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The Fundamentals of Oil Painting – Fall 2019

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When:
October 31, 2019 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
2019-10-31T13:30:00-04:00
2019-10-31T16:00:00-04:00
Where:
Art in the Valley
205-A E. Main St. | Front Royal
VA 22630
Cost:
$185.00
Contact:
Art in the Valley
540-252-2260

This class will focus on proven approaches for successful oil paintings. Subject matter will be the student’s choice. No previous painting experience with oils necessary. The class will introduce students to fundamental concepts of color mixing, composition, and paint application. The class will be a fun and non-competitive environment to indulge your creative impulse.

Thursday afternoons from 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm, Oct. 17, 24, 31, Nov. 7. Classes will be held in our upstairs studio at 205 E. Main St., Front Royal, Virginia.

Class fee: $185 per person. Materials are not included. | Recommended materials list available on our website.

About the instructor:  An award-winning, self-taught artist, Armand is a full-time oil & watercolor painter represented by galleries across the United States. Armand has had numerous One-Man Exhibitions and his work is found in notable corporate and private collections around the world.


Class policies: We understand that scheduling conflicts do happen. You may cancel your class for a full refund up to 48 hours before the first class, by phone or in person. No refunds will be issued after this time.

In case of inclement weather, we will reschedule the class. Please check our Facebook page for updates on class cancellations due to weather.

Local News

Governor Northam unveils priorities for upcoming special session

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When:
October 31, 2019 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
2019-10-31T13:30:00-04:00
2019-10-31T16:00:00-04:00
Where:
Art in the Valley
205-A E. Main St. | Front Royal
VA 22630
Cost:
$185.00
Contact:
Art in the Valley
540-252-2260

~ Governor’s proposals include measures to reform policing, protect Virginians from eviction; close the digital divide ~ 

Governor Northam on Friday, August 14, 2020, unveiled his administration’s key priorities for the upcoming Virginia General Assembly special session, set to begin on Tuesday, August 18th.

Legislators will reconvene to address Virginia’s biennial budget, which has been severely impacted by the ongoing global pandemic. In addition, Governor Northam is proposing several measures to advance equity, reform policing, and protect the safety, health, and welfare of Virginians during this crisis.

“Virginians are hurting, and the Commonwealth is stepping up,” said Governor Northam. “Our country is battling both a health crisis and an economic crisis at once, so Virginia is advancing new programs to help people stay in their homes, care for the ones they love, and feel safe in the community.

“This starts with sound fiscal management and smart investments in our future. Careful planning has kept us from having to gut critical services or lay off state workers, like other states have done. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the General Assembly to advance long-overdue police reform and pass record investments in affordable housing and broadband, so we can continue to support Virginians during this unprecedented time.”

Below are several of Governor Northam’s priorities for the upcoming special session. Additional priorities will be announced at the Governor’s annual speech to the General Assembly Joint Money Committees, scheduled for 9:30 am on Tuesday, August 18th.

Safe, Affordable Housing
Access to safe and stable housing is critically important, particularly in the midst of the ongoing health crisis. That is why Governor Northam is proposing $88 million in state funding to combat evictions and to expand access to affordable housing. These investments include a historic $85 million investment in the Virginia Housing Trust Fund, which will complement federal CARES Act funding to expand access to affordable housing, reduce homelessness, and protect Virginians from eviction. The Governor is also proposing $3.3 million in funding to establish an Eviction Prevention and Diversion Pilot Program to reduce evictions in communities across the Commonwealth.

In addition, Governor Northam is proposing a pause on evictions until at least April 30, 2021, tied to the requirement that landlords and tenants work together on a payment plan and seek out financial assistance, including through Virginia’s statewide Rent and Mortgage Relief Program.

While Virginians remain safely housed, they also need access to critical utility services. The Governor’s package includes a moratorium on utility disconnections for electric, water, and natural gas utilities until 60 days after the current state of emergency ends.

Access to Broadband
A recent SCHEV report found that nearly 200,000 K-12 students and 60,000 college students across Virginia lack access to broadband at home. This disparity is particularly troubling as many school districts across Virginia plan a virtual start to the school year. To address this, Governor Northam is proposing a record $85 million to expand access to broadband for unserved communities. This historic investment in the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI) will fund last-mile broadband infrastructure across the Commonwealth during this time of need.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Historically Black Colleges and Universities play an essential role in reducing educational inequities, many of which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. That is why Governor Northam is proposing a $15 million investment in Virginia’s public HBCUs. This funding will increase support for underserved students and will fund needed technology upgrades.

