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Generally what we know and don’t know



Today I’d like to talk about the COVID virus and our path forward as a county. This virus has tested our county and our country like nothing we’ve experienced in decades. It may not nearly be over in the foreseeable future without continued support. There is all sorts of information out there and so do any thoughts and opinions that go right along with the beliefs about it. We each should look at our own situation, health, and information that we feel is correct and make a choice to vaccinate or not to vaccinate. Questions, “Check and discuss this with your Doctor”, that choice is ours.

We have more cases on average now than we did at the height of the infections at the start of the challenge in 2020. One in almost every 5 + people (that number is just from the ones that have been formally checked by the hospitals, doctors, and Valley Health) have been infected already and it is predicted this surge has not reached its peak. Yet already our local ICU beds are being challenged to even admit additional patients or are near a level of capacity. We’ve all seen or heard the horror stories of counties, states, and countries that were overwhelmed by COVID-19 and had to ration healthcare for those most in need. We cannot let that happen here.

Warren County’s COVID-19 and its variants have a high transmission rate due to any reason but it seems that unvaccinated people are at an even higher risk. Vaccinated people have a lower risk, but it is still there, even with the two shots plus the booster, it can still strike again.

There’s a developing consensus that there will be more tough times before it gets better. How bad? We don’t know for sure. How long? We don’t know that either.

There is still a lot we don’t know about this virus. Exactly how it’s transmitted, by the air, close contact, crowds, etc… We know it can be deadly, but we also don’t know how many survivors will have permanent damage to their hearts, lungs, brains, and other body parts. We don’t know if the antibodies will last for those exposed to the virus or if a vaccine is even a realistic possibility in the long term without continued boosters like the flu or the many other diseases for which we have taken shots.

Until we have solid solutions, the unknown is going to be with us. To me, that’s an unsettling thought but it doesn’t leave us defenseless.

There are things we can do individually and collectively that work to reduce the risk of catching the COVID-19 virus in the first place…social distancing, limiting personal contact time, washing your hands, wearing a mask in public, and getting the shots and booster. You’ve heard them all repeatedly. What I want to drive home today is why it’s important to you and your family and friends, and maybe your business to continue following all reasonable guidelines during this time for the foreseeable future. I don’t expect mandates unless the government changes its direction on prevention. Public opinion is just too high for this to be changed. Precautions are a choice.

There will be some that say this idea is unsound, crazy, or worse but realistically, the COVID virus doesn’t care about who you are, your political position, your health, your religious beliefs or social standards your wealth, or living standard. The Virus only “cares” about finding the next host so it can infect, multiply and continue to infect others, multiply and mutate. If it can’t find a new host, it slowly dies.

We’ve been “fortunate” in Warren County and haven’t been as hard hit as other parts of Virginia. I put fortunate in quote marks, however. Over 7699 plus confirmed cases are reported so far and that is the number having been reported, included in this number is the 111+ deaths is mind-numbing to me. I grieve for each family and person that has suffered in any way from this relentless infection.

Yet, as a county, we are fortunate because, for the most part, people are learning to do their part to prevent the spread of the disease. Imagine though, if we have a continued spike in cases. Hospital beds would continue to fill up like they are in Florida, Texas, California, and other places in the country. Medical staff, who are already tired and some even exhausted, would quickly continue to be short-staffed and overwhelmed. Businesses would have to close or be short-staffed and less than what they would like to be again, some never to reopen. Jobs lost. We’d be right back to square one.

That’s why we can’t allow a surge to continue to happen here, in Warren County. It would continue to be devastating.

The virus spreads when a carrier, someone who’s infected, is in close proximity with others for several minutes. I find it hard to stay 6 feet away from people I’m talking to. And I talk with people a lot during the day with all activities I do.

Our actions should tend to put us into what we feel is a new normal and to be within 6 feet of someone when you’re talking. I understand that and I have to concentrate and make an effort to distance myself all the time.

There are times it is impossible to stay a safe distance away. Keep the conversation short. It takes several minutes of exposure to infect someone or get infected. IF you feel unsafe or in a new situation wear a mask. We seem to feel a mask provides limited protection for the person wearing it but offers some protection for others. Some protection is better than none. Avoid touching your face and wash or sanitize your hands thoroughly as soon as you’re done. Remember it only takes one time being in the wrong place at the wrong time or situation to get infected.

