This four week course with instructor, Elena Maza, will deal with the basic three-primary color palette, different pigments and how they interact, how to mix all colors from three primary colors, how to apply washes, use brushstrokes and lifting to achieve the effects of light and shadow. Students will practice applying washes on paper, start mixing colors and paint several color wheels to explore color. Students will work on simple line drawings of a sprig of leaves or flowers they have drawn, transfer these onto watercolor paper and practice their techniques. Recommended for students who have taken the botanical drawing course, or those with previous drawing experience.
Materials not included – list is available on our website.
Tuesday afternoons, 1:30-4:00pm, Oct. 1, 8, 22, 29. No class will be held on Oct. 15. 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.
Lord Fairfax Health District warns residents of rabies risk in bats
On several occasions starting on November 24, 2019, residents of a rural property in Warren County encountered bats inside their house. Since that time, three of these bats were captured and two of them tested positive for the rabies virus.
“Any physical encounter with a bat—a bite, scratch, or lick, a collision with a flying bat, or even finding a bat in a room with a sleeping person—should be considered a rabies exposure,” stated Lord Fairfax Health District Director Dr. Colin Greene, “and anyone so exposed should seek medical attention immediately.”
Rabies is a virus that causes a fatal brain infection in mammals, including humans. Once symptoms begin, death follows in nearly all cases, but a series of shots given soon after a person is exposed can prevent the disease from occurring. Rabies virus is spread through the saliva of an animal that is actively sick with the disease, transmitted through a bite or scratch, or a lick on broken skin or mucous membranes. Unlike other common sources of rabies—raccoons, foxes, skunks, feral cats and the occasional ground hog—bats have a much higher level of mobility through flight, and their very small mouths make it possible for a sleeping person to be unaware of having been bitten. Bats also present a rabies risk over a wide area, in every state except Hawaii.
Bats are a part of the natural environment and offer many benefits, including insect control. Only a very small percentage of bats carry rabies at any one time, but it is not possible to tell by looking whether a bat has rabies, and bats in unusual places, such as inside a dwelling or outside in the daytime, are more likely to be affected. Once again, any physical contact between a human and a wild bat, or a bat present in a room with a sleeping person, is a potential rabies exposure. Affected persons should be seen by a healthcare provider right away.
The health department further advises:
- Never approach or touch wild animals, especially any raccoon, fox, skunk or bat, especially if it is behaving oddly or if it is seen in the daylight.
- If you find a bat in a room where a human has been sleeping, that person must be seen by a medical professional immediately.
- If you have bats in your attic or other area where you may physically encounter them, strongly consider having them removed by a professional.
- Avoid stray cats and dogs. Feral or unknown cats and dogs may also carry rabies. Report bites or scratches from these animals to your physician or the health department.
- Vaccinate all cats, dogs and ferrets against rabies (even if they don’t go outdoors) and keep their shots up to date. Vaccinate working barn cats as well, for their protection and yours.
- Do not feed wild animals or stray cats or dogs. Eliminate outdoor food sources around the home.
- Keep pets confined to your property or walk them on a leash.
- If one of your domestic animals is bitten or otherwise interacts with a wild mammal, notify the local health department and animal control officer at once, and have the animal seen by a veterinarian.
If you are bitten, scratched, or licked by any of these animals, seek medical attention immediately. Rabies is fatal to both animals and humans once symptoms begin, but it can be prevented in humans if they receive vaccine and medication soon after exposure.
Finally, if in doubt, or if you have a question, call your local health department, or the Frederick/Winchester office at 540-722-3480.
Additional information on rabies is available from the Virginia Department of Health at http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/environmental-epidemiology/rabies-control/.
The Lord Fairfax Health District serves residents in the city of Winchester and Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren counties. For more information, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/lord-fairfax/.
Retiring superintendent, school board members receive formal send-off
FRONT ROYAL — Two outgoing members of the Warren County School Board and retiring Warren County Public Schools (WCPS) Superintendent Greg Drescher on Wednesday night received a formal goodbye from their School Board colleagues.
The School Board held a reception for the retiring public servants prior to their regular December 4 meeting at the government center and then during the meeting presented them with gifts and official resolutions recognizing the time they’ve worked for Warren County.
The last day for Drescher and the expiring terms for School Board members Donna McEathron and C. Douglas Rosen all fall on December 31.
Drescher, who has been the WCPS superintendent for five years following a 37-year career in education, on September 6 announced his retirement in a press release in which he cited his wife’s “serious health issues” as being a primary factor in his decision to leave WCPS early.
Shortly thereafter, the School Board during its regular October 2 meeting unanimously voted to put Drescher on paid administrative leave until his retirement after he was indicted along with more than a dozen other local individuals in the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority (EDA) financial scandal. Those charges were all later dismissed when the presiding judge ruled there was no legal precedent making unintentional negligence a criminal offense in Virginia.
Drescher simultaneously was superintendent of schools and a member of the EDA Board of Directors. He served 12 years on the EDA board and was board chairman in 2017-2018 during the height of what has been shown to be when the financial scandal started to unravel. He resigned completely from the EDA board in March.
Meanwhile, both School Board terms for McEathron and Rosen are up at the end of the year and neither of them sought reelection during the November special elections.
The EDA financial scandal also has tragically touched the life of retiring Warren County School Board member Donna McEathron, who has served on the board since January 1, 2016.
Her husband, former Warren County Sheriff Daniel T. McEathron, is believed to have committed suicide earlier this year at their home property after announcing his retirement amid accusations he also was involved in the EDA financial scandal.
Daniel McEathron had formed a limited liability company, or LLC, in August 2016 with former EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald and the two reportedly spent nearly $3 million on real estate deals, sometimes paying as much as $1 million in cash for choice land in desirable locations.
McDonald faces multiple federal felony counts for her alleged role in the ongoing EDA fraud investigation. Daniel McEathron was laid to rest in June.
No mention of the EDA was made during the School Board’s December 4 meeting and Drescher had no comment on the EDA situation when asked for one by the Royal Examiner during the reception.
The School Board noted during the presentations portion of its Wednesday meeting that since it was the final regular meeting for Drescher, Donna McEathron and Rosen, the board members wished to recognize their service to the citizens and students of Warren County.
A resolution in recognition and appreciation of their service was prepared for each of them and then adopted by the School Board. Chairwoman Bower read out loud each resolution to those in attendance at the meeting. Drescher received a standing ovation from the crowd following presentation of his resolution and gift.
Local resident warns School Board; extra special ed teacher approved
FRONT ROYAL — Local resident James Harper asked Warren County School Board members during their December 4 meeting to reconsider policy that prohibits them from responding to citizens who make public comments at regular meetings.
“Miss Bower,” said Harper, referring to School Board Chairwoman Catherine Bower, “it is my hope that you’ll change your opening statement and have a dialogue or discussion with folks who take the time to appear instead of saying, ‘Members will not comment.’”
Prior to each community participation portion of every School Board meeting, the chair reads a statement that says: “Community Participation is a time intended for the public to give input on relevant school issues and not intended to be a question and answer period as this may be the first time the Board has heard this information. Please do not expect individual responses or any comment by the Board at this time but be assured that any concerns will be reviewed. Please print your name on the sheet at the podium, state your name and address, and limit your comments to three minutes.”
Following that longstanding criteria, the School Board members did not respond to Harper’s request.
Nevertheless, the Rockland Road resident continued with a few more comments.
For example, Harper said he plans to ask the Warren County Board of Supervisors to take control of spending for Warren County Public Schools (WCPS) or to, at the least, sign off on it.
“In my opinion, your spending needs oversight,” Harper told School Board members. “I’m still flabbergasted that this board paid someone a $12,000 cost-of-living raise and paid this person for another six months when he resigns.”
Harper was referring to outgoing WCPS Superintendent Greg Drescher, who resigned in September citing his wife’s illness as part of the reason for deciding to leave early.
In October, the School Board placed Drescher, who pulls down a six-figure salary at WCPS, on paid administrative leave following a now-rescinded indictment related to the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority (EDA) financial scandal. Drescher had served on the EDA Board of Directors for 12 years — five while also serving as superintendent of schools — and resigned in August 2018 as the EDA board’s chairman.
Since the School Board’s October decision, the paid-administrative-leave designation has allowed Drescher to collect his regular paychecks until year’s end despite not having to conduct WCPS superintendent duties.
“I challenge you to find one other person in Warren County who got that deal,” Harper said.
Also in October, the School Board approved additional funds totaling $3,250 a month in extra stipends to cover the superintendent position Drescher vacated. The stipends will be paid to three WCPS employees until a new superintendent is hired next year.
Harper, who is not a stranger to School Board members and regularly comments during community participation segments of their meetings, also questioned Drescher’s compensation, which is set by the School Board.
It’s a question that Harper also asked earlier this year of Bower when he wondered why Drescher’s salary wasn’t comparable with those of other superintendents in the area. Bower had responded that the School Board didn’t collect such data.
“I was shocked and wondered how you decide how much to pay someone,” Harper recalled on Wednesday.
“Just so you know,” he added, “Warren County paid Greg Drescher $45,000 more than the superintendent of Shenandoah County schools,” which Harper said has more schools, a larger student population, and where the superintendent has a PhD.
The School Board must have thought it was a good idea to give Drescher a $12,000 cost-of-living raise coupled with approval for paid administrative leave “at taxpayers’ expense” after he resigned, said Harper, noting that the board “must think this County has unlimited money to spend.”
Harper also suggested that if the School Board instead had used both the $12,000 and the $45,000, it could have given $1,000 raises to some 40 WCPS teachers. “That’s just a thought off the top of my head,” he said.
Another community participant who spoke at the School Board’s December 4 meeting was Phillip Hong, the sexual assault prevention specialist for the Winchester, Va.-based Laurel Center, who presented an opportunity to work cooperatively with WCPS on prevention programming to reduce violence and empower youth resilience.
Hong cited a report showing an uptick in Warren County sexual assault reporting during this year. “Any number, regardless of what it is, is something we hope to reduce,” he said.
The Laurel Center provides numerous free workshops and classes, including Teenage Prevention Programming that is school- and group-based, said Hong.
Likewise, the center’s Sexual Violence Prevention Program is free and confidential for residents in Warren County, Frederick County, Winchester City, and Clarke County, and includes multiple school-based prevention programs designed for middle and high school students.
In other presentations — including resolutions recognizing the service of retiring School Board members Donna McEathron and C. Douglas Rosen, as well as Drescher — the board also heard from Warren County Administrator Doug Stanley, who as president of the Warren County Educational Endowment announced the group’s award of 10 grants totaling $44,411.74 to several local projects throughout the WCPS system.
Additionally, the School Board voted on several items during its action agenda portion of the meeting.
For instance, board members unanimously approved an additional Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) teacher for the current school year at an estimated cost of $65,423 in salary and benefits.
“As our preschool programs … increase in numbers, the need for an additional ECSE is evident,” WCPS Director of Special Services Michael Hirsch told School Board members. “This additional resource will also allow our Family Engagement coordinator to lighten her caseload and expand family engagement activities.”
According to a report that Hirsch also submitted to the board, the additional teacher will be utilized as a resource teacher to students with disabilities in both classroom and community settings throughout the ECSE programs during morning hours and will provide classroom-based services to newly eligible students in the afternoon in the preschool classroom at Skyline High School.
The high school’s classroom does not currently have students there in the afternoon, so utilizing that space will alleviate the addition of a new physical classroom, according to Hirsch’s report.
Warren County School Board members present and voting at the December 4 meeting included Chairwoman Catherine Bower; Vice Chairman C. Douglas Rosen; and members Donna McEathron, James Wells, and Arnold Williams Jr.
Watch the entire Warren County School Board meeting in the exclusive Royal Examiner video:
FRWRC receives $5,355 at Rotary Club of Warren County Gala Beneficiary 2019
The Rotary Club of Warren County presented the Front Royal Women’s Resource Center with a check for $5,355 at their weekly meeting. The FRWRC was designated as one of the beneficiaries receiving half of the proceeds from the Rotary Club of Warren County’s 2019 Gala fundraiser. Watch this short video as the women from the resource center accept the award and speak briefly about the Dare to Dream Grant they offer to local women to help them achieve their dreams. Learn more at: www.frwrc.org (applications are now being accepted for 2020 grants).
Every year in July, Rotary members are asked to submit applications from nonprofits in Warren County/Front Royal to be considered for Gala Beneficiary. It has to be a local organization and go to a local project. The Service Committee reviews all applications at the August Service Committee meeting, makes their selection and then submits it to the BOD for approval. Learn more about Rotary Club of Warren County: www.warrencountyrotary.org.
Imported fire ant quarantine expands
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) announced today that Virginia’s Imported Fire Ant Quarantine has been expanded to include the counties of Brunswick, Greensville, Isle of Wight, Mecklenburg and Southampton and the independent cities of Emporia and Franklin. Expansion of the quarantine became necessary after survey data indicated that imported fire ant populations were widespread in these localities.
The imported fire ant is not native to the United States and is known for its aggressive behavior and ferocious sting. Once established, the imported fire ant has the potential to spread to uninfested areas, either through natural means or through the movement of infested articles (artificial spread).
Under the terms of the quarantine, articles that are capable of transporting the imported fire ant (regulated articles) are prohibited from moving out of the quarantined area unless certified as free of imported fire ant. Regulated articles include, but are not limited to:
- Any life stage of imported fire ant
- Soil, except soil shipped in original containers after commercial preparation
- Plants with roots with soil attached and rhizomes with soil attached
- Grass sod
- Used soil-moving equipment unless free of all non-compacted soil
- Used farm equipment, unless free of all non-compacted soil
- Hay and straw stored in direct contact with the ground
- Honey bee hives stored in direct contact with the ground
- Logs and pulpwood with soil attached
Individuals who plan to move regulated articles out of the quarantined area should contact VDACS’ Office of Plant Industry Services to determine options for certifying regulated articles as free of imported fire ants.
