TODAY'S NEWS

Page News and Courier

Region sees bump in 2016 tourism revenue

HARRISONBURG — New marketing initiatives and the opening of new businesses contributed to a nearly 5 percent rise in average tourism revenue in four Valley counties and Harrisonburg in 2016. Shenandoah County reaped $213 million in tourism dollars during the 2016 calendar year, according to a report released by the Virginia Tourism Corp. earlier this month. Rockingham County followed close behind with $210 million, the report said. Page County collected $67 million from tourism in 2016, a 5.4 percent bump from the $63 million it collected in 2014 and 2015. Before that, the county received $61 million in 2012 and 2013.

Virginia Outdoors Festival on tap for Saturday

LURAY ― A new festival is aimed at celebrating the great outdoors and the beauty of the Valley and efforts to conserve it. The Virginia Outdoors Foundation is partnering with the White House Farm Foundation to host the 2017 Virginia Outdoors Festival this Saturday. The free, rain or shine event will feature activities including guided river walks along the South Fork of the Shenandoah River, a native plant sale by Hill House nursery, a native wildlife presentation by Luray Zoo, canoe rides at the White House public landing, locally made food and products, nature-themed crafts and kids activities and presentations and exhibits by local conservation groups and natural resource agencies, including the Virginia Department of Forestry. Attendees will also get the chance to tour the historic grounds of the White House Farm, about five miles west of Luray off of Route 211 and located within the original 5,000-acre land grant which became the first European settlement in the Valley. Purchased by Martin Kauffman in the 1730s, his son, Martin Kauffman II, is believed to have built the two-story white house that remains today in 1760.

‘Paws on the Plaza’ : Pet-themed event kicks off at PAL this Saturday

LURAY ― The PAL Center is going to the dogs this weekend during its second “Paws on the Plaza” event. After the inaugural installment last September, Johnny Peers and the Muttville Comix will return to leave audience members howling in their seats. The slapstick comedy act features Peers ― who has formerly appeared with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus and on the “Late Show with David Letterman” ―and more than a dozen rescue dogs.

Saturday’s inaugural Shenandoah Half Marathon expected to draw 4,000 to Luray

LURAY ― Winding roads, scenic views and challenging terrain will draw thousands to the Valley this weekend, when 1,500 pairs of running shoes hit the backroads of Page County. Saturday's Shenandoah Half Marathon is expected to draw nearly 4,000 visitors, including 1,500 runners from 42 states and two countries, according to an official race guide. “Our area's just so conducive to these types of activities,” said Luray's Parks and Recreation Director Pat O'Brien. “We're really becoming known as a four-season, outdoor adventure destination.” Since launching in 2013, Vacation Races' National Park Half Marathon Series, has grown to include a dozen destinations throughout the country. This weekend's Shenandoah Half Marathon serves as the series' latest addition. Other 2017 newcomers include The Glacier Half Marathon in East Glacier Park Village, Mont., and the Joshua Tree Half Marathon in California. Talks for Luray's inclusion began last year, when Vacation Races, a company founded in 2012 by Salem Stanley, began looking for ways to add events east of the Mississippi River. Stanley first visited Luray and met with town officials in May 2016.

Luray seeks public input in town manager position

LURAY ― The town council is seeking community input as its search for a town manager continues. During its meeting last Monday, the Luray Town Council approved a special town hall meeting next month “to solicit input from the community on what skills and traits are important for the next town manager to possess.” The council additionally elected to see assistant town manager Bryan Chrisman continue in the role of acting town manager. Last month, Luray said goodbye to four-year town manager Charlie Hoke, who officially retired on July 31. Chrisman was then tapped to fill in as acting town manager. The town in June began advertising an interim manager position with an annual salary starting at $60,000 and up to $85,000, depending on a candidate's qualifications and education. The Luray Council then met on July 18 during an executive session to review responses that had been submitted by the July 15 deadline.

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