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One day after traffic safety discussion, another pedestrian struck in town

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The urgency of a July 2 Front Royal Town Council work session discussion of pedestrian safety measures in high-traffic volume areas was underscored the following day by yet another vehicle-pedestrian accident – this one on the 800 block of John Marshall Highway (Route 55 East) where it enters town approaching the Commerce Avenue intersection traffic light.

Fortunately, unlike three such accidents in Front Royal within a recent one-year period, this accident was not fatal and did not result in serious injury.  According to a Front Royal Police Press Release the victim was evaluated by emergency service responders at the scene and “was transported to Warren Memorial Hospital with minor abrasions and subsequently released.”

That victim was 21-year-old Arney Murray Jr. who reported to authorities he had just gotten off work at the nearby UPS distribution center and was attempting to cross John Marshall southbound when he was struck by a car he did not see until the last moment before he was struck.

According to FRPD, “The driver of the vehicle, Justin Matlock, 29, stated that he was traveling eastbound on John Marshall Highway.  Matlock advised he was passing the 7-11 when a male ran across the traffic lane and was struck by his vehicle.”  Investigators determined neither speed nor alcohol as factors in the accident.

Anyone with further information is asked to contact FRPD Officer Andrew Haywood at (540) 635-2111 or by e-mail at ahaywood@frontroyalva.com.

John Marshall Highway on the town’s southeast side and North Shenandoah Avenue between the 14th Street traffic light and the new South Fork Bridge to the north have been ground zero for pedestrian-vehicle accidents.  All three of the recent fatal accidents have occurred on one of those two entranceways into Front Royal.

On Monday, July 2, Town Engineer Robert Brown presented the mayor and town council with one proposed pedestrian safety measure – a pedestrian-activated crosswalk stoplight.  The staff summary of the proposal noted that in the area of North Shenandoah Avenue targeted for installation of the crosswalk light, five pedestrian accidents and one fatality have occurred in the past three years.

Proposed pedestrian-activated traffic light for N. Shenandoah Avenue – Graphics/Town of Front Royal

Council also discussed making jaywalking an offense by town ordinance.  According to the FRPD release the July 3 accident victim was not using a crosswalk when he was struck.  By state law vehicles must yield to pedestrian within crosswalks.

Despite a town initiative driven by Councilman William Sealock to add to the number of painted crosswalks in town, the necessity of walking several blocks out of one’s way to reach a crosswalk has led to continued incidents of jaywalking in unmarked areas.

Town Attorney Doug Napier noted that jaywalking is a state code violation, adding however that not many people are aware of that.  The staff rationale is that making jaywalking an offense by town code will increase citizen awareness.

“It’s an educational process,” Sealock observed.  Making jaywalking a town violation would also give town police officers increased opportunity to issue warnings, alerting citizens not only of the danger they are putting themselves in, but also the potential of being cited and fined if they continue to do it.

Vice-Mayor Eugene Tewalt wondered if the jaywalking initiative would present an enforcement burden on the town police.

“It will be some work,” FRPD Chief Kahle Magalis replied without indicating any opposition to that work if it will improve public safety.

At the end of the jaywalking discussion that opened the July 2 work session, Mayor Hollis Tharpe instructed Town Manager Joe Waltz to move the jaywalking code violation initiative forward.

Map of N. Shenandoah Avenue between 14th Street and South Fork Bridge indicating location of proposed location of new pedestrian-activated traffic signal.

As for the pedestrian-activated traffic signal proposed for near 17th Street on North Shenandoah Avenue, Town Engineer Brown presented a power point illustrating the design and function.  The proposed location is at a high-pedestrian crossing area between the Shenandoah and several other nearby motels and the Speedway Gas Station/convenience store.

The cost estimate for purchase and installation the overhanging lights, crosswalk with a raised median island halfway across the road in the turning lane is $65,000.

Town Engineer Robert Brown presents power point on the proposed pedestrian safety solution. Photo/Roger Bianchini

Sealock observed that this type of crosswalk with a traffic signal pedestrians can stop traffic with was just the kind of recommendation he and the town manager received at a recent transportation safety conference they attended – “We’re all in agreement this is the way to go,” Sealock said.

However, one councilman expressed some concern at this solution.  Chris Morrison wondered if the additional traffic signal within a block and a half of the south end of the South Fork Bridge could create rush hour or tourist-season traffic backups.

