~ Sweeping measures include minimum wage increase, worker protections, gun violence prevention, expanding voting access, fighting climate change ~
Governor Ralph Northam highlighted new laws that take effect July 1, 2020, as Virginia begins a new fiscal year. The Governor worked closely with members of the General Assembly to take forward-looking and historic steps to protect vulnerable Virginians, increase equity, and position the Commonwealth for future growth and success.
New laws include commonsense gun safety measures, worker protections, improvements to voting accessibility, criminal justice reforms, and measures that advance the rights of women and the LGBTQ community. Governor Northam also signed legislation that removes discriminatory and racist language from Virginia’s books and includes actions to fight climate change and dramatically boost Virginia’s renewable energy production.
“I am proud of the bold legislation we championed with the General Assembly this year,” said Governor Northam. “From protecting civil rights to expanding voting access, to supporting workers, we have made generational progress on some of the most critical issues of our time. With these new laws, Virginia will be an even better place to live, work, visit, and raise a family.”
Key measures from the 2020 General Assembly Session that go into effect today include:
• Advancing historic justice and equity with new laws that give localities authority over Confederate war memorials, remove discriminatory language from the Acts of Assembly and establish a commission to study slavery in Virginia and subsequent racial and economic discrimination. New measures also ban discrimination based on hair.
• Enhancing worker protections with measures that increase the minimum wage, ban workplace discrimination, and combat worker misclassification and wage theft.
• Commonsense gun safety laws that reinstate the restriction on handgun purchases to one per month, implement background checks on all firearm sales, require the reporting of lost or stolen firearms, and establish an Extreme Risk Protective Order.
• Criminal justice reforms that include decriminalizing marijuana, raising the felony larceny threshold, and permanently ending the practice of driver’s license suspensions for unpaid court fines.
• Expanding access to the ballot box by allowing early voting 45 days prior to an election without a stated excuse, extending in-person polling hours, and making Election Day a state holiday by repealing Lee-Jackson Day.
• Accelerating Virginia’s transition to clean energy with the Virginia Clean Economy Act and measures to advance offshore wind and solar energy sources, establish renewable portfolio standards, and enter the Commonwealth into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
• Increasing protections for LGBTQ+ Virginians with the Virginia Values Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, employment, public spaces, and credit applications. New laws also ban the harmful practice of “conversion therapy” for minors, increase protections for transgender students in public schools, expand the definition of a hate crime, and make it easier for LGBTQ+ individuals to obtain a birth certificate that matches their gender identity.
• Restoring reproductive rights by repealing medically-unnecessary restrictions on women’s healthcare. The Reproductive Health Protection Act repeals Virginia’s mandatory ultrasound law and 24-hour waiting period prior to an abortion, and rolls back politically motivated “TRAP” restrictions on women’s health centers.
A community’s musical sub-culture rallies around one of its own
It was a musical and social community coming together in support of one of its own on Father’s Day, June 20, 2021, at Front Royal’s Historic Downtown Virginia Beer Museum. The father and long-time musical fixture at the center of the event was James Vaughan, drummer in a series of family-grounded bands over four decades based out of Front Royal. Vaughan, whose current band is Aftershock with brother Duane (aka Dewey), daughter Reno, cousin Dean Smith, guitarist Doug Hess, and Lenny Barnhart on the chessboard, vocals and keyboards, is recovering from a series of two strokes suffered April 30.
Sunday’s benefit show, silent auctions and other fundraising efforts featuring what was advertised as a dozen musical acts, give or take, was to help defer medical costs associated with James’ stroke. But even more so as the event billed “Front Royal’s Woodstock” progressed from 1 p.m. to slightly after 9 p.m., it seemed an expression of affection and concern for an integral part of the local musical arts community.
“This is like a high school reunion, except with people you WANT to hang out with,” was one description of the myriad familiar faces with perhaps a few more years on them than the last time you encountered them on or off stage.
James brother Dewey made a point of thanking all the involved musicians for the time, talent and energy they contributed to the event. He also acknowledged the large turnout of friends, fans and patrons that made the fundraising aspect what he called “very successful”. Included among those friends and patrons Caterer Will Bryan of “So Mote it Beef” also provided exquisite beef brisket at no charge, with cash contributions going to the fundraising effort for his brother, Dewey noted.
