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Fire safety tips from Gerry Maiatico, Warren County Fire Marshall



October 6th-12th is this year’s Fire Prevention Week, with the theme of “Not Every Hero Wears a Cap. Plan and Practice Your Escape!”

“Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!” focuses on what a home escape plan entails and the value of practicing it. These messages are more important than ever, particularly because today’s homes burn faster than ever. Fire Chief Richard E. Mabie warns that the materials used in modern home furnishings, along with the fact that newer homes tend to be built with more open spaces and unprotected lightweight construction, are contributing factors to the increased burn rate which places the homes occupants in greater risk.

“People tend to underestimate their risk to fire, particularly at home. That over-confidence lends itself to a complacency toward home escape planning and practice,” said Chief Mabie. “But in a fire situation, we’ve seen time and again that advance planning can make a potentially life-saving difference.”

A home escape plan includes working smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom, and near all sleeping areas. It also includes two ways out of every room, usually a door and a window, with a clear path to an outside meeting place (like a tree, light pole or mailbox) that’s a safe distance from the home. Home escape plans should be practiced twice a year by all members of the household.

For more information about Fire Prevention Week and “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!,” along with a wealth of resources to help promote the campaign locally, visit

The Department also reminds our community that if your home is without the protection of a life-saving smoke alarm, contact us at 540-636-3830 to schedule to receive a free one today!

As we approach fire prevention week, we also remind our community to follow these fire and life safety tips to increase the safety in your home!

  • Always unplug small appliances when they aren’t in use.
  • Never overload electrical circuits, and always replace cracked or frayed wires.
  • If your clothing catches fire, remember: stop, drop and roll.
  • Dispose of hot ashes in a metal container with a tight fitting lid outdoors, at a safe distance from the house.
  • Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from drapes, clothing and other combustible items.
  • Never force a 3-prong plug into a 2-slot outlet or extension cord.
  • If a fire breaks out while you’re cooking, cover the burning pan with a lid to smother the flames. Never throw water on a grease fire.
  • Have the whole family take part in routine fire drills.
  • Keep towels, potholders and curtains away from flames and heat sources.
  • Never leave cooking unattended. A serious fire can start in just seconds.
  • Planning and rehearsing a home fire escape plan is a smart thing to do.
  • Close your matchbook and hold it away from your body before striking a match. Set your cigarette lighter on low flame.
  • Learn how and when to use a fire extinguisher.
  • If you must escape through smoke, crawl on your hands and knees to the nearest exit.
  • Keep cooking areas free of combustibles. Avoid wearing long sleeves while cooking.
  • If you start to feel drowsy while watching TV or reading, extinguish your cigarette or cigar.
  • Designate an outdoor meeting place for your family to gather at in the event of a fire.
  • Keep lit candles away from bedding, curtains, papers and anything else that can ignite easily.
  • Don’t run electrical wires under your bed or trap them against a wall where heat can build up.
  • Have your furnace and chimney inspected and cleaned every year.
  • Test smoke alarm batteries often, and replace them when you change the time on your clocks: in the spring and in the fall.
  • Store matches and lighters in a secure spot that’s out of your children’s reach.
  • Teach children how to use 911 in an emergency.
  • Never get into an elevator during a fire; always take the stairs.
  • Keep the underbrush around your home neatly trimmed.
  • Be careful with campfire food: waving around molten marshmallows can be dangerous.
  • Don’t use planters or flowerpots as ashtrays! The peat moss they often contain is highly flammable.
  • Stack firewood at least 30 feet away from your home and other structures.
  • If you smell gas in your home, leave immediately and call the fire department from outside the house.
  • Make sure your house number is clearly visible from the road.
  • Never leave lit candles unattended.
  • Dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper are highly flammable. Keep these and other decorations far away from open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs.
  • Always use stable candleholders made of non-flammable materials such as metal or glass.
  • Install smoke detectors on every floor of your home, outside each sleeping area, and anywhere that flammable materials are stored.
  • Keep a glass or metal screen in front of your fireplace, and make sure the surrounding area is clear of flammable items.
  • Be extremely cautious when decorating with candles. Use long fireplace-style matches to light candles inside of jack-o’-lanterns, and make sure lit pumpkins are kept far away from combustible items. Supervise children at all times near an open flame.
  • Never use an extension cord that’s coiled or bunched together. The wires may generate heat that could melt the casing and cause a fire.
  • In the event of a house fire, your first priority is to get outside safely. Call 911 after you’ve exited the building. Never attempt to go back inside a burning house.
  • Don’t leave the dryer running when you go out; it could malfunction during your absence.
  • Store gasoline in an appropriate container inside your garage or shed.
  • Don’t smoke in bed, when you’re drowsy, or if you’re under the influence of alcohol or medication. Smoking is a leading cause of fire-related deaths.
  • Don’t play with matches or lighters.
  • Never leave a lit barbecue unattended.
  • Replace smoke alarms every 10 years. If you can’t remember how old the alarm is, it’s probably time for a new one.
  • Keep a multipurpose fire extinguisher in your home and make sure all household members know how to use it.
  • Provide smokers with large, deep ashtrays and empty them frequently. Douse butts with water before discarding.
  • Don’t operate the dryer without a lint filter in place. Clean the filter before or after each use, and wipe away any buildup of lint around the drum.
  • Make sure all flammable liquids are properly identified and stored away from heat and flames.
  • Never use gas or charcoal grills indoors.
  • In the event of a fire, check doorknobs for excessive heat with the back of your hand before using them.
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Warren County Splash Pad now open