A friend of mine has an interesting way of looking at it. He tells his kids that anyone they come in close contact with is a part of their family for 14 days…someone at work, someone at school, random people at the grocery store, or park anywhere. The more people you come into close contact with, the greater the risk. So take precautions and just be aware.

While supporting our local businesses to support customers and staff to wear masks help some in restaurants and other service areas. Admittedly I understand it is their choice. The stance is getting harder, be patient with it and if you can comply, try and do your part. It is a choice.

Our businesses recognize the need for precautions in close quarters. We get many visitors from Northern Virginia and the District and all over the region and adjoining states after all we are a tourist town. Still, areas are having an increase in cases right now. While we want them to come and enjoy our beautiful area, we also want them to be safe and not spread the virus or take it back with them when they leave, if at all possible.

We’re expecting our schools to know how to safely provide the best education we can for our young people no matter how they are given it. Let’s try our best to continue to help keep the schools open. The plan has to be safe for students, teachers, and staff to the best of the school system’s ability. A lot is being asked on so many levels by our parents, teachers, and students so we need to be reasonable and aware.

More broadly, we must look “down the road” to see how to be better prepared for possible unintended consequences of the COVID-19 virus and its various variants that may be headed our way.…the potential food supply chain interruptions (look at some of the food shortages now, they are not bad, but look like a possibility), homelessness, frustration or even unrest, we need to work with our non-profits and our churches to be as prepared as much as possible for the potential’s that could be out there. If there is a local spike, we can’t start planning then, then it will be too late, it will have to be now. Build our community, and county from a different level, protecting our own.

We’re already feeding at-risk children and their families. Since the epidemic started, boxes of food have been delivered to local families and in the future, more boxes of food will be delivered, if the need exists. I’m proud of a Victory Garden that was started this summer and run by volunteers that have produced fresh vegetables that have been taken to C-CAP, Loaves and Fishes, Salvation Army, and other Church food banks for distribution to those that may or even want it to the tune of 4 tons of fresh produce. The recipients have always been appreciative. There is room for more.

It is that sense of volunteerism in our community that gives me the greatest hope. By putting aside our differences and looking out for each other, we can overcome this virus and continue to be another step down the road to economic and social recovery.

Times are tough. Tough times can bring out the best in people, all people. That is what I’m counting on.

Be considerate of others by wearing a mask in public if you choose. Be aware of getting too close. Reduce the risk of infection by avoiding crowds washing your hands and sanitizing whenever you’ve been out.

I know there is the possibility I will be inundated with other comments about all the reasons why this is all false. The simple fact is people are sick, some have lost their lives and that should just keep us aware that something is going on. I am not one for the politics of it, or the religious or even medical possibilities. The Risk does not seem to outweigh the need to protect yourself and others when and where you can. Be aware.

IF you choose, “Get the Vaccine”.

If you have questions about the vaccine and if it is right for you and with your current medical situation. “Talk to your Doctor“

We are stronger together.

Thank you.

Walt Mabe
Front Royal

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Growing social division and its political symptoms



Our country is more deeply divided than it has ever been. Just within the past weeks, we have seen the murder of nearly a dozen people whose only crime was being born with darker skin than that of the murderer.

State legislatures are imposing laws prohibiting all abortions despite the beliefs and desires of the majority of their constituents.

Conservative legislators are actually banning books and the seditious ideas they supposedly contain.

With midterm elections upon us, our so-called Representative, Ben Cline, is again begging for money and denigrating the people who don’t support him by calling their ideas radical and socialistic. Every month Ben Cline puts out a “newsletter” and every newsletter starts with complaints about President Biden. Instead of working to fix his constituents’ problems, he is taking the Moscow Mitch approach to politics by spending 100% of his efforts obstructing the Democrats. How does this help us pay for food and fuel? How does this help our country?

Why would anyone give Ben Cline money to draw the salary WE are paying so that he can continue to whine and complain?

