Carriage Barn in the Historic Area.
What’s that buzzing? Meet with local apiarists of Beekeepers of the Northern Shenandoah (BONS – online at bonsbees.com) and discover the art of Apiculture (a.k.a. Beekeeping). This monthly program series examines all aspects of beekeeping from hive construction to honey extraction. Learn how to set up and care for your own hives using historic and modern agricultural techniques.
FedNow: Ushering in an Era of Instant Money Transfers
The Federal Reserve’s New Leap Toward Real-Time Payments.
The frustration of waiting days for money transfers may soon be a thing of the past for American consumers and businesses. The Federal Reserve’s fresh-out-of-the-oven instant payment service, aptly named FedNow, is geared up to redefine the pace and efficacy of monetary transactions.
Traditionally, the Automated Clearing House (ACH) system has been the backbone for banks to process payments, a method often mired by its sluggish three-day clearing and settlement process. Under ACH, banks first exchange and verify payment details (clearing) before the actual fund transfer (settlement) is executed.
FedNow aims to bypass this prolonged waiting period by introducing real-time processing and settlement of transactions. This means users can experience almost instantaneous money transfers, regardless of weekends or public holidays, eliminating the conventional banking downtime.
However, there’s a slight catch. Consumers won’t directly enroll in the FedNow service. Instead, it’s up to their respective banks to integrate with the service. While this does come at a cost to the banks, it remains uncertain if and how these charges might trickle down to the average consumer.
Yet, the potential benefits are undeniably tempting. Imagine being able to clear bills right on the due date or making time-sensitive transactions without a hiccup. Such seamless transactions could significantly reduce overdrawn accounts and late payment fees and even lessen the reliance on physical cash and checks.
Though officially launched at July’s end, the system isn’t entirely new to the scene. Approximately 120 banks have already been putting FedNow to the test since 2021, ensuring its efficiency and reliability. However, it’s worth noting that for the time being, FedNow’s capabilities will be limited to domestic transfers within the United States.
As the world marches steadfastly into the digital age, financial systems must evolve to cater to contemporary needs. With the introduction of FedNow, the Federal Reserve has taken a pivotal step in bridging the divide between traditional banking and the swift-paced demands of today. Although only time will reveal its full impact on the banking landscape, for now, it seems both consumers and businesses have a lot to look forward to.
Stitching Ethics into the Fabric: The Case for Locally Made Clothing
Why Your Wardrobe Choices Could be a Statement for Sustainability and Social Justice.
In a world bombarded by ceaseless marketing and seasonal sales, the temptation to indulge in fast fashion is stronger than ever. Online retail giants and big-box stores beckon consumers with a carousel of choices at irresistibly low prices. But as it turns out, the true cost of a cheap wardrobe may be more than one bargains for. From dubious working conditions in overseas factories to environmentally detrimental production methods, the fast fashion industry is increasingly coming under scrutiny for its ethical and ecological practices.
When the price tag reads $8 for a new sweater or $20 for a pair of pants, many consumers understandably see it as a deal too good to pass up. However, the shockingly low costs often point to a darker reality. Clothing priced this way is usually manufactured in facilities where workers face oppressive conditions—long hours in poorly ventilated areas and compensation that barely meets the living wage. By patronizing these brands, consumers inadvertently endorse a system that exploits vulnerable populations.
The allure of fast fashion does not stop at its social impact. It is also an environmental concern. The rapid turnover of styles contributes to enormous waste, much of which ends up in landfills. Moreover, the production processes of many fast fashion companies are far from green, contributing to pollution and unsustainable resource usage.
It takes deliberate effort to stand against the tide of convenient consumerism. Opting for quality over quantity presents an effective antidote. Consider this: Instead of buying four pairs of fast-fashion pants that will lose their shape and hue within months, why not invest in one durable pair from a local artisan for $80? In doing so, you’re not just buying pants but also investing in fair labor practices and, often, more sustainable materials and production methods.
Thinking locally when updating your wardrobe has benefits that extend beyond personal ethics and environmental consciousness. Local businesses often have a more transparent supply chain, allowing consumers to know exactly where their products are coming from. Furthermore, buying locally infuses money back into the community, supporting a cycle of prosperity that uplifts small businesses and provides employment.
The fashion industry is at a crossroads. While fast fashion, with its high-volume, low-cost business model, offers tantalizing options for the budget-conscious consumer, its hidden costs are increasingly hard to ignore. Thankfully, alternatives exist. By choosing to patronize local artisans and small businesses that prioritize fair labor and sustainable practices, consumers can make a significant impact. Your wardrobe doesn’t just have to be a collection of fabrics and patterns; it can be a testament to your values and a contribution to a more equitable world.
