On November 9 at 6pm, Friends of Samuels Library (FOSL) will host an event to benefit the library, featuring journalist Peter Houlahan, author of Norco ’80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History. Including cocktails, heavy hors d’oeuvres, a multimedia presentation, and book signing, tickets for An Evening with the Author are $30 each or $50 per couple. All proceeds will underwrite improvements to the Library’s services, programs, and collections. Tickets, and an optional copy of the book for $25, can be purchased online at www.samuelslibrary.net or in person at Samuels Public Library, 330 East Criser Road, Front Royal, VA.
Norco ‘80 tells the story of how five heavily armed young men attempted a bank robbery that turned into one of the most violent criminal events in U.S. history, forever changing the face of American law enforcement.
NPR’s Michael Schaub says, “… Houlahan proves himself to be an astonishingly gifted writer, breathing urgent life into a true story that still resonates today. Norco ’80 is a fascinating true-crime account that seems likely to be one of the best nonfiction books of the year.”
The New York Times states that “…Houlahan sure knows how to dramatize a scene. His cinematic treatment of the robbery itself reads like wildfire, the fatal shootout with the police ends in colorful chaos, and the huge manhunt through San Bernardino National Forest conducted by ‘Hunt & Kill Teams’ is a nail-biter.”
According to Melody Hotek, President of Friends of Samuels Library, “The Library is very excited to host Peter in November. We haven’t had a book signing in a long time and we’re lucky to get Peter for our fundraiser.”
Peter Houlahan is a freelance journalist and book review contributor to the Hearst newspapers and AP wire. His work has appeared in CrimeReads, Police One, Salon, L.A. Magazine, Criminal Element, The Daily Mirror (UK) and the Southern California Newspaper Group. His book “Norco ’80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History” was released in 2019. He holds an MFA in fiction writing from Sarah Lawrence College. In his career as an emergency medical technician, he has contributed to a number of articles related to his profession. A native Southern Californian, Houlahan now lives in Fairfield County, Connecticut.
- Email: email@example.com
- Publisher: Counterpoint Press, Berkeley Calif.
- Editor: Dan Smetanka.
- Release: June 11, 2019
- Literary Agent: Jeffrey Ourvan, Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency.
- Film Agent: Judith Farkas Management, Los Angeles, Calif.
- Web – www.peterhoulahan.com
- Twitter – @pchoulahan
- Facebook – Norco 80
- Amazon – Best Nonfiction Books of the Month. Best History Books of 2019 (so far).
- New York Times Book Review – Summer Reads.
- The Wall Street Journal – Reader’s Pick.
- CrimeReads – One of the Most Anticipated Crime Books of Summer.
“[An] alarming account of a bank heist that rocked the country in 1980 and reflected ‘the peculiar zeitgeist of that decade’ in all its cockeyed drama . . . For a first-time writer, Houlahan sure knows how to dramatize a scene. His cinematic treatment of the robbery itself reads like wildfire, the fatal shootout with the police ends in colorful chaos, and the huge manhunt through San Bernardino National Forest conducted by ‘Hunt & Kill Teams’ is a nail-biter.” —Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
“Gripping . . . Houlahan, who based his account of the robbery and its aftermath on interviews with the civilians, officers and robbers involved, proves to be a master at pacing—he writes with a narrative urgency that perfectly captures the quick and chaotic nature of the robbery. His prose incorporates the vernacular of the officers and criminals; it’s hard-boiled, shot through with profanity, but never forced. It reads like a crime novel in the best way possible. But what’s truly remarkable about the book is the depth Houlahan brings to the story . . . With his first book, Houlahan proves himself to be an astonishingly gifted writer, breathing urgent life into a true story that still resonates today. Norco ’80 is a fascinating true-crime account that seems likely to be one of the best nonfiction books of the year.” —Michael Schaub, NPR
“Thrilling account of a violent California bank robbery . . . Houlahan’s debut is remarkable for the exhaustive . . . level of detail he brings to every stage of the story, transforming a pulpy true-crime narrative into a reflection of social transformations and class conflict as the countercultural 1970s faded into the Reagan era . . . An impressively well-rendered true-crime saga.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Like American Heiress in the summer of 2016, this looks like the true crime book that will launch a hundred conversations.” —CrimeReads – One of the Most Anticipated Crime Books of Summer
“[A] deeply researched, thrillingly paced tale.” —Peter Larsen, Southern California News Group
