Archive for: January 3rd, 2018

Local Government
Jockeying at the top; schools staffing concerns; & a lost maternity ward
January 3, 2018
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From left, former board Chair Linda Glavis, newly-elected Vice Chairman Dan Murray and Chairman Tony Carter ponder county business for 2018. Photos/ Roger Bianchini

FRONT ROYAL – On the morning of January 3, the Warren County Board of Supervisors rolled in the New Year with its first meeting of 2018. With the board seated in the front two rows of public seating, County Administrator Doug Stanley convened the meeting, calling for nominations for chair and vice-chair as the first order of business.

Dan Murray’s nomination of Tony Carter for chairman was seconded by last year’s chair, Linda Glavis – Carter served as vice chair last year. But what appeared to be a fairly routine transfer of procedural authority from one year to the next turned competitive when Archie Fox’s nomination of Murray for chairman was seconded by Tom Sayre.

After review of the meeting recording, the voice vote on the Carter nomination was recorded as 3-0 for (Carter, Glavis, Murray), with Fox and Sayre abstaining. The majority vote on the first nomination precluded the necessity of a vote on Fox’s nomination of Murray.

The political play to open the new year then continued with the nomination of a vice chair. Carter’s nomination of Murray was seconded by Glavis. Fox then nominated Sayre for vice chair, but did not receive a second. However, Board Clerk Emily Mounce pointed out to us after the meeting that no second on officer nominations is required.

However, there was again no need to vote on the Sayre nomination as the Murray nomination was approved by the same 3-0 margin (Carter, Glavis, Murray), again with Fox and Sayre abstaining.

That mini-drama out of the way, the board with its new officers – titled name tags in place – got down to business. That business included reports from VDOT, the accounting firm that did the financial audit of the County, and Warren County Public Schools Superintendent Greg Drescher.

Those assessments were:

· VDOT: State road maintenance, as well as preparation for winter weather events, continues as the nationwide Arctic chill continues into a second week. There is relief and early positive reports on the full opening of the South Fork Bridge on Front Royal’s north side; and hope the Morgan’s Ford low-water bridge will open ahead of its scheduled early June opening – weather dependent;

· Auditing firm Robinson, Farmer, Cox & Associates: The County continues to get high marks, including earning another Certificate of Excellence, on its financial status from the financial analysts contracted to audit that status;

· WCPS: While thanking the supervisors for their past investment in new school facilities over the past 12 years (new HS, renovated HS, renovated MS, new MS, Ressie Jeffries renovations), School Superintendent Drescher pointed to the need to maintain an experienced teaching staff inside the system’s facilities. Okay, this one’s going to take more than a couple of bulleted sentences.

School operations & costs
Drescher pointed to an increase of about 40% to 50% in teacher attrition over the past five years as a major contributing factor in school accreditation issues. And while those issues might have as much to do with an arbitrary government-imposed measuring system as anything (and yes, that was an unsolicited writer’s opinion), it is the system that exists and within which state public school systems must operate. And currently two schools have fallen below a 75% passing level necessary in English and Reading accreditation scores, if only by two or three points at 73% and 72%. A 70% level is required in math, science and history.

Pre-2013, Drescher reported an average annual loss of 30 to 40 teachers from a workforce of about 400. Over the five years from 2013 to 2017 that average attrition rate rose to 61 to 70 per year. And while lauding the positive contributions of new teachers into the system, Drescher noted that too many coming in at once can create a net negative as less experienced teachers gain the classroom skills the experienced counterparts they replaced had cultivated over their careers.

Drescher said that rather than a criticism of the county government, he was “simply pointing out a fact – we don’t keep enough skilled, experienced teachers year to year.” He said he was not asking the board to consider additional funding to compete with wealthier counties to the east like Loudoun; however he added, “We must compete with Winchester, Frederick and Shenandoah Counties.”

Contacted later, Drescher said an estimate of the revenue necessary to bring Warren County Public School teacher salaries into line with Winchester, Frederick and Shenandoah was $2.2 million. Currently each penny of county real estate tax generates about $403,000 of revenue.

Cold temps & 2-hour delays
If that didn’t lower the temperature in the room enough for a board already committed to formulating a tax-increase-free FY 2019 county budget, Drescher began his report on the public school system with a reference to the Arctic blast keeping temperatures here well under freezing, dipping into single digits at night. Those outside temperatures are creating a problem in maintaining comfortable temperatures inside some county schools, particularly the new middle school, Drescher observed, as familiarization with that school’s HVAC system in the school’s first operational winter proceed.