This story will be updated if additional ID or other information becomes available – and don’t forget to scroll down beyond the ads, there are 39 more photos attached to this story:
Traffic Delays Expected – Happy Creek Roadway Project (VDOT)
Residents and visitors are advised that Happy Creek Road, from the Town of Front Royal limits east to the railroad crossing near Dismal Hollow Road, is now closed to local traffic only. Dismal
Hollow Road will remain open and accessible from the east side of Happy Creek Road / Low Water Bridge / and Howellsville Road.
VDOT anticipates Norfolk Southern (NS) will begin railroad crossing work sometime between Monday, July 5, and Wednesday, July 7, 2021. Norfolk Southern will attempt to minimize the amount of time the crossing is physically impassible during construction; however, residents should be mindful that such closure requires careful planning for all emergency responses, which will be approached as if the crossing is impassible at that time.
The Warren County Emergency Communications Center Emergency (ECC) will continually monitor the situation to provide the best coordination for fire, rescue, and law enforcement response to the area impacted by the construction. The ECC will maintain contact with the on-site VDOT inspector during the project, as appropriate.
(Press Release, Warren County Sheriff’s Office)
Newcomer florist arrives in town, takes over Fussell Florist from retiree Betty Showers
Front Royal flower lady Betty Showers called it quits Thursday, June 17, handing over the ownership papers of her flower shop, Front Royal Fussell Florist, to new owner Katie Bonnet who will reopen for business on Monday, June 21.
Showers, who has owned and operated the popular store at the corner of East 2nd Street and Commerce Avenue since December 2002, has a busy retirement schedule planned, including considerable travel around far flung relatives before settling in to quieter times with husband Steve at their 18th Street home. In all, she has enjoyed a total of 30 years in the flower business in Front Royal.
Meanwhile, Bonnet, 27, and husband of four years, Daniel, an engineer, have settled into a downtown condominium while shopping around for a house in the area. Bonnet described a family interest in her store. Her parents, Mary and Chris O’Donnell, moved into the area with their daughter from Fairfax County, recently buying a house in nearby Middletown.
As described by Katie in an interview, the parents own the store and lease it to her, making it a family enterprise.
Despite her young age, Bonnet comes with experience as a floral designer having worked at Burke Florist in Fairfax, at the same time completing a degree in business from George Mason University.
Warmly attractive, Bonnet describes a future at her new store to include a small café, confessing that “hospitality” is the name of the game for her in future business. “It is a large part of my heart,” she said.
According to Showers, Front Royal Fussell Florist has been part of downtown commerce in Front Royal since September 1948 when Thomas F. Fussell opened the original store at 122 South Royal Avenue. It has flourished under several owners over the years, with the same name. It will continue as Fussell’s Florist with Katie Bonnet.
As for Betty Showers, she isn’t giving up lightly. After her travels, she vows to get a part-time job in town, maybe even returning to help out Katie if needed during the busy, holiday times. Also, she will remain active in the community gardens activity that provides all manner of vegetables to needy citizens. As for another run in politics? Not ever, she vows, after a first unsuccessful dip into town politics in 2019.
Royal Examiner wishes Betty “a happy retirement” and her successor, Katie, a warm welcome to Front Royal and “much success in your business endeavor.”
Warren County Habitat for Humanity is looking for a new Executive Director
The Warren County Habitat for Humanity, Inc. is looking for a new Executive Director. The role of the executive director is to develop, administer, coordinate, manage, and implement the policies and procedures as developed and approved by the Board of Directors of Warren County Habitat for Humanity, Inc.
The Executive Director will be responsible for:
• Holding chief administrative responsibility for public accountability of the affiliate
• Administering and managing the daily operations of the Habitat office
• Authorizing expenditures within Board-approved guidelines
• Assisting Treasurer in preparing the annual budget
• Establishing regular office hours and supervising office staff and volunteers
• Overseeing proper maintenance of records and files to ensure confidentiality and legal compliance
Fundraising and Public Relations
• Assisting the Board and Development Committee in developing and implementing its fundraising plan and budget
• Working with Public Relations Committee in developing and implementing a public awareness strategy
• Representing Warren County Habitat to interested communities, churches, businesses, groups, foundations, and community leaders
• Assisting with grant proposal writing
• Serving as the primary communication link among the regional office, board members, committees, staff, families in waiting, homeowner families, and volunteers
• Assisting with the orientation of new board members and volunteers
The Executive Director will report to the President of the Board of Directors.
Experience in non-profit administration and fundraising is essential. Excellent verbal and written communication skills are required. Applicant must be a self-starter who has the ability to interact well with partner families, board and committee members, and the community at large. Flexibility in work hours and computer knowledge is important.
