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Valley Health receives first COVID-19 vaccine and begins vaccinating frontline caregivers

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Valley Health System received its first shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine this morning and has kicked off vaccination efforts for high risk healthcare workers.

“This was an incredibly exciting and momentous day for our caregivers and for our community,” remarked Iyad Sabbagh, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Valley Health. “Since March, our healthcare workers have been challenged in ways we could not have even imagined a year ago. This vaccine has been the light at the end of the tunnel ever since.”

Valley Health is proceeding expediently to safely distribute and begin administering the vaccine. Within a few hours of receipt at Winchester Medical Center, doses of the frozen vaccine were transported to the system’s hospitals in Front Royal, Woodstock and Luray, Virginia, and by late afternoon, frontline caregivers were being vaccinated. Valley Health’s two West Virginia hospitals will receive and begin vaccinating healthcare workers by Thursday.

Pulmonary and Critical Care physician B. Frank Lewis, MD, was the first to receive the vaccine in Winchester and is recognized as the developer of the “Frank Score,” an indexing tool used by Valley Health caregivers to determine a patient’s potential for progressing into serious illness due to COVID-19. The index score helped Valley Heath staff across its six hospitals care for patients most appropriately.

“I’ve seen first-hand, the devastation that COVID-19 has brought to families and healthcare workers in our community. I am confident today in receiving this vaccine and will encourage everyone who is able to take it when it’s available,” Lewis said. “We have been preparing and training to receive this vaccine for several months. Today is a bright spot in the timeline of our battle with COVID-19 across our community. This is by far the best holiday present we could ask for.”

The initial shipment to Valley Health contains nearly 3,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under Emergency Use Authorization on Friday. Research from the vaccine has shown a 90-95% reduction in the chances of getting COVID-19.

“We’re thrilled with the safety and effectiveness data in the Pfizer study,” said Jeffrey Feit, MD, Valley Health Vice President of Population Health. “But we must continue to make safe decisions as this pandemic is far from over. We encourage you to continue to wear your mask and watch your distance, especially as we celebrate the winter holidays. We are not out of the woods yet.”

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Crime/Court

Warren County Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit assists in arrest after driver flees vehicle

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On February 22, 2021, at approximately 06:41 PM, members of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office Special Problems and Drug Enforcement Unit attempted to stop a vehicle for speeding on Stonewall Jackson Highway. The suspect vehicle failed to yield leading to a pursuit that was terminated on Gooney Manor Loop. After the pursuit was terminated, the suspect vehicle continued to drive recklessly, striking a Sheriff’s Office vehicle.

Due to the reckless and dangerous disregard for persons and property, the pursuit was then reinitiated continuing onto Bentonville Road, where the suspect lost control and wrecked at 07:02 PM. The driver fled the vehicle on foot and the passenger was apprehended at the scene. Warren County Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit consisting of Master Deputy C. Anderson and M. Griffith, along with their canine partners Rooster and Gator, apprehended the driver after a short track where the driver was found hiding in a nearby creek.

Canine partners Rooster and Gator.

The driver, Garland Turner Jr., age 28 was charged with Possession of Schedule I/II, felony eluding, felony hit and run, assault on a law enforcement officer, and driving suspended.

Garland Turner Jr. Photo / RSW Regional Jail

The vehicle owner and passenger, Alicia Knott, age 21 was charged with Possession of Schedule I/II and obstruction of justice.

No one was injured during the incident.

Alicia Knott. Photo / RSW Regional Jail

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Local News

Virginia State Police investigating plane crash in Frederick County

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Virginia State Police Senior Trooper R. Riggs responded to a report of a plane crash in Frederick County. The crash occurred Wednesday, February 24, at 2:22 p.m. near the intersection of Back Mountain Road and Fishel Road.

Photos / Virginia State Police.

The preliminary investigation revealed that a Single Engine Cessna Aircraft suffered engine failure shortly after taking off from Winchester Regional Airport. The aircraft attempted to make an emergency landing in a field and impacted the ground which caused it to overturn.

The pilot, Jonathan D. Behnke, 42, of Mount Airy, MD, suffered minor injuries in the crash and was transported to Winchester Medical Center for treatment.

No one on the ground was injured as a result of the crash.

The FAA and NTSB were notified of the crash.

