110 Keating Dr | Winchester
The Sacred Heart Players are presenting C.S. Lewis classic “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” Thursday, Dec. 6, Friday, Dec. 7 and Saturday, Dec. 8 at Sacred Heart Academy. Performances are at 7 p.m. each evening, plus a 2 p.m. matinee on Dec. 8.
“The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” is part of the “Chronicles of Narnia” series. Siblings Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy stumble through the back of a wardrobe into the frozen kingdom of Narnia which is being ruled by the evil White Witch until the lion Aslan comes along.
“It’s a perfect play for the holiday season because it’s about the true king,” says fourth-grade teacher Concetta Kimbro, who is co-directing the play with Barbara White. “The students have been working really hard on it, practicing over the last several months. It’s a very complicated play, and it’s amazing that these young kids are able to absorb and portray the characters so well.”
The cast and crew are made up of 27 students, all the way from first-grade through eighth-grade.
Tickets are $5 per person, or $20 per family. Children under 4 are free. Tickets can be purchased from the academy office or at the door.
Monday afternoon fire burns one acre, destroys vacant home
110 Keating Dr | Winchester
On Monday, March 30, 2020, at approximately 2:00 pm, the Warren County Department of Fire and Rescue Services received a report of a residential structure fire in the area of the 200 block of Summit Drive in Front Royal.
Units arrived on the scene to discover a single story, single-wide house trailer with an addition with significant fire conditions throughout the home and approximately one acre of wooded area on fire. The home appeared to be vacant at the time of the fire and firefighters worked to extinguish the wildland fire and the structure fire from the exterior of the home for safety concerns.
As a result of the significant nature of the structure fire and wildland fire, firefighters received assistance from the Virginia Department of Forestry. Firefighters utilized the Town of Front Royal Hydrant System to supply water to the fire incident which caused the closure of John Marshal Highway for several hours, the Front Royal Police Department assisted with traffic control. It took firefighters approximately one hour to bring the fire under control. Units remained on the scene for several hours ensuring the fire was completely extinguished and assisting the Office of the Fire Marshal and Virginia Department of Forestry.
The cause of the fire was determined by the Warren County Fire Marshal’s Office to be a result of an electrical malfunction that caused a groundcover fire that spread to the abandon home. The fire caused an estimated $50,000.00 in property damage which rendered the house a total loss. The Fire Marshal’s Office received assistance from the Town of Front Royal Police Department Criminal Investigations Division, Loudoun County Fire Marshal’s Office and the Town of Front Royal Electric Department.
Units on the call:
- Engines 1, 4, 6, and 2
- Brush 6 and 2
- Chief 100
- Fire Marshal 1
Part 1 of 7: Practical real estate tips for quarantined homeowners, buyers, sellers and realtors
110 Keating Dr | Winchester
This 7 part series is accompanied by BETHvids featuring tips regarding buying, selling and the real estate industry in general.
This is the first of Beth Medved Waller’s video series offering tips for people to enhance their “real estate health” while they are stuck indoors to protect their own health. In the seven-part series, she’ll be advising homeowners, buyers (both active home seekers and those thinking of buying soon), sellers (those with active real estate listings and with properties preparing to hit the market this spring) and Realtors (agents already in business as well as people who are considering becoming a licensed practitioner). She’ll share suggestions about what each party can do to make their time at home productive from a real estate perspective. A four part article is also being published with her timely tips by “Real Estate Agent Magazine.”
Part 1: Top 5 real estate tips for homeowners with no immediate plans of moving
- Turn being cooped up inside into an opportunity that will pay off in the future whenever it’s time to sell your home. Start a folder of home improvements you’ve made throughout the years and use it as a place to log annual maintenance, record replacement costs and keep track of ages of heating/air conditioning units, your roof, and other important systems/utilities in your house. You can even keep booklets, receipts and other handy information in a convenient location inside the binder.
- Start that long-overdue de-cluttering – focus on your main level first (the garage/basement area is less important to keep organized than your kitchen, main living areas and master bath/closet areas). If it’s hard to get rid of even unused items, put them in a box and move them to the basement–if you haven’t gone into the box in 6 months, it’s likely safe to donate the box to be enjoyed by someone who will be blessed by your “hand-me-downs.”
- Start an online folder to store seasonal photos of your home. It can also be home to “before/after” photos if you complete improvements a future buyer would appreciate to have documented. Go one step farther and set reminders on your calendar to take quality digital (cell phone is fine) photos of your home during different seasons. Upload onto your online album shots that showcase views in the winter, lovely sunsets or sunrises, fall foliage and flowers blooming in the warmer months.
- Take a slow and intentional walk around the outside and throughout the inside of your home and make a list of major and minor maintenance projects you’ve been putting off. Now’s the time to make a plan and budget for completing them (or to check some off the list if you have the skills to earn some sweat equity). So many people wait until they sell to invest the time and money into improvements they wish they prioritized sooner to enjoy the benefits of the updates before handing the keys over to the buyer, who is sure to appreciate your investment in curb appeal and upkeep.
- Bite the bullet and begin pricing out big ticket items on your “to do” or “dream” list. Contact your trusted Realtor to brainstorm about the potential return on costly improvements. Calling on an expert for guidance can ensure you make an educated decision about your monetary investment vs. projected future impact on market value. Be ready to share photos or video clips with your agent so they can visualize your situation and be better equipped to educate you about the potential return on your updates.
Stay tuned for more BETHvids and corresponding articles made for buyers, sellers and Realtors for additional tips to implement while stuck indoors. Follow her real estate and WHAT MATTERS postings on the Royal Examiner under the Features Tab, “What Matters Warren.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Beth Medved Waller is a self-proclaimed “Pretend Reporter (creating video interviews/articles to promote causes or events), Pretend Philanthropist (see whatmattersw2.com to learn about her initiatives) & a Pretend Singer/Songwriter” (hear her song at dollardreamdownload.com). She’s also a real life mother of two teens, founder of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit named WHAT MATTERS and a top producing real estate broker who has been recognized locally, regionally and nationally for her various real and pretend titles.
Coronavirus update: Rising cases and deaths, other developments in pandemic crisis
110 Keating Dr | Winchester
WASHINGTON — The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States hit almost 175,000 Tuesday afternoon and the death toll surpassed 3,400 as the country prepared for an anticipated peak in fatalities in the coming weeks.
More Americans have been affected by the virus than any other population worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering data dashboard — and the number of U.S. cases continues to grow exponentially despite more and more states ordering their citizens to stay home.
Trump extends social distancing, claims test kit, ventilator surpluses
President Donald Trump extended national social distancing recommendations through the end of April on Sunday, preparing for the apex of deaths in the country before the coronavirus case count slopes downward.
“Challenging times are ahead for the next 30 days, and this is a very vital 30 days…But the more we dedicate ourselves today, the more quickly we will emerge on the other side of the crisis,”
Trump told reporters at a White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing Monday evening. “And that’s the time we’re waiting for.”
The president also said that the United States has reached “a historic milestone in our war against the coronavirus”: over a million people have been tested. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar added that nearly 100,000 samples are being tested daily.
Like test kits, ventilators have also been in high demand for hospitals to keep coronavirus patients in the most critical condition alive. Trump said that thousands have already been delivered to communities across the country. Hundreds more were being split among Michigan, New Jersey, Illinois, Louisiana, and Connecticut.
Some domestically produced ventilators will be shipped to foreign countries, according to Trump.
“As we outpace what we need, we’re going to be sending them to Italy. We’re going to be sending them to France,” the president said. “We’re going to be sending them to Spain, where they have tremendous problems, and other countries.”
Governors fear consequences of supply shortages
While the White House claims test kits and other needed supplies to combat the coronavirus are stocked in surplus across the country, state leaders are sharing differing views of what’s happening on the ground in their communities.
Govs. Larry Hogan, a Maryland Republican, and Gretchen Whitmer, a Michigan Democrat, suggested ways the federal government can assist states amid the pandemic in a bipartisan opinion piece published Monday in the Washington Post.
“There simply aren’t enough test kits, medical supplies and other lifesaving equipment to meet the scope of this pandemic,” the governors wrote. “While states are doing all we can to secure access to these items, the federal government must take extraordinary steps to deliver what we need.”
Hogan and Whitmer also suggested increased federal relief funding and preparation for a surge in federal unemployment insurance as the coronavirus continues to drain the U.S. economy.
Based on several projections, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio said he expects the peak of the virus to arrive between mid-April and mid-May but “we’re not quite sure when.” The lack of widespread testing contributes to the uncertainty, DeWine said in an interview with CNN.
“That is not unique to Ohio,” the governor said. “We have seen that throughout the country. That’s been a real challenge.”
States urge residents to stay at home as case count grows nationwide
Despite social distancing orders in place nationwide, the number of people affected by the coronavirus continues rising rapidly. States have been increasingly urging their citizens to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel.
At least 265 million people in at least 32 states, 80 counties, 18 cities, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have been given stay-at-home orders as of Tuesday, according to a New York Times analysis of states’ policies.
Hogan, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, and District Mayor Muriel Bowser all told their residents to stay at home starting Monday.
“We are in a public health crisis, and we need everyone to take this seriously and act responsibly,” Northam said in a statement.
Maryland counties, cities will receive $48 million for coronavirus response
Localities throughout Maryland will be supported by $48 million in federal funds for their coronavirus responses, the state’s congressional delegation announced Tuesday. The monetary aid comes from the CARES Act, which Trump signed into law Friday.
“Local governments are on the frontlines of this crisis,” the state’s senators and congressmen said in a statement. “This federal funding will shore up the capacity of Maryland’s cities and counties to respond to its widespread consequences.”
The funds can be used for needs including shelter for homeless individuals, increased affordable housing and keeping critical public services afloat, the lawmakers said.
As of Tuesday, 1,660 cases have been confirmed statewide, according to the Maryland Department of Public Health data.
Baltimore City is being allocated the most money out of the 14 jurisdictions being funded, receiving $20.9 million.
The lawmakers said they expect additional funds to be awarded in the days and weeks to come.
Maryland Department of Health to offer tests at Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program (VEIP) sites
Symptomatic and high-risk Marylanders can receive drive-through coronavirus testing at VEIP locations starting Wednesday, according to the state’s health department.
Testing will be offered in Glen Burnie, Anne Arundel County; Waldorf, Charles County; and Bel Air, Harford County.
“We are focused on testing people who really need it and by using these sites, we can allow them to be tested away from busy emergency rooms, urgent care centers, and physicians’ offices,” the state’s Deputy Secretary of Public Health Fran Phillips said in a statement.
Residents must meet testing criteria determined by a healthcare provider, receive a testing order and register for an appointment online. Phillips and Hogan stressed that these testing sites are geared toward people with visible coronavirus symptoms.
“Like every other state in the nation, we simply do not have enough testing supplies,” Hogan said in a statement. “We need to use our resources wisely.”
By BRYAN GALLION
Capital News Service
Schools, nonprofits hustle to feed over a half million Virginia students: ‘It’s incredible’
110 Keating Dr | Winchester
RICHMOND, Va. — Richmond school bus driver Tyrone McBride is still driving a big, yellow bus through Richmond neighborhoods, but these days, he’s transporting boxes of food for kids in need.
“It gets me out of the house,” said McBride, who has been a school bus driver for 18 years, “and you know, you’re doing a great deed and helping people out.”
More than a week has passed since Gov. Ralph Northam announced students will not return to school this academic year, and volunteers are still working to feed the 590,000 children in Virginia eligible for free or reduced lunches who were ordered to remain home during the coronavirus pandemic. Schools have been closed since March 16, though students were originally slated to return by March 27.
Whitcomb Court resident Simone Sanders said her children are now eating at home during the day, but she didn’t receive an increase in food stamps. One child is disabled, which prevents Sanders from being able to work.
“It’s affecting us bad, especially in the projects, and there’s nothing for the kids to do all day,” Sanders said. “And then you have to worry about your child just being outside getting shot.”
Sanders said she’s grateful for the food from Richmond Public Schools and says she occasionally gives food to neighborhood kids who say they’re hungry.
The Richmond Public Schools meal distribution program, like others around the state, continues to evolve during the coronavirus pandemic that caused a surge of Virginians to file for unemployment. Almost 46,300 Virginians filed for unemployment between March 15 and March 21. The previous week 2,706 people filed an unemployment claim, according to the Virginia Employment Commission.
The program started with 10 school sites and has since grown into at least 43 sites throughout the community and 10 school sites.
Erin Stanley, director of family engagement at Richmond Public Schools, said volunteers, bus drivers and the district’s nutrition staff have made the efforts possible. Volunteers were using personal vehicles to drop off food, but RPS decided that school buses would better suit the cause.
“We did that for a couple of reasons,” Stanley said. “One, so we can get more food out, and two, because school buses are a bit more well known and probably more trusted than individual volunteers going in with their personal vehicles.”
Plastic bags filled with milk cartons, sandwiches, apples, and snacks are handed out in neighborhoods found on the Richmond Public Schools’ website. School distribution sites are open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and neighborhood times vary by location. Any student in the school district can use the program, Stanley said.
Volunteer Natalie Newfield said many families she gave meals to lost jobs in the restaurant industry.
“They’re changing the way they do deliveries, which is amazing,” Newfield said. “Every day you give them a count. If they need more food, the next day, all of a sudden your bus has more food. It’s incredible.”
Statewide efforts to feed children in Virginia
When schools closed, the U.S. Department of Agriculture activated the Summer Meals Program, which funds public schools and local organizations to serve breakfast and lunch during the summer.
Del. Danica Roem, D-Prince William, pressed the USDA to change its policy which required parents to have their child with them when picking up food.
Roem said it was difficult for a Prince William County mother to access food for her two children. Her daughter has an immune system deficiency caused by recent cancer treatments, making her susceptible to the COVID-19 virus.
“When you’re talking about a 7-year-old with cancer, we have to really evaluate what is it that our policy is trying to prevent that is more important than feeding a child with cancer,” Roem said.
Roem said she was able to bring groceries to the family, who live in the representative’s district. As they carried bags of food inside, Roem said the mother told her children, “We’re eating tonight.”
“I fought with the USDA for a full week and won a major, major victory for kids throughout Virginia and across the country, and especially immunocompromised kids, to make sure that they stay safe, that they stay home,” Roem said.
The USDA waived the restriction last week, and states can now choose to waive the in-person policy for students to receive food.
No Kid Hungry, a national campaign launched by nonprofit Share Our Strength, is offering emergency grants to local school divisions and organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The grants can help people who are trying to make meal distribution possible but may lack the equipment necessary to feed children outside of a school setting.
Sarah Steely, senior program manager at No Kid Hungry Virginia, said the grants can fund necessities like vehicles, gas, coolers, and equipment to keep food safe during distribution.
“Those might not be resources that folks already have, because those aren’t service models that were expected of them before,” Steely said, “so we’re here to support community organizations and school divisions as they figure out what it is they need to distribute to kids.”
The organization works with YMCAs, childcare centers, libraries and all 133 of Virginia’s public school divisions.
The organization recently activated their texting hotline for those unsure of where their next meal is coming from text “FOOD” to 877-877. The hotline is generally used during the summer months but was reactivated to combat food insecurity during the coronavirus pandemic.
Steely called the hotline “a tool in a bigger toolbox of resources” and encouraged families to contact their local school board for updated information about their locality.
“They count on that as a primary source of nutrition, so with schools closed, we want to make sure that the students who are accessing meals at school are now accessing those meals at home,” Steely said.
By Hannah Eason
Capital News Service
What are you looking for in the next Town Manager for Front Royal?
110 Keating Dr | Winchester
Baker Tilly, a leading local government executive search and advisory firm, is managing the search process for the next Town Manager for Front Royal, Virginia. The position is critical to the functioning of Town operations and the successful candidate will be responsible, under the guidance of the Mayor and the direction of Town Council, to manage Town operations as they collectively endeavor to enhance the quality of life for current and future residents of the Town. The application portal for those interested in applying can be found here, where a brochure is posted describing the organization, the position responsibilities and the leadership opportunities presented by the post. The brochure also describes the desired capabilities, qualifications and experience sought by Town Council for the job.
Additionally, the Town seeks any input that community stakeholders wish to contribute on the experience, management and leadership qualities they would like to see in the Front Royal’s next Town Manager, along with any other issues they may feel are relevant to the selection process. A survey to gather this input has been established online. Citizens and other stakeholders are encouraged by Council to respond to the survey by April 17th, 2020. Results will be tabulated and returned to the Town in order that it be available for candidate screening and selection. When published and returned to the Town, the survey report will be made available by the Town.
The link to the survey will be posted on the Town’s web page. The Mayor and Council encourage as many as possible to respond so that their perspectives may be registered.
For more information, please contact:
Town will waive card-payment fees thru June, undecided on long-term options
110 Keating Dr | Winchester
Life in municipal government COVID-19 pandemic virtual world continued Monday evening, March 30, as the Front Royal Town Council “gathered” by remote computer hook up for work session discussion of several matters.
Near the meeting’s end, Interim Town Manager and Town Director of pandemic Emergency Management Matt Tederick noted a third confirmed case of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease-2019) in Warren County. He also was joined by the mayor and council in thanking staff for helping the town government traverse the unfamiliar territory of continuing to provide services under state-recommended restrictions on public interactions. Those restrictions have led to the locking of municipal building doors to the public, funneling most citizen-government interactions to online, phone or drive-thru options.
Consequently, one of the four topics of conversation Monday was a lifting of the 2.35% fee on payment of Town utility or other fees by credit or debit card. After a somewhat laborious discussion of contractor “technical interface” issues not allowing direct withdrawals from customer bank accounts, which would bypass the need for the plastic money fee on utility account payments, the council agreed to waive the fee for the three-month balance of this fiscal year.
Since the issue is tied to an upswing in credit or debit card payments tied to the restrictions on public interactions and municipal building closures due to the COVID-19 emergency response, Town Attorney Doug Napier told the mayor and council that they simply had to authorize Tederick to move forward on waiving the card-payment fees as part of his duties as the Town’s COVID-19 Director of Emergency Management.
Staff is estimating a $60,000 revenue shortfall over the three-month period, twice the current average of $10,000 monthly in plastic transaction fees. The staff summary noted that the shortfall could possibly be offset by a “reduction of expenditures identified by staff and/or usage of the reserve fund balance.”
It was noted that one of the Town Finance Department’s drive-thru windows remains open for business at the rear of Town Hall, as an option on cash or check payments. And Councilwoman Lori Cockrell wondered if many citizens were aware of the option to set up automatic payments from their bank accounts.
Prior to the consensus to allow Tederick as director of emergency management to move forward with the fee waiver, Councilwoman Thompson worried over the suggestion that Town utility fees be raised in the coming fiscal year as another means of offsetting the revenue shortfall. That led to a discussion in which Town Finance Director B. J. Wilson expressed the opinion that the lost fees, as an “operating expense” of the Town, could not be covered by the use of fund balance reserves.
“We can’t go into reserves to cover an operating expense. So, we’d have to either reduce our expenses or raise our revenues to cover this. But we cannot dip into the reserves,” Wilson told the council.
“That doesn’t make any sense, credit card fees is an operating expense, isn’t it?” Councilman Jacob Meza offered in response.
“Yes, it’s an operating expense, so we have to cover it with our revenues,” Wilson repeated.
Queried further, Wilson explained that in the short term if the funds were not available from the utility departments’ revenues, reserves might have to be used to temporarily plug the gap.
“Well, let there be a shortfall, and cover it with the reserves,” Meza suggested, drawing some laughter from council.
However, the finance director observed such a path could lead the Town into eventual trouble with state financial authorities.
“Obviously that would have to be an option for our current year if it comes down to it. But moving forward … our (utility) revenues are supposed to cover our (utility) operating expenses. And if we continually have a shortfall it could get us into a little trouble with the APA,” Wilson told the council’s cut, spend and reduce majority.
Queried later, Wilson explained “APA” stands for Auditor of Public Accounts, a State financial department that tracks municipal budgetary submissions for irregularities.
As the discussion progressed, Vice-Mayor Bill Sealock observed that in the short term the Town could cover the cost of the card fee waiver, but that long-term revenue/expenditure issues in the face of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic response would have to be dealt with in the coming FY-2021 budget starting July 1.
“We can absorb $60k in our reserve. Of course, I also want to talk about saving any dollars in the 2019-2020 (budget) then move on to our new budget, because we’re going to see some significant shortfalls. So, I’m wondering why we’re spending so much time on this thing that you can’t resolve tonight. And why we’re not moving on … I hear everybody say they’re for it for the 90 days. So, we’re not going to resolve anything else about whether it comes out of reserves or we’re rescheduling some work,” Sealock told his colleagues.
“We can discuss this all night and we’re still not going to get anywhere,” Mayor Gene Tewalt concurred, moving council toward its instruction to Tederick to enact the card payment fee waiver as part of his role as director of emergency management for the Town.
In lieu of videotaping a black computer screen with informational boxes popping up here and there, Royal Examiner audio-taped the work session for the later perusal of citizens not linked in to listen live.
In this linked audio recording, hear the above discussion, as well as council and staff’s visiting of how the pandemic response may impact the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding and plans for downtown façade and other improvements; a planned switch of the Town’s employees’ insurance package that would raise the deductible option from $250 to $500, but will not be enacted until FY-2022 after the changes have been fully explained to staff; and evolving budget variables in the current pandemic “non-essential” business closures environment as council moves forward with its locked-in half-cent real estate tax decrease in place for FY-2021.
Here’s the audio from the March 30 Work Session: