Author archive: Royal Examiner

Health
One shot could someday reduce heart attack risk
February 24, 2018
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Gene therapy might lead to a one-time vaccine-like treatment that would permanently lower bad cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart attack by as much as 88 percent.

Heart disease is currently responsible for about one in every four deaths in the United States, adding up to more than 600,000 deaths each year.

According to the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, however, new genome research shows great promise of permanently reducing the risk of heart attack.

Work on this project first started in France in 2003 when researchers discovered that a specific gene in the liver, PCSK9, seemed to be responsible for cholesterol regulation. Some families with a mutation of this gene had very high cholesterol and were very likely to have early heart attacks.

Meanwhile, in Texas, another research group identified a population that had a different kind of mutation of PCSK9 — this time a very good mutation. This mutation produced the opposite effect. People with the mutation have very low levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL or bad) cholesterol levels. What’s more, they were significantly less likely to have a heart attack.

A recently developed gene editing technology called CRISPR/Cas9 allowed these researchers to alter the PCSK9 gene in mice to convert it to the good version that would potentially help them live longer. This change caused the liver to stop producing a particular protein that would prevent the removal of cholesterol in the bloodstream. It also solved the problem that traditional cholesterol drugs have – they don’t last very long. Rather than constantly having to get shots or take medicine to reduce cholesterol, scientists hypothesize that it may be possible to have a lifetime change in effect with just one application.

Local Government
Watch the process begin on our $700,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)
February 23, 2018
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The Virginia Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program provides funding to eligible units of local government for planning and implementing projects that address critical community development needs, including housing, infrastructure and economic development. The goal of the CDBG Program is to improve the economic and physical environment in Virginia’s communities through activities which primarily benefit low- and moderate-income persons, prevent or eliminate slums and blighting conditions or meet urgent needs which threaten the welfare of citizens.

Under this program, eligible localities may apply for Planning Grants for project development or Community Improvement Grants for project implementation.

See related story on the Royal Examiner.

This video is the first of many meetings to facilitate our $700,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). As you watch, you see that there is lots of work involved by our Town and Community leaders to make this a successful program. Watch the process begin.

State News
Governor Northam announces Virginia named Top State in Annual Workforce Development Rankings
February 23, 2018
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RICHMOND – Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Virginia rose from second to first in the Atlantic region in a recent analysis of state workforce development activities conducted by Site Selection Magazine. Among the eight states that were ranked, Virginia scored ahead of highly competitive states such as Florida, North Carolina, Maryland, and Delaware. This year, the magazine based their analysis on the context in which each state’s workforce development programs are applied rather than the specific programs themselves.

“Virginia’s position as a top state for workforce development shows that our efforts to fuel the New Virginia Economy by building a 21st century workforce are working,” said Governor Northam. “Workforce development is a top priority for my administration, which is why I appointed Megan Healy as Virginia’s first Cabinet-level Chief Workforce Advisor, to focus our attention on these issues at the highest level. A strong workforce is a draw for companies looking to either relocate their operations or expand their existing business and I am pleased Virginia is able to offer this.”

“In Virginia, we know our world-class workforce is an unparalleled economic asset,” said Chief Workforce Advisor Megan Healy. “Our improved ranking shows the national business community has noticed too.”

Instead of looking at a state’s specific workforce development programs, Site Selection Magazine examined the context in which these programs are applied in order to gauge the strength of a state’s workforce development environment. Site Selection ranked states regionally and used data from CNBC’s America’s Top States for Business 2017 Workforce and Education sub-rankings, Forbes’ Best States for Business 2017 Labor Supply sub-rankings, US News’ 2017 Best States for Education rankings, ACT National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) rankings, and the average number of workforce development enactments passed in 2015 & 2016 in order to create a comprehensive workforce development profile for each state.

Virginia’s earning in the top regional spot reflects the effort of the Commonwealth’s workforce development and education partners. Virginia ranks 6th in the nation amongst “best educated states” and set a record for most bachelor’s degrees earned in state history in the 2016-2017 year. Virginia’s Workforce Credential Grant Program is also enabling the pursuit of “new collar”, middle-skills training to fill openings in in-demand industries.

The full report complete with other regional rankings can be found here.

Business
Eight Considerations Investors Look At When Deciding Whether Or Not To Fund Your Small Business
February 23, 2018
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Before someone decides to provide financing for your small business, he or she will want to assess the likelihood of your success. Investors want to avoid excessive risk and put their dollars where they stand to gain financially. As they evaluate the opportunity to fund your business, they’ll consider a number of details and characteristics. The more prepared you are to demonstrate the feasibility of your business idea and your capabilities as a business owner, the better your chances of convincing investors to put their confidence in you.