The crash remains under investigation.

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Local News

New People Inc. service helps the community access internet

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People Incorporated is helping community members who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic access internet service. The agency will set up accounts and pay for six months of internet service for clients who qualify.

Clients can qualify for this service if they have been impacted by the pandemic in some way – through the loss of a job, reduction in hours, the need to school children from home or another impact. Clients must also meet income eligibility, documentation requirements and show a need for internet service.

“Access to the internet is a necessity,” said Angie Groseclose, vice president and chief operating officer at People Inc. “It’s necessary for telehealth appointments, searching for a job and for kids to attend school, and it’s an extra expense that may not be in everyone’s budget. We want to make internet service more accessible for those who need it.”

This service is funded by emergency CARES Act funding and is available to residents in Clarke County, Frederick County, Page County, Shenandoah County and Warren County.

Interested residents can call People Inc. toll-free at 833-962-2039 for more information and to verify eligibility.

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Community Events

Humane Society’s ‘Polar Plunge’ rescheduled to Saturday, March 13

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The Humane Society of Warren County “Polar Plunge” delayed from February 20 due to “too-polar” weather here in northwestern Virginia has been rescheduled to Saturday, March 13 – Don’t worry, it will still be a “Polar Plunge” because it’ll still be winter then, though hopefully for the plungers with a continuation of the current turn toward spring-like 60 degree temperatures! In its inaugural year of 2020, the event became a popular fundraiser supporting the Humane Society’s efforts on behalf of the local animal community and the HSWC’s Julia Wagner Animal Shelter.

As reported in the original press release on the event: this year’s “plunge” is made possible through the sponsorship of City National Bank, Cool Techs Heating and Air, Ellen Aders State Farm, AirPac, MDUB Chauffeur Services and Cavalier Kennels. This year’s event is expected to help raise as much as $12,000 for the Humane Society.

There were 35 plungers initially signed up to take a dip in the icy water, each working to help raise much-needed funds for homeless animals in Warren County. There are 15 new plungers, and 20 returning plungers who will all run into the Culpeper Lake at the 4-H Center, followed by a warm-up at the fire pit.

Polar plungers plunge into last year’s event at the 4-H Center lake in Harmony Hollow in southern Warren County – ‘Baby, it’s cold in there’. Courtesy Photos HSWC

The event team will be ensuring that all CDC Covid-19 guidelines are followed, and masks will be required at this outdoor event.

In 2020, pre-pandemic, the top fundraiser was Molly Llewellyn, who raised over $1,000 for the shelter. There was also an award for best dressed. Both of these awards will be returning for the 2021 event.

The Humane Society of Warren County is a non-profit animal shelter that houses homeless, neglected, abused and unwanted animals. While primarily dealing with cats and dogs, the shelter has also been home to livestock, birds, reptiles and more.

Executive Director Meghan Bowers avoided taking the plunge last year, but is leading the charge into the water in 2021 dressed as a shark, so far raising about $467 from friends and family.

Hot drinks, Strites Donuts and music will keep participants warm during the run up and aftermath of the short but stimulating plunge.

For more information on this event or others, please visit HSWC Events Page.

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Local News

Governor Northam increases capacity limits for outdoor sports and entertainment venues

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On February 24, 2021, Governor Ralph Northam announced that as COVID-19 hospitalizations and infection rates continue to decline and vaccinations rise in Virginia, certain outdoor sports and entertainment venues may begin to operate at increased capacity starting Monday, March 1. He amended Executive Order Seventy-Two with the next steps of the “Forward Virginia” plan to safely and gradually ease public health restrictions while mitigating the spread of the virus.

“Thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of all Virginians, hospitalization and positivity rates across the Commonwealth are the lowest they have been in nearly three months,” said Governor Northam. “As key health metrics show encouraging trends, and we continue to ramp up our vaccination efforts, we can begin to gradually resume certain recreational activities and further reopen sectors of our economy. Even as we take steps to safely ease public health guidelines, we must all remain vigilant, so we can maintain our progress—the more we stay home, mask up, and practice social distancing, the more lives we will save from this dangerous virus.”

The Commonwealth will maintain a Safer at Home strategy with continued strict health and safety protocols including physical distancing, mask-wearing requirements, gathering limits, and business capacity restrictions. The current modified Stay at Home order will expire on February 28, 2021.