However, that the problem is more widespread than one school was indicated in a recorded phone message to parents from Assistant Superintendent Melody Sheppard at 1 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. About three-and-a-half hours after Drescher’s report Sheppard’s message informed parents that county public schools will return from the holiday break on a two-hour delay both Thursday and Friday, January 4 and 5. She reminded parents to see their children are dressed for the extremely low temperatures forecast through the week – and they may want to have several layers of indoor clothes on after shedding that heavy outerwear.

Carla Sayre leaves the podium after making her case to include a maternity ward in the plan for a new Warren Memorial Hospital.

No WMH maternity unit
Signs there might be an issue with a later agenda item – a request for a Letter of Support of Warren Memorial Hospital’s Certificate of Public Need to build a new hospital complex here – came during the Public Presentations, near the meeting’s outset. Carla Sayre, wife of Shenandoah District Supervisor Tom Sayre, appeared on behalf of the Front Royal Pregnancy Center. She expressed disappointment the plan submitted for the new Warren Memorial Hospital contains no maternity ward.

Mrs. Sayre worried over impacts on segments of the local population who might not easily be able to access Valley Health’s Winchester Medical Center some 25 miles away. She also worried at the likelihood women would end up giving birth in the new hospital’s emergency room, complicating that part of the hospital’s function.

During discussion of the Letter of Support of Valley Health’s plan to build a new hospital complex off Leach Run Parkway, tentatively slated for a 2020 opening, Supervisor Sayre agreed with his wife’s stance on behalf the pregnancy center. He pointed to a number of social media expressions of concern over the absence of a maternity ward from Valley Health’s plan.

“I concur,” he said of the social media opposition to the loss of a community-based maternity ward. Like his wife earlier, Supervisor Sayre worried that local women will end up giving birth in the new hospital’s emergency room. Sayre said he would vote for the Letter of Support for the new hospital, but hoped Valley Health would reconsider inclusion of a maternity ward in its plan. He reasoned that if birth numbers (333 annually) didn’t currently justify inclusion of a maternity ward, those numbers were likely to increase as the community continues to grow in coming years.

Dan Murray’s motion to approve the Letter of Support of Valley Health’s Certificate of Need to replace the 65-year-old North Shenandoah Avenue facility passed by a 5-0 voice vote.

A related story with additional detail of Valley Health’s rationale for exclusion of a maternity ward from the new Warren Memorial Hospital plan, potential options and the plan itself will be forthcoming this week.

 

State News
Governor McAuliffe Declares State of Emergency in Response to Impending Winter Storm
January 3, 2018
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RICHMOND
 – Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency at 2:20 p.m. today authorizing state agencies to assist local governments in responding to the significant winter storm that is expected to impact the Commonwealth over the next 24-48 hours.

In declaring a state of emergency, the governor authorizes state agencies to identify and position resources for quick response anywhere they are needed in Virginia. This action does not apply to individuals or private businesses.

Governor McAuliffe also authorized a limited exemption to hours of service for trucks hauling gasoline and heating oil throughout Virginia. These exceptions activate the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Section 390.23 Relief of Regulations, including hours of service, and are granted for the period beginning 5 p.m. December 29, 2017, until 5 p.m. January 13, 2018, or whenever the crisis has abated, whichever is sooner.

To read the content of these executive orders, visit http://governor.virginia.gov/executive-actions/executive-orders/

Governor McAuliffe urges Virginians to prepare for this major winter storm, which could dump up to a foot of snow in portions of eastern Virginia.

“The bitter cold that continues to plague the Commonwealth will be joined by a potentially significant winter storm which will blast Hampton Roads, the Northern Neck, Eastern Shore and other areas of Eastern Virginia with snowfall and blizzard-like conditions in some communities.” said Governor McAuliffe. “With this forecast in mind, all Virginians should take the necessary precautions now to ensure they are prepared for the travel disruptions, power outages and other threats to health and safety that could arise during this significant weather event.”

“VDOT has already taken measures to pre-treat roads and preposition equipment, crews and materials to treat roads in advance of the storm and will work throughout the storm to plow roads,” said Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne.“Driving conditions during the storm are expected to be hazardous and motorists are urged to stay off the roads until the storm passes.” 


