engagement with students, parents, and teachers.

Amber Mabie: Mabie’s narrative was equally compelling. A long-standing resident of Warren County and a mother to eight, Mabie exhibited her intimate familiarity with the local school system. With a rich tapestry of experiences ranging from classroom volunteering to substitute teaching, Mabie made a strong case for her grassroots approach to education. She was passionate in her stance against political interference in schools, underscoring the need for an untainted educational environment.

The Core Issues:

Bullying and Student Violence: Rick Novak, the evening’s moderator, didn’t hesitate to address one of the most pressing issues: the alarming increase in bullying and student violence. Mabie passionately voiced her perspective, emphasizing the paramount importance of teacher safety and advocating for reinforced in-school support. Pence, while echoing the sentiment of robust support, stressed the necessity of not just having discipline policies but also ensuring they are effectively enforced.

Homeschooling vs. Public Schooling: This debate took an interesting turn, with Pence acknowledging the growing homeschooling community in Warren County. She advocated for the respect of diverse educational choices while emphasizing her commitment to bolstering public education. Mabie, on the other hand, emphasized the crucial insights gained from having children within the public system and was candid in her skepticism about school board members without this connection.

As they wrapped up, both candidates exhibited a deep-seated commitment to the community. Pence focused on student behavioral challenges and underscored the importance of family engagement. Mabie, casting a wider societal net, championed inclusivity, safety, and the urgent need to address pressing social challenges affecting students.

As the election date of November 7 nears, voters will undoubtedly be reflecting upon the depth and breadth of perspectives presented during this seminal event.

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Solo Spotlight: Candidates Stand Alone at Warren County Builders Association Forum



Warren County Builders Association Hosts Noteworthy Candidate Forum.

Warren County’s Builders Association took a significant stride in strengthening community ties and promoting transparency by hosting its first-ever candidate forum.

George Cline, President of the Warren County Builders Association, expressed gratitude for the overwhelming participation and emphasized the Association’s continuous commitment to the community. Since its establishment in 2006, the association has launched various philanthropic initiatives, from scholarships at the Blue Ridge Tech Center to supporting local veterans and families in need.

Here’s a look at their messages.

  • Melanie Salins – North River School Board
     Melanie, a re-election candidate, emphasized the importance of parents in the education process. Voicing concerns about elitism in education organizations, she advocated for increased parental involvement. Salins also acknowledged the positive strides Warren County Public Schools have made, including the accomplishments at Blue Ridge Tech.
  • Angie Moore – Clerk of the Court
     Angie provided an insight into the vast responsibilities of the Circuit Court. During her tenure, she has made significant strides in digitizing documents, securing grants, and maintaining operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moore showcased her qualifications, emphasizing her commitment to the role.
  • John Bell – Commonwealth Attorney
     With a personal touch, John shared his family stories and the importance of justice in a small-town setting. He discussed the challenges brought forth by the pandemic and the need for a prosecutor who understands the community.
  • Crystal Cline – Warren County Sheriff: Crystal underlined the importance of bolstering resources for the Sheriff’s Office. She commended the dedication of deputies, highlighting the need for specialized training and equipment. Crystal stressed the importance of dedicated school resource officers and effective community support.
  • Janice Butler-Shanks – Warren County Treasurer: Janice, the Republican nominee for Treasurer, emphasized the Treasurer’s role in managing and collecting taxes. Drawing upon her extensive background in local businesses and government, she committed to upholding the highest standards in office.
  • Sherry Sowers – Commissioner of Revenue: As a long-serving Commissioner, Sherry discussed her dedication to assisting Warren County residents. She addressed the improvements in liaising with contractors regarding business licenses and encouraged community members to seek help when needed.

The inaugural candidate forum by the Warren County Builders Association marked a significant step toward enhancing community engagement. Each candidate, though unopposed, showed a deep commitment to their roles and a vision for a better Warren County.


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Warren County’s Crossroads: Voices of the Future



Board of Supervisor Candidates Share Visions for Warren County’s Growth and Governance.

On September 27, 2023, the Warren County Builders Association hosted a Candidate Forum at the Government Center, showcasing the diverse visions of five remarkable candidates for the Board of Supervisors.

Rich Jamieson – North River District
Having dedicated a significant portion of his life to industrial engineering, Jamieson brings a keen analytical perspective to the table. With nearly 30 years of experience focusing on financial and operational enhancement, he firmly believes in the integration of these principles into local governance. Jamieson has consistently promoted the notion that a systematic and engineered approach can solve even the most intricate community issues. His campaign theme, “Professionalism in Governance,” mirrors his dedication to elevating county management standards.

Nicole Wanzer – North River District
Wanzer’s campaign resonates deeply with those who hold Warren County close to their hearts. A third-generation resident, her stories weave a tapestry of love for the land, its history, and its people. She speaks not as a distant politician but as a neighbor, sharing joys, concerns, and hopes for the community’s future. Wanzer is particularly passionate about ensuring the voices of North River residents are at the forefront, pushing for public safety measures, fiscal transparency, and a departure from divisive politics that have plagued community discourse.

Walt Mabe – Shenandoah District
The journey of Mabe, the Shenandoah District representative seeking re-election, stands as a testament to his resilience and adaptability. Although initially challenged by his lack of political experience, Mabe’s narrative is one of growth and transformation. He speaks of lessons learned during his tenure, emphasizing the importance of collective action and continued progress. His message, “We’ve faced challenges, but we’ve always risen,” encapsulates his unwavering optimism for Warren County.

