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United We Stand – for our right to publicly disagree politically

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Vigil for Democracy founder Len Sherp, seated, finds himself surrounded by the opposition perspective on the president during the September 26 noontime vigil. The press negotiated a truce to facilitate a photo illustrating both sides’ intention of uniting to oppose any municipal effort to move them to a more obscure location. Pictured behind Sherp, from left, are Dean Peterson, Ralph and Michael Waller. Photos/Roger Bianchini

They say politics makes strange bedfellows – and it couldn’t get much stranger than pro- and anti-Trump contingents presenting a united front right here in Front Royal, Virginia.  But that could be the outcome if the Town of Front Royal pursues an initiative brought forward by some downtown, East Main Street business interests to try and move political demonstrators out of the Town Gazebo Village Commons area at the intersection of East Main and Chester Streets.

Photos taken, the truce collapsed into the ongoing debate over the relative merits of the 45th president of the United States, as Ralph Waller prepares to take a playful poke at the loyal opposition in defense of the president and nephew Michael’s side of the argument – it was good natured, we swear.

It is there on both sides of Chester Street that dueling political perspectives regarding the persona and agenda of the 45th president of the United States have been expressed for one hour, once a week over the past 18 months.

The rationale on removal from the center of Front Royal’s Historic Downtown Business District cited by town officials in communication with local Business Forum representatives is that the demonstrations are scaring potential customers away. See Related Story

A council majority and the mayor appeared reluctant to tackle the issue without more substantive evidence of that alleged disruption of local business or tourism.  Town Attorney Doug Napier suggested caution in any attempt to alter the nature or space of the demonstrations due to First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly regarding political opinions written into the U.S. Constitution.

Well, there is this silly, little Constitutional guarantee of the right to assemble in public space to express political viewpoints – Town Attorney Doug Napier briefs council on those rights on September 4.

However, while expressing unfamiliarity with the dueling demonstrations Vice-Mayor Eugene Tewalt volunteered to approach leadership of the two sides about the possibility of relocating to a less obtrusive spot than the town’s public square and nearby public property under the town clock.  A public space between South Commerce Avenue and Happy Creek south of the Pavemint restaurant was mentioned as a possible destination.

From an initial polling it appears the vice mayor’s initiative was met with less than an enthusiastic reaction from both sides of the political street.

“Sure, we’d do it with them – they’re not going to push us out of here,” original pro-Trump demonstrator Ralph Waller told Royal Examiner around noon on September 5, when informed of the business forum initiative brought to council the previous evening.  “Them” are the anti-Trump contingent across Chester Street from both pro-Trump demonstrations AND his Main Street Pawn Shop in front of which he initiated those demonstrations some 17 months ago.

This past Wednesday wasn’t the first time the two sides have crossed the street to seek common ground or debate their dueling perspectives. Here, Bob Hill extends a hand of truce to Ralph Waller in August 2017.

Waller’s business is essentially at ground zero of the dueling demonstrations, and he does not believe those demonstrations are deterring anyone from doing business downtown.  Told a jewelry shop owner across East Main Street was the closest business represented in support of the business forum initiative, Waller observed, “This is a tough time for the jewelry business everywhere.  Our jewelry sales are down but I don’t think it has anything to do with one hour, once a week out here,” he said gesturing toward the door to his shop from behind the counter.

Waller’s expression of potential legal unity with those of a different political perspective was not the only one we encountered that day.

“I’ll be proud to stand next to the Democrats for our right to be out here,”  teenaged Trump supporter Joel Simmons told Royal Examiner later that afternoon as Republicans gathered at party headquarters near the Chester Street political divide for an appearance by Virginia Congressional candidate Corey Stewart between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. on September 5.  In fact, during a brief media interview Stewart expressed support of the dueling downtown Front Royal political demonstrations.

Of downtown political demonstrations, Republican Senatorial candidate Corey Stewart tells WDVM reporter Bria Lloyd, ‘I think it’s really great what you have here in Front Royal – a real town center where citizens can get together and share political views, that doesn’t happen in every community, so it’s a very nice thing.’

