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Governor Northam declares State of Emergency in advance of Hurricane Isaias

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Governor Ralph Northam today declared a state of emergency in advance of Hurricane Isaias, which is expected to impact parts of coastal Virginia starting on Monday, August 3, 2020.

“Hurricane Isaias is a serious storm, and current predictions indicate that it may impact parts of Virginia as early as this weekend,” said Governor Northam. “This state of emergency will ensure localities and communities have the assistance they need to protect the safety of Virginians, particularly as we continue to deal with the COVID-19 crisis. I encourage Virginians to take all necessary precautions, monitor local weather forecasts, and stay alert.”

A state of emergency allows the Commonwealth to mobilize resources and equipment needed for response and recovery efforts. While the track of Hurricane Isaias is still uncertain, it appears increasingly likely that Virginia could see impacts and therefore must prepare for the possibility of flooding, high winds, and potential storm surge that could come along with a tropical storm or hurricane.

Virginians are encouraged to consult the Virginia Hurricane Evacuation Guide During the COVID-19 Pandemic, which outlines preparedness, response, and recovery actions designed to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and protect public health.

The Virginia Emergency Support Team (VEST) is actively monitoring the situation and coordinating resources and information to prepare for this storm. The Virginia Emergency Operations Center (VEOC) will coordinate preparedness efforts with local, state, and federal officials.

The full text of Executive Order Sixty-Nine is available here.

Recommendations for Virginians

• Know your zone. Evacuation may become necessary depending on the track and severity of the storm. Review Virginia’s evacuation zones at KnowYourZoneVA.org. It is important to note that the zone colors have been updated for 2020. Users can enter their physical address in the search bar of the website to view and confirm their designated evacuation zone. If the internet or computer access is not available, call 2-1-1 to learn your zone. Residents not residing in a pre-identified evacuation zone should listen to evacuation orders from local and state emergency agencies to determine if and when to evacuate.

• Make a plan. Virginians residing in eastern and coastal Virginia should consult the Virginia Hurricane Evacuation Guide During the COVID-19 Pandemic, which outlines ways to prepare for both weather and pandemic-related risks. Additional planning resources are available at ready.gov/plan.

• Prepare an emergency kit. For a list of recommended emergency supplies to sustain your household before, during, and after the storm visit VAemergency.gov/emergency-kit. Given the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, emergency kits should include face coverings and sanitization supplies.

• Stay informed. Virginians should follow the Virginia Department of Emergency Management on Twitter and Facebook for preparedness updates and their local National Weather Service office for the latest weather forecast, advisories, watches, or warnings. Download the FEMA app on your smartphone to receive mobile alerts from the National Weather Service. Power outages are always a concern during weather events—make sure you have a battery-operated radio available so you can still receive life-saving alerts.

For more information about preparing your business, your family, and your property against hurricane threats visit VAemergency.gov/hurricanes and ready.gov/hurricanes. Additional information about preparing for hurricanes during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

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Armed Front Royal man arrested at Capitol checkpoint Friday – job credential misunderstanding or more?

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Myriad news sources have reported the Friday, January 15, arrest of a Front Royal man with a loaded high-round capacity handgun, what was described as over 500 rounds of ammunition, and what authorities determined was an invalid, non-government-issued credential to enter an inauguration area Capitol checkpoint.

The Washington Post reported that “Wesley Allen Beeler, 31, of Front Royal, drove his Ford F-150 pickup to a checkpoint on E Street Northeast of the Capitol, where he was met by Capitol Police officers … Beeler was arrested on charges of carrying a pistol without a license, possession of an unregistered firearm and possession of unregistered ammunition, a Capitol Police spokesperson said.”

Online report of Wesley Allen Beeler’s arrest accompanies a photo of the National Guard at Capitol checkpoint. But it was reported that Capitol Police were the arresting agency in the Beeler incident on Friday. He was released on his own recognizance Saturday. Stills from TV video by broadcast news agencies as cited

Contacted by the Washington Post, Beeler’s parents and wife said he was a security professional who told them he was doing late-night security work in the vicinity of the Capitol this week in the wake of the January 6 siege of the Capitol during Congressional certification of the presidential election result. The lapse of proper weapon registration by a security professional was not addressed. However, in an updated report almost three hours later shortly after 8 p.m. Saturday evening, Beeler was quoted upon his release as saying he was properly licensed in Virginia, if not D.C.

