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Kick off event for Warren Coalition’s HALO Read–an affiliate program of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library



A registration/kick-off event for HALO Read (Helping All Little One’s Read) will be held Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, from 1-3 pm at the Lions Shelter #1 next to Fantasy Land in Front Royal.  Families of children aged 0-5 should plan to attend to enjoy a fun-filled, socially distanced experience while registering for this free program (which is open to all Warren County residents). Administered by the Warren Coalition (in partnership with Warren County Public Schools and WHAT MATTERS), HALO Read is an affiliate program of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

Each month, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library mails a high-quality, age-appropriate book to all registered children, addressed to them, at no cost to the child’s family. The Imagination Library provides the infrastructure of the core program including managing the secure central database for the Book Order System and coordinating book selections and wholesale purchasing. It also incurs the cost of the program’s administrative expenses and coordinates the monthly mailings.

Many groups and individuals work hard behind the scenes to make special deliveries possible for each child. The Warren Coalition is the affiliate partner charged with processing registrations and fundraising for the approximately $25 in postage fees to fund each child’s book per year, totaling $125 for the entire program from birth to age 5 (just over two dollars per month).  Sponsors and donors are needed to ensure that every infant-preschooler in the county can have access to this impactful program implemented by The Dollywood Foundation, which was created in 1988 by the ever-generous Dolly Parton.

At the kickoff event, the Warren Coalition will also recognize and thank the founding sponsors, who made bringing this fantastic program to children in Warren County possible.

Front Royal Virginia

Founding Sponsors Include

Rotary District 7570–through a matching collaborative district grant in partnership with the Rotary Club of the Northern Shenandoah Valley, Rotary Club of Warren County, and Rotary Club of Front Royal (to sponsor 100 newborns through the entire five-year program while also providing literacy materials to the Front Royal Light up Academy and Maisha Home for Children in Uganda)

American Woodmark

Windcrest Foundation

Middleburg Library Advisory Board

Many Generous Individual Donors.

To become a sponsor, donor, or to make your financial contribution a part of the Rotary District 7570 matching grant, simply log onto  Through HALO Read, donors are also given an option to contribute an additional small donation of any amount to support literacy abroad, if they choose to expand their generosity internationally.

About the Registration Event at Fantasy Land Lion’s Shelter on 11/22/20

Attendees at the event will be required to wear masks and the event will follow social distancing practices.  Attendance of the event is not required for registration for the program.  Registration forms can also be picked up at the Warren County Community Center at 538 Villa Avenue in Front Royal and mailed back to PO Box 2058 Front Royal, VA  22630.  Learn more about Warren Coalition and HALO Read at (please note, registration is not available online, an application must be filled out and mailed to Warren Coalition’s PO Box).

About Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library 

Since launching in 1995, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has become the preeminent early childhood book gifting program in the world. The flagship program of The Dollywood Foundation has mailed well over 100 million free books in Australia, Canada, The Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom and the United States. The Imagination Library mails more than 1.4 million high-quality, age-appropriate books each month to registered children from birth to age five. Dolly envisioned creating a lifelong love of reading, inspiring them to dream. The impact of the program has been widely researched and results suggest positive increases in key early childhood literacy metrics. Penguin Random House is the exclusive publisher for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. For more information, please visit

About Warren County Community Health Coalition – Warren Coalition 

Warren Coalition is a nonprofit agency established in 1994 to help fill the gaps in health care and substance abuse awareness to the community. The Coalition began under the guidance of Warren Memorial Hospital as an outreach project but has since grown and was incorporated in 2001.  The office is currently located in the Warren County Community Center.  Their mission is to make Warren County a safe, healthy, and drug-free community through many programs and in collaboration with 15+ member agencies.

Are you or your group in need of a free video or article that could be created to help market your cause or event?   Or do you have an interesting story to share?  Beth’s WHAT MATTERS Warren videos post on Facebook and YouTube. They are also shared with the Royal Examiner online (most are distributed in their daily email blast to thousands of local residents). Sign up for the Royal Examiner at and check out the “WHAT MATTERS Warren” tab under “Features.”

Learn more about Beth’s nonprofit,  WHAT MATTERS, a 501 (c) (3), at–check out the “Community” section to request a TOWN TIP or WHAT MATTERS WARREN BETHvid or contact her at 540-671-6145 or

WHAT MATTERS is a 501(c)(3) that focuses on local and global outreach to help spread the word, support and raise funds for causes that matter (primarily through Facebook). WHAT MATTERS has ZERO overhead as 100% of the expenses are funded by Beth’s real estate business thanks to her clients and supporters.  Every cent donated goes to the cause.  If you’d like to get involved with her local or international nonprofit work or travel to Africa with her on a future trip to work with the children of Light up Life Foundations, please visit Be sure to check out the “projects” tab for her current WHAT MATTERS Initiatives.

