This class provides a hands-on experience for painting with oils. Learn to set up a palette, mix color, and apply paint to create a finished work of art. Class meets once a week for five weeks. Each week we will work to build a solid foundation in technique. Materials are provided, but feel free to bring your own if you prefer. All skill levels are welcome. Instructor: Michael Budzisz
Wednesday afternoons from 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm, Jan. 23rd – Feb. 20th. Classes will be held in our 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.
Town will waive card-payment fees thru June, undecided on long-term options
Life in municipal government COVID-19 pandemic virtual world continued Monday evening, March 30, as the Front Royal Town Council “gathered” by remote computer hook up for work session discussion of several matters.
Near the meeting’s end, Interim Town Manager and Town Director of pandemic Emergency Management Matt Tederick noted a third confirmed case of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease-2019) in Warren County. He also was joined by the mayor and council in thanking staff for helping the town government traverse the unfamiliar territory of continuing to provide services under state-recommended restrictions on public interactions. Those restrictions have led to the locking of municipal building doors to the public, funneling most citizen-government interactions to online, phone or drive-thru options.
Consequently, one of the four topics of conversation Monday was a lifting of the 2.35% fee on payment of Town utility or other fees by credit or debit card. After a somewhat laborious discussion of contractor “technical interface” issues not allowing direct withdrawals from customer bank accounts, which would bypass the need for the plastic money fee on utility account payments, the council agreed to waive the fee for the three-month balance of this fiscal year.
Since the issue is tied to an upswing in credit or debit card payments tied to the restrictions on public interactions and municipal building closures due to the COVID-19 emergency response, Town Attorney Doug Napier told the mayor and council that they simply had to authorize Tederick to move forward on waiving the card-payment fees as part of his duties as the Town’s COVID-19 Director of Emergency Management.
Staff is estimating a $60,000 revenue shortfall over the three-month period, twice the current average of $10,000 monthly in plastic transaction fees. The staff summary noted that the shortfall could possibly be offset by a “reduction of expenditures identified by staff and/or usage of the reserve fund balance.”
It was noted that one of the Town Finance Department’s drive-thru windows remains open for business at the rear of Town Hall, as an option on cash or check payments. And Councilwoman Lori Cockrell wondered if many citizens were aware of the option to set up automatic payments from their bank accounts.
Prior to the consensus to allow Tederick as director of emergency management to move forward with the fee waiver, Councilwoman Thompson worried over the suggestion that Town utility fees be raised in the coming fiscal year as another means of offsetting the revenue shortfall. That led to a discussion in which Town Finance Director B. J. Wilson expressed the opinion that the lost fees, as an “operating expense” of the Town, could not be covered by the use of fund balance reserves.
“We can’t go into reserves to cover an operating expense. So, we’d have to either reduce our expenses or raise our revenues to cover this. But we cannot dip into the reserves,” Wilson told the council.
“That doesn’t make any sense, credit card fees are an operating expense, isn’t it?” Councilman Jacob Meza offered in response.
“Yes, it’s an operating expense, so we have to cover it with our revenues,” Wilson repeated.
Queried further, Wilson explained that in the short term if the funds were not available from the utility departments’ revenues, reserves might have to be used to temporarily plug the gap.
“Well, let there be a shortfall, and cover it with the reserves,” Meza suggested, drawing some laughter from the council.
However, the finance director observed such a path could lead the Town into eventual trouble with state financial authorities.
“Obviously that would have to be an option for our current year if it comes down to it. But moving forward … our (utility) revenues are supposed to cover our (utility) operating expenses. And if we continually have a shortfall it could get us into a little trouble …” Wilson told the council’s cut, spend and reduce majority.
As the discussion progressed, Vice-Mayor Bill Sealock observed that in the short term the Town could cover the cost of the card fee waiver, but that long-term revenue/expenditure issues in the face of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic response would have to be dealt with in the coming FY-2021 budget starting July 1.
“We can absorb $60k in our reserve. Of course, I also want to talk about saving any dollars in the 2019-2020 (budget) then move on to our new budget, because we’re going to see some significant shortfalls. So, I’m wondering why we’re spending so much time on this thing that you can’t resolve tonight. And why we’re not moving on … I hear everybody say they’re for it for the 90 days. So, we’re not going to resolve anything else about whether it comes out of reserves or we’re rescheduling some work,” Sealock told his colleagues.
“We can discuss this all night and we’re still not going to get anywhere,” Mayor Gene Tewalt concurred, moving council toward its instruction to Tederick to enact the card payment fee under his role as director of emergency management for the Town.
In lieu of videotaping a black computer screen with informational boxes popping up here and there, Royal Examiner audio-taped the work session for the later perusal of citizens not linked in to listen live.