Police and Criminal Justice Reform
In July, Governor Northam directed the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the Virginia African American Advisory Board, and the Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law to develop policy recommendations and share input with the administration. Governor Northam has also communicated regularly with activists, community leaders, and law enforcement officials, and incorporated their feedback into his policy priorities.

The Governor’s special session priorities include measures to:

• Expand the criteria for which a law enforcement officer can be decertified, to include officers who are terminated due to law or policy violations or resign during an ongoing investigation;

• Empower Virginia’s Criminal Justice Services Board to initiate decertification proceedings when de-certifiable conduct is brought to the Board’s attention, regardless of written notice from a local law enforcement department;

• Require law enforcement officers to intervene when they see a colleague engaging in or attempting to engage in unlawful use of force;

• Standardize law-enforcement training across Virginia through development of statewide minimum training standards, curriculum, and lesson plans, to include use of force tactics;

• Mandate information-sharing between hiring agencies and previous employers and strengthen the vetting process of newly-hired officers;

• Create best practices for Civilian Review Panels and empower localities to establish review panels;

• Diversify the Criminal Justice Services Board’s Committee on Training to include representatives from civil rights and community organizations, and require opportunities for public input into the development of training standards.

In addition, Governor Northam and his administration are working closely with legislators on measures not outlined above, including proposals related to behavioral health, fair and free elections, and racial equity. Additional proposals will be announced at the Governor’s annual speech to the General Assembly Joint Money Committees, and the Governor looks forward to continued discussions with lawmakers throughout the special session.

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Local News

VDOT: Warren County Traffic alert for August 17-21, 2020

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When:
October 31, 2019 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
2019-10-31T13:30:00-04:00
2019-10-31T16:00:00-04:00
Where:
Art in the Valley
205-A E. Main St. | Front Royal
VA 22630
Cost:
$185.00
Contact:
Art in the Valley
540-252-2260

The following is a list of highway work that may affect traffic in Warren County during the coming weeks. Scheduled work is subject to change due to inclement weather and material supplies. Motorists are advised to watch for slow-moving tractors during mowing operations. When traveling through a work zone, be alert to periodic changes in traffic patterns and lane closures.

*NEW* or *UPDATE* indicates a new entry or a revised entry since last week’s report.

INTERSTATE 66
Mile marker 0 to 1, eastbound – Right shoulder closures for sign installation, Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Mile marker 1 to 15, eastbound and westbound – Overnight alternating lane closures for maintenance of various bridges, Sunday through Thursday nights from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. through August 21.

INTERSTATE 81
No lane closures reported.

PRIMARY ROADS
No lane closures reported.

SECONDARY ROADS
Route 659 (Hardesty Road) – Stop-and-proceed traffic pattern for pipe replacement between Route 603 (Howellsville Road) and dead end, 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. through September 10. Traffic width restriction of 9 feet.

Various roads – Flagger traffic control for utility tree trimming, Monday to Friday during daylight hours.

Vegetation management may take place district wide on various routes. Motorists are reminded to use extreme caution when traveling through work zones.

Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511. Traffic alerts and traveler information also are available at www.511Virginia.org.

The VDOT Customer Service Center can assist with reporting road hazards, asking transportation questions, or getting information related to Virginia’s roads. Call 800-FOR- ROAD (800-367-7623) or use its mobile-friendly website at my.vdot.virginia.gov. Agents are available 24 hours-a-day, seven days a week.

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Health

Staying healthy at college – crucial now more than ever

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When:
October 31, 2019 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
2019-10-31T13:30:00-04:00
2019-10-31T16:00:00-04:00
Where:
Art in the Valley
205-A E. Main St. | Front Royal
VA 22630
Cost:
$185.00
Contact:
Art in the Valley
540-252-2260

Erica Coleman, NP, Piedmont Internal Medicine

I have been a student most of my life; from grade school, to high school, to undergrad, to graduate school. It is really hard to believe, but my husband says I am addicted to learning, which I guess isn’t a bad thing. Most of college (as an undergrad and grad) I had to work while in school for financial reasons. Making the choice to do that for myself, was the best thing I could have done. So it would be accurate to say I have plenty of experience and knowledge on how important it is to not only stay on track in college, but also to stay healthy in college. Those years are vulnerable as you leave home for the first time and venture out into a new experience. Nutrition, physical activity, stress management, sleep, and limiting risky behaviors are some of the tools essential to pack with you as you head off to college.

