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Warren County Department of Social Services Ups the Ante on Employment Services



New Job Developer Megan Bowers Looks to Bridge Gap Between Employers and Job Seekers.

In a recent Town Talk with Mike McCool at the Royal Examiner, Michelle Smeltzer and the newly hired Job Developer Meghan Bowers delved into the future of Warren County’s employment landscape. With unemployment rates fluctuating and a considerable part of the community in need, the Department of Social Services (DSS) in Warren County is making waves with an expanded focus on employment services.

Megan Bowers, who officially began her role as a job developer last week, aims to serve as a bridge between job seekers and local businesses. With an impressive background in human resources, Bowers brings valuable experience to the table. She envisions a multi-faceted approach to aiding job seekers, providing everything from resume building and interview preparation to soft skills like “how to shake a hand” and “how to tie a tie.”

It’s worth noting that these services aren’t restricted to Warren County residents or those who are already clients of the DSS. Bowers is clear on this point: “It’s open to anybody. We’re prepared to help them get a job and help the local employers to find great people.”

The DSS’s strategy doesn’t stop at resume crafting or interview tips. Michelle Smeltzer, widely recognized in the community, highlighted that the department also assists job seekers with essentials like identification and Social Security cards. Smeltzer added, “If you need a phone and you’re on Medicaid or SNAP, we can help you do that.”

It appears that the DSS has evolved into a comprehensive one-stop resource, collaborating with multiple agencies like Northwestern, Warren Coalition, and the Phoenix Project, among others. They’re in the process of organizing a job fair scheduled for November 2nd, which will feature local businesses looking to hire.

One reason why the role of a job developer is increasingly critical is that technology and the avenues for job searching are continuously evolving. Bowers stated, “Technology is always changing; where to even look for a job is always changing.”

Aside from employment, the DSS is orchestrating multiple events to serve the community better. These include the annual “Jack O’Lantern Jubilee” set for October 26th and a poignant event dubbed “One Night Without a Home” on October 21st, aimed at raising awareness about homelessness.

Michelle Smeltzer expressed her excitement over two long-term homeless individuals finally securing housing. She said, “That’s what we strive for. We work with them. The thermal shelter works with them. Social services work with them.”

The Department of Social Services in Warren County is pushing boundaries, establishing itself as an essential player in not just providing emergency relief but also empowering residents for sustainable futures. With the addition of Megan Bowers as a Job Developer, the department seems geared for impact, ensuring that both job seekers and employers can find the ideal match in a challenging landscape.

Town Talk is a series on the Royal Examiner where we will introduce you to local entrepreneurs, businesses, non-profit leaders, and political figures who influence Warren County. Topics will be varied but hopefully interesting. If you have an idea topic or want to hear from someone in our community, let us know. Send your request to

A reminder that the One Stop Resource Fair is tomorrow, September 6, 2023

A Confluence of Community Services: One Stop Resource Fair in Warren County


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Chamber News

A Tale of Two Visions: Butler’s Achievements vs. Cline’s Commitments



Butler and Cline: Two Distinct Visions for a Safer Warren County.

In a riveting forum, Warren County citizens gathered to hear from two stalwart contenders, Mark Butler and Crystal Cline, both vying for the coveted position of Warren County Sheriff. With a term lasting four years, the stakes are high, and the commitment deeper.

Crystal Cline, having served the Front Royal Police Department for over two decades, began with a heartfelt thank-you to the chamber for facilitating the forum and the community for their presence. She reminisced about her deep roots in Warren County, highlighting her involvement ranging from the Mom’s Club to coaching the traveling volleyball team. Cline’s main thrust was the need to restore leadership and integrity to the role of sheriff. She voiced concerns over the dissolution of the Animal Control Division and the pressing need for dedicated School Resource Officers (SROs). Most poignantly, she discussed the department’s retention issue and the imperative of a full staff. Addressing Sheriff Butler’s claim about a massive drug bust, Cline firmly stated that such an incident hadn’t transpired in Warren County and stressed the significance of integrity in leadership.

