Meet at the Carriage Barn.
Sky Meadows State Park provides a unique opportunity to explore the rich natural diversity of the region. Join professional outdoor instructor Tim MacWelch to learn about the remarkable fall wild edible and medicinal plants of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This full day hike will cover native and non-native species of useful plants. Each participant will receive a full color copy of MacWelch’s Fall Wild Edible Plants manual as a take-home reminder of the plants they studied in class.
Registration is $127/person (non-refundable) and includes the parking fee for Sky Meadows State Park. Limited to 15 registrants (minimum 13 years of age); register at: http://advancedsurvivaltraining.com.
The course will be held rain or shine. Bring water, dress in layers, and wear sturdy shoes. Proof of pre-registration must be presented upon arrival at the Park Contact Station.
School Board approves new Logan Maiatico scholarship, meeting participation policy
The Warren County School Board unanimously approved several action agenda items during its Wednesday, December 1 meeting, including a meeting participation policy update, the Warren County Public Schools (WCPS) long-range plan, WCPS higher adult meal prices, and the establishment of the new Live Like Logan Maiatico Memorial Scholarship.
The scholarship is named for Logan Cole Maiatico, 19, of Strasburg, Va., a 2021 Skyline High School (SHS) graduate and star athlete who died in a car accident on October 4.
“Logan was a shining star, not only in athletics but in our community,” WCPS Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Alan Fox said in introducing the scholarship item to the School Board members. “Logan was a selfless person who always put others first. Logan was a genuine kind person that wouldn’t think twice about lending a hand to a teammate, offering part of his pay to help local organizations, or helping to deliver hot meals to those in need.”
“What a wonderful life he was going to have helping other people,” Fox added.
Established by the Logan Maiatico Foundation, the scholarship will award $1,000 each annually to two SHS graduates, said Fox. Any male or female who participates in athletics in any sport or are in classes at the Blue Ridge Technical Center and have plans to continue education in college or vocational school are eligible for the scholarship, he added.
Each student will have to have maintained at least a 3.0 GPA; will need to be recommended in writing by a coach or teacher; must participate in charitable community events; and will have to submit an essay on why they should receive the scholarship award, explained Fox, who said that the Logan Maiatico Foundation will choose the award recipients and present their awards during a presentation banquet.
Maiatico, an aspiring firefighter who was a member of the Linden Volunteer Fire Department, also has been honored at SHS with the placement of Logan’s Bell, erected in his memory on the football field sideline within the SHS stadium.
School Board members Vice Chair Catherine Bower, Kristen Pence, Ralph Rinaldi, and Melanie Salins voted “to accept the scholarship with gratitude.” School Board member James Wells was absent during last night’s meeting.
In other action, the School Board unanimously approved increasing the WCPS adult breakfast rate to $2.30 and adult lunch rate to $3.85 effective January 3, 2022. The action is required for WCPS to meet the 2021-2022 Virginia Department of Education minimum Adult Price requirement. Adult meal prices are currently $1.75 for breakfast and $3.00 for lunch.
Following the third reading of Policy BDDH/KD Participation at School Board Meeting by WCPS Superintendent Christopher Ballenger, the School Board also unanimously approved additions to the policy.
Specifically, the section in the WCPS Policy Manual now will read: “Warren County residents, WCPS students, and School Board employees are invited and encouraged to attend meetings of the Warren County School Board to observe its deliberations. Any Warren County resident, WCPS student, parents of WCPS students, or School Board employee may address the Board on matters related to Warren County Public Schools at the regular monthly meeting, which is Identified as the first meeting of the month. Any Warren County resident, WCPS student, parents of WCPS students, or School Board employee may also address the board on matters related to any action Item, at the work session meeting, which is Identified as the second meeting of the month.”
An additional change in this section of the policy manual now states: “The Warren County School Board will allot a portion of the regular meeting for the public to address the Board. Citizens addressing the School Board, whether as individuals or as a member of a group, shall limit their remarks to three (3) minutes. This time limit and/or the total time available for public comment may be modified by the Chairperson with the approval of the majority of the School Board.”
The chairperson also can modify time, with the approval of a majority of the School Board, per individual to stay within the time allotted or seek approval from the other members present to add time at the end of the meeting, according to the policy updates.
