Save Our Children Front Royal is hosting a Color Run/Walk to raise money for The Child Safe Center, located in Winchester, Virginia. The Child Safe Center is a local non-profit who supports sexually abused victims and their families.
Registration will be in person upon arrival on the day of the event.
While attending this event, recommended garments are tennis shoes, eye protection, and a white shirt. If you do not want to walk, but would like to contribute or volunteer, please contact Brittany Lewis, President of Save Our Children Front Royal, at 540-692-9893 or by email: email@example.com.
5k participants will be responsible for timing themselves.
- What: Color Walk & 5K
- When: Saturday, November 7th, 2020
- Time: Registration starts @ 12:30pm. Walk starts at 1pm.
- Where: The track: 465 W 15th Street | Front Royal, VA 22630
- Adults – $15
- Children – $5
- 4 & under free
- Group rate for 10+ people will be $5/person
CLICK HERE to join our Facebook event page and stay updated on the event!
Warner welcomes unemployment insurance fix
On February 25, 2021, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) welcomed a move by the U.S. Department of Labor to expand the number of workers who are eligible for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program that was created as part of the federal CARES Act. Last week, Sen. Warner and four of his colleagues raised concern with the Department that policy guidance issued to state unemployment offices on Jan. 8 was limiting the ability of workers whose hours have been reduced to access PUA benefits.
“There are workers all over the country who have had their hours reduced or been temporarily laid off due to COVID-19, and they should be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance under the CARES Act,” said Sen. Warner. “I’m glad to see the Department of Labor listened to our concerns and is adjusting their guidance to states to make clear that these workers are eligible for PUA benefits.”
On Feb. 17, Sen. Warner joined Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in calling on the U.S. Department of Labor to issue revised guidance making clear that workers who have had their hours reduced, or who have been temporarily laid off even though their employer remains open, are eligible for PUA.
In the Feb. 17 letter to the Department of Labor, the Senators wrote, “Partial closures are very common for businesses like restaurants that are operating with limited indoor dining capacity, or only offering take-out services, and have resulted in many service workers working reduced hours or being temporarily laid off even though their employer remains open. The recent guidance directs states to deny PUA eligibility to workers who have been impacted by partial closures. This is of particular concern for workers who do not have sufficient qualifying earnings to be considered eligible for state unemployment, including workers who are newly hired. It is clear from the language of the CARES Act that PUA is intended to cover workers who are ‘unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work’, which would include workers affected by partial closures… We ask that the Department clarify that workers impacted by partial closures or their employer scaling back business operations are eligible for PUA, or use its authority under 2102(a)(3)(A)(ii)(I)(kk) of the CARES Act to ensure these workers are eligible. This clarification is vital so that these workers can make ends meet during the pandemic.”
When emergency pandemic unemployment programs were set to expire at the end of last year, Sen. Warner successfully led the fight to include an extension in the $900 billion emergency COVID-19 relief legislation that Congress approved in December. From the start of this crisis, Sen. Warner, a former tech entrepreneur and longtime leader on labor issues affecting contractors and the contingent workforce, has pushed to expand benefits for Americans who have found themselves unemployed through no fault of their own during the pandemic.
In March, Sen. Warner voted in favor of $2 trillion bipartisan legislation that, among other things, expanded access to unemployment benefits for gig workers, contractors, and the self-employed. In the months following the signing of the legislation, Sen. Warner urged states to quickly implement federal provisions easing restrictions on emergency unemployment benefits and called on the Department of Labor (DOL) to issue and clarify state guidance in order to ensure that workers were able to receive benefits. He also introduced legislation to help guarantee that Americans who earn a living through a mix of traditional (W-2) and independent employment income (1099) were able to fully access the financial relief made available under the PUA program.
