Tuesday morning meeting reports to the Warren County Board of Supervisors by both the county administrator and Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) focused on the consequences of, and ongoing responses to the weekend of heavy and steady rain that devastated not only Warren, but all four counties across the Edinburg Residency of VDOT’s Staunton District.
First, VDOT’s Ed Carter noted that all planned work included in his report would be impacted “by the major flooding that occurred this weekend (June 1-3).” Of Warren, Shenandoah, Clarke and Frederick Counties comprising the Edinburg Residency, Carter reported, “The Residency has experienced significant damage from this event, and restoration of service will be our main focus.”
What restoration of services, you may ask – Carter told county officials that 96 roads in the Edinburg Residency had been closed at some point, and that 41 remained closed as of Tuesday morning, June 5 (though I doubt you will be able to use that as an excuse for not getting your county and town phase one taxes in by the end of Tuesday).
Of the new and not-yet-officially ribbon cut Morgan Ford Bridge that has been accommodating traffic since January 22, Carter observed, “it has disappeared” beneath the swollen Shenandoah River. He described significant damage to the approaches to both sides of the bridge, including “railings dangling” and “trees washed up” into the road.
Hopefully as it reappears – fingers crossed that two days of rainless, largely sunny weather continues, especially the first part of that equation – the bridge scheduled for an official ribbon cutting in July will not exhibit similar “significant damage”.
But as we in Front Royal and Warren County grouse about our closed roads, flooded basements and leaking structures Carter pointed out that in the sprawling Staunton District (Lexington to Winchester in western Virginia) of which the Edinburg Residency is a part, “Rockingham to Page Counties got hit the hardest” by the weekend deluge.
Of that deluge here, County Administrator Doug Stanley noted that “the county received 7 to 10 inches of rain from Friday through Sunday evening.” But after two weeks of periodic downpours, Stanley added of what we sort of already knew:
“With the ground already saturated, much of the heavy rain was run off into already full creeks, streams and low lying areas. During this new rain storm on Sunday morning, rapid flash flooding caused flooding roadways, cutting off traffic routes along Happy Creek Road, John Marshal Highway and Oregon Hollow Rd in Linden and Howellsville Road.”
Quoting from a report issued by County Emergency Services Chief Richard Mabie on Monday, June 4, Stanley also reported the county, “experienced three vehicles in flood waters with rescues by passersby. Boats 6 and 3 rescued a citizen on Howellsville Rd. Boat 6 also made a water rescue in Clarke, off of Howellsville Road. Boats 14 and 3 rescued and removed eleven trailer occupants at North Fork Campground … Monday, Fire & Rescue sent a boat to search for and recover a dog that drowned in the owner’s car. Overall Fire & Rescue recorded 12 to 14 boat rescues over the weekend. They also had a couple of river rescue calls in Frederick County.”
Stanley also noted that Shenandoah Farms Volunteer Company 6 had been cut off by flooding on two sides – “the only way out was over the mountain to Linden. Chief Mabie held a shift over so they could staff the engine and ambulance and provide a boat operator. He did the same thing with (Front Royal) Station 1 with off duty shift, mainly to keep a boat operator available. With the water levels continuing to go down we expect things to return to normal sometime today.”
You can only hope!!! – As this reporter continues to stop work on this story Tuesday afternoon to do a periodic anti-rain and “Here Comes the Sun” dance to facilitate the drying of several savable items out of his home’s basement. And I do want to nominate our new sump pump for exceptional service under duress over the course of the three days of Biblical-like atonement – there is little doubt it could have been worse; as it no doubt WAS for many.
The county administrator concluded by acknowledging a number of local roads still closed around the county, including as VDOT’s Carter had observed earlier, the new Morgan’s Ford low-water Bridge/Route 624 which was closed “early Sunday and remained closed through last night (Monday, June 4).”
Stanley noted that many roads that had flooded would “probably remain closed until VDOT can clean up debris and check for road surface damage.”
Sanitary District roads report
During his Sanitary District report, Stanley added some specifics on local road damages.
