Nothing is more comforting than warm soup on a chilly day! Learn how to make some yummy soup, and do some taste-testing to choose your favorite. For ages 8 and up. Registration begins January 29.
Attorney General Herring seeks extension of utility disconnection suspensions through duration of State of Emergency
~ Herring filed an emergency petition on March 13th to halt disconnections for non-payment and suspend late charges during the state of emergency ~
RICHMOND (April 7, 2020) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring has asked the State Corporation Commission (SCC) to extend its utility disconnection suspension through at least June 10th when Virginia’s state of emergency is currently scheduled to end. Last month, the SCC halted utility disconnections for non-payment and suspended late charges following Attorney General Herring’s emergency petition requesting a freeze on disconnections.
“As we continue to grapple with the health and financial crises brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that this extension is needed to make sure that all Virginians have access to water, power, and gas during the entirety of the state of emergency,” said Attorney General Herring. “This extension is especially important for hourly wage earners and those who work in the service industry who have been particularly affected by social distancing efforts and stay at home orders. I hope the SCC will continue to give Virginians some peace of mind during this time while we continue to ask them to stay home to prevent further spread of this virus.”
As Attorney General Herring explains in the filing “the temporary suspension of service disconnections for the reason of non-payment is needed to minimize adverse impacts on the public health and safety during this period of health and financial crisis.” Additionally, he adds that “during the immediate time of this emergency, the public interest requires that basic needs such as power, heat, and water go uninterrupted for all customers.” The Attorney General has sought the suspension of late fees during this time, but it is important to note that customers will eventually have to pay for the utilities they use during this time. If customers are able to, they should continue to pay their utility bills to avoid higher balances in the future.
In addition to extending the utility disconnection suspensions, Attorney General Herring also asks the SCC to consider the following:
• Reconnect service for any customers who request reconnection who had it disconnected for non-payment before the Suspension Order
• Waive any requirements that would make it harder for utilities to reconnect service
• Suspend late fees
• Provide for any other relief the Commission deems appropriate and necessary
Second Saturday night fire causes flame jetting phenomenon, injuring two
On Saturday, April 4, 2020, at approximately 7:40 pm, the Warren County Department of Fire and Rescue Services were dispatched to the 200 block of 19th Street, Front Royal for a reported
explosion with people injured.
Fire and EMS units along with units from the Front Royal Police Department quickly arrived on the scene to discover that an outside fire pit had been extinguished prior to their arrival. Two patients were noted to have sustained burn-related injuries. One patient was treated on the scene and transported to MedStar Washington Hospital Burn Center via helicopter with significant burn injuries. A second patient was treated at a local medical facility for minor burn injuries.
The incident which was investigated by the Warren County Fire Marshal’s Office was determined to be caused by a phenomenon called “Flame Jetting”. Flame jetting happens when a container of flammable liquid meets an ignition source, causing flames to shoot out of the container for distances of 15 feet or greater. This type of event is often unexpected and extremely dangerous. This blowtorch-like effect can engulf bystanders in flames, leading to serious injury or even death.
In this incident, a container of “weathered” gasoline was utilized in an attempt to accelerate the combustion within the outdoor fire pit. As the vapors ignited, the fire traveled into the container causing an over pressurization and rupture of the container resulting in the flame jetting event to occur. This caused the significant burn injuries to the bystander, burn injuries to the victim holding the container and damages the home ten feet away.
Fire Marshal Gerry Maiatico stated, “while this event is certainly unfortunate, it should serve as a reminder that flammable liquids and open flames are a potentially deadly combination.” The Department of Fire and Rescue Services urges the following safety precautions when conducting fire pit activities:
• Never use gasoline as a starter fluid for any type of fire.
• Never leave a fire pit unattended.
• Never leave children or pets unattended near a fire pit.
• Consider investing in a wire mesh cover to keep embers inside and help prevent children
or pets from falling in.
• Limit the amount of fuel you put in the fire—just put what’s necessary to keep it burning
• Don’t put garbage or paper products into the fire. They can easily spark and throw off
embers or burning remnants.
• Don’t wear flammable or loose-fit clothing while near the pit.
• Don’t burn softwoods like pine or cedar. These can “pop” and throw sparks.
• Even if you follow all of these guidelines, accidents still happen. Keep a container of
water and a hose nearby in case of an emergency.
Saturday night fire destroys home, cause remains under investigation
On Saturday, April 4, 2020, at approximately 8:00 pm, the Warren County Department of Fire and Rescue Services received a report of a residential structure fire located in the 1000 block of
Harmony Orchard Road, Front Royal.
Units quickly arrived on the scene to discover a two-story, single-family home with significant fire conditions throughout the structure. The home appeared unoccupied at the time of the fire
and based on the number of fire conditions and structural instability, fire suppression efforts were executed from the exterior of the home for safety concerns. It took firefighters approximately 40
minutes to bring the fire under control. The home was rendered a total loss.
During the course of the incident, a firefighter sustained a traumatic injury and was treated on the scene and transported to Warren Memorial Hospital for further treatment and evaluation.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the Warren County Fire Marshal’s Office with assistance from the Warren County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division.
Anyone with information with regards to this incident is asked to contact Fire Marshal Gerry Maiatico at 540-636-3830 or email email@example.com or contact Sheriff’s Office
Investigator Scott Baker at 540-635-7100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Randolph-Macon Academy offers virtual Q&A sessions
Randolph-Macon Academy will host a Virtual Q&A Session on Thursday, April 16th, at 7:00 pm.