On the flip side, Sheriff Mark Butler, the incumbent, recounted the tumultuous period four years ago when Warren County grappled with a major scandal. He emphasized the changes he had championed during his tenure, such as attaining the accreditation that was lost in 2019, introducing community policing, and enhancing safety – all while lessening the taxpayer’s burden. One of his crowning achievements, he mentioned, was the confiscation of 77,000 fentanyl pills last year, which he tied to a broader narrative on the devastating drug epidemic. Butler concluded by affirming the commitment of his department to the Constitution and the rights it guarantees to the citizens.

As November 7th approaches, the air in Warren County is thick with anticipation. With two distinctly passionate perspectives on the table, the choice voters make will significantly shape the future of the county’s law enforcement.

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Chamber News

District 31’s Destiny: Foreman, Morrison, and Oates Lay Their Cards on the Table



A Night of Passionate Pitches: Who Will Lead the 31st District Forward?

The auditorium was thick with anticipation as three formidable candidates – Steve Foreman, Grace Morrison, and Delores Oates – took to the stage, each presenting their visions for District 31 in the House of Delegates.

Grace Morrison, a compelling independent contender, has deep ties to Warren County, having moved there in 2011. Living atop a picturesque hill with her family, Morrison is firmly grounded in the community. Underscoring her desire to provide genuine representation for District 31, she spoke about the importance of unfettered and unrestricted communication between delegates and the residents. A strong believer in the Virginia Constitution, she vowed to remain transparent and amenable, aiming to serve the people first and foremost.

Democratic hopeful Steve Foreman took the audience on a journey through history, recalling the legacy of America’s representative democracy birthed in the House of Burgesses. With a heart-centered on public education, Foreman is keen to recognize and champion the needs of teachers while also pushing for more competitive school funding. He emphasized the imperative for families to have a strong foundation, advocating for rights that range from fair wages to ensuring safety from gun violence. His commitment to unity, compromise, and the collective good was unmistakable.

Rounding out the trio was Republican nominee Delores Oates. Born and raised in the district, her profound connection to the community was palpable. Having served on the Board of Supervisors, she understands the intricacies of governance firsthand. Oates accentuated the importance of school choice and its potential to raise overall education standards. She also highlighted her commitment to preserving rural values, safeguarding elections, and defending the Second Amendment.

With such diverse perspectives and visions for the future of District 31, the citizens of Warren County face an important decision. As election day approaches, the anticipation grows, promising a pivotal moment for the district’s future.


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Chamber News

Rising Above the Norm: Two Visionaries Battle for South River’s Educational Future



Meeting Passion with Dedication: A Glimpse into South River’s School Board Forum.

South River District’s School Board Forum, held Thursday evening, offered an eye-opening perspective into the future of Warren County’s educational framework. The two candidates vying for a place on the board, Leslie Matthews and Kristen Pence, shared compelling narratives and aspirations for the district’s student populace.

Leslie Mathews opened the forum, emphasizing her deep ties to Warren County. A product of its schools, she took pride in her education, immediately stepping into the workforce post-graduation. In her words, she is a “straight shooter” and a “down-to-earth go-getter.”

On the other side, Kristen Pence, an incumbent, spoke about her track record since 2020. Highlighting her unwavering dedication, Pence reaffirmed her commitment to creating a safe, inclusive learning environment and focusing on issues like teacher retention, discipline enforcement, and the elimination of drugs from schools.

The evening’s discourse tackled contentious subjects such as disciplinary measures in schools. While Pence highlighted the need for uniform consequences and community involvement, Mathews, viewing things from a parent’s perspective, called for stronger rules and heightened accountability.

Improving school attendance was another hot topic. Pence emphasized reducing bullying and fostering a positive school culture, while Mathews advocated for creating a welcoming and encouraging academic atmosphere.

Addressing the significant teacher turnover problem, Matthews spotlighted the importance of valuing and listening to teachers. In contrast, Pence talked about mentorship programs and leveraging the “Grow Your Own” initiative.

Mathews closed her remarks by envisioning a fully-funded school system, stressing parental involvement, discipline, and the essential role of leadership in navigating challenges. Pence concluded by detailing her rich history of community service, showing her vast experience and ongoing dedication to South River’s student community.

South River District stands at a crossroads, with two capable women bringing unique perspectives and solutions. It’s a testament to the importance of educational leadership and the community’s investment in shaping the future.

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Chamber News

Front Royal Candidates Discuss Pressing Issues and Affordable Housing



Four contenders vie for two Town Council seats, offering perspectives on Front Royal’s future.

