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The new on-campus college experience: self-isolation and distraction
Social isolation due to the coronavirus has become a stressor for many college students across Virginia, who report that studying is more difficult and their mental health is suffering.
Shane Emory, a senior broadcast journalism major at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, says he is experiencing this firsthand. While the dorms are quieter overall, there is very little opportunity to escape distractions. Emory says that his guitar and television are the top two things that draw him away from work.
Since the pandemic swept the nation, altered routines have become the new normal. Students who usually study in the library say that is no longer an option to consider lightly. Many students say the best option is to stay put and endure distractions and loneliness rather than risk contracting the virus or unknowingly endangering someone else.
Camryn Nesmith, a junior nursing major at Liberty University in Lynchburg, says that increased social isolation has taken a toll on her concentration and mental well-being. She also says that it is difficult to escape from loud noises and distractions in her dorm.
“There has been an effect on my school work because I don’t do well-doing schoolwork in my dorm. I need to be in the library or somewhere like that,” she says. “I try to get my work done early in the morning when it’s quiet.”
Nesmith feels that Liberty prioritizes the safety of its students and that there are always people enforcing the rules and making sure everyone wears a mask. The university is currently reporting 184 total cases since Sept. 2. Almost 490 on-campus students are currently quarantined, along with 492 commuters and 139 employees.
Marian Woodington, a sophomore vocal music education major at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, says via email that she initially attended in-person classes, albeit reluctantly. Cases quickly spiked at the Harrisonburg-based university, hitting over 500 the first-week classes resumed.
“I did feel reluctant because, since there were not harsh regulations, anyone could have sat in the seat that I chose, and they could be sick,” she says. “The rooms were only cleaned at certain times throughout the day and you never know what someone else has touched when walking into a building.”
JMU classes were moved online about a week after starting consultation with the Virginia Department of Health. As of Friday, the university has reported almost 1,400 total coronavirus cases since Aug. 17.
The pandemic has caused a significant mental health impact on students. More students are using VCU support services, according to Jihad Aziz, the interim executive director of VCU University Counseling Services. Students who have sought counseling this semester raise many concerns such as worry over family members and the fear of contracting the coronavirus, Aziz said in an email.
The office has implemented some new methods in response, such as offering support groups for students that meet weekly over Zoom.
“We know that students are seeking connection and it’s important that they know that they are not alone during these difficult times,” Aziz says. “We have support groups specifically for students of color, those with chronic health issues, health professional students, and a few others.”
VCU initially experienced a spike in cases when a cluster of 44 positive cases connected to VCU Athletics was reported in the second week of classes. The university has reported a total of 251 cases since Aug. 17.
COVID-19 and the accompanying economic recession have negatively affected the mental health of many people, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. A Kaiser poll taken in mid-July reported that 53% of U.S. adults say their anxiety levels have increased significantly due to stress associated with COVID-19. Adults also reported difficulties sleeping and eating due to worry and stress over the coronavirus.
Rickaya Sykes, a junior theatre performance major at VCU, has a different perspective on how staying inside has affected her mental health. She considers herself an extrovert but says that prolonged periods indoors have improved her concentration and time management.
“I’m able to relax knowing that I don’t want to go out because of the virus,” she says. “I can stay in and cook, I can watch movies, and I don’t feel pressured to be on the go all the time. I find it soothing to not have plans to go anywhere.”
According to the CDC, taking time to relax and unwind can be a good way to cope with stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. Like Sykes, Emory also is taking time to relax. When the call of his guitar becomes too loud to ignore, he puts down the books and picks it up.
By Hunter Britt
Capital News Service
Town press release says it was working on FRPD financing when EDA suit filed
In a press release issued at 3:15 p.m., Friday afternoon, from the office of Town of Front Royal Information Technology and Communications Director Todd Jones, Interim Town Manager Matt Tederick responds with astonishment, and some astonishing news, in reaction to the EDA filing of a lawsuit Thursday to recover the nearly $9 million cost of the new FRPD headquarters.
That news is that the Town was in the process of acquiring bank financing to pay the principal amount, if not interest, on the new town police headquarters this week.
As previously reported, at Monday’s Front Royal Town Council meeting, Councilman and mayoral candidate Chris Holloway read a three-page prepared statement into the record on the Town’s stance on its lack of obligation “legal, moral or otherwise … to repay these unlawful debts” to cover what was termed “a fraudulent, unauthorized loan” acquired by the EDA to finance the FRPD headquarters construction project for the Town.
