Walt is the independent candidate running for the Warren County Board of Supervisors from the Shenandoah District. His opponent is Thomas S. Sayre, the Republican incumbent. He recently stopped by our studio and and gave us an update on his campaign with Royal Examiner publisher Mike McCool. We reached out to Mr. Sayre and offered equal time for him to share his vision with our readers.
Update: Bridge demolition at Route 123 continues this week, Feb. 24-28
Demolition and lane closures to occur during nighttime hours
Demolition continues during overnight hours this week on the ramp from I-66 West to Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road) South over I-66 to make room for the future reconstructed Route 123 Interchange, as part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway Project. This demolition activity must occur during the overnight hours, as multiple lane closures and temporary traffic stoppages on I-66 are required to safely complete this work.
What Nearby Residents and Drivers Should Expect:
• Removal of bridge beams is planned for Monday night, Feb. 24. Demolition of two bridge piers is planned for Tuesday, Feb. 25, through Friday night, Feb. 28.
• Five nights of demolition-related activity remain during this phase. The schedule will be adjusted if weather delays occur.
• Nearby residents may hear unavoidable construction-related noise during demolition operations.
• Drivers should plan for nightly lane closures for the demolition work on I-66 East between Route 50 and Route 123 with occasional 20-minute stoppages between midnight and 4 a.m. (5 a.m. on weekends).
Crews completed the removal of the concrete bridge deck of the Route 123 ramp over I-66 on Sunday night, Feb. 23. Demolition activities that don’t require multiple lane closures on I-66 will occur during daytime hours.
Demolition of the I-66 bridges over Fairfax County Parkway (Route 286) is also scheduled to continue this week. Nightly lane closures on I-66 East and Route 286 North and South will be implemented to safely accommodate this work.
All work is weather dependent and will be rescheduled if inclement conditions occur. Find additional details on planned traffic closures at www.Transform66.org.
Linden ladies embrace Company 4-hosted FRPD Self-Defense Class
On Sunday afternoon, February 23, the Front Royal Police Department took its class on self-defense for a specific and sometimes more vulnerable segment of the population to the Linden Fire & Rescue headquarters. Linden Volunteer Fire Department Company 4 President Suzi Shiley explained the town police foray outside the town limits was at her request to make the ladies self-defense class more accessible to women in the Linden area of eastern Warren County.
Before the 1 p.m. start of the class, we spoke to Shiley, class instructor Sgt. Jason Winner and Warren County Victim-Witness Coordinator Kelliann Harris, who traced her involvement in the FRPD self-defense program to her previous stint with the Laurel Center for victims of sexual violence.
Shiley noted that the response had been good, around 35, for a class capped at 20 participants, leaving the possibility of a second class being hosted at Company 4 later in the year. Shiley noted she had registered for the FRPD self-defense class about two years ago after seeing an ad at a local church.
“I took the class with Sgt. Winner and I enjoyed it immensely, and I remember to this day things that he taught us. So, I thought it would be great for the women of Linden to have the program here at the fire department at no cost,” Shiley said.
As we spoke, participants registered to bring Sunday’s turnout to 18, with several additional onlookers who appeared familiar with some of the techniques being taught. Royal Examiner spoke to one of those registered, Melissa Eakle, about the impetus for her participation.
“I actually came for my daughter – she’s getting ready to go off to college and in the world that we live in today, especially when you’re out on your own, you need to know just to play safe, be aware and what to do if something bad does happen to show the confidence to know how to take care of that situation,” Eakle, herself a personal physical trainer, said of her family’s dual registration.
And if her daughter’s aggressive embracement of techniques demonstrated by Sgt. Winner and FRPD Chief Kahle Magalis is any indicator, she will indeed be prepared with the knowledge and physical skills taught Sunday for her first solo foray into the world at childhood’s end.
As will the other participants, young and more mature, all of whom were attentive through Sgt. Winner’s introductory remarks and PowerPoint presentation giving an overview of, not only how to fight for your life and personal safety, but how to maintain the situational awareness to head off those situations before they reach the crisis point.
“The best way to win the fight is not to be in it,” Winner told the class before they hit the mat to practice those combat techniques necessary when all the means to avoid that final confrontation have been exhausted. And the FRPD physical combat instructor, who taught these techniques to his colleagues before his 2011 involvement in taking them into the community, stressed the importance of mental acuity in the experience of day-to-day life.
Different situations demand different strategies, Winner pointed out, noting that responses to being individually stalked in public areas will differ from an episode of domestic violence or an active shooter situation that has become all too familiar in “the world we live in today”.
Winner told his class to practice every day, not only the physical self-defense techniques they would learn, but the mental ones of situational awareness allowing one to overcome physiological reactions to stress and process your choices of “run, stay or fight” as quickly and efficiently as possible.
He also pointed to the negative impact on situational awareness of modern technologies like cell phones and individual mobile musical play systems that distract or deafen users from early signs of trouble in remote situations like large commercial parking lots or public areas in which they might find themselves alone and being followed.