“Localities in the path of this storm have already begun requesting assistance,” said Dr. Jeff Stern, Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) State Coordinator. “VDEM will continue coordinate with VDOT, State Police, the Virginia Department of Health, the Virginia National Guard, and localities throughout Virginia to ensure all necessary preparedness efforts are in place, and any local needs for assistance are addressed before, during and after the storm.”

State Agencies are Preparing for the Impacts of the Storm:

  • Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) crews have begun 24-hour operations and are pretreating roads where temperatures permit. Motorists are strongly encouraged to stay off the roads during the storm. For information about road and traffic conditions, check www.511virginia.org or call 511 before traveling.
  • VDOT has more than 1,500 crew members and more than 1,400 pieces of equipment prepared to respond to the upcoming storm on each 12-hour shift.
  • VDOT’s Fredericksburg, Culpeper and Northern Virginia Districts have pretreated roads in advance of the storm. Richmond and Hampton Roads Districts are pretreating roads today.
  • The latest road conditions are available at www.511virginia.org, through the free mobile app or by phone. You can track the location of most snow plows at VDOT’s Snow Plow Tracker. The tracker is activated once snow reaches two inches or more.
  • VDOT’s first priority is safety, and crews will work around the clock until roads are passable. “Passable” means it is drivable with extreme caution, but may be snow-packed and may not be cleared curb-to-curb or to bare pavement. Crews may sand hills, curves and intersections to help with traction.
  • Overnight and through Thursday, the Virginia State Police Chesapeake and Richmond Divisions will have all available personnel ready to respond to emergency calls for service related to hazardous road conditions throughout the Eastern Shore, Hampton Roads, Middle Peninsula, Southside Virginia and the Metro-Richmond regions. Residents in those areas should delay travel Thursday morning as the winter storm arrives in Virginia. If motorists need to report an emergency, dial #77 on your mobile phone.
  • The Virginia National Guard has been authorized to bring up to 150 additional personnel on state active duty and 30 vehicles for possible assistance with the state’s severe winter weather response operations. The guard plans to stage personnel at readiness centers in key locations across the Commonwealth in order to be ready to rapidly respond if needed. Potential missions for the guard include transportation through heavy snow, downed tree removal, debris reduction and distribution of food, water and other supplies.

What Citizens Should Do:

  • Virginians should keep a close watch on the local weather forecast and stay off roads during this weather event unless travel is absolutely necessary. In addition to slick roads, blowing snow could reduce visibility to less than a quarter mile at times in some areas. If you must travel, allow extra time for the trip, drive at a low speed and stay at a safe distance from other vehicles.
  • If you encounter slow-moving equipment such as snow plows, slow down and give them the right of way.
  • Download the free VDOT 511 app for updates on road conditions at: http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/511.asp. Or dial 5-1-1 from any phone for the latest travel conditions.
  • Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter and is in safe driving condition. Keep an emergency kit in your car. Include items such as jumper cables, blankets, first aid kit, water, non-perishable food, cat litter or sand, shovel, flash light and batteries, ice scraper and cell phone charger.
  • Check on elderly or homebound neighbors, family, and friends to ensure they are ready for this storm and service interruptions that may result.
  • Be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for at least 72 hours in case roads are blocked and/or there are power outages.
  • Bring pets inside from the cold.
  • Have a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio and extra batteries for emergency information. Listen to local weather forecasts and instructions from local officials.
  • Listen to local media or contact local government for the location and availability of local warming shelters if you need a place to come in out of the cold.
  • If you need help, information or resources during the storm, call 2-1-1. Those with hearing impairments can call 711 for the Virginia Relay Center and then call 1-800-230-6977. Out of state or videophone users may also dial 1-800-230-6977 for assistance.
  • If motorists need to report an emergency, dial #77 on your mobile phone.

For more information on the Commonwealth’s response efforts for winter weather or to find out how to keep your family safe, visit http://www.vaemergency.gov.

Local Government
Welcome to 2018 – Town Council continues pondering the future & its costs
January 3, 2018
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Bryan Phipps of People Inc. traces financial variables facing the town council in determining an optimum path in financing its estimated $11-million new police headquarters. Photo/Roger Bianchini

FRONT ROYAL – Following a 17-day end-of-the-year break from public meetings, Front Royal’s Town Council got back to the business of municipal government at a January 2 work session. The first agenda item was a revisiting of financing options for the $11-million new Front Royal Police Headquarters.

