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The sky becomes more accessible on Front Royal’s Cloud Street



We caught up with Warren County Project for the Arts (WCPA) founding member artists Melissa Ichiuji and Chris Stephens finishing up the first 2020 downtown Front Royal full wall mural, Wednesday afternoon, October 14. The project began on the side of the old Ramsey Hardware building at 221 East Main Street 10 days earlier on October 5, Ichiuji, who was handling the ground level finishing-touch duties, told us.

What a difference a week-and-a-half makes. Above (literally), on Oct. 5 Melissa Ichiuji preps the wall of her coming art gallery at 221 E. Main St. for the first work of art to be displayed there. Below, Chris Stephens on crane duty this time and Ichiuji apply finishing touches 10 days later. 1a/ Courtesy Photo WCPA 1b/ Royal Examiner Photo by Roger Bianchini

The wall mural theme is fluffy clouds against a Carolina blue sky at, of all places, Cloud Street’s intersection with East Main Street. And while the cloud design was conceived for the location some time ago, Ichiuji said the skyscape “theme of transcendence is especially fitting in these uncertain times when levity and grace are so needed”.

As reported in our earlier exploration of Warren County Project for the Arts efforts to beautify and expand an artistic presence in downtown Front Royal (“New ‘Dining’, ‘Shop’, ‘Walking Mall’ banners portend more public art on the horizon”), those efforts have now been linked to the Town’s post-pandemic emergency management closing’s weekend walking mall experiment and Community Development Block Grant-enabled downtown façade improvements.

However, Ichiuji told us that as both a member of the Arts Project and owner of the building she had not sought grant funding to avoid any potential conflict of interest. The Cloud Street wall mural project was self-funded by Ichiuji and her husband to kick off this portion of the WCPA public arts initiative.

Above and below, artists Melissa Ichiuji and Chris Stephens jump for the clouds in celebration of a job well done. Courtesy Photos WCPA

While she has had an art studio in the rear portions of the building for several years, her plan is to open the front of the building as an art gallery by the spring of 2021. But until then, come rain, shine or snow, the cloud-bearing Cloud Street side of her building will serve as a reminder of things to come on the inside.

But if a picture is worth a thousand words, how many must a wall mural of this size be worth? Enjoy the view when you are in downtown Front Royal and with these final images of the Warren County Project for the Arts creative process at work.

Who says art and math don’t mix? Courtesy Photo WCPA

The road may have been closed, but the sky was opening up on Cloud St. through the first half of October. Courtesy Photo WCPA

‘Excuse me while I kiss the sky’ – the writer may be showing his age, or just musical preferences (that’s his story and he’s sticking to it), with a lyrical nod to Jimi Hendrix to close the show. Royal Examiner Photos by Roger Bianchini

And these images of the finished project and its inspiration:

Courtesy Photos WCPA

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160 years later – Jackson’s Valley Campaign strategies and the Battle of Front Royal’s unique part in that campaign are recalled



A small crowd of historical buffs joined by an honor guard of reenactors presenting the colors of the United States, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the Southern Confederacy gathered early Monday evening, May 23, at the Warren Rifles Museum in Historic Downtown Front Royal. They gathered NOT to celebrate a fight to preserve slavery as an American socio-economic institution, but rather to acknowledge the sacrifice of soldiers on both sides and the Psychological Warfare (PsyWar) strategies employed during Confederate General “Stonewall” Jackson’s Valley Campaign before there was a term to describe such strategies.

It was a joint celebration of the military genius of the Valley Campaign 160 years past, the Battle of Front Royal in which Jackson’s forces defeated an outnumbered Union force as part of that campaign, and of Jackson’s life that would end on May 10, 1863, as a result of a friendly fire incident at Chancellorsville the following year.

Suzanne Silek launches Monday’s Civil War history acknowledgment of Jackson’s Valley Campaign and the Battle of Front Royal’s role in that landmark campaign in military history. Below, featured speaker J.P. Morgan explains ‘PsyWar’ in the Valley 160 years ago. Royal Examiner Photos by Roger Bianchini. Video by Mike McCool, Royal Examiner.

Royal Examiner columnist and U.S. Army retired Lt. Col. John Paul Morgan was the featured speaker, expanding on his commentary titled “PsyWar in the Valley,” published here in acknowledgment of the 160th anniversary of Confederate General Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson’s “Valley Campaign” of 1862.

Morgan pointed to radical strategies of troop movements and deployment, security from even Jackson’s own commanders on his battle plans, and disinformation on what numerical force he had in the Shenandoah Valley.

That latter aspect created in part by the first two was crucial, as Union leaders believed Jackson’s actual force of about 16,000 was 60,000 or more, threatening the Union capital from the west in 1862 as the Union Army was poised to take the Confederate capital of Richmond with a vastly larger force than Richmond was defended by.

They thought he was here, and then he was there – Morgan traces ‘Stonewall’ Jackson’s unprecedented troop movements up and down the Valley creating the illusion of a much larger force than he actually had that Union leaders believed could threaten to invade Washington, the Union capital in 1862.

That Union leadership misperception led them to pull key forces from the planned Richmond offensive to the defense of Washington D.C. Those Lee-Jackson developed strategies leading to troop movements to protect the Union capital from a phantom force created one of the greatest military-strategic shifts of wartime history, Morgan asserted of strategies still studied in military schools and training to this day.

It was this advanced strategical plan developed between Confederate Commanding General Robert E. Lee and General “Stonewall” Jackson, playing to concerns and psychological tendencies of the opposing side’s leadership, that was the focus of Morgan’s presentation.

The colors of the U.S., the Confederacy, and Virginia were displayed in opening and closing the historical remembrance of Front Royal and ‘Stonewall’ Jackson’s unique places in American military history.

Watch the presentation on a unique aspect of military history in this exclusive Royal Examiner video.

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Local News

Blue Ridge Wildlife Center Patient of the Week: Common Snapping Turtle



Shooting Turtles is a Crime.

This Snapping turtle patient was brought to the Center after being found with multiple gunshots.

To make matters worse, this is a gravid female (carrying eggs); you can see the eggs in the x-ray below. These adult breeding animals are especially important from a population survival standpoint.

Snapping turtles are a protected species in Virginia. Unfortunately, we see intentional human-caused trauma, including gunshots, every year in this species. Luckily, these gunshot wounds were fresh and only into the bone of the carapace (upper shell). She does not appear to have damaged internal organs. The steel pellets were removed, the wounds cleaned, and pain medications and antibiotics provided.

Now, after about a week in care, this turtle was released back to her found location! We hope she will continue to thrive, lay her eggs, and avoid the world’s most dangerous species—humans.

This wildlife crime has been reported, and our Conservation Police Officers are investigating. If you see someone commit a wildlife crime, please report it as soon as possible. In Virginia, it can be reported to our Department of Wildlife Resources at, or you can contact them by phone at 1-800-237-5712.

Looking for an easy way to help native wildlife? Become a monthly BRWC donor! For as little as $5/month, you can provide year-round, sustainable support that helps us fulfill our mission.

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Community Events

Lifeguards sought to allow Community Pool to Open on schedule Memorial Day weekend; Splash Pad opens May 28



Claude A Stokes, Jr. Community Swimming Pool 2022 Opening:

Due to insufficient staffing, the Claude A Stokes, Jr. Community Swimming Pool is unable to open as scheduled on Memorial Day weekend, Saturday, May 28, 2022 through Monday, May 30, 2022.  The pool is scheduled to open for its regular season, Monday, June 6, 2022. We will continue our efforts to obtain more staff and reevaluate the season opening prior to that date.

If you are interested in applying for a lifeguard position, please contact us at 540-635-1021 or visit to complete an application online.

Please continue to check the Warren County website and the Warren County Parks and Recreation Department’s Facebook page for any additional updates, as we will send out more information in June.

Warren County Splash Pad 2022 Opening:

The Warren County Parks and Recreation Department is delighted to announce the Warren County Splash Pad at Dr. Saul Seide Memorial Gardens Memorial Park will open for the 2022 season, on Saturday, May 28, 2022. Please review the rules and regulations posted at the site before using the Splash Pad.

The Splash Pad is located behind the Raymond E. Santmyers Youth Center at 200 East 8th Street, in the Dr. Saul Seide Memorial Gardens Park.

The Splash Pad will be open for water fun from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily (weather permitting). Please check the Warren County website and the Warren County Parks and Recreation Department’s Facebook page for any additional updates.

For additional information please contact the Parks and Recreation Administrative Office at (540) 635-7750.

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Warren County High School: Spring Concert



On Sunday, May 22, 2022, the Warren County Music Department presented its Spring Concert, featuring the Jazz Band and High School Symphonic Band. David Dingess, Band Director, conducted both bands and played drums on a few pieces.

Dingess said, ” I want to thank the seniors for their work, dedication, and understanding during difficult times that in a way robbed us of this special time together, but they made the most of it. Thank you.”

He continued his thanks for the administration’s support throughout the year and the custodial staff who helped keep the building clean and in good shape for events like today. He also included the Band Boosters for their hard work and financial support. A special thanks to Ken and Donna Evans for their efforts in assisting with the fundraising for new marching uniforms.

Dingess ended his thanks with, “I would especially like to thank my wife for all her help and support. Without her, I would not be able to do what I do.” (Sounds like true love.)

Members of the Jazz Band include:

Heath Coe, Brady Donahue, Jim Farris, Daniel Flores, Andrew Grant, Kathleen Grant, Matthew Grant, Jaula Hodges, Trestyn Muterspaw, Margaret Plosh, Mason Polk, Katrina Richi, and Ward Sebastian.

Performance selections included:

Chattanooga Choo-Choo, My Funny Valentine, Moondance, a solo drum performance Drum Corp on Parade, Pratt (by James Riggs II), El Gato Gordo, Over the Rainbow, and Rock This Town.

Members of the High School Symphonic Band include:

Jason Becker, Kaydria Bennett, Morgan Brown, Heath Coe, James Crowell, Brady Donahue, Jim Farris, Daniel Flores, Andrew Grant, Kathleen Grant, Matthew Grant, Jayla Hodges, Devin Inlow-Mercier, Avayda Kemp, Arthur Kresge, Nicodemus Kozhenevsky, Savannah Mitchell, Trestyn Muterspaw, Connor Payne, Abigail Plosch, Margaret Plosch, Mason Polk, Katrina Riehl, James Riggs II, Sebastian Ward, and Tristan Wright.

Performance selections included:

Courage March, a solo performance of Yellow After The Rain, Mitchell Peters (by James Riggs II), Wyndham Variations, Legend of Knife River, Ludlows, a solo piano solo by Margaret Plosch, and Maelstrom.





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Wine & Crafts Festival returns from 2-year COVID break into a Spring heatwave



On a steamy Saturday, May 21st, Front Royal welcomed the annual Chamber of Commerce sponsored Wine & Craft Festival back after a two-year absence due to COVID-19 pandemic precautions.

An impressive array of booths highlighting that two-pronged theme stretched up and down East Main and Chester Streets in the town’s Historic Downtown Business District to the delight of a throng of hearty “winers” and arts and crafts fans of all ages.

A live musical accompaniment was kicked off by Leesburg-based Jumptown, with frontman Michael Gauvreau leading the band through an impressive array of Soul, Rhythm & Blues, and Blues tunes that kept the crowd on its collective “good foot.” Mandatory Fun would be a later musical theme.

Leesburg’s Jumptown, with singer Michael Gauvreau, below, launched the day’s live music. Royal Examiner Photos by Roger Bianchini

And if you didn’t want to risk mixing wine with the Weather Alert heat soaring into the mid-90s, there were also a variety of concessions and cooling liquids of the non-alcoholic variety available as well. So, if you missed it, or even if you didn’t but want a little reminder of the good time you had in the comfort of your air-conditioned abode, relax and take a visual tour of the Wine & Crafts Festival 2022 below.

There were other options than wine for the non-whiners, we mean winers.

Of course the wine booths stayed busy as it was the Wine & Crafts Festival

That’s some nice art you have there – some patrons of the arts chat with the artist, seated with a furry friend.

Uh oh, ‘Dye Happy’ almost gave this reporter a flashback – to the 1960s and tie-dye power as a Woodstock generation fashion statement.

And a stroll up Chester Street from the Gazebo area …

And as we head up East Main St. we are reminded to stop into Town Hall to participate in the opportunity to give citizen input to an update of the Town’s Comprehensive Plan and residents’ visions for the town’s future.


Uh oh, I’m having another flashback – this one to the 1860s and the American Civil War.

Maybe the Town should have put a wine booth in front of Town Hall to attract that citizen feedback – Let me have another glass and I’ll tell you what I think about the future.


The ice patrol to various booths with perishables was very important as the mid-spring heat wave pushed temperatures well into the 90s.


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Memorial Day weekend ‘double header’ honors the dogs of war and local police K-9s day before downtown Memorial Day ceremonies



Memorial Day weekend in Front Royal will feature separate ceremonies this year honoring the dead of all wars at the Warren County Courthouse grounds on East Main Street and the dogs of war that protected American servicemen and women in those conflicts, as well as local law enforcement K-9 teams, at a newly installed “Garden of Remembrance” at the Julia Wagner Animal Shelter at 1245 Progress Drive in the Happy Creek Commercial Park off Shenandoah Shores Road.

The K-9 ceremony is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday, May 29, and the downtown tribute to the fallen will begin at noon on Monday, May 30, on the courthouse lawn.

The twin tribute to the military working dogs (MWDs) and those K-9s on duty with local law enforcement is likely a first for the Shenandoah Valley. Front Royal re-established its downtown Memorial Day ceremony a decade or more ago, with veterans Robert MacDougall (U.S. Marine Corps) and Malcolm Barr Sr. (Royal Air Force – UK) taking the helm and attracting crowds up to 300 for the annual salute, including to America’s war dogs, at the Gazebo.

Barr, a military reporter in the mid-Pacific during the Vietnam War, stumbled on a military dog cemetery on the Pacific island of Guam in the 1960s, vowing at that time to gain more recognition and home life after completing their missions for the military dogs.

Barr is a past president of the Humane Society of Warren County (HSWC) and said: “I always thought it appropriate for the dogs to have their own memorial, particularly when we came to Warren County to live in retirement 20 years ago and found that the first K-9s of World War II were trained in Front Royal in 1942. I am grateful to the HSWC, which last year provided a small parcel of land at the shelter upon which, last year, we had constructed a “garden of remembrance” to last in perpetuity, a site upon which to honor the dogs for their service.”

The former RAF NCO thereupon provided the funding for the development of a garden carved from the shelter grounds last fall and the installation of a life-sized German Shepherd statue, which arrived at the site, appropriately, on Nov. 11, 2021.

No, Malcolm does not have the currently placed Remembrance Garden dog statue leashed – that is his Husky Diva posing at the pending location of the statue even though she’s not a German Shepherd

Meghan Bowers, HSWC executive director, said at the time: “I just love to have such an important memorial to the bravery, companionship, and accomplishment of dogs here at the shelter. There is nothing as special as the dedication and love of a dog (or cat), and we are so proud to have such a beautiful reminder to see every day.” Wreaths provided by Fussell Florist will be laid at both locations.

At Monday’s Memorial Day Ceremony, Front Royal will pay tribute to our nation’s fallen service members from noon to 1:00 pm on the front lawn of the Warren County Courthouse. Front Royal Memorial Day co-chair, Marine Reserve Lt. Col. Robert MacDougall noted, “This solemn ceremony each year is an opportunity for our local community to pause, reflect and take stock in the tremendous sacrifice that has been made by our fallen service members and their families to maintain our nation’s freedom.”

Memorial Day Co-Chair and Marine Reserve Lt. Col. Robert MacDougall with R-MA Cadet Honor Guard at last year’s Memorial Day ceremonies at the courthouse

The ceremony will include a flag detail comprised of cadets from Randolph-Macon Academy, remarks from the Commemoration chairs and guest of honor, and a tribute to service members from Front Royal/Warren County that have made the ultimate sacrifice in service of the United States. All residents are encouraged to attend as a way of honoring the meaning behind the nation’s annual Memorial Day tribute.

The American Legion Community Band will be holding a concert at the Town Commons-Gazebo at 7:00 pm.


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Thank You to our Local Business Participants:


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

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

Front Royal
5:52am8:27pm EDT
Feels like: 50°F
Wind: 0mph NE
Humidity: 89%
Pressure: 30.28"Hg
UV index: 0

Upcoming Events

6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
May 25 @ 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[...]
8:00 pm Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 28 @ 8:00 pm – 11:00 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[...]
7:00 pm 2022 Memorial Day Community Band... @ Gazebo
2022 Memorial Day Community Band... @ Gazebo
May 30 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
2022 Memorial Day Community Band Concert @ Gazebo
2022 Memorial Day Concert by Front Royal Community Band Monday, May 30, 2022, 7pm, at the Gazebo on Main St. (sponsored by American Legion Post #53)
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Jun 1 @ 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[...]
10:00 am Backcountry Crash Course: Earth ... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Backcountry Crash Course: Earth ... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jun 4 @ 10:00 am – Jun 5 @ 11:00 am
Backcountry Crash Course: Earth Connection Series @ Sky Meadows State Park
Meet at the Overnight Parking Lot. Ready to try backcountry camping? Spend 24 hours in nature learning backcountry skills and survival techniques with professional outdoor instructor Tim MacWelch. With Sky Meadows’ Backcountry Campground as the[...]
10:00 am Clean the Bay Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Clean the Bay Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jun 4 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Clean the Bay Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Boston Mill Road Trail near the Park Office. Learn how fences and tree plantings improve water quality at Sky Meadows State Park. Stop by our Explorer Outpost table along the Boston Mill Road Trail where[...]
10:00 am National Trails Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
National Trails Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jun 4 @ 10:00 am – Jun 5 @ 12:00 pm
National Trails Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Meet at the intersection of Boston Mill Road Trail and Hadow Trail. Get your hands dirty as we work to improve the hiking experience on Hadow Trail. Join park trailblazers as they work to enhance[...]
11:00 am Gospel Music Festival @ Gazebo
Gospel Music Festival @ Gazebo
Jun 4 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Gospel Music Festival @ Gazebo
12:00 pm Settle’s Kettle @ Sky Meadows State Park
Settle’s Kettle @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jun 4 @ 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Settle's Kettle @ Sky Meadows State Park
Log Cabin in the Historic Area. Follow your nose to the Log Cabin to see what tasty treats are cooking on the hearth. Watch as a Sky Meadows volunteer dons historic clothing and cooks delicious[...]
12:00 pm The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jun 4 @ 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. The forge is fired up and the blacksmiths are hard at work in the Historic Area. Members of the Blacksmith Guild of the Potomac have set up shop and are ready to show[...]