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Suspect sought in Front Royal stabbing



Front Royal Police ask “Have you seen this man?”

all-3FRONT ROYAL—An 18 year-old man is recovering after being stabbed in an altercation Sunday evening in the area of Short Street and Cloud Street in the Town.  Front Royal Police spokesperson Sgt.Crystal M.Cline said in a written statement Monday that officers were summoned to the area Sunday night for a reported stabbing.

As the Royal Examiner first reported Sunday, an eyewitness said two men were involved in an altercation that resulted in a white male being stabbed.  Police have identified that victim as Bradley Rich, 18.  He was transported by helicopter to Winchester Medical Center following the incident and is recovering from non-life-threatening injuries, according to a posting on one of Rich’s social media accounts.

Meanwhile, Sgt. Cline stated that a person of interest has been developed and the public’s help is being sought in identifying that person.  Several photographs are being shared with the media, as well as being posted on social media.

If anyone has information in this case, they are asked to contact Detective Zach King of the Front Royal Police Investigations Division at 540-636-2208 or

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School Board approves $63.9M operating budget, new Skyline High School principal



The Warren County School Board on Wednesday, May 5 approved the 2021-2022 budget for Warren County Public Schools (WCPS), as well as the appointment of a new principal for Skyline High School.

During its first action agenda item, the School Board approved the appointment of Danelle Sperling, the principal at Leslie Fox Keyser Elementary School for the past five years, as the new principal at Skyline High School beginning on July 1. Sperling replaces Michael E. Smith, who had been Skyline High School’s principal since July 2015.

WCPS Superintendent Christopher Ballenger introduces Danelle Sperling as the new Principal of Skyline High School.


According to the Skyline High School website, Smith’s name, title, and pictures have been removed. The Royal Examiner today asked WCPS Superintendent Christopher Ballenger to provide more details about when and why Smith left his position. Ballenger responded in an email that such information regards a personnel matter “and our policy and practice is not to discuss personnel matters.” And while it’s unclear when Smith left his position, Ballenger wrote in his email that “the admin leadership team continued to lead the school.”

On Wednesday night at the board meeting, Ballenger introduced and recommended Sperling’s appointment, telling the School Board that she “has a wealth of experience in and out of education and has served in various positions in Georgia, Ohio, New Jersey, and Virginia.”

Sperling’s experience includes stints as an assistant high school principal, a middle school special education teacher and department chairwoman, music therapist, writer and editor for the U.S. Department of Defense, and group home and program manager, all of which “have provided her with the extensive preparation needed for this position,” Ballenger said during the meeting.

The superintendent added that Sperling is a dedicated community member, who has been a Warren County resident for 14 years, and her two children both attend Warren County Public Schools.

Following a motion by board member James Wells and a second by member Kristen Pence, the board voted unanimously to approve Sperling’s appointment, with Board Chairman Arnold Williams, Jr., and board members Catherine Bower, Wells, and Pence voting aye. Board member Ralph Rinaldi was absent during the May 5 meeting.

“I have been truly, truly blessed for the last five years to work with the most amazing faculty, staff, students, and families” at Keyser Elementary School,” Sperling told the School Board members following their vote. “It is an experience for which I will forever be grateful.”

Sperling said she’s also grateful for the opportunity to help lead Skyline High School and “to continue to serve my community in this new role.”

WCPS now begins the search for Sperling’s replacement at Keyser Elementary.

Budget highlights

The second action agenda item approved unanimously by the board, with Rinaldi absent, was the fiscal year (FY) 2021-2022 Operating Fund Budget in the amount of $63,944,829 and the Cafeteria Fund Budget in the amount of $2,896,000.

The Warren County Board of Supervisors at its April 27 Special Meeting approved the FY 2022 County Budget, which included both the WCPS FY 2022 Operating Fund Budget in the amount of $63,944,829 and the School Cafeteria Fund Budget in the amount of $2,896,000.