“This is a major thoroughfare – I know we’re trying to save a life but we could create a bigger traffic problem.  Pedestrians now become traffic cops,” Morrison observed.

I know, it sounded a tad callous – however, Town Manager Waltz explained that Morrison has inquired about the possibility of installing a pedestrian bridge as an alternate safety solution.  Waltz said he did not yet have a cost estimate on that option.

After examining the design of the overhanging traffic light structure, this reporter later offered town staff a compromise solution – a raised zip-line over high-traffic count streets.  HEY, it could: 1/ add a little fun and excitement to the crossing; 2/ not back traffic up; 3/ and could even be promoted as a tourist attraction – “Come zip across the streets of Front Royal” … or something.

Vice-Mayor Tewalt, a former town public works director, suggested the raised island at the halfway point of the crossing would be a hazard for snow removal trucks and other vehicles.  Attaching flags that would rise above any snow and mark the location of the raised island was suggested as a solution.

Tewalt also broached the idea of making the island out of a spring-loaded device that would flop over if struck by a car, rather than potentially tear the undercarriage up.

Waltz said he would explore identifying markers and non-concrete options for the safety islands at the midway point of the road (and don’t forget to price those bridge and zip-line options, Joe).

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Sharon

    July 5, 2018 at 8:59 pm

    The Town should look at the Town of Leesburg. They have a pedestrian crosswalk controlled by pedestrians & bikers on Catoctin Circle. It’s where the W & OD trail crosses Catoctin Circle. It’s also right next to the Rescue Squad which also controls that light when they go out on a call. This is a good option & works quite well in Leesburg.

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Crime/Court

Child endangerment and drug arrest in Linden

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Ashley Secor and Misty Morris. Photo courtesy of RSW Regional Jail.

On December 13, 2018 at approximately 3:56 pm Warren County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call in reference to a cardiac arrest at Linden residence on Rambo Lane. The caller also advised that there was an infant in the residence and she was unaware of who the infant belonged to. Upon arrival, Deputies observed CPR being performed on a female lying on the front porch. The female was later identified as 39 year old Misty Morris who resides at that address.

Deputy Stevens assessed Morris’ condition, administered one dose of four milligrams of Naloxone and CPR was continued. Morris slowly began showing signs of a positive reaction to the Naloxone and a second four milligram dose was administered. Morris regained full consciousness and refused medical treatment from Warren County Fire and Rescue personnel.

The caller exited the residence and informed the Deputies that there was another female in the basement. Deputies located and detained 32 year old Ashley Secor of Paw Paw Drive, Front Royal, VA in the locked basement bathroom. Secor is the mother of the 13 month old infant that was left unattended upstairs.

Northwest Regional Drug Task Force Agents and Warren County Department of Social Services were contacted and responded to the scene. The father of the 13 month old was located and responded to take custody of his child.

Secor was arrested and charged with the following:

Distribution of schedule I narcotic
Possession of schedule I narcotic
Possession of drug paraphernalia
Felony child endangerment

Morris was arrested and charged with the following:

Conspiracy to distribution schedule I narcotic
Possession of schedule I narcotic
Possession of drug paraphernalia
Felony child endangerment

Both females were transported to RSW Regional Jail and are currently being held without bond.

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Local Government

Town Council wrestles with new property maintenance authority

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FRONT ROYAL – It’s rough having the power – especially when you’ve pursued it for so long, then finally achieve it.

What now?

That is the situation the Front Royal Town Council wrestled with at a December 3 work session – how to approach enforcement of a property maintenance code that allows it the same powers as cities and counties to enforce building maintenance standards within its boundaries.

Mayor Tharpe worried over first steps in enforcement – ‘Where do we start? We don’t want to be accused of playing favorites,’ he has commented. Royal Examiner File Photo

As Royal Examiner readers may recall from tracking the issue over the course of the last year and a half, the dilemma is that while the town’s elected officials want the ability to enforce standards that will improve the overall look, livability and property values of Front Royal, how much is it going to cost the town government and its citizens to achieve these things?

