Bringing a Touch of Central America to Virginia’s Heart.
Front Royal welcomed an exciting new addition to its culinary scene as Melania’s Gourmet opened its doors at 104 S Royal Avenue, located just behind the iconic Warren County Courthouse. Nestled at the confluence of Royal Avenue and Jackson Street, this Pastry Shop, Chocolaterie, and Boho Cafe promises a sensory adventure.
Flavors from Childhood, Crafted with Precision
Born in the picturesque landscapes of Costa Rica, the founder’s tale starts with a vivid memory of her Abuela, Tita Maria. It was a grand Christmas gathering, and a young Melania found herself enchanted with decorating hundreds of cookies. What seemed like a child’s play turned into a lifelong passion.
The following years saw her diving deeper into the art, decorating cakes, pastries, and pies, becoming the family’s designated dessert decorator. Recognizing her talent, she migrated to the U.S., where she pursued a Bachelor’s Degree in Pastries and Baking from the Culinary Arts Institute of Washington. Further honing her craft, she acquired a Masters in Chocolate from the esteemed Escuela de Pasteleria del Gremio in Barcelona.
Over the past decade, her expertise graced many international organizations. And now, she’s sharing her exquisite craft right here in Front Royal. Each item on her menu is a testament to years of mastery, mirroring the affection and precision reminiscent of her Tita’s teachings.
A Grand Debut Amidst Cheers and Elation
The ribbon-cutting ceremony, kickstarted by Niki Foster Cales, Executive Director of Front Royal/Warren County Chamber of Commerce, saw a town united in celebration. Front Royal Town Councilman Skip Rogers shared, “On behalf of the town, I just want to welcome you. I can’t think of a better new business than having fresh cookies ready to come in.” The ambiance was filled with anticipation, culminating in the ceremonial snip that marked Melania’s Gourmet’s official launch.
Post the event, the Royal Examiner had an exclusive chat with Melania and her partner, Rylan. They delved into the founder’s origin, the shop’s inception, and its future aspirations. Offering a sneak peek into their specialties, Melania revealed, “Chocolate bonbons are my favorite.” While many of her creations are chocolate-centric, she’s expanding her range to include oatmeal raisins for non-chocolate aficionados.
An Invitation to All
Operating every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Melania’s Gourmet is not just a cafe; it’s a gastronomic voyage. From luxurious cakes to delightful tarts and the finest Costa Rican coffee, every offering is a slice of Melania’s journey, sprinkled with Central American hues, narrated through a unique culinary lexicon. And for those looking to indulge, remember – one can never have too many cookies!
A Tale of Two Visions: Butler’s Achievements vs. Cline’s Commitments
Butler and Cline: Two Distinct Visions for a Safer Warren County.
In a riveting forum, Warren County citizens gathered to hear from two stalwart contenders, Mark Butler and Crystal Cline, both vying for the coveted position of Warren County Sheriff. With a term lasting four years, the stakes are high, and the commitment deeper.
Crystal Cline, having served the Front Royal Police Department for over two decades, began with a heartfelt thank-you to the chamber for facilitating the forum and the community for their presence. She reminisced about her deep roots in Warren County, highlighting her involvement ranging from the Mom’s Club to coaching the traveling volleyball team. Cline’s main thrust was the need to restore leadership and integrity to the role of sheriff. She voiced concerns over the dissolution of the Animal Control Division and the pressing need for dedicated School Resource Officers (SROs). Most poignantly, she discussed the department’s retention issue and the imperative of a full staff. Addressing Sheriff Butler’s claim about a massive drug bust, Cline firmly stated that such an incident hadn’t transpired in Warren County and stressed the significance of integrity in leadership.
On the flip side, Sheriff Mark Butler, the incumbent, recounted the tumultuous period four years ago when Warren County grappled with a major scandal. He emphasized the changes he had championed during his tenure, such as attaining the accreditation that was lost in 2019, introducing community policing, and enhancing safety – all while lessening the taxpayer’s burden. One of his crowning achievements, he mentioned, was the confiscation of 77,000 fentanyl pills last year, which he tied to a broader narrative on the devastating drug epidemic. Butler concluded by affirming the commitment of his department to the Constitution and the rights it guarantees to the citizens.
As November 7th approaches, the air in Warren County is thick with anticipation. With two distinctly passionate perspectives on the table, the choice voters make will significantly shape the future of the county’s law enforcement.
District 31’s Destiny: Foreman, Morrison, and Oates Lay Their Cards on the Table
A Night of Passionate Pitches: Who Will Lead the 31st District Forward?
The auditorium was thick with anticipation as three formidable candidates – Steve Foreman, Grace Morrison, and Delores Oates – took to the stage, each presenting their visions for District 31 in the House of Delegates.
