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Governor Northam announces new international partnerships for Virginia distilleries



BERLIN—On June 19th, during a trade and marketing mission to Europe, Governor Ralph Northam announced new distribution partnerships for two Virginia craft distilleries, Catoctin Creek Distilling Company and Reservoir Distillery. The Office of International Marketing at the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) supported Virginia company participation at a major international trade event for the bar and spirits industry where the two Virginia producers met their new distribution partners.

“Virginia distilleries provide a growing market for our Commonwealth’s agricultural products, and we are proud to support companies like Catoctin Creek and Reservoir as they pursue export opportunities and forge important relationships around the world,” said Governor Northam. “Foreign trade and investment are key to strengthening and diversifying our economy, and these two international partnerships are a perfect example Virginia’s commitment to helping businesses of all sizes explore new sales channels and compete both at home and abroad.”

“VDACS international marketing resources both in Virginia and in representative offices around the world are designed to introduce Virginia beverage, food, agriculture, and forestry companies to profitable sales opportunities. We are so pleased to see successes like this resulting from those efforts,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “Catoctin Creek and Reservoir, and many of the more than 70 distilleries around the Commonwealth, source grains such as corn, rye, and wheat from local producers, making these new sales opportunities successes not only for the spirits industry but also for all of Virginia agriculture. Some of their barrels are also made with Virginia oak.”

Founded by Becky and Scott Harris in 2009, Catoctin Creek was the first legal distillery in Loudoun County since before Prohibition. Catoctin Creek’s flagship product, Roundstone Rye, is a rye whiskey replicating traditional production methods and has been awarded gold medals across the globe. Catoctin Creek was first introduced to Hanseathische Weinhandelsgesellschaft Bremen (Hawe) at Bar Convent Berlin, where it participated in the “Virginia Is for Spirits Lovers”-themed booth hosted by VDACS. The VDACS European representative office identified Hawe as a potential German partner for Virginia distilleries and made the initial introduction to Catoctin Creek.

“We’d visited Germany a few times looking for the right partner in the market,” said Scott Harris, co-founder of Catoctin Creek. “The Virginia booth at Bar Convent and the effort made by the VDACS trade representative to bring prospective buyers to see us there gave us the visibility we’ve needed. We’re so excited for this opportunity with such a reputable importer of premium spirits.”

Based in Richmond, Reservoir Distillery crafts its award-winning whiskeys with Virginia grains. Its flagship wheat, rye, and bourbon whiskeys are 100 percent single-grain and bottled at 100 proof. Reservoir Distillery also met its new distribution partner in Germany, Hanseatische Weinhandelsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG, at Bar Convent Berlin.

“We have taken advantage of every opportunity VDACS has offered to expose us to international buyers and markets and are thankful Virginia has such valuable resources to assist small companies like ours with our export efforts,” said Dave Cuttino, co-founder and general manager of Reservoir. “We are excited to continue growing our brand in Europe.”

In 2018, Virginia exported $1.5 million in spirits to foreign markets, an increase of more than 13 percent over 2017. The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States reports that distilled spirits exports grew more than 14 percent from 2014 to 2018.

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Pamela Seay named new Virginia War Memorial Foundation President



Pamela R. Seay has been chosen to serve as its new President

The Board of Directors of the Virginia War Memorial Foundation have announced that Pamela R. Seay has been chosen to serve as its new President. She will join the Foundation on December 1, 2019, and assume full duties for leadership and oversight of the nonprofit organization and its staff on January 1, 2020.

Established in 2000 in Richmond, the Virginia War Memorial Foundation (VWMF) is the private, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) corporation that provides funding for the educational outreach, patriotic events, historical programs and exhibits, and the documentary film series Virginians at War.

