On Sunday afternoon, February 23, the Front Royal Police Department took its class on self-defense for a specific and sometimes more vulnerable segment of the population to the Linden Fire & Rescue headquarters. Linden Volunteer Fire Department Company 4 President Suzi Shiley explained the town police foray outside the town limits was at her request to make the ladies self-defense class more accessible to women in the Linden area of eastern Warren County.
Before the 1 p.m. start of the class, we spoke to Shiley, class instructor Sgt. Jason Winner and Warren County Victim-Witness Coordinator Kelliann Harris, who traced her involvement in the FRPD self-defense program to her previous stint with the Laurel Center for victims of sexual violence.
Shiley noted that the response had been good, around 35, for a class capped at 20 participants, leaving the possibility of a second class being hosted at Company 4 later in the year. Shiley noted she had registered for the FRPD self-defense class about two years ago after seeing an ad at a local church.
“I took the class with Sgt. Winner and I enjoyed it immensely, and I remember to this day things that he taught us. So, I thought it would be great for the women of Linden to have the program here at the fire department at no cost,” Shiley said.
As we spoke, participants registered to bring Sunday’s turnout to 18, with several additional onlookers who appeared familiar with some of the techniques being taught. Royal Examiner spoke to one of those registered, Melissa Eakle, about the impetus for her participation.
“I actually came for my daughter – she’s getting ready to go off to college and in the world that we live in today, especially when you’re out on your own, you need to know just to play safe, be aware and what to do if something bad does happen to show the confidence to know how to take care of that situation,” Eakle, herself a personal physical trainer, said of her family’s dual registration.
And if her daughter’s aggressive embracement of techniques demonstrated by Sgt. Winner and FRPD Chief Kahle Magalis is any indicator, she will indeed be prepared with the knowledge and physical skills taught Sunday for her first solo foray into the world at childhood’s end.
As will the other participants, young and more mature, all of whom were attentive through Sgt. Winner’s introductory remarks and PowerPoint presentation giving an overview of, not only how to fight for your life and personal safety, but how to maintain the situational awareness to head off those situations before they reach the crisis point.
“The best way to win the fight is not to be in it,” Winner told the class before they hit the mat to practice those combat techniques necessary when all the means to avoid that final confrontation have been exhausted. And the FRPD physical combat instructor, who taught these techniques to his colleagues before his 2011 involvement in taking them into the community, stressed the importance of mental acuity in the experience of day-to-day life.
Different situations demand different strategies, Winner pointed out, noting that responses to being individually stalked in public areas will differ from an episode of domestic violence or an active shooter situation that has become all too familiar in “the world we live in today”.
Winner told his class to practice every day, not only the physical self-defense techniques they would learn, but the mental ones of situational awareness allowing one to overcome physiological reactions to stress and process your choices of “run, stay or fight” as quickly and efficiently as possible.
He also pointed to the negative impact on situational awareness of modern technologies like cell phones and individual mobile musical play systems that distract or deafen users from early signs of trouble in remote situations like large commercial parking lots or public areas in which they might find themselves alone and being followed.
And that is good advice for all of us – everything has its time and place EXCEPT our physical safety and survival. Awareness of potential threats to those should be a priority for us all, at all times.
Though as Winner cautioned his students Sunday, “Don’t just punch someone in the face who asks you what time it is or offers to help you with your groceries – there are some nice people out there. But if the hair on the back of your neck stands up, trust your instincts,” he added
Nine years & running
Winner traced the start of the women’s self-defense class to his involvement in training FRPD officers when the department was located in the old post office building at West Main Street and Luray Avenue. Without room in the cramped space of that building for self-defense training, Winner was offered the use of the Tap Etc. Dance Studio, at the time on East Main Street, by owner Kristin McCullough to hold that training.
