A WHAT MATTERS Warren Invitation from the Warren County High School Theatre Department, AKA the Maroon Masques:
All are invited to the Warren County High School Theater on March 5-7th to enjoy the production of “She Kills Monsters,” a play that tells the story of high schooler Agnes Evans as she deals with the death of her younger sister, Tilly. When Agnes stumbles upon Tilly’s Dungeons & Dragons notebook, she finds herself catapulted into a journey of discovery and action-packed adventure in the imaginary world that was her sister’s refuge. In this high-octane dramatic comedy laden with fairies, nasty ogres, and ’90s pop culture, acclaimed playwright Qui Nguyen offers a heart-pounding homage to the “geek and warrior” within us all.
Tickets (Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 6:30 p.m. & Saturday at 2:00 p.m.):
Popular window styles and where to use them
Do you want to update the windows in your home? If so, here are some popular types and where they might look best.
• Double-hung windows feature two large sashes that slide up and down along vertical tracks. They perfectly complement rambler, farmhouse, bungalow, and other modern-traditional style homes. They have many customization options and look good in almost any room.
• Slider windows are available in a variety of styles, materials, and finishes. They open horizontally rather than vertically, which makes them ideal for spaces with horizontal features. For example, they look good over a counter or in a hallway. Since slider windows are easy to open and close, they’re also practical in hard-to-reach spaces.
• Casement windows open inward or outward with a mechanical crank. They’re well suited to contemporary homes and great in rooms where you want to let in a cool breeze.
• Bay and bow windows extend outward from the home and are traditionally composed of a picture window flanked by one or more pairs of double-hung or casement windows. Place them anywhere that overlooks a view or in a living room, family room, or bedroom that needs a focal point.
The best windows for your home will depend on your budget and style. In all cases, however, it’s best to make sure they’re energy-efficient (look for the Energy Star label) and installed by an experienced contractor.
3 extraordinary marriage proposals to inspire you
Have you decided to ask your partner to marry you? If you’re wondering how to make sure the moment is perfect, here are three incredible stories of how people popped the question. (Spoiler alert: they all said yes!)
1. Filmmaker Lee Loechler took his high school sweetheart, Sthuthi David, to a special screening of Sleeping Beauty in the Boston area. Toward the end of the film, as the prince approached the sleeping princess, the animation changed to feature characters who resembled Lee and Sthuthi. After waking her with a kiss and holding out a ring, the cartoon prince Lee tossed the ring box off-screen for his real-life self to catch. Lee got down on one knee and, in front of friends and family members who’d been sitting at the back of the theater, he asked Sthuthi to marry him.
2. Politician Tim Wilson delivered a speech on the floor of the Australian parliament in favor of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. The bill had passed the senate the previous week and was being debated in the lower house. As the member of the parliament concluded his speech, he turned his attention to the public gallery where his long-time fiancé, Ryan Patrick Bolger, was sitting. The couple had been engaged for nearly a decade but were unable to make it official. Tim looked up at Ryan and proposed once again. The bill passed and, three months later, the couple married.
3. Inspired by videos of flash mobs she’d seen online, Isabelle Marin put together an elaborate performance for her partner, Jean-François Dumais, at a shopping mall in the Quebec City region. A violinist serenaded him in the food court and a dance troupe performed in the atrium. Friends and family members emerged from the gathering crowd to hand Jean-François roses. Then, as a local singer (and friend) Mélissa Bédard belted out a ballad, Isabelle made her entrance on an escalator and got down on one knee.
If there’s one thing to take away from these stories, it’s that you can be as creative and theatrical as you want during a proposal — the important thing is to give it your personal touch.
Warren Coalition’s Trauma-Informed Training: “A gift to the community”
Over the past few decades, awareness of the impact childhood trauma has on the rest of a person’s life has grown. It is now an accepted fact that 62% of all adults have experienced at least one Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE), and these traumatic events can have a lifelong impact on a person’s mental and physical health, thereby also affecting their family and their community. Experiencing ACEs can even increase the likelihood of a person misusing drugs or alcohol later in life.
