Winter Tree Identification Workshop: Botany and Bloom Series
Even after the chilly breezes of autumn have stripped them of their leaves, trees provide clues to their identification by way of their bark, leaf scars, and other individual characteristics. Explore Sky Meadows’ diverse forests and find the key characteristics that will provide you the skills to identify any tree, even in the winter months.
The program begins outside the park’s Log Cabin, with an informative introductory presentation on tree anatomy, symbiotic and parasitic relationships among trees, tips and tricks to winter tree identification, and more. Then, test your new winter tree identification skills on an approximate 2-mile guided hike along the park’s wooded trails. Receive a color copy of the lecture to take home. Bring water and lunch to eat along the trail, dress in layers, and wear sturdy shoes.
McDonald Trial Conclusion — So Close and Yet So Far Away
After a second week (Sept. 19 to 22) and an additional day, Monday, September 25, lost to the “unexpected health issue” or “unexpected circumstance” referenced at a motions hearing last week, the federal criminal prosecution of former Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Director Jennifer McDonald was again put on hold on Tuesday, September 26. And with the defendant again the only principal absent at the defense or prosecution tables, and no court official and none of the 15 jurors and alternates missing, the smart money “in Vegas” or at Charles Town’s Hollywood Casino is on McDonald as the focal point of that unexpected “health issue” or “circumstance.” In fact, it might be recalled that in the wake of one of her arrests, while her prosecution was initially at the state level, McDonald had to be transported from jail to a hospital for medical care, believed to be heart rate or blood pressure related.
In fact, during an 8:30 a.m. motions hearing, defense counsel forwarded a motion for a mistrial due to the repeated delays and uncertainty on a time frame moving forward at trial. Lead prosecuting attorney Sean Welsh countered the mistrial argument, citing case histories and circumstances of longer delays in which mistrial motions were denied. Welsh also told the court he didn’t feel the defense had “proved anything beyond speculation” to justify a mistrial, including any “cumulative” negative impact on jurors from delays.
After the hearing was closed to the media or the public several times to let health details and other personal variables of involved parties not be made public, Judge Elizabeth K. Dillon posed the alternative of “briefly suspending the trial” and resuming it as an alternative to a mistrial. Dillon said she would take the defense mistrial motion “under advisement.” However, the effort to pin down a coming week in which to continue the trial, which appears to currently be delayed for an unknown amount of time, seemed to indicate the judge preferred the alternative to declare a mistrial.
Prosecutor Welsh pointed out how close the trial likely is to being completed and handed over to the jury for deliberation. He noted the prosecution team had called 56 witnesses to the stand, with just one remaining to be called. He forecast that it now seemed the defense would call only one witness, with closing arguments possibly coming within two days. The defense witness list has been cited at two, with a third potentially to be added. The defendant is not anticipated to take the stand.
The initial motions hearing convened at 8:30 a.m. was recessed at 9:34 a.m. until 11 a.m. when the jury was instructed to report to court Tuesday. Reconvened at 11 a.m., the hearing was again closed for a time as the court queried jurors on their prospective plans for the coming weeks under consideration for restarting the trial without the current day-to-day uncertainty it would proceed. A time frame of two to six weeks was cited for reconvening the trial if a decision to suspend was reached. However, the prosecution wondered if additional medical information might not be helpful in pinning down how soon a restart might be feasible. When Welsh proposed such input, possibly by subpoena, as early as the following day, Judge Dillon called that scenario “highly unlikely.” The court adjourned at 11:30 a.m. with no clear path forward apparent.
So, a decision on how this trial will proceed and when, and possibly even if it will proceed, is currently on hold pending additional information to be received by the court.
As previously reported, after inheriting the case from two state prosecutors’ offices on August 25, 2021, a federal grand jury handed down 34 federal criminal indictments on a variety of charges, including bank fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, and aggravated identity theft against the former FR-WC EDA executive director.
Boots, Bourbon, and Big Hearts: Rotary Club of Warren County Gears up for Annual Fundraiser
Warren County Fairgrounds Set to Host Popular Event.
The calendar flips, and autumn leaves whisper the return of the Rotary Club of Warren County’s annual “Boots and Bourbon” fundraiser, an event that last year had the town talking and feet stomping. This year, the much-anticipated event finds a new home at the expansive Warren County Fairgrounds, promising more space and even grander festivities. This event takes place on September 30th from 6 to 10 p.m. Special event at 5 p.m. with Judge Ron Napier.
A history that only spans two years, “Boots and Bourbon” has quickly become a staple for locals looking for good times while contributing to a greater cause. The Rotary Club, always keeping the community’s youth at the forefront, aims to raise funds to award five $3,000 scholarships to Skyline High School students. Two of these scholarships are specifically designed for students pursuing community college or trade school, reflecting a growing recognition of the importance of diverse educational pathways.
While the scholarships take center stage, there’s also mention of book vending machines for elementary schools – an initiative introduced last year. Schools have embraced these machines, further motivating students to dive into the world of reading. The success of this project saw active participation from community members like Dr. Craig Zunka, Kiwanis, and Rotary themselves.
