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.
*UPDATE* Mile marker 1 to 15, eastbound and westbound – Overnight alternating lane closures for maintenance of various bridges, Sunday through Thursday nights from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. through August 7.
No lane closures reported.
No lane closures reported.
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.
Federal dollars approved to super-digitize Warren County Public Schools
The Warren County School Board on Wednesday, October 21 took several actions to help bring Warren County Public Schools (WCPS) further into the Digital Age.
The School Board unanimously approved a total of roughly $559,459 from its share of federally allocated pandemic-relief funds to be allocated to WCPS for advanced-technology temperature scanners and a new camera system for school system buses and cars, increased bandwidth and mobile hotspots for high-speed internet access, and new digital math and science textbooks.
WCPS Transportation Director Aaron Mitchell requested $68,171.82 to purchase 50 new intelligent temperature sensing systems from Gatekeeper Systems Inc., that use infrared health monitoring panels to scan temperatures on a person’s forehead, not a wrist or arm like the competitors’ products, he said.
The cost also covers the installation of the 50 panels in bus stairwells, allowing for contactless operation using artificial intelligence for fast measurements of each rider within two feet.
The funds will come from federal dollars allocated to each state’s education department and then distributed to school districts under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, one of the economic-relief packages authorized by Congress in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
WCPS has received three different CARES Act funding allotments through the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and each comes with varying stipulations, according to Robert Ballentine, WCPS finance director, and clerk of the School Board.
“The total amount is $1,970,364.29,” he wrote the Royal Examiner in an email today. “In addition to this amount, we have received $300,000 in CARES funding from the County for the purchase of tablets for our students. The $1,970,364.29 total includes $916,598.00, which just recently and unexpectedly was given to us by VDOE and must be spent and paid for by December 30, 2020.”
During the meeting, Mitchell also requested $120,255.99 in CARES Act funds for the transportation department to purchase 45 bus camera systems and 15 car camera systems, also from Gatekeeper to replace the current WCPS video system purchased in 2013.
“The current three-camera system is having repeated hard drive and viewing failures,” Mitchell explained to School Board members during their Wednesday meeting and work session. “The proposed system has five cameras and can be expanded to include additional technologies in the future.”
The Gatekeeper system also will allow for accurate data to be collected for contact tracing in case there’s a COVID-19 outbreak that occurs in a school system vehicle, said Mitchell, adding that the camera system will allow WCPS to determine where students are sitting and if mitigation strategies are in place.
“The viewing capabilities are far superior to our current abilities allowing for improved documentation of events that may occur on the bus,” Mitchell said. “This request also includes upgrading the camera systems in the County cars used for student transport.”
Warren County School Board Chairman Arnold Williams Jr., Vice Chairwoman Catherine Bower, and members James Wells, Kristen Pence, and Ralph Rinaldi voted to approve both requests.
School Board members also voted 5-0 to approve two requests from WCPS Technology Director Timothy Grant. The first is a $38,400 contract with Shenandoah Telecommunications Company (Shentel) that will allow WCPS to increase network bandwidth to 10 Gigabits per second (Gbps). Shentel currently provides internet access to WCPS at 1 Gbps. “Due to the current need of virtual learning for teachers and students, as well as the need to filter the internet through our network, we need to increase our bandwidth,” Grant said.
The second request from Grant that received board approval was $92,349.45 for the technology department to purchase mobile hotspots from two separate mobile carriers — AT&T and T-Mobile — that will provide high-speed internet to students homes that do not currently have it. “It is recommended students should have 15 Mbps per student in any given household in order to effectively participate in online learning,” Grant said.
Next up on its action agenda was a request from WCPS Director of Secondary Instruction Alan Fox, who proposed the School Board approved $240,282.04 for WCPS to buy digital textbooks for Math 6, 7, 8, Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Calculus, Science 6, Physical Science, Anatomy, and Physiology.
“We would like to provide digital textbook access and additional textbooks for our students,” Fox said. “Due to mitigation strategies, our former standard operating procedure of having classroom sets of textbooks is no longer an option.”
