Come back to the family farm at Sky Meadows. Explore the park’s sustainable farming practices, visit the barred plymouth rock hens, learn about our cattle operation in partnership with the Department of Corrections’ Agribusiness Program, and much more!
In addition to the agricultural-themed programs, we also offer Mount Bleak House tours, hearth cooking and blacksmith demonstrations, a children’s play area, and live music.
Commission to Combat Antisemitism releases report on antisemitism in Virginia
RICHMOND, VA – The Commission to Combat Antisemitism released its report on antisemitism in Virginia on December 5, 2022. The Commission, established by Governor Youngkin’s Executive Order 8 on his first day in office, reaffirms Virginia’s commitment to stand against hatred and intolerance and develop an actionable plan to combat antisemitism in the Commonwealth.
The Commission was established following a disturbing increase in antisemitic incidents nationally and Virginia. In 2021, antisemitic incidents in the U.S. reached an all-time high, with 2,717 separate incidents reported. In 2022 thus far, Virginia alone has seen nearly 350 reports of antisemitic acts.
“Hatred, intolerance, and antisemitism have no place in Virginia, and I appreciate the committee’s hard work to highlight and grapple with these matters,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “We have challenges in Virginia, and we must work together to address them. For Virginia to be the best place to live, work, and raise a family, the Commonwealth must welcome people of all faiths, ethnicities, and backgrounds with open arms.”
The Commission is tasked with analyzing trends in antisemitism nationally and Virginia, examining the root causes of antisemitism, and proposing solutions to hold hate crime perpetrators accountable, support victims, and stop antisemitism before it starts. To this end, the Commission formed the following four subcommittees to discuss specific issues related to antisemitism and propose policy recommendations to combat antisemitism in Virginia and improve the resilience to antisemitism in state and local government:
• Definition and Scope of Antisemitism
• Educational Responses to Antisemitism
• Law Enforcement and Security Responses to Antisemitism
• Trade, Laws, and Legislation to Combat Antisemitism
The Commission’s recommendations include efforts to bolster K-12 education on the Holocaust and Judaism, increase hate crime reporting and data collection, and prevent state agencies from contracting with companies that have taken antisemitic positions.
“During Governor Youngkin’s first year in office, I have respected his desire to oppose divisiveness in varied forms and instead find moments to bring people together to make Virginia a better place,” said Commission Chairman Jeffrey Rosen. “This is one of those moments, and I hope that the work of our 15-member Commission speaks through this report. The recommendations of the Commission to Combat Antisemitism represent a timely and comprehensive way for Virginia to fight this form of hatred and bigotry head-on.”
“Rising antisemitism in America and Virginia must not be tolerated. To this end, the Commission’s work will provide valuable tools to combat hate and achieve the vision of freedom from persecution set out by our Founding Fathers,” said Commission Vice-Chairman Arthur Sandler. “It has been an honor to serve the Commonwealth on the Commission, and I look forward to working with Governor Youngkin to combat antisemitism and hate in all forms.”
Lawsuit challenging Virginia’s skill game ban will continue into 2023
EMPORIA — A judge on Monday declined to dismiss a lawsuit claiming Virginia’s ban on slots-like skill machines violates free speech and indicated a state senator’s involvement in the case means it won’t go to trial until after the 2023 General Assembly session is over.
At a hearing Monday morning in Greensville County Circuit Court, Judge Louis Lerner also rejected a claim the General Assembly violated the Virginia Constitution by quietly adding legislation to the most recent state budget that sought to reinforce the purported illegality of the machines that have proliferated in Virginia convenience stores, truck stops and sports bars.
Lerner said he had serious concerns about the argument but ultimately concluded it wasn’t the court’s role to try to force the General Assembly to legislate in the open.
“Government at any level should not be doing business in the dark,” Lerner said from the bench. “But once again, I’m not going to peek into that closet.”
But after siding with the state on that issue, Lerner said he continues to see merit in the skill-game industry’s arguments that the ban violates free speech by seeking to classify a particular type of video game as illegal gambling.
“Naming it as gambling or wagering does not matter,” Lerner said, echoing the industry’s argument as he extended an injunction preventing the state from enforcing the ban as the lawsuit proceeds. He made clear he had the General Assembly’s schedule in mind, noting that an April or May timeframe for concluding the matter seemed most realistic given the involvement of Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin, in the case.
