Mountain Laurel Montessori School hosts the 5th Annual Art Gallery Opening: “See Me Fly” on February 15, 2019 at the Blue Ridge Arts Council on Main Street in Front Royal. The Art Gallery Opening will open at 6:00 p.m. with drinks and appetizers and the live auction will begin at 8:00 p.m.
The Gallery will feature artwork from local artists and Mountain Laurel Montessori School students. Tickets are $25 each and can be purchased online here, at Mountain Laurel Montessori School or at the door.
Support from our local community has always been a big part of making this exciting fundraiser a success. If you are interested in donating a piece of artwork for auction or being a sponsor for the event, please call Meg DeMato at 540-636-4257.
ABOUT Mountain Laurel Montessori School:
We open our doors to the community the first Tuesday of every month. During Visitors’ Day, we extend an invitation to anyone who is curious to learn more about our school or Montessori philosophy in general. In addition to classroom observations, guests are invited to join our teachers for a luncheon so that they can learn more about our MLMS Family.
Please join us on the first Tuesday of the month, at 155 Biggs Drive, Front Royal, VA 22630 or contact us at (540) 636-4257 or email@example.com for more information.
Response to Mr. Bianchini’s Oct 22 letter and the Courthouse Statue
I certainly believe there has been racial inequality in our history but am aware of no such instances in Warren County in the 15 years I have been a resident and would object to any claim that our community does not offer equality to all its citizens. While an insignificant number may hold biased beliefs it is in no way representative of the majority. No person has been the property of another for over 150 years so can we let that rest? Plus, I’m not ignorant that discrimination continues to occur but sincerely believe that it’s on the fringes of our society rather than being pervasive as some assert. And yes, Mr. Bianchini I listen. The recounting of Ms. Freeman’s life experience at FRU’s ‘teach-in’ is from over a half-century ago and such situations have for the most part been remedied. I am sad that she was mistreated but that is in the past and cannot accept that it’s representative of our society today.
Too many choose to ignore the social justice strides made in the past half-century where Virginia citizens (majority white) elected a black Governor in the 80s when the Commonwealth was still a red state. In 2008 and 2012 a mostly white America elected a black president. Let’s also acknowledge the educational preferences and minority contract set-asides and programs that have been instituted as well that promoted equality.
While there may be some institutional bias in law enforcement we cannot overlook that they deal with black criminals everyday disproportionate to their representation in the population and thus it is rational for police to exercise greater caution when interacting with males of color. However, there is no justification for excessive use of force against any citizen and various efforts are occurring to address that specific issue.
Had Mr. Bianchini paid full attention to my testimony at the Oct 20 BOS meeting he would have heard my proposal for a compromise of possibly adding a plaque clarifying that the courthouse civil war monument is not to be interpreted as supporting past slavery or oppression and clarifying its focused intent. I could certainly support the idea of another statue as well that he mentioned which could acknowledge the contributions of slaves in Warren County’s history and would offer to donate the first $1,000 towards such a marker and challenge Mr. Porter and Ms. Cascada to match it were such an idea to move forward.
So, maybe Mr. Bianchini and I aren’t as far apart as, he may think, at least on this issue, and I appreciate his statement that he does not see me as having racist beliefs. So, how about everyone keeps their powder dry and await the results of the referendum. It might also be valuable to recognize that making frequent assertions that our community or even some of its citizens are racists will not contribute to an environment where mutual understanding, compromise, and healing is possible.
School district considering backup health insurance plan
Warren County Public Schools (WCPS) is poised to start a new health insurance provider search as a backup plan to a potential contract flop between regional medical provider Valley Health and insurance giant Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
“Both parties continue to work toward a solution, but at this point, a resolution may not be inevitable prior to the contract expiration on December 31,” WCPS Personnel Director George “Bucky” Smith told Warren County School Board members during their Wednesday, October 21 work session. “The longer the two parties take to find a solution, the more difficult it becomes to wait and see.”