Shenandoah Rail Trail: An Ambitious Vision On Track
Stitching Towns and Nature Together with a 50-Mile Thread.
A broad coalition of elected officials, economic development leaders, business owners, nonprofit partners, and state legislators gathered last week in Front Royal to discuss progress on the proposed Shenandoah Rail Trail. This ambitious 50-mile multi-use trail would convert an abandoned railroad corridor into a shared-use path connecting nine towns and three counties along the Shenandoah Valley.
The meeting provided an opportunity to update Senator Tim Kaine on the status of the project and emerging funding opportunities. Kaine has been a longtime supporter of the trail, noting during the discussion that he’s an avid cyclist familiar with the region’s trails. “When I first heard about plans for the Shenandoah Rail Trail, I thought it would work great, and it’s exciting to see the progress made,” he said.
Kaine emphasized the value of demonstrating successful trails to gain local buy-in, saying, “The more model trails are up and running, the more small towns can see the benefits and want to get on board.”
The diverse group highlighted how their coordinated efforts are building momentum for the project. Natasha Skelton of The Conservation Fund, which is negotiating the acquisition of the corridor from Norfolk Southern, said: “We have strong localized support up and down the corridor, with all nine towns and three counties in agreement that this is what they want to do with the vacant rail line.”
The newly formed Friends of the Shenandoah Rail Trail will spearhead private fundraising efforts. The trail partnership is also pursuing federal funding through a $25 million RAISE grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. At the state level, $35 million has been allocated so far from the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Proponents emphasized the potential economic benefits of the trail for tourism and small businesses focused on outdoor recreation. “We see this as an asset that businesses can build off of,” said Joe Petty, Executive Director of the Front Royal/Warren County Economic Development Authority.
Others highlighted community engagement progress, including a series of public meetings that collected input on trail preferences from over 700 residents. Outreach to diverse populations, such as non-English speaking poultry plant workers who could use the trail to commute, is also underway.
The scenic value of trail bridges slated to cross rivers and rail lines was noted as iconic attractions for visitors. Local connections via trails and greenways linking to the main corridor will also help residents access the amenities.
Senator Kaine’s visit gave the partners a high-profile platform to share their vision and progress. With strong local alignments, funding pursuits underway, and engagement efforts to spread awareness, the Shenandoah Rail Trail initiative appears to be building unstoppable momentum.
A Golden Discovery: Civil War Era Treasure Unearthed in Kentucky
Kentucky’s Buried Secrets: The Civil War’s Lost Wealth Comes to Light.
While most people uncover forgotten toys or age-old utensils when digging up their backyards, a Kentucky resident stumbled upon a rare treasure: a hoard of gold coins, hidden possibly during the tumultuous Civil War era.
A Historical Treasure Trove
In an unexpected turn of events in 2023, a man from Kentucky made an astonishing discovery while working in his field. As his shovel hit a solid object, he unearthed a cache of 700 gold coins, all dating back to the period between 1840 and 1863.
Given the historical backdrop of the American Civil War, Kentucky’s shifting allegiances to both the Union and Confederacy make this discovery even more intriguing. An expert conflict archaeologist suggests that the coins, based on their time stamp and geographic location, were likely buried during a period when Kentucky maintained a neutral stance in the war. According to sources from Live Science, these precious relics might have been secreted away in anticipation of Confederate John Hunt Morgan’s raid in July 1863.
Unlike other nations where the government claims historic finds on private property, the U.S. allows individuals to retain their discoveries. However, tax obligations still apply.
A Windfall Worth Millions
After authentication, the gold cache was promptly sold. While the exact amount remains undisclosed, estimates from the Numismatic Guaranty Company place the hoard’s value at a staggering $2 million. Remarkably, gold dollars constituted around 95% of the entire collection. To put this in perspective, a singular $20 Liberty coin from 1863 could fetch over $100,000 at an auction. In total, this treasure trove boasted 18 such coins.
This astonishing discovery underscores the rich tapestry of American history, lying dormant just beneath our feet. The Kentucky man’s find not only offers a tangible link to a bygone era of conflict and upheaval but also serves as a testament to the unpredictability and allure of treasure hunting. The next time you’re in your garden, remember: history might just be a few inches away.
Nordic Walking: The Outdoor Activity Revolutionizing Fitness in Retirement
Not Just a Walk in the Park: Why Nordic Walking is Gaining Ground as a Full-Body Workout.
