At 11 a.m. on Friday, February 1, the Warren Heritage Society (WHS) will unveil a new exhibit in the Front Royal Town Hall to celebrate the achievements and contributions of African-Americans prior to and after the establishment of Warren County.
The exhibit will be officially opened by Letasha Thompson. “As the first African-American woman elected to the Front Royal Town Council,” Thompson said, “I have a special interest in this exhibit, as it features the achievements of African-American women.”
The unveiling coincides with the opening of African-American History Month. Warren Heritage Society Executive Director Connie Marshner hopes that this exhibit will help to make known the Society’s ongoing effort to gather and preserve the African-American history of Front Royal and Warren County.
“This history is in danger of being lost without the help of the local community,” Marshner said. “I hope that this event will alert the community to the need to collect memories and memorabilia before they disappear forever.”
For many years, the southwest corner of Front Royal was known as “Freetown” or “South Town”. Now included in the U. S. Department of Interior’s National Register of Historic Places, it was bounded by Prospect Street and Criser Road and included Laurel, Pine, and Osage Streets. Letasha Thompson grew up on Osage Street, and remembers some of the buildings.
As this area has experienced “development” over the years, however, many of the old buildings have disappeared. In its heyday, however, it was a vibrant community with homes, schools, at least one church, a hotel, stores, businesses, and entertainment. Businesses had the names of Cozy Ace Restaurant, Elks Grill, Harlem Café, Lilian Davenport’s Beauty Shop, Toddy’s Grocery, Elks Hall, Pride of Warren Lodge, Pete’s Barber Shop, Timber’s Pool Room, and the Free Will Benevolent Society.
Sadly, however, neither the National Register nor the Warren Heritage Society has any pictures of Freetown. Nor are any memorabilia of Freetown to be found anywhere. The Heritage Society is seeking to save the history of Freetown before it is gone, and is actively seeking the help of the community.
If anybody has pictures or memorabilia – or even memories – of the area, it’s likely that somebody with roots in Front Royal has them or knows about them! Please share with us what you have. If you have information or pictures, please contact Archivist Deborah Corey at 540-636-1446, extension 2. “We will copy your pictures and return them to you, if you wish,” said Corey.
Marshner went on to say: “If someone is willing to talk about his or her memories or experience in Freetown, we will be happy to arrange an oral history interview with that person, either at the Heritage Society or in some other mutually convenient location.” She noted that oral history is something the Heritage Society has not done before, but because the clock is ticking so fast, “It is something we certainly will do if it will capture some memories.” Marshner stated.
The Laura Virginia Hale Archives, a section of the Warren Heritage Society, has a wealth of material documenting the African American experience in our area. “Our collection spans the centuries, from slave rental forms to desegregation. We have extensive genealogy and research tools to help anyone find ancestors. The Archives also has a collection of fiction and nonfiction books written by local African Americans writers about their and their families’ experiences,” Corey explained.
The Warren Heritage Society, www.WarrenHeritageSociety.org, is located at 101 Chester Street in Front Royal. We are open to the public Monday thru Friday from 10:00 to 4:00, and as of April will also be open on Saturdays from 11:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Town Talk: A conversation with Declan O’Reilly and Joe Sladkey, Matrimont
In this Town Talk, our publisher Mike McCool speaks with Declan O’Reilly and Joe Sladkey from Matrimont. Matrimont is a full-service web design and digital marketing agency, located on Main Street in Front Royal, Virginia,
Declan and Joe started Matrimont with the goal of providing services that would take people’s businesses to the next level and beyond and with the old maxim in mind: others first, self last. They wanted to create a truly unique B2B union that you cannot find anywhere else.
Declan said, “At Matrimont, we are committed to advancing the very community in which we live. We work hard and go the extra mile to address our clients’ needs, with an unswerving focus on getting them the results they are seeking.”
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
Samuel “Sam” Austin Poe (1934 – 2022)
Samuel “Sam” Austin Poe, 87, of Front Royal, Virginia passed away on Saturday, January 15, 2022, at his home.
