Belle Grove Plantation announced today, May 7, that it has received a $1.1 million gift from The Shoemaker Family Charitable Trust. This gift was given for an innovative restoration of the Belle Grove 1918 Bank Barn. In addition to preserving this 100-year old structure, the renovation will create spaces for the Museum Shop, exhibits, events, and visitor amenities.
“This gift will allow Belle Grove to undertake its most extensive infrastructure improvement since its founding as a museum 50 years ago,” stated Chair Suzanne Conrad. “In honor of this tremendous act of generosity, the Belle Grove Board of Directors has unanimously decided to dedicate the renovated structure as the Beverley B. Shoemaker Barn Welcome Center.”
Mrs. Beverley Bowman Shoemaker serves as the Trustee of The Shoemaker Family Charitable Trust and was a member of the Belle Grove Plantation Board of Directors from 2012 to 2017. In her tenure, she chaired the Building and Grounds Committee, which acquainted her with the preservation needs of the site’s historic buildings and its need for additional space and facilities to serve visitors.
Mrs. Shoemaker has been a major donor on projects to restore the Plantation Office and Store historic structure and Fort Bowman/Harmony Hall in Strasburg, both of which are owned by Belle Grove. “We are so pleased to be able to provide this gift for Belle Grove. The Bowman family connection makes it even more so very special in my heart,” said Mrs. Shoemaker. “The gift will assist in expanding Belle Grove’s mission. It will allow for the lower level of the mansion to be interpreted, offer the community a new venue for group events, add space for displays, and best of all, to provide much needed rest rooms!”
The idea to restore the 1918 Bank Barn began in 2011 with a convening of preservation and history professionals under the leadership of Belle Grove President Elizabeth McClung, who retired in 2013. Fred Andreae of Frederick Andreae Architects in Front Royal and past Chair of Belle Grove served on this committee and donated his services to design the building. He worked with current Executive Director, Kristen Laise and Belle Grove’s staff and board on an extensive planning process for the last several years.
The 1918 Bank Barn is timber-framed with an adjacent concrete silo northwest of the Belle Grove Manor House. It was constructed in 1918 by J. Herbert Brumback. The Brumback family owned Belle Grove from 1907 to 1929 and farmed the land and, for a time, operated an inn in the Belle Grove Manor House. While Belle Grove is still actively farmed today by Mr. Brumback’s grandson, the barn no longer serves an agricultural function. New exhibits in the Barn Welcome Center will present the history of the building and Belle Grove’s role in Shenandoah Valley agriculture.
Mr. Fred Andreae designed the Barn Welcome Center to preserve the “barn-ness” of the structure and the heavy oak timbers, sliding doors, slatted openings, red painted siding, gambrel roof, and other iconic features will be retained. The lower level that is built into a hillside, or bank, will be a climate-controlled finished space accommodating a gift shop, ticket desk, exhibits, restrooms, vending machines, and a media room. A lift and staircase will go to a lightly restored upper level that will be used seasonally for special events and group gatherings. It will include a kitchen designed for caterers to hold and serve food.
Mr. Andreae explained, “The renovation is designed to preserve the barn’s historic character. It modernizes the building while retaining its original materials, structural components, and the feel of a working barn.”
In 2016, Mr. Andreae donated funds and oversaw an initial phase of construction on the upper level. New flooring, railings, interior and exterior lighting, and ceiling fans were installed. The doors were adapted to meet code and the electrical system was upgraded. This allowed the barn to begin to be used as an event space. Belle Grove’s leadership and supporters immediately recognized the potential of the entire project and spearheaded efforts to make the vision for the Barn Welcome Center a reality.
In late 2017, Belle Grove issued a request for proposals for the construction of the Barn Welcome Center and has awarded KEE Construction Services, Inc. of Winchester the contract. The project will begin on May 14, 2018 and will be completed by spring 2019.
“The National Trust for Historic Preservation congratulates Belle Grove on initiating this project that represents best practices in adaptive reuse and will bring renewed life to this very significant structure. We are grateful for the generosity of The Shoemaker Family Charitable Trust and the work of our partner, Belle Grove Inc. to preserve and interpret the site and its rich and diverse history,” said Katherine Malone-France, Senior Vice President for Historic Sites at the National Trust.
