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…
*NEW* Mile marker 1 to 15, eastbound and westbound – Overnight alternating lane closures for maintenance of various bridges, Monday through Thursday nights from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. through June 26.
*NEW* Mile marker 11 to 12, eastbound – Alternating lane closures for inspection of bridge over Route 647 and Manassas Run, Monday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
No lane closures reported.
*NEW* Route 340 (Stonewall Jackson Highway) – Shoulder closures for utility work between Route 613 (Bentonville-Browntown Road) and Route 725 (Daughter of Stars Drive), 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. through July 2.
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.
Blue Ridge Wildlife Center Patient of the Week: Great Horned Owl
Possible West Nile Virus Case
We see many cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) each summer in corvids (crows/ravens) and raptors and this year is no exception. This Great Horned Owl was found unable to fly and was rescued by Kristi’s Caring Hands Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education, then brought to our hospital for evaluation. Given his mental status and signs, we suspect this may be due to WNV and diagnostics are currently pending.
Help out at home by removing standing water that accumulates in planters, pools, buckets, tires, etc. This is where mosquitoes lay eggs. Cover water storage containers (cisterns, rain barrels) so that mosquitoes cannot get in. Prevent bites by wearing long-sleeved clothing and using repellants when outdoors. Keep screens on doors/windows to prevent mosquitoes indoors.
WNV is just one of many diseases that mosquitoes can transmit to animals and people and lowering the prevalence helps us all!
While we wait for test results, this owl is receiving fluids and tube feedings as it is not yet stable enough to eat on its own. We are hopeful that this bird will recover, but WNV typically has a poor prognosis.
Front Royal Brewing Company opening new brewery in Winchester, changing name to Vibrissa Beer
Front Royal Brewing Company (FRB) announces plans to open a new location in Winchester, Virginia in mid-2022 and to change its name to Vibrissa Beer by the end of August 2021.
“With two locations and plans to expand our distribution footprint beyond Virginia into neighboring states, we need a name that is recognizable across a broad geographic area,” says Mike McCarthy, FRB’s General Manager, Head Brewer, and eight-time Great American Beer Festival (GABF) winner.
“With Mike’s brewing expertise, and the solid management team we’ve created, we can make a real impact on the beer scene, not only here in the Shenandoah Valley but nationally as well,” says Jeffery Carroll, FRB’s Marketing and Distribution Director.
FRB will be leasing space in the former Winchester Star Building at 2 North Kent Street. The space will include a large production brewhouse, taproom and restaurant, as well as an outdoor beer garden. “We are thrilled that Vibrissa has chosen our building for their new Winchester business,” says Tom W. Byrd, Manager of North Kent Properties LLC, which owns the former Winchester Star building. “We have been very impressed with their Front Royal location and think that they will have great success in Winchester as well. Vibrissa is the type of tenant we hoped to find to anchor our site and we are excited to see their outstanding beer and food made inside the old Star building.”
FRB first opened its doors in May 2018. Since then, it has developed a broad regional customer base and is a favorite among tourists and outdoor enthusiasts visiting Shenandoah National Park. In addition to its beer, FRB offers creative, up-scale pub food. FRB’s beer is widely distributed across the Northern Virginia market, and distribution is expected to grow rapidly with the opening of the Winchester facility.
Buildout and renovations will be supported by Grove & Dall’Olio Architects PLLC and Whittington Construction, Inc.
For more information about FRB’s plans for Winchester and its re-branding as Vibrissa Beer, please contact Jeffery Carroll at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Substantive town governance or ‘Political Theater’ on vaccination mandates? Split council passes ordinance expressing ‘opposition’ to COVID vaccination mandates
If you are looking for political drama – and why not in the current age of American and Front Royal politics? – the greatest drama from Monday’s 6 p.m. Special Town Council Meeting at Town Hall may have been whether Scott Lloyd would vote WITH Letasha Thompson in rejecting passage of an Ordinance mirroring the terms – without direct legal implications – of Lloyd’s rejected Ordinance proposal of the previous week. That ordinance would have legislatively forbid employer COVID-19 vaccine mandates within the town limits.
And while Lloyd found the wherewithal to cast such a vote with his council polar opposite, albeit for different reasons than Thompson’s negative vote, the ordinance passed by a 3-2 margin on the tie-breaking vote of Mayor Chris Holloway. That tie-breaking vote was a foregone conclusion as it reached the mayor at 2-2, Vice-Mayor Lori Cockrell, and Gary Gillespie voting approval, since the “Legislative Request” for consideration of the Resolution was brought forward by the mayor according to the August 2nd agenda packet.
How the vote might have gone – the guess here is 3-2 defeated not giving the mayor the tiebreaker – had the fifth remaining councilman, Joseph McFadden been present, may have been indicated by his pre-meeting Facebook post calling the Resolution initiative “Political Theater”. McFadden had been the only council member to have switched to a supporting vote of Lloyd’s anti-vaccine-mandate ordinance proposal a week earlier. This week, McFadden explained that he was committed to a previously scheduled training exercise Monday evening, and would not be able to attend the late-the-previous week called Special Meeting of August 2nd.
What does the passage of the wordily titled “Resolution of the Town Council of the Town of Front Royal, Virginia, Encouraging All Businesses Located in the Town Corporate Limits from Requiring COVID-19 Vaccines as a Condition of Employment” mean?
