On December 21, 2021, Governor Ralph Northam continued Virginia’s public education campaign and enforcement effort to spread awareness and deter drunk driving during the holiday season. The Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign combines law enforcement with research-based messaging to remind Virginians to make responsible decisions when drinking.
“Keep your family, your community, and yourself safe by not drinking and driving this holiday season,” said Governor Northam. “You can always designate a sober driver, call a taxi, or use public transportation and rideshare services. We owe our thanks to law enforcement professionals for keeping people safe this holiday season. Together, we can reduce impaired driving and save lives.”
In 2020, Virginia lost 272 lives in alcohol-related crashes. Since Checkpoint Strikeforce’s inaugural campaign in 2001, alcohol-related crashes have decreased 41.2 percent, fatalities have decreased by 24 percent, and injuries have decreased by half.
“The holidays traditionally pose an increased risk for fatalities involving alcohol-impaired driving,” said Richard D. Holcomb, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “Our goal is to ensure each and every Virginian gets home safely to their families this holiday season. Between Thanksgiving 2020 and New Year’s Day 2021 alone, 14 Virginians lost their lives in alcohol-related crashes. Our message is simple: as you celebrate with loved ones this holiday season, don’t put lives at risk by getting behind the wheel after drinking.”
Virginia State Police will work through the holidays as part of Operation CARE – the Crash Awareness Reduction Effort. CARE is a nationwide, state-sponsored traffic safety program that aims to reduce traffic crashes, fatalities, and injuries caused by impaired driving, speeding, and failing to use seatbelts.
116 Virginia law enforcement agencies will participate in the holiday wave of Virginia’s Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign from December 15 through New Year’s Day. Law enforcement officers will increase the police presence in high-risk areas and establish 55 sobriety checkpoints across the Commonwealth.
Complementing the high visibility enforcement, Checkpoint Strikeforce is running a surround-sound ad campaign called “Act Like It.” The campaign reminds viewers that drinking and driving are irresponsible—if you are old enough to drink, act like it. Get a safe ride home. To review alternative transportation options and to see the 30-second ad, visit www.ActLikeIt.org.
About Checkpoint Strikeforce
Checkpoint Strikeforce—which is marking its 20th year in 2021—is a research-based, zero-tolerance initiative within the Mid-Atlantic states designed to get drunk drivers off our roads via sobriety checkpoints and other law enforcement efforts. The initiative also seeks to spread the word about the dangers and consequences of drunk driving—particularly to men between the ages of 21 and 35, who are statistically at the highest risk for driving under the influence.
The 2023 Front Royal Chocolate Crawl starts Monday, February 6th
Calling all chocolate lovers. This is an event you don’t want to miss. The 2023 Front Royal Chocolate Crawl starts Monday, February 6th, and runs all week to Valentine’s Day on the 14th.
For every 2023 Chocolate Crawl Commemorative Ornament you buy, you will be automatically entered into our drawing for an amazing Valentine’s Day Gift Basket. Pickup the ornament (which smells like chocolate) at the following locations:
- White Picket Fence
- I Want Candy
- C&C Frozen Treats
The Ornament is $5, and the profits go to charity.
So, what is a Chocolate Crawl? Watch the video and find out and join the Facebook Event Page too.
Deputies rescue suspected impaired driver from pond after crash
At approximately 11am today, the Frederick County Emergency Communications Center received a 9-1-1 call stating that a SUV had driven off the roadway and into a pond in the area of Papermill Rd. and Harrsion Ln. The caller stated the driver was still in the vehicle and was not moving.
Deputies arriving first on the scene observed the vehicle, partially submerged in the water up to it’s hood, and could see the driver slumped over the wheel. Deputy Jason Hawse and Deputy Nick Dempsey removed their outer vests and gun belts and entered the frigid water to assist the unconscious subject. With outside temps of 27 degrees, and windchill making it feel more like 13 degrees, Hawse and Dempsey worked quickly, in the chest-high water, breaking the windows on the vehicle and pulling the subject out. Once getting the male driver to land, one dose of Narcan was administered and the subject regained consciousness a few moments later.
The driver, identified as Michael Surgent, 35, of Mechanicsville, Va. was immediately attended to by deputies awaiting EMTs to medically evaluate him for exposure. Based on witness statements, and evidence recovered later from the vehicle, it is believed that Surgent was “huffing” chemicals from aerosol cans resulting in his losing consciousness, and proper control of his vehicle. Surgent was taken to Winchester Medical Center and held for further medical evaluations. He has been charged with huffing chemicals, reckless driving and driving under the influence.
All deputies were checked on scene and cleared for duty, once out of their wet uniforms and warmed back up. Sheriff Lenny Millholland is both pleased with, and proud of, the swift and selfless actions taken by his personnel, saying “This could have been much worse and we are thankful that no one was seriously injured in this incident”.
Show our community some love: Warren Coalition’s LOVE sign hits the road
From February 6th through March 31st, Warren Coalition’s LOVE sign will travel about Warren County to raise awareness and create community connections.
Businesses and organizations are invited to host the LOVE sign, free of charge, and collect notes of appreciation, encouragement, and affirmation for a group of their choosing. For example, they could collect notes for teachers, sanitation workers, housekeepers, mechanics, or nurses. Or they could collect notes for a specific place, such as a hospital, a nonprofit organization, or a school. It must be a group within Warren County, and it should be a group that is not part of the business/organization—for example, a school should not collect notes for its own teachers/employees.
The sign can be reserved for a single event, or a period of time up to one week. Afterwards, the business/organization can deliver the notes to their selected group, or Warren Coalition will deliver them on their behalf.
This campaign is part of the larger “We See You You, Warren County” movement, a grassroots resilience movement designed to develop a more connected community where everyone feels like they belong.
Anyone interested in hosting the sign should contact Celeste Brooks, Community Outreach Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-660-3367.
More about the We See You, Warren County Campaign
We See You, Warren County is about seeing and acknowledging each individual within Warren County, whether they live, work, or play here. It is a grassroots campaign designed to foster community connection and improve community resilience, which are key foundational components in preventing drug and alcohol misuse. We See You, Warren County participants are encouraged to share their experiences on social media using the hashtag #WeCUWC. Organizations and individuals that register receive a window cling to show they are participating. The program now has more than 200 registered partners, and over 1,000 Facebook members. Sign-ups are ongoing. Go to weseeyou.warrencoalition.org to learn more, or to officially sign up yourself, your family, or your business or organization. You can also join the Facebook group at facebook.com/groups/wecuwc.
In addition, the Warren Coalition features individuals of the Warren County community on the “We See You” website, and on the Warren Coalition social media accounts. People do not have to be registered members to be featured. Anyone who lives, works, or plays in Warren County can submit a profile on the We See You website.
About Warren Coalition
Warren Coalition is a nonprofit agency established in 1994 to help fill the gaps in health care and substance misuse awareness to the community. The Coalition began under the guidance of Warren Memorial Hospital as an outreach project, but it has since grown and was incorporated in 2001. The office is located in the Warren County Community Center. Their mission is to make Warren County a safe, healthy, and drug-free community through many programs and in collaboration with 15+ member agencies.
Ressie Jefferies Elementary School on a mission to teach kids how to ride a bike
The Royal Examiner went on a field trip to Ressie Jefferies Elementary School this week to see how they teach kindergarten kids to ride a bike. It was quite a sight to see. So “precious” was a comment we heard.
Physical Education teacher Nick Simmons explained the process and how the program began at Ressie.
So, what is this program all about?
This is a national movement led by the Strider Education Foundation to place Kindergarten PE Learn-To-Ride Programs into public schools for free, using donations from individuals, businesses, and organizations.
Learning to ride a bike builds the confidence that changes everything, including balance and muscle strength. It also improves children’s health, including cardiovascular, motor skills, coordination, weight management, skeletal development, and the immune system.