Board of Supervisors Work Session looks to budget with growing needs and uncertain funding climate
The Warren County Board of Supervisors met for a work session on February 23, 2021, to review and discuss ongoing work by county departments to forecast funding needs and schedule projects in the offing. Newly appointed Fire Chief James Bonzano and Fire Marshal Gerry Maiatico provided the supervisors with a FEMA grant program the department has been using called Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, or SAFER. According to FEMA, SAFER grants fund fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations directly to help them increase capacity in their communities. The 2020 request will close March 12 and will require the Supervisors to decide before then how to allocate between $965,000 and nearly $2 million among the fire stations should the grant at the maximum level be approved. The 2020-21 budget for the entire Fire & rescue department is $3.1 million.
Ed Carter of VDOT provided an update of the Happy Creek Phase IV improvement project that was originally planned to require a road closure from June 14 to July 30 to coincide with school summer break. He explained that this project is intended to improve the roadway by eliminating some curves, hills, and blind spots.
The project has already been bid, and the bid was substantially lower than originally estimated, based on the projected closure of Happy Creek Road, giving the contractor unobstructed access to the site without having to maintain public access to the road during construction, which is planned to be completed in December.
The road closure will extend from Leach Run Parkway to Dismal Hollow Road. The reason for the possible extension is that since the project requires temporary relocation of utility lines and the Norfolk Southern Railroad must issue permits for that to happen on their right-of-way, Rural Electric Cooperative and Comcast must submit requests for the permits.
The permits were not requested as soon as they should have been, and it may not be possible to have those permits in hand prior to the scheduled construction start. In that event, Mr. Carter indicated that there may be a necessity for a two-week extension of the temporary closure. VDOT and the Town will coordinate with the school district to develop a plan if the extension of the road closure becomes necessary. Access to both Shenandoah Shores Road and Loop Road will be continued during the closure, and provision will be made for emergency vehicles.
The School District representative, Aaron Mitchell, indicated it was a challenge to plan a reroute to accommodate the closure, then revert to a normal route within two weeks. It would be particularly hard on parents.
The closure extension may not be necessary, but if it is not possible to work out a plan for the closure, Mr. Carter indicated that the project could be pushed to next year.
VDOT will undertake to have a discussion with the school superintendent this week.
Residents of Happy Creek Road will be vitally interested in progress towards a solution as the start of this improvement project nears.
State Police investigate Culpeper Sheriff’s Office fatal shooting
At the request of Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins, the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Culpeper Field Office is investigating the deputy-involved shooting.
At approximately 9:40 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, the Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office responded to a request for a welfare check on an individual who resides within the 12000 block of Horseshoe Drive. When sheriff’s deputies arrived at the residence, they encountered Donald Francis Hairston, 44, in an already agitated state.
Within minutes of the deputies’ arrival, Hairston ran indoors and barricaded himself inside the residence. Despite the deputies’ attempts to communicate with Hairston in an effort to de-escalate the situation, Hairston exited the residence armed with a gun. He discharged the firearm and then pointed the firearm at the deputies. A deputy fired and struck Hairston, who succumbed to his injuries at the scene.
Hairston’s remains will be transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner for examination and autopsy.
No deputies or other persons were injured during the incident.
The investigation remains ongoing at this time.
Judge hears arguments on Downes vs. Front Royal parking/zoning case dismissal motion
A decision on the Town of Front Royal’s Demurrer motion for dismissal of David Downes civil action seeking to overturn the Town Council’s decision not to reverse existing zoning requirements that he maintain 9 to 15 on-site parking spaces at his two Chester Street properties could be forthcoming within two weeks. Substitute Judge Craig D. Johnston of Prince William County cited that “hoped for” timeline after taking 2-1/2 hours of arguments under advisement shortly before 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, February 23.
Local defense attorney and Virginia Beer Museum proprietor Downes represented himself in the case heard in Warren County Circuit Court. The Town of Front Royal was represented by Heather K. Bardot of the Fairfax-based law firm of Bancroft McGavin Horvath & Judkins, PC. The Town’s legal representation is covered by insurance through the Virginia Risk Sharing Association (VRSA), a subset of the Virginia Municipal League (VML).
One interested observer in Circuit Courtroom “A” was Town Attorney Doug Napier, who appeared to be taking more notes than the two reporters present. What he and those reporters were scribbling occasionally frantically about was the fundamental issue of whether Plaintiff Downes civil filing contains adequate grounds to proceed to trial.
Bardot and the Town contend that no, it doesn’t, as reflected in their Demurrer filing of January 7. Downes countered in support of his February 8 reply to the Town motion for dismissal, that he has made sufficient cause to being singled out as what he termed “a party of one” treated in an “arbitrary and unreasonably” different manner than other business entities, property owners and museums in Front Royal’s downtown business district, save one. And that one, a residential rental building across Chester Street, is only mandated to keep three off-street parking spaces, Downes observed.
The dispute centers around Downes’ law office at 14 Chester and adjacent Virginia Beer Museum at 16 Chester Street. Existing Town Zoning requires that he maintain a total of 15 off-street parking spaces, nine in the rear of the two buildings and six abutting the Town’s Peyton Street parking lot on the north side of the Beer Museum. Primarily at issue are the nine spaces in the rear of the two buildings. Downes noted that employee-wise, he doesn’t need more than one or two parking spaces for either business.
Downes contends that, not only has the Town singled him out for a standard different for other businesses in the downtown district, but also in the case of the Virginia Beer Museum, differently than other museums and art galleries in the area. His rezoning request would allow him to revamp the rear portion of his property into an expanded Biergarten and events area for his museum dedicated to promoting Virginia-brewed beers and beer’s role in the history of the American nation.
On the Town’s behalf, Bardot countered that Downes had inherited the zoning’s parking requirements, particularly as to the 16 Chester Street property, dating back to 1992. Downes noted he has had his law office at 14 Chester since 1999. Bardot also pointed to business growth projections for Front Royal’s Downtown Business District, including the redevelopment of the Afton Inn, that will require additional downtown parking that will negate Peyton Street parking availability statistics overlapping Downes’ rezoning request initiated in 2017 and finally denied by the town council in January 2019.
Downes has pointed to a parking study the Town initiated the year prior to his rezoning request that indicated 22 of the available 42 spaces in the Peyton Lot area as available on average. Countering that, Bardot noted that once Downes fenced off the rear area of his property that availability had changed to 27 of the 42 spaces being taken, an increase of 16% occupancy she noted.
Bardot also cited what she called “a very low standard of reasonableness” by which a court should judge legislative decisions because the judicial branch of government is not supposed to interfere unduly with the legislative branch’s function. The dueling attorneys were also at odds over whether a Constitutional aspect of the case related to the discriminatory nature Downes claims is being applied to him in a “piecemeal” manner is still at issue in the case. The case was originally filed in federal court, but the two parties agreed for it to be moved to state court jurisdiction.
“Of course it’s piecemeal – that’s why I’m here,” Downes told the court. He said that any of the three zoning options he had offered the Town would have addressed and solved that discriminatory nature of the existing zoning he is claiming. “I have to maintain these spaces – the burden shouldn’t be on me – it must be uniform (by zoning code) he asserted. Downes noted a formula at the root of the existing zoning by which he is supposed to have a parking space for every 300 square feet of building space, a condition not applied to other businesses or museums in the downtown area.
Of his claim the Town is violating Constitutional guarantees of equal protection under the law in its demand of the parking space requirements directed at his properties, he concluded, “We’ll just have to agree to disagree” that it was still in play at the state court level. In that regard, Downes cited Virginia’s Dillon Rule which prevents municipal governments from exceeding authorities not granted at the State level. – “Under the Dillon Rule the Town can’t do unconstitutional things,” he argued.
Bardot countered that rather than the “arbitrary and capricious” standard being violated by the Town, Downes simply disagreed with a council decision that could be viewed as reasonable in light of evidence of coming downtown parking needs.
Both attorneys cited case law in support of their opposing contentions on the level of proof necessary and present in the Downes litigation. “I’m living with Williams for better or worse,” Downes told the judge of one of his case law references.
“The Town has no obligation to show reasonableness until Mr. Downes shows unreasonableness,” Bardot told the court, adding that Downes’ amended complaint failed to meet that standard as illustrated by the public hearing debate and planning commission recommendation of denial.
However, Downes argued that much of the opposition to his request from nearby business or property owners upon which either the planning commission or town council decisions were based were not relevant to the zoning amendment at issue. Rather, he asserted much of the negative public comment amounted to specific dislikes of either a fence he installed around his back area to address security concerns or the fact the museum served beer, neither being relevant to the zoning and resultant parking requirements at issue in his litigation against the Town.
The attorneys also debated the relevance of meeting summaries versus transcripts and public comments for or against the rezoning request beginning at the planning commission public hearing level. As noted above, Bardot pointed to public opposition to Downes’ rezoning amendment proposal and the planning commission’s unanimous recommendation of denial to further the defense contention the town council decision to deny was a matter of reasonable debate, rather than an arbitrary or capricious decision aimed a lone property owner’s way.
“This goes back to the first year of law school, but don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees,” Downes countered of peripheral issues cited by opponents of his zoning amendment request referenced in the defense motion. Bardot suggested that the plaintiff was mixing apples and oranges in arguing against the defendant’s Demurrer request for dismissal of his case based on a fundamental standard of evidence required to proceed to trial.
Judge Johnston observed that “There are lots of apples in this case – how they relate to the oranges in the defense” was what was at issue for him to determine.
And within the next couple of weeks the plaintiff and defendant will know exactly how the judge juggled those apples and oranges in coming to a decision on the Town’s motion for dismissal of Downes’ case against it.
See the Town Demurrer filing and the Defense and Plaintiff motions in support and opposition to it at these links:
Warren County Parks and Rec hosting Dance Fitness class for community
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING!
This class will be held on Tuesdays, March 9, 2021 through March 30, 2021 from 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the Warren County Community Center, located at 538 Villa Avenue, Front Royal, Virginia 22630.
- Participants must be 16 years of age or older, and dancers of all skill levels are welcome.
- Minimum of four (4) participants needed to hold the class, with a maximum of twelve (12) participants.
- The cost is $20.00.
- Registration deadline is March 7, 2021.
- COVID-19 capacity and guidelines will be followed.
This program is eligible for online registration; visit us on the web at parksandrecreation.warrencountyva.net.
For more information regarding class instruction, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lean into discomfort to embrace personal growth
It’s a natural human impulse – if something causes discomfort, we avoid it, and if we can’t avoid it, we seek to resolve it. When we squabbled with our siblings, we apologized and put hurt feelings to the side. We accommodate others to avoid frayed tempers and ugly arguments. We seek to resolve conflict, stay away from uncomfortable situations, and ignore troubling feelings. We dislike vulnerability in ourselves and in others.
But discomfort and failure are powerful teachers, and when we explore those uncomfortable feelings, we often come out the other side stronger, wiser, and more in touch with what we really want.
Think about what you have been able to accomplish in the past despite discomfort and adversity and apply those lessons to future challenges. Don’t berate yourself when you fall short – instead, reflect on what you could have done differently.
Author, researcher, and therapist Brene Brown writes that while “I am a screw up” and “I screwed up” sound very similar, there’s a vast gulf between them. The subtle change in language allows us to accept our imperfections without the crippling addition of shame. When we give ourselves permission to be imperfect, we are more able to embrace failure as a powerful tool for self-improvement.
The Buddhist nun Pema Chodron urges people to be gentle in the way they talk to themselves and think about why we say certain things when we experience failure. Ask yourself why you feel the way you do, and consider that maybe the real problem not that you are a failure, but that you are just hurting.
When we embrace our failures, lean into our discomfort and seek to grow and change, we also embrace humanity’s best qualities – empathy, kindness, generosity, and openness.
So the next time you experience a major disappointment, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, learn from your missteps, treat yourself kindly and emerge from your failure as a better, stronger person.