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Intergalactic technology lands at this year’s Sami.Con library celebration



Connor, Susan and Mason Clark stop by the hospital after the Sami.Con to visit grandma Hazel in Lynn Care. Photo / Mike McCool

This table harkens back to the original Marvel and DC comic book-theme characters of the 2015 Sami.Con – Photos/Roger Bianchini

On Saturday, September 15, the fourth annual Samuels Public Library “Sami.Con” festival continued its theme of popular culture fantasy, sci-fi and wizardry with the “Fantastic Books – And Where to Find Them” takeoff on the Harry Potter offshoot hit movie “Fantastic Beasts – And Where To Find Them”.

Previous themes have tagged landmark and never-ending sequel series and movie engines from “Star Trek” with “Read Long and Prosper” for all you of Vulcan ancestry; to Star Wars-inspired “Discover the Force – of Your Library” for the Jedi in training; and the initial Marvel Comics superhero-themed “Discover the Power of Your Library Card”.

Costume tributes to, not only the current, but all previous themes were apparent in the costuming for the well-attended 2018 event.

The local Sami.Con takeoff on the national Comi.Con celebration of comic books impact on popular culture coincides with National Library Card Sign-Up Month – still in progress through the end of September.

‘Witch’ book were you looking for? A helpful library employee may be asking

The Bookmobile lands

Appropriately considering the technology-themed aspect of Sami.Con, a wizardly-attired Samuels Library Director Harold Hayes noted the presence at this year’s event of the Digital Bookmobile.  The digital Bookmobile is a galactic emissary of Cleveland, Ohio-based “OverDrive” a subsidiary company of Tokyo-based Rakuten – how’s that for an intergalactic connection!

According to company officials in Cleveland base, Rakuten-OverDrive is the leading digital reading platform for over 40,000 libraries and schools worldwide, delivering the industry’s largest catalog of e-books, audio-books, magazines and other digital media.

The library director at your service, as always – this time Wizard Harold Hayes pointed us to the Digital Bookmobile …

“We want to get the word out – because many people are not aware we have this service through which you can upload e-books and audio-books through your phone or computer,” Hayes told this technological dinosaur.

“Huh,” the tech dinosaur replied.

However, a quick visit with the helpful “crew” of the Bookmobile situated strategically in the library landing zone, I mean parking lot, cleared things up – as much as things can be cleared up for someone still carrying what at best might be described as a semi-smart phone.

… which had just landed in the Library rocket pad adjacent to the parking lot

According to the literature available on the Bookmobile intergalactic vessel – at least it felt like the interior of an “Interstellar Overdrive” (with a nod to Pink Floyd) ship to this earthling – the “Libby” app enabling e-book and e-audio downloads is available “from your device’s app store”; part 2 – “Open the app and find your library … by name, city or zip code; part 3 – “Browse your library’s collection and borrow a title.  When prompted sign in” – you’ll need your library card to complete this step; and part 4 – your borrowed titles appear on your “Shelf and download to the app automatically so you can read them when you’re offline.”

The entrance to the Cleveland, Ohio earth-based ship offering direct e- and audio-book downloads to your devices

And for the technology-impaired for whom the free “Libby” app is not compatible with your device – “Libby” is available for Android, iOS and Windows 10 devices – do not lose hope!  “If you can’t get “Libby” on your device, you can try using the original OverDrive app – for more help, visit <>

And may the force of all those fantastic beasts from a galaxy far, far away be with you, prospering for all eternity.

The interior and exterior crew and passenger lounges aboard the Bookmobile – you can read wherever you are in the universe.

A Samuels shout out

Library officials acknowledged provision of the Lego Table pictured here, courtesy of the Shenandoah Discovery Museum in Winchester.  Death Star Storm Troopers set up earth base camp at Legion Post 501 we were informed by sources.

First aid was offered to Muggles and all ‘Fantastic Beasts’ in need

There was a lot of action from one end to the other inside the Samuels Library Sami.Con home base

And those Death Star troopers are always a problem – here one appears to be checking for possible adversaries being created nearby on the Lego table.

A few of the other businesses and organizations library personnel said deserved a shout out are: Michaels of Front Royal who contributed supplies and staff to help attendees create wands and slime; Selah Theater who performed a Readers Theater from Beedle the Bard; Terry Fox with The Turning Point, who demonstrated making wooden wands and then gave them to attendees; Front Royal Brewing Company who made nonalcoholic butter beer for attendees; and Penguin Random House who donated many of the giveaways.

Funding for SamiCon comes from The Friends of Samuels Library.

“And that doesn’t even begin to cover the many volunteers and vendors, mostly local businesses who shared their time and talents.  We were truly blessed to have so many different businesses and organizations come together to make this the most successful event to date with more than 3100 attendees as the final door count at the end of the day,” said Adult Reference Supervisor Kitti McKean.

He who would change the future – must READ, a lot …

See, it’s working already – our trooper seems to have been recruited to library security …

… allowing for more fun at Library Base One

And where there is an appreciation of reading, there is generally an appreciation of the arts …

‘No, don’t go that way’ one friend may be warning of a Death Star trooper encounter …

But it’s okay, even off-duty Death Star troopers like to read – at least scripts.

