Learn and practice the art of botanical drawing in colored pencil with local artist and instructor Elena Maza.
This four week course will focus on continuing to build drawing skills as applied to botanicals: students will develop grisaille drawings (a shaded drawing in gray tones) of sprigs of flowers or leaves from live plant materials and apply color to the under-drawing using Faber Castell Polychromos colored pencils. Students will learn how to use colored pencil techniques to create the illusion of three dimensions and depth for a finished art work in color. This course requires basic drawing skills (Botanical Drawing I).
$150 (Materials are not included) List of recommended materials available on website. Tuesdays: 1:30 PM-4:00PM November 5th through 26th, 2019. Classes will be held in our upstairs studio at 205 E. Main St., Front Royal, Virginia.
Class policies: We understand that scheduling conflicts do happen. You may cancel your class for a full refund up to 48 hours before the first class, by phone or in person. No refunds will be issued after this time.
In case of inclement weather, we will reschedule the class. Please check our Facebook page for updates on class cancellations due to weather.
Citizens to town council: Are you listening or are your minds made up?
With scheduled reports on County, Commonwealth’s Attorney and Town Police business on its Monday evening agenda, the Front Royal Town Council expected to begin its February 24 meeting listening. However, it was six citizens who delayed receipt of those scheduled reports with ongoing “Public Comment” questions and criticism of the council’s budget decision-making processes.
A remaining question for those citizens was, “Do you hear us?”
And beginning with opening speaker Gary Kushner, for several the answer appeared to be “We don’t think so”.
“The interim manager is already advertising for staff positions reflecting the implementation of his Planning and Tourism reorganization and has begun discussions with potential outsource businesses, which all but precludes council’s serious consideration of opinions that keeping the prior structure would produce better results. Those actions give the appearance that the council doesn’t sincerely value citizen input. Continuing such a practice will only encourage greater apathy by the public when they consider that any effort on their part is mostly useless because decisions have already been made,” Kushner told the town’s elected officials, minus the absent Jacob Meza.
Following Kushner to the microphone were Kenneth Dameron, Janice Hart, Linda Allen, Paul Gabbert, and Bruce Rappaport. Several of those speakers echoed the opening speaker’s concerns about a seemingly established ideological path being chosen by council that is immune to reconsideration or factual analysis that contradicts council’s and/or Interim Town Manager Matt Tederick’s preconceived ideas about reducing the organizational function of town government by downsizing – termed “right-sizing” by Tederick – combined with outsourcing or privatizing certain departmental functions. Is it just a means for the council to be able to say “we have reduced taxes – re-elect us” some wondered after analyzing the numbers.
“I don’t want my taxes lowered – said no one, never,” Hart said to begin her comments to the town’s elected officials.
However, she continued with a plea to reconsider that half-cent tax real estate tax rate reduction in the face of mounting expenses, including the Town’s undisputed debt of $8.4 million in principal payments to the EDA for construction of the new Front Royal Police Headquarters.
“We have an $8-million note on a brand, new police department that, on which so far, no real solution on paying for it has been revealed,” Hart pointed out, observing, “The EDA has offered a decent loan percentage on the balance; and while the council gambled and lost on a lesser percentage amount, we must take the bull by the horns and face this issue … How does the council propose to pay for this police department by reducing taxes? Lowering the tax rate for even one year isn’t going to make this go away.”
Hart also questioned the town council’s increasingly adversarial stance toward a revamped EDA that is trying to right its ship that capsized under both the County and Town’s economic involvement and watches over the past five years.
“Cooperation with the EDA, which is trying to help is a must – but it doesn’t appear they are getting any cooperation,” Hart said of the town council’s choice to litigate rather than negotiate. “I appreciate that the council is trying to be good stewards of our tax dollars in working out a deal on this new (police) facility – it was desperately needed. A lower percentage rate is always a good thing – but it is not a reality – and we need to make a deal with the EDA,” Hart said.
She echoed comments of other citizens in recent weeks, observing, “The only people who win in a lawsuit are the lawyers – present company excepted,” Hart said with a nod to Town Attorney
Doug Napier out of whose hands the Town’s civil litigation against the EDA has been taken and into the private sector legal hands of the Alexandria-based Damiani & Damiani firm.