In what the Post described as “a tear-filled interview” after his Saturday release from jail on his own recognizance, Beeler confirmed what his parents and wife told the Post earlier, that he had “spent the past week working as hired security in downtown Washington ahead of the inauguration.

“It was an honest mistake,” Beeler told the Post, adding that he had forgotten “that his firearm was in his truck when he left his home in Virginia, where he said he has a license to carry. He said he realized it was there halfway through his trip but that he was running late, so he didn’t turn around.” He denied that he had the more than 500 rounds of ammunition listed in his arrest report.

“I pulled up to a checkpoint after getting lost in D.C. because I’m a country boy,” he said. “I showed them the inauguration badge that was given to me” by his employer, MVP Protective Services, he told the Post. Contacted by the Post at a phone number tied to the company, a man answering the phone said he was not authorized to address the matter due to its pending litigation status.

An anonymous source contacted by the Post told them that Beeler has “no extremist ties” and “cooperated fully with law enforcement and was cleared from further investigation, except for the charge of violating District law by carrying a pistol without a license.”

However, the Post team of eight reporters covering the story noted that while his non-valid Capitol access credentials were being examined, one officer at the scene noticed bumper stickers on Beeler’s truck, one of which read “If they come for your guns giv ‘em your bullets first” and the other “Assault Life”.

The incident began Friday, as Beeler was perceived to be attempting to enter the now fenced-in security area around the Capitol, Capitol Police checking his credentials found them to be non-government issued and not valid to grant him entry to the now restricted area around the U.S. Capitol as the inauguration of Joe Biden as president approaches on January 20.

Access to the U.S. Capitol is not as easy as it was on January 6, when Congress was under siege and some legislators feared for their lives.

Following notice of his bumper stickers as questions about the credentials he presented arose, Beeler was asked if he “had weapons in the car”. Beeler “volunteered that he had a Glock in his center armrest” the police-issued charging papers indicated leading to his removal from his truck at which point the Post reported the Capitol Police found a cache including the referenced 9 mm Glock handgun with 17 rounds in it, one in the chamber ready to be fired, as well as over 500 rounds of pistol ammunition, including hollow points, and almost two dozen shotgun shells the court filing indicated were “located in plain sight in the rear cargo area of the vehicle” the Post again cited from court documents on Beeler’s arrest.

The Post’s initial report quoted Beeler’s father Paul stating the weapon and ammunition were “things he needed for his armed security work”. His wife, Noelle, was also cited observing that she understood the alarmed reaction of authorities and the media in the current political environment – “It does sound suspicious,” she told the Post, adding that she believes her husband presented “no danger” and was glad he had been released by the court on Saturday.

Wesley Allen Beeler was released by a D.C. Superior Court judge on Saturday afternoon on his personal recognizance. He was ordered to stay out of D.C. other than for court appearances or meetings with his attorney. So much for that late-night security contract and the non-government issue Capitol grounds clearance document.

The above-quoted article was the work of a total of eight Washington Post reporters, three bylined, with contributions on the initial report by three more listed at the story’s end, and two additional on the updated 8:19 p.m. report – Thanks, ladies and gentlemen for a broad perspective on the incident involving a Front Royal resident. This reporter was unable to access any contact information for Beeler or his family, prior to publication.

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County update on COVID-19 vaccine distribution locally

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On Friday, January 15, 2021, Warren County Emergency Services Deputy Director Rick Farrall released the latest information on the multi-pronged effort to distribute the COVID-19 Coronavirus vaccine through the combined efforts of the Lord Fairfax Health District, Valley Health, and CVS Pharmacy. Royal Examiner will have more on the bulk of these efforts centered at the 15th Street Warren County Health and Human Services Complex Parks and Rec gymnasium in a follow-up story in the coming days.

As noted below in category “d. xiii” there are no dates yet established for Phase 1b and 1c categories, including second and third round essential workers categories and the general public.  However, that is expected to be announced and begin in the coming week.