The approved Operating Fund budget represents a reduction of $165,589 from the proposed FY 2022 School Operating Fund Budget that was adopted by the School Board at its February 17 meeting.

Reductions to the proposed budget totaling $165,589 were then made at the board’s April 7 meeting and the adjustments were included in the final recommended budget.

“A couple of things happened since then that we’re going to have to absorb within our current budget and we can do that with our staff turnover,” explained Ballenger prior to the board’s vote. In fact, WCPS Personnel Director George “Bucky” Smith told the board that thus far, the division will have to fill 20 resignations and seven retirements.

The items WCPS will absorb, according to Ballenger, include a decision by Warren County supervisors to authorize the establishment of its own tech department. WCPS had been providing the County with one full-time and one part-time tech specialist. Now that the County will have its own three-person tech department, WCPS “will not receive that revenue,” Ballenger said, “so we will have to absorb that other part-time so that we can keep the one full-time employee.”

The other item relates to the Virginia State minimum wage, which is set to increase in January 2022. Ballenger said that WCPS decided to proactively implement the increase now. “We just felt that it was fair to our staff members who are in those positions,” he told board members. “It’s the right thing to do and it’s something that we can manage.”

The cost for WCPS to cover the minimum wage increase is around $27,000, Ballenger said.

In reviewing other budget highlights, Ballenger pointed to a 2-percent salary increase for teachers, plus a step. WCPS also adjusted the majority of its salary scales in the budget, he explained and placed all employees at their appropriate steps according to their years of experience.

However, there were several salary scales that did not get adjusted, such as those for maintenance journeymen, a maintenance bus driver, certain administrative personnel, and a social worker and psychologist, among others, according to Ballenger, who said their positions have been moved to the proper step for their years of experience.

Another benefit of the approved operating budget is that it “helps us in providing stability for our health insurance, so we’ll be able to take the savings from moving carriers to Aetna and put that in our account to help offset any increases we would see in future years,” he said.

WCPS will also add staff, including two activity drivers — who drive students home following practices, events, or other participation activities — one English language teacher, two gifted and talented teachers, one half-time criminal justice teacher, one history teacher, a special education assistant, a sign language interpreter, and one dual enrollment English teacher, said Ballenger.

The approved budget also includes a $100,000 increase for maintenance, he added, “so we can move from 40-percent scheduled maintenance to 60-percent scheduled maintenance. We want to schedule more of the work instead of always running around and trying to fix what’s broken. Let’s go ahead and get in front of this.”

Ballenger also said that previously approved federal COVID-19 relief funds will enable WCPS to complete HVAC renovations at Leslie Fox Keyser Elementary and at Blue Ridge Technical Center, both of which also need new roofs. The school district also wants to buy eight new buses, as well as new textbooks for science, English as a Second Lange, and foreign language, according to the budget.

Overall, the new final budget will enable WCPS “to attack all the things we want to attack and address this year,” Ballenger said.

“It’s really nice to see that we can take care of our community,” Board Chairman Williams commented after Ballenger’s presentation.

Approval followed a motion by board member Pence, a second by Vice Chairwoman Bower, with all members voting aye and Rinaldi absent. A copy of the final approved budget is available at:$file/FY22%20final%20budget.pdf.

The School Board also unanimously approved 10 other action agenda items, including the purchase of elementary science textbooks totaling $236,747.75; an almost $160,000 contract for new Chromebooks for the 2021-2022 school year; a new preschool curriculum costing $33,349.73; and two contract awards to the Gordian Group, one in the amount of $56,969.36 to perform site work and to erect a newly purchased greenhouse at Skyline High School, the other for $22,427.21 to provide all labor and materials to prepare and paint the west side exterior windows and columns on the historic front entrance to Skyline Middle School.

School Board Vice-Chair Bower asked WCPS Technology Director Tim Grant if the approved purchase of the new laptops will fulfill the school division’s technology needs. Grant replied that the purchase of technology is always going to be a revolving door for WCPS, as it is in other districts.

