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Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – March 29, 2022

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It was a great week to be home in Virginia’s beautiful Sixth District, where I had the opportunity to travel across our region meeting with businesses and constituents alike. As we celebrated National Agriculture Week, I wanted to take a moment to update residents on the important role the Ag industry plays in our District. Further, I enjoyed spending time in Roanoke where I both paid tribute to our Vietnam Veterans and learned about the important impact Delta Dental is making in our community. Additionally, I was pleased to join hundreds of residents in New Market this week to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the founding of Shenandoah County. Rest assured that I am taking the concerns I heard from constituents over the past few days back to Washington as the House prepares for several weeks in Session.

National Agriculture Week:
Agriculture is the Commonwealth’s largest private industry and makes up 9.5 percent of the state’s total gross domestic product, much of that being cultivated right in the Shenandoah Valley.

Virginia’s Sixth District is home to more than 8,000 farms covering over 1.2 million acres. Augusta and Rockingham Counties play a major role in agriculture across the Commonwealth being two of the top five agricultural counties in Virginia with Augusta leading the way at the top of the list. The commodities and products coming out of the District make up 37 percent of all agriculture sales here in Virginia with our poultry industry being the biggest economic driver. Our farmers and their families are deeply rooted in the heart of the Sixth District where 97 percent of the farms are family-owned and operated go back for many generations.

Throughout the Shenandoah Valley, we have more than 13,000 producers—35 percent of them being women—that work the ground more efficiently than ever before feeding six times as many people as they did in the 1960s. The Commonwealth’s agriculture industry as a whole creates 334,000 jobs and has an economic impact of $70 billion annually. From the farm gate to the dinner plate, our producers’ impacts go beyond the Sixth District, and I am grateful to live in a place that has so many individuals and families working to feed, fuel, and clothe the world. As we celebrate National Agriculture week, I remain committed to supporting our country’s farmers, ranchers, and producers.


To that end, I recently took action to support the agriculture industry by joining my colleagues in writing to the Chair of the U.S. International Trade Commission regarding the price of fertilizer, which is one of the biggest concerns I’ve been hearing about lately from farmers. In fact, many are seeing fertilizer prices four to five times higher than this time last year – and this is on top of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) forecasting that farm production expenses will increase by 6.6% from 2021 to 2022. That is why I urged the International Trade Commission to reconsider the duties placed on phosphate fertilizer products imported from Morocco and suspend the current process to impose new duties on urea ammonium nitrate fertilizer from Trinidad and Tobago.

Eliminating these duties on fertilizer imports provides the most immediate opportunity for a near-term, partial remedy to the high costs of fertilizer facing U.S. farmers before the end of the 2022 planting season. Currently, in a time of tight global supply and demand for corn, soybeans, wheat, and other commodities, planting decisions are increasingly being made not on market fundamentals but rather on the cost of production driven by the price and supply of fertilizer. Congress must continue to look for ways to support farmers and producers during these difficult economic times. The full letter can be found here.

Honoring Vietnam Veterans:
This Saturday, I was pleased to join Chapter 81 of the Vietnam Veterans of America at Freedom Plaza in Roanoke to celebrate National Vietnam Veterans Day, which is observed on March 29 annually.

Throughout the war, approximately 2.7 million American men and women served in Vietnam, including 230,000 from Virginia. We came together to pay tribute to those who served there, to those who were wounded, to those still missing in action, and to the more than 58,000 brave souls who gave their last full measure defending the values that this country holds dear. I appreciated the opportunity to thank the veterans in attendance for their service, as well as highlight how Congress is continuing to work to address issues related to their time serving overseas. For example, in 2019, I was pleased to cosponsor and see signed into law the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act.

This bill now ensures Veterans who served in specified offshore areas near Vietnam are given the same presumption of Agent Orange exposure as those who served on the ground, thus allowing them to receive the medical care and disability compensation they deserve. Moving forward, I will continue to seek out similar bipartisan bills that work to create a VA that provides quality health care in a timely manner and one that meets the increasing needs of Veterans from the Vietnam era.