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Kwon’s Champion School in Front Royal announces second-degree black belt achievements



On Saturday, August 13, 2022, two Front Royal, Virginia natives achieved their second­-degree black belts in mixed martial arts self-defense worldwide.

Pearl W. Nickens Jr., age 69, and Aries W. Nickens Bolanos, age 13, attend Kwon’s Champion School in Front Royal. They study mixed martial arts under World Grandmaster H.Y. Kwon. Pearl and Aries have been studying mixed martial arts for over six years and have exceeded many expectations.

From left to right: Aries W. Nickens Bolanos, Grandmaster H.Y. Kwon, and Pearl W. Nickens Jr.

Grandmaster Kwon states that both students had almost perfect scores for passing. Pearl strives to accomplish every task set before him. He’s very open-minded, physically fit, and knows that martial arts are not just for fighting but for helping others in many different ways. Grandmaster Kwon then asked Pearl’s wife, Donna Nickens, and daughter, Dominique Nickens, “How much has Pearl changed?” They both stated that he’s become more passionate about working with others and more willing to listen to the situation before passing judgment. “Overall, he’s grown more than we ever thought he would.”

Grandmaster Kwon then talked with Aries, who asked his family about his schoolwork and listening. Aries spoke to his mother, Dominique Nickens, asking, “How often do I listen to you, Mam?” She then responded, “100% of the time.” “How is my schoolwork, Mam?” “School work is excellent. He’s got straight A’s and is in all advanced classes.” Grandmaster Kwon asked Aries’s grandparents, Pearl and Donna Nickens, “How much has Aries changed since he began?” They responded, “Aries is more respectful and open to trying new things. He stands up for all the little guys. He doesn’t like bullies and doesn’t let bullies pick on anyone when he’s around. He knows everyone deserves a chance in life, sometimes more than one.”

Grandmaster H.Y. Kwon’s Champion School teaches you many skills and techniques, such as self-defense, confidence, respect, and an all-around healthy way to express stress and manage weight. All goals are achievable if you take them one step at a time.

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Blue Ridge Wildlife Center Patient of the Week: Barred Owl



This is the difference a bath (or three) can make!

One of Loudoun County’s amazing Humane Law Enforcement Officers truly went above and beyond to rescue this Barred Owl after it was found down in a wastewater management facility.

Photos / Blue Ridge Wildlife Center

The owl was found covered in thick, slimy waste material. With soaked feathers, flight and thermoregulation (maintaining body temperature) was difficult to impossible for this bird. It is shocking that it was able to get out of the tank and onto land!

Upon arrival to BRWC, the owl was given fluids and warmed so that we could safely sedate for the first bath. Once bathed, we could see the burns on many areas of the skin from the waste material.

After three baths and lots of care, the patient was moved to an outdoor enclosure. The team still monitored the owl closely as its burns healed and it worked to recondition its feathers.

After five days in care, we are happy to report that this patient had a successful recovery and has been released!

We are lucky to have so many amazing animal control officers in our area who help rescue wildlife everyday – special thanks to Officer Bremy of Loudoun County Animal Services for this amazing rescue!

Looking for an easy way to help native wildlife? Become a monthly BRWC donor! For as little as $5/month, you can provide year-round, sustainable support that helps us fulfill our mission.

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Medical Examiner: Ralph Ennis died of ‘natural causes’



On Monday, August 15, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Manassas released the cause and manner of death for Ralph Ennis, 77, who died on April 15, 13 days after a traffic stop by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office during which he was injured and then hospitalized.

In an email response, Arkuie Williams, Northern District Administrator of Virginia’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner told Royal Examiner that: “The cause of death is complications of Alzheimer disease, cerebral amyloid angiopathy, and hypternsive atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. The manner of death is natural.”

Royal Examiner responded with the following questions to Williams:

“Does that rule out that his head trauma injuries suffered 13 days earlier had no impact on the below stated causes, most particularly cerebral amyloid angiopathy, and hypternsive atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease?

“Is there any possible debate that the brain bleed and shock-trauma of April 2, could have aggravated his pre-existing conditions and these combined natural causes of death? – Thank you for any clarification.”

