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Political turf war erupts at Gazebo – which is the Trump side of the street?



The gang “Rumble” scene from the 1957 ‘West Side Story’ Broadway play. The play and 1961 movie were musical updates of Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ theme of ill-fated love among rival families. – Public Domain Photo found on Wikipedia, by Fred Fehl originally published with no copyright notice

It was kind of like a gang turf war scene from “West Side Story” where the white Jets and Puerto Rican Sharks battle over New York City playground b-ball court space – except Front Royal’s crack law enforcement apparatus intervened before blood was shed at the Front Royal Town Gazebo late Wednesday afternoon, July 25.

Of course unlike the movie, there NEVER was any threat of blood being shed here – other than maybe this reporter’s for playfully making the gang turf war analogy in the first place.  But hey, if you can’t laugh about the disparate realities of pro and anti-Trump contingents occupying the same planet but news sources in galaxies far, far apart, what can you laugh about these days (even with the political fate of the Republic at stake)?

At issue Wednesday, July 25, was the space in and around the Town Gazebo at 5 p.m.  Since March 8, 2017, local activist Len Sherp has gathered at the gazebo with supporters of his Vigil for Democracy to protest Trump and his Administration policies and practices.

As Sherp told Royal Examiner 16 months ago, the impetus for the vigils is his concern that the then newly-elected president, his administration, Congressional and appointed-judicial majorities were threatening to undermine ideals upon which the American Republic was founded, and upon which it has evolved over two-plus centuries.

Len Sherp with Kathleen Roush and Hannah Bement at the inaugural Vigil for Democracy on March 8, 2017 – affordable health care and Trump tax returns were among expressed concerns – it seems some things haven’t changed. Photos/Roger Bianchini

“The government still works for us – “of the people, for the people” – and just because one party has achieved a majority doesn’t mean they shouldn’t show the same reverence for the democratic principals and values of honesty, openness and fairness which have made us a beacon for two centuries,” Sherp told Royal Examiner at the outset of his weekly political vigils.

Within a month a small pro-Trump counter-demonstration appeared across Chester Street in the person of Front Royal Pawn Shop owner Ralph Waller and nephew Michael, who sat quietly on a bench under the town clock with a Trump-Pence campaign sign in front to their pawn shop. Waller told us then that his counter-demonstration was driven by not only his support of the president, but also a feeling that anti-Trump themes of the vigil signage were “divisive”.

Ralph and Michael Waller, seated, joined by early supporter John Lambert on the Trump side of street.

Told the demonstrators across the street were concerned that it was the president himself who was encouraging divisiveness with his political rhetoric, as Royal Examiner reported at the time eventually a friendly dialogue between the Wallers and vigil participants began seeking common ground.  A mutual concern for preservation of the environment became that initial common ground.  Over the past year that dialogue has had its up and downs, but the fact it has ups is a hopeful sign in an increasingly divisive American political landscape.

Mutual concerns about the environment created dialogue across political lines and Chester Street – Ralph Waller, left, talks with Michelle House and Bob Hill as Rusty the dog and Charles House observe on May 3, 2017.

Gradually over the spring and summer months of 2017 other Trump supporters joined the Wallers on the public right of way in front of the pawn shop.  Judging from their rosary praying, pro-life signage and images of Mary, the mother of Jesus, those newer Trump supporters were largely from the conservative Catholic community.

And since late April-May 2017 the opposing sides have sparred with their political signage and sometimes voices across the Chester Street political divide.

On May 24, 2017 the Wallers were joined by a faith-based contingent of Trump supporters.

A new wrinkle

With the crucial 2018 mid-term Congressional elections about three-and-a-half months away, on July 18, 2018 a new player joined the scene, the Warren County Republican Committee.  While individual committee members may join the Waller-led pro-Trump contingent from time to time, to our knowledge the Republican Committee had never previously engaged under its party banner.

According to participants on both sides that initial, July 18, county Republican Committee presence appeared on the Waller pawn shop side of Chester Street.

However, according to an e-mail circulated Wednesday morning, July 25 by Warren County Republican Committee Chairman Steve Kurtz the committee was promoting a second weekly Republican candidates and Donald Trump Rally “at the Front Royal Gazebo.”  The scheduled time listed in Kurtz’s e-mail subject field was 4:30 p.m., a half hour prior to the scheduled start of the town-permitted Vigil for Democracy.

