221 N. Commerce Avenue | Front Royal VA 22630
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal.
- Every Wednesday evening
- Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m.
- Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m.
- Food and refreshments available
- More Info on Facebook
Springtime Garden Center owner Ann Orndorff calls upcoming retirement ‘bittersweet’
221 N. Commerce Avenue | Front Royal VA 22630
Her customers say they will be lost without her. She says she will dearly miss her customers and vendors, but it’s time to go.
Ann Orndorff, the owner/operator of the Springtime Garden Center on Warren Avenue in Front Royal, says that after 26 years of daily work—sometimes through the night to tend to new plants under threat of frost—she is ready to slow down, travel, enjoy time with her family and perhaps sign up to foster kittens in need of care before being adopted. Laughing, she said, “I told my son, Colby, that I might become a ‘crazy cat lady’!”
Ann announced on her Facebook page Monday that it was “bittersweet and that she was filled with “a mix of sadness and excitement for retirement.” After running the nursery with her husband, Lamont, since 1996, Ann says it has been more difficult since he died three years ago. Lamont retired from the Pepsi Cola Company, then began working with Ann to build the nursery that they bought from Lamont’s brother and sister-in-law, Ernie and Marguerite Orndorff. She says they always planned to travel after they retired, and she’s sad that he isn’t here to share this next chapter of her life.
For many customers, Springtime Garden Center has been the place to go for all their gardening and seasonal decorating needs, as well as fun times with the family. Linda Cook, a loyal customer for 16 years, said in an email, “They have planted over 50 trees and bushes in my yard and trimmed all my bushes and mulched. This year I had them bring me pies and cakes and vegetables and fruit. I will be lost without them.”
Ann is equally fond of her customers and vendors, whom she says she will miss. She said in a Tuesday interview, “The customers were a blessing! They supported us from day one, and we couldn’t have made a go of it without them. I got to know and care for so many over the years.”
Some of her fondest memories are of the Amish families she met while attending produce auctions in the region. She continued, “I’ve watched their kids grow up over the years—I will definitely miss them!”
It was on one of those Pennsylvania trips that Ann found Miley, one of the nursery’s two resident cats. About five weeks old, the kitten jumped on the produce cart and insisted on staying with Ann. “All of the cats we’ve had over the years have found us” she relayed. “She’s our greeter, and the customers are very fond of her.”
For years, Ann has worked with the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging (SAAA), donating produce for the Meals on Wheels program and when there was a surplus, fresh vegetables for the meal-delivery clients.
Ann also created a “senior tree” at Christmastime, working with the SAAA to identify seniors in need. She said her customers looked forward to participating in the annual project, and once the tree was on display, all the seniors were adopted. A tree for veterans was also set up each year, and all collected presents were taken to the American Legion for distribution.
Ann hopes to see a local business take over the project once she retires. Anyone interested in sponsoring the annual trees should contact her at the nursery at 815 Warren Avenue.
Though the nursery and adjacent house have been placed on the market, the business has not sold. “It’s a great business, Ann said, but it is hard work. You have to work until the work is done—you can’t work eight hours and be done.”
After Lamont died, her family helped her run the business. Son Colby did landscape work for clients and the staff “went above and beyond” to help. “I was blessed. Without the hard work of our staff, I would not have been able to keep the business going or increase the variety of stock we offered. I was truly blessed.”
As the sale of nursery items continues until closing day, November 30, there are discounts: 25% off (cash and carry) on trees, shrubs, perennials, Amish Poly Furniture, and Massarelli Statuary until the inventory is sold. After October 17, equipment, seasonal decorations and fixtures will be sold.
For the first time ever, Ann will not have Christmas trees, wreaths, roping, and poinsettia this Holiday season, though families can still come by and enjoy the Halloween decorations and annual scavenger hunt.
