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Dynamics of second Brinklow murder plea deal explained

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A second plea deal has been reached in the Tristen Brinklow murder case. On Friday, July 23, in Warren County Circuit Court Richard Matthew Crouch, 38, pled guilty to Second Degree Murder, among other related and unrelated charges, in the September 2019 death of the 20-year-old Brinklow. From the evidence gathered, including from co-suspect George Lee Good, now 29, and another jail inmate to whom Crouch talked extensively, some of those conversations of which were recorded, about the circumstance of Brinklow’s death, Crouch alone is believed by the prosecutor’s office to have been Brinklow’s murderer.

Richard Matthew Crouch – 2021 Photo RSW Jail; below, Tristen Brinklow from his Facebook page

Good’s plea arrangement, which will be before the court on the 9 a.m. morning docket, August 13, indicates a possible total of 35 years, with all but 10 years suspended. Good’s recommended active incarceration of 10 years involves 5 years for his involvement in concealing Brinklow’s body; and one year each to serve on 5-year sentences for guilty pleas to obstruction of justice, conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine; distribution of methamphetamine; possession of a firearm by a convicted felon; and malicious wounding, the latter related to another incident.

George Lee Good – Photo RSW Jail


The plea agreement for Crouch indicates a possible total of 60 years incarceration, with 20 years recommended suspended, leaving 40 years facing the 38-year-old. Bell added that if the Crouch plea agreement is accepted by the court, with sentencing guidelines applied, it was likely Crouch would serve 29 to 31 years of the recommended 40. With no parole currently in Virginia, Bell noted the defendant would be in his late 60s at the time of his projected release.

In charges related to Brinklow’s death, Crouch pled guilty to second-degree murder (30 years incarceration recommended), concealing a dead body (5 years), and defiling a dead body (5 years). He also pled guilty to several charges he was already incarcerated on prior to being charged in the Brinklow murder. Those were unlawful wounding and two counts of strangulation related to a domestic case with an ex-girlfriend that occurred on September 24, 2019, two days prior to Brinklow’s murder, established to have occurred on September 26, 2019; and one charge of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Five-year sentences on all those charges were recommended suspended.

In an extended phone conversation Wednesday afternoon, Commonwealth’s Attorney John Bell explained the dynamics and reasoning for the Crouch plea agreement. Among those was a condition indicating Crouch “has accepted responsibility for the crimes for which he is pleading guilty” and another noting that if the plea is accepted by the court, “the Defendant has no grounds to appeal …” his conviction.

Bell said that with a coming legislative change authorizing Circuit Court level appeals “by right”, a change expected to greatly increase the number of appeals in the future, assuring no appeal upon an agreed-upon conviction seemed a good course to take. In fact, Bell indicated that the State was planning the appointment of seven additional appeals court judges to deal with the anticipated increase in appeals of circuit court convictions.

Bell also noted that while Crouch, and Good for that matter, were charged with First Degree Murder in the case, subsequent evidence indicated a lack of a normal prerequisite, premeditation. The first-degree aspect was hung on an allegation that Brinklow was restrained from leaving the hotel room where the three were gathered when the murder occurred, resulting technically in an “abduction” aspect, which can qualify as a First Degree Murder.

Bell elaborated that prosecution evidence indicated that Crouch had become a daily methamphetamine user, leading to the two violent incidents of September 24 and 26, the latter Brinklow’s murder. The first, two days earlier, was an assault involving the strangulation of an ex-girlfriend, Inez Driss. Evidence, including a broken “hyoid” bone in Brinklow’s throat, is consistent with strangulation, Bell said.

The commonwealth attorney said that while on the run from arrest in the assault on his ex-girlfriend, which involved Crouch’s mother as a driver in transporting Crouch’s ex, he, Good, and Brinklow gathered at the motel room where methamphetamine was used. Crouch’s already aggravated and drug-fueled paranoid state apparently worsened, leading him, in addition to concerns about his mother’s whereabouts, to think Brinklow was wearing or had stolen some of his clothes. This led to the physical assault resulting in the 20-year-old Brinklow’s death on September 26, 2019.

His body was later put in a refrigerator by Crouch, with Good’s assistance, and the body was moved by a friend’s pickup truck to a remote location where it was discovered still in the refrigerator by two teens in a severely decomposed state on December 2nd at Digs Landing in the Rivermont area of Warren County. However, the body was not publicly identified until December 16th following state forensic work, and a DNA match to Brinklow, previously only known as missing, was made.