To view the entire WCPS School Board meeting video, go to:

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Governor Northam COVID-19 update briefing – May 6, 2021; some mandates lifting June 15th



Governor Northam joins the Virginia Emergency Support Team to share the latest updates on the COVID-19 response.

Highlights include:

  • Hospitalizations are down
  • Deaths are down
  • 46% of Virginians have had one dose of vaccine, 33% fully vaccinated
  • Younger children will be approved soon
  • Walk-in clinics opening around the state
  • Virginia can meet the President’s goal of 70% of the population vaccinated by July 4th
  • Restrictions will be eased for gatherings next week
  • Gatherings increase to 100 people indoors and 250 outdoors
  • If cases keep decreasing, all capacity and social distancing measures will be lifted on June 15

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Two Winchester, VA residents arrested after investigation by the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force



On April 29, the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force concluded a month-long investigation with the arrest of two Winchester, VA residents. Rasheed Riley, 29, and Josie Peacoe, 31, both of Winchester, VA, were arrested by the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force following a search warrant executed at their residence.

Josie Peacoe, 31, and  Rasheed Riley, 29, both of Winchester, VA, were arrested by the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force following a search warrant executed at their residence.


In early April, Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force officers received information that Rasheed Riley and Josie Peacoe were distributing large quantities of cocaine in the Winchester and Frederick County, VA area. Through the course of the investigation, Northwest Virginia Drug and Gang Task Force officers learned that Riley and Peacoe would routinely travel outside the Commonwealth to a cocaine source of supply. The pair would then transport the cocaine back to the Commonwealth for distribution and sale. Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force officers completed multiple controlled purchases of cocaine from Riley and Peacoe during the investigation.

On April 29, members of the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force obtained a search warrant for Riley and Peacoe’s residence located at 2971-116 Valley Avenue in Winchester, VA. During a search of the residence, 266 grams of cocaine with a street value of $12,350.00, 2.5 grams of crack cocaine with a street value of $250.00, $1,570.00 in currency, and 1 firearm was seized. Rasheed Riley and Josie Peacoe were both arrested. Rasheed Riley was charged with possession of a schedule I/II controlled substance, a probation violation, and an active felony warrant for forging and uttering. Josie Peacoe was arrested for distribution of a schedule I/II controlled substance. Additional charges are forthcoming for Riley and Peacoe.

The Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force was assisted by the Winchester Police Department, Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, and the District 11 Office of Probation & Parole.

The Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force is comprised of law enforcement personnel from the Clarke, Frederick, Page, and Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Departments, Front Royal, Luray, Strasburg, and Winchester Police Departments, and the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Culpeper Field Office.

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LFCC naming task force narrows list of possible names to five



Five top names have emerged as LFCC’s naming task force continues the work of choosing a new name for the college.

In February, LFCC’s College Board voted to rename the college, which was founded in 1970. The college, like the other 22 in the Virginia Community College System, had been directed last summer by the Virginia State Board for Community Colleges to review its name, as well as those of all its named facilities.

Following the LFCC College Board’s decision, students, staff, alumni, and members of the community were encouraged to submit possible names for consideration, and more than 100 did so.

The top five names selected by the task force are Valley & Vista, Red Oak, Laurel Ridge, Valley & Ridge, and Newbridge.

“Overwhelmingly, the community input centered around the breathtaking beauty of the natural surroundings for which the LFCC service region is known,” said Kelly O’Keefe, CEO of Brand Federation, which is working with the college during this transition period. “They sought names that were both anchored to geographic features of the Shenandoah Valley region and reflective of the values that unite the college, its students, and its community.”

Numerous community colleges in Virginia have links to their local geography, including Blue Ridge Community College, Mountain Empire Community College, Tidewater Community College and Piedmont Community College.