Reflecting on the last 26 years, Ann says there are so many things about running the nursery she’ll remember with fondness, including the customers, the vendors whom she came to know over the years and her dedicated staff. What she won’t miss is the crazy period every April after the annual plants get delivered. She recalled having to get up every hour or two if the temperature was near freezing, to keep the greenhouse warm enough to protect the plants.
Son Colby and daughter-in-law Michella, as well as daughter Amanda and husband Michael, live in the area, as do her two grandsons, Bryce and Christian. Ann says she’ll settle down in the area and enjoy time with her family, as well as make plans for travel.
Springtime Garden Center is located at 815 Warren Avenue, across from Wendy’s Restaurant. It is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday and closed on Sunday.
For offshore wind aspirations to become reality, transmission hurdles must be cleared
221 N. Commerce Avenue | Front Royal VA 22630
President Joe Biden’s administration laid out ambitious additional goals last month to boost offshore wind power generation, one of the American renewable energy industry’s emerging wide open frontiers.
The federal announcements come as coastal states across the country are increasingly setting offshore wind energy targets, seeking to capture not just clean energy but the potentially big economic benefits of their ports serving as hubs for the vessels, blade manufacturing, cables, and other infrastructure needed to get turbines more than 850 feet tall installed miles out at sea.
But amid news releases touting megawatt targets and jobs, there’s been less attention on the challenge of bringing all that electricity ashore and connecting it to a grid that was designed to bring power to the coast, not the other way around.
“It is so exciting to see the goals put forward and it’s a great signal and clear signal to the industry,” said Maddy Urbish, head of government affairs and market strategy for New Jersey at Ørsted North America. The Danish company, a world leader in offshore wind, currently has 5,000 megawatts of projects under development or under construction in U.S. waters.
“So that’s incredibly encouraging and exciting for the industry. When we get down to the challenges we see from the grid it becomes immediately less sexy,” Urbish said.
A sea change
With nearly 95,500 miles of coastline and steady wind resources offshore, developers like Ørsted see vast potential in the U.S. market. The U.S. Department of Energy has estimated that domestic offshore wind generation potential is roughly equal to double the nation’s total electric demand. What’s more, about 80% of U.S. electric load is in coastal or Great Lakes states near offshore wind resources.
“We’ve significantly increased our workforce here in the U.S. and that’s in direct response to the potential here,” Urbish said. “The U.S. is a key market for Ørsted at this point.”
New Jersey just announced a new 11,000-megawatt offshore wind target, the largest in the country. Virginia’s Dominion Energy is pushing to get its 2,600-megawatt commercial project finished by 2026, and the state wants a total of 5,200 megawatts by 2034. Maryland has approved more than 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind capacity. North Carolina has a goal of 8,000 megawatts by 2040.
Massachusetts is contracting for 5,600 megawatts of offshore wind by 2027. Maine says its initial goal of 5,000 megawatts by 2030 is “not realistic at this point” but still considers offshore wind “one of our state’s largest untapped clean energy resources.” Louisiana, with a large skilled offshore oil and gas workforce that is partially repositioning for offshore wind, aims for 5,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035 in its most recent climate plan.
And the new Inflation Reduction Act undoes a Trump administration moratorium on federal offshore wind leases in the Southeast, potentially opening up new opportunities for Georgia, the Carolinas, and Florida, though the Sunshine State’s potential is seen as limited because of a lack of strong, sustained winds near the coast.
However, getting all that power to electric consumers will require billions in upgrades to the electric grid and a whole lot better regional planning by states and grid operators, experts say.
“Offshore wind is big,” said Simon Mahan, executive director of the Southern Renewable Energy Association, a trade group for large renewable energy and energy storage companies. “When you bring it ashore, it’s gonna have an effect on nearby generation regardless of market structure. They’re the size of nuclear reactors. … So it’s really important to do good studies.”
‘A big job’
Until fairly recently, renewable energy advocates said there had been less emphasis by policymakers and grid managers on transmission infrastructure upgrades and the comprehensive regional planning needed to make mass offshore wind a reality, though the federal government and states are starting to come to grips with the scope of the problem.
