Free tax preparation will be available again this year through the AARP Tax Aide at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Front Royal, Monday and Wednesday mornings beginning Feb. 15th. To make an appointment, please call 540-635-5859.
Warner & Kaine celebrate Inflation Reduction Act becoming law
U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released the following statement after President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law:
“We’re proud that this law will lower the price of prescription drugs, reduce the deficit, bring down energy bills and fight climate change. We’re also glad that it will help ensure that miners suffering from black lung and their families get the care and benefits they deserve. We will continue to look for ways to support the health and well-being of our communities, decrease inflation, and lower costs for Virginians.”
Below are some of the ways the Inflation Reduction Act will benefit Virginians:
Lower Prescription Drug Costs
- The law allows Medicare to negotiate drug prices for seniors and people with disabilities—a provision Warner and Kaine have long fought to pass to lower prescription drug costs.
- The law establishes a $2,000 cap on out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs for seniors covered under Medicare Part D. In 2020, more than 36,000 Virginians with Medicare Part D spent more than $2,000 out-of-pocket on their prescription drugs.
- The law expands the Low-Income Subsidy program, a program that currently helps cover prescription drug costs for over 11,000 low-income Virginians with Medicare.
- The law provides free coverage for vaccines under Medicare Part D and improves access to vaccines under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In 2020, nearly 85,000 Virginians received a vaccine covered under Medicare Part D.
Affordable Health Care
- During the pandemic, Congress enhanced subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to help lower health care premiums for millions of Americans. The Inflation Reduction Act will extend these enhanced subsidies for three years through 2025 to help make Virginians’ health insurance more affordable. Over 300,000 Virginians have ACA coverage in 2022.
- The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) estimated that Virginians with ACA insurance would have seen a $71 increase in their monthly premiums for the next coverage year if these subsidies weren’t extended.
Black Lung Benefits
- The law permanently extends the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund excise tax at a higher rate, providing more certainty for miners, miner retirees, and their families who rely on the fund to access benefits. In Virginia, thousands of miners and their families have received benefits through the trust fund since it was established, including approximately 2,600 Virginians last year alone.
Clean Energy and Climate Provisions
- The law will reduce carbon emissions by roughly 40 percent by 2030.
- The law incentivizes investment in and production of renewable energy technologies like solar power and the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project. The Inflation Reduction Act expands the 48C investment tax credit for clean energy manufacturers, with $4 billion reserved for use exclusively in coal communities. All clean energy tax credits include a bonus for meeting domestic manufacturing requirements related to steel, iron, or other manufactured components. The law also expands tax credits for residential clean energy and home efficiency improvements.
- According to a recent analysis, the clean energy provisions are expected to create nearly 1 million jobs per year.
- The law includes tax credits for clean medium and heavy duty trucks, such as those produced at the Volvo Trucks New River Valley Plant.
- The law includes a $7,500 consumer credit for the purchase of new electric vehicles and incentivizes that vehicles are produced in North America.
- The law includes $9.7 billion for financial assistance to rural electric cooperatives to improve resilience and affordability.
- The law includes $2 billion for the USDA Rural Energy for America Program to provide competitive grants and loan guarantees to farmers, ranchers, and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or energy efficiency improvements.
- The law includes $20 billion to help farmers and ranchers adopt agriculture conservation practices that improve landscape resilience.
- The law takes steps to make sure that the largest corporations and wealthiest Americans pay their fair share in taxes, without increasing taxes on small businesses or families making less than $400,000 a year.
- The law also provides funding to modernize Internal Revenue Service (IRS) systems and improve customer service when paying taxes. This will help ensure the IRS has the resources it needs to process tax returns quickly, get rebates to taxpayers faster, and address challenges Americans have when filing taxes.
Blue Ridge Wildlife Center Patient of the Week: Barred Owl
This is the difference a bath (or three) can make!
One of Loudoun County’s amazing Humane Law Enforcement Officers truly went above and beyond to rescue this Barred Owl after it was found down in a wastewater management facility.
The owl was found covered in thick, slimy waste material. With soaked feathers, flight and thermoregulation (maintaining body temperature) was difficult to impossible for this bird. It is shocking that it was able to get out of the tank and onto land!
Upon arrival to BRWC, the owl was given fluids and warmed so that we could safely sedate for the first bath. Once bathed, we could see the burns on many areas of the skin from the waste material.
After three baths and lots of care, the patient was moved to an outdoor enclosure. The team still monitored the owl closely as its burns healed and it worked to recondition its feathers.