Celebrating Shenandoah County:
Over the weekend it was a pleasure to join the folks from across the Commonwealth in New Market to celebrate Shenandoah County’s 250th Anniversary. Originally known as Dunmore, the County was established by the Virginia General Assembly on March 24, 1772. However, not long after, the County was renamed Shenandoah in 1778 to reflect the occupants’ dedication to the Patriot cause during the American Revolution.

Since its establishment, Shenandoah County has had a strong history of local businesses, farms, healthcare, tourism, manufacturing, and award-winning education. Coupled together, these qualities make the County a remarkable place to call home. At the event, I was pleased to present local officials with a copy of the Congressional Record highlighting their anniversary and marking the many successes the County has had over the past 250 years.

Delta Dental:
Founded in 1954, Delta Dental is the United States’ largest provider of dental benefits, covering more than 83 million Americans. Here in the Commonwealth, the company is headquartered in Roanoke but has additional offices in Richmond, Hampton Roads, and Northern Virginia. Not only does the company provide coverage for 2 million Virginians, but is also committed to giving back to our community. Just last year, Delta Dental of Virginia awarded $500,000 in grants to provide oral health services to 3,568 children and adults.

During my visit to the headquarters this week, I was pleased to learn that the company was involved in the creation of the Local Impact for Tomorrow (LIFT) program, which partners with Fallon Park Elementary School to provide health care services to families in need. To date, Delta Dental has contributed more than $100,000 to the program. Our community appreciates all of its efforts.

COVID-19 Update:
Last week in Virginia there was an average of 9.7 daily cases of COVID-19 per every 100,000 residents. This is down from an average of 11.3 cases from one week prior. This week’s positivity rate was 3.9%, down from 5.1% last week. For more information, click here.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Congressman. If my office can ever be of assistance, please contact my Washington office at (202) 225-5431.

For the latest updates from Washington and across the Sixth District, please follow me on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for the latest updates.

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Legislative Update

An Update from Washington

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June has been a busy month in the Senate, and I wanted to share some of my work this month with you.

Following the horrific shootings in Uvalde, Buffalo, and communities across the country, Congress finally took action to curb gun violence. For the first time in decades, we passed meaningful legislation that included provisions similar to what I proposed in my Virginia Plan to Reduce Gun Violence, including improving background checks, strengthening protections for victims of domestic violence, and incentivizing states to implement laws to remove firearms from individuals who pose a high risk of harming themselves or others. I proudly voted for this bill, and while it doesn’t have everything I wanted, it’s going to save lives. This victory lays the foundation for more progress, and I’m going to keep working to make our communities safer.

Following the Supreme Court’s dangerous decision taking away a woman’s right to make personal health care decisions, I’ve been reaching across the aisle to see if we can find a bipartisan consensus to restore that right legislatively. I’m not giving up on finding legislative solutions to federally protect reproductive freedom.

I’ve also been working to pass my child care proposal that I introduced with Senator Patty Murray. Too many parents are currently locked out of the workforce because they can’t find affordable child care and too many child care providers are forced to quit their jobs because they can’t pay their bills. Our proposal will lower child care costs for families, help parents get back into the workforce, and raise wages for hardworking providers.


This month, I also voted to extend child nutrition waivers that help keep kids fed, expand support for toxic-exposed veterans, and deliver critical support for Virginia’s servicemembers and defense community:

Keep Kids Fed Act: The Senate unanimously passed legislation to extend school breakfast and lunch flexibilities so that schools and daycares can continue to provide summer meals for needy children from low-income food-insecure families. I’ve been pushing for this extension, and I’m glad President Biden signed this bill into law.

