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Therapy dogs steal show at Blue Ridge Hospice volunteers’ dinner



Hospice volunteer, the yellow lab Sassy, took a seat at the table with guest Rachel Gibb. Sassy is owned by recent volunteer John Crawford. Susan O'Kelly photo.

Two volunteer therapy dogs tripped their handler as she strode forward to accept a special achievement award in their behalf, and her own, at the annual banquet in Winchester where Blue Ridge Hospice salutes all of its many volunteers.

Recognized for her six years of service to the hospice was Mary Ellen Duffy, along with her dogs Willow and Keely who, apart from tangling their handler in their leashes, behaved with soft-eyed equanimity at the presentation ceremony.

Mary Ellen Duffy with care givers Willow and Keely. Courtesy hospice photo.

Duffy and the dogs were three of several hospice volunteers who received “Volunteer of the Year” awards recognizing outstanding service to Blue Ridge Hospice during 2017. During the six years Duffy has worked for hospice, her dogs have visited 69 patients in their homes, and made 500 visits to end-of-life patients in hospital care.

Administrative Volunteer of the Year: Alohna Hersey

In addition, scores of volunteers, credited with $857,456 cost savings to the Winchester-based hospice which serves the northern Shenandoah Valley, were called out for the 34,450 hours they’d spent offering compassionate care to patients and families.

Outstanding among them was business office worker Alohna Hersey, a relative newcomer to the hospice volunteer team (2016), who “dove right in” according to her office colleagues who applauded when she received the “Administration Volunteer of the Year” award just two years after joining the corps of volunteers at the hospice.

Patient Family Support Volunteer of the Year: Barney Stine pictured with Kelly Miller, Manager of Volunteer Services Program, and Constance Morrison CEO Blue Ridge Hospice

Kelly Miller, manager of volunteer service, also presented the Founders’ Award to Beverley Bowman Shoemaker who she said “most significantly impacted the overall mission of Blue Ridge Hospice” with her financial support.

Thrift Shop Volunteer of the Year: Cindy Pullen Pictured with Thrift Shop Manager Joy Patterson

Barney Stine, the 2017 “Volunteer of the Year” in patient and family support – he was cited specifically for his “coolness in moments of crisis” – and Cindy Pullen, the Hospice Thrift Shops “Volunteer of the Year” also were recognized.

Remarking on the overall dollar savings by volunteers, Miller said: “Because of you, the money saved goes directly toward the care of our patients.”

Founders Award: Beverely Shoemaker pictured receiving award from Helen Zebarth Founder

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The 2023 Front Royal Chocolate Crawl starts Monday, February 6th



Calling all chocolate lovers. This is an event you don’t want to miss. The 2023 Front Royal Chocolate Crawl starts Monday, February 6th, and runs all week to Valentine’s Day on the 14th.

For every 2023 Chocolate Crawl Commemorative Ornament you buy, you will be automatically entered into our drawing for an amazing Valentine’s Day Gift Basket. Pickup the ornament (which smells like chocolate) at the following locations:

  • White Picket Fence
  • I Want Candy
  • C&C Frozen Treats

The Ornament is $5, and the profits go to charity.

So, what is a Chocolate Crawl? Watch the video and find out and join the Facebook Event Page too.

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Deputies rescue suspected impaired driver from pond after crash



At approximately 11am today, the Frederick County Emergency Communications Center received a 9-1-1 call stating that a SUV had driven off the roadway and into a pond in the area of Papermill Rd. and Harrsion Ln. The caller stated the driver was still in the vehicle and was not moving.

Deputies arriving first on the scene observed the vehicle, partially submerged in the water up to it’s hood, and could see the driver slumped over the wheel. Deputy Jason Hawse and Deputy Nick Dempsey removed their outer vests and gun belts and entered the frigid water to assist the unconscious subject. With outside temps of 27 degrees, and windchill making it feel more like 13 degrees, Hawse and Dempsey worked quickly, in the chest-high water, breaking the windows on the vehicle and pulling the subject out. Once getting the male driver to land, one dose of Narcan was administered and the subject regained consciousness a few moments later.

The driver, identified as Michael Surgent, 35, of Mechanicsville, Va. was immediately attended to by deputies awaiting EMTs to medically evaluate him for exposure. Based on witness statements, and evidence recovered later from the vehicle, it is believed that Surgent was “huffing” chemicals from aerosol cans resulting in his losing consciousness, and proper control of his vehicle. Surgent was taken to Winchester Medical Center and held for further medical evaluations. He has been charged with huffing chemicals, reckless driving and driving under the influence.

All deputies were checked on scene and cleared for duty, once out of their wet uniforms and warmed back up. Sheriff Lenny Millholland is both pleased with, and proud of, the swift and selfless actions taken by his personnel, saying “This could have been much worse and we are thankful that no one was seriously injured in this incident”.

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Show our community some love: Warren Coalition’s LOVE sign hits the road



From February 6th through March 31st, Warren Coalition’s LOVE sign will travel about Warren County to raise awareness and create community connections.

Businesses and organizations are invited to host the LOVE sign, free of charge, and collect notes of appreciation, encouragement, and affirmation for a group of their choosing. For example, they could collect notes for teachers, sanitation workers, housekeepers, mechanics, or nurses. Or they could collect notes for a specific place, such as a hospital, a nonprofit organization, or a school. It must be a group within Warren County, and it should be a group that is not part of the business/organization—for example, a school should not collect notes for its own teachers/employees.

The LOVE sign, built by Warren Coalition employee Julia Laurent, is a smaller version of the Virginia LOVE signs you see around the Commonwealth. It is crisscrossed with ribbons designed to hold notes.

The sign can be reserved for a single event, or a period of time up to one week. Afterwards, the business/organization can deliver the notes to their selected group, or Warren Coalition will deliver them on their behalf.

Front Royal Virginia

This campaign is part of the larger “We See You You, Warren County” movement, a grassroots resilience movement designed to develop a more connected community where everyone feels like they belong.

Anyone interested in hosting the sign should contact Celeste Brooks, Community Outreach Coordinator, at or 540-660-3367.

More about the We See You, Warren County Campaign

We See You, Warren County is about seeing and acknowledging each individual within Warren County, whether they live, work, or play here. It is a grassroots campaign designed to foster community connection and improve community resilience, which are key foundational components in preventing drug and alcohol misuse. We See You, Warren County participants are encouraged to share their experiences on social media using the hashtag #WeCUWC. Organizations and individuals that register receive a window cling to show they are participating. The program now has more than 200 registered partners, and over 1,000 Facebook members. Sign-ups are ongoing. Go to to learn more, or to officially sign up yourself, your family, or your business or organization. You can also join the Facebook group at

In addition, the Warren Coalition features individuals of the Warren County community on the “We See You” website, and on the Warren Coalition social media accounts. People do not have to be registered members to be featured. Anyone who lives, works, or plays in Warren County can submit a profile on the We See You website.

About Warren Coalition

Warren Coalition is a nonprofit agency established in 1994 to help fill the gaps in health care and substance misuse awareness to the community. The Coalition began under the guidance of Warren Memorial Hospital as an outreach project, but it has since grown and was incorporated in 2001.  The office is located in the Warren County Community Center.  Their mission is to make Warren County a safe, healthy, and drug-free community through many programs and in collaboration with 15+ member agencies.

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Ressie Jefferies Elementary School on a mission to teach kids how to ride a bike



The Royal Examiner went on a field trip to Ressie Jefferies Elementary School this week to see how they teach kindergarten kids to ride a bike. It was quite a sight to see. So “precious” was a comment we heard.

Physical Education teacher Nick Simmons explained the process and how the program began at Ressie.

So, what is this program all about?

This is a national movement led by the Strider Education Foundation to place Kindergarten PE Learn-To-Ride Programs into public schools for free, using donations from individuals, businesses, and organizations.

Learning to ride a bike builds the confidence that changes everything, including balance and muscle strength. It also improves children’s health, including cardiovascular, motor skills, coordination, weight management, skeletal development, and the immune system.

The students started with a warm-up exercise by running around the gym and practicing their balance. Our publisher Mike McCool tried his hand at the balancing exercise – it was a fail. Don’t laugh too hard when you see him trying.




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Robotic field painter, senior center patio among School Board approvals



Warren County School Board Vice Chair Ralph Rinaldi (above) said during the board’s February 1 meeting that he plans to run for re-election in the next election. “We have made a lot of progress as a School Board here for the students and the staff of Warren County,” said Rinaldi, who has represented the Shenandoah District since January 2020. His term ends on December 31.

The Warren County School Board, during its Wednesday, February 1 meeting, unanimously approved several action items, including the purchase of a robotic athletic field painter, a senior center patio, an IT construction proposal, and another school bus purchase.

School Board Chair Kristen Pence, Vice Chair Ralph Rinaldi, and board members Antoinette Funk, Andrea Lo, and Melanie Salins voted 5-0 to approve the collaborative purchase of a robotic field painter. The total cost of $45,080 — which will be paid over a six-year period at $7,513 each year — will be divided equally between the Warren County Public Schools (WCPS) Facilities Department, Skyline High School, and Warren County High School. Each will pay $2,504 yearly to Tiny Mobile Robots USA, LLC.
An additional appropriation is not required as budgets for these departments can cover the annual expense, according to WCPS staff, who told the School Board that the purchase is considered the best option for efficiently using school district manpower and will produce an annual cost saving on paint.

The School Board also voted unanimously to approve a patio for the new Warren County Senior Center being built at its 15th Street school property, which is officially known as the Warren County Health and Human Services Complex. WCPS sublets roughly 59,010 square feet at the former 15th Street Middle School facility to the Warren County Department of Social Services, the County’s Health Department, and the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging, among others.

Taryn Logan, Deputy County Administrator for Warren County, presented details on the proposed patio, noting that the lease agreement requires the School Board to approve any exterior renovations in advance in writing.

“We’re currently making improvements to the cafeteria space to move the senior center from its current location, which is by Chimney Fields, to this location,” Logan said.
There is a grassy area right outside the cafeteria doors where the patio, a stone sign that will say Warren County Senior Center, and a metal fence to enclose the area will be located, said Logan. “We think it’ll be a nice little area for the seniors to enjoy outside,” she said.

In another action, the School Board unanimously passed a request for another school bus purchase from Sonny Merryman Bus Co. costing $127,509. The bus will be manufactured and delivered along with the seven current buses on order. All vehicles are scheduled to be ready before the 2023-2024 school year, according to WCPS Assistant Superintendent of Administration George “Buck” Smith.

Smith said the board also authorized the superintendent to make the bus purchase request to the Warren County Board of Supervisors, which would have to modify the amount on the existing purchase order.

Additionally, a $160,929 network wiring project at Leslie Fox Keyser Elementary School was approved for Syntax Communications.

“As part of the LFK construction project, the network cabling needs to be updated to meet the current technology needs of the modern school system,” WCPS Technology Director Tim Grant told board members, adding that the cost will be paid out of the LFK construction funds and was bid through the Warren County government IT contract.

Other School Board business included attendance awards being presented by WCPS Superintendent Christopher Ballenger (above).

A.S. Rhodes Elementary School received an award for having a 95.38 percent attendance rate during the month of January, Ballenger said. Incentives to ramp up attendance at the school included extra gym time, cookie decorating, and class option choices such as dance parties and having lunch with a teacher in the classroom.

Warren County Middle School won for the second time in a row with a 92.21 percent attendance rate for January. Incentives included a snowball fight, watching a movie with their friends, and earning a trophy.

The most improved for January was Hilda J. Barbour Elementary School, which saw attendance rise 2.84 percent for an overall 93.1 percent attendance rate in January, according to Ballenger. Fun incentives included popsicles with the principal for the class having the best attendance on any given day.

Click her to watch the School Board meeting of February 1, 2023.

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Front Royal Presbyterian Church holds open conversation regarding Thermal Shelter



On January 30, 2023, the Front Royal Presbyterian Church held a ‘question and answer’ session at the church regarding the Thermal Shelter. The 2022/2023 season of the Thermal Shelter is being held at the Front Royal Presbyterian Church. Several neighbors are concerned about the Thermal Shelter and its operation. Pastor Carrie Evans moderated the conversation, along with Michelle Smelter and several shelter board members, to answer questions.

The shelters will operate from December 17, 2022, to March 31, 2023, from 6:00 pm to 7:00 am daily.

Watch this exclusive Royal Examiner video.

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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

Avery-Hess Realty, Marilyn King

Beaver Tree Services

Blake and Co. Hair Spa

Blue Ridge Arts Council

Blue Ridge Education

BNI Shenandoah Valley

C&C's Ice Cream Shop

Card My Yard

CBM Mortgage, Michelle Napier

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 Independent Business Alliance

First Baptist Church

Front Royal Women's Resource Center

Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce

Fussell Florist

G&M Auto Sales Inc

Garcia & Gavino Family Bakery

Gourmet Delights Gifts & Framing

Green to Ground Electrical

Groups Recover Together

Habitat for Humanity

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

Mountain View Music

National Media Services

Natural Results Chiropractic Clinic

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

Shenandoah Shores Management Group

St. Luke Community Clinic

Strites Doughnuts

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

Warren County DSS Job Development

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
7:17 am5:36 pm EST
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Wind: 11mph NW
Humidity: 38%
Pressure: 30.5"Hg
UV index: 0

Upcoming Events

1:00 pm Front Royal Bluegrass Music Jam @ The Body Shop
Front Royal Bluegrass Music Jam @ The Body Shop
Feb 4 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Front Royal Bluegrass Music Jam @ The Body Shop
New Bluegrass and traditional music jam the first Saturday of each month starting Feb. 4th, from 1pm till 4pm. All levels of playing invited to attend.
8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
Chocolate Crawl
Feb 6 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
Chocolate Crawl
Feb 7 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
Chocolate Crawl
Feb 8 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Feb 8 @ 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 am Chocolate Crawl
Chocolate Crawl
Feb 9 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
Chocolate Crawl
Feb 10 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
Chocolate Crawl
Feb 11 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
Chocolate Crawl
Feb 12 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
11:30 am Galentine’s Brunch & Market @ Vibrissa Beer
Galentine’s Brunch & Market @ Vibrissa Beer
Feb 12 @ 11:30 am – 5:00 pm
Galentine's Brunch & Market @ Vibrissa Beer
Come Celebrate Friendship & Treat Yourself! Only 30 tickets available and they will go quickly. Tickets include: A Beautiful Brunch at Vibrissa Beer! Two tickets to a Mimosa Bar at Vibrissa! A Silent Auction at[...]