For attendees, the evening promises a flurry of activities. From testing grit and balance on a mechanical bull – where staying on the longest might line your pockets with a cash prize – to getting groovy with a line dancing instructor, the fun is unending. A private VIP bourbon tasting, curated by the bourbon connoisseur, Judge Ron Napier, precedes the main event. Here, attendees can savor five exquisite bourbons while Judge Napier unravels the stories behind each.
As for the cuisine? Chef Devin Smith’s mouthwatering brisket and creamy mac and cheese are set to tantalize taste buds. Add to this an open bar featuring select bourbons, and the stage is set for an unforgettable evening. Silent and live auctions, with alluring prizes ranging from ocean-view vacations to gourmet bourbon dinners, offer another avenue for attendees to contribute.
Behind all the festivity is the Rotary Club’s unwavering dedication to serving the community. With sponsors like Jean’s Jewelers, Bill Long Auto Care, and Warren County Veterinary Clinic, among many others, this event stands as a testament to Front Royal’s spirit of unity and generosity.
For those still contemplating, Kathy Napier, one of the key organizers, offers an invite: “It’s always so much fun. Many don’t participate, and they’re really missing out on some of the camaraderie.” Tickets are available at Jean’s Jewelers, Turning Leaf Realty, On Cue, and the club’s official website.
This year, as the cool September wind ushers in the “Boots and Bourbon” event, the Warren County Fairgrounds won’t just be a space for festivities but a confluence of community spirit, commitment, and celebration
Randolph-Macon Academy’s English 7 Students Dive Deep into Myths
Unraveling Myths: From Ancient Tales to Modern Interpretations.
Last week, the main hall of the Middle School building at Randolph-Macon Academy transformed into an arena of tales, legends, and myths, thanks to Mr. Malinconico’s English 7 class. With enthusiasm, creativity, and a profound sense of inquisitiveness, the young students set out on a journey to unravel the mysteries of myths from across the globe.
At the heart of this “Mythology Showcase!” were essential questions carefully crafted to guide students into a deeper understanding of myths. Questions such as “What are myths?” and “How can myths assist people in making sense of the world?” sparked the flame of curiosity. The age-old practice of telling and preserving myths was delved into, along with exploring the essential lessons and morals these stories might impart to their listeners.
The physical manifestation of this study was a series of tri-fold display boards, each carefully created by the students. The center panel offered a definition of myths, their purpose, and a retelling of an assigned myth. The left invited onlookers into a realm of imagination with students’ original myths. Meanwhile, the right panel provided an analytical touch, contrasting the assigned myth with its Greek or Roman counterpart.
Beyond academic insights, this showcase was a stepping stone for students to hone their public speaking and leadership skills. The act of crafting an original myth, juxtaposed against the backdrop of time-tested legends, allowed these young minds to exercise their creativity. Such endeavors speak volumes about R-MA’s ethos. Both educators and learners here don’t merely focus on traditional learning. They seize every day as an opportunity to mold excellence nurturing academic and life skills.
In the heart of this mythology tapestry lies a bigger narrative. It underscores that myths, ancient or new, not only entertain but also foster understanding, build bridges, and inspire excellence in multiple dimensions of life. It reminds us all to keep stories alive and, in doing so, keep the vibrant spark of humanity glowing.
Learn more about Randolph-Macon Academy https://rma.edu/
Town Council Meets to Address Issues That Range from Poultry to Vacation and Sale of Public Rights-of-Way
On Monday, September 25, 2023, at 7 p.m. at the Warren County Government Center, the Front Royal Town Council met to vote upon issues that included the number of chickens that residents are permitted to keep within town limits as well as a vacation of rights-of-way and sale of that access, parallel in part to Grand Avenue.
After Front Royal student Mia Miller led the gathering in the pledge of allegiance, Mayor Lori Cockrell presented an award to departing public servant Darryl Merchant for his service and acknowledged B.J. Wilson for his excellent work as the Town’s finance director. Then, the council members moved on to address an ordinance to amend the town code related to urban agriculture, specifically the keeping of chickens within town limits. Among other adjustments, it would change the limit on ownership of chickens from six to ten, based on the square footage of the coop and run space.
Speaking on behalf of her operation, Barbara Martin briefly addressed the council, saying, “I have been inspected and cleared for the six I now have.” But she lamented that under the present rule, she cannot free range her “girls” as she would like but must keep them “constantly confined.” After Martin spoke, Amber Morris moved that the ordinance amendments be denied. There was no second, and the motion died. Then Duane Rogers moved that the ordinance be accepted, and the motion was seconded by Melissa Dedomenico-Payne.
