Meet at Backcountry Trailhead.
Explore the Gap Run’s unique ecosystem called a “riparian buffer,” the zone of trees, shrubs, and other vegetation alongside waterways. Discover the amazing ways our native plants protect water quality and biodiversity throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, and learn how you can help protect and restore these crucial ecosystems! Along the way, enjoy several scenic vistas overlooking the pastoral landscape, and try your hand at identifying some of the many native trees and wildflowers currently in bloom along the trail.
This 2.5 mile hike is located along moderate trails. Please bring water and dress appropriately for the weather.
Program adjustments in response to COVID-19: Social distancing and facemasks required for the duration of activities.
Peggy Jo Herndon-Heyden (1932 – 2022)
Peggy Jo Herndon-Heyden, 89, of Front Royal, Virginia, passed away on Friday, May 13, 2022, at Commonwealth Assisted Living.
At 1:00 pm on Saturday, June 4, 2022, a funeral service at Front Royal United Methodist Church, with Pastor McLaughlin officiating. The burial will be held at a later date at Arlington National Cemetery.
On September 4, 1932, Peggy was born in Birmingham, Alabama, to the late Joseph and Edna Mitchell. She was also preceded in death by her first husband, Phillip H. Herndon, and her second husband, Handley Heyden.
Surviving Peggy is her loving sons, Mitch Herndon and Russ Herndon (Jennifer); her daughters, Joelynn Lauria (Fran) and LeeAnne Summey (Chuck); her ten grandchildren, Michael, Jenni, Elizabeth, Mitchell, Audrey, Phillip, Daniel, Garrett, Katie and Trey; and her six great-grandchildren.
Peggy was an educator for over 45 years. She was a member of the Front Royal Garden Club, where she took pride in gardening and flower arranging. She led several Bible studies and was a lifelong member of the United Methodist Church. She was very strong in her faith, daring in nature, and was a fierce friend to many.
Instead of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Blue Ridge Hospice at https://brhospice.org/donate/.
Senators introduce legislation to help first responders save money in retirement
U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), John Thune (R-SD), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced legislation to allow retired first responders to withdraw from their retirement without being penalized. The senators’ legislation would improve and reform the Healthcare Enhancement for Local Public Safety Act (HELPS) by changing state and local direct payment requirements from mandatory to optional and creating an alternative to the current method, allowing the retirement system to make the distribution to the retired public safety officer. The retiree can then make the premium payment to the provider and remain eligible for the tax exclusion.
“Ohio firefighters and other first responders wear their bodies out protecting our families and communities, and they shouldn’t have to worry about being penalized for withdrawing from retirement that they’ve earned,” said Senator Brown. “This is a simple solution that allows first responders to keep their own money and alleviate pressure on state and local governments.”
“We owe a great debt of gratitude to our retired police officers, firefighters, and other first responders who dedicated their lives to protecting our communities and keeping our friends, families, and neighbors across South Dakota safe,” said Senator Thune. “Currently, it is extremely difficult for retired first responders to utilize an existing benefit that helps cover certain health care expenses, which is why I introduced this legislation that would ensure these retirees can make tax-free withdrawals from their pension and direct those amounts to qualifying insurance premiums.”
“Virginia’s first responders put themselves at risk every day to protect our communities – the least we can do is ensure that they are taken care of in retirement,” said Senator Warner. “I’m proud to introduce the bipartisan Police and Fire Health Care Protection Act of 2022, which will make it easier for tens of thousands of retired officers – like Mr. Wally Bunker, a stalwart advocate and retired police officer from Culpepper – to claim the benefits that they have earned.”
“First responders play a vital role in our communities, addressing a variety of high-stress emergency situations throughout their careers. All first responders ought to be able to take advantage of a tax benefit that is intended to help them access health coverage in retirement,” said Senator Grassley.
In order to implement the direct payment requirement under current law, state and local retirement systems are now responsible for directly paying often numerous health and long-term care providers and keeping track of changes to premium amounts and payment deadlines for thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of retirees. This already challenging task is made even more difficult because providers will often communicate only with the retiree policyholder and not with the retirement system. Information does not flow seamlessly, and inadvertent errors are made. In addition, due to the complexity, some retirement systems have made the decision to not implement HELPS, thereby resulting in retired public safety officers covered by these pension plans being ineligible for the tax benefit.
“Too often, firefighters are forced to retire early and have no access to affordable health insurance. We owe it to our firefighters and EMS providers to help them access quality healthcare after making a career’s worth of physical and mental sacrifices for our communities,” said Edward Kelly, General President, International Association of Fire Fighters. “This legislation ensures our retired firefighters can access their hard-earned retirement income to pay for health insurance costs. The IAFF thanks Senators Brown, Thune, and Warner for their commitment to supporting our retirees and helping them to maintain a healthy and secure retirement.”
“In 2006, Congress enacted the HELPS Retirees Act, which provided a modest tax benefit to help retired public safety officers afford health insurance by allowing the use, on a pre-tax basis, of up to $3,000 annually from their pension funds health care and long-term care insurance,” said Patrick Yoes, National President, Fraternal Order of Police. “However, too many public safety officers were ineligible or lost their eligibility for this benefit because of the law’s ‘direct pay’ requirement. This means that the public pension system must pay the health or long-term care insurance company directly in order to exclude these payments from the employee’s gross income. Officers whose pensions are or came to be administered by third parties could not take advantage of this tax break. We are very grateful to Senators Brown and Thune for introducing legislation which repeals this direct pay requirement and provides a modest increase to the benefit.”
“On behalf of Ohio’s and the nation’s public safety personnel, we are grateful to Senator Brown for his leadership on this issue. The new legislation will ensure that first responders receive the assistance Congress intended them to receive with their health care expenses in retirement,” said Mary Beth Foley, Executive Director, Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund (OP&F).
Under the senators’ bill, plans that are able to implement HELPS through the current direct payment method, possibly because they have only one or two providers to pay and a small number of retirees, may continue to do so. However, for the many retirement systems that are experiencing administrative problems with the current requirement or have refused to implement HELPS because of the burdens, the senator’s legislation will allow them to make distributions to their retirees without rendering the retiree ineligible for the tax exclusion.
In cases where the distribution is made to the retiree, the legislation would require the retiree to include with their tax return an attestation that the amount sought to be excluded from the pension distribution does not exceed the amount paid by the employee for qualified health insurance premiums for the taxable year. The tax exclusion is capped under current law at $3,000 per year.
The bill has been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Association of Police Organizations, and the International Association of Fire Fighters.
Warner and Kaine announce $6.2 million in federal funding for Virginia college readiness programs
U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $6,236,161 in federal funding for 15 Virginia schools for Upward Bound programs. Upward Bound, administered through the Department of Education, provides support to low-income and first-generation high school students in order to increase high school and college graduation rates.
“All students deserve access to the resources they need to succeed,” the senators said. “This funding for Upward Bound programs will support low-income and first-generation students through high school and help them prepare for higher education. This represents another critical investment in leveling the playing field so that more students have the tools to reach their goals and get ready for life after high school.”
The funding will be awarded as follows:
Patrick Henry Community College will receive $312,480 for programs, including tutoring, mentoring, and a summer bridge program. It will serve 68 students in Martinsville as well as Henry and Patrick Counties.
Norfolk State University will receive $297,485 for programs aimed at increasing students’ GPAs, standardized test scores, and retention and graduation rates. It will serve 60 students in Norfolk and Suffolk.
Virginia Tech will receive a total of $1,146,350 for programs, including financial aid application assistance, Pell Grant education, and course selection. It will serve 223 students across Southwest Virginia.
The University of Virginia’s College at Wise will receive $427,133 for programs, including tutoring, information on financial aid and alternative education programs, and college application support. It will serve 80 students across Southwest Virginia.
Virginia State University will receive $451,377 for academic and summer residential programs. It will serve 88 students across the cities of Hopewell and Petersburg and the counties of Dinwiddie, Greensville, Sussex, and the Matoaca District of Chesterfield.
James Madison University will receive $287,537 for programs including personal advising, college and cultural immersion experiences, and FAFSA education. It will serve 60 students across Northern Virginia.
Portsmouth Public Schools will receive $297,601 for programs, including an Individualized Educational Success Plan (IESP) for every recruited student. It will serve 60 students from I.C. Norcom and Manor High Schools.
Paul D. Camp Community College will receive $290,714 for programs, including supporting dual enrollment opportunities. It will continue serving Franklin, Lakeland, and Southampton High Schools.