“She offered her space for our training free of charge; the only thing she asked was if we could do a class for the dance students. I said, ‘Well, I’ve never done that, so let me do some research.’ I did the research, and we developed a class, and we’ve been developing it ever since. It’s kind of a work in progress,” Winner said, adding, “It’s been up and running for nine years. It’s more of a volunteer situation, and the Police Foundation bought us the mats and the pads. And now that we have the new facility, we do it at the police department pretty regularly now – at least once a quarter.
And when people ask, we do these things like when Suzi asked us here. Several weeks ago, we did one at New Hope Church for the Women’s Forum. So when people ask, if we can fit it into the schedule, we say ‘Yes,’” Winner said of accommodating additional requests for the no-cost classes such as Sunday’s at the Linden Company 4 Fire House.
Winner said he is the main departmental point of contact but pointed to his partnership with County Victim-Witness Coordinator Harris, who now works under the arm of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.
“It’s as much her class as it is my class. She handles registration and most of the paperwork, the waivers you have to sign, the evaluations, and things like that. So, Kelliann does the scheduling.
When we do them at the police department, Kelliann is the point of contact,” Winner observed, adding that at special-request events the host organization would be that point of contact like Shiley was at Company 4’s event Sunday.
Of her participation, Harris told us, “I used to work as a sexual assault advocate at the Laurel Center for 2-1/2 years. So, I started self-defense with Jason through that process. And then, when I changed positions over to the director position for Victim-Witness, I just kept on doing it. We’ve got a great program running; it’s a great team effort. So, we just kept that going,” Harris concluded.
And “in the world, we live in today” as Sunday participant Melissa Eakle observed, that is probably not a bad idea.
Congratulations to Warren County High School Seniors – Class of 2020
Royal Examiner presents the Warren County High School Class of 2020. Congratulations to these wonderful seniors on their hard work and deserved accomplishments! We wish you the best in your next big endeavors. Photos courtesy of the Victor O’Neill Studios.
“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”
“The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.”
“Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”
—Martin Luther King Jr.
“The highest result of education is tolerance.”
“The most important thing in your life is to live your life with integrity and to not give into peer pressure to try to be something that you’re not.”
“Graduation is not the end; it’s the beginning.”
—Senator Orrin Hatch
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
“The fireworks begin today. Each diploma is a lighted match. Each one of you is a fuse.”
“There are no regrets in life. Just lessons.”
“Kid, you’ll move mountains.”
“Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions.”
“Every person you meet knows something you don’t; learn from them.”
—H Jackson Brown Jr.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.”
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”
—Henry David Thoreau
“The most rewarding things in life are often the ones that look like they cannot be done.”
“If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint,” then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”
—Vincent Van Gogh
“If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.”
“You have to dance a little bit before you step out into the world each day, because it changes the way you walk.”
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
“I encourage you to live with life. Be courageous, adventurous. Give us a tomorrow, more than we deserve.”
Get busy living or get busy dying.”
“Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.”
“Things turn out best for people who make the best out of the way things turn out.”
“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.”
—William Arthur Ward
“Love the life you live. Live the life you love.”
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.”
It’s burned up – forget it: Call dad and tell him his truck is toast in Front Royal
Mid-afternoon, Thursday, June 25, a vehicle fire was reported in the parking lot of the commercial strip anchored by Anthony’s Pizza on the 100 block of South Royal Avenue. First responders from Warren County Fire & Rescue and the Front Royal Police Department found a pickup truck with West Virginia tags parked on the street side of the lot with an engine fire engaged and no occupants apparent.
This reporter arrived after the fire had been extinguished and only one town police unit remained at the scene. That officer pointed out a thick fluid trail that appeared to run from the 1993 Ford Ranger pickup through a portion of the parking lot, perhaps indicating a fluid leak as a source or consequence of the engine fire.
Our inquiry to responding agencies led to information from the FRPD Public Information Department’s Jessica Racer, who told us, “The incident was a vehicle fire, not arson and not suspicious in nature. The owner’s name is Roger Haines in Hampshire County (West Virginia).”
