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Letter to Mayor and Town Council

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To: Mayor Eugene Tewalt and Members of the Front Royal Town Council

We are writing in response to the report in the Royal Examiner regarding the proposed budget for fiscal year 2021. As interested parties in the Town of Front Royal’s sustainable economic development through tourism and outdoor recreation, we are concerned about the reported intention to combine the community development and planning departments and privatize tourism functions. These are unusually significant steps to take under the tenure of an interim manager.

Since becoming an official Appalachian Trail Community in April 2012, the Town of Front Royal has seen marked growth in activities and commerce related to outdoor recreation and tourism. Two outfitters have set up shop in town. New investments have revitalized Main Street with many new shops and restaurants opening in the past couple of years. The Royal Shenandoah Greenway walking/bike path has been established throughout town. Local businesses have partnered to create a “Base Camp”, providing hikers with a place to rest, shower, and do laundry while they visit Front Royal. And, the Front Royal Trolley service has been expanded to include seasonal stops at the Appalachian Trail crossing on Rte. 522 to make it easier for the thousands of hikers passing through our community to get into town for resupply, refreshment, and overnight accommodation.

All these innovations benefit the Town of Front Royal by enriching the community experience and bringing much-needed economic activity. None of this happens without a committed focus on community development, a focus which depends on recognition of Front Royal’s many assets and an understanding of how tourism fits as a vital contributor to the town’s economic and social well-being.

Since taking the position of Director, Community Development & Tourism, Felicia Hart has fostered a close working relationship with our Appalachian Trail Community, which includes 22 local businesses and organizations as committed AT Community Supporters. Ms. Hart recognizes that hikers form a significant portion of the tourist base and enhance our community as a “trail town.” She and her staff are keenly aware that Front Royal’s proximity to Shenandoah National Park and Northern Virginia makes it a prime destination for those looking to escape to the blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah Valley.

Examples of Ms. Hart’s forward thinking on how to raise Front Royal’s image and bring people to town include:

  • Expansion of Royal Trolley service to the Appalachian Trail
  • Establishment of a Tourism Advisory Board
  • Advocacy for Coordination with VDOT, Warren County, and Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation to align Royal Trolley and regional transit (bus) services
  • Sponsorship of a town tour by travel writers Sandra Friend and John Keatley

The town tour referenced above resulted in a favorable mention on the writers’ travel site: https://trailsandtravel.com/riding-the-royal-shenandoah-greenway/: “When we were researching bike paths in Virginia, Front Royal popped up on our radar. We knew it as an Appalachian Trail community since we’d stayed there during our 2012 AT hike, but we didn’t expect it to be a place for cycling. Who knew?” Several local businesses were prominently featured in the article.

Not being privy to the details of Interim Town Manager Tederick’s detailed budget and proposed departmental reorganization, we can only speculate on specific personnel actions to be presented to the Town Council. We can, however, point to the importance of maintaining a holistic focus on sustainable economic development and tourism. Any consolidation of duties, elimination of positions, or outsourcing of activities that diminishes the Front Royal’s ability to position itself as a warm, welcoming, and engaging destination for visitors would be a disservice to the town’s residents and merchants.

There is no doubt the Town must address physical infrastructure needs such as water lines and roads. The Royal Examiner’s report states that the Interim Town Manager’s budget proposal couples increased capital spending with a suggested “half-percent Real Estate tax decrease.” We suggest the Town Council carefully examine the economic and social benefits derived from community development and tourism before taking any action to reduce focus on and funding of these activities that contribute so much to the community.

Sincerely,
Co-chairs, Front Royal/Warren County Appalachian Trail Community Committee:

Scott Jenkins
Mountain Home Bed & Breakfast
3471 Remount Rd. | Front Royal, VA 22630

Susan Tschirhart
Paralegal
Boy Scout Leader – Venturing Crew 247, Front Royal, VA
Founder/Guide – The Trail Tribe, Front Royal, Va
327 Skyline Place | Front Royal, VA 22630

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Opinion

Thoughts regarding the decision to change the name of LFCC

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The Letter to the Editor from Tenia Smith last week regarding the decision to change the name of Lord Fairfax Community College was an accurate assessment of the way things seems to be in this country these days.

I would add another reason that this decision is a frivolous attempt to amend history to make a segment of our community feel better. What we actually have here shows a complete out-of-historical context ignorance: that’s looking at historical figures and events through the context of the 21st Century, not through the context of the life and times in which these personalities lived and the events took place. Such individuals who view history through our present day vision will never understand the people and events of our past.

Hence, the burning need to revise our history to make it much more palatable.

Some people, even those in the business of education, will never understand the personalities and events of the past, and, in their ignorance, the discussions and decisions illustrate quite well that they aren’t really interested.

In fairness to Lord Fairfax, whose holdings in the 18th Century comprised what is now most of 22 states, much of what he accomplished in his life shaped early America and Virginia that we know and enjoy today. Regarding the decision to rename the school, their focus is on the way the world lived in the 1600s, the 1700s, and a good part of the 1800s. In no way am I condoning nor supporting the institution of slavery; right or wrong, it was an accepted practice in many countries, and still remains a practice in a number of countries in the 21st Century.

If these “educators” and politicians behind the name change refuse to permit the name of Thomas Lord Fairfax to remain intact on the college, then I would strongly recommend that they also not allow the Stars & Stripes to fly over LFCC. After all, and this also cannot be refuted, it was the symbol of a slave nation from 1787 to December 1865.

Arthur Candenquist
Amissville, Virginia

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Opinion

Response to Tom Howarth’s Letters to the Editor

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I will say just one thing to Tom Howarth, who has submitted many Letters to the Editor of the Royal Examiner: “Stop crying wolf!”