In light of this understanding, the leaders of the local prevention agencies that make up the Northwestern Prevention Collaborative recognized that they needed to help build awareness and resilience in the Northwestern Shenandoah Valley. In Warren County, Warren Coalition Executive Director Christa Shifflett decided to offer a “Trauma-Informed” course based on the CRI (Community Resource Initiative) curriculum. To become “Trauma-Informed” is to develop an understanding of “the impact of stress on our individual and community health, so that we can interrupt the cycle of punishment, shame, blame, and humiliation, shifting instead to positive intent, insight, empathy, compassion, and love,” writes CRI Founder and Board President, Teresa Barila.
The trauma-informed class explores the science of trauma’s impact on the brain, along with epigenetic, community, and cultural influences. It provides attendees with a deeper understanding of their own triggers in life, as well as how to handle those triggers. It offers guidance on how to speak and work with others who have experienced trauma. Beyond that, the course empowers attendees so that they can be a source of strength and light to others in their community.
Shifflett first offered the Trauma-Informed Training class in August 2020, and the response was immediate and enthusiastic. She has already trained approximately 100 people in just three class offerings. Although this free course is intended for residents of the Northern Shenandoah Valley, it is capturing international attention; attendees signed into the virtual class from places as far away as California and even Nepal. The response to the December class was so overwhelming, in fact, that Shifflett decided to place a limit of 25 people on subsequent offerings, to help facilitate discussion.
The post-attendance comments are just as encouraging as the attendance numbers. “Thanks for such a great training. It really helped me understand the importance of addressing my own struggles before trying to help others with theirs,” one person said in an email to Shifflett. Another wrote in, “It definitely provided me with more tools in my toolbox to use with the population I work with.” In a follow-up survey, one respondent wrote, “This type of offering is a gift to our community. I very much appreciate that it was offered.”
Classes begin again in February, with two opportunities to take Trauma-Informed (Course 1): Tuesday mornings from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon, February 9, 16, and 23, and Thursday evenings from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm, February 11, 18, and 25. All three sessions of a course must be completed to receive the trauma-informed certification. Email Shifflett at Christa@WarrenCoalition.org to register.
Smartphone pinky joins list of tech injuries
Cell Phone Elbow, Smartphone Neck Pain, Texting Claw, and now Smartphone Pinky, the newest tech injury.
No one has studied Smartphone Pinky yet, but a plethora of Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok users claim it’s real with photographic evidence.
Supposedly a dent appears in the little finger on the middle bone. Sometimes people say the position of their pinky changes, or that the finger starts to sway downward from the knuckle.
You might check yours.
Although the supposed malady is debated, notice that most people do hold their phones so that the little finger takes most of the weight.
According to The Conversation, the change in the little finger might well be just a soft tissue compression from the constant weight of the phone. Unlike Cell Phone Elbow, no one has reported actual pain from the little finger.
With Cell Phone Elbow, pain and tingling in the forearm and little finger come from holding a mobile phone up to the ear or holding it while lying in bed for a long time. The pain comes from the shoulder-rubbing the ulnar nerve, one of the major nerves in the arm. Just six minutes of those postures increase the strain on the nerve by 69 percent.
Texting Claw is a repetitive strain injury that presents as pain in the thumb and wrist. It comes from making small repetitive movements with the thumb against the screen. Reduced texting appears to alleviate the problem.
Finally, neck pain can come from staring down at a screen for a prolonged period, which increases strain on the shoulder blade.
Resized Town Planning Commission considers Rezoning Requests and Site Plans, one near Happy Creek
A 4-member Planning Commission met Wednesday, January 20th at the Warren County Government Center (WCGC). Joseph McFadden has resigned as a result of his election to the town council. The members quickly disposed of the minutes of the November 18 meeting before Chairman Douglas Jones asked if there were any citizen comments. The question to a virtually empty chamber yielded only silence.
