RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Silent Falcon UAS Technologies, an unmanned aircraft systems service provider and original equipment manufacturer, will invest $6 million to locate its new East Coast headquarters for research, development, and manufacturing at the Front Royal-Warren County Airport in Warren County. Virginia successfully competed with Massachusetts and New Jersey for the project, which will create 249 new jobs.
“Silent Falcon UAS Technologies’ decision to establish its East Coast operations in Warren County and create a new workforce development partnership speaks volumes to Virginia’s leadership in the fast-growing unmanned systems industry,” said Governor Northam. “With one of the nation’s largest transportation networks, an unmatched talent pipeline, and competitive operating costs, the Commonwealth is an ideal location for the company to reach its expanding customer base. This project is a major win for the Northern Shenandoah Valley, and we are thrilled to welcome the company to Virginia.”
Silent Falcon UAS Technologies manufactures patent-pending, state-of-the-art unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) components and sensors for security, military, and commercial markets, including oil and gas and pipeline inspections, power utility inspections, large-scale agriculture, natural resource management, security/ISR, public safety, and mapping/surveying. Silent Falcon is the only solar electric UAS to provide long endurance and range, silent operations, and an open interface payload bay, accommodating a wide variety of payloads that are also quick and easy to change. Silent Falcon’s decision to locate in Virginia coincides with a significant expansion of the service portion of the company’s business, which focuses on data collection, specifically for runway inspections at airports.
“We’re proud to partner with companies like Silent Falcon UAS Technologies, which support industry growth and high quality job creation in the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “The unmanned systems sector is rapidly evolving, and Virginia’s top-ranked education system, combined with our research and development assets, will provide the company with a strong foundation for success. We thank Silent Falcon for creating 249 high-tech jobs in Warren County, and look forward to building a lasting partnership.”
Randolph-Macon Academy’s Unmanned Systems Lab (R-MA) will partner with Silent Falcon as part of its pre-professional pathway initiative through the R-MA drone program, which provides students with the tools and real-life experience to leverage the potential of unmanned technology in a range of career fields. This out-of-the-classroom learning opportunity allows students to experience first-hand how drones and drone-collected data can be applied to real-world community management, business, environmental, and economic challenges. R-MA will work with Silent Falcon to design new program curricula to prepare students for the next generation of Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations, while crafting data acquisition and data analysis solutions using artificial intelligence.
“We are excited to work with Silent Falcon UAS Technologies, a company committed to innovation, environmental sustainability, and workforce development,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “Whether launching UAS from our airport runways or using them for infrastructure assessment, further integrating UAS into Virginia’s multimodal transportation system will prepare us for a strong economic future.”
“We are excited to be opening our operations and manufacturing center in Front Royal,” said Grant Bishop, CEO of Silent Falcon UAS Technologies. “The Virginia Economic Development Partnership was just that, a partnership, and they couldn’t have been more persuasive in helping us choose Warren County for our new facility. We’d like to thank Governor Northam and the officials in Warren County for their leadership and support for making this possible. The small, business-friendly atmosphere and the availability of a great workforce were real selling points. In addition, we are particularly excited about collaborating with the Randolph-Macon Academy and its innovative UAS program under the leadership of General Wesley, which has been at the forefront of training future UAS pilots and specialists. We look forward to being of assistance to their efforts and to having their input into our future development.”
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Warren County, the Virginia Department of Aviation, and the Center for Innovative Technology to secure the project for Virginia. Governor Northam approved a $161,482 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist Warren County with the project. The company is eligible to receive benefits from the Major Business Facility Job Tax Credit for new, full-time jobs created. Funding and services to support Silent Falcon UAS Technologies’ employee training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.
“We want to thank Silent Falcon UAS Technologies for its investment in Warren County. We look forward to a thriving partnership with this growing company at the forefront of this exciting new technology,” said Jeff Browne, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority. “This project was the result of successful collaboration with Warren County, the Airport Commission, and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, among others. We’re excited to help bring this high-tech industry to our community.”
“We are really excited that Silent Falcon has chosen to build its future in Virginia,” said Bob Stolle, CEO at the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT). “They are pioneers in this young industry that will soon impact every aspect of our lives, and the Unmanned Systems Center at CIT is anxious to support them in that pursuit.”