Ribbon cutting at the new Warren County Splash Pad. Photos and video by Mike McCool, Royal Examiner.

It was 67 degrees out but that didn’t stop Whill Stanley from trying out the new splash pad.  The new Warren County Splash Pad is an exciting addition to the popular Dr. Seide Memorial Botanical Gardens and the adjacent Lion’s Park and Fantasyland playground.

Whill Stanley is the first ‘kid’ to used the Splash Pad, despite 67 degree weather.

And a big ‘kid’ too

Watch as this exclusive Royal Examiner video brings you the ribbon cutting and remarks from Dan Lentz, Director of Warren County Parks and Recreation, along with Dan Murray and Tom Sayre from the Board of Supervisors and Doug Stanley, County Administrator.  Also representing the Rotary Club of Front Royal was Bret Hrbeck. This project was a community effort with about 30% of funding coming from community donors.

Special thanks to the Dominion Foundation (Blue Ridge Arts Council), Warren Coalition, Rotary Club of Front Royal, Kiwanis Club of Front Royal, County of Warren and Warren County Parks and Recreation.

And for Beth Waller for her assistance in talking to Dan Murray, Dan Lentz and Doug Stanley.

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A letter to the Skyline Middle School community regarding bullying



To Our Skyline Community:

In the last week, there has been a great deal of discussion regarding bullying at Skyline Middle School and our response to instances of bullying. We believe that all students have the right to live and be educated in a safe, caring and supportive environment with mutual respect and courtesy. Bullying is anti-social behavior that threatens the values, standards, and peace of our school and community. I would like to take the opportunity to address the Skyline community regarding how we handle bullying from a preventative and responsive point-of-view.
Skyline Middle School has many preventative programs that address the bullying situations your child may face. Our first level of bullying prevention starts with our school-wide behavior expectations. We teach expectations for how students are to treat one another, show kindness to one another, respect one another, and how to own their actions when they are not meeting those expectations.

Sometimes students struggle in meeting behavior expectations. We provide all of our students training using a social-emotional program called Second Step. We have used Second Step for the last five years, and students regularly participate in this program throughout the year. Students focus on empathy and communication, as well as bullying prevention and management of their emotions.

Additionally, we provide a mindfulness program for small groups of students. We provide this additional support to assist these students in proactively regulating their emotions. This support is in place to prevent instances of bullying.

Over the last four years, we have been able to provide our students the opportunity to view a production from the Same Sky Project.

“The Same Sky Project features a traveling group of performers who advocate for and promote messages of empathy, love, inclusion, acceptance and inspiration through music and performance. Conceived in 2011 by a client with cerebral palsy, the Same Sky Project showcases a changing group of teens, each with different physical, intellectual and developmental challenges who perform original shows at local school assemblies in an effort to communicate their daily struggles and aspirations to fellow classmates.” (Taken from the Same Sky Project website)

Although we have preventative programs, some students continue to engage in behavior that negatively affects others. Ripple Effects, a computer based program, is designed to help students reflect on their actions and how they impact others. Peer mediation and social skills groups are other ways we address bullying and student conflicts. We are able to refer students to outside agencies like Family Preservation Services for outpatient counseling through the Therapeutic Day Treatment program. This agency works to provide counseling services to students in need of behavior modification.

We recognize that many students have been exposed to trauma. Project Courage, which is funded through the Warren Coalition, provides students with trauma-informed care, thus working to provide a high level of behavior support for students in need.

