We are offering classes for children ages 7-12 who would enjoy expressing themselves through art. The students will expand their creative side with drawing, painting and constructing, using various mediums such as acrylic, pastels, watercolor and 3D materials. Composition, color theory, form, line, shape and texture will be discussed and applied to their projects. They will also explore the style and techniques of famous artists while creating their own artwork. The classes are in alignment with the Virginia Standards of Learning.
This session of 4 classes is $100, and all materials are included. Sign up early! Limit of 8 students per session.
About the instructor: Laura Corebello is a licensed art teacher who has taught art in the public schools of New Jersey and Virginia for the past 30 years. She has written curriculums for New Jersey and Virginia private and public schools. Laura can recognize the unlimited potentials of creative expression through the eyes of children and nurtures this in all her students. Some of Laura’s students have been stimulated to follow careers in art, have earned awards, and have had art shows at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley.
Wednesdays, Sept. 11 to Oct. 2, from 10:30 am – 12:00 pm. Classes are located at 205 E. Main Street, Front Royal, UPSTAIRS in Suite 4.
Class policies: We understand that scheduling conflicts do happen. You may cancel your session for a full refund up to 48 hours before the first class, by phone or in person. No refunds will be issued after this time.
In case of inclement weather, we will reschedule the class. Please check our Facebook page for class schedule changes due to weather.
Opinions and statistics from INSIDE the local tourism community contradict Town rationale for change
Following lead-off batter Gary Kushner in a nearly 90-minute first-inning that saw 27 people step to the plate, 22 of 24 addressing the Front Royal Town Council and interim town manager’s fastball approach to downsizing and outsourcing several governmental functions, a number of pointed statements, questions and inquiries were made (sorry for the baseball analogy, the Astro’s World Series cheating scandal has my attention).
Second speaker Marie McDaniel introduced herself as a new resident of a year, who has fallen in love with the community and its people. She noted she had volunteered at the Town Visitors Center to learn more about her new community, observing, “That special place and the people who work there and volunteer are amazing. They all have a passion for promoting Front Royal, even with threats of unemployment hanging over their heads.”
Citing already fired Community Development Director Felicia Hart, Tourism Director Tim Smith and staff, she added, “They make the (Visitors) Center the heart and soul of this town … Don’t lose it the way we seem to lose dogs, cats, goats …” drawing applause as she concluded.
Joanne Kearney, a second Visitors Center volunteer followed, noting she had not been solicited by anyone to speak on their or the Visitors Center’s behalf. Pointing to a previous effort to outsource tourism promotion that did not work out, Kearney cited the negative impact of lost control of a key marketing tool from outsourcing.
“The town is our product, and our mission at the (Visitors) Center is to support the success of every business and attraction. New management may have a different mission … How will the town’s interests be protected and what oversight will there be on how your money is being spent? … Mr. Tederick reportedly said the government is not agile and creative enough to manage tourism, but the department staff HAS displayed creativity and agility in new outreach and initiatives … Tourism is this town’s lifeblood. The council should be INCREASING support for the department, not handing it off to an unknown quantity.”
Kearney pointed to the experience of other communities, as well as Front Royal’s, in unsuccessful efforts to outsource the tourism function in concluding, “This outsourcing stands to do more harm than good and could cost much more than it hopes to save, as many other municipalities have learned. Why repeat a course that has already been found unsuccessful … Consider the long-term ramifications and potential losses. Please reject the outsourcing plan and keep the staff and operations of tourism with the town, for the sake of the town,” again drawing wide applause at her conclusion.
Not ‘agile’ enough?
Front Royal/Warren County Appalachian Trail Community Committee Co-Chair Susan Tschirhart repeated concerns expressed in a committee co-chair letter to the mayor and town council, that as she noted was also printed in the “Opinion” section of the Royal Examiner website, in the immediate aftermath of the announced terminations and plans to outsource the Town’s tourism function.
