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Governor Northam awards $6 million in new school security equipment grants

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RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today awarded $6 million in School Security Equipment Grants to protect students and teachers in 102 school divisions and the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind. The grants will pay for video monitoring systems, metal detectors, classroom locks, electronic-access controls, visitor-identification systems, direct communications links between schools and law enforcement agencies, and other security upgrades in 443 schools and other instructional facilities.

“Since its inception in 2013, the school security equipment grant program has funded nearly 2,900 new projects and system upgrades to ensure the safety Virginia students and educators,” said Governor Northam. “These grants are a key component of the Commonwealth’s comprehensive approach to protecting schools.”

The criteria for making the awards — developed by the Virginia Department of Education and the state Department of Criminal Justice Services — give priority to schools most in need of modern security equipment, schools with relatively high numbers of offenses, schools with equipment needs identified by a school security audit, and schools in divisions least able to afford security upgrades.

“Student safety is always the number one priority of the educators and support personnel in our schools,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane. “These grants allow schools to purchase the improvements and technology needed to address the findings of annual security audits.”

The divisions awarded the school security equipment grants are as follows:

  • Warren County — $62,814 for E. Wilson Morrison Elementary, Ressie Jeffries Elementary and Skyline Middle School
  • Shenandoah County — $99,289 for Ashby Lee Elementary, Sandy Hook Elementary and W.W. Robinson Elementary
  • Rappahannock County — $15,634 for Rappahannock County High
  • Frederick County — $18,781 for Apple Pie Ridge Elementary, Bass-Hoover Elementary, Indian Hollow Elementary, James Wood High, James Wood Middle, Middle School Alternative Program, Middletown Elementary, Millbrook High and Robert E. Aylor Middle
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Be prepared Warren County: Once-eradicated measles shows up in Virginia

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The MMR vaccine against measles does not cause autism… There is zero link between them,” Dr. Colin Green said turning to face the audience. Photo and video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

FRONT ROYAL — Virginia’s first case of measles reared its ugly head earlier this month and another possible case is under investigation, said Dr. Colin Greene, director of the Lord Fairfax Health District (LFHD) of the Virginia Department of Health during the June 18 Warren County Board of Supervisors meeting.

What does that mean for Warren County and the other areas served by the LFHD — which include the City of Winchester and the counties of Clarke, Frederick, Page and Shenandoah?
It means that residents need to be prepared by getting educated, Greene said on Tuesday during a public health presentation to the board.

“This is not a kind disease,” the doctor said about measles, which was declared eradicated in 2000 in the United States. “It’s extraordinarily contagious. It makes you sick as a dog. It’s like having a case of the flu on steroids.”

Measles is caused by a virus that spreads via contact, coughing and sneezing, said Greene, who noted that the average incubation period is 10 days from the time someone is infected until symptoms appear. And the symptoms aren’t fun: a high fever that may spike to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, a cough, runny nose, conjunctivitis, and a rash that usually appears three-to-seven days into the misery, he said.

The rash is recognizable as being flat, red spots that start on a person’s face and then spreads and clears “from north to south,” the doctor said, adding that “the rash means you’re not contagious anymore.” But from four days before the rash until four days after the rash appears, you are contagious, he said, and you’ll be “miserably sick” with “significant personal discomfort.”

The first Virginia case was confirmed in early June by the state health department, which reported that an unvaccinated traveler to a measles-endemic area had returned through Dulles International Airport. A diagnosis of measles was determined within a few days of the traveler’s return, the health department said. Dr. Greene emphasized that the case did not expose the Warren County area and there could possibly be another case confirmed soon in the state. Nationally, 1,044 measles cases have been reported in the United States as of June 13, said Greene, who pointed out that in 2010 there were 68 cases total around the country.

“Why has measles returned? Because some people aren’t getting vaccinated,” Greene said. “Two MMR shots prevent measles for life.”

And, by the way, the MMR vaccine against measles does not cause autism, he added, citing a 1998 medical article connecting measles to autism that was found to be fraudulent. “But the rumor won’t die and many have chosen not to get vaccinated against measles.” “There is zero link between them,” Green said turning to face the audience.

So what should people do?

If you are already immunized, then you really don’t have to worry about getting measles, the doctor said. But ensure you are immunized, particularly if you’re a healthcare worker. If you’re not immune, he advised that you see a healthcare provider as soon as possible. If you think you already have measles, then stay at home and call your doctor. Or if you must go to the doctor’s office, urgent care or the emergency room, have someone take you there, Greene said.

“If you go to urgent care or ER, go with another person who can go in and say they have a possible measles case with them,” Greene said.

Stay away from others; get a mask if you’re around other people; and call your healthcare provider so they can prepare. Four or five people who aren’t immunized can start the spread of measles, warned Greene.

“It’s a bad disease. We got rid of it, but it’s coming back again,” he said. “The good news is that it’s not Ebola. This is not a disaster. This is something we can control.”

Call your local health department for more information at 540-635-3159.

The Royal Examiner’s camera was there:

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Tuesday evening fire destroys Lake Front Royal home

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On Tuesday evening just after 5:00pm, WCFR units were dispatched to the 1400 block of Highridge Road in the Lake Front Royal Community for a reported residential structure fire.

Firefighters arrived on the scene to find a two-story single family home with significant fire conditions throughout the home and a nearby vehicle in the driveway on fire. Firefighters initiated fire suppression efforts and performed a search of the home. It took firefighters approximately 20 minutes to bring the fire under control. Firefighters remained on the scene throughout the evening fully extinguishing the fire and assisting the the investigation of the incident.

1400 block of Highridge Road in the Lake Front Royal Community

The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the Warren County Fire Marshal’s Office with assistance from the Warren County Sheriff’s Office. The fire displaced the family which occupied the home which has received assistance from the American Red Cross. The fire caused an estimated $300,000 in damages and contents loss. A canine pet lost its life in the fire, two ducks located in a outside pin attached to the game were able to be released by firefighters during the incident.

Anyone with information with regulates to this fire incident is encouraged to contact the Fire Marshals Office at 540-636-3830.

Units on the call:
Engine 1
Engine 4
Engine/RIT 6
Engine 5
Tanker 8
Tanker 9
Attack 9 – Draft Site
Ambulance 9
Chief 100
FM 1
Investigator 177

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EDA in Focus

Sayre elicits public comment on alleged McDonald embezzlement scheme

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Ah, the good, old days when the scent of economic development, if not financial corruption to perhaps clogged nostrils, was in the air. Courtesy Social Media File Photo

A question posed by Warren County Board of Supervisors Vice-Chairman Tom Sayre to County and EDA Attorney Dan Whitten during Tuesday’s (June 18) supervisors meeting pointed to one interesting aspect of the Cherry Bekaert report on its accounting investigation into signs of fraud within EDA finances. That aspect is the possibility now jailed former EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald has used stolen EDA assets to fund her civil litigation battle with Sayre.

Sayre and McDonald are engaged in dueling defamation of character lawsuits launched by Sayre in September 2018 (for $25,000 in small claims court) and in response by McDonald in February 2019 (for $600,000 in not small claims court).

What do the Sayre-McDonald lawsuit and the Titanic have in common?

McDonald ups the ante in civil litigation with county supervisor

“Is that the last embezzlement found by Cherry Bekaert?” Sayre asked Whitten of a $10,000 wire transfer authorized by McDonald to her civil suit law firm on November 21, 2018, ostensibly to pay for Afton Inn legal work.

“To my knowledge it is,” Whitten replied.

McDonald resigned under increased scrutiny from the EDA board as a result of the Cherry Bekaert financial accounting fraud investigation a month later on December 20, 2018.

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.

May 29, July 17 set for further motions arguments in EDA civil case

And while on May 22 Athey upheld McDonald civil attorney Jay McDannell’s motion to quash that portion of plaintiff subpoenas of his client’s financial records, circumstances have since changed.

Tensions were apparent between McDonald, far left, and Sayre, far right, by October 2018 during a County meeting the month after Sayre’s defamation lawsuit was filed against the then-sitting EDA executive director. Royal Examiner File Photos/Roger Bianchini

Two days later on March 24 McDonald was arrested by the Virginia State Police on four felony charges related to the EDA’s civil litigation initially seeking return of $17.6 million in EDA assets, an amount now up to $21.1 million. McDonald is the central figure among nine defendants, including Truc “Curt” Tran, Donald Poe, Justin Appleton and the late Daniel McEathron, and four LLC’s tied to McDonald and/or those people.

And 19 days after that civil case hearing, on June 11, files ordered produced by Athey on May 22 from the financial fraud investigation at the base of the EDA civil litigation were discovered by media unsealed in the civil case court file.

And in the “Afton Inn Embezzlements” section of the Cherry Bekaert investigation there appears to be a direct answer to Seltzer’s May 22 question to the court about how McDonald was financing her civil attorneys.

“MCDONALD requested a wire draw down from FB&T (First Bank & Trust) for $10,000 with instructions sent via e-mail Rochelle Longnecker of FB&T representing the $10,000 wire request (from funds restricted to Town or County use) was for the Afton Inn Attorney. MCDONALD also attached an invoice with wiring instructions to send the payment to ‘Berlik Law, LLC’ ” McDannell, who successfully argued the quashing of the EDA subpoena of McDonald’s financial records regarding payments to her civil attorneys on May 22, works for Berlik Law, LLC.

But perhaps McDonald discussed the “Afton Inn Embezzlements” aspect of the EDA civil case against her with her Berlik Law attorneys – I guess you might argue such discussion made them “Afton Inn Attorneys”.

Since forged Afton Inn invoices were alleged by McDonald in the EDA civil litigation filed March 26, work has stopped on restoration of the Afton Inn.

Perhaps we’ll ask whichever Berlik Law attorney who shows up for this morning’s hearing on the McDonald-Sayre defamation lawsuit in Warren County Circuit Court exactly what legal work related to Afton Inn redevelopment on the still EDA-owned property they may have done last year.

Whatever it may have been, it appears to have been counterproductive. Work under the auspices of Afton Inn developer 2 East Main Street LLC – not a defendant or named liable party in the EDA civil case – is now stalled due to the project’s alleged use by McDonald to embezzle EDA funds, also to pay off personal credit card debts, resulting in a halt on EDA payments to the developer for already completed contractor work.

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Lord Fairfax Health District warns residents of rabies risk

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The Lord Fairfax Health District is notifying the public that on June 14, 2019, in the 500 Block of Warren Ave. in Front Royal, a fight between a raccoon and a dog led to the death of the raccoon, which subsequently tested positive for rabies.

“At this time, we are not aware of any contact between this raccoon and any humans, however should any person or domestic animal that might have come in contact with a raccoon in this area in the last two weeks should receive a medical evaluation immediately,” said Lord Fairfax Health District Director Dr. Colin Greene. “Truthfully, any contact with a raccoon is dangerous and should result in a medical evaluation, but this one is especially so, since the animal was known to have active rabies.”

The health district strongly advises that people take the following steps to protect families and pets from exposure to rabies:

• Never approach or touch wild animals, especially any raccoon, fox, skunk, or bat, particularly if it behaves oddly or if it is seen in the daylight. These animals are the primary carriers of rabies in the eastern United States.

• Avoid stray cats and dogs. Feral or unknown cats and dogs may also carry rabies. Report bites or scratches from these animals to your physician or the health department. Feral cats are especially dangerous.

• If you are bitten, scratched, or licked by any of these animals, seek medical attention immediately. Rabies is fatal to both animals and humans once symptoms begin, but it can be prevented in humans if they receive a proper treatment soon after exposure.

• If the attack is from a cat, dog, or ferret, try to identify or capture it if possible. Rabies can be ruled out if these animals are observed to remain healthy for 10 days.

• Vaccinate all cats, dogs and ferrets against rabies (even if they don’t go outdoors) and keep their shots up to date. Even working cats on farms should be vaccinated, for their safety and yours.

• Do not feed wild animals or stray cats and dogs. Eliminate outdoor food sources around the home.

• Keep pets confined to your property or walk them on a leash. (Electric collars work on cats, too.)

• If one of your domestic animals is bitten or otherwise interacts with a wild animal, notify the local health department and animal control officer at once.

• Cooperate when the health department calls for information. We do not take people’s pets from them. We only want to keep track of them so we can stop the spread of rabies.

For more information, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/environmental-epidemiology/rabies-control/ or call the Warren County Health Department at 540-635-3159.

The Lord Fairfax Health District serves residents in the city of Winchester and Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren counties. For more information, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/lord-fairfax/.

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Cardinals lose to the Lumberjacks in a close game

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After splitting a double header with the Harrisonburg Turks in Harrisonburg Sunday night, the Cardinals returned to action at home last night. In a seesaw affair, the Cardinals lost a close game to the Covington Lumberjacks by a score of 6-4.

The teams traded the lead throughout the game. The Lumberjacks scored first, in the top of the first inning, but the Cardinals were unable to answer, stranding two runners in the bottom of the inning. Despite each team putting runners on base over the next two innings, the next score didn’t come until the fourth inning. Hits by Cardinals’ Easton Waterman, Jose Hernandez and Patrick Baggett scored two runs, giving the Cardinals a one run lead. It was short lived, because the Lumberjacks plated another two runs in the fifth, reclaiming the lead. Cardinals’ right fielder, Mason Nadeau, slapped a single in the fifth, scoring Steve Grober and tying the game at three each. The Lumberjacks took another one run lead in the sixth inning, and in the seventh, Easton Waterman’s third hit of the night scored Arrison Perez. The game was tied once again.

In the eighth inning, the Cardinals gave up two runs and two hits, and committed an error to score two more Lumberjack batters, giving the Jacks a 6-4 lead that the Cardinals wouldn’t recover for the rest of the game. Despite the loss, three Cardinals had multiple hits in the game: Easton Waterman went 3-4, and Carson Bell and Patrick Baggett each went 2-5. The Cardinals pitching staff combined for seven strikeouts in the game, and Dylan Verdonk took the loss for the Cardinals. The loss brings the Cardinals record to 6-10.

The threat of rain, and s series of unusual events made a tough day for the Cardinals. “It was a real grind today,” Coach Hurla said, “It wore on us.”

The Cardinals play at home again on Friday, against the Strasburg Express. Game time 7:00 pm.

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Crime/Court

Motions filed, August hearing date set in ‘Bawdy Place’ prosecutions

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Attorney David Downes in file photo addressing the Front Royal Town Council on other issues – Royal Examiner File Photos/Roger Bianchini

A hearing date of August 13, at 2 p.m., was set Tuesday for pre-trial motions in three cases related at least indirectly to former Front Royal Mayor Hollis Tharpe’s May 2018 visit to a Biggs Drive massage parlor. The cases of Cynthia Atkinson Bailey, her daughter Brandy Nicole Atkinson and son Jesse Thomas Atkinson have been joined for trial according to defense counsel David Downes.

Downes filed motions, including discovery, during the Tuesday, June 18, Warren County General District Court morning docket. The criminal complaint against Bailey and her co-defendants alleges that massages of a sexual nature were a prominent part of the services “menu” being offered at the Biggs Drive address.

A gigolo, I mean “Giglio Motion” filed by Downes Tuesday sought information on potential prosecution witness Tiffany Amber Wymer. The motion cites a felony charge “on or about December 6, 2018” for “possession with intent to distribute marijuana” that according to the defense motion was dropped by prosecutors on May 28, 2019 in Frederick County General District Court.

Downes questions if the resolution of that case related to Wymer’s anticipated testimony in this (the Bailey et al) prosecution and “whether she has received immunity from prosecution for” a variety of other possible charges, including “her fraudulent welfare applications … operating an illegal sex chat website” and “prostitution charges”. Downes further asks how many incidents of prostitution Wymer may have received immunity for.

Bailey, 55, was arrested on May 15 by Front Royal Police along with her daughter, son and stepson Joshua Allan Stamper. Bailey’s charges include maintaining a “bawdy place” (defined as gross, indecent or overly graphic establishment), receiving money from earnings of prostitution, prostitution, and cruelty to children, the latter charge related to the presence of a juvenile in the residence who “answered phone calls, arranged appointments and walked clients to the rooms” according to warrants. Bailey’s relations’ charges relate to various jobs they performed at what was cited as an unlicensed massage parlor operating at the business address of Blue Valley Services.

Hollis Tharpe chairing a council work session prior to his misdemeanor indictment and resignation to fight the charge against him. He has a trial date looming two weeks before the November election day.

While Tharpe has admitted to visiting the business he has asserted it was for legitimate massages on his 67-year-old body. Tharpe was indicted on a misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution charge on April 15. That day he put himself on administrative leave and four days later announced he would resign as mayor, effective May 2. Tharpe explained his decision as preventing his legal situation from interfering in the conduct of Town business.

Tharpe was in court Monday, June 17, to have motions and trial dates set in Warren County Circuit Court where his misdemeanor solicitation case is being heard due to the direct indictment by a Warren County Grand Jury.

Trial date of Oct. 25 set in Tharpe solicitation case – prosecution seeks change of venue

It was a grand jury, ironically perhaps, chaired by now Interim Front Royal Mayor Matt Tederick.

Matt Tederick has taken smoothly to the mayor’s seat vacated by Hollis Tharpe’s resignation – here the interim mayor draws laughter after announcing he pulled his name out of hat as winner of a raffle drawing.

Two days after her arrest, Bailey attorney Downes issued a press release asserting that his client’s prosecution was “retaliatory” and “selective” due to her assertion to authorities that she would plead her Fifth Amendment right not to self-incriminate if asked to testify regarding clients, including Tharpe. In his release Downes noted that Bailey had initially been arrested on June 7, 2018 on a charge of prostitution. That arrest came one week after the Tharpe massage parlor incident cited in his indictment. That charge was dropped by the commonwealth on October 2, 2018.

Massage parlor defense counsel cites ‘retaliation’ over targeting of Tharpe

Downes release led to responses from both Tharpe Special Prosecutor Heather Hovermale and FRPD Chief Kahle Magalis denying any inappropriate actions related to the massage parlor warrants
and investigation.

Winchester prosecutor’s office responds to Downes press release

FRPD adds response to Downes release on Tharpe-Bailey investigations

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Upcoming Events

Jun
20
Thu
10:00 am Summer Art Week – Session 1 @ Art in the Valley
Summer Art Week – Session 1 @ Art in the Valley
Jun 20 @ 10:00 am – 12:30 pm
Summer Art Week - Session 1 @ Art in the Valley
Summer Art Week for children is designed for students who love art and want to go beyond what they have experienced in the school setting, while meeting the Virginia Standards of Art. Recommended ages for[...]
5:00 pm Annual Wine Pull @ Blue Wing Frog
Annual Wine Pull @ Blue Wing Frog
Jun 20 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Annual Wine Pull @ Blue Wing Frog
5th Annual Wine Pull | Thursday June 20, 2019 | 5:00 – 7:00pm | Blue Wing Frog, 219 Chester Street. Tickets: $40.00 – Includes food, glass of wine, and a bottle of wine or wine[...]
Jun
21
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10:00 am Summer Art Week – Session 1 @ Art in the Valley
Summer Art Week – Session 1 @ Art in the Valley
Jun 21 @ 10:00 am – 12:30 pm
Summer Art Week - Session 1 @ Art in the Valley
Summer Art Week for children is designed for students who love art and want to go beyond what they have experienced in the school setting, while meeting the Virginia Standards of Art. Recommended ages for[...]
Jun
22
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9:30 am Acrylic Pour Workshop – Level 1 @ Art in the Valley
Acrylic Pour Workshop – Level 1 @ Art in the Valley
Jun 22 @ 9:30 am – 12:00 pm
Acrylic Pour Workshop - Level 1 @ Art in the Valley
Learn the process and art of acrylic pouring with artist and instructor Jan Settle. You’ll have a fun & exciting experience creating your own original masterpieces in this workshop! Learn how to manipulate paint &[...]
1:00 pm Meet the Author: NP Haley @ Royal Oak Bookshop
Meet the Author: NP Haley @ Royal Oak Bookshop
Jun 22 @ 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Meet the Author: NP Haley @ Royal Oak Bookshop
Lily and the Ghost of Michael Thorne By local author, NP Haley Feeling someone or something looking at her, Lily peered into the shrouded forest and buildings surrounding the alley. Blinking rapidly to make sure[...]
7:30 pm Middle School Pool Party @ Claude A. Stokes Community Swimming Pool
Middle School Pool Party @ Claude A. Stokes Community Swimming Pool
Jun 22 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Middle School Pool Party @ Claude A. Stokes Community Swimming Pool
Middle School Pool Party! FREE to all Warren County students who will be in the 6th-8th grades for the 2019-2020 school year. Event will take place at Claude A. Stokes Community Swimming Pool on June[...]
Jun
23
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all-day Reflections on Hubble Art Show @ Lake Frederick - Shenandoah Lodge
Reflections on Hubble Art Show @ Lake Frederick - Shenandoah Lodge
Jun 23 all-day
Reflections on Hubble Art Show @ Lake Frederick - Shenandoah Lodge
Reflections on Hubble Art Show June 4 – 23 at Lake Frederick June 4, 2019 – open to public June 12, 2019 – Meet the Artist Reception 4-6 p.m. June 23, 2019 – Final Day Seven Lake[...]
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10:00 am Design a chair for the SPCA CHAI... @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties
Design a chair for the SPCA CHAI... @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties
Jun 24 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Design a chair for the SPCA CHAIR-ity Brunch @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties
Calling all artists!! Design a chair for the SPCA CHAIR-ity Brunch and save homeless animals. Pick up a chair from the SPCA Thrift Shop, build a chair, up-cycle a chair, paint a chair, or upholster[...]
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27
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6:00 pm Sip & Glaze @ The Vine & Leaf
Sip & Glaze @ The Vine & Leaf
Jun 27 @ 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
Sip & Glaze @ The Vine & Leaf
Sip & Glaze at The Vine & Leaf! Join us for an evening of good company while you glaze your own lunch set (bowl and plate).
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29
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1:00 pm Botanical Drawing Workshop – Sum... @ Art in the Valley
Botanical Drawing Workshop – Sum... @ Art in the Valley
Jun 29 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Botanical Drawing Workshop - Summer 2019 @ Art in the Valley
Learn and practice the art of botanical drawing with local artist and instructor Elena Maza. This weekend workshop will focus on learning basic drawing skills as applied to botanicals: basic line drawings of leaves, flowers,[...]