The chair also will ask for each person speaking to state their name and address for the record, whether they are a Warren County resident, parent of a WCPS student, or employee of the school division, the updates state.
In another action item, Ballenger also gave the board the third and final reading of the Warren County Public Schools Comprehensive Long-Range Plan 2021-2026, which the School Board unanimously approved as presented.
The 2021-2026 Comprehensive Long-Range Plan, which Ballenger said was developed by teachers, administrators, School Board members, and input from the community, includes the mission statement: “We will empower everyone to achieve excellence by sparking inspiration and learning through innovation.”
The goals for 2021-2026 are:
- Students will graduate from WCPS able to think critically; think creatively; communicate effectively; collaborate with others; and be prepared to enter the workforce with marketable skills and/or ready for the rigor of higher education.
- All schools will be accredited on an annual basis as defined by the Virginia SOLs.
- WCPS will employ properly credentialed teachers, administrators, and staff. The School Board will strive to provide competitive compensation for all personnel.
- Staff development will be tailored to the needs of each staff member for the purpose of continually improving the entire school division.
- All students and staff will be afforded a safe and engaging learning environment that promotes healthy behaviors and positive relationships for everyone every day.
- A safe, reliable, and equitable transportation system will be provided for all students.
- Technology will be integrated into all facets of the school division’s operating system as well as the delivery of instruction. All students will exit WCPS with appropriate 21st-century technology skills, which will enable them to compete in a global society.
- The School Board and all schools will engage and communicate effectively and openly with students, families, and the community.
- Develop community partnerships for the benefit of the entire school community.
- Provide an all-inclusive school experience.
At the end of the board’s roughly 45-minute regular meeting, the members went into a closed session to discuss student discipline and to consult with legal counsel regarding actual or probable litigation. No report was provided following the closed session.
Click here to watch the Warren County School Board’s December 1 meeting in its entirety.
Town planners move short-term rental draft ordinance toward public hearing
At 6 p.m., Wednesday, December 1, the Front Royal Planning Commission met at work session in the Town Hall second floor meeting room to discuss formulating a text amendment to zoning codes to facilitate legally prescribed short-term tourist rentals. To this point, as a sub-municipality of the county such applications within a vacuum of town codes, have been directed by county codes. The town council recently requested the planning commission to explore creation of a town ordinance to oversee the application for short-term tourist rentals within the town limits.
Planning Director Lauren Kopishke presented a 10-page report, including a draft “Addition to (Code) 175-3” with a 14-point check list of requirements for submission of a Special Use Permit (SUP) application and draft “Short Term Rental Property Management Plan” that would be required of all applicants. Also included in the agenda packet distributed to the commission were Warren County’s checklist for such permitting applications and relevant state codes, including taxing processes. It might be noted that the Code of Virginia Chapter 35, Article 3.1 on Merchants Capital and Short-Term Rental Properties regarding taxation repeatedly refers to short-term rentals as a “business” endeavor, not a residential operation.
After four sentences defining the topic, the Code 175-3 draft checklist’s opening line – “Short-term tourist rentals shall be permitted in all Zoning Districts by Special Use Permit and shall meet the following requirements:” drew a lengthy discussion begun by Commissioner Darryl Merchant.
That discussion centered on the question of whether within the confines of the town limits, short-term tourist rentals should be allowed in residential districts, particularly R-1 Districts. Merchant was skeptical of a business operation being allowed in the often closer proximity of R-1 residential areas.
Another sticking point was raised by Commission Chairman Douglas Jones. That was whether a proposed Town Code should override Home Owner Association (HOA) rules regarding the conduct of short-term tourist rentals. A consensus was fairly quickly raised to eliminate any wording suggestion that the town government was in the business of overruling written HOA standards for short-term tourist rental operations.
The R-1 Residential District discussion centering on the advisability of introducing a “commercial element” into town residential neighborhoods took more time to resolve. Merchant noted the planning director’s reference to investors in some areas moving to buy multiple properties specifically for use in short-term rental businesses. Merchant worried that such commercial investing strategies would threaten to alter the character of neighborhoods from residentially based to commercial, as well as shrink the housing market for families seeking to put roots down in the community.