But on February 10 she elaborated on those concerns to the council’s and its staff’s face. In that eyeball to eyeball meeting, she also presented numbers that appeared to contradict Interim Town Manager Tederick’s stated “not agile enough” rationale for sweeping changes like outsourcing, immediate terminations, and potential future firings related to the Town’s tourism function. In opening, Tschirhart pointed to momentum the community has developed related to its “AT Community” designation and the importance of the Town and County’s interrelationship in tourism marketing – an effort illustrated by the Joint Town-County Tourism Advisory Board which also met last week, though apparently also without any foreknowledge or information about the Town’s planned and partially implemented course of action on tourism.
“Our town and county were jointly designated an official AT Community by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in 2012. Our committee of volunteers raises awareness of and support for trail-friendly local business, land-use policies that protect the trail and its views, and hiking as a healthy outdoor activity. AT Community designation has directly resulted in five new businesses, including three on Main Street, all of which are thriving. At this time, we are proud to partner with 22 businesses and organizations that have sought and earned AT Community Supporter certification …
“Not only did tourism attract $151 million in visitor expenditures to Warren County in 2018, a 4.9% increase over 2017, but, according to the Virginia Tourism Corporation, it supported 1700 jobs, a combined payroll of $23 million, and contributed $3 million to local tax coffers … Last week, based on 210 reviews, our Visitor Center was ranked second only to Skyline Caverns as top attractions in Front Royal. Do you know how unusual it is for a visitor center to rank as an attraction?” Tschirhart asked, adding pointedly, “And we’re about to fire that entire staff and change a recipe that has been steadily generating increased revenue for each of the past five years.”
And of that Town tourism budget already appropriated for the current fiscal year that runs to June 30, well into the hiking and tourist season, Tschirhart observed, “We were also puzzled to learn that the tourism budget for marketing and advertising has been frozen. This is money already allocated to the current fiscal year and critical to generating business for 170 tourism-dependent businesses in the county who count on the Visitor Center and its marketing materials and services to generate income. Eighty-five percent of Front Royal’s tourism budget is covered by lodging fees, all collected from visitors to our area. The remaining 15% comes from Front Royal promotional merchandise sold at the Visitor Center. None of our tourism department’s salaries or expenses come out of our own taxpayer dollars. Why are we cutting the tourism budget just as the tourism season is about to begin?” Tschirhart asked.
She also suggested that council and the interim town manager’s course of action flies in the face of, not only the Town’s own past experience with outsourcing tourism, but other Valley communities who have learned their lessons and are moving in exactly the opposite direction from the one five elected and two appointed town citizens have chosen to move this Appalachian Trail Community in.
“Berryville and Round Hill were designated AT Communities last year. Luray, designated just after Front Royal is now working toward moving its underperforming tourism department out from under its Chamber (of Commerce). In all of the other counties, tourism is handled by town/county government, and none are privatized,” Tschirhart told the town’s elected and appointed officials.
“Virginia’s recreation economy is booming. Roanoke is now positioning itself to compete with Asheville, North Carolina as a site for outdoor manufacturing. Damascus just broke ground for the Trail’s newest trail center. Situated between Damascus and AT headquarters in Harper’s Ferry, Warren County hosts one of the most popular section hikes along the trail’s 500-mile stretch in Virginia … The average thru-hiker along the AT will spend $5500 during the course of their hike, and another $4000 on gear. According to a 2010 survey, they’ll spend an average of $153 per town visit, a figure that has no doubt increased over the last 10 years.
“So, why all this effort to engage the outdoor industry?” Tschirhart asked rhetorically, answering her own question by noting, “Because it’s a $362 billion dollar industry driven largely by hiking, camping, and rock climbing, all of which can be found in abundance here … Nationally, revenue generated by the outdoor industry exceeds even oil and gas.
“To mix metaphors, Front Royal should be riding that wave, not starving the golden goose,” Tschirhart said in closing.
Another council gamble?
According to one councilman, Gary Gillespie’s, remarks delivered later as a justification of council actions on a number of fronts, including legally with the EDA and budgetary from year to year, “We work for the taxpayers of Front Royal first and foremost. Again, it’s our job to fight and protect your money.”
The unanswered question remains – will reducing operational costs so they can say they made capital improvements, often long-delayed ones, without raising taxes in the coming fiscal year REALLY save this community money in the long term OR simply set the stage for a huge corresponding loss of revenue from a tourism industry crucial to both the Town and County’s economic futures?
