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Pola, a widely-known ‘dog about town’, will be mourned by many



Malcolm Barr Sr. and Pola – Courtesy Photo/the Barrs

I lost my best friend about a week ago.

She was Pola, our handsome Siberian husky, who we rescued, and fell in love with, four years and four months ago.

She was 11 years old when she passed October 30 with little or no warning from a sudden recurrence of cancer.

I’m writing this for the many “Friends of Pola” (F.O.P.) because it became difficult, nigh impossible, to tell them individually how grateful I have been for their friendship toward my dog in such a sorrowful time. I remain grateful for your welcoming hands, most of which held a treat and a loving pat or hug.

If she could have talked–and she tried hard with her howling husky language to do so–our handsome and loquacious dog, a large girl of 66 pounds with a striking black, gray and white coat and muzzle, she would have thanked you profusely, and I do so now.

Last week, shortly after her passing, I walked the same walk I’d taken with her for four years. It was an odd feeling. Neighbors asked after Pola – “where is she?” – So difficult to answer the question, so emotional …

It was my journalist colleague, Roger Bianchini, whose pit-mix-breed, Luda, we described as “Pola’s boyfriend”, suggested I write this dog obituary. “Write something for publication,” the sometimes substitute Pola walker and Barr residence dog sitter urged.

‘Boyfriend’ Luda has shown signs of knowing something is amiss – Photo/Roger Bianchini

Not everyone knew that Pola was a “rescue.” We adopted her through Sarah Veach of Pet Harbor near Fredericksburg, who took several months to find “just the dog for you.” The husky was a fit with the diminutive Ophelia, the resident miniature pug AND with wife Carol. She was correct, Pola, then named Molly, was, indeed, “just the dog” for us.

In 2014, when Pola came to live with us, she almost immediately became special. She and I walked the periphery of Shenandoah Golf Course, about two miles daily, plus a night walk along our neighboring cul de sac. I would often sing a song to include her name and she would do the husky howl once in a while to indicate, I guess, that she was listening.

After a few months, I realized how much she was enjoying the couple of regular visits, first to Lowe’s, then to ERA Brown & Rutherford Realty where a lasting love match began with company secretary Cindi Laing. Picking up prescriptions at Lester & Mowery Pharmacy became a regular thing and I cannot begin to thank the counter staff and others at the pharmacy enough for the love accompanied by treats they gave to Pola. To those in the queue behind us, thank you for your patience as Pola’s needs were met at the cash register.

Pola, paws up on the teller’s counter at the Shenandoah Avenue BB&T branch, also temporarily interrupted traffic at the bank where the ladies would greet Pola as their “adopted doggy customer!” – An extra thank you to the bank staff for their love and oft-stated affection for our Pola. And PetCo was a regular and enjoyable stop to buy her food and treats as we drove downtown on Route 522.

Pola performing her annual duties at Front Royal’s Memorial Day service; a service that gives a nod, not only to human sacrifice, but that of the service dogs of war serving at their human companions’ sides. Photo/Malcolm Barr Sr.

For the past three years, several hundred people would see our handsome and vocal dog, leashed by another FOP, Robert Thorne. The pair, along with USAF veteran and local dog trainer Diana Lieber, would lead the annual Memorial Day parade of canines saluting the “dogs of war.” This has become a regular and possibly unique part of the local ceremonial the last Monday in May at the Gazebo.

Tuesday evenings this past year or so, Pola has been a guest of a group which meets at the Virginia Beer Museum on Chester Street. The Hell Town Saloon bartender invariably offered a treat and the customers delighted in Pola’s attempt at “thank you” – a combined bark-howl. Also at the Hell Town Saloon, Pola regularly met another “boyfriend” – Rico, the 5-pound Chihuahua – the odd couple!

Others among Pola’s downtown contacts were Christian and Rachel Failmezger at the Pavemint Brew Pub on Commerce Avenue.  Pola enjoyed the open-air part of the restaurant where dogs are welcome and where the operators would quickly hustle up a water bowl for this canine customer.

Closer to home, Rose Mary Comstock, whom Pola visited at her Angel’s Korner child care and learning center only three days before her death, was another favorite stopping-off place. Rose Mary dog sat for Pola and Ophelia. So kind and gentle was Pola that Rose Mary, as a treat for the kids, would show the husky off to them. When Rose Mary wasn’t available earlier this year, Front Royal residents Len Sherp and wife Lu Ann Jacobs did the sitting duty while we were on vacation. Len said after his 10 days with our animals in September, “I can’t begin to thank you enough for letting me spend time with your dogs … so enjoyable.” He reiterated similar sentiments when he learned of Pola’s passing.