“Luckily we have sustained no major damages or washouts and all roads are passable in the Shenandoah Farms, Lake Front Royal, and Linden Heights Sanitary Districts. There is widespread minor roadway surface washout, sediment build up, clogged culverts, etc. throughout the districts.
“The worst of the damage in the Shenandoah Farms Sanitary District appears to be along Reynolds Drive, where creeks cross the roadway at several locations. We also have some damage on Drummer Hill Road at the end of VDOT maintenance. The end section of one of the two 60-inch culverts in the Venus Branch stream separated and caused the shoulder area to undermine and collapse. The roadway crossing is still safe; however staff has restricted the travel width down to approximately 14-feet, with traffic barrels/cones as a safety precaution. Once the water fully recedes staff will make a full evaluation of the damages and assess how to make full repairs.
“Staff was out of over the weekend monitoring conditions. Yesterday and today staff will be attempting to spot-repair roadway surfaces and will continue to do so as receding water allows. Sediment/debris removal and the cleaning of culverts will also be necessary as time and conditions allow.”
Ahh good, it’s 2:30 p.m. and the sun is back out…
Skyline High School announces band teacher Daniel Holland 2022-2023 Teacher of the Year
Skyline High School is proud to announce that our fabulous band teacher, Mr. Daniel Holland is our 2022-2023 Teacher of the Year!
Danny has taught at Skyline High School for the last 5 1/2 years. He earned his undergraduate degree in Instrumental Music PreK-12 from James Madison University and his master’s degree from Bowling Green State University.
At SHS, Danny teaches guitar I and II, concert band, dual enrolled music artistry, and marching band. Marching and concert band require extensive time commitments both in school and after hours. Additionally, Danny teaches a jazz band group that rehearses before the official school day begins.
Through his expert instruction, he provides students with opportunities to connect through music, enhance positive school culture, and engage our greater community in school spirit and camaraderie.
The Skyline Marching Hawks perform shows each year at our football games, parades, and various competitions, where they have earned many accolades! Danny not only produces marching shows with excellent sound and great visual appeal, but they also convey important messages to the students and the spectators.
The 2022 competition show was entitled: “Try, Try Again,” and according to Danny, focused on the “idea and philosophy that success in anything, whether it be band, sports, academics, and so many other skills, can only truly manifest from learning to cope and grow from the mistakes and missteps we inevitably make.” This show was a gift to our school and our greater community.
Outside of school, Danny is an active member of the Virginia Music Educators Association, most recently presenting at their 2022 annual VMEA conference in November 2022. Additionally, Danny performs as a professional musician as the acting principal oboist of the Waynesboro Symphony.
Danny was nominated for this honor by his peers, colleagues, and students. Here are some of their beautiful words:
- “The immense amount of time and effort Danny puts into making the SHS band program the best it can go above and beyond. The support and safe space he provides to students are invaluable.”
- “I’m amazed by Danny’s dedication. He was not only present for interviews for my position but was present before the start of school working with the band. The marching band is present for so many events/games, and it seems like he rarely does not stay past normal hours. He is also helping with the cross-county musical. He has been very kind and helpful with my many questions. His students seem to find his room safe, and he has created a great work ethic with his students.”
- “Mr. Holland is an amazing teacher who wants the best for his students. He makes playing music fun and very enjoyable. I wouldn’t have been able to become the musician I am today without Mr. Holland.”
- “He is the best teacher I have ever had. He’s very supportive of his students and other faculty. He is the reason our marching band is great.”
- “Mr. Holland is so supportive and loves what he does. He will do anything to make sure you succeed in anything you do, and when he sets his mind to something, he will do everything he can to make it happen.
- “Mr. Holland is an amazing teacher in general, and he is very helpful and kind. I have struggled to pick up new skills, and he broke it down for me, so I got it quickly.”
The accolades of his colleagues and students are absolutely true!
Danny’s impact on his students, fellow WCPS fine arts teachers, and SHS colleagues is felt in so many ways! Danny models grit and perseverance through difficult situations daily, creating genuine and supportive relationships with his students through his love of music.
For these and many other reasons, Danny Holland is the Skyline High School 2022-2023 Teacher of the Year!