Nutrition

When I started college I was eating to survive; in other words I ate as needed. I didn’t have enough time nor enough patience, so I went with convenience. I chose all the wrong foods—fast food, because let’s face it, it’s fast, it’s affordable and it tastes good. Little did I know, those food options caused some very difficult habits and mood swings. It was not until later in life studying to become a nurse that I figured out what it meant to fuel your body. The moment I stopped snacking and eating junk was the moment I realized I could go eight hours without feeling tired, or walk up a flight of stairs without getting short of breath, or focus through a three hour lecture without feeling my blood sugar drop. When it comes to nutrition, I have a few simple tools:

  • Eat a healthy breakfast every morning. Don’t skip this meal, it’s full of opportunity to fuel your fasting body with healthy protein, necessary fats, and whole grains.
  • Eat every two to three hours.Consume three big meals and two to three high protein snacks throughout the day. Keep healthy snacks with you so that you aren’t tempted to buy that bag of chips or piece of pizza.
  • Eat mostly fruits and vegetables. These are full of healthy antioxidants and fiber to keep you fuller, and for longer.
  • Hydrate. Water is life. Keep this as your main beverage of choice. I did not realize how many calories I was getting from my Starbucks lattes (thank you James Madison University for supplying my Starbucks addiction). I never realized I was drinking two to three sugary coffees a day at 130-180 calories each. On an average 2,000 calorie diet, my liquid consumption was 1/3 of my calorie intake for the day. The thing about indulging in those drinks is that your glycemic index shoots up, and within an hour your sugar starts to drop and your body feels you need more sugar to sustain. This is how we get into trouble. So how did I make a change? I started counting my calories. Once I realized how many empty calories I was wasting, and how many days a week I was going over my average goal, I knew I had to make a change. It was not an overnight change, but calorie counting was eye opening, and it changed the way I felt about food.
  • Find a helpful tool. In today’s world of technology, there are many applications that can be used to help you track your goals. Use of these applications also help you to maintain a level of accountability. For example, downloading an app such as MyFitnessPal will enable you to type in your goals, put in what you eat, see what remains, and track the amount of water you are drinking. These applications will show where changes can be made.

Physical Activity and Exercise

Does anyone truly love to run? There are so many other things I would much prefer doing than spending time in the gym or running. Much like nutrition, I did not realize until I was older how difficult it was to get active again. Sure, when I was younger I could eat anything I wanted and not gain weight. I would occasionally go to the gym or go for a run, but it was never habitual. It was not until I found myself drowning in stress and exams that I felt I needed help. Stress drove me to become more active because I needed a safe and effective outlet. I started by using study breaks to do about 15-20 minutes of walking outside. Walking turned into jogging, and occasionally I would go for a quick run. I liked the way my mind worked and how my body felt being active, so I found other activities that I enjoyed. I enjoyed dance, so a girlfriend and I decided to try line dancing one night – we loved it and turned it into a reoccurring activity for years to come. I also discovered I had a passion for yoga, and that has since been my favorite physical activity to date. The trick is to find something that you enjoy.

As a student, you will be sitting in lectures, seminars, libraries, and working at the computer until you notice this becomes routine. You’re frequently in closed spaces and unknowingly face issues such as violation of blood circulation in extremities and oxygen starvation of important body parts, including the brain. Physical activity forces blood to move in the body, delivering oxygen to all important body parts, especially to the brain. Sedentary behavior is linked to health problems including heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. According to the CDC you should aim to get at least two and a half hours a week of moderate-intensity exercise, and participate in muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week.