A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, Seay previously served as Senior Vice President for Advancement at the Virginia Historical Society (now the Virginia Museum of History and Culture) from 1988-2018.  She served on the staffs of the Science Museum of Virginia, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and has consulted for numerous organizations including the Valentine Museum, the Virginia Commission for the American Civil War Sesquicentennial, and the 175th Anniversary of the Executive Mansion Commission.

“The members of our Board of Directors are extremely pleased that such a respected and experienced leader as Pam Seay will be taking the helm of the Virginia War Memorial Foundation at this exciting time in the history of the Foundation and the Memorial that it supports,” said Rear Admiral Frank Rennie, IV, USN (Ret.) and VWMF board chair.

“In early 2020, we will celebrate the Grand Opening of the C. Kenneth Wright Pavilion and the dedication of the Shrine of Memory – Global War on Terrorism and Beyond at the expanded Virginia War Memorial. Her leadership will be critical to our continued success as the premier state war memorial in America for the decades ahead.”

“At this time of leadership transition, the Board of Directors expresses its pride and appreciation for the work of Executive Director John Hekman as he enters his planned retirement at the end of the year,” said Admiral Rennie. “Admiral Hekman has served this Foundation and the Virginia War Memorial as an exemplary leader in a variety of roles for over two decades. We wish him well in retirement but we will continue to look to him for his counsel and wisdom during this time of transition.”

Dedicated in 1956, the mission of the Virginia War Memorial is to Honor Veterans, Preserve History, Educate Youth and Inspire Patriotism in All.  The Memorial includes the names of the over 12,000 Virginia heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, in the Persian Gulf and the ongoing Global War on Terrorism.  The Memorial, which is a division of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS), is located at 621 South Belvidere Street in downtown Richmond and is open for visitation seven days a week.

For more information about the Virginia War Memorial and the Virginia War Memorial Foundation, please visit

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Virginia War Memorial announces winners of 2019 Veterans Day Student Essay Contest



A middle schooler from Hanover County and a high school junior from Patrick County were the first place winners in the Virginia War Memorial’s 2019 Veterans Day Student Essay Contest. The winners were announced at the Commonwealth’s Veterans Day Ceremony held November 11 at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond.

The annual contest was open to middle and high school age students throughout Virginia in public or private schools or homeschooled. The essay topic was “A Virginian Who Served in The Military in The 20th or 21st Century Who Inspired Me.”

The student writers of the winning essay in each category won a cash prize of $250 and were invited to read aloud their essay during the 2019 Commonwealth’s Veterans Day Ceremony. Their teachers were also invited to Richmond and each received a $100 prize to be used for classroom supplies.

The winner in the middle school category was Brooke Eubanks, a 6th grader at Chickahominy Middle School in Hanover County. Her essay was about her uncle, Army Sergeant First Class Eddie O. Johnson. Her teacher is Cheryl Clarke.

Winner in the middle school category, Brooke Eubanks. Photos courtesy of Virginia Department of Veterans Services.

The winner in the high school category was Caroline Vernon, an 11th grader at Patrick County High School in Stuart. Her essay profiled her brother, Justin Vernon. Lisa Belcher is her teacher.

Winner in the high school category, Caroline Vernon.

Brooke and Caroline read aloud their winning essays as part of the Commonwealth’s Veterans Day Ceremony. They were congratulated by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, who was the keynote speaker for the annual program.

Runners-up in the Veterans Day Student Essay Contest were also announced. These were:

Middle School

  • Clarke Canova, Homeschooled, 8th Grade, James City County
  • Jaqulynne Stewart, Edward Drew Middle School, 6th Grade, Falmouth (Stafford County)

High School

  • Rashad Seaborne, Maggie Walker Governors School, 11th Grade, Richmond
  • You Jin Lee, Douglas Freeman High School, 12th Grade, Henrico County

All of the first place and runner-up essays are posted online on the Virginia War Memorial Foundation website at