The session hosts will be the Director of Enrollment Management, Clare Dame, and the Director of Admission and Financial Aid, Amy Harriman. Families interested in applying to Randolph-Macon Academy, or those having questions about the private school admission process in general, are welcome to attend.
Valley Health launches community challenge to make 10,000 masks in two weeks
Valley Health announced an interactive challenge that provides community members an opportunity to put their creative talents to work to meet a crucial need.
The goal of the “Sew Helpful Community Challenge” is to produce 10,000 hand-made masks in two weeks. The masks will help Valley Health preserve and extend its supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to care for patients in the weeks ahead.
For more information on the Sew Helpful Community Challenge, visit Valley Health’s web site – www.valleyhealthlink.com — and click on the COVID-19 banner across the top. There are step-by-step instructions and a how-to video for making masks that will afford the highest level of protection. For those who sew but do not have appropriate mask material, a limited number of pre-cut mask kits are available for pick-up. Call 540-536-8158 for more information.
Valley Health is also accepting donations of materials and other supplies. Please email email@example.com if you can help.
Valley Health is heartened and encouraged by the tremendous outpouring of support its staff and facilities have received from the community, including donations of food for employees, PPE supplies and monetary support. To learn more about how you can help our community win the battle against COVID-19, visit www.valleyhealthlink.com/howyoucanhelp .
Video Instruction (Without Elastic)
Video Instruction (With Elastic)
Drop Off Locations
Masks may be dropped off weekdays, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the following locations:
- Hampshire Memorial Hospital, Romney, WV – Outside Main Entrance
- Page Memorial Hospital, Luray, VA – Outside Emergency Department Entrance
- Shenandoah Memorial Hospital, Woodstock, VA – South Entrance, Door #3
- War Memorial Hospital, Berkeley Springs, WV – Outside Main Entrance
- Warren Memorial Hospital, Front Royal, VA – Outside Emergency Department Patient Entrance
- Winchester Medical Center, Winchester, VA – South Tower Entrance (under canopy)
Future of Town central water-sewer rates and fees put on table
At the first of two virtual work sessions of the week, staff led the Front Royal Town Council through a variety of topics ranging from:
1 – whether the Town has any liability for drainage-flooding issues in the Williamsburg Estates subdivision;
2 – what a consultant’s cost of service, the fee-and-rate study has recommended for the Town’s water-sewer utility’s future relationship to customers;
3 – the adjustment or waiving of some Town service fees;
4 – and how the Town may have “lucked out” as Councilman Gary Gillespie observed, regarding an initial $104,000 fine for violation of a Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Consent Order for improvements to infrastructure impacting the Town’s Wastewater Treatment Plant operations;
5 – not to mention an overview of the result of the “Envision” the future of downtown Village Commons/Gazebo area events, among several other items.
Of perhaps the broadest interest across the board for town citizens might be what coast-to-coast consultant Stantec has recommended on rates and fees to facilitate the Town’s ability to continue to provide and expand when necessary, its water-sewer utilities. That ability includes maintaining the operational water-sewer utility fund balance and reserves to continue to provide quality service to customers, both existing and new.
Whether those new customers should include out-of-town residential ones was a hot-button topic of debate last year as the Crooked Run 2 developers sought Town water-sewer, not for the commercial-industrial development the Town had previously agreed to without annexation for a community-wide commercial-industrial development/tax revenue benefit, but for residential development on county land outside the town limits.
Many existing in-town customers had a hard time with that pending expansion of the Town’s water-sewer utility responsibilities outside the town limits. And while Stantec representatives didn’t address the political side of that equation, the Town’s charging of double the in-town rate for water-sewer service outside the town limits as part of their three-pronged overview of rates and fees.
“Are they appropriate?” Stantec’s David Hyder asked rhetorically of the double out-of-town rate during a PowerPoint presentation. His company’s answer was “yes” – that the Town maintains its 100% surcharge, or double the in-town rate for out of town service. That recommendation was based on several industry-standard criteria revolving around cost differentials for the provision of that service.
In fact, Hyder noted that his company’s analysis including a number of customers, miles of pipe laid, debt incurred, assets involved in providing the service, and flow rates pointed to a 121.6% water surcharge and 108.2% sewer surcharge. However, given yearly fluctuations on a “weighted” basis, Stantec reasoned that maintaining the 100% surcharge appropriate.
Back in town
As for the in-town customers, there is an increase on the table over the next five years. That increase is a 2% hike to water rates annually and a 3.5% increase in sewer rates. That averages to just under 3%, at 2.9% combined. But don’t panic, the combined annual increase for the average user of 5,500 gallons monthly on a 3/4-inch line is about 65-cents for water and $1.90 for sewer, totaling a hike of just over $2.50 annually each year between FY-2021 and FY-2025.
Stantec also recommended a reduction in “system development charges” generally known as tap fees, to reflect actual costs of new connections. That decrease for water and sewer would be from $14,090 to $9,993 (from current $4,340 water to $2,663; and current $9,750 sewer to $7,330). In comparison to 12 other area jurisdictions, those suggested reductions would take Front Royal from fifth from the highest, behind only Manassas, Culpeper, Warrenton, and Manassas Park, to third from the lowest higher than only Woodstock and Waynesboro.
Hear Stantec principals David Hyder and Andrew Burnham’s detailed explanation of Stantec’s recommendations in this Royal Examiner recording of the work session, as well as other business before the council. More on the work session in forthcoming Royal Examiner stories.