In the public hearing portion of the meeting, Chairman Jones introduced a rezoning request by Aaron Hike and Douglas Ichiugi, operating as Rockledge Development Company LLC, to rezone a 2-acre parcel at the north end of Jefferson Avenue, and adjoining the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks and the South Fork of the Shenandoah River. The request is to change the zoning from R-1 (single family residential) to R-3 (multiple family residential), allowing the construction of duplex homes to accommodate two single-family units. The applicant stated in a letter to the Planning Department that their intent is to build “attractive modestly priced duplex homes that promote home ownership, particularly for workforce citizens that support our community and town.” The tract is bordered by an undeveloped portion of Hillcrest Drive and another R-3 zoned parcel to the east.
No one had signed up to address the commission regarding this request, so the public hearing was closed.
After the briefing, Commissioner Darryl Merchant had some questions. He first asked if there was already a site plan for the tract. Planning and Community Development Director Timothy Wilson responded that there was not yet a detailed site plan, as the property zoning request would have to be settled before the applicant could invest in the more detailed site planning and development tasks. Merchant then asked why the applicant was asking for R-3 rather than R-2 (multiple family residential – duplex) zoning, since R-2 zoning allows for duplex housing. Planning Director Wilson responded that the applicant was requesting the R-3 category due to there being no adjoining or nearby R-2 tracts. The applicant is also including a proffer in their request to limit any residential construction on the tract to single-family or duplex units.
Commissioner Merchant pointed out that the planning director can waive some requirements such as phase 1 and 2 environmental site assessments and traffic impact assessments and asked if that was the case here. Planning Director Wilson indicated it was.
Finally, Commissioner Merchant pointed out that this tract is steeply sloped and will present significant challenges for development, including sanitary sewer, water, and access, since that portion of Hillcrest Drive is not developed. “There’s a reason this tract has remained undeveloped for decades,” Merchant observed.
The applicant responded that they were aware of the challenges.
Once all the questions had been asked and answered, the commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of the rezoning request.
The second Public Hearing item was a Major Site Plan Request from RealtyLink of Birmingham Alabama for redevelopment of a site at 440 South Street to create a retail auto parts store at the location currently holding a vacant drive-through branch bank. The 1.07-acre tract is zoned C-1 (Community Business District). The current building would be demolished to make way for a new 7,225-square foot building. The plan as presented to the commission included detailed site drawings, and according to the package, RealtyLink’s preliminary site plan was amended to respond to Town Staff review questions. Again, there were no public hearing participants.
Happy Creek drainage concerns
Commissioner William Gordon asked if this site plan was specific to the use as a parts store, or if other uses could be made if this development could not go forward. Planning Director Wilson responded that any other use would require an updated plan to be submitted and processed.
Several comments were made regarding proximity to the floodway surrounding nearby Happy Creek, currently under scrutiny for a controversial Town flood control and stormwater drainage plan. Staff said the submitted plan addresses erosion control, site drainage, and flood control measures, together with soil analysis results. The Planning Department summary indicates that the plan is complete, and the proposed use is permitted as a by-right use in the C-1 district.
The commission voted unanimously to approve the final site plan.
Under Old Business, Assistant Town Attorney George Sonnett referred the Commission to a question raised during the November 18 Commission meeting regarding the life of a special use permit. He provided a response based on a reading of Town Code 175-136 that indicates that “Special Use Permits are not transferable”, which could be interpreted that those permits run with a landowner, not with the land. He reiterated the general theory that permits do run with the land, and apply as long as the use continues, whoever the landowner may be.
The language of the ordinance may have been “inartful” but the principle is that any new landowner ought not to have to reapply for a permit for the same use. Commissioner Gordon asked if the process should be to ask the Town to initiate a text amendment to clarify the language. Planning Director Wilson indicated that the Commission itself can initiate such a request. Chairman Jones recommended that topic as a subject for the next commission work session.
