Front Royal Salvation Army Corps holds “Stuff the Truck” event

The Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons have already resulted in record numbers of people turning to the Salvation Army for help. To help meet the need for Christmas food boxes, the Salvation Army will be holding a “Stuff the Truck” food drive at the Front Royal Wal-Mart from December 5th through December 8th, 10:30 am to 7:00 pm each day. This food drive is critical to ensuring that there is enough food for the more than 230 Christmas food boxes to be distributed later this month. For more information, contact Lt. Pradeep Ramaji at the Salvation Army Front Royal Corps at 540-635-4020.
Published in: on December 3, 2012 at 8:39 pm  Comments (2)  

The Early November, 2012 edition of Warren County Report

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Published in: on November 10, 2012 at 3:34 pm  Comments (1)  

Schmookler’s vision of a non-partisan, cooperative future

Sixth District challenger’s revolutionary idea – politics as truth, not lies

By Roger Bianchini
Warren County Report

Andy Schmookler, Democratic candidate for Congress in Virginia’s 6th Congressional District issued the following statement Nov. 1, with his seemingly impossible task of unseating long-time Republican incumbent Bob Goodlatte in largely rural, central Virginia less than a week away:

“I’ve spoken often against the threat that I see to all that has made America great. And I’ve addressed many nuts-and-bolts issues that affect our district, including jobs and the budget and healthcare,” first-time political candidate Schmookler began. “Now I want to speak to the vision of the America I am fighting for.

“In some ways, it’s the America I grew up in.

“I am fighting for an America where government helps create a vibrant middle class—as it did after World War II by providing educational opportunities for veterans and by creating a more level playing field for companies and workers.

“I am also fighting for an America where our political leaders come together on the basis of the values we share, liberals and conservatives alike, to achieve our common purposes.

“Americans have always been guided by a vision of our best possibilities.

“Generations ago, a great American president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, articulated his vision. ‘I see an America,’ FDR said, ‘where no businessman can be stifled by the harsh hand of monopoly … I see an America where factory workers are not discarded after they reach their prime, where there is no endless chain of poverty from generation to generation.’

“I too support a market economy that maintains fair competition. I share FDR’s concern that average Americans be treated fairly and have the opportunity to better their condition.

“ ‘I see an America of great cultural and educational opportunity for all its people,’ ” FDR said.

“I agree with FDR that there is no more important investment for a society than developing its people’s potential, and that man does not live by bread alone.

“I see an America whose rivers and valleys and lakes – hills and streams and plains … are protected as the rightful heritage of all the people.

“Nature is not merely a means to private enrichment but belongs to us all and warrants our protection.

“Now let me share some of my own vision:

• An America where citizens get health care without fear of being bank-rupted.

• An America where people –including the most powerful–care as much about doing right as about getting what they want.

• An America that honors scientific fact, and where neither corporate powers nor political parties try to deceive people about truths important to their future.

• An America where the young are educated to be productive, but also to become more whole human beings.

• An America that leads toward a time when horrors like genocide cannot happen, because the world won’t permit it; an America leading humankind into harmony with our planet.

“We once had a sense that we were on a path of continual improvement, and determi-nation to strive along that path. I see an America where that is restored.

“We should always ask ourselves, “What do we want America to be like generations hence?” and try to find ways to make it so.

“As the Bible says (Proverbs 29:18), ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish,’ ” Schmookler concluded.

Andy Schmookler has run for Congress for the better part of two years on a platform of “Truth, for a Change.”

He told me about two months ago he didn’t know if he “had enough time” to turn the traditionally conservative Republican 6th District around – around toward the truth, rather than the expedient political lie so prominent at an estimated cost of $1 billion in political advertising in the post-Citizen United-fueled 2012 Presidential and related campaigns.

I guess it depends on how many people in this part of central Virginia are capable of seeing through the highly-financed political rhetoric, no matter how smoothly packaged and presented, unfortunately it seems, without any legal accountability to the truth …

Published in: on November 5, 2012 at 2:26 pm  Comments (3)  

The Late October, 2012 edition of Warren County Report

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Published in: on October 26, 2012 at 3:42 am  Leave a Comment  

Commissioner of Revenue Smedley on life support


By Roger Bianchini

Warren County Report

At the Aug. 24 press conference introducing Norman Shiflett as the next town police chief, both town and county officials verified that Warren County Commissioner of the Revenue John Smedley is clinging to life following emergency quadruple heart bypass surgery within the past 24 hours.

Town Councilman Hollis Tharpe told us Smedley was on life support following complications believed to have arisen after Smedley came out of surgery.

Happy Creek Supervisor Tony Carter said it was his understanding Smedley had driven himself to the hospital after experiencing chest pains and that the surgery had been conducted at Winchester Medical Center.

No further information was available at this time.

Published in: on August 24, 2012 at 7:09 pm  Comments (2)  

Pickup slams into old Stickley’s Stationary building


Shortly after 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon, Aug. 16, a pickup truck, believed to have been northbound, left North Royal Avenue and slammed into the front window of the vacant Stickley’s Stationary building next to the Liberty Gas Station on the 500 block of North Royal Avenue . Police were questioning a man at the scene who appeared uninjured and who retrieved something from the truck cab at one point as police were cordoning off the entire block and diverting traffic off that block of North Royal Avenue . Now we know the Front Royal Town Council has been discussing easing up commercial parking restrictions to help facilitate commercial development of vacant properties, but this may be taking that line of thought a little too far. Front Royal Police were investigating at the scene and are expected to release information on the incident within several hours.

Published in: on August 16, 2012 at 5:46 pm  Comments (1)  

Town road closures at Commerce & South St.

   Please be advised the Town of Front Royal Department of Environmental Services Concrete Division will be closing the following areas on Thursday, August 9th at 10:00 pm to Friday, August 10th at  10:00 am:
·         The west bound lane coming off of 55 east onto South St
·         The turn lane coming off 55 east turning north onto Commerce Ave
   These closures are due to the concrete maintenance and installation of handicap ramps. Please plan your travel accordingly and drive carefully to ensure worker and pedestrian safety.
   Any questions may be directed to the Town of Front Royal Environmental Services Department at 540-635-7819.
Published in: on August 7, 2012 at 2:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

Mixing Gospel with Country: The Blind Boys of Alabama

Blind Boys of Alabama open Shenandoah Valley Music Festival July 20

The Blind Boys of Alabama, with Jimmy Carter, center.

By Sarah Hasnain
Special to WC Report

(Managing editor’s note: Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award winners The Blind Boys of Alabama will headline opening night of the 2012 Shenandoah Valley Music Festival on July 20. Deanna Bogart, described as playing with “luster, sophistication and soul” by the Washington Post, will open the evening. The Blind Boys of Alabama have five Grammy Awards, have sung for two presidents and been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. In addition, they have made appearances on The Tonight Show, Late Night with David Letterman, 60 minutes, The Grammy Awards telecast and their own PBS holiday special. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by phone or online. Call (540) 459-3396 or visit We received this interview with Jimmy Carter of the Blind Boys from festival staff.)

Who would have thought a band of gospel singers could come out with a country album? The Blind Boys of Alabama have done just that and turned it into one of the most extraordinary pieces they have recorded in their lifetime.

For 60 years, they spent their time in the gospel, R&B and rock circuit. However, their secret love for country music was not recognized until 2011 when they came out with their first ever country gospel album, Take The High Road. This mix of modern and traditional country has merged well with their gospel rooted sound.

I was able to talk to Jimmy Carter, founding member of the Blind Boys of Alabama to understand the change with the new album.

“All my life, I’ve loved country music,” confesses Carter. “I have been lobbying to do a country music album from the very beginning and I am glad it has finally happened.”

The Blind Boys formed at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in 1939. In addition to their myriad awards listed above, they have managed to keep a hand on the pulse of changing musical times, even covering one of WC Report Editor Roger Bianchini’s favorite songs, “Driftin’ ” by Jimi Hendrix (in fact, Roger tells us the Blind Boy’s version still brings a tear to his eye every time he hears it).

Although they have gained a slew of recognition and performed with many country artists, they have never crossed the line and committed on doing a project inspired by the country genre until now. This landmark recording has enabled them to cross traditional boundaries and create a diverse harmony fit for all listeners.

After meeting rising country music star Jamey Johnson who sang “Down by the Riverside” with them at the induction ceremony in Montgomery, plans began to emerge.

It was the experience of sharing the stage with Johnson that prompted the Blind Boys to seek his services in order to help make the country gospel album a real deal.
“Jamey Johnson made it effortless for us by getting us all together in the recording studio and finding which sounds would go well with our voices. We became a family throughout the whole process,” Carter said.

Therefore, it was very natural to blend the two music genres together. Carter was thrilled to be around musicians who had a common feel for the country gospel sound. “Most country artists have a spark in their hearts for gospel so it made the recording process much easier.”

One of Carter’s favorite experiences with the country gospel album was being able to record in Nashville for the first time. “I had never been at the famous RCA studio and all of a sudden I’m meeting all these wonderful country musicians that were willing to collaborate with us,” expresses Carter, “it definitely felt like a once in a lifetime experience.”

Carter’s favorite songs on the album are “Take The High Road” and “I Know a Place.”
“I had a very emotional experience recording those two songs because it has such a good message to it for our audiences,” confesses Carter. “I’m always excited when per-forming those songs on stage.”

The Blind Boys of Alabama will be coming to the Orkney Springs stage for the second time in their career. They were here once before in 2007.

“Expect a lot of new songs from our album, Take The High Road. In addition, we will be mixing a lot of the new with the old by bringing back some of our traditional gospel sounds from our older albums,” revealed Carter.

The country gospel album has been a hit so far with the fans. Even with all the successful albums and awards assembled together, The Blind Boys are still not done yet.

“We are currently in the talks about doing an album with our top hits from the past 70 years. It’s not official yet but we will hopefully make it happen,” stated Carter.

It’s that work ethic which enables The Blind Boys to involve everybody into their music and keep the connection closer together. They were able to bring two different styles of music back together and leave a message that can touch people’s lives forever.

The Blind Boys of Alabama, with special guest Deanna Bogart, will come and perform at the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival in Orkney Springs, Va. on July 20th at 8 p.m.

Published in: on July 17, 2012 at 2:14 pm  Comments (1)  

The Mid July, 2012 edition of Warren County Report

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Published in: on July 6, 2012 at 4:01 am  Leave a Comment  

Darr the lone incumbent to win re-election

Full Circle: Out with the old, in with the…old?

By Dan McDermott
Warren County Report 

Front Royal voters opted to keep first-term mayor Timothy W. Darr in office Tuesday by a wide margin – 924 to 326 – but rejected two of his colleagues, one of whom got the least amount of votes among the nine candidates to fill three seats.

Vice Mayor Chris W. Holloway and Councilman Carson C. Lauder, Jr. were swept from office in an election that saw a voter turnout of only 16 percent. Ironically, both opposed a move to switch to a November town election which would likely have seen a much larger turnout – traditionally at least double over the past decade – in which incumbents usually benefit from simple name recognition.

Even more surprising to many observers, former Vice Mayor Bret W. Hrbek and former Mayor Eugene R. Tewalt, both of whom lost their re-election bids in 2010, received the most votes, 515 and 514 of a total of 1,335 cast for nine candidates for council and two for mayor.

In 3rd place and also joining Front Royal’s Town Council is Pond, Athey, Athey and Pond attorney Daryl Lee Funk, who edged out the only other serious contender for a spot at the top, Linda J. Allen, by 94 votes, 509 to 415.

Holloway came in fifth in the race for three seats with 352 votes. Lauder finished ninth and was low man on the council vote total totem pole with 269 votes, despite that family cole slaw recipe.

Rounding out the voter count were Ron Harvey, sixth place (297); Manuel Vicente, seventh (288); Robbie Tennett, eighth (281).

Here are the complete unofficial results:

This report was edited by Roger Bianchini.

Published in: on May 1, 2012 at 9:08 pm  Comments (1)  
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