“I’m not saying short-term tourist rentals will tear the fabric of the town apart, but it’s a start,” Merchant said of his concern about business enterprises, rather than individual homeowners seeking additional revenue, controlling the coming of short-term tourist rentals to the town. However, a majority consensus was reached that with care the town governments overseeing and defining of short-term tourist rental processes could offer the necessary control to avoid the kind of commercialization Merchant feared.
“I don’t think we have a choice,” Commission Vice-Chair Connie Marshner said of allowing short-term tourist rentals in residential, including R-1, neighborhoods. The counter concern to Merchant’s was that to forbid them in residential areas would likely shrink the town’s short-term tourist rental marketplace too significantly to allow it to exist in any meaningful way. Marshner said that perhaps the commercial investor aspect could be utilized to direct a reclaiming of blighted properties in town – “It might be a plus,” she offered of that potential outcome.
“I think it’s something we should try,” Josh Ingram observed of allowing them in all zoning districts.
“We’d be foolish not to,” Marshner added.
“Let’s take it to public hearing and see what the people think,” Merchant said, leading Ingram to concur.
Following the commission consensus, Planning Director Kopishke said she would make the few suggested changes to her draft and then move the matter toward a planning commission public hearing.
In the commission’s only other business Wednesday evening during the planning director’s update, Kopishke told the commission that 200 responses to the Comprehensive Plan Citizen Survey had been received. Noting a target of 3,000 responses by the end of the year, ways to increase the pace of public input were pondered. Of the replies received, Kopishke said a recurring theme was retaining Front Royal’s “small town charm”. – “It seems very anti-growth,” the planning director noted of the replies thus far received.
Clara, Little Mouse, and the Golden Key
Dancing By His Grace Classical Ballet Ensemble presents Clara, Little Mouse, and the Golden Key, featuring selections from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet, at the Skyline Middle School in Front Royal, Virginia.
Join us for our original adaptation of the Nutcracker and watch Little Mouse help Clara find the true meaning of Christmas.
Friday, December 10, 2021, at 7:00 pm
Saturday, December 11, 2021, at 2:00 pm
Sunday, December 12, 2021, at 2:00 pm
Skyline Middle School
240 Luray Avenue | Front Royal, VA
Children $5 (4 years and up)
Thanksgiving holiday weekend crashes claim four lives
Over the 2021 Thanksgiving statistical counting period, preliminary data shows that there were four fatal traffic crashes in Virginia. This is the lowest number of traffic fatalities during Thanksgiving in more than a decade.
“Although even one life lost is a tragedy, this Thanksgiving has given us something to truly be thankful for,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Patience, keeping your attention on the road and buckling up are the anecdote to the record number of traffic fatalities we have seen the past two years. This Thanksgiving, the number of people issued summons for reckless driving and seatbelts were down compared to last year, even though we know more people were on the roads. This brings home the point, that if we all do our part on the road everyone can have a safe holiday.”
In total, during the five-day period, which began at 12:01 a.m. Nov. 24, 2021 and concluded at midnight Nov. 28, 2021, four people lost their lives to traffic crashes in Virginia. The fatal crashes occurred in the counties of Albemarle, Chesterfield, Fairfax and Spotsylvania. Of those crashes, one involved a pedestrian and one was not wearing a seatbelt.
This is a decrease from 2020 when there were 12 traffic fatalities during the five-day Thanksgiving statistical counting period. This is also the lowest number of traffic fatalities during the counting period in more than a decade. *
In an effort to prevent traffic deaths and injuries during the Thanksgiving holiday, the Virginia State Police participated in Operation C.A.R.E. – Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort. Operation CARE is an annual, state-sponsored, national program during which state police increases its visibility and traffic enforcement efforts during the five-day statistical counting period.
The 2021 Thanksgiving Holiday CARE initiative resulted in troopers citing 5,127 speeders and 1,565 reckless drivers statewide. Virginia troopers arrested 65 drivers for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, and cited 477 drivers for failing to buckle up themselves and/or juvenile passengers.
State police responded to 1,273 traffic crashes across the Commonwealth, with 139 of those resulting in injuries. State police also assisted 1,151 disabled/stranded motorists during the Thanksgiving weekend.
Funds generated from summonses issued by Virginia State Police go directly to court fees and the state’s Literary Fund, which benefits public school construction, technology funding and teacher retirement.
