Connect with us

Local News

School Board OKs another A.S. Rhodes renovation contract, reviews proposed budget



The Warren County School Board on Wednesday approved another contract for the ongoing renovations at A.S. Rhodes Elementary School and reviewed updated information from Warren County Public Schools (WCPS) staff on the district’s proposed budget for the upcoming school year.

Front Royal-based Syntax Communications Inc. was awarded an $88,550 contract by the School Board to handle the renovation of the school’s network infrastructure.

WCPS Technology Director Timothy Grant explains the changes to the network during construction. Photos and video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

Due to the overall new construction at A.S. Rhodes Elementary School, the data closet must be moved to a new location and new cabling has to be installed in the renovated areas, explained WCPS Technology Director Timothy Grant, who said the temporary classrooms at the school also will require network connectivity during construction.

“This will require installation of cabling in the temporary classrooms that then has to be removed after construction is completed,” Grant said, adding that when the permanent wiring is installed it will support the school’s telephones, Wi-Fi and intercoms.

Warren County School Board Vice Chairwoman Catherine Bower motioned to accept the recommendation that the contract be awarded to Syntax Communications, with a second from School Board member Kristen Pence. The motion carried with a unanimous vote from School Board Chairman Arnold Williams Jr., James Wells, Ralph Rinaldi, Bower, and Pence.

Funding to cover the $88,550 cost of the project will come from construction funds, Grant said, while the services and materials will be purchased through the school division’s IT contract with the Town of Front Royal.

In other action during the Board’s regular meeting on March 4, members also unanimously approved entering into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Lord Fairfax Community College and Northern Shenandoah Valley Adult Education to continue a partnership that provides GED classes to Warren County residents and citizens from surrounding counties.

The MOU for the 2020-2023 grant period requires that WCPS provide not less than a 15-percent local match of the federal funding allocated for the county, as well as the allocation of classroom space and technology resources. The local match for the first year is $9,510.80, said Jane Baker, principal for WCPS Career and Technical Education who also sits on the Shenandoah Valley Adult Education Board.

The grant sequencing will last for three years, taking effect July 1, the day after the current grant expires at the end of June, she said.

Lastly, the Warren County School Board unanimously voted to accept “with gratitude,” a $500 donation to the Skyline High School band and a $500 donation to the Warren County High School band from Gordmans, where the drum lines from both schools played last weekend during the new department store’s grand opening in Front Royal.

Following its regular meeting, the School Board members went into a work session where they received updated WCPS staff reports related to the school district’s proposed 2020-2021 operating budget.

George “Bucky” Smith, WCPS director of personnel, announced that the school district’s medical insurance rates.

George “Bucky” Smith, WCPS director of personnel, announced that the school district’s medical insurance provider, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, will decrease employee health insurance rates by 6.7 percent for the next school year.

That’s an even larger decrease than the initial 5.9 percent decrease that Smith discussed during a previous School Board meeting and will allow WCPS to pass on the decrease to those WCPS employees participating in the health insurance plan.

Smith said WCPS also is considering adding another tier to the health insurance plans it offers to employees, as well.

The district’s objective with proposing to increase salary scales and provide solid benefits at reasonable costs to employees is to make Warren County, Va., more competitive so that it can retain skilled staff, he said.

“We’re trying to mirror the places where we’re losing people,” Smith said, pointing specifically to Frederick County, Va. “All of these things can be very impactful,” he said.

The Virginia General Assembly is set to adjourn on Saturday, March 7, according to WCPS Finance Director Robert Ballentine, who said lawmakers then will make school budget information available, allowing the state’s school districts to finalize their local budgets.

“It will be really nice to know where they stand,” Ballentine said.

WCPS Interim Superintendent Melody Sheppard told School Board members that staff will present them with the finalized state budget, as well as final WCPS budget recommendations, during the Board’s March 11 meeting, which will be held at 5 p.m. at the School Board Office.

