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Shenandoah River snorkelers seek treasures among trash



Wife-&-husband team, Krystin Manweiler and John Hooper (above), trove Shenandoah River for treasures and trash. Facebook photo.

For this Berryville, Va., couple, snorkeling on the Shenandoah River has largely turned from treasure hunting to waterway cleanup.

Married for 12 years, Krystin Manweiler, 37, a croupier (a.k.a. a table games dealer), and U.S. Navy veteran John Hooper, 44, a contractor, are both Open Water Scuba Certified, with Hooper holding the advanced certification.

The Royal Examiner recently caught up with them after discovering their J&K’s River Adventures Facebook page, which includes photos and videos of their dives and finds along the river.

What this husband-and-wife team are doing has already sparked the interest of almost 600 followers, so asking them some questions seemed in order.

Royal Examiner: Why are you collecting trash in the Shenandoah River?

Krystin: We first started looking in the river with the hopes of finding ‘treasure’ dropped from those who canoe, kayak, and tube — like phones, GoPros, or anything of value — but we soon realized that there is a lot of cans, bottles, and other items in the river that should not be there so we started picking up whatever we found. Our mission changed to treasure and trash.

Whatever we see and can recover, we will.

I get asked by people floating by when I’m in the river, “What are you looking for?” and my answer is always, “Whatever I can find. I just want it out of the river.”

Royal Examiner: How ‘trashy’ is the river?

John: It’s really trashy. It’s not that hard to hold on to your trash and take it out with you instead of dropping it in the river.

Krystin: Recently, I have been finding more trash than treasure, and that’s disheartening. While I would really love to find the good stuff, knowing that I’m helping to clean up the stuff that you can’t necessarily see [in] the Shenandoah is satisfying enough.

The worst part is finding the glass bottles. They are such a hazard. I find a lot of broken bottles. There are the few exceptions where you know it was dropped accidentally. We have found quite a few full unopened bottles of Gatorade, beer, and even a can of Mountain Dew.

We have had numerous people thank us for what we are doing. People floating the river, employees of the companies that rent us the tubes, and a lot of people on Facebook commenting on posts that I have done. That makes me feel good about what we are doing. I just wish would could get it all.

Royal Examiner: What’s the most expensive or valuable treasure you’ve found?

Krystin: Phones…. so far. I have found three smartphones; two that did not work and one that I was able to return to the owner as well as their debit card and $16. They were lucky that the phone still worked and they were able to save the important pictures and videos of their kids.

John: I’m not as lucky as Krystin! The best item I have found was a fishing pole and reel. I did help a tuber who dropped his phone find it right away.
Royal Examiner: What’s the most unusual item you’ve recovered?

Krystin: There are some pretty interesting things down there. Some make you wonder what happened. I recently found a small propeller and fishing rod holder, making me think, ‘Did the person run aground on the rocks and tip, losing their items?’

I have also found a flask still full of its contents. What’s inside, I have no idea, but I know it’s strong based on the smell!

Also, old things are really cool — a horseshoe and large piece of what we think is possibly old farm equipment. We both love history, so those items, while having no real value, have historic value to us.

John: The full skeleton of an animal. Most likely a deer, but it was intact and at first freaked me out a little. I’m glad I found it though because Krystin probably would have been done for the day afterwards!

Royal Examiner: What got you interested in undertaking this project?

Krystin: I happened to stumble upon a YouTuber who finds things in the river and tries to return them to their owners. Then I soon found another person and another. I showed them to John and he started watching.

We both thought, “We can do this too! We live by one of the most beautiful rivers in the country that have a lot of people that travel along it, let’s see what we can find!”

Royal Examiner: How do you choose your sites? Where are you going next? May other local residents join you?

Krystin: Well, we have only snorkeled the river so far. We have a few places that we will be exploring.

John: We never know where we may go. Krystin usually plans a couple of days ahead.

We like to use local companies that rent tubes so that 1.) We are registered somewhere, knowing that we are on the river in case something should happen; 2.) to get some sort of tube that we can collect the things we find; and 3.) to support local businesses.

So far, we have used Down River Canoe Company and Front Royal Outdoors. Each has their own entry and exit points, so it gives us a chance to check out different sections of the river.

Krystin: I have had quite a few people who have inquired about joining us, but we never really know when we’ll go out. It’s based on the river levels, clarity of the water, and weather.

Since we are getting near the end of the prime season, I will probably set up an event for next summer for a meet-up, somewhere along the river to do a little treasure hunting and trash cleanup.

Royal Examiner: What months will you be actively searching in the river?