Crouch and Good were charged for murder in the case on December 31, 2019. Both men were incarcerated without bond on unrelated violent crimes at the time the Warren County Sheriff’s Office brought the charges in the Brinklow case against them. Crouch was then housed at Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren County (RSW) Regional Jail and Good at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center (NRADC) in Frederick County.

Good was arrested in Frederick County at a DUI checkpoint on December 7 (2019). At the time, he was wanted in connection with a non-fatal November 27 shooting on the 200 block of Cloud Street in a residential area adjacent to Front Royal’s Downtown Business District.

And so this chapter of the Front Royal and Warren County illegal drug culture is playing out in the courts in the wake of violence and murder on the streets.

 

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VSP 4:30 pm update on traffic crashes and disabled vehicles

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During the current winter storm impacting the Commonwealth, Virginia State Police troopers have responded to 369 traffic crashes and 282 disabled vehicles since 12:01 a.m. Sunday (Jan. 16) through 4:30 p.m. Sunday (Jan. 16). The majority of those crashes have involved only damage to vehicles. There have been no reported traffic fatalities during this time period.

Photo courtesy of Virginia State Police.


Since midnight on Sunday (Jan. 16), Virginia State Police have responded to:

Richmond Division: 28 Disabled Vehicles & 118 Traffic Crashes
At 1:40 p.m. Sunday, VSP narrowly escaped injury in Goochland County. The trooper was traveling east on I-64 when a vehicle tried to pass it. The vehicle lost control and struck the trooper’s patrol car at the 150-mile marker. No injuries were reported.


Culpeper Division: 37 Disabled Vehicles & 29 Traffic Crashes (Photo from Shenandoah County attached… crash with minor injuries.)

Appomattox Division: 41 Disabled Vehicles & 43 Traffic Crashes

Wytheville Division: 55 Disabled Vehicles & 59 Traffic Crashes

Chesapeake Division: 25 Disabled Vehicles & 26 Traffic Crashes

Salem Division: 60 Disabled Vehicles & 53 Traffic Crashes
At 3:25 p.m. Sunday, VSP responded to a multi-vehicle crash in Montgomery County. Four tractor-trailers and a pickup truck collided in the northbound lanes of Interstate 81 at the 127-mile marker. Two minor injuries were reported. The crash remains under investigation.

Fairfax Division: 36 Disabled Vehicles & 41 Traffic Crashes

As the storm continues to cross the state, Virginians are still advised to avoid travel Sunday and overnight into Monday, especially along the Interstate 81 corridor. Open highways allow VDOT crews to safely and effectively treat the roads.

If you MUST travel during the storm, please take these safety tips into consideration:

• Know Before You Go! Before heading out, check Virginia road conditions at www.511virginia.org or download the VDOT 511 app. Do not call 911 or #77 for road conditions. Please leave these emergency lines open for emergencies only.

• Clear ALL snow and ice from the roof, trunk, hood, and windows of your vehicle – car, SUV, minivan, pickup truck, commercial vehicle – before you travel.

• Use your headlights – in rain and snow. Virginia law requires headlights on when your wipers are active.

• Drive for conditions – slow your speed and increase your traveling distance between the vehicle ahead of you.

• Always buckle up.

• Avoid distractions – put down the phone.

• As the storm moves through the state, there will be an increased chance of encountering emergency vehicles assisting motorists. If it is safe to do so, carefully move over and give these responders plenty of room to safely work.

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Izzy’s arrival in Virginia nets 142 traffic accidents State Police have responded to before 1 PM

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During the current winter storm impacting the Commonwealth, Virginia State Police troopers have responded to 142 traffic crashes and 162 disabled vehicles since 12:01 a.m. Sunday (Jan. 16) through 12:45 p.m. Sunday (Jan. 16). The majority of those crashes have involved only damage to vehicles. There have been no reported traffic fatalities during this time period.

Photos courtesy of Virginia State Police

Since midnight on Sunday (Jan. 16), Virginia State Police have responded to:

Richmond Division: 12 Disabled Vehicles & 30 Traffic Crashes



Culpeper Division: 21 Disabled Vehicles & 6 Traffic Crashes (Photo from Culpeper County attached… crash with no injuries.)