Share the News:

Local News

County Board Chairman Walter Mabe’s remarks to Front Royal Unites rally



Following Friday’s peaceful march of over one thousand citizens calling for racial and social unity in our community and nation, the crowd including community leaders returned to Bing Crosby Stadium for remarks by a variety of people. Among them was County Board of Supervisors and COVID-19 Emergency Management Team Chairman Walter Mabe. Mabe made his remarks available to us, and they are printed in their entirety below:

Chairman Walt Mabe delivers the theme of social unity and ‘stronger together’… a recurring one in his remarks on our collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic health threat.

George Floyd is dead. Nothing we do here today will change that. What we can do is make his life, and his death, meaningful.

We’re gathered here for a variety of reasons. For many, it is to demonstrate and highlight the racial inequality that exists in our country. Some are here to pray for peace and for the wish that calm will prevail. Others simply hope this will be the start of a process to heal our country. I know there are many more good and valid motivations of those who are here and those that would be here if they could.

I look out among you and see diversity, young and old from all walks of life that have come together for a common purpose, the purpose of Community Unity.

I see a community of leaders, religious leaders, our County Sheriff and Front Royal Police Chief, and representatives of our elected bodies showing their reverence with members of our community.

Together we are making a statement just by being here, we are a peaceful assembly at a respectful distance from one another, united as a community.

I see strength and determination among us. Not just for this day, or this evening. I would like to see this continued going forward.

I see the ability to unify our community. Not just for this gathering, but to always remember that we must make a difference. Each of us can do better by leading and becoming the example of unity and fighting for those whose voices aren’t heard, and ensuring that every resident is treated with respect and equality under the eyes of the law. We are all the same, we are people and citizens of our beautiful county and town.

While this is a sad occasion to gather, there is also cause for celebration. We’re here celebrating freedom of assembly and the constitutional right to free speech. We’re freely and peacefully voicing our concerns here in Front Royal, in Warren County, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and in the United States of America.

For that we are grateful.

If we could, I’d ask all of us to join hands, but please, just do it symbolically… COVID-19 is still with us. We’re stronger together when we’re joined in a common purpose. Take that strength and use it to make your life and those around you, a better place. It’s the best way to give meaning to the memory of George Floyd.

I leave you with this quote from Martin Luther King, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

Thank you for coming and remember:

We are Stronger Together.

Front Royal Unites draws over 1,000 for anti-racism rally

Front Royal Unites plans peaceful June 5 equality march

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Local News

Front Royal Unites draws over 1,000 for anti-racism rally



While there was yet to be an official crowd size estimate, it appeared that well over one thousand, perhaps between 1200 and 1500 people gathered at Bing Crosby Stadium off a flooded Eighth Street Bridge for the Front Royal Unites rally against racism early Friday evening, June 5th.

Oops, looks like I can’t get in this way – a huge crowd of demonstrators against racism and for unity across social and racial boundaries gathered at Bing Crosby Stadium early Friday evening, June 5. Royal Examiner Stills/Roger Bianchini – Royal Examiner Video/Mike McCool

Several organizers spoke to kick off what was planned as about an eight-block circular path march through Front Royal beginning westbound on Eighth Street to North Royal Avenue, left to Sixth Street, left on Commerce and back to Eighth and Bing Crosby Stadium. But with the heavy rains that began mid-afternoon suddenly flooding the bridge, the march detoured southbound on Crosby Road out of the stadium parking lot to Sixth Street and across Commerce to North Royal and back around to Eighth Street and ultimately back to the Stadium for closing speeches.

And while the rain was hard in the hours leading up to the rally, the skies lightened and the rain stopped about a half-hour prior to the rally’s 6:30 p.m. start.

The Front Royal Unites rally grew out of the nationwide reaction to the brutal and unprovoked videotaped treatment of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis, Minnesota policemen in what some are equating to a modern-day lynching. All four officers were immediately fired upon release of a videotape of their collective action leading to Floyd’s death.

