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The Cracked Acorn: Shadows



After many years of faithful government service, a long-time frontiersman and explorer are about to be unwilling to retire. The government has decided that they no longer want to provide a health plan and support the underwriters. Yes, once again it is costly to grow old and be around too long.

Of course, I am joking and really touching on the decade-plus aged Hubble telescope. It could have been in the cargo bay of the ill-fated Challenger but missed its ride into the heavens. Even after its launch in 1990, it required a refit of special lenses.

I recall in a Sunday school class that the teacher spent much of the hour trying to define where heaven is, up above or down below or all around us (for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Acts 4:12).

The Hubble telescope has opened up new vistas for those who are eager to date the universe and see distant stars, galaxies and postulate new theories about the worlds beyond our planet. In the past we have had to settle with puny efforts to see and guess at what is out there, now we can think of possible planet-like earth that we could eventually reach and find someone to greet with a “Howdy!” and “Have a nice day!”. The Hubble will leave us with lots of answers for which we yet have to find the questions. Its replacement (James Webb Space Telescope) is to be more powerful and will delight all those who want to find out why we are here and what will be our ultimate situation years and years from today.

What does all this add up to be: (from my vast warehouse of sometimes useful trivial anecdotes0

“There was a person blind from birth, who never could have ever thought of seeing…as told to him by others who could see, what it was like to SEE. Experimental processes by doctors suggested that his sight ‘might’ be restored. So, it happened and when the bandages were removed, he cried, “I can see!” What are you seeing, the doctors asked? “Shadows!” and tears flowed.

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon, and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? Psalm 8: 3-4

For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. II Corinthians 5:1

And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people. Revelation 21: 1-2


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The Cracked Acorn: Silence



A fellow lady employee had a severe hearing loss. When she got married and the children came along, she had to resort to an aid to hear the children at night in their bedroom. She was so adapted to silence that the least sound now kept her awake; she could hear all the noises of the household and of the neighborhood.

We live in a noisy and busy world. Places that promise peace and quiet are almost nonexistent. Out of the turmoil of “Why can’t we pray in the public schools” has come “the moment of silence.” I am all for it. But it cannot last since silence is defined by the absence of speech or an agreement not to speak. We are warned that this interferes with our country’s right to free speech. One poll brought out that it was “cool”, it brought into the school a sense of unity among the students, and that it was a good time to reflect on nice things. Those against the “moment” say that it is an open playing field to spread religion during the silence and to bring their own materials that could conflict with school policy. If prayer in any form is allowed on school grounds, then all persuasion groups must be allowed to pray in their own ways at some time during the day. We worship God but we find out that to some it is not the same God. What happened to ONE NATION UNDER ONE GOD?

Paul tried to reason with the Greeks on Mars Hill(Acts 17:22-31), drawing their attention to their noted “unknown God.” If I have fallen off my soapbox and can’t get up it is because the “moment of silence” is really a speeding bullet deflected into the public school system which should have stayed in our homes. If we had turned off the TVs and stereo systems and enjoyed the “silence” with our families this would never have become a national issue.

“To sit silently takes a lifetime to learn. It seems that only the old are able to sit next to one another and not say anything and still feel content. The young must break the silence. Silence is pure and holy. It draws people together because only those who are comfortable with each other can sit without speaking. This is a great paradox.” from The Notebook

and I leave you with:

Hello darkness, my old friend
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of “silence”

I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of “silence”

In restless dreams, I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of “silence” (1964 – Simon & Garfunkel)


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Snow Island: The open-air holiday cinema



It was outdoor movie night on Snow Island, and the city was screening the premiere of The Distracted Santa Claus, a new animated film by a world-renowned local director. Families unfolded their camp chairs and gathered around heated lamps that were set up on the soccer field to keep everybody warm. With their chairs lined up, twins Orion and Capella wrapped themselves in the large blankets handed to them by their parents.

“Dad, can we please have some popcorn?” the little girl asked.

“And some hot chocolate?” her brother added.

“Good idea, kids. I’ll go get us some. Do you want anything, Audrey?” Patrick asked, turning to his wife.

“A coffee, please.”

“Hurry up, Dad, or you’ll miss the beginning,” Orion called out as his father headed toward the concession stand.

There was no need to worry, though. Patrick returned with their snacks long before the movie started. In fact, the screen still hadn’t turned on by the time the kids finished their popcorn.

“I wonder what’s taking so long,” Audrey said.

“Yes, this is odd,” Patrick said. “And people are starting to get impatient.”

“We could go see the technician and find out what’s going on,” Capella suggested.

“Yes, his hut is nearby,” Orion added. “I can see it from here.”

“Alright, but go straight there and don’t take any detours on the way back,” their mother instructed.