About the Virginia War Memorial

The mission of the Virginia War Memorial is to Honor Veterans, Preserve History, Educate Youth and Inspire Patriotism in All. Dedicated in 1956, the Memorial includes the names of the nearly 12,000 Virginia heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf and the Global War on Terrorism. Located in downtown Richmond at 621 South Belvidere Street, the Virginia War Memorial is open to the public seven days a week for tours and visitation. The Memorial is a division of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services and serves as an integral part of its mission in support of all Virginians who have served in our military. For more details, visit or

About the Virginia Department of Veterans Services

The Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS) is a state government agency with more than 40 operating locations across the Commonwealth of Virginia. DVS traces its history to 1928 and the establishment of the Virginia War Service Bureau to assist Virginia’s World War I veterans. Today, DVS assists veterans and their families in filing claims for federal veterans benefits; provides veterans and family members with linkages to services including behavioral healthcare, housing, employment, education and other programs. The agency operates two long-term care facilities offering in-patient skilled nursing care, Alzheimer’s/memory care, and short-term rehabilitation for veterans; provides an honored final resting place for veterans and their families at three state veterans cemeteries. It operates the Virginia War Memorial, the Commonwealth’s tribute to Virginia’s men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice from World War II to the present. For more information, please visit

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Governor Northam announces first ever International Trade Strategic Plan for Commonwealth of Virginia



Governor Ralph Northam announced the first ever comprehensive International Trade Strategic Plan for Virginia. The plan lays out an aggressive goal to expand the Commonwealth’s international trade output by 50 percent over the next 15 years, increasing Virginia’s position from 41st in exports per capita to the top 20 states for exports per capita by 2035.

Governor Northam presented the plan at the 71st Virginia Conference on World Trade, where he highlighted specific initiatives that support existing Virginia businesses in building their capabilities and expanding networks and markets, while also attracting and promoting export-intensive companies that can serve as anchors and growth-drivers for Virginia’s economy.

“International trade is a powerful economic engine for our Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “Maintaining Virginia’s position as the best state to do business and ensuring that all regions of the Commonwealth can participate in our economic growth requires that we boost our international trade. Virginia has a great deal to offer, including the East Coast’s deepest port, and we are committed to doing more to support and promote growth-minded companies as they successfully expand into global markets. I am proud of the many partners collaborating to meet our aggressive goals in this area, and help position the Commonwealth to be more competitive in a globally connected economy.”

Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball and Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring led a steering committee comprised of prominent business leaders from around Virginia and staff from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), the Port of Virginia, and other state agencies in developing the plan. The group engaged hundreds of companies, a dozen state and federal agencies and trade associations, and many state, regional, and local leaders across the public and private sectors, geographies, and industries, ensuring the final recommendations represent a broad cross-section of Virginians.

“I would like to commend everyone involved in this ambitious undertaking, particularly the members of the International Trade Plan Steering Committee, to analyze Virginia’s strengths and opportunities in the international trade arena and to develop a bold plan to increase Virginia exports by 50 percent,” said Secretary of Agriculture Bettina Ring. “The initiatives included in this plan will positively impact every region of the Commonwealth, from rural to urban, and every industry, including agriculture and forestry, making Virginia’s economy even stronger and more resilient.”

“Virginia has best-in-class export promotion programs to help businesses enter global markets and attract large-scale, export-intensive companies,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “The International Trade Strategic Plan represents an unprecedented partnership to move the Commonwealth forward as a major player in international trade and help Virginia’s businesses become more competitive in the global marketplace, resulting in increased exports and new job creation across the Commonwealth.”

While Virginia has highly-regarded international trade development programs and a long track record of supporting export growth with partner companies of all sizes, the Commonwealth still trails other states in international trade activity. Virginia’s exports per capita rank 41st in the country, and 38th in imports as a share of gross state product.