This is a full-time position of approximately 28- 34 hours of work each week at the Habitat office during regular business hours (Mon – Fri, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm) plus an additional 6-12 hours of evening and weekend work. Occasional travel is required. Benefits include one week of paid vacation, prorated pay for federal holidays, mileage reimbursed at IRS rate, compensatory time may be available with prior approval of an officer of the Board, and training reimbursement for approved training or classes.
Interested? Contact Board President Amanda Slate
Visit their website for more information about Warren County Habitat for Humanity.
VDOT: Warren County Traffic alert for June 21 – 25, 2021
The following is a list of highway work that may affect traffic in Warren County during the coming weeks. Scheduled work is subject to change due to inclement weather and material supplies. Motorists are advised to watch for slow-moving tractors during mowing operations. When traveling through a work zone, be alert to periodic changes in traffic patterns and lane closures.
*NEW* or *UPDATE* indicates a new entry or a revised entry since last week’s report.
*NEW* Mile marker 0 to 8, eastbound and westbound – Possible shoulder closures for litter-pickup operations, Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
*NEW* Mile marker 0 to 15, eastbound and westbound – Overnight alternating shoulder closures for roadside weed control, 8 p.m. Monday to 5 a.m. Tuesday.
Mile marker 0 to 15, eastbound – Right shoulder closures for shoulder repairs, Tuesday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
*NEW* Mile marker 7 to 6, westbound – Alternating lane closures for inspection of bridge over Crooked Run, Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
No lane closures reported.
No lane closures reported.
Route 624 (Happy Creek Road) – Road closed June 19-August 6 between Front Royal eastern town limits and Route 647 (Dismal Hollow Road) for a safety improvement project. Follow posted detour. Estimated project completion December 10.
Vegetation management may take place district-wide on various routes. Motorists are reminded to use extreme caution when traveling through work zones.
Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511. Traffic alerts and traveler information also are available at www.511Virginia.org.
The VDOT Customer Service Center can assist with reporting road hazards, asking transportation questions, or getting information related to Virginia’s roads. Call 800-FOR- ROAD (800-367-7623) or use its mobile-friendly website at my.vdot.virginia.gov. Agents are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Six-year-old brings recognition to Front Royal
When Jacob and Brittany Tomb and children Rex and Charlotte moved to Front Royal adjacent to the Shenandoah Valley Golf Course, they had no idea how that would affect their entire family. Jacob originally planned to use the golf course to continue to perfect his golf game, but when 5-year-old Rex requested his own golf clubs, Jacob found a used set that was a little big. Despite the size, he immediately started practicing putting and driving left-handed.
When Richard Runyon, owner of Shenandoah Valley Golf Course, noticed the young boy with skill and encouraged him to continue to use the course. They soon developed a friendship. In fact, when Richard was recently married, Rex was his ring bearer.
Rex started asking for golf shoes and kept asking. Eventually, his father acquiesced and bought a used pair. As Rex continued to show promise and loved practicing, Jacob found golf clubs made for his height through U.S. Kids Golf. During the winter, the Tombs added a driving range in their garage and both father and son practiced. Jacob was amazed at his son’s natural swing. Although, a really good golfer himself, he didn’t try to make any corrections to his naturally beautiful swing, but occasionally helped tweak his putting.
As Rex progressed, it was natural to enter him into a 6-and-under golf tournament at Algonkian Golf Course in Sterling, Virginia. It was the first time they’d kept score and a joyous Rex finished the tournament, driving approximately 120 yards when needed, and shot an astounding birdie. Shooting 43 for 9 holes, Rex came in first. “
He liked it so much, we signed him up for more tournaments,” says Jacob.
Rex is next entered into the Virginia State Championship, June 22 and 27, at Ford’s Colony Country Club golf course in Williamsburg.
Throughout the first six tournaments, Rex averaged a second-place finish. His best score for 9 holes was 38. With Rex’s amazing placements, he’s been invited to the U.S. Kids Golf World Championships in Pinehurst, North Carolina, July 28-31, 2021, where he will be representing Front Royal.
Approximately 1,500 kids from around the world aged 12 and under are invited to this prestigious tournament. Sixty different countries are represented, and there will be more than 50 participants in Rex’s 6-and-under category.
Jacob and Brittany are aware of the need to protect their young son from too much notoriety and want him to enjoy whatever sport he’s pursuing, which now also includes gymnastics and soccer. Last year, his favorite sport was riding a 50cc dirt bike.
Time will only tell Rex’s future, but those of us watching know that it will be amazing.