At our previous meeting, Felicia Hart, Director of the Front Royal/Warren County Tourism Community Development, presented an update on tourism in the Town of Front Royal Projects, which was very enlightening.
As Felicia noted, tourism revenue continues to grow. Tourism remains a critical contributor to our local economy in 2019, as it did in 2018. While we may complain about all of the “Leaf Peepers,” they contribute to our economy and save us a lot of money in the long run, so we can put up with the long lines on the weekends because that is money in our pockets. She said that in 2018 tourism revenue for our town and county reached more than $151,300,393, a 4.9 percent increase over 2017. This meant that tourism supported jobs totaling 1,706, while local tourism-related taxes were $2,922,849. This had a major impact on each of us and on our pocketbooks. Each of the 40,003 households in our town and county paid almost $200 less in state and local taxes because of tourism.
She noted that we are now part of the Appalachian Mural Trail Program, with the appearance of a local mural off of Main Street now. We are also offering incentives to the thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail, who are stopping in town, taking pictures at the mural. They then can receive benefits from our local merchants. It is a win-win for all of us.
As part of the town’s development program, we are also able to offer incentives to start-up businesses. As a result, zoning permits are up over past years, as are applications for business licenses.
Our community is also involved in a community-block-grants program. We will spend approximately $219,680 for development of the town plaza; $640,00 for the facade improvement program; $400,000 on the Royal Shenandoah Greenway; $28,500 for our Streetscape Improvement Design; $56,500 for parking and alley improvements; $162,000 for new signage (and they look great); and $44,400 for Branding and Marketing, including ads in Southern Living, Golf, and Blue Ridge Outdoors magazines. As she noted, the return on our investment was tremendous – for $130,000 we received more than $1.6 million.
We have also updated the town’s website, become active on social media, prepared a Visitors’ Center Guide, built lighted sign boxes in the downtown area; constructed slat wall installations for brochures; and are constructing a new Kiosk outside the Visitor’s Center, all completed or to be completed by the end of 2019.
Our invitation to our visitors is “Come Play in Our Backyard,” and Felicia has worked tirelessly to be sure they are welcomed. For her complete program and to learn more about the Rotary Club of Warren County, please go to www.warrencountyrotary.org or watch here:
Rotary Club of Warren County – Reaching Out Now
The Mission of Reaching Out Now, Inc: Through Academic and empowerment we support and encourage under-served school aged girls (6th through 12th grade), and young women to live victoriously and not defeated; to reach their full potential.
We support their schools by embracing, empowering and engaging students. We serve by implementing programs and will challenge students to rise above life’s circumstances to become their better selves.
Anne Cobb (above left) and Samantha Barber (above right) brought the message of hope embodied in their program “Reaching Out Now,” which they presented to the Rotary Club of Warren County. Both women have been involved in education and educational programs for many years and informed us of a program designed to mentor and assist girls in middle school. In the future they have plans to expand the program to carry it into high school and to include boys as well.
As Anne noted, she had had the benefit of mentors throughout her life, from her church, sports, school, and parents, but many of these girls in middle school haven’t had this assistance. As she said, “what we are doing is providing a safety net for these girls.”
And they are not working with the top academic students, rather with students who are having academic problems or behavior and developmental problems–boys and girls who need to be nurtured–someone to get to know them and guide them through middle and high school, until they are 21. As Samantha said, she has been there and she knows some of the problems they are facing.
At this point, they are working with about 20 students in what is called a “Girl Destiny Program,” meeting with them two or three times a month, taking them places and building up their self-confidence and view of themselves. For example, they took the girls to Heaven, a beauty salon in Winchester. The owners of this salon closed their shop and gave the girls a make-over. Anne and Samantha have also provided workshops since the program was launched at Skyline Middle School in September. And it has included programs such as True Colors, allowing them to recognize their own personalities, and Love Languages. They are also working with the students to do community hours, to prepare scholarship applications, to learn financial literacy, as well as preparing them for academic and career readiness. And even though they have only been offering the program for a few months, it is already showing benefits. As one principal noted, “You can see the changes taking place–they are standing taller, they are getting involved in their academics, and they are talking.” As Anne said, “Imagine what they will be like at 21.”
