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Meet Peter Houlahan: Norco ’80 Author; special fundraising event at Samuels Public Library, Saturday at 6pm



Peter Houlahan, author of the book Norco ’80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History.

Tickets are still available! This event is a fundraiser for Samuels Public Library and a unique opportunity to meet the author of one of the hottest books of 2019, Norco 80. Please consider supporting the library by attending this interesting and educational evening! Cocktails at 6pm, Presentation & Questions at 6:30, Appetizers & Signing at 8pm. Books will be available for purchase for $25.00. To purchase tickets, visit, or purchase in-person at Samuels Public Library, 330 East Criser Road, Front Royal, VA.

Money raised through sponsorships and ticket sales at this event will go toward improving the services, programs, and collections that the Library is able to offer the citizens of Front Royal/Warren County and surrounding areas.

“Simply put, Norco ’80 is one of the best true crime accounts ever written. Harrowing, incisive, and important. But also? A goddamned thrill ride. This is a book you’ll read and then talk about for weeks.”  – Tod Goldberg, author of Gangsterland

Turning off Etiwanda onto Holmes, a two-lane road lined with ramshackle houses, double-wides, and animal pens, it suddenly occurred to Deputy Rolf Parkes that he might be seconds away from a battle in which he would be outgunned, outmanned, and utterly alone. Rolf abruptly slowed and pulled his cruiser onto the dirt beside the metal fencing of a horse corral to give him time to consider his options. Before he could make any decisions, the yellow truck appeared, traveling at an ominously slow speed. To Parkes, it did not look like a vehicle fleeing police as much as it did one daring anyone to get close to it. And now it was 150 feet away, headed directly toward him.

At once, three men with rifles simultaneously turned their weapons on Rolf. Bullets ricocheted off the pavement in front of him with a singing sound as they fragmented. Others cracked like bullwhips overhead as they shattered the sound barrier on their way to God knows where. There was the tearing sound of rounds striking his vehicle, ripping through multiple layers of metal, plastic, and glass with a guttural, three-dimensional quality. Fragments lacerated the interior and seats while heavier rounds from George Smith’s .308 passed through one side of the vehicle and out the other. Rolf had been around plenty of guns, but this was like nothing he had ever heard before.

Closing in on him, the truck methodically crossed the dotted line, veering into his lane like a trapper walking up to a snared animal to blow its brains out. The fucking thing seemed to amble, in no hurry at all. These sons of bitches are not trying to get away from me, he thought, they are trying to kill me. He was out of options. In the move of a desperate man willing to put anything between himself and death, Rolf Parkes did the only thing he could think of: he rolled up his side window.

Praise for NORCO ’80:

“NORCO 80 somehow makes meticulous research and devotion to the truth fuse with suspense and excitement until the reader is right there, a witness to this guns-blazing account of a crime that changed American law enforcement’s readiness for violence in the extreme.” –Joseph Wambaugh, Best-selling author of The Onion Field.

“There is no doubt that Norco ’80 is poised to become a true crime classic. It’s a marvel of pacing and information—at times racing ahead like a speeding bullet and others slowing down to provide a perfect panorama of a hair’s breadth moment. Houlahan has left nothing unexamined in his obsessively detailed account of this heist from the emotional, to the logistical, to the spiritual. Trust me, you’re going to want to read every word.” —Ivy Pochoda, author of Wonder Valley.

“Norco ’80 reads like a pre-apocalyptic nightmare, and it’s all true. Houlahan’s writing is intimate and stark, and the pacing relentless, as it tells the story of a group of young men who robbed a bank to prepare for the end of the world and succeeded in bringing fire and brimstone to one unfortunate small town and the police sworn to protect it. The reader will feel like a witness to these events as they unfold. Be warned—you will not get anything done until this book is done with you.” —James Renner, author of True Crime Addict.

“As the astonishing mayhem chronicled in this book unfolds, you’ll find yourself wondering, How much worse can this situation get? Answer: a lot. Turning the pages, I kept flashing back to the desperate, duck-for-cover urgency of Black Hawk Down. Meticulously reported and artfully written, NORCO ‘80 is an utterly absorbing, unforgettable, and haunting study of how a series of bad decisions can snowball into something truly disastrous.”––Dave Howard, author of Chasing Phil.

