Monterey, VA – Celebrate the beauty and bounty of fall with the annual Hands & Harvest Festival in Highland County, Virginia! Held from Thursday, October 8, through Sunday, October 11, this year’s festival offers a unique hybrid of both virtual and in-person offerings.
The festival kicks off on Thursday, October 8, from 6 to 8 pm, with the first ever Virtual Hands & Harvest Festival, hosted by online event platform, BoothCentral. Anyone in the world with an internet connection and email address has the ability to go online to discover, browse and shop with participating festival organizations and businesses. The virtual event includes a video stream that highlights many aspects of the festival, including exclusive tours and special moments with the unique people and destinations of this rural, mountain community. In addition, guests can directly interact with participating vendors at their own pace in their online vendor “booths.” Tune in any time between 6 and 8 pm on Thursday, October 8, at this Virtual Hands & Harvest Link to learn all about what Highland County has to offer. Preregistration is not necessary, although guests who register ahead of time will receive an email reminder on the day of the event.
In-person offerings will begin Friday, October 9, through Sunday, October 11, dispersed throughout Highland County. See the full schedule and details at highlandcounty.org/hands-harvest-festival. Here are some highlights of the sights, sounds and tastes of the season:
- Activities for all ages include scaling over 100 steps on Sounding Knob Fire Tower from sunrise to sunset, watching the Valley AeroSpace Team’s amazing rocket launches, and visiting a mini equine sanctuary
- Outdoor entertainment on Saturday at The Highland Center with their “Maple Tap Room” serving up craft and domestic beer and Big Fish Cider, followed by live music with Lynda Smith and 7th Street, an eight-piece party band that highlights Motown, disco, beach and classic rock
- The freshly updated Highland County Barn Quilt Trail, including a chance to visit the barn quilt studio where many of these colorful quilt designs on wooden blocks are created
- Several of Highland County’s Maple Syrup Sugar Camps will be open, with a chance to get your passport stamped after a tour as part of the new Virginia Maple Syrup Trail at participating camps. If pure maple syrup isn’t enough of a draw, some camps will even offer delicious apple butter or cider, warm winter wear, pumpkins, BBQ, bluegrass music, hiking trails and more!
- Instead of the Monterey Courthouse, arts and crafts vendors will be set up with one-of-a-kind gifts and treats at locations around the county like Monterey Presbyterian Church and The Church at the Old Oak.
“This hybrid event offers visitors the option to take part in the festival online even if they are unable to make it or if they feel uncomfortable with travel at this time,” says Executive Director of the Highland County Chamber of Commerce, Chris Swecker. “Whether online or in person, people will get to experience what makes our rural community so special at this time of year.”
The 2020 Hands & Harvest Festival is sponsored by Big Fish Cider Co., the new HighlandCountyVA Blog, and The Highland Center. The festival is brought to you by The Highland County Chamber of Commerce.
For both your safety and for the safety of others when traveling, please adhere to current CDC and Virginia Department of Health guidelines regarding the coronavirus. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, please observe social distancing of at least six feet from other visitors, wear a face covering when indoors or when you are in close proximity to others outdoors, and wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or apply hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Please stay home if you are sick, if you have signs or symptoms of COVID-19, or if you have been in close contact with someone who has had COVID-19. Prevention tips can be found at vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/prevention-tips/.
The Highland County Chamber of Commerce is a 501(c)(6) membership nonprofit organization with a mission to lift up local businesses and entrepreneurs, promote Highland County, and champion economic prosperity and quality of life. For more information, please visit www.highlandcounty.org.
County update on COVID-19 vaccine distribution locally
On Friday, January 15, 2021, Warren County Emergency Services Deputy Director Rick Farrall released the latest information on the multi-pronged effort to distribute the COVID-19 Coronavirus vaccine through the combined efforts of the Lord Fairfax Health District, Valley Health, and CVS Pharmacy. Royal Examiner will have more on the bulk of these efforts centered at the 15th Street Warren County Health and Human Services Complex Parks and Rec gymnasium in a follow-up story in the coming days.
As noted below in category “d. xiii” there are no dates yet established for Phase 1b and 1c categories, including second and third round essential workers categories and the general public. However, that is expected to be announced and begin in the coming week.