Krystin: I will go until it starts getting cold or the water is too cold. We would love to travel to other spots around the U.S. to continue doing this year round.

Royal Examiner: Anything else you’d like to add about your adventures?

Krystin: All we want is for people to be accountable for their actions and to live by the rule of what you take into the river you bring out. And if you happen to see something you can pick up and throw away, it will go a long way.

Krystin Manweiler supports Shenandoah River cleanup and asks for everyone’s help. Facebook photo.

The Shenandoah River is beautiful, but when you see cans and bottles it skews that beauty.

And below the water is majestic. Seeing a turtle with so much moss growing on its shell that it flows like hair in the current was an amazing experience.

But then seeing a can close by brings you back to reality.

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Meet Perry and Holly Leach from A&P Builders



Mike McCool, our publisher, stopped by the offices of Perry and Holly Leach on Friday, February 28th to thank them for their support and to get a sneak peek at the Shenandoah Valley Axe Throwing Company.

A & P Builders, LLC is a diversified Class A Remodeling Company and was established in March of 2000 and serves the Shenandoah Valley.

Perry and Holly are committed to providing you with the highest level of service, so you’ll always choose them for your remodeling needs. Remodeling can be intrusive in your daily life and can be inconvenient. So, they want to make the process as easy and enjoyable as possible for you. They genuinely care about your project and your experience, and it shows.

Watch this short video with Perry and Holly, find out about their company A&P Builders and what they do.

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R-MA student selected as Horatio Alger Scholarship National Scholar



Randolph-Macon Academy senior Citlaly Sosa. Photo courtesy of R-MA.

When Randolph-Macon Academy senior Citlaly Sosa received an email in January that said the 2020 Horatio Alger Scholarship National Scholars had been announced, she was heartbroken – she had not been selected. She hadn’t even gotten the State Scholar honor, something her older sister had achieved. Citlaly’s disappointment was short-lived, however, as she received a call the next day from her Horatio Alger sponsor, who apologized for the error and informed her that she had indeed been selected as a National Scholar.

“When I found out, I cried, and then my parents asked me, ‘Why are you crying? You never cry,’” Citlaly recalled. “This is so amazing. To be one of the 106 people selected this year out of the 32,000 people who applied… I am very honored.”

The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc, awards each National Scholar a $25,000 scholarship to be used in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree, as well as an all-expenses-paid trip to the 2020 Horatio Alger National Scholars Conference in Washington, DC, April 1-5, 2020.

As stated on their website, members and friends of the Horatio Alger Association fund college scholarships for low-income youth. Since its inception in 1984, the Association has awarded more than $159 million to approximately 20,000 students. The “Scholar Services” go beyond the initial scholarship award, including financial aid and scholarship counseling, assistance with housing needs, internships, and even support for emotional, personal, legal, and financial obstacles.

“I’m so proud of her,” said Randolph-Macon Academy College Counselor Mary Gamache. “She has done everything she possibly could to earn everything she possibly can.”

“Everything” has been earning a place on the R-MA honor rolls every quarter, rising to one of the top positions in Air Force Junior ROTC, being active in community service, assisting the R-MA Admission Office with events, participating on R-MA’s championship drill team, serving on the R-MA Honor Council, playing varsity sports, and even being elected to the Homecoming Court. It has all kept Citlaly very busy, but as Chief Gamache had believed, her hard work is paying off.

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Front Royal man arrested and charged for felony eluding and reckless driving



On February 25, 2020, Front Royal Police Officer J. Treese attempted to conduct a traffic stop at approximately 8:30pm on a 2013 Chevy Corvette that was traveling at a high rate of speed in the 1400 block of N. Royal Avenue. The vehicle did not display a license plate and when the officer activated his emergency lights, the vehicle failed to yield, and a pursuit was initiated. The pursuit continued through several jurisdictions to include Warren County, Shenandoah County, Strasburg and Frederick County.

Front Royal officers discontinued the pursuit; however, the pursuit was re-initiated by Frederick County Sheriff’s Office and Virginia State Police while on I-81. The vehicle stopped in Clarke County, where the driver fled from the vehicle on foot. The area was searched by Frederick and Clarke County deputies and the Virginia State Police; however, the driver was not located.

With the assistance of Upper Pottsgrove Township Police Department located in Pennsylvania, Front Royal Police has identified the driver as William Watson Allen IV. Charges were obtained on Allen for Felony Eluding and Reckless Driving. Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office arrested William Watson Allen IV this morning just over the West Virginia state line. Allen was transported to the Eastern Regional Jail. Other charges may be forthcoming in this matter.

William Watson Allen IV. Photo courtesy of Front Royal Police Department.