“We understand that the plaintiff’s attorney has obligations at the General Assembly that are entitled to deference by statute,” Lerner said, referencing a state law that empowers General Assembly members who are practicing attorneys to delay court matters while the legislature is in session.
The result of Monday’s hearing is that thousands of skill machines estimated to be operating in Virginia can continue in a largely unregulated and untaxed state for the near future.
The General Assembly and former Gov. Ralph Northam attempted to ban the machines in the 2021 legislative session. But the legal challenge brought by Stanley and lawyers for a major skill-game company, Queen of Virginia, has successfully delayed enforcement of that ban for nearly a year. The plaintiff in the suit is Hermie Sadler, a former NASCAR driver who owns a truck stop in Emporia that has benefited from skill-game machine revenue.
“We anticipate the final court decision will uphold the legality of skill games in the commonwealth,” Michael Barley, a spokesman for Queen of Virginia parent company Pace-O-Matic, said in a news release after the ruling. “However, without further regulation and additional taxation, taxpayers are missing out on nearly $100 million in tax revenue that could have gone toward critical projects along with curbing illegal games that are proliferating in Virginia communities.”
The difficult-to-define machines have been a perennial sticking point for policymakers as Virginia has expanded legal gambling over the last few years.
Critics say the skill-game industry brazenly exploited legal loopholes to create a major gambling enterprise without seeking clear permission from the legislature as the casino, sports betting, and horse racing industries did. Skill-game defenders say the machines give smaller businesspeople an opportunity to benefit from looser rules on gambling. The industry insists the machines shouldn’t be classified as gambling at all because they’re primarily based on skill, not a chance.
“We’re pleased with the court’s ruling,” said Jason Hicks of the Womble Bond Dickinson law firm, which is representing Sadler in the case and also works for the Queen of Virginia.
The state argues the skill involved in the games is minimal and only serves to give some semblance of legal cover to what it contends are gambling machines the state has every right to outlaw. The machines aren’t being targeted for any First Amendment messages they convey, according to Virginia’s lawyers, but because the wagering activity that comes with them sets them apart from other types of arcade games.
Attorneys for the state did not comment after the hearing but told Lerner they’re interested in lodging formal objections to how the case has been handled, an indication they’re planning to appeal if Lerner strikes down the ban permanently next year.
The Virginia skill-game industry has enlisted national free speech expert Rodney Smolla, the president of Vermont Law School, to bolster its argument that machines designed to mimic slots have the same First Amendment protections as other video games. Many of the machines feature the same spinning reels and nine-square layout as slot machines but require players to take some action to complete a winning pattern. For some games, that just involves touching the screen as opposed to the more passive experience of playing slots, where winning patterns complete themselves.
In a brief filed with the court, Smolla compared the situation to the televised trivia game “Jeopardy!” The state can ban its residents from wagering money on the outcome of a Jeopardy contest, Smolla wrote, but it can’t pass a law prohibiting people from playing the game, which also involves money, skill, and, to some extent, wagering.
“At the end of the day, the Commonwealth’s case rests on nothing more than an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ approach to the meaning of words, in which ‘illegal gambling’ comes to mean whatever the Commonwealth chooses to define it to mean,” wrote Smolla, who was in the courtroom for Monday’s hearing. “As Humpty Dumpty said to Alice: ‘When I use a word, it means just what I want it to mean — neither more nor less.’ But First Amendment law is neither so glib as Humpty Dumpty nor so credulous as Alice.”
Pace-O-Matic has contributed more than $850,000 to both Republicans and Democrats in Virginia since 2018, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
by Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury
Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: email@example.com. Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.