In the Candidiate Forum, Front Royal’s Town Council candidates shared their perspectives and answered key questions about the community’s future. Running for two available seats are Melissa DeDomenico-Payne, Connie Marshner, Skip Rogers, and Glenn Wood. Each brought unique insights from their diverse experiences.

Skip Rogers, a non-partisan incumbent, has long dedicated himself to community service and business. Emphasizing his commitment to improving town-county relations and addressing dilapidated vacant buildings, Rogers represents a voice for proactive change.

Melissa DeDomenico-Payne, appointed to the council in January 2023, holds advanced degrees and decades of leadership experience. With strong ties to Warren County and Front Royal, she champions public safety, fiscal conservatism, and town preservation.

Glenn Wood, with strong roots in the town and a vast career in the manufacturing sector, has actively volunteered across various community organizations. He currently serves on the Town’s Planning Commission and brings expertise from there to his campaign.

Connie Marshner, having lived in multiple places due to her Navy background, has settled and contributed to Front Royal since 1995. From her experience on the Planning Commission, Marschner highlights transportation and beautification as her focus areas.

A burning question posed was regarding the town’s most pressing needs. DeDomenico-Paine emphasized economic sustainability and public safety. Wood highlighted affordable housing and health and safety. Marschner stressed an imminent issue at Shenandoah Shores and transportation, while Rogers discussed the broader challenges with development, infrastructure, and long-term planning.

On the topic of affordable housing, all candidates acknowledged the urgency. Wood proposed changes to zoning ordinances and the construction of smaller homes. Marschner emphasized the role of the private sector, while Rogers pointed out the issue of dilapidated buildings. DeDomenico-Payne highlighted the struggles of the “working poor” and their significant presence in the town.

The diversity of thought and experience each candidate brings highlights the town’s potential for growth and change. As Front Royal heads to the polls, the future of the town hangs in the balance, with pressing issues like affordable housing and community development taking center stage.


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Chamber News

A Solo Stage: Uncontested Warren County Candidates Voice Their Plans



A Night of Candidacy: Unveiling the Intentions and Proposals.

During a lively evening sponsored by the Front Royal Warren County Chamber of Commerce, local candidates took the stage to address constituents, laying out their visions, intentions, and proposals. Byron Biggs, Chairman of the Chamber, set the tone by ensuring decorum and informing attendees of the evening’s guidelines.

John Stanmeyer, a Republican who is vying for a seat on the Board of Supervisors in the Shenandoah District of Warren County, emphasized his local roots, drawing attention to his background in economics and experience in the corporate sector. Delving into pressing issues, he expressed concern about the local library and stressed the importance of transparency, accountability, and good governance. “Every private contractor to the county needs an MOA calling out the scope of work,” he stated, driving home his vision for a transparent and accountable government that would prevent another EDA scandal.

Emily Scott, Democrat candidate for Virginia Senate District 1, stepping into the limelight. Scott touched upon several pressing issues, from affordable housing to college tuition. However, her fervent emphasis on personal freedom and women’s right to healthcare captured the audience’s attention. “You can’t have one set of laws for men, one set for women,” she remarked, firmly establishing her stance on the governor’s recent 15-week abortion ban proposal.

Bob W. Smith, a Democrat Virginia Delegate candidate for District 33, added a personal touch to the evening by sharing anecdotes about his family. He voiced his concerns about banning books and drew parallels to historical events, emphasizing the importance of freedom of speech and the role of parents in education. “Parents should have say,” he remarked, championing the right of parents to challenge content but opposing outright bans.

The forum served as a platform for candidates to present their views, engage with voters, and provide clarity on their stances. As the county gears up for the elections, such events play a pivotal role in shaping public opinion and ensuring informed voter choices.

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Local Government

Supervisors Approve 2nd Quarter Library Funding, Then Get an Earful on Past Stances on Library Issues



On Tuesday, September 19, at 7 p.m. at the Warren County Government Center, the Warren County Board of Supervisors gathered to address several agenda items, one of them being a fully packed community participation hour in which twenty-two speakers spoke concerning the ongoing question of whether Samuels Public Library should be fully funded; with a three-minute time limit on each speaker, only one person spoke in favor of not fully funding the library.

The Warren County Board of Supervisors meets Tuesday evening. Photos Brenden McHugh

Opening the meeting and having discussed it in closed session, the board added to its agenda a temporary funding agreement regarding an appropriation of $256,000 to Samuels Public Library to cover the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2023/24, ending December 31. On a motion by Jerome Butler, seconded by Cheryl Cullers, the board voted unanimously in favor of the continued operational funding of its contracted public library.

The board then proceeded to listen to the community on the library matter during Public Comments. Many of the speakers referred to the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, arguing that the freedom to read what one pleases and to see on library shelves books that represent LGBTQ+ themes is a constitutional right. Some went as far as to say that the absence of such material could be alienating for children who identify with LGBTQ+.

Of all the impassioned speeches in support of the library and its full funding, the most impassioned was delivered by Sarah Downs of Defense for Democracy. “Why are you okay with politically posturing to extremists?” she asked the board, “And how much are you willing to sacrifice for their bigotry?”

She addressed each member of the board individually. She asked Walter Mabe, whom she perceives as having assumed a position of neutrality: “What about discrimination is neutral?” She expressed astonishment to Delores Oates, whom she perceives as at least claiming to be an advocate of “mothers” but has, in Downs’ eyes, aligned herself against the library, which she believes supports a majority of the county’s mothers. To Vicky Cook, she posed this question about accessing a past meeting: “Why are you running to and from your car? What are you running from? You say you want open discussions, but then jet on an open meeting.” She asked Cheryl Cullers: “Have you been complacent to the discriminatory actions of your fellow board members? We know you support the library, but your silence on the actions of fellow board members speaks volumes.” Finally, to Jerome Butler, she said: “Well gladly, I don’t have any questions. We know who you are. Someone who actively advocates and supports discrimination.” She assured the board that they would be held accountable at the polls.

Sarah Downs with Defense of Democracy speaks to the board.


Interviewed after the meeting, Sarah Downs described Defense for Democracy as “a non-partisan organization that is working to ensure that extremism doesn’t take root in our county.” Keeping public systems intact, like public school systems and public libraries, is their focus. Being present at meetings like the one held on Tuesday evening is important to them. During the interview, she likened the board’s attempt to control the appointment of library trustees to the communism of Red China, and near the end of the interview, she quoted Psalm 27: “Whom shall I fear?”

Each board member had the opportunity to share his or her thoughts in response to the community participation segment. They described their ongoing efforts to address the dispute over content at Samuels and funding for the library. “I have not spoken out in public because I’m listening, and I’m trying to respond individually,” Cheryl Cullers remarked. She also remarked that Jerome Butler submitted two reconsideration requests in which he checked the box for organization and filled out as Warren County Board of Supervisors. “I was and am continue to be upset and angry that you would do that,” Cullers continued. “You did not have my permission and did not speak for me on this matter.” She went on to lament the division this dispute has created in the community. “Both sides own their own share of disrespectful behavior that is not conducive to this process. Let’s all take a breath, please, and let both boards work together for a contract that is acceptable to both.”

Delores Oates spoke in favor of the changes that Samuels has made and said, “I fully support parental rights and ensuring that parents alone make decisions on raising and educating their children.” She described a loophole in the Virginia state code that forbids “obscene content” unless the body in question is a library, a museum, or a school. “It is my plan to have that as my first piece of legislation I carry, to remove this exception and protect our children,” she said, referring to her campaign for a state delegate’s seat in the November election.

The board addressed several other agenda items and adjourned.

Click here to Watch the Warren County Board of Supervisors Meeting of September 19, 2023.

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Thank You to our Local Business Participants:


Aders Insurance Agency, Inc (State Farm)

Aire Serv Heating and Air Conditioning

Apple Dumpling Learning Center

Apple House

Auto Care Clinic

Avery-Hess Realty, Marilyn King

Beaver Tree Services

Blake and Co. Hair Spa

Blue Mountain Creative Consulting

Blue Ridge Arts Council

Blue Ridge Education

BNI Shenandoah Valley

C&C's Ice Cream Shop

Card My Yard

CBM Mortgage, Michelle Napier

Christine Binnix - McEnearney Associates

Code Jamboree LLC

Code Ninjas Front Royal

Cool Techs Heating and Air

Down Home Comfort Bakery

Downtown Market

Dusty's Country Store

Edward Jones-Bret Hrbek

Explore Art & Clay

Family Preservation Services

First Baptist Church

Front Royal Independent Business Alliance

Front Royal/Warren County C-CAP

First Baptist Church

Front Royal Treatment Center

Front Royal Women's Resource Center

Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce

Fussell Florist

G&M Auto Sales Inc

Garcia & Gavino Family Bakery

Gourmet Delights Gifts & Framing

Green to Ground Electrical

Groups Recover Together

Habitat for Humanity

Groups Recover Together

House of Hope

I Want Candy

I'm Just Me Movement

Jean’s Jewelers

Jen Avery, REALTOR & Jenspiration, LLC

Key Move Properties, LLC

KW Solutions

Legal Services Plans of Northern Shenendoah

Main Street Travel

Makeover Marketing Systems

Marlow Automotive Group

Mary Carnahan Graphic Design

Merchants on Main Street

Mountain Trails

Mountain View Music

National Media Services

Natural Results Chiropractic Clinic

No Doubt Accounting

Northwestern Community Services Board

Ole Timers Antiques

Penny Lane Hair Co.

Philip Vaught Real Estate Management

Phoenix Project

Reaching Out Now

Rotary Club of Warren County

Royal Blends Nutrition

Royal Cinemas

Royal Examiner

Royal Family Bowling Center

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Oak Computers

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Spice

Ruby Yoga

Salvation Army

Samuels Public Library

SaVida Health

Skyline Insurance

Shenandoah Shores Management Group

St. Luke Community Clinic

Strites Doughnuts

Studio Verde

The Arc of Warren County

The Institute for Association & Nonprofit Research

The Studio-A Place for Learning

The Valley Today - The River 95.3

The Vine and Leaf

Valley Chorale

Warren Charge (Bennett's Chapel, Limeton, Asbury)

Warren Coalition

Warren County Democratic Committee

Warren County Department of Social Services

Warren County DSS Job Development

Warrior Psychotherapy Services, PLLC

WCPS Work-Based Learning

What Matters & Beth Medved Waller, Inc Real Estate

White Picket Fence

Woodward House on Manor Grade

King Cartoons

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Upcoming Events

10:30 am College Day @ Corron Community Development Center
College Day @ Corron Community Development Center
Sep 27 @ 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
College Day @ Corron Community Development Center
Join us for College Day at the Middletown Campus, 10:30 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, Sept. 27, in the Corron Community Development Center. Meet with reps from more than 40 public and private universities, including Bluefield[...]
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Sep 27 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
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Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
10:00 am Fall Wild Edible Plants: Earth C... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Fall Wild Edible Plants: Earth C... @ Sky Meadows State Park
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Carriage Barn in the Historic Area. Join professional outdoor instructor Tim MacWelch to learn about the remarkable seasonal wild edible and medicinal plants of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This full-day hike will cover native and[...]
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Oct 4 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
11:00 am The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Oct 7 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. The forge is fired up and the blacksmiths are hard at work showing off their skills. Members of The Blacksmiths’ Guild of the Potomac have set up shop in the forge, located behind[...]
1:00 pm Front Royal Bluegrass Music Jam @ The Body Shop
Front Royal Bluegrass Music Jam @ The Body Shop
Oct 7 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Front Royal Bluegrass Music Jam @ The Body Shop
New Bluegrass and traditional music jam the first Saturday of each month starting Feb. 4th, from 1pm till 4pm. All levels of playing invited to attend.
11:00 am The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Oct 8 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. The forge is fired up and the blacksmiths are hard at work showing off their skills. Members of The Blacksmiths’ Guild of the Potomac have set up shop in the forge, located behind[...]
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Oct 11 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
11:00 am The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Oct 14 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. The forge is fired up and the blacksmiths are hard at work showing off their skills. Members of The Blacksmiths’ Guild of the Potomac have set up shop in the forge, located behind[...]
6:00 pm Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Oct 14 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. Discover our International Dark-Sky Park! Our evenings begin with a half-hour children’s “Junior Astronomer” program, followed by a discussion about the importance of dark skies and light conservation. Then join NASA’s Jet Propulsion[...]