After that, council:
• moved proposed proffer changes on the Front Royal Limited Partnership (FRLP) development of as many as 320 residential units on 149 acres of FRLP property on the town’s eastside to a public hearing;
• found out it is still committed to building a wastewater pumping station to service initial commercial development, including first client IT Federal, at the 149 acre Royal Phoenix Business Park;
• got an overview of budget items proposed to be cut in Fiscal Year 2019 in order to produce as close to a balanced budget without further tax increases as possible. – Council has already committed to an undetermined tax increase to initial funding, whatever it ends up being, of construction of the new police headquarters;
• and added liaison committee discussion with the County on how to approach the coming law moving inspection and all other window stickers away from the center of auto windshields.

But back to that first agenda item of 2018 – following a 55-minute presentation on the in and outs of the New Market Tax Credit program that offers up-front savings, if no long-term guarantees those savings will last over a 30-to-40-year payback period, it appeared a distinct council majority is IN – well almost, with a few more numbers verified on those potential savings.

As previously reported by Royal Examiner, following a December 4 work session see story those potential tax credit savings range from a best case scenario of $5.5 million and about $240,000 in annual debt service over much of the payback period to a loss of about $2-million in total costs and about $4,000 more in annual payments in the worst case NMTC scenario presented by town staff.

However, as noted in our earlier story the staff cost estimates in the NMTC program are based on guesstimates of what interest rates will be in seven to nine years when the tax credit program interest-only payment period ends. As Town Finance Director B. J. Wilson told us last month, the actual rates “could be better or they could be way-way worse.”

In fact, during his presentation People Inc. Vice President for Development Bryan Phipps told council that the 2.65-percent fixed rate option being offered to the Town as an alternative to the New Market Tax Credit Program People Inc. administers “looks pretty good to me,” adding, “To be the devil’s advocate, if you have 2.65% fixed for 30 years that might be the way to go. – I want to be as honest as I can with you.”

Pressed for a risk versus reward assessment of the options before the Town, Phipps said, “My advice – do you really need it (New Market Tax Credits) to get this project done?”

During his opening remarks Phipps recounted the creation of the New Market Tax Credit program as assistance to “low-income communities” to realize needed capital improvement projects. Of his seven years administering the federal tax assistance program, Phipps joked, “During that time I’ve lost a lot of brain cells – it is a fairly complicated federal tax program.”

As explained in our coverage of the December work session discussion, the New Market Tax Credit Program is a federal stimulus program dating to the year 2000, late in the Clinton Administration, though it was first implemented in 2001-2002, in the first year of the George W. Bush Administration. It was designed to provide government-assisted investment in struggling local economies. It is administered through the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Between 2001 to 2016 the program invested $50.5 billion in struggling local economies. However, Phipps told council that at this point in time, regional administrator People Inc. had $11.4-million available to invest.

Eugene Tewalt, Council’s primary advocate of taking the guaranteed, fixed rate option, remained skeptical of the risks involved. “In two months all or part of that ($11.4 million) could be gone,” he said. Phipps agreed.

As discussed on December 4, the question of whether the tax credit program will continue to exist by the time the seven-to-nine-year interest-only repayment period ends continues to be an unknown. Asked what he thought about the program’s long-term prospects, Phipps replied said while there were no guarantees, he thought it likely it would survive – he theorized a greater danger was the competition for the remaining money in People Inc’s. hands.

That information in hand, Council seemed committed to a financing decision for construction of the police headquarters on a fast track of four to six weeks. That is probably a good thing, since as Mayor Hollis Tharpe pointed out bills on early stages of that construction are poised to start coming in imminently. At the December 4 work session, Town administrative and finance staff recommended the more stable fixed, 30-year 2.65% interest rate option.

And despite Phipps confidence in both the short and long-term survival of the New Market Tax Credit Program, as Royal Examiner reported in coverage of potential economic consequences of the recently-passed Republican tax reform bill, like Private Activity Bonds, New Market Tax Credits were negotiated saves in the final version of the approved tax bill. And there were no details on how those multi-billion dollar federal programs will be funded in the face of an estimated $1.5 trillion in lost federal revenue from the tax bill.

Watch the Town Council at work.

Click to download Work Session Agenda.

Local News
Beth Medved Waller Receives # 1 Ranking in Warren County Sales in 2017
January 3, 2018
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Beth Medved Waller, former broker of Team Waller Real Estate and current Associate Broker of her Front Royal “Mega Agent” office of KW-Solutions, Keller Williams Realty (based in Northern Virginia), had a monumental 2017 in both her real estate and self-proclaimed “video reporter” careers. She ended the year with a prestigious national ranking for her community video work with Jennifer Avery of Jenspiration, LLC and regained her position as top selling residential Realtor in the Warren County resale home market.

