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Warren County joins opposition to National Park fee hikes



Shenandoah National Park is awful pretty – but $70 for a day drive?!? Photo NPS

Warren County joined the mounting protest against massive proposed fee hikes to national parks on Wednesday morning, November 8.  The county board of supervisors unanimously approved a resolution urging the National Park Service to reconsider the 180-percent hike from the current $25 daily rate for vehicles to $70.  The item had been part of the Consent Agenda but was removed by Happy Creek Supervisor Tony Carter so the reasons for the action could be publicly discussed.

The resolution asked the county’s congressional delegation – Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, as well as Delegate Robert Goodlatte – to pressure the park service to reject the increase proposed by the Trump Administration.  Warner and Kaine have already expressed strong opposition.

A letter from the local Chamber of Commerce in the board agenda packet also urged the county’s elected officials, business owners and citizens to express their opposition directly to the park service by the public comment deadline of November 23.  That letter from Chamber President Niki Foster, who was present at the morning supervisors meeting, summarized the two-pronged concerns at the heart of growing opposition to the plan – “… a fee of this magnitude may be prohibitive to many tourists, and with fewer tourists come decreased revenue to our business community.  In addition, this fee could make it less affordable for families at the lower end of the economic scale to enjoy the beauty and educational opportunities offered at the Shenandoah National Park.”

As to Foster’s latter point, as Front Royal Town Attorney Doug Napier told us of the proposal’s impact on lower-income Americans, “It’s mean, it’s just mean spirited.”  fee hike plan – maintenance or something else?

As we previously reported, according to the Trump Administration, which is charged with administering the National Park Service (NPS) through the Department of the Interior, the fee hikes will serve to address an $11.3 billion maintenance backlog.

Of the administration proposal, Senators Warner and Kaine said, “These fee increases, many of which are two-to-three times that of current levels, could price out many of our constituents and other individuals and families across the country from visiting these national treasures …we do not believe that shifting the burden to our park visitors in the form of significant fee increases is an appropriate or practical way to reduce the deferred maintenance backlog.”

Warner and Kaine pointed to alternative bipartisan legislation, which Warner co-sponsored, introduced earlier this year as a counter-solution to deal with the long-time national park maintenance backlog.

“The National Park Service Legacy Act would help eradicate the maintenance backlog at the Park Service by directing existing revenues from mineral royalties toward high-priority deferred maintenance needs of the National Park Service, including investing in critical NPS infrastructure like Arlington Memorial Bridge.

“This bipartisan legislation would help repair and restore the aging and deteriorating infrastructure of our national parks and ensure that these treasure are preserved for future generations to enjoy. It would allow the Park Service to reduce its maintenance backlog without having to significantly increase the cost of admittance for visitors of our national parks,” Virginia’s senators said.

The full list of 17 parks targeted in the fee hike proposal is: Shenandoah, Yellowstone, Acadia, Yosemite, Arches, Glacier, Grand Teton, Rocky Mountain, Grand Canyon, Glacier, Denali, Mount Rainier, Sequoia & Kings Canyon, Olympic, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, and Joshua Tree.

As Town Attorney Napier pointed out, North Carolina’s Smokey Mountain National Park with more visitors than Shenandoah annually, is mysteriously off the list. – “There’s no logic to it,” Napier observed.

Current passes at Shenandoah National Park (SNP) are priced at:

  1. Weekly (which serves one to seven days):
    • $25 vehicle (private);
    • $20 motorcycle;
    • $10 bike or walking;
  2. Annual, $50;
  3. Lifetime (62 or older), $80.

At other parks the current 7-day entrance fees vary from $30 at Yellowstone and Yosemite; $25 at Glacier and as little as $10 at Arches.

Proposed peak season fees at the designated parks are:

  1. Weekly passes:
    • $70 vehicle (private) (180% increase at SNP);
    • $50 motorcycle (150% hike at SNP);
    • $30 bike or walking (200% hike at SNP);
    • Annual pass $75 (50% hike at SNP).

