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McClellan vies for governor seat after 15 years in legislature

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Sen. Jennifer McClellan is one of 13 candidates vying to become Virginia’s next governor; a state that has never had a woman in the top post.

McClellan, D-Richmond, has helped shape Virginia’s changing political landscape for 15 years as a state legislator. She just completed her fifth year serving as a senator. She won the position in a 2017 special election, departing her 11-year post as a delegate representing Charles City County and parts of Richmond City and Henrico and Hanover counties. McClellan now looks to the executive mansion.

“We need a governor who can rebuild our economy, our healthcare, our economic safety net, and help us move forward post-COVID in a way that addresses inequity and brings people that are impacted by these crises together to be a part of that solution,” McClellan said. “I’ve got the experience and perspective to do that.”

McClellan’s party has controlled both chambers of the legislature for the past two years, along with the executive branch. The Democratic trifecta has ushered in more progressive legislation and undone decades of conservative policy.


“I have a full understanding of how we got where we are as a commonwealth, where we need to go, and how to build that coalition of people to come together to do that,” McClellan said.

McClellan has close ties with many of the issues she fights for, including domestic workers’ rights. She comes from a long line of domestic workers. The General Assembly recently passed a bill spearheaded by McClellan that includes domestic service workers in employee protection laws. Every woman on her mother’s side of the family has been a domestic worker, the senator said.

“My mom was one of 14 children born during the Depression in the Gulf Coast of Mississippi,” she said. “For her mother, her grandmother, her sisters, those were the only jobs available.”

Key issues
McClellan said she wants to bolster Virginia as the state digs into another year of the pandemic. That includes a focus on education, health care, and economic recovery and development.

McClellan said she wants to provide more funding for public schools, including raising teacher salaries to an average of $65,000. Legislators have cut Virginia’s education funding formula since the recession, according to a report from the Commonwealth Institute. The cuts include capping the number of school support staff paid for by the state.

McClellan plans to help stabilize and expand the child care industry. The pandemic caused many child care workers to lose jobs and daycares to close. The industry will continue to decline without public investment and policy reform, according to a University of California, Berkeley report.

The senator said child care should be recognized as a public necessity. McClellan said she laid the groundwork for the Universal Child Care & Early Learning Plan during the 2021 General Assembly session. McClellan’s $4 billion plan calls for universal child care by 2025 for babies and children up to age 4.

The governor recently signed McClellan’s Senate Bill 1316, which exempts prospective child care employees and volunteers from background checks if one has been performed in the past five years. The bill also prompts the Department of Education to establish a two-year pilot program that would move federal child care subsidy dollars from an attendance-based to an enrollment-based model. If an emergency kept the student from attending, the facility does not get subsidy dollars under the attendance-based system, even though the facility already had financially prepared for the student. Child care centers lost federal funding in the past year due to the pandemic and children missing more days than usual.

The pandemic has negatively impacted many small businesses and workers. McClellan said she will create a COVID Long-Term Effects Small Business Loan allowing small business owners to apply for a low-interest, 30-year loan. McClellan wants to expand small businesses’ access to capital through increased funding partnerships with entities such as the Virginia Community Capital bank. She also promoted evaluating laws and tax structures to help “allow entrepreneurs to innovate and grow” their businesses in alignment with market trends.

The General Assembly in recent years has made efforts to improve workers’ rights, though several bills were whittled down or didn’t advance. McClellan wants to expedite the transition to a $15 minimum hourly wage, allow an estimated half a million gig workers access to unemployment benefits and remove barriers to collective bargaining. She would also like to pass a stronger version of a paid sick leave bill than what the Senate amended this session.

Obstacles
Stephen Farnsworth, director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, said McClellan has a good chance of winning the governorship, but there are obstacles in her way.

“The big challenge that Sen. McClellan has in this contest is the fact that there’s a former governor, Terry McAuliffe, who’s also seeking the Democratic nomination,” he said. “Absent McAuliffe, she would be one of the leading candidates, but with McAuliffe in the race, it will be hard for any of the other Democratic candidates to compete with somebody who has already won a statewide election.”

McAuliffe worked “very hard” over the last several years to help create Democratic majorities in the legislature and has some IOUs to collect that will help his campaign, Farnsworth said.

Democrats will see a variety of issues they support in McClellan’s voting record, including civil rights, criminal justice reform, climate change, and questions of equality, Farnsworth said.

“Experience is always a big plus when you’re talking about a candidate for governor,” he said. “It’s not a job that is a good place for on-the-job training. And that will also be one of her key assets.”

Other Democrats on the gubernatorial ticket are former state Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy; Del. Lee Carter, D-Manassas, and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax. Seven Republican candidates and one independent are also in the race. There are five female candidates representing three parties.