‘Turf war’ revisited

That late-afternoon September 5 Republican gathering coincided with the first Wednesday in which the pro-Trump contingent had permitted the gazebo area for their demonstration.  That permitting is for six weeks, the maximum length of time a space may be permitted by the town government.  Consequently, as we spoke to Ralph Waller around noon on September 5, the space in front of his shop was empty while Len Sherp’s anti-Trump Vigil for Democracy was back to its earlier fall-winter noon to 1 p.m. timeframe, perhaps six weeks earlier than anticipated.

Warren County Republican Committee Chairman Steve Kurtz verified to Royal Examiner that he had initiated the permitting location change for the pro-Trump side some six weeks after initially being removed by town police from the gazebo during the July 25 pro- and anti-Trump demonstrations. See Related Story

“I went in and asked about its availability and was told it was available as of September 5.  I said they’ve been there what, a year and a half – that’s long enough,” Kurtz said as he prepared for the first Wednesday afternoon occupation of the gazebo area by Republicans on September 5 for the Corey Stewart visit.

Local Republicans prepared the Town Gazebo for Corey Stewart’s September 5 visit in the 4:30 to 6 p.m. time slot.

Asked if the pro-Trump contingent had maintained permitting for both sides of the street, Kurtz said, “No, I wouldn’t do that to them” – indicating he just wanted the demonstration “high ground” for the pro-Trump side for a change.

Asked if he wanted to comment for this story, Kurtz declined, saying he believed that those Republicans cited in the article – Ralph Waller, Joel Simmons and Dean Peterson had done a good job in representing the local committee’s stance.

Faced with a 4-1/2 hour gap between the two demonstrations (Kurtz’s gazebo area permit is from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.) when we talked to him on September 5, Waller laughingly bemoaned that gap – “Now we don’t have anyone to yell at” – though in ensuing weeks the initial pro-Trump contingent of Ralph Waller and his nephew Michael have reappeared at the noon hour with another supporter or two to keep the dueling perspectives in the same time slot.

Vigil for Democracy participants poke a little fun across the street and counter for Democratic candidates Jennifer Lewis in the Sixth Congressional District and flat-Tim Kaine, lurking behind the Lewis sign, in the noon hour time slot.

Both Waller and Vigil for Democracy organizer Len Sherp have noted that for gatherings of less than 50 people, no permit is required other than as a securing of a location.  One of those we encountered with the Wallers on the traditionally Trump and pawn shop side of Chester Street at subsequent noon-hour pro-Trump gatherings was Page County Republican Committee member Dean Peterson.  Peterson has been helping the Warren County Republican Committee with its pre-Congressional mid-term campaign headquarters and has consequently become a familiar face on the pro-Trump side of the street.

Divided we demonstrate …

Peterson, like Ralph Waller and even Simmons on occasion, have been among those hurling pro-Trump, anti-Democratic Party vocal challenges across Chester Street toward the anti-Trump Vigil for Democracy demonstrators.  We asked his opinion of any potential business-driven municipal initiative to move the political demonstrations from the town center.

From left on September 19, Dean Peterson, Ralph Waller, flat-Trump and handler present the noon-time opposition to the anti-Trump vigil side of the street.

“Well, that’s just wrong to start with – the gazebo is the center of town and we’ve always used this for the community, that’s what it’s for.  And even if someone has something that we disagree with, I will still support their right to protest, just as I would want them to support my right to do the same,” Peterson said, adding he believed that to be “a mutual attitude” across what has become Front Royal’s weekly political divide.

Identifying that opposing, anti-Trump side as “socialists” philosophically, Peterson added, “I can’t stand socialism – people call me the most anti-socialist person they’ve ever met.  Yet, I will still stand for their right to protest, even if I disagree with them.”

United We Stand

Vigil for Democracy organizer Len Sherp was away on an extended Labor Day holiday when the downtown Business Forum initiative was brought before council on September 4.  Back for the September 12 Vigil for Democracy, the second of this season at the noon to 1 p.m. time slot, we approached him about that initiative.

Sherp and his Vigil for Democracy contingent have readjusted to their noon to 1 p.m. time slot, continuing to present a slightly different political perspective than that from across the street or at the gazebo at 4:30 p.m.

“If people say this is affecting their business, I respond I am doing business – I am doing the people’s business,” Sherp began.  “Our freedom of speech and our freedom of assembly are not meant to be pushed off to a corner.  The very nature of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly is that it should be available to the public.  This is our town square – the gazebo is the town square.  It was set aside as the public space.  So, as I said I believe we are doing the public’s business, as I believe the other side is doing their version of the public’s business.

