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RSW Jail, substance abuse rehab program mark progress with summit



From left, Diana Lieber, Chris Ronquest and Russ Gilkison explain and reflect on implementation and results from an aggressive, peer-based substance abuse recovery and reentry program at RSW Jail. Royal Examiner Photos. Video by Mark Williams.

On Thursday, August 8, Royal Examiner spoke with Virginia Recovery and Reentry (VRR) Program Project Director Christopher Ronquest of the McShin Foundation, McShin-RSW Jail Program Facilitator Diana Lieber and Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren County (RSW) Regional Jail Superintendent Russ Gilkison about the first eight months of implementation of an aggressively proactive effort to rehabilitate inmates dealing with substance abuse issues.

As Gilkison notes during our video interview, in addition to people convicted and jailed on drug offenses, many jailed on other criminal charges have substance abuse problems as a basis for that criminal activity.

And the VRR program launched at both RSW Jail and Prince George County’s Riverside Regional Jail last December takes direct aim at addiction and substance abuse through a peer-to-peer approach to recovery aimed at reducing criminal recidivism related to substance abuse and addiction. LINK-McShin Foundation, AG Mark Herring help launch RSW Jail rehab program

To mark the program’s personal success stories, stories that will remain in progress for the rest of participating inmates’ lives, the two jails and the Richmond-based McShin Foundation will hold a VRR Organizational Summit in southern Warren County on August 29, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Mountain Bed & Breakfast at 3471 Remount Road. The event is open to the public.

RSW Superintendent Russ Gilkison welcomes Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, center, and McShin Foundation President John Shinholser to the Dec. 14, 2018 launch of the Virginia Recovery and Reentry Program at RSW.

In addition to program and jail officials the summit will include scholarship recipients from the VRR re-entry program. Those inmates now facing transition back into the world will tell their stories of hope for meaningful change in their lives brought to them through the partnership of the McShin Foundation’s Virginia Recovery and Re-Entry Program and the RSW and Riverside Jails.

The scholarships or grant offers will help fund 20-plus inmates, a majority from RSW, transition back toward productive lives away from the environments that led to their substance abuse and criminality, in residential recovery settings as they seek jobs and meaningful change in their lives.

As Ronquest, Lieber and Gilkison explain in our video interview, the heart of the VRR Program is that peer-to-peer interaction with program members and inmates who share a background in substance abuse and addiction. It is an approach that removes the “why don’t you straighten up and do something positive with your life” lecture to “this is how I overcame my addiction issues and have maintained sobriety, I think you can do it too” path of empathy and shared mutual experience.

Lieber, an Air Force veteran who is a volunteer program facilitator at RSW told us, “It is a win-win for everybody and a miracle to see in action”.

And that “everybody” who wins from the VRR Program includes you as a taxpaying member of this community. For when the pattern of behavior of addiction and associated criminality is broken, those inmates and VRR Program alumni are much less likely to return to that previous lifestyle and consequently are less likely to return to jail to be housed again for longer periods of time on the taxpayer’s dime.

Things are changing for the better in VRR Program pods inside the RSW Jail in northern Warren County.

The McShin Foundation was established in 2004 and is Virginia’s leading non-profit, full-service Recovery Community Organization (RCO), committed to serving individuals and families in their fight against Substance Use Disorders. The VRR Programs at RSW and Riverside Jails was enabled by a matching grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s Building Communities of Recovery initiative.

Please watch the linked Royal Examiner video interview for more detail on the VRR Program, the upcoming summit, and the project’s potential to enable meaningful, positive change in individual lives and consequently in the life of, not only our community, but communities across the commonwealth.

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Skyline High School Homecoming Parade



Skyline HS Homecoming Parade on October 17, 2019. Photo and video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

The Royal Examiner’s camera was there to capture the Skyline High School Homecoming Parade on October 17, 2019.

Watch it here on this exclusive video:

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Warren County School Board Meeting October 16, 2019



Here is latest Warren County School Board meeting of October 16, 2019.  Here is the link to view their agenda and supporting documents.

Watch this exclusive Royal Examiner video:

Related stories from the meeting:

Additional funds approved to cover empty superintendent position

School Board approves new head lice policy

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Front Royal Elks donate $1,500 to Skyline High School Band



Skyline High School Band. Photos courtesy of the Front Royal Elks.

On October 9th, ER Dennis Henline and Lodge Secretary Jane Wine visited Skyline High School in Front Royal. They were fortunate enough to watch the Band practice. The Front Royal Elks found out that the band needed some funds to purchase some much needed band equipment. After practice, Dennis presented a check for $1,500 to the Band Director, Daniel Holland. The amount will cover the musical needs they currently have.

ER Henline also briefly addressed the band members. He said the Front Royal Elks have always supported the athletic teams, and he felt that the band also needed support, because of their hard work and commitment. He also reminded the seniors to make sure they applied for the college scholarships offered by the Front Royal Lodge and the Elks National Foundation.

Dennis Henline presenting a check to the SHS Band Director, Daniel Holland.

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Sunday evening house fire caused by improper heating of home



Photos courtesy of Warren County Department of Fire and Rescue Services

On Sunday, October 20, 2019, just after 3:00 pm, the Warren County Department of Fire and Rescue Services was dispatched to the 8000 block of Winchester Road for a reported residential structure fire.

Firefighters quickly arrived on the scene and reported a working fire in a two-story single family dwelling. Firefighters were able to verify that the sole occupant of the home had self-evacuated and removed 5 dogs from within the residence. The occupant, who was asleep at the time the fire occurred, was awoken by her dogs and discovered the fire. It took firefighters approximately 10 minutes to contain the fire. Crews were assisted on the scene by Warren County Sheriff’s Deputies and Animal Control Officers.

The cause of the fire was investigated by the Warren County Fire Marshal’s Office. Investigators determined the fire resulted due to an upholstered sectional couch being placed too close to electric baseboard heater. The fire caused an estimated $60,000 in damages. The occupants, who were displaced from the home as a result of the fire, received assistance from the American Red Cross.

Fire Chief Richard E. Mabie stated “Heating of the home is the second leading cause of home fires nationwide. As the weather turns cold, we remind our community to utilize these safety tips to prevent the unthinkable”:

  • Keep all flammables, like paper, clothing, bedding, drapes or rugs, at least 3 feet from baseboard heaters, space heaters, wood-stoves or a fireplace.
  • Never leave portable heaters and fireplaces unattended; turn off heaters and make sure fireplace embers are extinguished before leaving the room.
  • If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, nonflammable surface, like ceramic tile, not on a rug or carpet.
  • Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
  • When buying a space heater, look for models that shut off automatically if the heater falls over.
  • Have your furnace and chimney professionally inspected annually and cleaned if necessary. Chimney tar buildup is a common cause of chimney fires.
  • Dispose of hot ashes in covered metal containers placed away from the house.

This is also the perfect time to check your smoke alarm. Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home. Test smoke alarm batteries every month and change them at least once a year. Consider installing a 10-year lithium battery-powered smoke alarm, which is sealed so it cannot be tampered with or opened. If you do not have a working smoke alarm in your home, contact us at 540-636-3830 to learn how to have them installed at free of charge.

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School Board approves new head lice policy



Head lice have three forms: the egg (also called a nit), the nymph, and the adult. Photo from Lice Clinics of America.

Warren County Public Schools (WCPS) now has new regulations in place for managing pediculosis, commonly known as the infestation of head lice.

“It is the position of the school system that the management of lice should minimally impact students and minimally impact their attendance,” WCPS Director of Special Services Michael Hirsch told members of the Warren County School Board during their Wednesday, October 16 regular meeting. “So, we looked at our policy because we review all of our policies on a regular basis” to update them.

Hirsch outlined for School Board members what lice can and cannot do.

“They can’t hop; they can’t fly. The only way they transfer is by direct contact,” he said, adding that it’s “very, very uncommon” for lice to transfer between people via clothing, scarves, coats, hats and other personal items, like combs and brushes.

The most common way lice transfer is by head-to-head contact, said Hirsch.

“They can be a nuisance. They do not spread disease,” he said. “Personal hygiene and cleanliness in the home and the school has absolutely nothing to do with head lice.”

In reviewing the policies of surrounding school districts, Hirsch said WCPS was found to be the only school division with a no-nit policy, meaning if a student has live nits or lice, he or she must be sent home.

There are school divisions that allow live lice, while others permit live lice and nits, he said.

“That made us think very hard … about if we’re on target and supporting our students in the most effective way possible,” said Hirsch. “After a considerable amount of discussion with our nurse team, as well as the administration, we’re recommending that we do allow a nit policy for the students, but not a live lice policy.”

Hirsch recommended to the School Board a policy stating that if lice are suspected, a student will be sent to the nurse for diagnosis. If live lice are not present, then the student goes back to class. If there are some nits, then “our nurses are such caring, wonderful professionals, they’re going to get rid of them,” he said. “They do it every day. And they’ll contact the parent and talk about an action plan.”

Additionally, if there are live lice present, WCPS staff will ask the student to be sent home with both educational literature and free lice treatment kits, courtesy of WCPS and several of its community partners.

“We don’t want any financial burden to fall on the parents to have to deal with this,” Hirsch added.

Following treatment, the proposed policy states that a student may return to school and check in with the nurse. If there are nits, a new action plan will be created with them, but the student will be allowed to return to class.

“If a student has nits, we’ll try to get rid of them right there at the nurse’s office in a private, confidential way,” said Hirsch, “but we’ll allow the student to stay in school because we know that the best place for a student to be is in school.”

School Board Chairwoman Catherine Bower asked how much time infected WCPS students were missing school. Hirsch answered: “significant amounts.”

“There are a lot of various factors,” he said. “But it’s not hygiene; it’s not people being unclean. Sometimes it’s maybe just knowledge about how to get rid of them or the ability to follow through and get rid of them.”

“We just can’t have them missing school and that was the big impetus in having this conversation,” Hirsch added.

Bower said some parents were concerned about the current policy and how it compared to policies in other nearby areas.

Hirsch confirmed that WCPS did get some letters from “very informed and concerned parents about the policy and we take their concerns very seriously.”

A motion to approve the WCPS lice regulations change was made by School Board member James Wells with a second by School Board member Donna McEathron. The members unanimously approved the change, with Chairwoman Bower, along with board members Arnold Williams Jr., C. Douglas Rosen, Wells, and McEathron, voting yea.

Some facts about lice…

Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Association of School Nurses advocate that “no-nit” policies, which require a child to be free of nits before they can return to schools, be discontinued because:

* Many nits are more than ¼-inch from the scalp. Such nits are usually not viable and very unlikely to hatch to become crawling lice, or may in fact be empty shells, also known as ‘casings;’

* Nits are cemented to hair shafts and are very unlikely to be transferred successfully to other people;

* The burden of unnecessary absenteeism to the students, families and communities far outweighs the risks associated with head lice; and

* Misdiagnosis of nits is very common during nit checks conducted by non-medical personnel.

Who is at risk for getting head lice? Head lice are found worldwide. In the United States, infestation with head lice is most common among pre-school children attending childcare, elementary schoolchildren, and the household members of infested children. Although reliable data on how many people in the U.S. get head lice each year are not available, an estimated six million to 12 million infestations occur yearly among children ages 3 to 11 years. Infestation with head lice is much less common among African Americans than among persons of other races, possibly because the claws of the head louse found most frequently in the U.S. are better adapted for grasping the shape and width of the hair shaft of other races.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

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Candidate Forum: Warren County Clerk of the Court



Ray Bramble was the moderator at the Candidate Forum for Warren County Clerk of the Court. Left to right: Janice Shanks, Angie Moore and Stephen Jerome. Photo and video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

The Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce hosted the first Candidate Forum on Thursday, October 17, at E. Wilson Morrison Elementary School for Warren County Sheriff, Board of Supervisors and Clerk of the Circuit Court.