We continue to add programs to assist students in becoming more compassionate and empathetic towards one another. Our newest program is called Do You in conjunction with the The Phoenix Project. This program is designed to facilitate youth resiliency. Students focus on self-esteem, healthy relationships, and communication skills. This past year, we partnered with a local non-profit group called Reaching Out Now. This group’s mission is to provide uplifting experiences to female students through self-esteem building, leadership development activities, and much more.

The goal of Skyline Middle School, as this year’s motto states, is One Vision, One Team, One Community. We are here to help support and grow engaged, healthy children into engaged, healthy young adults who are ready for the academic challenges of high school. We welcome a partnership with the parents of our students in order to form a strong community connection. Should you have any questions, or if you would like further information, please do not hesitate to contact me at (540) 636-0909 or via email, Thank you for your time.

Yours in Partnership,

Robert Johnston
Principal Skyline Middle School

‘No one deserves to be bullied,’ says mom of bullied son

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Tuesday is the deadline for Virginians to register to vote in the November 5th election



The voter registration deadline for the November 5, 2019 General Election in Virginia is Tuesday, October 15, 2019. To register to vote or update your voter registration information:

• By mail: Applications must be postmarked by October 15, 2019.

• In-person: Applications must be submitted by 5 pm on October 15, 2019.

• Online: Applications must be submitted by 11:59 pm on October 15, 2019.

Any Virginian can check or update their registration name or address, or register for the first time at

To register to vote in Virginia, you must:

• be a U.S. citizen,

• be a resident of Virginia,

• be at least 18 years old by Election Day (November 5, 2019),

• have had voting rights restored if convicted of a felony,

• have had the capacity restored by court order if declared mentally incapacitated,

• not be registered and plan to vote in another state.

In addition to registering online, eligible Virginians may also register at their local voter registration office. Find additional information about your local voter registration office online at

Voter registration applications are also available at DMV customer service centers, social service offices, public libraries and other state and local government offices.

For more information about registering, local voter registration offices, absentee voting, acceptable photo IDs and more, visit the Department of Elections website at, send an email to or call toll-free at (800) 552-9745 or TTY 711.

The Warren County Office of Elections and Voter Registration is seeking interested citizens who are willing to serve as Officers of Election for the November 5, 2019 General and Special Elections.

To be qualified you must be a registered voter in Virginia, are willing work all day on Tuesday, November 5, 2019, are able to attend training classes, have reliable transportation, and are interested in serving your community and voters on Election Day.  This is a great opportunity for interested citizens to participate and assist in this very important democratic process and for students of voting age to learn more about the election process.  Your help is needed and welcomed. 

For more information, please contact the office by calling 540-635-4327 or email the office at  Please make a difference by helping with this very important process!

Director of Elections and General Registrar
Office of Elections and Voter Registration
465 W 15th Street, Suite 800
Front Royal, VA  22630
Phone: 540-635-4327
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Lane closures October 13-24 at I-81 and Route 50/17/522 in Frederick County



Soil and rock testing will require a series of overnight lane and shoulder closures at the interchange of Interstate 81 and Route 50/17/522 (Millwood Pike) at exit 313 in Frederick County near Winchester. Traffic restrictions will be in place Sunday through Thursday nights from October 13-17 and October 20-24. Details are as follows:

Sunday to Thursday, October 13-17 from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.:
• The right lane of northbound I-81 will be closed from mile marker 313 to 314.

• Alternating lane closures will be in place on Route 50/17/522 in the area of the I-81 interchange.
• All on- and off-ramp ramps between I-81 and Route 50/17/522 will remain open throughout this time period but will have occasional shoulder closures as needed.

Sunday to Thursday, October 20-24 from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.:
• The left lane of northbound I-81 will be closed from mile marker 313 to 314.

All work is weather permitting.

Virginia traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511. Traffic alerts and traveler information also are available at

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Meet Hollis Tharpe – Candidate for Mayor of Front Royal



Hollis Tharpe speaks with Royal Examiner publisher Mike McCool. Photo and video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

Former Mayor Hollis Tharpe is again running for Mayor of Front Royal in a special election on November 5, 2019.

This election is an special election, to replace interim Mayor Matthew Tederick after the seat was vacated during Hollis Tharpe’s solicitation case. The term for this election will be just one year, with an additional election held in 2020 for a two-year term.