“I was encouraged to open up my own real estate company for a decade, and I resisted because I couldn’t imagine enjoying being behind a desk instead of meeting strangers and opening their closets at listing appointments on a daily basis, “she laughed. “It turns out, I was right,” says Waller of her August 2015 decision to leave Weichert, Realtors and open up a boutique real estate brokerage on Cloud Street in downtown Front Royal. “I was surrounded by fantastic community support and amazing people at Team Waller, and we were dominating the market with only 5 active agents. But I couldn’t get used to seeing a sign with my name on it in a yard of a home I’d never been in,” she recounted.

“When I traded my long-time role as the number one listing agent in Warren County for Broker/Owner of Team Waller, it was as if a part of my heart stopped beating, and I couldn’t adjust to not listing properties myself,” added a choked up Waller. “I hired business consultants, a CEO, a Business Manager, therapists, and literally traveled all over the world attending entrepreneurial and self-development seminars. I tried everything I could think of to adjust to my role as the owner of a fast-growing real estate company. Nothing worked. Because I missed doing what I love, which is listing properties and working directly with clients. And to make matters worse, I didn’t have the time or funds to invest in my volunteer work since owning a startup real estate company absorbed my hours and income. So basically I was paralyzed, unable to do my two favorite things—list homes and be a leader in the nonprofit world,” Beth explained.

“My 2017 new year’s resolutions were to fire myself as a broker and become a listing agent again and to find time to do more videos and What Matters Initiatives. I’m glad last year was the first year I actually followed through with my resolutions,” she smiles as she recalls her newfound appreciation for being on the “front lines” listing properties again and on the “front lines” giving back to her local and global communities through her new not-for-profit company, What Matters.

“I don’t regret opening Team Waller and will always be thankful for the agents, clients, and community support that made it possible. But I’m thrilled to have finally gotten my real estate business to a place where I can work to live, not just live to work. I also have a new appreciation for listing properties after my absence, and a renewed passion for the real estate industry that has given me a career that is now able to fund my dream of expanded nonprofit work,” says a glowing Waller. Currently, Waller is working under the Manassas, VA brokerage of Keller Williams Realty and listing homes herself with the support of Jennifer Avery’s consulting company, Jenspiration. Jen helps with marketing and is co-founder of What Matters and the video creator for What Matters Initiatives. “Partnering with Keller Williams and the support staff, Bridget Rosensteel (who helps behind the scenes on every transaction) has been the answer to a decade of prayers. KW provides amazing resources and a connection to the Northern Virginia market I’ve always longed for. Keller Williams enabled me to close on nearly 50 properties last year and still have time to get back into the nonprofit arena.”

In 2017, Beth officially launched a philanthropic company, What Matters, named after her favorite song with lyrics that have always reminded her that “What Matters is your Heart.” The song encourages following dreams and passions, so she created a company that combines all of hers: Real Estate, Fundraising, Outreach and Community. From providing a free community meeting space on Main Street to hosting a non-profit center at her real estate office on Cloud Street, from sponsoring a $5,000 match campaign (that sent $10k to support children in Africa) to spending thousands per month producing community videos to promote causes and events, Waller is so thankful for her clients and community for making What Matters possible. “I’ll never forget the time Jen took the iPad from me and filmed me on my first guided house tour in 2015. Little did we know then that moment marked the launch of a path that would lead us to following our dreams: Jen’s of inspiring/supporting/promoting and mine of spreading the word about amazing causes and people.”

Thanks to Jen’s self-taught video expertise, last month Beth was named a “Top 10 Video Influencer in the Real Estate Industry” by Bomb Bomb’s “Top 50 Real Estate Video Influencers” project presented by Tom Ferry. Tom is the #1 ranked Real Estate Educator, a best-selling author and international speaker whose charisma and personality have captivated audiences around the world, both online and on stage. “Ranking in the top 10 or being honorably mentioned is a tribute to the pioneering spirit and impressive accomplishments of these agents and teams,” says Steve Pacinelli, Chief Marketing Officer for Bomb Bomb. The company watched more than 5,000 videos to determine the winners.

