Edmonds Lane Field:
Join The Piedmont Environmental Council, Friends of the Rappahannock, Goose Creek Association, John Marshall Soil & Water Conservation District and We Plant Trees, for volunteer tree planting at Sky Meadows State Park! Volunteers will be needed in two shifts, from 9 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m., for planting 1,060 native tree tubelings (scalping, digging holes, planting, and pounding wooden stakes). This is a family-friendly event, and volunteers of all ages are welcome! Volunteers under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Online registration is highly encouraged but open to all members of the public.
Necessary tools for planting, extra water, and snacks will be provided (lunch will not be provided). Volunteers are encouraged to wear boots or closed-toe shoes and clothing that they are comfortable getting dirty and bring bottled water. The terrain will be relatively flat, and volunteers will need to maneuver through one fence.
In addition to planting tools, snacks, and water, volunteers will also receive free entry into the park for the day.
For more information, please contact Maggi Blomstrom at email@example.com or by calling (540) 347-2334 ext 7067.
How to spend your time when you retire
Many new retirees struggle to fill the void that’s created after they stop working. If the idea of retirement scares you, you should know that there are many opportunities to stay busy after you retire. Here are a few things you may want to do.
Volunteering can give your life a sense of purpose and keep you active in your community. Consider becoming a mentor and sharing your wisdom with others.
Get a hobby
Retirement presents an excellent opportunity to take up a new hobby or spend more time engaging in your current pastimes.
Start a new career
You could use this time in your life to revisit a field that’s always been of interest to you. You’ll have the flexibility to work as much or as little as you please. Here are 10 job ideas:
2. School crossing guard
3. Real estate broker
5. Museum guide
6. Owner of a bed and breakfast
7. Pet sitter
8. Retail worker
9. Substitute teacher
10. Resort employee
If your new career requires you to be licensed or certified, check with a local college to see what type of training is available in your area.
Though filling your time when you retire may initially be daunting, eventually, you’ll find things you enjoy doing and likely come to enjoy this period of your life.
Town Talk: A conversation with Rick Novak, Royal Cinemas – Free Christmas Movies
In this Town Talk, our publisher Mike McCool speaks with Rick Novak. Rick is the owner of the Royal Cinemas and Royal Family Bowling Center.
Christmas Movies, they seem to be everywhere – – but no better place to watch than on the BIG screen.
Starting this weekend, December 4 & 5, 2021, the Royal Cinemas in Front Royal will present several FREE Classic Christmas Movies, starting with a naughty or nice triple-feature, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and A Charlie Brown Christmas. These movies start at 1 pm.
The next weekend, December 11 & 12, 2021, the movie is Arthur Christmas. The final in the series is on December 18 & 19, 2021, and that is White Christmas.
On Thursday, December 16, 2021, there will be the adult Christmas Classic National Lampoons Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase. This movie starts at 7:30 pm.
Jean Plauger of Jeans Jewelers and Tana Hoffman of Sager Realty have co-sponsored this event. If you see them, please thank them as well.
The first 75 children 13 and under will receive a free child combo for the first two movies in the series.
Watch the video for a special offer for Clifford the Big Red Dog starting this Friday.
Town Talk is a series on the Royal Examiner where we will introduce you to local entrepreneurs, businesses, non-profit leaders, and political figures who influence Warren County. Topics will be varied, but hopefully interesting. If you have an idea, topic, or want to hear from someone in our community, let us know. Send your request to news@RoyalExaminer.com
Robert Lee “Skippy” Young (1946 – 2021)
Robert Lee “Skippy” Young, 74, of Front Royal, Virginia passed away on Monday, November 29, 2021, in the comfort of his home.
A memorial service will take place at Bethel Assembly of God, on Saturday, December 11th, 2021 at 11:00 am.
Robert was born on December 16, 1946, in Front Royal, Virginia to Bowie Lee Young and Alma Maxine Brown. He is preceded in death by his father Bowie Young and his maternal grandparents, Bertha Talbott and William Talbott.
Surviving Robert is his loving wife of 47 years, June Young; his mother, Alma Brown; his daughter, Katherine Young; his siblings, William Young and Linda Young Mace (Bill); his stepsister, Kathy Decker; his nephew, Michael Young; his niece, Melissa Young McShane; other nephews/nieces and numerous friends throughout the years.
