Join Ruby Yoga and Deborah Romero of Optimal Posture LLC for a series of workshops on moving more mindfully through life using the principles of yoga and the Alexander Technique. Slated for Saturday, Jan. 25, 1-3 p.m., the first workshop is Finding and Keeping Your Footing, exploring preventative poses and thoughts to prevent a fall. The second workshop is set for Saturday, Feb 22 1-3 p.m. and will cover topics in Aging Gracefully, with a focus on stability and balance. The final workshop, offered March 21 1-3 p.m., is Preparing for Spring, with a focus on strategies to prevent weekend warrior syndrome.
All workshops will be held at Ruby Yoga, 17A South Royal Ave., Front Royal. Cost is $25 per session or $60 for all three. A portion of the profits will benefit three local charities: the Humane Society of Warren County, Front Royal Women’s Resource Center, and Reaching Out Now.
Governor Northam to remove Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond
Governor Ralph Northam today, June 4, 2020, announced plans to remove the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee located on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia. The briefing today started with comments from Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, beginning with the words, “It’s time.”
The Governor directed the Department of General Services to safely remove the statue from its pedestal and house it in storage until an appropriate location is determined.
Speakers joining the Governor at today’s announcement include City of Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, Reverend Robert W. Lee IV, Robert Johns, Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, Attorney General Mark Herring, and Zyahna Bryant.
Governor Northam is acting under his executive authority and Section § 2.2-2402 of the Code of Virginia, which provides the Governor the sole authority to approve the removal of a work of art owned by the Commonwealth upon submission of a plan to do so. The Robert E. Lee monument was erected for and is owned by the Commonwealth of Virginia and is considered a work of art pursuant to Section 2.2-2401 of the Code of Virginia.
The Governor’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below:
Good morning, everyone.
I want to thank everyone watching from around Virginia and around the country, and I want to thank the many guests who have joined us as we chart a new course in Virginia’s history.
Today, we’re here to be honest about our past and talk about our future.
I’m no historian, but I strongly believe that we have to confront where we’ve been, in order to shape where we’re going.
And in Virginia, for more than 400 years, we have set high ideals about freedom and equality, but we have fallen short of them.
Some of America’s most hopeful and forward-looking moments happened in this Commonwealth and in this capital city. When Americans first dreamed of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—they dreamed here in the Commonwealth.
Virginia adopted a Declaration of Rights before the United States declared independence. It said that all are “equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights.” It specifically called out freedom of the press and freedom of religion.
And in a church on a hill 15 blocks from here, Virginia’s first elected Governor helped launch the American Revolution when he cried, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” That was Patrick Henry, and I now have the job that he once held—72 governors later.
These are our greatest legacies as Americans. But there’s a whole lot more to the story, because those inspiring words and high ideals did not apply to everyone, not then and not now.
Because at the bottom of that same hill, one of the country’s largest slave-trading markets was coming to life. A place where Virginians would sell men, women, and children for profit. Americans buying and selling other Americans.
This is just as much the American story, and it’s one that we are only just now beginning to tell more fully.
Through 400 years of American history, starting with the enslavement of Africans, through the Civil War, through Jim Crow, and Massive Resistance, and mass incarceration, black oppression has always existed in this country, just in different forms.
The legacy of racism continues not just in isolated incidents like we saw in Minneapolis a few days ago—and I want to acknowledge that our country will honor the life of George Floyd in a memorial service in about three hours.
The legacy of racism also continues as part of a system that touches every person and every aspect of our lives, whether we know it or not. But hearts are in different places, and not everyone can see it—or they don’t want to see it.
When I used to teach ambitious young doctors, I would tell them, “The eyes can’t see what the mind doesn’t know.” That’s true for all of us.
So, it’s time to acknowledge the reality of institutional racism, even if you can’t see it. Public policies have kept this reality in place for a long time. That’s why we’ve been working so hard to reform criminal justice laws, expand health care access, make it easier to vote, and so much more.