When asked what she forecasts for 2018, Beth beams with excitement, “I plan to continue listing around one house per week, doing at least two What Matters videos per week and am in the process of obtaining 501-c3 nonprofit status. I have so many ideas floating through my head involving real estate and philanthropy and am excited to see which ones make it out of my mind and into the world in 2018!” For more information visit www.whatmattersw2.com or search Beth Medved Waller on Facebook [email protected] or 540-671-6145

Community Events
Samuels Public Library Adult Programming February 1-15, 2017
January 3, 2018
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General Education Development
Samuels Public Library invites you to register and attend the General Education Development course. This course will be every Tuesday and Thursday from 10:00 A.M-12:30 P.M (except on school holidays or closings). The GED course is completely free. Let this course be the stepping stone to your success.

English as a Second Language
Samuels Public Library invites you to register and attend the English as a Second Language course. This course will be every Tuesday and Thursday from 10:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M. The ESL course is completely free. Learning English will not only enhance your quality of life but open many doors and present new opportunities

Hello Computer
Samuels Public Library invites you to attend our beginning computer class for total computer novices. It is a four week course that covers turning on a computer, using a mouse, setting up email and using the internet. Classes are held on Tuesdays from 1:00pm-2:00pm.

Exploring Computers
Samuel Public Library invites you to attend our intermediate computer class and improve your skills. Each month explore a new computer program or application in a safe, friendly environment with other intermediate users. Classes are held on Thursdays at 1:00pm-2:00pm

Genealogy Nuts: Shake Your Family Tree
Samuels Public Library invites you to a workshop for beginning to advanced genealogists. Discover your family roots with a team of genealogists who together have researched more than 50,000 names. Classes are held Wednesday nights at 6:00pm.

Microsoft Office Workshop
Samuels Public Library invites you to come out and attend our Microsoft Office Workshop that is designed to help patrons become better acquainted with Microsoft office applications. This class meets every 1st Saturday of the month from 1:30pm – 4:30pm. Class will be Saturday, February 3rd.

The History of Front Royal: World War I
Samuels Public Library invites you to come out and join us on Thursday, February 8th at 6:00 pm as local historian Patrick Farris presents a program on life and the impact of World War I in Warren County including a rare glimpse into the lives of African Americans who participated in the war.

Genealogy workshop
Interested in learning about your family’s history? Samuels Public Library invites you to come out Tuesday, February 13th at 6:00pm to learn about the library’s genealogy resources. Check out what online databases the library has to offer, what print resources we have in our very own Virginia history room, and how to start a search for those new to genealogy! Already done extensive research? Feel free to stop by and share your stories! This class meets on the second Tuesday of every month.

Advanced PowerPoint
Samuels Public Library invites you to come out and join us for an advanced class on Microsoft PowerPoint on Saturdays, February 10th & 17th from 1:00pm-3:00pm. The purpose of this class is to introduce how to use common transition and animation effects in a PowerPoint presentation.

Arrest Logs
POLICE: 7 Day FRPD Arrest Report 12-25-2017
January 3, 2018
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Health
Don’t drink too much coffee!
January 3, 2018
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Many people rely on a daily dose of caffeine to get their day started, but according to the Mayo Clinic, there are risks associated with drinking too much coffee too often.

When used in moderation, caffeine is prized for its ability to help people stay alert. Once the intake surpasses about 400 milligrams, about four cups of brewed coffee, however, users might experience more harm than good.

Side effects of excessive use can include headaches, irritability, nervousness, insomnia, irregular heartbeat, upset stomach, and more depending on the person. Some people can be more sensitive to the effects as well, and these symptoms might present themselves with even light or moderate consumption. Likewise, a sudden increase in the amount consumed can cause harmful effects even in people that haven’t noticed any problems in the past. Interactions with certain drugs, like ephedrine or echinacea, can increase the effects of caffeine and lead to more severe health risks like heart attack, seizure, or stroke.

Despite the fact that caffeine is often used to help wake people up in the morning, it can also work against a tired individual by disrupting their sleep cycle. Excess consumption, or consuming caffeine late in the day, can delay sleep or limit its therapeutic value. Repeating this cycle for long enough can result in a cumulative sleep debt that starts to cause issues with daytime alertness and focus. Limiting consumption to the morning hours is one of the best ways to help avoid this problem.

Experts say that even the worst side effects of caffeine aren’t typically life-threatening, but according to USA Today, it is possible to have too much. It is estimated that a lethal dose of caffeine could be found in somewhere between 50 and 100 cups of coffee, depending on weight, so it is unlikely for a coffee drinker to be in any real danger. If a person is consuming the raw, powdered form of caffeine, however, then as little as a teaspoon could kill.