“Norco ’80 blends meticulous details with a strong sense of story arc, character and place . . . Addressing the origins of the push to arm police with higher-caliber weapons, the increasingly strained relationships between police officers and their communities, and the effects of trauma on multiple generations, the book has a universal message that is needed now, according to Houlahan.” —Jo Kroeker, Greenwich Time/Hearst Newspapers
“Norco ’80 is enthrallingly detailed, down to the pencils thrown by opposing counsel in the criminal trial that followed ‘the most spectacular bank robbery in American history.’ Despite the depth and breadth recounted by journalist and EMT Peter Houlahan, the urge this book generates in readers to explore further this devastating true crime is impossible to suppress . . . Houlahan has admirably mined and winnowed the boundless material . . . He has compellingly translated a high-octane story to the page without losing traction, leaving the reader satisfied yet craving more.” —Lauren O’Brien, Shelf Awareness (starred review)
“Norco ’80 is an expertly rendered accounting of these events that reads like a crime thriller and courtroom drama, with all the brutal gravity of a true story. This is true crime at its best.” —David M. Olsen, The Coachella Review
“Norco ’80 is one hell-raising ride through 1970s Southern California with an apocalyptic prophet and the prosecutors bent on turning the tables on the policemen involved in the most violent bank heist ever committed on American soil. From the minute you meet the charismatic George Smith and his flunky friend Christopher Harven, you’ll be hanging on for dear life, waiting for the next catastrophe to take your breath away with each heartbreaking turn of the page. It’s part law and part order, and it’s outstanding!” —Kristin Bates, McLean & Eakin Booksellers (Petoskey, MI)
“On May 9, 1980, what we usually only happens in action-thriller movies come to life in Orange Country, California. I don’t usually read true-crime, but Houlahan’s writing pulled me in. While reading this meticulous researched and documented account, I could almost smell the gun power, hear the cacophony of gunfire making my ears ring and see the dust clear as the largest crime scene in American history came into view. Documented here is how an attempted bank robbery and it subsequent trial would forever change a town, its people and law enforcement nation-wide. The crime and court case may have been an unbelievable fire-storm catastrophe, but this book is pitch-perfect.” —Shannon Alden, Literati Bookstore (Ann Arbor, MI)
“In 1980 in California, a group of religiously inspired survivalists set out to rob a bank. With assault rifles and homemade explosives, they significantly outgunned the law enforcement officers they encountered. Peter Houlahan approaches the tale fully armed with facts culled from interviews, police reports, and court documents. He deploys them in steady bursts that hold the reader steady in a literary bullet time while the fast motion mayhem plays out. Norco ’80 is a riveting true crime adventure that also explains one of the predicates for the militarization of modern police departments.” —Keith Mosman, Powell’s Bookstore (Portland, OR)
“If you’re one of those people who don’t read true crime, this book will change your mind about the genre. Loved it!” —Tom Beans, Dudley’s Bookshop Cafe (Bend, OR)
“Norco ’80 is a wild ride! The action plays out like a heist film, but the author also shows immense empathy for the wide range of characters—from the robbers to the first responders to the passersby. If you want to have a ton of fun while learning about an event that shaped the way our country responds to crime.” —Hadley Turner, Towne Book Center & Cafe (Collegeville, PA)
“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, bestselling author of The Onion Field
“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
“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
“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 hairsbreadth 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
How could one woman steal $53 million without anyone noticing?
How could one woman steal $53 million without anyone noticing? As city comptroller of Dixon, IL, Rita Crundwell stole $53 million of public funds across 20 years–making her the perpetrator of the largest case of municipal fraud in American history. She used the funds to build one of the nation’s leading quarter horse breeding empires, all while forcing staff cuts, police budget slashing, and neglect of public infrastructure. ALL THE QUEEN’S HORSES investigates her crime, her lavish lifestyle and the small town she left in her wake.
On November 24th at 2pm, at the Warren County Community Center, the Warren County Coalition will be showing the documentary ALL THE QUEEN’S HORSES, where you’ll also meet the author of this movie, Kelly Richmond Pope. This is a free event and open to the public. See the Warren County Coalition Facebook page for more information.