Anyone who may have information about this case is asked to please contact Detective Ramey at 540-636-2208 or by email at

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United Way donates $5,500 to Blue Ridge Legal Services



The United Way of Front Royal-Warren County has donated $5,500 to Blue Ridge Legal Services (BRLS) for the 2019-20 fiscal year. The United Way has partnered with the free legal services clinic for several years, and is very happy to do so again this year!

According to its website, “BRLS is a non-profit charitable civil legal aid program providing free legal assistance in civil matters of critical importance to low-income residents of the Shenandoah Valley and Roanoke Valley. BRLS is committed to eliminating poverty-based inequities in the civil justice system by providing high-quality legal advice and representation to low-income residents of (its) service area, folks who would otherwise be unable to obtain legal help due to their poverty.” (Blue Ridge Legal Services, Inc.)

Pictured from Left to Right: Amanda Kindall (United Way Treasurer); Jennifer Locke (BRLS Managing Attorney); Debbi Cahill (United Way President); Heather Clatterbuck (United Way Secretary); Casey Tanner (United Way Vice President).

Blue Ridge Legal Services performs valuable services for the people of Front Royal-Warren County. In 2019, the agency closed 37 cases that benefited 83 low-income Warren County residents, including affirmative lump sum recoveries of $12,469 and monthly benefits of $4,116, and avoidance of claims, costs, and liabilities totaling $6,600 along with $353 in monthly costs avoided. In cases where the agency provided extended representation, it achieved client goals in 92% of those cases, and partially achieved client goals in another 8% of cases.

Since 1950, the United Way has worked to advance the common good in Front Royal-Warren County. The community wins when a child succeeds in school, when families are financially stable, and when people are healthy. The United Way’s goal is to create long-lasting change by addressing the underlying causes of the challenges we face. Living United means being part of the change!

To reach the United Way offices in Front Royal-Warren County (134-B Peyton Street, Front Royal, VA, 22630), please email or call 540-635-3636.

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Update: Bridge demolition at Route 123 continues this week, Feb. 24-28



Route 123 Interchange

Demolition and lane closures to occur during nighttime hours

Demolition continues during overnight hours this week on the ramp from I-66 West to Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road) South over I-66 to make room for the future reconstructed Route 123 Interchange, as part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway Project. This demolition activity must occur during the overnight hours, as multiple lane closures and temporary traffic stoppages on I-66 are required to safely complete this work.

What Nearby Residents and Drivers Should Expect:

• Removal of bridge beams is planned for Monday night, Feb. 24. Demolition of two bridge piers is planned for Tuesday, Feb. 25, through Friday night, Feb. 28.

• Five nights of demolition-related activity remain during this phase. The schedule will be adjusted if weather delays occur.

• Nearby residents may hear unavoidable construction-related noise during demolition operations.

• Drivers should plan for nightly lane closures for the demolition work on I-66 East between Route 50 and Route 123 with occasional 20-minute stoppages between midnight and 4 a.m. (5 a.m. on weekends).

Crews completed the removal of the concrete bridge deck of the Route 123 ramp over I-66 on Sunday night, Feb. 23. Demolition activities that don’t require multiple lane closures on I-66 will occur during daytime hours.

Demolition of the I-66 bridges over Fairfax County Parkway (Route 286) is also scheduled to continue this week. Nightly lane closures on I-66 East and Route 286 North and South will be implemented to safely accommodate this work.

All work is weather dependent and will be rescheduled if inclement conditions occur. Find additional details on planned traffic closures at

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Linden ladies embrace Company 4-hosted FRPD Self-Defense Class



From left, Linden VFD Co. 4’s Suzi Shiley, FRPD self-defense class instructor Sgt. Jason Winner, and County Victim-Witness Coordinator Kelliann Harris, who is the class’s organizational partner. Royal Examiner Photos by Roger Bianchini.

On Sunday afternoon, February 23, the Front Royal Police Department took its class on self-defense for a specific and sometimes more vulnerable segment of the population to the Linden Fire & Rescue headquarters. Linden Volunteer Fire Department Company 4 President Suzi Shiley explained the town police foray outside the town limits was at her request to make the ladies self-defense class more accessible to women in the Linden area of eastern Warren County.

Before the 1 p.m. start of the class, we spoke to Shiley, class instructor Sgt. Jason Winner and Warren County Victim-Witness Coordinator Kelliann Harris, who traced her involvement in the FRPD self-defense program to her previous stint with the Laurel Center for victims of sexual violence.

Above, the Linden Volunteer Fire Department host site of Sunday’s FRPD Ladies Self-Defense Class; below, registered participants await the start of class.