“Randolph-Macon Academy’s goal was to create a nationally-recognized and accredited UAS flight training and drone applications program serving as a direct pipeline to industry career opportunities, as well as a pathway to emerging four-year university UAS programs,” said Brian Kelly, Director of Unmanned Flight Operations at the Randolph-Macon Academy. “Thanks to our early investment in this industry and the support of partners like Silent Falcon, R-MA is positioned to become the leading high school UAS program in the country. Silent Falcon’s investment in Front Royal will do great things for Warren County and the region as a center for cutting-edge innovation, and we are excited about the opportunities created by this strategic partnership.”
“I commend Silent Falcon UAS for choosing to make such a major economic investment in the Shenandoah Valley,” said Senator Mark Obenshain. “Silent Falcon UAS Technologies has worked in partnership with the Commonwealth and Warren County, and we welcome these new job opportunities for our citizens.”
“Thanks to Silent Falcon UAS Technologies, in partnership with Warren County and the Commonwealth, we have an innovative business providing more job opportunities for our citizens,” said Delegate Todd Gilbert. “Silent Falcon UAS Technologies is to be commended for its economic investment in the Shenandoah Valley.”
I-81 southbound slow roll scheduled in Frederick County on October 26th
A slow-roll is scheduled on Interstate 81 in Frederick County on Tuesday, October 26 at 11 a.m. This operation, managed by the Virginia State Police, will take place in southbound lanes between exit 307 at Route 277 in the Stephens City area and exit 302 at Route 627 in the Middletown area. All slow-roll activity will conclude by noon.
The slow roll is needed for blasting operations near I-81 that will take place on a developer’s construction site in the Middletown area.
All work is weather permitting.
Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511. Traffic alerts and traveler information also are available at http://www.511Virginia.org.
WCHS conducts National Honors Society induction ceremony
On October 14, 2021, Warren County High School’s National Honors Society chapter held an induction ceremony. The chapter inducted twenty-six (26) new members. National Honors Society is a national organization dedicated to scholarship, character, service, and leadership. These new inductees will be a part of an organization of incredibly impressive alumni.
All new members received a certificate and their membership cards. Mrs. Jyoti Vasishta, NHS advisor, stated in her introduction speech: “Our chapter is proud to have been inducting new members since 1963 and today’s ceremony indicates the continuing emphasis on excellence that we represent for our school and community”.
Last year’s new members were unable to receive an official induction ceremony due to the pandemic. A part of the ceremony was dedicated to recognize and honor these members. These members also received the certificate and the membership pin.
Mr. Kenneth Knesh, Warren County High School’s principal, delivered an inspirational speech to students and parents in the closing.
“Tonight you join judges, lawyers, teachers, military officers, Ivy League graduates and yes, even a current rocket scientist at NASA as members of our NHS fraternity. Now your name will be among those distinguished alumni who proudly call Warren County High School their alma mater. They went on to do great things and we believe that you are destined to join them in helping to shape the world we live in and become future leaders of this great country of ours. Be bold, be brave and be the light of someone’s world.”
New members include: Alyssa Albritton, Genevieve Blodgett, Anthony Carter, Zane Michael Clark, Nicholas Foltz, Amanda Genari, Lacie Glascock, Ginger Gouda, Ian Hoelscher, Arthur Kresge, Audrey Moya Machuca, Gabriella Mangene, John Martin, Emily Mawson, Haley Oyler, Cayden Patton, Mason Polk, Landon Pond, Nicole Ranney, Julianne Rappole, Mia Santillan, Sara Waller, Sebastian Ward, Leah Webster, Olivia Yates, and Brian Zook.
Former members include: Paige Arndt, Madeline Bryant, Aidan Grupac, Cayla Kleinschmidt (Historian), Griffin Martin, Maya McKean, Joanna Mendez-Dorado, Savannah Mitchell, Mavryck Lance Mora, Emma Mullins, Sydney Nalls (Treasurer), Margaret Plosch, Taye Russell, Nathalie Schelin, Jordan Searcey, John Schultzaberger (President), Kiersten Stives (Secretary), and Francis Treutlein (Vice President).