PACT Act: The Senate passed bipartisan legislation to expand health care and resources for more than 3.5 million toxic-exposed post-9/11 combat veterans. The bill will also authorize a new community-based outpatient clinic in Hampton Roads. It’s currently awaiting a vote in the House of Representatives and then will go to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA): Representing Virginia’s military community is deeply important to me. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I proudly voted the Fiscal Year 2023 NDAA out of committee. The bill includes numerous provisions I helped secure, including a 4.6% pay raise for our troops, support for military families, and more funding for shipbuilding and military construction projects in Virginia. Now, the full Senate will debate and vote on the bill.

In addition to my legislative work, I held events in Arlington, Alexandria, Heathsville, Gloucester, Leesburg, Ashburn, Dulles, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Hampton, and Newport News. I appreciated hearing from Virginians about issues affecting them, including gun violence, child care, job training, support for small businesses, coastal resiliency, and affordable housing.

I look forward to keeping in touch, hearing about the issues that matter most to you, and seeing how my office can help. You can always reach out to a member of my team at: https://www.kaine.senate.gov/contact.

Sincerely,

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Legislative Update

Long overdue action to prevent gun violence

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Virginians know all too well the scars of gun violence. In the wake of horrific shootings in Uvalde, Buffalo, and cities in Virginia and across the country, I’m glad Congress finally took action.

For the first time in decades, meaningful legislation to curb gun violence passed Congress and was signed into law. I was proud to vote for this bill, and while it may not be everything I wanted, it’s going to save lives.

Among its many provisions, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act will:

  • Improve background checks for buyers under 21 years old;
  • Strengthen protections for victims of domestic violence;
  • Invest in mental health services; and
  • Provide resources to states to create and administer laws that ensure deadly weapons are kept out of the hands of individuals who pose a significant danger to themselves or others.

Read more about the bill here >>>


I’m grateful to the many people who helped us get here, but make no mistake: our fight is not over. Success begets success, and today’s victory lays the foundation for more progress. I’m going to continue working to find solutions to make our communities safer.

Sincerely,

 

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Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – June 29, 2022

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The United States Supreme Court handed down rulings on ensuring school choice, upholding the 2nd Amendment, and protecting life last week. Taken by themselves, each issue is significant to parents, law-abiding citizens, and advocates for states’ rights, yet none are as historic and consequential as the reversal of the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade. For fifty years, the Court had erroneously held that there was a right to abortion contained in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. With the ruling in Dobbs, the Court reversed this and turned the issue back to the states and the people through their elected representatives. While the issue of abortion generates much passion on both sides, those who want to protest should do so in a peaceful manner. I hope that all sides will condemn acts of vandalism against churches and pregnancy centers, like the acts we saw at the Blue Ridge Pregnancy Center in Lynchburg.

Also, last week, while the Supreme Court reaffirmed the 2nd Amendment, both the House and Senate opted to restrict Second Amendment rights through gun control legislation. The bill approved would only serve to restrict the Constitutional freedoms of responsible gun owners rather than focusing on the root causes of violent crimes in our communities. Further, as the House Appropriations Committee began marking up the 12 bills that fund the Federal government, I continued my fight against wasteful spending and Speaker Pelosi’s radical agenda. Lastly, I was pleased to welcome to the Capitol the winner of the Sixth District Congressional Art Competition, Hunter Muddiman, and meet with several constituents to hear their thoughts about how Congress can help the diverse businesses and people of the Sixth District.

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization
Last week, the Supreme Court applied sound Constitutional principles in its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The Court’s decision leaves the debate over this important issue to the people of the fifty states and their elected representatives.

As Justice Alito said writing the majority opinion for the Court, “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. The Constitution makes no reference to abortion and no such right is implicitly protected by a constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely—the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. That provision has been held to guarantee some rights that are not mentioned in the Constitution, but any such right must be ‘deeply rooted in this nation’s history and tradition’ and ‘implicit in the concept of ordered liberty…’ The right to abortion does not fall within this category.” And finally, contrary to the Left’s attack on the Court and misrepresentation of their opinion in the Dobbs case, Justice Alito underscored that “nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.”


