Laurel Ridge celebrates expansion of manufacturing and trades lab space on Middletown Campus
Laurel Ridge Community College leaders, employees, and instructors were joined by elected officials, industry partners, economic development representatives, chamber of commerce members, and private donors Friday morning to celebrate the ribbon cutting for the newly-expanded Alson H. Smith Hall on the college’s Middletown Campus.
A 3,500-square-foot addition has recently been completed at the facility, which also houses the college’s dental hygiene clinic, a black box theater, and a nursing simulation lab. Now, it has plenty of space for three mechatronics (advanced manufacturing) labs and labs for welding, HVAC, electrical, and heavy equipment operator programs.
An $800,000 GO Virginia grant helped provide the state-of-the-art equipment needed for the mechatronics program, Laurel Ridge President Kim Blosser said prior to the ribbon cutting.
“When you take a tour of the labs, you will see a lot of impressive equipment with sleek robotics and controls,” she said. “This is the kind of high-tech resource and training that will help make the Northern Shenandoah Valley an attractive location for new businesses or for current business expansion.”
Manufacturing is the second-largest industry sector in the region, said Jeanian Clark, vice president of Laurel Ridge Community College Workforce Solutions and Continuing Education. The more than 90,000 manufacturing jobs in the region have average salaries above $50,000, she said. Still, about 3,100 more positions need to be filled, and if they were, according to Clark, they would bring an additional $1.4 billion in economic output.
She shared the following statistics about the increasing need for trades specialists within the Laurel Ridge service region:
- There are 40 jobs posted for the HVAC industry. HVAC techs have an average annual salary above $55,000.
- More than 30 additional electricians, with an average salary above $60,000, are needed.
- Nearly two dozen welding jobs are open. Those positions average more than $50,000 annually.
- Just shy of 100 construction trades positions are open, with an average pay of nearly $50,000 a year.
“We are fully committed and passionate about supporting the current and future growth of our community and the workforce,” said Vice President Clark.
Del. Bill Wiley was one of several speakers at Friday’s event. Wiley is a real estate broker and is the business development manager for Howard Shockey and Sons Inc.
“I can’t say enough in terms of the need for this,” he said. “Our area is all about this type of work.”
Mike Powell, senior manager of maintenance at Trex Co. Inc., said many of his employees received training through Laurel Ridge Workforce Solutions.
“Laurel Ridge is a critical part of our region’s workforce development,” he said. “I have firsthand knowledge of the experience they gained here. That has really refined our team’s technical abilities.”
There is grant funding available through programs such as FastForward and G3 to cover much of the costs of the trade programs for qualified Virginia residents. Learn more at LaurelRidgeWorkforce.com/funding. Visit LaurelRidgeWorkforce.com for more information on trades programming.
Shenandoah University recognizes outstanding achievements with Spring 2023 Dean’s List
Shenandoah University, a nationally recognized educational institution based in Winchester, Virginia, has recently announced the impressive accomplishments of 943 students who have earned a spot on the Spring 2023 Dean’s List. This distinction reflects the dedication, hard work, and academic excellence of students from various degree programs in Front Royal, Linden, and Lake Frederick. The university takes pride in recognizing these students for their outstanding achievements.
The Spring 2023 Dean’s List at Shenandoah University comprises an impressive group of students who have demonstrated exemplary academic performance. Among them are:
- Caleb Reedy – Front Royal, VA
- Valerie Cameron – Front Royal, VA
- Allison Smoot – Front Royal, VA
- Callista Mayberry – Front Royal, VA
- Aaliyah Chunn – Front Royal, VA
- Jasmine Sharp – Front Royal, VA
- Isabelle Grupac – Linden, VA
- Hannah Frost – Front Royal, VA
- David Kelly – Front Royal, VA
- Asia James – Lake Frederick, VA
- Brennan Komelasky – Front Royal, VA
- Laura Brown – Front Royal, VA
- Erika Gallagher – Front Royal, VA
- Audrey Bratcher – Linden, VA
- Crismeli Sandoval – Front Royal, VA
- Megan Vardiman – Linden, VA
- Mariah Barber – Linden, VA
- Margaret Plosch – Front Royal, VA
- Cody Crawford – Linden, VA
These students have displayed a remarkable commitment to their studies, earning them a place of distinction on the Dean’s List. Their academic achievements are a testament to their dedication and hard work throughout the semester.
To qualify for the Dean’s List, students enrolled in baccalaureate degree programs at Shenandoah University must complete a minimum of 12 semester hours and achieve a remarkable semester GPA of 3.50 or higher. This accomplishment is a reflection of the student’s academic excellence and sets them apart as exemplary scholars within the university community.