Morris explained her position. “This was an initiative of a former council; my former councilmember Scott Lloyd dedicated a lot of time and energy to this initiative, and I promised him that I would continue to bring it back forward. As a rural agricultural town, I think that it’s extremely important to protect the liberties and freedoms of families who wish to use urban agriculture to supply their family with a food source.” Because of the ongoing demand for eggs and because of the available space for this enterprise, Morris thinks it would be advantageous to allow urban agriculturalists the opportunity to keep more chickens; however, because of the regulations attached to the proposed amendment, she feels that the problem would not be solved and people who have already gone through the process of getting approved for their operations would find themselves suddenly in violation of new rules. She proposed that the issue be sent back to a work session.
Bruce Rappaport described himself as being on the other side of the pendulum from Morris. He thinks six chickens are “quite enough.” He went on to say, “We’re becoming more urban than rural.” Joshua Ingram echoed Morris in recommending a return to the work session for this agenda item. He cited the current limitations on free-range potential and consideration of all the nuisances inherent to having chickens confined in one spot. Apparently, there are already limitations in the code, and at least some of the regulations under the proposed amendments would supply additional limitations. While the number of chickens would increase, those owning chickens would be unable to run them as they wish.
Under a substitute motion, the urban agriculture issue was postponed for discussion at a work session on November 6, 2023. Only Rappaport and Rogers voted against it. A motion to vacate and sell a public right-of-way passed unanimously, surrendering a portion of North Street as well as a portion of an alley between Orchard Street and Grand Avenue, after which the council heard public comments; councilmembers were then given the opportunity to make general comments followed by a report from Mayor Cockrell, whereupon council passed the consent agenda without discussion and proceeded to go into closed session to discuss EDA litigation.
Beyond Business: Front Royal’s Invitation to Explore Warren County’s Inner Workings
I would like to alert Warren County/Front Royal business owners and government managers to an opportunity for those wishing to become more knowledgeable about and involved in our community. My comments are unsolicited.
Each year, the Front Royal/Warren County Chamber of Commerce hosts a Leadership Program. This eight-month program provides participants with up close and personal sessions with local government, business, education, and nonprofit leaders, providing an outstanding opportunity to become much more familiar with the workings and available resources in the County and Town. The once-monthly sessions, preceded by a leadership assessment and coaching day, offer those attending a structured and efficient immersion into essentially “all things” Warren County. Each individual session focuses on a theme, such as Law Enforcement/Emergency Services, Education, Local Government, Business, or Social Services. The sessions feature leaders who provide comprehensive overviews of their functions and allow participants to ask questions particular to their interests.
Although not free and not necessarily for all, I personally believe the return on investment for my participation as a private citizen was high. I can certainly see where other citizens, business owners, and government managers would realize similar returns from attending themselves or having employees attend. Participants also have an opportunity for networking and building relationships that will last into the future. Those interested can learn more about the program and obtain an application by visiting the Chamber’s website at https://www.frontroyalchamber.com/programs-events-1
Warren County Builder’s Association Hosts Candidate Forum – Wednesday, September 27, 2023
An Insightful Gathering for the Upcoming Elections.
On Wednesday, September 27, 2023, Warren County will be abuzz with political fervor as the Warren County Builders Association (WCBA) takes center stage at the Government Center on Commerce Ave. Scheduled for 6:00 p.m., the forum promises to be an informative evening dedicated to presenting the visions and policies of candidates for the forthcoming local and state elections.
As election season heats up, the need to create platforms where the public can gain insight into the thinking of their potential representatives becomes ever-crucial. A candidate forum, like the one being organized by the WCBA, provides an essential space for candidates to articulate their positions on a gamut of issues, ranging from infrastructural development to educational reforms.
For the upcoming elections, several local and state office positions are being contested, attracting a myriad of candidates. The Front Royal Town Council has Glenn Wood, Skip Rogers, Melissa DeDomenico-Payne, and Connie Marshner vying for positions. The Warren County Board of Supervisors will see Rich Jamison, John Stanmeyer, Cheryl Cullers, and Nicole Wanzer making their cases to the public. Additionally, the Warren County School Board has Kristen Pence, Leslie Mathews, Amber Mabie, and Melanie Salins on its candidate list. Other significant roles up for election include the Clerk of the Court with Angie Moore, the Warren County Treasurer with Janice Shank and Allison Ross, VA Delegate District 31 with Steve Foreman, Delores Oates, and Grace Morrison, and the Warren County Sheriff’s position, for which Crystal Cline is running.
With such a diverse pool of candidates, the community eagerly anticipates an evening full of engaging discourse, insightful discussions, and a clearer vision of the future that each candidate brings to the table. To ensure that those unable to attend won’t miss out, the Royal Examiner’s camera crew will be present to capture every moment of this pivotal forum.
The WCBA, as a non-profit trade association network, has always been at the forefront of community-building initiatives. Their commitment is seen in their efforts to bring together builders, professionals, suppliers, and trade employees with a shared dream of sculpting a better community. Through such events, they further their objectives of promoting responsible growth, updating members about crucial industry developments, and influencing policy and regulation at the local and state levels.
In the whirlwind of election season, having informed choices is imperative. Thanks to endeavors like the candidate forum by WCBA, residents of Warren County will have a better understanding of the individuals who wish to represent them and shape their community’s future.