Council’s previous decision to lock in the half-cent real estate tax deduction early in the Fiscal Year 2021 budget process without even knowing how much revenue will be needed to balance the final budget proposal got particular scrutiny from Hart and Gabbert – and Gabbert continued Kushner’s theme of a council beyond the influence of the citizens they are elected to serve.
“The tax rate of 13 (cents), since you already advertised it you can’t go back to 13-and-a-half – you’re stuck with the 13 because you’ve already advertised it,” Gabbert said of the half-cent reduction to the real estate tax rate authorized to be advertised as part of the FY 2021 budget. “You undercut yourself before you even know what the budget is going to be. I don’t get it. You’ve got suggestions from everybody but you don’t listen too well – you don’t listen. You stare at all of us when we come up here but you do not listen.
“We are trying to help you all – but all you can do is listen to the town manager … This town has gone bonkers,” Gabbert surmised of its governing function.
However, Rappaport wondered if it wasn’t a council majority that had put Tederick in what he called “a tough position” of cutting revenue in the face of mounting expenses.
Previous council comments, particularly from the absent Meza, have indicated a distinct preference for downsizing the town government to reduce its revenue needs, as opposed to raising or even keeping Town taxes already 3 cents below the state town median, level to accommodate current departmental service needs.
Tax cut: hollow gesture?
Gabbert then continued a point made earlier by Hart and touched on by Dameron as well, noting that the impact of the council’s planned half-cent reduction of the real estate tax rate from 13.5 cents to 13 cents was savings of $17.50 per year on a home property valued at $350,000.
Of the $16.78 number she had come up within studying the half-cent tax reduction on a specific piece of property apparently valued slightly under the $350,000-mark, Hart observed, “Hardly a deal-breaker for the average homeowner”.
Hart asked the council how its commitment to this year’s half-cent real estate tax decrease might impact future budgets.
“And finally, should the tax rate be reduced this year, would citizens be subject to a BIG increase to be brought before the community next year? How can accomplishments be made by a tax reduction? Not this year, but certainly an increase is in the future for town residents. What scares me is how much?” Hart concluded.
Dameron asked the council why it was preoccupied with the redundant water line into the County’s north commercial corridor.
“You guys seem to think that 522 North is your domain, and it’s not. This is the Town of Front Royal, not the County of Warren or 522 or Dominion Energy,” he told town officials despite the presence of town utilities beyond the town limits.
Of redundant water line costs Dominion Power has promised to share due to its high, water usage needs for its power plant cooling system, Dameron suggested an alternative course for the town government, “Just say ‘no’.
“If Mr. Stanley and the County want to build it, let them build it; let Dominion build it. We don’t have to build it,” Dameron concluded before moving on to the EDA topic Hart would revisit in her comments.
“We’re having all this trouble with the EDA, they’re having their money problems, you don’t want to pay them for the police department, this, that and the other. You owe them the $8.3 or .4 million, there’s no quarrel about that. Why don’t you just pay them in cash? You got the money, you closed last year with $28 million dollars in cash. Just pay them the $8 million bucks, eliminate the debt service for the next 30 years and save all that (interest) money,” Dameron, a retired public accountant, suggested of a way to resolve the Town’s interest rate dispute with the EDA on the police station construction project.
Now, why hasn’t somebody thought of that before?
That business included:
1 – presentation of Town “Star” employee of the month to Jason Neal for service above and beyond in the solid waste department;
2 – the introduction of the police department’s new communications officer, Brittni Dennis;
3 – the promotion of FRPD Officer Brian Whited to sergeant, new badge pinned by his wife Erin;
4 – the County business report of County Administrator Doug Stanley;
5 – Commonwealth Attorney John Bell’s response to council inquiries on where the criminal line might be crossed in online posts of a threatening nature;
6 – votes of approval of sign guidelines for Valley Health’s new hospital;
7 – and the first vote of approval of a new Blighted Property Abate.
Watch the meeting on this Royal Examiner video:
Governor Northam signs 16 bills into law
~ Newly-approved measures include pro-transit planning, parole reform ~
Governor Ralph Northam today announced he signed 16 pieces of legislation into law, including bills to encourage local energy-efficient transit strategies and reform parole eligibility for certain juvenile offenders.