The message of Front Royal Unites was consistent – and the bottom sign-holder’s hand is covering the apostrophe-T of “can’t” in that insightful observation …

Derek Chauvin, the white officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as the black man plead for his life, saying he could not breathe and was dying, has been charged with 2nd Degree Murder and the other three have been charged with complicity in 2nd Degree murder and related manslaughter charges.

And while violence has been an issue from both demonstrator and police at some consequent demonstrations across the country, the Front Royal crowd was peaceful, the message was “Love, Love, Love – not hate”.  As the march began a spirit of unity seemed prevalent between demonstrators and a combined local law enforcement presence of Front Royal Police and Warren County Sheriff’s Office personnel as both crowd and traffic control, as well as supporters of the message of community unity across racial and uniformed/non-uniformed boundaries.

The message of the march on the back of a kickoff speaker’s shirt – and the marchers remained peaceful, and focused on the message of a march against racism and for community unity.

A report from one person who participated in the entirety of the march told us the crowd remained peaceful, encountering some minor verbal harassment from a very small minority of onlookers along the way. Some pickup trucks sporting Confederate flags were also observed at some distance from the marchers, but there was no encounter between occupants and marchers observed.

See for yourself the message, the march’s outset, and conclusion in this exclusive Royal Examiner video and accompanying still photographs:

Front Royal Unites plans peaceful June 5 equality march

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Local News

Virginia Beer Museum re-opens



The Virginia Beer Museum reopened today, June 5, 2020, as part of Phase Two of ‘Forward Virginia’. Many local restaurants also reopened or plan to open in the next few days.

The Virginia Beer Museum tells this fascinating story through artifacts, displays, and an interactive tasting tour that promotes Virginia breweries. Each room represents a different historic era of Virginia’s history of beer, from the beginning of the Virginia Colony in 1607, through our Founding Father’s recipes, Virginia’s failed efforts of Prohibition, the introduction of the first beer can in America, to the craft beer Renaissance of today.

The Virginia Beer Museum is the FIRST beer museum in the country to focus on a single state’s history of beer.

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Local News

Lord Fairfax Health District offers free COVID testing session in Woodstock



The Lord Fairfax Health District (LFHD) will offer COVID-19 testing from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday, June 8, at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds, 300 Fairground Road, in Woodstock. Five hundred tests will be available.

Testing offered will be the nasal swab sample that looks for the presence of RNA from the actual virus. It will be offered in a drive-through format. Participants will be required to provide consent for testing and contact information so that proper follow-up can occur.

“We selected this location for our first community testing session, due to the presence of several outbreaks in Shenandoah County, and a desire to reach out to members of the medically underserved community, many of whom live in the area,” said Dr. Colin Greene, District Director. “We are very happy to be able to offer these tests at no charge to the patient.”

LFHD will offer testing on a first-come, first-served basis, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., or until test supplies are exhausted, whichever comes first. Testing is available to anyone ages 10 years and older. All persons must remain in the vehicle, and no walk-ups will be tested. Those seeking tests should be seated near a window of the vehicle.

To protect yourself and healthcare workers, please wear a cloth face covering or mask. Please keep at least six feet of distance between yourself and other people at all times. Please tell the testing providers if you have any symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, deep cough, or shortness of breath, or believe that you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

For more information, call the Lord Fairfax Health District at 540-459-3733.

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Local News

Town Talk: A conversation with Sgt Laura Gomez and Captain Jeff Holzbauer; new dogs tags, K-9 additions



In this Town Talk, we’ll have a conversation with Sgt Laura Gomez and Captain Jeff Holzbauer from the Warren County Sheriff’s Office. Sgt Gomez is an Animal Control Officer and Captain Holzbauer is in charge of the Patrol Division.

The Warren County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Division has the primary law enforcement responsibilities of providing a wide range of services and to initiate a proactive approach when assisting the community.

