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Shenandoah Valley physicians provide medical aid for people of rural Honduras

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Dr. Tommy Ball cutting a ribbon to formally open a new school. Photos by Dr. Joe Schwartz.

Since 2008, Dr. Thomas Ball, M.D., (“call me Tommy”), who lives in Browntown, has worked a two-week stint in Honduras, a poverty-stricken country where health care is marginal at best for most people and non-existent for others, including children.

Sponsors of the medical visitations by American doctors include many U.S. colleges and universities beneath the umbrella of a non-profit called “Shoulder to Shoulder”, which is committed to providing quality health care in the world’s poorest countries.

Ball recently returned from this year’s visit in which he led a five-man brigade of medics, plus a Winchester school teacher, tending to scores of patients in a village called Pinares. Many locals walked several miles for medical treatment, among them children suffering from malnutrition and seeing a doctor for the first time in their lives.

Pinares is in the province of Intibuca where the volunteer medical teams numbering between six and 15 American physicians and support personnel visit three times a year. It is among the poorer areas of the Central American country sandwiched between Guatemala and Nicaragua. Wages, mostly for agricultural work, average about one dollar a day, Ball said.

The medical brigade this month included doctors Joe Schwartz of Front Royal; Tyler Felton of Strasburg; Nelson McKay of Stephens City; David Clark of Winchester, and Clark’s wife Meaghan, a Winchester school teacher. Each volunteer pays his or her own travel and other expenses, and expects to “live in the rough” during their stay.

Schwartz, on his second tour in Honduras, said he returns home with a “high degree of satisfaction” and eyes wide open to the problems of people in a “Third World” country.

“It was definitely a learning experience,” he told me in a telephone interview. Schwartz, a U.S. Navy reservist, mentioned that his early years as a Boy Scout helped him overcome living in less than modern circumstances.

Dr. Nelson McKay interviews a patient at a remote Honduran school during screening exams.

Ball told of sleeping in a one-room school house, while Schwartz was complimentary of a local lady’s skills who cooked meals for the group on a wood stove.

Virginia Commonwealth University oversees the Front Royal group’s annual visits to Honduras. Dental, community health, education and nutrition programs are included in what “Shoulder to Shoulder” accomplishes through its continuing efforts to bring medical assistance to peoples of the “Third World” over the past quarter century.

Dr. David Clark and his wife Meaghan with the grandchildren of an elderly blind woman they visited at her home.

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Do you want to travel to someplace warm?

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During the winter month, we complain about the cold but what can we do about it? Ginny Leser at Main Street Travel has some suggestions.

For more information about Main Street Travel, visit their website: http://mainstreet-travel.com/

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WATCH: Christmas Parade 2019

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Niki Foster Cales, Executive Director of the Front Royal/Warren County Chamber of Commerce and Mike McCool, publisher of the Royal Examiner at the 2019 Christmas Parade in Front Royal. Photo and video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

If you missed the Christmas Parade or want to see it again, sit back and enjoy!

This year the Christmas Parade was hosted by Mike McCool, Publisher of the Royal Examiner. Thanks to Mark Williams from National Media Services, Inc., for providing the video.

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Boy Scout Troop 52 continues tradition of selling Christmas Trees at Royal Plaza Center

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Royal Examiner publisher Mike McCool on Boy Scout Troop 52 Christmas Tree lot speaking to Hoss Feldhauser. Photo and video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

Boy Scout Troop 52 has been selling Christmas trees for 51 years; it is the main fundraiser for the troop. An estimated 15,000 trees have been sold over the years; many Scouts have learned the basics of salesmanship, marketing, and commercial forestry through the Troop’s Christmas tree sales program.

Christmas tree sales were first introduced to the troop by the efforts of Ken Fortune, Assistant Scoutmaster and Ken Bovard, Scoutmaster in December of 1968. The troop purchased trees from a farm in Bentonville that first year, and shortly after that, they branched out and purchased some of their trees from the Rudacille farm.

During the first 20 years, the troop bought the Christmas trees from various tree farms in Virginia and as far away as Pennsylvania. In 1979 Dr. Craig Zunka, a long time member and Eagle Scout from the troop, agreed that the Troop could plant trees on his farm in Browntown.

Depending on the variety of the tree, it takes from 6 to as much as 12 years from the time a scout plants a Christmas tree that it is ready for sale.

Since then, Dr. Zunka has overseen the planting and care of the trees on his tree farm for the Troop. The number of trees the scouts plant every year as well as the number of trees harvested depend largely upon the weather and the type of trees.

The Scouts learned how to plant the seedlings, how to properly trim the different variety of trees and the need to keep the weeds from growing around the bases.

The first tree sales were held on the “Weaver lot” across from the old Front Royal Volunteer fire station that was beside what was then Town Hall. Peyton Street now runs through where the Troop had its first tree sales lot.