The International Trade Strategic Plan identifies 26 initiatives across three categories to support existing companies with international trade and to attract and expand trade-intensive businesses to Virginia:

• Exports: Expand the capacity of state agencies to build capabilities, facilitate connections, and share risk with Virginia firms that export
• International Supply Chains: Increase focus of state agencies to build capabilities and facilitate connections for firms that import critical elements of their supply chains
• Business Attraction, Infrastructure, Tourism, and Other Enablers: Fully align business expansion and recruitment activity with international trade efforts; advocate for critical investments in logistics infrastructure and tourism strategies; enhance the Commonwealth’s ability to serve Virginia businesses through increased coordination among agencies; and engage state and federal leaders strategically and systematically to raise awareness of trade issues

These initiatives have the potential to double the number of internationally trading firms that the Commonwealth supports, adding nearly $18 billion in annual exports and well over 150,000 high-quality jobs. This increase in exports and jobs will position Virginia as a leader in export activity, diversify the Commonwealth’s economy, and contribute to a better quality of life in communities across all regions of Virginia.

Since taking office, Governor Northam has hosted ambassadors from Mexico, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Indonesia, and Switzerland at the Executive Mansion in Richmond to discuss the Commonwealth’s international trade relationships and encourage investment in Virginia.

The Governor also presented the 2019 Commonwealth of Virginia Governor’s Award for Excellence in International Trade to The Turman Group, an operator of lumber facilities, land development, and other vertically integrated companies, located in Carroll County. The annual award recognizes a Virginia business that has increased its international sales while promoting the best interests of its employees and the surrounding community. The Turman Group joined VEDP’s flagship Virginia Leaders in Export Trade (VALET) Program in February 2008 and graduated in January 2010. Since then, the company has grown its annual sales to $120 million and is active in more than 30 countries globally.

The International Trade Strategic Plan for the Commonwealth of Virginia is available here.

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Governors announce historic ‘Capital Beltway Accord’ to rebuild American Legion Bridge, connect Interstate Highway System



American Legion Bridge. Famartin [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]

Governor Ralph Northam (D-VA) and Governor Larry Hogan (R-MD) announced a bi-state, bipartisan accord to create a new, unified Capital Beltway, replace the aging American Legion Bridge and relieve congestion at one of the country’s worst traffic chokepoints. The two governors made the announcement at the annual Capital Region Transportation Forum in Washington, DC.

“A new bridge means commuters will get to work and back home faster,” said Governor Northam. “Our teams have identified a way to fix one of the worst traffic hot spots in the country. This demonstrates what can get done when leaders come together to find shared solutions to tough regional problems. This is about helping people see their families more, grow their businesses, and further unlock the region’s vast economic potential.”

“The ‘Capital Beltway Accord’ is a once-in-a-generation achievement for the capital region,” said Governor Hogan. “A bipartisan, commonsense, interstate agreement such as this has eluded elected leaders throughout the region for many decades. Together with our partners in Virginia, we are building a foundation for even greater economic growth, greater opportunity for our citizens, and advancing real, lasting, transformative improvements for the entire Washington metropolitan region.”

The project complements ongoing plans by both governors in their jurisdictions—advancing a region-wide vision for a seamless network of reliable travel options around the Capital Beltway, and along Interstates 270 and 95, 395, and 66.

The project is expected to cut commuting time in half for many travelers, reduce congestion in the regular lanes by 25 percent, provide 40 percent more lane capacity over the old bridge, and include bicycle and pedestrian paths across the Potomac River.

The American Legion Bridge has been operating beyond its capacity for nearly four decades. Daily traffic has grown 390 percent since the bridge opened in 1962, with 235,000 vehicles using it daily. More than 40 percent of the region’s population travels this segment of the Capital Beltway, and the region expects to grow by another 1.2 million people by 2040. Both governors have made it a top priority to identify a long-term, seamless solution for the Capital Beltway.

The project will replace the existing lanes in each direction across the Potomac River and add two new Express Lanes in each direction for approximately three miles between the George Washington Memorial Parkway in Virginia to the vicinity of River Road in Maryland. New bicycle and pedestrian access will connect trails on both sides of the Potomac River. The project is being designed predominantly within the footprint of the existing bridge and right-of-way to minimize impact to travelers, the environment, and surrounding communities. No homes or businesses are expected to require relocation.

“This is once-in-a-generation project that will improve accessibility throughout the region,” said Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “This is a milestone in regional cooperation. We in Virginia look forward to working hand-in-hand with Maryland to deliver this transformative transportation solution.”

Virginia announced plans earlier this year to leverage its existing public-private partnership with Transurban, the operator of the 495 Express Lanes, to extend the lanes approximately two miles north toward the American Legion Bridge and add new connections at the Dulles Toll Road and the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Construction on what is known as “Project Next” could begin as early as 2021.

Maryland’s Board of Public Works has approved advancing a bold and innovative Traffic Relief Plan that includes improvements to I-270 and I-495. It is the largest public-private partnership of its kind in the world.

“Our transportation network cannot function without fixing the American Legion Bridge, I-495 and I-270,” said Maryland Secretary of Transportation Pete Rahn. “Without these improvements, our horrendous congestion will only get worse. I commend Governors Hogan and Northam for reaching this historic agreement that will have lasting benefits for our region for decades to come.”
The new American Legion Bridge will be delivered in coordination with these other projects and will leverage private capital through public-private partnerships to reduce the need for public funding and shift key traffic and construction risks to the private sector.

The states have agreed to a bi-state funding plan to accelerate the delivery of these critical improvements, including all of the infrastructure needed for connections between George Washington Parkway and MD-190/River Road.

Maryland will cover 79 percent of the General Purpose Lanes on the new American Legion Bridge, 50 percent of the Express Lanes on the new American Legion Bridge, and 100 percent of the southbound Express Lanes and General Purpose Lanes from MD-190/River Road to the George Washington Parkway.

Virginia will cover 21 percent of the General Purpose Lanes on the new American Legion Bridge, 50 percent of the Express Lanes on the new American Legion Bridge, and 100 percent of the northbound Express Lanes and General Purpose Lanes from the George Washington Parkway to MD-190/River Road.

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Texas man charged with cyberstalking, making interstate threats



An Odessa, Texas man, who had an online relationship with a juvenile female in the Western District of Virginia, has been indicted by a federal grand jury sitting in U.S. District Court in Charlottesville and charged with cyberstalking and making interstate threats to the girl’s family following her suicide. United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen and David W. Archey, FBI Special Agent in Charge for the Richmond Division, made the announcement today following the defendant’s arrest in Texas.

Adrian Raul O’Dell, 19, was charged in a sealed indictment on October 15, 2019, and arrested this week in Texas. The grand jury has charged O’Dell with three counts of cyberstalking and two counts of making interstate threats.

“Cyberstalking and communicating threats through social media are serious federal crimes and prosecuting them is a priority of this office,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated today.  “I am grateful for the hard work of the FBI and the Warren County Sheriff’s office in identifying this defendant and bringing him to justice.”

“The FBI takes online threats very seriously, and will work with our law enforcement partners to ensure matters are addressed swiftly and appropriately,” SAC Archey said today. “This case is important to us because a young girl’s family, while still mourning her death, was re-victimized with the messages sent by the accused.  We are grateful for the assistance of the FBI El Paso Division’s Midland Resident Agency and the United States Attorney’s Office during the course of this investigation.”

According to the indictment, between September 2017 and around March 2018, O’Dell had an online relationship with a 16-year girl who lived in Linden, Virginia. In May 2018, following an investigation by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, it was determined that O’Dell’s victim died by suicide in a wooded area near her home.