Williams responded, stating, “Our office is unable to provide any additional information to the public. We are restricted to only providing the cause and manner of death for our death investigations.”

Several weeks prior to the traffic stop, Ennis had been the subject of a Silver Alert on March 11, 2022, following an endangered, missing person report issued by Pennsylvania State Police on behalf of Ennis’ wife, Linda. Deputies located Ennis in downtown Front Royal at his longtime friends Ralph and Sue Waller’s East Main Street pawn shop. The Wallers offered to let Ennis stay there until his son Ian could travel to Front Royal from his Staunton home and take his father home.

See: Who was Ralph Ennis? Local friends mourn the loss of ‘an easy-going, sweet guy’ – Royal Examiner

Mr. Ennis died on April 15 under the care of Blue Ridge Hospice in Winchester, where he had been transferred several days earlier by the affiliated Winchester Medical Center.

“All we know is he was in good health and he never got out of the hospital after that happened – and that’s a FACT,” Ralph Waller said of the Medical Examiner’s finding Ennis died of natural causes less than two weeks after his injuries incurred during the traffic stop.

Ralph Ennis in Winchester Medical Center, according to his visitors, about ten days after the traffic stop. Photo Courtesy Ralph & Sue Waller

Contacted, Ennis’ son Ian said he had received the medical examiner’s report but declined further comment at this time. Ralph Ennis’ wife Linda also stated that she had received the report today but had no further comment.


On April 2, 2022, Ennis was stopped by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) for traveling eight miles over the speed limit and driving erratically on Winchester Road southbound toward Front Royal, the Sheriff’s Office stated in a previous media release.

The pursuit continued for about 3.75 miles, with Ennis eventually pulling into the 7-11 convenience store at 251 Crooked Run Plaza, where he parked his truck. By this time, the Sheriff’s Office release stated, “additional WCSO deputies and a Front Royal Police Officer were on scene, or just arriving as the high-risk traffic stop was underway.”

Video footage from the bodycam of a Front Royal Police Officer, who was called to assist with the traffic stop, shows the 77-year-old Ennis moving slowly toward deputies with his keys held out. A first deputy grabs Ennis and roughly pulls his hands behind his back cuffing him and slamming his head into his truck cab. A second Warren County Sheriff’s Office deputy then charges the scene, tackling both Ennis and the first deputy, taking both to the ground with the elderly Ennis on the bottom, apparently striking his head hard on the paved parking lot.

WCSO Major Jeffrey Driskill previously stated that Ennis was taken to Warren Memorial Hospital where Emergency Department physicians suspected “signs of an internal head hemorrhage” after which Ennis was transported to Winchester Medical Center. Driskill previously stated that Mr. Ennis was “exhibiting signs of cognitive issues consistent with dementia or Alzheimer’s.”

Former Northern District Administrator Jennifer Smith, of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, first told Royal Examiner in a May email, “This case is pending. Currently, cases are taking roughly 12 -16 weeks to complete, as with all cases the OCME goal is to complete them within 90-days.” Each subsequent inquiry regarding the status of the autopsy and lab tests yielded the same information.

Investigations status

The Warren County Sheriff’s Office has been tight-lipped regarding an internal investigation into the traffic stop. Sheriff Mark Butler previously told Royal Examiner that a “board of inquiry” comprised of WCSO senior officers and a member of an outside law enforcement agency had been formed, but no information has been released about who is on that panel.

After the traffic stop, one of the two involved deputies was reassigned to administrative duties; another was placed on administrative leave with pay. When asked if one or both of the deputies had left the employ of the WCSO, Butler declined to comment.

Contacted Monday by Royal Examiner, following the Medical Examiner’s release of information in the Ennis case, Sheriff Mark Butler stated, “My heart and prayers go out to all families involved in a trying time for all. The Warren County Sheriff’s Office will continue to work and hold itself in a professional matter at all times. “

When asked about the employment status of the deputies involved in the traffic stop, Butler stated that he could not discuss personnel matters.

Virginia State Police Investigator Adam Galton was assigned to investigate the circumstances related to the incident and subsequent death of Ennis. Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney John Bell referred the case to a special prosecutor; consequently the Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office is overseeing the VSP investigation and will decide whether to charge the deputies once the investigation is complete.

Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office Chief of Staff Anthony Kostelecky previously told Royal Examiner that he had no comment regarding the investigation or when it might conclude.

