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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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Computerized shredder of sensitive documents marketed by area lawyer



Local launch of ‘Shred/Cube’ scheduled for March 2020

Fifteen years ago, a Warren County attorney had a dream.

Sometime in the next couple of months, probably the first week of March, the dream will come true.

At that time, Nancie Williams will offer a prototype of her invention, a white, inch-square cube in a small green box, to professional establishments in the Northern Shenandoah Valley to test for its efficacy in totally destroying data that, until now, has been sent to the computers’ Recycling or Trash bin, deleted, and forgotten about.

Unbeknownst to many computer users, files deleted in this manner remain accessible on the hard drive and can be extracted by even lower-skilled hackers. Nancie’s invention, the Shred/Cube, aims to solve this very common issue.

Simple to use: Plug the Shred/Cube in to USB port and you’re ready for permanent virtual world deletion. – Courtesy Photos

The Shred/Cube is a small device that plugs into a computer’s USB port and requires no installation or external downloads to be used. Once inserted, the device places an icon on your desktop that opens a very simple and user-friendly control panel. Users can drag and drop any files onto this virtual control panel to either “shred” or “disintegrate” them, the former being used for the home and office while the latter meets the Department of Defense’s (DoD) standard for unclassified file disposal. Nancie’s team has tested her product’s usefulness at permanently destroying computer files by using the best-known file recovery methods available on the market, with zero successful recovery attempts.

Nancie, who resides with husband Arnold and their two young children in Middletown, came to the area from Alexandria in 2005. She first joined the Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office before continuing in private law practice, which she continues to do from her office, Northern Valley Law LLC in Front Royal.

The dream began, and, by and by, she devised a computer attachment, on paper, that became a reality more than a decade later when she sought out a technician who would buy into her model and turn it into a piece of equipment. To turn the dream into reality, in stepped Alex Stieb of Stephens City, founder of Lux Foundation Solutions, a designer building and engineering firm. Alex, a family man with four young children, is a self-taught, from age 10, computer nerd and immediately knew what his new attorney friend was talking about.

Alex Stieb and Nancie Williams happily toss a dream between them as the little white Shred Cube’s launch date draws near.

Said Nancie, “Up until Alex and I met, folks had routinely pooh pooed my concept … he came along, believed in the product, designed it (along with a core group of a dozen others with varied technical backgrounds) and here we are with a fully functional ‘Shred/Cube’, ready to test market, hopefully on March 1 or thereabouts.”

Around that date, Nancie says, 1,000 Shred/Cubes will be placed on the market locally. The likes of doctors, dentists, hospitals, law firms, government entities including colleges and schools that keep highly confidential records of clients, patients, teachers, students and so on are the targets of this initial marketing effort by Shred/Cube LLC.

Fully patented and tested, the cost of the small, white cube in the Nancie-designed green box, will be $149.99. A Warren County Rotary Club member, Nancie Williams (known prior to her marriage to Arnold Williams as Nancy Kie) will first address her Rotary club on her invention, and be open to invitations to other organizations who want to hear about it. The U.S government, perhaps?

If it is successful, what do Nancie and Alex see for their invention?

“We’ll sell to the highest bidder,” Nancie smiled.

The Shred/Cube will soon be ready for marketing.

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Disposition of Solar Panels



The Front Royal Warren County Economic Development Authority (WCEDA) is advertising for any party interested in purchasing the solar electric system currently stationed on top of the EDA Building at 400 Kendrick Lane, Front Royal.

The system must removed at no cost to the EDA and the roof must be left in good repair. The EDA has a deadline of April 30, 2020 to complete the removal of the system. Details of the solar electric system are available at the WCEDA offices.

Interested parties may inspect the system in person at the WCEDA offices. The successful bidder will hold the WCEDA harmless during the removal process and add the WCEDA as an insured to their insurance policies.

Submit your interest, in writing, no later than Noon Thursday, February 6, 2020.


Doug Parsons
Executive Director
Front Royal/Warren County EDA
P.O. Box 445
Front Royal, VA 22630

540-635-2182 (office)

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Open Forum from Lord Fairfax Community College and Blue Ridge Community College presidents



According to the Virginia Employment Commission, by 2026, Virginia needs to fill 2.6 million jobs that will require more than a high school diploma, but less than a bachelor’s degree. A proposal currently in the General Assembly, G3 (Get a Skill, Get a Job, Give Back), charts a strategic path toward filling that gap.

G3 addresses the critical workforce shortages many local businesses are currently facing. In fact, our colleges have spent the past year listening to leaders in those businesses to identify what skills they need most. G3 is designed to give more individuals in our area access to career and technical training programs in the following high-demand fields: Healthcare; Information Technology and Computer Science; Manufacturing and Skilled Trades; Early Childhood Education; and Public Safety.

G3 is an enhanced financial aid program that makes higher education more accessible to low- and middle-income individuals. G3 provides financial support for tuition, textbooks and cost of living expenses that will help them enroll and complete career-focused workforce training programs.

G3 would make a big difference for people in our communities, including ALICE families and individuals. The United Way introduced us to ALICE, which means Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, and Employed. In other words, ALICE is the working poor. Two out of five Virginia households are within the ALICE population. You likely know members of ALICE. They are your neighbors, your coworkers, perhaps you or members of your own family. We’d like to share with you the stories of two of our ALICE students.

Jenny is a single parent of three children and a full-time student in our nursing (RN) program. During the week, she is in class three days a week and at her clinical rotation for two days. She drives one hour each way to train with her nurse preceptor at a hospital. This only leaves the weekend to work, where she spends 15-20 hours as a LPN at a care facility.

Because Jenny has a part-time job, she will receive some federal financial aid to cover tuition and books, but likely not a full Pell grant. She also receives a modest scholarship. Yet, there is still a gap between the funds she receives for college and the costs of rent, utilities, gas, and children. G3 is designed to bridge that funding gap and keep Jenny on the path toward a rewarding career with a good salary in a high-demand area.

Mike has been working for a recycling company, and his wife is employed in a manufacturing plant. His job is being phased out and he needs to find another career, so he enrolled in classes with the goal of becoming a manufacturing technician. This grandfather of four does not qualify for federal aid, but G3 could help support him while he learns a new skill to be employed in an industry desperate for employees.

The Valley needs more nurses. We need people in the trades to fix and build things. We need technicians to protect our data. We need more skilled workers to help recruit and support business and industry in our region. Because graduates from G3 programs will be contributing more in state income taxes as they become higher earners, the Commonwealth will enjoy a tangible return on the investment in G3. We encourage each of you and our state legislators to support G3.

Dr. Kimberly P. Blosser – President, Lord Fairfax Community College
Dr. John A. Downey – President, Blue Ridge Community College

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Community Events

Essay contest open to Warren County and Shenandoah County public high school seniors



Now in its third year, the Shenandoah Area Secular Humanist (SASH) Essay Contest is open to public high school seniors from Warren and Shenandoah Counties, giving them the opportunity to compete for a $500 prize to use as they like following graduation.

Aimed at encouraging students to consider the role and impact of religion in society, this year’s essay topic asks the question “How important is the separation of church and state in a democratic society?” Peter Wilson, Scholarship Coordinator stated, “We do not have a specific correct answer in mind; we want to know what students think and why.”

Applicants must compose an essay of 350-1,000 words that addresses the topic/question in whatever way they see fit. There are no GPA or financial needs requirements for a student to be eligible to compete and the essay is the only required document for submission. Essays will be anonymously reviewed by a SASH committee of judges, who will evaluate and score each based-on command of language, quality of approach to topic, and demonstration of critical thinking skills. As in past years, up to four $500 prizes will be awarded.

High school guidance counselors will assist with the contest by setting a due date for their individual school; collecting, copying, and forwarding essays to SASH by COB, April 3, 2020; and coordinating the notification of winners and presentation of awards at each school’s awards ceremony.

For more information, students should contact their high school guidance office.

About Shenandoah Area Secular Humanists:
SASH is a chapter of the Washington Area Secular Humanists (WASH). Secular Humanists are distinguished by the pursuit of humanist values outside of a religious framework: Critical Thinking, Ethical Development, Peace and Social Justice, Service and Participation, Empathy, Humility, Environmentalism, Global Awareness, Responsibility, and Altruism.

Anyone interested in learning more about secular humanism and SASH is invited to attend a chapter meeting, typically on the third Saturday of each month at Samuels Public Library in Front Royal. More information about SASH can also be found on the Washington Area Secular Humanists website, under “Chapters” on the navigation menu bar.

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Rotary Club of Warren County collecting donations for local thermal shelter



Do you have a middle school student at Skyline Middle School? The Skyline Middle School Interact Club is collecting new sheets and blankets for our local thermal shelter. Please make sure all blankets and sheets are still in the new wrappers/containers. White twin sheets and light colored blankets are the best and are easier to clean.

If you are not familiar with our Front Royal Thermal Shelter, here is some information provided to us by Michelle Smeltzer, a member of the Rotary Club of Warren County and Community Liaison for the Department of Social Services:

“The Front Royal Thermal Shelter gives the homeless of Warren County a place to stay warm during the winter months. The shelter is not in a fixed location – rather it is a cooperative effort by eight churches in the area, including New Hope Bible Church, Front Royal United Methodist Church, Front Royal Presbyterian Church, Marlow Heights Baptist Church, Riverton United Methodist Church, Virginia Hills Church, First Baptist Church and Dynamic Life Church. The guests are provided supper at about 7:30 each evening, and the volunteers join them. After supper, the volunteers join them and they play a variety of games, watch TV, or simply lie down on their cots after a tiring day. As the guests noted, this makes them feel as if someone really cares about them. Michelle said this makes a world of difference to them, because they too often feel alone and abandoned, as if the outside world ignores them. The following morning several of the churches provide breakfast, and some provide a bagged lunch when they leave for the day. The guests are assigned a cot when they arrive at the church, and that is their bed for a week. There are separate sleeping areas for men and women, and the program does not allow guests or volunteers with the program until they are at least 18 years of age because they are a no-barrier shelter. This year the shelter has also made arrangements, with the help of the Warren County Humane Society, to provide shelter for homeless pets of the guests.”

Michelle Smeltzer, a member of the Rotary Club of Warren County.

Remember – there are still many cold days ahead! Current update: The Front Royal Thermal Shelter’s greatest need is cash donations at this time: Here is an easy PayPal link. You can also visit their website to donate or learn more.

Together we are making a huge difference in this community! Thanks to all!

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R-MA J-Term class builds hydroponics lab



Lynette Lane explains how to build an NFT system at the start of the J-Term. This photo was from the first week of the J-Term classes. Additional photos showing more of the completed lab will be available later this week upon request.

On Thursday, January 23, 2020, Randolph-Macon Academy will introduce its new hydroponics lab to the R-MA community during an open house from 3 pm to 4 pm. The lab features five different kinds of hydroponic systems, all of which have been built by students taking the “Hydroponics and the Food We Eat” J-Term (January Term) class. Each system has been built with materials purchased at Lowes or on Amazon – such as gutters, plastic containers, hoses, boards and lights – developing systems the students can later recreate for themselves at home.

“We’ve been kind of hands-off,” commented Lynette Lane, the R-MA science teacher who is leading the project. “Sometimes I have to show them very specific steps or techniques, but then they have to figure out how to get it done. It’s been really great. Students have stepped up to do things that have really surprised me.”

The lab includes various systems, such as a Nutrient Film Technique (NFT), which will allow the students to harvest lettuce weekly. A deep water culture (DWC) is a non-circulating water system in which the students will grow basil, chard, and other greens. The students will grow microgreens in a bottom watered, coco coir system. The R-MA lab’s Dutch buckets will contain strawberries and peppers. The final system the students will build is a flood and drain one used for seedling propagation.

An earthworm composting process has also been created; this will make use of any leftover organic matter from the lab systems. In early May, earthworm castings will be removed from this system to be used as nutrient-dense fertilizer for spring plantings.

“I  think it’s so important for kids to see where food comes from, because most of them  just don’t know,” said Ms. Lane. “And a lot of these students come to R-MA from countries where growing food is problematic, because they don’t have land, they don’t have water. They can take this back. It uses 95% less water than conventional methods of agriculture.”

Although the J-Term ends January 24th, a hydroponics intramural class and the Environmental Science and Biology classes will continue to grow the plants throughout the spring semester.  The lab will start again in the fall, and run through the school year, providing leafy greens and microgreens for the community.

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Front Royal
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Upcoming Events

9:00 am Veterans Services Meeting at Abl... @ Able Forces
Veterans Services Meeting at Abl... @ Able Forces
Jan 24 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Veterans Services Meeting at Able Forces @ Able Forces
Able Forces Foundation will once again be hosting a visit by Andre Miller, Resource Specialist, Virginia Veteran and Family Support, Department of Veteran Services, Commonwealth of Virginia, and Danielle Cullers, Homeless Veteran Advocate-Volunteers of America[...]
11:00 am Goldilocks and the Three Bears @ Samuels Public Library
Goldilocks and the Three Bears @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 25 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Goldilocks and the Three Bears @ Samuels Public Library
A Story Ballet. Join us in a celebration of classic literature through dance! The whole family will enjoy this ballet performance, presented by the Northern Virginia Academy of Ballet.
1:00 pm Moving Mindfully: Finding and ke... @ Ruby Yoga
Moving Mindfully: Finding and ke... @ Ruby Yoga
Jan 25 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Moving Mindfully: Finding and keeping your footing @ Ruby Yoga
Join Ruby Yoga and Deborah Romero of Optimal Posture LLC for a series of workshops on moving more mindfully through life using the principles of yoga and the Alexander Technique. Slated for Saturday, Jan. 25,[...]
2:00 pm Aspiring Artists @ Samuels Public Library
Aspiring Artists @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 25 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Aspiring Artists @ Samuels Public Library
Are you aged 7 or older? Do you enjoy art? If so, please join us for our children’s art class. Using the classic scissor cutting art of Scherenschnitte, we will make silhouettes in a nature[...]
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 29 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, January 29 and Thursday, January 30: Puppies are cuddly! Puppies are cute! Our stories, songs, and craft will be about our friends, the puppies! Siblings[...]
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 30 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, January 29 and Thursday, January 30: Puppies are cuddly! Puppies are cute! Our stories, songs, and craft will be about our friends, the puppies! Siblings[...]
7:00 pm Love Revival – FREE Monthly Comm... @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Love Revival – FREE Monthly Comm... @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Jan 31 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Love Revival - FREE Monthly Community Dinner @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Free Community Dinner for everyone! Come enjoy a hot meal on the last Friday of every month at Love Revival Ministry Center.
10:00 am Books and Barks @ Samuels Public Library
Books and Barks @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 1 @ 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Books and Barks @ Samuels Public Library
Come to our extremely popular monthly program that gives developing readers the chance to read and relax with a trained therapy dog.  For beginning readers and up.  Choose a time slot at registration, which begins[...]
11:00 am HSWC Polar Plunge @ Northern Virginia 4-H Center
HSWC Polar Plunge @ Northern Virginia 4-H Center
Feb 1 @ 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
HSWC Polar Plunge @ Northern Virginia 4-H Center
The Humane Society of Warren County will hold their 1st annual Polar Plunge event on February 1st at the Culpeper Lake, located at the Northern Virginia 4-H Center in Harmony Hollow. “Plungers” are asked to[...]