But symbols matter too, and Virginia has never been willing to deal with symbols. Until now.
Today, Virginia is home to more Confederate commemorations than any other state. That’s true because generations ago, Virginia made the decision not to celebrate unity, but to honor the cause of division. You’ll see this if you look around Virginia and our capital city.
The statue of Robert E. Lee is the most prominent. Lee himself didn’t want a monument, but Virginia built one any way. Lee once said, “I think it is wiser not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, to commit to oblivion the feelings engendered.” Those are wise words indeed.
So, what happened? Virginia leaders said, we know better.
Instead of choosing to heal the wounds of the American civil war, they chose to keep them on display. They launched a new campaign to undo the results of the Civil War by other means.
They needed a symbol to shore up the cause. And it’s quite a symbol. The Lee statue was built in France, and when it arrived by boat on the James River docks, it took 10,000 citizens—and a whole lot of rope to haul three large crates out into the tobacco field where it would be installed. Some business people put it out in the field, so they could eventually build a housing development around it, and make money. It worked.
This happened in May 1890, twenty years after Lee died and a generation after the Civil War ended. 150,000 people came out when the statue was unveiled. But from the beginning, there was no secret about what the statue meant. Almost every one of those 150,000 people waved Confederate flags that day.
John Mitchell was the editor of the Black newspaper, the Richmond Planet, at the time. He wrote, “The emblem of the union had been left behind—a glorification of the lost cause was everywhere.” It was a big day, and more big days followed throughout the old south. And as the statues went up, so did lots of new laws. It was all part of the same campaign.
Here’s just one example: New laws limited the right to vote. In the years after the Civil War, more than 100,000 African American men were registered to vote in Virginia. But once this campaign took off, that number plummeted by 90 percent, to barely 10,000.
That worked too. Because the people who wrote these laws knew what they were doing. They wrote other new laws to say that once a statue goes up, it can never come down. They wanted the statues to remain forever—they needed the statues to stay forever, because they helped keep the system in place. That also worked. Those laws ruled for more than a century.
But voting matters, and elections matter, and laws can be changed. And this year, we changed them. This year, I proposed legislation to let cities and counties decide what to do with monuments in their communities—take them down, move them somewhere else, or add additional context.
That law takes effect in four weeks, and then local communities will decide. I know Richmond is going to do the right thing.
But the Lee statue is unique. It’s different from every other statue in Virginia—both in size and in legal status.
You see, the state owns it, unlike most other statues. That was another part of the plan to keep it up forever. It sits on a 100-foot circle of land, a state-owned island, surrounded by the City of Richmond.
The whole thing is six stories tall. It towers over homes, businesses, and everyone who lives in Richmond—from elegant Monument Avenue to the public housing neighborhood of Gilpin Court. The statue itself weighs 12 tons, and it sits atop a large pedestal. A pedestal is a place of honor. We put things on pedestals when we want people to look up.
Think about the message this sends to people coming from around the world to visit the capital city of one of the largest states in the country. Or to young children. What do you say when a six-year-old African American little girl looks you in the eye, and says: What does this big statue mean? Why is it here?
When a young child looks up and sees something that big and prominent, she knows that it’s important. And when it’s the biggest thing around, it sends a clear message: This is what we value the most. But that’s just not true anymore.
In Virginia, we no longer preach a false version of history. One that pretends the Civil War was about “state rights” and not the evils of slavery. No one believes that any longer.
And in 2020, we can no longer honor a system that was based on the buying and selling of enslaved people. In 2020!
I want us all to tell the little girl the truth. Yes, that statue has been there for a long time. But it was wrong then, and it is wrong now.
So, we’re taking it down.
Now, I know some will protest. Some will say, Lee was an honorable man. I know many people will be angry.
But my friends, I believe in a Virginia that studies its past in an honest way. I believe that when we learn more, we can do more. And I believe that when we learn more—when we take that honest look at our past—we must do more than just talk about the future.
