Kurtz explains genesis of School Board candidate social media dust up
Nothing like a little pre-Election Day social media dust up between candidates, critics and supporters to get the political juices flowing, and hopefully the vote out. Such was the case when local attorney David Downes announced his write-in candidacy for the South River School Board seat on “What’s Up Front Royal – Uncensored” on Friday, November 1st.
Downes joins Kristen Pence as a write-in candidate for the seat being vacated by Donna McEathron who is not seeking re-election. There is no candidate on the ballot, nor a nominee from either County political committee for the seat.
However, Pence was one of three School Board candidates, along with Ralph Rinaldi and Arnold Williams, to garner a Republican Committee endorsement.
And that endorsement, not to mention a memory – appropriately – like an elephant, was enough to get Warren County Republican Committee Chairman Steve Kurtz into an online exchange with a negative stereotyping of Downes as a candidate of “the liberal left” and the observation “It will be a pleasure to pound you’re *ss into the sand on Tuesday.”
That led Al Larson to reply to Kurtz with the observation, “GETTING CARRIED AWAY AGAIN C’mon Stephen Kurtz ‘…pound your *ss…’ You are talking about a citizen running for office. He is a last minute Write-in, exercising his right to run for office” to which Kurtz responded, “David is good at one thing. Selling tax free beer. He needs to stick to that.”
Asked by Larson, “why the violent reaction?” to Downes write-in announcement, Kurtz wrote, “the Beer Party is going down on Tuesday. If you see or hear from David tell him I will meet him at Skyline High School (South River District voting location) bright and early.”
Kurtz’s comments about “tax-free beer” and “the Beer Party” are references to Downes’ ownership of the Virginia Beer Museum, a 501 C-3 operation next to Downes’ Chester Street law office several doors down from the office space of Ralph Waller often utilized by the county Republican Committee as a meeting space and campaign headquarters. The “Beer Party” name grew out of Downes’ ownership of the Beer Museum and his interest in local politics resulting in endorsements of several candidates in the last election.
Contacted about his social media exchange over the Downes’ write-in announcement, Kurtz reminded us of a little political dust up he had with Downes’ “Beer Party” during the last election that appears to be the answer to Larson’s above-cited question about the genesis of Kurtz’s posts.
That genesis was large Beer Party signs and booths being set up directly in front of Republican Committee signs and booths at two polling places in 2017, the Warren County Government Center and old 15th Street School, now County Government Auxiliary Office space for Social Services, the County Registrar and several other departments.
While Downes wasn’t present at the time he responded to reports of his booths being blocked outside the two polling places, Kurtz said it was pretty clear to him at whose direction those Beer Party personnel on site were acting on. After visiting the 15th Street site and seeing his committee booth blocked, Kurtz admitted by the time he checked the Government Center site out, “I was pretty mad.
“It’s a little ridiculous, I’d never set up to block somebody’s signs – I wouldn’t do that to Democrats. Because you start doing it to one and soon you’re doing it to everybody.”
“Ridiculous” is also a word that Kurtz put on Downes entry into the School Board race five days before the Election.
Downes declined comment on the social media war of words that developed on the “What’s Up Front Royal” website surrounding the posting of his School Board write-in candidacy there and its possible genesis in an Election Day political turf war two years past.
However, in response to Kurtz’s “tax-free beer” comment he did produce a monthly list of 2019 Sales Tax numbers indicating he had paid $3,181.40 in Beer Museum Sales Tax through October of this year. The Beer Museum sells only Virginia-brewed beer and Museum paraphernalia.
Downes referred to his run as an “independent” one in his Royal Examiner interview; and like his Republican-endorsed write-in opponent stressed the importance of a strong, fully-funded public school system for the community. Downes also cited a need for a move to independent political voices locally at this time, an apparent reference to the EDA financial scandal that developed under largely local Republican municipal leadership.
I tell you what, I don’t even live in the South River District but I might show up at the Skyline High School polling place early Tuesday morning to see how part two of that political space turf war picks up from where it left off in 2017.
See interviews with both South River School Board candidates, among others, on the Royal Examiner website.