The measures include House Bill 585, sponsored by Delegate Elizabeth Guzman, which requires certain Virginia cities and counties to consider incorporating into their comprehensive plans strategies to focus development around transit, with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions through coordination of transportation, housing, and land use planning. Local governments use comprehensive plans to guide future development and infrastructure.
“Transit-oriented development helps create walkable, accessible communities with smaller carbon footprints,” said Governor Northam. “I am happy to sign this bill to ensure that our localities consider transit in their land-use planning.”
“Localities and cities are asked to do their part to fight climate change by considering options related to affordable housing, public transportation, and land use planning when preparing their comprehensive plans,” said Delegate Guzman. “By working together, we can drastically reduce Virginia’s carbon footprint.”
Governor Northam also signed House Bill 35, sponsored by Delegate Joseph Lindsey, which reforms parole by making people eligible for parole after serving 20 years of a sentence for crimes committed as juveniles and for which they received lengthy sentences.
“Criminal justice reform includes reforming parole,” said Governor Northam. “This is about simple justice and fairness.”
The measure complements Governor’s Northam criminal justice reform package, which continues to move through the legislative process. The package funds public defenders, supports returning citizens, and further reforms parole.
“House Bill 35 is a landmark piece of legislation that gives an opportunity for youths who have committed serious crimes and repented, a future opportunity for social redemption,” said Delegate Lindsey.
Governor Northam also signed the following bills:
• House Bill 94: Adoption; proper notice of proceeding to the legal custodian.
• House Bill 106: Numbering on buildings; civil penalty.
• House Bill 150: Derelict residential buildings; civil penalty.
• House Bill 278: Home/electronic incarceration program; payment to defray costs.
• House Bill 369: Furloughs from local work-release programs; furlough approved by a local sheriff.
• House Bill 370: Board of zoning appeals; dual office holding.
• House Bill 406: Local government revenues and expenditures; comparative report, filing date.
• House Bill 515: Urban county executive form of government; board of social services.
• House Bill 549: Overgrown vegetation; local authority.
• House Bill 598: Alcoholic beverage control; creates an annual mixed beverage performing arts facility license.
• House Bill 778: Family assessments; increases timeline for completion.
• House Bill 949: Alcoholic beverage control; privileges of local special events licensees.
• House Bill 1006: Human trafficking; assessments by local departments.
• House Bill 1137: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Virginia Initiative for Education and Work; hardship exception.
These measures become law on July 1, 2020, unless otherwise noted.
Until the session’s final week, the Constitution of Virginia requires the Governor to act on legislation within seven days.
The General Assembly session is scheduled to adjourn on March 8, 2020.
Edmund Burke and Mitt Romney
I recently wrote an article for his column about a lesser known influence on the Founding Fathers, a man named James Harrington. I think, with the recent acquittal of President Trump and, more specifically, the vote of Senator Mitt Romney, it is worth examining another influence on the Founders. This time the man was a contemporary and a member of the British House of Commons. He was famous for many concepts, but I want to focus on his ideas of how a republic should work.
Edmund Burke was born in 1729 and was a leading statesman and political philosopher of the time. He supported the American colonies’ struggles with Britain, but did not support the Revolution. Probably Burke’s most famous quote is, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” As inspiring as that is, I am more interested in two other quotes. First, “When the leaders choose to make themselves bidders at an auction of popularity, their talents, in the construction of the state, will be of no service. They will become flatterers instead of legislators; the instruments, not the guides, of the people. The second quote is, “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”
What Burke is arguing is that in a republic it is the duty of representatives to vote their conscience, not the will of their constituents. I know this goes against everything we think today about our democracy, but that is not the way the Founders envisioned representation. As I have said before, the function of the Constitution was to protect the people from the government and the government from the people. As much as they feared tyranny, they feared the masses even more. When it came to our representatives, the Founders believed in the idea of government by our “betters” and virtual representation.
Unlike today where we tend to want representatives who are like us, who somehow know what we are experiencing and can relate to us, the Founders envisioned our representative to be our betters. If we were going to elect someone who was like us, we might as well have a direct democracy. Instead they created a republic where the masses would choose someone who was smarter and more informed than we are to make the important decisions. This was a practice taken from the British, where the masses could vote, but had to vote for a nobleman who had the time to understand the issues. The reason the Founders chose a republic over a democracy was not just out of practicality but because most people do not have the time or ability to comprehend and study every issue and vote.