Grace Morrison, a compelling independent contender, has deep ties to Warren County, having moved there in 2011. Living atop a picturesque hill with her family, Morrison is firmly grounded in the community. Underscoring her desire to provide genuine representation for District 31, she spoke about the importance of unfettered and unrestricted communication between delegates and the residents. A strong believer in the Virginia Constitution, she vowed to remain transparent and amenable, aiming to serve the people first and foremost.
Democratic hopeful Steve Foreman took the audience on a journey through history, recalling the legacy of America’s representative democracy birthed in the House of Burgesses. With a heart-centered on public education, Foreman is keen to recognize and champion the needs of teachers while also pushing for more competitive school funding. He emphasized the imperative for families to have a strong foundation, advocating for rights that range from fair wages to ensuring safety from gun violence. His commitment to unity, compromise, and the collective good was unmistakable.
Rounding out the trio was Republican nominee Delores Oates. Born and raised in the district, her profound connection to the community was palpable. Having served on the Board of Supervisors, she understands the intricacies of governance firsthand. Oates accentuated the importance of school choice and its potential to raise overall education standards. She also highlighted her commitment to preserving rural values, safeguarding elections, and defending the Second Amendment.
With such diverse perspectives and visions for the future of District 31, the citizens of Warren County face an important decision. As election day approaches, the anticipation grows, promising a pivotal moment for the district’s future.
Rising Above the Norm: Two Visionaries Battle for South River’s Educational Future
Meeting Passion with Dedication: A Glimpse into South River’s School Board Forum.
South River District’s School Board Forum, held Thursday evening, offered an eye-opening perspective into the future of Warren County’s educational framework. The two candidates vying for a place on the board, Leslie Matthews and Kristen Pence, shared compelling narratives and aspirations for the district’s student populace.
Leslie Mathews opened the forum, emphasizing her deep ties to Warren County. A product of its schools, she took pride in her education, immediately stepping into the workforce post-graduation. In her words, she is a “straight shooter” and a “down-to-earth go-getter.”
On the other side, Kristen Pence, an incumbent, spoke about her track record since 2020. Highlighting her unwavering dedication, Pence reaffirmed her commitment to creating a safe, inclusive learning environment and focusing on issues like teacher retention, discipline enforcement, and the elimination of drugs from schools.
The evening’s discourse tackled contentious subjects such as disciplinary measures in schools. While Pence highlighted the need for uniform consequences and community involvement, Mathews, viewing things from a parent’s perspective, called for stronger rules and heightened accountability.
Improving school attendance was another hot topic. Pence emphasized reducing bullying and fostering a positive school culture, while Mathews advocated for creating a welcoming and encouraging academic atmosphere.
Addressing the significant teacher turnover problem, Matthews spotlighted the importance of valuing and listening to teachers. In contrast, Pence talked about mentorship programs and leveraging the “Grow Your Own” initiative.
Mathews closed her remarks by envisioning a fully-funded school system, stressing parental involvement, discipline, and the essential role of leadership in navigating challenges. Pence concluded by detailing her rich history of community service, showing her vast experience and ongoing dedication to South River’s student community.
South River District stands at a crossroads, with two capable women bringing unique perspectives and solutions. It’s a testament to the importance of educational leadership and the community’s investment in shaping the future.
Front Royal Candidates Discuss Pressing Issues and Affordable Housing
Four contenders vie for two Town Council seats, offering perspectives on Front Royal’s future.
In the Candidiate Forum, Front Royal’s Town Council candidates shared their perspectives and answered key questions about the community’s future. Running for two available seats are Melissa DeDomenico-Payne, Connie Marshner, Skip Rogers, and Glenn Wood. Each brought unique insights from their diverse experiences.
Skip Rogers, a non-partisan incumbent, has long dedicated himself to community service and business. Emphasizing his commitment to improving town-county relations and addressing dilapidated vacant buildings, Rogers represents a voice for proactive change.
Melissa DeDomenico-Payne, appointed to the council in January 2023, holds advanced degrees and decades of leadership experience. With strong ties to Warren County and Front Royal, she champions public safety, fiscal conservatism, and town preservation.
Glenn Wood, with strong roots in the town and a vast career in the manufacturing sector, has actively volunteered across various community organizations. He currently serves on the Town’s Planning Commission and brings expertise from there to his campaign.
Connie Marshner, having lived in multiple places due to her Navy background, has settled and contributed to Front Royal since 1995. From her experience on the Planning Commission, Marschner highlights transportation and beautification as her focus areas.