Under New Business, Planning Director Wilson indicated that the Town Comprehensive plan needed a rewrite. It was completed in 1997 and amended in 2004. Such a rewrite is a major effort and may require funding and a 12–18-month process. Conceivably it could be funded over two fiscal years. It also needs significant public input, not just a single Public hearing. Efforts so far have been stymied by COVID-19 restrictions on public meetings. The planning staff will also need Census Data from the 2020 census to inform the process. Commissioner Merchant recommended discussion of the Comprehensive Plan rewrite at the next work session.
The second item of new business concerned an amendment to the Town Code, Chapter 28, that was finalized by the Town Council at their meeting on January 11. The changes Council approved include the reduction of planning commission membership from 7 to 5, the terms of office set at 4 years with staggered terms so no more than 2 of the 5 members terms shall expire in any year; the requirement that at least half the members appointed shall be owners of real property; and amending the rules for removal of members for malfeasance by the town council for three absences in a row, or 4 absences over the course of a year. The new language of the Town Code also requires each member of the Commission to become a certified planning commissioner as a condition of appointment.
Finally, during Commission member reports, Commissioner Gordon asked if it was possible to nominate a member for the vacant Vice Chairman seat. Chairman Jones indicated it would be better to wait for the regular election of officers at the February meeting. He did remind the planning director that there is still a vacant commission seat, which the Town Council will need to fill.
The Meeting was adjourned at 7:48 p.m.
Dozens urge Supervisors to adopt COVID restrictions ‘sanctuary’ resolution
Several dozen mask-less speakers this week urged the Warren County Board of Supervisors to consider a proposed resolution that would declare the county a “Constitutional Sanctuary County” against COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic social distancing restrictions implemented at the state level.
The speakers, angered by executive orders Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has issued to minimize the spread of COVID-19 during the ongoing pandemic, voiced concerns that their rights under federal and state laws are being infringed upon by the governor’s actions.
In all, there were approximately 49 people who signed up to speak during the public comment period of the board’s Tuesday, January 19 meeting, and 32 people actually spoke – some about the resolution, some about a different topics, and some who were not signed up. Emily Ciarrocchi, Deputy Clerk of the Board, also read aloud several emails in support of the proposed “sanctuary” resolution.
For instance, some said they wanted to ensure the security of small businesses by reinforcing the freedoms that have already been allotted to Virginians under the State Constitution.
Others, like 20-year county resident Tom McFadden Jr., seek freedom for Warren County that would allow it “to be a sanctuary from the reign of terror that Gov. Northam has imposed upon the citizens of Virginia.”
“The stand against tyranny has to start at the local level,” wrote another in an email read by Board Clerk Ciarrocchi.
In December 2019, the county supervisors approved a “Second Amendment Sanctuary” citizen-propelled resolution against gun control laws proposed by the Democratic General Assembly majority. The Front Royal Town Council soon followed suit.
However, not all county citizens agreed with the initiative. One county resident urged the supervisors against adopting what he called an “absurd” resolution, writing that, “In the USA and in our Commonwealth, we cannot have individual counties take it upon ourselves to break away from the state and declare that lawful emergency health orders by our governor are to be ignored, overridden and unenforced.”
The Warren County resident went on to write in his email that he hoped members of the Board of Supervisors didn’t contract the coronavirus “from the selfish patriots who ignore and denigrate temporary social distancing in our County.”
There were 22 speakers who each read a paragraph of the resolution, which states that the governor of Virginia “is currently attempting to prohibit the gathering of more than 10 citizens at a single time (even in their own homes) and is attempting to do so through Executive Order rather than the legislative process.”
Among several provisions, the resolution also states that the governor has:
- Placed “undue strain on local businesses, while arbitrarily, illogically, and unequally restricting some businesses more than others;”
- Restricted free commerce and instituted excessive fines for businesses unable or unwilling to act as law enforcement for his “unlegislated orders upon customers;”
- Restricted the liberty of citizens by imposing lockdowns and curfews; and
- Alluded to possibly enacting more orders.
All of the governor’s orders are “clearly in violation” of both the Virginia Constitution and the U.S. Bill of Rights, according to the proposed resolution.