Established in 1875, Shenandoah University has become a leading educational institution known for its blend of professional career experiences and comprehensive education. With over 4,000 students enrolled in more than 200 areas of study across six different schools, Shenandoah University fosters a close-knit community that thrives on creative energy and intellectual challenges. The university’s dedicated faculty members provide personalized attention and mentorship, contributing to numerous nationally ranked programs and exceptional learning opportunities for students.
Shenandoah University takes pride in its innovative partnerships and programs at both local and global levels, allowing students to gain valuable real-world experience and expand their horizons beyond the classroom. By empowering students like Caleb Reedy, Valerie Cameron, Allison Smoot, Callista Mayberry, Aaliyah Chunn, Jasmine Sharp, Isabelle Grupac, Hannah Frost, David Kelly, Asia James, Brennan Komelasky, Laura Brown, Erika Gallagher, Audrey Bratcher, Crismeli Sandoval, Megan Vardiman, Mariah Barber, Margaret Plosch, and Cody Crawford, the university prepares them to excel in their chosen fields and make meaningful contributions to society.
Shenandoah University celebrates the remarkable achievements of the 943 students who have earned a place on the Spring 2023 Dean’s List. The university recognizes their dedication, hard work, and academic excellence. Congratulations to all the students for their outstanding accomplishments and for setting a high standard of academic achievement at Shenandoah University.
A Pledge to Excellence: Warren County Sheriff’s Office earns prestigious state accreditation
The Warren County Sheriff’s Office has proudly announced that they have joined the top 100 law enforcement agencies across the Commonwealth in gaining state accreditation. This achievement is significant, as state accreditation is the best measure of a law enforcement agency’s compliance with professional standards. These standards are determined by the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission, comprised of Virginia sheriffs and police chiefs chosen for their professional expertise and knowledge.
The accreditation process involves a thorough review of every facet of the agency’s organization, management, operations, and administration, thereby ensuring that agency resources are used in alignment with agency goals and objectives and that any internal deficiencies and inefficiencies are promptly addressed before they become public problems.
The Virginia Sheriffs’ Association, the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) jointly form the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission. Active Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police, who are members of the Commission, set professional standards and oversee the accreditation process. The DCJS manages the daily operations of the Commission.
Accreditation offers a range of benefits, including enhanced community understanding of the law enforcement agency and its role in the community. It also boosts public confidence in the agency’s policies and practices, fosters cooperation with other law enforcement agencies and branches of the criminal justice system, and ensures a uniform and efficient delivery of law enforcement services to the community.
For officers within the agency, accreditation ensures the availability of written policies and procedures at all times, provides objective measures to gauge the effectiveness of the agency’s programs and services, and increases employees’ confidence in the effectiveness and efficiency of their own agency.
In essence, accreditation is a coveted award that symbolizes professionalism, excellence, and competence in law enforcement. The employees of Warren County Sheriff’s Office now take pride in their agency, knowing it represents the very best in law enforcement.
Accredited Agencies in our area include:
- Berryville Police Department
- Clarke County Sheriff’s Office
- Page County Sheriff’s Office
- Winchester City Sheriff’s Office
- Winchester Police Department
- Woodstock Police Department
Experience the hidden wonder of Middletown’s Ogdens Cave: Exclusive access granted by DCR for one day only
The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is set to provide a unique opportunity to the public during Virginia Cave Week from June 4-10. On Tuesday, June 6, between 2-7 p.m., the public will be allowed to tour Ogdens Cave Natural Area Preserve. Normally sealed off due to the delicate species living inside, this one-off event promises an adventure to remember.
Virginia Natural Heritage Program speleologists and cavers, part of DCR, will guide the tours inside the preserve, which will include a short exploration of the cave. Each tour will last up to one hour, giving visitors a glimpse into a fascinating, often unseen world.
Attendees need to prepare adequately for the trip. The department will provide helmets and headlamps, but visitors are advised to wear sturdy shoes or boots with treads, long pants, a light jacket or rugged shirt with long sleeves, and gloves. This is due to the cave temperature maintaining a steady 54 degrees.
For those interested in taking part in this rare opportunity, RSVP by emailing Meredith Weberg at firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, June 5. Specific driving directions will be provided to attendees.
Blue Ridge Wildlife Center Patient of the Week: Groundhog(s)
These two infant groundhogs serve as a reminder of why you should never trap and relocate adult animals, especially during the Spring and Summer months!
Multiple adult groundhogs were trapped and relocated from a location. Unfortunately, days later, these two baby groundhogs were found out of their burrow, severely emaciated and weak after being without their mother for days.
Relocating animals also can spread disease, causing further suffering to the animals that already exist in the areas these animals are relocated to.