Southwest Virginia Community College will receive a total of $685,387 for initiatives, including a Summer Discovery Program, study skills and time management workshops, and college and financial aid seminars. It will serve a total of 132 students across Grundy, Hurley, Twin Valley, Council, Castlewood, Honaker, and Lebanon High Schools.
Hampton University will receive $297,599 for programs, including SAT/ACT preparation workshops, financial literacy seminars, and tutoring. It will serve 60 students across Newport News.
Virginia Union University will receive $444,616 for programs, including Saturday supplementary education, summer residential components, and Individualized Academic Plan creation. It will serve 85 students across Armstrong, George Wythe, Huguenot, John Marshall, and Thomas Jefferson High Schools.
Rappahannock Community College will receive $287,537 for tutoring, counseling, cultural enrichment, and mentoring programs. It will serve 60 students from Essex County, Lancaster County, and Washington and Lee High Schools.
Wytheville Community College will receive $297,601 for programs, including service-learning opportunities, post-graduation bridge programs, and Wellness Wednesday workshops. It will serve 57 students across Southwest Virginia.
Old Dominion University will receive $400,571 for programs, including after-school tutoring, an intensive summer bridge experience, and college tours. It will serve 77 students across Norfolk and Portsmouth.
Virginia Highlands Community College will receive $312,173 for programs, including a Summer Academy, career advising and counseling, and cultural and social enrichment programs. It will serve 65 students from Chilhowie, Northwood, Holston, Patrick Henry, and Virginia High Schools.
This funding follows advocacy by both Sens. Warner and Kaine to increase funding for all TRIO programs – including Upward Bound – in a letter to the leadership of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations last year.
How to choose greener toys
Do you worry about your environmental impact when buying gifts for your children? Fortunately, finding eco-friendly toys is easier than you think. In fact, green toys contain fewer harmful materials and can raise awareness in your children of the importance of caring for the environment. Here are some tips to help you select “greener” toys.
Choose natural or renewable materials
Buy toys made of untreated and unvarnished raw wood or painted with natural substances. On top of being full of character, these toys are durable and can be handed down to future generations.
Natural rubber is excellent for soft toys, whereas their plastic counterparts often get their softness from the addition of harmful substances. It also makes sense to look for natural and organic fabrics and materials, such as cotton, hemp, and linen.
Go for reclaimed materials
Look for eco-conscious brands and logos specifying that the materials used in the manufacturing process come from reclamation. Buying guides specializing in environmentally-friendly products can help you find the most conscientious brands.
Avoid plastics and perfumes
As much as possible, limit the number of plastic toys your child is exposed to. This precaution is crucial for children under three who tend to put things in their mouths. Some plastics, such as PVC, are particularly problematic. Scented toys are also not advisable.
Don’t hesitate to ask the merchant or manufacturer for more information about a toy that interests you.
House of Hope will be selling home baked treats on June 3rd
The House of Hope will be hosting a BAKE SALE on Friday, June 3, 2022, from 10am to 1pm. We are so excited to partner with the Humane Society of Warren County on this effort. The animal shelter will be hosting its annual YARD SALE on June 3 & 4 from 10am to 2pm. The yard sale is “name your price” style shopping. Pay what you feel is fair.
The BAKE SALE will be set up outside of the animal shelter building with lots of goodies. Garcia & Gavino just confirmed they will be donating some yummy baked goods for us. We will most likely have a variety of cookies, breads, cakes, and brownies… maybe even a pie or two, all donated by the community! Please come out to support two great causes!
If you are interested in donating baked goods, we are very happy to receive your donation. Jen Avery is available to pick up on Thursday or Friday morning if it makes things easy on you! You can reach Jen at 540-683-0790.
Join the Facebook Event Page to stay updated.
- BAKE SALE (to benefit House of Hope): Friday, June 3, from 10am to 1pm
- YARD SALE (to benefit Humane Society of Warren County): Friday, June 3, and Saturday, June 4, from 10am to 2pm
Congratulations to Warren County High School Seniors – Class of 2022
Royal Examiner presents the Warren County High School Class of 2022. Congratulations to these wonderful seniors on their hard work and deserved accomplishments! We wish you the best in your next big endeavors. Photos courtesy of Victor O’Neill Studios and Tolliver Studios, LLC.
If your Warren County senior is not listed, please send in their Name and Senior Picture to email@example.com.