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Tree Stewards announce a welcoming addition to the Royal Shenandoah Greenway



If you drove along South Street in Front Royal last Friday or Saturday, you may have noticed a lot of activity along the section of the Royal Shenandoah Greenway that crosses Royal Plaza. On Friday, the crew from the Department of Public Works was busy digging holes in preparation for a major tree planting. On Saturday, August 13th, members of the Environmental Sustainability Advisory Committee, the Front Royal Warren County Tree Stewards, the Front Royal Warren County Anti-Litter Council, and citizen volunteers came together to plant 18 Crepe Myrtles (Natchez variety) and 4 native SweetSpire shrubs along the greenway.

This idea to create a “boulevard” of trees sprang from a meeting in March, with groups sharing their missions and hopes for planting more ‘greenery’ along the Greenway. For this project, an allée of Crepe Myrtles was anticipated to be a win-win, creating a better experience for greenway users as well as beautifying both the Plaza and South Street that are so well-traveled by locals and visitors.

The project was made possible through funding from the Beautification of Front Royal Committee and with kind permission from the management of Royal Plaza. Jim Osborn, the Town’s Arborist, guided the project from tree selection to planting day, and the Public Works crew will follow up with watering needs to assure these new trees get off to a good start. The Department of Public Works also added an additional street light for safety along the path prior to planting. Our thanks to the DPW crew; Eric Ebling, Bill Simmons, John McDonald, Allen Pack and J’son McConnell.

Plans are underway for more collaborative projects of this type around Front Royal. We invite you to drive by South Street and take a look at this welcoming addition to our lovely town!

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A view from a bench on Main Street: Sue Laurence, White Picket Fence



On Saturday morning, our publisher Mike McCool joined White Picket Fence proprietor Sue Laurence on a bench in front of White Picket Fence, on the 400 block of Main Street in Front Royal, and discussed all the events going on in Front Royal this fall, from Octoberfest, Festival of Leaves and Zombie Walk to name a few – all happening in Front Royal.

The big news is the 50th Annual Festival of Leaves happening on October 14-15, 2022 in downtown Front Royal.  The Festival of Leaves has been reorganized and is now under the direction of the Front Royal Independent Business Alliance (FRIBA).

On October 14, 2022, the Town of Front Royal will kick off the festival with a “block party” at the Town Commons, providing music and fun for all ages. More information is available at There is still room for vendors, and applications are available on the Festival website.

Click here to find out more information on the 2022 Zombie Walk.

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VDOT: Warren County Traffic alert for August 15 – 19, 2022



The following is a list of highway work that may affect traffic in Warren County during the coming weeks. Scheduled work is subject to change due to inclement weather and material supplies. Motorists are advised to watch for slow-moving tractors during mowing operations. When traveling through a work zone, be alert to periodic changes in traffic patterns and lane closures.

*NEW* or *UPDATE* indicates a new or revised entry since last week’s report.

Mile marker 0 to 15, eastbound and westbound – Right shoulder closures for utility work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Saturday (August 13).

Mile marker 8 to 7, westbound – Right lane closures for utility work, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Saturday (August 13).

Mile marker 299 to 300, northbound and southbound – Right shoulder closures for utility work, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Saturday (August 13).

Route 55 (Strasburg Road) – Shoulder closures for utility work in the area of Route 664 (Whipporwill Road), 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. through Friday.

No lane closures were reported.

Vegetation management may take place district-wide on various routes. Motorists are reminded to use extreme caution when traveling through work zones.

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

The VDOT Customer Service Center can assist with reporting road hazards, asking transportation questions, or getting information related to Virginia’s roads. Call 800-FOR- ROAD (800-367-7623) or use its mobile-friendly website at Agents are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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Thank You to our Local Business Participants:


Aders Insurance Agency, Inc (State Farm)

Aire Serv Heating and Air Conditioning

Apple Dumpling Learning Center

Apple House

Auto Care Clinic

Beaver Tree Services

Blake and Co. Hair Spa

Blue Ridge Arts Council

Blue Ridge Education

BNI Shenandoah Valley

C&C's Ice Cream Shop

Christine Binnix - McEnearney Associates

Code Ninjas Front Royal

Cool Techs Heating and Air

Down Home Comfort Bakery

Downtown Market

Dusty's Country Store

Edward Jones-Bret Hrbek

Explore Art & Clay

Family Preservation Services

First Baptist Church

Front Royal Women's Resource Center

Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce

G&M Auto Sales Inc

Garcia & Gavino Family Bakery

Gourmet Delights Gifts & Framing

Green to Ground Electrical

Groups Recover Together

House of Hope

I Want Candy

I'm Just Me Movement

Jen Avery, REALTOR & Jenspiration, LLC

Key Move Properties, LLC

KW Solutions

Legal Services Plans of Northern Shenendoah

Main Street Travel

Makeover Marketing Systems

Marlow Automotive Group

Mary Carnahan Graphic Design

Merchants on Main Street

Mountain Trails

National Media Services

No Doubt Accounting

Northwestern Community Services Board

Ole Timers Antiques

Penny Lane Hair Co.