Only 44 women have served as governor, according to the Center for American Women and Politics, a part of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. Women have held those seats in 30 states.

McClellan said this political race is different from her other political campaigns because of COVID-19. Previously, candidates connected with people in person.

“We’ve had to shift to virtual events, which is both challenging and brings opportunities because I can talk to people from all across the state at one time, but it’s not quite the same,” she said.

A ‘new voice’
Sen. Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, a colleague and friend of McClellan’s, has endorsed her run for governor. She and McClellan have worked on bills together over the years pertaining to women’s issues, reproductive rights, and voting rights. One of her fondest memories with McClellan is the day the General Assembly passed legislation for Virginia to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

The ERA is a proposed U.S. Constitutional amendment to provide equal rights to American citizens regardless of sex. Virginia became the 38th state to ratify it in 2020, though the Congressional deadline has passed.

Locke and McClellan were two of several lawmakers who sponsored legislation in the Senate supporting the amendment.

“We just kind of looked at each other,” Locke said. “All of these women were in this room, even though there were women in the room who certainly had voted and lobbied against it.”

Locke said they had just delivered remarks in support of the ERA. Then the committee started its vote.

“We looked at each other and said, ‘Oh my god, this is really going to pass now,’ and at the end of the vote we hugged each other.”

Locke said McClellan is a candidate with energy, new ideas, and “a voice that Virginia needs to hear.” Locke said she didn’t need to be convinced when McClellan called to ask for her endorsement.

“It’s time for Virginia to move in a direction that’s not the same old thing over and over again,” she said. “She is a very strong individual who can bring … that new voice, that new energy to the governor’s office. That’s what Virginia needs right now.”

By Hunter Britt
Capital News Service

Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.

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SNAP Emergency Allotments Will End in February

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The Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) will release the final issuance of emergency allotment benefits to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households in February, in accordance with the requirements of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023. The new law recently passed by Congress ends VDSS’ authorization to continue issuing benefits through the temporary federal program, originally established in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The last issuance of benefits will be automatically loaded onto SNAP customers’ Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards on Thursday, February 16.

SNAP households began receiving the temporary emergency allotment benefit in March 2020 through the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (2020). Per federal guidelines, states were required to request a monthly waiver to issue these benefits. VDSS submitted this request each month for the duration of the period emergency benefits were available to continue providing additional food benefits to SNAP households. Since March 2020, the Commonwealth has issued more than 2.1 billion dollars in emergency allotments and raised the monthly issuance to the maximum allowable amount for over 900,000 individuals in Virginia. According to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, emergency allotments have already ended in 17 states.

Households will permanently return to pre-pandemic allowances beginning March 1, 2023, and receive their regular SNAP benefit amounts on their usual day of issuance (on the 1st, 4th, or 7th day of the month). To further awareness of this change, VDSS has mailed letters directly to SNAP households.

Additionally, to support Virginians during this transition, VDSS has also created a dedicated webpage for more information and resources. Beginning January 28, households may contact the temporary information line at 1-855-635-4370, Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. TTY assistance is available by calling 800-552-7917 or 866-246-9300. SNAP participants can contact Warren County DSS or visit CommonHelp for questions or account information.


For assistance with applying for food benefits, visit the VDSS SNAP webpage. To access information regarding resources statewide and in your local community, don’t hesitate to get in touch with 2-1-1 Virginia or visit the VDSS food and other nutritional assistance pages.

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VDOT: Warren County Traffic alert for February 6 – 10, 2023

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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.

INTERSTATE 66
*NEW* Mile marker 5 to 9, eastbound and westbound – Right shoulder closures for sign work, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

INTERSTATE 81
*NEW* Mile marker 299 to 300, northbound and southbound – Overnight single lane closures for inspection of bridge over Cedar Creek, Tuesday night from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m.


Mile marker 299 to 300, northbound and southbound – Overnight single lane closures for equipment and materials unloading and bridge removal work, 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. through the night of March 16.

PRIMARY ROADS
*UPDATE* Route 55 (Strasburg Road) – Shoulder closures for overnight utility work between Route 664 (Whippoorwill Road) and Front Royal town limits, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. through February 17.

SECONDARY ROADS
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 www.511Virginia.org.

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

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Warren Coalition’s “We See You, Warren County” February 2023 Theme: You Can Do Hard Things

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The February 2023 Theme for We See You, Warren County is “You Can Do Hard Things.”

That phrase means something different for each person. For some people, greeting others, as We See You, Warren County members are encouraged to do, is very difficult. Some people find it hard to ask others for help. Others might have trouble getting out of bed in the morning or standing up for themselves in a conflict. Some may want to end a substance use disorder or get out of toxic relationship, both of which can be very difficult to overcome.

