FRONT ROYAL – Stopping by to photograph and stay in contact with both sides of the dueling pro and anti-Trump demonstrations across Chester Street in Historic Downtown Front Royal over the first weeks of 2018, we witnessed an unexpected development. – That was that the faith-based pro-Trump Catholics who had joined original pro-Trump demonstrators Michael and Ralph Waller in front of their East Main Street pawn shop in late May 2017 had vanished.
According to both sides of the street, as of January 31 it had been three weeks since a representative of the pro-Trump Catholic contingent of about eight to 15 adults had been seen. Well, it was cold through much of January – too cold apparently for even flat-Trump, the life-size cardboard cutout of the president who became a regular along with some of his new Front Royal pals.
But in the mid-to-late January absence of the faith-based Trump supporters, the more playful interaction between the two opposing sides of the political street re-emerged. As Royal Examiner has reported in past coverage of these dueling political camps, the emergence of a faith-based group of Trump supporters had diminished the positive dialogue that had begun between Vigil for Democracy participants and the Wallers between March and early May 2017 (The trend of a faith-based unwillingness to seek common ground for political dialogue will be explored in depth in a coming Royal Examiner feature story).
But back to the final three Wednesdays of January 2018 – as illustrated in some of the accompanying photographs, a more playful crossing of political lines was evident as Vigil for Democracy organizer Len Sherp and Bob Hill crossed Chester Street to re-engage the Wallers in dialogue and some pointed, aggressive, yet humorous political banter.
As Sherp and Hill returned to the Vigil for Democracy side of the street, this reporter remained on the pro-Trump side to discuss the previous evening’s State of the “Uniom” (how early tickets were distributed by the White House, spelling error included) speech, as well as evolving situations surrounding the Trump presidency. A major sticking point was the special prosecutor’s investigation of any possible Trump campaign ties to Russian efforts to assist them in the election, as well as what some perceive as an escalating partisan panic from Pennsylvania Avenue to Capitol Hill as that investigation closes in on the Trump inner circle.
My parting shot was to note the supposedly compromised law enforcement officials around that investigation are virtually all Republicans by Party preference and/or appointment, including Trump-appointed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the ultimate target, Special Prosecutor and life-long Republican and George W. Bush appointee to head the FBI, Robert Mueller.
As our decades-old opposing perspectives were re-engaged, Ralph offered that your humble reporter was “sick in the head” to distrust the veracity of the president, or to trust existing or former leadership of the FBI to engage in a fair investigation of Trump and his team.
“And tell them over there they are sick in the head too,” Ralph offered as I began to cross the street to photograph the loyal opposition.
But you know what? – Those assessments were offered with a smile, a laugh and no indication we could not re-engage our discussion of varying perspectives the following week.
As for those varying perspectives expressed on January 31, 2018 …
PIX-Russian spy, Wallers, Not Above the Law, DACA group long&short (6)
More images from another Front Royal Historic Downtown weekend
In addition to the “From the Heart” weekend downtown Front Royal entertainment mentioned in a related story on music, haircutting and styling, this past weekend saw other downtown events and entertainment.
Those events, among others we may have missed from simply not knowing about them until after the fact, included the Mark Clay-led Vinyl Tracks band entertaining with its repertoire of classic vinyl-era music at a Thursday evening Gazebo Gathering;
a Saturday vintage car show on East Main Street;
a late afternoon Friday resurrection of the weekly “Yappy Hour” Julia Wagner Animal Shelter/WC Humane Society fundraising event at East Main Street’s ViNoVa wine, beer and tapa restaurant, as previewed by Malcolm Barr Sr. on Royal Examiner’s website;
and the band Starting Early tracing rock history through the 1960’s-‘70’s beginning with a properly suited Beatles set, followed by some classic power trio (Hendrix, Cream) and quartet (Zeppelin) music, among others, followed by some originals in the Virginia Beer Museum back-of-house outdoor Biergarten.
Enjoy these images from those events, and come on downtown for the next installment of Front Royal re-opened, masks and social distancing encouraged, as Warren County and all of Virginia walk the tightrope between pandemic precautions and COVID-19 spikes and economic rebounding this unprecedented summer of 2020.
From the Heart helps Front Royal celebrate a measured return to business – But can I schedule a haircut and shave after the band is done?
It may not be your traditional “Barbershop Quartet”, but to celebrate Virginia’s measured walk-back of COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic emergency management restrictions, punctuated by the Town of Front Royal’s weekend downtown business district street closings facilitating a walking mall ambience to draw residents and tourists back out into the properly social distanced commercial world, “Mr. John’s Barbershop” proprietor John Landes has brought his band From the Heart into play – literally.
As of June 27, according to the band Facebook page, From the Heart has set up in front of Landes’s Chester Street barbershop on Friday and Saturday evenings from approximately 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. to bring their mix of classic country, rock and popular music to Front Royal’s re-opened Historic Downtown Business District.
From the Heart gets fans dancing and smiling with material spanning decades and genres – you’re liable to hear favorites from Charlie Daniels to Rod Stewart among others on your personal top of the charts list.
And while you can’t get a haircut while the band is on – it’s hard to sing, play and snip those overgrown locks at the same time – a small contribution to the band’s tip jar might just get you to the front of the line for the barbershop’s next day of business.
From the Heart is, in addition to Landes on guitar, harmonica and vocals, his wife May on guest vocals; Kenny Smith on banjo, guitar and vocals; ‘Bubba’ Ward on rhythm guitar; and Marty Jacobs on percussion.