While the ruling generated sharp opinions on both sides, I urge those who want to protest to do so in a peaceful manner. I hope that all sides will condemn the acts of violence that we have seen against churches and pregnancy centers, like the acts we saw at the Blue Ridge Pregnancy Center in Lynchburg. In the end, with its ruling last week in the Dobbs case, the Supreme Court is to be commended for its decision to finally heed the text of the Constitution on this issue and return the abortion debate to the people’s elected representatives.

Expanding Gun Control
Despite a Supreme Court ruling reaffirming the 2nd Amendment last week, the House and Senate approved legislation this week that does little to harden our schools and increase the presence of school resources, law enforcement officers, or mental health counselors in schools. This legislation took the wrong approach in attempting to curb violent crimes. The bill encourages the implementation of red flag laws, and its vague language contains insufficient guardrails to ensure that grant money funneled to the states will actually keep guns out of the hands of criminals or prevent mass violence. Additionally, the bill creates a de facto waiting period of up to ten business days for legal, law-abiding citizens’ firearm purchases, as well as the consideration of whether an adult purchaser’s juvenile record should prohibit an individual from buying a firearm.

House Republicans are committed to identifying and solving the main causes of violent crimes, but we must not infringe upon the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens while doing so. Rest assured, I will continue fighting for the rights of Americans to defend themselves and to keep and bear arms.

Cline speaking out against the latest gun control attempts

Funding the Federal Government
Throughout the Appropriations process this year, I have fought to rein in record levels of spending and deny Speaker Pelosi the chance to fund her liberal agenda, as well as counter the Biden Administration’s failed policies. Most recently, I introduced two amendments to provide urgent support to help secure our border at a time when the President and the Department of Homeland Security Secretary have abdicated their duty in enforcing our laws. At a time of $30 trillion in national debt, fighting to fund our national security priorities while restoring fiscal responsibility remains a top priority of mine in Congress.

Cline introducing an amendment to strengthen border security

Virginia’s Birthday as a Commonwealth
On June 25th, Virginia celebrated the 234th anniversary of its ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Known as the “Mother of Presidents,” the Commonwealth is home to eight presidents, and also goes by the nickname of the “Old Dominion” due to Virginia being the first, and therefore the oldest, of the overseas dominions of the kings and queens of England.

The Sixth District Congressional Art Competition Winner
This past week, I was pleased to honor the winner of the Sixth District Congressional Art Competition, Hunter Muddiman, of William Byrd High School to the Capitol. His painting “Shores of Observation” is a testament to his hard work and gifted talent. The art competition allows for students across the Sixth District to showcase their artistic skills, and as Hunter’s painting will be displayed in the Capitol, four students’ pieces will be displayed across my four district offices. I congratulate all the students who participated in the competition and look forward to continuing this great tradition.

 

Honoring the Sixth District Art Competition winner, Hunter Muddiman

COVID-19
Last week in Virginia there was an average 29 daily cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents, down from 30 daily cases last week. This week’s COVID-19 test positivity rate remained at 17%. For more information, click here.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Congressman. If my office can ever be of assistance, please contact my Washington office at (202) 225-5431.

For the latest updates from Washington and across the Sixth District, please follow my Facebook and Twitter pages.

 

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Legislative Update

Obenshain: New laws in Virginia that take effect July 1

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With the approach of July, I wanted to provide you with an update on new laws that are taking effect as well as an update on the Commonwealth’s budget.

Every year, the General Assembly passes bills during Session which starts in early January and goes for either 45 days or 60 days depending on if it’s a budget year or not. If bills pass the legislature, they go to the Governor and if he signs them into law, most will go into effect on July 1 of that year.

Additionally, every two years (on even-numbered years), the General Assembly passes the Commonwealth’s two-year budget which is then amended or signed by the Governor. Governor Youngkin recently sent back a short list of amendments on which the General Assembly then voted and on Wednesday, he signed the budget for the next two years.

