Firefighters still investigating Shenandoah blaze

SHENANDOAH – Investigators still have not determined what caused a fire at 800 Fleesburg Loop on Wednesday, Nov. 11. "They're saying it started in a fireplace downstairs," said Krystal Orebaugh, who lived at the residence along with her boyfriend, five-year-old son, one-year-old daughter, and her elderly grandparents. Orebaugh said that getting a call from her frantic grandmother that their house was on fire is not something that anybody can ever prepare for. Her children were especially hit hard.  
Page News and Courier /  11-24-2015  

Grottoes teen raises funds for fountains

GROTTOES — Araya Fitzwater saw a need and is trying to fill it. Fitzwater, 13, saw a rather unique water fountain during a trip to Washington, D.C., earlier this year. That gave her the idea for her eighth-grade class project for Family, Career and Community Leaders of America at Montevideo Middle School. The water fountain at Mountain View Park in Grottoes is frequently inoperable and none exists at Grand Caverns, so Fitzwater decided to do something about it. She is raising funds to install a new water fountain at each park.
The Valley Banner /  11-24-2015  

Hillsman gets 50 years in child sex case

WOODSTOCK — A New Market woman convicted of having sex with her son will spend the next 35 years in prison. Tina Hillsman, 36, pleaded guilty in Shenandoah County Circuit Court to charges of rape, aggravated sexual battery and taking indecent liberties with a minor on Sept. 2 as part of a plea deal. Judge Dennis Lee Hupp sentenced her Wednesday to 50 years in prison with 15 years suspended. She must also register as a sex offender upon her release. Hillsman was arrested with former boyfriend Robert Lee Good, 50, in December on allegations that they raped Hillsman’s then 8-year-old son between May 1, 2010 and March 1, 2011. Hillsman was charged with eight felonies, five of which were dropped as part of the plea agreement.

Heatwole gets 4 years for sex crimes against 6 year old

WOODSTOCK — A Shenandoah County judge convicted Byron Joseph Heatwole in circuit court on Wednesday for committing sex crimes against a then 6-year-old girl last year. Judge Dennis Lee Hupp sentenced Heatwole, 33, of Edinburg to eight years in prison with four years suspended, as well as two years of supervised probation upon his release. He must also register as a sex offender upon his release. Heatwole pleaded guilty in September to aggravated sexual battery and taking indecent liberties with a minor as part of a plea agreement.
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Council talks boat landings and banners

ELKTON – A new boat landing is coming to town. Town Manager Kevin Whitfield told council on Monday that the town recently renewed a 20-year lease for a boat landing underneath Old Spotswood Trail on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River. The lease, which came at no cost to the town except for manpower and equipment that are being used to facilitate the project’s completion, is with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Whitfield said a new boat landing is currently under construction at the site.
The Valley Banner /  11-20-2015

Raising chickens in town, greenway discussed

ELKTON – Chickens and a greenway. Those were the topics discussed during a Town Council work session last week. Amy and Darold Morris spoke about their desire to see Elkton allow residents to have chickens in their backyards. Amy Morris said she’s not asking for roosters, which can be noisy, but noted a number of Virginia cities that allow up to four or six chickens per residence. She said Harrisonburg allows chickens but they are restricted to properties at least two acres in size. She said Harrisonburg is considering revising that ordinance. Staunton and Waynesboro also allow chickens in residential areas, she said. Darold Morris said he remembers when Elkton had a poultry house in town where Farmers & Merchants Bank is located.
The Valley Banner /  11-20-2015

Front Royal applies for Main Street program

FRONT ROYAL — Front Royal recently submitted an application to become part of the Virginia Main Street Program with a goal of creating a more vibrant and attractive downtown area. The national Main Street program — called Main Street America — began in 1980, and has worked with more than 2,000 communities across the country to address the decline of traditional downtown neighborhoods. Seven other towns in Virginia applied for the program, and three will be selected. If the town is not accepted into the program this year, it can reapply in two years.
The Warren Sentinel /  11-19-2015

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Local Sports

FOOTBALL: 1A Regional - ESSEX 37, LURAY 19

The Luray Bulldogs weren't intimidated by the No.1 seeded Essex in last Saturday's second round of the Division 1A playoffs. Luray's defense held Essex on its first possession and senior tailback Jacob Moyer found the end zone first, giving Luray a, 6-0, lead. The two teams battled throughout the first half and Luray was behind just, 9-7, after the second quarter. But the second half was a different story. Essex used its speed and athleticism to find the end zone and Luray struggled to contain defensively. The Bulldogs fell 37-19, ending an impressive season. Luray finished the season (7-5).

FOOTBALL: 3A East Region - Hopewell 67, Skyline 28

Skyline gave No. 1 seed Hopewell a scare in the first half, but couldn't slow down the explosive Blue Devils in the second half, and were eliminated 67-28 in the second round of the 3A East Regional. Skyline took a 21-13 lead late in the second quarter but Hopewell responded by scoring the next 40 points to win going away. Hopewell rolled up over 500 yards of offense and forced five turnovers as the Hawks simply couldn't keep up. Senior Skyline quarterback fired three touchdown passes and ran for another, but was also picked off five times by the athletic Blue Devils secondary. Skyline finishes with a 6-6 record and Hopewell will host James Monroe next Saturday in the region semifinal.

FOOTBALL: Playoffs - Skyline 24, Culpeper 21

FRONT ROYAL — With the clock winding down in the waning moments for Skyline in their 3A East Region playoff game against visiting Culpeper, a gutsy call with no timeouts and 24 seconds left in the game proved to be the difference. Trailing 21-17 and with a first down at the Blue Devils 31 yard line, senior quarterback Dylan Hamman took the shotgun snap and handed off to junior running back Brad Halsey. Halsey shot through a hole up the middle and then darted left and turned the corner toward the Culpeper sideline. Halsey was knocked out at the one yard line with just seven seconds left in the game leaving the Hawks with a first-and-goal.

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