Don’t miss the Humane Society of Warren County’s Annual Yard Sale
The Humane Society of Warren County is poised for the biggest yard sale in their history this Friday and Saturday, July 17 and 18. Thanks to a huge outpouring of support from the local community, the donations for this year’s annual yard sale far outnumber any previous year’s donations.
The HSWC Annual Yard Sale has been an important source of funding for the shelter since it began in 2013, typically bringing in $2,000-$4,000. This year, due to the enormous amount of donations, the goal fundraising goal for the shelter is $5,000.
Because the shelter is open by appointment only, there will be a portable toilet and portable hand-washing station available, and social distancing will be required. Shopping will be 10am until 2pm on both Friday and Saturday.
Local non-profit groups have been invited out on Saturday to take anything that will benefit their cause at no charge.
Since it’s beginning, the yard sale has operated using a “name your price” format, which means that there are amazing deals to be found. Highlights for this year’s sale include two sets of golf clubs, a swing set, a leather sectional couch, new with tags clothes and shoes, and kitchenware.
“I hope people come out to shop, there are so many great items, and every dollar spent is used for our life-saving work” says Meghan Bowers, Executive Director at the shelter. “This is one of my favorite events, and I am really looking forward to it.”
Derrick Leasure of R-MA assumes Front Royal Rotary presidency
Randolph-Macon Academy Assistant Dean of Students Derrick E. Leasure officially took over as president of the Rotary Club of Front Royal at an “actual” ceremony in the town’s community center on Friday, July 10.
Outgoing president Bret Hrbek passed the gavel after his year in office, made more challenging when interrupted by the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, which sent its regular weekly meetings since March to the internet via “Zoom.”
The real-life meeting that greeted Leasure, attended by a dozen past presidents from John Marlow (1977) to the retiring Hrbek, likely will return to “Zoom” as Leasure begins his tenure. After the gavel was passed, Leasure swore in members of the new board of directors, including Hrbek.
“He has a difficult task before him,” Hrbek had said earlier. Like other local organizations, Rotary has taken a hit in its fundraising activities but nevertheless managed to take in $126,000 last year for local and international projects.
Leasure, who came to R-MA’s middle school in 2008, earned his Bachelor’s Degree at Ohio State University and a Master’s in History from the University of Arizona. He is an active member of the Front Royal/Warren County Chamber of Commerce, serving on the education committee. Outside his teaching and later administration posts at the Academy, Leasure has been a student mentor and head coach in golf as well as his promotion to assistant dean.
Married to Michelle Cantlebary, the couple has two children. He joined Rotary shortly after arriving in Front Royal 18 years ago.
(Malcolm Barr Sr., our contributing writer, is a member of the Rotary Club of Front Royal)
LFCC Professor Mark Sunderlin receives statewide recognition
Professor Mark Sunderlin recently received the George B. Vaughan Leadership Award for Outstanding Adjunct Faculty from the Virginia Community College System with support from the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education.
Earlier this year, Professor Sunderlin was named the 2020 LFCC Distinguished Faculty Award winner.
An adjunct faculty member for the past eight years, he spent many years working for the federal government, before serving as the senior technical manager of AOL for seven years. Currently, Professor Sunderlin is principal data engineer for Verizon Media Services.
United Way welcomes Shane Goodwin as new president for 2020-21
Shane Goodwin has been elected the new President of the United Way of Front Royal-Warren County, and will serve through the 2020-21 fiscal year. Mr. Goodwin is the Principal at E. Wilson Morrison Elementary School.
Mr. Goodwin arrived in Front Royal from York, SC, where he served on the Solid Waste Advisory Board (2003-04), the PTO Board (2003-19), and the Boy Scouts of America Board (2002-18). During his time in South Carolina, Mr. Goodwin was also involved with the Regional Aids/Interfaith Network, Family Promise, the Dorothy Day Soup Kitchen, and the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. Since arriving in Front Royal, Mr. Goodwin has continued to demonstrate a desire to work in his community, and has been involved in the Thermal Shelter, Shred Day, the Rotary Club, the Elks Club, Church Choir, and Boys Into Gentleman (B.I.G.).
Mr. Goodwin joined the United Way Board in August, 2019, out of a desire to “help our community connect and thrive.” Since joining the Board, he has taken on many community projects, including serving on the Community Impact Grant Interview Committee, which leads the way for local United Ways in providing grant funding for community agencies. This committee approved $35,000 in grant funding for eight community agencies over the coming year, including Blue Ridge Legal Services, House of Hope, The Laurel Center, Phoenix Project, St. Luke Community Clinic, Habitat for Humanity, Cars Changing Lives, and Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry.
In looking forward to the upcoming year, Mr. Goodwin has several goals for the United Way of Front Royal-Warren County. These include the following:
- Increase Corporate Funding/Partnerships
- Increase Board Member Involvement On United Way Committees
- Set In Motion Processes To Increase Credit Scores/Net Worth Among Front Royal-Warren County Community Members
- Begin Working Toward A Facility To Allow Children Quality Exercise And Mentoring
Since 1950, the United Way has worked to advance the common good in Front Royal-Warren County. The community wins when a child succeeds in school, when families are financially stable, and when people are healthy. The United Way’s goal is to create long-lasting change by addressing the underlying causes of the challenges we face. Living United means being part of the change!
To reach the United Way offices in Front Royal-Warren County (134-B Peyton Street, Front Royal, VA, 22630), please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 540-635-3636.