The Boys Are Back In Town

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Greetings from The Booth!

Well, here it is, Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of Summer! It is, of course, a time of grillin’ and chillin’, and maybe even that first big trip to the beach. But let’s take a moment this weekend and remember what Memorial Day is all about. In some way, please honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy in the USA. Attend a Memorial ceremony, or simply fly the Red, White, and Blue.

This week, college baseball players will converge on the Shenandoah Valley to hone their craft, as another season of Valley League Baseball is about to begin on May 31st. The VBL, in case you are unaware, is an NCAA-sanctioned league that was formed in 1897, when it was actually a Class-D minor league. The Valley League currently has 12 teams, with clubs in Winchester, Charlottesville, Front Royal, New Market, Covington, Strasburg, Waynesboro, Staunton, Harrisonburg, Purcellville, Woodstock, and Culpeper.

The VBL is not called “The Gateway To The Majors” for nothing. Players who have gone on to “The Show” include Rick Honeycutt, Wayne Comer, Jimmy Key, John Kruk, Dan Pasqua, Steve Swisher, Johnny Oates, and one-time Washington National Daniel “Hits” Murphy. For area fans, the Valley League offers a chance to watch some great baseball at affordable prices, and say “I saw so-and-so when…” For players, it’s a chance to continue playing beyond the college season and maybe get a look-see by a pro scout.

What I really wanted to talk about, though, is housing. A Valley League tradition over the years has been the bonding of players and host families who house players every Summer. The stories are many of the lifelong friendships that are formed with these families and the players. This year, there is a housing crisis in some VBL communities, including the Winchester Royals. As of a few weeks ago, the team had found housing for only 15 of the 35 Royals players. In the event that host families cannot be found for all 35, Manager Mike Smith will have to release some of his roster and recruit local players. That’s a great opportunity for local players, but would make for a watered-down Royals squad. There is a certain talent level in the VBL, after all, and a majority of Valley League players come here from top-level college programs.

I’m not sure of the reason for the housing crisis this year. Maybe it’s the economy, and adding a few more members to an already strapped household is not feasible. Maybe it’s our ever-growing mistrust of strangers. I don’t know. I do know that for many families who have provided housing over the years to Valley League players, the positives have outweighed the negatives. So, if you can help, please contact a VBL team near you.

For schedules, team info and more, visit and get out to a game or two this Summer!

Until the next visit from the Booth…PLAY BALL!


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Municipal offices closed for Memorial Day

A reminder that municipal offices throughout the region will be closed Monday in observance of Memorial Day. Schedules for services such as garbage collection have been adjusted for the coming week. Check with your local office or municipal website for updates.

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There will be Memorial Day observances regionwide, including Middletown, which will have a remembrance and wreath-laying at 1 p.m. Monday at the Veterans memorial.

The Winchester Rotary Club will hold its Healing field of honor closing ceremony at 3 p.m. Monday at Handley High School.

Also, Virginia State Police urge motorists to use extra caution as the holiday combines with recent graduations to result in increased traffic.

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

Military Tribute Banner Program comes to Middletown

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The Town of Middletown announced their participation in the Military Tribute Banner Program.

Community leaders from Middletown and other areas of the Northern Shenandoah Valley came up with the plan as part of the Hometown Veterans Heroes Formation Committee.

The project aims to honor veterans who currently are or have been residents of the area with banners hung throughout the town’s Main Street.

The banners will be sponsored by individuals or businesses and hang from Memorial Day to Veterans Day.

Orders are accepted through March 1st.

For more information on the project or how to purchase, click here

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

Winchester Cemetery honors those who gave all

Yesterday Memorial Monday May 30 hundreds gathered to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice at Winchester’s National Cemetery (WNC).

Over 5,000 flags were placed at the headstones of those soldiers who are laid to rest at WNC.

The ceremony was organized by the American Red Cross of the Greater Shenandoah Valley with the support of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2123 co-hosting the event.

Lieutenant Colonel Joan K. Grewe U.S. Army Retired was the Keynote Speaker.

Karen Wallace Williams read the poem of remembrance.

Another co-host of the event, Colonel James Wood II Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution set off a  volley of musket fire to honor those who sacrificed.

That was one of many ceremonies held across the region.

Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) allowed the laying of flowers at the tomb of the unknown soldier by the general public this year.

As always ANC with the help of volunteers placed flags at the headstones of those who are buried there.

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

Holiday weekend traffic enforcement initiatives

Virginia State Police are reminding travelers this holiday weekend to avoid distractions, slow down, and buckle up.

Starting Friday afternoon, VSP is participating in the national Operation Crash Awareness Reduction Effort to reduce crashes, fatalities, and injuries due to impaired driving or failing to wear a seat belt.

This initiative also falls in line with the annual “Click it or ticket” campaign which started May 24th and continues through the holiday weekend.

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

Front Royal pool will not open Memorial weekend

Warren County Government reports that due to insufficient staffing as it stands right now the Claude A. Stokes Jr. Community Pool in Front Royal will not be able to open on Memorial Day Weekend.

However the pool will open as scheduled on June 6 for the regular season.

The Warren County Parks and Recreation Department will update if any change occurs.

Pools in Frederick, Shenandoah and Warren Counties and towns in those counties are looking to shore up their staff with qualified employees.

Some communities like Mount Jackson are offering bonuses to sign on as a lifeguard.

If you are interested contact your towns parks and recreation departments.

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

Rotary and JHHS create Healing Field of Honor

Annual Community Grant

John Handley High School and the Winchester Rotary Club came together to create the Healing Field of Honor.

The spectacle in front of Handley High School will be open through Memorial Day.

The display features up to 1000 flags which each represent an individual and their story.

The flags can represent all types of heroes ranging from veterans and first responders to loved ones and personal heroes.

The event is free to attend and flags purchased on site will raise funds for the Winchester Rotary Charitable Foundation.

Visit for more information.

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

River Reports: Memorial Weekend

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In this edition of our twice weekly Shenandoah River Reports, our resident Riverkeeper, Mark Frondorf, has some great safety reminders as you get out for the Memorial weekend holiday. Have fun, but be safe on our beautiful waterways!

We’ve also included a special Memorial Day edition of the River Report, as we remember what Memorial Day is all about.

Our River Reports are brought to you by Front Royal Outdoors. Let Don Roberts and his crew help you have some Summer fun on the beautiful South Fork! Visit them at