Archive for: January 26th, 2018

Local News
EDA announces two property purchases, county cites arrival of Chick-fil-A
January 26, 2018
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County Administrator Doug Stanley updates the EDA board on status of County projects. Photo: Roger Bianchini

FRONT ROYAL – Following a closed session at its January 26 board meeting, the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority announced the purchase of two commercial properties, one each in the Stephen’s Industrial Park and Happy Creek Technology Park. Purchased were the Atlantic Exhibit property at 426 Baugh Drive and the Hipp building located at 999 Shenandoah Shores Road.

Following adjournment of the meeting, EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald explained that Atlantic Exhibits plans to leave the facility they rent from Westrock LLC by January 2019. Display booth manufacturer Atlantic Exhibits has been at the 13.9-acre Baugh Drive site since 2007. The EDA has a replacement manufacturing prospect for the property.

According to a flyer on the property’s sale, the 76,800 square-foot industrial building includes a 12,000 s.f. office and 76,800 s.f. warehouse, with 100,000 s.f. of expansion capability.

“The acquisition of the Atlantic Exhibits property ensures that the EDA will be able to recruit a manufacturing tenant to replace the jobs lost at the facility,” County Administrator Doug Stanley said, adding, “Too often when these facilities turn over they end up as warehouse space, resulting in a loss of jobs and tax base for the community. With the expansion capability of the facility I am confident that the EDA will ultimately be able to bring in a manufacturing tenet that will provide higher paying jobs and additional investment to bolster our local tax base.”

On a motion by Ron Llewellyn, seconded by William Biggs, the EDA agreed to pay owner Westrock LLC $5.3 million for the property. The property had been offered at $5,750,000.

The 48,610 square-foot Hipp building purchase was from owner Ranson LLC, at a price of $3,039,125. Llewellyn again made the motion to purchase, this time seconded by new board member Dr. Thomas Patteson. Tenants of the fully-occupied building include Intellectual Holdings, Architectural Old Home Parts and Absolute Floors.

Both purchases are subject to appraisals and inspections, McDonald noted.

Chick-fil-A and …

During Warren County Administrator Doug Stanley’s summary of recent county business, the pending arrival of Chick-fil-A at the Riverton Commons Shopping Center in the Route 340/522 Corridor was announced. The Chick-fil-A plan to demolish and rebuild at the long-vacant Capitol One/Chevy Chase Bank building site near the intersection of Route 340 and Country Club Road was a major topic at the Development Review Committee meeting two days earlier. Stanley said the county planning department review of the site plan is anticipated to be completed in 30 to 45 days and that work at the one-and-a-half acre site could begin this spring.

A decade ago Chick-fil-A was part of the early corridor development “soap opera” revolving around the town-county corridor agreement’s initial implementation of a dual town and county meals tax, the former being attached to town water bills for commercial corridor clients. And with that dual tax done away with in the wake of a lawsuit filed by three corridor restaurants in 2009-10, Chick-fil-A is finally back.

After the vacant bank building is demolished, Chick-fil-A plans to replace it with a 5,000 s.f. restaurant, with seating for over 100 customers and two drive-thru windows. The Atlanta, Georgia area-based fast-food chain specializing in chicken sandwiches has over 2,200 restaurants, primarily located in the U.S.

Despite being closed Sundays, Chick-fil-A is at or near the top of the fast food industry with an estimated $4.8 million in average sales per restaurant – good news for the County, and to some extent the Town’s, future meals tax revenues.

Stanley also noted that crafts retailer Michael’s has received building permits to remodel the old Staples building across Route 340/522 in the Crooked Run Shopping Center. Staples left the site in he second half of 2017.

The County did not receive a proposal for operational management, leasing of the Front Royal Golf Club Stanley by the January 25 deadline a day earlier, Stanley told the EDA board. However, discussion with a prospect continues and re-advertisement for proposals with some changes from the original is currently out. The deadline for submission on that advertisement is 2 p.m., February 5.