The one dissenting vote to both readings of the new property maintenance code, Vice-Mayor Eugene Tewalt, has continued to predict unexpectedly high costs, even for what has been described as a lower-cost, middle ground option adopted by council nearly two months ago.  Tewalt has also been critical of his younger council colleagues for continuing to approve capital improvements, and now additional code enforcement, without creating revenue streams to pay for either long-term debt service or required staff additions.

However, undiscussed thus far has been the potential return on investment from more aggressive enforcement if a corresponding rise in property values leads to increased real estate tax-base revenue.

After months of debate dating to at least July of 2017 for this council, on October 22, 2018 council approved the second reading of a new property maintenance code that took the above-described middle ground approach of five options presented by staff. That option, formerly known as Option C, enforcement-wise “addresses all structures in the Town”; “addresses maintenance issues” and “can be enforced on a complaint basis or proactive enforcement”.

At the December 3 work session Chris Morrison pushed for immediate implementation of that option – “I think things can be implemented now – tell me if I’m wrong,” Morrison challenged his colleagues.

Is he trying to hypnotize me? – Jacob Meza appears uncomfortable with Chris Morrison’s use of his pen to make a point on more aggressive enforcement of the Town’s new property maintenance code. Photo/Roger Bianchini

He also suggested council give citizens some clarity on the parameters of what has been approved – that citizens can initiate action through complaints to the town government.

Morrison has been the chief council proponent of a new property maintenance code and a rental inspection program, the latter eliminated from consideration by a council majority as definitely too expensive to implement. And on the back end of his council tenure having failed to hold his seat in the November election, Morrison seemed driven to see a commitment to forward movement on what has been adopted by his colleagues before the end of his council tenure come January.

Morrison suggested outsourcing the role of a building inspector to make legal judgments on mandated repairs or demolition in the absence of council agreeing to fund creation of its own building inspection department. Morrison noted that council had set aside funds toward some kind of implementation of a building inspection operation. While he cited $40,000 available, staff appeared to put the amount as high as $75,000 in past work session discussion.

“So why can’t we outsource now … why can’t we do it immediately?” Morrison asked his colleagues.

“If we do it under those conditions I have no problem starting with blighted buildings,” Tewalt replied of a proactive approach with outsourcing as necessary when town mandates on corrective action are challenged by property owners.

Council’s biggest skeptic on a broad enforcement approach, Vice-Mayor Tewalt to left, voiced support of proactive movement on a smaller target base – dilapidated buildings, as Councilman Meza ponders council options. Photo/Roger Bianchini

Councilman William Sealock suggested bypassing use of Warren County’s Building Inspection Department and utilization of town staff for initial phases up to the point where a state-certified official whose opinion would have legal standing in court was needed. Morrison agreed.

Town Manager Joe Waltz suggested revisiting the option of partnering with the Town of Strasburg in enforcing a property maintenance code. Like Front Royal now, Strasburg has taken the first step of approval of a property maintenance code but has yet to begin enforcement due to cost parameters.

“We can put it out there and see what kind of prices are set,” Waltz suggested.

“We can start slow – there’s nothing wrong with doing it right,” Mayor Hollis Tharpe suggested of a measured, slow and inexpensive approach to implementation.

“We’ll let Joe get behind the wheel,” the mayor said of having the town manager explore enforcement and outsourcing options.

“We need time so the town manager can put a plan together,” Sealock observed.

“I will move as fast as I can,” Waltz replied.

Morrison said he felt some good had come out of the discussion that will allow the Town to move on complaints forwarded by citizens, as well as initiate proactive movement against derelict structures. However Morrison worried at the lack of “closure” on a process as council’s final meeting of 2018 approached on December 10.

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Local News

Wildlife Center at Boyce sets record-breaking year

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A Red-shouldered Hawk quickly takes flight at Aug. 13 release in Flint Hill. The injured hawk mended at the wildlife center before heading back to the wild. Courtesy Photo/Zep Greenfelder

BOYCE – The Blue Ridge Wildlife Center (BRWC) at Boyce is ending a record-breaking year during which – in September – it collected the first exotic Asian Longhorned tick found on any bird in North America.

First, setting new records during its 18th year, the center highlighted an 18-percent increase in wildlife patients – 2,135 animals, reptiles and birds.
An upsurge in education endeavors delivered more than 100 programs to 5,000 people in eight counties, thus stimulating interest in and learning about native wildlife, their habitat, and their important roles in nature. Also, the center’s training of future wildlife professionals at the only full service, wildlife teaching hospital in the Northern Virginia area was highlighted in an end-of-year letter to BRWC members.