Above, approaching the 15th Street Health & Human Services complex from the south on Massanutten Avenue, the gym entrance is at the far left of the photo. Below, a closer look at the lone vaccine access point at the rear or west side of the old middle school facility. Royal Examiner Photos by Roger Bianchini

An outline of Warren County distribution efforts as currently available is below. We have moved the “Prioritized Distribution” information related to various qualifying categories, item “d” up, but keep reading if you might be interested, or know someone who would, like to volunteer to help with vaccine distribution efforts at the 15th Street location in Front Royal:

COMMUNITY INFORMATION:

1. Valley Health – VDH Lord Fairfax Health District Vaccine Information (as of 1/15/2021)

a. VACCINE SIGN-UP: In partnership with Valley Health and the Lord Fairfax Health District, distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine is now occurring in Warren County. For the most up-to-date information on where and when to locally receive the vaccine, visit: https://www.valleyhealthlink.com/patients-visitors/coronavirus-covid-19-updates/covid-19-vaccinations/

d. PRIORITIZED DISTRIBUTION: The CDC’s Advisory Council on Immunization Practices (ACIP) prioritized the initial distribution of the vaccine (as available) to health care personnel (hospital and EMS based) and residents of long-term care facilities (LTCF). Other Phase I groups (in order) include essential workers, people at higher risk for severe disease (over the age of 75); Phase II – other (specified) populations; and Phase III – the general public. Distribution of the COVID-19 vaccination began late last month in Warren County.

ix. December 2020: Lord Fairfax Health District began Phase 1a distribution of the vaccine last week and this week (Clarke and Warren County first responders/age 75+).

1. Health Care personnel (Round 1 complete, Round 2 planned)

2. LTCF Residents and Staff (see below)

x. January 2021: The CDC is allocating the vaccine directly to CVS to vaccinate Phase 1a long-term care residents. CVS began this process locally this month (going directly to our long-term care facilities).

1. Commonwealth Senior Living (Round 1 complete, Round 2 scheduled)

2. Fox Trail Senior Living (Round 1 scheduled. Round 2 TBD)

3. Heritage Hall (TBD)

4. Hidden Springs (Round 1 and 2 scheduled)

5. Lynn Care (Round 1 complete, Round 2 scheduled)

6. Shenandoah Senior Living (Round 1 scheduled, Round 2 scheduled)

7. Woods Cove (TBD)

xi. January 2021: The next allocation (“Phase 1b”) of vaccinations the County receives will be for front-line essential workers and persons age 75 and older. Front line essential workers include (in priority order):

1. Police, Fire, and HAZMAT (Round 1 complete, Round 2 scheduled)

2. Corrections workers (Round 1 scheduled)

3. Childcare, K-12 Teachers and Staff (Round 1 scheduled)

4. Food and Agriculture (TBD)

5. Manufacturing (TBD)

6. U.S. Postal Service workers (TBD)

7. Public Transit workers (TBD)

8. Grocery Store workers (TBD)

9. Persons Age 75 and older (Round 1 in progress)

xii. The following allocation (“Phase 1c”) of vaccinations will be for other essential workers, persons age 64-75, and persons age 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions. Other essential workers include (in priority order – all below 1-10 categories planning TBD):

1. Transportation and Logistics

2. Food Service

3. Shelter and Housing (construction)

4. Finance

5. IT and Communication

6. Energy

7. Media

8. Legal

9. Public Safety (engineers)

10. Water and Wastewater

xiii. There is no date established for the Phase 1b or 1c allocations at this time.

b. VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: In order to distribute the COVID-19 vaccination in the quickest and most efficient manner, volunteers are needed to fill essential roles in the operation of the Warren County Point of Distribution (POD) site at the 15th St. Gym. The six essential roles are:

ii. Greeter: an adult that checks patients in and directs them to the next station

iii. Navigator: a clinical provider that reviews forms and looks for any “red flags”

iv. Observer: an adult that monitors patients for 15 minutes after the injection of the vaccination to monitor for any adverse side effects; must have Basic Life Support certification or above

v. Pharmacist: prepares the vaccine for injection; must be currently licensed

vi. Runner/Floater: monitors vaccine inventory and assists in communicating between POD stations

vii. Vaccinator: a health care provider that administers the COVID-19 vaccination; must be a currently licensed/certified LPN, RN, M.D., D.O., AEMT, EMT-I, EMT-P

c. SIGN-UP GENIUS: If you meet the above criteria, and are willing to volunteer during the operation of the COVID-19 POD in Warren County, please visit the below site to sign-up:
viii. https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0d44aaaa22a7f8c43-clinic1

e. No further details available at this time, more to follow.

While there is only one entrance to the sign-in table, there are two usable exits, the second shown here, slightly to the north of the entrance door.

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LFCC seeking speakers and voters for “I Have a Dream” speech contest

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LFCC’s students are encouraged to participate in a virtual “I Have a Dream” speech contest in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, Jan. 25. Students, LFCC employees, and the public at large are invited to join the Zoom meeting to watch the speeches and vote on the winner.

