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Politics makes for strange bedfellows: candidates, Aftershock ‘Vote BEER’



On Saturday evening, September 12, a number of candidates for Front Royal Town Council and Mayor met citizens in an informal meet and greet event in the Virginia Beer Museum outdoor Biergarten. The backdrop to the “Vote BEER” Party event was a musical performance by Front Royal’s own Aftershock, fronted by Reno Vaughan, with a little help from uncle Dewey Vaughan, propelled by dad James Vaughan’s power drumming and the keyboard, guitar, and bass accompaniment of Lenny Barnhart, Doug Hess, and Dean Smith.

“Solid Fuel” for candidates, music fans, constituents, and music-fan constituents was catered by “So Mote It G Beef” Chef Will and crew’s stacked pork barbecue platters – which saw a non-partisan LANDSLIDE of support over the course of the evening.

Shortly after 6 p.m. Reno Vaughan and Aftershock kicked off the entertainment portion of the evening – not to say political campaigning can’t be entertaining. Below, the So Mote It G Beef catering crew displays the goods – don’t worry, there’s back up when those platters run dry. Royal Examiner Photos by Roger Bianchini

And speaking of non-partisan, it is adhering to the Front Royal Town Charter’s mandate that town elections be non-partisan that really is at the root of Virginia Beer Museum proprietor and local attorney David Downes creation of the “Beer Party” and its “Vote BEER” slogan.

Candidates present at the outset of the 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. or so event, included Mike McCool and council challengers Betty Showers and Josh Ingram. Others seen over the course of the evening included Bruce Rappaport, incumbent Lori Athey Cockrell, running to hold her appointed seat, and we were told Cockrell’s fellow Republican-endorsed candidate Scott Lloyd, as well as mayoral candidate James Favors – sorry we missed you, Scott and Jim.

Above, from left candidates Betty Showers, Mike McCool, and Josh Ingram meet and greet the Royal Examiner camera; below, Showers and Ingram chat as Aftershock begins its first set of the evening.

Interested observers on the scene at various points in the evening were County Board Chairman Walt Mabe, FR-WC EDA Vice-Chair, and acting Chairman Jeff Browne, former Front Royal Town Manager Michael Graham, incumbent Councilwoman Letasha Thompson, whose seat is not up for re-election this year. Two years ago Thompson was the first local candidate to receive a “Beer Party” endorsement.

This year Beer Museum proprietor Downes has endorsed endorsed McCool, Ingram and Showers on the “BEER” platform of:

Better government;
Encouraging cooperation;
Emphasizing non-partisan politics; and
Responsible government.

as illustrated by the signage in front of his Chester Street law office.

And while all those BEER party-endorsed candidates have emphasized their run as non-political party affiliated independents, they have also embraced the Vote BEER theme of cooperative, non-partisan and responsible government. For as former county supervisor John Vance once observed to this reporter, “Local government should be more about common sense than partisan ideology.”

It is a theme at the root of Front Royal’s 2020 Election, as citizens consider the current Republican Committee five-seat Council majority’s decisions on:

– Town staff cutbacks and outsourcing of town governmental functions, particularly related to tourism marketing and the Visitors Center;

– a refusal to assume its moral obligation $10-million debt service on the new town police headquarters which no one in town government has been able to indicate to this reporter there is any indication of any misdirected funds related to the 2014-18 EDA financial scandal;

– and the seemingly related choice of hostile litigation against the re-tooled EDA board and staff and creation of a competing unilateral EDA with no assets and a several-hundred-thousand-dollar annual operational budget the Town will have to fund (compared to its zero-dollar operational funding of the existing Town-County EDA), as opposed to offered good faith negotiations to establish exactly what town assets may have been misdirected as part of the alleged EDA administrative wrongdoings of the former executive director and her co-EDA civil litigation defendants.

As town citizens ponder the impact of partisanship on these decisions as November 3rd approaches, enjoy these images from the October 12 candidates meet and greet, Aftershock show, and So Mote It G’s BBQ landslide …

To an ‘Aftershocking’ musical backdrop the candidates greeted and made their case for support from voters …

And prepared campaign signs for those won over – make sure you see whose sign I’m working on Ingram supporter may be telling photographer as Ingram helps with the leg-installation work.

Above, some smart, early arriving patrons set up close to the So Mote It G catering table, where the action remained steady through the evening.

The Biergarten tent was up just in case those clouds opened up, which they didn’t.

Incumbent council candidate Lori Cockrell chats with former town manager Michael Graham …

And gives the Royal Examiner camera a smile as publisher and mayoral candidate Mike McCool joins the conversation.

Reno takes a break as Uncle Dewey takes a turn up front as Lenny Barnhart keeps an eye on the circling Royal Examiner cameraman …

And purple haze-stage lit drummer James Vaughan gets a laugh at Barnhart’s doubling as stage-right security.