Peter Houlahan is a freelance writer contributing to a wide range of publications. In his career as an emergency medical technician, he has written a number of articles related to his profession. He holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. A native Southern Californian, Houlahan now lives in Fairfield County, Connecticut.

Find out more about Peter Houlahan and the book on his website.

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Community Events

This week’s showtimes at Royal Cinemas as of January 16th



Are you looking for the full movie-going experience without having to wait in the long lines that often accompany that experience? Then look no further because Royal Cinemas movie theatre is the answer. Get the whole gang together and enjoy a movie! Here is a list of this week’s showtimes at Royal Cinemas as of Thursday, January 16:

•   Thurs – Fri: 6:00 & 8:50
•   Sat – Mon: 12:30, 3:15, 6:00 & 8:50
•   Tues – Wed: 6:00 & 8:50
Rated R  |  Run Time: 2 hours

•   Thurs – Fri: 6:10 & 8:45
•   Sat – Mon: 12:45, 3:20, 6:10 & 8:45
•   Tues – Wed: 6:10 & 8:45
Rated PG  |  Run Time: 1 hour 40 min

•   Thurs – Fri: 6:05 & 8:55
•   Sat – Mon: 12:40, 3:25, 6:05 & 8:55
•   Tues – Wed: 6:05 & 8:55
Rated R  |  Run Time: 2 hours

Ticket prices are as follows:

  • Adult: $9
  • Child (under 12): $6
  • Military: $7
  • Student (college): $7
  • Senior: $7
  • Matinees, All Seating: $6

Other movies coming soon to Royal Cinemas:

  • “Birds of Prey”
  • “Fantasy Island”
  • “Sonic the Hedgehog”
  • “Onward”
  • “Godzilla vs. Kong”
  • “A Quiet Place Part II”
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Virginia Beer Museum celebrates Robert Burns birthday January 25th



Here in the highlands of Warren County on January 25th from 6 until… the beer Museum will be celebrating the Robert Burns birthday commemoration. There will be Kilted Bonnie lasses and brave laddies in addition to bagpipes singing and of course haggis. No you don’t want to know…. but try it anyway and enjoy!

In addition to their normal fine selections In Brews there will be some tasting of that fine elixir to which Scotland lends its name. So you’ll definitely want to mark your calendars for this evening of fun and frolic. Don’t miss this one. See you there.

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Shenandoah National Park hosts Youth Art Contest



Photo / National Park Service website

Local children and teens who like art and wildflowers will have a chance to combine both in Shenandoah National Park’s annual “Youth Art in the Park” wildflower art contest. The contest is held in conjunction with the park’s annual Wildflower Weekend May 9-10, 2020.

The contest is open to students in grade levels K-12 in Albemarle, Augusta, Greene, Madison, Page, Rappahannock, Rockingham, Shenandoah and Warren counties. Students attending public, private and city schools, as well as home-schooled children living in these counties, may enter. Works may be submitted from home or through participating schools. The deadline for entries is April 10.

The contest overview, rules and the downloadable entry form are posted on the park website.

Judging will be among four grade levels:  K-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12. Artists must submit 8 x 10-inch flat art (acrylic, oil pastel, crayon, watercolor, pencil, fiber, charcoal, etc.) depicting one or more native wildflowers. There is a wildflower list and a reference photo gallery on the park website.

Ribbons and other prizes will be awarded to the top entries from each grade level plus “Best in Show.” Top winners, family and teachers will be invited to a recognition ceremony in the park on May 9. Winning artwork will be displayed at park visitor centers, and scanned images may be used in future park promotions. All artwork will be returned to the artists.

For more information about Wildflower Weekend and the “Youth Art in the Park” contest, contact Mara Meisel at (540) 999-3500, ext. 3282.

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Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington to host 38th Annual Ball



Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington to host 38th Annual Ball; Raises funds for 21 programs serving those in need in our Diocese.

On February 7, 2020, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington will hold its 38th Annual Ball at The Ritz-Carlton in Tysons Corner. The event is the largest annual fundraiser for Catholic Charities, providing a significant portion of the resources needed to support 21 programs serving those in need throughout the 21 counties and seven cities of the Diocese. This year’s theme is “With Love and Charity.”