“There needs to be a lot more done than what’s being done right now and people are starting to realize that,” said Walt Musial, principal engineer and offshore wind platform lead at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. “The integration of this is going to be a big job and something we have to start working on soon. These transmission projects can take longer to build than the plants themselves.”
With relatively small, stand-alone wind projects, it’s often feasible for developers to find their own solutions to interconnection, said Mike Jacobs, a senior analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists who focuses on renewable energy and the electric grid. Indeed, wind developers with projects further along in the pipeline can take advantage of old thermal generation sites — like Ørsted plans to do with the former B.L. England coal-fired power plant in Upper Township, New Jersey, south of Atlantic City — as points of interconnection because of the existing grid infrastructure there.
But with the potential scale of American offshore wind energy and the huge targets proposed by states like New Jersey, project-by-project transmission solutions won’t work.
“Now you talk about 1,000 megawatts at a time. And New Jersey wants 10 of those. The transmission needed to be upscaled on shore is significant and needs to reach further inland,” he said. “The cable you brought to the nearest connection point from water to land is going to run into something that’s going to be inadequate and needs to be upscaled.”
‘Better than nothing’
That means billions of dollars in upgrades will be necessary to accommodate the offshore wind buildout contemplated by state and federal leaders. In Virginia, Dominion Energy, the state’s largest utility, estimates the transmission upgrades required as part of its $10 billion 2,640 megawatt wind installation will be about 16 to 17% of the total project cost, a company spokesman said.
PJM Interconnection, which runs the electric grid in all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia, estimated that injecting offshore wind generation (it studied scenarios ranging from 6,416 megawatts up to 17,016 megawatts) into the existing onshore transmission system would require anywhere from $627 million in a short-term scenario to as much as $3.2 billion in long-term scenarios, per a study released last year. That study only examined upgrades that would be necessary for existing infrastructure, not any “sea-to-shore or any offshore transmission networks.”
“They do require a fair amount of upgrades to the traditional land-based transmission system,” said Ray DePillo, director of development for offshore wind for PSE&G, New Jersey’s largest utility. “That’s a lot of megawatts to put into a single point or multiple points into the transmission system.”
PSE&G has partnered with Ørsted on Coastal Wind Link, a series of offshore stations that will connect multiple wind farms to the grid at a single onshore point rather than having every offshore wind farm connect using its own cable.
That proposal is among a series of transmission bids New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities will consider under a deal it reached with PJM Interconnection. Generally, PJM would be responsible for planning transmission upgrades and allocating costs to accommodate individual offshore wind generation projects as part of the interconnection process.
But with a giant backlog in PJM’s interconnection queue driven by a flood of new renewable projects and an overhaul underway, New Jersey and PJM negotiated the State Agreement Approach, which “enables a state, or group of states, to propose a project to assist in realizing state public policy requirements as long as the state (or states) agrees to pay all costs of any state-selected build-out.” PJM, in turn, is seeking transmission bids on the state’s behalf in coordination with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. It received more than 80 proposals ranging in cost from $1.2 billion to more than $7 billion, depending on various scenarios, PJM said, though those costs don’t necessarily include onshore upgrades. The board will ultimately decide what gets built.
“New Jersey came to realize that if they wanted to do this large and fast, they had to take the matter into hand,” Jacobs said.
New Jersey ratepayers will shoulder the cost of the transmission upgrades themselves, even though those grid improvements may have broader benefits for reliability beyond the state’s borders.
“This is a good news and bad news story,” Jacobs said. “The benefits from New Jersey doing this will flow beyond New Jersey. … What we’re doing is having the states fill a gap that was not expected and should not need to be done.”
Rob Gramlich, founder and president of consulting firm Grid Strategies, called the solution “highly suboptimal.”
“But I agree with New Jersey that although it’s suboptimal, it’s better than nothing,” he said.
At the heart of the friction is the traditional guiding principle of interconnection, those new generators should pay for the transmission upgrades necessary to connect them to the grid because grid managers like PJM haven’t generally looked for broader benefits to the system, critics say.
That model was tolerable when the new generators were large gas power plants that could be sited close to existing interconnection points and high voltage lines, but not so much now with hundreds of smaller, more diffuse solar and wind projects that are trying to connect to the grid, Gramlich added.
“The flaws of that system are now quite evident to everybody,” he said.
A new proposed rule by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission aims to quantify better the broader benefits of transmission upgrades, which some renewable energy proponents say could grease the wheels for the buildout required to decarbonize the grid. And the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act includes $100 million specifically earmarked for offshore wind transmission planning, modeling, and analysis.
“The fact of the matter is we need more studies, we don’t know what we don’t know,” said Mahan of the Southern Renewable Energy Association. “The IRA funding is there to help solve some of this problem.”
There are ongoing studies as well.
Melinda Marquis, offshore wind grid integration lead at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, is leading a Department of Energy study expected to be finished next year that will identify optimal interconnection points along the Atlantic coast. It’s one of several seeking answers to how best to incorporate offshore wind into the grid, Marquis said, and states like New York, which is pushing for 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035, have done their own studies.
“The way offshore has been deployed in the North Sea, in England, for instance, is the same way the very early offshore wind plants in the U.S. are developing. That is where each offshore wind plant builds one radial connection to shore. … So each developer is picking the cheapest, best place to inject the power,” Marquis said. “There’s a limited number of points of interconnection along the Atlantic.”
Right now, there aren’t many incentives for developers to share interconnection and transmission infrastructure, Marquis said. Her group’s study will quantify costs under various build-out scenarios, compare different transmission technologies, explore implications for grid reliability and examine effects on marine life and fisheries.
“The ocean is really a pretty crowded place,” she said, adding that the study is incorporating data on marine sanctuaries, national wildlife refuges, reefs, seafloor sediment, shipping lanes, fishing grounds, and military areas, among others.
“We hope that the results of our study will be very helpful for the people who make decisions about the way transmission is expanded, and how it is built, and we hope this will lead to a very resilient, reliable grid with a very low cost to the ratepayer that minimizes impact on marine species and the marine environment,” Marquis said.
She noted that representatives from major U.S. utilities and grid operators are participating in the study.
“The Department of Energy really understands this, and they’re funding us to tackle this,” she said.
‘All of the above’
Meanwhile, similar to New Jersey, other states are realizing the importance of taking the lead on transmission planning. New York wants offshore wind projects connecting to shore to be “meshed ready,” which means being able to share sea-to-shore connection infrastructure among different offshore wind plants rather than each one having a separate connection to shore. PJM says it’s talking with other states about how to upgrade transmission to meet its energy goals.
“We have had exploratory discussions with our states to pursue similar goals like NJ, but nothing formalized yet,” Ken Seiler, vice president of planning, said last month, adding that the grid operator is at work on the second phase of a regional wind study “meant to identify regional transmission solutions to offshore wind and all other renewable portfolio development planned for by the states.” PJM’s counterpart in the middle of the country, MISO, which covers an area stretching from Minnesota to Louisiana, says its transmission planning has been all land-based and there are no offshore wind projects in its interconnection queue.
“However, MISO is equipped to study and evaluate any offshore projects that may be submitted in the future,” said Brandon Morris, a spokesman for the organization.
And last month, five New England states, including Maine and New Hampshire, issued a joint “request for information” seeking comments from offshore wind developers, the electric transmission industry, and others “regarding changes and upgrades to the regional electric transmission system needed to integrate renewable energy resources, including but not limited to offshore wind resources, as well as significant other new renewable resources” into the grid.
“I think this happens with all of the above, to use an energy cliche,” said Jacobs. “We will have some of the developers go ahead because they’re impatient and find the opportunities to build their own connections. We will have an institutional approach where we get the federal government and the regional operators to do what they are mandated already to do, which is to plan for a reliable, consumer-friendly open access system. All this will happen because the states will present a credible threat to these institutions that are supposed to be doing it in the first place.”
by Robert Zullo, Virginia Mercury
Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.
A true page turner for new hires: the handbook
221 N. Commerce Avenue | Front Royal VA 22630
The latest hot crime novel just dropped. It’s a real page-turner, and you have it. Your heart pounds, and you want to start flipping pages. There’s just one problem. The book in front of you is the employee handbook. Not exactly a best seller, huh?
Unfortunately, 60 percent of employees skip reading the employee handbook altogether. While reading company rules, regulations and policies aren’t exactly thrilling, understanding all of the above is vital.
Knowing how to use personal days or file for vacations may help you get more R&R when needed. Sometimes days roll over, sometimes, they don’t. Some companies are fine with you taking two weeks off, others may limit vacations to a week. So on and so forth.
The employee handbook can keep you out of hot water as well. Showing up 10 minutes late at your old job may not have been a big deal. But at your new job, that might result in a write-up and a black mark on your record. Likewise, there may be specific instructions for handling company documents, using company vehicles, or whatever else.
Employees, new and old, may be looking to impress their bosses and the organization as a whole. The right moves now could result in a raise or promotion later. By reading the company handbook, you can develop a feel for your organization and its priorities. So before you jump into the latest novel topping the charts, take a dive into the company handbook.
3 reasons to add an island to your kitchen
221 N. Commerce Avenue | Front Royal VA 22630
Islands are increasingly common features in many home kitchens because of their practicality and attractive design. If you don’t already have one, here are three reasons you should consider installing an island in your kitchen.
1. Multifunctionality. Kitchen islands are a great way to maximize your space. For example, an island gives you more counter space and can be used to house appliances like a dishwasher or extra sink. Moreover, you can use the island as a table if you have a small kitchen.
2. Sociability. An island creates a focal point for gathering and engaging with friends and family. Instead of preparing food facing the cabinets and windows, you can work on the island while conversing with your guests.
3. Modern look. Many modern kitchens feature islands. Consequently, installing one in your home will give your space an updated look, undoubtedly adding value to your home.
If you’re considering renovating your kitchen, talk to your contractor about adding an island.
Lawn care: must-do fall chores
221 N. Commerce Avenue | Front Royal VA 22630
In the fall, you need to do several things to prepare your yard for the cold winter weather and ensure green and lush growth come spring. Here’s what you need to know.
Hedges and shrubs
Cut away leaves, prune stems, and branches so the hedge can breathe and absorb more light. You should also cut back shrubs when they begin turning yellow, or their stems start to droop.
Flowers and vines
Bring potted plants inside and use burlap to cover plants that don’t handle the extreme cold. Dig up non-hardy bulbs like dahlias and cannas and store them inside. Thin out your perennials and protect the roots by applying a generous layer of mulch. If you want a colorful garden come spring, plant tulips, crocuses, daffodils, and other hardy bulbs.
After your last harvest, compost your plants and till the soil. Fall is also the ideal time to plant certain vegetables, like garlic, leeks, and Egyptian onions.
Rake up dead leaves and mow your lawn to a height of at least two inches to promote light absorption and weed resistance. You can also use a potassium-rich fertilizer that’s low in nitrogen to strengthen the lawn.
Finally, turn off your outdoor water taps and drain any garden hoses. If necessary, remove the pumps from your pond.
Supervisors appear reluctant to forward Data Centers as a by-right use regardless of zoning amendment creating new Light Industrial District
221 N. Commerce Avenue | Front Royal VA 22630
Following a detailed presentation by County Planning Director Matt Wendling on the procedural requirements for authorizing the development of Data Centers in Industrial or Light Industrially zoned areas either by-right or by individual Conditional Use Permit (CUP) approval, on Tuesday, October 4, the Warren County Board of Supervisors authorized advertisement for an October 25th public hearing on a zoning amendment on the new zoning district and uses within it.
However, despite Wendling’s overview of the reasoning behind the planning commission’s cited 3-1 recommendation* of approval of a Zoning Text Amendment allowing Data Centers as a by-right use in the Light Industrial District the zoning amendment would create, a board majority appeared reluctant to pursue that recommendation. All four supervisors present – Happy Creek District’s Jay Butler was absent from the 9 a.m. meeting – expressed some concern over a blanket by-right designation, particularly regarding Data Centers.
While Planning Director Wendling cited “more flexibility in marketing”, the elimination of one public hearing in the approval process by eliminating Conditional Use Permitting, and consistency with planned Town Council zoning parameters, citing personal or constituent concerns the board majority indicated a preference for the extra scrutiny that additional permitting would allow. North River Supervisor Delores Oates pointed to constituent concerns about power grid and water usage variables connected to Data Centers, which it has also been pointed out do not generally create many jobs for the local job market.
“So, it concerns me that this elected body, who is elected to represent the people, would have no say in that final determination. That concerns me a lot,” Oates said in response to the rationale for the by-right designation.
Board Chair Cheryl Cullers of the South River District added, “I never want to take the short route … I’m willing to be here as long as it takes to do this … the by-right bothers me. We wouldn’t even have the final say. And what these building would do or produce or anything like that, it concerns me that by-right they could do it if it’s within parameters without any input from this board.”
Shenandoah District Supervisor Walt Mabe concurred, saying of too broad a by-right zoning code, “That’s not the way I see our government working because we’re protecting our community, and we’re protecting our power grid and water sources, and all things that are necessary to keep things on an even keel …”
Fork District Supervisor Vicky Cook questioned the relatively long list of proposed by-right uses accompanying Data Centers in the new Light Industrial District. “So, are we concerned about by-right use for only Data Centers or are we worried about by-right for the list of these businesses,” Cook asked. “Any and all,” County Administrator Ed Daley responded of the Zoning Text Amendment before them for authorization for public hearing and final board approval.
So, in the wake of Mabe’s motion to authorize the matter for public hearing, seconded by Cook, and approved by a 4-0 voice vote, the public will have a chance to weigh in during the Zoning Text Amendment Public Hearing slated for a 6 p.m. October 25th Special Meeting called to help the board wade through other pending public hearings.
The only other action item on Tuesday morning’s agenda was consideration of a 12-item Consent Agenda. That agenda, included authorization to advertise seven other Conditional Use Permit applications, five of those for short-term tourist rentals and two for private-use camping.
Another Consent Agenda item was approval of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Town of Front Royal and Discover Front Royal as a co-created 501-C6 non-profit organization for “Destination Marketing Services” promoting tourism for town and county destinations. Other matters approved on the Consent Agenda were authorization of a refund request for an erroneous tax assessment involving Warren Memorial Hospital; use of the courthouse grounds for the Veterans Day event hosted by American Legion Post 53; setting of a meeting schedule for preparation for the Fiscal Year-2023-24 County budget, as well as preliminary work towards the FY-2024/25 budget; an amendment to the sale of County-owned property at 30 East Jackson Street extending the closing date on the $240,000 sale to Blue Ridge Information Systems to “no later than November 30, 2022 to secure a survey of the property.”
At 10 a.m. the supervisors adjourned to a Closed/Executive Session discussion of EDA-related litigations, the recovery of EDA assets, and possible liabilities and indebtedness of the FR-WC EDA (aka WC EDA). A second item, the potential sale of property, was added to the motion into Closed Session. Nothing was announced and no action taken out of that closed session.
FOOTNOTE: Planning Director Wendling explained that the County Planning Commission vote recommending forwarding approval of the Zoning Text Amendment as presented was 3-0 with one abstention due to a potential conflict of interest, but that the abstention was considered a negative vote in bringing the recommendation forward.