It appears this Front Royal Town Council majority continues its propensity for gambling:
1 – on “promises” of lower interest rates versus facts regarding the availability of those rates on its police headquarters construction project;
2 – on soaring taxpayer-funded legal costs to fight over whether those broken verbal “promises” from a now-indicted former EDA official hold any legal weight in the conduct of municipal and economic development business;
3 – and now, on whether reducing the town government’s operational tax revenue needs is really a money saver for the Town and the community in the long term.
Roll the dice …
Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – February 16, 2020
This week the House finally turned its focus back to regular business after months of being distracted with impeachment. One major focus this week was highlighting the need for government reform, which I am hopeful can be accomplished in a bipartisan manner. The House also addressed the deadline for the Equal Rights Amendment and many other legislative items. Further, I am pleased to announce that I will be hosting another town hall this coming week in Lexington. I look forward to meeting constituents both at this event and throughout our region this week during the District Work Period.
Congress has an average approval rating of only 21.6 percent. This disapproval is largely due to the dysfunction, partisanship, and distrust that is prevalent throughout our Federal bureaucracy. That is why I am proud to work together with my colleagues on the Government, Efficiency, Accountability, and Reform (GEAR) Task Force of the Republican Study Committee. This task force is committed to helping reform our bloated Federal Government to expand opportunities for all Americans.
While it might not be a headline-grabbing issue, government reform is something I have been passionate about since my time as a State Delegate in the Virginia General Assembly. There, I worked to increase transparency both for constituents and lawmakers alike. As your Representative, I remain committed to finding ways here in Washington to increase accountability for my constituents and “drain the swamp”. I am thankful to work with my colleagues on this task force who believe in the vital importance of reforming government so that it truly serves the people for whom it was created and by whom it is empowered.
Equal Rights Amendment:
To amend the U.S. Constitution, a two-thirds vote to pass an amendment in both the House and Senate is required, as well as ratification individually from at least 38 states. When Congress voted in favor of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in 1972, it was sent to the states for ratification with a seven-year deadline. When this deadline came without having been ratified, Congress then extended it by an additional three years. Once the final deadline passed in 1982, the amendment only had 35 states supporting ratification. Since that time, five states have rescinded their support.
This week, following the recent approval of the amendment by the Virginia General Assembly, the House passed H.J. Res. 79, which would remove the ratification deadline for the ERA. I could not support this resolution because Congress simply cannot remove a deadline that expired four decades ago. Punting the issue to the courts for resolution is an abrogation of my duty to my constituents.
Just this week, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “I would like to see a new beginning,” for ERA ratification. She continued, “There’s too much controversy about latecomers, plus, some states have withdrawn their ratification. So if you count a latecomer on the plus side, how can you disregard states that said we’ve changed our minds?’” On this issue, most legal minds agree: The deadline for the ERA cannot be removed, and the process must start again. I hope that the language can be improved to ensure that the amendment would not enshrine taxpayer-funded abortion in the Constitution, and I will continue working to protect the sanctity of life as this debate continues.
Before the new year, I hosted nineteen town halls – one in each locality – and plan to hold another nineteen in the coming year. Since January, I have already hosted an additional five town halls and will be holding another in Lexington this coming Tuesday. Citizens of Lexington will be given priority regarding comments during the town hall, but all are welcome. To accommodate the diverse schedule of Sixth District constituents, I have rotated all of my town halls between morning, lunch, and evening meetings.
Lexington Town Hall
Tuesday, February 18, 2020
12:30 PM – 2:00 PM
Lexington Community Center
300 Diamond Street, Lexington, VA 24450
To Register, Please Click Here
HIRE Vets Medallion:
The U.S. Department of Labor’s HIRE (Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing) Vets Medallion recognizes the meaningful and verifiable efforts undertaken by job creators to hire and retain veterans. If you are or know of a business that deserves to be honored for giving back to those who have given so much to our country, please click here for nomination details. Last year, Tactical & Survival Specialties, Inc. of Harrisonburg was awarded the medallion for their longstanding tradition of supporting our troops after they leave the service.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Congressman. If my office can ever be of assistance, please contact my Washington office at (202) 225-5431.