The update on activities by the center, located at 106 Island Farm Lane, Boyce, Virginia (22620) – just off Route 50 – was accompanied by a funding appeal interesting in its specificity: “We cannot do this critical work without your support and participation,” wrote Lisa Goshen, Chair of the BRWC Board of Directors and Executive Director Hillary Russell Davidson, continuing, “You take the time to bring us an injured animal or reunite (for example) a baby owl with its parents: you donate your time, animal food, and cleaning supplies to help us care for those that don’t have a voice; BRWC is open 365 days a year because you care about our native wildlife.”

Onk the opossum – Courtesy Photo BRWC

It was in its fall newsletter that BRWC first reported not only a significant rise in West Nile virus, a mosquito-born disease that is of great concern locally, particularly to horse farm owners, but the above-mentioned capture of the first Asian Longhorned tick from a bird, in this case a red-tailed hawk from Page County. In her report, BRWC Veterinarian Jennifer Riley said the tick is suspected of being around on animals, including humans, since about 2010. That it has spread to birds was new to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study and an evident cause for concern.
This month, the BRWC reported the number of wildlife with West Nile virus treated at the Boyce facility increased by 300 percent. Also, amphibian patients increased three-fold and aquatic turtle patients have increased by 350 percent in the past two years.

Davidson explains the mission of BRWC this way: “(It is) to care for native wildlife by integrating veterinary medicine, rehabilitation, education and research.”

In addition to being a hospital and a rehabilitation care facility for wildlife, BRWC also trains future wildlife professionals. As noted above, it is the only full service wildlife teaching hospital in the northern Virginia area, hosting many people with their eyes set on a career in wildlife-specific vocations. Additionally, BRWC’s education program for those interested in the wildlife and conservation fields worked with four licensed veterinarians, five veterinary students, and 22 interns during the past year.

Seow the owl – Courtesy Photo BRWC

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Crime/Court

ATF raid results in 19 arrests for drug and firearm violations

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House on South Royal Ave, Front Royal was one location raided by ATF early in morning last week. Photo by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

Thomas T. Cullen, the United States Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, Thomas L. Chittum III, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington DC Field Office of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, and Sheriff Timothy Carter announced this morning (December 13th) that the following persons (19) were arrested in December 2018 on Sealed Federal Indictments. Also listed are three additional persons who were arrested for state narcotics charges during this operation.

Jonathan L. Hodges, 30 years old, of Front Royal, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Distribution of Controlled Substances

William R Shoemaker, Jr. 45 years old, of Edinburg, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Three (3) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substances
  • Possession of Firearm by Prohibited Person

Katie L. Harlow, 27 years old, of Woodstock, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Three (3) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substances

Dana M. Silvious, 29 years old, of Maurertown, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Three (3) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substances

Erica N. Lam, 29 years old, of New Market, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine

Brandon W. Eppard, 28 years old, of Mount Jackson, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Maintaining Drug Related Premises

Tiffany Bowman-Lopez, 30 years old, Quicksburg, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Six (6) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substances

Amanda J. Mullins, 30 years old, Edinburg, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Two (2) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substance

Anthony Testerman, 25 years old, of Mount Jackson, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substances

Kenneth J. Webb, 36 years old, of Woodstock, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Three (3) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substance

Dietrich M. Day II, 28 years old, of Dumfries, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Distribution of Controlled Substance


The following individuals were arrested on Tuesday 11, 2018 on Sealed Federal Indictments:

Jeffrey C. Mays, 32 years old, of Basye, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Possession of Firearm in Furtherance of Drug Trafficking Crime

Javon E. Cook, 26 years old, of Woodstock, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Distribution of Controlled Substance
  • Possession of Firearm by Prohibited Person
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substance
  • Use and Carry Firearm during Drug Trafficking Crime

Michael L. Mullins, 32 years old, of Edinburg, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Two (2) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substance
  • Possession of Firearm by Prohibited Person

Christian M. Burhop, 27 years old, of Mount Jackson, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Distribution of Controlled Substance w/TBL
  • Four (4) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substance

Justin T. Mumaw, 26 years old, of Mount Jackson, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Two (2) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substances