Kelly Richmond Pope is an Associate Professor in the School of Accountancy and MIS at DePaul University in Chicago, IL, and founder of Helios Digital Learning, Inc. She received her doctorate in accounting from Virginia Tech and she is a licensed certified public accountant. She worked in the forensic practice at KPMG, LLP on anti-money laundering engagements, insurance fraud investigations, and fraud risk management projects. Kelly is a recognized expert in the forensic accounting field and has conducted forensic accounting seminars around the world for universities, corporations and governmental entities.
Kelly is the creator and executive producer of the award winning educational white-collar crime documentary, Crossing the Line: Ordinary People Committing Extraordinary Crime. Her current documentary, All the Queen’s Horses, which chronicles the largest municipal fraud in U.S. history, will be released August 2017. She was selected by the TED Ed team to develop a teaching lesson on “How People Rationalize Fraud” which can be found on the TED Ed website. Her TEDx talk “Why We Hate Whistle-blowers” discusses the whistle-blower dilemma and the need for whistle-blowers in fraud discovery.
Watch the trailer:
The Great American Smokeout: Plan Day 1 to a Tobacco-Free Future
44th annual event encourages those who smoke to make a plan to kick addiction:
Thursday, November 21, 2019, marks the 44th annual Great American Smokeout®, which has a new theme: “Day 1.” “This theme expresses the GASO’s recognition that that successfully quitting smoking is difficult and takes time and planning. We encourage people who smoke or who use any type of tobacco to use the day to create a plan for a tobacco-free life, and the American Cancer Society is available to help,” says Aimee Nuwer, American Cancer Society senior community development manager for Front Royal and Warren County.
The Great American Smokeout (GASO), a public awareness event created in 1976 to encourage people to quit smoking, is celebrated annually on the third Thursday of November. Across the country, GASO encourages people who smoke or use tobacco to take action to quit.
Nearly one in three cancer deaths in the U.S. is connected to smoking, which increases the risk of these 12 cancers: lung, mouth, larynx (voice box), pharynx (throat), esophagus (swallowing tube), kidney, cervix, liver, bladder, pancreas, stomach, and colon/rectum, as well as for myeloid leukemia.
Smoking also damages nearly every organ in the body, including the lungs, heart, blood vessels, reproductive organs, mouth, skin, eyes, and bones, causing other fatal diseases. About 1 out of 5 deaths in the U.S. is due to smoking.
While the smoking rate has dropped significantly, from 42% in 1965 to 14% in 2017, smoking rates vary greatly depending on geographic location. For example, according to the American Cancer Society in 2016, in Virginia, 15% of adults age 18 and older smoked, and in West Virginia, 25% of adults age 18 and older smoked.
Quitting smoking can be very difficult. Experts say the best approach is to start with a plan and seek support. “Quitting often takes multiple attempts,” explains Nuwer, “and the American Cancer Society offers resources to support people and help them quit. We have information and tips at www.cancer.org/smokeout.” Smokers are strongly advised to use proven cessation methods, such as nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs, such as patches, gum, lozenges, etc.) or prescription medications and counseling, or a combination of all, to quit smoking. Newer encourages, “It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor or pharmacist to get their advice. Support is also important. Stop-smoking programs, telephone quit lines, the American Cancer Society’s Freshstart program, self-help materials, and smoking counselors or coaches can be a great help.”
Nuwer adds, “Smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer, and November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month.” Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women, with more people dying of lung cancer than of colon, breast and prostate cancers Most lung cancers do not have symptoms until they spread, but some people with early lung cancer do have symptoms. When cancer is diagnosed at an earlier stage, treatment is more likely to be effective.
Common Symptoms of Lung Cancer:
- A cough that does not go away or gets worse
- Coughing up blood or rust-colored sputum (spit or phlegm)
- Chest pain that is often worse with deep breathing, coughing, or laughing
- Weight loss and loss of appetite
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling tired or weak
- Infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia that do not go away or keep coming back
- New onset of wheezing
The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2019, there will be about 228,150 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. and there will be 142,670 deaths from lung cancer.
To raise funds to attack all cancers from every angle, local American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Front Royal Warren County volunteers host a Bingo Fundraiser every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the . “Funds raised go to help cancer patients and their families gain access to resources and support through American Cancer Society programs as well as to fund lifesaving cancer research,” says Nuwer.