Philip Vaught Real Estate Management

Phoenix Project

Reaching Out Now

Rotary Club of Warren County

Royal Blends Nutrition

Royal Cinemas

Royal Examiner

Royal Family Bowling Center

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Oak Computers

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Spice

Ruby Yoga

Salvation Army

Samuels Public Library

SaVida Health

Skyline Insurance

St. Luke Community Clinic

Studio Verde

The Institute for Association & Nonprofit Research

The Studio-A Place for Learning

The Valley Today - The River 95.3

The Vine and Leaf

Valley Chorale

Warren Charge (Bennett's Chapel, Limeton, Asbury)

Warren Coalition

Warren County Democratic Committee

Warren County Department of Social Services

Warrior Psychotherapy Services, PLLC

WCPS Work-Based Learning

What Matters & Beth Medved Waller, Inc Real Estate

White Picket Fence

Woodward House on Manor Grade

King Cartoons

Front Royal
6:29 am8:03 pm EDT
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Humidity: 97%
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Upcoming Events

7:00 pm Appalachian Chamber Music Festiv... @ Barns of Rose Hill
Appalachian Chamber Music Festiv... @ Barns of Rose Hill
Aug 18 @ 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Appalachian Chamber Music Festival - Opening Night @ Barns of Rose Hill
The Appalachian Chamber Music Festival is delighted to be returning to the Barns of Rose Hill on Thursday, August 18, at 7pm, for the opening night concert of our 2022 summer season. The festival celebrates[...]
6:00 pm Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Aug 19 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
…and be sure to attend our Fourth of July event!
11:00 am National Honeybee Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
National Honeybee Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Aug 20 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
National Honeybee Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area The bees are buzzing at Sky Meadows State Park! Meet the Beekeepers of Northern Shenandoah as they perform a honey extraction. Learn about beekeeping, honeybees and the art of apiculture. Support beekeeping and[...]
12:00 pm Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
Aug 21 @ 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
Carriage Barn in the Historic Area. What’s that buzzing? Meet with local apiarists of the Beekeepers of Northern Shenandoah (BONS) and discover the art of Apiculture (a.k.a. Beekeeping). This monthly program series examines all aspects[...]
3:00 pm Valley Chorale Audition Day @ Calvary Episcopal Church
Valley Chorale Audition Day @ Calvary Episcopal Church
Aug 23 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Valley Chorale Audition Day @ Calvary Episcopal Church
If you have choral-singing experience, you’re invited to join The Valley Chorale! Rehearsals this fall culminate in our always-popular Christmas concerts in December. This year, we have a truly fantastic Christmas program planned. Auditions are[...]
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Aug 24 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
7:00 pm Appalachian Chamber Music Festival @ Middleburg Community Center
Appalachian Chamber Music Festival @ Middleburg Community Center
Aug 25 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Appalachian Chamber Music Festival @ Middleburg Community Center
Join the Appalachian Chamber Music Festival on Thursday, August 25, at 7:00 pm, for a concert at Middleburg Community Center as part of their 2022 Festival! ACMF brings this concert of festival highlights to the[...]
6:00 pm Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Aug 26 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
…and be sure to attend our Fourth of July event!
10:00 am Habitat Detectives: A Late-Summe... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Habitat Detectives: A Late-Summe... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Aug 27 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Habitat Detectives: A Late-Summer Children's Walk @ Sky Meadows State Park
Sensory Explorers’ Trail. Join Virginia Master Naturalist and teacher, Barbara Ermler, on a walk of exploration. Use your five senses to uncover clues to how various organisms – plants, animals, and more – work together[...]
7:30 pm Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Aug 27 @ 7:30 pm – 10:30 pm
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area: Discover our International Dark-Sky Park! Our evenings begin with a half-hour children’s “Junior Astronomer” program, followed by a discussion about the importance of dark skies and light conservation. Then join NASA Jet Propulsion[...]