“So, I would be unlikely under any circumstance to voluntarily move from an area that is actually designated the public commons.  As I’ve often said, this is an open forum.  And if our forum has to change to an immediate question on defending free speech and freedom of assembly, I would welcome all allies,” Sherp concluded of a potential alliance with the pro-Trump contingent on both sides’ Constitutional right to express their political opinion and be heard in that expression.

United Sherp and Waller stand in their right to publicly disagree politically.

Strange bedfellows

Sherp began his Vigil for Democracy at the Town Gazebo space on March 8, 2017 to express opposition to Donald Trump and his agenda, which to Sherp seems to be in large part self-promotion and the self-enrichment of his, his family and friends’ business interests.  Sherp often appears at his vigils supporting a one-word “emoluments” sign – emoluments being the section of the U.S. Constitution prohibiting self-profit from the office of the presidency.

Sherp questions whether the president is adhering to the section of the U.S. Constitution prohibiting self-enrichment from the office of the presidency.

Waller, Simmons, Peterson and their allies from the local political right have often reflected the national defense of President Trump – essentially that negative information about Trump or his past business dealings; Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election on behalf of Trump; possible knowledge of or collusion with that foreign agenda by Trump, his campaign team and even cabinet appointees is “fake news” disseminated by sour grapes Democrats and/or the “Deep State” that has corrupted the federal apparatus to the point that its intelligence and law enforcement agencies that are often the source of negative information about Trump can’t be trusted.

Sherp and his allies from the political “left” have reflected what is sometimes called “the loyal opposition” to those in power – at this point the Republican Party’s control of all three branches of government – the executive, legislative and judicial.

Sherp notes that the loyalty in “loyal opposition” is to America as a nation and the Constitutional system of legal accountability, checks and balances upon which the nation has been built; rather than to power itself or a cult of personality built around any individual elevated to the presidency – even one elected by a nearly negative three-million vote margin.

On March 8, 2017, at his first Vigil for Democracy Sherp said of its impetus, “The government still works for us – ‘of the people, for the people’ – and just because one Party has achieved a majority doesn’t mean they shouldn’t show the same reverence for the democratic principals and values of honesty, openness and fairness which have made us a beacon for two centuries.  This administration, in eight weeks, has shown that it doesn’t understand the rule of law; does not respect the separation of powers; and has a Republican Congress that for some reason refuses to stand up and be adult.”

And you didn’t think you’d ever see these two disparate sides threatening to join hands in mutual cause – their Constitutional right to be heard in opposition to each other.

And you thought nothing could bring these two sides together philosophically?


I’m not sure that’s a fight the Front Royal Town Council wants to take on – but I could be wrong …

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Downtown business, property owners offer Main Street wish list

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A written suggestion (above) for Front Royal’s downtown historic district that received several dots (a.k.a. votes) from business and property owners attending a January 16 town forum. All photos by Kim Riley. Video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

FRONT ROYAL — Historic Front Royal property and business owners on January 16 submitted their suggestions for what Town officials should consider in drafting policies and procedures for events held in specific public spaces in the historic district near and along Main Street.

Their ideas will help inform the Front Royal Town Council’s establishment of policies and procedures for use of the Village Commons area, parades and Main Street events and road closures, said Interim Town Manager Matthew Tederick, who helped lead the Thursday night meeting held at the Warren County Community Center.

“The Town Council for many years has been struggling to find the right policies and procedures for the utilization of the Village Commons area, various events and parking,” Tederick said during his opening remarks at the forum. “Over the last year, there’s been multiple business meetings and I think it’s culminated in this meeting tonight.”

Hopefully, at the end of the three scheduled meetings — the next two being held at the community center on January 30 and February 13, both at 6 p.m. — Tederick said the suggestions submitted by the property and business owners will become part of a draft he submits to the Town Council to consider as it sets policies and procedures for the historic district.

The area has become a hot spot among an array of business and property owners who remain challenged by road closures, parking lot shutdowns and other event-related consequences that have pitted them against one another over the years.

Tederick said he thinks the current framework “is too loose.”

“I’d like to see a better framework and a framework that would get majority buy in and consensus from the business and property owners in the historic district, but also from the citizens,” he said.

Interim Town Manager Matthew Tederick (center) mingled with historic district business & property owners during a January 16 forum held at the Warren County Community Center.