Those interested in being a contestant should email LFCC campus life and student engagement specialist Chris Lambert at clambert@lfcc.edu by Friday, Jan. 22. Speeches are to be 3-5 minutes long and can be about your own dreams for yourself or for those around you.

“The topic shares the name of one of Dr. King’s most well-known speeches, but does not have to cover or mirror the same information,” Lambert said. “Please be creative and tell us about your dream. Is it educational? Political? Is your dream for yourself, your family, the world? After telling us your dream, share how it might be achieved.”

The first-place winner will receive a $100 Visa gift card, with the runner-up receiving a $50 card.

LFCC’s Fauquier Campus has traditionally welcomed the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Choir under the direction of the Rev. Lemuel Montgomery to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day – which is Monday, Jan. 18 this year – but that commemoration can’t happen on campus this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Join the virtual event at www.lfcc.edu/MLK.

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VDOT: Warren County Traffic alert for January 18 – 22, 2021

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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.

INTERSTATE 66
*NEW* Mile marker 5 to 7 including Exit 6, eastbound – Right shoulder closures for sign work along interstate and off-ramp, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through January 29.

*NEW* Mile marker 12 to 9, westbound – Daytime shoulder closures and overnight alternating lane closures for maintenance of traffic monitoring equipment, Monday to Thursday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.

INTERSTATE 81
*NEW* Mile marker 299 to 300, northbound and southbound – Overnight alternating lane closures for inspection of Cedar Creek bridges at Shenandoah County line, 8 p.m. Tuesday to 6 a.m. Wednesday.

*NEW* Mile marker 300 to 301, northbound and southbound – Right shoulder closures for tree removal operations, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

PRIMARY ROADS
No lane closures reported.

SECONDARY ROADS
Various roads – Flagger traffic control for utility tree trimming, Monday to Friday during daylight hours.

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.

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44 new troopers graduate Virginia State Police Academy

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The 44 men and women of the Virginia State Police 132nd Basic Session graduated in a virtual ceremony on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. Due to COVID-19 protocols, a virtual ceremony was the safest means of allowing the graduates and their families to celebrate the culmination of 27 weeks of the trooper-trainees’ hard work, sacrifice, and dedication. Also in virtual attendance were state police executive staff, academy staff, and Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. A previously-recorded video of Governor Ralph Northam congratulating the new troopers was played during the ceremony.

“This Basic Session class has been like no other. Every one of these steadfast men and women heeded strict attention to detail as they navigated the ever-evolving COVID-19 safety protocols,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “The attention to detail wasn’t just to ensure a safe environment for the entire class, their families, academy staff, and instructors, but also for the greater good, something all Virginia State Troopers understand as they put their lives to the test daily to protect and serve the citizens of the Commonwealth. I could not be more proud of this graduating class and I know they will represent us well as they serve their communities.”

The new troopers received more than 1,300 hours of classroom and field instruction in more than 100 different subjects, including de-escalation techniques, strategies to assist people in a mental health crisis, ethics and leadership, fair and impartial policing, constitutional law, emergency medical trauma care, and public and community relations. The members of the 132nd Basic Session began their 27 weeks of academic, physical, and practical training at the Academy on June 29, 2020.

The graduates of the 132nd Basic Session are from every corner of the Commonwealth, as well as Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and New York. They include two second-generation troopers, four first-generation Americans, and numerous prior military service personnel.

For their final phase of training, each trooper will spend an additional six weeks paired with a Field Training Officer learning his or her new patrol area.

132nd Basic Graduate Assignment
Arfan M. Arif  – Fairfax County
Michael L. Albert – Shenandoah County
Zachary T. Barnes – York County
Moses I. R. Blakey – New Kent County
Vontasia T. Britton – York County
Andrew J. Brown – Prince William County
Taylor C. Brown – Prince William County
Jawaan D. Cook – Greensville County
William T. DiBerardine  – Warren County
Hunter C. Dickenson  – Gloucester County
Julian B. Edwards – Prince William County
Kayla B. Edwards – Surry County
Christian L. Elkins – Prince William County
Arthur P. Falin – Greensville County
Jacob A. Farmer – Prince George County
Adelaide E. Fischer – Hampton / Newport News
Robert L. Flynn – Accomack County
Tony Fuentes – James City County
Austin K. Gallaway – Hampton / Newport News
Zachary M. Homlish – Caroline County
Hunter C. Jensen – New Kent County
Stephanie H. Kapusta – Fairfax County
Sarah A. M. Kendrick – Prince William County
Aaryn J. Kerry – Cumberland County
Steven R. King – Accomack County
Timothy L. LaFountain – Buckingham County
Joshua O. McClure – Frederick County
Alexander W. Meyers – King George County
Thomas J. Mills – York County
Justin R. Mull – Caroline County
Connor R. O’Quinn – Hampton / Newport News
Earl J. Pritchett – Prince George County
Andrew R. S. Sanders – Sussex County
Gabriel A. Santillan – Fairfax County
Austin M. Sloan – King William County
Jeffrey A. Spencer – Fairfax County
Sean M. Stinnett – Clark County
Seth A. Sullivan – Accomack County
Andrew M. Toth – Fairfax County
Joseph J. Trombley – Shenandoah County
Richard C. Warner – Gloucester County
Jacob K. Weitzman – Fairfax County
Isaac D. Wilson – York County
Joseph T. Worley – Greensville County