When you write so many letters, and so frequently, people (myself, included) just tune you out!

Your letters are too predictably partisan.

Lalit Piplani
Front Royal, Virginia

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Opinion

Our trust in the voting process will be forever challenged unless we the people take control of our voting rights

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In response to Tom Howarth’s letter to the editor on February 17th:

Mr. Howarth, I watched the trial, which by the way was unconstitutional and so full of hate against a man that no longer was in office.

When it came down to calling witnesses or not, the Democrats called a halt to it by acquitting former President Donald J. Trump! Why, Mr. Howarth? Was it because of who the Republicans could call as witnesses?

Mr. Trump’s lawyers did a great job of bringing out the truth. But Democrats didn’t want the real reason to be brought out on this second impeachment trial, which was the reason for everything coming to a halt! For who really was the people causing insurrection and destruction last summer and for the last 4 years?

No doubt in my mind the election wasn’t held right. Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, our voting rights were tampered with and changed without going through the electoral process.

I could accept Biden’s win if it was done fair and square, but it wasn’t! And now our trust in the voting process will be forever challenged unless we the people take control of our voting rights.

Tenia Smith
Front Royal, Virginia

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Opinion

Open Letter to Town and County officials on county’s high death rate per reported COVID cases

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Greetings Community Leader,

As the Front Royal Town Council members spend valuable work time in meetings discussing whether business owners should be allowed to require customers to wear masks to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus in our community, I am interested in finding out why people in Warren County die from the virus at a rate so much higher than people in most nearby counties. I’m sure this data has concerned you as a community leader as much, if not more, as it has me as a citizen. I am one concerned member of our community while you are a community leader tasked with finding solutions to the problems that plague our whole community. Surely, understanding the high death rate from Coronavirus in Warren County/Front Royal has been a pressing matter on your list of priorities.

Has your research shown that our high death rate is due to a poor health care system in our community? Is it because of the overall poor health of our residents? Is it something else? Please let the citizens of Front Royal and Warren County know what you have learned about why we are dying from COVID-19 more often than our neighbors in eleven nearby counties. The following data for Deaths per 100K people are from the Virginia Department of Health’s website on February 19, 2021:

County Deaths per 100K
Shenandoah 234
Page 171
Warren 100
Rockingham 94
Clarke 89
Culpepper 75
Fairfax 72
Prince William 70
Frederick 55
Fauquier 52
Madison 52
Loudoun 50
Stafford 36
Rappahannock 27

https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/coronavirus/covid-19-in-virginia-cases/

Cases – Coronavirus

Need vaccine? Learn how to get your shot at Vaccinate.Virginia.gov or call 1-877-VAX-IN-VA. Language translation and TTY services available. 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ¿Necesita vacunarse?

www.vdh.virginia.gov

I look forward to hearing why you think we are doing so poorly and what ideas you have to prevent so many of our fellow citizens from dying of Covid.

Wishing you all good health,

Kelli Hart
Front Royal, Va.

(reprinted by permission of writer)

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Opinion

What’s really in a name?

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Lord Fairfax Community College has decided to change its name because it does not reflect who they are? Really? I thought it was a place of higher learning and opportunities!

I don’t like the name of Fauquier County. I don’t like the name Henry. I don’t like the color green! I don’t like to make mashed potatoes. But I don’t take this to the city council, or the board, or even D.C.!

This all has become so political! What are the bases of all of this? Why not just erase everything!

No one has names: No names on buildings, no names on highways, no names on envelopes, no names on anything? Why not walk around nameless and act like zombies!

We humans can’t seem to focus on the important things, like being kind and caring and making our futures better! Like helping others and looking out for one another. All we seem to be about nowadays is hate, anger, and destruction.

What a sad place the world has become; what a sad place our country has become! The more we seek peace, the more uproar of evil becomes!

Tenia Smith
Front Royal, Virginia

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Opinion

Sure Representative Ben Cline wants to move past January 6th accountability

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Rep. Ben Cline opines that Congressional Democrats and presumably Republicans who voted to impeach and convict Donald Trump were wasting time.

Donald Trump was impeached for his role in instigating the insurrection and attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6.  He was acquitted in the U.S. Senate by a vote of 57 to 43.  He got the 43. Try that in baseball.

Mr. Cline is anxious to get on with business and well he should be.

Why did the president urge his followers to go to the Capitol that day?  He made it quite clear that he wanted them to go in support of those Members of Congress who were supporting his claim that the 2020 election had been stolen from him and them.

The story of a stolen election was the Big Lie.  The election was not stolen.  There is no evidence that it was.  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Republican Leader, made that clear after the acquittal of the former President on February 13.

Senator McConnell blamed the former president and “other powerful people” for perpetuating the Big Lie.  Now, who were those “other powerful people?”  Why they were Members of Congress of course who continued to spread the Big Lie.  Who is on the list of Members of Congress who told the people that if they could just find the votes to overturn the certification of the Electoral College votes all would be well?

Rep. Ben Cline is on the list.

Mr. Cline knew full well that the votes were not there to require a reshuffling of the electoral deck.  He knew his encouragement of the insurrectionists would only end in their frustration and anger, the anger that was on display on January 6.

Why did Ben Cline do this?  Because he wanted to provide Trump supporters in the 6th District with an empty gesture proving his fealty to the former president.

Even after he saw the anger that resulted in the death of a police officer and others in the Capitol, Ben Cline marched down to the floor of the House and perpetuated the Big Lie one more time.

It is small wonder that Ben Cline wants to change the subject.

Mr. Cline thinks the effort to hold responsible those who instigated the attack on the Capitol is a waste of time.  He wants people to look away from him.

Tom Howarth
Warren County, Virginia

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