Tom Conkey
Warren County, Virginia

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Price of Progress



Every year in May a colleague and I take about a dozen students on some type of weeklong outdoor experience. In the past we have done backpacking or canoeing, but this year we camped at different historical and environmental locations in western Oklahoma. We spent a few days camping at Black Mesa, followed by a few days at Alabaster Caverns, and concluded at the Battle of Washita. It was on our last day while watching a video about the Battle that a line caught my attention. The video asked, “What was the price of progress?” I have thought about this for a few days. Historically speaking, there have been too many instances to count where we thought we were doing the right thing at the time, in the name of progress, only to realize later that we had made mistakes. It makes me wonder, with so many social and cultural changes, what will our price be for progress.

During the Civil War in 1864, bands of Cheyenne and Arapaho began to attack whites who were encroaching on their lands. In response the Colorado militia under Colonel John M. Chivington attacked a village that included Chief Black Kettle. When the warriors fled, hoping to draw away the soldiers, the soldiers instead attacked the village mostly composed of old men, women, and children. The government acknowledge their wrong and in the 1867 Medicine Lodge Treaty promised to take care of the Indians if they moved to Indian Territory. However, the government did not fulfill their side of the bargain and whites continued to encroach on Indian lands. When the natives fought back and raided settlements, the army decided they needed to put a stop to Indian crimes and ordered General Philip Sheridan to punish they Cheyenne tribes. Sheridan turned to his trusted lieutenant and hero of the Civil War, Lt. Col George Armstrong Custer.

Though seen very differently today, Custer was one of America’s most popular celebrities. Made a General during the war at only age 23, Custer was one of the boy generals and was seen as a romantic dashing character. After the war he was commissioned a Lt. Colonel and followed his mentor Sheridan out west where he continued to build his fame as an Indian fighter.

On the other side of the battle was Black Kettle. Even after the Sand Creek Massacre, Black Kettle tried to work with the U.S. government for peace. He worked so hard for peace that his band was forced to separate themselves from the other Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Kiowa camped along the Washita River. On the morning of November 27, 1868, Custer with the 7th Cavalry attacked at dawn against the isolated camp of Black Kettle. Custer led one unit directly into the village while the others surrounded it to cut off escape. In the end between 30 to 60 Cheyenne lay dead, including Black Kettle. Custer then ordered the destruction of 650 horses belonging to Black Kettle’s people to hurt them in the future. It was only after the other camps began to arrive on scene that Custer retreated to Fort Supply. Here is the thing: today we see Custer as a villain, but in 1868 he was lauded a hero. He would go on to win several other major victories, each time increasing his fame. He was so popular by the time of his death at the Little Big Horn that the American population demanded revenge, which justified Sheridan’s scorched earth policy that devastated the Native tribes and forced most of them onto reservations.

It is hard for us to understand the popularity of Custer today. His methods were almost on the level of genocide, but he did it in the name of progress. At the time Natives were standing in the way of U.S. progress. Their outdated ways and beliefs were hurting America’s greatness. At the time Americans needed to grow. They needed more land.

The problem with Indians was that they had not changed with the times. They were too old-fashioned. For one thing, they did not use the land properly. In the U.S. view, land was meant to be tamed, to be controlled. You were not using the land properly if you did not section off what was yours with a fence, cut down the trees to build a house, and plow under the grass lands to plant crops. New technologies were allowing Whites to progress faster than ever before, with railroads and steel plows. Railroads needed to cross vast areas of land, lands that had been promised to the Native tribes. With these new technologies, as well as the discovery of gold on Indian lands, the U.S. government began to shrink Native lands, or move them somewhere else altogether. Forget that these lands had been theirs for thousands of years. They were in the way of U.S. progress.

It is hard for us today to grasp that in the late nineteenth century, the army was seen as in the right. Those who stood up for the Natives were seen as out of touch and against America’s progress. The Natives did kill Custer and his entire regiment. Anyone capable of such actions needed punishing. Yet the price of such progress was cultural genocide.

What is the price of progress that we will have to pay today? Nineteenth-century Americans could never have imagined that they would be judged harshly for their treatment of Indians, who were considered savages who were hurting America. What are we doing today in the name of progress that people will look back on in 100 years and think why did they allow that? What are we doing that could ultimately cause harm to our society or culture but yet seems like the right thing to do?

Dr. James Finck is a Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. To receive daily historical posts, follow Historically Speaking at or on Facebook.

