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.
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.
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.
Lifeguards sought to allow Community Pool to Open on schedule Memorial Day weekend; Splash Pad opens May 28
Claude A Stokes, Jr. Community Swimming Pool 2022 Opening:
Due to insufficient staffing, the Claude A Stokes, Jr. Community Swimming Pool is unable to open as scheduled on Memorial Day weekend, Saturday, May 28, 2022 through Monday, May 30, 2022. The pool is scheduled to open for its regular season, Monday, June 6, 2022. We will continue our efforts to obtain more staff and reevaluate the season opening prior to that date.
If you are interested in applying for a lifeguard position, please contact us at 540-635-1021 or visit www.warrencountyva.net/employment-opportunities to complete an application online.
Please continue to check the Warren County website and the Warren County Parks and Recreation Department’s Facebook page for any additional updates, as we will send out more information in June.
Warren County Splash Pad 2022 Opening:
The Warren County Parks and Recreation Department is delighted to announce the Warren County Splash Pad at Dr. Saul Seide Memorial Gardens Memorial Park will open for the 2022 season, on Saturday, May 28, 2022. Please review the rules and regulations posted at the site before using the Splash Pad.
The Splash Pad is located behind the Raymond E. Santmyers Youth Center at 200 East 8th Street, in the Dr. Saul Seide Memorial Gardens Park.
The Splash Pad will be open for water fun from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily (weather permitting). Please check the Warren County website and the Warren County Parks and Recreation Department’s Facebook page for any additional updates.
For additional information please contact the Parks and Recreation Administrative Office at (540) 635-7750.
Warren County High School: Spring Concert
On Sunday, May 22, 2022, the Warren County Music Department presented its Spring Concert, featuring the Jazz Band and High School Symphonic Band. David Dingess, Band Director, conducted both bands and played drums on a few pieces.
Dingess said, ” I want to thank the seniors for their work, dedication, and understanding during difficult times that in a way robbed us of this special time together, but they made the most of it. Thank you.”
He continued his thanks for the administration’s support throughout the year and the custodial staff who helped keep the building clean and in good shape for events like today. He also included the Band Boosters for their hard work and financial support. A special thanks to Ken and Donna Evans for their efforts in assisting with the fundraising for new marching uniforms.
Dingess ended his thanks with, “I would especially like to thank my wife for all her help and support. Without her, I would not be able to do what I do.” (Sounds like true love.)
Members of the Jazz Band include:
Heath Coe, Brady Donahue, Jim Farris, Daniel Flores, Andrew Grant, Kathleen Grant, Matthew Grant, Jaula Hodges, Trestyn Muterspaw, Margaret Plosh, Mason Polk, Katrina Richi, and Ward Sebastian.
Performance selections included:
Chattanooga Choo-Choo, My Funny Valentine, Moondance, a solo drum performance Drum Corp on Parade, Pratt (by James Riggs II), El Gato Gordo, Over the Rainbow, and Rock This Town.
Members of the High School Symphonic Band include:
Jason Becker, Kaydria Bennett, Morgan Brown, Heath Coe, James Crowell, Brady Donahue, Jim Farris, Daniel Flores, Andrew Grant, Kathleen Grant, Matthew Grant, Jayla Hodges, Devin Inlow-Mercier, Avayda Kemp, Arthur Kresge, Nicodemus Kozhenevsky, Savannah Mitchell, Trestyn Muterspaw, Connor Payne, Abigail Plosch, Margaret Plosch, Mason Polk, Katrina Riehl, James Riggs II, Sebastian Ward, and Tristan Wright.
Performance selections included:
Courage March, a solo performance of Yellow After The Rain, Mitchell Peters (by James Riggs II), Wyndham Variations, Legend of Knife River, Ludlows, a solo piano solo by Margaret Plosch, and Maelstrom.