Meet Kristen Pence, Write-in candidate for South River District School Board
Meet David Downes, Write-in candidate for South River District School Board
Experience the hidden wonder of Middletown’s Ogdens Cave: Exclusive access granted by DCR for one day only
The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is set to provide a unique opportunity to the public during Virginia Cave Week from June 4-10. On Tuesday, June 6, between 2-7 p.m., the public will be allowed to tour Ogdens Cave Natural Area Preserve. Normally sealed off due to the delicate species living inside, this one-off event promises an adventure to remember.
Virginia Natural Heritage Program speleologists and cavers, part of DCR, will guide the tours inside the preserve, which will include a short exploration of the cave. Each tour will last up to one hour, giving visitors a glimpse into a fascinating, often unseen world.
Attendees need to prepare adequately for the trip. The department will provide helmets and headlamps, but visitors are advised to wear sturdy shoes or boots with treads, long pants, a light jacket or rugged shirt with long sleeves, and gloves. This is due to the cave temperature maintaining a steady 54 degrees.
For those interested in taking part in this rare opportunity, RSVP by emailing Meredith Weberg at email@example.com by Monday, June 5. Specific driving directions will be provided to attendees.
Blue Ridge Wildlife Center Patient of the Week: Groundhog(s)
These two infant groundhogs serve as a reminder of why you should never trap and relocate adult animals, especially during the Spring and Summer months!
Multiple adult groundhogs were trapped and relocated from a location. Unfortunately, days later, these two baby groundhogs were found out of their burrow, severely emaciated and weak after being without their mother for days.
Relocating animals also can spread disease, causing further suffering to the animals that already exist in the areas these animals are relocated to.
Relocated animals no longer know where to find food or shelter and can find themselves attacked or injured by present animals defending their territory or limited food sources.
Many people think the only option for wildlife conflict is to either relocate the animal or have it euthanized, but there’s a third option—exclusion!
There are many ways to humanely exclude animals from your yard or property that allow the parents to take their babies with them, preventing orphans and the negative consequences of relocation!
If you’re having a problem with a wild animal in your yard or on your property, please give us a call FIRST before taking matters into your own hands. Keeping babies with their parents is always in their best interest!
These two are slowly going through a refeeding protocol and have now begun to eat some solid foods on their own.
Trapping and relocating wildlife is not only illegal in Virginia and most other localities, but it’s also inhumane and unethical.
Relocating an animal causes situations like these, where orphans who otherwise would’ve grown up with their natural parents now have to be cared for in a rehabilitation setting. Many more orphans are never found and are left to die from starvation or the elements slowly.
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.
Warren County commits to supporting veterans with U.S. Army PaYS partnership
An important ceremony is set to take place on June 7, 2023, at 1:00 p.m., marking a significant partnership between the U.S. Army and the County of Warren. The Army Partnership for Your Success (PaYS) signing ceremony will be held in the Community Room of the Warren County Public Safety Building, located at 200 Skyline Vista Drive, Front Royal, VA 22630. The public is cordially invited to witness this monumental event.
Initiated by Sheriff Mark Butler, an Army veteran himself, this partnership aims to increase the recruitment of qualified personnel for the sheriff’s office. Sheriff Butler’s familiarity with the Army PaYS program led to the establishment of this partnership, which is expected to significantly increase the pool of qualified applicants while guaranteeing interviews for veterans.
In an effort to extend the benefits of this partnership, the Warren County Human Resources Department also expressed its desire to join the Army PaYS program. Following this, on December 6, 2022, the County of Warren was made an official Army PaYS partner with the signing of an agreement by Warren County Administrator Dr. Edwin Daley.
The Army PaYS program is an initiative designed to assist soldiers as they transition into civilian careers after their service. The program connects them with employers who value the skills, discipline, and work ethic that military service members bring to their businesses. The program also encourages business owners to view the Army as a reliable and plentiful source of recruitment.
Since its inception in 2000, the Army PaYS program has partnered with more than 1020 employers, indicating the program’s broad reach and impact. The U.S. Army and the County of Warren’s partnership promise to further extend this impact, opening up more opportunities for veterans and aiding in their smooth transition into civilian life.
A Day of Remembrance: Colonel James Wood II Chapter, Virginia Society Sons of the American Revolution and American Red Cross hold Memorial Day event
The hallowed grounds of Winchester’s National Cemetery reverberated with the echoes of history this Memorial Day. Local citizens, the youth of Cub Scout Den 45, the Colonel James Wood II Chapter of the Virginia Society Sons of the American Revolution (named after Colonel James Wood II, an influential figure in the American Revolution), and the American Red Cross (a humanitarian organization tracing its roots back to 1881) came together to pay homage to the heroes of our past.