An outline of Warren County distribution efforts as currently available is below. We have moved the “Prioritized Distribution” information related to various qualifying categories, item “d” up, but keep reading if you might be interested, or know someone who would, like to volunteer to help with vaccine distribution efforts at the 15th Street location in Front Royal:
1. Valley Health – VDH Lord Fairfax Health District Vaccine Information (as of 1/15/2021)
a. VACCINE SIGN-UP: In partnership with Valley Health and the Lord Fairfax Health District, distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine is now occurring in Warren County. For the most up-to-date information on where and when to locally receive the vaccine, visit: https://www.valleyhealthlink.com/patients-visitors/coronavirus-covid-19-updates/covid-19-vaccinations/
d. PRIORITIZED DISTRIBUTION: The CDC’s Advisory Council on Immunization Practices (ACIP) prioritized the initial distribution of the vaccine (as available) to health care personnel (hospital and EMS based) and residents of long-term care facilities (LTCF). Other Phase I groups (in order) include essential workers, people at higher risk for severe disease (over the age of 75); Phase II – other (specified) populations; and Phase III – the general public. Distribution of the COVID-19 vaccination began late last month in Warren County.
ix. December 2020: Lord Fairfax Health District began Phase 1a distribution of the vaccine last week and this week (Clarke and Warren County first responders/age 75+).
1. Health Care personnel (Round 1 complete, Round 2 planned)
2. LTCF Residents and Staff (see below)
x. January 2021: The CDC is allocating the vaccine directly to CVS to vaccinate Phase 1a long-term care residents. CVS began this process locally this month (going directly to our long-term care facilities).
1. Commonwealth Senior Living (Round 1 complete, Round 2 scheduled)
2. Fox Trail Senior Living (Round 1 scheduled. Round 2 TBD)
3. Heritage Hall (TBD)
4. Hidden Springs (Round 1 and 2 scheduled)
5. Lynn Care (Round 1 complete, Round 2 scheduled)
6. Shenandoah Senior Living (Round 1 scheduled, Round 2 scheduled)
7. Woods Cove (TBD)
xi. January 2021: The next allocation (“Phase 1b”) of vaccinations the County receives will be for front-line essential workers and persons age 75 and older. Front line essential workers include (in priority order):
1. Police, Fire, and HAZMAT (Round 1 complete, Round 2 scheduled)
2. Corrections workers (Round 1 scheduled)
3. Childcare, K-12 Teachers and Staff (Round 1 scheduled)
4. Food and Agriculture (TBD)
5. Manufacturing (TBD)
6. U.S. Postal Service workers (TBD)
7. Public Transit workers (TBD)
8. Grocery Store workers (TBD)
9. Persons Age 75 and older (Round 1 in progress)
xii. The following allocation (“Phase 1c”) of vaccinations will be for other essential workers, persons age 64-75, and persons age 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions. Other essential workers include (in priority order – all below 1-10 categories planning TBD):
1. Transportation and Logistics
2. Food Service
3. Shelter and Housing (construction)
5. IT and Communication
9. Public Safety (engineers)
10. Water and Wastewater
xiii. There is no date established for the Phase 1b or 1c allocations at this time.
b. VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: In order to distribute the COVID-19 vaccination in the quickest and most efficient manner, volunteers are needed to fill essential roles in the operation of the Warren County Point of Distribution (POD) site at the 15th St. Gym. The six essential roles are:
ii. Greeter: an adult that checks patients in and directs them to the next station
iii. Navigator: a clinical provider that reviews forms and looks for any “red flags”
iv. Observer: an adult that monitors patients for 15 minutes after the injection of the vaccination to monitor for any adverse side effects; must have Basic Life Support certification or above
v. Pharmacist: prepares the vaccine for injection; must be currently licensed
vi. Runner/Floater: monitors vaccine inventory and assists in communicating between POD stations
vii. Vaccinator: a health care provider that administers the COVID-19 vaccination; must be a currently licensed/certified LPN, RN, M.D., D.O., AEMT, EMT-I, EMT-P
c. SIGN-UP GENIUS: If you meet the above criteria, and are willing to volunteer during the operation of the COVID-19 POD in Warren County, please visit the below site to sign-up:
e. No further details available at this time, more to follow.
LFCC seeking speakers and voters for “I Have a Dream” speech contest
LFCC’s students are encouraged to participate in a virtual “I Have a Dream” speech contest in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, Jan. 25. Students, LFCC employees, and the public at large are invited to join the Zoom meeting to watch the speeches and vote on the winner.
Those interested in being a contestant should email LFCC campus life and student engagement specialist Chris Lambert at email@example.com by Friday, Jan. 22. Speeches are to be 3-5 minutes long and can be about your own dreams for yourself or for those around you.
“The topic shares the name of one of Dr. King’s most well-known speeches, but does not have to cover or mirror the same information,” Lambert said. “Please be creative and tell us about your dream. Is it educational? Political? Is your dream for yourself, your family, the world? After telling us your dream, share how it might be achieved.”
The first-place winner will receive a $100 Visa gift card, with the runner-up receiving a $50 card.
LFCC’s Fauquier Campus has traditionally welcomed the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Choir under the direction of the Rev. Lemuel Montgomery to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day – which is Monday, Jan. 18 this year – but that commemoration can’t happen on campus this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Join the virtual event at www.lfcc.edu/MLK.
Town Notice: Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday closing
The Town of Front Royal Business Offices will be closed Monday, January 18, 2021, in observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday. Trash and recycling collection regularly scheduled for Monday will be collected on Wednesday, January 20, 2021. All other regular trash and recycling collection days will remain the same this week. There will be no yard waste collection this week.
The last day for Christmas Tree Collection and Wednesday Yard Waste Collection is January 27, 2021. Wednesday Yard Waste Collection will resume on March 31, 2021.
VDOT: Warren County Traffic alert for January 18 – 22, 2021
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.
*NEW* Mile marker 5 to 7 including Exit 6, eastbound – Right shoulder closures for sign work along interstate and off-ramp, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through January 29.
*NEW* Mile marker 12 to 9, westbound – Daytime shoulder closures and overnight alternating lane closures for maintenance of traffic monitoring equipment, Monday to Thursday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
*NEW* Mile marker 299 to 300, northbound and southbound – Overnight alternating lane closures for inspection of Cedar Creek bridges at Shenandoah County line, 8 p.m. Tuesday to 6 a.m. Wednesday.
*NEW* Mile marker 300 to 301, northbound and southbound – Right shoulder closures for tree removal operations, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
No lane closures reported.
Various roads – Flagger traffic control for utility tree trimming, Monday to Friday during daylight hours.
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 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 my.vdot.virginia.gov. Agents are available 24 hours-a-day, seven days a week.
44 new troopers graduate Virginia State Police Academy
The 44 men and women of the Virginia State Police 132nd Basic Session graduated in a virtual ceremony on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. Due to COVID-19 protocols, a virtual ceremony was the safest means of allowing the graduates and their families to celebrate the culmination of 27 weeks of the trooper-trainees’ hard work, sacrifice, and dedication. Also in virtual attendance were state police executive staff, academy staff, and Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. A previously-recorded video of Governor Ralph Northam congratulating the new troopers was played during the ceremony.
“This Basic Session class has been like no other. Every one of these steadfast men and women heeded strict attention to detail as they navigated the ever-evolving COVID-19 safety protocols,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “The attention to detail wasn’t just to ensure a safe environment for the entire class, their families, academy staff, and instructors, but also for the greater good, something all Virginia State Troopers understand as they put their lives to the test daily to protect and serve the citizens of the Commonwealth. I could not be more proud of this graduating class and I know they will represent us well as they serve their communities.”
The new troopers received more than 1,300 hours of classroom and field instruction in more than 100 different subjects, including de-escalation techniques, strategies to assist people in a mental health crisis, ethics and leadership, fair and impartial policing, constitutional law, emergency medical trauma care, and public and community relations. The members of the 132nd Basic Session began their 27 weeks of academic, physical, and practical training at the Academy on June 29, 2020.
The graduates of the 132nd Basic Session are from every corner of the Commonwealth, as well as Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and New York. They include two second-generation troopers, four first-generation Americans, and numerous prior military service personnel.
For their final phase of training, each trooper will spend an additional six weeks paired with a Field Training Officer learning his or her new patrol area.
132nd Basic Graduate Assignment
Arfan M. Arif – Fairfax County
Michael L. Albert – Shenandoah County
Zachary T. Barnes – York County
Moses I. R. Blakey – New Kent County
Vontasia T. Britton – York County
Andrew J. Brown – Prince William County
Taylor C. Brown – Prince William County
Jawaan D. Cook – Greensville County
William T. DiBerardine – Warren County
Hunter C. Dickenson – Gloucester County
Julian B. Edwards – Prince William County
Kayla B. Edwards – Surry County
Christian L. Elkins – Prince William County
Arthur P. Falin – Greensville County
Jacob A. Farmer – Prince George County
Adelaide E. Fischer – Hampton / Newport News
Robert L. Flynn – Accomack County
Tony Fuentes – James City County
Austin K. Gallaway – Hampton / Newport News
Zachary M. Homlish – Caroline County
Hunter C. Jensen – New Kent County
Stephanie H. Kapusta – Fairfax County
Sarah A. M. Kendrick – Prince William County
Aaryn J. Kerry – Cumberland County
Steven R. King – Accomack County
Timothy L. LaFountain – Buckingham County
Joshua O. McClure – Frederick County
Alexander W. Meyers – King George County
Thomas J. Mills – York County
Justin R. Mull – Caroline County
Connor R. O’Quinn – Hampton / Newport News
Earl J. Pritchett – Prince George County
Andrew R. S. Sanders – Sussex County
Gabriel A. Santillan – Fairfax County
Austin M. Sloan – King William County
Jeffrey A. Spencer – Fairfax County
Sean M. Stinnett – Clark County
Seth A. Sullivan – Accomack County
Andrew M. Toth – Fairfax County
Joseph J. Trombley – Shenandoah County
Richard C. Warner – Gloucester County
Jacob K. Weitzman – Fairfax County
Isaac D. Wilson – York County
Joseph T. Worley – Greensville County
State police are currently hiring for future Basic Session Academy classes. Those interested in joining the ranks of the Virginia State Police are encouraged to visit www.vatrooper.com for more information.
Virginia Interstate and bridge closures in advance of Presidential Inauguration
Drivers urged to avoid the area and use alternate routes Jan. 19-21
PLEASE NOTE: These closures are subject to change
The Virginia Department of Transportation and Virginia State Police will support the United States Secret Service Joint Transportation Plan, which calls for several bridge and road closures from Virginia into Washington, D.C. beginning Tuesday, Jan. 19. Local law enforcement will be assisting with the closures as part of the multi-agency, inaugural security efforts.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, and U.S. Reps. Don Beyer, Gerry Connolly, and Jennifer Wexton (all D-VA) issued the following statement on the agreement between the Commonwealth of Virginia and the United States Secret Service (USSS) authorizing the use of Virginia State Police assets, resources, and personnel, to assist with the closure of bridges spanning the Potomac River during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration Ceremony:
“The 2021 Presidential Inauguration Ceremony will see the strongest Capital-area security response in history. We worked together to push for a response that balances protecting public safety in a manner commensurate with available intelligence about threats without going too far. It is very important now that the U.S. Secret Service and its partner agencies communicate road and bridge closures swiftly and clearly in order to keep disruptions to a minimum. All of us want the transfer of power to be as peaceful as possible, and we thank all of the men and women in uniform helping to make this historic occasion safe.”
From 6 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19 through 6 a.m., Thursday, Jan. 21, I-66 and I-395 bridges into D.C. will be closed and traffic will be diverted as follows:
I-66: Eastbound traffic will be diverted at Route 110 (Exit 75).
I-395: Northbound traffic will be diverted at the George Washington Memorial Parkway (Exit 10B).
I-395 Express Lanes: When the lanes are northbound, all traffic will be diverted into the main lanes near Edsall Road.
Drivers are urged to plan ahead, avoid the area, and use alternate routes during this time. Portable and overhead message signs will remind drivers to avoid the area. Those needing to travel in and around Northern Virginia between Jan. 19 and Jan. 21 are encouraged to check www.511virginia.org before they travel.
For reversal schedules and more information on the I-95 and I-395 Express Lanes, visit www.expresslanes.com.
Ramp and bridge closures:
- I-395 NB Express Lanes (Rochambeau Memorial Bridge)
- I-395 NB main lanes (Arland Williams, Jr. Memorial Bridge)
- I-395 NB Express Lanes slip ramp from the main lanes (last left-side slip ramp in Virginia also known as “Ramp G”)
- I-395 NB main lanes will be diverted at GW Parkway exit
- I-395 NB Express Lanes will divert to the main lanes near Edsall Road
- Route 1 NB from Reagan National Airport (DCA) to I-395 NB (Arland Williams, Jr. Memorial Bridge)
- Eads Street NB ramp to I-395 NB Express Lanes
- OPEN: I-395 SB (George Mason Memorial Bridge)
- I-66 EB at the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge closed; all traffic diverted to Route 110 SB
- Route 50 EB ramp to I-66 EB
George Washington Memorial Parkway
- GW Parkway SB ramp to I-66 EB
- GW Parkway NB ramp to I-395 NB
- GW Parkway SB ramp to I-395 NB
Arlington Memorial Bridge will be closed by the National Park Service.