The $1.1 million gift will substantially fund the renovation and related infrastructure upgrades. Some elements of the project will require additional funds and there are opportunities for other donors to join The Shoemaker Family Charitable Trust in transforming operations and outreach at Belle Grove.
“We have chosen the term Barn Welcome Center because this building will be more than just a visitor’s center or event space, it will be the way that guests are welcomed to our site,” stated Kristen Laise. “It will also make Belle Grove a gathering place for our community, something that is central to our mission and important to our donor Beverley Shoemaker.”
About Belle Grove—Belle Grove Plantation is located at 336 Belle Grove Road just south of Middletown, Virginia. It was established by Major Isaac Hite Jr., grandson of one of the first German settlers in the region, Jost Hite. In 1864, the property was at the epicenter of the Civil War Battle of Cedar Creek and served as the headquarters of Union General Philip Sheridan. Since 1967, this site has operated as a 283-acre farm and historic house museum with its 1797 Manor House, agricultural outbuildings and barns, the plantation office and store, slave cemetery, archaeological sites, historic garden, and grounds open to the public.
Belle Grove Plantation is owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It is operated by the non-profit organization Belle Grove, Inc., which also owns Fort Bowman the 18th century era property of George and Mary Elizabeth (Hite) Bowman. Belle Grove Inc. and the National Trust are partners in Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park. More information is available at www.bellegrove.org.
(From a release)
Town officials praise Energy Services staff for restoring power during Saturday’s storm
The aftermath of Hurricane Ian, which brought strong winds and heavy rain to the commonwealth, wreaked havoc on some Front Royal residents over the weekend.
Mary Ellen Lynn, Interim Director of Energy Services, said Monday that about 1,500 homes and businesses experienced a loss of power twice on Saturday, Oct. 1, following two large power outages after the Sprint Substation lost its power supply.
Residents in the Kendrick area and the south side of town experienced a complete loss of power at approximately 3:30 am and then again at 10:15 pm.
Town crews quickly assessed that there were transmission line issues running through Rappahannock Electric Cooperative’s territory that fed into the substation. Through unfavorable weather conditions, crews worked tirelessly to conduct load-switching and restore power as safely and quickly as possible.
All customers had power restored within three hours, 22 minutes, during the first outage and within four hours, 21 minutes, during the second.
Officials expressed gratitude to the Town Energy Services team, dispatch officers, the Front Royal Police Department (FRPD), and the linemen, who worked to restore power and keep the community safe during the storm.
In a media release Monday, Lynn stated that the Energy Services Department strives to keep the community as updated as possible in real-time but emphasized that the safety of crews comes first.
“There may be delays in updates when these rare, large-scale events occur, but know that our goal is to always keep your lights on and power outages to a minimum. We assure you that if there’s a lag in communication, it’s simply because we are diligently working to address the issue,” Lynn said.
Interim Town Manager Kathleen Leidich praised the team Monday, stating, “I would like to commend our Line Crew for their hard work and dedication through the cold, wet & dangerous conditions they had to face.”
To report an outage during business hours, contact the department at 540-635-3027. For after-hours outages, call the non-emergency number of the FRPD, 540-635-2111.
Winchester City Manager appoints new Police Chief
Winchester City Manager Dan Hoffman has selected Deputy Chief Amanda Behan as Winchester’s new and first female Police Chief in the department’s 200-year history. DC Behan has been a dedicated member of the Winchester Police Department for over 20 years, climbing the ranks from recruit in 2001 to Deputy Chief in 2021.
“Amanda has been a part of the Winchester community and police department as a public servant, volunteer, mentor, change agent, role model, and leader. Her skills and qualifications are widely known, and she has my full faith and confidence in this new role of protecting the safety and wellbeing of our officers, staff, and city,” stated Mr. Hoffman.