Stanley also reported that Judge Ronald Napier had granted the County’s request to dismiss Sysco’s lawsuit appealing its real estate tax assessment. His report stated, “The County had hired outside counsel, Sands-Anderson and aggressively fought the appeal.”

On the Town side of development it was noted that the downtown Front Royal Brewing Company site is under construction with a targeted opening date in late February. A rezoning application for the new Warren Memorial Hospital site off Leach Run Parkway has been submitted with a town planning commission review slated for a late January work session.

Town Manager Joe Waltz lauded the Town’s late receipt of a $700,000 State-awarded Community Development Block Grant for physical improvements to the Town’s Historic Downtown Business District.

And speaking of Front Royal’s Historic Downtown, Waltz’s report noted that Afton Inn purchaser MODE Development Partnership continues to explore any tax credit opportunities that could bring the cost of some degree of preservation of the 150-year-old brick shell down to a manageable level. The town council overruled the town board of architectural review recommendation that full demolition of downtown’s oldest, but long derelict commercial building not be allowed. However, granted authority to enact its demo and rebuild plan, MODE has first elected to give some degree of rehabilitation a final look. MODE estimated as much as $600,000 in additional costs to save the Afton Inn’s crumbling, outer brick structure dating to 1868. The company’s initial plan is for commercial tenants on the first floor and upscale apartments on the top two floors.

Out with the old, in with the new – still under review – Afton Photo/Roger Bianchini; MODE rebuild design/Courtesy EDA.

Town Notices
USE CAUTION: Night work on February 1st
January 26, 2018
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FRONT ROYAL – The Town’s Water and Sewer Division has water line maintenance scheduled at the intersection of Kendrick Lane & Massanutten Avenue on Thursday February 1, 2018 at 10:00pm until 6:00am on Friday February 2, 2018. Water will be off during this time period on Kendrick Lane from N. Shenandoah Avenue to Monroe Avenue and on Massanutten Avenue from Kendrick Lane to W. 11th Street.

More Information: Public Works at (540)635-7819

Jenspiration
JacQui Ris – A special star at Family FunDay!
January 26, 2018
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Meet JacQui Ris!  JacQui is a senior at Warren County High School, a cross country athlete and a fabulous artist with an inspiring story.  About two years ago, JacQui decided she wanted to find a job in order to make some money to help her parents financially at home. JacQui did not land a “typical” job, which turns out to be a blessing in disguise.  JacQui ended up getting creative…like really creative!

At Family FunDay, organized by C&C Frozen Treats, JacQui took a chance and debuted her spray paint art skills.  She was a huge hit!  Cityscapes, mountain scenes and space scenes are styles you might see when JacQui is creating at events.  She is well known at the flea market at this point, holds several local internships and is a Family FunDay star!

Be sure to check out the amazing work JacQui has on display currently at the Kiln Doctor.  Her work will also be on display at the Family FunDay Parade of 2018 on May 12th on the floats she painted for C&C Frozen Treats complete with a Louisiana style Mardi Graz panel!  Check JacQui out in action at the event.  Keep in mind, custom orders are welcome!

Please watch this video to hear Jacqui’s story straight from her and see her create a most awesome cityscape right before your eyes!

State News
Governor Northam Announces Availability of $1 Million in Grant Funds to Support Law Enforcement
January 26, 2018
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Governor Ralph Northam

RICHMOND – Governor Ralph Northam today announced that $1 million in grant funds are available to support law enforcement agencies’ efforts to upgrade their technology and equipment, enhance officer recruitment and training, reduce opioid overdose deaths, and promote community safety.

“Now more than ever, our law enforcement officers need advanced skills to respond to the diverse problems they encounter, and their departments need up-to-date technology and equipment to support them,” said Governor Northam. “A top priority of my administration will be to help Virginia’s law enforcement agencies acquire the resources they need to prepare for increasingly complex challenges. I encourage our first responders to apply for these grants as they work to keep our communities safe.”

The grants are federal funds awarded to the Commonwealth by the Justice Department from the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program.  In Virginia, the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) is the state agency responsible for receiving and administering the JAG funds.

“The incident in Charlottesville last summer demonstrates the importance of officer training and communications technology for law enforcement,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, Brian Moran. “But the everyday work of law enforcement also demands much of our officers. We encourage agencies to use these grant funds to help them meet those challenges and support our law enforcement officers in the performance of their duties.”

Agencies can also use these funds to expand their officer recruiting efforts and create programs to help their officers more effectively cope with the stress generated by their work.

“It’s essential for agencies to be able to recruit and employ the most qualified people,” said DCJS Director, Shannon Dion. “They also need to be able to provide support for their officers in dealing with the stressors that are common to law enforcement work. These grant funds will offer them opportunities to do both.”

Details about how to submit grant applications, including contact information can be found here. Applications must be submitted no later than February 23, 2018. Applicants whose proposals are approved will have six months to expend the funds awarded, from April 1 through September 30, 2018.

Business
Key Considerations When Firing An Employee
January 26, 2018
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While carefully selecting employees can help prevent human resources issues, your small business might still find it has hired a staff member who isn’t a good fit.

A number of issues may justify termination of an employee:

  • Sub-par performance
  • Disruptive or abusive behavior
  • Repetitive tardiness
  • Excessive or unapproved absences
  • Dishonesty
  • Theft

In some circumstances, a warning, coaching, or amended responsibilities might correct the problem. Depending on the nature of the issue, however, you may find the best course of action is to part ways. Keeping employees on the payroll when they’re not measuring up to expectations could thwart your business’s growth, create a stressful working environment, and do permanent damage to your reputation.

In most states, an employee may be fired “at will”—at any time for any or no reason. However, there are limits and exceptions. For example, federal law prohibits employers from terminating employees for reasons of race, gender, age, religion, or a disability. Nor can you legally fire employees for complaining about illegal activities, health and safety violations, or discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Other exceptions may exist in your state as well.

According to SCORE mentor and human resources expert John Wojtecki, “Documentation is imperative. One must be consistent to document behavior, action, and results. Are there witnesses? Has there been a performance improvement plan developed and communicated to the employee? Make sure to have the employee sign that the plan has been communicated. It is always good to review with an attorney prior to the termination.”

If you believe you need—and have legal grounds—to fire an employee, document your reasons, all incidents that demonstrate them, and disciplinary measures (if any) prior to the termination. Having this information on record will give the employee an understanding of your decision, and it can help protect you against any claims of discrimination.

Plan to break the difficult news to the employee in a private setting with a witness present to observe the conversation. If you have concerns about the employee becoming violent, consider having security personnel nearby.

“In breaking the news to the employee, one should be straight and to the point,” suggests Wojtecki. “There should always be a witness to the discussion. Upon termination, the employee should be escorted to their workstation to collect their possessions, and escorted to the exit.”

Either during the meeting or in follow-up to it, you are required to inform the employee of eligibility for unemployment and any applicable optional continuation of benefits (such as health insurance). Also address any entitlement to accrued vacation pay or sick leave, outstanding commissions and bonuses, and not-yet-reimbursed company expenses.

Because of the potential legal ramifications when terminating an employee, make sure you do your research and consider consulting a human resources professional or attorney who can guide you. Also consider reaching out to your local SCORE chapter to talk with a mentor who can offer input, feedback, and guide you to knowledgeable resources within your community.

Since 1964, SCORE “Mentors to America’s Small Business” has helped more than 10 million aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners through mentoring and business workshops. More than 11,000 volunteer business mentors in over 320 chapters serve their communities through entrepreneur education dedicated to the formation, growth and success of small businesses. For more information about starting or operating a small business, call 1-800-634-0245 for the SCORE chapter nearest you. Visit SCORE at www.score.org.