The concept of virtual representation also came from the British. Think of it this way. Once you vote for your congressman or senator, they represent all Americans. Every decision they make affects everyone, not just people in the state or district where they live. In this way they represent everyone virtually. It was never meant that our representatives poll their constituents. Instead they were to vote their own conscience or intelligence. As Burke said, representatives owe us their judgment. That is why we elected them. If we decide we do not like their judgment, that is why our representatives are voted on every two or six years.
With the acquittal of President Trump on his impeachment charges, I have actually found there is more talk of Senator Mitt Romney’s decision to vote for conviction then the acquittal itself. I assume it is because everyone already knows of the outcome of the senate trial before it even started, but the idea of a politician breaking ranks goes against the current norm. Not all, but most, of the praise for Romney is coming from the left while the vilification of the senator is coming from the right. This is not surprising. The left is praising a man who dared break ranks to stand up for what he thought was right. I have even seen the word hero being used. Of course, I doubt they would use those same words if one of their own broke ranks and voted their conscious supporting the President. Those people would be traitors.
That is how the right is seeing Romney, a traitor who is only jealous because he lost his presidential bid. Many have argued that Romney is breaking his trust with his constituents in voting against Trump. One comment I read said that he owes nothing to his faith or his family, the reason Romney claimed he voted to convict. Rather, the only people he owes anything to are the ones who voted him into office. Though I understand the frustration of the right, party loyalty has replaced virtuous representatives, but historically speaking Romney has acted exactly how the Founders expected our representative to act.
Dr. James Finck is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. Follow Historically Speaking at www.Historicallyspeaking.blog or Facebook at @jamesWfinck.
This week’s showtimes at Royal Cinemas as of February 27th
Are you looking for the full movie-going experience without having to wait in the long lines that often accompany that experience? Then look no further because Royal Cinemas movie theatre is the answer. Get the whole gang together and enjoy a movie! Here is a list of this week’s showtimes at Royal Cinemas as of Thursday, February 27:
Ticket prices are as follows:
- Adult: $9
- Child (under 12): $6
- Military: $7
- Student (college): $7
- Senior: $7
- Matinees, All Seating: $6
Other movies coming soon to Royal Cinemas:
- “Onward” – PREMIERES THURSDAY, MARCH 5TH
- “A Quiet Place Part II”
- “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway”
- “No Time to Die”
Veterans Service Announcement
Able Forces Foundation will once again be hosting a visit by Andre Miller, Resource Specialist, Virginia Veteran and Family Support, Department of Veteran Services, Commonwealth of Virginia, and Danielle Cullers, Homeless Veteran Advocate-Volunteers of America on Friday, February 28, 2020, from 9 a.m. to noon.
As the VA does not have an office here any longer, Able Forces is making space available each month so that local veterans and their families have local access to VA representatives regarding claims, forms, or any other matter related to Veteran issues.
If you are interested in meeting with Andre or Danielle, please call our office at 540-631-9600 to make an appointment, or just come by 115 Chester Street, Suite B.
What to expect the first week of summer camp
Is your child anticipating their first summer camp experience? If so, knowing what to expect may reassure them — or simply satisfy their curiosity. Here’s some information you may want to share.
Their first day
When they first arrive at camp, kids will be able to check out the area, meet their fellow campers and get to know their counselors. There will also likely be games and activities that allow everyone to get to know each other.
What they’ll do
Most summer camps offer an array of activities for kids to learn, explore and have fun. And whether it’s a specialized camp or a more traditional one, the itinerary is sure to include singing around a campfire.
Where they’ll eat
Generally, meals at camps are served in a cafeteria similar to the one where your child has lunch at school.
What if they get hurt?
Everyone who works at the camp should be trained in basic first aid and will be able to deal with regular cuts and scratches. There should also be a nurse available onsite to help with anything more concerning.
Where they’ll sleep
Your child may sleep in a tent, dormitory or shared bedroom, depending on the type and location of their camp. One thing that’s common to all camps is that boys and girls sleep in different areas and that counselors bunk separately.
If your son or daughter still has questions, don’t hesitate to contact the camp. They’ll be happy to assuage any fears and share more information.