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The Forgotten Variable in Pending Overturn of Roe v Wade – Unwanted Children



I sat in church Sunday and heard my pastor say abortion is immoral and we should be okay with Roe v. Wade being overturned. It was hardly a trailblazing announcement, but it made me look around and assess the women in that room, many of whom I’d lay money on having had one. There were women of all ages but not too much diversity. Mostly white and mostly middle class. Mostly.

In the immediacy, this likely development doesn’t affect me personally. My uterus is safely on the other side of its sell-by date. The young women that I personally know seem largely indifferent to the fall of Roe v Wade (kind of reminds me of the Iraqis that wouldn’t fight for their own skin.) My two daughters are generally viewed as extremely ill-advised in the reproducing department.

Amelia tells me repeatedly that she has no desire for a baby. I blame Sofi for that. Sofi is 7 years old and who knows what she’ll want? Developmentally she’s about 2.5 years old (according to UVA) so with any luck, she’ll be menopausal before she chooses to be a biological mom.

So, what does this mean to me? Several things. It means Pro-Lifers are delusional if they think they’ll be good at caring for this new onslaught of unwanted children. They’ve done very poorly thus far. There will be more unwanted children languishing in substandard conditions. When a woman has an abortion she’s saying, “I can’t do this.” She means it, people. She always has. Legal and safe abortions tidied that up for all of society.  Orphanages were common until the mid-60s but less so afterward. So, there will still be babies to save. There always have been.

As for Pro-Choicers, well maybe these 50 years were an anomaly. Maybe what the world (or simply America) DOESN’T want for women dwarfs what it does. It DOESN’T want us to be equal financially because we’ve never been, and children are the why for that. It DOESN’T want us thinking we are equal without a willingness to reproduce – a common complaint among my childless women friends.

Legal abortion had its flaws (damnation being a common belief aimed at those unfortunate repeat offenders.) Far more interesting to me is the who, when, and why regarding those who do manage to step up to solve an unsolvable problem – unwanted children. The prevention of and care for will ALWAYS be battles that need fighting. The high-horse attitudes of both sides are laughable in the face of the misery that unwanted children cause, and indeed endure.

Ann Deans Masch
Fauquier County

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Do the homework – and pray for all oppressed peoples



Shireen Abu Aqla, a Palestinian Christian, reporter, and the mentor and close friend of a dear Palestinian Christian, reporter, and friend of mine of over 25 years, was brutally gunned down recently by the government of “God’s Chosen People”, despite clearly wearing a visible “PRESS” vest. Do your own homework.

While trying to hold a peaceful funeral, the officers of “God’s Chosen People” kicked and beat the pallbearers. Where is the outrage from “Christian” America? Where is the outrage from those who claim to be a “child of God”?, yet remain silent while one of your own is brutally slaughtered? Do your own homework.

So many had no problem jumping on the “Save Ukraine” bandwagon. By the way, I support the people of Ukraine 100%!! – I also happen to support the people of Palestine. I support the beautiful peaceful native Tibetans. For that matter, I support those in Russia who are eager for genuine peace, yet who are stuck with brutal and soulless regime, run by well-known thugs. Do your own homework.

I have to ask: have any of you who say you support Israel actually read that Bible you say you believe in? Please give it a try. Cool book! I’m a huge fan. Enlighten yourselves to the many times that “God’s Chosen People” turned their hearts against God, and God left them to deal with the consequences. Stop making excuses for the thugs and punks that operate against their supposed God at will, just because of a culture they cling to out of convenience, as opposed to purpose. Do your own homework.

Granted, one could say the same about the manner in which U.S. politicians support this brutal government and their paid assassins, all in the name of convenience, while possessing zero value for true faith in a loving and compassionate God, whom I choose to believe sent his son to die for my sins. I want nothing to do with the God of murderers, thugs and the politicians who support them all for self-serving convenience. Do your own homework.

While we all pray for the beautiful people of Ukraine, please (after doing your own homework) also pray for the beautiful people of Palestine. The horrors which the people of Ukraine have been subjected to have been part of Palestinian life for over 70 years. Don’t they, also, have a “Right To Life?!?”

Michael Sean Williams 
Front Royal, Virginia

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All in the training



As an observer of the video on Mr. Ennis’s arrest, I have to agree with Mr. Candenquist’s letter to the editor.