Join our publisher Mike McCool as he has a conversation with Mr. Tharpe about his campaign and the future of our town, in this exclusive Royal Examiner video:

He’s back: Hollis Tharpe’s solicitation charge dropped – will run for mayor

Meet Eugene Tewalt – Candidate for Mayor of Front Royal

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EDA in Focus

Berlik moves to withdraw as McDonald’s civil counsel as payment in dispute



Is Jennifer McDonald’s civil case counsel on the verge of a “take the money and run” move? Hot on the heels of being cited in the amended EDA civil complaint filed on October 4 for the return of a $10,000 wire transfer made to the Berlik Law Firm, LLC on November 21, 2018 by McDonald, the Reston-based law firm filed a motion to withdraw from further representation of the embattled former EDA executive director.

Berlik, his co-counsel Jay McDannell and the firm filed the motion for withdrawal to the Warren County Circuit Court on October 9. The filing appears to be signed by McDannell.
McDonald is not contesting BerlikLaw’s withdrawal petition.

“I have been notified that my current attorneys, Lee E. Berlik and Jay M. McDannell of BerlikLaw, LLC, may file a motion to withdraw from these cases. Should they proceed to file such a motion, I want the Court to know that I consent and agree to their withdrawal,” a statement from McDonald accompanying the motion reads. The statement notes BerlikLaw’s representation of McDonald and her two real estate LLC’s, DaBoyz and MoveOn8 also named as defendants in the EDA civil litigation.

That letter consenting to the attorney withdrawal is dated July 3, 2019. In it McDonald cites the Berlik attorneys’ representation of her personally in three civil matters: the now amended EDA civil litigation seeking recovery of $21.3 million in which she is the primary figure among 15 defendants, including 10 surviving people and five related business entities; and dueling defamation suits with County Supervisor Tom Sayre.

Berlik’s most recent representation of McDonald was on September 11 in a losing cause when Sayre won a $20,000 defamation judgment from McDonald in Warren County General District Court. Well, Sayre was seeking $25,000 in damages so you might generously call it a mixed legal result.

And since July 3, McDonald has dropped her $600,000 defamation suit against Sayre.

Following the EDA’s amended civil filing of October 4, BerlikLaw’s receipt of $10,000 cited as Afton Inn legal expenses in the Cherry Bekaert report on financial fraud in EDA operations is directly addressed in the EDA civil litigation.

Across the street from the Warren County Courthouse, the Afton Inn in February prior to work stoppage after it was named as a vehicle for the misdirection of EDA assets by former Executive Director Jennifer McDonald in civil litigation filed on March 26. That alleged misdirection now includes a $10,000 payment to McDonald’s civil attorneys. Royal Examiner File Photo/Roger Bianchini

“The Berlik Law Firm has refused to return the unauthorized payment from the Warren EDA and has taken the position that the money may have been permissibly paid to that firm which it was not,” the amended EDA civil complaint states, adding of BerlikLaw’s stance, “It has further asserted that because the money has been spent on services rendered, albeit not services rendered for the Warren EDA, the Berlik Law Firm is entitled to enjoy the benefits of the stolen money.

“The Warren EDA neither knew of nor approved of this payment. It had no need for services from the Berlik Law Firm,” Sands Anderson attorneys for the EDA wrote in the amended complaint.
When the issue of the wire transfer came up in Sayre-McDonald defamation case hearings in June, Berlik told media outside the courtroom, “I don’t work for the Afton Inn.”

Inside the courtroom on June 19, David Downes as counsel for one potential witness raised the specter of the $10,000 November 2018 payment.

Downes told the court that Berlik “can’t continue to use potentially stolen funds” to pay for his representation of McDonald” adding without suggesting Berlik had previously been aware he may have been paid with stolen funds – “He’s on notice.”

The possibility of McDonald’s use of embezzled money to pay for some aspect of her civil litigation attorneys fees was initially raised by Sands-Anderson attorney Cullen Seltzer on the EDA’s behalf during a May 22 motions hearing.

“Is she using stolen money to pay her attorneys,” Seltzer asked Judge Clifford L. Athey Jr. during discussion of McDonald’s civil counsel’s request to quash a plaintiff subpoena of his client’s financial records related to her legal representation.

In explaining the request to the court Seltzer noted that the former EDA chief executive is accused of “defrauding a significant amount of money from the EDA” and wondered if some of that money was being used to fund her legal costs.

And now BerlikLaw may have to argue the legal basis for that November 2018 payment in civil court, not on behalf of McDonald, but on its own behalf.

Lee Berlik could not be reached for comment on his firm’s withdrawal as McDonald’s civil counsel, or its stance on the November wire transfer payment prior to publication.