The Animal Control Division provides enforcement of all animal control issues within the County of Warren and the Town of Front Royal. Animal law enforcement, including the methods of capture, confinement, and disposition of nuisance animals, both domestic and feral, requires that the animals be treated in the most humane manner possible. Warren County or Town residents who require the assistance of Warren County Animal Control are to contact the Warren County Sheriff’s Office at 540-635-4128 or in the case of an emergency, 911. This includes any questions dealing with wildlife matters.

Town Talk is a series on the Royal Examiner where we will introduce you to local entrepreneurs, businesses, non-profit leaders, and political figures who influence Warren County. Topics will be varied but hopefully interesting. If you have an idea, topic, or want to hear from someone in our community, let us know. Send your request to

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Local News

Valley Health System welcomes new President and CEO



Mark Nantz, Valley Health System’s new President, and Chief Executive Officer

Mark Nantz, Valley Health System’s new President, and Chief Executive Officer began work Monday in true COVID-19 style: appropriately distanced, wearing a face mask, elbow bumping new colleagues, and joining more than 6,000 coworkers to report a daily personal health attestation for the safety of patients and colleagues.

Certainly, neither Nantz nor his predecessor, Mark Merrill, anticipated making this major leadership transition during a public health crisis. Merrill’s retirement farewells and Nantz’s welcomes are occurring via email and video until it is safer to meet face-to-face and travel to Valley Health sites around the region.

During the Valley Health Board of Trustees’ nationwide search and comprehensive interview process with system, physician and community leaders, Nantz stood out as an accomplished and visionary healthcare leader with an impressive record of building advanced clinical programs and successful physician and community partnerships and improving patient satisfaction, quality metrics, and employee engagement at the local, regional and system levels.

“From the moment I first met with the search committee and then stepped on the Valley Health campus in Winchester, I knew I had found a place where people shared my commitment to improving the health and well-being of the community, especially those who are marginalized and under-served,” Nantz says. “During my interview process, every board member, every provider, every leader, and every staff member demonstrated a dedication and commitment to Valley’s Health’s mission of “Serving our Community by Improving Health”. It was clear to me that I had found a new place to call home and caregivers with whom I could join in serving the community.”

Nantz previously served in executive roles with Bon Secours Mercy Health, most recently as Chief Administrative Officer and Atlantic Group President; before that as Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer at Bon Secours. He has also held executive positions at Carolinas Healthcare System (now Atrium Health) and Carolinas Medical Center–NorthEast, and leadership roles in the audit practice of a Big 5 accounting firm. A certified public accountant, Nantz holds a Master’s in Health Administration from Pfieffer University and is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives.

In his first video introduction to Valley Health employees this week, Nantz touched on what motivates him personally and what his priorities are as Valley Health’s CEO:

“Winston Churchill once said, ‘Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.’ I believe that with all my heart and it’s why I have spent nearly 30 years in not-for-profit healthcare. It is at the core of my call to serve in the ministry of care delivery. To be sure, I feel that each of us has been called to serve others by providing access to high quality, affordable health care, and an exceptional patient experience, regardless of whether or not those individuals have the ability to pay. I think we are called to treat everyone who walks through our doors with dignity and compassion and that we must respect and appreciate the unique set of beliefs and experiences that they bring to our organization. That’s what drives me and what gets me up in the morning.”

“These are challenging times,” Nantz continued. “The COVID pandemic has changed much about the way we provide care, how our community views healthcare workers…and even the way we live. You can be confident that Valley Health’s medical and executive leadership have taken steps to ensure the delivery of safe, quality care as we diagnose and treat those with COVID, as well as care for our other patients with emergent healthcare needs. Our health system will continue to respond and adjust in these changing and uncertain times, and we will endeavor to ensure financial stability for both individual employees and the organization as a whole.”

Share the News:
Continue Reading

King Cartoons

Front Royal
5:47am8:36pm EDT
Feels like: 61°F
Wind: 1mph S
Humidity: 76%
Pressure: 29.95"Hg
UV index: 0