People Incorporated, a Virginia-based nonprofit, welcomes Samantha “Sam” Barber as the agency’s director of community engagement. This position works towards building positive, productive relationships with community partners across People Inc.’s service area.
“Sam has a strong track record of securing support for programs and services that serve the entire community, and we are excited to welcome her on board here at People Inc.,” said President & CEO Rob Goldsmith.
“Connecting with our community fuels my energy,” said Barber. “I have a passion for service and look forward to knocking on doors and building relationships in my new role.”
Barber will focus on building partnerships in nine counties and two cities in People Inc.’s northern and central Virginia service area, including Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah, and Warren counties.
Barber is the founder and former CEO of Reaching Out Now, a nonprofit that serves under-resourced families in the Warren County public school system. Prior to joining the staff at People Inc., she served on the agency’s board of directors as part of the advocacy committee.
Barber is based out of People Inc.’s office located in Woodstock at 135 South Main Street. She can be reached by email at email@example.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.
Drug Take Back Day is Saturday, October 23rd
The Warren County Community Health Coalition and Warren County Sheriff’s Office along with Valley Health will be participating in the DEA National Drug Take-Back Day this Saturday, October 23, 2021, from 10 am to 2 pm at the Valley Health Complex located at 120 N. Commerce Ave. in Front Royal.
Drug Take-Back Day is usually held in the spring and autumn each year for those municipalities who wish to participate in providing a safe, convenient, and anonymous means of disposing of prescription drugs.
This day aims to provide a safe, convenient and responsible way of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the public about the potential for abuse of medications.
Prescription drug abuse is the fastest-growing drug problem in the U.S. When you have unused or expired medications lying around, they could fall into the wrong hands and be abused. Flushing medications down the toilet is dangerous to public health.
Dropping your medications off at a collection site is a quick and safe way to make sure they are disposed of properly. Drop off is free and anonymous.
Should you have any questions, contact Lt. Robbie Seal at the Warren County Sheriff’s Office at 540-635-4128.
Fauquier Health is also sponsoring a Drug Take-Back program in Warrenton this Saturday, October 23, 2021, from 10 am-2 pm at the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office. We encourage community members to drive up and safely dispose of their unused or expired medications. The event is sponsored by Piedmont Crush, Fauquier County Sherriff’s Office, Warrenton Police Department, the Mental Health Association of Fauquier County, and our pharmacy team at Fauquier Health.
78 West Lee St.,
By properly disposing of these medications, you’ll be helping to make your home and community healthier.
Safely Managing Medications Helps Make Our Community Healthier
By: Gary Matthew, Pharmacy Director, Fauquier Health
Most of us have taken medicine to help heal from illness or injury at some point in our lives. Medications are often an important part of the healing process and can be essential in treating ongoing conditions, but they can also be harmful to your health or the health of others if not managed appropriately.
Responsibly Handling Medications
While medications can provide many benefits, their misuse can pose a serious health risk to you and your community. According to findings from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, nearly 51 percent of people who misused pain relievers in the past year obtained them from a friend or relative. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to get into the habit of practicing medication safety:
- Take medications as directed. Carefully follow the instructions, and take your medications only as prescribed by your provider and for the intended purpose.
- Always keep a current list of the medications you are taking, including ones you only take on occasion. Include the medication name, dose, how often you take it, the method for taking it (by mouth, injection, etc.), and the reason for taking it.
- In addition to your prescribed medications, don’t forget to include over-the-counter drugs, herbals, vitamins, and dietary supplements. Share your list with close family members, and keep a copy in your wallet.
- Include any allergies, the names and phone numbers of your providers, and your preferred pharmacy on this list.
- Don’t hesitate to ask your provider or pharmacist if you have questions about side effects or drug interactions with your medications.
- Do not share your medications with others. While this gesture may be well-intended, medicines can be just as dangerous as street drugs when taken without a prescription or if not used for the right reasons.
- Ensure proper storage. Always relock the cap on medicine bottles, and keep your medicines in a safe and locked location out of the reach of children and out of sight from friends and visitors. Each year, approximately 50,000 children younger than 6 years old end up in the Emergency Room after accessing medications when caregivers aren’t present, and many people who misuse pain medications obtain them from a friend or relative.
- Safely dispose of unused or expired medications. Don’t throw your medications in the trash or flush them down the toilet. Discarded medications can be easily retrieved and abused or illegally sold, and medicines flushed down the toilet can contaminate the community water supply. Safely disposing of your unused and expired medications can help prevent accidental poisoning, overdose, and abuse, and promotes a healthy environment for your family and neighbors.
If you would like more information about safe medication use, visit http://consumermedsafety.org/.
EDA gets McDonald company property as part of settlement agreement
On Wednesday, October 20, Warren County Economic Development Authority Board of Directors Chairman Jeff Browne verified the EDA’s acquisition of the 41-acre “Happy Creek Road” parcel owned by former EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald’s Moveon8 real estate LLC. Acquisition of the undeveloped property assessed at just over a million dollars according to county court records is part of the $9-million-dollar no-fault settlement agreement reached between the EDA, McDonald, and the Harrisonburg Bankruptcy Court handling McDonald’s 2020 bankruptcy filing. The EDA will now be able to market the property as a developable EDA asset. It is located near the intersection of Happy Creek Road and Leach Run Parkway.