Fox said WCPS also has textbooks that do not have the digital access component, requiring the school district to buy additional textbooks. “Warren County Schools believes in equitable access to learning for all students and this will help us to ensure equity within the county,” he said.
The School Board voted 5-0 to authorize the purchase and in its final related action item, unanimously approved a request by Lisa Rudacille, WCPS director of elementary instruction, to accept a list of members to the proposed 2020 Math Textbook Review Committee.
“Because teachers’ instruction has had to change so drastically in recent months due to the impact of Covid-19, and the switch to hybrid and virtual instruction, it is the desire of our central office instructional staff and elementary administrators to review our adopted math textbook series prior to the normal adoption cycle to ensure our teachers have access to the most appropriate materials for math instruction for both in-person and virtual students,” Rudacille said. “According to our textbook adoption policy, the School Board must approve a committee to review potential textbooks.”
During the School Board’s work session portion of its meeting, members heard from WCPS elementary school students and principals, who reported on the start of the 2020-2021 school year during a pandemic. High school and middle school principals and students made their reports during the board’s October 7 meeting.
At A.S. Rhodes Elementary School, for example, Principal Lori Layman said there are two teachers who provide virtual specials four days a week for art, music, and Fun Fridays, which have included science experiments and virtual field trips. The teachers work virtually, and their classes are shown to students attending school in person and remotely, she said.
“I think our students are enjoying it,” Layman said, “because our teachers, in about a 30-minute break, are able to have the kids do something that is fun, enjoyable and adds a little bit of normalcy to their day.”
The student explained that each day students get a 20-minute movement break. Goodwin called it a good way to get the kids outside and moving to exercise their bodies and brains since students are sitting a lot more due to COVID-19 health restrictions. He added that the teachers have been creative in incorporating PE requirements into the movement breaks.
Ressie Jeffries Elementary School Principal Nina Helmick also brought a 4th-grade student to the School Board meeting. The principal said that one of the hurdles that students have had to overcome, particularly the little ones, is to get them to social distance.
The student, who wore a green t-shirt emblazoned with a large white paw print of their school mascot, the Jaguar, said such symbols are placed around the school so students know where to go when they get off the bus or are headed to a classroom, and they’re placed six-feet apart to designate the correct amount of social distancing.
Nikki Taubenberger, principal at Hilda J. Barbour Elementary School, brought a 5th-grader with her to talk about what it’s like to spend his last year of elementary school at a middle school, which is where all WCPS 5th graders attend classes during the pandemic to allow more space at the lower-grade schools.
D.J. shared the pros and cons of his situation with the School Board members, telling them the middle school cafeteria food “is a little bit better,” but “missing out on traditional 5th-grade activities” at his elementary school is kind of a bummer.
Leslie Fox Keyser Elementary School Principal Danelle Sperling had a slide presentation showing what a typical day is like for virtual students, who account for 40 percent of this year’s student population at the school. All teachers are using the Schoology learning platform for instruction, she said, showing examples of what the online classes look like, how instruction might be presented, and how students are engaged in course instruction.
Sperling also brought along Anthony, a 3rd-grade virtual student, who ran through the timeline of attending school online, which he said he likes.
“It sounds like you have to be pretty disciplined to do each step in your day,” School Board member Wells said to Anthony. “Do you find that hard to do or is that something that has become routine for you?”
“It’s something that has become routine for me,” the student answered.
Watch this exclusive Royal Examiner video to catch the meeting in its entirety.
Governor Northam signs new laws to support COVID-19 response, reform policing
Governor Ralph Northam on October 21, 2020, announced he has signed 16 new laws and proposed changes to five bills that will support the Commonwealth’s ongoing COVID-19 response and advance criminal justice reform.
“I am proud to sign new laws that strengthen our COVID-19 response efforts and make our criminal system more equitable,” said Governor Northam. “I am grateful to legislators for their hard work this session, and look forward to signing more critically important legislation in the coming days.”
