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Locals join nationwide demonstration in support of Mueller investigation

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Demonstrators show why they gathered on short notice, not only in Front Royal, but in as many as a thousand locations across the nation on Oct. 8 to support the integrity of the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Demonstration Photos/Roger Bianchini

Two days after the 2018 mid-term elections, on Thursday, November 8, local Democrats and independents, many tied to the weekly Vigil for Democracy demonstrations in Front Royal against the actions and agenda of President Donald J. Trump, joined people nationwide in demonstrations in support of the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Front Royal was one of over 900 localities where demonstrations dubbed “Nobody is Above the Law – Mueller Protection Rapid Response” formed at 5 p.m. local times across the nation.  Here Vigil for Democracy organizer Len Sherp, who has led weekly gatherings in protest of President Trump’s agenda since March 2017, led 25 people and Rusty the dog in a march from the Front Royal Town Gazebo to the South Royal Avenue side of the Warren County Courthouse.

While not permitted on such short notice, Sherp said he had informed town police of the planned demonstration and was told it could proceed as long as public right of ways were not blocked and normal foot or vehicular traffic was not interrupted.

Front Royal demonstrators begin their march to the Warren County Courthouse chanting ‘Hands off the Mueller probe – Trump is not above the law’

Led by Len Sherp, Rusty the dog and Bob Hill the march approaches the Warren County Courthouse

“Hands off the Mueller probe, Trump is not above the law” local demonstrators chanted as they marched with American flags and signs expressing support of the Mueller investigation into foreign meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The group stopped in the shadow of the seat of justice in Front Royal and Warren County to repeat the chant for about 10 minutes to passing motorists on Royal Avenue before marching back down East Main Street to their Town Gazebo staging area.  As they had walking westbound and during their stop at the courthouse, they again repeated the “Hands off the Mueller probe” manta eastbound through Front Royal’s Historic Downtown Business District.

We asked Sherp why the demonstrations under the auspices of MoveOn.org were called so soon after Trump forced the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions the day after the 2018 mid-term elections.

Pro-Mueller demonstrators stopped at the county courthouse to express their opinion that the president is not above the laws of the nation

“We’re here because once again the president has demonstrated he has absolutely no fealty to the law, good government, and doesn’t care about anything except himself,” Sherp replied, adding, “The dismissal of Jeff Session within 24 hours of the results of the election, followed by the appointment of Matthew Whitaker who is completely unqualified for the job – not to mention is a partisan Trump loyalist who’s on record having dispute with some directions of the Mueller investigation; not to mention he laid out a blueprint on CNN on how to suffocate the Mueller investigation.”

The Whitaker blueprint Sherp mentioned was a Justice Department defunding of the Mueller probe.

With Constitutional lawyer and former acting U.S. solicitor general Neal Katyal, Trump advisor Kelly Ann Conway’s husband co-authored a NY Times article stating the Whitaker appointment is unconstitutional. TV photo MSNBC broadcast/Roger Bianchini

Sherp said he sees three basic motivations for a long-anticipated Trump move against the attorney general, opening a path against the special counsel investigation into Russian meddling on his behalf during the 2016 campaign.

One is to eliminate the Mueller investigation before a Democratic majority is seated in the U.S. House of Representatives on or about January 6, 2019, with powers to subpoena Trump records and tax returns.  Second is to distract from the result of the Tuesday mid-terms which Sherp described as “a repudiation of him as president”.  And finally and most pointedly Sherp said, that after a pre-election hold on special counsel investigation actions, a new round of indictments is anticipated – potentially including Trump’s eldest son Donald Junior.

The White House increasingly finds itself at ground zero of an escalating constitutional crisis – TV photo CNN broadcast/Roger Bianchini

Vanity Fair magazine and The Daily Mail have reported that Donald Trump Jr. has told friends he fears he may soon be indicted for perjury connected to the Trump Tower campaign meeting with Russians.  While Trump Junior’s attorney denies his client has made such statements, Vanity Fair has also reported that the president is “very depressed” about the prospect of his eldest son facing indictment for actions related to his campaign.

That depression, Sherp pointed out, could relate to the fact some sources have indicated that the president himself led discussion developing a “Russian adoptions” cover story for his son about the Trump Tower meeting overseen by Donald Junior.  The adoptions cover story was allegedly developed during an Air Force One flight back from a European trip.  Trump had been overseas when Donald Junior released emails related to setting up the Trump Tower meeting just before The New York Times was poised to release them.

The pre-Trump Tower communications indicated that Donald Junior initially believed information provided by a Russian attorney at the meeting would “incriminate Hillary” to which he replied enthusiastically “if it’s what you say I love it.”

The investigation thus far

Mueller is a former federal prosecutor and was FBI director under two presidents, George W. Bush who appointed him to a 10-year term, and Barack Obama who asked him to stay on until he appointed Comey in 2013.