And that is good advice for all of us – everything has its time and place EXCEPT our physical safety and survival. Awareness of potential threats to those should be a priority for us all, at all times.
Though as Winner cautioned his students Sunday, “Don’t just punch someone in the face who asks you what time it is or offers to help you with your groceries – there are some nice people out there. But if the hair on the back of your neck stands up, trust your instincts,” he added
Nine years & running
Winner traced the start of the women’s self-defense class to his involvement in training FRPD officers when the department was located in the old post office building at West Main Street and Luray Avenue. Without room in the cramped space of that building for self-defense training, Winner was offered the use of the Tap Etc. Dance Studio, at the time on East Main Street, by owner Kristin McCullough to hold that training.
“She offered her space for our training free of charge; the only thing she asked was if we could do a class for the dance students. I said, ‘Well, I’ve never done that, so let me do some research.’ I did the research, and we developed a class, and we’ve been developing it ever since. It’s kind of a work in progress,” Winner said, adding, “It’s been up and running for nine years. It’s more of a volunteer situation, and the Police Foundation bought us the mats and the pads. And now that we have the new facility, we do it at the police department pretty regularly now – at least once a quarter.
And when people ask, we do these things like when Suzi asked us here. Several weeks ago, we did one at New Hope Church for the Women’s Forum. So when people ask, if we can fit it into the schedule, we say ‘Yes,’” Winner said of accommodating additional requests for the no-cost classes such as Sunday’s at the Linden Company 4 Fire House.
Winner said he is the main departmental point of contact but pointed to his partnership with County Victim-Witness Coordinator Harris, who now works under the arm of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.
“It’s as much her class as it is my class. She handles registration and most of the paperwork, the waivers you have to sign, the evaluations, and things like that. So, Kelliann does the scheduling.
When we do them at the police department, Kelliann is the point of contact,” Winner observed, adding that at special-request events the host organization would be that point of contact like Shiley was at Company 4’s event Sunday.
Of her participation, Harris told us, “I used to work as a sexual assault advocate at the Laurel Center for 2-1/2 years. So, I started self-defense with Jason through that process. And then, when I changed positions over to the director position for Victim-Witness, I just kept on doing it. We’ve got a great program running; it’s a great team effort. So, we just kept that going,” Harris concluded.
And “in the world, we live in today” as Sunday participant Melissa Eakle observed, that is probably not a bad idea.
LFCC retains Military Friendly® School ranking
LFCC’s commitment to our student veterans has once again been recognized in the form of a Military Friendly® School designation from Viqtory, which connects military members to civilian jobs, schooling and more.
The college was given the Bronze distinction, meaning it came within 30 percent of the 10th best school in the small community college category. LFCC has received a Military Friendly® designation every year for the past decade.
Public data sources and a proprietary survey were used to award Military Friendly® School designations. Those making the cut will be listed in the May issue of “G.I. Jobs” magazine. The list is also available at militaryfriendly.com.
LFCC scored particularly high in the categories of financial aid and assistance; admissions and orientation; academic policies and compliance; and culture and commitment.
According to LFCC veteran advisor and school certifying official Jeanmarie Corrado, 200 student veterans are served at LFCC.
“We are student veterans’ first contact as they prepare to separate from the military and transition to becoming a student,” she said. “From application to graduation, LFCC veteran services provide academic and transitional support. Most student veterans have not been in an academic setting for more than four years, typically since high school. As case managers, our goal is to help student veterans reach their goals.”
There are dedicated veterans centers on both the Middletown and Fauquier campuses. There, student veterans can meet with their academic advisors/school certifying officials, use free printing services, and share coffee and fellowship.
About Military Friendly® Schools:
The Military Friendly® Schools list is created each year based on extensive research using public data sources for more than 8,800 schools nationwide and responses to the proprietary, data-driven Military Friendly® Schools survey from participating institutions. The survey questions, methodology, criteria and weighting were developed with the assistance of an independent research firm and an advisory council of educators and employers. Ernst & Young (EY), a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services, independently evaluated the scoring methodology used for the Military Friendly® Schools list using the criteria set forth by VIQTORY. The services performed by EY were limited to advisory procedures and do not provide assurance over the scoring methodology. The survey is administered for free and is open to all post-secondary schools that wish to participate. Criteria for consideration can be found at www.militaryfriendly.com.
Founded in 2001, VIQTORY is a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB) that connects the military community to civilian employment, educational and entrepreneurial opportunities through its G.I. Jobs®, Military Spouse, Military Friendly® brands. VIQTORY and its brands are not a part of or endorsed by the U.S. Dept of Defense or any federal government entity. Learn more about VIQTORY at www.viqtory.com.
Conversation of Hope is Tuesday, February 25th
The WHAT MATTERS community meeting space, “Open House: Meet in the Middle” (213 E. Main Street next to the Daily Grind) serves as a meeting place for community members seeking positivity in this time of controversy for our town and county. At 7 pm on the 4th Tuesday of each month, community leaders and citizens gather to engage in one hour of positive reflections and hope.
This month’s conversation is on Tuesday, 2/25 from 7-8 pm. Check our Facebook page.
During the first “Conversation of Hope” in June, Chief Kahle Magalis shared a fitting quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
Comments shared throughout our times reflecting have included positive feedback about the school system, about the giving & caring individuals in our community, encouragement to focus on the positive and move forward without delay (by sharing concern but finding solutions and moving on), the acknowledgment that we have a strong sense of community that’s full of characters and memories and that we have so much potential and good energy. It has been expressed that this is a good time to be forced to confront what we love and value and to picture the past and what’s good about the area.
“This too shall pass” is often uttered as well as the fact that our community has so much to offer as a busy, active and unique area (full of outdoor assets and beauty) where people care about each other and don’t let tragedy define us. Niki Foster of the FR/WC Chamber of Commerce encouraged everyone to share the wonderful things we see and be louder than the ugly noise. Representatives of area clergy have been in attendance and said they want to support and serve, especially in these times we are facing.
Please join us on the 4th Tuesday at 7 pm at 213 E. Main Street- OPEN HOUSE, to share and witness more encouraging conversations. You are guaranteed to enjoy the hour spent with a wide range of citizens, public officials, volunteers, and kind souls!
*Please note that these gatherings are ones of positivity, not negativity. Politics and current events will not be discussed—instead, we will remind ourselves why we love our community and provide an opportunity to briefly join together those who care together in the spirit of hope…
Watch: 44th Military School Band & Festival Concert
On February 23, 2020, the 44th Annual Military School Band and Choir Festival performed their culminating concert in the Melton Gymnasium on the R-MA campus.
The students have spent hours in clinics and rehearsing to bring this concert together. The Festival Concert Band Conductor was Lieutenant (junior grade) Joel Thiesfeldt of the U.S. Navy and the Festival Choir Conductor was Master Sergeant Kerry Wilkerson, USA, Retired.
The festival brought together the top musicians from eight military schools and colleges across the country, including bandsmen and singers from Army & Navy Academy in Carlsbad, CA; Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, VA; Marine Military Academy in Harlingen, TX; Missouri Military Academy in Mexico, MO; New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, NM; Randolph-Macon Academy in Front Royal, VA; Saint John’s Northwestern Military Academy in Delafield, WI; and the U. S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT.
Watch and enjoy this exclusive Royal Examiner video.
Military schools from around nation gather at Randolph-Macon Academy for Drum Major Competition
On February 21-23, 2020, Randolph-Macon Academy hosted the 44th Military School Band & Chorus Festival. The annual Military School Band & Choir Festival is a three-day clinic for the top musicians from military secondary schools and colleges from across the nation.
Growing from its roots as a festival attended only by bandsmen from the military schools located in Virginia, The Military School Band & Choir Festival has grown into a national event, drawing schools and colleges from across the United States. This year’s festival roster includes more than 100 cadets and bandmasters, choir directors and chaperones from eight military academies. This year’s festival participants are from schools in California, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Missouri, Texas, Connecticut, and Virginia.
Each festival is structured to include a festival concert band conducted by a noted current, or former, military conductor, and a drum major clinic instructed by an active duty military drum major. A recent addition, now in its third consecutive year, is a festival choir conducted by a noted military choral conductor.
The drum major competition was held on February 22nd in the Melton Gymnasium on the R-MA campus. This was an opportunity for the drum majors to show off what they had learned in the clinics and compete for the Gold Medal: Outstanding Drum Major.
Watch the competition on the exclusive Royal Examiner video and an interview with Senior Chief Musician Michael Bayes from the U.S Navy Band. MUCS Bayes is also the drum major for the Navy Band and conducted the clinic.
Drum Majors and links to the participating schools:
James Bongard – U. S. Coast Guard Academy, New London, CT
Jonathan Kattnig – U. S. Coast Guard Academy, New London, CT
Gavin McGahey – U. S. Coast Guard Academy, New London, CT
Dylan DeViney – Marine Military Academy, Harlingen, TX
Tristyn Gavulic – Hargrave Military Academy, Chatham, VA
Liam Griffin – Saint John’s Northwestern Military Academy, Delafield, WI
Devonte Knight – Missouri Military Academy, Mexico, MO
Diego Lopez – Missouri Military Academy, Mexico, MO
Yuqi Liu – Army & Navy Academy, Carlsbad, CA
DonDiego Rains – New Mexico Military Institute, Roswell, NM
Barry Zhu – Randolph-Macon Academy, Front Royal, VA
Austin Johnson – Randolph-Macon Academy, Front Royal, VA
Sean Loeber – Randolph-Macon Academy, Front Royal, VA
Jacob Gehly – Randolph-Macon Academy, Front Royal, VA