Governor Northam signed the following laws to support COVID-19 response and recovery efforts:
• House Bill 5093 (Delegate Watts) and Senate Bill 5117 (Senator Deeds) allow a $500 civil penalty for violations of a Governor’s Executive Order, instead of the Class 1 misdemeanor currently dictated by Virginia Code.
• House Bill 5047 (Delegate Murphy) strengthens Virginia’s anti-price gouging laws during declared states of emergency.
• Senate Bill 5039 (Senator Marsden) establishes a formal program for the purchase and distribution of personal protective equipment during a public health threat.
• House Bill 5087 (Delegate Tran) extends the date by which the Virginia Employment Commission is required to establish and implement a short-time compensation program and removes the program’s sunset clause.
• Senate Bill 5083 (Senator McClellan) requires Virginia school boards to publicly post their plans and strategies for mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
• Senate Bill 5017 (Senator Boysko) grants the Commonwealth the ability to establish and enforce health standards at local correctional facilities used by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or other federal agencies.
Governor Northam signed the following laws to reform criminal justice and policing:
• House Bill 5098 (Delegate Askew) increases the penalty for falsely summoning or giving false reports to law enforcement officers due to an individual’s race, religious conviction, gender, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, color, or national origin.
• House Bill 5072 (Delegate Lopez) and Senate Bill 5024 (Senator Lucas) allow the Attorney General to open investigations related to a suspected “pattern or practice” of misconduct among law enforcement officers.
• House Bill 5062 (Delegate Mullin) and Senate Bill 5033https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?ses=202&typ=bil&val=SB5033 (Senator Surovell) restore the practice of requiring judges to dismiss charges when both parties (prosecution and defense) agree.
Governor Northam proposed changes to the following bills:
• House Bill 5046 (Delegate D. Adams) and Senate Bill 5080 (Senator Barker) expand Medicaid coverage of telemedicine care. Governor Northam added an emergency clause to make this legislation effective immediately upon passage.
• House Bill 5115 (Delegate Price) expands eviction protections for Virginians who experienced a loss of wages due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Northam added an emergency clause to make this legislation effective immediately upon passage.
• House Bill 5058 (Delegate Hope) and Senate Bill 5029 (Senator Lucas) prohibit law enforcement from initiating traffic stops in certain instances. Governor Northam amended this legislation to ensure law enforcement can initiate a traffic stop when an individual is driving at night without the use of both headlights and/or without the use of both brake lights.
Bespoke Beauty Loft opens new salon in Winchester on October 22nd
Bespoke Beauty Loft announced the grand opening of its new salon in Winchester, Virginia on October 22, 2020.
Bespoke Beauty Loft is opening its new doors in spite of challenges and obstacles created by the global pandemic. Shutdown orders prohibited salon owner Taylor Waldrep from taking client appointments for several months, and the pandemic significantly delayed the new space completion date. However, Waldrep’s commitment to serving her community of clients remotely brought her through those uncertain months to achieve this milestone.
“I realized very quickly that achieving my goal of a new salon space would require perseverance and dedication to my mission,” Waldrep said. “I believe that my clients deserve to have the confidence that comes from beautiful hair – even when they were asked to stay at home. We simply found a way to help them achieve that in spite of everything.”
During the closure, Waldrep offered Facebook lives so she could answer as many questions as possible about maintaining hair color and cuts while the salon was closed. She even personally delivered hair products that her clients purchased online and over the phone (following Virginia safety and sanitation guidelines). Many clients also purchased gift cards during the shutdown.
Bespoke Beauty Loft offers a welcoming atmosphere and warm, friendly service to make clients feel at home. Now, the salon is excited to open its new doors and offer inclusive services to current and new clients. The salon boasts a stylish and inviting mid-century modern design that emphasizes aesthetic touches while ensuring client safety and sanitation per Virginia state guidelines. It provides services such as cuts, coloring, and smoothing and conditioning treatments. Maintenance packages are also available to ensure clients’ hair color remains fresh and vibrant.
“Bespoke Beauty Loft fulfills my lifelong dream of having a space focused on creativity and growth. I’m delighted to help each and every client achieve their hair goals,” said Waldrep. “In a time that has been challenging for all of us, I believe people can refresh their hearts and spirits through self-care and warm relationships. That’s the type of environment I aspire to create at Bespoke Beauty Loft every day.”
New Bespoke Beauty Loft clients can schedule a complimentary consultation with a member of the Bespoke stylist team to discuss their hair goals and share inspiration photos. Appointments can be requested by calling the salon at (540) 508-2406.
Traditional full service hobby shop opens in Stephens City
Daniel and Maryann Levy invite you to visit their unique and charming hobby shop that is enhancing the character and individuality of the Stephens City community.
The Levy’s were eager to announce the opening of their full-service hobby shop on Friday, October 9, 2020, at 12:00pm. All Nation Hobby and Model Supply, Inc. are undergoing renovation, building, and relocating shelves to better promote eclectic merchandise. All Nation and Model have a small-town family ambiance and friendly expert service located right on Main Street in the historic section of Stephens City. Store hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm.
All Nation and Model Supply’s current inventory is as follows:
- Airplane kits, new, old, rare, vintage, and out of production kits in all scales. About 5,000.
- Boats and ships, new, old, vintage, and rare. About 200.
- Tanks, armored vehicles, military vehicles and figures, new, old rare and vintage and figures, new, old, rare, and vintage. About 400 in all scales.
- Cars 1/32nd – 1/24th – 1/25th scales about 500 from 1903 to 2017, new, old, rare, and vintage kits, photo etch parts, plug wire sets, decals and diorama figures, and tools, 1/18th and 1/12 scale classic car kits.
- Large selection of 1/24th – 1/25th scale tractor-trailer semi kits, new, old, and vintage.
- A substantial selection of Sci-Fi, Star Wars, Star Trek, and space kits, various scales, also monster kits, and fantasy.
- 11 paint racks with Hum Brol, Tamiya, Testors, Polly-5, tools, and model finish supplies including Molotow Chrome.
- HO, N, G scale trains, and train sets, engines, cars, structures, and detail parts, from Walthers, Rix City Classics, Blair Line, Laser kit, Bachman, Atlas, Polar lights, Con-Cor, and Woodland Scenics.
All Nation Hobby and Model Supply, Inc.
5279 Main Street | Stephens City, VA 22655
Beer Museum patrons tie the knot, celebrate with friends and a toast or two
Who says weddings and beer, particularly Virginia craft-brewed beer, don’t mix? – No one who attended the October 10th wedding and reception of Bruce Townshend and Robin Goldthwaite at Front Royal’s Virginia Beer Museum.
And while museums and marriage/receptions might seem more of a stretch, not when that museum is dedicated to, not only Virginia’s expanding array of fine, craft-brewed hops, but beer’s place in the history of this nation, as recounted in the first-floor George Washington and Thomas Jefferson rooms and the second floor Prohibition Room. One can only imagine those latter times, circa the third decade of the 20th Century when John Barleycorn was indeed dead on these shores, must have been dark, if roaring, bootlegging days in the nation’s history.
But with that overly temperate chapter of our history behind us, it was a bright and celebratory Saturday afternoon as Bruce awaited Robin’s procession down the impromptu bridal path to the Museum Biergarten stage area to a somewhat non-traditional musical accompaniment of AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells”.
Once together in front of family and friends, Lay Anglican Vicar Michael Williams helped the couple tie the knot, literally, in the Celtic tradition, along with the exchange of rings. From there it was to the tent – NOT that one, the Biergarten food tents and main protection against any untoward elements tent where many a celebratory toast was raised to a match, if musically accompanied by “Hell’s Bells”, certainly made in heaven.
Congratulations, Bruce and Robin Townshend.
And thanks to the Virginia Beer Museum for hosting a family and extended family event. This is what memories are made of:
Virginia legislators advance police and criminal justice reform measures
The Virginia General Assembly wrapped up the agenda this month for the special session that began Aug. 18. Legislators introduced over 50 police and criminal justice reform bills during the session.
Gov. Ralph Northam called the session to update the state budget and to address criminal and social justice and issues related to COVID-19. The governor still has to approve the budget and make amendments or veto bills.
Among the police and criminal justice reform measures were proposals that would change policing methods, impose new disciplinary actions for law enforcement, and reduce penalties for certain crimes. Both parties introduced legislation that seemed to be inspired by months of protests across Virginia.
Dana Schrad, executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, said the organization supports several criminal justice reform bills except for the legislature’s approval of bills that make certain traffic violations secondary offenses and the ban on no-knock search warrants.
“The way it was [the no-knock search warrant bill] delays the issuance of a search warrant that could lead to deaths, injuries, and destruction of evidence,” Schrad wrote in an email. “We plan to seek [the] governor’s amendments to make final corrections to the bill to ensure the safety of officers and potential victims.”
Some Republican-backed bills aimed to increase penalties for certain crimes, including pointing a laser at a law-enforcement officer and for an assault on an officer, and to criminalize the act of cursing at an officer while on duty.
Below is a sample of the police and criminal-justice related legislation that was approved by both chambers.
Mental health response. House Bill 5043, introduced by Del. Jeffrey Bourne, D-Richmond, and Senate Bill 5038, introduced by Sen. Jeremy McPike, D-Dale City, establishes an alert system when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis.
Marijuana charge prepay. SB 5013, introduced by Sen. Richard Stuart, R-Westmoreland, gives people charged with marijuana possession the option to prepay a fee.
Crisis intervention. SB 5014, introduced by Sen. John S. Edwards, D-Roanoke, requires the Department of Criminal Justice Services to establish standards and update policies for law enforcement concerning sensitivity and awareness of racism.
Civilian oversight. SB 5035, introduced by Sen. Ghazala Hashmi, D-Midlothian, allows localities to establish a civilian oversight body for their police department. The civilian oversight body can investigate incidents involving law enforcement as well as complaints from citizens, and make binding disciplinary decisions, including termination, in the event that an officer breaches departmental and professional standards.
Sentencing reform. Sen. Joe Morrissey, D-Richmond, called his bill SB 5007 “the most transformative criminal justice reform legislation” to pass in two decades. The measure allows for defendants to be tried by a jury but sentenced by a judge.
“It has long been the practice in Virginia to be sentenced by a jury after selecting a jury trial, which has led to excessive sentences far beyond what sentencing guidelines state,” Morrissey posted online.
Conditional release. SB 5034, introduced by Sen. Jennifer B. Boysko, D-Fairfax, grants consideration for conditional release for certain qualifying terminally ill prisoners.
Marijuana and certain traffic offenses. HB 5058, introduced by Del. Patrick Hope, D-Arlington, prohibits an officer from stopping a motor vehicle for operating without a license plate, with defective equipment such as a brake light, window tinting materials, a loud exhaust system, or hanging objects inside the vehicle. It also prohibits officers from searching a vehicle solely on the basis of the odor of marijuana.
Earned sentence credits. HB 5148, introduced by Del. Don Scott, D-Portsmouth, establishes a four-level classification system for earned sentence credits. The system allows a range of 3.5 days to 15 days to be deducted from an inmate’s sentence for every 30 days served, with exceptions based on the severity of the crime. The bill directs the Department of Corrections to convene a workgroup by next July to study the impact of the sentence credit amendments and report its findings to the General Assembly by Dec. 1, 2022. Parts of the bill have a delayed effective date of Jan. 1, 2022.
Criminal justice board. HB 5108, introduced by Del. Elizabeth Guzmán, D-Prince William, makes changes to the Criminal Justice Services Board and its Committee on Training. The board, currently made up exclusively of members with backgrounds in law enforcement and private security, will be required to add representatives from civil rights groups, mental health service providers, and groups that advocate for the interests of minority communities. Guzmán said she got the idea for this bill while she was visiting the Criminal Justice Services Board with fellow legislators.