Shiley noted that the response had been good, around 35, for a class capped at 20 participants, leaving the possibility of a second class being hosted at Company 4 later in the year. Shiley noted she had registered for the FRPD self-defense class about two years ago after seeing an ad at a local church.

“I took the class with Sgt. Winner and I enjoyed it immensely, and I remember to this day things that he taught us. So, I thought it would be great for the women of Linden to have the program here at the fire department at no cost,” Shiley said.

As we spoke, participants registered to bring Sunday’s turnout to 18, with several additional onlookers who appeared familiar with some of the techniques being taught. Royal Examiner spoke to one of those registered, Melissa Eakle, about the impetus for her participation.

“I actually came for my daughter – she’s getting ready to go off to college and in the world that we live in today, especially when you’re out on your own, you need to know just to play safe, be aware and what to do if something bad does happen to show the confidence to know how to take care of that situation,” Eakle, herself a personal physical trainer, said of her family’s dual registration.

Like mother, like daughter – Physical Trainer Melissa Eakle awaits her turn behind a daughter, above, then takes her turn as the class takes to the mat to show what they’ve learned once the fight can’t be avoided. FRPD Chief Kahle Magalis, foreground, and Sgt. Jason Winner in the background, absorb the ladies’ shots with Police Foundation-supplied equipment.

And if her daughter’s aggressive embracement of techniques demonstrated by Sgt. Winner and FRPD Chief Kahle Magalis is any indicator, she will indeed be prepared with the knowledge and physical skills taught Sunday for her first solo foray into the world at childhood’s end.

As will the other participants, young and more mature, all of whom were attentive through Sgt. Winner’s introductory remarks and PowerPoint presentation giving an overview of, not only how to fight for your life and personal safety, but how to maintain the situational awareness to head off those situations before they reach the crisis point.

“The best way to win the fight is not to be in it,” Winner told the class before they hit the mat to practice those combat techniques necessary when all the means to avoid that final confrontation have been exhausted. And the FRPD physical combat instructor, who taught these techniques to his colleagues before his 2011 involvement in taking them into the community, stressed the importance of mental acuity in the experience of day-to-day life.

More strikes are absorbed by Sgt. Winner, above, and Chief Magalis, below.

Different situations demand different strategies, Winner pointed out, noting that responses to being individually stalked in public areas will differ from an episode of domestic violence or an active shooter situation that has become all too familiar in “the world we live in today”.

Winner told his class to practice every day, not only the physical self-defense techniques they would learn, but the mental ones of situational awareness allowing one to overcome physiological reactions to stress and process your choices of “run, stay or fight” as quickly and efficiently as possible.

He also pointed to the negative impact on situational awareness of modern technologies like cell phones and individual mobile musical play systems that distract or deafen users from early signs of trouble in remote situations like large commercial parking lots or public areas in which they might find themselves alone and being followed.

And that is good advice for all of us – everything has its time and place EXCEPT our physical safety and survival. Awareness of potential threats to those should be a priority for us all, at all times.

Though as Winner cautioned his students Sunday, “Don’t just punch someone in the face who asks you what time it is or offers to help you with your groceries – there are some nice people out there. But if the hair on the back of your neck stands up, trust your instincts,” he added

Chief Magalis listens as Sgt. Winner briefs self-defense class on the ins and outs of a strike and defend techniques.

Nine years & running
Winner traced the start of the women’s self-defense class to his involvement in training FRPD officers when the department was located in the old post office building at West Main Street and Luray Avenue. Without room in the cramped space of that building for self-defense training, Winner was offered the use of the Tap Etc. Dance Studio, at the time on East Main Street, by owner Kristin McCullough to hold that training.

“She offered her space for our training free of charge; the only thing she asked was if we could do a class for the dance students. I said, ‘Well, I’ve never done that, so let me do some research.’ I did the research, and we developed a class, and we’ve been developing it ever since. It’s kind of a work in progress,” Winner said, adding, “It’s been up and running for nine years. It’s more of a volunteer situation, and the Police Foundation bought us the mats and the pads. And now that we have the new facility, we do it at the police department pretty regularly now – at least once a quarter.

And when people ask, we do these things like when Suzi asked us here. Several weeks ago, we did one at New Hope Church for the Women’s Forum. So when people ask, if we can fit it into the schedule, we say ‘Yes,’” Winner said of accommodating additional requests for the no-cost classes such as Sunday’s at the Linden Company 4 Fire House.

Here they come again – Sgt. Winner, left, and Chief Magalis brace for the second round of class demonstrations of what they have learned about short-range combat.