State police are currently hiring for future Basic Session Academy classes. Those interested in joining the ranks of the Virginia State Police are encouraged to visit www.vatrooper.com for more information.

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Virginia Interstate and bridge closures in advance of Presidential Inauguration

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Drivers urged to avoid the area and use alternate routes Jan. 19-21
PLEASE NOTE: These closures are subject to change

The Virginia Department of Transportation and Virginia State Police will support the United States Secret Service Joint Transportation Plan, which calls for several bridge and road closures from Virginia into Washington, D.C. beginning Tuesday, Jan. 19. Local law enforcement will be assisting with the closures as part of the multi-agency, inaugural security efforts.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, and U.S. Reps. Don Beyer, Gerry Connolly, and Jennifer Wexton (all D-VA) issued the following statement on the agreement between the Commonwealth of Virginia and the United States Secret Service (USSS) authorizing the use of Virginia State Police assets, resources, and personnel, to assist with the closure of bridges spanning the Potomac River during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration Ceremony:

“The 2021 Presidential Inauguration Ceremony will see the strongest Capital-area security response in history. We worked together to push for a response that balances protecting public safety in a manner commensurate with available intelligence about threats without going too far. It is very important now that the U.S. Secret Service and its partner agencies communicate road and bridge closures swiftly and clearly in order to keep disruptions to a minimum. All of us want the transfer of power to be as peaceful as possible, and we thank all of the men and women in uniform helping to make this historic occasion safe.”

From 6 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19 through 6 a.m., Thursday, Jan. 21, I-66 and I-395 bridges into D.C. will be closed and traffic will be diverted as follows:

I-66: Eastbound traffic will be diverted at Route 110 (Exit 75).
I-395: Northbound traffic will be diverted at the George Washington Memorial Parkway (Exit 10B).
I-395 Express Lanes: When the lanes are northbound, all traffic will be diverted into the main lanes near Edsall Road.

Drivers are urged to plan ahead, avoid the area, and use alternate routes during this time. Portable and overhead message signs will remind drivers to avoid the area. Those needing to travel in and around Northern Virginia between Jan. 19 and Jan. 21 are encouraged to check www.511virginia.org before they travel.

For reversal schedules and more information on the I-95 and I-395 Express Lanes, visit www.expresslanes.com.

Ramp and bridge closures:

I-395

  • I-395 NB Express Lanes (Rochambeau Memorial Bridge)
  • I-395 NB main lanes (Arland Williams, Jr. Memorial Bridge)
  • I-395 NB Express Lanes slip ramp from the main lanes (last left-side slip ramp in Virginia also known as “Ramp G”)
  • I-395 NB main lanes will be diverted at GW Parkway exit
  • I-395 NB Express Lanes will divert to the main lanes near Edsall Road
  • Route 1 NB from Reagan National Airport (DCA) to I-395 NB (Arland Williams, Jr. Memorial Bridge)
  • Eads Street NB ramp to I-395 NB Express Lanes
  • OPEN: I-395 SB (George Mason Memorial Bridge)

I-66

  • I-66 EB at the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge closed; all traffic diverted to Route 110 SB
  • Route 50 EB ramp to I-66 EB

George Washington Memorial Parkway

  • GW Parkway SB ramp to I-66 EB
  • GW Parkway NB ramp to I-395 NB
  • GW Parkway SB ramp to I-395 NB

Arlington Memorial Bridge will be closed by the National Park Service.

Follow VDOT Northern Virginia and Virginia State Police on Twitter: @vadotnova and @vsppio

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