Once a summer training program for cross-country skiing athletes, Nordic walking is now an outdoor sport that’s carving out its own niche in the fitness world. With more and more seniors taking up the sport as an excellent way to maintain physical health and social engagement, it’s time to dig deeper into what Nordic walking is and why it’s gaining popularity.
At first glance, Nordic walking appears very similar to regular walking or hiking. The fundamental difference is the use of specialized walking sticks, known as Nordic poles. Originally, the sport was devised as a way for cross-country skiers to stay in top form during the summer months. Fast forward to today, and it’s increasingly becoming the go-to outdoor activity for people from all walks of life, especially seniors.
One of the most compelling reasons to opt for Nordic walking over its simpler counterpart is its ability to engage a higher percentage of your body’s muscles. While regular walking chiefly employs the lower limbs, Nordic walking involves an estimated 80 to 90 percent of your body’s muscles. It goes beyond just taking a stroll; it’s essentially a full-body workout. Studies have shown that the sport burns calories at a rate comparable to jogging but without the high-impact stress on your joints.
As the demographic of seniors continues to grow, there is a critical need for low-impact sports that also offer high health dividends. Nordic walking seems to fit the bill perfectly. The use of poles helps distribute your body weight across four points (two feet and two poles), thus relieving your joints from unnecessary stress. Additionally, it’s been shown to improve muscle tone, coordination, posture, and balance—key health metrics that often decline with age.
The essentials for Nordic walking are minimal: a pair of high-quality Nordic poles and comfortable, supportive footwear. The sport’s versatile nature means you can practice it virtually anywhere—from city streets and parks to dedicated walking paths. For those new to the game, various fitness centers and outdoor groups offer introductory sessions to help you get a handle on the techniques and ensure optimal muscle engagement.
Many sports stores are recognizing the sport’s surging popularity and are stocking up on Nordic poles. Experts in these stores can guide you on the best equipment for your needs, ensuring that you set off on the right foot, so to speak.
Nordic walking is shedding its image as a mere off-season training method for winter athletes and is emerging as a fitness routine for everyone. Its minimal equipment needs, full-body engagement, and low-impact nature make it particularly appealing for seniors. As the sport continues to gain traction, it offers not just a new way to keep fit but also a social, multi-generational activity that brings communities together.
Behind the Badge: A Day in the Life of a Warren County Sheriff’s Animal Control Officer
Protecting the Animal Kingdom, One Day at a Time.
At first glance, Deputy Greg Long of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office may look like any other law enforcement officer. But, his daily encounters with animals of all kinds, from snakes to stray cats, set him apart.
Deputy Long serves as the county’s primary animal control officer. This role sees him overseeing the annual statistics of received animals, ensuring that the training requirements for the animal control division are up to par, and liaising with the general public about animal-related matters.
Not just limited to domesticated pets, Deputy Long’s responsibilities also extend to inspecting commercial kennels twice a year and managing the dangerous dog registry. These dogs, once identified as ‘dangerous,’ are subjected to yearly checks to guarantee public safety. Even hybrid animals, which surprisingly find their homes in the county, aren’t exempt from these periodic checks.
Despite what some might think, animal control isn’t a one-person job. The department also employs several animal control officers who aid in handling various situations. These situations range from dealing with livestock to answering calls about injured wildlife. Their collaboration with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries ensures that injured wildlife, such as deer or birds of prey, receive the proper care they need.
When asked about the necessity of having deputies handle animal control, Deputy Long explained the intricate legal framework surrounding animal control. Officers go through rigorous training, amassing 120 hours of comprehensive learning. This training educates them on first aid for animals, recognizing different species and breeds, and even discerning potential rabies cases.
One of the many commendable initiatives under the purview of the department is its emergency sheltering plan. Echoing the challenges faced during hurricanes in states like Florida and Louisiana, where animals were left stranded due to inadequate shelter provisions, Warren County’s response involves a fully equipped trailer. This trailer, loaded with essentials like cages and ID tags, aims to ensure that no pet is left behind during natural or man-made disasters.
The vehicle that Deputy Long operates may appear ordinary, but it’s specially adapted for animal transport. Designed with the comfort and safety of the animals in mind, it boasts air-conditioned cages, ensuring animals aren’t exposed to extreme temperatures. From dogs to ducks, this vehicle can transport a variety of animals safely and comfortably.
One challenge that Deputy Long highlighted is the issue of stray cats. While many might think that animal control should handle these felines, the reality is more complex. The shelter’s policies allow them to accept cats only under specific conditions.
At the end of the day, whether it’s assisting a neighbor distressed by a barking dog or untangling a dog that’s gotten itself caught up, Deputy Long and his colleagues are committed to serving both the human and animal residents of Warren County.