Below is a list of some of the most notable and important items that will go into effect as well as items that would have been good for Virginians but were not passed this year.


• The budget included $4.2 billion in tax relief in the form of one-time tax rebates, a reduction in the grocery tax, tax relief for veterans, and an increase in the standard deduction.

$730 million was included for over two years for salary raises for teachers.

Law enforcement officers are receiving $113 million in overdue salary increases.

$45M in additional funds to support placing an SRO in schools that do not currently have one.

• The grocery tax was partially repealed. Despite pledging their support for its full repeal for years, the Democrats balked and would agree only to reduce it from 2.5 cents to 1 cent.

• Although my bill to expand the ability to open charter schools failed, the House and Senate passed a bill to allow for lab schools to be started in conjunction with colleges and universities across the Commonwealth.

Language was included in the budget to create a criminal charge for possession of over 4 ounces of marijuana.

• The House and Senate passed legislation that would make the votes of the Virginia Parole Board subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

• A bill requiring school principals to report to law enforcement and parents criminal offenses passed the House and Senate and was signed into law.

• On March 1, Youngkin signed an order that ended school mask mandates statewide. You can read more about it here.

• A bill requiring parental notification about sexually explicit material in schools passed the General Assembly.

• Senate Democrats defeated a bill that would have banned abortion after 20 weeks and a bill that would have required consent before an abortion.

• Senate Democrats defeated a number of bills that would have rolled back gun control efforts passed in past years by progressives. I outlined them in my update here.

Democrats voted in a block to reject Governor Youngkin’s proposed three-month gas tax holiday.

• My bill that would have reinstated Virginia’s photo ID requirement in order to vote was defeated in the Senate.

If you have any questions about laws that are going to be taking effect in July or any bills that did not make it out of the General Assembly this year, don’t hesitate to email me at mark@markobenshain.com.

Mark Obenshain

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Legislative Update

Warner & Kaine applaud Senate passage of Legislation to extend child nutrition waivers

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U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) applauded the Senate passage of legislation to extend critical COVID-era school lunch flexibilities that have prevented children all over the country from going hungry during the summer and throughout the school year. The passage of the Keep Kids Fed Act comes just one week before waivers are set to expire, imposing cumbersome restrictions on parents just as summer break kicks off.

“Parents across Virginia are facing higher costs across the board – the last thing they need right now is to lose the commonsense flexibilities that have made it easier for them to keep their kids fed. We’re very proud to have voted to pass bipartisan legislation that will extend these flexibilities and help keep food insecurity at bay. We hope that the House will pass this bill expeditiously and send it to the President’s desk for approval,” said the senators.

The Keep Kids Fed Act will:

  • Extend flexibilities for summer meals in 2022 by waiving area eligibility so summer providers can serve all children for free and continuing options like meal delivery and grab-and-go.
  • Extend some of the administrative and paperwork flexibilities for schools through the 2022-23 school year.
  • Allow students with a family income at or below 185 percent of the poverty level to qualify for free or reduced-cost meals for the 2022-23 school year.
  • Increase the reimbursement rate for school lunch and school breakfast to help offset the increased cost of food and operating expenses. Schools will receive an additional 40 cents for each lunch and 15 cents for each breakfast served.

Provide an additional 10 cents per meal or snack for Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) daycares and home providers, and expand eligibility to more providers. When combined, these actions will help offset increased costs for providers.


Sens. Warner and Kaine have been vocal about the need to ensure that children have continuous access to healthy meals. They have expressed alarm about the imminent expiration of the child nutrition waivers and recently pushed Senate leadership to extend these flexibilities before the waivers expire. In April, they introduced the Support Kids Not Red-Tape Act – similar legislation to grant the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) additional flexibility so that schools and summer meal sites can stay open.

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Legislative Update

Warner and Kaine: On passage of Bipartisan Safer Communities Act

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U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released the following statement after the Senate voted to pass the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act – landmark legislation to curb gun violence in the wake of horrific mass shootings in Uvalde, Buffalo, and cities across the nation:

“Virginians know all too well the pain of gun violence—pain no one should have to experience. While nothing can bring back a life lost to gun violence, we are hopeful that the reasonable measures advanced through this bill will help curb the plague of shootings that continue to haunt American communities. We will continue to work to build on today’s milestone by advocating for additional measures to protect our neighborhoods from further senseless attacks. In the meantime, we urge our colleagues in the House to move quickly so that this bill can start saving lives.”

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act includes similar provisions to those proposed by Sens. Warner and Kaine in their Virginia Plan to Reduce Gun Violence—a bill they introduced last year based on a series of commonsense measures adopted by Virginia. These provisions include improving background checks, strengthening safeguards for victims of domestic violence, and incentivizing states to implement their own Extreme Risk Protection Orders to remove firearms from individuals who pose a high risk of harming themselves or others.

The full text of the bill is available here. A summary of the bill is available here.


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Thank You to our Local Business Participants:

@AHIER

Aders Insurance Agency, Inc (State Farm)

Aire Serv Heating and Air Conditioning

Apple Dumpling Learning Center

Apple House

Auto Care Clinic

Beaver Tree Services

Blake and Co. Hair Spa

Blue Ridge Arts Council

Blue Ridge Education

BNI Shenandoah Valley

C&C's Ice Cream Shop

Christine Binnix - McEnearney Associates

Code Ninjas Front Royal

Cool Techs Heating and Air

Down Home Comfort Bakery

Downtown Market

Dusty's Country Store

Edward Jones-Bret Hrbek

Explore Art & Clay

Family Preservation Services

First Baptist Church

Front Royal Women's Resource Center

Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce

G&M Auto Sales Inc

Garcia & Gavino Family Bakery

Gourmet Delights Gifts & Framing

Green to Ground Electrical

Groups Recover Together

House of Hope

I Want Candy

I'm Just Me Movement

Jen Avery, REALTOR & Jenspiration, LLC

Key Move Properties, LLC

KW Solutions

Legal Services Plans of Northern Shenendoah

Main Street Travel

Makeover Marketing Systems

Marlow Automotive Group

Mary Carnahan Graphic Design

Merchants on Main Street

Mountain Trails

National Media Services

No Doubt Accounting

Northwestern Community Services Board

Ole Timers Antiques

Penny Lane Hair Co.

Philip Vaught Real Estate Management

Phoenix Project

Reaching Out Now

Rotary Club of Warren County

Royal Blends Nutrition

Royal Cinemas

Royal Examiner

Royal Family Bowling Center

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Oak Computers

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Spice

Ruby Yoga

Salvation Army

Samuels Public Library

SaVida Health

Skyline Insurance

St. Luke Community Clinic

Studio Verde

The Institute for Association & Nonprofit Research

The Studio-A Place for Learning

The Valley Today - The River 95.3

The Vine and Leaf

Valley Chorale

Vetbuilder.com

Warren Charge (Bennett's Chapel, Limeton, Asbury)

Warren Coalition

Warren County Democratic Committee

Warren County Department of Social Services

Warrior Psychotherapy Services, PLLC

WCPS Work-Based Learning

What Matters & Beth Medved Waller, Inc Real Estate

White Picket Fence

Woodward House on Manor Grade

King Cartoons

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Upcoming Events

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Carriage Barn in the Historic Area. Join professional outdoor instructor Tim MacWelch to learn about the remarkable springtime wild edible and medicinal plants of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This full-day hike will cover native and[...]
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Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
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Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
Carriage Barn in the Historic Area. What’s that buzzing? Meet with local apiarists of the Beekeepers of Northern Shenandoah (BONS) and discover the art of Apiculture (a.k.a. Beekeeping). This monthly program series examines all aspects[...]
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6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
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