Join us for llama stories, games, snacks, and a craft! For ages 6-12. Registration begins January 13.
Humane Society’s ‘Polar Plunge’ rescheduled to Saturday, March 13
The Humane Society of Warren County “Polar Plunge” delayed from February 20 due to “too-polar” weather here in northwestern Virginia has been rescheduled to Saturday, March 13 – Don’t worry, it will still be a “Polar Plunge” because it’ll still be winter then, though hopefully for the plungers with a continuation of the current turn toward spring-like 60 degree temperatures! In its inaugural year of 2020, the event became a popular fundraiser supporting the Humane Society’s efforts on behalf of the local animal community and the HSWC’s Julia Wagner Animal Shelter.
As reported in the original press release on the event: this year’s “plunge” is made possible through the sponsorship of City National Bank, Cool Techs Heating and Air, Ellen Aders State Farm, AirPac, MDUB Chauffeur Services and Cavalier Kennels. This year’s event is expected to help raise as much as $12,000 for the Humane Society.
There were 35 plungers initially signed up to take a dip in the icy water, each working to help raise much-needed funds for homeless animals in Warren County. There are 15 new plungers, and 20 returning plungers who will all run into the Culpeper Lake at the 4-H Center, followed by a warm-up at the fire pit.
The event team will be ensuring that all CDC Covid-19 guidelines are followed, and masks will be required at this outdoor event.
In 2020, pre-pandemic, the top fundraiser was Molly Llewellyn, who raised over $1,000 for the shelter. There was also an award for best dressed. Both of these awards will be returning for the 2021 event.
The Humane Society of Warren County is a non-profit animal shelter that houses homeless, neglected, abused and unwanted animals. While primarily dealing with cats and dogs, the shelter has also been home to livestock, birds, reptiles and more.
Executive Director Meghan Bowers avoided taking the plunge last year, but is leading the charge into the water in 2021 dressed as a shark, so far raising about $467 from friends and family.
Hot drinks, Strites Donuts and music will keep participants warm during the run up and aftermath of the short but stimulating plunge.
For more information on this event or others, please visit HSWC Events Page.
Town Talk: A conversation with Steven Hicks, Front Royal Town Manager
In this Town Talk, our publisher Mike McCool speaks with Steven Hicks, Front Royal Town Manager. Hicks started as Town Manager on December 7, 2020.
Hicks has over 25 years of state and local government experience. He was previously the Town Manager of Selma, NC that provided a full range of services including Solid Waste, Water, Sewer, and Electric, as well as Police and Fire.
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
Governor Northam increases capacity limits for outdoor sports and entertainment venues
On February 24, 2021, Governor Ralph Northam announced that as COVID-19 hospitalizations and infection rates continue to decline and vaccinations rise in Virginia, certain outdoor sports and entertainment venues may begin to operate at increased capacity starting Monday, March 1. He amended Executive Order Seventy-Two with the next steps of the “Forward Virginia” plan to safely and gradually ease public health restrictions while mitigating the spread of the virus.
“Thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of all Virginians, hospitalization and positivity rates across the Commonwealth are the lowest they have been in nearly three months,” said Governor Northam. “As key health metrics show encouraging trends, and we continue to ramp up our vaccination efforts, we can begin to gradually resume certain recreational activities and further reopen sectors of our economy. Even as we take steps to safely ease public health guidelines, we must all remain vigilant, so we can maintain our progress—the more we stay home, mask up, and practice social distancing, the more lives we will save from this dangerous virus.”
The Commonwealth will maintain a Safer at Home strategy with continued strict health and safety protocols including physical distancing, mask-wearing requirements, gathering limits, and business capacity restrictions. The current modified Stay at Home order will expire on February 28, 2021.
Governor Northam is beginning to ease public health restrictions by taking steps to increase capacity limits in outdoor settings, where evidence shows the risk of airborne transmission of COVID-19 is lower. The key changes in the Third Amended Executive Order Seventy-Two include:
• Social gatherings: The maximum number of individuals permitted in a social gathering will increase from 10 to 25 people for outdoor settings, while remaining at 10 persons for indoor settings.
• Entertainment venues: Outdoor entertainment and public amusement venues will be able to operate with up to 1,000 individuals or at 30 percent capacity, whichever is lower. If current trends continue, these venues may be able to operate at 30 percent capacity with no cap on the number of people permitted to attend starting in April. Indoor entertainment and public amusement venues must continue to operate at 30 percent capacity with a cap of 250 people. All entertainment venues were previously limited to a maximum of 250 individuals.