Holloway confirmed that the statement was prepared by the Town’s contracted Damiani & Damiani law firm that is handling its $20-million-plus lawsuit against the EDA, in response to his inquiry on the matter.
The statement also states that the Town “has explored other means of resolving the issue” and “is willing to make payments to the EDA for the Police Department Headquarters that are equal to the payments that Town Council authorized, which include the entire principal debt at the authorized interest rate.”
It would seem somewhere along the negotiating lines between the Town, County, and EDA, there has been a failure to communicate essential information.
Here is the Town press release and Tederick’s statement in its entirety:
The EDA Sues the Town of Front Royal on the Verge of Obtaining a Loan
24 Hours After the Town Receiving Bank Term Sheet, EDA Sues. Coincidence?
The Town of Front Royal filed a $20,226,153 lawsuit against the Warren County Economic Development Authority (EDA) in an effort to recover money fraudulently obtained by the ex-Executive Director, Jennifer McDonald, and perhaps others under the failed oversight of the Economic Development Board of Directors.
Interim Town Manager Matt Tederick commented, “This lawsuit is really bizarre, less than twenty-four hours after I received a formal Term Sheet from a lending institution to pay the principle balance which the County, the EDA, and the Town do not dispute, the EDA calls a Special Meeting, one day before it’s normal meeting date, and decides to file a Complaint and Writ of Mandamus against the Town, effectively preventing the Town from obtaining the very financing being demanded. Coincidence?
“Just yesterday I received a call from Ed Daley, Interim County Administrator, who asked me if the EDA’s Finance Director could meet with the Town’s Finance Director to reconcile Leach Run Parkway accounting. Of course, I eagerly and happily agreed. Then, 24 hours later, the EDA sues the Town. Coincidence?
“As much as I would personally like to litigate this matter in the court of public opinion, as the EDA has done, I will not. This much I will say, the EDA has caused great harm to the citizens of the Town of Front Royal, and yet, no one has been brought to justice and the EDA continually claims to be the victim. The EDA is responsible for the negative consequences flowing from the actions of its ex Executive Director. The Town is trying to assist in dealing with the economic fallout, but ultimate responsibility remains with the EDA. The Town intends to continue its efforts to finance the Police Department Headquarters.”
Online auction to support St Luke Community Clinic
Fundraisers have been difficult for our local non-profits this year. Please consider participating in St Luke Community Clinic – Online Auction starting September 21. Watch this video to learn more. Visit St. Luke’s site to see all items available!
Any items that would like to be viewed in person can be done in a private viewing by calling St. Luke Community Clinic at 540-636-4325. They will be happy to arrange a time for you to come look at any item you are interested in. The auction starts on Monday, September 21, 2020, at 7:00 am and ends on September 26, 2020, at 6:00 pm.
EDA requesting Development Proposals for Royal Lane property
Request for Proposals Sought for Royal Lane—A 36 Apartment Unit Development The WCEDA is pleased to announce the release for sale or request for proposals for the development of a thirty-six-unit apartment complex to be developed and built on Royal Lane within the Town of Front Royal. EDA Administration and the Asset Management Committee are presenting two acquisition and development options to qualified individuals or firms seeking to develop and build the first new apartment complex in Front Royal in over twenty years.
The primary mission and goal of the WCEDA is to provide a thriving climate for economic development opportunities within the entire community. Providing a mechanism for offering a market-based apartment complex, designed for the workforce community, is a necessitating factor for the overall economic health and maintaining sustainable and smart growth for the region. Communities thrive with the appropriate mix and balance of industry, service, education, sound government, and safe, affordable housing. Newly constructed apartments will provide additional housing options and fill a void in the current market structure.
Asset Committee Chairman Greg Harold recently presented and consulted with Mayor Eugene Tewalt and Vice Mayor William Sealock on the EDA’s continued ambitions in developing this project for its highest and best use. Town Council’s recent action in reducing System Development Charges and the granting of a Special Use Permit for this location will provide long term benefits to the community. The reduced fee structure along with Council’s recognition that the in-town housing stock for new apartment complexes and land parcels for multifamily developments are nearly non-existent will provide a new opportunity with the EDA’s partnership and leadership.