In this video will be the candidates for Warren County Clerk of the Court. There are three candidates running for this position: Janice Shanks, Angie Moore and Stephen Jerome.

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10:00 am Acrylic Painting: An Individuali... @ Art in the Valley
Acrylic Painting: An Individuali... @ Art in the Valley
Oct 22 @ 10:00 am – 12:30 pm
Acrylic Painting: An Individualized Approach @ Art in the Valley
With an emphasis on individuality and creativity, this acrylic painting class welcomes all skill levels. Some concepts we will explore include various paint application techniques, color theory, and composition. Within these basic parameters, we will[...]
1:30 pm Botanicals in Watercolor I – Fal... @ Art in the Valley
Botanicals in Watercolor I – Fal... @ Art in the Valley
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Botanicals in Watercolor I - Fall 2019 @ Art in the Valley
This four week course with instructor, Elena Maza, will deal with the basic three-primary color palette, different pigments and how they interact, how to mix all colors from three primary colors, how to apply washes,[...]
10:30 am Art Class “Fall is Here” @ Art in the Valley
Art Class “Fall is Here” @ Art in the Valley
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Art Class "Fall is Here" @ Art in the Valley
We are offering classes for children ages 7-12 who would enjoy expressing themselves through art. The students will expand their creative side with drawing, painting and constructing, using various mediums such as acrylic, pastels, watercolor[...]
1:30 pm Botanical Drawing: October 2019 @ Art in the Valley
Botanical Drawing: October 2019 @ Art in the Valley
Oct 23 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Botanical Drawing: October 2019 @ Art in the Valley
Learn and practice the art of botanical drawing in pencil with local artist and instructor Elena Maza. This four session course will focus on learning basic drawing skills as applied to botanicals: basic line drawings[...]
10:30 am Small Business Lending Forum @ Samuels Public Library
Small Business Lending Forum @ Samuels Public Library
Oct 24 @ 10:30 am – 12:30 pm
Small Business Lending Forum @ Samuels Public Library
The forum will provide participants with an overview of U.S. Small Business Administration and USDA/Rural Business Cooperative-Services (RBS)’s financing programs and services.  Participants will have the opportunity to field questions to lenders and learn more[...]
1:30 pm The Fundamentals of Oil Painting... @ Art in the Valley
The Fundamentals of Oil Painting... @ Art in the Valley
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The Fundamentals of Oil Painting - Fall 2019 @ Art in the Valley
This class will focus on proven approaches for successful oil paintings. Subject matter will be the student’s choice. No previous painting experience with oils necessary. The class will introduce students to fundamental concepts of color[...]
9:00 am Virginia Department of Veteran S... @ Able Forces Foundation
Virginia Department of Veteran S... @ Able Forces Foundation
Oct 25 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Virginia Department of Veteran Services @ Able Forces Foundation
Able Forces Foundation is hosting Andre Miller, Resource Specialist, Virginia Veteran and Family Support, Virginia Department of Veteran Services, to assist veterans, their spouses, and dependents with questions regarding Veteran benefits and in filing claims[...]
1:30 pm The Fundamentals of Acrylic Pain... @ Art in the Valley
The Fundamentals of Acrylic Pain... @ Art in the Valley
Oct 25 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
The Fundamentals of Acrylic Painting - Fall 2019 @ Art in the Valley
This class will focus on proven approaches for successful acrylic paintings. Subject matter will be the student’s choice. No previous painting experience with acrylics necessary. The class will introduce students to fundamental concepts of color[...]
9:00 am Walk to End Alzheimer’s @ Museum of the Shenandoah Valley
Walk to End Alzheimer’s @ Museum of the Shenandoah Valley
Oct 26 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Walk to End Alzheimer's @ Museum of the Shenandoah Valley
Join the Northern Shenandoah Valley Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s Together, we can provide care and support to improve the lives of Americans affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia (including family, friends, and caregivers), and[...]