Appomattox Division: 17 Disabled Vehicles & 20 Traffic Crashes

Wytheville Division: 45 Disabled Vehicles & 36 Traffic Crashes

Chesapeake Division: 18 Disabled Vehicles & 11 Traffic Crashes

Salem Division: 29 Disabled Vehicles & 32 Traffic Crashes
Virginia State Police remain on the scene of a multi-vehicle backup on Interstate 81 in Roanoke County. At approximately 12:05 p.m. Sunday, a tractor-trailer jackknifed and the cab disconnected from the trailer in the northbound lanes of I-81 at the 134-mile marker. A wrecker is on the scene working to get the tractor-trailer re-connected, so the northbound lanes can be cleared and traffic can begin moving again. However, in the backup of traffic, there are two additional reported traffic crashes – one with minor injuries reported and the other with no reported injuries. Fire and EMS have responded to the scene. Please follow 511 Salem for information on the detour.

Fairfax Division: 20 Disabled Vehicles & 7 Traffic Crashes

As the storm continues to cross the state, Virginians are still advised to avoid travel Sunday and overnight into Monday. especially along the Interstate 81 corridor. Open highways allow VDOT crews to safely and effectively treat the roads.

If you MUST travel during the storm, please take these safety tips into consideration:
• Know Before You Go! Before heading out, check Virginia road conditions at www.511virginia.org or download the VDOT 511 app. Do not call 911 or #77 for road conditions. Please leave these emergency lines open for emergencies only.
• Clear ALL snow and ice from the roof, trunk, hood, and windows of your vehicle – car, SUV, minivan, pickup truck, commercial vehicle – before you travel.
• Use your headlights – in rain and snow. Virginia law requires headlights on when your wipers are active.
• Drive for conditions – slow your speed and increase your traveling distance between the vehicle ahead of you.
• Always buckle up.
• Avoid distractions – put down the phone.
• As the storm moves through the state, there will be an increased chance of encountering emergency vehicles assisting motorists. If it is safe to do so, carefully move over and give these responders plenty of room to safely work.

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VDOT: Avoid all travel on Sunday afternoon into Monday morning in the Shenandoah Valley

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 Snow, ice, sleet, and rain are forecasted to enter the Commonwealth overnight and continue throughout the day Sunday. Precipitation combined with freezing temperatures will create treacherous driving conditions. The Virginia Department of Transportation is urging motorists to adjust travel plans and avoid being on the roads at all on Sunday, Jan. 16.

The current forecast indicates this event will drop significant snow, followed by freezing rain and ice in many areas, targeting the central region of Virginia and areas along the Interstate 81 corridor with the most extreme conditions.

The region, including Interstate 81, has terrain with steep grades that can increase the hazardous nature of travel during a heavy snow and ice event. This is very true for truck traffic and it is important that trucks avoid the region, particularly I-81, on Sunday and into early Monday.

Crews are conducting final stages of pre-treatment on interstates, primary and major secondary roadways statewide in advance of the storm and stand ready with the necessary equipment and adequate materials to clear and treat affected areas during and after precipitation falls.


VDOT crews and contractors will be prepositioned on Sunday to begin plowing and treating roads as the weather begins. Wreckers have been staged and tree crews have been notified for deployment as needed.

VDOT reminds motorists, bridges and overpasses freeze before roadways. If there is snow or ice on roadways, travel is hazardous.

With the risk of high winds, contractors are on standby to assist with downed trees, branches, and debris. Downed trees and power lines are expected and pedestrians and motorists should remain aware and cautious of these risks.

Remember:

  • Avoid travel
  • If you must travel during adverse weather conditions:
    • Review forecasts along your entire route
    • Allow plenty of time to reach your destination
    • Review and be familiar with alternative routes to your destination
    • Do not pass snowplows
    • Give crews time and room to treat roads
  • Visit 511Virginia.org for the latest road conditions before traveling. If possible, avoid travel until precipitation stops and road conditions improve.

For more information on winter weather travel, visit virginiadot.org/travel/snow.asp.

VDOT has a variety of traveler resources including Welcome Centers and Safety Rest Areas located throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Rest area locations can be found on the VDOT website at https://www.virginiadot.org/travel/map-rest-area.asp.

Road conditions and traffic cameras can be found on the VDOT 511 website at http://www.511Virginia.org, Roads with snow conditions will be marked minor, moderate, severe, or closed.

Road condition definitions:
Closed – Road is closed to all traffic.
Severe – drifting or partially blocking the road.
Moderate – snow or ice on major portions of the roadway.
Minor – bare pavement except for isolated spots of snow, ice, or slush. Driving with caution is recommended.

 

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Governor Glenn Youngkin signs 11 Day One Executive Actions

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Executive Orders:

• Executive Order Number One delivers on his Day One promise to restore excellence in education by ending the use of divisive concepts, including Critical Race Theory, in public education.