Robotic field painter, senior center patio among School Board approvals
The Warren County School Board, during its Wednesday, February 1 meeting, unanimously approved several action items, including the purchase of a robotic athletic field painter, a senior center patio, an IT construction proposal, and another school bus purchase.
School Board Chair Kristen Pence, Vice Chair Ralph Rinaldi, and board members Antoinette Funk, Andrea Lo, and Melanie Salins voted 5-0 to approve the collaborative purchase of a robotic field painter. The total cost of $45,080 — which will be paid over a six-year period at $7,513 each year — will be divided equally between the Warren County Public Schools (WCPS) Facilities Department, Skyline High School, and Warren County High School. Each will pay $2,504 yearly to Tiny Mobile Robots USA, LLC.
An additional appropriation is not required as budgets for these departments can cover the annual expense, according to WCPS staff, who told the School Board that the purchase is considered the best option for efficiently using school district manpower and will produce an annual cost saving on paint.
The School Board also voted unanimously to approve a patio for the new Warren County Senior Center being built at its 15th Street school property, which is officially known as the Warren County Health and Human Services Complex. WCPS sublets roughly 59,010 square feet at the former 15th Street Middle School facility to the Warren County Department of Social Services, the County’s Health Department, and the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging, among others.
Taryn Logan, Deputy County Administrator for Warren County, presented details on the proposed patio, noting that the lease agreement requires the School Board to approve any exterior renovations in advance in writing.
“We’re currently making improvements to the cafeteria space to move the senior center from its current location, which is by Chimney Fields, to this location,” Logan said.
There is a grassy area right outside the cafeteria doors where the patio, a stone sign that will say Warren County Senior Center, and a metal fence to enclose the area will be located, said Logan. “We think it’ll be a nice little area for the seniors to enjoy outside,” she said.
In another action, the School Board unanimously passed a request for another school bus purchase from Sonny Merryman Bus Co. costing $127,509. The bus will be manufactured and delivered along with the seven current buses on order. All vehicles are scheduled to be ready before the 2023-2024 school year, according to WCPS Assistant Superintendent of Administration George “Buck” Smith.
Smith said the board also authorized the superintendent to make the bus purchase request to the Warren County Board of Supervisors, which would have to modify the amount on the existing purchase order.
Additionally, a $160,929 network wiring project at Leslie Fox Keyser Elementary School was approved for Syntax Communications.
“As part of the LFK construction project, the network cabling needs to be updated to meet the current technology needs of the modern school system,” WCPS Technology Director Tim Grant told board members, adding that the cost will be paid out of the LFK construction funds and was bid through the Warren County government IT contract.
A.S. Rhodes Elementary School received an award for having a 95.38 percent attendance rate during the month of January, Ballenger said. Incentives to ramp up attendance at the school included extra gym time, cookie decorating, and class option choices such as dance parties and having lunch with a teacher in the classroom.
Warren County Middle School won for the second time in a row with a 92.21 percent attendance rate for January. Incentives included a snowball fight, watching a movie with their friends, and earning a trophy.
The most improved for January was Hilda J. Barbour Elementary School, which saw attendance rise 2.84 percent for an overall 93.1 percent attendance rate in January, according to Ballenger. Fun incentives included popsicles with the principal for the class having the best attendance on any given day.
Front Royal Presbyterian Church holds open conversation regarding Thermal Shelter
On January 30, 2023, the Front Royal Presbyterian Church held a ‘question and answer’ session at the church regarding the Thermal Shelter. The 2022/2023 season of the Thermal Shelter is being held at the Front Royal Presbyterian Church. Several neighbors are concerned about the Thermal Shelter and its operation. Pastor Carrie Evans moderated the conversation, along with Michelle Smelter and several shelter board members, to answer questions.
The shelters will operate from December 17, 2022, to March 31, 2023, from 6:00 pm to 7:00 am daily.
Watch this exclusive Royal Examiner video.