Anne and Samantha are working within a framework developed by the National Office of School Councilor Advocacy, which helps prepare the students for college or for a career. As Anne noted, not all these students will go to college, and the point is to prepare them for life. They are also pulling people in from the community to meet with the girls, to provide assistance and workshops. The point is to establish networks between the schools and the community to talk about what we can do to make our community life better while assisting these students.
To celebrate the end of the year, they plan an Awards Dinner on May 15, much like a Rotary Gala, in which they will recognize the girls for the wonderful work they have done. Other plans include holding a round-table forum (tentatively set for March 17) with community leaders and business owners to join with educators and have a networking session and talk about what we can do to make our community better.
For more information, please go to www.warrencountyrotary.org
Story and photo: Hank Ecton
Video credit: Dave Hardy
Holiday Party moments from the Front Royal Women’s Resource Center
The Front Royal Women’s Resource Center celebrated the holidays this week with their annual Holiday Party. Hors D’Oeuvres were by Downtown Catering and were absolutely delicious! Lovely arrangements were done by Joey Waters. Christmas music set the mood by T.E.D.Trio – Tim Grant, Eric Olson, and Dwight Myers. Enjoy these photos by Franzi Lee!
The mission of the Front Royal Women’s Resource Center is to provide support, education and information to women in Warren County for the empowerment of their personal, family and work lives. Please visit www.frwrc.org to learn more! If you are interested in attending their next event, you are in luck! Wine Tasting Uncorked on January 16th is sure to be a hit: CLICK HERE for more details.
Magical Santa moments & the Rotary Club of Warren County elves
North Pole magic happened right here in Front Royal, VA as the Rotary Club of Warren County hosted Santa and Mrs Claus for “Saturday with Santa!” Local middle school Interact students helped with crafts and cookies were served. Well over 50 wide-eyed little ones sat on Santa’s lap as the grown ups captured the moment with a picture.
Rotary connects our kids: Letters to soldiers for Christmas and a talk with the police chief
Over the weekend, young people from Front Royal Interact/Early Act Clubs came together to write letters to soldiers who had just completed boot camp, and will be spending the holidays away from families. Many thanks to the Rotary Clubs of Warren County and Front Royal, and our good friends at Royal Family Bowling Center for a fun “HyperBowling” and pizza fest. Special thanks to Front Royal Chief of Police, Skyline Middle Interact Liaison and Warren County Rotarian, Kahle Magalis, for speaking with our young people about growing up in Warren County, and what being a leader in this community truly means (leading by example).
If you are interested in your child being part of this wonderful Service Above Self organization, please speak with the Principal at your child’s school or call/text Michael Williams at 540-336-3127.
To view the full photo album, click here.
Warren County Middle School gifted and talented program students showcase their projects
Warren County Middle School students in the gifted and talented program displayed their presentations for parents and friends this week during a special showcase evening. Teacher Zach Logan welcomed guests and shared a few details about the students progress so far this year. Projects ranged from the Magic of Disney to interesting facts about New Zealand with several biographies in between! Great job by all of the students! Watch this video to see a few friendly faces and hear from Mr. Logan:
FRWRC receives $5,355 at Rotary Club of Warren County Gala Beneficiary 2019
The Rotary Club of Warren County presented the Front Royal Women’s Resource Center with a check for $5,355 at their weekly meeting. The FRWRC was designated as one of the beneficiaries receiving half of the proceeds from the Rotary Club of Warren County’s 2019 Gala fundraiser. Watch this short video as the women from the resource center accept the award and speak briefly about the Dare to Dream Grant they offer to local women to help them achieve their dreams. Learn more at: www.frwrc.org (applications are now being accepted for 2020 grants).
Every year in July, Rotary members are asked to submit applications from nonprofits in Warren County/Front Royal to be considered for Gala Beneficiary. It has to be a local organization and go to a local project. The Service Committee reviews all applications at the August Service Committee meeting, makes their selection and then submits it to the BOD for approval. Learn more about Rotary Club of Warren County: www.warrencountyrotary.org.