DC Behan has a master’s degree in Executive Leadership from Liberty University, and throughout her career with the Winchester Police Department, she has served many roles. Her accomplishments include implementing officer fitness standards, significantly expanding community outreach activities, redeveloping departmental policies, and acquiring the department’s first therapy canine.
“I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity and want to thank my husband, children, and everyone who has supported me throughout this journey,” DC Behan said. “It is my passion for our community and the men and women who protect and serve it gives me this great honor to lead the Winchester Police Department. I will have an outstanding team and look forward to our future together.
In a recent administrative reorganization, the Police Chief vacancy was created when Chief John Piper was promoted to Deputy City Manager, overseeing all public safety divisions. DC Behan’s swearing-in ceremony will occur on October 21 at 2 pm during the Department’s scheduled promotion ceremony at the Jim Barnett Park Rec Center.
Valley Health confronts lingering challenges of COVID-19
Like health systems nationwide, Valley Health is facing financial challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. While social restrictions have eased considerably, and serious illness and death rates are down, the lasting impacts are still significant in the region’s nonprofit health system.
“I’m so proud of our team for their extraordinary dedication to care for the community and each other during this public health crisis,” said Valley Health President and CEO Mark Nantz. “We’ve truly lived our values of compassion, integrity, collaboration, courage, innovation, and excellence and have been a steadfast health resource for our region. Despite our best efforts, however, we face unprecedented financial challenges as the effects and aftereffects of the pandemic continue to take their toll. Since 2020, Valley Health has seen an overall drop in health care utilization, sicker patients due to deferred care, staffing shortages, and higher costs of goods and services.”
Recent reports from the American Hospital Association (AHA) examine the intense financial pressures facing hospitals and health systems:
• One study predicts losses in the billions of dollars this year for U.S. hospitals, with margins at least one-third lower than pre-pandemic levels and more than half of the nation’s hospitals operating in the red.
• A record number of rural hospitals closed their doors in 2020; those remaining face unique financial and workforce pressures moving forward.
• Deferred care during the pandemic has led to increased patient acuity in America’s hospitals, which means hospitalized patients are sicker and more costly to treat.
• In an April report, the AHA looked at increased costs driven by a spike in labor costs of about 20% over the last two years.
Left unaddressed, these financial challenges can jeopardize patients’ access to essential health care services. “Valley Health is not in danger of closing its doors,” Nantz said. “But the pandemic and its aftereffects have continued to create financial challenges for our organization.”
Like every health system across the nation, Valley Health experienced high turnover rates among a COVID-weary staff and national nursing shortages, leaving more than 800 open positions across the organization and driving labor costs to an all-time high.
Valley Health has secured $126 million to address its financial challenges through assistance programs such as the federal CARES Act, the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Were it not for that assistance over the last two and a half years, Valley Health would have experienced operating losses in excess of $100 million.
“COVID-19 forced us to curtail or temporarily discontinue many of the services we budget and staff for across our system,” explained Nantz. “Federal funds helped partially offset revenue loss associated with the pandemic and increased overhead costs due to supply chain issues and skyrocketing costs of supplemental staff. But that support has dried up, and we have not yet returned to our pre-pandemic levels of diagnostic testing, wellness care and screenings, and elective surgeries.”
With no prospects for further government assistance, the health system has been taking steps, including:
1. Investing in training, retaining the best healthcare workforce, and decreasing reliance on agency staff.
2. Assuring health insurers are paying fairly, with rate increases that reflect the rising cost of care, especially as insurance companies experience record profits while healthcare systems are experiencing record losses. Valley Health cannot do business with organizations that will not compensate fairly for services provided.
3. Reviewing and evaluating all Valley Health programs and services to ensure the best stewardship of community healthcare dollars and deploying caregivers to the most necessary roles.
“We are methodically assessing all parts of our organization, re-evaluating how, where and when we provide services, and exploring new ways to deploy our staffing so that we can continue to be our region’s care provider and employer of choice well into the future,” said Nantz.
VDOT: Warren County Traffic alert for October 3 – 7, 2022
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 or revised entry since last week’s report.
No lane closures were reported.
No lane closures were reported.
Route 55 (John Marshall Highway) – Flagger traffic control between Front Royal town limits and Route 79 (Apple Mountain Road) for tree removal operations, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Friday.
No lane closures were reported.
Missing and endangered person, located by FCSO Bloodhound ‘Bleu”
On September 30, 2022, Deputies responded to the area of Norwich Court in Stephens City for a missing person. A son had reported that his mother, age 74, had left their residence while he was on a Zoom call for his work. The son told the Deputies that his mother was not very mobile and didn’t think she could walk far from the residence. Deputies checked the residence to ensure she was not hiding in the residence, as some people have a tendency to do when having mental health issues.
The missing lady and her son had visited a nursing facility the previous day for the mother and had plans to visit another facility that day. The mother suffers from severe depression and anxiety.
A neighbor who lived on Hayvenhurst Drive, Stephens City, stated that “she saw an elderly woman earlier, walking towards Town Run Lane like she was on a mission.”
Deputy Dan Clark and Frederick County Bloodhound “Bleu” checked out the area of Town Run Lane where Bleu located the lady lying in a brushy thicket in the 400 block of Town Run Lane. The woman had taken numerous prescription medications to do bodily harm to herself. Stephens City Fire and Rescue transported the victim to the Winchester Medical Center for treatment.
It is believed that without Bloodhound Bleu’s assistance in locating this victim when he did, the outcome would have been considerably different.
According to Sheriff Lenny Millholland, if any residents of Frederick County have family members with Dementia, Alzheimer’s, or a medical condition that causes them to wander or get away from care, they can contact the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office. Information can be provided about Project Lifesaver and what can be done to help the families.
K-9 Frederick’s Copper “Bleu” Tracker-BLEU is a Bloodhound. His duties include tracking/trailing bad guys and locating missing people, whether children or the elderly and mental patients who walk off or run away on foot.
Bleu serves the citizens of Frederick County, Virginia, and any other jurisdictions that request his services.
Education quality and positive learning enviroment improve in Warren County Public Schools
Last week, the Virginia Department of Education released the 2022 accreditation ratings and school quality indicator data. Seven schools were accredited, and two schools—E. Wilson Morrison Elementary and Skyline Middle—were accredited with conditions.
Dr. Chris Ballenger, Superintendent of Warren County Public Schools, would like to recognize its teachers, staff, and administrators for their dedication to providing students with quality education and a positive learning environment throughout the 2021-2022 school year.
The impact of the pandemic on student learning remains apparent. However, one thing is certain, teachers and administrators have worked hard, which was reflected in the growth seen in last year’s Standards of Learning data. Teachers’ commitment to identify learning gaps and implement lessons to help close those gaps was a big ask, and teachers delivered. The support provided to improve achievement and create a positive learning environment was especially important given the changes to the instructional environment students experienced due to the pandemic. The 2021-2022 school year marked the return to full-time instruction for all K-12 students since March 2020.
The data released by the VDOE reflects that Warren County students improved in reading, mathematics, and science compared to the 2020-2021 data. The work to meet state accountability indicators and ensure students are performing at grade-level proficiency continues this school year. Teachers and staff engage in professional development, implement evidence-based practices in their classrooms, and focus on student learning outcomes.
Warren County Public Schools has a tremendous staff, and as a community, we should be grateful to have such dedicated educators working with students daily.
Virginia’s School Quality Profiles provide information about student achievement, college and career readiness, program completion, school safety, teacher quality, and other topics of interest to parents and the general public. Please visit the VDOE’s School Quality Profile website for more information on school accreditation ratings and quality indicator data.
- A.S. Rhodes Elementary –ACCREDITED
- E. Wilson Morrison Elementary – ACCREDITED WITH CONDITIONS
- Hilda J. Barbour Elementary – ACCREDITED
- Leslie Fox Keyser Elementary – ACCREDITED
- Ressie Jeffries Elementary – ACCREDITED
- Skyline High – ACCREDITED
- Skyline Middle – ACCREDITED WITH CONDITIONS
- Warren County High – ACCREDITED
- Warren County Middle – ACCREDITED