John Stanmeyer – Shenandoah District
Stanmeyer, with his background in economics from the University of Virginia, combines academic rigor with on-ground practicality. He offers a vision rooted in metrics, accountability, and efficiency. He seeks to balance tourism growth while preserving local interests and wants to confront the drug epidemic using data-driven strategies. His campaign, focused on “Data and Dedication,” highlights his belief that evidence-based policymaking is the key to sustainable growth.

Cheryl Cullers – South River District
Cullers, the incumbent representative for the South River District, embodies a legacy of dedication to Warren County. She champions numerous causes, from pushing for broadband access to enhancing emergency services. Her tenure is marked by a non-partisan approach, always prioritizing community needs over political allegiances. Her rallying cry, “I represent you, not the politics,” embodies her service ethos.

Warren County stands at a crossroads, with each candidate offering unique paths forward. Their collective vision showcases a future rich in potential:

  • Jamieson: A future of systematic, professional governance.
  • Wanzer: A future that embraces history, unity, and community voices.
  • Mabe: A future forged through resilience and optimism.
  • Stanmeyer: A future steered by data and unwavering dedication.
  • Cullers: A future that prioritizes the community over politics.

The impending election is pivotal, shaping the trajectory of Warren County’s journey. It’s more than a vote; it’s a declaration of belief in a prosperous tomorrow.

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Building a Better Tomorrow: Candidates for VA Delegate District 31 Outline Their Blueprint at Warren County Builders Assoc Forum



Hopes, Challenges, and Community: Candidates Share Visions for District 31.

On September 27, 2023, the Warren County Builders Association hosted a Candidate Forum at the Government Center. Three hopefuls—Steve Foreman, Grace Morrison, and Delores Oates—took center stage to articulate their aspirations and plans for District 31 of Virginia.

Delores Oates passionately highlighted her deep-seated roots in Warren County. Citing her multifaceted roles in the community, from a baseball mom to a mentor for teen mothers, she emphasized the community’s significance in her life. Expressing concerns over Warren County’s segmented representation in the past decade, she pledged a unified, committed voice in the State House of Virginia.

Steve Foreman’s professional background shone through as he referenced his 25-year tenure with Sprint, delineating duties that married technology with project management. Affirming his commitment to the entirety of District 31, he vowed to equip citizens with the resources they need to thrive.

Grace Morrison brought forth her unique perspective as a conservative independent. With family roots deep in the Virginia building legacy, Morrison presented herself as a bridge between tradition and progress. She underscored her commitment to genuine representation, free from the binds of corporate interests and partisan loyalty.

Moderator Rick Novak probed the candidates on their strategies for maintaining connections with Warren County constituents. Each candidate emphasized accessibility, with Oates advocating for individual conversations and Foreman prioritizing regular community meetings.

In discussing the top issues for Warren County, education was a resonant theme. While Morrison drew from her teaching experience to emphasize support from Richmond, Oates spotlighted the integration of trades in the educational curriculum. Foreman, on the other hand, highlighted the importance of retaining public funds in public schools.

The forum concluded with each candidate outlining their visions. While Oates focused on her roots in Warren County and the importance of economic development, Foreman advocated for pragmatic compromises and solutions that serve communal needs. Morrison reiterated her role as a trustee and servant to the people.

With a shared love for Warren County, each candidate offered their unique lens on progress, challenges, and community welfare. While the election will ultimately decide District 31’s representative, the forum provided a valuable opportunity for the community to gauge the visions and priorities of each contender.


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Blue Ridge Wildlife Center Patient of the Week: Mourning Dove



How is a juvenile dove different from other songbirds?

Last week, this little one was the unfortunate victim of a cat attack. Upon admission, this patient was having trouble breathing and multiple puncture wounds were found over the hips. They were in otherwise good condition and well hydrated—signs mom was taking great care of them prior to the attack.

Mourning Doves grow incredibly quickly, which is why renesting a healthy fledgling with their parents is so important when possible—they’re learning a lot and ready to be on their own within just a few short weeks.

This baby will have to grow up under human care due to the extent of their injuries. There are many babies of various species everywhere still, unable to fully fly or run, and are at great risk of predation in general. This is one of many important reasons that cats should be kept indoors.

Mourning Doves are not like other songbirds we often receive. They are in the family Columbiformes, which only includes pigeons and dove species.

They’re characterized by short, stocky bodies and the presence of a crop, which is a muscular pouch off of the esophagus that holds seeds, allowing them to digest slowly.

They also have a gizzard (“second stomach”) that helps grind up these hard seeds, with the assistance of small rocks (“grit”) stored in the organ.

Because this species almost exclusively eats seeds, babies are fed something called crop milk which is produced in the lining of adults’ crops and is regurgitated into the crops of babies.

In rehabilitative care, nestling doves are fed a slurry that mimics the nutritional composition of crop milk until they are ready for seeds.

Thankfully, after just one week, this dove has grown quickly and figured out how to use our “seed tube” to feed itself, allowing us to be more hands-off, which is always the goal in rehabilitation! (Click here to see it in action!)

We expect this bird to be ready for outdoor conditioning in another week or two and released shortly after that.

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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Aders Insurance Agency, Inc (State Farm)

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Blue Ridge Education

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C&C's Ice Cream Shop

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Down Home Comfort Bakery

Downtown Market

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Explore Art & Clay

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First Baptist Church

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G&M Auto Sales Inc

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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

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Rotary Club of Warren County

Royal Blends Nutrition

Royal Cinemas

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Royal Family Bowling Center

Royal Oak Bookshop

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Ruby Yoga

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The Valley Today - The River 95.3

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