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AG Herring takes further steps to crackdown on price gouging

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~ Herring has sent warning letters to 42 businesses about which Virginians have complained ~

RICHMOND (March 31, 2020) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring has taken further actions to crack down on price gouging in Virginia by sending warning letters to certain businesses about which Virginians have complained. The letters inform the businesses that they are the subject of a price-gouging complaint, ask for documentation pertaining to the complaint, and advise the businesses to immediately stop any illegal price gouging practices. So far, Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section has sent 42 letters to businesses in response to complaints made by Virginians.

“It is unfortunate that businesses will take advantage of a situation like a public health crisis to try and make more money off of necessary goods like hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, face masks, or water,” said Attorney General Herring. “My office and I take price gouging complaints very seriously and I hope that these letters will send a strong message to businesses across Virginia that price gouging will not be tolerated here.”

The letters explain that the Office of the Attorney General has the authority to investigate possible violations of Virginia’s Post-Disaster Anti-Price Gouging Act and to bring enforcement actions to enjoin violations, seek restitution for affected consumers, and recover civil penalties, attorney’s fees, and expenses. The letters seek certain documentation from the businesses regarding their pricing practices before and after Governor Ralph Northam’s declaration of a state of emergency on March 12, 2020. Importantly, the letters warn the businesses that the failure to cease and desist from engaging in any unlawful price gouging may be considered evidence of a willful violation for purposes of an award of civil penalties under the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.

Governor Ralph Northam’s declaration of a state of emergency triggered Virginia’s Post-Disaster Anti-Price Gouging Act, which prohibits a supplier from charging “unconscionable prices” for “necessary goods and services” during the thirty-day period following a declared state of emergency. Items and services covered by these protections include but are not limited to water, ice, food, cleaning products, hand sanitizers, medicines, personal protective gear and more. The basic test for determining if a price is unconscionable is whether the post-disaster price grossly exceeds the price charged for the same or similar goods or services during the ten days immediately prior to the disaster.

Additionally, last week Attorney General Herring joined 32 attorneys general in urging Amazon, Facebook, eBay, Walmart, and Craigslist to more rigorously monitor price gouging practices by online sellers who are using their services.

Suspected violations of Virginia’s Anti-Price Gouging Act should be reported to Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section for investigation, as violations are enforceable by the Office of the Attorney General through the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.

Consumers can contact Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section for information or file a complaint:

• By phone: (800) 552-9963
• By email: consumer@oag.state.va.us
Price Gouging Complaint Form – *Preferred method of submitting complaints
General Online Complaint Form
Online Contact Form

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RSW Jail deals with COVID-19 cases

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Late yesterday evening, RSW Jail received confirmation from the state lab that a second inmate has tested positive for COVID-19. This inmate, along with the first positive case, is being isolated away from other inmates.

In addition, RSW Jail has several other suspected cases, which are all segregated in one housing unit. This morning, the RSW command staff and Director of Nursing had a teleconference with the Virginia Department of Health, who are providing direction as we move forward. The Jail is working with the VDH and following their recommendations for the proper way to monitor, treat, and test any suspected cases. Today, VDH will be testing several inmates and awaiting the result of those tests from the state lab.

All inmates within the facility are being closely monitored. Every inmate has been provided a mask and our staff all have proper PPE. Every possible precaution is being taken and we have scheduled cleaning several times every day throughout the building.

This will be an evolving situation that RSW Jail management said it will keep the public updated on as possible.

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Front Royal’s Memorial Day Weekend grand re-opening runs thru Monday

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Soul Mountain Café & Grill didn’t need to wait for the Town-distributed tables and chairs Saturday as they already have a cordoned-off outside seating area. They were serving some mighty-good looking lunches, including to a trio of friendly D.C. tourists at the first table. Royal Examiner Photos/Roger Bianchini

Soul Mountain proprietor Gary Kearney checks on the status of Front Royal resident Howard Grant’s Barbecued Ribs – that status was, ‘Hmmm, hmm good – and a to-go box, please.

Public Works Director Robbie Boyer’s Town truck begins the blocking off of East Main Street’s east side as the official Saturday, 2 p.m. re-opening starting time rolls by.

A friendly reminder that better safe than sorry on the public health front at East Main’s west end cordoning off.

Above, social distancing wasn’t a problem to begin as downtown visitors get used to a vehicular traffic-free Royal Avenue to Chester St. section of Historic Downtown Front Royal shortly after 2 p.m. Saturday. Later, below, it got more crowded but appeared to be families walking in closely-knit groups. That section of East Main will reopen Tuesday morning at 7 a.m., following the Memorial Day holiday.

The Chester St. access to the Gazebo area Town Parking Lot was closed for the Memorial Day weekend and spaces were at a premium from the lot’s other entrance.

The Gazebo-anchored Village Commons area was popular with kids and parents getting away from home after two months of state-ordered pandemic social gathering precautions.

Front Royal’s mayor and interim town manager and family members crossed paths shortly after the 2 p.m. start of a walking mall-styled portion of downtown to help restaurants socially-distance customers with added outdoor seating in the Town right of way.

Above and below, the Jig & Jive Dance Studio kids seemed to be socially distancing while strutting their stuff at Front Royal’s Village Commons.

Royal Spice was seating outside and doing carryout from the restaurant’s rear entrance for those, like the ‘King’ on point, wanting to add a little, or a lot, of spice to their Memorial Day weekend.

A little further up East Main St. the Front Royal Brewing Company, above and below, added to its side of house, Kidd Ln. outdoor seating area.

And the downtown businessman who made it happen – he pulled the special event permit that allowed the Town to close E. Main St. to vehicular traffic this weekend – C&C Frozen Treats proprietor William Huck and wife Nina, had the C&C Ice Cream truck out to assure the availability of some tasty frozen treats at both ends of East Main.

We hope that wasn’t the title of the film Royal Cinemas was planning on showing outside once it got dark enough – sounds a little depressing.

They don’t have to social distance – it’s one big happy family that is glad to get outside and see some open downtown business choices

And more E. Main St. choices for the adventuresome this holiday weekend through Monday evening. Come out, enjoy, and stay safe with the governor and town officials recommended social distancing guidelines; and perhaps even a precautionary safety mask – while you’re not eating of course.

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Memorial Day flags at Warren Memorial Hospital

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Warren Memorial Hospital honors members of the military who have died serving our country.

John Williams, Corporate Director of Safety and Emergency Management for Valley Health, is passionate about properly honoring our fallen military members and has coordinated the placement of 8 flags to honor all branches of the military and POW/MIA. In this photo of the Military Flag display, you can see the following flags:

Memorial Day Military Flag displays at the acute care hospitals honoring our fallen military members.

1. U.S. Flag

2. Army
3. Marine Corps
4. Navy
5. Air Force
6. Coast Guard
7. POW/MIA
8. U.S. Flag

Memorial Day originated in the years following the Civil War as a way to honor and remember those who sacrificed and died in the war. People in various towns across the country picked a day in the spring to honor their fallen loved ones by decorating their tombstones with flowers and holding gatherings to remember them. Over a century later Congress honored this practice with the federal holiday we observe this weekend.

Williams said, “I want to thank our Facilities Management department at each hospital for getting the flag pole ground sleeves put in the ground and the Safety and Security team for getting the flags and poles assembled and placed. This service to our military would not have happened without their help and dedication”.

Williams also shared this poem and prayer to remember those who have given what Abraham Lincoln termed “their last full measure of devotion.”

A Litany of Remembrance

In the rising of the sun and in its going down,
we remember them.
In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,
we remember them.
In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring,
we remember them.
In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer,
we remember them.
In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn,
we remember them.
In the beginning of the year and when it ends,
we remember them.
When we are weary and in need of strength,
we remember them.
When we are lost and sick at heart,
we remember them.
When we have joys we yearn to share,
we remember them.
So long as we live, they too shall live, for they are now a part of us,
as we remember them.

Poem by Rabbi Sylvan Kamens and Rabbi Jack Riemer

Have a wonderful Memorial Day and hope that you can set aside some time to stop by one of the displays and REMEMBER THEM.

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Memorial Day: Time to remember those of valor

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The tradition of honoring our country’s fallen defenders began as a springtime custom following the Civil War. Originally, called Decoration Day, it was a time to remember those whose valor knew no bounds.

To the list of those who died at Gettysburg and Bull Run, we have added names from San Juan Hill, Verdun, Corregidor, Inchon, Khe Sanh, Vietnam, the deserts of the Middle East, and a thousand other places touched by war.

For most of the year, these brave souls lie in anonymity, but on Memorial Day we bring them back to life with our thanks for their great sacrifice.

It is not really a time of sadness. Rather it should be an affirmation that these men and women did not lose their lives in vain.

This special day is a time of tribute to those who fell and to a country that plunged onward in pursuit of justice and democracy. We mourn our dead, but we rejoice in their memory and in the democracy they defended.

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VDOT: Warren County Traffic alert for – May 25-29, 2020

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The following is a list of highway work that may affect traffic in Warren County during the coming weeks. Scheduled work is subject to change due to inclement weather and material supplies. Motorists are advised to watch for slow-moving tractors during mowing operations. When traveling through a work zone, be alert to periodic changes in traffic patterns and lane closures.

*NEW* or *UPDATE* indicates a new entry or a revised entry since last week’s report…

INTERSTATE 66
*NEW* Exit 6, westbound – Left and right shoulders closed along on-ramp for guardrail repair, Wednesday night from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

*UPDATE* Mile marker 11 to 12, eastbound – Right lane closure for inspection of bridge over Route 647, Thursday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

INTERSTATE 81
No lane closures reported.

PRIMARY ROADS
No lane closures reported.

SECONDARY ROADS
*UPDATE* Various roads – Flagger traffic control for utility tree trimming on weekdays during daylight hours beginning at 12 noon Tuesday.

Vegetation management may take place district wide on various routes. Motorists are reminded to use extreme caution when traveling through work zones.

Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511. Traffic alerts and traveler information also are available at http://www.511Virginia.org.

The VDOT Customer Service Center can assist with reporting road hazards, asking transportation questions, or getting information related to Virginia’s roads. Call 800-FOR- ROAD (800-367-7623) or use its mobile-friendly website at https://my.vdot.virginia.gov/. Agents are available 24 hours-a-day, seven days a week.

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Virginia receives USDA approval to join SNAP online purchasing pilot program

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Governor Ralph Northam announced on May 22, that for the first time, more than 740,000 Virginians who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will be able to pay for their groceries online and have them delivered after the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved Virginia to participate in an innovative online purchasing pilot program.

“This continued public health emergency has made access to healthy, affordable food challenging, particularly for Virginians who live in food deserts, have disabilities, or face transportation barriers,” said Governor Northam. “Allowing Virginia families who receive SNAP benefits to purchase groceries online and have them safely delivered to their homes will give vulnerable populations additional flexibility to put food on the table without putting themselves at unnecessary risk.”

The program will launch statewide in Virginia on Friday, May 29 with online shopping access available through the Amazon and Walmart online platforms. Retailers interested in participating in the program can find more information and apply by contacting USDA. Transactions will take place using SNAP customers’ secure Personal Identification Numbers (PINs). SNAP benefits cannot be used to pay for fees of any type, such as delivery, service, or convenience fees.

“With so many Americans already opting to stay safe at home by ordering their groceries online, it’s only right that we make every effort to ensure our most vulnerable families are also able to take advantage of these services,” said United States Senator Mark R. Warner. “After having pushed USDA to approve Virginia’s participation in the SNAP online purchasing pilot program, I’m glad to know that many more families in the Commonwealth will soon be able to access nutritious food without requiring them to leave their homes.”

“I’m grateful that following our request, the USDA has approved Virginia’s inclusion in the SNAP online purchasing pilot program,” said United States Senator Tim Kaine. “Especially at this time of great food insecurity, it’s critical that Virginians have the resources they need to safely access food.”

The pilot, which was mandated through the 2014 Farm Bill, was designed to test the feasibility of allowing USDA-approved retailers to accept online transactions. The Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) administers SNAP in the Commonwealth.

“Agencies and leaders across the Commonwealth are constantly collaborating on innovative ways to meet the needs of individuals, families, and communities during this pandemic,” said VDSS Commissioner S. Duke Storen. “Addressing the adaptive needs of Virginians right now, particularly expanding access to food, remains at the forefront of everything we are doing.”

Additional information about SNAP benefits in Virginia is available on the VDSS website.

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