At 4:30 p.m. the only demonstration at the Gazebo appeared to be in support of C&C Frozen Treats, from which ice cream was being eaten under the protective roof of the gazebo.

However, at 4: 30 p.m. there were no Republicans on hand at the gazebo, only two teenage girls eating their ice cream from C&C Frozen Treats under the shelter provided by the gazebo from the sporadic rains of the day.  At 4:40 p.m. this reporter left the rainy, ice-cream-eating demonstration.

But when he returned at 5:05 p.m. it was a different story.  Anti-Trump Vigil for Democracy organizer Len Sherp and eight supporters were gathered near the gazebo IN the rain, while Kurtz and four Republican companions had the high ground of the gazebo OUT of the now light rain.

However, shortly after 5 p.m. the Republicans had the high ground of the gazebo while the Vigil for Democracy was out in the rain.

Following a phone call from the Vigil side of the street, first FRPD Officer Dave Fogle and then Captain Jason Ryman joined the scene.  A few conversations later the result was that the Republicans began un-taping their Trump-Pence, Corey Stewart and Ben Cline campaign signs from the gazebo posts, descended the steps and crossed Chester Street to what over the past 16 months has become the traditional and permitted Wednesday afternoon pro-Trump side of the street.

After a brief conversation with FRPD’s Dave Fogle and Jason Ryman, Steve Kurtz and his friends began the move out of the gazebo and to the traditional Trump side of the street.

However, neither the Wallers nor the conservative Catholics were present to greet the reinforcements.  The Wallers are reportedly on a fishing vacation, possibly in the wilds of Canada if I correctly recall stories of their past summer fishing ventures. – HEY Ralph, that’s not illegal immigration or a trade-war foray against the Canadian fishing industry, is it?

After Officer Fogle crossed Chester Street to talk with the relocated Republicans and Ryman spoke briefly with Sherp and his group, we queried the FRPD captain on exactly what had transpired.  Or to paraphrase Sgt. Joe Friday from the early police drama “Dragnet” of this reporter’s youth – “Just the facts, Captain Ryman, just the facts.”

Facts one and two are that the Vigil for Democracy has been permitted by the town government to gather for an hour at a specified time weekly “in the gazebo area” which according to Ryman includes the gazebo itself; and that permitted or not permitted you are not allowed to adhere signs to public property like the gazebo support posts.

As FRPD Captain Jason Ryman watches, Vigil organizer Len Sherp may be gesturing that the normal order of the universe, at least one small portion of it along Chester Street, has been restored.

So it appears that our defacto “Sharks” (self-described “Vigilites” here, Puerto Ricans in the movie) won this round of our own “West Side Story” turf war saga, while the “Jets” (conservative whites both here and in the movie) were banished out of the playground, I mean to the other side of Chester Street where as noted above, they are permitted to be.

And that order has the weekly pro-Trump support on the west side of Chester St. and the anti-Trump contingent on the east side.

I don’t know – is there anything to make out of the fact that in this instance the rule of law sided with those locals concerned that President Trump and the sitting Republican Congressional majority are engaged in a systematic assault on the rule of law regarding a Trump Justice Department-commissioned and lifelong Republican-administered investigation into the past and current behavior of a sitting president?

Or that the rule of law came down against a local political committee whose chairman wrote in soliciting participants for the July 25 Republican candidate and pro-Trump rally that it would be “countering the Un-American DemocRATic Anti Trump Protest”?

Nah, probably just a meaningless coincidence … But don’t forget, in “West Side Story” the Jets and Sharks kept revisiting their playground turf war – stay tuned for updates as the mid-terms 2018 approach. See Related Story

A Vigil for Democracy sign citing patriotism as support of ‘America, not a fake president’ appears to have made its way toward the Republican Committee high ground earlier in the political turf war of July 25.

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Changing a life, one car at a time



WHAT MATTERS Warren — Bill and Sandy Long, owners of the Auto Care Clinic in Front Royal, had no idea in 2018 that their car giveaway event would prompt them to start their own 501 (c)(3) nonprofit a year later. The generous couple has a goal of giving away one car per month through “Cars Changing Lives” and they have already donated 7 cars to those in need. Learn more about their efforts as they passionately describe their nonprofit during this video:

The Longs have a long history of giving back to the community they love. They enjoy providing uniforms for several sports teams, monetarily supporting local non-profits and completing charity repairs for local churches. They’ve also raised significant funds through area fundraisers. They are partnering with case managers of local non-profit organizations such as Phoenix Project, United Way, Front Royal Women’s Resource Center, and Valley Assistance Network (VAN), to discover recipients for their free vehicles. If you or someone you know is in need of transportation, contact a local nonprofit to inquire about being nominated.

Those interested in learning more about their ministry, volunteering, contributing tax-deductible funds, donating vehicles (running or not) or helping with preparing cars for grateful new owners are encouraged to contact them at (540) 635-2455 or Be sure to visit their website and like their Facebook page.


Are you or your group in need of a free video that could be created to help market your cause or event? Beth’s WHAT MATTERS Warren videos post on Facebook and YouTube.

Learn more Beth’s nonprofit, WHAT MATTERS, a 501 (c) (3), at – check out the “Community” section to request a TOWN TIP or WHAT MATTERS WARREN BETHvid or contact her at 540-671-6145 or


WHAT MATTERS is a 501(c)(3) that focuses on local and global outreach to help spread the word, support and raise funds for causes that matter (primarily through Facebook). WHAT MATTERS has ZERO overhead as 100% of the expenses are funded by Beth’s real estate business thanks to her clients and supporters. Every cent raised goes to the cause she’s promoting and most are matched by Beth. If you’d like to get involved, or travel to Africa with her on a future trip to work with the children of Light up Life Foundations, please visit

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Local NAACP leadership and police show unity and outrage over Floyd death



Leaders of the Front Royal and Warren County black community met with Town and County political and law enforcement leadership Monday afternoon, June 1, in a show of unity surrounding the potential of protests here stemming from public outrage over the death in police custody of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota a week ago, on May 25.

A crowd arrives inside FRPD headquarters for a masked, socially distanced meeting illustrating unity between all of this community and its law enforcement apparatuses. Royal Examiner Photos/Roger Bianchini – Royal Examiner Video/Mark Williams

Demonstrations have developed around the nation, some turning violent, in the wake of widespread viewing of video recording of Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin’s pinning Floyd, who was suspected of passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a nearby delicatessen, to the ground with his knee to Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. Floyd can be heard in cell phone video taken by bystanders pleading for his life, calling to his dead mother, saying he could not breathe and was dying.

The four involved Minneapolis police officers were fired the following day and Chauvin has been charged with third degree murder. But the delay in charging the three other involved former officers and some aggressive police responses to demonstrations in Minneapolis, including targeting a CNN news crew for arrest, and firing “pepper” rounds at an NBC news affiliate team and rubber bullets into crowds in Louisville, Kentucky, has led to escalating hostility, rioting and violence.

A.D. Carter III, left, and the Rev. Alfred Wood began and ended the meeting with prayer.

That rioting has drawn scathing comment from black leaders, including Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and rapper Killer Mike, among others. Controversy has also erupted about the potential of white “agent provocateurs”, in particular one identified as the “black umbrella man” in inciting peaceful demonstrations toward violence.

Monday’s meeting between black community leaders and local police was called to show that years of “community policing” networking has paid off in placing our black community and our local law enforcement apparatuses at a common point of mutual interest in assuring that the type of thing that happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota would not happen here.

Moderating at the noon event held in the outdoor foyer area of the Monroe Avenue Front Royal Police Department headquarters was Warren-Page County NAACP President Alford D. Carter III. Carter was accompanied by his son, Alford IV, the Reverend Alfred Wood who performed an invocation and closing prayer, and about five other members of the black community. In addition to FRPD Chief Kahle Magalis and Warren County Sheriff Mark Butler, attending were Front Royal Mayor Gene Tewalt, County Board and Emergency Management Team Chairman Walt Mabe and County Emergency Services Deputy Manager Rick Farrall, among other officers from both local law enforcement agencies. Joining that crowd was Strasburg Police Chief Wayne Sagar.

Above, Warren-Page NAACP President A.D. Carter III greats the assembled to a show of common purpose. Below, WC Sheriff Mark Butler flanked by FRPD Chief Magalis and town officers, said law enforcement officers who wear badges for the ‘right reasons’ are also outraged by George Floyd’s death in police custody.

The message was clear – what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis in police custody is NOT acceptable, not only to the black community but to the law enforcement community here and across the nation for those wearing a badge after swearing to “serve and protect”.

With a nod to his FRPD counterpart Chief Magalis, Warren County Sheriff Mark Butler cited not only outrage within minority communities, but in law enforcement at the Floyd killing at the hands of law enforcement officers.

“I got a call from my son, who is in security forces. And he’s like, ‘Dad, can you believe this?’ And I said, ‘Well, how do you feel about it?’ And he goes, ‘He (Officer Chauvin) just disgraced our entire profession. And I’m sure, the chief will probably go along with me on this one, any professional law enforcement officer will literally sit and tell you, ‘That is NOT who we are. That is NOT what we raised our hand to be or to do.’

FRPD Chief Magalis agreed that ‘community policing’ does not mean abuse of any portion of the community being served by its law enforcement agencies.

“And I can promise that any person who is wearing a badge for the right reasons would never do anything to harm someone intentionally. And we have just as much anger towards that incident as anyone else – we really do,” Sheriff Butler told those assembled.

See the full, approximately 50-minute NAACP-sponsored community meeting, with remarks from a variety of perspectives on where we as a community, and a nation, are and hope to be in the future, in this exclusive Royal Examiner video:

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Warren County Public Schools Kindergarten Registration for the 2020-2021 school year



  • Children who will be 5 years old on or before September 30, 2020
  • Register at the school in which you are zoned to attend
  • Certified Copy of Birth Certificate
  • Social Security Number
  • Physical Form (physical must be within the last 12 months prior to the first day of school)
  • Proof of Residence (utility bill, lease, mortgage statement, etc.)
  • A notarized residency affidavit is required if living in another household



If you have any questions, please call (540) 635-2171, extension 34236.

Technical Questions: contact Amy Himes (540) 635-7123, extension 46125, or Kathy Gross (540) 635-7123, extension 46124.

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WCHS DECA elects chapter officers for 2020-21



The WCHS DECA Chapter recently conducted a virtual chapter meeting to elect chapter officers for the 2020-21 school year.  After conducting its chapter meeting via video conferencing, the following students were elected through an electronic voting method:

Chapter President – Emily Johnson

Emily will be a 3rd-year member of DECA.  She has competed in district and state DECA competitions and attended the 2019 National DECA conference (ICDC) as a participant in a leadership training seminar.  During the 2019-20 school year, she helped the WCHS DECA school store, “Wildcats Corner’, achieve national Gold certification as a school-based enterprise.  In addition to serving as next year’s Chapter President, Emily will coordinate the Chapter’s Community Service Project Campaign.

Chapter Vice-President of Retail Operations – Mia Santillan

As a 1st year member in 2019-20, Mia competed in both district and state DECA competitions. As VP of Retail Operations, Mia will serve as the Store Manager of “Wildcats Corner”, the WCHS school store, and will also be the chapter’s co-director of fund-raising.

Chapter Vice-President of Food Operations – Devin Modesitt

Devin will be a 3rd year member of DECA in 2020-21.  In 2019-20, Devin was Co-Manager of the “DECA Tailgaters”, which achieved national Gold certification as a school-based food enterprise. As VP of Food Operations, Devin will serve as the Manager of “DECA Tailgaters” and will also be the chapter’s co-director of fund-raising.

Chapter Vice-President of Recruitment & Engagement – Makayla Grant

Makayla will also be a 3rd year member of DECA in 2020-21.  As VP of Recruitment & Engagement, Makayla will lead the chapter’s annual membership campaign, co-direct the “Friend of DECA” campaign, and coordinate the chapter’s VA DECA Day

Chapter Vice-President of Marketing – Jordan Cockrell

As a 1st year DECA member in 2019-20, Jordan competed in both district and state competitions.  She was a state winner, along with Emily Johnson and Eniesha Wigington, in the Virtual Business – Hotel Operations event.  Jordan also helped coordinate the chapter’s “Job Shadowing Day” in November and the “Secret Santa Shop” in December.  As VP of Marketing, Jordan will be coordinating the chapter’s “Global Entrepreneurship Week” Campaign and co-direct the “Friends of DECA” campaign.

Chapter Vice-President of Human Resources – Michael Kelly

Also a 3rd year DECA member, Michael will coordinate and maintain the WCHS DECA social media accounts and releases as the VP of Human Resources.  In 2019-20, Michael co-led the chapter’s Festival of Leaves food tent and was a member of the chapter’s Sales Project Management team, which was a finalist in VA DECA competition.

Chapter Vice-President of Administration – Jackson Pond

As VP of Administration, Jackson will be responsible for maintaining chapter records and coordinating member practice sessions for district and state DECA competitions.  As a 1st year member in 2019-20, Jackson placed 3rd in the district Principles of Business Management and Administration competition and also competed in the VA DECA state conference.

Chapter Vice-President of Corporate Information – Reina Garnett

As a 1st year DECA member in 2019-20, Reina placed 1st in the DECA district Principles of Finance event and was a project Co-Director in the chapter’s Community Awareness Project, “ENOUGH!”, which sought to prevent bullying in our schools and community awareness of domestic violence. As VP of Corporate Information, Reina will be responsible for preparing news releases and reporting the chapter’s Annual Report to VA DECA.

The WCHS DECA Chapter would like to thank and recognize our two senior out-going officers, Kylie Burnworth (President) and Halea Hose (Historian/Reporter), for their hard work and leadership during this past year.

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Governor Northam declares State of Emergency and authorizes assistance to localities; curfew in the City of Richmond



Governor Ralph Northam today, May 31, 2020, declared a state of emergency and authorized assistance to localities in response to escalating violence across the Commonwealth. The Governor granted a request from Mayor Levar Stoney to extend a curfew in the City of Richmond.

“This emergency declaration will provide the necessary support to localities as they work to keep our communities safe, said Governor Northam. “There are many voices speaking out for justice and healing across the United States and in our Commonwealth, but others are exploiting this pain and inciting violence.”

A state of emergency allows the Commonwealth to mobilize resources, including the Virginia National Guard, and preposition people and equipment to assist localities in their efforts to deescalate violent protests and protect public safety.

The declaration allocates $350,000 for state and local governments and state response and recovery operations authorized and coordinated through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

The order extends a curfew in the City of Richmond between the hours of 8:00 PM and 6:00 AM from Sunday, May 31, 2020, through Wednesday, June 3, 2020. While the curfew is in effect, people must remain in their homes and may only leave to seek emergency services or travel to and from home, work, or places of worship.

The full text of the emergency declaration can be found here.

Governor Ralph Northam also issued the following statement about protests in the City of Richmond.

“I acknowledge each of the voices crying out for justice and healing across the United States and in our Commonwealth. I affirm the deep concerns from the black community.

“I hear you. I know your pain is real. We have all seen too many people harassed, abused, and killed by law enforcement officers, in too many places, for too long—just for being black. I also know that others are exploiting this pain and are now causing violence.

“I spoke with Mayor Levar Stoney throughout the night; pursuant to the Mayor’s requests, I have authorized a curfew in Richmond and placed the Virginia National Guard on alert. They stand ready to assist in protecting our residents, businesses, especially small and black-owned businesses, and the capital city.

“As Governor of Virginia, I call on all Virginians to join together and build a renewed commitment to working for justice and fair treatment.”

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VDOT: Warren County Traffic alert for – June 1-5, 2020



The following is a list of highway work that may affect traffic in Warren County during the coming weeks. Scheduled work is subject to change due to inclement weather and material supplies. Motorists are advised to watch for slow-moving tractors during mowing operations. When traveling through a work zone, be alert to periodic changes in traffic patterns and lane closures.

*NEW* or *UPDATE* indicates a new entry or a revised entry since last week’s report…

No lane closures reported.

No lane closures reported.

No lane closures reported.

*NEW* Route 619 (Mountain Road) – Closed for pipe replacement between Route 615 (Wakemans Mill Road) and Route 626 (Steed Lane), 8 a.m. Monday to 4 p.m. Friday. Follow posted detour.

*UPDATE* Various roads – Flagger traffic control for utility tree trimming, Monday to Friday during daylight hours.

Vegetation management may take place district wide on various routes. Motorists are reminded to use extreme caution when traveling through work zones.

Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511. Traffic alerts and traveler information also are available at

The VDOT Customer Service Center can assist with reporting road hazards, asking transportation questions, or getting information related to Virginia’s roads. Call 800-FOR- ROAD (800-367-7623) or use its mobile-friendly website at Agents are available 24 hours-a-day, seven days a week.

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King Cartoons

Front Royal
Partly Cloudy
5:48am8:33pm EDT
Feels like: 82°F
Wind: 7mph SSW
Humidity: 36%
Pressure: 29.93"Hg
UV index: 6
min 68°F