We must take action. So, I am directing the Department of General Services to remove the statue of Robert E. Lee as soon as possible. It will go into storage, and we will work with the community to determine its future.
Before we turn to the next speakers, I want to acknowledge all the elected officials, scholars, members of our advisory boards, and other guests who here.
In particular, I want to acknowledge members of the family of Barbara Johns: Mr. Robert Johns and his grandson Mr. Tyrone Mayer, Jr. You all know their family’s story.
In 1951, a 16-year-old girl, Barbara Johns, stood up and led a protest—a student strike against substandard conditions at Robert Russa Moton High School in Prince Edward County. She pushed and pushed, and two great American attorneys took up her cause. Oliver Hill and Spottswood Robinson filed suit, next door, in the federal courthouse at the bottom of the hill. That case became Brown v. Board of Education, and it eventually threw out segregated schools in the United States of America.
That is how you make change—you push on the outside, and you push on the inside too.
We’ll hear in just a moment from a few of the people who are making change happen.
My friends, I believe in a Virginia that studies its past in an honest way. I believe in a Virginia that learns lessons from the past. And we all know our country needs that example right now.
America is once again looking to Virginia to lead. But make no mistake—removing a symbol is important, but it’s only a step.
It doesn’t mean problems are solved. We still need change in this country. We need healing most of all. But symbols do matter.
My friends, we all know it’s time. And history will prove that.
Now, I would like to introduce the Reverend Robert W. Lee IV. We’ve been talking about his great-great-grandfather.
The Robert E. Lee Monument was the first and is the largest of Monument Avenue’s monuments in Richmond, Virginia. In 1876 the Lee Monument Association commissioned a lithograph of a painting by Adalbert Volck. The lithograph, depicting Robert E. Lee on his horse, was the basis for the bronze statue created by French sculptor Antonin Mercié. It was noted in the National Register of Historic Places that “the horse is not a representation of Lee’s famous mount Traveller. The sculptor did not find the size of the actual horse to be in keeping with the overall composition and therefore created an ideal mount with the necessary requirements.” The cornerstone was placed on October 27, 1887. The statue was cast in several pieces separately and then the assembled statue was displayed in Paris before it was shipped to Richmond, where it arrived by rail on May 4. Newspaper accounts indicate that 10,000 people helped pull four wagons with the pieces of the monument. The completed statue was unveiled on May 29, 1890. The statue serves as a traffic circle at the intersection of Monument Avenue and Allen Avenue (named after Otway Allen, the developer who donated the land to the association). Lee stands 14 feet (4.3 m) high atop his horse and the entire statue is 60 feet (18 m) tall standing on a stone base.
The site for the statue originally was offered in 1886. Over some opposition, the offer was accepted and later withdrawn when opponents complained that the $20,000 for the Lee Monument was inappropriate because the site was outside the city limit. Richmond City annexed the land in 1892, but bad times economically caused the Lee Monument to stand alone for several years in the middle of a tobacco field before development resumed in the early 1900s.
The Lee Monument is a focal point for Richmond. (Most popular online maps depict the “Lee Circle” as the center of Richmond, although the United States Post Office uses the intersection of North and South Foushee Street where it intersects with East and West Main St as 0 axis Point of all address in the Richmond region, hence the true address center of Richmond. The Virginia Department of Transportation and the Virginia State Police use the state Capitol building as its center.) In 1992, the iron fence around the monument was removed, in part because drivers unfamiliar with traffic circles would run into the fence from time to time and force costly repairs. When the fences came down, the stone base became a popular sunbathing spot. In December 2006, the state completed an extensive cleaning and repair of the monument.
It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. It is located in the Monument Avenue Historic District.
Curved shapes: a 2020 design trend to try
Forget geometric forms and strong lines – 2020 is all about bringing the shapes found in nature into your home. Curves and arcs revitalize interior spaces and rounded shapes lend energy and inspiration. Here’s how to in¬corporate this trend into your home.