By Emily Mawson, NHS Inductee
FR-WC Anti-Litter Council awards Fall 2021 Clean Business Award to Twi-Lite Motel
On October 20th, 2021, Shiv Patel, co-owner and assistant manager of the Twi-Lite Motel located at 53 West 14th Street was presented with a framed certificate for the Fall 2021 Clean Business Award. The FR-WC Anti-Litter Council President, Justin Proctor nominated them for this award based on their efforts to maintain their parking and recreational pool areas clean and free of litter, cigarette butts and neatly presented to the public and their guests. They also were sited for having landscaping that accents and enhances the property as more than just another lodging facility in the entrance corridor to the Town of Front Royal. The ALC awards local businesses in the community with a framed certificate to recognize their contributions to protecting the environment through recycling and litter control and planting of landscaping and trees to improve the street views of the Town and County.
These contributions are made possible through a non-competitive grant from the Office of Environmental Education of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, which promotes educational opportunities for the recycling, reusing, and reducing of litter and waste products in our everyday lives.
The Front Royal – Warren County Anti-Litter Council’s Mission is: “To educate, motivate and participate in the prevention of litter and to assist the citizens of Front Royal and Warren County to become better stewards of our environment.”
For further information on becoming a member or other ALC programs contact: Matt Wendling or Chase Lenz in the Warren County Planning Department at (540) 636-3354 or via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Carter Myers Automotive donates almost $30,000 to pediatric cancer non-profits
Carter Myers Automotive (CMA) observed Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in a big way. For each vehicle sold during the month of September, CMA’s dealerships throughout Virginia made a donation to local non-profits that support pediatric cancer research and treatment and provide resources for local children and their families as they undergo cancer treatment.
“We are so proud to support the incredible work of these organizations,” said Liza Borches, President and CEO of Carter Myers Automotive, “As a family and employee-owned company, CMA has always made giving back to our communities a top priority. Our corporate mission is Moving Lives Forward, and I cannot imagine a better way forward than to help children and their families as they endure such a difficult point in their lives.”
CMA has five dealerships in the Richmond area and chose the ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation as the recipient of funds raised at those stores. CMA’s dealerships in Staunton, Charlottesville, and Winchester chose UVA Children’s Hospital. CMA’s Williamsburg Ford chose the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters. In addition to donating for every car sold, CMA associates and customers collected personal donations at each dealership.
Altogether, CMA is donating a total $29,655 to #FueltheFight against childhood cancer.
About Carter Myers Automotive
Carter Myers Automotive (CMA) is a family and employee-owned business founded in Petersburg, VA, in 1924. Liza Myers Borches is the fourth generation of the Myers family to lead the company. Through a unique Employee Stock Ownership Plan, employees now own over 26% of the business, and CMA is still one of the only auto groups in the country that shares ownership equity with its employees. CMA has 15 dealerships in Virginia and more than 700 associates representing 17 new cars brands including Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, GMC, Honda, Hyundai, Jeep, Kia, Lincoln, Nissan, RAM, Subaru, Volkswagen, and Volvo. With nearly 3000 new and used vehicles in stock, CMA offers online car buying through CMA’s Easy Purchase, can transfer inventory to any other CMA location, and offers home delivery throughout Virginia. Learn more at www.CMAcars.com.
Front Royal/Warren County Chamber of Commerce Candidate Forum
The Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce hosted a Candidate Forum on Thursday, October 20, at the Government Center at 220 N. Commerce Avenue in Front Royal, Virginia.
The forum included candidates for Town Council, Board of Supervisors, and School Board.
The candidates for Warren County Board of Supervisors include Vicky Cook, Fork District, and Jay Butler, Happy Creek District. Write-in candidates were not invited to participate in this forum.
Board of Supervisors Forum
The candidates for Front Royal Town Council include Amber Morris and Bruce Rappaport.
Town Council Forum
The candidates for Warren County School Board include Stephanie Short and Antoinette Funk for Happy Creek District, Andrea Lo, Fork District, Melanie Salins, and Angela Robinson, North River District.