Governor Northam is beginning to ease public health restrictions by taking steps to increase capacity limits in outdoor settings, where evidence shows the risk of airborne transmission of COVID-19 is lower. The key changes in the Third Amended Executive Order Seventy-Two include:

• Social gatherings: The maximum number of individuals permitted in a social gathering will increase from 10 to 25 people for outdoor settings, while remaining at 10 persons for indoor settings.

• Entertainment venues: Outdoor entertainment and public amusement venues will be able to operate with up to 1,000 individuals or at 30 percent capacity, whichever is lower. If current trends continue, these venues may be able to operate at 30 percent capacity with no cap on the number of people permitted to attend starting in April. Indoor entertainment and public amusement venues must continue to operate at 30 percent capacity with a cap of 250 people. All entertainment venues were previously limited to a maximum of 250 individuals.

• Dining establishments: The on-site sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol will be permitted until midnight, extended from 10:00 p.m. All restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms still must be closed between midnight and 5:00 a.m.

• Overnight summer camps: As of May 1, overnight summer camps will be able to open with strict mitigation measures in place. Registration can begin now.

The new guidelines will be effective for at least one month and mitigation measures may be eased further if key health metrics continue to improve. Current guidelines for retail businesses, fitness and exercise, large amusement venues, and personal grooming services will remain in place. Individuals are strongly encouraged to continue teleworking if possible.

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Local News

Governor Northam COVID-19 update briefing – February 24, 2021

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Governor Northam joins the Virginia Emergency Support Team to share the latest updates on the COVID-19 response.

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King Cartoons

Front Royal
36°
Mostly Cloudy
6:48am6:02pm EST
Feels like: 36°F
Wind: 0mph S
Humidity: 68%
Pressure: 30.45"Hg
UV index: 0
SatSunMon
63/46°F
57/50°F
54/27°F

Upcoming Events

Feb
27
Sat
6:00 pm Parent’s Night Out @ Code Ninjas
Parent’s Night Out @ Code Ninjas
Feb 27 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Parent's Night Out @ Code Ninjas
Help Code Ninjas Front Royal celebrate our Grand Opening! We are hosting our first Parent’s Night Out! $35 per child, space limited to 5! – Drop them off. Go have fun. Just remember to pick[...]
Mar
1
Mon
9:00 am Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Mar 1 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Free tax preparation will be available again this year through the AARP Tax Aide at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Front Royal, Monday and Wednesday mornings beginning Feb. 15th. To make an appointment, please call[...]
Mar
3
Wed
9:00 am Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Mar 3 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Free tax preparation will be available again this year through the AARP Tax Aide at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Front Royal, Monday and Wednesday mornings beginning Feb. 15th. To make an appointment, please call[...]
Mar
9
Tue
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 9 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]
Mar
13
Sat
10:00 am HSWC Polar Plunge @ Culpeper Lake at the 4-H Center
HSWC Polar Plunge @ Culpeper Lake at the 4-H Center
Mar 13 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
HSWC Polar Plunge @ Culpeper Lake at the 4-H Center
The Humane Society of Warren County “Polar Plunge” delayed from February 20 due to “too-polar” weather here in northwestern Virginia has been rescheduled to Saturday, March 13 – Don’t worry, it will still be a[...]
Mar
16
Tue
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 16 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]
Mar
23
Tue
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 23 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]
Mar
28
Sun
2:00 pm Pictures with the Easter Bunny @ Warren County Community Center
Pictures with the Easter Bunny @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 28 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Pictures with the Easter Bunny @ Warren County Community Center
Come join the staff of Warren County Parks and Recreation and get your picture taken with the Easter Bunny! Pictures will be taken and printed on site; upon departure you will be given an Easter[...]
Mar
30
Tue
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 30 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]
Apr
17
Sat
all-day Shenandoah Epic @ Caroline Furnace
Shenandoah Epic @ Caroline Furnace
Apr 17 all-day
Shenandoah Epic @ Caroline Furnace
This tried and true Epic 24-hour AR will test your biking, paddling, trekking, and navigation skills as you explore two state parks (one of them brand new!) and national forest lands. Join soloists and teams[...]