Browne said that in addition to receiving full value on the Happy Creek parcel, the EDA was in line to receive a percentage of the sale price of other McDonald assets distributed through the bankruptcy court proceeding. Exactly how close those percentages might get the EDA to the $9-million-dollar settlement figure remains to be seen. It was not immediately clear as to whether the EDA will have an outright full value claim to any other McDonald-held properties or assets.
McDonald is the central figure in the EDA financial scandal that began unravelling in mid-to-late 2018. She resigned in December 2018 under mounting pressure from her board of directors. She has been accused in civil and criminal court of utilizing her EDA position to misdirect EDA assets to her and others personal benefit. Western District of Virginia federal authorities have taken over the criminal side of the EDA case after a state special prosecutor’s office in Harrisonburg dropped criminal charges against McDonald and as many as 23 co-defendants due to speedy trial concerns as it wrestled with the volume of evidentiary material – estimated at 800,000 to over a million pages at the time. With charges against some defendants originating with the county commonwealth attorney’s office that initially handled the criminal investigation during Brian Madden’s tenure heading the department, failure to meet speedy trial timelines could have led to defense motions for dismissal of criminal charges against the defendants.
On August 31, 2021, federal prosecutors made their initial move, handing down a 34-count indictment against McDonald. Of those 34 counts, 16 were for money laundering, 10 for bank fraud, 7 for wire fraud, and 1 count of aggravated identity theft regarding someone identified as “T.T.” – ITFederal principal Truc Tran perhaps?
Joint Tourism Committee soliciting proposals for exclusive retail rights located at the Front Royal Visitor’s Center
The Front Royal & Warren County Joint Tourism Committee is soliciting proposals for exclusive retail rights located at the Front Royal Visitor’s Center. The proposal must include and respond to the following scope of services.
- The retailer will provide a merchandise for sale local to Front Royal and Warren County within a 35-mile radius. Merchandise should include local artists’ and photographer’s works, food items, branded material and other unique items to the Front Royal and Warren County area.
- The retail selection will include curated items exclusive to Front Royal and Warren County. The vendor must be willing to work with the Tourism Committee, and its contractor operating the Visitor’s Center, on merchandise selection. The Tourism representatives will have the right to approve or disapprove of merchandise to be incorporated for sale in the retail location to ensure quality product.
- The vendor will provide a cashless payment method at the vendor’s expense.
- The vendor will provide training to the Front Royal Visitor Center employees on the system and provide seven day a week support when necessary.
- The Front Royal Tourism Committee nor the employees of the Front Royal Visitor Center will be responsible for merchandise set up, inventory, or monitoring stock.
- The vendor will maintain the merchandise in an aesthetically pleasing manner neat and updated on a weekly basis.
- The vendor will provide a monthly report to the Tourism Committee representative on the sale of merchandise and provide suggestions for each season.
- The merchandise will reflect seasonal changes.
- The vendor will carry all necessary insurance and provide a current Warren County business license.
All potential vendors must address all the requirements as outlined including the time frame to begin the retail operation at the Visitors’ Center. A business plan for the merchandising must also be included. Bidders will be required to present their business plan and proposal to representatives of the Joint Tourism Committee.
Respondents are expected to organize their proposal to include:
- Operating model and requirements in response to scope above
- Proposed financial model i.e., lease for square footage or percentage of sales
- Relevant experience
- A minimum of three references
- 1 year with an option of a 2-year renewal.
- Awarded contractor must be operational at the beginning of the contract start date of 10/18/21.
- RFP released: 10/1/21
- Proposals due: 11/12/21
- Interview date: 11/22/21
- Contract begins: 12/1/21
- Contract Initial Term Complete: 12/31/22
- Potential Contract Term Extension through: 12/31/24
Front Royal ready for Fall tourists
The Town of Front Royal has hired three employees to staff the downtown Visitors Center.
Thousands of tourists travel to the area every fall for leaf viewing. The increased number of Visitor Center staff will play a key role in bolstering the Town’s continued effort to welcome tourists and assist them with experiencing the many attractions along with enjoying the fall foliage.
The Visitors Center averages over 150 visitors daily and over 200 each day on the weekends. “Welcoming visitors and letting them know about all the area attractions, lodging, outdoor adventures, arts, and cultural programming, fine food and drink grow the economy,” said Mayor Chris Holloway. “Front Royal and Warren County are committed to increasing visitation beyond a day visit.”
Visitor Center staff are responsible for many customer experience activities, including being ambassadors, providing tourists with information that enhances their visit, and encouraging tourists to return to Front Royal.
Tourism is a major economic driver for Front Royal and Warren County and its hospitality businesses. Visit www.DiscoverFrontRoyal.com for the many things to do.