Join us for our favorite race, and put your skills to the test for a full day of hard-core racing.
Racers will have 24 hours to cover up to 100 miles via kayak/canoe, foot, and mountain bike over rugged and beautiful terrain, picking up checkpoints along the way in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in the spring. You’ll tackle 30-40 miles of trekking, 14 miles of paddling on the Shenandoah River, and about 40-50 miles of mountain biking on some uh-mazing trails. For this year’s edition, we go a little heavier on the trek sections with some advanced navigation, including a mix of Rogaine and traditional Orienteering course styles. You’ll feel challenged for sure, but you’ll have a great time doing it…and that finish-line feeling? Come feel it for yourself!
Click here for registration and details.
Front Royal’s Vision for Youth: Reaching Out Now Spearheads Community Engagement and Development
Creating a Hub for Youth Empowerment and Community Involvement.
In an insightful discussion with Mike McCool at the Royal Examiner Studio, Sam Barber and Claire Schmitt from Reaching Out Now shared exciting plans for community engagement and the development of the Youth Center in Front Royal. Their vision is to foster a space that resonates with the needs and aspirations of local youth while actively involving the community.
A Community Gathering for a Cause
The team at Reaching Out Now is orchestrating a holiday meet-and-greet event scheduled for December 9th, from 2 to 5 pm, at Honey and Hops. This event allows community members to engage in meaningful conversations about the Youth Center and its impact. A renowned local guitarist, Joe Martin, will enhance the event with live music, showcasing community spirit and collaboration.
Building the Youth Center: A Collaborative Effort
The Youth Center, a project close to the hearts of Barber, Schmitt, and their colleagues, aims to be more than just a physical space. It is envisioned as a haven where youth can express their ideas and participate in activities that foster their growth. This initiative is fueled by a capital campaign seeking to raise significant funds and resources, including items on a wish list provided by the students themselves.
Listening to the Youth: Shaping the Future Together
The organizers have taken an inclusive approach by sending surveys to high schools, allowing students to voice their desires for the Youth Center. From wanting ping pong tables to requesting tutoring services, the feedback has been instrumental in shaping the center’s offerings. This endeavor aligns with the broader goal of giving youth a sense of ownership and voice in their community.
Expanding Community Engagement: Beyond the Youth Center
Reaching Out Now’s commitment extends beyond the Youth Center. They have actively engaged in school community programs, such as the ‘Better Together Family Outings,’ which includes a series of themed events like the upcoming ‘Holiday Cheer and Giving’ at Warren County Middle School on December 13th. These events are inclusive, catering to all families in the community, not just the underserved.
The Future of Front Royal’s Youth Center
Looking ahead, the Youth Center, fondly referred to as the Student Union by students, is set to become a vibrant hub for activities, learning, and community building. It aims to cater to diverse young people, including those not inclined towards athletics, offering them a safe and engaging environment.
Reaching Out Now’s efforts in developing the Youth Center and organizing community events exemplify a profound commitment to youth empowerment and community solidarity in Front Royal. Their vision is a testament to the power of collaborative community efforts in shaping a brighter future for young people.
Town Talk is a series on the Royal Examiner where we will introduce you to local entrepreneurs, businesses, non-profit leaders, and political figures who influence Warren County. Topics will be varied, but hopefully interesting. If you have an idea, topic, or want to hear from someone in our community, let us know. Send your request to news@RoyalExaminer.com
Samuels Public Library Hosts Unique Exhibition on Virginia’s Deaf Village History
Lantz Mills Deaf Village: Exploring a Century-Old Shared Signing Community.
The Samuels Public Library, in a significant cultural event, is showcasing the Lantz Mills Deaf Village exhibition from November 27 to December 30, 2023. This unique traveling exhibition, presented by the Library of Virginia with support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Sorenson Foundation, delves into the intriguing history of a shared signing community in Shenandoah County, Virginia.
Lantz Mills, a village in Virginia that existed from 1740 to 1970, was a rare example of a community where hearing and deaf individuals communicated using a shared visual language. This phenomenon, known as a shared signing community, was not unique to Martha’s Vineyard but also thrived in Virginia’s Shenandoah County.
The exhibition, consisting of six panels, paints a vivid picture of life in Lantz Mills. It highlights prominent deaf villagers like the Hollar and Christian families, their involvement in local businesses, and even tales of romance within the community. An innovative feature of each panel is a QR code linking to an ASL interpretation of the text, making the exhibition accessible and educational.
The backbone of this exhibition is a booklet on Lantz Mills Deaf Village, authored by deaf historian Kathleen Brockway, a descendant of the village. This booklet, commissioned as part of Shenandoah County’s 250th anniversary, provides a comprehensive look at the village’s history.
Complementing the exhibition, the Samuels Public Library is also organizing an introductory session to American Sign Language on December 14th. This initiative underscores the library’s commitment to inclusivity and education, aligning with its long-standing service to the Front Royal and Warren County community since its inception in 1799.