Wine & Crafts Festival returns from 2-year COVID break into a Spring heatwave
On a steamy Saturday, May 21st, Front Royal welcomed the annual Chamber of Commerce sponsored Wine & Craft Festival back after a two-year absence due to COVID-19 pandemic precautions.
An impressive array of booths highlighting that two-pronged theme stretched up and down East Main and Chester Streets in the town’s Historic Downtown Business District to the delight of a throng of hearty “winers” and arts and crafts fans of all ages.
A live musical accompaniment was kicked off by Leesburg-based Jumptown, with frontman Michael Gauvreau leading the band through an impressive array of Soul, Rhythm & Blues, and Blues tunes that kept the crowd on its collective “good foot.” Mandatory Fun would be a later musical theme.
And if you didn’t want to risk mixing wine with the Weather Alert heat soaring into the mid-90s, there were also a variety of concessions and cooling liquids of the non-alcoholic variety available as well. So, if you missed it, or even if you didn’t but want a little reminder of the good time you had in the comfort of your air-conditioned abode, relax and take a visual tour of the Wine & Crafts Festival 2022 below.
Memorial Day weekend ‘double header’ honors the dogs of war and local police K-9s day before downtown Memorial Day ceremonies
Memorial Day weekend in Front Royal will feature separate ceremonies this year honoring the dead of all wars at the Warren County Courthouse grounds on East Main Street and the dogs of war that protected American servicemen and women in those conflicts, as well as local law enforcement K-9 teams, at a newly installed “Garden of Remembrance” at the Julia Wagner Animal Shelter at 1245 Progress Drive in the Happy Creek Commercial Park off Shenandoah Shores Road.
The K-9 ceremony is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday, May 29, and the downtown tribute to the fallen will begin at noon on Monday, May 30, on the courthouse lawn.
The twin tribute to the military working dogs (MWDs) and those K-9s on duty with local law enforcement is likely a first for the Shenandoah Valley. Front Royal re-established its downtown Memorial Day ceremony a decade or more ago, with veterans Robert MacDougall (U.S. Marine Corps) and Malcolm Barr Sr. (Royal Air Force – UK) taking the helm and attracting crowds up to 300 for the annual salute, including to America’s war dogs, at the Gazebo.
Barr, a military reporter in the mid-Pacific during the Vietnam War, stumbled on a military dog cemetery on the Pacific island of Guam in the 1960s, vowing at that time to gain more recognition and home life after completing their missions for the military dogs.
Barr is a past president of the Humane Society of Warren County (HSWC) and said: “I always thought it appropriate for the dogs to have their own memorial, particularly when we came to Warren County to live in retirement 20 years ago and found that the first K-9s of World War II were trained in Front Royal in 1942. I am grateful to the HSWC, which last year provided a small parcel of land at the shelter upon which, last year, we had constructed a “garden of remembrance” to last in perpetuity, a site upon which to honor the dogs for their service.”
The former RAF NCO thereupon provided the funding for the development of a garden carved from the shelter grounds last fall and the installation of a life-sized German Shepherd statue, which arrived at the site, appropriately, on Nov. 11, 2021.
Meghan Bowers, HSWC executive director, said at the time: “I just love to have such an important memorial to the bravery, companionship, and accomplishment of dogs here at the shelter. There is nothing as special as the dedication and love of a dog (or cat), and we are so proud to have such a beautiful reminder to see every day.” Wreaths provided by Fussell Florist will be laid at both locations.
At Monday’s Memorial Day Ceremony, Front Royal will pay tribute to our nation’s fallen service members from noon to 1:00 pm on the front lawn of the Warren County Courthouse. Front Royal Memorial Day co-chair, Marine Reserve Lt. Col. Robert MacDougall noted, “This solemn ceremony each year is an opportunity for our local community to pause, reflect and take stock in the tremendous sacrifice that has been made by our fallen service members and their families to maintain our nation’s freedom.”