Legislative update from State Senator Mark Obenshain
We’re officially past the halfway mark of Session that we call “Crossover” where all bills that originated in the Senate cross over to the House to be debated in Committee and vice versa.
Every year around this time, I like to take a step back and take stock of what we’ve seen so far. The bills I’ve introduced have had varying amounts of success in terms of getting through the Senate but overall, I’m grateful for the support I’ve received from my Senate colleagues on my bills.
I’m particularly thankful for the support for my two good government bills that passed and are headed to the House. In light of the recent Warren County EDA scandal, I introduced SB 701 and SB 703 to ensure government transparency and accountability by requiring Executive Directors and members of Economic Development Authorities (EDA) to take ethics training and submit Statements of Economic Interest (SOEI). EDA’s provide critical economic initiatives for our communities in the Valley and around the Commonwealth and the citizens deserve their trust and confidence. These bills seek to ensure they will have it.
In addition, I’m honored to have carried a bill that passed the Senate dealing with protecting child victims of human trafficking. Oftentimes in these horrific instances of trafficking, whether for sex or labor, it is the parents or legal guardians who are unfortunately the ones participating in the illegal activity. My SB 706 is a Virginia State Crime Commission proposal and allows for local departments of social services to interview victims without the consent of and outside of the presence of such victims’ parents, guardians, or legal custodians.
These bills and the others of mine that passed the Senate are headed to the House where our counterparts will hear them in Committee and then on the floor of the House of Delegates if they are voted out of Committee.
Unfortunately, a number of other bills that will significantly and detrimentally affect Virginians have passed the Senate as well. The new Democrat majority in Richmond has advanced a startling number of liberal bills that will impact every single Virginian. It was almost as if they couldn’t stand the success Virginia has experienced over the past 20 years, and they were eager to make the same mistakes as California and Maryland have made.
When their litany of bills become law and go into effect on July 1, it is going to cost your family a lot more to live in Virginia than it does today.
The Democrats have a new transportation scheme that raises the gas tax by 15-cents per gallon over the next two years in most of the state. Those living in the areas where higher gas taxes are already in place because of the 2013 transportation tax hike will see their gas taxes rise a little less since they’re already paying higher taxes. But, most of Virginia will see an 86% increase in the gas tax over the next two years. And, the tax will continue to automatically increase every year thereafter.
They also approved a “Green New Deal” energy bill that will result in higher prices on electricity. The plan is to have consumers pay more in their monthly electric utility bills to finance “renewables” like wind and solar. The estimates of what the average family will pay for this range from $23 to $50 on their power bill per month.
In addition to the gun control bills that will severely limit our Second Amendment rights which I have covered in-depth in previous updates, Democrats in the Senate have passed numerous pieces of legislation that will hurt small business owners and impact the pocketbooks of every hardworking Virginian family.
On Tuesday – the last day to hear Senate bills that actually concluded at 12:50 AM on Wednesday – the Democrat majority in the Senate flexed its newfound majority power to pass priorities like prevailing wage legislation and collective bargaining for public employees.
Despite touching on this last week, I want to highlight again how damaging these bills will be to Virginia.
Because of the prevailing wage legislation that requires construction companies and other trade jobs to meet a certain level of wages and benefits, we will see fewer schools, fewer affordable housing units, and fewer wastewater treatment facilities. Did you know that in 2018, Richmond discharged more than 3.4 billion gallons of raw sewage into the James River? With construction companies having to pay a prevailing wage that is 10% – 25% more than the market rate for construction workers, local governments like Richmond are going to have less money to pay for needed sewage system upgrades. Other localities will have less money available to pay for school construction.
This new prevailing rate is really just an attempt by out of state contractors to win Virginia construction contracts that were out of reach because their union pay scales kept them from competing with Virginia businesses.
Another bill we saw pass on Tuesday was the minimum wage bill. If I listed all the negative impacts that this will have on young people entering the workforce, small business owners, mom, and pop retail shops, etc., this weekly blast would turn into a short novel.
But to name just a few… requiring employers to pay a minimum wage will raise unemployment levels, depress wages, make it harder for young people to find an entry-level job and it will significantly hurt the cash flow of our small businesses.