“The ball is a celebratory evening where the Catholic and wider community come together to honor and support our mission of serving the most vulnerable men, women and families throughout the Diocese,” said Art Bennett, president and CEO, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington. “This year’s theme, ‘With Love and Charity,’ captures the essence of why we do what we do. Our work is made possible not just by monetary support, but by the love and charity of countless volunteers who show the face of Christ to those we serve.”

  • WHAT: Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington Annual Ball
  • WHEN: Friday, February 7, 2010  |  7 p.m. Ball Begins (Dinner, Presentations and Dancing)  |  9 p.m. Young Adult Event (Reception and Dancing)
  • WHERE: The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner (1700 Tysons Blvd, McLean, VA  22102)
  • REGISTRATION:  Tickets for both events can be purchased at

The volunteer-led ball supports 21 Catholic Charities programs. Among those are Catholic Charities’ transitional housing programs for homeless men at Christ House and homeless families at St. Margaret of Cortona Housing; the St. Lucy Project, a diocesan wide food collection and distribution program for the hungry; free health care at Catholic Charities’ Mother of Mercy Free Medical Clinic; the emergency financial assistance program; mental health counseling for families and individuals; Pregnancy and Adoption Services; Hogar Immigrant Legal Services; Education and Workforce Development; Migrant and Refugee Services; the Prison Ministry and Welcome Home Re-entry program; the Car Ministry, and the new Catholic Charities’ Opioid Epidemic initiative.

For more information, contact Amber Roseboom, Director of Media Relations, Catholic Diocese of Arlington, at 571-215-8731 or

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington serves the poor and vulnerable who live within the 21 counties and seven cities of the Diocese of Arlington, which is led by Bishop Michael F. Burbidge. Catholic Charities provides food for the hungry, a free medical clinic for adults including prenatal care, adoption services, transformational housing for the homeless, mental health counseling, emergency financial assistance, prison ministry, workforce development and immigration and refugee services. Catholic Charities serves all, regardless of faith.

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Water fun: Local Humane Society schedules Polar Plunge, Waggin’ for Dragons



Get ready to participate in two upcoming events, February’s new Polar Plunge and this summer’s Waggin’ for Dragons, which both support the Humane Society of Warren County (HSWC).

The Polar Plunge takes place on February 1 beginning at 11 a.m., while Waggin’ for Dragons is scheduled for August 1 at 9 a.m.

“Both events will contribute significantly to our annual income, covering expenses such as vet bills, food and vaccine supplies, staff, shelter upkeep, etc.,” HSWC Executive Director Meghan Bowers wrote in an email on Thursday. “Our biggest needs are always funds, but we also always need non-clumping kitty litter, KMR (kitten milk replacer), wet food, toys, enrichment products, flea and tick treatments, gift cards, etc.”

The February 1 Polar Plunge is a new event, Bowers said, and it will take place in the icy cold water of Lake Culpeper at the Front Royal 4H Center. Following the Plunge, participants and spectators are invited to head over to a Melt Down Party being held at ViNoVa Tapas & Wine Bar at 124 E. Main Street in downtown Front Royal for hot soups and cocktails.

“I think my favorite part will be the spirit that the plungers bring to the event,” Bowers said. “It takes a special kind of person to do something like this, and I can’t wait to see it!”

The funds raised by the Polar Plunge will support the ongoing care of the shelter animals, said Bowers.

If you’re interested in taking the plunge, go online here to register for the event as an individual or team and then start lining up your sponsors.

Or if you aren’t interested in freezing off your tush for a few seconds to raise cash for a good cause, then you can directly sponsor a registered Polar Plunge participant by going here. Bowers said there are already about 20-25 people plunging so far.

And companies can sponsor the Humane Society event, too, by clicking here. Current sponsors are: City National Bank, Cool Techs Heating & Air, Aders Insurance Agency, and MDUB Chauffeur Services LLC.

A few minutes of freezing water will translate into a lifetime of stories, Bowers added.

“We like to do events that aren’t being done locally and that will be something that the participants will remember fondly,” she said. “We decided on a Polar Plunge because it’s pretty easy to pull together, will be a lot of fun, and it takes advantage of our beautiful area, just like Waggin’ for Dragons.”

Eight teams participated in the 2019 Waggin’ for Dragons Boat Race to benefit the Humane Society of Warren County (HSWC) and the Wagner Animal Shelter. File photo courtesy of HSWC.

The 2020 Waggin’ for Dragons event will be Front Royal’s 5th Annual Dragon Boat Race to benefit the Humane Society of Warren County and will be held on the North Fork of the Shenandoah River at the boat landing at the Front Royal Golf Course.

Each Dragon Boat team must raise a minimum of $2,000 prior to the August 1 Race Day ($100 per paddler) in order to participate in the event, which typically features friendly competitions between community and corporate teams and attracts more than 400 athletes and hundreds of spectators.

And each registered team designs and decorates their own Dragon Boat to hold 20 paddlers, one steer person and one drummer to keep the rowing beat. Free training is provided the week prior to the race.

“The fun part is the team camps, where everyone decorates, grills out, enjoys the music and watches the races go by,” Bowers said. “It is always fun to see these community groups team up for a good cause, and I think they all have a lot of fun.”

To register a team, donate to a team, or to be a corporate sponsor for Waggin’ for Dragons, click here.

“For both events, the participants make it possible, so I would encourage anyone thinking about it, to just go for it,” said Bowers. “It’s for a good cause and will be a lot of fun with other like-minded, amazing animal lovers.”

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Commemoration Ceremony to honor Peter Muhlenberg, the ‘Fighting Parson” from Woodstock



Citizens will gather in Woodstock at the old court house to honor Peter Muhlenberg at 12 Noon, Saturday, January 18, 2020. The Rev. Muhlenberg’s immortal sermon will be remembered which he delivered in Emmanuel Church, in January 21, 1776. The ceremony will be on the spot where 300 local residents assembled to march to war for American Independence.

The Rev. Larry W. Johnson will moderate the program accompanied by persons from local churches, the Col. James Wood II Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, the Narrow Passage Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Shenandoah Christian Alliance. The public is invited to attend. There is no charge. The Honor Guard of the James Wood II Chapter will present the colors dressed in Revolutionary War uniforms.

Major General Peter Muhlenberg is remembered as the “fighting parson” from Woodstock. Johnson, a descendant of great grandfathers who fought in the Revolution, is a former president of the Col. James Wood II Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. He will tell of the sermon heard around the world which inspired men and boys from the Shenandoah Valley to join the fight for American Independence.

This year is the 244th anniversary when 300 Shenandoah Valley men and boys assembled in Emmanuel Church yard on January 21, 1776, to join the fight for Independence. His church was located across the street from the present old historic court house. Their leader was the 29 year old Rev. Peter Muhlenberg a Lutheran/Anglican pastor who was asked by Virginia Governor Patrick Henry and General George Washington to form a regiment and join in the fight for American Independence.

The story of the sermon which he delivered that day is recorded in history books worldwide. Muhlenberg and his regiment were at Valley Forge during a most awful and deadly winter where nearly 3,000 soldiers died of starvation and disease. General Muhlenberg and his soldiers were with George Washington at major battles including the surrender of British General Cornwallis’s Army at Yorktown in October of 1781.This ended the war and secured American Independence. He would serve until the Peace Treaty with Britain was finalized in 1783. General Washington considered Peter one his most valuable Generals.

For information: Contact the Rev. Larry Johnson, 540.454.4129. Johnson is known for his presentations on Revolutionary War History. His web site is:

Historical Background

The Rev. John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, 242 years ago on January 21, 1776, incited 300 men of his congregations in the Shenandoah Valley to join the American Revolution. He was a minister serving several churches in the Valley: at Woodstock, Strasburg, Shenandoah County and what would be Page County.

The Rev. Muhlenberg first received a commission as a Colonel in Virginia’s militia and later in George Washington’s Army, and was serving when British forces at Yorktown under Lord General Cornwallis surrendered. He was not discharged until 1783 when the Peace Treaty was signed with the British officially ending the war. He is one of America’s important but little known Founding Fathers.