For more information about tobacco and cancer risk, as well as detection, treatment, resources and support, visit www.cancer.org or call 1-800-227-2345.
Subaru of Winchester to host Free Pet Adoption event with support of the ASPCA
The pet adoption event will be hosted by Subaru of Winchester and feature adoptable pets from the SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke. This annual event will take place at the Subaru dealership located at 3019 Valley Avenue, Winchester, Virginia, on Saturday, December 7th, from 10AM – 3PM. Santa will be featured starting at 11AM. In addition to adoptable animals, there will be free photos with Santa, a bake sale, raffle, SPCA products, and fun holiday gifts for the pet lover on your gift list.
This event is made possible due to a grant from the ASPCA which assisted the Winchester SPCA in preparing pets for adoption. The SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties has provided animal welfare services to the area since 1907. The SPCA currently has a save rate of 97%, which qualifies the agency as a no-kill shelter, a distinction maintained since 2012. The Share the Love Adoption Event serves as the shelter’s largest single day adoption event of the year.
Lavenda Denney, Executive Director, says, “We are hopeful on December 7th at least 20 homeless pets will get a second chance and become part of a new family. We are beyond grateful to Subaru of Winchester for their ongoing support.”
Stephens City’s second annual Hometown Christmas will be held Saturday, November 30th
STEPHENS CITY, VA — Event Coordinator Jacquetta Owen says November’s holiday festivities don’t have to end with Thanksgiving dinner.
Stephens City is hosting the second annual Hometown Christmas event from 10 am to 6 pm on Saturday, November 30th, along our historic Main Street. Hometown Christmas is planning to use Stephen City’s long-established community spirit and enthusiasm to get behind this wonderful event. The town is pulling out all the stops and event organizers and volunteers believe visitors will enjoy the arts, crafts and food while strolling downtown exploring what our local businesses have to offer.
The event will feature a craft fair, bake sale, music, house tours, a secret Santa shop, a Warming Tree and an appearance from Santa Claus.
To entice people to visit Stephens City’s small businesses on Shop Small Saturday, there will be a business scavenger hunt with prizes. Participants will be given cards that must be checked off by business owners to ensure that participants stopped by their store.
Businesses taking part in the scavenger hunt include Capon Valley Bank, Sophia’s Thrift Shop, Granny’s Restaurant, The Flower Center, The Cloth Peddler, Stephens City Outlet Discount Store, Ed’s Heads Hair Salon, Clem’s Garage, Dragon Fire Comics, Newtown Music Center, High Point Restaurant, Lantz’s Pharmacy and Classics on Main Antiques. Each business will offer specials during the scavenger hunt.
Scavenger hunt cards are available at any of the participating businesses and may be picked up starting Monday, Nov 25th, although they can only be filled out on Nov 30th. Once the cards have been filled out, they can be deposited in a box at Lantz’s Pharmacy, 5015 Main Street. Two lucky winner cards will be drawn for a $25 gift card.
Jacquetta Owen says Hometown Christmas is a terrific approach in getting people to recognize the benefits of Stephens City’s small town ambiance. Despite inclement weather, last year’s inaugural event was a success with lots of folks going home with unique gifts from the craft show and the experience of visiting newfound businesses. This year, the event expands to include a bake sale and a special shop for kids to purchase gifts for their families.
Other events include:
- Mayor Mike Diaz will be directing a free historic house walking tour at 11 am, starting at The Newtown History Center at 5408 Main Street. Those interested must check in at The History Center 20 minutes before tour time.
- A Warming Tree at Capon Valley Bank where newly donated mittens, gloves, scarves and hats can be clipped to a Christmas tree. The Tree supports Congregational Community Action Project (CCAP).
- A gingerbread house contest, with categories for children 11 and under and one for ages 12 and up. Entries can be brought in starting Nov. 25th but must be in by 5 pm Friday, Nov. 29. The houses must be made of edible ingredients and brought to Clem’s Garage, 5170 Main Street. An application can be picked up at the Stephens City Town Office. Judging will take place Friday night and the houses will remain on display through Hometown Christmas. $25 gift cards will be awarded to top entries.
- A Hallelujah Chorus sing-along at Stephens City United Methodist Church (SCUMC) in the sanctuary at 1 pm directed by Donna Greene and accompanied by David Renner.