Susan, Connor, Mason and Kelly Clark have a blast at Sami.Con 2018! Kelly (right) won second place in ‘Ages 13 & Up Costume Contest’ and ‘Best Overall Villain’

Local News

Skyline High School’s Environmental Science, Ecology, and Green Team is taking on another Action Project



Conservation Greetings!

We are learning to be compassionate, global-minded, Earth stewards in Environmental Science, Ecology, and Green Team at Skyline High School. That means, taking what we learn about in class and using it to better the world. One of our Action Projects is to help clean up our waterways… from narrow streams that flow into the Shenandoah River, to the Potomac River, to the Chesapeake Bay, and on into the Atlantic Ocean. We have been horrified to see pictures of aquatic organisms suffering and dying after consuming and becoming entangled in plastics. How sad it is to learn that soon our oceans will have more plastic particles in them than fish!

Please help us change this! We want to raise awareness in a meaningful and ethical way through a “Buy One, Give One” fundraiser. We are selling cotton, organic, fair trade, reusable grocery bags along with an autographed copy of one of Ellie Jackson’s storybooks, “Duffy’s Lucky Escape!,” “Nelson’s Dangerous Dive,” or “Marli’s Tangled Tale.” Each story is based on the true story of a sea animal who has suffered because of human waste. Our goal is to not only bring awareness through the selling of the products, but also to educate our Warren County Kindergartners (almost 400) by “giving” one bag/book combo to each of them at an educational assembly that SHS students will present. We want to educate the children about the benefits to people and the Earth of using “organic,” “fair trade,” and “reusable” products. We hope the gifts and education will help motivate them and their families to carry it forward.

“Buy One, Give One”
Pick 1 Bag & Pick 1 Book = $35.00

CLICK HERE to download and fill out the order form. Drop off or mail the form to Kara Lewallen at Skyline High School. You can also contact Kara with any questions you may have by emailing or calling (540) 631-0366.

If you do not feel you can buy a bag and book, there are other ways to help…

  1. Reduce your plastic use.
  2. Recycle the recyclable plastics.
  3. Vote at the grocery store by choosing biodegradable packaging when possible.
  4. Educate others for the good of our Earth.

A tremendous THANK YOU to Rappahannock Electric Cooperative ($500), Walmart ($1,000), Gallant International, and Ellie Jackson for helping us make a positive difference!

With love for Earth and Organisms,
SHS Environmental Science, Ecology, & Green Team

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Local News

Iwo Jima, the iconic battle and legacy



Staff Sergeant Louis R. Lowery, USMC, staff photographer for "Leatherneck" magazine [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. First Iwo Jima Flag Raising. Small flag carried ashore by the 2d Battalion, 28th Marines is planted atop Mount Suribachi at 1020, 23 February 1945 This picture is usually captioned as: 1st Lieutenant Harold G. Schrier with Platoon Sergeant Ernest I. Thomas, Jr. (both seated), PFC James Michels (in foreground with carbine), Sergeant Henry O. Hansen (standing, wearing soft cap), Corporal Charles W. Lindberg (standing, extreme right), on Mount Suribachi at the first flag raising. However, PFC Raymond Jacobs disputed these identifications,[1] and asserted that it should be: PFC James Robeson (lower left corner; not visible in this cropped version of the photo), Lieutenant Harold Schrier (sitting behind his legs), PFC Raymond Jacobs (carrying radio), Sergeant Henry Hansen (cloth cap), unknown (lower hand on pole), Sergeant Ernest Thomas (back to camera), Phm2c John Bradley (helmet above Thomas), PFC James Michels (with carbine), Cpl Charles Lindberg (above Michels).

On Wednesday, January 16th at 2:15 pm, Randolph-Macon Academy hosted a free presentation entitled, “Iwo Jima, the iconic battle and legacy,” presented by Shayne Jarosz.

In addition to serving as the Director of Special Events for the Iwo Jima Association of America, Inc., Jarosz is a Marine Corps veteran and taught history for 28 years in Fairfax County. In his current position, he provides military historical tours to battlefield sites around the world, including Guadalcanal, Guam, Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima, Korea and Vietnam. Jarosz’s presentation on Iwo Jima took place in Melton Memorial Gymnasium on the R-MA campus.

For more information, visit the Iwo Jima Association of America’s website.

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Local News

Why is my electric bill so high?



Photo and video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

Front Royal Town Manager Joe Waltz spoke today (January 17th) with Mike McCool, Publisher of the Royal Examiner about the very question.

See related story.


The Department of Energy Services provides electrical services for almost 8,000 customers in the Town of Front Royal and Warren County. The Town has been providing this service for over 123 years while providing the best reliable service in the Shenandoah Valley.

The Town of Front Royal is one of sixteen municipal electric systems in Virginia and is one of over 2,000 municipal-owned systems in the United States. The Energy Resource Department is a self supported enterprise fund, with their total costs for operation derived through the electric rate structure.