Who helped draft Virginia’s new history standards and more headlines
• Former Reagan education secretary William Bennett and several conservative-leaning groups were involved in drafting the new history and social science standards proposed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration, according to a newly released list.—Richmond Times-Dispatch
• The Virginia Tourism Corporation, which stoked controversy by awarding a tourism ad contract to Youngkin’s political ad firm, has authorized more than 125 no-bid contracts since 2017. More than a dozen went to a company owned by a Democratic donor who has contributed to former Govs. Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam.—VPM
• The former director of a Virginia children’s hospital is now facing felony sex crime charges after former patients accused him of abuse.—Associated Press
• Authorities raided a Fredericksburg-area restaurant suspected of continuing to sell alcohol despite having its license suspended after a long feud with the state over COVID-19 rules. The owner, a Republican running for the Virginia Senate, posted a video on his campaign page that showed him chastising officers conducting the search.—Free Lance-Star
• Youngkin is proposing $350 million to help the state prepare project-ready economic development sites. “We are done playing small ball. We’re going to play to win.”—WRIC
by Staff Report, Virginia Mercury
Congressman Ben Cline holds Town Hall meeting in Warren County
Residents of Warren County were invited to a town hall event with Congressman Ben Cline (VA-06) on December 5, 2022. This town hall event was an opportunity for residents of Warren County to engage in a dialogue with Rep. Cline about important issues in Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District.
Watch the Town Hall meeting on this exclusive Royal Examiner video.
Jesse Walker Dove (1991 – 2022)
Jesse Walker Dove, 31, of Front Royal, Virginia, passed away on Saturday, December 3, 2022.
He graduated from Warren County High School in 2009. He honorably served his country in the U.S. Navy before pursuing a career in law enforcement, including Warren County Sheriff’s Department, Strasburg Police Department, and Department of Homeland Security. He was most recently a federal officer and continued to volunteer as a deputy for Warren County.
Jesse was born on January 22, 1991. He is the son of Jesse R. “JR” Dove and Callie Dove of Front Royal, VA. In addition to his parents, he is survived by his loving wife, Marissa Dove, and daughter, Wrenly Mae Dove; siblings, Jessica Phillips (Lonnie), Joshua Dove (Lori), Caitlin Ruckman (Chad); grandparents, Betty and Billy Chapman, and Jim Heflin; and a large extended family.
Jesse was an avid hunter, fisherman, and farmer. He was a fierce and loyal protector of friends and family and took indescribable pride in protecting and serving his fellow citizens in the county, which meant so much to him. He had a smile that would light up a room and was always quick with a joke. Jesse was a loving and devoted man and will truly be missed by all.
The family will receive friends on Wednesday, December 7, from 6 to 8 pm at Maddox Funeral Home. The funeral service will be held on Thursday, December 8, at 12:00 pm at Riverton United Methodist Church in Front Royal, VA. Burial will immediately follow at St. Stephens Cemetery in Strasburg, VA. Afterward, a fellowship meal will be held at the Front Royal Volunteer Fire Department on Commerce Avenue.
Joshua Dove, Chad Ruckman, Evan Massey, Nick Williams, Michael Grove, and Mike Robinson are pallbearers.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be sent to Edward Jones, 1705 Amherst St., Suite 101, Winchester, VA 22601, for the benefit of Wrenly Mae’s Education Fund. Checks should be made payable to Edward Jones. Please indicate ‘Wrenly Dove – 529’ on the memo line.
Harold Elwood Boone (1935 – 2022)
Harold Elwood Boone, 87, of Front Royal, Virginia, passed away peacefully on Friday, December 2, 2022, surrounded by family in the comfort of his home.
A memorial service will be held for Harold at 11:00 am on Saturday, December 10, 2022, at Maddox Funeral Home, 105 W Main St. in Front Royal, with Pastor Jim Bunce officiating. The family will receive guests one hour prior to the memorial service.
Harold was born on October 18, 1935, in Pocahontas, Virginia, to the late William and Bertha Boone. He was also preceded in death by his siblings, Betty Jane, Edward Boone, and James Boone, and his grandson, John Dallas Bunch IV.
Surviving Harold is his loving wife of 67 years, Marilyn R. Boone; his children, Harold Wayne Boone (Sandy), Thomas Allen Boone (Dabney), and Patricia Ann Bunch; his brothers, Franklin Daniel Boone (Julie) and Roger Curtis Boone (Franny); his grandchildren, Kristen Roberts Brannon, Justin Scott Rider, and Carrie Ann Boone; and his great-grandchildren, Hadley, Carter Rose, and Joselyn.
Harold was a retired veteran of the United States Army and was very proud to say that during his time working at Mt. Weather, he had personally worked for the White House for three presidents, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson. He was also a golfing enthusiast and wasn’t a half-bad bowler. He was also a member of Marlow Heights Baptist Church.