There was no reason for the officer who came up behind Mr. Ennis to handle Mr. Ennis in the manner of which he did.

Could the officer have been a rookie, just out of training class? Did the officers not know who they were dealing with? I believe they had another encounter with Mr. Ennis before this encounter. Being at night does make an officer warier of approach, but there was enough light from cars and the parking lot to see this man did not even show a threat! WCSO and FRPD need not let officers that seem a little zealous make certain calls to certain situations.

We citizens need to have the utmost respect and trust in our law enforcement; this is one place, if not the last place, for defense against the bad guys and gals. Mr. Ennis was not a bad guy.

Tenia Smith
A former resident of Front Royal

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Shameful behavior exhibited in Mr. Ennis’s arrest clearly undermines the trust and respect that our police agencies deserve



Having read the Police Report by Corporal Lowery, as reported in the Royal Examiner, filed on the occasion of the arrest of Ralph Ennis on April 2nd, it strikes me (no pun intended) that the law enforcement officers who made the arrest used excessive force when taking Mr. Ennis into custody. Mr. Ennis, according to the report, clearly posed no threat to the officers. I did not know Mr. Ennis, nor do I know his family and friends; my feelings are entirely objective as a point of fact.

It was observed by Cpl. Lowery, in his report, that Mr. Ennis was elderly and seemed confused. The report shows that Mr. Ennis did not exhibit any threatening behavior. What was the reason why the deputy ran up behind Mr. Ennis, strongly restraining him, and “jerked him around,” slamming his face into the camper top of his pick-up truck? Was it perhaps a broken tooth or teeth that Mr. Ennis apparently spit out onto the ground? Why was it necessary to apparently shove Mr. Ennis in such a way that he tripped over the hitch on the rear of the truck, causing this collection of apparent flailing individuals to fall to the ground, at which time Mr. Ennis struck the back of his head on the pavement?

Moreover, the vehicle video footage and the body-cam footage of the arrest of Mr. Ennis confirm that Mr. Ennis was simply standing still when the police officer ran up behind him, restrained him from behind, and slammed him into the back of the pick-up truck. Moreover, in the body-cam footage, a police officer clearly stated, when he got back into his car, that the manner in which Mr. Ennis was arrested “was uncalled for.”

Based on the police report and the footage, was all of this physical force necessary to arrest an elderly and obviously confused man who apparently posed no threat to anyone? His apparent dementia aside, might have Mr. Ennis have been exhibiting signs of a diabetic emergency, which mimic the behavior that Mr. Ennis was reported to have shown, based on the police report? There have been instances where drivers with a diabetic emergency have been roughly treated by law enforcement, with serious consequences; the training for an encounter with a potential motor vehicle operator with a diabetic emergency has been included in some law enforcement agencies.

It seems to me that the written reported and video recorded manner in which Mr. Ennis was arrested, and his subsequent death, led to the apparent nationwide mistrust of law enforcement agencies by the public in recent years. In these perilous times, when crime and complete disregard for any type of lawful authority is thoroughly out of control, we cannot abide from having our local law enforcement agencies exhibit unnecessary behavior when the situation, as indicated in the police report and in the video footage, clearly does not call for excessive and unwarranted force.

On the contrary, had Mr. Ennis exhibited threatening behavior or in any way resisted arrest, then the manner in which he was arrested could have been justified. What transpired in this particular case was, in my opinion, clearly unwarranted and clearly unnecessary.

Our police agencies have a very difficult time as it is to uphold the law and the rights of the public; they deserve the utmost respect as they perform their sworn duties. Such shameful behavior exhibited in Mr. Ennis’s arrest clearly undermines the trust and respect that our police agencies deserve.

I hope that such behavior, as demonstrated in the police report and video footage, is an aberration of the normal performance by our local law enforcement agencies, and those who were responsible for the manner in which Mr. Ennis was arrested are or will be appropriately handled. I attend church and occasionally shop in Warren County, and I do not like to be nor want to be especially wary of the police and deputies in Front Royal and in Warren County. The Sheriff in Warren County and the Police Chief in Front Royal are ultimately responsible for what happens with their employees in their respective jurisdictions, and it is their responsibility to ensure that such actions as this response to arrest Mr. Ennis do not happen.

Arthur Candenquist
Amissville, Rappahannock County

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