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Greetings From The Booth!

A bit late this week, as I spent yesterday agonizing over WVU’s early exit from March Madness. The Mounties’ 67-65 loss to Maryland was no upset, by any stretch (Maryland was actually the higher seed), but kicked off a day of bracket-bustin’ that saw me go 9-7 in yesterday’s games–by far my worst performance in a long, long time. BTW, who had Virginia losing in 2018 UMBC fashion to Furman? Furman?!? I’m hoping to recover somewhat today, although at the time of this writing, the Kennesaw State Owls (who? see what I did there?) are leading perennial tournament team Xavier by 13.  Well, at least my Final Four is still intact.

Today is the perfect storm of St. Patrick’s Day and NCAA Basketball, so be responsible and remember to hand those keys to a Designated Leprechaun!

Staying within our b-ball theme this week, were you aware that the Winchester area had a pro basketball team? I have to admit that I did not, until Kenny Gordon, a friend and longtime co-worker at the Shenandoah University basketball scorer’s table, texted me recently to see if I would be interested in doing the public address announcing for the Virginia Valley Vipers.

The expansion Vipers are part of the Indianapolis-based TBL, which stands for “The Basketball League,” and kicked off their season earlier this month. They will play a 24-game schedule in the league’s Eastern Division, against teams from Reading, Syracuse, Atlantic City, York, and the Tri-State. The Vipers’ home games are played at the spacious Wilkins Center at SU.

The team is owned by TMOs (Team Market Owners) Rodney, Tina, and Rze Culbreath. Rze is part of the local flavor of the Vipers, having played some of his basketball at Millbrook High. He is not only an owner, but on the active roster of the Vipers as a guard, and has also played professionally in Europe. Other players include former Hornet Chris Chaney. The team’s Head Coach, Andrew Oates, also has local roots, having served as Assistant Coach at both Clarke County High School and at Shenandoah.

The basketball is high-level, but so is the team’s mission of community outreach. Visit the Vipers’ website and you will see their mission statement displayed prominently displayed on the home page: “…to strengthen our community through positive, family-friendly entertainment and provide athletes with the financial opportunity to continue their passion while giving back to the community.” To that end, players are vetted with background checks and social media activity to insure that they represent the team and the community in a positive way. In addition, players will be part of the Top Of Virginia Young Professionals group, and the team will partner with Winchester CCAP.

So, if you can pull yourself away from the NCAA Tournament this weekend, check out a Vipers game over at Wilkins on March 18th against the Reading Rebels and/or March 19th against the Tri-State Admirals. And don’t forget to wear your purple.

Until the next visit from The Booth…enjoy the Madness, and GO VIPERS.






A tri-state manhunt ends in West Virginia

Augusta County Sheriff’s Office reports that a tri-state manhunt has ended in West Virginia.

A domestic disturbance reported in Augusta County escalated to several shots fired in the Deerfield area.

Oather Carl Puffenbarger Jr. reportedly approached his estranged wife by entering a residence with a handgun.

An occupant of the residence was able to get out and call 911.

Puffenbarger stole the keys to his estranged wife’s vehicle and fled.

Deputies at that time took out several warrants against Puffenbarger including grand larceny, brandishing a firearm, use of said firearm in commission of a felony and breaking and entering among other charges.

While searching for Puffenbarger Deputies received a second 911 call for shots fired in the Hite Hollow Road area.

That call came from two of Puffenbarger’s relatives.

Puffenbarger had blocked their escape with his vehicle and forced the two out of their vehicle as he fired several more shots.

The two male family members were armed and fired back at Puffenbarger.

This led to still more charges being placed against Puffenbarger.

Authorities from Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia were put on alert to watch for Puffenbarger.

West Virginia authorities managed to stop Puffenbarger in Grant County.

When officers approached Puffenbarger’s vehicle they found him suffering from a self-inflicted gun shot wound.

Puffenbarger was taken into custody and transported to a hospital with life threatening injuries.

The delay in the report was to make sure family members of Puffenbarger were notified of the incident.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

Virginia Authorities warn of St. Patrick’s Day dangers

Virginia State Police (VSP) and authorities across the state are posting reminders to be cautious Fri. Mar. 17 during St. Patrick’s day and NCAA tournament celebrations.

The fact that both fall on a Friday could lead to a full weekend of revelry.

VSP reports by email that St. Patrick’s Day has become one of the year’s most dangerous times on the roads.

In 2022 St. Patrick’s Day resulted in five traffic fatalities and 72 individuals injured in alcohol related crashes in Virginia alone.

Authorities are reminding citizens to appoint a designated sober driver or use public transportation or ride share before drinking.

Also remember that buzzed driving is drunk driving and even walking while intoxicated can be deadly.

If you see a drunk driver you are asked to report it to 911 or use #77 on a cellphone.

Make arrangements to get someone who has been drinking home and take their keys.

If you have not been drinking and do drive, be extra cautious and attentive for pedestrians and vulnerable road users.

Be aware that extra police patrols will be out through midnight Mar. 19 this year.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

SVFD battle a fire that causes over $40 K in damage

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The Stanley Volunteer Fire Department (SVFD) reports a fire that caused of $40,000 in damage.

On Mar. 13 the SVFD was called to a structure fire involving an apartment at 221 Kite Hollow Road.

The upstairs portion of the home had been converted into an apartment where the fire began.

Firefighters were able to keep the fire from spreading to the home.

The occupant of the apartment was at work at the time of the fire which is believed to have been caused by an electrical short in an extension cord.

The apartment sustained approximately $40,000 in damage and is considered a total loss.

Where the apartment was insured the occupant did not carry insurance on the contents and is being assisted by the American Red Cross.

Five units responded to the fire including a unit from Page County crews remained on the scene for approximately 30 minutes.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

News Maker Todd Jones on parks and recs activity

Warren County Parks and Recreation is offering some new activities and classes for the spring season.

We spoke with the county Director of Technology Todd Jones about it in our latest news maker.

News makers are sponsored by Warren County Together We are Community.

Todd tells us about all the new activities planned with Warren County Parks and Recreation.

He also reminds us of the upcoming Shenandoah Rail Trail meeting on Mar. 23.

Since this writing and recording a change has been made in the location of the Shenandoah Rail Trail location.

The meeting will now take place at Front Royal’s Fire Hall on Commerce Avenue to provide room for the expected size of the crowd attending.

Todd also tells us there is one last chance with a hard deadline to have your recent re-assessment re assessed.

Click here for Todd’s latest news maker.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.