Robert attended Bethel Assembly of God and worked for Aecom Services for 28 years before his retirement. If you ever saw him walking around town, he always had a smile on his face or said hello. Skippy was the type of person to give you the shirt off of his back if you needed it. He was a hard worker and will be greatly missed.
Governor Northam: ‘These Four Years Mean One Thing for Transportation’
Governor Ralph Northam today told transportation industry leaders that he will turn over to Virginia’s new governor a comprehensive multi-modal transportation system that is dramatically stronger and more forward-looking than ever before.
“These four years mean one thing for transportation—you’ll be able to get to work, back home, and travel around Virginia faster, safer, and easier,” said Governor Northam. “We have put in place once-in-a-generation investments that are making the Commonwealth better for people, goods, and the environment. I am proud of our strong partnerships and the hard work our agencies are doing to deliver these crucial improvements on time and on budget.”
Northam spoke at the three-day annual Governor’s Transportation Conference that brings together transportation industry leaders and policymakers to discuss major issues facing the industry. The Governor and Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine reviewed the major progress made over the past four years.
“Virginia’s historic transportation achievements have revolutionized travel, and it was my honor to discuss our progress at the Governor’s Transportation Conference today,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “We are using every asset available to provide Virginians with improvements in rail, roads, bridges, and more. The Commonwealth’s forward-thinking approach is creating safe and efficient infrastructure that will meet the demand of many generations to come.”
These groundbreaking improvements in transportation infrastructure were largely made possible by the passage of the Omnibus Transportation Bill. The bill addressed the sustainability of transportation revenues, providing the largest transportation funding increase in a generation. It also established the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority and authorized bonds to improve Interstate 81.
Transforming Rail in Virginia
The Transforming Rail in Virginia initiative is the Commonwealth’s answer to growing traffic congestion. The population of Virginia is expected to grow from 8.5 million to 10 million over the next 25 years, with 20 percent of that growth expected in Northern Virginia, only compounding congestion problems and putting more pressure on the transportation network. Increases in passenger rail service are meeting the growing demand, not only among Virginians but throughout the eastern seaboard as an alternative to traveling the heavily congested I-95 corridor.
As part of the initiative, Governor Northam announced agreements with Amtrak, CSX, and Virginia Railway Express, launching a $3.7 billion investment to expand and improve passenger, commuter, and freight rail in Virginia and create a vital connection in America’s national rail network between the Northeast and Southeast corridors.
The agreement includes plans for the construction of a new $1.9 billion “Long Bridge” over the Potomac River dedicated to passenger rail, acquisition of 386 miles of the railroad right-of-way and 223 miles of track from CSX, and an investment of more than $1 billion in additional infrastructure improvements by the Commonwealth. These investments are allowing Virginia to expand Amtrak and VRE services, create a pathway for the separation of freight and passenger rail in Virginia, and preserve future rail corridors.
Governor Northam also announced an agreement with Norfolk Southern Railway this spring to extend passenger rail service to the New River Valley for the first time since 1979. This agreement is increasing intercity passenger rail service from Roanoke to the Northeast Corridor. The agreement includes both an increase of existing service and expansion of service to the New River Valley.
Investing in Metro’s State of Good Repair
Governor Northam negotiated a landmark bipartisan agreement that is providing Metro with a dedicated source of revenue for the first time in the system’s history. The Metro system is vitally important to the economy and commuters, and this funding ensures that Metro can continue to provide necessary services to the people who rely on it every day. Virginia secured $500 million annual funding dedicated to rebuilding the aging system. Metro must provide annual reports on performance and safety to continue receiving these funds.
Expanding the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel
Significant improvements along major road corridors are being implemented across the Commonwealth, including one of the largest transportation investments in the Commonwealth’s history—the expansion of the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel. The $3.8 billion project is increasing tunnel and interstate capacity along 9.9 miles of Interstate 64 between Hampton and Norfolk, reducing congestion and easing access to the Port of Virginia and the world’s largest Naval base. This work also aligns with efforts to implement a 44-mile Hampton Roads Express Lanes Network.
Addressing the Worst Highway Bottleneck in Virginia
Governor Northam announced a bipartisan agreement with Maryland that is creating a unified Capital Beltway, replacing the aging American Legion Bridge, and relieving congestion at one of the country’s worst traffic chokepoints. The project is expected to cut commuting time in half for many travelers, create a reliable transit option, reduce congestion in the regular lanes by 25 percent, provide 40 percent more lane capacity over the old bridge, and include bicycle and pedestrian paths across the Potomac River. The collaboration with Maryland allows for uninterrupted improved travel between and around the two states.
Expanding the Port of Virginia
Virginia is now home to one of the most modern and technologically advanced ports in North America. The $670 million expansion of the Port of Virginia has positioned the Commonwealth as a gateway to global markets. Virginia secured a federal permit and authorized state funding to dredge the Port of Virginia to 55 feet—the deepest Port on the East Coast, allowing access for larger ships.
The expansion of the Port has increased the capacity of ships we are able to process, with record-setting volumes. Because of these strategic investments in advanced technology, Virginia has been able to avoid the shipping backlog that is affecting ports around the world.
Interstate 81 is a significant highway in Virginia, connecting western and Southwest Virginia residents. The interstate is also a major corridor for trucking and freight, carrying $300 billion in commerce and goods each year. In recent years, Virginians raised concerns about safety and reliability, so Governor Northam dedicated billions to make improvements and secure a steady source of funding for I-81. The Interstate 81 Improvement Plan will reduce crashes and alleviate points of congestion. The funding also included additional funding to support improvement projects along I-95 and I-64.
Supreme Court weighs Mississippi abortion law, future of Roe v. Wade
WASHINGTON — With a crowd of hundreds of activists gathered outside, the Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday on a Mississippi law restricting abortions that challenges the nearly 50-year precedent set by Roe v. Wade.
The justices signaled that they were aware of the highly-charged political nature of the case. Many of their questions centered on how their decision could impact American society.
Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor suggested the very legitimacy of the high court was at stake if it overturned its landmark ruling in 1973 that made access to abortions legal. She noted that sponsors of the Mississippi law said they proposed the abortion restrictions because there were new justices on the Supreme Court.
“Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception – that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?” she said. “I don’t see how it is possible.”
The 2018 Mississippi law bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The law is not currently in effect as the state awaits the court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Mississippi Solicitor General Scott Stewart argued the precedents set in Roe v. Wade and a later case, Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, should be overturned and that the court should allow states to decide their own laws.
When Roe was decided in 1973, the court established a person’s right to abortion up to the point of viability, which is typically regarded as 24 weeks of pregnancy. In 1992, justices in the Casey case established the “undue burden” standard to determine the validity of state abortion restrictions.
Stewart argued that the “undue burden” test was difficult to apply and said that the justices should, “return the choice to the people.”
“Many people vocally really just wanted to have the matter returned to them so that they could decide it locally, deal with it the way they thought best, and at least have a fighting chance to have their view prevail, which was not given to them under Roe and then, as a result, under Casey,” Stewart said.
That step would not outlaw abortion nationwide, he explained, as many states would still choose to keep abortion legal.
But Julie Rikelman, attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, argued that the justices should affirm two lower court rulings that Mississippi’s “Gestational Age Act” at issue is unconstitutional.
“Two generations of women have now relied on this right,” she said. “There is no less need today than 30 years ago or 50 years ago for women to make this decision for themselves.”
Rikelman said the ban would restrict a pregnant person’s liberty and bodily autonomy, which is protected by the 14th Amendment. She also said people rely on the precedents set in Roe and Casey that protect access to abortion.
Rikelman argued overturning the precedents would result in “forced pregnancies” and disproportionately impact women of color and other marginalized communities.
Associate Justice Elena Kagan said those advocating for the Mississippi law needed to show “a strong justification in a case like this beyond the fact that you think the case is wrong.”
“And I guess what strikes me when I look at this case is that you know, not much has changed since Roe and Casey, that people think it’s right or wrong based on the things that they have always thought it was right and wrong for,” Kagan said.
Elizabeth Prelogar, U.S. Solicitor General, arguing on behalf of the Biden administration, said “the real-world effects of overruling Roe and Casey would be severe and swift.”
Associate Justice Samuel Alito asked Prelogar, “Is it your argument that a case can never be overruled simply because it was egregiously wrong?”
“I think that at the very least, the state would have to come forward with some kind of materially changed circumstance or some kind of materially new argument,” Prelogar said. “And Mississippi hasn’t done so in this case.”
The Jackson Women’s Health case comes before a new Supreme Court with a 6-3 conservative majority. The justice’s questions seem to suggest that alterations to current abortion rights are imminent, though whether they will fully overturn precedent remains to be seen.
Associate Justice Stephen Breyer said he was concerned about the public’s perception of the high court as it wrestles with one of the most contentious issues in American life.
Breyer said the functioning of the court as an institution “comes primarily from people believing that we do our job. We use reason. We don’t look to just what’s popular.”
“The problem with a super case like this, the rare case, the watershed case, where people are really opposed on both sides and they really fight each other, is they’re going to be ready to say, ‘no, you’re just political, you’re just politicians,’” Breyer said, “And that’s what kills us as an American institution.”
Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh listed several cases in which the court went against set precedent, leading to the expansion of rights, such as the overturning of the “separate but equal” segregation standard in schools in Brown v. Board of Education.
Kavanaugh asked Rikelman “if we think that the prior precedents are seriously wrong – why then doesn’t the history of this court’s practice with respect to those cases tell us that the right answer is actually a return to the position of neutrality – and not stick with those precedents in the same way that all those other cases didn’t?”
Chief Justice John Roberts, a potential swing vote in the abortion decision, appeared to be looking for a way to preserve the Mississippi statute without overturning Roe.
“…If you think that the issue is one of choice, that women should have a choice to terminate their pregnancy, that supposes that there is a point at which they’ve had the fair choice, opportunity to choose, and why would 15 weeks be an inappropriate line?” Roberts asked. “Because viability, it seems to me, doesn’t have anything to do with choice. But, if it really is an issue about choice, why is 15 weeks not enough time?”
After the arguments ended, Rep. Cori Bush, D-Missouri, joined pro-choice advocates on the court’s steps, warning that the conservative majority of the Supreme Court may deal a blow to reproductive rights.
“Justice is what this building is supposed to represent. Notice I said ‘supposed to represent, but the history of this court has not always lived up to that,” Bush said. “Today, we are here to say there is nothing just about a far-right Supreme Court determined to oppress us.”
J.C. Carpenter, a leader and sidewalk counsel with Christian-based pro-life organization 40 Days For Life, drove from her hometown of Marysville, California, to support the pro-life demonstrators in front of the court.
“I think there is an amazing pro-life turnout,” Carpenter told Capital News Service. “I think the pro-aborts are well outnumbered and I hope that that speaks to what’s going to happen with this case.”
At least 26 states are poised to ban or restrict abortion if the justices uphold the Mississippi law and overturn Roe, according to abortion research and policy organization The Guttmacher Institute.
The court’s ruling is not expected until next year.
By KELLY LIVINGSTON and NATALIE DRUM
Capital News Service
Maryland Governor Hogan announces COVID measures in face of omicron variant
Maryland is working to increase its capacity to track COVID-19 variants, Gov. Larry Hogan, R, announced Wednesday, as a new variant is being found around the globe, including in the United States.
In an update at the State House, Hogan said the state “has one of the strongest variant surveillance systems in America” but will work to grow surveillance capacity in the face of the omicron variant.
In February, the state partnered with the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University to sequence “over 10% of all COVID 19 cases,” Hogan said at the time.
Sequencing can help “track the mutations of the virus,” Hogan said.
Hogan said the Board of Public Works approved spending for additional testing supplies that could help identify and track the spread of omicron and other variants.
Last week, the World Health Organization announced they had designated omicron as a “variant of concern.”
According to the organization’s website, “it is not yet clear” whether omicron is more transmissible or causes more severe illness than other variants.
On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced what they called the “first confirmed case of omicron variant detected in the United States” in California.
The CDC said the affected person returned in November from South Africa, where the WHO said the variant was first reported.
“The individual, who was fully vaccinated and had mild symptoms that are improving, is self-quarantining and has been since testing positive,” the CDC said in a press release Wednesday.
Hogan noted omicron is not the first variant of the virus and likely not the last.
“I urge Marylanders not to panic,” he said Wednesday.
Hogan emphasized the availability of PCR tests and increased the availability of rapid testing.
“Getting tested remains one of the most important things you can do,” Hogan said.
The governor especially encouraged getting tested “if you’re feeling sick and think you’re coming down with something,” as well as before and after travel.
Hogan also encouraged Marylanders to get vaccinated, and if they’re eligible, to get a booster shot.
In a press release Wednesday, Hogan announced Marylanders had received more than 1 million booster shots, bringing the total number of COVID-19 vaccines administered to well over 9 million.
There have been 10,987 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in Maryland and over 580,000 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic, according to the Department of Health.
Nearly 700 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Maryland, according to the most recent health department data.
That same data shows the percentage of positive tests averaged over seven days has been increasing recently, to 5.13%.
By ALLISON MOLLENKAMP
Capital News Service