Relocated animals no longer know where to find food or shelter and can find themselves attacked or injured by present animals defending their territory or limited food sources.
Many people think the only option for wildlife conflict is to either relocate the animal or have it euthanized, but there’s a third option—exclusion!
There are many ways to humanely exclude animals from your yard or property that allow the parents to take their babies with them, preventing orphans and the negative consequences of relocation!
If you’re having a problem with a wild animal in your yard or on your property, please give us a call FIRST before taking matters into your own hands. Keeping babies with their parents is always in their best interest!
These two are slowly going through a refeeding protocol and have now begun to eat some solid foods on their own.
Trapping and relocating wildlife is not only illegal in Virginia and most other localities, but it’s also inhumane and unethical.
Relocating an animal causes situations like these, where orphans who otherwise would’ve grown up with their natural parents now have to be cared for in a rehabilitation setting. Many more orphans are never found and are left to die from starvation or the elements slowly.
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.
Warren County commits to supporting veterans with U.S. Army PaYS partnership
An important ceremony is set to take place on June 7, 2023, at 1:00 p.m., marking a significant partnership between the U.S. Army and the County of Warren. The Army Partnership for Your Success (PaYS) signing ceremony will be held in the Community Room of the Warren County Public Safety Building, located at 200 Skyline Vista Drive, Front Royal, VA 22630. The public is cordially invited to witness this monumental event.
Initiated by Sheriff Mark Butler, an Army veteran himself, this partnership aims to increase the recruitment of qualified personnel for the sheriff’s office. Sheriff Butler’s familiarity with the Army PaYS program led to the establishment of this partnership, which is expected to significantly increase the pool of qualified applicants while guaranteeing interviews for veterans.
In an effort to extend the benefits of this partnership, the Warren County Human Resources Department also expressed its desire to join the Army PaYS program. Following this, on December 6, 2022, the County of Warren was made an official Army PaYS partner with the signing of an agreement by Warren County Administrator Dr. Edwin Daley.
The Army PaYS program is an initiative designed to assist soldiers as they transition into civilian careers after their service. The program connects them with employers who value the skills, discipline, and work ethic that military service members bring to their businesses. The program also encourages business owners to view the Army as a reliable and plentiful source of recruitment.
Since its inception in 2000, the Army PaYS program has partnered with more than 1020 employers, indicating the program’s broad reach and impact. The U.S. Army and the County of Warren’s partnership promise to further extend this impact, opening up more opportunities for veterans and aiding in their smooth transition into civilian life.
A Day of Remembrance: Colonel James Wood II Chapter, Virginia Society Sons of the American Revolution and American Red Cross hold Memorial Day event
The hallowed grounds of Winchester’s National Cemetery reverberated with the echoes of history this Memorial Day. Local citizens, the youth of Cub Scout Den 45, the Colonel James Wood II Chapter of the Virginia Society Sons of the American Revolution (named after Colonel James Wood II, an influential figure in the American Revolution), and the American Red Cross (a humanitarian organization tracing its roots back to 1881) came together to pay homage to the heroes of our past.
This event beautifully encapsulated a tradition that traces its lineage to the era of the Civil War. The roots of this observance trace back to a suggestion by Henry Welles in 1865 in the village of Waterloo, New York, for a day of decorating the graves of the fallen Civil War heroes, which came to be known as Decoration Day.
In keeping with this rich history, ahead of the Memorial Day ceremony on May 29th, flags were placed on the graves at the National Cemetery. Leslie Caliva of the American Red Cross, an organization with a rich history of service, hosted the formal observance. The color guard, led by Commander Brett Osborn, and the honor guard, led by Jim Cordes, presented colors in a show of respect for the fallen.
CJWII Chaplain Thomas Reed, inheriting the historic title of Chaplain, offered an inspiring invocation, while the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Charles Hunter, USA (Ret), from the storied VFW Post 2123. The keynote address was given by Terry Stotler, Chief of Voluntary Services at the Martinsburg Veterans Administration Medical Center, detailing the myriad of services the VA provides to support the veterans in the tri-state area of northwest Virginia, northern West Virginia, and western Maryland.
Following a musket salute fired by the SAR Musket Squad and renditions of ‘God Bless America’ and ‘Taps’ by Charles Hunter, SAR members stood alongside dual members Bryan Buck (Fort Harrison), Dave Cook, and Jim Cordes (Fairfax Resolves), participating in the ceremony and bringing history to life.
As we remember our fallen heroes on this Memorial Day, we recognize the historical journey from Decoration Day to Memorial Day and the nationwide observance it has grown into today. This commemoration at the Winchester National Cemetery symbolizes a steadfast tradition and a tribute to those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.
Wind: 2mph NNE
UV index: 2