Local author Charles “Chips” Lickson facilitated the meeting, meaning he held court as a so-called forum cop tasked with setting the ground rules, managing the crowd, and keeping the process rolling. Similar formats will be used during the remaining two meetings.

A former practicing lawyer, federal judge’s law clerk, U.S. Army officer, mediator, and adjunct associate professor of political science at Shenandoah University, Lickson told forum attendees that he was hired “to run a tight ship,” which he said basically distinguishes regular meetings from facilitated meetings in that there’s a specific process established for participants to follow.

For instance, historic district property and business owners verbally participated in the Thursday meeting, while historic district residents were invited to submit their comments and contact information to Felicia Hart, the Town’s community development and tourism director.

And Lickson held the audience to the ground rules.

“We are soliciting your ideas with regard to the public spaces in the gazebo area — the historic area — and this includes closures of roads and closures of parking lots,” he said, instructing the property and business owners to not interrupt one another nor attack a speaker for his or her comments.

“This is not the place to make a speech about what your issue is,” said Lickson. “It is a space to make solid suggestions.”

Like Tederick, he called the current Town event process “flexible” and “less cumbersome” compared to some of Front Royal’s neighbors, a few of which charge organizers to hold downtown events to recoup the costs of providing associated town services.

But, Lickson noted, “the truth of the matter is, the Town has got to know what you need.”

Prior to collecting suggestions from the crowd, Tederick said the current process is that an application must be submitted for a special event under a section of chapter 7 of the Town Code, which outlines the related requirements. For example, for a full or partial closing of Main Street, the Town Code says such events may occur two times a month during one calendar year.

Tederick then shared data with forum attendees showing what it cost the Town to provide services during certain events held last year (Graph A); and a comparison of the numbers of events held from 2017 through 2019 in Front Royal’s historic downtown district (Graph B).

For example, he reviewed the total number of Main Street/Chester Street closures during 2017, 2018, and 2019 (top, Graph B) for the number of events held in each year, which totaled 16, 8, and 7, respectively.

“As Town Manager, what’s the right number?” he asked the crowd. “I don’t know what that number is. I’m hoping through this process that we can come up with what the right number is. Should it be 20 (each year)? Should it be five? I’m not here to provide input one way or the other.”

Graph A: The number of larger events held in the historic district of Front Royal during 2019 and the related costs to the Town for providing specific services. Source: Matthew Tederick, Front Royal Interim Town Manager.

Graph B: Comparison of the numbers of events held and related road closures from 2017 through 2019 in Front Royal’s historic downtown district. Source: Matthew Tederick, Front Royal Interim Town Manager.

Meeting organizers then distributed index cards for property and business owners to write down one suggestion per card about what they think is needed in public spaces in the historic downtown. The recollected cards then were tacked up so that each attendee could read the idea and vote only one time on each suggestion using a marker to place a dot or mark on the card. If a person didn’t like the idea written on a card, then no mark needed to be made.

Attendees then lined up at each board and began the voting process for each suggestion, which ran the gamut and included those such as:

 “Keep downtown events free from Town fees;”
 “Eat more ice cream;”
 “Limit Full Main Street Closures to One Per Month;”
 “Notify Main Street businesses when parking lot will be closed 2 days before event;” and
 “Street closures should be less.”

After voting, the forum organizers took down the cards, counted the marks on each, combined similar ideas, and then read the votes for each card having upwards of three votes.

Downtown Front Royal business and property owners lined up to vote on suggestions for Main Street.

The suggestions submitted by historic district property and business owners were varied. More suggestions will be collected during upcoming meetings on January 30 and February 13.

Ultimately, all the suggestions compiled from all of the meetings will be used by Lickson to write a report that he will submit to Tederick, who then will draft recommendations on policies and procedures to submit to the Town Council for possible action.

And the Town Council will be familiar with the process and the suggestions as several of them attended the meeting, including Front Royal Mayor Eugene Tewalt; Vice Mayor Bill Sealock; and Front Royal Town Council members Letasha Thompson and Gary Gillespie.

Some of the process items will be tweaked for the next two meetings, said Lickson, who thought the overall meeting was productive and informative.