Stress and Time Management

College is a stressful time. Workload increases and as a student, you are expected to manage your time between school, work, family obligations, and maintaining a social life. I decided I needed to find balance and it needed to start with time management. Time is a finite resource. No matter what, you’re always left with the same 24 hours in a day to check items off to-do lists, spend time with family and friends, and unwind. By planning ahead and using your time wisely, you’ll be able to accomplish more and enjoy added free time. By becoming aware of where my time was being spent, I found that my phone was consuming a good majority of it and was actually distracting me. I was constantly checking social media for irrelevant stories such as who was dating who and who liked my photos. To make matters worse, I would try my hardest not to work and would surf the internet or shop instead.

Ultimately, I had to use my distractions as rewards during study breaks. I would put my phone in the other room and set my alarm for 45 minutes. Once the alarm went off I could use the next 15 minutes to do whatever I wanted, like re-watching all of the Pitch Perfect movie finales. This schedule worked for me and I needed the breaks. By planning ahead, I studied better and was more efficient with my time.

Another rule of thumb is to find happiness. This has a direct effect on a person’s overall health and helps decrease the effects of stressful situations. People who surround themselves with situations or items that make them happier have up to 12 times lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Expressing feelings of stress and conversing with friends or family can also lead to a lowered levels of cortisol. The only way I was truly able to get through the grueling nursing program at Marymount University was a core group of friends that are still my closest friends today. Again, everyone has their own happiness; find yours.

Sleep is Crucial

Sleep is another area I did poorly in when first going to college. Mostly because I couldn’t tell my brain to turn off, and constantly worried about what assignments were coming up. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute says adults need at least seven to eight hours of continuous sleep per night. I was getting on average four to five. Given the lack of sleep, I would get sick more often, I would have mental breakdowns, and I was not very productive in the day. I had to discipline myself by establishing a bedtime routine. During the week days that I had class, I set my bedtime to 10 pm. I would usually try to start winding down as part of the routine at 9 pm – set my coffee, wash my face, brush my teeth, take multivitamins, pray, and read. As part of my routine, I would leave my phone in its place and shut off any other electronic devices. Sometimes, I would even make a to-do list for the next day to keep my mind from wandering.

Keep your bed a “sleep-only” zone. If you have a small living area, it’s inevitable that you’re going to study in the same room where you sleep. However, designate your bed for sleeping only. When you work in bed, you subconsciously associate that area with work instead of sleep. Working before bed and looking at a screen reduces melatonin, which helps create a sound night’s sleep. Having a mental association between work and a bed can increase anxiety or stress that prevents sleep.

A quiet, comfortable bed enables sound sleep. Considering how important sleep is to overall energy levels, investing in a mattress you love is a smart idea. The temperature of your room can also affect how you sleep. It’s better to turn it down a couple notches than to keep it toasty; the ideal room temperature for sleeping is between 60 and 67 degrees, that’s why a warm bath before bedtime is so effective – your body cools off after bathing.

Risky and Concerning Behaviors

Finally, the topic on the minds of all parents and students – sex, drugs and alcohol. According to the national survey, approximately one-third of teens are experimenting with risky behaviors – many for the first time – during their first semester at college. Roughly, one-third of current college students surveyed reported drinking alcohol (37%), engaging in intimate sexual behavior (37%), or having sexual intercourse (32%) during their first semester at college. Talk to your parents, and parents talk to your students. If I could give one piece of advice this would be it. I have a great relationship with my mom, she allowed me to feel safe talking to her about things that I was experiencing or things I saw other people experiencing around me. We would have conversations about the good and the bad in every situation, and she never made me feel bad about myself. She was always uplifting. You will be around it, more than you think. Be smart, be firm in your beliefs, be careful, set your intentions daily, and find a good support system. Build self-confidence by joining clubs or study groups where you can connect with like-minded peers. Participate in hobbies and social activities that let you have fun and meet new people. College can be an exciting time, but it can also be challenging. Take care of your mind and body to make college a more fulfilling experience.


About Fauquier Health

Fauquier Health is a community health system dedicated to high-quality, patient-centered care in a unique environment that considers the multiple facets of healing and respects the individuality of each and every patient. Located at 500 Hospital Drive in Warrenton, Virginia, Fauquier Health serves the residents of Fauquier and several surrounding counties. It comprises: Fauquier Hospital, a fully-accredited, 97-bed hospital; Fauquier Health Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, a 113-bed long-term care and rehabilitation facility; the Villa at Suffield Meadows, an assisted living facility; the Wound Health Center and a medically supervised Wellness Center offering health and wellness programs.  Fauquier Health also operates nine physician’s offices, including primary care and specialties. More information on Fauquier Health is available online at FauquierHealth.org or by calling 540-316-5000.

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Business

3 recruitment mistakes to avoid

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When:
October 31, 2019 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
2019-10-31T13:30:00-04:00
2019-10-31T16:00:00-04:00
Where:
Art in the Valley
205-A E. Main St. | Front Royal
VA 22630
Cost:
$185.00
Contact:
Art in the Valley
540-252-2260

If you have a position to fill at your company, implementing the right hiring strategy is key. Here are three mistakes to avoid during recruitment that could cost you considerable time and money.

1. Fast-tracking the process
Even if a position needs to be filled right away, you shouldn’t rush through recruitment. After all, if you hire the wrong person, you’ll have to start over. Plus, you’ll have wasted time training someone who wasn’t suited for the job. It’s far more efficient to schedule interviews with promising candidates and then properly assess their skills so you can make an informed decision.

2. Ignoring in-house talent

It’s possible that one of your current employees has the right qualifications for the open position. Plus, since they’re already familiar with the company culture, they’re likely to adapt to their new role quickly. If an employee shows potential, consider giving them the position.

3. Relying solely on interviews and CVs
A candidate might make a good impression during the interview but still be the wrong person for the job. Make sure to contact their references for more information about their ability to work under pressure or as part of a team. Similarly, it’s easy to embellish a CV, which is why an aptitude test is a more reliable way to assess someone’s qualifications.

In addition to saving you time and money, avoiding these mistakes will help you find the right candidate for the job.

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The Cracked Acorn

The Cracked Acorn: Savior, Pilot Me?

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When:
October 31, 2019 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
2019-10-31T13:30:00-04:00
2019-10-31T16:00:00-04:00
Where:
Art in the Valley
205-A E. Main St. | Front Royal
VA 22630
Cost:
$185.00
Contact:
Art in the Valley
540-252-2260

Somewhere in my house is a small framed picture of a lighthouse and a small sailboat in an inlet. It reminds me of my few experiences with boats; here a storm may be brewing at the end of the day.

The lighthouse has not switched on its light. It may be late autumn. Leaves are changing colors on the shore. The shore of the lighthouse is rocky and the other shore may be one of safety. The small sailboat is trying to reach land near a small cottage in the woods. The sailboat is very small in comparison to the lighthouse. The threatening rock ledges are partially hidden by the lashing waves. The coming storm is definitely too powerful for the small craft which has its single sail to the fullest extent.

The lighthouse stands as a warning for the boat to stay away and not to come near the rocks. Does the sailboat see that it is in danger and will a warning from the lighthouse soon flash a warning that danger is at hand; this painting has all the possibilities of tragedy.

The artist of this painting must have known something of life. The sailboat is too small. The inlet of safety is filled with hidden dangers. Without an experienced pilot, the captain may not know these waters and how to get into the shore to escape the coming storm. The passengers may have been lulled into their nice voyage and have not been aware that soon their lives may be in danger.

The light is not on in the lighthouse, does anyone care that a ship is in danger. The waves are viciously hitting the shore churned by a distant force while on the shore things still deceptively appear to be calm. Time may be running out for our sailor at the end of the day.

In 1986, divers discovered a small boat preserved at the bottom of Lake Kinneret near the area of the Galilee Sea. It is 25.5 feet long and 7.5 in width. It probably had a square sail on a single mast. It carried a crew of five and maybe 15 passengers. It has a shallow draft and could be rowed by 4 in staggered order. This craft was probably made up of junked boats by the Migdal Jewish family boatyard.

There’s talk of restoring the dubbed “Jesus Boat.” HE and his disciples could have sailed in this very boat. Boats were very important in the Biblical past and are mentioned 50 times in the Gospels.

A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4)

Edward Hopper in 1871 was well aware of the loss of life due to the many shipwrecks and sinking of his day. He wrote these lyrics JESUS, SAVIOR, PILOT ME.

Over life’s tempestuous sea; Unknown waves before me roll, Hiding rock and treach’rous shoal. Thou canst hush the ocean wild. Boist’rous waves obey Thy will. When at last I near the shore, And the fearful breakers roar, May I hear Thee say to me, “Fear not, I will pilot thee”

Now cast off and remember in a storm head for the cuddy. Stay on true course and avoid winkles in the main.

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EDA in Focus

EDA Executive Committee ponders strategies, assets and impediments

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When:
October 31, 2019 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
2019-10-31T13:30:00-04:00
2019-10-31T16:00:00-04:00
Where:
Art in the Valley
205-A E. Main St. | Front Royal
VA 22630
Cost:
$185.00
Contact:
Art in the Valley
540-252-2260

The Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority Executive Committee met virtually Friday, August 14, to discuss its Strategic Plan. That an economic development strategy must balance vision and process, as well as assets that make a community uniquely attractive to prospective clients versus impediments that would drive them away, dominated the 90-minute discussion.

EDA Board of Directors Vice-Chairman Jeff Browne moderated the virtual meeting attended by Executive Committee members Jorie Martin, Greg Harold, Tom Pattison, and Melissa Gordon, the latter by phone hook up as she drove her child to Virginia Tech to register for their first year of college. So, the topic of establishing a “Project Return Home” as some states and areas have to improve the quality of job opportunities available for the community’s college-educated next generation was of particular interest for her, Gordon told her colleagues near the meeting’s end.

The initial discussion focused on the process by which an updated Strategic Plan would be developed in conjunction with a refined “Vision Statement” for the EDA’s work. Then the committee, along with EDA Executive Director Doug Parsons and Administrative Assistant Gretchen Henderson, delved into the factors that would form that vision. Browne pointed to the County’s geographical location and commercial transportation access to Interstate highways and railroads as a key “Vision” variable.

Greg Harold may be flashing secret hand signals during virtually-broadcast EDA Executive Committee meeting Friday morning. Below, his organizational chart on updating the EDA’s Strategic Plan. Royal Examiner Photos/Roger Bianchini

Harold presented a draft of an organizational chart he had developed and commented that he is a great advocate of the “KISS” method of planning – “Keep It Simple, Stupid”. Maximum use of available technologies to disseminate information among board members and targeted industries was also cited by Harold as a necessary tool in forwarding the Strategic Plan.

After Gordon noted she did such strategic planning development in her real job, Harold deferred to his colleague’s professional experience for elaboration on the process of strategic planning. Gordon cited the necessity for, not only the development of a comprehensive strategic plan based on a community vision but of regular review to “establish where you are” and how the Strategic Plan is functioning to achieve the desired goals.

“When I look at the Strategic Plan I start very BIG in terms of what is our maximum potential and then break it down from there … to where are we today. And then coming up with measurable objectives over however the length of time we’re setting the Strategic Plan for; and then evaluation each year of what’s working well and what’s not,” Gordon said of the long-term game plan.

She also addressed the variables of regional economic development and Warren County and Front Royal’s place in that development. “The other thing I would say is, even though there are a lot of other counties around that are moving forward with economic development, deciding what makes us unique from them …”

Economic development assets
“Location, location, location,” Browne quoted a long-time observation about the “top three” factors in business development. “Logistics is something we have a great strength in – we are almost dead center in the mid-Atlantic; we’re eight hours from the Canadian border; we’re eight hours-and-change to Boston; eight hours going west gets you to Indianapolis; and eight hours south gets you all the way down to Georgia,” Browne recited of commercial driving times from Warren County.

“We have the Inland Port and train transportation that gets us to one of the two largest ports (Norfolk) on the entire east coast for importing and exporting goods,” Browne continued of the logistical advantages the county has as a commercial transportation hub near the intersection of two major Interstate highways, I-66 (east-west) and I-81 (north-south).

“From a logistical standpoint, one of the critical things every company looks at, we’re really ideally situated. We’re close to Washington, D.C., I could keep going on and on, on the logistical advantages that we have here that are under-utilized in what we do,” Browne told the executive committee.

EDA Board Vice-Chairman Jeff Browne hosted the Exec Committee meeting on Strategic Planning, summarizing the community’s economic development assets and impediments. The major impediment is the current lack of a unified economic development front within the county. And that’s not likely to do anybody’s EDA any good – at least not anybody’s in Warren County.

The transportation hub discussion led to another geographical consideration, the Town of Front Royal as the northern gateway to the Shenandoah Valley and the county’s natural assets of the Shenandoah River, it’s north and south forks, and the Blue Ridge Mountains overlooking the river.

“That’s one of the reasons we live here,” Gordon chimed in from her trip south to Blacksburg and Virginia Tech, likely on I-81.

“Regionalism is another area that I think is under-utilized in what it is that we do. We are, in my mind, less competitive with all of our neighbors although on specific projects we might well be vying for the same dollars on grants and the like. But the reality is that we are the Gateway to the Northern Shenandoah Valley. And if we’re doing our job well, we all benefit from it,” Browne said of an intertwined regional economy that fosters a cooperative outlook.

“To me, regionalism and working cooperatively is a much more attractive thing for site developers and companies looking to be here. I would rather get a piece of the pie by going that way, than none of the pie by going it alone,” Browne reasoned of regionalism’s positive impact on economic development for all.

Impediments to Economic Development
Browne then segued to what he called “impediments” to economic development. And ironically his referenced regional cooperative outlook has been impeded, not by an outside community, but by one closer to home.

“We’re well aware of the issues with the Town,” Browne began of a co-founding and still legally at least participating member, the Town of Front Royal, adding, “We have lawsuits and other things we’re going to have to overcome and have strategies for what it is that we do.”

We later checked with Browne on his “other things” reference. He elaborated that it was to three projects the Town owes the EDA debt service payments on: the new Town Police Headquarters, Leach Run Parkway and the West Main Street Connector Road at the Royal Phoenix site, the latter two he estimated adding about $3 million to $4 million to the $9-million debt service on the FRPD headquarters.

Front Royal’s new police station, financed for the Town by the EDA to the tune of about $9-million, remains a monthly financial albatross for the EDA.

As previously reported, on June 1st the EDA presented the Town with an invoice for slightly over $441,300 paid thus far by the EDA on the FRPD headquarters project, with a remaining balance of $8.44 million with 3% interest accruing. The Town’s response through back-channel negotiations between council members Chris Holloway and Lori Athey Cockrell and supervisors Cheryl Cullers and Delores Oates was to offer to pay a recoverable $10,529, or half of the interest-only July payment of $21,102, without admitting any legal or moral obligation to pay anything on the police station debt service.

The Town also requested and received permission from the state government to become the first Virginia municipality to be given authority to create an independent, second EDA while still technically a member of the EDA it co-founded with Warren County in 1969.

After initially championing a “reform” the EDA movement, the Town Council opted out of that cooperative effort with the re-tooled EDA and Warren County in order to sue the EDA for “at least $20 million” mirroring the EDA initial civil action against former EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald and seven co-defendants totaling $21.3 million. The EDA’s civil action has climbed to nearly $26 million against McDonald and 23 co-defendants, while other than the above-referenced and apparently stalled “back-channel” effort, the Town has rejected EDA offers of “good faith” negotiations to establish exactly what Town assets were involved in the alleged EDA embezzlements.

Other impediments were cited, including one created by an asset – blocked roads from lengthy freight trains headed to the Inland Port in the county’s north side. Though there is hopefully some relief coming with grant funds being accessed for a Rockland Road “flyover” to ease one of those blocked sites, he observed.

Martin also noted a hopeful contact to expand broadband service throughout the county to solve another impediment, the lack of broadband Internet connection countywide. That is a particular issue, not only for economic development but education during the COVID-19 pandemic emergency measures requiring a certain amount of home Internet virtual instruction to students while social distancing limits their in-school time.

Money and board vacancies
As with its own initiatives and Strategic Planning efforts, it was noted that budget factors were always a limiting variable on the County side as well. But it was commented that the EDA should become an advocate for the type of expenditures that will help stimulate economic development on the positive side, whether in educational funding or elsewhere.

Toward the committee meeting’s end, the matter of the two board vacancies created by the resignation of Gray Blanton and Ed Daley’s move to the County as interim county administrator was raised.

Browne said he had yet to receive word from the county supervisors who make EDA board appointments on Blanton’s seat but that he believed a decision was close. He also raised the possibility that an interim replacement for Daley might be put on the table with the understanding it would be a short-term replacement. The EDA and County’s intent has appeared to be that former EDA Board Chairman Daley will return to his position when the County hires a permanent replacement for Doug Stanley.

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