Mueller was appointed as Special Counsel for the Russian election interference probe by Deputy Attorney General Rob Rosenstein in May 2017.  Upon his appointment as special prosecutor, Mueller was lauded from both sides of the political aisle as a man of unblemished integrity.  Mueller has also been described as a lifelong Republican.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been charged by the Trump Justice Department to get to the bottom of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and identify all players, foreign and domestic. TV photo NBC broadcast/Roger Bianchini

Mueller’s current appointment came amidst heavy pressure from both sides of the political aisle in the wake of the president’s firing of Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey.  Comey had been overseeing the FBI’s investigation into Russian efforts to impact the result of the 2016 presidential election in favor of Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Comey has stated that prior to his firing, the president asked for an oath of personal loyalty and that the FBI director back off any investigation of his then National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

Flynn is one of six former Trump aides or appointees who have since pled guilty or been convicted on charges related to the special counsel’s investigation into Russian electoral interference.  Thus far Mueller’s investigation has resulted in 35 indictments, 32 against people, 26 of those Russian nationals, including 12 Russian GRU intelligence operatives, as well as 3 Russian companies.

In addition to Flynn (guilty plea), among those convicted or pleading guilty to charges stemming from the special prosecutor’s investigation into Russian efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election include one-time Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort (convicted and guilty plea); Trump foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos (guilty plea); Trump campaign aide Rick Gates (guilty plea); Republican operative and lobbyist Sam Patten (guilty plea); and Trump’s long-time personal attorney and so-called “fixer” Michael Cohen (guilty plea).

Most of those entering into plea arrangements with prosecutors are believed to have agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s team regarding their knowledge of activities surrounding Russian contacts or information transfers designed to aid the Trump presidential campaign.

‘Big Victory’ or Real Problems?

Sometimes pictures speak for themselves – photo attributions as above/TV shots from NBC, CNN, MSNBC and NBC affiliate News4 as shown in photos

While the president has publicly claimed a “Big Victory” and “Tremendous success” in the November 6 mid-term election, gains made nationwide by Democrats, particularly in gaining a decisive U.S. House of Representatives majority initially standing at 223-205 with estimates the Democratic majority could rise to as much as 230 seats, spells trouble for the president.

As Sherp noted, it is the U.S. House of Representatives majority party that controls committees with subpoena, not to mention impeachment, powers over the president.  And Sherp is far from alone in seeing Trump’s “the day after” forced resignation of Attorney General Sessions and appointment of his avid loyalist Matthew Whitaker as Acting Attorney General as the first step in a presidential effort to kill the Mueller investigation.

After Sessions recused himself from matters related to the Russia probe due to conflicts of interest involving his work for the Trump campaign and his own personal meetings with Russian officials in that capacity, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein inherited creation of and oversight of Mueller’s investigation.

Trump has repeatedly berated Sessions for his recusal, something legal experts say he had no choice but to do.  The president’s ire has focused on his top administration law enforcement appointee taking himself out of a position to shield the president from potential legal consequences of the Russian investigation.

Acting Attorney General Whitaker appeared to audition for a job at the Trump Justice Department with television appearances and op-eds during which he termed the special prosecutor’s investigation a “witch hunt” and something that needed to be brought to a halt or defunded to the point it could no longer function.  Whittaker also expressed a belief that broadening the Mueller investigation into the president’s personal or business finances would be “a violation” of the special prosecutor’s mandate to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Now Trump has placed Whitaker in a position to act on those stated beliefs.  A question for many is if Whitaker does act to kill or stymie the Mueller investigation will he simply be putting a period on a potential obstruction of justice charge against both himself and the president.

But with administration dominoes being put in place to move against Mueller, citizens across the country are not waiting for the hammer to drop.  Like Len Sherp and 25 companions here, they are taking to the streets nationwide to show they will not take interference in or obstruction of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe lightly.

Jenspiration

The MORE Program presents a video in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Photo and video by MORE students and Jennifer Avery, Jenspirations. Behind the scenes as the MORE Program students gather to film the next portion of their MLK video.

On Wednesdays, the MORE Program students work on their video and photography skills. Some students have shown natural talent in the director position, some as a manager organizing behind the scenes. There are students who love to ask interview questions and prompt thoughts, and others who love to be on camera.

Jennifer Avery, Jenspiration LLC helps students edit video footage on Movie Maker to prepare for the final product.

This week our project was to organize and present a video on Martin Luther King, Jr. Grab a cup of tea, sit back, and enjoy this 6 minute presentation on MLK. The students organized, directed, and filmed it all!

Some famous MLK quotes the students included:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

Resource

The MORE Program provides afternoon care to middle school students in Warren County. We provide healthy snacks, reinforce skills required for academic success, and provide hands-on enrichment activities that teach important lessons about future employment, health, and wellness. We provide all of this at no cost to parents, thanks to state and federal grants, the Warren Coalition, and Warren County Public Schools.

Jennifer Avery, Jenspiration LLC
540-683-0790 | www.jenspirations.com
1. Behind the scenes as the MORE Program students gather to film the next portion of their MLK video.
2. Jennifer Avery, Jenspiration LLC helps students edit video footage on Movie Maker to prepare for the final product.

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

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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 klewallen@wcps.k12.va.us 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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Iwo Jima, the iconic battle and legacy

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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?

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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.

Background:

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). http://www.mepav.org/
American Municipal Power – Ohio (AMP-Ohio). http://www.amppartners.org/home
American Public Power Association (APPA). https://www.publicpower.org/
ElectriCities. https://www.electricities.com/
International Municipal Signal Association (IMSA). https://www.imsasafety.org/

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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Citizens speak out about high electric bills

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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

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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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