Winchester, Va.-based Valley Health and Anthem are locked in ongoing negotiations over costs associated with renewing their contract. The Warren County School Board, the Front Royal Town Council, and the Warren County Board of Supervisors are closely monitoring the situation as thousands of area school- and government-employed residents carry Anthem health insurance and receive services at Valley Health facilities.
In fact, the Town Council on October 19 voted 5-0 to pass a resolution urging Valley Health and Anthem to continue negotiating toward an acceptable contract. The council’s resolution states that if the contract lapses, then roughly 40,000 people in the Valley Health regional healthcare region, including those who use Warren Memorial Hospital in town, could be impacted.
At the same time, Valley Health is currently building a new Warren Memorial Hospital off Leach Run Parkway in Front Royal, supported by a Town and County-approved, $60-million loan through the County-Town Economic Development Authority.
On Wednesday, Smith and Ed White, a consultant and senior vice president at McGriff Insurance Services Inc., detailed the current situation for School Board members to spur some proactiveness by the board should contract negotiations fail.
White said that McGriff and WCPS staff — who have been in discussions with representatives at both Anthem and Valley Health — have devised a preliminary plan, which he and Smith presented to the School Board.
If accepted, the plan timeline would direct WCPS to submit a notice of termination for the Local Choice program on October 29; to gather Census and Claims data November 1-6; to publish a request for proposals (RFPs) November 6-8 toward finding companies interested in providing insurance coverage to WCPS employees; to evaluate the RFPs on November 30; to receive presentations from the RFP finalists and to select a new provider December 2-5; to hold local meetings with WCPS employees on enrollment and begin the enrollment process December 9-13, and to submit data to the selected insurance provider December 18-26.
Health insurance ID cards then would be delivered on January 15, 2021, with new insurance coverage scheduled to begin on February 1, 2021, according to the plan timeline.
School Board Chairman Arnold Williams, Jr. asked what other carriers Valley Health currently takes and White said that in addition to Anthem, the major providers are Aetna, Cigna, and United, among some smaller Medicare supplement companies, for example.
In reviewing the plan details, Williams noted that if a WCPS employee opted to stay with Anthem, then the closest facilities they would be able to go to if the Anthem-Valley Health contract lapsed, would be Warrenton, Va., or Haymarket, Va. White answered yes, but said that Anthem would make allowances for emergencies.
“I wish I knew the numbers; I wish I knew the difference between Anthem and Valley Health, how far apart are they” in dollars, Williams said. “We didn’t cause this problem. We’re just the poor folks trying to have health insurance for all of our employees.”
Williams also said that he felt like the school division was “being forced to have to do something and I don’t know what the right decision is.”
Nevertheless, Smith asked the board for “some guidance, some sense of direction” on what to do about the situation going forward. “Is it fair to ask that we start an RFP to at least find out what else is out there,” he asked School Board members. “We have to have a plan B. We need to be able to have something else to fall back on. If not now, when?”
Williams said he did not “have a problem with a resolution” being introduced during the board’s Wednesday night meeting, while WCPS Superintendent Christopher Ballenger asked if a termination letter should be drawn up as recommended in the McGriff plan.
The School Board members — Williams, Vice Chairwoman Catherine Bower, and members James Wells, Kristen Pence, and Ralph Rinaldi — all seemed agreeable to Ballenger’s idea. Wells summed it up by saying that while he hoped Anthem and Valley Health would make a decision soon that benefits the population they serve, he thinks the School Board “still has to move forward.”
When Williams asked board members about taking action regarding a termination letter, Smith interjected and told board members that their discussion was the start of a process and that the board was not bound to end WCPS’s relationship with Anthem. The discussion, he said, was more about putting a plan B in place.
“And we are in control of when and if we need to send a letter,” Smith said.
The Warren County School Board’s next regular meeting is on Wednesday, November 4.
EDA settles civil claim against McEathron estate for $90,000
Following an hour-and-thirty-five-minute closed session on a variety of topics that opened its monthly meeting of October 23, the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority Board of Directors approved a motion agreeing to a settlement with the estate of late Warren County Sheriff Daniel McEathron.
The settlement amount agreed upon between the EDA and McEathron’s widow and two adult children is $90,000. McEathron was linked to the EDA financial scandal due to his partnership in former EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald’s DaBoyz LLC real estate company. In the EDA’s civil litigation initially filed in March 2019, McDonald is accused, among other things, of unauthorized moving of EDA assets to her own benefit through her real estate companies DaBoyz and MoveOn8. Still Sheriff at the time, McEathron along with McDonald and the two real estate companies, were on the initial list of civil case defendants.
After taking early retirement effective May 1, 2019, just over a month after being named a co-defendant in the EDA civil litigation, the county’s long-time sheriff was found dead on his Bentonville property 28 days later, May 28, from an apparent suicide. Some questions about the death arose after Sheriff’s Office personnel, ostensibly alerted by McEathron to his planned suicide by phone, removed the body from the scene where it was discovered in proximity to an expended firearm before the Virginia State Police, the EDA criminal case investigating agency, was notified of the death.
On Friday, EDA Asset Committee Chairman Greg Harold, who made the motion to approve, addressed the McEathron Estate settlement prior to the vote.
“Mr. Chairman, I want the community to know that the EDA has negotiated in good faith for this settlement for a long time. This is something that we’ve taken very seriously; this is something that we have called back and forth with, with our attorneys and the estate’s attorneys. While we feel there are certain risks and rewards with these situations, I think the EDA is comfortable at this time that we have done the best that we can for the community and that it’s time to put this matter behind us as the motion is written,” Harold said.
Thank you for that,” Board Chairman Jeff Browne responded. There was no other comment prior to the vote on Harold’s motion, seconded by James Wolfe, which then passed by a 4-0 margin of the members remaining after the closed session, the above three and Tom Pattison. Jorie Martin and Melissa Gordon were present for the 8 a.m. convening of the meeting into closed session but had left to other commitments prior to the closed session’s 9:45 a.m. conclusion.
The motion on approval of the settlement read into the record by EDA Administrative Assistant Gretchen Henderson states in part, “Whereas the Front Royal-Warren County EDA has certain claims against Daniel McEathron; Whereas the EDA and McEathron’s heirs desire to resolve any claims that may exist between them; Now therefore be it resolved the chairman and the secretary of the Front Royal-Warren County EDA Board are authorized to enter into an agreement … (with those heirs) for the purposes set forth in this resolution which agreement shall provide for the payment of $90,000 dollars to the EDA …”
The motion adds that if any FOIA request are received by the EDA related to the settlement, McEathron’s widow or her attorneys will receive notice of those requests having been made.
As initially reported by former Royal Examiner Editor Norma Jean Shaw, McEathron and McDonald’s first transaction in DaBoyz dated to October 2016 and the pair purchased a total of $2.8 million of real estate between then and 2019. The LLC was involved in a number of transactions cited in the EDA civil litigation filed to recover allegedly misdirected assets, including a mysterious one in which a property was bought and sold back to the owner a month later at a loss of $600,000.
A number of McDonald and her two LLC’s existing properties were frozen by the court early in the civil case process. However, civil claims against McDonald assets have been complicated by her recent filing of bankruptcy, which put her assets under control of the Harrisonburg-based bankruptcy court.
The EDA civil litigation has grown to 24 human and business entity co-defendants, with total claims, actual and punitive, of about $25 million dollars. And as previously reported, the Harrisonburg Special Prosecutor’s Office has turned the criminal investigation into the EDA financial scandal over to the U.S. Western District of Virginia federal prosecutor’s office.