Committee Chairman Harold would like to convey to the community that while “workforce housing” is a popular buzz word amongst development and municipal circles, previous EDA leadership unintentionally mischaracterized such labels due to their inexperience and lack of true understanding of such housing structures. Workforce Housing initiatives are routinely sponsored and administered through local or regional Housing Development Authorities, secular and non-secular non-profits, or housing trusts that have clearly defined parameters that have been codified in town code or zoning ordinances; neither of which is present in Front Royal’s guiding documents.
What was once previously represented as housing designed for teachers, firefighters, nurses, and government administration staff, will not be the only community stewards eligible for residency.
All working individuals and families that find themselves beyond subsidized housing thresholds may find an opportunity in the development of this nature. By virtue of it being a private-public partnership and not seeking state or federal housing dollars, it will be a workforce housing project in the truest sense; regardless of professional affiliation. Other distinguishing attributes of this newly re-tooled project is the EDA’s ambition and commitment of being a facilitator in this transaction and operating with a high level of transparency in devising an RFP process where the investment community can competitively participate and present options and successful models with measurable results.
The WCEDA looks forward to engaging with all interested investors and developers in helping realize this project for the Town of Front Royal and the community at large. Request for development packages can be obtained at the 400 Kendrick Lane office or through Doug Parsons at Dparsons@wceda.com. Mr. Parsons can also be reached at 540-635-2182 Ext.2 for additional information.
Existing site engineering plans can be purchased through the WCEDA. Please contact Doug Parsons for further information.
Town Talk: A conversation with Vicki Davies, St. Luke Community Clinic
In this Town Talk, our publisher Mike McCool speaks with Vicki Davies, Executive Director, St. Luke Community Clinic in Front Royal. The clinic services the residents of Front Royal/Warren County.
As a Warren County/Front Royal Resident and do not have health insurance:
- if you are a single person making $38,280 or less per year,
- if you are a family of 2 and your total household income is $51,720 or less per year,
- if you are a family of 3 and your total household income is $65,160 or less per year,
- if you are a family of 4 and your total household income is $78,600 or less per year,
For more information on new patient screening requirements call: (540) 636-4325. St. Luke Community Clinic, 316 North Royal Avenue, Front Royal, Virginia.
Please support the online auction the Clinic is holding, starting September 12, 2020, at 7 am and will end on September 26, 2020, at 6 pm.
Visit the event page of the Clinic here for auction information –https://saintlukeclinic.org/events/
Special thanks to the sponsors of the auction: Southern States, Winchester Ciderworks, Advanced Auto, Photography from Barbara Moore, Blue Wing Frog, Custom Golf Club from Bobby Chestnut, Field and Main, Ferguson Enterprises, Frontier Culture Museum, Glen Manor, Dr. Stoners and Griffin Tavern.
St. Luke Community Clinic
316 North Royal Avenue
Front Royal, VA 22630
Town Talk is a series on the Royal Examiner where we will introduce you to local entrepreneurs, businesses, non-profit leaders, and political figures who influence Warren County. Topics will be varied but hopefully interesting. If you have an idea, topic, or want to hear from someone in our community, let us know. Send your request to news@RoyalExaminer.com
Unique finds from local artisans
The next time you want to treat yourself or someone special, consider choosing an item made by a local artisan. Here are some tips to help you find original, hand-crafted products.
What to look for
Artisans work in a variety of different mediums including wood, glass, leather, ceramic, metal and textiles. The kinds of products that these materials become, however, is limited only by the artisan’s imagination. Here’s just a sample:
• Jewelry (bracelets, rings, pendants, and earrings)
• Clothes and accessories (hats, belts, handbags, and shawls)
• Decorative art (paintings, sculptures, candles, and mobiles)
• Homeware (furniture, quilts, ceramics, and cutlery)
Where to shop
Artisans tend to be resourceful individuals, and they have multiple ways of showcasing their products. Here are some places you can find their wares:
• Online. Most local artisans have an online shop you can order from. Alternatively, they may sell their products through a digital marketplace like Etsy.
• Consignment shops. These stores sell a variety of products made by local artisans, which means you can often find an interesting assortment of goods and specialty items.
• Craft fairs and markets. Events like these are a chance to meet local artisans in person and learn more about their trade.
So, why settle for mass-produced items when you can purchase one-of-a-kind products made with love? Shop for local artisanal goods today.