“We want to encourage everyone to believe in themselves this month,” said Celeste Brooks, Community Outreach Coordinator. “After all, you’ve already survived 100% of your hardest days! But we also want everyone to remember that doing hard things doesn’t mean you have to do them alone. We are here to help each other. No matter what you are going through, it’s okay to ask for help.”

Among this month’s challenges is a seemingly simple task: “Allow someone to interrupt you.” This is a challenge for this month, Brooks said, because it is harder than it sounds. “For task-driven people especially, stopping what we’re doing to listen to someone can be very hard,” she acknowledged. “But it’s very important to allow that to happen if we’re going to build relationships with each other.”


Other challenges this month are to greet ten strangers, offer to help someone, invite one person to join We See You, Warren County, and reach out to repair a relationship. The tips for this month emphasize that it is okay to ask for help, we are stronger together, and childhood trauma doesn’t have to define you.

More about the We See You, Warren County Campaign

We See You, Warren County partners have agreed to help create a more connected community by greeting others and taking on at least one challenge each month. A connected community creates as sense of safety and belonging, which is a critical part of preventing drug and alcohol misuse. Members are encouraged to share their experiences on social media using the hashtag #WeCUWC. Organizations and individuals that register receive a window cling to show they are participating. The program now has more than 200 registered partners, and over 1000 Facebook members. Sign-ups are ongoing. Go to weseeyou.warrencoalition.org to learn more, or to officially sign up yourself, your family, or your business or organization. You can also join the Facebook group at facebook.com/groups/wecuwc.

In addition, the Warren Coalition features individuals of the Warren County community on the “We See You” website, and on the Warren Coalition social media accounts. People do not have to be registered members to be featured. Anyone who lives, works, or plays in Warren County can submit a profile on the We See You website.


About Warren Coalition

Warren Coalition is a nonprofit agency established in 1994 to help fill the gaps in health care and substance misuse awareness to the community. The Coalition began under the guidance of Warren Memorial Hospital as an outreach project, but it 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.

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The 2023 Front Royal Chocolate Crawl starts Monday, February 6th

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Calling all chocolate lovers. This is an event you don’t want to miss. The 2023 Front Royal Chocolate Crawl starts Monday, February 6th, and runs all week to Valentine’s Day on the 14th.

For every 2023 Chocolate Crawl Commemorative Ornament you buy, you will be automatically entered into our drawing for an amazing Valentine’s Day Gift Basket. Pickup the ornament (which smells like chocolate) at the following locations:

  • White Picket Fence
  • I Want Candy
  • C&C Frozen Treats

The Ornament is $5, and the profits go to charity.

So, what is a Chocolate Crawl? Watch the video and find out and join the Facebook Event Page too.


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Crime/Court

Deputies rescue suspected impaired driver from pond after crash

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At approximately 11am today, the Frederick County Emergency Communications Center received a 9-1-1 call stating that a SUV had driven off the roadway and into a pond in the area of Papermill Rd. and Harrsion Ln. The caller stated the driver was still in the vehicle and was not moving.

Deputies arriving first on the scene observed the vehicle, partially submerged in the water up to it’s hood, and could see the driver slumped over the wheel. Deputy Jason Hawse and Deputy Nick Dempsey removed their outer vests and gun belts and entered the frigid water to assist the unconscious subject. With outside temps of 27 degrees, and windchill making it feel more like 13 degrees, Hawse and Dempsey worked quickly, in the chest-high water, breaking the windows on the vehicle and pulling the subject out. Once getting the male driver to land, one dose of Narcan was administered and the subject regained consciousness a few moments later.

The driver, identified as Michael Surgent, 35, of Mechanicsville, Va. was immediately attended to by deputies awaiting EMTs to medically evaluate him for exposure. Based on witness statements, and evidence recovered later from the vehicle, it is believed that Surgent was “huffing” chemicals from aerosol cans resulting in his losing consciousness, and proper control of his vehicle. Surgent was taken to Winchester Medical Center and held for further medical evaluations. He has been charged with huffing chemicals, reckless driving and driving under the influence.

All deputies were checked on scene and cleared for duty, once out of their wet uniforms and warmed back up. Sheriff Lenny Millholland is both pleased with, and proud of, the swift and selfless actions taken by his personnel, saying “This could have been much worse and we are thankful that no one was seriously injured in this incident”.


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Show our community some love: Warren Coalition’s LOVE sign hits the road

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From February 6th through March 31st, Warren Coalition’s LOVE sign will travel about Warren County to raise awareness and create community connections.