FRPD Captain Crystal Cline later told Royal Examiner that the truck’s owner was contacted by running the tags and requesting Hampshire County authorities to contact him. That route was required because apparently the truck’s driver and a passenger left the scene without ever making contact with local authorities, first responders, or potentially impacted businesses in the commercial strip.
Captain Cline reported that Mr. Haines “advised that the vehicle was not stolen, and he had given his daughter permission to drive the vehicle” and that he was “aware that the vehicle was broken down” and “had already contacted a towing company” about recovering it.
This scenario seems to confirm information from a witness to the vehicle fire who told a Royal Examiner source that the vehicle’s occupants, described as a man and woman, left the scene on foot without contacting responders about their connection to the vehicle. According to the witness, the pair left the truck cab locked as they exited it with the engine smoking before walking to the adjacent Jack Evans Chevrolet lot to watch at distance as responders arrived to extinguish the developing engine fire. Eventually, they left the scene on foot down South Royal Avenue without any apparent contact with authorities, the witness reported.
That’s a long hitchhike back to Hampshire County – no time to waste apparently.
Music park at Burrell Brooks, Jr. Community Park ribbon cutting ceremony
On Friday, June 26, 2020, citizens, friends and family, Parks and Recreation Commission members, Warren County Board of Supervisors members, and County Administrator Doug Stanley gathered to welcome Dr. Lorraine LeHew Hultquist’s generous gift to Burrell Brooks, Jr. Community Park.
This is Dr. Hultquist’s third music park donation to the Warren County park system. In 2017, Ms. Hultquist suggested the idea of adding a music park to one of the County’s facilities after visiting similar parks in Utah and Oregon, and the County celebrated the first music park addition at Rockland Park in November 2017. The following year, a second music park addition was built in Lions Park.
In late 2019, Dr. Lorraine LeHew Hultquist donated the new Deluxe Collection music system to be installed at Burrell Brooks, Jr. Community Park. The mixed quartet offers a musical experience for all through a specially designed ensemble that delivers a variety of sound qualities and pitch ranges. The equipment is multi-generational, interactive, durable, and perfectly tuned. Everyone, regardless of age or ability, can play. Her generous support of the music parks will allow our community to enjoy the enrichment of music and will inspire future musicians.
At the ribbon cutting, long-time Warren County Parks and Recreation Commission member Ron Harvey provided a history of the Commission, recreation in the community, and how the generosity of the community has allowed the parks to flourish.
Board of Supervisors Vice Chair and South River District Supervisor Cheryl Cullers noted the importance of music in the development of children, who will now have the opportunity to enjoy this park and its new addition donated by Dr. Lorraine LeHew Hultquist. She added, “The addition of this music equipment to Burrell Brooks Park will, I believe, give the children of the community at an early age, access to music as an avenue to hopefully start a lifelong love of music, as well as to have the experience to exercise their own creative musical talents.”
The Warren County Parks and Recreation Department is very grateful for Dr. Hultquist’s generous gifts to our local parks for the benefit of all citizens. County Administrator Doug Stanley, noting her previous donations, stated, “I would like to personally thank Lorraine for her kind and generous monetary gift for this magnificent music park for all of Warren County patrons to enjoy and for her support of the entire Parks and Recreation system. It is truly fitting that she is honored today for her gracious and kind gift!”
Three words: The test of liberty or tyranny
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Since 1776 when those words were written in the Declaration of Independence, the world has seen kings and tyrants who, fooling men with their sweet-sounding philosophies, tried to steal their rights and liberty, and many times succeeded.
Yet, in this famous sentence, Thomas Jefferson gives us three words that are the test for tyranny:
The Creator gives rights to men and women as a gift — an endowment — what the dictionary calls a ‘fund for permanent support.’ No man gives these rights to people, for these rights are already theirs. No king can decide which people get to exercise these rights because each person has been given the free gift of these permanent rights, not one more than another.