Be on the lookout for C-shaped sofas, round dining tables, and chairs with curved backs and arms. In the bedroom, consider updating your bed frame for one that features a circular headboard or placing an oval bench under your window.
This year’s hottest home decorating trend is easy to try. Best of all, it can work in practically any room, regardless of space’s style and features.
3 benefits of opting for a custom-designed pool
Are you thinking about installing an in-ground pool? If so, here are three benefits of opting for a custom-designed model rather one that’s a standard size and shape.
1. A durable product
Custom-designed pools are particularly durable and water-tight. This is because they’re usually built from a single piece of concrete or similar material. These types of pools are constructed in a way that minimizes the risk of cracks and leaks.
2. A perfect fit
3. An eco-friendly option
A custom-designed pool can be environmentally friendly, provided you choose the appropriate building materials, sanitation method, and power source. For example, you can choose a structure made of clay or gravel, a natural filtration system, and a solar-powered water heater.
Additionally, if you opt to install a custom-designed pool, you get a feature that blends seamlessly with the rest of your landscape. Indeed, this type of pool will be uniquely suited to your property.
County: Town’s ‘half’ equals 27% if council wants to move alone with relief funds
If the Town wants to play its own “I, Me, Mine” (with a songwriting nod to late Beatle George Harrison) economic recovery game with its “equitable” share of federal Coronavirus Relief money, it is likely to find it is playing with less than the $1 million to $1.5 million town staff said it is anticipating of the $3.5 million in CARES (Coronavirus Aid Relief & Economic Securities) money Warren County received on June 1.
That is because in a population-based model upon which the CARES money is to be distributed to smaller municipalities within qualifying county’s, an 8-3 “unit” split, or 73% to 27% distribution of those funds has been estimated by county staff. Those numbers are based on the county population of about 40,000 and the town’s 15,000, that latter number who are also county residents, as Mayor Gene Tewalt explained to council on June 1st.
Those numbers equate to $946,000 the Town would get, with the County retaining roughly $2.5 million according to the government formula on “equitable” distribution of the CARES relief funds. The process and numbers were explained to county supervisors following Tuesday’s morning meeting, at an early Tuesday afternoon, June 2nd work session.
The topic was broached on the County side during a presentation by County Deputy Emergency Services Director Rick Farrall on the County’s receipt of the $3.5 million CARES money the previous day. As Front Royal Mayor Tewalt noted during council work session discussion of the same topic the previous evening, he and Vice-Mayor Bill Sealock met with county officials Monday afternoon to discuss a mutually acceptable distribution and relief plan.
However, as reported in our story “Money, money, money, EDAs and ongoing weekend downtown walking mall” council collectively did not appear initially receptive to the two-pronged plan Tewalt and Sealock brought them from the afternoon meeting with county officials. Contacted later, Farrall said in addition to him, Front Royal Mayor Tewalt and Vice-Mayor Sealock, present were County Board Chair Walt Mabe and County Administrator Doug Stanley. Farrall also later verified that the County received the CARES funding the day of that meeting, Monday, June 1. He noted it was applied for on May 20.
As summarized by the mayor Monday night, the County proposal was to divide the $3.5 million in half; have the County and Town jointly administer a relief package to qualifying businesses and/or citizens inside and outside the town limits with $1.75 million; and let each municipality use their share of the remaining $1.75 million, based on the 73% – 27% County-Town “equitable” population formula split, as they saw fit.
“I don’t think it went too well,” Farrall told the supervisors of the mayor’s presentation to council the previous night.
“According to the formula they’re going to get the big cut of it and we’re going to get the crumbs,” as we reported of Councilman Gary Gillespie’s reaction Monday night.
Even Sealock, who was involved in the meeting with county officials the day the money was received; and who told his colleagues the County as recipient of the grant was “100% responsible” for documentation and accounting that all the money was used as federally prescribed, seemed perturbed that the County had developed a plan without the involvement of Interim Town Manager Matt Tederick.