After five days in care, we are happy to report that this patient had a successful recovery and has been released!
We are lucky to have so many amazing animal control officers in our area who help rescue wildlife everyday – special thanks to Officer Bremy of Loudoun County Animal Services for this amazing rescue!
Looking for an easy way to help native wildlife? Become a monthly BRWC donor! For as little as $5/month, you can provide year-round, sustainable support that helps us fulfill our mission.
This week’s showtimes at Royal Cinemas as of August 18th
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! Reserved seating in all auditoriums.
Here is a list of this week’s showtimes at Royal Cinemas as of Thursday, August 18:
Ticket prices are as follows:
- Adult: $10
- Child (under 12): $7
- Military: $8
- Student (college): $8
- Senior: $8
- Matinees, All Seating: $7
Film Club Showing Tuesday, August 23:
“Last Man On Earth” @7:30
- “Don’t Worry Darling”
Micro-volunteering: Be someone’s eyes for two minutes
Here is a fantastic way to help people wherever you are, whenever you have the time — by micro-volunteering.
Be My Eyes is an app that connects sighted people to the blind. Using video calling technology, volunteers can answer simple questions that require a pair of eyes.
Hans Jorgen Wiberg, a Danish furniture craftsman who is visually impaired, realized that blind and low-vision people often needed help with everyday tasks. He also knew that video calling was already being used by the blind. They typically called friends and family by video for help with simple questions like What is in this can? What is the expiration date on this food? Is this a red or a black sweater? Being able to easily get answers to these simple questions offers a lot of independence.
The problem is that regular helpers are not always available, and there is the issue of wearing out one’s welcome. What Wiberg realized was that the world was full of people who could help at times. So in 2012, he launched his Be My Eyes startup to connect people with volunteers from across the globe.
Today, nearly 6 million volunteers help with questions from about a half million blind and low-vision people. The app is available in 150 countries and 180 languages.
Anonymous sighted volunteers can take a call whenever they have time. They can pass if they don’t have time, and another volunteer gets the call. Meanwhile, anonymous users can ask simple and fast questions.
Be My Eyes has also started ramping up specialized support. One of the top areas is tech support, which sometimes requires knowledge as much as sight. Microsoft, Google, and others are helping to solve issues like broken screen readers or setting up email accounts.
But there is also support for more personal, sensitive questions that the caller may not want to ask a family member: The results of a pregnancy test or fertility test, for example. The Clearblue Careline can step in to help privately in those cases.
Pasta maker Barilla uses the app to help with pasta questions. And Rite Aid pharmacy answers questions about prescriptions and helps people read medicine bottles.
Reinventing old favorites
Over the past few years, the restaurant business has offered choices that are as diversified as they are interesting and entertaining. The trend is evolving toward healthy food, sometimes specialized, sometimes fusion cuisine. Today, dining out means tasting, discovering, experimenting, and exploring.
Over the past few years, people have been going to restaurants to try new dishes. They love being surprised while enjoying the familiarity of foods they have always loved. Forever searching for ways to meet their customers’ needs and expectations, many chefs and restaurateurs have risen to the challenge. Now restaurant menus include reinvented classics; a modernized grilled cheese, a hot dog, or redefined sophisticated hamburger. Our grandmothers’ dishes are recreated by adding oriental spices, and exotic dishes are transformed with local produce for a touch of regional flavor.
Over the past few years, bakers have rediscovered time-honored flours and now offer bread with a taste of yesteryear that can be found on many restaurant tables. Pastry cooks and chefs have rediscovered the passion of serving deliciously mouth-watering versions of traditional recipes. Menus are personalized according to season or special event and then deconstructed to be better reinvented later.
People want to eat better while searching for diversity and exoticism. Tastes are becoming more refined and specialized. Above all, there’s a prevalent desire to taste a little bit of everything that’s out there. Sought out are restaurants that serve a selection of tapas for a unique taste experience with every mouthful. Patrons are filled with wonder when presented with multilayered verrines and love dishes with samples of two, three, or four different miniature meals on the same plate.
Medical Examiner: Ralph Ennis died of ‘natural causes’
On Monday, August 15, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Manassas released the cause and manner of death for Ralph Ennis, 77, who died on April 15, 13 days after a traffic stop by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office during which he was injured and then hospitalized.
In an email response, Arkuie Williams, Northern District Administrator of Virginia’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner told Royal Examiner that: “The cause of death is complications of Alzheimer disease, cerebral amyloid angiopathy, and hypternsive atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. The manner of death is natural.”
Royal Examiner responded with the following questions to Williams:
“Does that rule out that his head trauma injuries suffered 13 days earlier had no impact on the below stated causes, most particularly cerebral amyloid angiopathy, and hypternsive atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease?
“Is there any possible debate that the brain bleed and shock-trauma of April 2, could have aggravated his pre-existing conditions and these combined natural causes of death? – Thank you for any clarification.”
Williams responded, stating, “Our office is unable to provide any additional information to the public. We are restricted to only providing the cause and manner of death for our death investigations.”
Several weeks prior to the traffic stop, Ennis had been the subject of a Silver Alert on March 11, 2022, following an endangered, missing person report issued by Pennsylvania State Police on behalf of Ennis’ wife, Linda. Deputies located Ennis in downtown Front Royal at his longtime friends Ralph and Sue Waller’s East Main Street pawn shop. The Wallers offered to let Ennis stay there until his son Ian could travel to Front Royal from his Staunton home and take his father home.
Mr. Ennis died on April 15 under the care of Blue Ridge Hospice in Winchester, where he had been transferred several days earlier by the affiliated Winchester Medical Center.
“All we know is he was in good health and he never got out of the hospital after that happened – and that’s a FACT,” Ralph Waller said of the Medical Examiner’s finding Ennis died of natural causes less than two weeks after his injuries incurred during the traffic stop.
Contacted, Ennis’ son Ian said he had received the medical examiner’s report but declined further comment at this time. Ralph Ennis’ wife Linda also stated that she had received the report today but had no further comment.
On April 2, 2022, Ennis was stopped by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) for traveling eight miles over the speed limit and driving erratically on Winchester Road southbound toward Front Royal, the Sheriff’s Office stated in a previous media release.
The pursuit continued for about 3.75 miles, with Ennis eventually pulling into the 7-11 convenience store at 251 Crooked Run Plaza, where he parked his truck. By this time, the Sheriff’s Office release stated, “additional WCSO deputies and a Front Royal Police Officer were on scene, or just arriving as the high-risk traffic stop was underway.”
Video footage from the bodycam of a Front Royal Police Officer, who was called to assist with the traffic stop, shows the 77-year-old Ennis moving slowly toward deputies with his keys held out. A first deputy grabs Ennis and roughly pulls his hands behind his back cuffing him and slamming his head into his truck cab. A second Warren County Sheriff’s Office deputy then charges the scene, tackling both Ennis and the first deputy, taking both to the ground with the elderly Ennis on the bottom, apparently striking his head hard on the paved parking lot.
WCSO Major Jeffrey Driskill previously stated that Ennis was taken to Warren Memorial Hospital where Emergency Department physicians suspected “signs of an internal head hemorrhage” after which Ennis was transported to Winchester Medical Center. Driskill previously stated that Mr. Ennis was “exhibiting signs of cognitive issues consistent with dementia or Alzheimer’s.”
Former Northern District Administrator Jennifer Smith, of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, first told Royal Examiner in a May email, “This case is pending. Currently, cases are taking roughly 12 -16 weeks to complete, as with all cases the OCME goal is to complete them within 90-days.” Each subsequent inquiry regarding the status of the autopsy and lab tests yielded the same information.
The Warren County Sheriff’s Office has been tight-lipped regarding an internal investigation into the traffic stop. Sheriff Mark Butler previously told Royal Examiner that a “board of inquiry” comprised of WCSO senior officers and a member of an outside law enforcement agency had been formed, but no information has been released about who is on that panel.
After the traffic stop, one of the two involved deputies was reassigned to administrative duties; another was placed on administrative leave with pay. When asked if one or both of the deputies had left the employ of the WCSO, Butler declined to comment.
Contacted Monday by Royal Examiner, following the Medical Examiner’s release of information in the Ennis case, Sheriff Mark Butler stated, “My heart and prayers go out to all families involved in a trying time for all. The Warren County Sheriff’s Office will continue to work and hold itself in a professional matter at all times. “
When asked about the employment status of the deputies involved in the traffic stop, Butler stated that he could not discuss personnel matters.
Virginia State Police Investigator Adam Galton was assigned to investigate the circumstances related to the incident and subsequent death of Ennis. Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney John Bell referred the case to a special prosecutor; consequently the Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office is overseeing the VSP investigation and will decide whether to charge the deputies once the investigation is complete.
Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office Chief of Staff Anthony Kostelecky previously told Royal Examiner that he had no comment regarding the investigation or when it might conclude.