Watch the Envisioning Town Commons meeting on this exclusive Royal Examiner video:

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Front Royal Christian School Warriors split games with Fresta Valley Christian School

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Front Royal Christian School Warriors boys and girls basketball teams traveled to Fresta Valley Christian School Thursday, January 16, 2020. FRCS middle school boys defeated Fresta Valley Pioneers 43-17, with Braeden Majors scoring 10 points and George Kassel scoring 9 points. The FRCS middle school girls lost 11-16, with leading scorers being Emma Tutton and Mary Lindsey.

Front Royal Christian School Warriors / Photos courtesy of FRCS

“The boys rallied with good team effort and ball movement, with a lot of hustle” said FRCS Warrior Coach Bear Campbell. “Ethan Frost and Brady Knight led the offense, while Braeden Majors and George Kassel led the defense.” Emma Tutton was identified as the MVP for the girls game by FRCS Warrior Coach Scott Babcock. “Tutton was one of the leading scorers and strongest on rebounds.” Next FRCS middle school games are January 17th, starting at 4:15 p.m at Wakefield Country Day School.

Front Royal Christian School is a Pre-K through 12th-grade school in Front Royal, Virginia, that fosters your student’s innate learning potential. From special needs to gifted, FRCS is committed to the spiritual, moral, and intellectual development of its students and mediates a sense of competence, confidence, and belonging. FRCS provides the 21st-century learner, exceptional and challenging educational experiences, including college preparatory courses with a dual enrollment program with LFCC, performing arts, life skills, and athletics. For more information, call the school at 540-635-6799 or visit www.FrontRoyalChristianSchool.com.

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Skyline High School continues to fight chronic absences

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FRONT ROYAL— With schoolwide chronic absences reaching almost 30 percent last year, the administrators at Skyline High School (SHS) have had to come up with some creative solutions.
One of the most effective practices currently being used at SHS has been an administrator’s knock on the door at the home of a regularly absent student.

“We have gone to several homes of students who don’t want to come to school after we’ve called the parents, who say they just can’t get them there. So I said, ‘Do you mind if I come to your house?’” SHS Principal Michael Smith explained to members of the Warren County School Board during the work session portion of their January 15 regular meeting.

“It’s been pretty effective because the principal is standing there at the front door, almost at their bedroom door, opening it up and asking, ‘Why aren’t you at school?’ The parents get a good kick out of it and it works for the kids; they don’t want us coming back to their house,” said Dr. Smith.

SHS Principal Michael Smith

“Whatever works,” he added. “All of my administrative staff has had to do that, so we’re doing everything we can to get them to school.”

During his presentation to the School Board, Smith said that SHS had an academic review on November 6, 2019. The overall findings and problem identified during the review was that chronic absenteeism at SHS received a Level III performance standing, meaning accredited with conditions, he said.

Melody Sheppard, interim superintendent for Warren County Public Schools (WCPS), told School Board members on Wednesday night that SHS is one of the school district’s two schools dubbed accredited with conditions, and the board next month will hear from Principal Shane Goodwin about similar efforts under way at E. Wilson Morrison Elementary School to curb chronic absenteeism.

Following the academic review, Smith said the subsequent SHS corrective action plan was submitted to the Virginia Department of Education on November 18, 2019, while essential actions to improve the chronic absenteeism rate have been added to the SHS school plan for the 2019-2020 school year.

Additionally, attendance expectations for accurate reporting of attendance were added to the staff handbook; an annual staff training was conducted on the attendance protocol; and attendance data will be reviewed monthly to identify students on track to be chronically absent and to prioritize students requiring Tier 2 and Tier 3 levels of support, he said.

Tier 2 level students are those who have missed nine days at the mid-school year point, while Tier 3 level students are chronically absent from school, said Sheppard, who noted that students are allowed a total of 18 excused absences in a school year.

And according to WCPS attendance policy, absences are excused for a funeral, illness, injury, legal obligations, medical procedures, suspensions, expulsions, religious observances, and military obligations that parents are aware of and support.

In addition to the impromptu at-home visits, Smith said another current practice is to assign teacher mentors to Tier 2 and Tier 3 level students for daily and weekly contact. “It’s usually their first block teacher or another teacher they’re comfortable with,” he said, adding that the goal is for the teacher mentor to get information from the student about why he or she isn’t attending school.