• Dining establishments: The on-site sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol will be permitted until midnight, extended from 10:00 p.m. All restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms still must be closed between midnight and 5:00 a.m.
• Overnight summer camps: As of May 1, overnight summer camps will be able to open with strict mitigation measures in place. Registration can begin now.
The new guidelines will be effective for at least one month and mitigation measures may be eased further if key health metrics continue to improve. Current guidelines for retail businesses, fitness and exercise, large amusement venues, and personal grooming services will remain in place. Individuals are strongly encouraged to continue teleworking if possible.
Governor Northam COVID-19 update briefing – February 24, 2021
Governor Northam joins the Virginia Emergency Support Team to share the latest updates on the COVID-19 response.
Amended Town Press Release on Hicks assumption of dual Town Manager/EDA Director job
Editor’s Note: Following the submission of several questions from Royal Examiner to the Town about Mr. Hicks appointment to the EDA Executive Director’s position, this amended press release was issued after 5 p.m., Tuesday, February 23, under the headline “Steven Hicks, takes on an additional role as FREDA Executive Director”
Front Royal, VA (February 23, 2021) – Last night the Front Royal Town Council formalized the establishment of the Front Royal Economic Development Authority (FREDA) effective March 15, 2021. To oversee FREDA, Council plans to appoint Steven Hicks as the Executive Director in addition to his role as Town Manager at his current salary. Council and Hicks felt this approach would offset the cost of hiring an Executive Director to save the taxpayer’s dollars.
Hicks has significant experience in leading public-private development projects targeting downtown revitalization. In Selma, N.C., he partnered with Eastfield Crossing Developers and Duke Energy to amend a 400-acre mixed-used development and incentive agreement to increase the Town’s tax base and create 3,100 jobs.
Hicks has a Master of Science Degree in Civil and Infrastructure Engineering (USE) from George Mason University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Urban Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia Darden School Senior Executive Institute, the University of North Carolina School of Government Municipal and County Administration, and the Virginia Tech Transportation Construction Management Institute.
He served as the Commissioner of North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency, Triangle East Chamber of Commerce Board of Director and Uptown Selma Business Partnership Board Director. He is a member of the International City Management Association and Virginia Economic Developers Association (VEDA).
Council is currently seeking applicants to serve as members of the Board of Directors. Applications are available on the Town’s website at www.frontroyalva.com and will be accepted until March 31, 2021.
(The following press release was issued by the Town of Front Royal shortly after Mayor Holloway read it into the record of the Feb. 22 Town Council meeting, Monday evening.)
The Front Royal Town Council is pleased to announce plans to establish the Front Royal Economic Development Authority (FREDA) on March 15, 2021, and will be naming Town Manager, Steven Hicks as the Executive Director. The Town is currently seeking applicants to serve as members of the Board of Directors until March 31, 2021. Last year the Virginia General Assembly authorized the formation of the FREDA. Since that authorization, the Town has codified the Town EDA in Town Code.
The decision to move forward with FREDA was not taken hastily or lightly. The Town’s decision to move forward with its own independent EDA has more to do with the present and future rather than the past.
The Town has re-development and economic development needs now that Council does not believe the County’s EDA is in the position to perform. Small businesses have been impacted by the pandemic and are in need of recovery. In addition, there are many empty storefronts now and Council hopes we can prevent more in the coming years. Having FREDA will also make it easier and quicker to improve the quality of life and appearance of Front Royal by addressing blighted properties through various tools and resources available to EDA’s.
The challenges facing the current County EDA are significant. For example, on September 25, 2019, the EDA agreed to enter into a Confession of Judgment with The First Bank and Trust.
The Confession of Judgment and supporting documentation appear to indicate the following:
• The sum for the judgment is $9,015,742 at an annual interest rate of 6%
• The loan was a line of credit up to $17 million
• Security for the loan in part stated, “Security agreement granting an interest in all the borrower’s accounts and government payments and programs including but not limited to all present and
future payments now or hereafter appropriated and made or to be made by the Town of Front Royal, Virginia and/or the County of Warren, Virginia, to the borrower….”