Sayre elicits public comment on alleged McDonald embezzlement scheme

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King Cartoons

Get Your Zombie Walk Shirt

Front Royal
07:2118:35 EDT
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Wind: 0mph NE
Humidity: 93%
Pressure: 29.98"Hg
UV index: 0
min 43°F


Upcoming Events

10:00 am Acrylic Painting: An Individuali... @ Art in the Valley
Acrylic Painting: An Individuali... @ Art in the Valley
Oct 15 @ 10:00 am – 12:30 pm
Acrylic Painting: An Individualized Approach @ Art in the Valley
With an emphasis on individuality and creativity, this acrylic painting class welcomes all skill levels. Some concepts we will explore include various paint application techniques, color theory, and composition. Within these basic parameters, we will[...]
10:30 am Art Class “Fall is Here” @ Art in the Valley
Art Class “Fall is Here” @ Art in the Valley
Oct 16 @ 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
Art Class "Fall is Here" @ Art in the Valley
We are offering classes for children ages 7-12 who would enjoy expressing themselves through art. The students will expand their creative side with drawing, painting and constructing, using various mediums such as acrylic, pastels, watercolor[...]
7:00 pm Author Jeff Hunt book signing @ Warren Rifles Confederate Museum
Author Jeff Hunt book signing @ Warren Rifles Confederate Museum
Oct 16 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Author Jeff Hunt book signing @ Warren Rifles Confederate Museum
Author Jeff Hunt will be presenting and signing copies of his books from the Meade and Lee Series at multiple events in the state of Virginia. The first event is at 7:00 pm on Wednesday,[...]
1:30 pm The Fundamentals of Oil Painting... @ Art in the Valley
The Fundamentals of Oil Painting... @ Art in the Valley
Oct 17 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
The Fundamentals of Oil Painting - Fall 2019 @ Art in the Valley
This class will focus on proven approaches for successful oil paintings. Subject matter will be the student’s choice. No previous painting experience with oils necessary. The class will introduce students to fundamental concepts of color[...]
10:00 am R-MA Homecoming @ Randolph-Macon Academy
R-MA Homecoming @ Randolph-Macon Academy
Oct 18 @ 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
R-MA Homecoming @ Randolph-Macon Academy
Randolph-Macon Academy will welcome alumni and their families back to campus on Friday and Saturday, October 18th and 19th, during the annual Homecoming weekend. Events that are open to the general public include the Homecoming[...]
1:30 pm The Fundamentals of Acrylic Pain... @ Art in the Valley
The Fundamentals of Acrylic Pain... @ Art in the Valley
Oct 18 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
The Fundamentals of Acrylic Painting - Fall 2019 @ Art in the Valley
This class will focus on proven approaches for successful acrylic paintings. Subject matter will be the student’s choice. No previous painting experience with acrylics necessary. The class will introduce students to fundamental concepts of color[...]
10:00 am R-MA Homecoming @ Randolph-Macon Academy
R-MA Homecoming @ Randolph-Macon Academy
Oct 19 @ 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
R-MA Homecoming @ Randolph-Macon Academy
Randolph-Macon Academy will welcome alumni and their families back to campus on Friday and Saturday, October 18th and 19th, during the annual Homecoming weekend. Events that are open to the general public include the Homecoming[...]
10:30 am 2nd Annual Peak Leaf Music & Bre... @ Valley Roots Farm
2nd Annual Peak Leaf Music & Bre... @ Valley Roots Farm
Oct 19 @ 10:30 am – 7:00 pm
2nd Annual Peak Leaf Music & Brewers Festival @ Valley Roots Farm
Join us for the 2nd annual Peak Leaf Music & Brewers Festival! Come party on Saturday, October 19th, 2019, for a day of live music, local brews, local merchants, and local food trucks; all for a[...]
1:00 pm Workshop: An Introduction to Col... @ Art in the Valley
Workshop: An Introduction to Col... @ Art in the Valley
Oct 19 @ 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Workshop: An Introduction to Color Theory @ Art in the Valley
This one day workshop will be an introduction to color theory as it applies to image-making. We will talk about primary, secondary and tertiary colors and how to mix them from a simple palette for[...]
5:30 pm 7th Annual Front Royal Zombie Walk @ Bing Crosby Stadium
7th Annual Front Royal Zombie Walk @ Bing Crosby Stadium
Oct 19 @ 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm
7th Annual Front Royal Zombie Walk @ Bing Crosby Stadium
Put on your best zombie costume and practice your best shambling limp, because it’s time for the annual FRONT ROYAL ZOMBIE WALK! The Walk will begin at Bing Crosby Stadium at 6pm sharp. We will[...]