The subsequent data that the teacher mentors put into an online Google form describes when they met with students, what they talked about, and what they determined were some possible solutions. Smith said this data also provides useful evidence for future decision-making around making individualized attendance plans, for example.
Smith outlined several other current practices that are ongoing at SHS to stem the chronic absenteeism problem.

Every Sunday, for instance, Smith sends out a weekly phone blast to relay pre-recorded information about the upcoming week, as well as the importance of regular attendance.

Other practices include what Smith called “simple things,” such as teachers greeting students as they enter the classrooms and administrators greeting students in the morning as they enter the school building. These are county-wide policies aimed at fostering positive relationships across an entire school, he said.

“I actually have two assistant principals at the entrances to the school,” Smith told School Board members. “They open doors and greet every single kid who comes into the school.”

There also has been an attendance committee with parents developed at SHS that already has met twice. “Parents were surprised at the number of students who miss substantial amounts of classroom time,” said Smith.

During the attendance committee meetings that Smith holds with students and their parents, they develop an Attendance Success Plan for each student. He’s so far held 66 meetings.
Second attendance meetings also are held between Smith, the parents, students, and the SHS truancy officer, with 15 having been held thus far. “It’s nothing punitive, it’s just about getting students to realize the importance of what they’re missing when they’re not in the classroom,” said Smith.

Smith also sent out 890 letters to every SHS household asking parents to come in and discuss the chronic absenteeism situation. The parents who did respond to the letter, he said, were the ones whose kids regularly attend school, but who said they wanted to learn how to share the value of coming to school with other families and students.

Additional current practices include a Principal’s Cabinet that consists of class officers who discuss the atmosphere of the school and what incentives might help improve attendance.
During the last meeting, Smith said cabinet members commented that for those students who regularly miss school, they likely wouldn’t attend “no matter what incentive we have.”

The SHS attendance secretary also notifies parents every day to determine why students are absent.

Going forward, Smith told School Board members that SHS will continue to: run the teacher mentor program; meet with students and parents; and send the Sunday phone blasts.

Warren County School Board Vice Chairwoman Catherine Bower asked what the most common reasons are for the chronic absences. Smith said there’s a wide array of excuses.

For instance, many students say they just don’t want to get out of bed or that they’re bored at school, which essentially relates to instruction, said Smith.

Sheppard pointed out that all the current practices at SHS to fight chronic absenteeism are evidence-based practices. “It’s all about building positive relationships with kids,” she said. “Whenever a student comes to school, they have somebody there that they can have a conversation with and not feel uncomfortable.”

“It is about the relationships, the rapport and the trust,” agreed School Board Chairman Arnold Williams Jr., who told Smith to “keep doing what you’re doing. Keep moving forward. I know you can get there.”

“We will,” Smith told him, noting that last year, SHS was at 29 percent chronic absenteeism and this year’s goal is to reduce that mark to 24 percent. “If we can get there, that would be a huge decrease.”

Watch the latest Warren County School Board work session where SHS Principal Michael Smith discusses this problem with the board:

Chronic absenteeism impacts accreditation at Skyline High School

Warren County School Board hires superintendent search firm

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Front Royal Christian School Lady Warriors score high

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Front Royal Christian High School Lady Warriors hosted Eukarya Christian Academy Lions in girls high school basketball. The final score was 63-10, with leading scorer Nichole Hillaert at 20 points, an all-time career high for Hillaert. Emma Tutton surpassed her record on rebounds. This brings the Lady Warrior season record of 3 wins and 1 loss. Additional scorers were seniors Baily Coughenour with 12 points and Hannah Johnson with 8 points. Senior Hannah Fletcher scored 7 points and freshman Audrey Moya scored 8 points. Next FRCS Varsity Girls home game is January 29th at 4:30 p.m. The Lady warriors will face off against Virginia Academy.

Front Royal Christian School is a Pre-K through 12th-grade school in Front Royal, Virginia, that fosters your student’s innate learning potential. From special needs to gifted, FRCS is committed to the spiritual, moral, and intellectual development of its students and mediates a sense of competence, confidence, and belonging. FRCS provides the 21st-century learner, exceptional and challenging educational experiences, including college preparatory courses with a dual enrollment program with LFCC, performing arts, life skills, and athletics. For more information, call the school at 540-635-6799 or visit www.FrontRoyalChristianSchool.com.

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Wagner Animal Shelter counts noses – ‘No Kill’ status retained in 2019

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The year 2019 at Front Royal’s Julia Wagner Animal Shelter was a busy one in terms of intake – 1,216 animals from dogs and cats to rabbits, horses and a couple of pigs – and fundraising, more than $200,000 including $22,000 from the revived Waggin’ for Dragons boat race last August, and $80,500 from its annual donation program, the Save the Paws Alliance.

Shelter Manager Kayla Wines also reported 887 adoptions completed and 200 lost animals returned to their owners in her Community Impact Report at year’s end – though the shelter’s two big ol’ pigs are still there, she noted.

Pigs need loving homes too – well-dressed Petunia is one of two pigs currently housed at the Wagner Shelter. Courtesy Photos/Wagner Animal Shelter

A highlight of her report, although relegated to the penultimate paragraph, was the shelter’s protection of its “no kill” status in 2019, a milestone emphasized by Humane Society of Warren County Executive Director Meghan Bowers at a recent “Yappy Hour” event. Also, Bowers said registrations for the shelter’s major fundraiser, the August boat race, are already being taken (wagginfordragons.com/team-registration) and sponsorships are well in hand for the upcoming Polar Plunge into Culpeper Lake February 1 at the Northern Virginia 4-H Center in Harmony Hollow (contact the shelter at 635-4734, area code 540, for sponsorship information).

Bowers, who completed her first year on the job in December, also reported a joint partnership with the Middleburg Humane Foundation and the “For the Cats’ Sake” group in Front Royal to address Warren County’s cat over-population issue.

Meanwhile, a leap into the 21st century by the shelter was reported by Wines. The shelter on January 1 opened an online store through a website called Bonfire. The store features one of a kind HSWC merchandise including shirts, tote bags, coffee mugs and so on.

Wines took a practice shot with Bonfire towards the end of last year. “I believe there is a little something for everyone (at the store),” she said. “Each product has a different slogan or quote on it, some funny, some more serious… to include the importance of spay and neuter, fostering, or volunteering.”

Above, Petey competes with Petunia for best dressed adoptable pet; below, Peaches and Graham the cats seem more skeptical of the ‘best dressed’ competition.

The return of the weekly “Yappy Hour” at East Main Street’s ViNoVa last September has also resulted in $1,615 being donated to shelter operations, Bowers said. The event is held each Friday, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Izzy, Raeven and Rain, respectively, display varying levels of interest in the ‘best dressed” adoptable pet competition.

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I-81 Lane closures and slow rolls will be part Crossover Blvd bridge work

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WINCHESTER – Frederick County is proceeding with the construction of the Crossover Boulevard bridge over Interstate 81. The construction site is located south of I-81 exit 313.

During late January and early February, crews will be installing bridge beams, which will require some lane closures and slow roll operations.

· Monday, Jan 27 – Beam placement operations. From 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. northbound and southbound left lanes closed. Bridge beams will be staged in the left lanes. From 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. four slow rolls conducted by Virginia State Police from I-81 exit 310 to exit 315. All I-81 northbound and southbound lanes will be closed simultaneously in the slow roll area. I-81 exit ramps 310, 313 and 315 will be closed as the slow roll passes by. Ramps will reopen after slow roll is clear of the ramp area. Beams over I-81 left lanes will be placed.

· Tuesday, Jan 28 – No lane closures. Crews working in median.

· Wednesday, Jan 29 – Beam placement operations. Northbound and southbound left lanes closed 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Bridge beams will be staged in the left lanes. From 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. four slow rolls conducted by Virginia State Police from I-81 exit 310 to exit 315. All I-81 northbound and southbound lanes will be closed simultaneously in the slow roll area. I-81 exit ramps 310, 313 and 315 will be closed as the slow roll passes by. Ramps will reopen after slow roll is clear of the ramp area.

· Thursday, Jan 30 – Southbound right lane closure at bridge site south of I-81 exit 313. State trooper posted at lane closure. Lane closures will be 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. Beams over I-81 right lanes will be placed. No slow roll closures.

· Monday, Feb 3 – Southbound right lane closure at bridge site south of I-81 exit 313. State trooper posted at lane closure. Lane closures will be 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. Beams over I-81 right lanes will be placed. No slow roll closures.

· Tuesday, Feb 4 – Northbound right lane closure at bridge site south of I-81 exit 313. State trooper posted at lane closure. Lane closures will be 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. Beams over I-81 right lanes will be placed. No slow roll closures.