Pola would give a bark also to the ladies at Sheer Elegance on John Marshall Highway, the doggy beauty parlor, who helped take care of her coat; as well as to Randolph-Macon Academy for the occasional trips she made around the halls and grounds.

In closing, a warm thank you from Carol and I to our neighbor, James Harper, who responded to my early-morning telephone call for help in loading Pola into the SUV – she had collapsed in our yard minutes earlier – and for Veterinarian Mary Ellen Brown’s care of Pola up to and including her untimely death.

Pola, R.I.P.

(Malcolm Barr Sr. is contributing writer for The Royal Examiner. Barr is a past president of the Humane Society of Warren County, with 45 years in animal rescue.)


The MORE Program presents a video in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.



Photo and video by MORE students and Jennifer Avery, Jenspirations. Behind the scenes as the MORE Program students gather to film the next portion of their MLK video.

On Wednesdays, the MORE Program students work on their video and photography skills. Some students have shown natural talent in the director position, some as a manager organizing behind the scenes. There are students who love to ask interview questions and prompt thoughts, and others who love to be on camera.

Jennifer Avery, Jenspiration LLC helps students edit video footage on Movie Maker to prepare for the final product.

This week our project was to organize and present a video on Martin Luther King, Jr. Grab a cup of tea, sit back, and enjoy this 6 minute presentation on MLK. The students organized, directed, and filmed it all!

Some famous MLK quotes the students included:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”


The MORE Program provides afternoon care to middle school students in Warren County. We provide healthy snacks, reinforce skills required for academic success, and provide hands-on enrichment activities that teach important lessons about future employment, health, and wellness. We provide all of this at no cost to parents, thanks to state and federal grants, the Warren Coalition, and Warren County Public Schools.

Jennifer Avery, Jenspiration LLC
540-683-0790 |
1. Behind the scenes as the MORE Program students gather to film the next portion of their MLK video.
2. Jennifer Avery, Jenspiration LLC helps students edit video footage on Movie Maker to prepare for the final product.

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Local News

Skyline High School’s Environmental Science, Ecology, and Green Team is taking on another Action Project



Conservation Greetings!

We are learning to be compassionate, global-minded, Earth stewards in Environmental Science, Ecology, and Green Team at Skyline High School. That means, taking what we learn about in class and using it to better the world. One of our Action Projects is to help clean up our waterways… from narrow streams that flow into the Shenandoah River, to the Potomac River, to the Chesapeake Bay, and on into the Atlantic Ocean. We have been horrified to see pictures of aquatic organisms suffering and dying after consuming and becoming entangled in plastics. How sad it is to learn that soon our oceans will have more plastic particles in them than fish!

Please help us change this! We want to raise awareness in a meaningful and ethical way through a “Buy One, Give One” fundraiser. We are selling cotton, organic, fair trade, reusable grocery bags along with an autographed copy of one of Ellie Jackson’s storybooks, “Duffy’s Lucky Escape!,” “Nelson’s Dangerous Dive,” or “Marli’s Tangled Tale.” Each story is based on the true story of a sea animal who has suffered because of human waste. Our goal is to not only bring awareness through the selling of the products, but also to educate our Warren County Kindergartners (almost 400) by “giving” one bag/book combo to each of them at an educational assembly that SHS students will present. We want to educate the children about the benefits to people and the Earth of using “organic,” “fair trade,” and “reusable” products. We hope the gifts and education will help motivate them and their families to carry it forward.

“Buy One, Give One”
Pick 1 Bag & Pick 1 Book = $35.00

CLICK HERE to download and fill out the order form. Drop off or mail the form to Kara Lewallen at Skyline High School. You can also contact Kara with any questions you may have by emailing or calling (540) 631-0366.

If you do not feel you can buy a bag and book, there are other ways to help…

  1. Reduce your plastic use.
  2. Recycle the recyclable plastics.
  3. Vote at the grocery store by choosing biodegradable packaging when possible.
  4. Educate others for the good of our Earth.

A tremendous THANK YOU to Rappahannock Electric Cooperative ($500), Walmart ($1,000), Gallant International, and Ellie Jackson for helping us make a positive difference!