He is especially remembered for the sermon he delivered in his Woodstock Church, where he preached from Ecclesiastes the Third Chapter, which starts with “To everything there is a season….” After reading the eighth verse, “a time for war, and a time for peace,” he declared, “and this is the time for war.” With this he whipped off his clerical robe to reveal his Revolutionary War uniform. General Washington, his good friend, had asked him personally to take his commission. Muhlenberg joined him in what would become the most epic war ever fought for freedom.

The Rev. Muhlenberg rose to the rank of Major General and is a role model for Patriotic Americans today.

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Front Royal
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Upcoming Events

11:00 am Kooky Chefs Cook the World @ Samuels Public Library
Kooky Chefs Cook the World @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 18 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Kooky Chefs Cook the World @ Samuels Public Library
Alaska. What do people eat in the snowy, frozen state of Alaska? Come to Kooky Chefs to find out and help prepare some Alaskan dishes. For ages 8 and up. Registration begins December 18.
12:00 pm Peter Muhlenberg Commemoration @ The Historic Court House in Woodstock
Peter Muhlenberg Commemoration @ The Historic Court House in Woodstock
Jan 18 @ 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Peter Muhlenberg Commemoration @ The Historic Court House in Woodstock
Program Moderator: The Rt. Rev. Larry W. Johnson Call to Order: Larry Johnson Posting of the Colors: James Wood II Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution Color Guard Pledge of Alliance: Dale Carpenter,[...]
3:00 pm Open a Book @ Samuels Public Library
Open a Book @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 18 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Open a Book @ Samuels Public Library
The award-winning team at Rainbow Puppets has created a new musical review that shares the joy of reading through music, dance, puppetry, and story-telling. It’s a travelling early reading program designed around our new children’s book. And thanks[...]
9:00 am Martin Luther King Prayer Breakfast @ Esbie Baptist Church
Martin Luther King Prayer Breakfast @ Esbie Baptist Church
Jan 20 @ 9:00 am – 11:00 am
Martin Luther King Prayer Breakfast @ Esbie Baptist Church
Monday, January 20, 2020, starting at 9:00am, Esbie Baptist Church will be having their annual MLK Prayer Breakfast. The speaker of the hour will be Rev. Dr. Donald Reid, Pastor of Mt. Parah Baptist Church[...]
2:30 pm Inspiring speaker Rodney Smith t... @ Boggs Chapel at Randolph-Macon Academy
Inspiring speaker Rodney Smith t... @ Boggs Chapel at Randolph-Macon Academy
Jan 21 @ 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Inspiring speaker Rodney Smith to visit R-MA @ Boggs Chapel at Randolph-Macon Academy
On Tuesday, January 21st, at 2:30 pm, in Boggs Chapel at Randolph-Macon Academy (R-MA), the public is invited to be inspired by Rodney Smith, a man who has chosen to make a difference in the[...]
4:30 pm Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 21 @ 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! Tuesday, January 7 – Based on books about Balto, we will learn more about service dogs this week. For ages[...]
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 22 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, December 18 and Thursday, December 19: Something we all enjoy this time of year is giving and receiving gifts. Our stories, songs, and craft will[...]
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 23 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, December 18 and Thursday, December 19: Something we all enjoy this time of year is giving and receiving gifts. Our stories, songs, and craft will[...]
9:00 am Veterans Services Meeting at Abl... @ Able Forces
Veterans Services Meeting at Abl... @ Able Forces
Jan 24 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Veterans Services Meeting at Able Forces @ Able Forces
Able Forces Foundation will once again be hosting a visit by Andre Miller, Resource Specialist, Virginia Veteran and Family Support, Department of Veteran Services, Commonwealth of Virginia, and Danielle Cullers, Homeless Veteran Advocate-Volunteers of America[...]
11:00 am Goldilocks and the Three Bears @ Samuels Public Library
Goldilocks and the Three Bears @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 25 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Goldilocks and the Three Bears @ Samuels Public Library
A Story Ballet. Join us in a celebration of classic literature through dance! The whole family will enjoy this ballet performance, presented by the Northern Virginia Academy of Ballet.