Further explanation of the final proposed names follows:

  • Valley & Vista Community College
    • The task force thought the name was unifying and inclusive of the entire service region.
    • It brings to mind an upward progression, much like the academic journey and broader horizons our students explore.
    • Vista has inspirational connotations.
  • Red Oak Community College
    • More than half of the forest in Shenandoah National Park consists of red oaks, and the strength and towering stature of the trees represent the growth and opportunity provided by the college.
    • Oak trees have historical and cultural significance. Kings wore crowns of oak leaves, and the tree signifies strength in the Bible.
  • Laurel Ridge Community College
    • Laurels grow abundantly within the college’s service area, which also features distinctive mountain ridges.
    • Laurel is also a verb meaning “to bestow an award or praise in recognition of an achievement, often academic.”
    • The ancient Greeks presented laurel wreaths to athletes, poets, and war heroes.
    • As the upper edge of a mountain range, ridge can serve as a metaphor for the level of success and range of opportunities offered by the college.
  • Valley & Ridge Community College
    • One of the regions of Virginia, west of the Blue Ridge and east of the Appalachian Plateau Region, is the Valley & Ridge Region.
    • The name unites the service regions while paying tribute to the natural landscape.
  • Newbridge Community College
    • A recurring theme among comments and stories from students and alumni was that the college gave them a new outlook and a new start. The word “new” speaks to new beginnings.
    • “Bridge” can refer to where students are now and where they’d like to be in the future.

The college is hosting a telephone town hall beginning at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 6, to give the public a chance to learn more about the renaming process and our aspirations for our new name.

To register for the town hall, go to, or dial in at 6:30 p.m. to 888-409-5380, or go to this ZOOM link.


Naming change for LFCC – want to participate in telephone town hall on May 6th?

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Naming change for LFCC – want to participate in telephone town hall on May 6th?



After celebrating our 50-year milestone, the Lord Fairfax Community College board made the decision to find a new name for our college — one that aligns with our mission, vision, and values. With an eye toward selecting a name befitting of our college’s rich history, welcoming culture, and bright future, they engaged a task force and a team of naming and branding professionals.

As they approached the end of this journey, they want to invite you to participate in a Q&A discussion about the renaming process, their aspirations for the new name, and the list of naming finalists. The discussion will take place on May 6 from 6:30-7:30 pm.

Registration will close 3 hours before the event; 3:30 on May 6. Click here to register.

From LFCC:

For 50 years, LFCC has been welcoming students from all walks of life, from every race, every religion, every socio-economic group, every generation. As our 50th-year draws toward a close, we are excited to be given the opportunity to really examine how we want to move the college forward for the next 50 years – and beyond.

After months of study, research, discussion, and contemplation, it became evident that our name – the first introduction to the college our potential students receive – must change. In the days following George Floyd’s murder, Glenn DuBois, the chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges, was determined that the 23 institutions he oversees in Virginia do better and contribute solutions to our nation’s ills.

“Equity and access to opportunity have been at the heart of our community college mission since we first opened our doors in 1966,” Chancellor DuBois said. “We need to invest ourselves, and our colleges, in actions that elevate equity before we can realize the rhetorical promise of equality – and that work begins now.”

In July 2020, the State Board for Community Colleges passed a resolution asking all community colleges in Virginia to review their names. This provided us with an opportunity to reflect upon and honor our past while ensuring our name and brand reflect our values and our future.

The name Lord Fairfax was chosen in 1969 – a year before the college opened. The original college board chose the name in part for its link to the region’s colonial history. Thomas, the 6th Lord Fairfax, was born in England, and would ultimately hold more than 5 million acres from Virginia’s Northern Neck to near what is now Pittsburgh. He became a friend of George Washington, although his loyalties lay with the British during the Revolutionary War. Lord Fairfax – like many large landowners at the time – used enslaved workers to further enrich himself. There are historical records indicating he also engaged in the long-term sexual abuse of enslaved women.