On Nov. 8, County Administrator Doug Stanley, left, and board Vice-Chair Tony Carter presented Chair Linda Glavis with the Virginia Association of Counties ‘Supervisor Service Award’ for 10 years in the municipal government saddle. And drawing on that depth of experience Glavis voted to oppose the proposed national park entrance fee hikes, along with her more and less-experienced colleagues. Photo/Roger Bianchini

Local News

Jason Poe interviews with Royal Examiner for the 2019 Warren County Sheriff’s race



Jason Poe, a Winchester City Police officer who is seeking the Republican endorsement as a candidate for the Warren County Sheriff’s race this year, sat down with Royal Examiner Editor Norma Jean Shaw earlier this week.

He addressed several issues, including what he says is a lack of transparency with the current administration. He said recent headlines involving a civil suit filed by the Front Royal-Warren County EDA that named his father, Donnie Poe, had left him and his family feeling bullied by social media.

Watch the interview:

Poe was the second candidate to announce a bid for the sheriff’s seat. Mark Butler, a Warren County resident and former football coach, announced his candidacy last summer. The independent has nearly 30 years of experience, and currently commutes to his job as a Herndon police officer. Watch Butler’s campaign announcement.

A third candidate, independent, Mickey Licklider, announced his campaign late last summer; he has not responded to Royal Examiner’s request for a sit-down interview.

Both Butler and Poe have agreed to participate in debates later this year.

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W&OD Trail detours for construction of a new trail bridge over Route 29



FAIRFAX, Va. – Detours begin Friday, April 19, 2019, on the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail for construction of a new trail bridge over Route 29 (Lee Highway) near the Arlington-Falls Church line. Additionally, the Custis Trail will be detoured beginning in May where it passes under I-66 near Bon Air Park in Arlington due to I-66 widening construction above the trail. Both detours are expected to last until fall 2020.

Details include:

Washington & Old Dominion Trail Bridge Detour at Lee Highway in Arlington (April 19, 2019, to Fall 2020)

On April 19, 2019, the W&OD Trail will close between Little Falls Street and Lee Highway (near mile marker 5.5) and for a short portion on the east side of Lee Highway.

• Pedestrians will be detoured to the north on Little Falls Street, then turn right on Fairfax Drive to reach the signalized crosswalk for Lee Highway. Sidewalk is available for this entire detour.
• Cyclists will be detoured to the south on Little Falls Street, turn left on West Jefferson Street to reach Lee Highway, then turn left on Lee Highway to the signalized crosswalk. Most of Jefferson Street does not have sidewalk.
• On the east side of Lee Highway, trail users will be shifted to nearby Fairfax Drive for about 200 feet. This portion of Fairfax Drive will be closed to vehicle traffic.

A new bridge is being built for the W&OD Trail over Route 29. This bridge will provide trail users a safer crossing at this busy intersection. Upwards of 2,000 people use the trail in this area near mile marker 5.5 on peak days. The bridge is expected to open in fall 2020.

Custis Trail I-66 Underpass Detour Near Bon Air Park
(May 6, 2019 to Fall 2020)

On May 6, 2019, weather permitting, the Custis Trail will close where it passes under I-66 near Bon Air Park in Arlington.

• Trail users will be detoured to cross over I-66 using an existing pedestrian bridge about 750 feet east of the underpass. The bridge can also be accessed from N. Fairfax Drive near Kensington Street.
• The detour will be marked and uses existing paved trails.

An additional lane is being added to I-66 East between the Dulles Connector Road and Fairfax Drive / Glebe Road (Exit 71). Extensive work will occur on the bridge that runs above the trail, which requires the underpass to be closed for safety. As part of the construction, the Custis Trail alignment will be shifted slightly south, improving visibility and safety for trail users. Work is expected to be complete by fall 2020.

W&OD Trail Bridge construction and I-66 Eastbound Widening are components of the Transform 66 Inside the Beltway Eastbound Widening Project. The I-66 Eastbound Widening Project will add a travel lane along four miles of eastbound I-66 and install approximately 12,000 linear feet of new and replacement noise barriers. The project also includes constructing a new direct access ramp from eastbound I-66 to the West Falls Church Metro Station at the Route 7 interchange. Learn more about the project at

The additional eastbound lane is scheduled to open to traffic in fall 2020, and the overall project is expected to be complete in fall 2021.

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Local News

Skyline High School Latin students earn top awards



Left to Right: Dylan Kuzmick (Magna Cum Laude Certificate for Latin 1), Nancy Lay (Silver Medal Maxima Cum Laude for Latin 4), Thomas Stelzl (Cum Laude Certificate for Latin 4), and Kelsie Keene (Cum Laude Certificate for Latin 5) (not in the picture)

Kitty Dean, Latin Teacher at Skyline High School as announced that four students have won awards from the National Latin Exam Committee. These Skyline H.S. students “were joined by over 139,000 other Latin students from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as 20 foreign countries including Australia, Belize, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Republic of Georgia, Russia, Singapore, the Solomon Islands, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and Zimbabwe.”

Congratulations to the following Skyline High School students for their outstanding achievement on the 2019 National Latin Exam:

  • Latin 5 – Kelsie Keene – Cum Laude Certificate
  • Latin 4 – Nancy Lay – Silver Medal (Maxima Cum Laude)
  • Latin 4 – Thomas Stelzl – Cum Laude Certificate
  • Latin 1 – Dylan Kuzmick – Magna Cum Laude Certificate


The National Latin Exam, sponsored by the American Classical League and the National Junior Classical League, is a 40-question, multiple-choice test with a time limit of 45 minutes, offered to students on seven levels: Introduction to Latin, Latin I, Latin II, Latin III, Latin III/IV Prose, Latin III/IV Poetry, and Latin V/VI+. These exams are not based on any specific textbook series.

On the Introduction to Latin, Latin I, Latin II, Latin III, Latin III/IV Prose, and Latin III/IV Poetry exams, there are questions on grammar, comprehension, mythology, derivatives, literature, Roman life, history, geography, oral Latin, and Latin in use in the modern world. The Latin V/VI+ exam contains two Latin passages (one prose and one poetry) as the basis for questions on grammar, comprehension, historical background, classical literature, and literary devices.

Students are expected to take the exam named for the level of Latin in which they are enrolled. The Introduction to Latin exam is designed for first-year Latin students who are enrolled in a two-year Latin I program and who cover approximately half the Latin I syllabus. The Latin V/VI+ exam is designed for Latin students in the fifth-year of study and higher, including advanced level classes in college. Students are allowed to take only ONE exam annually, and, with the exception of the V/VI+ exam, they should not take the same level exam for more than one year.

The philosophy of the National Latin Exam is predicated on providing every Latin student the opportunity to experience a sense of personal accomplishment and success in his or her study of the Latin language and culture. This opportunity exists for all students since, in the National Latin Exam, they are not competing with their fellow students on a comparative basis, but are evaluated solely on their own performance on the exam. The basic purposes of the NLE are to promote the study of Latin and to encourage the individual student.

The National Association of Secondary School Principals has voted to place the National Latin Exam on the Advisory List of National Contests and Activities. This is distributed to all secondary schools in the United States each September.

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Local News

A.S. Rhodes Elementary School to get renovated



At the Warren County School Board meeting on April 15, 2019 the first thing on the agenda was the renovation of the A.S. Rhodes Elementary School. Melody Sheppard, assistant superintendent for Warren County school system started the meeting with the A.S. Rhodes Elementary School renovation plan.

Superintendent Greg Drescher said they would share the plan with the whole school board before moving forward.

The Royal Examiner’s camera was there:

Click here to download documents here.

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EDA in Focus

EDA Investigation: FRPD’s initial interview of Jennifer McDonald, Part 2



Nearly two years after an alleged break-in at the Front Royal-Warren County EDA office on Kendrick Lane, the FRPD has no official suspect in the case. / FRPD crime scene photo

In this second segment of the initial interview on June 15, 2017 with Front Royal Police Department Investigators Landin Waller and Crystal Cline, McDonald pushes forward a theory targeting this reporter as a player in the EDA office break-in revolving around inquiries into and source information acquired that ITFederal principal Truc “Curt” Tran was the “secret investor” in the planned Skyline Regional Justice Academy.

McDonald referenced a time I worked at local radio station WFTR (WZRV The RIver 95.3 FM) and claims I accessed public files. However I never actually was in the EDA offices suite while a radio station employee.  After being fired from the radio station, perhaps coincidentally at the very time I was seeking information from Congressman Robert Goodlatte and his staff about the congressman’s involvement with and knowledge of ITFederal and its owner, McDonald invited me to come to her office “to talk”, presumably to glean information about what I had learned about Tran and his company.

The following is a transcript of the official incident report for the alleged break-in, reported on May 18, 2017:

Front Royal Police Department Investigation Narrative: Officer Report for Incident 17050871

Date, Time, Reporting Officer: 05/18/17, 14:00, Detective Landin J. Waller Description of the Incident:

On 05/18/17 I, Detective Landin J. Waller, was contacted by Captain Ryman in reference to an incident at the .Warren County Economic Development Authority (EDA) located at 400 Kendrick Lane. Myself and Detective King responded to the scene where we were met by Captain Ryman and Captain Nicewarner. Detective King and I were briefed about the scene by Captain Ryman.

Detectives arrived on scene to find several 4-inch by 6-inch photos taken from McDonald’s work area and placed on a conference table, along with a large cut-out photograph of the subject with a black plastic handle steak knife plunged through the forehead of the photo and stuck to the head rest of a brown leather office chair where McDonald stated she normally sat. / Photos from FRPD

We were advised four (4) 4″ by 6″ personal photographs and a large cut out photograph of Jennifer McDonald were taken from McDonald’ s office and found in the conference room. Three ( 3) of ‘the 4″ by 6″ photographs had McDonald in the picture with her face scratched out with a sharp object. The fourth 4″ by 6″ photograph was a picture of McDonald1 s niece and her toddler aged son with the word “NIGGAR” written in black marker across the face of the child. The large cut out photograph had a black plastic handle steak knife plunged through the forehead of the photo and it was stuck to the head rest of a brown leather office chair where McDonald admittedly normally sits.

Detective Waller noted that there was undisturbed dust on the window ledges and on the blinds at every window. The window to McDonald’s office was raised up about two inches and not secured; However there was cobwebs and undisturbed dust on the blinds and window ledge.

There were no signs of forced entry to the buildings windows, and doors. As I noted there was undisturbed dust on the window ledges and on the blinds at every window. The window to McDonald’s office was raised up about two inches and not secured; However there was cobwebs and undisturbed dust on the blinds and window ledge. The two doors of access to the building and office did not have pry marks or signs of tampering.

Investigators responding to the reported break-in documented that the two doors of access to the building and office did not have pry marks or signs of tampering.

The scene was photographed and processed by Detective King. Detective King took overall, midrange, close-up, and close-up with scale photographs. All photographs will be attached to this report in the images file. There were 6 items of evidence collected and packaged from this scene. Item #1: (4″ by 6″ photograph of niece and son), Item #2: 4″ by 6″ photograph of McDonald with Dolphin), Item #3: (4″ by 6″ photograph of McDonald with Niece), Item #4: (4″ by 6″ photograph of McDonald and family) , Item #5: (cutout picture of McDonald) , Item #6: (black plastic handle steak knife) . Detective King dusted the conference ‘ table and drawer for latent prints but was not successful.

I interviewed the two employees that were at the office, Jennifer McDonald and Missy Henry. These interviews were audio recorded and will be added to the case file.

From the interview with McDonald, I was informed that she was the Director of the EDA inhere she has been employed since 1999, She advised there are two other employees, Missy Henry and Maria Jones, that work out of this office. McDonald advised me she left the office last evening (05/17/18) at 17:00 or 17:30. She said she went to a Rotary meeting at 19;30. McDonald said left from the Rotary meeting and went directly home and the next morning she arrived to work at about 07:30. McDonald said she went to her office and she and Missy were talking when she noticed some pictures were missing from her office but she was not sure which ones. She said a while later she was notified by Missy of the scene in the conference room – McDonald did say that last Thursday morning she noticed a large knife (from the kitchen area of the EDA) was in her chair in the conference room on 05/11/17, but did not notify the police but thought it was odd.

Jennifer told Investigator Waller that this knife was found lying in her chair in the conference room on 05/11/17, but she did not notify the police.

I asked McDonald if she could think of anyone that might be mad enough to do something like this, she said “yes”. She informed me that there is a group of people who have made derogatory statements about the Work-Force Housing Project in the Royal Examiner. McDonald went on to explain there was a piece of land that was to be gifted to the town for this project; However, the EDA missed the deadline for the land to be gifted and now the land must be purchased. She said the piece of land in question was gifted by her family members (Aunt & Uncle). She stated the Royal Examiner has posted articles about this land deal in which many persons have commented negatively about her and the EDA. She listed Councilwoman Bebhinn Egger, Mike Graham, Stan Brooks, Shea Parker, Tom Conkey, Roger Bianchini, and Norma Jean Shaw as persons who she felt were angry with her.

Stack on the cabinet were copies of a voluminous press release and documents related to questions posed by then-Town Council member Bébhinn Egger. Those questions had been promised to Egger May 19, 2017, one day after the break-in was reported.

McDonald informed me that herself, Missy, and Maria Jones are the only ones with keys to the outside of the building and to the office door. She did say there was a spare key for each door in a real estate type lock box that was located on the iron railing of the stoop. She advised that Maria Crigler, The Administrative Assistant of Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission,  (the neighboring business) also has the code to the lock box because they have a spare key in the lock box. McDonald informed me the keys are kept in the lock box incase someone forgets their key to the office and needs to gain entry to the office. I was then informed that all 9 employees at Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission have the code to the lock box.

I also interviewed Missy Henry in the conference room. Henry stated she has been employed at the EDA as an Administrative Assistant since 2012. She advised that she left the office on 05/17/17 at 17:05 and did not return to the office around 0800 on 05/18/17. Henry advised me she was the first to notice the conference room scene. Henry also advised me that she had just changed the code to the lock box this past Monday to a 3 digit code instead of a 4 digit code. She advised that no one has been notified of the change except herself, Jennifer and Maria.

I spoke to all the employees at Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission and determined that the last employee to go leave the building was Brandon Davis. X was advised that Davis1 wife went into labor last night and he stopped by the office to grab some items from his desk before going to the hospital. I have yet to speak with him, but all the other employees did not notice anything out of the ordinary on 05/17/17.

Later on that day, I spoke with employee Marla Taylor Jones by phone. Marla advised she is the current Director of Marketing with the EDA and has been since 2009. She said she arrived to work at 08:10 on 05/17/17 and left at 17:00. She did say she noticed a man who was inside the gate of the property and he was holding a phone or a video recorder and it appeared he was recording. She described the male as a white male with a beard wearing blue plaid shirt, shorts, and a ball cap. ‘ She said he went outside to ask him if he needed assistance but he walked through the breezeway and towards Ameri-Sist which is a business on the east end of the building. Jones said she had Henry call Ameri-Sist to see if the man came to their business, but was informed that no one had stopped in. Jones also said that when she was leaving at 17:00 she noticed an old red Ford Explorer or Blazer with a white male inside and the engine was running. She said he was on the road behind the building and she asked him if he needed help. She said he told her he had just made a delivery and was routing his next delivery. She said she thought this was a bit unusual.

On 05/18/17 after clearing the initial asked McDonald if I might have the spare I wanted to set up surveillance cameras, keys. On 05/18/17 at 17:30 hours Myself, Sergeant Cline set up surveillance video scene, I responded back to* the EDA and keys to the building and office because McDonald agreed and gave me  the spare Detective King, Detective Fogle and inside the office.

Watch Part 2 of Jennifer McDonald initial interview with Front Royal Police Department that occurred on June 15, 2017:

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Flags of Valor president named Small Business Veteran of the Year by the Virginia Small Business Development Center



Brian Steorts is the founder and president of Flags of Valor in Frederick County and the 2019 Virginia Small Business Veteran of the Year.

Middletown, VA. – The Lord Fairfax Small Business Development Center is proud to announce the 2019 Virginia Small Business Veteran of the Year Award from the Virginia Small Business Development Center (VASBDC) will be presented to its client, U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force veteran Brian Steorts. Steorts is the founder and president of Flags of Valor in Frederick County.

The award is given each year to a veteran small-business owner based on his or her contributions to the military, their business and the community. VASBC Director Jody Keenan will present the award during Lord Fairfax Community College’s annual Appreciation Luncheon April 19 on the Middletown Campus.

Steorts started Flags of Valor after being injured during his military service. After rehabilitation, he missed wearing the flag as part of his daily attire. When he tried to order a large wooden flag for his home, he could only find ones made in China.

That’s when Steorts decided to create his small business, Flags of Valor, and provide jobs to disabled veterans who could produce beautiful wooden flags here in the United States. He moved the workshop to Frederick County two years ago. That’s when he turned to the Lord Fairfax Small Business Development Center.

“Brian is an exceptional business leader and member of our community,” says the development center’s director, Christine Kriz, who has consulted with Steorts. “His dedication to his employees and his passion for our country shine bright. We are very fortunate to have veteran small business owners like Brian to support our returning veterans!”

Steorts’s and his team’s commitment to providing a top-quality products and connecting with each customer has led to huge success. He has been featured in numerous media, including NBC News, Fox News, ABC World News, Entrepreneur and ESPN Radio.

Steorts even presented a flag to President Donald Trump, which can be seen in this video:

In addition to employing dozens of veterans, Flags of Valor has raised nearly $700,000 for veteran and first-responder charities.

Steorts is civically engaged as a member of the Top of Virginia Regional Chamber, the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and as a Small Business Council Board member.

Steorts’s military awards and commendations include:

• Airman’s Medal, the highest non-combat medal
• Air Medal with 10 oak-leaf clusters for 200 combat missions
• Aerial Achievement Medal
• Air Force Commendation Medal
• Army Commendation Medal
• Meritorious Unit Award with two oak-leaf clusters
• National Service Defense Medal
• Afghanistan Campaign Medal with one service star
• Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
• Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
• Armed Forces Services Medal
• Air Force Overseas Ribbon
• Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon with gold border and six oak-leaf clusters
• Air Force Longevity Service Ribbon with two oak-leaf clusters
• Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon with one star
• Army Service Ribbon
• NATO Medal

Civilian awards:
• 2018 Capital One Small Business Award for Veteran and Military Spouse Employment

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Upcoming Events

10:00 am Humanity Day @ Main Street Gazebo
Humanity Day @ Main Street Gazebo
Apr 20 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Humanity Day @ Main Street Gazebo
This Saturday, April 20th, will be the 1st Annual Humanity Day sponsored by SONA Bank and the Habitat for Humanity. The event will take place at the Gazebo on Main Street in Front Royal from[...]
1:00 pm Dawn McCarty – Book Signing @ Royal Oak Bookshop
Dawn McCarty – Book Signing @ Royal Oak Bookshop
Apr 20 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Dawn McCarty - Book Signing @ Royal Oak Bookshop
Thanks to the efforts of VGSR volunteers, Mickie was surrendered to the rescue and started a new adventure. Mickie was very special and it was not because of his feet. He was a fabulous companion[...]
1:00 pm Jeff Ryan – Book Signing @ Royal Oak Bookshop
Jeff Ryan – Book Signing @ Royal Oak Bookshop
Apr 20 @ 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Jeff Ryan - Book Signing @ Royal Oak Bookshop
Author, speaker, photographer and avid hiker Jeff Ryan was born and raised in Maine. His love of the outdoors was evident early in life. He was skiing at the age of three and spending at least[...]