These obvious rights, given as a permanent gift from God, cannot be taken away by any person, and neither can a man surrender his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Town Talk: A conversation with Tim Ratigan – support our local law enforcement officers
In this Town Talk, our publisher Mike McCool speaks with Tim Ratigan. Tim has started a movement in our community to support our local law enforcement officers from the Front Royal Police Department and the Warren County Sheriff’s Office. Our local law enforcement officers serve to defend the freedom, fairness, and individual liberties that our forefathers fought and died. These brave men and women risk their lives every day to maintain a civil society and the rule of law.
On Friday evening, July 3rd, another group of community supporters are meeting at the Gazebo in Front Royal from 5 pm to 7:30 pm. Come show your appreciation, support, and respect for local Law Enforcement, Fire, and Emergency Personnel along with the flag of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA! This is a free informal gathering for those interested in showing their support and to say thanks.
No frills, nothing more than thank you to those men and women who serve our community. You are free to wear a mask, practice distancing, bring “Old Glory” (lots of them), bring a lounge chair, sing the National Anthem, God Bless America, etc, stroll along Main Street, which will be closed to vehicle traffic for outdoor dining and shopping. Come and enjoy yourselves and be thankful for those who simply wish to “Serve and Protect”.
Town Talk is a series on the Royal Examiner where we will introduce you to local entrepreneurs, businesses, non-profit leaders, and political figures who influence Warren County. Topics will be varied but hopefully interesting. If you have an idea, topic, or want to hear from someone in our community, let us know. Send your request to news@RoyalExaminer.com
Front Royal Unites seeks teamwork with Warren County School Board
Two organizers of Front Royal Unites, a newly formed nonprofit working for the lawful and equal treatment of all races and ethnic groups, on Wednesday, requested that the Warren County School Board work with the organization to address any racial disparities in Warren County Public Schools (WCPS).
A few of the School Board members agreed that the group’s request was reasonable and warranted.
“The reason we have come to you today is that in the past… we’ve had some racial disparities that we’ve experienced within the school system,” said Stevi Hubbard of Front Royal Unites.
Hubbard reminded board members that she previously appeared before the School Board to raise related topics, and told them during their Wednesday, July 1 meeting that the board has not addressed those concerns “in any way shape or form, which is pretty upsetting.”
Since her earlier visits, Hubbard said data has been collected on how students feel like they are being disproportionately punished or not included in certain programming based on color. And she noted that racial slurs have been painted on school buildings.
“We hope we can work with you on these issues this year, and we would like to see those changes made this year,” said Hubbard, adding that she doesn’t want to have her child or other students and staff attending school and seeing racist comments or graffiti on school properties.
“It is our hope that you will take us seriously now,” said Hubbard, pointing out to the School Board that Front Royal Unites now has 2,500 members supporting the group.
Samuel Porter, the spokesman for Front Royal Unites and a 2011 graduate of Skyline High School, said he wanted to ensure that “we’re all very cognizant” about the racial comments that sometimes might be made at school or online.
“There are some bad people. We are just trying to make sure that our students are going to safe environments, and they don’t have to worry based on what they look like on the outside,” Porter told School Board members during the community participation segment of their regular meeting on Wednesday.
Warren County School Board member James Wells, who represents the Happy Creek District, told the Front Royal Unites representatives that he was on board with their request.
“Whatever you need,” Wells told them. “I’ll give you my phone number. I’ll give you my emails. I would be glad to meet with you at any time because your cause is just, and I’d be more than happy to work with you.”
School Board Chairman Arnold Williams, Jr., agreed. “As Mr. Wells said, we will work with you guys,” he told Porter and Hubbard.
Formed in May, Front Royal Unites in June quickly organized and held two local peaceful civil rights marches.
Porter and Hubbard also recently spoke during the June 22 Front Royal Town Council meeting, where they applauded Front Royal Police Chief Kahle Magalis and the department for proactively working with the group to support those marches.
“We come to the table very peacefully… to build bridges, not burn them,” Porter told the council members.
To hear the comments given by the Front Royal Unites organizers during the School Board meeting, watch the Royal Examiner video below.