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Tuesday night fire destroys Browntown garage, sends one to local hospital

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Photo courtesy of Warren County Fire Department

At 7:09 PM on October 8, 2019, Warren County Fire and Rescue Units, along with Warren County Sheriff’s Deputies, responded to 80 Smelser Lane in the Browntown area of Warren County for a reported residential house fire with multiple people entrapped.

Upon arriving on the scene, firefighters were able to confirm a detached two-car garage was fully involved with fire spreading to the adjoining single-family home and shed. The occupants of the home were unable to escape, as their normal entrance was blocked by the radiant heat produced by the fire, and the secondary exits were blocked with furniture. While the adjoining home and shed received damages, firefighters were able to remove the occupant(s) from the home within minutes and began fire suppression activities. The other occupant, who was inside the garage at the time of the fire, was injured when escaping the fire through an open window. Firefighters were able to contain the blaze within 38 minutes of being reported.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the Warren County Fire Marshal’s Office and the Warren County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division. Anyone with additional information regarding this incident is asked to contact Fire Marshal Gerry Maiatico at 540-636-3830, or Investigator Scott Baker with the Sheriff’s Office at 540-635-7100 or 540-635-4128.

Fire Chief Richard E. Mabie stated “this is a prime example why everyone in our community should take time this Fire Prevention Week to practice their fire escape plan.” This incident could have quickly resulted in the “unthinkable.” For more information on how to improve the fire safety in your home, visit www.warrencountyfire.com.

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Governor Northam declares State of Emergency and authorizes assistance to localities; curfew in the City of Richmond

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Governor Ralph Northam today, May 31, 2020, declared a state of emergency and authorized assistance to localities in response to escalating violence across the Commonwealth. The Governor granted a request from Mayor Levar Stoney to extend a curfew in the City of Richmond.

“This emergency declaration will provide the necessary support to localities as they work to keep our communities safe, said Governor Northam. “There are many voices speaking out for justice and healing across the United States and in our Commonwealth, but others are exploiting this pain and inciting violence.”

A state of emergency allows the Commonwealth to mobilize resources, including the Virginia National Guard, and preposition people and equipment to assist localities in their efforts to deescalate violent protests and protect public safety.

The declaration allocates $350,000 for state and local governments and state response and recovery operations authorized and coordinated through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

The order extends a curfew in the City of Richmond between the hours of 8:00 PM and 6:00 AM from Sunday, May 31, 2020, through Wednesday, June 3, 2020. While the curfew is in effect, people must remain in their homes and may only leave to seek emergency services or travel to and from home, work, or places of worship.

The full text of the emergency declaration can be found here.

Governor Ralph Northam also issued the following statement about protests in the City of Richmond.

“I acknowledge each of the voices crying out for justice and healing across the United States and in our Commonwealth. I affirm the deep concerns from the black community.

“I hear you. I know your pain is real. We have all seen too many people harassed, abused, and killed by law enforcement officers, in too many places, for too long—just for being black. I also know that others are exploiting this pain and are now causing violence.

“I spoke with Mayor Levar Stoney throughout the night; pursuant to the Mayor’s requests, I have authorized a curfew in Richmond and placed the Virginia National Guard on alert. They stand ready to assist in protecting our residents, businesses, especially small and black-owned businesses, and the capital city.

“As Governor of Virginia, I call on all Virginians to join together and build a renewed commitment to working for justice and fair treatment.”

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VDOT: Warren County Traffic alert for – June 1-5, 2020

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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 entry or a revised entry since last week’s report…

INTERSTATE 66
No lane closures reported.

INTERSTATE 81
No lane closures reported.

PRIMARY ROADS
No lane closures reported.

SECONDARY ROADS
*NEW* Route 619 (Mountain Road) – Closed for pipe replacement between Route 615 (Wakemans Mill Road) and Route 626 (Steed Lane), 8 a.m. Monday to 4 p.m. Friday. Follow posted detour.

*UPDATE* Various roads – Flagger traffic control for utility tree trimming, Monday to Friday 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 http://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 https://my.vdot.virginia.gov/. Agents are available 24 hours-a-day, seven days a week.

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Update on train derailment: ‘hazardous material’ cars removed from scene

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Early Friday evening Warren County Fire Marshal Gerry Maiatico responded to Royal Examiner’s inquiry on details of the train derailment in the Linden area of eastern Warren County that morning. Maiatico said that “proper authorities”, likely as in a national and/or state transportation oversight agency, would conduct the accident investigation, so declined to theorize on a cause of the derailment.

Royal Examiner is awaiting a response from Norfolk Southern Railroad on a request for additional information on the accident investigation and cleanup of the scene.

As for the number of involved railcars, the county fire marshal explained, “The train consisted of five locomotives and 44 railcars. The five locomotives carry a large quantity of fuel and various other fluids that can be potentially hazardous when released. The fuel tanks and other containers holding liquids in the locomotives remained intact and did not rupture in the derailment.”

As can be seen in Royal Examiner’s exclusive video of the accident scene, while derailed the five-unit train engine complex remained upright.

In these still images from our video at scene, above, you can see the slightly listing lead engine and trailing locomotive cars remaining upright though derailed; below, a closer look at the start of the derailment behind the engine apparatus. Royal Examiner Video/Mark Williams

“Of the 14 cars that left the track, all but two were empty. The two with cargo consisted of a wood and plastic product,” Maiatico added.

As to the “limited hazardous materials” reported to have been carried by railcars not involved in the derailment, Maiatico said, “Several cars that remained on the track behind the 14 derailed cars were transporting various materials meeting the classification of hazardous. These cars have been removed from the area by disconnecting and transporting away on the unaffected track.”