- Greeting Cards will be made available for anyone wanting to send an anonymous “Thank-A-Veteran” greeting to military personnel receiving medical services in Martinsburg. A volunteer will take greeting cards to the Martinsburg VA Center on December 15th. The cards will be located at the Stephens City Town Office, Capon Valley Bank and SCUMC.
- A Secret Santa shopping area at SCUMC from 10 am to 2 pm, where children of any age can purchase gifts for friends and family for $1 to $5 (the gifts will be wrapped and tagged by Little Elf).
- A Bake Sale at SCUMC to support the youth mission trip next summer.
- Shenandoah Valley Chorus performs at 2 pm in the SCUMC sanctuary.
- A Stephens City Volunteer Fire & Rescue Santa will be available for children to share their Christmas lists at the Newtown Commons from 2 – 4 pm, then after a break, will return on a fire truck to light the tree at 6 pm. The Town Office will provide hot chocolate and cookies. Camp of Faith Church in Stephens City will sing Christmas carols.
- A craft fair will take place at Trinity Lutheran Church on the corner of Main and Fairfax streets. There will be signs to direct shoppers.
For more information, contact Stellar Seven over 70 Award winner and Hometown Christmas Event Coordinator Jacquetta Owen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: Stephens City is a remarkable community because Main Street has retained its small-town character over two centuries of progress and expansion. Development and growth in Stephens City has been small-scaled and well-managed. As a result, the town has a very high degree of historical integrity that will continue to be prominently featured through ongoing renewal and revitalization.
This week’s showtimes at Royal Cinemas as of November 14th
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, November 14:
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:
- “Frozen 2”
- “Knives Out”
- “Jumanji: The Next Level”
- “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”
- “Spies in Disguise”
The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 recalled this Veterans Day 2019
Officials from the Giles B. Cook Post 53 of the American Legion again hosted Front Royal’s Veterans Day ceremonies on the grounds and in the street in front of the Warren County Courthouse. The marching bands of Warren County and Skyline High Schools and Randolph Macon Academy were on hand, as well as a color guard of R-MA cadets.
The weather cooperated with sunny and balmy temperatures the day before snow flurries have been predicted for the area.
Post 53 Commander Rick Kinsey hosted the event, introducing veterans present and speakers including Marine vet and Front Royal Vice-Mayor Bill Sealock and keynote speaker John F. Kokernak, U.S. Army retired.
Tribute was paid, not only to those who have served and sacrificed, but those family members left behind to ponder whether their loved ones will ever return home.
“You know it’s a pleasure to be here because I have been at (battle site location), I have seen the poppies, I know about those kinds of things; I’ve been to the wheat field, I’ve been to Iwo Jima. I know these battlefields,” Sealock said of the respect paid to those who have served, adding, “but I sat there today thinking about things for the service I thought about the forgotten ones. The one who are left behind during the deployments and time overseas, those people, the Gold Star mothers, the spouses, the children, the family as a whole, the parents. These people are forgotten in my estimate, and I always think of those who do not return – what effect did it have on these individuals and families? For that, I welcome you to this great celebration,” Sealock concluded.
The vice mayor’s remarks echoed what makes this annual celebration that began as Armistice Day to commemorate the end of “the war to end all wars”, World War One on November 11, 1918, so special. The honor of service and sacrifice of all impacted, both on the battlefields of the world, and those waiting anxiously at home for their return; as well as the enduring desire for a peace achieved through a commitment to international justice for all nations that will make those sacrifices of war someday a less necessary part of our collective history.
Armistice Day, now Veterans Day, is traditionally celebrated at 11 a.m., November 11. That was the moment when the guns along the fronts of World War One fell silent a final time in 1918 as the Armistice to end that war was achieved.
The poppies Sealock referred to on this 101st celebration of service and an end to war come from a poem from World War One “In Flanders Fields”. The poem, often referenced at these services, was written in May 1915 by Canadian military doctor and artillery commander Major John McCrae. Its impetus is believed to have been McCrae’s conduct of the field burial service for Lieutenant Alexis Helmer in the absence of a company chaplain:
“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
“We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
“Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.”
See Front Royal and Warren County’s celebration of Veterans Day 2019, including keynote speaker John F. Kokernak’s full remarks and the laying of the wreaths in this exclusive Royal Examiner video: