Connect with us

Local News

Town’s ‘Cancel Culture’ on years of Happy Creek bank maintenance

Published

on

If you are a community volunteer (and hopefully you are), imagine how you might feel if the organization you dedicated your time to, not only destroyed your work but denied it ever even existed.
In his waning hours as vice mayor, Bill Sealock repeatedly stated that the section of Happy Creek along Front Street hadn’t been maintained for 17 years. Mayor Chris Holloway echoed his colleague in the Northern Virginia Daily on January 5 (Crews Resume Work on Happy Creek): “What is not due diligence is allowing the creek to grow out of control as it had for over 17 years with no work being done to mitigate flooding and erosion.” And, after one month on the job, Front Royal’s new Town Manager Steven Hicks added: “Over the years, it hasn’t been maintained and that’s what’s causing the erosion.”

You can imagine the surprise felt by hundreds of volunteers who have maintained Front Street’s forested riparian buffer and stream habitat for 14 years. Reporting to Town Horticulturalist Carrie Whitacre (2006-08) and her successor, Anne Rose (2009-2019), Front Royal/Warren County Tree Stewards alone dedicated hundreds of hours to planting more than 100 native trees (now removed), eliminating invasive plant species, especially shrubby undergrowth, and pruning trees to ensure healthy growth and structure.

 

2006-07: Tree Stewards removing invasive shrubs and trees. To prevent regeneration of invasive species, one volunteer with a professional Pesticide Applicators Certification regularly treated stumps and sprouts.

Prior to the Town’s recent destruction of the Front Street riparian buffer, significant sections of the streambank were intact. Erosion merited riprap only in a few sections undercut by the stream. In fact, uprooting the trees installed along the Prospect Street creek “bench” actually destroyed a section repaired by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries in 2006-07 that was reversing erosion by accumulating sediment. (The bench is that flat area below street level formed naturally by the stream itself during flood periods, allowing excess water to slow down and spread out, forming puddles as it recedes for absorption by tree roots and soil.)


Water is a force of nature that will not be denied. Harnessing that force to maximize its many benefits, from recreation to esthetics and human consumption, demands a mix of natural and manmade intervention. For 14 years of hard work, community volunteers deserve our thanks for doing their part, not erasure from our collective memory. Had the Town not neglected its own responsibility for erosion control, this situation could have been mitigated in a less dramatic manner – even so, clearcutting and armoring the entire streambank were uncalled for.

2008: Scouts, Young Marines and other youth groups help Tree Stewards plant 50 seedlings from the Virginia Department of Forestry along Front Street. Seedlings were hand-watered by volunteers for months to ensure survival. The majority of these twelve-year-old trees were eliminated in fall 2020.

Of the eight groups comprising the Save Happy Creek Coalition, three (Beautification of Front Royal Committee, Front Royal/Warren County Tree Stewards, Warren County Chapter of Izaak Walton League) have contributed significant sweat equity to creek maintenance. These volunteer organizations were founded by individuals with a mission to educate the public and assist the Town in realizing community aspirations. It was never their intent to act as watchdogs or gadflies. The Tree Stewards and Appalachian Trail Community Committee were even launched by Town proclamation, which included certification prerequisites. Though not a coalition member, the Urban Forestry Advisory Commission (UFAC) was formed as a qualifying “Tree Board” requirement for Tree City USA certification.

UFAC, Tree Stewards, Appalachian Trail Community, and Beautification Committee reported to Town staff liaisons whose positions are now eliminated, vacant, or filled with individuals who have failed to acknowledge these groups’ existence. Town horticulturalist Anne Rose, for example, has not been replaced, a significant loss of institutional memory and expertise. Prior to 2019, these groups would have been consulted in advance or at least given the courtesy of a heads-up about destruction of the riparian buffer they developed and maintained for 14 years. Now they deserve honest answers for this violation of public trust and an apology for disrespect of work carried out at the behest of the Town itself.

2006-07: The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) provided a grant to repair a 100’ stretch of streambank and improve trout habitat along Front Street. Fifteen public and private project partners ranged from the Town of Front Royal, Warren County Parks & Rec, and Front Royal Urban Forestry Advisory Commission to local Boy Scouts, Trout Unlimited, Izaak Walton League, and others. Above: VDGIF staff stabilizing the bank with seed, fertilizer, and straw matting. Trees were later planted in this section. Note erosion and sediment control measures in the picture on the right, preventing sediment from entering the stream during disturbance. Until its destruction, this section had actually REVERSED erosion by accumulating sediment.

Installed in the Front Street creek bed by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Rosgen structures are configurations of large rocks that prevent erosion by slowing down the water as well as channeling it away from the banks and into the center of the channel. Called “debris” in the Town’s application for a permit from the Virginia Commission of Marine Resources, several of these beneficial structures have been damaged or destroyed.

Did you know that community volunteers even played a major role in making the Royal Greenway a reality? At a Town Council work session in 2008, the Tree Stewards presented a plan for a greenway developed some years earlier by a former Front Royal town planner. As luck would have it, then Town Manager Michael Graham and Mayor Jim Eastham had been looking over the same plan. And from that spark, Tree Stewards, the Town of Front Royal, and Warren County worked hand in hand to make that vision come true.

But apparently even this reality could vanish without your vigilance and support as citizens of our town and county.

2010-11: The Front Royal Urban Forestry Advisory Commission obtained a grant from the Virginia Department of Forestry for removal of invasive species at the Front Street site. The work was carried out by Angler Environmental, an environmental engineering company specializing in aquatic work. Below: The completed project, including woodchips from removed brush used as mulch.

 

 

2008-2018: The Tree Stewards maintained the Front Street riparian buffer, dedicating an average of two work sessions annually to clearing underbrush and invasive species, planting seedlings and trees, and limbing up branches to open views and access to the creek. Pictured below is the result of thinning and pruning in 2018.

Members of the Izaak Walton League conduct two annual volunteer clean-ups of the entire creek-bed in Front Royal. In 2016 volunteers are pictured here loading up trash deposited by stormwater rushing through the many culverts that drain streets and parking lots into the Happy Creek.

 

Annual Arbor Day plantings: Left: The 2020 Arbor Day addition, a black gum planted by Tree Stewards along Front Street. Right: Former Beautification Committee president Lorraine Hultquist pitches in to plant a willow tree funded by the Committee and a grant from the Virginia Department of Forestry for Arbor Day in 2016. The Beautification of Front Royal Committee has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for trees planted in Front Royal, including most of the Arbor Day selections.

 

Share the News:


Local News

VDOT: Warren County Traffic alert for October 18 – 22, 2021

Published

on

The following is a list of highway work that may affect traffic in Warren County during the coming weeks. Scheduled work is subject to change due to inclement weather and material supplies. Motorists are advised to watch for slow-moving tractors during mowing operations. When traveling through a work zone, be alert to periodic changes in traffic patterns and lane closures.

*NEW* or *UPDATE* indicates a new or revised entry since last week’s report.

INTERSTATE 66
*NEW* Mile marker 0 to 8, eastbound and westbound – Shoulder closures at various locations for litter pickup, Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
*NEW* Mile marker 7 to 11, eastbound – Overnight mobile lane closures for pavement marking, 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. through October 18.
*NEW* Mile marker 15 to 12, westbound – Overnight mobile lane closures for pavement marking, 8 p.m. to 9 a.m. through October 18.
INTERSTATE 81
No lane closures were reported.
PRIMARY ROADS
No lane closures were reported.
SECONDARY ROADS
Route 624 (Happy Creek Road) – Flagger traffic control between Front Royal eastern town limits and Route 647 (Dismal Hollow Road) for the safety improvement project, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Estimated project completion December 10.

Vegetation management may take place district-wide on various routes. Motorists are reminded to use extreme caution when traveling through work zones.

Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511. Traffic alerts and traveler information also are available at www.511Virginia.org.


The VDOT Customer Service Center can assist with reporting road hazards, asking transportation questions, or getting information related to Virginia’s roads. Call 800-FOR- ROAD (800-367-7623) or use its mobile-friendly website at my.vdot.virginia.gov. Agents are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

 

Share the News:

Continue Reading

Local News

Front Royal Main Street eatery changes ‘Yappy Hour’ day from Friday to Monday, updates menu

Published

on

One of Main Street’s popular restaurants recently underwent a name and menu change and also switched the day it devotes to “Yappy Hour.”

During the past couple of years, ViNoVa owner Rachel Failmezger and executive chef Chris Kenworthy featured a tapas menu similar to a Spanish favorite, now moving along to an Italian-Mediterranean style of cooking and changing its long-running “Yappy Hour” from Friday evenings to Mondays (4-6 p.m.). Restaurant hours of operation also have been amended, noon to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday (closed Tuesday) and noon to midnight Friday and Saturday.

The restaurant’s new name retains its original “ViNoVa” with the added words “Mediterranean Bistro.” The property seats about 50 and each Friday, off and on for the past decade, has helped donate thousands of dollars to the Humane Society of Warren County’s Julia Wagner Animal Shelter.

ViNoVa Mediterranean Bistro is now center stage for Monday ‘Yappy Hour’ (4-6 p.m.), a new menu, and new hours based on pandemic-driven lifestyle changes. Below, ‘Yappy Hour’ regulars Rico and Pablo show support for the Humane Society/Wagner Animal Shelter fundraiser, whatever day of the week it is held. Royal Examiner Photos by Roger Bianchini


Rachel, noting differing (earlier) eating habits since the pandemic struck, suggests closing earlier than 2 a.m. better meets the needs of an expanded staff and earlier diners, as would the changed menu.

“Overall, we will be more flexible, more accommodating,” Rachel opined in a recent interview as nearby regular customers appeared to be in agreement with the menu changes. “Whatever restaurants did two years ago, they cannot do today. It’s a new age for us,” she said, mentioning that the entrees will be larger, and there will be an emphasis on lunches, particularly the quick “take out” type featuring the “Viva Bowl” in which you choose your own ingredients for an affordable $9 “to go!”

Something to remember by early birds at the Bistro: beer and wine prices are staggered starting at $3 per glass for a beer at 3 p.m., rising to $4 at 4 p.m. and then on to $5 at 5 p.m. for the rest of the evening.

Cheers!

Portion of recent ‘Yappy Hour’ in transition crowd, from left, Skip and Cathy Rogers, Scott Shutt, Internationally known Chihuahua Rico, Pablo Guitterez, and our intrepid reporter Malcolm Barr Sr.

Share the News:

Continue Reading

Crime/Court

Linden man arrested, charged for child abuse

Published

on

On October 12, 2021, at approximately 8:20pm, Warren County Sheriff’s Office received a call about an 8-year-old juvenile walking on Freezeland Road, Linden, Virginia. The caller stated the juvenile advised them they were running away from home due to being abused by their father. Deputies responded to 78 Lookout Point Way, Linden, Virginia, where the juvenile resides to perform a welfare check. Upon arrival deputies spoke with Matthew Steven Lewis, the juvenile’s father, and made contact with the juvenile. During the welfare check, deputies observed that the juvenile had sustained multiple injuries. Deputies had Warren County Fire & Rescue respond to the residence, and the juvenile was transported to Warren Memorial Hospital for further treatment.

After the initial investigation Matthew Steven Lewis was placed under arrest for Domestic Assault (M), Child Endangerment (F), and Strangulation (F). Matthew Steven Lewis was held without bond at RSW Regional Jail, preliminary hearing is set for November 4, 2021.

Matthew Steven Lewis. Photo / RSW Regional Jail

Warren County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank Front Royal Police Department, Virginia State Police, and Warren County Department of Social Services for their assistance.


Share the News:

Continue Reading

Local News

Social Security announces 5.9 percent benefit increase for 2022

Published

on

Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for approximately 70 million Americans will increase 5.9 percent in 2022, the Social Security Administration announced today.

The 5.9 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 64 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2022.  Increased payments to approximately 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 30, 2021.  (Note: some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefits).  The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Some other adjustments that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages.  Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $147,000 from $142,800.

Social Security and SSI beneficiaries are normally notified by mail starting in early December about their new benefit amount.  Most people who receive Social Security payments will be able to view their COLA notice online through their personal my Social Security account.  People may create or access their my Social Security account online at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.


Information about Medicare changes for 2022, when announced, will be available at www.medicare.gov.  For Social Security beneficiaries receiving Medicare, Social Security will not be able to compute their new benefit amount until after the Medicare premium amounts for 2022 are announced.  Final 2022 benefit amounts will be communicated to beneficiaries in December through the mailed COLA notice and my Social Security’s Message Center.

The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated.  To read more, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.

Share the News:


Continue Reading

Local News

Wildlife biologist to explain changes to deer hunting season during October supervisors meeting

Published

on

BERRYVILLE, VA — A wildlife biologist from the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) has been invited by the Clarke County Board of Supervisors to talk about the significant changes to the 2021-22 deer hunting season in Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah, and Warren counties. Fred Frenzel makes his public presentation during the Supervisors’ evening session at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19. The session includes public hearings on proposed code changes. The presentation and public hearings are in the second-floor meeting room of the Berryville-Clarke County Government Center at 101 Chalmers Ct.

DWR made changes to this year’s deer season because of chronic wasting disease, Frenzel said. Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a fatal neurological disease that can pass between deer through saliva, feces, and urine as well as through water or contaminated soil. CWD was first diagnosed in deer in West Virginia in 2005. It was first detected in Virginia in 2009, and has been reported in Fauquier, Frederick, Clarke, Culpeper, Loudoun, Madison, Montgomery, Rappahannock, Shenandoah, and Warren counties.

“As a result of chronic wasting disease, DWR made drastic changes to deer season in four of the counties I cover,” said Frenzel, the DWR district wildlife biologist for Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah, Warren, and Page counties. He said the changes were made to mitigate the spread of CWD, noting only minor changes were made to deer season in Page.

Supervisor Doug Lawrence, who represents the Russell District, requested the Supervisors host a public presentation to address questions about the current deer season. “When they changed deer season, it caught a lot of people by surprise,” Lawrence said. “I thought our hunters should understand the rationale behind the changes.”


Clarke Supervisors have also asked Frenzel to discuss coyote bounties, game bird preserves, and Clarke’s prohibition of hunting within 300 feet of public roads.

Read about Virginia’s 2021-22 deer season at dwr.virginia.gov/hunting/regulations/deer/.

For more information about the Oct. 19 public presentation on deer hunting and/or the public hearings, contact County Administration at (540) 955-5100 or info@clarkecounty.gov.

Share the News:

Continue Reading

Jenspiration

RMA Interact students help clean up our community

Published

on

Our local RMA Interact Club had a great experience cleaning up Kendrick Lane last week. 17 RMA middle school students participated with our very own Nancie Williams, Arnold Williams, and two faculty members. One of the most interesting items they collected was a old piece of metal, featured in a picture below!

Do you have a student in one of our local schools and want to learn more about Interact? Contact us: www.warrencountyrotary.org

Share the News:

Continue Reading

King Cartoons

Front Royal
46°
Clear
7:25am6:29pm EDT
Feels like: 46°F
Wind: 3mph SSW
Humidity: 74%
Pressure: 30.02"Hg
UV index: 0
MonTueWed
66/45°F
72/48°F
73/46°F

Upcoming Events

Oct
18
Mon
11:00 am Art Class for K-1st @ Strokes of Creativity
Art Class for K-1st @ Strokes of Creativity
Oct 18 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Art Class for K-1st @ Strokes of Creativity
This class is for Kindergarten and First Grade. Perfect for home schoolers. Recommended ages: Ages 5 and 6 Tickets: CLICK HERE Tickets are available through Square Up, or can be paid in person at Strokes[...]
1:00 pm Art Class for 2nd & 3rd @ Strokes of Creativity
Art Class for 2nd & 3rd @ Strokes of Creativity
Oct 18 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Art Class for 2nd & 3rd @ Strokes of Creativity
This class is for Grades 2nd and 3rd. Perfect for home schoolers. Recommended ages: 7 and 8 years old Tickets: CLICK HERE Tickets are available through Square Up, or can be paid in person at[...]
Oct
21
Thu
10:00 am Senior Painting Class with Dottie @ Strokes of Creativity
Senior Painting Class with Dottie @ Strokes of Creativity
Oct 21 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Senior Painting Class with Dottie @ Strokes of Creativity
Senior Painting Class with Dottie at Strokes of Creativity. Tickets: CLICK HERE Cost: $80 for 6 weeks Dates: Thursdays – Oct 21, Oct 28, Nov 4, Nov 11, Nov 18, Dec 4 Time: 10 am[...]
1:00 pm Art Class for 4th & 5th @ Strokes of Creativity
Art Class for 4th & 5th @ Strokes of Creativity
Oct 21 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Art Class for 4th & 5th @ Strokes of Creativity
This class is for Grades 4th and 5th. Perfect for home schoolers. Recommended ages: 9 and 10 years old Tickets: CLICK HERE Tickets are available through Square Up, or can be paid in person at[...]
Oct
23
Sat
11:00 am Fall Farm Days: History of Sky M... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Fall Farm Days: History of Sky M... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Oct 23 @ 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Fall Farm Days: History of Sky Meadows @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area.  During Fall Farm Days History Weekend, step back in time and see history come to life. Stroll through the Historic Area buildings, interact with our living historians and discover our links to historic[...]
1:00 pm Paint Class for Kids Ages 8 and up @ Strokes of Creativity
Paint Class for Kids Ages 8 and up @ Strokes of Creativity
Oct 23 @ 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
Paint Class for Kids Ages 8 and up @ Strokes of Creativity
This is a painting class for children 8 years old and up. Tickets: CLICK HERE Tickets are available through Square Up, or can be paid in person at Strokes of Creativity. Date: Saturday, October 23,[...]
Oct
24
Sun
11:00 am Fall Farm Days: History of Sky M... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Fall Farm Days: History of Sky M... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Oct 24 @ 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Fall Farm Days: History of Sky Meadows @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area.  During Fall Farm Days History Weekend, step back in time and see history come to life. Stroll through the Historic Area buildings, interact with our living historians and discover our links to historic[...]
Oct
25
Mon
11:00 am Art Class for K-1st @ Strokes of Creativity
Art Class for K-1st @ Strokes of Creativity
Oct 25 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Art Class for K-1st @ Strokes of Creativity
This class is for Kindergarten and First Grade. Perfect for home schoolers. Recommended ages: Ages 5 and 6 Tickets: CLICK HERE Tickets are available through Square Up, or can be paid in person at Strokes[...]
1:00 pm Art Class for 2nd & 3rd @ Strokes of Creativity
Art Class for 2nd & 3rd @ Strokes of Creativity
Oct 25 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Art Class for 2nd & 3rd @ Strokes of Creativity
This class is for Grades 2nd and 3rd. Perfect for home schoolers. Recommended ages: 7 and 8 years old Tickets: CLICK HERE Tickets are available through Square Up, or can be paid in person at[...]
Oct
28
Thu
10:00 am Senior Painting Class with Dottie @ Strokes of Creativity
Senior Painting Class with Dottie @ Strokes of Creativity
Oct 28 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Senior Painting Class with Dottie @ Strokes of Creativity
Senior Painting Class with Dottie at Strokes of Creativity. Tickets: CLICK HERE Cost: $80 for 6 weeks Dates: Thursdays – Oct 21, Oct 28, Nov 4, Nov 11, Nov 18, Dec 4 Time: 10 am[...]