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Warren County School Board meets Wednesday to act on van purchases, ESY staff raises

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The Warren County School Board during its Wednesday, April 21 meeting will consider requests by Warren County Public Schools (WCPS) to increase hourly pay rates for extended school year positions, purchase two vehicles, and approve the 2021-2022 local Perkins Career and Technical Education Plan.

The first of three action agenda items to be considered this week by the School Board is to approve a request by WCPS to increase the hourly pay rates for extended school year (ESY) positions, which provide services to qualified students with disabilities throughout the county. ESY student support generally occurs in the summer but is designed and planned to meet the individual needs of each student, according to the School Board’s agenda.

Due to this year’s short summer break, it has been increasingly difficult to secure staff, according to WCPS Director of Special Services Michael Hirsch, who will recommend increasing the hourly rates of the ESY administrator from $35 per hour to $45 per hour; the speech pathologist and physical and occupational specialists from $35 to $45 per hour; the ESY teachers from $25 an hour to $35 per hour; the Summer School and the ESY school nurse from $25 to $35 per hour; and the ESY instructional assistants from $10 to $15 per hour.

The second action agenda item for the School Board’s consideration is the 2021-2022 Local Plan for Career and Technical Education Perkins Funds, which provide WCPS with funds to support Career and Technical Programs and includes equipment, professional development, and student organization support. The funding is not to supplant but to enhance local funding, according to the agenda.


The last item slated for School Board action on April 21 is a WCPS request to purchase two used Dodge Caravans from G&M Auto Sales in Front Royal, Va., that will be used primarily for student transport in and out of Warren County. WCPS Transportation Director Aaron Mitchell will explain that WCPS seeks to maintain a quality, safe, and needs appropriate vehicle fleet, and the plan is for WCPS to trade in four vehicles for the two Caravans, according to the School Board’s agenda.

A work session is also scheduled during the School Board’s Wednesday meeting during which time Hirsch is scheduled to discuss required immunizations for WCPS students, and WCPS Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Melody Sheppard will provide a second reading and further discussion on the Virginia School Board Association’s School Board Policy Updates.

April 7 meeting summary
In highlights from the School Board’s April 7 meeting, Sheppard reported that the WCPS Food Services staff has prepared more than 900,000 meals for students since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. In recognizing staff members for their hard work, Sheppard commented on the extraordinary job that both Food Services and transportation employees have done in preparing and delivering meals during this time.

She also presented Nickole Kinsey, WCPS Food Services general manager, with a plaque from the state in appreciation for the work that has been done to make sure students remained fed during the pandemic.

In his report to the School Board on April 7, WCPS Superintendent Christopher Ballenger said that as of that date, there were 15 active student cases of COVID-19 and six staff cases. He said that the school division will continue to utilize the same mitigation guidelines it has been using.

Ballenger also reported that he has held initial conversations with both high schools and class representatives about upcoming graduations. The current plans call for Warren County High School’s graduation to be held in the stadium on Saturday, June 12 at 8 a.m., and for graduation at Skyline High School’s stadium to be held at 10 a.m. on the same day.

Students would be given four tickets with 10 feet of social distancing required between families, said Ballenger, noting that the plan is based on the current state and federal guidance and could be adjusted if that guidance changes between now and graduation.

In addition, Ballenger told School Board members that a proposal for a Linden, Va., bus stop is being reviewed by the Virginia Department of Transportation and an initial meeting with families has been held to review the plan.

The School Board also on April 7 adopted a resolution honoring Ballenger as a Virginia Superintendent of the Year for 2020-2021. The Virginia Association of School Superintendents (VASS) is honoring all 133 division superintendents throughout the state as Virginia superintendents of the year due to their extraordinary leadership during the 2020-2021 school year and their roles in serving their communities through the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the School Board’s April 7 meeting minutes.

VASS plans to recognize all the superintendents during its spring conference and asked that each school board in Virginia adopt a resolution recognizing their superintendent as a Virginia Superintendent of the Year for 2020-2021. The motion to adopt the resolution honoring Ballenger was made by School Board Vice Chairwoman Catherine Bower, seconded by board member Ralph Rinaldi, and carried by a 5-0 voice vote with School Board Chairman Arnold Williams, Jr., and members Kristen Pence, James Wells, Rinaldi, and Bower voting aye.

In other action on April 7, the School Board unanimously approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the School Board and the Warren County Sheriff’s Office for School Resource Officers (SROs) that was signed by the superintendent.

Current policy requires that the Warren County School Board and the Sheriff’s Office have an MOU that sets forth the powers and duties of the SROs. The MOU is reviewed and affirmed or amended at least once every two years and is modeled after the Virginia School-Law Enforcement Partnership Model MOU, Sheppard told School Board members.

The partnership between WCPS and the Warren County Sheriff’s Office is intended to facilitate effective, timely communication and coordination of efforts, and the MOU establishes a framework that both the schools and the Sheriff’s Office can work within to achieve shared goals toward creating and maintaining safe and secure school environments and to promote a positive and supportive school climate, according to the School Board’s agenda.

The Warren County Sheriff’s Office will employ and provide WCPS with 10 law enforcement officers to serve as SROs who will assist with matters related to the safety and security of the schools. Sheppard pointed out that SROs also will help school administrators develop school crisis and response plans, as well as coordinate crime prevention and school safety, among other tasks.

The School Board also unanimously approved a request that WCPS enter an MOU with Shenandoah University to provide a reading specialist endorsement program within the school division and that the superintendent be authorized to sign the memorandum.

As part of the partnership, WCPS will provide a cohort with a minimum of 20 participants at the cost of $624 per student per course, to cover the cost difference should the cohort drop below 20 participants, and to secure a commitment from participants to complete the program.

Sheppard said that WCPS has 21 teachers and one instructional specialist who have signed commitment letters to complete the reading specialist endorsement program. For those seeking the add-on endorsement, they have committed to completing the program and remaining in the division for three years following their completion of the program, she said, adding that for those seeking a master’s degree as a reading specialist, they have committed to completing the program and remaining in the division for five years following their completion of the program. Should they fail to complete the program or not stay the agreed-upon three or five years, she said they are responsible to pay back all funds paid on their behalf.

For its part, Shenandoah University will provide the instructional delivery, invoice the school division based on the agreed-upon rate, and will waive all graduate application fees and offer direct admission for all cohort participants, Sheppard explained.

The MOU will remain in force for two years but can be terminated by either party given a 90-days written notice, she said, adding that courses will be paid for using a combination of Title I funds, tuition reimbursement funds, and local professional development funds.

In another unanimous approval, the School Board voted to award a $17,543.75 contract to Roanoke, Va.-based Time Technologies Inc. for the purchase and installation of a digital marquee sign at Skyline High School to replace the current manual one.

Skyline High School (SHS) Assistant Principal Jody Lee told School Board members that SHS administration recognizes “this is not a need but rather a want but feel that this will be an asset to SHS and the community to enhance notifications for the students, families, and surrounding community members.”

“We feel that due to COVID-19 impacts, being virtual has allowed us to spend less than normal and feel this opportunity will not come again without a long-term fundraiser,” Lee said, noting that the sign will be single-sided with an illuminated routed nameplate for the school’s name. SHS also wants to use a Cloud-based software program for the sign images and notices.

The project, which should take roughly two months from the date of a signed contract, is over the $15,000 threshold so SHS asked to use its School Board funds to pay for the sign due to the current availability of allocated funds.

The School Board also voted 5-0 to adopt the 2021-2022 Special Education Annual Plan, which includes an application for federal funding in the total amount of $1,241,840.

The board’s April 21 meeting starts at 5 p.m. and will be held at the Diversified Minds meeting room located at 465 W. 15th Street in Front Royal.

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Naming change for LFCC – want to participate in telephone town hall on May 6th?

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After celebrating our 50-year milestone, the Lord Fairfax Community College board made the decision to find a new name for our college — one that aligns with our mission, vision, and values. With an eye toward selecting a name befitting of our college’s rich history, welcoming culture, and bright future, they engaged a task force and a team of naming and branding professionals.

As they approached the end of this journey, they want to invite you to participate in a Q&A discussion about the renaming process, their aspirations for the new name, and the list of naming finalists. The discussion will take place on May 6 from 6:30-7:30 pm.

Registration will close 3 hours before the event; 3:30 on May 6. Click here to register.

From LFCC:


For 50 years, LFCC has been welcoming students from all walks of life, from every race, every religion, every socio-economic group, every generation. As our 50th-year draws toward a close, we are excited to be given the opportunity to really examine how we want to move the college forward for the next 50 years – and beyond.

After months of study, research, discussion, and contemplation, it became evident that our name – the first introduction to the college our potential students receive – must change. In the days following George Floyd’s murder, Glenn DuBois, the chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges, was determined that the 23 institutions he oversees in Virginia do better and contribute solutions to our nation’s ills.

“Equity and access to opportunity have been at the heart of our community college mission since we first opened our doors in 1966,” Chancellor DuBois said. “We need to invest ourselves, and our colleges, in actions that elevate equity before we can realize the rhetorical promise of equality – and that work begins now.”

In July 2020, the State Board for Community Colleges passed a resolution asking all community colleges in Virginia to review their names. This provided us with an opportunity to reflect upon and honor our past while ensuring our name and brand reflect our values and our future.

The name Lord Fairfax was chosen in 1969 – a year before the college opened. The original college board chose the name in part for its link to the region’s colonial history. Thomas, the 6th Lord Fairfax, was born in England, and would ultimately hold more than 5 million acres from Virginia’s Northern Neck to near what is now Pittsburgh. He became a friend of George Washington, although his loyalties lay with the British during the Revolutionary War. Lord Fairfax – like many large landowners at the time – used enslaved workers to further enrich himself. There are historical records indicating he also engaged in the long-term sexual abuse of enslaved women.

Our research showed that 90 percent of those surveyed were unaware of Thomas, Lord Fairfax, and some respondents found the name confusing since they associated it with Fairfax County in Virginia, and Fairfax, W.Va. Additionally, we discovered that people feel an affinity for the college because of what it has meant to them, and not to the man for which it was named.
Most importantly, we learned that when those surveyed learned more about the history of Thomas, the 6th Lord Fairfax, support for changing the name more than doubled in all demographics, except one. Among people of color, that support more than quadrupled – it increased from 14 percent to 61 percent. Integrity and diversity are among LFCC’s core values. This means we exemplify honesty, character, and respect for our communities, and we honor the uniqueness of individuals and communities. The college needs a name that honors those values.

College Board Vice Chair Mike Wenger said considering whether or not to rename LFCC was a “challenge that everyone took very seriously, saying, “Throughout the effort, everyone consistently came back to the values of the college and our shared concern for the students and communities we have served and will serve over the coming decades. It seems appropriate that these six months of self-reflection came during our 50th year and in the midst of a major strategic planning effort to lay the foundation for the next 50 years.

“The process has been comprehensive, disciplined, inclusive, deliberative, and, above all else, respectful of our responsibility for the history and future of the college. Hard-working groups reached out to constituents, dug into the records, read history, gathered data, and debated issues. We considered the overall college branding with an eye to the future. The process invited deliberations about the values we want to inculcate, the focus we hope the college brand projects, and the breadth of community reach we want to facilitate. Though this decision wasn’t easy, it was in many ways clear.”

Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, who represents Shenandoah County on the Board, said, “Often, we just move forward day by day without thinking about our name, so this gives us a great opportunity to look at ourselves and determine who we are in relation to our values, our mission, where we are today as an institution, and where we want to go tomorrow. Lord Fairfax doesn’t represent anything we are about.

“Our students come to us from different backgrounds, but they value the opportunity presented by earning an education at LFCC. The college embraces inclusion, opportunity, equality, access to education, and helping students find their way forward. Our faculty is devoted to that. We want people to feel welcome where they serve and live, and if we exclude some part of our faculty and some part of our students, that’s not who we are, whether that exclusion is intentional or unintentional. I think for our students, for our faculty, and for our future, it’s the right time to take this opportunity to rename the college and move forward, capturing all we have accomplished in the past and the bright future we have ahead.”

The college is now in the exciting phase of searching for a name that will move us forward and stand the test of time, one that will serve as a welcoming beacon to all students, a name for which we can feel pride. A task force made up of stakeholders, including students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, and board members will work with our communities as we embark upon this task. Our goal is for the board to have a name to consider by this summer.

Following the college board’s decision to rename the college, LFCC President Kim Blosser shared with faculty and staff a video message the evening of Feb. 4, 2021. She noted, “We have a fantastic history and so much to be proud of – our college has changed the lives of many thousands of people in our service region and beyond. Our dedication to our mission and our values is what has made our community college the asset it is today. As we develop our new strategic plan and look forward to our next 50 years, we will find a name that better suits our vision of an inclusive, equitable learning environment for every student, one that improves their economic mobility and supports the economic development of the communities we serve. And we will involve our employees, our students, and our community members in this process; we will do this together.”



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Main Street Vaccine Clinic in Front Royal on May 10th

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Front Royal Brewing Company and the VA Heath Department are bringing a Covid walk-in vaccine clinic to Main Street! The clinic will be from 8:00-11:00 am on Monday, May 10th at Front Royal Brewing Company.

WALK-IN APPOINTMENTS ONLY, NO NEED TO REGISTER BEFOREHAND

The Virginia Department of Health will be giving the Moderna vaccine which is a two-dose shot. Anyone (18 and over) that hasn’t received the first dose of a vaccine is welcome. So you can bring your friends and family members too.

Anyone who gets the first dose at the brewery will automatically be guaranteed to get their second dose here four weeks later. Right now, the second dose is planned for June 7, 2021, at the Front Royal Brewing Company. This is expected to be quite a popular event, so get here early (first come, first served).



IMPORTANT: Please click that you are going /interested on the Facebook event here, so we have an estimate of how much of the vaccine the Health Department will need. This will NOT reserve your spot, the Health Department just wants to get an idea of how many vaccines to bring. COME EARLY! This will be a popular event!

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Family Fun Day is this Saturday, May 8, 2021 at the Gazebo

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Yes, there will be a 2021 Family Fun Day – and it will be this Saturday, May 8, 2021, at the Gazebo in downtown Front Royal. The activities will start at 10:00 am till 6:00 pm.

Family Fun Day is a family-friendly, alcohol-free event, hosted in Front Royal, Virginia, by C & C Frozen Treats. Family Fun Day is an official 501c3 nonprofit and will be happy to accept your tax-deductible donation to help fund this year’s event.

If you love and support the community of Front Royal and the surrounding areas, we encourage you to come out and bring your family and friends to enjoy this community-building event with an antique car show, kid’s events, and of course ICE CREAM! Let’s not forget that Nina will be boiling crawfish! Don’t miss the fun!


 

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Missing economic impact payments? File 2020 tax return with the IRS to receive it

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The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued the third round of Economic Impact Payments (EIP) in April. Most Social Security beneficiaries and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients should have received their EIPs by now. If a person is missing their first or second EIP, they need to file a 2020 tax return with the IRS and claim the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit (RRC) as soon as possible.

Any person who did not receive his or her EIP, or the full amount of their EIP, please read this carefully. To get any missing first or second EIPs, file a 2020 tax return with the IRS and claim the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit (RRC) immediately. People should file the 2020 tax return even if they have no income to report for 2020. When the tax return is processed, the IRS will pay the RRC as a tax refund. The IRS will send any additional third EIP amount owed in 2021 separately.

If people already filed their 2020 tax return, they do not need to do anything else.

Visit Social Security’s Economic Impact Payments and Tax Credits page at www.socialsecurity.gov/coronavirus/eip/ to learn more.


For questions about tax-related topics and economic impact payments, please contact the IRS.

Read the IRS’ April 28 press release at https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/nearly-2-million-more-economic-impact-payments-disbursed-under-the-american-rescue-plan-continuing-payments-reach-approximately-163-million for more information.

For Social Security information, please visit the agency’s COVID-19 web page at www.socialsecurity.gov/coronavirus/.

 

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Front Royal woman injured in Winchester Airport crash landing

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Virginia State Police Trooper A. Eckman responded to a report of a plane crash in Frederick County. The crash occurred Monday, May 3rd, at 11:41 a.m. along the 490 block of Airport Road.

Photos courtesy of Virginia State Police

The preliminary investigation revealed that a Single Engine Jabiru Aircraft was attempting to land at the Winchester Regional Airport when it collided with an aircraft hangar.

The pilot, a 49-year-old female, of Front Royal, Virginia, suffered minor injuries in the crash and was transported to Winchester Medical Center for treatment.


No one on the ground was injured as a result of the crash. The FAA and NTSB were notified of the crash, and the crash remains under investigation.

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Sheriff Butler criticized locally, praised nationally in Washington Post article

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While being roundly criticized by local “politicians” in Front Royal, Warren County’s first-term Sheriff Mark Butler is presented as a hero of sorts in the Sunday, May 2nd edition of the Washington Post.

Only last week while Butler was being publicly chastised by, among others, Front Royal Mayor Christopher Holloway and controversial town council member Jacob Meza, a Post reporter/photographer team was working on an article describing Butler’s activities in bringing Coronavirus shots to house-bound residents in our county’s rural areas.

The Post, one of the nation’s three major newspapers – the other two are the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times – was working the story on April 28, just about the time the pejorative and lengthy letter signed by Holloway was sent to Warren Board of Supervisors Chairperson Cheryl L. Cullers about the sheriff and his deputies’ handling of a town solid waste truck crew concerning suspected illegal dumping of sewage waste by town crews into the county’s Bentonville landfill.

Meanwhile, Butler was earning plaudits from the national newspaper and local residents for the work he and his deputies were involved in, facilitating COVID-19 vaccine shots for the area’s elderly and home-bound citizens.


Reporter Jenna Portnoy described how Butler’s deputies, who know their way around sprawling areas and back roads, were accompanied by public health personnel who administer the injections.

Sheriff Mark Butler reporting to the county supervisors in January 2021. Royal Examiner File Photo by Roger Bianchini

One sub-headline in the Post article stated: “Warren County, Va., sheriff’s office is teaming with nurses to bring shots to the hard to reach” and another, “Sheriff’s office aids public health officials in vaccine efforts” in rather larger type face. Butler was quoted as saying his deputies “enforce the laws” in this 200 square-mile region “but also are used to provide social services such as delivering Meals on Wheels, tracking residents with medical conditions… and calling on frail and home bound people daily to check on them.”

“The vaccination program fits in with that mission,” Sheriff Butler is quoted as saying.

Impacted county residents mentioned, and some photographed by the Post’s Matt McClain, include Randy Vaughan, 96, a World War II veteran, one of 17 people attended to that day by nurse Paula Mills and Sheriff’s Deputy Cindy Burke; and Jeanie Clarke, 77, who said she was “flabbergasted” when the sheriff’s office called to say they were coming.

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King Cartoons

Front Royal
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Upcoming Events

May
8
Sat
2:00 pm Mother’s Day Weekend Paint Party... @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
Mother’s Day Weekend Paint Party... @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
May 8 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Mother's Day Weekend Paint Party - Hydrangeas @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
Bring Mom to The Studio for our Mother’s Day Weekend Special. Buy two tickets and save! This will be a lovely piece to add to your collections… and so much fun to paint. Join us[...]
8:00 pm Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 8 @ 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area – behind Mount Bleak. 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 Jet Propulsion Lab[...]
May
9
Sun
2:00 pm Mother’s Day Weekend Paint Party... @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
Mother’s Day Weekend Paint Party... @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
May 9 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Mother's Day Weekend Paint Party - Daisies @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
Bring Mom to The Studio for our Mother’s Day Weekend Special. Buy two tickets and save! This will be a lovely piece to add to your collections… and so much fun to paint. Join us[...]
May
13
Thu
6:30 pm Law Enforcement Officers Memoria... @ Front Royal Gazebo
Law Enforcement Officers Memoria... @ Front Royal Gazebo
May 13 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Service @ Front Royal Gazebo
Please join Warren County/Front Royal Back the Blue, in partnership with the Fraternal Order of Police and Front Royal/Warren County Lodge #33, during National Police Week as we honor our local Law Enforcement Officers who[...]
May
14
Fri
12:00 pm Millionaire Maker Golf Tournament @ Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club
Millionaire Maker Golf Tournament @ Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club
May 14 @ 12:00 pm
Millionaire Maker Golf Tournament @ Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club
Join us for the 2021 Millionaire Maker held at award-winning Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club. The Millionaire Maker is a combined golfing and networking experience! Serious, amateur, and novice golfers are welcome. *Four golfers who[...]
May
15
Sat
7:30 am Captain’s Choice/Best Ball Golf ... @ Bowling Green Country Club South
Captain’s Choice/Best Ball Golf ... @ Bowling Green Country Club South
May 15 @ 7:30 am – 3:00 pm
Captain’s Choice/Best Ball Golf Tournament @ Bowling Green Country Club South
Please join us for the Captain’s Choice/Best Ball Golf Tournament, a fundraiser for the Linden Volunteer Fire Department. The event will be held Saturday, May 15, 2021, at Bowling Green Country Club South (768 Bowling[...]
10:00 am Fort Loudoun Day: Living History @ Historic Fort Loudoun Site
Fort Loudoun Day: Living History @ Historic Fort Loudoun Site
May 15 @ 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Fort Loudoun Day: Living History @ Historic Fort Loudoun Site
Bring the family and enjoy a fun day learning about the history of the French & Indian War era at the site of Colonel George Washington’s headquarters for the Virginia Regiment. Meet living history interpreters[...]
11:00 am National Kids to Parks Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
National Kids to Parks Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 15 @ 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
National Kids to Parks Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Children’s Discovery Area: This National Kids to Parks Day, join us for fun-filled activities and music at our interactive discovery stations. Kids, pick up a scavenger hunt brochure and hike on the Track Trail. Just[...]
May
16
Sun
9:00 am Virginia Psychic Fair @ Arlington-Fairfax Elks Lodge
Virginia Psychic Fair @ Arlington-Fairfax Elks Lodge
May 16 @ 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Virginia Psychic Fair @ Arlington-Fairfax Elks Lodge
Psychic Fair for both those who are serious and for those who are just curious. Event can be a life changing experience or just a fun time! Many of the best psychics, mediums, healers, and[...]
1:00 pm Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 16 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
What’s that buzzing? Meet with local apiarists of the Beekeepers of Northern Shenandoah (BONS) and discover the art of Apiculture (a.k.a. Beekeeping). This monthly program series examines all aspects of beekeeping from hive construction to[...]