The band knows this photographer too well – Dewey Vaughan takes over the security watch while on lead vocals. Royal Examiner would have filmed at least portions of the show but then ASCAP would have come after us for copyright violations on all the band’s cover material … ‘SAD’

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Warren County Public Schools seeking car drivers and school bus aides



School bus aides ensure the safety of students during transport.

Are you looking for a part time job? Do you like working with children? Do you want to be off when your kids are off? This may be the job for you! Warren County Public Schools is looking for car drivers and school bus aides. No experience necessary – we will train you.

Car drivers transport students between assigned stops and schools according to specified routes and time schedules, maintain order during trip, and adhere to safety rules when loading and unloading.

School bus aides oversee students over scheduled routes to and from schools and ensure the safety of students during transport, loading, and unloading from buses.

Apply online HERE, or apply in person at Warren County Public Schools (210 Commerce Avenue | Front Royal, VA 22630).

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People Inc. receives additional funding for rent and mortgage relief program



WOODSTOCK, VA – People Incorporated has received additional funding for the rent and mortgage relief program serving residents of Clarke County, Frederick County, Page County, Shenandoah County, Warren County and the City of Winchester who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Additional funding will allow People Inc. to continue to serve residents who are in danger of eviction from their homes,” said Kyle Sensabaugh, director of housing services. “We want anyone in need of assistance to contact us – we’re here to help you remain in your home during this uncertain time.”

The agency received over $200,000 in additional funding from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to continue to serve residents across the region.

As of Wednesday, People Inc. has served 86 households in the region with over $183,000 in assistance to help them avoid eviction or foreclosure on their homes.

The agency received its initial funding to implement the program in 17 Virginia cities and counties in June. Over $422,000 has been paid to landlords and lenders across the total service area to help residents since that time.

The program will pay the current month’s rent or mortgage payments and any past due payments since April 2020 for residents impacted by the pandemic. Residents who have already received assistance and are in further need may also reapply. Landlords who accept payments through the relief program must agree not to evict the tenant for non-payment.

Residents interested in applying for assistance should call the agency hotline at 833-437-0114.

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Novice race callers set to announce at the upcoming Shenandoah Downs harness season in Woodstock



Shenandoah Downs will open its fifth annual season of harness racing this Friday (September 18) at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds with a ten-race card beginning at 2:00 PM. Horses, trainers, and racing personnel have been shipping onto the property all week preparing for the five-week stand.

Ten racing enthusiasts are also preparing to work the meet in a unique position. They will each call a complete card of racing, though none have any experience in the announcer’s booth.

A month ago, the track sought out harness fans via social media who wanted to pursue this opportunity in an actual live race setting at an extended meet. Within several days, all ten announcing slots were filled. The fans selected have little or no announcing experience but showed a passion for harness racing.

Since the upcoming season will be conducted without spectators due to COVID-related precautions — and the track had only offered on-site wagering — the potential viewing audience is limited. At one time, track officials decided to go without an announcer but at a future planning meeting, decided to switch gears and opt for this unusual route.

“Those factors allowed us to offer first-time callers a chance to spend an entire afternoon on the microphone and behind the binoculars,” said Shenandoah’s Darrell Wood. “These ten fans will get a chance to announce for several hours and will get to interact with judges, the chart caller and television crew. This should create a fun experience and a nice memory for everyone.”

Races, and the first-time announcer’s calls, will be streamed live via the track’s website at so fans can follow the action.

Racing fan Micahel Langer, who grew up in Freehold, New Jersey, and has attended the Little Brown Jug for 40 years, will call Friday’s opener. The 64-year-old has been a fan of the Grand Circuit for decades and follows races from Canada to New Zealand.

Richmond, Virginia based Doug Gurney will tackle Saturday’s 13 race card in which 131 horses initially entered. The program will showcase Virginia Breeder’s three-year-old prep and elimination races. Gurney is a fan of both thoroughbred and harness races and was a trackside fixture at Colonial Downs from day one in 1997.

The second weekend will feature lifelong racing fan Steven Rice, a cold storage inventory technician who has visited 40 tracks, and Brad Hinton, a local enthusiast who works at Finish Line Plumbing.

The third weekend could be the most interesting. 12-year-old Woodstock resident Morgan Marston will call the Friday card and 10-year-old Dylan Dougherty will invade from Pennsylvania to call the $300,000 Virginia Breeder’s Day of Champions program. Both youngsters have been tutored by legendary race caller Roger Huston who put Marston on air occasionally during the past several Shenandoah County Fair meets. Dougherty called 25 races — in a paid position — at the Meadville, Pennsylvania Fair this summer.

Shenandoah Downs regular Danny Ortts, who has also attended Shenandoah County Fair festivities his whole life, will kick off the fourth weekend. Jeff Jenkins, another local who used to drive at Rosecroft Raceway, will finish the weekend in the crow’s nest on October 10.

The final weekend features thoroughbred fan Nick Hahn of Greene County, Virginia on October 16. Hahn has hosted the weekly “Off to the Races” radio show in Richmond for over 20 years and is a regular writer for “The Racing Biz”. Marty Sendek, a former military officer, and retired attorney will bring the meet to its conclusion on October 17. Sendek estimates he has watched 20,000 races in his lifetime.