Based upon legal interpretation, this Confession of Judgment means all EDA assets not currently secured by another party are subject to the Confession of Judgment or in essence, the property of The First Bank and Trust Company up to $9M. This Confession of Judgment impairs buying property for the County or the Town unless the bank allows it. If the EDA enters into a lease, lease revenues would go to The First Bank and Trust Company. Due to the low creditworthiness of the EDA, it cannot obtain bonds, loans, or other types of financing without the County and/or Town’s direct involvement. Couple this Confession of Judgment with the EDA’s insolvency, ongoing litigation, lack of three years of audits, and low creditworthiness, it will be difficult for the EDA to function as a traditional EDA for many years in order to help our community, specifically our Town.
The Front Royal Town Council is committed to working in partnership with Warren County and its EDA. By no means should the Town’s initiative to focus on the Town’s re-development be construed as an unwillingness to work with the County. We just believe from a business perspective; formalizing FREDA is the only way the Town can focus on re-development with real results.
The Town Council would consider joining the County’s EDA in the future once all the following takes place with the County’s EDA:
1. It not only has produced missing audits but previous and future audits need to be clean.
2. It is solvent.
3. The Confession of Judgment is released.
4. All possible criminal investigations and civil litigation has been concluded.
5. The Town taxpayers have recovered all misappropriated, stolen, or fraudulently obtained assets by the EDA or its employee(s).
As part of the Town’s FY22 Budget, the Town will be able to invest $100,000 without sacrificing services to start FREDA. Additionally, the Town anticipates receiving over $100,000 from the sale of real estate which will be re-invested into our Town.
In conclusion, considering the state of affairs with the County’s EDA and in consideration of the Town’s needs to expand its tax base through economic development and marketing, it is imperative that the Town move towards ramping up its own EDA as soon as possible.
If any member of the public has any further questions, please contact Todd C. Jones, Town Public Information Officer.
Sons of the American Revolution celebrate George Washington’s birthday
On February 22, 2021, the Colonel James Wood II (CJWII) Chapter of the Virginia Society Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) participated in a commemoration to celebrate George Washington’s Birthday. George Washington was born at his family’s plantation on Popes Creek in Westmoreland County, Virginia, on February 22, 1732, to Augustine and Mary Ball Washington.
For his birth date, there are two dates, February 22, 1732, and February 11, 1731. Both dates are correct. At his birth, Great Britain and its empire used the Julian calendar developed in in 46 B.C. by Julius Ceaser. It had three too many leap days every 400 years and the year began March 25th. The Catholic Church corrected the error in the 1582, implementing the Gregorian Calendar, skipping 10 days and starting the year on January 1st. Great Britain and her colonies were not catholic, and therefore did not adopt the new calendar. In 1751, Britain joined the majority of countries in the world and adopted the Gregorian Calendar. This created the change from February 11 to 22 for Washington’s Birthday.
An extraordinary figure in American history, Washington was an ordinary man. He possessed a wry sense of humor, and, like his wife Martha, tried to resist the vanities of public life. An unenthusiastic political leader, Washington nevertheless recognized his unique and symbolic role in keeping a fledgling nation together. He was keenly aware of setting unwritten rules of conduct for future presidents and struggled over what sort of image a president should project. He preferred one of dignity and humility.
Upon leaving office, Washington returned to Mount Vernon and indulged his passion for the rural life as a member of the Virginia planter class. Washington died on December 14, 1799, of a severe respiratory ailment. He identified himself in his will as George Washington, of Mount Vernon, a citizen of the United States.
The ceremony was conducted in Culpeper and emceed by Charles Jameson, President of the Culpeper Minutemen Chapter of the SAR. A combined color guard from the Culpeper Minutemen (CMM), Colonel James Wood II, Fairfax Resolves (FR), Thomas Jefferson (TJ), George Mason (GM) and Colonel William Grayson (CWG) SAR Chapters presented the colors. Excerpts from Washington’s farewell address were recited by various individuals and the presentation on George Washington by Tom Hamill.
Participating from the CJWII Chapter were Sean Carrigan, Dale Corey, Thomas “Chip” Daniel and Dennis Parmerter. Other SAR compatriots included Dave Cook (FR), Mike Dennis (CMM), Pat Kelly (TJ), Ken Morris (GM), Bill Schwetke (CMM) and Mike Weyler (CWG).