Our research showed that 90 percent of those surveyed were unaware of Thomas, Lord Fairfax, and some respondents found the name confusing since they associated it with Fairfax County in Virginia, and Fairfax, W.Va. Additionally, we discovered that people feel an affinity for the college because of what it has meant to them, and not to the man for which it was named.
Most importantly, we learned that when those surveyed learned more about the history of Thomas, the 6th Lord Fairfax, support for changing the name more than doubled in all demographics, except one. Among people of color, that support more than quadrupled – it increased from 14 percent to 61 percent. Integrity and diversity are among LFCC’s core values. This means we exemplify honesty, character, and respect for our communities, and we honor the uniqueness of individuals and communities. The college needs a name that honors those values.

College Board Vice Chair Mike Wenger said considering whether or not to rename LFCC was a “challenge that everyone took very seriously, saying, “Throughout the effort, everyone consistently came back to the values of the college and our shared concern for the students and communities we have served and will serve over the coming decades. It seems appropriate that these six months of self-reflection came during our 50th year and in the midst of a major strategic planning effort to lay the foundation for the next 50 years.

“The process has been comprehensive, disciplined, inclusive, deliberative, and, above all else, respectful of our responsibility for the history and future of the college. Hard-working groups reached out to constituents, dug into the records, read history, gathered data, and debated issues. We considered the overall college branding with an eye to the future. The process invited deliberations about the values we want to inculcate, the focus we hope the college brand projects, and the breadth of community reach we want to facilitate. Though this decision wasn’t easy, it was in many ways clear.”

Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, who represents Shenandoah County on the Board, said, “Often, we just move forward day by day without thinking about our name, so this gives us a great opportunity to look at ourselves and determine who we are in relation to our values, our mission, where we are today as an institution, and where we want to go tomorrow. Lord Fairfax doesn’t represent anything we are about.

“Our students come to us from different backgrounds, but they value the opportunity presented by earning an education at LFCC. The college embraces inclusion, opportunity, equality, access to education, and helping students find their way forward. Our faculty is devoted to that. We want people to feel welcome where they serve and live, and if we exclude some part of our faculty and some part of our students, that’s not who we are, whether that exclusion is intentional or unintentional. I think for our students, for our faculty, and for our future, it’s the right time to take this opportunity to rename the college and move forward, capturing all we have accomplished in the past and the bright future we have ahead.”

The college is now in the exciting phase of searching for a name that will move us forward and stand the test of time, one that will serve as a welcoming beacon to all students, a name for which we can feel pride. A task force made up of stakeholders, including students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, and board members will work with our communities as we embark upon this task. Our goal is for the board to have a name to consider by this summer.

Following the college board’s decision to rename the college, LFCC President Kim Blosser shared with faculty and staff a video message the evening of Feb. 4, 2021. She noted, “We have a fantastic history and so much to be proud of – our college has changed the lives of many thousands of people in our service region and beyond. Our dedication to our mission and our values is what has made our community college the asset it is today. As we develop our new strategic plan and look forward to our next 50 years, we will find a name that better suits our vision of an inclusive, equitable learning environment for every student, one that improves their economic mobility and supports the economic development of the communities we serve. And we will involve our employees, our students, and our community members in this process; we will do this together.”

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Main Street Vaccine Clinic in Front Royal on May 10th



Front Royal Brewing Company and the VA Heath Department are bringing a COVID walk-in vaccine clinic to Main Street! The clinic will be from 8:00-11:00 am on Monday, May 10th, at Front Royal Brewing Company.


The Virginia Department of Health will be giving the Moderna vaccine which is a two-dose shot. Anyone (18 and over) that hasn’t received the first dose of a vaccine is welcome. So you can bring your friends and family members too.

Anyone who gets the first dose at the brewery will automatically be guaranteed to get their second dose here four weeks later. Right now, the second dose is planned for June 7, 2021, at the Front Royal Brewing Company. This is expected to be quite a popular event, so get here early (first come, first served).