“I’m just wondering why we weren’t consulted other than today of all days,” a frustrated Sealock said.
Despite the presence of county board Chair Mabe at the Monday meeting with the mayor and vice mayor, Chris Holloway wondered if the plan was formulated by the county administrator without county board authorization or approval.
Mayor Tewalt tried to derail the “we are being taken advantage of” train that was gathering momentum. “They want to take the $3.5 million and use half of it for economic recovery; and then take the populations and split it whatever that ratio would be of the other $1.7 million and use that the way we want to utilize that amount of money …
“But they just want to know if we would be agreeable tonight – just split the money, and use half of it for recovery and half of it to do the other (things) as far as the government’s concerned. So, we can pay whatever we have to pay and they can pay whatever they want to pay,” the mayor told council.
In response to Gillespie’s “They’re going to get the big cut … and we’re going to get the crumbs” remark, the mayor readdressed the population-based formula. “Yea, but … there’s 40,000 people in the county and we’re only 15,000. So, they should get the most of it,” Mayor Tewalt reasoned.
Vice-Mayor Sealock then explained the above-referenced “unit” split as based on a count of 5,000, with 5,000 divided into the town population three times and the county’s eight. Hence, the 8-3 “unit” or 73%-27% population-based divide of the money.
“Well, Mr. Mayor you asked us if we wanted yes or no on it – and my answer’s no,” Gillespie responded, unmoved by the numbers or the population-based distribution formula originating at the federal level with the CARES grant program.
Tederick said he believed the County had received the funding within the previous two weeks, but that Tewalt and Sealock’s presentation was the first he had heard of a distribution proposal developed on the County side.
“Well, I think they just put it together today,” the mayor replied.
As the “our money, our plan, our rules” momentum built on council, Lori Cockrell did voice a word of caution Monday night, telling her council colleagues, “I don’t want to say, no, we don’t want any money.”
“I understand the ask, I’m not offended by it; it makes sense why they’re asking. Maybe even the dollars could end up making sense when we see it spelled out,” Jacob Meza added. One repeated complaint voiced was the absence of more written documentation to accompany the mayor and vice-mayor’s explanation of the proposal, as well as the absence of a county official to answer questions.
Cutting nose off to spite …
Discussing the County proposal and an initially suspicious and negative reaction from several councilmen with Farrall later Tuesday afternoon, he reiterated a point to this reporter he made earlier to the county supervisors. That point was that the joint relief aspect of the County proposal could actually see an additional benefit to in-town businesses and/or citizens as recipients from both governments to whom they pay taxes as dual town-county citizens or commercial entities.
“You’ve got a 50/50 (split) with $1.75 million. I assume that could be more spent in-town,” Supervisor Tony Carter observed of the joint aspect of the county proposal.
A little quick calculating indicated that if the Town and its recipients were the potential beneficiaries of half of the jointly administered money ($870,000) and the Town got a flat 27% or three “units” of the other $1.75 million ($473,000) to do with as it pleased within documented CARES guidelines, their total take would be $1.34 million, some $400,000 more than taking their 27% share of the entire $3.5 million ($946,000).
“Logically, if the Town would think about it, town business might benefit better from this model … they may get more money for town business in a joint pot, than saying ‘give me my little slice and I’ll see you’,” Farrall replied to Carter’s observation.
Fifteen minutes into the work session that led to a discussion of the anticipated third party roles of the EDA (County) and Chamber of Commerce (Town) acting as distributors of funds to accommodate state prohibitions on charitable giving by municipal governments. That discussion included difficulties created by the Town’s choice of hostile, shoot-for-the-moon civil litigation, rather than good faith negotiations with the EDA.
‘Equitable’ – dueling perspectives
County Board Chairman Mabe also observed that while town officials might consider “equitable” a 50/50 down the middle split, giving each municipality roughly $1,752,000 million of the $3,504,164 federal CARES funding to the County, it wouldn’t be based in the reality of the program guidelines.