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In-person voting starts September 18



RICHMOND, VA — The Virginia Department of Elections announces that in-person voting begins Friday, September 18, 2020. Also, absentee ballots will be sent to all voters who have requested a ballot by mail.

Voters no longer need a reason to vote absentee. Any registered voter may request an absentee ballot, either in-person or by mail. Voters can request a mailed ballot online at They can also find a vote-by-mail ballot form at Or they can contact their local voter registration office and ask them to mail them an application. Contact information for local registrars can be found at

The last day to request an absentee ballot is Friday, October 23, 2020 at 5pm. Absentee ballots returned by mail must be postmarked by Election Day, November 3, 2020 and received by the local voter registration office by noon on Friday, November 6, 2020. Voters can also drop off their marked and sealed ballots at a drop off location at their local voter registration office or polling place up to 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Early in-person voting ends October 31, 2020. Voters do not have to fill out an application to vote in person. Voters can simply go to their general registrar’s office or satellite voting location, show ID and cast a ballot. More information about what IDs are considered acceptable can be found at

Because of the anticipated high volume of mail-in votes, The Department of Elections is urging all those who wish to vote by mail to request and return their ballots as soon as possible. Voters can track the status of their ballot applications online at They can also call their local registrar’s office to determine the status of their application.

If you believe you may not safely have a witness present while completing the absentee ballot for the November 3, 2020 Election, you are not required to have a witness present. Also, if you are blind or have low vision or have impaired manual dexterity, you have the option of voting an absentee ballot using an electronic ballot marking tool.

Voters with questions about absentee, mail-in and in-person voting or any aspect of the November 3, 2020 election may call the Virginia Department of Elections at (800) 552-9745, email the department at, or visit our website at Voters are also encouraged to follow us on Twitter at @vaElect, Facebook at @VirginiaELECT and Instagram at @va_election.

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2020 Northern Shenandoah Valley drinking water testing clinics



What’s in YOUR water?  Did you know that private water supplies like wells and springs are unregulated? It is the responsibility of the homeowner to regularly test water quality, maintain the water system, and address any problems.  Affordable, confidential water testing and education will be offered through Virginia Cooperative Extension Offices in Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah, and Warren Counties.  Participation is voluntary and confidential.

Water samples collected by participating homeowners will be analyzed for 14 parameters, including bacteria, metals, nitrate, and hardness at a cost of $60 per sample kit.  A limited number of scholarships are available upon request. Please contact the Virginia Cooperative Extension Frederick County Office to inquire: (540) 665-5699.

A live Kick-Off presentation will be available to explain the proper way to collect water samples and to answer any questions participants may have.

Results and water system care and maintenance information will be sent to each participant either by email or mail. A Results Meeting for all counties will be held on Monday, December 7, 6:30pm, via Zoom, to help explain the summary results and the recommendations to address problems. All information is kept strictly confidential.

For more information about the Virginia Household Water Quality Program, as well as many resources relevant to private water systems, please visit

Pre-registration/pre-payment is required by October 14 and can be done on-line or by mail. Please contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension Office for mail-in registration form.

  • Clarke County – 540/955-5164
  • Shenandoah County – 540/459-6140
  • Frederick County – 540/665-5699
  • Warren County – 540/635-4549
  • Page County – 540/778-5794

To register online, click here.

Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments.

Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law.  An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer

If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension Office at the phone number listed above during business hours of 8:00am and 5:00pm to discuss accommodations five days prior to an event.  *TDD number is 800/828-1120

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Community Events

Humane Society of Warren County’s 9th annual Tails and Ales tickets on sale NOW!



The Humane Society of Warren County announced tickets for their 9th annual Tails and Ales event are on sale NOW at the shelter!

“The event will look different this year as we are going virtual”, says Kayla Wines, Shelter Manager. Tickets are just $10 and includes your invite to our online bidding platform (Bid Beacon), entry into our door prize drawings and the grand prize drawing – both will be drawn at random.

When you purchase your ticket, we will ask you to provide your email address. 2 weeks prior to the event, we will send out an invite link to Bid Beacon so you can preview auction baskets. The auction will start on 11/14 and end on 11/16.

Our grand prize will feature a 1-night stay at the beautiful Mimslynn Inn in Luray VA, tickets to Luray Caverns, a $100 VISA gift card, dinner for two and 2 Tails and Ales souvenir glasses. We will also have our usual 50/50 raffle and tickets can be purchased directly from the bidding site.

Bid Beacon is very simple to use and there is also a handy app that can be downloaded to your phone. Bid on all you want from the comfort of your couch! Give us a call if you are needing tickets at 540-635-4734.

During the event, be sure to check out our Facebook page for video updates and virtual cheers to our supporters!

The Humane Society of Warren County is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing compassionate care to abandoned, abused, homeless and neglected animals in our community. It is our vision to be part of a community where every pet is a wanted pet.

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Front Royal
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