IMPORTANT: Please click that you are going/interested on the Facebook event here, so we have an estimate of how much of the vaccine the Health Department will need. This will NOT reserve your spot, the Health Department just wants to get an idea of how many vaccines to bring. COME EARLY! This will be a popular event!

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Upcoming Events

2:00 pm Mother’s Day Weekend Paint Party... @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
Mother’s Day Weekend Paint Party... @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
May 8 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Mother's Day Weekend Paint Party - Hydrangeas @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
Bring Mom to The Studio for our Mother’s Day Weekend Special. Buy two tickets and save! This will be a lovely piece to add to your collections… and so much fun to paint. Join us[...]
8:00 pm Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 8 @ 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area – behind Mount Bleak. Our evenings begin with a half-hour children’s “Junior Astronomer” program, followed by a discussion about the importance of dark skies and light conservation. Then join NASA Jet Propulsion Lab[...]
2:00 pm Mother’s Day Weekend Paint Party... @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
Mother’s Day Weekend Paint Party... @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
May 9 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Mother's Day Weekend Paint Party - Daisies @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
Bring Mom to The Studio for our Mother’s Day Weekend Special. Buy two tickets and save! This will be a lovely piece to add to your collections… and so much fun to paint. Join us[...]
6:30 pm Law Enforcement Officers Memoria... @ Front Royal Gazebo
Law Enforcement Officers Memoria... @ Front Royal Gazebo
May 13 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Service @ Front Royal Gazebo
Please join Warren County/Front Royal Back the Blue, in partnership with the Fraternal Order of Police and Front Royal/Warren County Lodge #33, during National Police Week as we honor our local Law Enforcement Officers who[...]
12:00 pm Millionaire Maker Golf Tournament @ Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club
Millionaire Maker Golf Tournament @ Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club
May 14 @ 12:00 pm
Millionaire Maker Golf Tournament @ Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club
Join us for the 2021 Millionaire Maker held at award-winning Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club. The Millionaire Maker is a combined golfing and networking experience! Serious, amateur, and novice golfers are welcome. *Four golfers who[...]
7:30 am Captain’s Choice/Best Ball Golf ... @ Bowling Green Country Club South
Captain’s Choice/Best Ball Golf ... @ Bowling Green Country Club South
May 15 @ 7:30 am – 3:00 pm
Captain’s Choice/Best Ball Golf Tournament @ Bowling Green Country Club South
Please join us for the Captain’s Choice/Best Ball Golf Tournament, a fundraiser for the Linden Volunteer Fire Department. The event will be held Saturday, May 15, 2021, at Bowling Green Country Club South (768 Bowling[...]
10:00 am Fort Loudoun Day: Living History @ Historic Fort Loudoun Site
Fort Loudoun Day: Living History @ Historic Fort Loudoun Site
May 15 @ 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Fort Loudoun Day: Living History @ Historic Fort Loudoun Site
Bring the family and enjoy a fun day learning about the history of the French & Indian War era at the site of Colonel George Washington’s headquarters for the Virginia Regiment. Meet living history interpreters[...]
11:00 am National Kids to Parks Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
National Kids to Parks Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 15 @ 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
National Kids to Parks Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Children’s Discovery Area: This National Kids to Parks Day, join us for fun-filled activities and music at our interactive discovery stations. Kids, pick up a scavenger hunt brochure and hike on the Track Trail. Just[...]
9:00 am Virginia Psychic Fair @ Arlington-Fairfax Elks Lodge
Virginia Psychic Fair @ Arlington-Fairfax Elks Lodge
May 16 @ 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Virginia Psychic Fair @ Arlington-Fairfax Elks Lodge
Psychic Fair for both those who are serious and for those who are just curious. Event can be a life changing experience or just a fun time! Many of the best psychics, mediums, healers, and[...]
1:00 pm Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 16 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
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 of beekeeping from hive construction to[...]