· Wednesday, Feb. 5 – Northbound right lane closure at bridge site south of I-81 exit 313. State trooper posted at lane closure. Lane closures will be 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. Beams over I-81 right lanes will be placed. No slow roll closures.

· Thursday, Feb 6 – No work

In case of inclement weather on Jan. 27 or on Feb. 3 the entire operation will be moved back a week. In the case of inclement weather on Jan. 29 the work will be done on Jan. 30. Inclement weather on Feb. 5 will move the work to Feb. 6

Changeable message boards will be posted along I-81 with messages announcing the lane closures. These boards will be displayed beginning on Jan. 20.

All work is weather permitting.

In March 2019 a contract valued at $17.6 million was awarded to Perry Engineering Inc. of Winchester, Virginia for construction of Crossover Boulevard.

Frederick County is constructing a new roadway and bridge over I-81: Construction began in March 2019 on the $20 million Crossover Boulevard project, which includes revenue sharing funds. Frederick County is administering the project. Perry Engineering, Inc. is the contractor. The project includes a new four-lane roadway and bridge over I-81 connecting Route 522 at the Airport Road intersection to Crossover Boulevard in the City of Winchester. This project will include a roundabout for future intersecting roadways and upgrades to the Route 522/Airport Road intersection to accommodate the new roadway at that location.

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Upcoming Events

Jan
18
Sat
11:00 am Kooky Chefs Cook the World @ Samuels Public Library
Kooky Chefs Cook the World @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 18 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Kooky Chefs Cook the World @ Samuels Public Library
Alaska. What do people eat in the snowy, frozen state of Alaska? Come to Kooky Chefs to find out and help prepare some Alaskan dishes. For ages 8 and up. Registration begins December 18.
12:00 pm Peter Muhlenberg Commemoration @ The Historic Court House in Woodstock
Peter Muhlenberg Commemoration @ The Historic Court House in Woodstock
Jan 18 @ 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Peter Muhlenberg Commemoration @ The Historic Court House in Woodstock
Program Moderator: The Rt. Rev. Larry W. Johnson Call to Order: Larry Johnson Posting of the Colors: James Wood II Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution Color Guard Pledge of Alliance: Dale Carpenter,[...]
3:00 pm Open a Book @ Samuels Public Library
Open a Book @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 18 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Open a Book @ Samuels Public Library
The award-winning team at Rainbow Puppets has created a new musical review that shares the joy of reading through music, dance, puppetry, and story-telling. It’s a travelling early reading program designed around our new children’s book. And thanks[...]
Jan
20
Mon
9:00 am Martin Luther King Prayer Breakfast @ Esbie Baptist Church
Martin Luther King Prayer Breakfast @ Esbie Baptist Church
Jan 20 @ 9:00 am – 11:00 am
Martin Luther King Prayer Breakfast @ Esbie Baptist Church
Monday, January 20, 2020, starting at 9:00am, Esbie Baptist Church will be having their annual MLK Prayer Breakfast. The speaker of the hour will be Rev. Dr. Donald Reid, Pastor of Mt. Parah Baptist Church[...]
Jan
21
Tue
2:30 pm Inspiring speaker Rodney Smith t... @ Boggs Chapel at Randolph-Macon Academy
Inspiring speaker Rodney Smith t... @ Boggs Chapel at Randolph-Macon Academy
Jan 21 @ 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Inspiring speaker Rodney Smith to visit R-MA @ Boggs Chapel at Randolph-Macon Academy
On Tuesday, January 21st, at 2:30 pm, in Boggs Chapel at Randolph-Macon Academy (R-MA), the public is invited to be inspired by Rodney Smith, a man who has chosen to make a difference in the[...]
4:30 pm Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 21 @ 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! Tuesday, January 7 – Based on books about Balto, we will learn more about service dogs this week. For ages[...]
Jan
22
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 22 @ 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, December 18 and Thursday, December 19: Something we all enjoy this time of year is giving and receiving gifts. Our stories, songs, and craft will[...]
Jan
23
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 23 @ 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, December 18 and Thursday, December 19: Something we all enjoy this time of year is giving and receiving gifts. Our stories, songs, and craft will[...]
Jan
24
Fri
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[...]
Jan
25
Sat
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.