• Executive Order Number Two delivers on his Day One promise to empower Virginia parents in their children’s education and upbringing by allowing parents to make decisions on whether their child wears a mask in school.

• Executive Order Number Three delivers on his Day One promise to restore integrity and confidence in the Parole Board of the Commonwealth of Virginia.


• Executive Order Number Four delivers on his Day One promise to investigate wrongdoing in Loudoun County.

• Executive Order Number Five delivers on his Day One promise to make government work for Virginians by creating the Commonwealth Chief Transformation Officer.

• Executive Order Number Six delivers on his Day One promise to declare Virginia open for business.

• Executive Order Number Seven delivers on his Day One promise to combat and prevent human trafficking and provide support to survivors.

• Executive Order Number Eight delivers on his Day One promise to establish a commission to combat antisemitism.

• Executive Order Number Nine delivers on his Day One promise to withdraw from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

Executive Directives:

• Executive Directive Number One delivers on his fulfilling his Day One promise to jumpstart our economy by cutting job-killing regulations by 25 percent.

• Executive Directive Number Two delivers on his fulfilling his Day One promise to restore individual freedoms and personal privacy by rescinding the vaccine mandate for all state employees.

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Omicron is an Emergency – Here’s How You Can Help

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As we enter year three of the pandemic, the caregivers of Valley Health continue to stand tall in supporting our community through successive waves of COVID-19. During the initial wave of cases, our team managed through personal risk, caring for a new and terrible disease in a world short of answers. In the winter of 2021, our clinicians learned to incorporate COVID-19 care safely into our normal workflow and did both brilliantly. Others worked in the community, partnering with volunteers to give 150,000 COVID vaccines. During the Delta wave, we learned to deliver lifesaving treatments and again rose to the challenge of then-record volumes.

Now we face a new set of challenges. There has been a lot of talk that the Omicron variant is twice as contagious and half as deadly. Broadly, this is true. What you may not have heard is how that impacts your local health system’s ability to care for you and your family.

Omicron generally creates mild illness in the vaccinated (even milder if you are boosted) but can still cause severe disease in the unvaccinated, especially in high-risk groups (those who are older, with chronic illnesses, pregnant, or overweight). This has led to the community letting its guard down and to the explosive growth of cases outside the hospital. With so many cases in the community, we are seeing a higher number of very sick hospitalized patients than at any time in the pandemic, even though the average case is milder. We need your help.

We are working hard to increase the availability of home tests for COVID. These are for people with symptoms who are wondering if they have the virus. If you test positive, you very likely have COVID. You should act as if you do and you do not need further testing. You should immediately isolate to prevent spreading the disease to others.


If you test negative, you should wear a mask, social distance, and retest in a few days if symptoms continue. A second negative means you are unlikely to have COVID. As always, see a doctor for symptoms that are persistent, worsening, or otherwise concerning. If you have COVID and are in a high-risk group (as above) contact your primary care doctor to discuss treatment options.

If you are an employer, please do not require employees to get PCR tests or have physician visits related to employment needs. These are unnecessary and make it harder for people who are sick to get needed care. The CDC now recommends that people with COVID can return to work 5 days after the onset of symptoms if they are feeling better and have no fever. They need to wear a mask for 5 additional days. For additional guidance, visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.

Lastly, please consider getting vaccinated and boosted. Nearly 90% of hospitalized COVID patients are unvaccinated, including nearly all hospitalized patients under 75. Do this for yourself and do it for your family. It’s worth it.

Jeffrey Feit, MD
Valley Health Population and Community Health Officer

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VDOT: Warren County Traffic alert for January 17 – 21, 2022

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The following is a list of highway work that may affect traffic in Warren County during the coming weeks. Scheduled work is subject to change due to inclement weather and material supplies. Motorists are advised to watch for slow-moving tractors during mowing operations. When traveling through a work zone, be alert to periodic changes in traffic patterns and lane closures.

*NEW* or *UPDATE* indicates a new or revised entry since last week’s report.

INTERSTATE 66
*NEW* Mile marker 0 to 8, eastbound and westbound – Possible shoulder closures for litter pickup operations, Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

INTERSTATE 81
*NEW* Mile marker 299 to 300, northbound and southbound – Mobile right shoulder closures for survey operations, Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
*NEW* Mile marker 300 to 299, southbound – Right shoulder closures for sign work, Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


PRIMARY ROADS
No lane closures were reported.

SECONDARY ROADS
No lane closures were reported.

Various roads – Flagger traffic control for utility tree trimming, weekdays during daylight hours.