The sadly ironic reality of proponents of minimum wage legislation is that it will end up harming the very people that they want to help. Sure, workers may make more money hourly but when an employer is strapped for cash and capital because of the mandate to pay more in wages, they are going to end up cutting their workers’ hours.
Generally speaking, when it comes to liberalists, California/New York-style economic policies like collective bargaining for public employees or forced union membership that comes from repealing or gutting Right to Work, these policies truly end up creating more economic hardship for those in our communities for which they are trying to raise economic prospects.
Not to mention that the left has done a good job claiming the moral high ground on these issues. Proponents seek to paint economic conservatives as heartless, money-grabbing capitalists in the pockets of big businesses. And this attempt to claim the moral high ground on economic issues again only seeks to create less economic prospects for the families in our community who have the most potential to grow economically.
We will continue to hear debates on these important issues and more until our time here in Richmond concludes on March 7. My staff and I welcome the opportunity to see you if you are visiting the General Assembly. My office is Room 502E in the Pocahontas Building. I appreciate hearing your views on pending legislation. We have received thousands of emails this session already and hundreds of calls. Thank you for your advocacy on issues that are important to you. You can always let me know your views on any of the issues before the General Assembly by emailing me at email@example.com or filling out my survey at https://www.markobenshain.com/2020-survey/. Or if you prefer to call, my district office in Harrisonburg is 540-437-1451 or my General Assembly Office in Richmond is 804-698-7526.
More updates coming soon!
Personalized trips: creating unique travel experiences
Are you the kind of traveler that likes to venture off the beaten path? Do you long to create memorable trips without the hassle of planning them? Enter the travel agent of the modern age: your partner in creating the customized experience you long for.
A tailor-made experience
Whether you wish to wine and dine in Italian vineyards or hike through the Australian Outback, your travel planner can do the legwork involved in building an itinerary, one that’s truly tailored to your preferences, needs and desires.
Typically, these experts work with local guides and organizations to ensure you get a unique experience. How much they map out of your trip depends on you, but planning is typically comprehensive and based on the activities you want to take part in and how long you want to spend at each location.
A convenient service
Beyond helping you create the perfect itinerary, your travel planner will take care of everything from plane tickets to hotel rooms, guides, activities, restaurant recommendations, car reservations and even private drivers. By working with an experienced agent, all you’ll need to do is pack and enjoy the adventure.
Which kind of food should I choose for my pet?
When choosing the right food for your cat or dog, base your decision on the animal’s age, weight, breed and lifestyle. A kitten and an adult cat, or a Chihuahua and a Labrador, don’t have the same nutritional needs. If your pet is overweight, choose food that will allow it to regain a healthy weight.
It can also help to talk to your veterinarian in order to make an informed choice. He or she will be able to recommend a good-quality product containing the right proportions of all the essential nutrients your four-legged friend needs. Just because a product’s packaging lists various nutrients, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are present in sufficient quantities; some products contain a lot more grains than meat. Lastly, keep in mind that the more costly canned pet foods don’t necessarily have all the healthy nutrients your pet needs. Ask your veterinarian for more detailed information.
5 types of summer camps your kids will love
There’s more than one type of summer camp for kids. If you’re looking for one for your children, here are five types that may pique their interest.
1. Traditional. If your children like spending time outdoors, they’ll love a traditional summer camp. They’ll spend their time swimming, canoeing, camping, hiking and more.
2. Historical. Kids that are fascinated by history will enjoy a camp where they can dress up in historical clothes and learn about how people lived before the advent of modern conveniences. Whether they’re interested in the Middle Ages or the Victorian Era, your child is sure to learn a lot.
3. Language. Let your child become immersed in learning another language by sending them to a language camp. They’ll acquire a valuable life skill while having fun and making new friends.
4. Farm life. Kids that love animals and nature will enjoy spending their time learning how a farm works. Not only will they spend their time caring for farm animals, but they’ll also learn about agriculture and how to maintain a vegetable garden.
5. Academic. There are a variety of learning camps for kids. Whether your young academic wants to immerse themselves in a particular topic (there are camps devoted to coding, robotics, science, engineering, writing and more) or explore a range of subjects, there’s a camp that’s right for them.
No matter what kind of summer camp you choose to send your children to, they’re sure to create meaningful memories and make lifelong friends.