It was just after the 1969 tree sales that Bill Ollinger, manager of the Safeway store in the Royal Plaza shopping center, invited the troop to set-up the 1970 tree sales next to his grocery store, and they have been selling trees somewhere on the property of the Royal Plaza shopping center ever since. The Troop has enjoyed and appreciated the support from the merchants in the shopping center that have been received for all these years!

All of the profits from the tree sales go into the Troops operating account to pay for advancement awards and activities of the troop. They also pay for the Scouts cost towards summer camp.

Royal Examiner stopped by the lot and spoke to Ronald “Hoss” Feldhauser:

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Downtown Front Royal Christmastime Pop-Up Store

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Royal Examiner stopped by the store and spoke to a few of the proprietors. Photo and video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

They’re temporary and they seem to appear out of nowhere: Christmas pop-up shops are an iconic fixture of the holiday season. These shops that appear in empty storefronts are part of the national culture, with handcrafted items, gifts and decorations to make your house look like Christmas. One such store has popped up on Main Street in Front Royal, and is open everyday until Christmas.

The pop-up store is a collaboration of Strokes of Creativity Art Boutique & Studio and Main Street Travel. This 2-month Holiday Market Pop-Up offers small business and artisans a brick and mortar to sell their items. The Holiday Market is in the Kibler Building at 206 E. Main Street, Front Royal, VA.

Royal Examiner stopped by the store and spoke to a few of the proprietors:

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A sustained voice for conservation in Page and Warren counties

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Local conservation groups, Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley (Alliance) and Scenic 340 Project, are excited to announce a joining of forces to build on and continue Scenic 340’s great track record of land and water conservation in Page and Warren counties.

The Scenic 340 Project formed in 1999 to oppose a Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) proposal to widen Route 340 from Front Royal to Luray to four and five lanes endangering scenic viewsheds, Civil War battlefields, productive farmland, community identity and a growing heritage tourism industry. For more than a decade, Scenic 340 members were deeply engaged in the transportation planning process, promoting alternatives guided by Context Sensitive Solutions. VDOT eventually abandoned the plan, opting instead to replace four bridges in need of repair.

Before joining forces with the Alliance this month, Scenic 340 continued to advocate to change road-building policy at the state level, partnered with community members to conserve more than 2,300 acres of forest and farmland, including a critical wildlife travel corridor linking Shenandoah National Park and George Washington National Forest, and enhanced the scenic beauty of the historic Route 340 corridor with Project Redbud, replanting the native trees along the corridor.

“I am proud of all Scenic 340 has accomplished over the years,” says Christine Andreae, founding board member of both the Alliance and Scenic 340. “By joining forces, the Alliance can build on the strong foundation laid by dedicated Scenic 340 volunteers for future conservation successes.”

Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley is a regional conservation group working since its launch in 2018 to ensure the land and water resources and vibrant communities of the Valley are protected for the long haul. With dedicated staff in Augusta, Rockingham and Shenandoah counties, the Alliance follows the local issues unique to each county while also tackling issues that face the region, like safety improvements for Interstate 81.

“We are delighted to welcome Scenic 340 Project to the Alliance,” says Alliance Executive Director Kate Wofford. “We look forward to many years of impactful work protecting the extraordinary forest and farmland, clean streams and rivers and vibrant local communities that make Page and Warren Counties great places to live and work.”

The Alliance’s work in Page and Warren counties will be guided by a Page and Warren Advisory Council made up of with former members of Scenic 340 Project.

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Lord Fairfax Health District warns residents of rabies risk in bats

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Northern Long-eared Bat
USFWS

On several occasions starting on November 24, 2019, residents of a rural property in Warren County encountered bats inside their house.  Since that time, three of these bats were captured and two of them tested positive for the rabies virus.

 “Any physical encounter with a bat—a bite, scratch, or lick, a collision with a flying bat, or even finding a bat in a room with a sleeping person—should be considered a rabies exposure,” stated Lord Fairfax Health District Director Dr. Colin Greene, “and anyone so exposed should seek medical attention immediately.”

Rabies is a virus that causes a fatal brain infection in mammals, including humans.  Once symptoms begin, death follows in nearly all cases, but a series of shots given soon after a person is exposed can prevent the disease from occurring.  Rabies virus is spread through the saliva of an animal that is actively sick with the disease, transmitted through a bite or scratch, or a lick on broken skin or mucous membranes.  Unlike other common sources of rabies—raccoons, foxes, skunks, feral cats and the occasional ground hog—bats have a much higher level of mobility through flight, and their very small mouths make it possible for a sleeping person to be unaware of having been bitten.  Bats also present a rabies risk over a wide area, in every state except Hawaii.

Bats are a part of the natural environment and offer many benefits, including insect control.  Only a very small percentage of bats carry rabies at any one time, but it is not possible to tell by looking whether a bat has rabies, and bats in unusual places, such as inside a dwelling or outside in the daytime, are more likely to be affected.  Once again, any physical contact between a human and a wild bat, or a bat present in a room with a sleeping person, is a potential rabies exposure.  Affected persons should be seen by a healthcare provider right away.

The health department further advises:

  • Never approach or touch wild animals, especially any raccoon, fox, skunk or bat, especially if it is behaving oddly or if it is seen in the daylight.
  • If you find a bat in a room where a human has been sleeping, that person must be seen by a medical professional immediately.
  • If you have bats in your attic or other area where you may physically encounter them, strongly consider having them removed by a professional.
  • Avoid stray cats and dogs. Feral or unknown cats and dogs may also carry rabies. Report bites or scratches from these animals to your physician or the health department.
  • Vaccinate all cats, dogs and ferrets against rabies (even if they don’t go outdoors) and keep their shots up to date. Vaccinate working barn cats as well, for their protection and yours.
  • Do not feed wild animals or stray cats or dogs.  Eliminate outdoor food sources around the home.
  • Keep pets confined to your property or walk them on a leash.
  • If one of your domestic animals is bitten or otherwise interacts with a wild mammal, notify the local health department and animal control officer at once, and have the animal seen by a veterinarian.

 If you are bitten, scratched, or licked by any of these animals, seek medical attention immediately. Rabies is fatal to both animals and humans once symptoms begin, but it can be prevented in humans if they receive vaccine and medication soon after exposure.

 Finally, if in doubt, or if you have a question, call your local health department, or the Frederick/Winchester office at 540-722-3480.

Additional information on rabies is available from the Virginia Department of Health at http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/environmental-epidemiology/rabies-control/.

The Lord Fairfax Health District serves residents in the city of Winchester and Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren counties. For more information, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/lord-fairfax/.

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‘Tis the Season

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Front Royal
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Upcoming Events

Dec
10
Tue
4:30 pm Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 10 @ 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Tuesday, December 3: Kids will explore popular books and book series through science, games, food, and more! After reading a Christmas story, we’ll discuss giving and how it affects us and the people around us.[...]
Dec
11
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 11 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, December 4 and Thursday, December 5: Gingerbread and Candy Canes will be the delicious theme of our stories, songs, and craft this week! Siblings welcome.[...]
Dec
12
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 12 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, December 4 and Thursday, December 5: Gingerbread and Candy Canes will be the delicious theme of our stories, songs, and craft this week! Siblings welcome.[...]
Dec
13
Fri
6:00 pm Holiday Open House @ Ruby Yoga
Holiday Open House @ Ruby Yoga
Dec 13 @ 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Holiday Open House @ Ruby Yoga
Ruby Yoga will host a Holiday Open House Friday, Dec. 13. Doors open at 6 p.m. with free gentle yoga starting at 6:20, followed by refreshments and door prize drawings.
7:30 pm Canticum Novum: Sing a New Song @ Front Royal Presbyterian Church
Canticum Novum: Sing a New Song @ Front Royal Presbyterian Church
Dec 13 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Canticum Novum: Sing a New Song @ Front Royal Presbyterian Church
The Blue Ridge Singers presents its 2019 Christmas concert titled “Canticum Novum:  Sing a New Song” featuring some of the finest Christmas choral music across the centuries at one of the most popular events in[...]
Dec
14
Sat
11:00 am Celebrate George Washington @ Samuels Public Library
Celebrate George Washington @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 14 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Celebrate George Washington @ Samuels Public Library
December 14 is the 220th anniversary of George Washington’s death. Today we will learn more about this great leader of our country and celebrate his legacy. Refreshments will be served. For ages 7 to 18.[...]
Dec
15
Sun
4:00 pm R-MA Hosts Community Christmas C... @ Randolph-Macon Academy | Boggs Chapel
R-MA Hosts Community Christmas C... @ Randolph-Macon Academy | Boggs Chapel
Dec 15 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
R-MA Hosts Community Christmas Concert @ Randolph-Macon Academy | Boggs Chapel
The local community is invited to join the Randolph-Macon Academy family for an afternoon of holiday spirit with the R-MA Band and Chorus! The annual R-MA Christmas Concert will be held on Sunday, December 15th,[...]
Dec
17
Tue
4:30 pm Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 17 @ 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Tuesday, December 3: Kids will explore popular books and book series through science, games, food, and more! After reading a Christmas story, we’ll discuss giving and how it affects us and the people around us.[...]
7:30 pm Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA Campus
Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA Campus
Dec 17 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA Campus
Christmas Concert | Presented by the American Legion Community Band Tuesday, December 17, 2019, at 7:30 pm Boggs Chapel on the R-MA campus in Front Royal, VA
Dec
18
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 18 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, December 4 and Thursday, December 5: Gingerbread and Candy Canes will be the delicious theme of our stories, songs, and craft this week! Siblings welcome.[...]