With the recent expansion, Virginia’s Imported Fire Ant Quarantine now includes the counties of Brunswick, Greensville, Isle of Wight, James City, Mecklenburg, Southampton, and York and the independent cities of Chesapeake, Emporia, Franklin, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach and Williamsburg.
For additional information regarding the Virginia Imported Fire Ant Quarantine, visit the VDACS website at vdacs.virginia.gov/plant-industry-services-fire-ant-suppressioneand-eradication.shtml or contact VDACS Office of Plant Industry Services at 804.786.3515.
Belle Grove decorated for the holidays and open for touring December 6-30, 2019
Belle Grove Plantation is decorated for the holidays and will be open for touring from Friday, December 6, through Monday, December 30, 2019. Each room was decorated by a local Garden Clubs with the theme of “All Creatures Great and Small.”
“Belle Grove is celebrating the animal kingdom this year because it has always been a place that has included animals, from its more than 200-year history as a farm, to encouraging pollinators in the garden, to hosting the U.S. Border Collie Handler Association’s National Finals again in 2020,” said Kristen Laise, Executive Director.
Guided house tours are offered Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. with tours beginning at quarter past each hour (first tour at 10:15 a.m. and last tour at 3:15 p.m.) and on Sunday 1-5 p.m. (first tour at 1:15 p.m. and last tour at 4:15 p.m.). On Friday and Saturday evenings 4-8 p.m. visitors are welcome to take self-guided tours, the Manor House will be lit by candlelight, and there will be live music in the Parlor from 6-8 p.m. All guests are invited to enjoy spiced tea and cookies as part of their house tour admission. Belle Grove will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and will close for the winter on New Year’s Eve.
The schedule for live holiday music on Friday and Saturday evenings will be:
- Friday, December 6, 6-8 p.m., Allen Dec, Happy Harper
- Saturday, December 7, 6-8 p.m., Soprano Deborah Balcom
- Friday, December 13 and Saturday, December 14, 6-8 p.m., Sweet Grass, Traditional Carols
- Friday, December 20, 6-8 p.m., Winchester Celtic Circle
- Saturday, December 21, 6-8 p.m., Flutist Elizabeth Dalton & Guitarist Jason Perry
- Friday, December 27, 6-8 p.m., John Tole, Evergreen Shade, Period Music
- Saturday, December 28, 6-8 p.m., Winchester Celtic Circle
The Little Garden Club of Winchester decorated the Manor House’s front porch and hall to welcome visitors as they arrive. The Massanutten Garden Club’s decorations in the Parlor compliment the 12-foot Norway Spruce Christmas tree donated by John and Judith Tole of Evergreen Christmas Tree Farm in Woodville, Virginia. Hawthorne Garden Club’s decorations are in the Library and Winchester/Clarke Garden Club adorned the Day Sitting Room. Glen Burnie Garden Club decorated in the Plantation Office and Warren County Garden Club decorated the Dining Room. Colonial Garden Club decked the Gold Bedroom and Middletown Garden Club decorated the Nursery. Shenandoah Garden Club of Woodstock festooned the Winter Kitchen and the Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardeners Association provided natural decorations in the other rooms of the lower level of the Manor House.
Admission for all tours is $12 for adults, $11 for members of the military, AAA, the National Parks, and individuals 60 and older. Students 6-16 and National Trust for Historic Preservation members are $6. Children 5 and younger are free. Belle Grove members are free of charge as benefit of their membership. Visitors may join Belle Grove and immediately use this benefit at Christmas along with 10% off non-consignment purchases in the Museum Shop.
Visitors will arrive through the Beverley B. Shoemaker Welcome Center in the 1918 Bank Barn, which opened to the public in April 2019. This is now where the Belle Grove Museum Shop is located and it will be open during all touring hours. The Museum Shop carries unique gifts and many products from area artists, artisans, farms, and businesses. The Welcome Center also contains exhibits about Belle Grove and the families who lived here. On the exterior of the Welcome Center guests can see lifelike portraits by local artist Michelle Luttrell of the animals that used to be stalled on the lower level of the barn.
Belle Grove Plantation is a non-profit historic house museum that is a National Trust for Historic Preservation site and a partner in Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park. It is located off Route 11 at 336 Belle Grove Road south of Middletown, Virginia. Information on Christmas tours may be found at www.bellegrove.org or at www.facebook.com/BelleGrove.