Businesses and organizations are invited to host the LOVE sign, free of charge, and collect notes of appreciation, encouragement, and affirmation for a group of their choosing. For example, they could collect notes for teachers, sanitation workers, housekeepers, mechanics, or nurses. Or they could collect notes for a specific place, such as a hospital, a nonprofit organization, or a school. It must be a group within Warren County, and it should be a group that is not part of the business/organization—for example, a school should not collect notes for its own teachers/employees.

The LOVE sign, built by Warren Coalition employee Julia Laurent, is a smaller version of the Virginia LOVE signs you see around the Commonwealth. It is crisscrossed with ribbons designed to hold notes.

The sign can be reserved for a single event, or a period of time up to one week. Afterwards, the business/organization can deliver the notes to their selected group, or Warren Coalition will deliver them on their behalf.


This campaign is part of the larger “We See You You, Warren County” movement, a grassroots resilience movement designed to develop a more connected community where everyone feels like they belong.

Anyone interested in hosting the sign should contact Celeste Brooks, Community Outreach Coordinator, at celeste@warrencoalition.org or 540-660-3367.

More about the We See You, Warren County Campaign

We See You, Warren County is about seeing and acknowledging each individual within Warren County, whether they live, work, or play here. It is a grassroots campaign designed to foster community connection and improve community resilience, which are key foundational components in preventing drug and alcohol misuse. We See You, Warren County participants are encouraged to share their experiences on social media using the hashtag #WeCUWC. Organizations and individuals that register receive a window cling to show they are participating. The program now has more than 200 registered partners, and over 1,000 Facebook members. Sign-ups are ongoing. Go to weseeyou.warrencoalition.org to learn more, or to officially sign up yourself, your family, or your business or organization. You can also join the Facebook group at facebook.com/groups/wecuwc.

In addition, the Warren Coalition features individuals of the Warren County community on the “We See You” website, and on the Warren Coalition social media accounts. People do not have to be registered members to be featured. Anyone who lives, works, or plays in Warren County can submit a profile on the We See You website.


About Warren Coalition

Warren Coalition is a nonprofit agency established in 1994 to help fill the gaps in health care and substance misuse awareness to the community. The Coalition began under the guidance of Warren Memorial Hospital as an outreach project, but it has since grown and was incorporated in 2001.  The office is 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.

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Thank You to our Local Business Participants:

@AHIER

Aders Insurance Agency, Inc (State Farm)

Aire Serv Heating and Air Conditioning

Apple Dumpling Learning Center

Apple House

Auto Care Clinic

Avery-Hess Realty, Marilyn King

Beaver Tree Services

Blake and Co. Hair Spa

Blue Ridge Arts Council

Blue Ridge Education

BNI Shenandoah Valley

C&C's Ice Cream Shop

Card My Yard

CBM Mortgage, Michelle Napier

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 Independent Business Alliance

First Baptist Church

Front Royal Women's Resource Center

Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce

Fussell Florist

G&M Auto Sales Inc

Garcia & Gavino Family Bakery

Gourmet Delights Gifts & Framing

Green to Ground Electrical

Groups Recover Together

Habitat for Humanity

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

Mountain View Music

National Media Services

Natural Results Chiropractic Clinic

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

Shenandoah Shores Management Group

St. Luke Community Clinic

Strites Doughnuts

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

Vetbuilder.com

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

Warren Coalition

Warren County Democratic Committee

Warren County Department of Social Services

Warren County DSS Job Development

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
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Upcoming Events

Feb
6
Mon
8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
Chocolate Crawl
Feb 6 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
Feb
7
Tue
8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
Chocolate Crawl
Feb 7 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
Feb
8
Wed
8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
Chocolate Crawl
Feb 8 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Feb 8 @ 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[...]
Feb
9
Thu
8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
Chocolate Crawl
Feb 9 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
Feb
10
Fri
8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
Chocolate Crawl
Feb 10 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
Feb
11
Sat
8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
Chocolate Crawl
Feb 11 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
Feb
12
Sun
8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
Chocolate Crawl
Feb 12 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
11:30 am Galentine’s Brunch & Market @ Vibrissa Beer
Galentine’s Brunch & Market @ Vibrissa Beer
Feb 12 @ 11:30 am – 5:00 pm
Galentine's Brunch & Market @ Vibrissa Beer
Come Celebrate Friendship & Treat Yourself! Only 30 tickets available and they will go quickly. Tickets include: A Beautiful Brunch at Vibrissa Beer! Two tickets to a Mimosa Bar at Vibrissa! A Silent Auction at[...]
Feb
13
Mon
8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
Chocolate Crawl
Feb 13 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]