“That could be what they want,” Mabe warned his colleagues.
Farrall responded by noting such a perspective did not fit the definition of “equitable” as it applied to the County.
“I would dismiss any talk of saying 50% down the middle. Because that is in no way equitable to the County; nor is it how the funds were generated in the first place,” Farrall said drawing immediate agreement from Mabe and Supervisor Delores Oates.
Farrall continued to note that in counties with smaller town municipalities that rely on their county governments for essential services like schools, parks and recreation, and emergency services, the CARES “equitable” formula of sharing can go beyond population considerations alone.
“In a county that has these smaller towns, it’s not just a straight population (equation) because those smaller towns are dependent on the county for many things they don’t have to pay for. So, back to Jason’s point, this is where in the language of the CARES Act we have to determine an equitable distribution where it is not 100% population.”
“Jason’s point” was County Attorney Jason Ham’s earlier observation, “It depends on how you define the word ‘equitable’.”
Ham continued, “Warren County has agreed to equitably share with the Town, and so you could determine equitability to be based on population. But then you also have to consider that, you know, Rick here is going to save somebody’s life if they’re in a burning house in the Town of Front Royal,” Ham said of Farrall’s employer, the County Fire & Rescue Department that serves county residents both inside and out of the town limits (and a HEART-felt God Bless Them for that, seven-plus years down the road from one in-town medical emergency survivor).
“And his salary is paid by people who live in the Town of Front Royal, as well as those in Warren County. It’s however you define equitable, and that’s one way to do it,” Ham concluded of a population-and-services formula tied to the federal CARES Act money.
Not on immediate call to run into a burning building to save anyone, the County’s Deputy Emergency Manager continued, “So somewhere between the pure population split and (the cost of shared services) you could negotiate if you will. But at the end of the day it’s up to the County to determine that split. We’re just trying to be nice …”
“At the end of the day we’re all at the benefit of something we didn’t have,” board Vice-Chair Cheryl Cullers injected, adding, “I mean to fight over it at this point – you’ve got to do this a way it makes sense.”
“Well, the County’s not fighting it. The decision just has to be made between the Town and County. And what it amounts to now is just the split. We’ll work out the details, we’ll have to,” Mabe observed.
Noting the earlier observation that the mayor’s presentation of the county proposal to council “didn’t go well” Oates asked, “What were the objections, I’d like to understand that.”
“Just, they want more money. It’s as simple as that. They don’t agree,” Mabe replied, as Oates finished his sentence, “With the equitable solution we’ve come to.
“Okay,” Oates added of her developing understanding of the situation.
For now, listen to and watch the above-described County business in this virtual recording courtesy of Warren County Board of Supervisors:
Local arrest made after purchasing pickup truck with fake check
On June 1, 2020, David S. Twigg Jr. was arrested for using several forged and one fake check to purchase a 2020 Ford F-250 Super Duty Pickup Truck from a local Auto Dealer. Information obtained as part of this investigation has implicated Twigg in similar scams in West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and other parts of Virginia. A record check of Twigg returned an active arrest warrant out of Norfolk Virginia for a larceny charge.
If you have information on this individual, please contact Investigator Jeremy Seabright at 540-635-4128.
Governor Northam authorizes City of Hampton to implement temporary curfew
Governor Ralph Northam today, June 3, 2020, granted a request from local leaders in the City of Hampton to implement a temporary curfew due to civil unrest. This follows an emergency declaration signed by the Governor on May 31 to assist localities in responding to escalating violence across the Commonwealth. Earlier this week, the Governor granted authorization to officials in the cities of Richmond and Virginia Beach to extend curfews.
The City of Hampton is authorized to implement a curfew between the hours of 8:00 PM and 6:00 AM from Wednesday, June 3, 2020, through Saturday, June 6, 2020. While the curfew is in effect, people must remain in their homes and may only leave to seek emergency services or travel to and from home, work, or places of worship.