Join us for upcoming VIRTUAL INFORMATION SESSIONS to learn about programs, paying for college, student resources, transfer opportunities, and more! Register at https://lfcc.edu/virtual-information-sessions/.
Dates and times:
- Tuesday, May 5, 6 p.m.
- Wednesday, May 6, 10 a.m.
- Tuesday, May 12, 6 p.m.
- Wednesday, May 13, 10 a.m.
Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – June 13, 2021
With the Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget testifying before the House Budget Committee last Wednesday, the President’s Budget proposal was the focus of the week. Unfortunately, the proposal is full of deficit spending, prioritizing issues like the Green New Deal rather than securing our southern border. As inflation continues to rise, we simply cannot afford to spend the way this Administration has since taking office a mere six months ago. This week, I also joined my colleagues in writing a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture encouraging the Department to expedite relief to our Nation’s poultry growers. Additionally, I continued meeting with constituents both in-person and virtually to connect with those I am privileged to represent. As the House prepares to return to Washington next week, know that I will continue fighting for the residents of the Sixth District and ensure your voices are heard in DC.
This week, the Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget testified before the House Budget Committee in an attempt to defend President Biden’s bloated budget proposal. This nightmare will explode the deficit and lead to skyrocketing inflation rates while harming our families and our small businesses in the process. The President’s proposal spends more than $6 trillion a year for the next decade and adds $1.3 trillion to the deficit each year – $14.5 trillion over ten years. Further, the proposal includes $55 trillion in taxes through 2032 and breaks President Biden’s promise of not raising taxes on those making less than $400,000 by allowing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to expire. This will hurt small businesses and jobs and take money out of the pockets of hard-working Americans. On top of this, the President’s Budget threatens our National Security by funding our military at the lowest level, as a percentage of the economy, since WWII and gives $124 million to the World Health Organization despite its failure to hold China accountable for the COVID-19 pandemic. The President’s proposal also spends $528 billion to push a Green New Deal agenda. All of this deficit spending will have consequences, and the budget projects only a 1.9% yearly economic growth rate for the majority of the next 10 years – well below the 75-year average of 3%. The President’s Budget is wrong for the American people. I spoke with WSVA about the proposal here.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for May accelerated at its fastest pace in nearly 13 years as inflation pressures continue to build due to President Biden’s unprecedented government spending. As a result of the trillions of dollars this Administration has already spent, the cost of everyday items is increasing at record levels. Gasoline is 56.2% more expensive today than 12 months ago, transportation services are up 11.2% since this time last year, and, together, food and energy prices have increased 3.8%, which is the fastest rate since 1992. Congress must rein in spending to protect the wallets of the American people and ensure the long-term viability of our economy.
It has been more than 80 days since Vice-President Harris was named the Biden Administration’s Border Czar. And while she made time to visit Guatemala and Mexico this week, the Vice President has ignored the raging immigration crisis here at home and neglected to visit our southern border to see the crisis she is “managing” firsthand. When confronted by NBC Reporter, Lester Holt, about why she has not been to the border, she laughed and retorted that she had not been to Europe either. The fact that she thought it’s appropriate to joke about the dire immigration situation highlights how incapable of overseeing this crisis she really is. With a 21-year high of 180,034 encounters at the border last month, something needs to change. May marked the third straight month of 170,000+ apprehensions of migrants illegally crossing the border, which hasn’t occurred since 2000. President Biden’s statement that border crossings are “way down, we’ve now gotten control” is becoming less and less true as each day passes. Worse yet, President Biden’s budget proposal includes only a 0.1% increase in funding for the Department of Homeland Security. This is unacceptable, and this week, I pressed the Acting OMB Director about the Administration’s failure to prioritize border security in the FY22 Budget. The President is not taking this crisis seriously, and in order to ensure the safety and security of our Nation, his administration must finish the wall, stop catch and release, reinstate the Remain in Mexico asylum policy, so we can restore order at the border, and provide the resources necessary to Border Patrol to allow them to do their jobs effectively.
Poultry growers are a vital part of our District’s economy. Broiler chickens are the number one farm commodity in Virginia, contributing more than $900 million to the Commonwealth’s economy. The industry directly employs 18,743 people throughout Virginia and indirectly supports an additional 34,835 jobs. However, like most industries, the COVID-19 pandemic severely harmed the poultry industry as demand for products dropped, which threatened the livelihood of chicken farmers. That is why I recently joined my colleagues in writing the below bipartisan, bicameral letter in support of expediting the process of administering payments to agricultural workers negatively impacted by COVID-19. Many deserving chicken growers were initially excluded from the funding promised to them in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, and we must protect our agricultural workers and the industry by administering timely payments to these important contributors to Virginia’s economy. Click here or the image below to read the full letter.
Modine Manufacturing Company is an industry leader in thermal management, pioneering ways to better design and manufacture heat transfer products in an impressive variety of markets. The products Modine works with range from commercial and off-highway vehicles to industrial centers to refrigeration and much more. Recently, the company invested $7 million to convert its Rockbridge County warehouse into a full-scale manufacturing plant that will produce data center cooling solutions and is expected to create 60 jobs. This week, I enjoyed meeting employees and touring their existing facility in Buena Vista. I’m excited about the company’s expansion in our area.
As of June 13, 2021, Virginia has had 677,671 total cases of COVID-19, including confirmed lab tests and clinical diagnoses, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The current death toll in the Commonwealth stands at 11,293. Further, according to the VDH’s COVID-19 vaccine data dashboard, as of June 13th, 4,846,193 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 4,033,614 people are fully vaccinated.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Congressman. If my office can ever be of assistance, please contact my Washington office at (202) 225-5431.
How to prevent digital eye strain
If you’re experiencing dry eyes, headaches, or blurry vision, digital eye strain may be to blame. Here are five things that can help alleviate the effects of frequently looking at your computer, tablet, or phone screen.
1. Follow the 20/20/20 rule
Look up from your screen every 20 minutes and focus on something approximately 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This short break will give your eyes the needed rest to relax, refocus and reset.
2. Change your settings
If your job makes it impossible to avoid looking at a screen all day, try using a larger font size. Additionally, you can increase the contrast, sharpness, and brightness of your screen.
3. Adjust the lighting
Glare from the sun or overhead lights can cause your eyes to work overtime. Try dimming the lights in the room, closing the blinds, or installing an anti-glare filter.
4. Improve your posture
Bad posture can intensify digital eye strain. Avoid slumping over, craning your neck, or looking down at your screen for long periods of time.
5. Schedule regular eye exams
An optometrist can ensure that your uncorrected vision problems are addressed. Plus, they can provide professional advice on how to keep your eyes healthy.
Though digital eye strain is unlikely to lead to permanent damage, it can be uncomfortable. Taking precautions will help minimize difficulties with your vision and eye health.
Governor Northam launches Return to Earn Grant Program to help Virginians transition back to work
On June 11, 20212, Governor Ralph Northam announced a new $3 million investment to pilot the Return to Earn Grant Program, which will match payments from eligible small businesses to provide new hires with up to $1,000 to support their transition back into the workforce. While many companies are offering hiring bonuses, the Return to Earn Grant Program will serve businesses with less than 100 employees that may not have the resources to provide this financial support. The initial launch of this program will be funded through Virginia’s federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) set aside, and additional recovery funds may be allocated based on demand.
“Many Virginians who lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic still face a variety of barriers to returning to work like access to affordable child care, transportation, and a living wage,” said Governor Northam. “These bonuses will serve as an incentive for unemployed workers to get back into the workforce, while also helping employers fill vacant jobs. The Virginia Return to Earn Grant Program is about empowering the true catalysts of our economic comeback—Virginia’s workers and small businesses.”
This initiative will match up to $500 that a qualifying small business pays directly to a new employee hired after May 31, 2021, either as a lump sum or in installments to offset the ongoing costs of child care, transportation, or other barriers to re-employment. Funds will only be reimbursed to businesses for new hires in positions that pay at least $15 per hour and that qualify as W-2 employment, either full- or part-time. To help address workforce shortages in child care, qualifying child care businesses may qualify for up to $500 per new hire without the match requirement.
“For Virginia to fully recover from the impacts of the pandemic on our economy, we need targeted solutions,” said Chief Workforce Development Advisor Dr. Megan Healy. “One in three Virginia workers has applied for unemployment benefits over the course of the pandemic. The new Return to Earn Grant Program will accomplish a dual purpose of helping unemployed Virginian’s transition back into living-wage jobs, particularly in the child care industry, and supporting small businesses with their hiring needs.”
The launch of the Return to Earn Grant Program coincides with the reinstatement of the weekly work search requirement in Virginia, which started the week of May 31, 2021. Virginians receiving unemployment benefits must make contact with employers each week and accept reasonable offers of employment.
On June 1, the Commonwealth also reopened its Virginia Career Works Centers for in-person services to ensure that Virginians making the transition back to the workforce have access to the resources they need to find high-quality jobs. Job seekers can continue to access resources virtually through the Virginia Career Works Referral Portal.
For additional information on requirements and to apply for Return to Earn grant funding, small businesses should contact their local Virginia Career Works Center.
Answers to frequently asked questions.
1. What is the Virginia Return to Earn Grant Program?
Unemployed Virginians are facing a variety of childcare, transportation, and other barriers to returning to the workforce while some small businesses are struggling to find workers. To support Virginians in their transition back to employment, Governor Ralph Northam will invest $3 million in federal WIOA set aside funds to pilot the VA Return to Earn Grant Program. The pilot initiative will match up to $500 that a qualifying small business pays directly to a new employee hired on or after May 31st, 2021 to support their transition back to employment. Funds will only be reimbursed for new hires in positions that pay at least $15 per hour and qualify as W-2 employment, either full- or part-time. Qualifying small childcare businesses, who may be facing particularly challenging workforce shortages, may qualify for up to $500 per new hire without the requirement to match.
2. Which small businesses are eligible for funds through the VA Return to Earn Grant Program?
A business must have 100 or fewer employees and be incorporated in Virginia. The employee count is the sum of the business’s employees across all Virginia locations. Qualifying childcare businesses, who may be facing particularly challenging workforce shortages, are eligible for 100% reimbursement for up to $500 per new hire. This means that no match is required from the childcare business to receive funding for new hires through the grant program.
3. What qualifies as a “childcare business”?
A childcare business may be a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation, with services delivered in home- and/or center-based settings. These businesses may be licensed or legally exempted from licensing by the state.
4. Which job positions are eligible for funds through the VA Return to Earn Grant Program?
Funds will only be reimbursed for new hires in positions that pay at least $15 per hour and qualify as W-2 employment, either full- or part-time.
5. Is there a limit to the number of new hires eligible for reimbursement through the VA Return to Earn Grant Program?
Yes, qualifying small businesses are eligible for a match of up to $500 per new hire for up to 25 new employees. These must have been hired on or after May 31st, 2021.
6. How can VA Return to Earn funds be used?
Funds are only reimbursable through the VA Return to Earn Grant Program if they are provided by a qualifying small business directly to a qualifying new hire, either as a lump sum or in installments to offset the ongoing costs of childcare, transportation, or other barriers to re-employment.
7. How should a qualifying small business apply for reimbursement of funds through the VA Return to Earn Grant Program?
For additional information on requirements and to apply for grant funding, small businesses should contact their local Virginia Career Works Center. Funds will only be reimbursed once they have been fully paid to the new hire.
8. This program matches up to $500 provided to a new hire to support their re-employment, for a total of $1000. If I am a qualifying small business, can I give the new hire a stipend that is more than $1000?
Yes, it is at the discretion of the employer as to how much is provided to the new employee. The VA Return to Earn Program will reimburse for 50% of the funds provided but only up to $500 per new hire. Childcare businesses will receive 100% reimbursement for up to $500 per new hire.
9. How is the initial $3 million in funding for the VA Return to Earn Grant Program being allocated across the Commonwealth? What happens if the money runs out?
Grant funds will be allocated across Virginia’s workforce development areas proportional to the number of current continuing unemployment insurance claims in each region. The initial $3 million allocated from WIOA Governor’s set-aside funds will serve to pilot the approach, and additional funding may be allocated depending on demand for the program.
10. What other strategies is the Commonwealth employing to support people with their return to work and ensure that employers have the workforce they need to fuel Virginia’s economic recovery?
The launch of the new Return to Earn Grant Program coincides with the reinstatement of the Virginia work search requirement beginning the week of May 31, 2021. Virginians receiving unemployment benefits must make contact with employers each week and accept reasonable offers of employment. On June 1, the Commonwealth reopened its Virginia Career Works Centers for in-person services to ensure that Virginians making the transition back to the workforce have access to the resources they need to find a high-quality job. Jobseekers can continue to access resources virtually through the Virginia Career Works Referral Portal.
Hope Arising Festival continues today till 5 pm, Sunday 11 to 4pm. Great family fun.
The Hope Arising Festival continues today, Saturday June 12) till 5 p.m. and again tomorrow (Sunday June 13) till 4 p.m. Great family fun.
LIVE music – FREE Hot Dogs – Food Trucks – Obstacle Course – Petting Zoo – Amazing Grace the Mule – Magic Show – Face Painting – the microWave Project – Paint the “HOPE” sign …AND MORE!
This two-day event will be a fun-pack time to enjoy time with your family and friends. More information at hopearisingfestival.com .
County’s June 10 Situation Report: COVID update and Happy Creek Road closing approaches
Warren County ranked next to last in percentage of the population being fully vaccinated in a June 10th County Emergency Management update related to COVID-19 statistics in the Lord Fairfax Health District (LFHD). According to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) 32.2% of Warren’s population is fully vaccinated, which is just 2.4% below the average LFHD vaccination rate of 34.6%. Statewide in Virginia, VDH reported a 46.7% rate of fully vaccinated citizens.
Vaccination rates in the six-jurisdiction Northern Shenandoah Valley-based Lord Fairfax Health District were:
1/ Clarke County 44.6%;
2/ Winchester City 38.5%;
3/ Shenandoah County 36.8%;
4/ Frederick County 36.4%;
5/ Warren County 32.2%;
6/ Page County 31.6%.
Barring medically established physical reasons for not being vaccinated, citizens are being urged to take advantage of the increasing availability of FDA-approved vaccines as a preventative, not only from becoming symptomatic if exposed to COVID-19 Coronavirus strains but also as a preventative from passing the virus to others if exposed. As previously reported, relaxing CDC, State, and local social distancing and masking standards are aimed at an increasingly vaccinated population, with unvaccinated people urged to continue to social distance, mask, and wash their hands more regularly than normal as noted in the below report.
See above-cited and related information, as well as info on the June 19 closing of a portion of Happy Creek Road into early August, from June 10, 2021, County SITREP (Situation Report) below:
COMMUNITY INFORMATION, 6-10-21, 1:42 p.m.:
COVID update, information & LINKS, June 10, 2021, 1:42 p.m.:
- COVID-19 Information (Current Data):
- Lord Fairfax Health District: As of today (per the VDH website), the number of total COVID-19 cases per locality are: Clarke 991, Frederick 8,084, Page 2,115, Shenandoah 4,328, Warren 3,064 (121 are/were hospitalized, 59 deaths attributed to the County; deaths 1.92% total cases), Winchester 2,937; the current status of these patients is unknown (admitted to hospital, discharged to home isolation/quarantine, departed the District/County).
- Note – Regional population fully vaccinated according to VDH site (avg 34.6%):
- Clarke – 44.6%
- Frederick – 36.4%
iii. Page – 31.6%
- Shenandoah – 36.8%
- Warren – 32.2%
- Winchester – 38.5%
- Commonwealth: 7,521,258 people tested (PCR only); 677,425 total cases [2.0% positive rate (PCR only)]; 30,086 total hospitalized; 11,270 total deaths (1.66%total cases).
- Note: 46.7% of Virginia population fully vaccinated according to VDH site.
- United States: As of June 9, 2021, there are 33,224,075 total cases and 595,625 total deaths (1.79%total cases) attributed to COVID-19.
- Current Executive Orders and Local Directives (not all inclusive):
- Local – Designation of Critical and Essential Employees during an Emergency Memorandum, effective May 7, 2020, until further notice
- Key Leader Public Messaging (CDC) – Take Prevention Measures:
- Vaccinated People:
- Prevention measures not needed
- Unvaccinated People:
- Wear a mask
- Stay 6 feet apart
iii. Wash your hands
- Valley Health – VDH Lord Fairfax Health District Vaccine Information (as of 6/1/2021)
- STATEWIDE: Get your shot and help others make a plan to get vaccinated. Getting a shot has never been easier—vaccines are readily available at many supermarket pharmacies, hospitals, doctor’s offices, local health department clinics, and state-run community vaccination centers. To find a vaccine provider near you, visit vaccinate.virginia.gov, call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682), or text your ZIP code to GETVAX (428829). Call center representatives are available from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. All Virginia residents aged 12 and older are eligible to get vaccinated.
- LOCALLY: VDH will offer a COVID-19 clinic every Wednesday in June (except 6/30) at the 15th St. Cafeteria in Front Royal; call 877-VAX-IN-VA or the Heath Department to schedule an appointment.
- Executive Order 79 (2021) (Effective May 28, 2021):
- EO-79 is in furtherance of Amended Executive Order 51 (2020). Further, this Order terminates Seventh Amended Number Seventy-Two (2021) and Order of Public Health Emergency Nine, shall be effective midnight on May 28, 2021, and shall remain in full force and effect until amended or rescinded by further executive order.
- EO-79 (2021): https://www.governor.virginia.gov/media/governorvirginiagov/executive-actions/EO-79-and-Order-of-Public-Health-Emergency-Ten-Ending-of-Commonsense-Public-Health-Restrictions-Due-to-Novel-Coronavirus-(COVID-19).pdf
- EO-51 (2020): https://www.governor.virginia.gov/media/governorvirginiagov/executive-actions/EO-51-AMENDED-Declaration-of-a-State-of-Emergency-Due-to-Novel-Coronavirus-(COVID-19).pdf
- CDC Update as of May 28, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated-guidance.html
- Updated Choosing Safer Activities infographic with new considerations for the example activity for outdoor gatherings with fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (Emergency Coordinator)
- Overallproject coordinator is Rick Farrall, Emergency Coordinator
- Warren County’s total allocation is $7,801,386
- An application was submitted to the Department of Treasury
iii. Details to follow
LONG-TERM (scheduled completion over 3-months)
- FEMA Emergency Protective Measures (Category B) Reimbursement (Deputy County Administrator)
- Warren County. Main lead is Taryn Logan, Planning Director
- All departments/staff send monthly expense update to Taryn NLT the last working day of each month
- Approximate County expenditure to date is approximately $510,000 (5/18/2021)
- Town of Front Royal. Main lead is B.J. Wilson, Finance Director
- Approximate Town expenditure to date is $70,000 (10/14/2020)
- Point of Distribution (POD) (Parks and Recreation)
- POD established at the 15thSt. Gym/Cafeteria in coordination with VH/VDH for the mass distribution of critical medical supplies as required (COVID-19 vaccination). Another term being circulated is “CVC” or Community Vaccination Center.
Coming traffic pattern change
- 2. Happy Creek Road Closure:
- A portion of Happy Creek Road (Route 624) will close next Saturday, June 19, 2021 through approximately August 6, 2021. VDOT’s (and Norfolk Southern) intent is to complete the reconstruction project before our public schools resume classes in August.
- The project will impact Happy Creek Road from the Town of Front Royal limit east to Dismal Hollow Road; it includes work on the railroad crossing site just prior to Dismal Hollow Road.
- Residents and First Responders will have local and emergency access to the areas west and east of the railroad crossing. Once Norfolk Southern begins work on the crossing site, no vehicles will be able to pass from one side to the other until construction is complete.
- Please plan your travels accordingly.
4 ways kids can help in the garden
If you’re a parent, you might find it difficult to tend to your garden while also keeping a close eye on your kids. Fortunately, there are a number of simple tasks that can keep even the youngest gardeners occupied.
Fill up a watering can — make sure it’s not too heavy — and let your little ones go about hydrating your planter boxes and potted plants. When it comes time to water the vegetable garden or flower beds, offer to let your kids hold the hose.
Teach your children to recognize the most common unwanted plants that sprout up in your garden. Ask them to go on a hunt for weeds and, with your supervision, let them try pulling up ones with shallow roots.
You can add mulch to your garden to help it retain moisture and limit the spread of weeds. Encourage your kids to get their hands dirty by carefully transferring mulch from the bag to the garden and spreading it evenly over the soil.
From picking up leaves to putting twigs in the compost bin, there are plenty of easy ways your kids can help clean the yard. Remind them to keep an eye out for fallen petals, pinecones, and acorns they can use for crafts.
In addition to giving you a hand, your little ones will have plenty of opportunities to learn about how plants grow. It’s a win-win situation.