Among the many considerations that may go into an investor’s “yes” or “no” decision to fund your business are:

  • Business plan – As an outline of your goals and how you intend to achieve them, a business plan serves as the roadmap for your business. A well-thought out, well-researched business plan shows you have done your due diligence and are taking your venture seriously.
  • Business model – Your business model is the framework of how your business will operate. It serves to provide a view into how your company will generate revenue and make a profit. Prospective investors will want to ensure it seems sustainable and agile to last long term. Business models often include various assumptions about your business including activities your business will engage in, revenue sources, sales channels, customer base, business resources (such as property, website, customer lists, etc.), suppliers/vendors, value proposition, cost structures, and more.
  • Gross margin – This is the difference between your revenue and your cost of goods sold. It’s represented as the percent of total sales revenue after your direct costs for producing your products or services. Gross margin is a much better indicator of whether or not a business has staying power than looking at revenue alone. What’s deemed healthy varies from industry to industry, so investors will take that into account when considering your business’s gross margin.
  • Strength of your brand – If you have an established business, investors will also consider the viability of your brand. Is it well known to your target market and how much of that target market has it penetrated? Is it easy to differentiate from your competition?
  • Sales funnel – Investors will also want to know what opportunities to generate income you have in your sales funnel. Not only will the quantity make an impression, but investors will also have an interest in the quality of those prospects.
  • Personal and business credit history – If these are in good order, it will reflect more favorably on your sense of responsibility and accountability in the eyes of investors.
  • Professional valuation – With a third party providing an expert estimation of what your company is worth, you’ll have an unbiased appraisal to share with investors.
  • Your professionalism – Investors will want to know the company is in capable hands. If you present yourself professionally, showing up on time with all paperwork and records organized and up to date, you’ll exude confidence and competence.

In addition to what we’ve mentioned here, other factors might also influence an investor’s decision. The key to a successful pitch is to put the time and effort required to research, plan, and prepare. For guidance and feedback as you work through the process, contact your local SCORE chapter to talk with a small business mentor. Mentoring is free of charge. With knowledge about and experience in all aspects of operating small businesses in diverse industries, SCORE mentors can serve valuable resources as you start and grow your company.

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.

Home
What is a financial caregiver?
February 22, 2018
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As people age, it is not uncommon for them to need extra medical supervision as well as help with day-to-day tasks around the house to keep their standard of living.

One area of care that doesn’t always get the most attention is finances. According to USA Today, about 92 percent of caregivers are having to take on the responsibility of managing bank accounts, insurance claims, taxes, and investments. Also, these same caregivers are spending $190 billion out of their own pockets each year to help provide financial stability for their loved ones in cases where their needs exceed their means.

As family members approach the time when they will need extra support, it will be beneficial to start planning early for issues that will likely come up. Long-term care insurance, for instance, is usually only an option when a person is still healthy, and it can provide more opportunities for care once things become more difficult.

Likewise, many continuing care retirement communities offer ways to ensure proper care over many years, but they often require the person to move in before significant issues develop. In both of these cases, a lack of planning can lead to more substantial costs and an inability for the care recipient to live where they want to.

As mentioned, financial caregivers often end up entirely managing the finances of their loved one, and this will usually require navigating insurance products that they might not be familiar with personally. Finding resources on how things work at an individual’s state and local level can be challenging. It is helpful to be able to reach out to people who are in a similar situation to find a support system for information sharing. While not all financial advisors are equipped to deal with these kinds of cases, it is possible to find a willing and knowledgeable agent to help at least keep the financial boat afloat for as long as necessary.

At the other end of the spectrum, individuals who are wondering whether or not they might need help in the future should be acting sooner rather than later. U.S. News recommends considering the legal process necessary to create powers of attorney for financial and medical decisions that make sense for everyone involved. In these cases, trust is the most important thing to consider as giving another person complete control over one’s financial life could open the door for mishandling or outright abuse. In some cases, a trusted financial advisor can be employed to help watch over the big picture to ensure that family members are not acting selfishly.

Local Government
WATCH: Town Council Work Session – February 20th
February 21, 2018
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The Town Council Work Session of February 20th had some interesting item on the agenda. The agenda outlines the detail of the items discussed.

Download the Town Council Worsksession Agenda

1. Creative Communities Partnership Grant Application Requests for Blue Ridge Arts Council and
Front Royal Oratorio Society – Town Manager

2. Artisan Trail Proposal – Director of Community Development/Tourism

3. Continued Discussion of W. Main Street Extension to serve Royal Phoenix Site – Town Engineer

4. FY19 Proposed Budget – Review of Enterprise Fund Expenditures – Director of Finance

 

Local News
Gary L. Gillispie announces candidacy for Town Council
February 21, 2018
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FRONT ROYAL – Front Royal resident and current Councilman Gary L. Gillispie announced Wednesday that he is running in this year’s November 6 election for Front Royal Town Council. On February 13, 2018, Gary submitted his Declaration of Candidacy and the required signatures of Front Royal voters. Subsequently, on February 16, the Registrar’s office confirmed that Gillispie was the first candidate to successfully file.

Gillispie stated, “My wife Allyson and I have always told our son that service is a necessary part of life. As a lifelong member of this community, I feel it’s important to lead by example. When a vacancy opened on the Council, I applied and, since joining Council, I have committed myself to protecting our hometown. I want to thank Mayor Tharpe and the members of Council for giving me this opportunity. However, there is more work to be done.”

“I have been proud to call Front Royal my home for forty-five years and, as many of you, am invested in the future of our town. Its future will shape the future of my son and grandchildren, and I am running for Town Council to continue improving our town, to create more job opportunities, and to cut government regulation hindering our small, local businesses,” Gillispie continued.

“Thirty years ago, having grown up in Front Royal and Warren County, we remember when our community was not respected by some of our neighbors to the north. I am proud to say that, now, we are second to none. We have good schools and this town and county are known as a great place to do business. I am committed that, when elected, I will continue to promote economic development to keep our taxes low and to bring better paying jobs home.”

Gary L. Gillispie was born in Front Royal, to Linda and John Gillispie. He has an older brother, Michael Gillispie. Gary graduated from Warren County High School and currently resides on Fairview Avenue. He is a Plumbing and Gas Plans Reviewer. Gillispie is married to Allyson (daughter of Hal Shaner and Donna Rae Hinze), also a lifelong citizen of Front Royal. She is a music therapist and assistant music director at Front Royal United Methodist Church. They are the parents of Chase, age 12. Gary is a member of Dynamic Life Ministries.

State News
Governor Northam Statement on Expanded Health Coverage in House Budget Proposal
February 21, 2018
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RICHMOND – Governor Ralph Northam released the following statement today after the House Appropriations Committee released its amendments to the 2018-20 Biennial Budget:

“This budget proposal extends health coverage to hundreds of thousands of Virginians who need it. I want to thank Speaker Cox, Chairman Jones and delegates in both parties for the leadership they have demonstrated on this issue. I also want to thank Leader Toscano, his caucus and advocates in every corner of Virginia for the years of work on this issue that helped make this historic step possible.

“I have long supported a simple and straightforward expansion of Medicaid. However, I respect the priorities of the House majority and I am encouraged by and supportive of our work together to bring about a new “Virginia Way” on Medicaid. We can and should expand coverage and provide significant training resources, counseling, and incentives to connect Virginians with employment opportunities.

“I look forward to working with the House and Senate to finalize this proposal, ensure its passage and pursue an implementation plan that will provide the benefits of expanded coverage to Virginia families.”

Home
Flour doesn’t last forever
February 21, 2018
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If you buy flour in December for special baking, you will probably have some left over in February.

The good news is that, if you’ve stored it in an air-tight container, it’s probably still good for Valentine’s Day cakes.

A good rule of thumb is to throw away wheat flour in four to six months, according to Eat By Date. Self-rising flour, which has baking powder in it, has a shorter shelf life.

Corn flour can last up to a year.

Buying the right amount helps prevent waste. One five pound bag of flour equals 17.5 cups.

Local News
Police investigate threat against Luray High School
February 20, 2018
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LURAY, VA – Around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Page County Sheriff’s Office received information of a potential threat of harm against the students, faculty and staff of Luray High School.

As a result, according to a media release from Major Phillip Baker, of the Page County Sheriff’s Office, that office, along with Page County Public Schools Administration, took precautionary measures to ensure the safety of everyone in the school.

While an official statement did not clarify what those measures were, several parents have said that their children were temporarily evacuated from the high school to the middle school.

With the assistance of Luray Police Department, the Virginia State Police, Albemarle County Police Department and Federal Protective Reserve, officers were able to determine that the school was safe, and operational control was turned back over to the School Administration.

With the tragedies that have unfolded around the nation related to school safety, Major Baker said that the Page County Sheriff’s Office and the Page County Public Schools Administration respond to any threat in a manner that maximizes the safety of our children and our communities.

The Page County Sheriff’s Office will continue to work with PCPS officials to investigate the origin of this threat, and will take appropriate action once the investigation is complete. While the threat turned out to be unfounded, with the tragedies that have unfolded around the nation, the Page County Sheriff’s Office takes any threat seriously.

This is not the first incident to occur in the Shenandoah Valley in recent days. In Harrisonburg, a child was charged Tuesday with a felony after making a social media threat that turned out to be a hoax.