Based on that perspective, the resolution states that the Warren County Board of Supervisors “wishes to express its deep commitment to the freedoms enumerated in the U.S. and Virginia Constitutions, and the U.S. and Virginia Bill of Rights; including the rights of all citizens of Warren County to peaceably assemble and to engage in commerce for the financial support of themselves and their families.”
The resolution also calls on the supervisors to express opposition to any order or law that would unconstitutionally restrict the rights of Warren County residents, and to express the board’s intent “to stand as a Sanctuary County for the Bill of Rights and the Constitution; and to oppose … any efforts to unconstitutionally restrict such rights, and to use all such legal means at its disposal to protect the rights of the residents of Warren County.
“The means within the power of the Warren County Supervisors includes the power to initiate legal action, the power to petition for redress of grievances, the power to appropriate funding for the law enforcement of Warren County, and the power to direct the employees of Warren County to not enforce any unconstitutional law or purported order,” according to the proposed resolution.
Additionally, the resolution states that the Board of Supervisors would request that its sheriff “refrain from assisting any state law enforcement officer, state health agent or federal agent attempting to enforce unconstitutional order of the Governor,” and that County employees “may not assist in or promote the enforcement … of any executive order or regulations that might limit the free exercise of religion, peaceable assembly, commerce, or the movement of people.”
Following the reading of the resolution, numerous residents spoke in support of its adoption by the supervisors.
“We come before you today to respectfully ask for your help,” said Melanie Salins, who presented the proposed resolution to the board. “This last year has hurt citizens of Warren County. We have many businesses struggling to stay afloat. We are scared about what is to come.”
Salins said that resolution supporters want board members to “reassert” their dedication to upholding the Constitution “and our rights protected by it.”
Jane Elliott of Front Royal, Va., said the resolution is about asking that the supervisors simply follow the Constitution. She called social distancing “socialist distancing” and said America has essentially become the “land of the imprisoned and the home of the chickens” for following them.
Board Chairwoman Cheryl Cullers several times called for order during the public comments when citizens failed to follow protocols by clapping and yelling support for fellow speakers and when the crowd started singing the Star-Spangled Banner in the hallway outside the board meeting room. Their actions continued nonetheless throughout the comment period.
The local speakers also voiced disdain for the board’s one-in-and-one-out rule instituted to maintain low numbers required for meetings. The rule allowed one person to come in to speak as another one left the podium.
Another Front Royal resident, Christina Baker, said the governor’s mandates and the current political climate make her as terrified as she was when her husband was deployed to Afghanistan, and she said that the executive orders heap more duties upon an already stretched-thin law enforcement system.
“They don’t need more to do,” Baker said. “This initiative is important. Perhaps it’s not perfect. I’m not really sure this draft is perfect. It should be perfected to give all of our community and citizens the sense that they are self-governed after all. If it’s not perfect, can you please help make it perfect?” The speakers hope to gain more confidence in the Board of Supervisors, added Baker, who said they also plan to take the proposal to state legislators.
Rob Adanitsch of Front Royal told the supervisors that Gov. Northam’s restrictions “affect some of us more than others,” and he thinks that residents have “lost our individual freedom to choose for ourselves” while businesses have been forced to comply with mandates. “And that’s not right,” he said, asking them to support the proposed resolution.
Colleen Peters, who said she owns a small business in Front Royal, thinks it’s a shame that everyone is suffering. “Stop punishing healthy people,” she said. “If you’re afraid, stay home.”
That sentiment resonated with County resident Celia McGovern, a mother of three children under the age of five. “We don’t do the mask thing; I’m not sick and my children definitely don’t wear one,” she told the board. “I’m tired of getting harassed over the mask thing. People who are not sick should not be the ones that have to go through all these extra steps to go out in public.”
“Being a germophobe used to be a mental illness and now it’s a virtue,” said Alison Propps of Front Royal.
Public comments went on for almost an hour and a half before the board took a short recess and then reconvened for regular business.
Listen to all the citizens who spoke during the Tuesday night Board of Supervisors’ meeting online at: warrencountyva.new.swagit.com/videos