This event beautifully encapsulated a tradition that traces its lineage to the era of the Civil War. The roots of this observance trace back to a suggestion by Henry Welles in 1865 in the village of Waterloo, New York, for a day of decorating the graves of the fallen Civil War heroes, which came to be known as Decoration Day.
In keeping with this rich history, ahead of the Memorial Day ceremony on May 29th, flags were placed on the graves at the National Cemetery. Leslie Caliva of the American Red Cross, an organization with a rich history of service, hosted the formal observance. The color guard, led by Commander Brett Osborn, and the honor guard, led by Jim Cordes, presented colors in a show of respect for the fallen.
CJWII Chaplain Thomas Reed, inheriting the historic title of Chaplain, offered an inspiring invocation, while the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Charles Hunter, USA (Ret), from the storied VFW Post 2123. The keynote address was given by Terry Stotler, Chief of Voluntary Services at the Martinsburg Veterans Administration Medical Center, detailing the myriad of services the VA provides to support the veterans in the tri-state area of northwest Virginia, northern West Virginia, and western Maryland.
Following a musket salute fired by the SAR Musket Squad and renditions of ‘God Bless America’ and ‘Taps’ by Charles Hunter, SAR members stood alongside dual members Bryan Buck (Fort Harrison), Dave Cook, and Jim Cordes (Fairfax Resolves), participating in the ceremony and bringing history to life.
As we remember our fallen heroes on this Memorial Day, we recognize the historical journey from Decoration Day to Memorial Day and the nationwide observance it has grown into today. This commemoration at the Winchester National Cemetery symbolizes a steadfast tradition and a tribute to those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.
Traffic Charges filed after car strikes Downtown Front Royal Pavilion support beam
The below photos show the result of a motorist striking one of the Front Royal Village Commons/Gazebo area Pavilion support beams on Thursday, May 25th. The time of the accident was listed on the resulting traffic summons as 2:27 p.m. (14:27). The driver was identified at the scene by responding Front Royal Police as local resident Elizabeth Ann Smith, age 69. She was issued a summons for “Driving a vehicle which is not under control; Reckless Driving.” No injuries were reported as a result of the accident. Smith has a pending mid-July traffic court date in Warren County General District Court. As of publication, the pavilion remained cordoned off pending permanent repairs.
Circle of Kindness: R-MA cadets and senior citizens forge a bond of encouragement
It’s often said that what goes around comes around. This idiom recently played out in an unexpected and heartwarming way for the students of Randolph-Macon Academy (R-MA).
This past February, the academy, a co-ed private boarding school for grades 6-12 located just an hour from Washington, D.C., participated in a unique initiative to spread kindness. The initiative, spearheaded by the local organization We See You Warren County, was designed to inspire residents to write letters filled with encouragement, gratitude, and hope. Randolph-Macon Academy hosted these LOVE letters during Valentine’s week, with the academy’s cadets penning thoughtful missives to the seniors at the Warren County Senior Center.
Little did these cadets know this act of kindness would soon be reciprocated.
In their final week of school, a time typically filled with anticipation and anxiety, the graduating cadets of R-MA received a surprise: a flood of kind and encouraging words from the very seniors they had written to earlier in the year.
The cadets, graduating from a school renowned for its superior university-prep curriculum and elite Air Force JROTC program, were overcome with emotion at the gesture. This was a significant way to wrap up what has been one of the most memorable years of their academic journey.
Last year, R-MA celebrated the graduation of 59 students from the Class of 2022, all of whom secured university acceptances and together amassed over $16.6 million in scholarships. This year’s graduating class, buoyed by the seniors’ heartfelt messages, looks forward to taking their next steps into the world, carrying with them lessons in kindness, humility, and mutual respect.
This delightful exchange between the cadets and senior citizens demonstrates the strong bonds that can be built within a community, even between the youngest and oldest members. It reminds us all of the power of simple gestures of kindness and the joy of giving and receiving.
Find out more about the Randolph-Macon Academy experience by visiting their website: RMA.edu.
Wind: 1mph NNW
UV index: 4