Vegetation management may take place district-wide on various routes. Motorists are reminded to use extreme caution when traveling through work zones.

Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511. Traffic alerts and traveler information also are available at www.511Virginia.org.

The VDOT Customer Service Center can assist with reporting road hazards, asking transportation questions, or getting information related to Virginia’s roads. Call 800-FOR- ROAD (800-367-7623) or use its mobile-friendly website at my.vdot.virginia.gov. Agents are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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Thank You to our Local Business Participants:

@AHIER

Apple Dumpling Learning Center

Apple House

Auto Care Clinic

Blue Ridge Arts Council

Blue Ridge Education

BNI Shenandoah Valley

C&C's Ice Cream Shop

Code Ninjas Front Royal

Cool Techs Heating and Air

Down Home Comfort Bakery

Downtown Market

Dusty's Country Store

Edward Jones-Bret Hrbek

Family Preservation Services

Front Royal Women's Resource Center

Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce

Gourmet Delights Gifts & Framing

Green to Ground Electrical

Groups Recover Together

I Want Candy

I'm Just Me Movement

Jen Avery, REALTOR & Jenspiration, LLC

Main Street Travel

Makeover Marketing Systems

Marlow Automotive Group

Mary Carnahan Graphic Design

Mountain Trails

National Media Services

Ole Timers Antiques

Phoenix Project

Reaching Out Now

Royal Blends Nutrition

Royal Examiner

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Oak Computers

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Spice

Salvation Army

SaVida Health

Skyline Insurance

St. Luke Community Clinic

Studio Verde

The Studio-A Place for Learning

The Valley Today - The River 95.3

The Vine and Leaf

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

Warren County Department of Social Services

Warrior Psychotherapy Services, PLLC

What Matters & Beth Medved Waller, Inc Real Estate

White Picket Fence

Woodward House on Manor Grade

King Cartoons

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Upcoming Events

Jan
19
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Jan 19 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Jan
20
Thu
7:00 pm FRWRC Woman Gathering @ ONLINE
FRWRC Woman Gathering @ ONLINE
Jan 20 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
FRWRC Woman Gathering @ ONLINE
The Front Royal Women’s Resource Center presents: WomanGathering – 7 PM, Virtual via Zoom Webinar with guest Dawn Devine, the Executive Director for the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum. Topic: Why Children are our most valuable resource. Click[...]
Jan
21
Fri
1:00 pm FRWRC Book Circle @ ONLINE
FRWRC Book Circle @ ONLINE
Jan 21 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
FRWRC Book Circle @ ONLINE
January 21 – FRWRC Book Circle – Free Virtual Event – Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. Questions about FRWRC Online Book Circle, please contact: Lyn Bement at dlbement@comcast.net or (540) 635-3000. In person Book Circle Postponed until[...]
Jan
26
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Jan 26 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Jan
28
Fri
12:30 pm Free REVIVE! Opioid Overdose and... @ ONLINE
Free REVIVE! Opioid Overdose and... @ ONLINE
Jan 28 @ 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Free REVIVE! Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Education @ ONLINE
Northwestern Prevention Collaborative, in conjunction with Northwestern Community Services Board, will offer a free, virtual REVIVE! Training on January 28th from 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm. The one-hour online class provides an overview of how[...]
Feb
2
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Feb 2 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Feb
4
Fri
all-day First Friday @ Downtown Main Street
First Friday @ Downtown Main Street
Feb 4 all-day
First Friday @ Downtown Main Street
Come celebrate First Friday! Downtown businesses will be open late, until 8 p.m., on the first Friday and Saturday of each month.
Feb
5
Sat
all-day First Friday @ Downtown Main Street
First Friday @ Downtown Main Street
Feb 5 all-day
First Friday @ Downtown Main Street
Come celebrate First Friday! Downtown businesses will be open late, until 8 p.m., on the first Friday and Saturday of each month.
9:00 am Women’s Wellness Workshop @ ONLINE
Women’s Wellness Workshop @ ONLINE
Feb 5 @ 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
Women's Wellness Workshop @ ONLINE
Women’s Wellness Workshop – Virtual via Zoom Webinar – Key Note Speaker Dr. Neema. Registrations will begin January 5: frontroyalwomenswellness.com
4:30 pm Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Feb 5 @ 4:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area: Discover our International Dark-Sky Park! Our evenings begin with a half-hour children’s “Junior Astronomer” program, followed by a discussion about the importance of dark skies and light conservation. Then join NASA Jet Propulsion[...]