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2020 Hands & Harvest Festival



October 8, 2020 @ 6:00 pm – October 11, 2020 @ 8:00 pm

Monterey, VA – Celebrate the beauty and bounty of fall with the annual Hands & Harvest Festival in Highland County, Virginia!  Held from Thursday, October 8, through Sunday, October 11, this year’s festival offers a unique hybrid of both virtual and in-person offerings.

The festival kicks off on Thursday, October 8, from 6 to 8 pm, with the first ever Virtual Hands & Harvest Festival, hosted by online event platform, BoothCentral.  Anyone in the world with an internet connection and email address has the ability to go online to discover, browse and shop with participating festival organizations and businesses.  The virtual event includes a video stream that highlights many aspects of the festival, including exclusive tours and special moments with the unique people and destinations of this rural, mountain community.  In addition, guests can directly interact with participating vendors at their own pace in their online vendor “booths.”  Tune in any time between 6 and 8 pm on Thursday, October 8, at this Virtual Hands & Harvest Link to learn all about what Highland County has to offer.  Preregistration is not necessary, although guests who register ahead of time will receive an email reminder on the day of the event.

In-person offerings will begin Friday, October 9, through Sunday, October 11, dispersed throughout Highland County.  See the full schedule and details at  Here are some highlights of the sights, sounds and tastes of the season:

  • Activities for all ages include scaling over 100 steps on Sounding Knob Fire Tower from sunrise to sunset, watching the Valley AeroSpace Team’s amazing rocket launches, and visiting a mini equine sanctuary
  • Outdoor entertainment on Saturday at The Highland Center with their “Maple Tap Room” serving up craft and domestic beer and Big Fish Cider, followed by live music with Lynda Smith and 7th Street, an eight-piece party band that highlights Motown, disco, beach and classic rock
  • The freshly updated Highland County Barn Quilt Trail, including a chance to visit the barn quilt studio where many of these colorful quilt designs on wooden blocks are created
  • Several of Highland County’s Maple Syrup Sugar Camps will be open, with a chance to get your passport stamped after a tour as part of the new Virginia Maple Syrup Trail at participating camps.  If pure maple syrup isn’t enough of a draw, some camps will even offer delicious apple butter or cider, warm winter wear, pumpkins, BBQ, bluegrass music, hiking trails and more!
  • Instead of the Monterey Courthouse, arts and crafts vendors will be set up with one-of-a-kind gifts and treats at locations around the county like Monterey Presbyterian Church and The Church at the Old Oak.

“This hybrid event offers visitors the option to take part in the festival online even if they are unable to make it or if they feel uncomfortable with travel at this time,” says Executive Director of the Highland County Chamber of Commerce, Chris Swecker.  “Whether online or in person, people will get to experience what makes our rural community so special at this time of year.”

The 2020 Hands & Harvest Festival is sponsored by Big Fish Cider Co., the new HighlandCountyVA Blog, and The Highland Center.  The festival is brought to you by The Highland County Chamber of Commerce.

For both your safety and for the safety of others when traveling, please adhere to current CDC and Virginia Department of Health guidelines regarding the coronavirus.  To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, please observe social distancing of at least six feet from other visitors, wear a face covering when indoors or when you are in close proximity to others outdoors, and wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or apply hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.  Please stay home if you are sick, if you have signs or symptoms of COVID-19, or if you have been in close contact with someone who has had COVID-19.  Prevention tips can be found at

The Highland County Chamber of Commerce is a 501(c)(6) membership nonprofit organization with a mission to lift up local businesses and entrepreneurs, promote Highland County, and champion economic prosperity and quality of life.  For more information, please visit

Interesting Things to Know

Pregnancy and maternity quiz: test your knowledge



October 8, 2020 @ 6:00 pm – October 11, 2020 @ 8:00 pm

This Mother’s Day, test your knowledge about pregnancy and motherhood with this quick and easy quiz.

True or false

1. A baby’s sex is determined as soon the egg is fertilized.
2. Smoking increases the risk of having a miscarriage.
3. The chance of having identical twins is greater if there are already twins in the family.
4. The fetus’s heartbeats at the same rate as the mother’s.
5. Breastfeeding helps prevent breast cancer.

Multiple choice

6. Which of these sports should be avoided during pregnancy?

a) Horseback riding and scuba diving
b) Judo and mountaineering
c) Tennis and hot yoga
d) All the above

7. What hormone causes the uterus to contract during childbirth?

a) Estrogen
b) Progesterone
c) Oxytocin
d) Chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)

8. At how many weeks is a baby considered full term?
a) 33
b) 35
c) 37
d) 39

Fill in the blank

9. It’s recommended that pregnant women and women who are trying to conceive take __________ as a supplement to prevent deformities such as spina bifida.
10. __________ is the medical term for a woman in labor.
11. The __________ allows air and food to be exchanged between the mother and fetus.
12. The __________ connects the mother to the child during pregnancy.

How did you do?

1. True
2. True
3. False (this is only true for fraternal twins)
4. False (it beats about twice as fast)
5. True
6. d)
7. c)
8. c)
9. Folic acid
10. Parturient
11. Placenta
12. Umbilical cord

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Real Estate

What all homebuyers should know about flooding



October 8, 2020 @ 6:00 pm – October 11, 2020 @ 8:00 pm

It’s not hard to find out if the home you’re interested in buying is located in a flood zone. Simply ask your realtor, or visit the online Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Flood Map Service Center and enter the property’s address in the search bar. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before you decide whether to buy a particular home.

Flooding can happen anywhere
You don’t have to live in a designated flood zone for your home to be at risk of flooding. In fact, flooding can be the result of melting snow, burst pipes, tornadoes, hurricanes, construction issues, blocked storm drains, or problems with municipal sewer lines.

Maps don’t tell the whole story
Even if the home you want to buy isn’t in a designated flood zone, it might still be affected by seasonal changes to water levels in the area. Furthermore, these maps don’t necessarily account for trends driven by climate change such as rising sea levels and extreme rainfall.

Mortgage lenders may require flood insurance
If a property is in a FEMA flood zone that’s considered high-risk, homeowners may need to get flood insurance coverage before their lender agrees to grant them a mortgage. This is true of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, USDA, and VA loans.

If you’re applying for a non-government loan or the home is in a low-risk area, you probably won’t have to purchase flood insurance to secure a mortgage. Nonetheless, getting this type of coverage might be recommended.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is administered by FEMA, provides most residential flood coverage in the United States. In places where the NFIP is unavailable, homebuyers may be able to purchase flood insurance from a private insurer.

All homebuyers should be aware of the potential risks of flooding. The best approach is to do your research, ask pointed questions of the sellers and their neighbors, and spend time in the area. Additionally, working with a local realtor is a huge asset.


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Local Government

Supervisors will revisit Sheetz rezoning on May 25; Carter sides with Town on ‘Sludge War’ process



October 8, 2020 @ 6:00 pm – October 11, 2020 @ 8:00 pm

Was some May 4th verbal sparring between Tony Carter and Walt Mabe during discussion of Carter’s request for reconsideration of the supervisors’ February 10th denial of the rezoning that would have facilitated the development of a Sheetz gas station/convenience store at the foot of the Apple Mountain subdivision a sign of growing tension among the supervisors? While we will explore that sparring at the below subheader, the first indication of an internal board divide came about 20 minutes earlier during member reports.

Tony Carter raised the issue of the escalating tensions between the Town and County over the process in which a complaint that Town of Front Royal Solid Waste crews were dumping sewage at the Solid Waste Transfer Station in Bentonville had been handled. As previously reported, alerted of the suspicion and informed the County Transfer Station was not licensed to handle such sewage waste, board Chair Cheryl Cullers alerted Interim County Administrator Ed Daley, who in turn alerted Warren County Sheriff Mark Butler. Butler then initiated an investigation into the reported dumping that resulted in a confrontation with a three-person Town Solid Waste truck crew about the sewage, which was mixed in with residential trash according to descriptions of the April 20 incident at the transfer station.

The County Solid Waste Transfer Station – scene of April 20 incident that has launched a ‘Sludge War’ of words on municipal processes. On May 4, one county supervisor broke ranks to side with the Town perspective. Photo WC website

Also as previously reported, Front Royal Mayor Chris Holloway and Councilman Jacob Meza launched an aggressive response at the April 26 council meeting, culminating with an April 28 press release and mayoral letter to Cullers seeking Daley’s firing and the sheriff’s resignation.

Asked if he had anything to present as member reports were reached just past 43 minutes into the May 4 meeting, Carter said, “Just one thing I guess.” In that “one thing”, Carter echoed Holloway and Meza’s contention the sewage dumping matter should never have been passed to county law enforcement for a criminal investigation, but rather handled through board or staff communications aimed at clarification and an inter-departmental resolution.

“If there’s a concern expressed by a citizen, I believe it’s our role to pass that on and have staff look into it. If it is a concern from staff, in my opinion, it should be brought up with his or her direct supervisor and/or his department head,” Carter began. He then recited the publicly referenced and verified process of Board Chair Cullers receiving the information, passing it on to Interim County Administrator Daley, who then turned the matter over to the sheriff for investigation.

“I guess my question is, Ms. Cullers, did you direct Mr. Daley to contact the sheriff or was that his idea?” Carter asked the chair, continuing to ask if County Public Works Director Mike Berry had been contacted. With the initial question having been posed to the chair, Daley hesitated in replying to the second question which Carter asked looking the interim administrator’s way.

“I want you to answer my question right now – was Mike Berry contacted?” Carter pressed Daley.

“Yes, he was,” Daley replied.

“Before or after you contacted the sheriff,” Carter continued.

“Simultaneous,” Daley said.

Citing an ongoing criminal investigation in response to Carter’s initial question to her, Cullers then replied: “I have made my statement and I don’t plan on making a further comment”.

“That’s fine. Is the investigation still ongoing?” Carter asked, leading County Attorney Jason Ham, seated next to Daley at a staff table, to respond that it was.

‘I want you to answer my question right now’ Tony Carter, above, told Ed Daley, below left, despite his initial question being directed at Board Chair Cheryl Cullers. Royal Examiner Photos by Roger Bianchini


Continuing to read from written notes, Carter then referenced the Town position that the sewage dumping has been an ongoing routine “for years”, stating that the materials in question were coming from County septic-hauled materials treated at the Town Wastewater Treatment Plant where both town and county sewage are treated.

“So I guess my question is why did this all of a sudden become a problem? And the other question is, could this have been resolved with just a phone call to the town manager, a sit down with Mr. Berry and the town staff and ask them? – I understand if there’s an alleged crime against somebody, you don’t necessarily go straight to them. But this is going on for some time,” Carter reasoned, adding, “And it seems like to me it could have been worked out a lot easier than the process we’re going through at this time.”

Carter wrapped up by questioning the entire “sludge” affair’s – well not the entire affair as the county attorney noted the sheriff’s office criminal investigation is ongoing – impact on Town-County relations. Though not mentioned, they are relations that include, despite an open offer to resolve without litigation, an approximate $26 million Town civil suit against the Warren County Economic Development Authority based on that still-unresolved financial scandal; a scathing and very public verbal and written attack on Daley and Sheriff Butler over the questioning of a Town trash truck crew about the sewage they were carrying with residential trash to the County Transfer Station; and the related Town withdrawal from future liaison committee and other joint meetings with county officials pending action on a requested firing of Daley and resignation of Sheriff Butler.

Appearing to read from a prepared statement, Carter continued: “And the last thing I got, the members of this board keep saying they want to have a good relationship with the council and work together to move the community forward. You certainly have a strange way of showing it, but I guess actions speak louder than words. Once this investigation is concluded, I and the public expect a full accounting of this event. That’s all, thank you.”

While none of his colleagues responded directly to Carter’s remarks, during his report Mabe noted a recent meeting with Town Manager Steven Hicks to discuss “general things to bring the Town and County together”, as well as a discussion with Chamber of Commerce officials on future joint County-Town efforts on a number of fronts, including homelessness.

During her report, Delores Oates noted the recent Washington Post article, covered by our contributing reporter Malcolm Barr Sr., praising Sheriff Butler for his work assisting Health Department officials in getting COVID-19 vaccinations to seniors and other citizens in homebound situations, many in remote county locations. – “I just want to say kudos to you, Sheriff Butler. That was a great article and we appreciate your service to help our community.”

Cullers referenced being an observer at the recent Active Shooter/Mass Casualty training exercise at the new Warren Memorial Hospital site involving tight coordination between the sheriff’s office and town police, as well as County Emergency Services and other related medical, transport, and hospital staffs.

No time for turf wars here – Town and County law enforcement worked together seamlessly, as well as with other agencies, without bickering during three-day Active Shooter/Mass Casualty Training exercise the third week of April.


Sheetz rezoning – Why are we revisiting this?

As noted in our board meeting overview story, earlier in the meeting one of Carter’s constituents, Apple Mountain resident Pat Payne, asked the board not to alter its February 10 decision not to facilitate the establishment of a Sheetz near the Linden I-66 interchange at the foot of the Apple Mountain Lake neighborhood. The potential of contamination of the mountain’s groundwater feeding the area’s water supply was cited as too big a risk. She also questioned the positive commercial tax revenue impact, noting that if established, much of Sheetz’s business and related tax revenue would simply be taken away from existing gas, food, and convenience operations already in place near the Linden I-66 interchange.

Apple Mtn. retiree resident Pat Payne asked the county supervisors not to reverse their split Feb. 10 vote to deny the rezoning that would put a Sheetz at the foot of the mountain subdivision. She may need reinforcements on May 25.


Later, near the open meeting’s end when the authorization to revisit the rezoning was on the table, Shenandoah District Supervisor Mabe questioned Carter on his reasoning for revisiting the Sheetz rezoning so soon (less than three months), inquiring of the property owner’s position on the matter. “What changed? I mean, why are we bringing this back? It’s already been voted on and it was rejected. What changed,” Mabe repeated of his root question.

“Primarily because of the bus stop,” Carter replied, citing projected costs for realignment of a public school bus stop close by that he estimated at, “at least $100,000 – So, that’s the main thing too, which is worth revisiting to hear those issues again, particularly on the bus stop.”

One citizen present at the Feb. 10 joint planning commission-supervisors public hearing on the Sheetz rezoning expressed a theme running through many of the area residents public comments.


Pointing out that the request for the rezoning was from Sheetz project developer Dudding Commercial Development LLC, Mabe queried Carter on the position of the property owner seeking to sell the 6.45-acre portion of a 15-acre parcel for the Sheetz project – “Where’s the man? Where’s the guy that owns the property?” Mabe asked.

“I don’t know, he’s probably at home,” Carter replied dryly.

“That’s not what I asked,” Mabe said

“You asked where he was,” Carter retorted.

“I asked where he was in the process,” Mabe said of the context of his question on the positioning of the property owner.

“I don’t know. I did this because of the bus stop,” Carter reiterated his initial reply on why he sought a revisiting less than three months after the board’s initial rejection.

It is worth noting that the rezoning application process indicated that the property owner was allowing the county to use a small portion of his total 15-acre property for that school bus stop. Improvements to the bus stop adjacent to the 6.45-acre Sheetz portion of the property were included as part of the rezoning proposal. Once denied, the property owner withdrew permission to continue to use his property for the school bus stop, leading to its being moved to another location nearby. VDOT has determined it does not own all the necessary right of way for improvements to the new location, leading to additional costs cited by Carter.

Are you talking to me? With a nod to Robert DeNiro’s mirror conversation in the classic movie ‘Taxi Driver’, we acknowledge Tony Carter, above, and Walt Mabe’s difficulty getting on the same page during the May 4 discussion of the reason to revisit the Sheetz rezoning vote so soon. It was established that looming school bus stop improvement costs were the basis for Carter’s request to reconsider. ‘Where the property owner is’ – In favor of reconsideration, one might guess.

Ironically now perhaps, Mabe joined Carter and Archie Fox forming the 3-2 majority to deny the rezoning request on February 10. As reported by Royal Examiner’s Stephen Sill, following a sometimes emotional joint public hearing, followed by first, the county planning commission’s 3-1 recommendation of approval of the rezoning request, the supervisors, on Carter’s motion, voted 3-2 to deny, in support of the vast majority of area residents opposing the Sheetz project on water supply, public safety and proximity to the school bus stop issues.

On May 4, following Archie Fox’s second of Carter’s motion to authorize advertisement of a second public hearing on the matter, the board approved that authorization with only Mabe dissenting. A one-agenda item Special Meeting was scheduled for 7 p.m., Tuesday, May 25, for that new public hearing and possible re-vote on the Sheetz project rezoning request.

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Local News

School Board approves $63.9M operating budget, new Skyline High School principal



October 8, 2020 @ 6:00 pm – October 11, 2020 @ 8:00 pm

The Warren County School Board on Wednesday, May 5 approved the 2021-2022 budget for Warren County Public Schools (WCPS), as well as the appointment of a new principal for Skyline High School.

During its first action agenda item, the School Board approved the appointment of Danelle Sperling, the principal at Leslie Fox Keyser Elementary School for the past five years, as the new principal at Skyline High School beginning on July 1. Sperling replaces Michael E. Smith, who had been Skyline High School’s principal since July 2015.

WCPS Superintendent Christopher Ballenger introduces Danelle Sperling as the new Principal of Skyline High School.


According to the Skyline High School website, Smith’s name, title, and pictures have been removed. The Royal Examiner today asked WCPS Superintendent Christopher Ballenger to provide more details about when and why Smith left his position. Ballenger responded in an email that such information regards a personnel matter “and our policy and practice is not to discuss personnel matters.” And while it’s unclear when Smith left his position, Ballenger wrote in his email that “the admin leadership team continued to lead the school.”

On Wednesday night at the board meeting, Ballenger introduced and recommended Sperling’s appointment, telling the School Board that she “has a wealth of experience in and out of education and has served in various positions in Georgia, Ohio, New Jersey, and Virginia.”

Sperling’s experience includes stints as an assistant high school principal, a middle school special education teacher and department chairwoman, music therapist, writer and editor for the U.S. Department of Defense, and group home and program manager, all of which “have provided her with the extensive preparation needed for this position,” Ballenger said during the meeting.

The superintendent added that Sperling is a dedicated community member, who has been a Warren County resident for 14 years, and her two children both attend Warren County Public Schools.

Following a motion by board member James Wells and a second by member Kristen Pence, the board voted unanimously to approve Sperling’s appointment, with Board Chairman Arnold Williams, Jr., and board members Catherine Bower, Wells, and Pence voting aye. Board member Ralph Rinaldi was absent during the May 5 meeting.

“I have been truly, truly blessed for the last five years to work with the most amazing faculty, staff, students, and families” at Keyser Elementary School,” Sperling told the School Board members following their vote. “It is an experience for which I will forever be grateful.”

Sperling said she’s also grateful for the opportunity to help lead Skyline High School and “to continue to serve my community in this new role.”

WCPS now begins the search for Sperling’s replacement at Keyser Elementary.

Budget highlights

The second action agenda item approved unanimously by the board, with Rinaldi absent, was the fiscal year (FY) 2021-2022 Operating Fund Budget in the amount of $63,944,829 and the Cafeteria Fund Budget in the amount of $2,896,000.

The Warren County Board of Supervisors at its April 27 Special Meeting approved the FY 2022 County Budget, which included both the WCPS FY 2022 Operating Fund Budget in the amount of $63,944,829 and the School Cafeteria Fund Budget in the amount of $2,896,000.

The approved Operating Fund budget represents a reduction of $165,589 from the proposed FY 2022 School Operating Fund Budget that was adopted by the School Board at its February 17 meeting.

Reductions to the proposed budget totaling $165,589 were then made at the board’s April 7 meeting and the adjustments were included in the final recommended budget.

“A couple of things happened since then that we’re going to have to absorb within our current budget and we can do that with our staff turnover,” explained Ballenger prior to the board’s vote. In fact, WCPS Personnel Director George “Bucky” Smith told the board that thus far, the division will have to fill 20 resignations and seven retirements.

The items WCPS will absorb, according to Ballenger, include a decision by Warren County supervisors to authorize the establishment of its own tech department. WCPS had been providing the County with one full-time and one part-time tech specialist. Now that the County will have its own three-person tech department, WCPS “will not receive that revenue,” Ballenger said, “so we will have to absorb that other part-time so that we can keep the one full-time employee.”

The other item relates to the Virginia State minimum wage, which is set to increase in January 2022. Ballenger said that WCPS decided to proactively implement the increase now. “We just felt that it was fair to our staff members who are in those positions,” he told board members. “It’s the right thing to do and it’s something that we can manage.”

The cost for WCPS to cover the minimum wage increase is around $27,000, Ballenger said.

In reviewing other budget highlights, Ballenger pointed to a 2-percent salary increase for teachers, plus a step. WCPS also adjusted the majority of its salary scales in the budget, he explained and placed all employees at their appropriate steps according to their years of experience.

However, there were several salary scales that did not get adjusted, such as those for maintenance journeymen, a maintenance bus driver, certain administrative personnel, and a social worker and psychologist, among others, according to Ballenger, who said their positions have been moved to the proper step for their years of experience.

Another benefit of the approved operating budget is that it “helps us in providing stability for our health insurance, so we’ll be able to take the savings from moving carriers to Aetna and put that in our account to help offset any increases we would see in future years,” he said.

WCPS will also add staff, including two activity drivers — who drive students home following practices, events, or other participation activities — one English language teacher, two gifted and talented teachers, one half-time criminal justice teacher, one history teacher, a special education assistant, a sign language interpreter, and one dual enrollment English teacher, said Ballenger.

The approved budget also includes a $100,000 increase for maintenance, he added, “so we can move from 40-percent scheduled maintenance to 60-percent scheduled maintenance. We want to schedule more of the work instead of always running around and trying to fix what’s broken. Let’s go ahead and get in front of this.”

Ballenger also said that previously approved federal COVID-19 relief funds will enable WCPS to complete HVAC renovations at Leslie Fox Keyser Elementary and at Blue Ridge Technical Center, both of which also need new roofs. The school district also wants to buy eight new buses, as well as new textbooks for science, English as a Second Lange, and foreign language, according to the budget.

Overall, the new final budget will enable WCPS “to attack all the things we want to attack and address this year,” Ballenger said.

“It’s really nice to see that we can take care of our community,” Board Chairman Williams commented after Ballenger’s presentation.

Approval followed a motion by board member Pence, a second by Vice Chairwoman Bower, with all members voting aye and Rinaldi absent. A copy of the final approved budget is available at:$file/FY22%20final%20budget.pdf.

The School Board also unanimously approved 10 other action agenda items, including the purchase of elementary science textbooks totaling $236,747.75; an almost $160,000 contract for new Chromebooks for the 2021-2022 school year; a new preschool curriculum costing $33,349.73; and two contract awards to the Gordian Group, one in the amount of $56,969.36 to perform site work and to erect a newly purchased greenhouse at Skyline High School, the other for $22,427.21 to provide all labor and materials to prepare and paint the west side exterior windows and columns on the historic front entrance to Skyline Middle School.

School Board Vice-Chair Bower asked WCPS Technology Director Tim Grant if the approved purchase of the new laptops will fulfill the school division’s technology needs. Grant replied that the purchase of technology is always going to be a revolving door for WCPS, as it is in other districts.

To view the entire WCPS School Board meeting video, go to:

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Local News

Governor Northam COVID-19 update briefing – May 6, 2021; some mandates lifting June 15th



October 8, 2020 @ 6:00 pm – October 11, 2020 @ 8:00 pm

Governor Northam joins the Virginia Emergency Support Team to share the latest updates on the COVID-19 response.

Highlights include:

  • Hospitalizations are down
  • Deaths are down
  • 46% of Virginians have had one dose of vaccine, 33% fully vaccinated
  • Younger children will be approved soon
  • Walk-in clinics opening around the state
  • Virginia can meet the President’s goal of 70% of the population vaccinated by July 4th
  • Restrictions will be eased for gatherings next week
  • Gatherings increase to 100 people indoors and 250 outdoors
  • If cases keep decreasing, all capacity and social distancing measures will be lifted on June 15

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Two Winchester, VA residents arrested after investigation by the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force



October 8, 2020 @ 6:00 pm – October 11, 2020 @ 8:00 pm

On April 29, the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force concluded a month-long investigation with the arrest of two Winchester, VA residents. Rasheed Riley, 29, and Josie Peacoe, 31, both of Winchester, VA, were arrested by the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force following a search warrant executed at their residence.

Josie Peacoe, 31, and  Rasheed Riley, 29, both of Winchester, VA, were arrested by the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force following a search warrant executed at their residence.


In early April, Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force officers received information that Rasheed Riley and Josie Peacoe were distributing large quantities of cocaine in the Winchester and Frederick County, VA area. Through the course of the investigation, Northwest Virginia Drug and Gang Task Force officers learned that Riley and Peacoe would routinely travel outside the Commonwealth to a cocaine source of supply. The pair would then transport the cocaine back to the Commonwealth for distribution and sale. Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force officers completed multiple controlled purchases of cocaine from Riley and Peacoe during the investigation.

On April 29, members of the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force obtained a search warrant for Riley and Peacoe’s residence located at 2971-116 Valley Avenue in Winchester, VA. During a search of the residence, 266 grams of cocaine with a street value of $12,350.00, 2.5 grams of crack cocaine with a street value of $250.00, $1,570.00 in currency, and 1 firearm was seized. Rasheed Riley and Josie Peacoe were both arrested. Rasheed Riley was charged with possession of a schedule I/II controlled substance, a probation violation, and an active felony warrant for forging and uttering. Josie Peacoe was arrested for distribution of a schedule I/II controlled substance. Additional charges are forthcoming for Riley and Peacoe.

The Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force was assisted by the Winchester Police Department, Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, and the District 11 Office of Probation & Parole.

The Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force is comprised of law enforcement personnel from the Clarke, Frederick, Page, and Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Departments, Front Royal, Luray, Strasburg, and Winchester Police Departments, and the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Culpeper Field Office.

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Front Royal
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2:00 pm Mother’s Day Weekend Paint Party... @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
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Law Enforcement Officers Memoria... @ Front Royal Gazebo
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Fort Loudoun Day: Living History @ Historic Fort Loudoun Site
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Fort Loudoun Day: Living History @ Historic Fort Loudoun Site
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11:00 am National Kids to Parks Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
National Kids to Parks Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 15 @ 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
National Kids to Parks Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Children’s Discovery Area: This National Kids to Parks Day, join us for fun-filled activities and music at our interactive discovery stations. Kids, pick up a scavenger hunt brochure and hike on the Track Trail. Just[...]
9:00 am Virginia Psychic Fair @ Arlington-Fairfax Elks Lodge
Virginia Psychic Fair @ Arlington-Fairfax Elks Lodge
May 16 @ 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Virginia Psychic Fair @ Arlington-Fairfax Elks Lodge
Psychic Fair for both those who are serious and for those who are just curious. Event can be a life changing experience or just a fun time! Many of the best psychics, mediums, healers, and[...]
1:00 pm Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 16 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
What’s that buzzing? Meet with local apiarists of the Beekeepers of Northern Shenandoah (BONS) and discover the art of Apiculture (a.k.a. Beekeeping). This monthly program series examines all aspects of beekeeping from hive construction to[...]