We will continue to update this story as additional information becomes available through investigative agencies and Norfolk Southern Railroad.

Sheriff’s Office adds to train derailment information; Route 55 could be closed various times over the weekend

No injuries or immediate threat determined from Linden train derailment

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Victory Garden Update

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About two weeks ago, volunteers from our community planted the first Victory Garden here in Front Royal. Our publisher Mike McCool stopped by the garden Saturday, May 30, 2020 to check on the progress. He spoke with Fern Vasquez one of the organizers of the Victory Garden.

The volunteers have formed an organization called CHEO. It stands for Citizens Helping Each Other. Click here to reach their Facebook page.

CHEO is looking for volunteers to water and weed in the garden. You must have a signed waiver on file to volunteer in the garden. Waiver forms are available at Fussell Florists or by e-mailing CHEOcommunitygarden@gmail.com.

Community gardens help everyone of all ages to come together, participate, contribute, and get a sense of pride in helping one another. CHEO (Citizens Helping Each Other) Front Royal is a group of citizens, working with the support of the County leadership, to help our neighbors in need and promote unity in our community. 2020 sees the launch of the Pandemic Victory Garden Program. CHEO is not a program of local government. CHEO is an alliance of private citizens and community service groups.


See the first story on our Community Victory Garden.

Local volunteers start community Victory Garden to support area food banks

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Sheriff’s Office adds to train derailment information; Route 55 could be closed various times over the weekend

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A Warren County Sheriff’s Office Press Release on the Linden train derailment was distributed from the County Administration Office at 12:19 p.m. Friday. That release presented some seemingly contradictory information on the number of train cars being pulled by the involved five-locomotive engine apparatus. The sheriff’s office release cited 12 cars, as opposed to the 50 mentioned, with 14 leaving the tracks, in an “Incident Report” posted earlier on the Warren County Fire & Rescue Facebook page.

Calls to the Sheriff’s Office and Fire & Rescue to attempt to clarify the discrepancy prior to publication were unsuccessful.

Sheriff Butler asks that drivers consider using an alternate route instead of Route 55 toward Linden. Watch for detours and stopped traffic in that area.

Here is the WCSO release in its entirety:

“An inter-agency response that included members from the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, Warren County Fire & Rescue, Virginia State Police (VSP), and Norfolk Southern Railroad (NSR) occurred on Friday, May 29, 2020 at approximately 8:52 AM due to a train derailment.

“The train consisted of five locomotives and twelve cars, mostly empty at the time of the incident. No fire or explosion occurred, no hazardous materials were involved, and no injuries were reported. The cause of the incident is undetermined at this time; however, it is under investigation by the VSP and NSR.

“As of 10:15 AM, the derailment did not affect vehicular traffic on major County roads or the interstate. The only affected area consisted of four small roadways in proximity to the incident. These roads are Pickrell Drive, Keyser Wood Lane, Winona Drive, and Red Barn Lane. There are approximately ten residences in that area, all have been notified by the Warren County 911 Center by use of the reverse 911 System and RAVE alert system.

“The time for reopening of all roadways is estimated to be between 08:00 and 10:00 PM this evening. Updates to follow if this time changes.”

See Royal Examiner’s on-site video of the derailed train scene with a related story:

No injuries or immediate threat determined from Linden train derailment

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LFCC virtual commencement scheduled for Saturday, June 6

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LFCC will celebrate its graduates at 1 p.m., Saturday, June 6, with a virtual commencement ceremony. The ceremony will feature the national anthem, remarks from President Kim Blosser, a student speaker, student awards and the conferring of degrees.

LFCC student Rebecca Hoffman will perform the national anthem, which will be followed by remarks from President Blosser and the presentation of the Outstanding Graduate Awards for the Fauquier Campus and the Middletown Campus. A faculty member from each campus will also address the Class of 2020.

Nursing graduate Shannon Weisbrodt is the student commencement speaker. She is also the mother of our 2018 commencement speaker, Morgan Ryan, who is a 2020 graduate of Mary Washington University.

Graduates’ names will scroll across the screen, and throughout the video, photos of those who submitted them will be shown. The college provided free mortarboards and tassels to all those students who RSVP’d to attend the virtual graduation ceremony.

LFC has never had a commencement ceremony like this one before, President Blosser noted.

“The saddest announcement I’ve had to make over the past few months was that we wouldn’t be able to gather together in person to celebrate the most special college event of all – commencement,” she said. “But, despite the physical restrictions, all of us at LFCC have worked hard to create a meaningful way to commemorate your hard work and accomplishments. We hope our graduates will gather together with their loved ones – in person or remotely – to watch the ceremony together. While we won’t be together in person for a traditional commencement ceremony, please know that all the faculty, staff, and your fellow students, are celebrating your accomplishments and wishing you the best.”

The Class of 2020 consists of nearly 1,300 students. Below is the number of graduates per service region:

  • Clarke County, 47
  • Fauquier County, 188
  • Frederick County, 321
  • Page County, 85
  • Rappahannock County, 24
  • Shenandoah County, 160
  • Warren County, 146
  • City of Winchester, 164
  • Other, 161

The ceremony will go live at 1 p.m.,  Saturday, June 6 at www.lfcc.edu/commencement. A recording of the ceremony will also be available on the site for future viewing.

Emma Revis is one of the graduates who submitted a photo for LFCC’s virtual commencement ceremony.

LFCC is also naming two professors emeriti for all they have done to serve the college and its students:

  • Frost McLaughlin, professor of English from 1997-2019
  • Ernest “Ernie” Grisdale, professor of chemistry from 1988-2019

Nursing graduates will have a virtual pinning ceremony that will go live on the site at 1 p.m., Sunday, June 7.

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