With love for Earth and Organisms,
SHS Environmental Science, Ecology, & Green Team

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Local News

Iwo Jima, the iconic battle and legacy



Staff Sergeant Louis R. Lowery, USMC, staff photographer for "Leatherneck" magazine [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. First Iwo Jima Flag Raising. Small flag carried ashore by the 2d Battalion, 28th Marines is planted atop Mount Suribachi at 1020, 23 February 1945 This picture is usually captioned as: 1st Lieutenant Harold G. Schrier with Platoon Sergeant Ernest I. Thomas, Jr. (both seated), PFC James Michels (in foreground with carbine), Sergeant Henry O. Hansen (standing, wearing soft cap), Corporal Charles W. Lindberg (standing, extreme right), on Mount Suribachi at the first flag raising. However, PFC Raymond Jacobs disputed these identifications,[1] and asserted that it should be: PFC James Robeson (lower left corner; not visible in this cropped version of the photo), Lieutenant Harold Schrier (sitting behind his legs), PFC Raymond Jacobs (carrying radio), Sergeant Henry Hansen (cloth cap), unknown (lower hand on pole), Sergeant Ernest Thomas (back to camera), Phm2c John Bradley (helmet above Thomas), PFC James Michels (with carbine), Cpl Charles Lindberg (above Michels).

On Wednesday, January 16th at 2:15 pm, Randolph-Macon Academy hosted a free presentation entitled, “Iwo Jima, the iconic battle and legacy,” presented by Shayne Jarosz.

In addition to serving as the Director of Special Events for the Iwo Jima Association of America, Inc., Jarosz is a Marine Corps veteran and taught history for 28 years in Fairfax County. In his current position, he provides military historical tours to battlefield sites around the world, including Guadalcanal, Guam, Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima, Korea and Vietnam. Jarosz’s presentation on Iwo Jima took place in Melton Memorial Gymnasium on the R-MA campus.

For more information, visit the Iwo Jima Association of America’s website.

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Local News

Why is my electric bill so high?



Photo and video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

Front Royal Town Manager Joe Waltz spoke today (January 17th) with Mike McCool, Publisher of the Royal Examiner about the very question.

See related story.


The Department of Energy Services provides electrical services for almost 8,000 customers in the Town of Front Royal and Warren County. The Town has been providing this service for over 123 years while providing the best reliable service in the Shenandoah Valley.

The Town of Front Royal is one of sixteen municipal electric systems in Virginia and is one of over 2,000 municipal-owned systems in the United States. The Energy Resource Department is a self supported enterprise fund, with their total costs for operation derived through the electric rate structure.

The Town is also actively participating in both Federal and State legislation to maintain the safest, most reliable and economical cost available for our customers to keep rates low. They are active members in the following organizations:

Municipal Electric Power Association of Virginia (MEPAV).
American Municipal Power – Ohio (AMP-Ohio).
American Public Power Association (APPA).
International Municipal Signal Association (IMSA).

The operation of an electrical system is a twenty-four hour, 365 day a year job. The Town of Front Royal Electric Department strives to keep your lights on and your power outages to a minimum. Even during the worst conditions be assured that your friends and neighbors at the Energy Services Department will be working hard to restore your power.

Their mission is to provide the best quality power and customer service while keeping the price low and service interruptions to a minimum. If you have suggestions or questions, please do not hesitate to contact them.

Online contact form.

1101 Manassas Avenue
Front RoyalVA 22630
Phone: 540-635-3027
Fax: 540-631-3620
Monday – Friday
7 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
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Local News

Citizens speak out about high electric bills



Photo and video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

On January 14, 2019,  Front Royal Town Council held a public hearing to amend Front Royal Municipal Town Code Chapter 70 pertaining to Electricity to bring it up-to-date and consistent with other areas of the Town Code, as presented. Several citizen spoke to the the Council about their utility bills and why their electric bills are so high.

See related story here.

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Local News

Pedestrian struck near Rural King in Front Royal



FRONT ROYAL – A pedestrian was struck by a pickup truck Tuesday afternoon in front of Rural King Front Royal Police say.

According to a press release from the office of Chief Kahle Magalis, a call came in around 3 p.m. regarding a pedestrian struck in front of the retail store, located at 465 South Street in the Royal Plaza Shopping Center.

Responding officers found the pedestrian, Jeffrey Richardson, 40, of Reliance, lying in the parking lot.  The release states that “it was determined that Richardson was struck by a 2011 Ford F-150 operated by Thomas Clark, 83, of Front Royal.”

Clark stated to officers that his foot had slipped off the brake while going over a speed bump and his foot made contact with the accelerator, which caused him to accidentally strike Richardson.

Richardson was transported to Warren Memorial Hospital and then transferred to Winchester Medical Centers Trauma Unit for observation.

No charges have been placed against the driver at this time.

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