Archive for: February 6th, 2018

Local Government
One-way East Main Street idea appears dead for now
February 6, 2018
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Which way are we going? Still both it would seem. Photos/Roger Bianchini

Before getting down to the nuts and bolts of the next fiscal year budget, balanced in theory by staff by February 5; and health care options for employees (both things with lots of numbers that I will refer you to our publisher’s video of the February 5 work session for), the Front Royal Town Council reviewed the status of several things in the works over a number of months dating back to last year.

Those included:
· the status of a wastewater pumping station to facilitate the first commercial re-development at the former Avtex Superfund site;

· movement toward a property maintenance code without specific protections for renters;

· what appears to be an extremely unpopular idea – turning East Main Street into a one-way street through the historic downtown business district.

Where to start?

One Way – NO Way
As for the one-way East Main Street idea, Town Planning Director Jeremy Camp offered poll results indicating an overwhelming thumbs down from BOTH East Main Street property/business owners and town citizens who regularly visit the downtown business district. There were 311 total responses to the survey, most received digitally online.

 

Jeremy Camp explains that survey indicates no momentum for a 1-way East Main St.

Of “regular visitors” – more than 2 visits downtown per week – 72.5% of town citizens responding opposed the idea; with 63.5% of downtown property owners joining in that opposition. Only 25.4% of downtown property owners supported the change. The property owner numbers closely mirrored the overall response. Of all respondents, 65.8% were against, 24.4% for, with 9.7% neutral to the idea.

The highest rate of support came from “non-citizens” though the staff summary offered no further stats on that group other than it encompassed a total of only 16 responses.

Councilman Eugene Tewalt, who also served as Town Public Works Director for years, recounted his memory of East Main Street’s past incarnations as a one-way street, ending in 1985. Tewalt noted that prior to 1985 when the downtown business district’s main thoroughfare was last returned to a two-way street, at various times it had been one-way running both east and west. Tewalt re-expressed his ongoing reservations about the idea, adding that 100% of the citizen calls he has gotten have been against the idea.

Gary Gillispie said he felt the change would push additional traffic flow onto adjoining residential neighborhood streets. Mayor Hollis Tharpe noted that was also a concern of the absent John Connolly, whom the mayor noted was home dealing with four sick children.
At the outset of his presentation on the matter, Planning Director Camp noted that at its current width of 30-feet, East Main Street is 2-feet, 1-inch under VDOT’s minimum standard for pull-in, angular parking. Adding street parking spaces appears to have been a major motivation for some downtown business owners who brought the idea of the change forward, according to Councilman William Sealock.

Camp said that while VDOT would not prohibit the Town from enacting angular parking due to the street width, doing so below the state transportation agency’s minimum standards could jeopardize future VDOT funding streams for other East Main Street improvements.

A majority council consensus appeared to be to abandon the idea in the face of the poll results and other questions raised by staff like the potential of lost state revenue streams for future downtown street improvements. However, Sealock noted that with $700,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding coming the Town’s way for improvements to the downtown, looking at ways some of that money could be spent to improve downtown parking should continue to be on the table now.

Tewalt responded he had no issue with keeping the one-way option “in the loop” as part of that discussion; though with overwhelming public, as well as significant downtown merchant opposition, he doubted it should be a first option in solving downtown parking issues.

Local News
Man stabbed in Front Royal, FRPD arrests suspect
February 6, 2018
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Dennis Wayne Deaton / Courtesy photo.

FRONT ROYAL – A stabbing incident that occurred in town Tuesday afternoon has landed one man behind bars and another hospitalized, in critical condition.

Front Royal Police were called to 613 S. Royal Avenue around 3 p.m. Tuesday for a report of a man suffering from a stabbing.  Arriving officers located Roger Allen Cameron, Jr., suffering from a stab wound to the chest.

Mr. Cameron was transported to Warren Memorial Hospital, according to a media release from FRPD Chief Kahle Magalis.  The victim was listed in critical condition, with non-life-threatening injuries.

Dennis Wayne Deaton, a Front Royal resident, was arrested as a suspect in the incident and faces charges of Malicious Wounding and Unlawfully stabbing another person in commission of a felony. Deaton is being held without bond at Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail.

Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to contact Sgt. Jason Winner of the Criminal Investigations Division at 540-636-2208.

Arrest Logs
POLICE: 7 Day FRPD Arrest Report 1/29 to 2/5/2018
February 6, 2018
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Local News
National Weather Service – Winter Weather Advisory remains in effect from 3 am to 1 pm EST Wednesday…
February 6, 2018
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Winter Weather Advisory

* What… mixed precipitation expected. Total snow and sleet
accumulations of a coating to an inch and ice accumulations
around one tenth of an inch are expected.

* Where… portions of northeastern Maryland near the Mason-Dixon
line… the far northern and western suburbs of Washington and
Baltimore… and portions of northern Virginia.

* When… from 3 am to 1 pm EST Wednesday.

* Additional details… snow… sleet and freezing rain will
overspread the area between 3 am and 5 am early Wednesday
morning. Precipitation will change to all freezing rain by 8 am
before ending as rain late Wednesday morning into early
Wednesday afternoon. The ice will result in difficult travel
conditions, including during the morning commute on Wednesday.
Be prepared for reduced visibilities at times.

Precautionary/preparedness actions…

A Winter Weather Advisory means that periods of snow, sleet or
freezing rain will cause travel difficulties. Be prepared for
slippery roads and limited visibilities, and use caution while
driving. The latest Road conditions for the state you are calling
from can be obtained by calling 5 1 1.

Health
Flu Season: How bad has it been?
February 6, 2018
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By mid-January, the flu season had already made a name for itself as the most widespread on record since officials began keeping track 13 years ago, according to the Washington Post.

Flu had a vigorous early start in October 2017 and, by January 2018, officials did not believe it had peeked. About 9,000 people had been hospitalized with the flu during that period.

This year’s flu had already caused more deaths in children than was typical by July, with 10 child deaths by Jan. 13.

Part of the reason for the relative nastiness of the season is the star of the show: the H3N2 version of the virus.

Centers for Disease Control flu expert Daniel Jernigan said that this 50-year-old strain is quick to mutate to defeat the body’s immune system. “Of the viruses we hate, we hate H3N2 more than the other ones,” Jernigan said.

The CDC estimates that flu has resulted in between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses and 12,000 to 56,000 deaths each year in the United States since 2010.

The season could last well into March 2018 and possibly later.

Interesting Things You Need to Know
Virtual reality enters the critical safety training areas
February 6, 2018
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Safety training is no game, but game technology is the future in safety.

Instead of watching a safety film, trainees will soon be part of the film, in Virtual Reality experiences.

These new VR technologies are now being applied in highly dangerous scenarios, such as nuclear and crime settings, where one mistake is catastrophic. VR technology is also being used in training for many safety-critical jobs.

The idea is to create a situation where trainees learn by doing, but where mistakes have no impact. Imagine how useful that would be to teach a trainee how to diffuse a bomb.

Google experimented with VR training by having two groups learn to make a cup of espresso. One group learned by VR. The second group learned by videos. According to CLO Media, neither group ended up making a great cup of coffee, but the VR group made fewer mistakes. That’s the sort of result one hopes for in bomb diffusing.

At the Northern Centre for Advanced Technology, VR experiences will help new miners with mining techniques, simulating the environment and the experience of cutting rock.

In construction, VR is already being employed at Gammon Construction Ltd and Bechtel, according to clomedia.com. Iron workers, whose job entails working at tremendous heights, can first be immersed in a VR scene that gives them a chance to become accustomed to working on beams.

In August 2017, UPS began training student delivery drivers to spot and identify road hazards through VR headsets.
VR safety has the advantage over movies and presentations in that trainees are likely to be more engaged in the fun and novelty of the experience.

But, the key to adoption of VR training across the spectrum is software development cost, which is expected to drop as more applications are developed.

In the meantime, Augmented Reality, like the technology used in games such as Pokemon Go, will take up some slack. Trainees could use AR, a much less expensive virtual technology, to identify slip and fall scenarios, for example.
Current VR technology has limitations, of course. Among them are the safety considerations of VR itself. Since participants are immersed in the VR environment, they tend to forget the hazards around them. Even in gaming, special rooms are set up so that VR gamers can play without tripping over furniture and humans monitor their physical presence.

VR is even coming to medicine. The University of Nebraska Medical Center has invested $119 million on a VR training facility for students. It is expected to open in the fall of 2018.