Winner said he is the main departmental point of contact but pointed to his partnership with County Victim-Witness Coordinator Harris, who now works under the arm of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.

“It’s as much her class as it is my class. She handles registration and most of the paperwork, the waivers you have to sign, the evaluations, and things like that. So, Kelliann does the scheduling.

When we do them at the police department, Kelliann is the point of contact,” Winner observed, adding that at special-request events the host organization would be that point of contact like Shiley was at Company 4’s event Sunday.

Of her participation, Harris told us, “I used to work as a sexual assault advocate at the Laurel Center for 2-1/2 years. So, I started self-defense with Jason through that process. And then, when I changed positions over to the director position for Victim-Witness, I just kept on doing it. We’ve got a great program running; it’s a great team effort. So, we just kept that going,” Harris concluded.

And “in the world, we live in today” as Sunday participant Melissa Eakle observed, that is probably not a bad idea.

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Upcoming Events

10:00 am Loom Knit a Kitten @ Strokes of Creativity
Loom Knit a Kitten @ Strokes of Creativity
Feb 29 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Loom Knit a Kitten @ Strokes of Creativity
Loom Knit an adorable kitten. In this beginner’s class for teens and adults, you will work on a 24 peg loom to knit a small stuffed toy. *Instruction will be right handed. No prior knitting[...]
11:00 am Kooky Chefs Cook It Up: Soups @ Samuels Public Library
Kooky Chefs Cook It Up: Soups @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 29 @ 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Kooky Chefs Cook It Up: Soups @ Samuels Public Library
Nothing is more comforting than warm soup on a chilly day! Learn how to make some yummy soup, and do some taste-testing to choose your favorite. For ages 8 and up. Registration begins January 29.
11:00 am Trauma & Resiliency Training for... @ Samuels Public Library
Trauma & Resiliency Training for... @ Samuels Public Library
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Trauma & Resiliency Training for Early Childhood Providers @ Samuels Public Library
Statistics show us that one in four children will experience trauma by the age of four. This trauma could be abuse, hunger, homelessness, witnessing violence, medical trauma, or grief. We know that a child’s greatest[...]
1:00 pm Bingo Fundraiser @ Elks Lodge
Bingo Fundraiser @ Elks Lodge
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Bingo Fundraiser @ Elks Lodge
2:00 pm Speed Dating with Books @ Samuels Public Library
Speed Dating with Books @ Samuels Public Library
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Speed Dating with Books @ Samuels Public Library
Do appearances, of people or books, influence you?  How much time does it take for you to decide that you are/are not interested? What criteria determines interest? Come spend time in a “speed dating” atmosphere,[...]
10:00 am Read Across America Day @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke
Read Across America Day @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke
Mar 2 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Read Across America Day @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke
Monday, March 2nd, 2020, is National Read Across America Day. Students of all ages are invited to come to the SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke’s pet adoption center, located at 111 Featherbed Lane, to[...]
9:00 am Gordmans Grand Opening Brand Bash @ Gordmans
Gordmans Grand Opening Brand Bash @ Gordmans
Mar 3 @ 9:00 am – 11:00 am
Gordmans Grand Opening Brand Bash @ Gordmans
Gordmans is where big brands meet everyday low prices, with new fabulous finds every week. The apparel and home décor retailer invites area communities to its Grand Opening Brand Bash Celebration on March 3 at[...]
11:00 am Time for Baby @ Samuels Public Library
Time for Baby @ Samuels Public Library
Mar 3 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Time for Baby @ Samuels Public Library
What do books, scarves, puppets, music and babies have in common? They are all part of Time for Baby. Join us as we use all of our senses to explore the world around us. This[...]
6:00 pm WMH Gift Shop: 50th Celebration @ Warren Memorial Hospital
WMH Gift Shop: 50th Celebration @ Warren Memorial Hospital
Mar 5 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
WMH Gift Shop: 50th Celebration @ Warren Memorial Hospital
WMH Gift Shop will celebrate 50 years the week of March 2nd-6th, with a reception on Thursday, March 5th, beginning at 6:00 p.m., inside the South entrance waiting room. Entertainment will be provided by Danny[...]
2:30 pm R-MA Community Presentation @ Boggs Chapel | Randolph-Macon Academy
R-MA Community Presentation @ Boggs Chapel | Randolph-Macon Academy
Mar 6 @ 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm
R-MA Community Presentation @ Boggs Chapel | Randolph-Macon Academy
Dr. Steven R. Antonoff, author of College Match and The College Finder, will present “Solving the College Admission Puzzle and College Shopping: Getting In and Fitting In” on Friday, March 6th, at 2:30 p.m. in[...]