“We only have law enforcement voices at the table,” Guzmán said. “So, how can you learn about what is going on in the community if you don’t have their voice at the table?”
Guzmán said the bill will improve crisis intervention training and help police officers who may experience traumatic events while on the job.
Misconduct and termination. HB 5051, introduced by Del. Marcus Simon, D-Falls Church, requires a police department authority figure to notify the Criminal Justice Services Board if an officer is terminated for serious misconduct, as defined by the board, within 48 hours of the department becoming aware of it.
Disclosure of information. HB 5104, introduced by Del. Marcia Price, D-Newport News, requires sheriff, police chief, or police department directors to disclose to potential law enforcement or jail employer information regarding the arrest, prosecution or civil suit filed against their former officers seeking employment. The applicant would have to sign a waiver to allow that information to be disclosed. The bill also may require an officer to undergo a psychological evaluation before taking a job in a jail or police department.
Ban no-knock warrants. HB 5099, introduced by Del. Lashrecse Aird, D-Petersburg, bans law enforcement officers from executing a search warrant without giving notice of their identity or purpose before entering a residence.
“The use of no-knock search warrants has long been a controversial practice, since the beginning of their use during the Nixon administration in the ’70s,” Aird said in an email. “The tragic loss of Breonna Taylor renewed the concern regarding the use of this search warrant, the risk to residents and officers, and their disproportionate application in minority communities.”
Unlawful use of excessive force. HB 5029, introduced by Del. Delores McQuinn, D-Richmond, requires that a law enforcement officer intervene when witnessing another officer using excessive force while on duty.
Carnal knowledge of detainees. HB 5045, introduced by Del. Karrie K. Delaney, D-Centreville, closes a loophole within the state law and makes it a Class 6 felony for a law enforcement officer to have sexual relations with a detainee, pre-arrest.
Prohibition of the use of neck restraints. HB 5069, introduced by Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-Prince William, prohibits a law enforcement officer to use a neck restraint or chokehold while on the job. New York has had a ban on chokeholds since 1993, but the effectiveness of the law was called into question in 2014 when Eric Garner died after an apparent chokehold was used during his arrest by a New York City Police officer. The officer involved was not indicted but was later fired.
Guzmán said that even though some of these bills may not be perfect, it’s better to improve civil rights in Virginia one piece of legislation at a time rather than to be dismissive of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I would say that inaction is enabling, and if we don’t act, in a way we are saying we are OK with what is going on in today’s society,” Guzmán said. “We recognize the struggles, we recognize that there are problems, and we need to start tackling those issues and try to improve the lives of communities of color.”
Below are some pieces of legislation that didn’t make it through the House or Senate.
ABANDONED OR KILLED BILLS
Record expungement. SB 5043, sponsored by Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath, and HB 5146, sponsored by Del. Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, sought to expand the current expungement process. Police and court records are currently only expunged if an individual is acquitted, a case is dismissed or abandoned. Legislators did not reach a compromise in the conference committee over proposed substitutes to the bills.
“This is a very important issue,” Herring said at the close of Friday’s session. “It will change the lives of so many people who have served their time and have turned their lives around.”
Parole notification. SB 5050, Introduced by Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, would require the Department of Corrections to release a paroled prisoner no sooner than 21 days after the date of notification by the Virginia Parole Board.
Qualified immunity. HB 5013, introduced by Bourne, would have ended qualified immunity for police officers. Guzmán, who voted for the bill, was disappointed it didn’t pass, but said she feels good about the House Democrats’ bills and is looking forward to the next General Assembly session in January.
Virginia led the way during the special session where others haven’t, Del. Eileen Filler-Corn said in a press release.
“Together with our colleagues in the Senate, Virginia is now a national leader in the effort to pass necessary improvements to policing and criminal justice,” Filler-Corn said.
By Will Gonzalez
Capital News Service
Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.