The Lantz Mills Deaf Village exhibition is more than a historical showcase; it’s a celebration of diversity and communication in a unique community setting. It serves as a vital educational tool, offering insights into the rich tapestry of Virginia’s deaf culture. As visitors explore this exhibition, they gain knowledge about a particular community’s history and an understanding of the broader implications of communication and inclusivity in society.
The Blue Ridge Arts Council launches its ‘Deck the Halls’ Christmas Tree and Festive Decorations sale Thursday and Friday
Blue Ridge Arts Council’s annual “Deck the Halls” — now in place in downtown Front Royal for almost two decades — opens today, Thursday, November 30, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and extends tomorrow, Friday Dec. 1, from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the BRAC headquarters, 305 East Main Street, several doors west up East Main from the Gazebo.
A variety of decorated Christmas trees, holiday wreaths, and other seasonal items will be on sale throughout the month. Proceeds support ongoing programs of the arts council. For the first two days, refreshments will be offered.
This year the “Deck the Halls” display features an in-place art exhibit of the work of former Warren Sentinel Editor Kevin Seabrooke, “Browntown and Beyond”, that opened at the BRAC center October 14, running through January 12, 2024.
Daniel Christopher “Dan” Davidson (1962 – 2023)
Daniel Christopher “Dan” Davidson, 61, of Springfield, Virginia, passed away on Saturday, November 25, 2023, at his son’s home in Middletown, Virginia.
His life will be celebrated Saturday, December 2, 2023, at 1 p.m. at 7047 Old Keene Mill Road, Springfield, Virginia 22150.
Dan was born on January 19, 1962, in Quonset Point, Rhode Island, to the late Harrison and Geraldine Wilcoxon Davidson. He was also preceded in death by his son, Daniel Christopher Davidson II; brother, Dixon Davidson; and former wife, Robyn Davidson.
Survivors include his two sons, Austin Robert Davidson and Kyle Davidson (Brittany); daughter, Breanna Wisseman (Scott); two brothers, Dudley Davidson and Dwight Davidson; sister, Diane Cowan; three grandchildren, Daniel III, Willow and Emma and his daughter-in-law, Divinia Davidson.
Abortions Increase in State Since Roe Overturned; Virginia Border City Remains a Refuge
RICHMOND, Va. – The twin Bristol cities share a name and a state line, but abortion accessibility changes just over a 1-mile span.
Abortion is illegal in Bristol, Tennessee, but down the road in Virginia, a clinic provides abortions. The Bristol Women’s Health Clinic relocated to Virginia after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn an almost 50-year decision that protected a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.
The number of abortions administered in Virginia has increased since Roe v. Wade was overturned in June 2022, according to analysis of data from the state health department and the Society of Family Planning.
“It was started because of the need,” said the clinic’s administrative director, Karolina Ogorek. “It wasn’t anything other than the fact that a mile and a half down the road, the services we provide are illegal.
The majority of the clinic’s patients are from out of state. All of the states that touch Virginia have completely banned or restricted abortion except Maryland, which drove travel to the last Southern state where access remains.
Reproductive choice also drove voters to the polls in Virginia and other states. Turnout was high in Virginia at almost 40%, though not as high as the last time in 2019 when all the Virginia General Assembly seats were on the ballot.
Kentucky and Ohio voters also signaled strong support for abortion access. Kentucky re-elected a Democratic governor whose opponent strongly opposed abortion, and Ohio voters supported a referendum to enshrine access in the state’s constitution.
Virginia Democrats picked up a slim majority they will have for the next two years. They delivered on their campaign promise and pre-filed an amendment to the state’s constitution on Nov. 20 that would secure reproductive freedom and protection — but it has a long, procedural way to go.
For now, Virginia remains a refuge for women whose choice has been restricted in other states.
The ‘hardship’ of travel for medical help
Tennessee had a trigger law to ban abortion, meaning they had a law in place to ban abortion weeks after Roe was overturned completely. It slipped through a budget negotiation late at night.
That led to an influx of patients from Southern states. People visit the clinic from as far away as Louisiana, according to Ogorek.
“There is not a single person that ever thinks they are ever going to make this decision until you have to,” Ogorek said.
She wishes more people understood the hardship of such a journey.
“Not just for the women but their entire family,” Ogorek said. “It has such a big effect on more than just one person.”
About 55% of women at Ogorke’s clinic are at or below the poverty line, she said.
“The decision to terminate a pregnancy is not for everyone, and we recognize, and we support that,” Ogorek said. “Unfortunately, people who are anti-choice will never support a choice.”
She said that abortion restrictions are not a good idea because a 12 or 15-week restriction usually turns into an outright ban.
Protesters outside of Ogorek’s work are nothing new. The office provides patient escorts and security to help women get into their clinics.
Other help offered
Anti-abortion protesters who gather almost every day outside of Bristol Women’s Health Clinic hope to connect women with other resources.