Belle Grove decorated for the holidays and open for touring December 3-30, 2021
From December 3 to 30, Belle Grove Plantation is decorated for the holidays and open for touring. “Timeless Tales and Verse,” celebrating holiday-themed literature from the years of Belle Grove’s history, is the inspiration for this year’s decorations.
The Winter Time, a poem by Robert Louis Stephenson, is seen in the decorations in the carriage and on the front porch. Valley Garden Club has decorated the front hall with the poem Christmas Bells by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in mind. The library decorations by Warren Garden Club feature the classic Christmas letter, Yes, Virginia There is a Santa Claus. In the day sitting room, the Winchester/Clarke Garden Club evoked ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore. The plantation office has been transformed by the Middletown Garden Club into Ebenezer Scrooge’s office from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Across the hall in the dining room the Colonial Garden Club rings in the New Year with Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns. In the Parlor is a 12-foot Norway spruce donated from John and Judith Tole’s Evergreen Christmas Tree Farm in Woodville, Virginia. The Hawthorn Garden Club provided decorations in the Parlor based on the short story, The First Christmas Tree by Henry Van Dyke.
The nursery is a child’s wonderland thanks to the Shenandoah Garden Club’s toys and animals. It brings to life The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, the 1922 children’s story that begins on Christmas morning. The Little Garden Club adorned the bedroom using The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry as their inspiration.
Guests are welcomed into the lower level with decorations inspired by Christmas Carol, a poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar. These decorations were done by the Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardener Association, which also decorated the lower-level room showing The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffmann, the story behind the treasured ballet. The kitchen has charming decorations by the Glen Burnie Garden Club conjuring The Elves and the Shoemaker by The Brothers Grimm.
Belle Grove Plantation including the Beverley B. Shoemaker Welcome Center (which includes the Museum Shop, exhibits, and restrooms) will be open December 3, 2-8 p.m. and thereafter Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Friday-Saturday 10 a.m.-8 p.m., and Sunday 1-5 p.m. Belle Grove will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and will close for the winter on December 31.
Guided house tours are offered Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. with tours beginning at quarter past each hour (first tour at 10:15 a.m. and last tour at 3:15 p.m.) and on Sunday 1-5 p.m. (first tour at 1:15 p.m. and last tour at 4:15 p.m.). On Friday and Saturday evenings 4-8 p.m. visitors are welcome to take self-guided tours, the Manor House will be lit by candlelight, and there will be live music in the Parlor from 6-8 p.m. (schedule at www.bellegrove.org).
There is a limit of ten guests per tour and admission is sold on-site only and on a first-come, first-served basis. Guests over the age of five are required to wear masks over their nose and mouth while on the property.
Admission for both guided and self-guided Manor House tours is $12 for adults, $11 for members of the military, AAA, the National Parks, and individuals 60 and older. Students 6-16 and National Trust for Historic Preservation members are $6. Children 5 and younger are free. Belle Grove members are free of charge as benefit of their membership. Visitors may join Belle Grove and immediately use this benefit at Christmas along with 10% off non-consignment purchases in the Museum Shop.
Belle Grove Plantation is a non-profit historic house museum that is a National Trust for Historic Preservation site and a partner in Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park. It is located off Route 11 at 336 Belle Grove Road south of Middletown, Virginia. Information and updates on holiday tours may be found at www.bellegrove.org or at facebook.com/BelleGrove.
17 fun holiday-themed activities
Christmas is fast approaching, but perhaps it doesn’t feel like the holidays yet? Here are some ways you can get into the spirit of the season.
1. Admire the decorated homes in your neighborhood
2. Attend a Santa Claus parade
3. Bake cookies and other traditional holiday treats
4. Browse a Christmas market in your area
5. Color holiday-themed pictures
6. Curl up and watch a Christmas movie
7. Do a puzzle that illustrates a winter scene
8. Donate your time to a local food drive
9. Get creative with your gift wrapping
10. Go pick out your Christmas tree
11. Listen to Christmas songs by your favorite artists
12. Look through old holiday photos
13. Participate in a Christmas craft workshop
14. Read Christmas stories with your family
15. Take in a seasonal performance (concert, ballet, play, etc.)
16. Visit a museum that has a holiday-themed exhibit
17. Write and send out your holiday cards
So, which activity will you start with this year?