In this linked audio recording, hear the above discussion, as well as council and staff’s visiting of how the pandemic response may impact the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding and plans for downtown façade and other improvements; a planned switch of the Town’s employees’ insurance package that would raise the deductible option from $250 to $500, but will not be enacted until FY-2022 after the changes have been fully explained to staff, and evolving budget variables in the current pandemic “non-essential” business closures environment as council moves forward with its locked-in half-cent real estate tax decrease in place for FY-2021.
Here’s the audio from the March 30 Work Session:
Humane Society’s plea for adopters and fosters in response to COVID-19
To all animal lovers, the Humane Society of Warren County has a few announcements:
- Hours are changing: HSWC will be closed on Sundays until further notice.
- We are operating by appointment only!
- This Friday and Saturday, 4/3/2020 and 4/4/2020, we will extend our hours for adoption appointments. We will schedule appointments from 10am-6pm.
- You must have an approved application for an appointment and they can be found on our website.
- Adoption fees will be waived through Saturday, 4/4/2020. Please share far and wide!
WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Now more than ever, we need adopters and foster homes. We are preparing for the worst at this point, as we are entering kitten season and we don’t want to be inundated with more animals than we can handle. HSWC currently has 111 animals in our care and anticipate those numbers rising in the coming months.
Several staff members have already chosen to self-quarantine, and we have had to cut hours for staff members; layoffs are merely days away. Much of the work — cleaning, feeding and walking — is falling on a skeleton crew. Meanwhile, adoption events and fundraisers — the life blood of our organization — have been cancelled.
A new pet offers a way to help ease the isolation that comes with orders to shelter in place. Animals provide company and comfort during times of uncertainty. Being forced to stay home is not only optimal for house training, but it gives humans and their new animals plenty of time to bond.
We absolutely do not want to resort to euthanasia as a source of population control, which many shelters are facing the harsh reality of this being a possibility.
If you are not in a position to foster or adopt, please consider making a donation – whether it be companion animal food for our pet food pantry or monetary. We want to keep our pantry stocked and available for members of the community who are financially strapped due to the virus. Before this all started, HSWC was already helping nearly 50 families with pet food.
If you are interested in adopting or fostering, please fill out an adoption/foster application on our website and call us at 540-635-4734.
There has been a lot of criticism over the President’s use of the term “Chinese virus” and rightfully so. Names have not always been an accurate way of identifying ground zero for any disease. Health leaders have named this current virus COVID-19. You cannot call this coronavirus because that is a blanket term that covers any type of upper respiratory infection. Also, COVID-19 does not mean the 19th Chinese-originated viral infectious disease this year; it simply stands for Corona Virus Disease 19. Historically speaking we have seen that naming a disease after a region is not always accurate.
With the last great pandemic, the name Spanish Flu is completely inaccurate. The 1918 flu that killed around 50 million worldwide actually is now believed to have begun in Kansas. Yes, the Spanish Flu is actually the Kansas Flu. When Kansans first started going to the doctor, they were treated for the flu, but it was not seen as anything different. At first the problem was not big enough to raise attention and doctors had no good way to report. As the flu spread it did start to receive notice from health and government officials, but coming on the heels of the tragedy of WWI, the governments of the Allied powers tried to stop panic and keep up moral. The disease did not become well known until it hit Spain. Spain was neutral in the War and so not part of the Allies. When the King of Spain came down with the new flu, the Spanish media was free to report it. With the Spanish media being the only ones discussing the new disease, it became known as the Spanish Flu.
The flu hit Europe hard. Large concentrations of troops still there for the War and the troops and the people were worn out and prime for a contagious virus. With so many getting sick and dying and the Spanish press reporting, Allied nations could no longer contain the story. The outbreak in America had not taken off from the original infection, so as troops began arriving from home they brought it from Europe with them.
The idea was that Americans, because of early contact, may have been immune, but those theories were discarded when the virus mutated in the fall and Boston became one of the epicenters. By September, 85,000 Bostonians had the flu and, just south of them in Philadelphia, hundreds were dying a day. It got so bad in the City of Brotherly Love that they ran out of caskets and the manpower to bury the dead. It got so bad in San Francisco that citizens were asked to stop using the phone. No one could reach medical help because lines were tied up and operators were sick. In many ways the Spanish Flu created a situation that is starting to happen now–the streets are empty and everyone’s wearing masks.
A couple of lessons we can learn from the Spanish Flu. First, it came in three waves. Hopefully that will not happen with COVID-19. It started in the spring of 1918 but hit one of its small peaks in June. I know there is hope that COVID-19 will fade out during the warm summer months, but we see that this type of disease can have some peaks then. The largest of the flu’s peaks did come in the colder months of October and November of 1918, followed by another small peak in March the next year.
Secondly, in 1918 it was widely reported that the use of masks was responsible for the containment. This caused a huge run on masks. However, this has been proven as false. One historian, Alfred W. Crosby, who has studied the Spanish Flu, wrote, “People could and did honestly believe that a few layers of gauze would keep out flu bugs, just as screens kept the flies off the front porch.” Crosby credits the flu vaccine for the decline and not masks. The use of masks and the vaccine just happened to start at the same time.