When they arrived at the hut, the two children knocked on the door, but there was no answer. Since the door was unlocked, they opened it. To their surprise, they saw David, the technician, snoring away in his chair instead of operating the projector.

The twins called out his name and shook him, first gently then more vigorously, but nothing worked. David was still asleep.

“He’s so tired that it’s impossible to wake him up,” Capella exclaimed. “But how else can we get the movie started?”

“Follow me,” her brother replied.

With his sister right on his heels, Orion headed toward the nearest family. He quickly explained that the technician was sound asleep in his chair.

“Poor David,” said the mother with a sigh. “I don’t know how he gets any rest taking care of four children under the age of 10 all by himself.”

“I’m pretty good with electronics,” chi¬med in the girl beside her. “Go back to your seats, I’ll take care of everything.”

“Thank you,” the twins replied in unison.

As the crowd began to grumble more and more, Orion and Capella returned to their seats and recounted the story to their parents.

“Let’s hope this teenager knows what she’s doing,” Patrick said.

At that moment, the screen finally lit up and the opening credits appeared. The audience burst into thunderous applause.

“It looks like it,” Capella enthused.

“Well done, kids,» Audrey said.

The much-anticipated film, both funny and heartwarming, was a hit. Thanks to the twins and their invaluable ally, the outdoor movie night was a success — despite a bit of a sleepy start!

As for David, who woke up just in time to see the final scene, he went home feeling more rested than he had in years.


By Johannie Dufour and Sarah Beauregard
Translated by Katya Teague


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De-clutter for Christmas; cut stress



Your bedroom closet is already full. Your fridge and cabinets don’t have a lot of room to spare, and neither do your storage closets. And it isn’t even Christmas yet — once the gifts, decorations, extra food, new holiday outfits, and all the other assorted stuff comes inside, you’ll be overwhelmed, just like you are every year.

If this sounds like you, consider giving yourself an early gift: A pre-Christmas de-clutter, to help you prioritize the items you value, make space for new things, and cut back on stress so you can enjoy the things that really matter.

* Check your stash of Christmas decorations. Separate the things you haven’t used in a few years and donate them to a thrift shop for other families to enjoy.

* Walk through the public areas of your house — living room, dining room, foyer, hallways — and pick out any decor items or small furniture that you don’t love anymore. If you’d rather see an empty space, chuck it.

* Declutter your furniture. Do you really need those worn-out throw pillows with all the coffee stains?

* Work with your kids to sort through old toys and get rid of the ones they don’t play with anymore. If they need a little motivation, explain that it’s so they have plenty of room for this year’s gifts.

* Hit the kitchen and be absolutely ruthless. Toss expired foods, old water bottles or cheap plastic cups, cookware that you never use, or that box of old dishes that you don’t have room for.

* Set priorities carefully for the rooms you’ll spend the most time in and accommodate the activities you’ve planned. The most important thing about the holidays is sharing them with the people we care about, so if you don’t have the time or energy to hit every room, don’t kick yourself. Do what you can, congratulate yourself for a job well done, and enjoy the things that truly matter.

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Town Talk: A conversation with Ken Knesh, Principal at Warren County HS, Holiday Craft-Vendor Bazaar and more



In this Town Talk, our publisher Mike McCool speaks with Ken Knesh, Principal at Warren County High School. On December 11, 2021, WCHS will be hosting a Holiday Craft and Vendor Bazaar from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. The school is located at 155 Westminster Drive in Front Royal.

Come out and start your holiday shopping at this event and help support the parents ‘Cat Pack’ programs and the 35 local vendors. Free admission and parking.

Some vendors include Avery Hess, Apron Love, Betts & Coop Boutique, Cardshop Bakers, Chantill’s Cupboard, Collectively Emily, ColorStreet, Darling Daughters Crafts, Dot Dot Smile, Essential Bodywear, Facial Aloe’s, Farmasi, Freshie Start, Malena’s Closet, Mama Bears Canned Goods, Norwex, Pampered Chef, Paparazzi, Park Lane Jewelry, Peace Pillows, and Scentsy.

Find out more about this event and others on their Facebook page.

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

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Kids’ Corner: Chocolate trivia quiz



If you love chocolate, here’s a little quiz to see how much you know about this popular treat.

Multiple choice
1. What’s the name of the tree that grows cocoa beans?
a) Cacao tree
b) Choco tree
c) Coco tree

2. What kind of fruit does this tree produce?
a) Cocoa beans
b) Cocoa-pods
c) Cocoa balls

3. Where is most of the cocoa in chocolate grown today?
a) South America
b) West Africa
c) Southeast Asia

True or false
4. White chocolate doesn’t contain any cocoa.
5. The Swiss invented cocoa powder.
6. The Germans created the first chocolate bar.

1. a) Cacao trees grow in tropical climates and can be harvested twice a year.
2. b) Cocoa-pods look like small footballs and can contain up to 40 cocoa beans.
3. b) Today, more than 70 percent of the world’s cocoa comes from the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, and other West African countries.
4. True. It’s made of cocoa butter, sugar, milk, and vanilla.
5. False. It was a Dutchman named Coenraad Johannes van Houten. He patented the process of removing the butter from roasted cocoa beans in 1828.
6. False. It was three English brothers named Joseph, Richard, and Francis Fry. They discovered that it was possible to create molded chocolate by adding cocoa butter.

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Veronesi Holding S.p.A. to invest in new production facility in Rockingham County, creating more than 150 new jobs over the next four years



RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam announced on September 30, 2021, that Italy-based Veronesi Holding S.p.A., a leading manufacturer and producer of cured meats, will establish its first U.S. production operation. This investment in Rockingham County will create more than 150 new jobs over the next four years. The company plans to explore the possibility of working with smaller Virginia farms for its American production needs.

Located on 75.8 acres in the county’s Innovation Village, the new facility will be used to age, process, and package the company’s products for distribution, increasing its cured meat and charcuterie customer base in the U.S. market. Governor Northam and his staff met with company officials in Italy during his first international trade and marketing mission in July 2018.

“We are pleased that Veronesi Holding S.p.A. chose Virginia, the home of nearly 900 internationally owned businesses, to grow in the U.S.,” said Governor Northam. “The Commonwealth’s sophisticated infrastructure and world-class transportation network are key assets that attract global businesses looking to expand into new markets. We welcome one of Europe’s leading food and beverage companies to Virginia and Rockingham County and look forward to its success in the Commonwealth.”

Veronesi Holding S.p.A is an Italian privately traded company headquartered in Verona, Italy with more than €3.1 billion in sales in 2020 and 9,000 employees. The company is among the top five Fast Moving Consumer Groups in Italy and is the largest vertically integrated poultry and hog producer in the country. Its products range from feed to fresh meats and cured meats. Veronesi has grown through its brands, AIA and Negroni, which are regarded as top names in the Italian agroindustry throughout Europe and across the globe. Negroni has been a leader in the premium delicatessen meats market for over a century.

“Veronesi Holding S.p.A.’s new U.S. operation is a substantial addition to Virginia’s diverse food and beverage processing sector and is a perfect fit for the Shenandoah Valley,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “The state-of-the-art facility in Rockingham County will enable the company to build on its centuries-old legacy of high-quality products, and we thank Veronesi for choosing the Commonwealth for this major investment.”

“Virginia’s centuries-old agricultural industry is rich and diverse, making the Commonwealth the perfect new home for a company like Veronesi, which has a long and diverse agricultural history of its own,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “Like Virginia’s world-class wines and Veronesi’s premier charcuterie, the company and the commonwealth are indeed a perfect pairing. I look forward to connecting Veronesi with Virginia farmers so they can write a new chapter of quality and tradition in both of their agricultural histories.”

“This is a very ambitious project for us and it marks an important step for our company,” said Veronesi Holding S.p.A Chief Executive Officer Luigi Fasoli. “We want to start a new chapter in our history and establish in this country our first-ever production site for cured meats abroad, offering Americans all our expertise with the maximum freshness and quality. It is with great enthusiasm that we chose Virginia, where we found all the necessary ingredients to live our American dream.”

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Rockingham County, the Shenandoah Valley Partnership, and the Port of Virginia to secure this project for Virginia. Based on the company’s planned investment of approximately $100 million and the creation of more than 150 new jobs over the next four years, Governor Northam approved a $3.8 million grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist Rockingham County with the project. Veronesi Holding is eligible to receive benefits from the Port of Virginia Economic and Infrastructure Development Zone Grant Program, as well as a Major Business Facility Job Tax Credit for new, full-time jobs created. Funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.

“Rockingham County is excited to work with Veronesi as the company establishes its agricultural presence in the Shenandoah Valley and Virginia,” said Rockingham County Board of Supervisors Chairman Rick Chandler. “This new project adds to the diverse agricultural industry of Rockingham, and we are thankful for the investment into our community and more than 150 new jobs.”

“The Shenandoah Valley Partnership is extremely excited to welcome Veronesi to Rockingham County and the Shenandoah Valley,” said Shenandoah Valley Partnership Executive Director Jay A. Langston, Ph.D. “Its brands have a very high reputation for premium charcuterie, thus its expectations for a location were equally stringent. The need for robust food and beverage infrastructure is exceedingly important, particularly for the successful launch of an international brand in the U.S. Working with Rockingham County, we have shown that the depth of our international-level infrastructure has allowed global success to grow here in the Valley. We are excited to welcome the company to our international food and beverage sector.”

“When a worldwide brand like Veronesi Holding S.p.A. decides to build its first U.S. production facility in Virginia, it sends a very positive message about our business climate,” said Virginia Port Authority Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director Stephen A. Edwards. “We are ready to collaborate with Veronesi Holding, help build its business, and serve as its gateway for trade in the U.S. This is another example of what a pro-business environment that is supported by a world-class port can achieve.”

“Thanks to Veronesi Holding for working in partnership with the Commonwealth, Shenandoah Valley Partnership, and Rockingham County,” said Senator Mark Obenshain. “We welcome this new business to the Shenandoah Valley. This project will provide more job opportunities for our citizens and partnerships with small farms, which will be an enormous benefit to our region.”

“This is an exciting announcement for the Rockingham County and Harrisonburg communities,” said Delegate Tony Wilt. “Veronesi Holding S.p.A.’s desire to make such a substantial investment right here in the Shenandoah Valley is once again a testament to the strength of our workforce, the high quality of life that we have to offer, and the importance of the agriculture industry to our future success.”

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Thank You to our Local Business Participants:


Apple Dumpling Learning Center

Apple House

Auto Care Clinic

Blue Ridge Arts Council

Blue Ridge Education

BNI Shenandoah Valley

C&C's Ice Cream Shop

Code Ninjas Front Royal

Cool Techs Heating and Air

Down Home Comfort Bakery

Downtown Market

Dusty's Country Store

Edward Jones-Bret Hrbek

Family Preservation Services

Front Royal Women's Resource Center

Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce

Gourmet Delights Gifts & Framing

Green to Ground Electrical

Groups Recover Together

I Want Candy

I'm Just Me Movement

Jen Avery, REALTOR & Jenspiration, LLC

Main Street Travel

Makeover Marketing Systems

Marlow Automotive Group

Mary Carnahan Graphic Design

Mountain Trails

National Media Services

Ole Timers Antiques

Phoenix Project

Reaching Out Now

Royal Blends Nutrition

Royal Examiner

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Oak Computers

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Spice

Salvation Army

SaVida Health

Skyline Insurance

St. Luke Community Clinic

Studio Verde

The Studio-A Place for Learning

The Valley Today - The River 95.3

The Vine and Leaf

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

Warren County Department of Social Services

Warrior Psychotherapy Services, PLLC

What Matters & Beth Medved Waller, Inc Real Estate

White Picket Fence

Woodward House on Manor Grade

King Cartoons

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Upcoming Events

7:00 pm FRWRC Woman Gathering @ ONLINE
FRWRC Woman Gathering @ ONLINE
Jan 20 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
FRWRC Woman Gathering @ ONLINE
The Front Royal Women’s Resource Center presents: WomanGathering – 7 PM, Virtual via Zoom Webinar with guest Dawn Devine, the Executive Director for the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum. Topic: Why Children are our most valuable resource. Click[...]
1:00 pm FRWRC Book Circle @ ONLINE
FRWRC Book Circle @ ONLINE
Jan 21 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
FRWRC Book Circle @ ONLINE
January 21 – FRWRC Book Circle – Free Virtual Event – Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. Questions about FRWRC Online Book Circle, please contact: Lyn Bement at or (540) 635-3000. In person Book Circle Postponed until[...]
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Jan 26 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
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Free REVIVE! Opioid Overdose and... @ ONLINE
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Free REVIVE! Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Education @ ONLINE
Northwestern Prevention Collaborative, in conjunction with Northwestern Community Services Board, will offer a free, virtual REVIVE! Training on January 28th from 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm. The one-hour online class provides an overview of how[...]
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Feb 2 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
all-day First Friday @ Downtown Main Street
First Friday @ Downtown Main Street
Feb 4 all-day
First Friday @ Downtown Main Street
Come celebrate First Friday! Downtown businesses will be open late, until 8 p.m., on the first Friday and Saturday of each month.
all-day First Friday @ Downtown Main Street
First Friday @ Downtown Main Street
Feb 5 all-day
First Friday @ Downtown Main Street
Come celebrate First Friday! Downtown businesses will be open late, until 8 p.m., on the first Friday and Saturday of each month.
9:00 am Women’s Wellness Workshop @ ONLINE
Women’s Wellness Workshop @ ONLINE
Feb 5 @ 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
Women's Wellness Workshop @ ONLINE
Women’s Wellness Workshop – Virtual via Zoom Webinar – Key Note Speaker Dr. Neema. Registrations will begin January 5:
4:30 pm Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Feb 5 @ 4:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area: Discover our International Dark-Sky Park! 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[...]
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Feb 9 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]