Town Talk: A conversation with Shane Goodwin, Danelle Sperling, Robert Hupman – Reaching Out Now, Christmas Meal at Skyline HS
In this Town Talk, our publisher Mike McCool speaks with Shane Goodwin, Danelle Sperling, and Robert Hupman about the Linda Kroll Community Meal Program.
On December 15, 2022, at 4:30 pm, Reaching Out Now and its partners will host a Christmas meal for families with children in our local school system at Skyline High School School.
This event will feature a traditional Christmas menu with turkey, ham, shepherd’s pie, vegetable medley, rolls, and dessert, all prepared by Chef Devin and the Blue Ridge Technical Center’s Culinary Arts program students.
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. Let us know if you have an idea or topic or want to hear from someone in our community. Send your request to news@RoyalExaminer.com.
Thanksgiving officially second busiest Thanksgiving travel period in the history of the Transurban Express Lanes
Transurban, the operator of the 495, 395, and 95 Express Lanes, announced that the 72-hour travel window from the Tuesday before Thanksgiving Day itself was the second busiest Thanksgiving travel period in the history of the express lanes.
More than 155,000 customers took the Express Lanes, with nearly 1 in 4 traveling for free at least once with an E-ZPass Flex set to HOV mode.
Today’s announcement comes on the heels of the 10th Anniversary of the Express Lanes opening in November. In commemoration, Transurban released the annual ‘state of the lanes’ polling research that provides insights on how customers continue to value the expanded travel choices of the Lanes as well as a report detailing the significant impact the 495, 95, and 395 Express Lanes have had in transforming the region.
The primary research from a sample of 1,490 Washington D.C. area drivers found:
- 76% overall customer satisfaction
- 3 in 4 GWA drivers have used the Express Lanes, up from 62% in 2021
- Nearly 7 in 10 drivers (69%) see a regional benefit from the Express Lanes
- Drivers are more likely to say they have carpooled for free vs. paid a toll to travel the Express Lanes at least once a month in the last 6 months – 54% vs. 47%
Over the last decade, the 495, 95, and 395 Express Lanes have saved nearly 10 million Greater Washington Area (GWA) customers more than 33 million hours of time in one of the fastest-growing regions in the U.S. The Lanes have saved time for those living nearby and supported growth in the local community. The Lanes have bolstered the local economy by creating an estimated 53,000 jobs and $8 billion in economic activity, including the growth of existing businesses and the attraction of some of the world’s largest employers, including Amazon, Boeing, Raytheon, and Capitol One.
“More than 10 years ago, we started a journey alongside Virginia leaders to introduce a new way to travel, putting technology to work to unlock congestion and tangibly improve the quality of life of travelers in this region,” said Pierce Coffee, President Transurban North America. “Now we celebrate this partnership that gives more people more time back in their day through choice and convenience.”
About Transurban North America
Transurban is one of the world’s largest toll-road operators and developers, working to get people where they want to go as quickly and safely as possible. By embracing collaboration with the government, our public-private partnerships deliver transformative infrastructure solutions across five markets. In the fiscal year 2020, our global customers saved 376,000 hours on average each workday across 2.0 million trips on our roads with faster, more predictable travel options. With a leading market share of transportation P3 investment in North America, we are pioneering travel solutions like dynamically tolled Express Lanes and are partnering with the government to think about the policies, technology, and infrastructure that will get you home today and ten years from now. Learn more about Transurban North America at: Transurban.com | Expresslanes.com | A25.com
School Board approves virtual instruction contract, other housekeeping items
The Warren County School Board, at its Wednesday, Dec. 7 meeting, approved the expenditure of $72,600 for the spring semester of online instruction provided by Virtual Virginia.
Virtual Virginia is the online instructional service provider for Warren County students enrolled in the virtual education option.
Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Heather Bragg told school board members that a total of 65 students—10 at the elementary level—have enrolled for the spring semester, and the provider must be paid in advance of the January 2023 spring semester’s start.
Ms. Bragg told the board that the elementary school fee was a set price for each pupil for the core curriculum, while secondary school pupil fees are calculated at $300 per credit, which allows the students to get their core classes as well as electives.
Board member Ralph Rinaldi asked Bragg to elaborate on why students might enroll in the virtual learning program rather than attend school in person. The Covid pandemic introduced students to virtual learning, and some continue out of anxiety about returning to the traditional classroom setting, she said. Bragg added that some students just do better in the virtual learning environment.
Students enrolled in the virtual learning option are provided computer access, as well as a school counselor and a local mentor who supervises the students.
Antoinette D. Funk motioned to pay for the spring semester, which was seconded by Melanie C. Salins, followed by a unanimous vote.
Other action items from the meeting include:
- A vote to increase the hourly rate for selective positions, beginning Jan. 1, 2023. Employees currently making less than $12 per hour will begin earning the federal minimum wage of $12 next month.
- Purchase approval for network battery backup equipment for Skyline Middle School at $51,270.
- Second reading of the proposed 2023-2024 school year calendar. The board will approve a final calendar at the first January 2023 school board meeting. The calendar would have students return to school on Aug. 9, 2023, and end the school year on May 23, 2024. It includes banked hours that would cover inclement weather cancellations and 13 professional days for teachers.
- Voted to approve the policy on sexually explicit material, which brings Warren County Public Schools into compliance with a Virginia law passed this year that requires districts to notify parents. (This will be covered in a separate Royal Examiner story.)
- Voted to accept the 2023 General Assembly legislative priorities.
- Voted to award a contract in the amount of $47,880 to Document Solution, Inc. For the lease of copiers at Hilda J. Barbour Elementary School.
- Set the 2023 organizational meeting of the Warren County School Board for Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023, at 6:30 p.m. in the Board Room of the Warren County Government Center.
National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day – Flags to be flown half-staff
This December 7, we remember the world-changing event known as Pearl Harbor Day, or as President Franklin D. Roosevelt said in his December 8, 1941 speech declaring war on Japan, “a date which will live in infamy.”
Early on Wednesday morning, December 7, 2022, many will gather at Pearl Harbor National Memorial for the 81st Commemoration. The early start marks the moment to the minute 81 years ago when Japanese warplanes descended on Oahu, killing 2,403 service members and civilians, injuring thousands more, and dealing a near-fatal blow to the Navy’s fleet at Pearl Harbor.
Most young Americans who died that day, along with those who served in uniform during World War II or on the home front war effort, are collectively known as the Greatest Generation. Their sacrifices reflect the theme of this year’s Commemoration: Everlasting Legacy.
The focus is the importance of remembering Pearl Harbor and how the Greatest Generation saved us from tyranny and brought us peace through reconciliation.
Governor’s Order for the Commonwealth of Virginia
In accordance with the authority vested in me as Governor, I hereby order that the flags of the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Virginia to be flown at half-staff at all local, state, and federal buildings and grounds in the Commonwealth in solemn respect and memory for the nearly 4,000 American service men and women killed or wounded in the early morning of December 7, 1941, at the United States Navy Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
I hereby order that the flag shall be lowered at sunrise on Wednesday, December 7, 2022, and remain at half-staff until sunset.
Ordered on this, the 6th day of December 2022.
Blue Ridge Wildlife Center Patient of the Week: American Goldfinch
These two American Goldfinches hit the same window at the same time and ended up here at the Center for care.
Though both are currently having breathing difficulty, and the male has significant head trauma with bleeding from the left ear, neither sustained any fractures. They are recovering together while they receive supplemental oxygen and pain medications.
Do you know what to do if a bird hits your window?
Though it was once standard to contain a window strike bird and let it rest for a few hours before attempting release, research has now shown that this is inadequate. Many of the issues we see with window strikes manifest 24+ hours after the strike, long after the bird can fly off.
If you see a bird hit a window, contain it right away and call the closest permitted rehabilitator. Do not release it! In the meantime, take steps to break up the reflections on your windows with tape, paint, or decals spaced no more than 2” apart. Prevention is better than treatment!
A new record!
Yesterday we surpassed last year’s intake number with this window strike pair. We are hopeful that they will soon be released together to enjoy the rest of their wild lives!
If you are looking for an easy way to help native wildlife become a monthly BRWC donor! For as little as $5/month, you can provide year-round, sustainable support that helps us fulfill our mission.