A third possible lesson is to wait and see when and how the disease started. There is some suggestion that COVID-19 may have been in the U.S. long before it was reported. As in 1918, COVID-19 was first regarded as the flu, but now, looking back, health officials are investigating the chance that COVID-19 made it to America in November or December. These cases have not been confirmed, but understanding the Spanish Flu tells us that it is possible.
Lastly, we learn that distancing works, but ultimately a vaccine is needed. If not, we could be isolating ourselves in our homes for much longer than we might expect.
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.
AG Herring takes further steps to crackdown on price gouging
~ Herring has sent warning letters to 42 businesses about which Virginians have complained ~
RICHMOND (March 31, 2020) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring has taken further actions to crack down on price gouging in Virginia by sending warning letters to certain businesses about which Virginians have complained. The letters inform the businesses that they are the subject of a price-gouging complaint, ask for documentation pertaining to the complaint, and advise the businesses to immediately stop any illegal price gouging practices. So far, Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section has sent 42 letters to businesses in response to complaints made by Virginians.
“It is unfortunate that businesses will take advantage of a situation like a public health crisis to try and make more money off of necessary goods like hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, face masks, or water,” said Attorney General Herring. “My office and I take price gouging complaints very seriously and I hope that these letters will send a strong message to businesses across Virginia that price gouging will not be tolerated here.”
The letters explain that the Office of the Attorney General has the authority to investigate possible violations of Virginia’s Post-Disaster Anti-Price Gouging Act and to bring enforcement actions to enjoin violations, seek restitution for affected consumers, and recover civil penalties, attorney’s fees, and expenses. The letters seek certain documentation from the businesses regarding their pricing practices before and after Governor Ralph Northam’s declaration of a state of emergency on March 12, 2020. Importantly, the letters warn the businesses that the failure to cease and desist from engaging in any unlawful price gouging may be considered evidence of a willful violation for purposes of an award of civil penalties under the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.
Governor Ralph Northam’s declaration of a state of emergency triggered Virginia’s Post-Disaster Anti-Price Gouging Act, which prohibits a supplier from charging “unconscionable prices” for “necessary goods and services” during the thirty-day period following a declared state of emergency. Items and services covered by these protections include but are not limited to water, ice, food, cleaning products, hand sanitizers, medicines, personal protective gear and more. The basic test for determining if a price is unconscionable is whether the post-disaster price grossly exceeds the price charged for the same or similar goods or services during the ten days immediately prior to the disaster.
Additionally, last week Attorney General Herring joined 32 attorneys general in urging Amazon, Facebook, eBay, Walmart, and Craigslist to more rigorously monitor price gouging practices by online sellers who are using their services.
Suspected violations of Virginia’s Anti-Price Gouging Act should be reported to Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section for investigation, as violations are enforceable by the Office of the Attorney General through the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.
Consumers can contact Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section for information or file a complaint:
Be ready for an unscheduled showing
When an agent wants to show your place on Tuesday at 4 p.m. or Wednesday at 8, you’ve got a convenient choice to make.
But what if the agent is showing other homes in your neighborhood to a hot buyer who is in town for the day and intends to buy? What if he or she has seen your sign and is interested? Could you let the agent show the house now?
The problem is that buyers often have schedules that are inconvenient for sellers. Out-of-town people and people who travel for a living are just two examples of buyers who might need to see your home on a weeknight evening.
When your home is on the market, you have already done the painting and other maintenance, so the house is almost showable. To allow a showing in a short time, try to keep the place generally picked-up and in order.
This is especially true with bathrooms and bedrooms. They are very important rooms which should have nothing lying about, like clothes on the floor. Put out clean towels.
If you can’t get the beds made, at least pull the blankets straight.
3 non-toxic disinfectants
Kitchen countertops, bathroom vanities, and other surfaces need to be kept clean. Here are three non-toxic disinfectants that’ll kill germs without harming you or the environment.
Accelerated hydrogen peroxide
You’re probably familiar with hydrogen peroxide, a disinfectant that breaks down into water and oxygen. Accelerated hydrogen peroxide contains stabilizers and compounds that reduce surface tension, increasing both its germ-killing properties and shelf life.
Botanical disinfectants have been on the market for a while. One example is thymol, an oil extracted from thyme that’s used in a variety of household cleaners. It’s been found to have a very little environmental impact.
Silver dihydrogen citrate
The antibacterial properties of silver have been known for a long time. Silver ions combined with a citric acid solution is commonly used as a non-toxic antibacterial agent in cosmetics, but it could also serve as a household cleaner.
Keeping your home clean doesn’t need to involve potentially toxic chemicals, even when it comes to the surfaces in your bathroom and kitchen.