Warren County School Board
School Board sets 2022 grad date; approves higher substitute nurses pay rate, GT plan
The Warren County School Board chose a May 28, 2022, graduation date for high schools in Warren County and unanimously approved the education plan for gifted students in Warren County Public Schools (WCPS), as well as an increased pay rate for substitute nurses.
School Board member Kristen Pence, who chaired the board’s Wednesday, October 20 meeting and work session, along with board members Ralph Rinaldi and Melanie Salins attended the meeting, while School Board Vice Chair Catherine Bower and member James Wells were absent. Wells arrived later and joined the work session portion of the meeting.
High school graduation for both Skyline High School and Warren County High School will be held on Saturday, May 28, 2022, which is Memorial Day weekend. Skyline High School students will graduate at 8 a.m.; Warren County High School students will graduate at 10 a.m. on the same day.
In another action agenda item, the board approved the WCPS Local Plan for the Education of the Gifted for school years 2021 through 2027. New items in the local plan include the addition of an online cognitive abilities test, also known as the CogAT, and the addition of two full-time gifted and talented (GT) resource teachers, “which will really increase our gifted offense this year at the elementary level,” WCPS Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Alan Fox told School Board members.
In other action, WCPS Superintendent Christopher Ballenger also received unanimous approval from the School Board to request that the Warren County Board of Supervisors increase the School Board’s fiscal year 2021-2022 Operating Fund Budget by $4,062,240. The money would be distributed to cover instruction ($2,907,875); operations and maintenance ($9,721); facilities ($1,042,644); and technology ($102,000).
According to Ballenger, since the original fiscal year 2022 operating budget was adopted on May 5, there has been $4,062,240 in federal and state grants awarded to WCPS. To receive and spend this unbudgeted revenue — which resulted from the receipt of federal pandemic relief grants and several state grants — an additional appropriation must be received from the Board of Supervisors, he said.
On another item, School Board action was postponed following a lengthy discussion on the Virginia School Screening Testing for Assurance (ViSSTA) program, which is being launched by a partnership between the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Virginia Department of Education.
The ViSSTA program is a new, free COVID-19 screening testing program for Virginia public and private K-12 students, teachers, and staff for the 2021-2022 school year, according to the VDH website, which said that while it “strongly encourages schools to participate” in the ViSSTA program, it is optional.
Under ViSSTA, public and private schools in the state can be matched with vendors who will conduct pooled screening testing in schools, VDH said. Public schools can also receive funding for needed supplies and/or to hire local school staff to support the program, such as school division testing coordinators, school nurses, or mitigation specialists. There is no cost to schools to conduct screening testing in schools and schools may have to assign certain duties to the existing staff to help support the program and liaise with the vendor and school community to help make the program successful, VDH said.
The new hires would “have no fiscal impact on the school system,” Hirsch said, and the additional supports also would help implement voluntary pool screening, support building-level administrators and school nurses, and the division coordination of its COVID response.
“Our nurses and my department have been really, really bogged down… with the [pandemic] on an hourly and minute-by-minute basis throughout the last 18 months,” said Hirsch. “This will alleviate the stress on our nursing system so that they can focus on their clinics” and would allow them to get back to pre-pandemic “business as usual,” he added.
Nevertheless, because more information on ViSSTA is expected to be forthcoming from VDH and the state education department, the three present board members voted to postpone action on the item until the School Board’s November 3 meeting.
WCPS Personnel Director Shane Goodwin said that increasing the pay rate for substitute nurses would help WCPS build a solid pool of substitute nurses, which are in high demand across Virginia due to the ongoing pandemic. The board approved an increase from $90 a day to $100 per day for substitute nurses and a long-term substitute nurses’ pay rate to be set at $120 per day effective through June 2022.
Several WCPS central office staff provided the School Board with updates on numerous items, including on Facilities, Child Nutrition, and Transportation operations, the WCPS Comprehensive Long-Range Plan for 2021-2026, as well as the WCPS Special Education Advisory Committee 2020-2021 annual report.
Other items under discussion included the advisability, scope, frequency, and method of discipline and incident reporting to the School Board, as well as possible revisions to board policy regarding Public Participation at School Board Meetings.