A funeral service will be held on Thursday, January 27, 2022, at 2 pm at Maddox Funeral Home, 105 West Main Street, Front Royal with Sammy Campbell and Pastor Sherry Waddell officiating. Burial will follow at Prospect Hill Cemetery.
Mr. Poe was born on November 5, 1934, in Warren County, Virginia to the late Jesse W. and Elizabeth Tavenner Poe. He retired from the Virginia Army National Guard after 23 years of service with a rank of Staff Sargent and was a Master Carpenter and furniture maker.
Survivors include his wife of 66 years, Anne Fitzgerald Poe; three sons, Randolph Poe (Donna), Stephen Poe (Margaret) and David Poe; daughter, Jo Anne Wagner (Doug); four brothers, John Poe, James Poe, Tom Poe and Will Poe; two sisters, Lorraine Smelser and Linda Glavis; ten grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren.
Pallbearers will be John Poe, Tom Poe, James Poe, Will Poe, Andrew Wagner, and Nathan Poe.
Honorary pallbearers will be Thomas Poe and Robert Poe.
The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service at the funeral home.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Rivermont Volunteer Fire Department, 714 Rivermont Dr, Front Royal, VA 22630.
‘Grandfathering’ or not? County Planning Commission foresees the need to address Non-Conforming Properties
At its regular meeting on January 12, the Warren County Planning Commission confronted a nagging issue that members expect will increasingly come up in the future, that of property owners in older subdivisions whose dwellings were built long before there were local zoning ordinances or even building inspections. Even though building codes date back to the Babylonian King Hammurabi, and rudimentary standards in the late 18th century, most large American cities didn’t begin enacting or enforcing them until 1900 or so, and in most smaller localities they were not widely enacted until the 1970’s, and even after that not uniformly enforced. In Warren County, for example, many small “summer cabins” were built near or on the river in the 1940’s or before, when that requirement did not exist. They weren’t originally intended to be permanent homes, but rather vacation places. In modern times, local zoning ordinances would preclude many of these from being built at all, or certainly sited where they are.
The continuing challenge for the County is to strike a balance between a property owner’s investment in his property, the need for uniform enforcement of the building code, and common sense. More and more requests for Conditional Use Permits (CUPs) for short-term tourist rentals, for example, show that property owners, sometimes with “nonconforming lots”, still want to rent their cabins out to tourists. But the standards of the County’s short-term tourist rental ordinance require things like 100-foot distance between dwellings. So, the commissioners spent some time discussing what the right approach to that challenge is. Zoning law is where the term “grandfathering” is often found – provisions that allow some deviations from standards where the original construction predated the standard. It’s certain that the commission and the county board will have to eventually develop a solution that can be applied fairly and uniformly.
An example case will likely be considered at next months meeting, when the commissioners will be looking at a request from Alvand Khoshgavar for a CUP for a short-term tourist rental for his residentially zoned property at 668 Old Dam Road in the Shenandoah District. His property doesn’t meet the 100-foot setback requirement, so that requirement would have to be waived for a permit to be issued. The request was approved for advertising the public hearing, but the commissioners agreed that the topic of these properties will need to have a better solution. The County can waive provisions of an ordinance, but every waiver creates a precedent.
Meanwhile, this month, John LaVoie is requesting a CUP for his residentially zoned property at 1196 Old Oak Lane in the Shenandoah District. Deputy Planning Director Matt Wendling briefed the commission on the details of the application. The proposal meets the County short-term rental supplementary regulations, and comments were received from the County Building Official and the Department of Health. There were no citizen comments during the public hearing, and no comments or objections were received from neighboring property owners by the County Planning Department.
With no other comments by commission members, the vote to recommend approval was unanimous. The permit request will now go to the County Board of Supervisors for final approval.
The consent agenda for the meeting consisted of authorization to advertise public hearings for seven Conditional Use Permit requests and one zoning ordinance change. Those items will be on the agenda for next month’s meeting on February 9th.
Chairman Myers adjourned the meeting at 7:45 p.m.
Obenshain: Time for Virginia to embrace public charter schools
We are one week into Session and it has been an eventful week here in Richmond. On Saturday, I was joined by my colleagues and hundreds of supporters and friends at the State Capitol to participate in the inauguration of our 74th Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin. We also witnessed the swearing-in of our new Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears and Attorney General Jason Miyares.
I tell you what – watching these three conservative leaders and public servants take office was one of the most satisfying occurrences in recent memory. We all worked so hard this past election season to elect these three fine individuals and I am excited to get to work in partnering with them to legislate effectively.
I am proud to bring a host of bills this year to protect our liberties and advocate for efficient, limited government.
First, I am working with Governor Youngkin on a bill to help expand Virginias’ access to charter schools. It’s time for Virginia to open its arms and embrace public charter schools. Who could oppose giving more flexibility to schools and teachers and more choice for families? It’s an honor to partner with this new administration in this important effort. To read more about my Senate bill 125, click here.
I am also carrying two bills to increase voter confidence in the integrity of our elections. My first bill, Senate bill 390 (click here to read it), would require the local electoral boards and general registrars to annually conduct a post-election audit of at least one-fifth of all ballot scanner machines. These measures will undoubtedly help restore confidence in our elections – a confidence that has been eroded by Democrat policies over the past few years.
The second bill had to do with voter identification. Democrats here in Virginia repealed the mandate requiring photo identification to vote. There’s no doubt this repeal undermined voter confidence in the fairness of our elections. My Senate bill 127 (click here to read it) would have reinstated the mandate to require a photo ID to vote. Unfortunately, that bill met a quick death by “PBI” (an acronym that stands for “passed by indefinitely”) in the Democrat-controlled Senate Privileges and Elections committee.
I am deeply concerned with the increase in the financial exploitation of elderly and vulnerable adults. Preventing this exploitation has been a priority of mine for years and this year I have introduced two bills to address it. First is, Senate Bill 124 (click here to read it), which creates a new class 1 misdemeanor for someone who knowingly or intentionally abuses the power of attorney to financially exploit an incapacitated adult. Second is Senate Bill 126 (click here to read it), to expand the definition of “incapacitated adult” in the law to provide more financial protection for the elderly. I’m proud to say that both these bills are supported by our Attorney General Jason Miyares.
In addition to sponsoring legislation, I am also responsible for voting on my colleagues’ proposed bills in the committees on which I sit. These include Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources, Commerce and Labor, Judiciary, and Transportation. From time to time in this weekly update, I will highlight bills of note on which I voted in committee. This morning, the Judiciary Committee met for the first time.
One bill in particular worth noting from Judiciary this morning was SB 105 which effectively eliminates ALL mandatory minimum sentences from the Code of Virginia. Mandatory minimums have long since provided closure and security to victims of crimes and their families as well as Virginians as a whole. This blanket repeal will make our streets and communities less safe.
The elimination of these mandatory minimums hits close to home for those of us who have lived in the Shenandoah Valley for a few decades. It arose from the case of Daniel Lee Zirkle, who was executed in 2002 for the killing of his 4-year-old daughter and her 14-year-old half-sister (read about the murders here). Zirkle committed these heinous acts in a fit of rage, after being released from jail days after violating the terms of a protective order for the 4th time. That minimum sentence would have kept Zirkle in jail longer allowing him to cool off and may have prevented these awful deaths.
While I would consider the elimination of some mandatory minimums, this blanket repeal goes way too far. Take, for example, it repeals the sixty-day mandatory minimum sentence for the repeat violation of domestic violence protective orders. This mandatory minimum was adopted in 2009 by unanimous vote in the House and Senate and it was signed into law by then-governor Tim Kaine.
The passage of this bill out of committee this morning was lauded by liberal groups like the Progressive Prosecutors of Virginia who proclaimed it as an “excellent moment in Virginia history.” This liberal-driven approach represents a missed opportunity to review some mandatory minimums that should be reconsidered.
The one silver lining about the passage of this bill is that Republicans in the Virginia Senate are no longer the last line of defense for liberal bills like these (like we have been for two years). I’ve said for years that elections have consequences and a positive one of the 2021 elections was that we now have a Republican majority in the House of Delegates and a Republican governor in Glenn Youngkin who will have an opportunity to veto liberal bills like these.
This week, we were honored to welcome a number of individuals to our office – both in person and virtually. Some of our visitors included advocates from the Virginia Citizens Defense League and members of the Virginia Federation of the Blind. If you would like to meet with me or my office, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or come by our office in the Pocahontas Building, office 502E.
I’ll continue to provide regular updates throughout the session so stay tuned!
The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank promotes food finder tool amid winter weather, rising food prices
Following another weekend of winter weather, many individuals and families across the region are experiencing hunger because they could not afford to both heat their home and buy food. For those facing this tragic dilemma, the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank has an online tool for people to find food assistance in their community.
Improved and re-launched in the spring of 2021, the user-friendly and mobile-accessible Food Finder tool can be navigated in 12 different languages and displays a broad range of partner and program sites (including mobile food pantries and more). Search results can be filtered by service type, days of operation, distance and even the availability of evening hours.
Compounding the hardships stemming from winter weather, food prices also continue to rise. Food-at-home prices (e.g., groceries) were up 6.5% in December 2021 from December 2020, according to the latest Consumer Price Index. Meat, fish, poultry, and eggs rose 12.5% over the same period.
At least one in 12 people in the Blue Ridge area experiences hunger, with children and the elderly suffering the worst consequences.
“We are in the midst of the coldest part of the year, and with more winter weather on the way, many people are faced with the impossible question of, ‘Do we heat our house today or buy food?’” said Michael McKee, CEO of The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. “We understand the gravity of these situations, and we are committed to offering resources to those facing these difficult decisions. We’ve already seen the positive impact of Food Finder, and we hope more across our service area can find help through the tool should they need it.”
For those interested in utilizing Food Finder, go to: foodfinder.brafb.org for more information.
About the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank
Founded in 1981 and headquartered in Verona, Virginia, the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank is the largest organization alleviating hunger in western and central Virginia. The Food Bank serves an average of nearly 119,000 individuals each month across 25 counties and eight cities through distribution centers in Charlottesville, Lynchburg, Winchester, and Verona. Together with our network of 207 community partners and 187 program sites, we’re serving record numbers of Virginians during a prolonged pandemic and its associated economic impacts. We pledge to continue innovating and adapting to secure, store, and distribute more food to more individuals, families, children, and seniors experiencing hunger. The Food Bank is a member of Feeding America, a national food bank association that supports 200 food banks across the United States providing 6 billion meals to 42 million people through 60,000 partner pantries. For more information, visit www.brafb.org.
How to repair potholes in an asphalt driveway
Potholes in your asphalt driveway can damage your car’s tires and suspension and become a tripping hazard. Fortunately, you can repair them on your own in a few easy steps.
• Start by cleaning out any debris, such as rocks, pebbles, and leaves from inside the pothole using a shovel or stiff-bristle broom. You can also use a hose or pressure washer to remove any stubborn dirt. Once the area is clean, make sure the area is completely dry before proceeding with any repairs.
• Measure the depth and length of the pothole to determine how much asphalt filler you need. If the pothole is more than four inches deep, fill the base of the hole with clay, crushed concrete or limestone for added strength.
• Once you’ve mixed the correct amount of asphalt filler, pour it into the pothole to about one-and-a-half inches above the rest of the driveway.
• Next, pack down the asphalt filler using a hand tamper until it’s level with the rest of the driveway. Make sure the asphalt is very firmly packed to ensure it doesn’t sink when a vehicle drives over it.
If your driveway has several deep potholes or cracks, it may be best to call in a professional to assess the damage and proceed with any necessary repairs.