The Town is also actively participating in both Federal and State legislation to maintain the safest, most reliable and economical cost available for our customers to keep rates low. They are active members in the following organizations:

Municipal Electric Power Association of Virginia (MEPAV).
American Municipal Power – Ohio (AMP-Ohio).
American Public Power Association (APPA).
International Municipal Signal Association (IMSA).

The operation of an electrical system is a twenty-four hour, 365 day a year job. The Town of Front Royal Electric Department strives to keep your lights on and your power outages to a minimum. Even during the worst conditions be assured that your friends and neighbors at the Energy Services Department will be working hard to restore your power.

Their mission is to provide the best quality power and customer service while keeping the price low and service interruptions to a minimum. If you have suggestions or questions, please do not hesitate to contact them.

Online contact form.

1101 Manassas Avenue
Front RoyalVA 22630
Phone: 540-635-3027
Fax: 540-631-3620
Monday – Friday
7 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
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Local News

Citizens speak out about high electric bills



Photo and video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

On January 14, 2019,  Front Royal Town Council held a public hearing to amend Front Royal Municipal Town Code Chapter 70 pertaining to Electricity to bring it up-to-date and consistent with other areas of the Town Code, as presented. Several citizen spoke to the the Council about their utility bills and why their electric bills are so high.

See related story here.

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Local News

Pedestrian struck near Rural King in Front Royal



FRONT ROYAL – A pedestrian was struck by a pickup truck Tuesday afternoon in front of Rural King Front Royal Police say.

According to a press release from the office of Chief Kahle Magalis, a call came in around 3 p.m. regarding a pedestrian struck in front of the retail store, located at 465 South Street in the Royal Plaza Shopping Center.

Responding officers found the pedestrian, Jeffrey Richardson, 40, of Reliance, lying in the parking lot.  The release states that “it was determined that Richardson was struck by a 2011 Ford F-150 operated by Thomas Clark, 83, of Front Royal.”

Clark stated to officers that his foot had slipped off the brake while going over a speed bump and his foot made contact with the accelerator, which caused him to accidentally strike Richardson.

Richardson was transported to Warren Memorial Hospital and then transferred to Winchester Medical Centers Trauma Unit for observation.

No charges have been placed against the driver at this time.

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Local News

U.S. Postal Service announces new prices for 2019



WASHINGTON — The United States Postal Service filed notice with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) today of price changes to take effect Jan. 27, 2019.

The proposed prices, approved by the Governors of the Postal Service, would raise Mailing Services product prices approximately 2.5 percent. Shipping Services price increases vary by product. For example, Priority Mail Express will increase 3.9 percent and Priority Mail will increase 5.9 percent. Although Mailing Services price increases are based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), Shipping Services prices are primarily adjusted according to market conditions. The Governors believe these new rates will keep the Postal Service competitive while providing the agency with needed revenue.

If favorably reviewed by the PRC, the new prices will include a 5-cent increase in the price of a First-Class Mail Forever stamp, from 50 cents to 55 cents. The single-piece additional ounce price will be reduced to 15 cents, so a 2-ounce stamped letter, such as a typical wedding invitation, will cost less to mail, decreasing from 71 cents to 70 cents.

The proposed Mailing Services price changes include:

Letters (1 oz.)
Letters additional ounces
Letters (metered 1 oz.)
Outbound International Letters (1 oz.)
Domestic Postcards
50 cents
21 cents
47 cents
35 cents
55 cents
15 cents
50 cents
35 cents

The proposed domestic Priority Mail Retail Flat Rate price changes are:

Small Flat Rate Box
Medium Flat Rate Box
Large Flat Rate Box
APO/FPO Large Flat Rate Box
Regular Flat Rate Envelope
Legal Flat Rate Envelope
Padded Flat Rate Envelope

First-Class Package Service, a lightweight expedited offering used primarily by businesses for fulfillment purposes, will move to zone-based pricing to better align with the cost of service and improve value based on distance.

The Postal Service has some of the lowest letter mail postage rates in the industrialized world and also continues to offer a great value in shipping. Unlike some other shippers, the Postal Service does not add surcharges for fuel, residential delivery, or regular Saturday or holiday season delivery.

The PRC will review the prices before they are scheduled to take effect Jan. 27, 2019. The complete Postal Service price filings with the new prices for all products can be found on the PRC site under the Daily Listings section at (see listing for Oct. 10). For the Mailing Services filing see Docket No. R2019-1. For the Shipping Services filing see Docket No. CP2019-3. The price change tables are also available on the Postal Service website at

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products, and services to fund its operations.

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2:00 pm Musical Theatre MasterClass with... @ Youth Development Center
Musical Theatre MasterClass with... @ Youth Development Center
Jan 19 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Musical Theatre MasterClass with Cait Kelley @ Youth Development Center
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2:00 pm Winter Clinics for WCGLLS @ Warren County High School
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Winter Clinics for WCGLLS @ Warren County High School
Warren County Girls Little League Softball is proud to announce that Winter Clinics start Sunday, January 12th at WCHS. This is a great opportunity for one-on-one direction and coaching during our skill building activities! Winter[...]
6:00 pm Demystifying Digital Photography... @ Art in the Valley
Demystifying Digital Photography... @ Art in the Valley
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