Cloth vs. leather car seats
If you’re shopping for a new car, you’ll have to decide whether you want cloth seats or leather ones. Here’s how these two materials stack up.
Cloth seats are a popular option for those buying on a budget. And this choice presents some additional advantages besides the cost savings. Notably, cloth seats tend to last longer than leather ones. Plus, leather seats can heat up on hot summer days, whereas cloth seats will remain a fairly consistent temperature.
One of the main drawbacks of cloth is that it’s more difficult to clean and can stain easily. That said, it won’t show scratches the way leather does.
Leather can give a car a sleek, luxurious look and increase its resale value. Moreover, many drivers prefer the cool, supple feel of leather seats. Though some people perceive them as cold, leather seats can be heated in winter and thereby offer additional comfort.
The main disadvantage of leather seats is that they carry a higher price tag than cloth ones.
Overall, cloth and leather seats each have their pros and cons. Your choice should be based on your lifestyle and what you’re looking for in terms of price, comfort, and aesthetics.
Random drug testing slated for WCPS students
Random drug testing is on the horizon for students attending Warren County Public Schools (WCPS).
WCPS Superintendent Christopher Ballenger detailed the formation of a new drug testing committee to the Warren County School Board during its October 21 work session and solicited membership by two board members.
Over the last several decades, Ballenger said that WCPS has implemented numerous programs to help raise student awareness about the dangers of alcohol and illegal drug use, as well as to provide incentives for them to avoid using such substances.
“The programs provide information to help our students understand the immediate and long-term impacts of alcohol and drug abuse,” said Ballenger.
Nevertheless, “even with this intervention, drug and alcohol incidents persist,” he said.
As a supplement to such educational initiatives, Ballenger said that many Virginia public school divisions have gone further and implemented random student drug testing “as a condition of student participation in specific privileges offered at school.”
The WCPS drug testing committee will involve parents, business leaders, school administrators, and board members, said Ballenger, who requested that two Warren County School Board members serve on the committee.
School Board members Catherine Bower and Ralph Rinaldi volunteered to serve on the committee, and a motion was made to accept their membership by School Board member James Wells, with a second by Kristen Pence. The motion carried with yeas from all members, including School Board Chairman Arnold Williams Jr., and members Kristen J Pence, Wells, Bower, and Rinaldi.
Ballenger said he is working to gather other committee members now and plans soon to hold a meeting, either virtual or in-person, to discuss the process of review, development, and implementation of a drug-testing policy for WCPS students.
WCPS Assistant Superintendent Melody Sheppard already has compiled the drug-testing policies of seven other school districts, said Ballenger, “so, we will, as a group, review those policies and look at what would be in the best interest of Warren County Public Schools and look at what would best suit our needs.”
The superintendent said the committee will work to implement a random student drug testing policy to start during the 2021-2022 school year.
Early morning explosion reported in Linden
On Friday, October 23, 2020, at approximately 3:44 AM, the Warren County Fire and Rescue Services and Warren County Sheriff’s Office responded to an explosion at a single-family home on Northern Spy Drive, in Linden, Virginia.
Firefighters and Warren County Deputies arrived on the scene to find the home destroyed by an apparent explosion. Firefighters determined that a middle-aged male, now found deceased, had occupied the home. The name of the deceased is withheld pending notification of family.
WCSO Deputies assisted Fire Marshal, Gerry R. Maiatico in securing the scene, and the cause of the explosion is currently under investigation by the Warren County Fire Marshal’s Office. The Warren County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Division and Front Royal Police Department Criminal Investigations Unit joined the Warren County Fire Investigators in a joint investigation. Explosives trained Canine (K-9) were requested. The Medical Examiner’s Office has been notified and the exact cause of death has not been confirmed as of 8:00 AM.
The cause of the explosion is still under investigation and anyone having additional information regarding this incident is asked to contact Fire Marshal Gerry Maiatico at 540-636-3830 or WCSO Investigator Jeremy Seabright at 540-635-4128.