David Gerrells lives in Tennessee. He considers abortions a murder that goes against God’s will. His church hopes to convince women that they are already a parent and not to go through with the procedure.
“It makes us angry and sad and hurt for the ones that are lost – not just the babies but for the mothers, the fathers,” Gerrells said.
His church, Christ Bible Church, and other groups want to help through various ministries and organizations. They provide money, homes, support, and community to women, according to Gerrells.
“We want these people to raise their own children, but we’re very big on walking alongside them,” Gerrells said. “But, more importantly, they need to understand what it is to walk with Christ.”
Orville Fisher has spoken against abortion for about 15 years. He works with the international organization 40 Days for Life. An abortion ban would be positive for Virginia and its citizens, he said.
Fisher recommended the Pathways Pregnancy Resource Center across the Tennessee border, which helps pregnant women.
The resource center was contacted multiple times but said they could not do an interview until next year.
Enshrining abortion into the state constitution
Del. Rodney Willett, D-Henrico, is “absolutely in favor of choice of” and access to abortion.
“Anecdotally, we also know women are flying into Virginia or driving long distances into the state to get these services,” Willett said.
The option for medical services in Virginia is fortunate, he said, although anything but convenient.
“For a lot of women, it’s an absolute hurdle they can’t clear because of the expense,” Willett said.
He said they have to pay for transportation, take off time for work, and find someone to travel with them.
Willett voiced concerns about the state losing doctors and women’s health care providers if the 15-week restriction proposed by state Republicans went into effect.
“What you’re seeing in other states where abortion is heavily restricted or outright banned, a lot of the states are also putting criminal penalties in place for the providers,” he said.
Ogorek recalled how healthcare providers were “cautiously optimistic” before the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case that overturned Roe.
“After Roe fell, we were devastated,” Ogorek said. “Clinics closed.”
She shut down her Knoxville practice, which she said was “flourishing.”
“I think what is sad is that, just we’ve lost a lot more lately than we won,” Ogorek said. “That’s the hard part.”
Ogorek will keep her eyes on the General Assembly and continue to encourage people to vote.
“If they impose a 15-week ban, I will do whatever I have to do to keep us open for as long as we can stay open,” Ogorek said. It’s just not a question. Until that very last minute that somebody tells me I have to shut my doors, I won’t.”
VCU InSight journalist Brigette Kelly contributed to this report.
By Sahara Sriraman/Capital News Service
Video by Brigette Kelly/VCU InSight
Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia. VCU InSight is the capstone broadcast news program.
St. Michael Dojo Young Karate Stars Shine at National Tournament
Impressive Medal Wins for Local Dojo at Prestigious Karate Championship.
In a remarkable display of skill and discipline, fifteen members of the St. Michael Dojo, including a spirited group of fourteen youth, made their mark at the 43rd International Shotokan Karate Federation / US National Karate Championship Tournament. Held in Columbus, Ohio, from November 10-12, 2023, this event drew 180 karate enthusiasts from across the nation, spotlighting the rising talent of the local dojo.
The tournament kicked off with an impressive start for St. Michael Dojo, particularly through the performances of William and Warren Dooley, ages eight and eleven, respectively. These young brothers set a high bar, each securing gold medals in both Kata (form) and Kumite (sparring) events, showcasing the effective training and dedication nurtured at St. Michael Dojo.
While competing in intermediate categories, Fiona Riccio and Joseph Spiering continued this winning streak. Riccio’s grace in Kata and Spiering’s prowess in Kumite earned them gold, further cementing the dojo’s reputation for excellence.
Overall, the young participants from St. Michael Dojo bagged an impressive total of twenty medals, a tally that included six golds, eight silvers, and six bronzes across individual and team events. This demonstrates the breadth of talent at the dojo and the effectiveness of their training regimen.
Notably, silver medals were claimed by Samuel Fidero, Fiona Riccio, Joseph Spiering, and Agnes Cammack in various age and belt divisions. Additionally, bronze medals were earned by Dominic and Jonny Fidero, Isabella Fidero, Joseph Spiering, and Jacob Carlson, showcasing depth in both skill and competitive spirit.
The youth kata team, representing the East Coast Region and led by black belts Agnes Cammack, Gianna Parente, and Margaret Carlson, with Jacob Carlson as an alternate, battled against numerous teams from around the country, ultimately securing a well-deserved silver medal.
Behind these remarkable achievements is the guiding hand of Majal Colon-Cammack Sensei, who operates St. Michael Shotokan Karate with dojo locations in Front Royal and Fort Valley. Their affiliation with the International Shotokan Karate Federation, under the leadership of Shihan Hiroyoshi Okazaki, has been instrumental since 2007 in nurturing these young talents.
The national tournament’s success is a testament to the individual skills of these young karatekas and the community and support system built around them. St. Michael Dojo’s philosophy of fostering discipline, skill, and a competitive spirit shines through in these remarkable achievements. As these young athletes continue to train and compete, they raise the bar for themselves and set an inspiring example for their peers and the wider community.