The indictment alleges that from June 2018 through June 2019, O’Dell, using a variety of false email and online personas, took credit for her suicide.  The defendant then sent threatening and intimidating messages to her family members and friends that placed them in reasonable fear of death and serious bodily harm. In addition, these messages attempted to cause friends and family members substantial emotional distress.  The defendant sent certain of these messages in violation of a protective order.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Warren County Sheriff’s Office.  Assistant United States Attorney Kate Rumsey is prosecuting the case for the United States.

A grand jury indictment is only a charge and not evidence of guilt.  The defendant is entitled to a fair trial with the burden on the government to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Genari death officially ruled a suicide

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Virginia’s Western Highlands publishes Regional Trail Guide



The Virginia’s Western Highlands Travel Council, made up of tourism offices from Craig, Alleghany, Bath and Highland counties, has published a guide to hiking, biking and riding trails. The 48-page guide includes descriptions and maps of trails in all four counties, including some that span multiple counties. The booklet uses icons to indicate which trails are open to hiking, biking and horseback riding.

The regional travel council will distribute the guides at local visitor centers and select Virginia Welcome Centers. They will also be available to local lodging establishments to distribute to guests interested in hiking, biking or riding. The entire guide can also be viewed online as an interactive flipbook that is tablet and mobile friendly.

“We think this guide will be a valuable tool to bring outdoor enthusiasts to our region, and once they’re here, help them find a trail that meets their needs,” said Teresa Hammond, Executive Director of the Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Tourism.

“The number of trails included in this guide demonstrates that the four-county Virginia’s Western Highlands region has so much outdoor adventure to offer to visitors,” added Chris Swecker, Executive Director of the Highland County Tourism Council and Chamber of Commerce.

The guide is made possible in part through a partnership with The Nature Conservancy.

For additional information visit

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12:30 pm Kaine Connects in Front Royal @ Samuels Public Library, Lou Benson & Naomi Salus Conference Room
Kaine Connects in Front Royal @ Samuels Public Library, Lou Benson & Naomi Salus Conference Room
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Kaine Connects in Front Royal @ Samuels Public Library, Lou Benson & Naomi Salus Conference Room
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10:00 am Tech Bytes – Nontraditional Skil... @ LFCC
Tech Bytes – Nontraditional Skil... @ LFCC
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Tech Bytes - Nontraditional Skills needed in Cyber-security @ LFCC
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Kooky Chefs Cook It Up: Thanksgi... @ Samuels Public Library
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Kids will get to feast on several classic Thanksgiving Day foods to get them ready for the holidays! They will also get to make a dish themselves. For ages 8 and up  Registration begins October[...]
5:30 pm Tails and Ales Cash Party @ Front Royal Moose Lodge
Tails and Ales Cash Party @ Front Royal Moose Lodge
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Tails and Ales Cash Party @ Front Royal Moose Lodge
The 8th annual cash party fundraiser for the Humane Society of Warren County will be held at the Front Royal Moose Lodge on Saturday, November 16, 2019. Doors open at 5:30pm, and dinner will be[...]
5:00 pm FAFSA Party @ LFCC Middletown Campus
FAFSA Party @ LFCC Middletown Campus
Nov 18 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
FAFSA Party @ LFCC Middletown Campus
Join other college-bound students and their parents at LFCC for a FAFSA Party on the Middletown Campus on the following dates: Monday, Nov. 4 Thursday, Nov. 14 Monday, Nov. 18. Time: 5-7 p.m. Learn about[...]
1:30 pm Botanical Drawing II: Drawing in... @ Art in the Valley
Botanical Drawing II: Drawing in... @ Art in the Valley
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4:30 pm Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
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Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Tuesday, November 5: Kids will explore popular books and book series through science, games, food, and more! Based on the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, we will do some taffy pulling and have a[...]
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Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
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10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, November 6 and Thursday, November 7: It’s playtime! Come in for stories, songs, and a craft about our favorite toys, games, and imaginings! Siblings welcome.[...]
1:30 pm Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
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Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
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7:00 pm Drama Performance: “Loserville” @ Melton Memorial Gymnasium | R-MA
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