The ceremony will include a flag detail comprised of cadets from Randolph-Macon Academy, remarks from the Commemoration chairs and guest of honor, and a tribute to service members from Front Royal/Warren County that have made the ultimate sacrifice in service of the United States. All residents are encouraged to attend as a way of honoring the meaning behind the nation’s annual Memorial Day tribute.
The American Legion Community Band will be holding a concert at the Town Commons-Gazebo at 7:00 pm.
Early voting underway for June 21 Republican Primary
Early voting is underway for the 6th Congressional District’s Republican primary, which is scheduled for June 21. The general election is on Nov. 8.
With Virginia’s recent redistricting, Frederick and Clarke Counties, along with the City of Winchester, are no longer in the 10th District but have become a part of the 6th District. The 6th District now comprises the Northern Shenandoah Valley and runs along the I-81 corridor to Roanoke.
Early voting began May 8 and is available from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on weekdays at the Warren County Office of Elections and Voter Registration located in the Warren County Health and Human Services Complex, at 465 W. 15th Street, Suite 800 in Front Royal. Drop boxes for early voting will be available at her office from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on weekdays.
Warren County Registrar Carol L. Tobin stated in an email Wednesday that “to date, Warren County has not had many voters turn out to take advantage of Early Voting in the 6th Congressional Republican Party Primary.”
She said that in addition to the weekday hours, her office will be open for voting on the two Saturdays before the primary — June 11 and 18 — from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Tobin noted that the Office of Elections will be closed on May 30, 2022, in observance of Memorial Day.
On Election Day, drop boxes will be available at each polling location. Ballots will be accepted in person until 7:00 pm on June 21. Mailed ballots will be accepted until noon on Friday, June 24, if they are postmarked by June 21.
Voters can register online here: Citizen Portal – Virginia Department of Elections or register at their local voter registration office.
To register in Virginia, one must:
• Be a resident of Virginia (a person who has come to Virginia for temporary purposes and intends to return to another state is not considered a resident for voting purposes).
• Be a U. S. Citizen.
• Be 18 years old (any person who is 17 years old and will be eighteen years of age at the next general election shall be permitted to register in advance and also vote in any intervening primary or special election).
• Not be registered and plan to vote in another state.
• Not currently declared mentally incompetent by a court of law.
• If convicted of a felony, your right to vote must have been restored.
For more information about voter registration, contact Carol L. Tobin, Warren County Director of Elections & General Registrar at (540) 635-4327.
VDOT: Warren County Traffic alert for May 23-27, 2022
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 or revised entry since last week’s report.
*UPDATE* Mile marker 0 to 15, eastbound and westbound – Right shoulder closures for utility work from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm through June 25th.
*UPDATE* Mile marker 8 to 7, westbound – Right lane closures for utility work, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm through June 25th.
*UPDATE* Mile marker 11 to 12, eastbound – Single lane closures for inspection of bridge over Manassas Run and Route 647 (Dismal Hollow Road), Tuesday and Wednesday from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm.
*NEW* Mile marker 299 to 300, northbound and southbound – Overnight alternating lane closures for mowing operations, Monday through Thursday nights from 8:00 pm to 6:00 am.
*NEW* Mile marker 299 to 300, northbound and southbound – Right shoulder closures for mowing and litter pickup, Monday through Friday from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm.
Mile marker 299 to 300, northbound and southbound – Overnight alternating lane closures for soil and rock testing, 8:00 pm to 7:00 am through the night of June 2nd.
Mile marker 299 to 300, northbound and southbound – No lane closures, but survey work in the right-of-way, 9:30 am to 3:30 pm through June 3rd.
Mile marker 300 to 299, southbound – Right shoulder closures for utility work, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm through June 25th.
*NEW* Route 340 (Stonewall Jackson Highway) – Overnight shoulder closures for vegetation control between Clarke County line and Route 661 (Fairground Road), Wednesday night from 7:00 pm to 5:00 am.
No lane closures were reported.
Various roads – Flagger traffic control for utility tree trimming, weekdays 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.