A burning question posed was regarding the town’s most pressing needs. DeDomenico-Paine emphasized economic sustainability and public safety. Wood highlighted affordable housing and health and safety. Marschner stressed an imminent issue at Shenandoah Shores and transportation, while Rogers discussed the broader challenges with development, infrastructure, and long-term planning.
On the topic of affordable housing, all candidates acknowledged the urgency. Wood proposed changes to zoning ordinances and the construction of smaller homes. Marschner emphasized the role of the private sector, while Rogers pointed out the issue of dilapidated buildings. DeDomenico-Payne highlighted the struggles of the “working poor” and their significant presence in the town.
The diversity of thought and experience each candidate brings highlights the town’s potential for growth and change. As Front Royal heads to the polls, the future of the town hangs in the balance, with pressing issues like affordable housing and community development taking center stage.
A Solo Stage: Uncontested Warren County Candidates Voice Their Plans
A Night of Candidacy: Unveiling the Intentions and Proposals.
During a lively evening sponsored by the Front Royal Warren County Chamber of Commerce, local candidates took the stage to address constituents, laying out their visions, intentions, and proposals. Byron Biggs, Chairman of the Chamber, set the tone by ensuring decorum and informing attendees of the evening’s guidelines.
John Stanmeyer, a Republican who is vying for a seat on the Board of Supervisors in the Shenandoah District of Warren County, emphasized his local roots, drawing attention to his background in economics and experience in the corporate sector. Delving into pressing issues, he expressed concern about the local library and stressed the importance of transparency, accountability, and good governance. “Every private contractor to the county needs an MOA calling out the scope of work,” he stated, driving home his vision for a transparent and accountable government that would prevent another EDA scandal.
Emily Scott, Democrat candidate for Virginia Senate District 1, stepping into the limelight. Scott touched upon several pressing issues, from affordable housing to college tuition. However, her fervent emphasis on personal freedom and women’s right to healthcare captured the audience’s attention. “You can’t have one set of laws for men, one set for women,” she remarked, firmly establishing her stance on the governor’s recent 15-week abortion ban proposal.
Bob W. Smith, a Democrat Virginia Delegate candidate for District 33, added a personal touch to the evening by sharing anecdotes about his family. He voiced his concerns about banning books and drew parallels to historical events, emphasizing the importance of freedom of speech and the role of parents in education. “Parents should have say,” he remarked, championing the right of parents to challenge content but opposing outright bans.
The forum served as a platform for candidates to present their views, engage with voters, and provide clarity on their stances. As the county gears up for the elections, such events play a pivotal role in shaping public opinion and ensuring informed voter choices.
Front Royal Welcomes Primerica Financial Services with a Grand Celebration
Community Leaders Express Enthusiasm for New Business Venture.
In an uplifting gathering, the Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce, represented by its Executive Director, Niki Foster Cales, joined hands with Mayor Lori Cockrell and Supervisor Walt Mabe to warmly welcome Ronnie Bennett and his Primerica Financial Services into the Front Royal community.
The day was marked by a palpable sense of community spirit and excitement. With multiple ribbon cuttings in recent times, Mayor Cockrel highlighted the diversity and growth of the community, “This is something different… people are coming to our community.” Ronnie’s aim with Primerica resonated deeply with her, as he seeks to “help improve people’s lives.”
Supervisor Walt Mabe echoed similar sentiments, expressing his gratitude to Primerica for its timely presence in the community. Emphasizing the cohesiveness and growth of the community, Mabe remarked, “The community is working together. The community is growing together.” He added that the addition of businesses like Ronnie’s solidifies the area’s growth and progression.
Ronnie Bennett, the man of the hour, shared his passion and vision for Primerica in Front Royal, “Our goal is to create impact… we can’t wait to serve.” He further shed light on Primerica’s objectives – from helping families protect their income to assisting them in retirement planning and debt clearance.
In an exclusive post-event interaction with our publisher, Mike McCool, Ronnie delved into the essence of Primerica. Highlighting the crisis of rising debts in the country, he revealed the personal motivation behind his involvement with Primerica. He narrated his journey from being $500,000 in debt to becoming debt-free within six years, emphasizing the importance of planning and strategy.
The conversation also threw light on Primerica’s expansive footprint. “We’re the largest marketing company in North America,” Bennett proudly claimed. With over 130,000 agents across the United States and Canada, Primerica aims to bridge the gap in financial services for middle-income America, especially those often overlooked by mainstream services.
As the ribbon was cut and Primerica Financial Services officially opened its doors in Front Royal, the message was clear: businesses built on genuine intent, passion, and a purpose beyond profit are always welcomed and celebrated. Ronnie Bennett and Primerica are set not just to offer financial services but also to impact lives and be an integral part of the Front Royal community’s growth.