Brooke N. McIntosh, 27 years old, no fixed address

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine

Christopher T. Trimble Fishersville, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Possession of Firearm by Prohibited Person

Additional Federal Arrest Warrant:

Merle Stephens, 50 years old, of Basye, VA

  • Possession with Intent to Distribute
  • Possession of Firearm by Prohibited Person
  • Possession of Firearm in Furtherance Drug Trafficking Crime

SCSO arrested the following on State charges:

John K. Barb, 38 years old, of Woodstock, VA

  • Possession of Methamphetamine

Christopher A. Miller, 31 years old, of Edinburg, VA

  • Possession of a Controlled Substance

Felicia A. Gainer, 31 years old, of Mount Jackson, VA

  • Two (2) Possession of Controlled Substance
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Crime/Court

Bonds set in Christendom College arson-vandalism cases

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christendom fire

Ryan Farrell anf Christopher Shanahan / Courtesy Photos RSW Jail

FRONT ROYAL – Two Christendom College students facing multiple charges for setting fire to a common-access campus dorm bathroom on December 6 were in Warren County General District Court on Tuesday, December 11.

Ryan Farrell, 23, and Christopher Shanahan, 20, face identical charges of Arson, burning of an occupied building; Arson, burning or destroying personal property; Vandalism, entering property of another for purpose of damaging it; and Trespass with intent to damage property or interfere with property rights; Petit larceny, under $200; and § 18.2-415 – Disorderly conduct in public places.

In addition, Shanahan was also charged with one count of Underage Possession of Alcohol.

The arson and vandalism charges are felonies, the others misdemeanors.

During the Tuesday hearing, both Farrell and Shanahan saw bond set at $2500, with court dates of April 10, 2019, set at 1:15 p.m. Court records indicate that Farrell was represented by Todd Gilbert and Shanahan by Jerry Talton.

An online search of the RSW Jail inmate locator program indicated Farrell and Shanahan were no longer inmates as of December 12.

See related story: Two Christendom College students charged in campus dorm arson

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Local News

Ressie Jeffries Elementary School Chorus opens the BOS Meeting with some Christmas Spirit

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Photo and video by Mike McCool, Royal Examiner.

The Ressie Jeffries Elementary School Chorus opened the Board of Supervisors December 11th Meeting with some Christmas Spirit. Chorus Director Kim Okland directed the school chorus in three holiday songs.

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all-day The Nutcracker in Front Royal @ Skyline High School
The Nutcracker in Front Royal @ Skyline High School
Dec 15 all-day
The Nutcracker in Front Royal @ Skyline High School
Don’t miss The Nutcracker! This professional production of the seasonal classic ballet will be presented at Skyline High School, Front Royal, VA on December 15th and 16th, Saturday 2:30 & 7:00 pm and Sunday 2:30[...]
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all-day The Nutcracker in Front Royal @ Skyline High School
The Nutcracker in Front Royal @ Skyline High School
Dec 16 all-day
The Nutcracker in Front Royal @ Skyline High School
Don’t miss The Nutcracker! This professional production of the seasonal classic ballet will be presented at Skyline High School, Front Royal, VA on December 15th and 16th, Saturday 2:30 & 7:00 pm and Sunday 2:30[...]
4:00 pm R-MA offers Free Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA campus
R-MA offers Free Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA campus
Dec 16 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
R-MA offers Free Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA campus
The public is cordially invited to attend the Randolph-Macon Academy (R-MA) Christmas Band Concert on Sunday, December 16th at 4:00 pm. This free concert will take place in Boggs Chapel on the R-MA campus. The[...]
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10:00 am Paper Sculpture Party: Koi Fish @ Art in the Valley
Paper Sculpture Party: Koi Fish @ Art in the Valley
Dec 17 @ 10:00 am – 12:30 pm
Paper Sculpture Party: Koi Fish @ Art in the Valley
Create your own 5″ x 7″ koi fish paper sculpture with your friends! Schedule your own party for up to 8 people (3-person minimum). No drawing skills are necessary. Artist Tiffany Budzisz will walk you[...]
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Volunteer Info Session – Child A... @ Middle of Main
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Learn how you can help ensure abused and neglected children find safe, loving, and permanent homes.  The first step to becoming a CASA volunteer is to attend an Information Session. There, you will have the[...]