Legally nothing, as Thompson pointed out in arguing against its passage, but perhaps politically something – as in easing public anger at those who voted against Lloyd’s ordinance initiative the previous week – Cockrell, Gillespie, and Thompson, with the mayor having made his opposition clear in comments prior to the vote.
But if it was “Political Theater” as McFadden contended, it was the “Second Act” of this particular political drama, according to Thompson and her colleagues who opposed Lloyd’s ordinance proposal coming to a vote in the first place. Why? – Because in the opinion of Town Attorney Doug Napier, according to the Virginia State Constitution and decades, if not a century, of legal precedent, municipal governments have no legal authority in Virginia to enact such legislation as Lloyd brought forward.
But in prefacing his opposition to the Resolution as worded, Lloyd reiterated that he believes he has found legal precedent in the 1937 Town Charter under “Policing Powers” to authorize the municipal authority to legally forbid employment policies regarding public health matters, including vaccination mandates.
“In the form, this is written, it is asking me to express the opposite legal position of the one I articulated on Monday,” Lloyd said of his July 26th meeting defense of his ordinance proposal made in front of a full Warren County Government Center meeting room of around 150 people. Six citizens were present to observe council’s August 2 Special Meeting.
And while it appears a majority of his colleagues are siding with the Town legal staff on the issue, Mayor Holloway did note that part of the Resolution initiative is to seek a second legal opinion, well third if you count policy attorney Lloyd’s, on the matter. The page-and-a-half Resolution’s final paragraph addresses the sought-after legal ruling on applicable state law:
“BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that if a Court of Competent Jurisdiction finally adjudicates that localities do have the authority and jurisdiction to enact and regulate businesses and entities from mandating its employees and applicants for employees receive COVID-19 vaccinations (That is not a typo, that is the way it reads), that the proposed Ordinance (Lloyd’s failed one) shall be reconsidered.”
But pending such a state court, likely Virginia State Supreme Court, ruling, Thompson said she feared as with the previous week’s ordinance proposal, passage would give employees of Valley Health and other businesses in town opposed to being vaccinated, a false sense of security that they are somehow legally protected against termination, which she asserted neither a town ordinance nor resolution passage would accomplish at this point in a challenge of state legal authority on the matter.
See the approximately 12-minute discussion, prior to adjournment to a closed meeting for “Personnel” matters, in the Town video. Also, Monday prior to the meeting, council and the mayor bid an affectionate farewell to IT and Public Information Director Todd Jones, who is leaving for the IT job across town with Warren County.
Happy Creek road closure continues into August
Work continues on Route 624 (Happy Creek Road) in Warren County. A portion of Route 624 is closed to traffic and will remain closed until ongoing utility work is finished. A reopening date will be announced as this work approaches completion. The closure began on June 19, 2021.
The closure also allows for road widening work, road alignment improvements, and drainage improvements.
The road closure extends from the Town of Front Royal Eastern Corporate limits to Route 647 (Dismal Hollow Road). Access to residential and businesses properties in this area will be maintained during this closure.
Detour signs are posted. Northbound traffic from Route 624 will take Leach Run Parkway to Route 55 (John Marshall Highway) to Route 647. Southbound traffic will take Route 647 to Route 55 to Leach Run Parkway to Route 624.
On April 1, 2021, a construction contract valued at $1,736,387.66 was awarded to Kickin’ Asphalt Paving and Excavating LLC of Strasburg, Virginia. The Route 624 contract provides safety improvements located from the Town of Front Royal Eastern Corporate limits to Route 645 (Manassas Run Road). Project completion is estimated for late 2021.
All work is weather permitting.
Be the Change offers business classes for women, new format for fall semester
Now in its fifth year, Be the Change Foundation, a nonprofit organization with a mission of empowering, strengthening and inspiring women, offers a series of 12 classes for women who want to start a business or build on an existing one. Taught by local professionals in their respective areas of expertise, each session starts with a local spotlight entrepreneur who shares their unique story and business tips.
Until now, classes have been held in person at Lord Fairfax Community College Fauquier campus. COVID-19 changed the landscape with hybrid sessions necessitated during the spring 2021 semester.
The Be the Change Foundation board voted to adopt an all-virtual classroom format for the fall 2021 semester and contracted with BlueSky Phoenix, a website and marketing development company in Warrenton, to create an online curriculum based on the in-person program.
WomenBizLaunch is a 12-week online entrepreneurship program that educates women on how to form a business and run it successfully, or move to the next level in an existing business. After offering this successful program in-person, the Be the Change Foundation is excited to offer this program to women across the country in a virtual platform.
The two-hour class sessions are held weekly, live via Zoom and recorded in case the time or date is not convenient. Sessions begin with an “Entrepreneurial Spotlight,” where short stories are shared by small business owners hoping to empower and inspire participants as they begin this new journey. Spotlights are followed with the main topic, taught by a well-respected subject matter expert. Additional access and support are offered by the instructors, board members and program director throughout the 12-week program via a private Facebook group.
“We want our participants to be inspired and empowered not only for their own growth but to support others as they grow and truly Be the Change,” said founder Marianne Clyde.
The comprehensive curriculum covers a range of topics for aspiring businesswomen including Finding Your Why, Mission and Vision and Your Unique Selling Proposition, Building Your Business Plan, SWOT Analysis – Why It’s So Important, Organizing the Chaos: Using Systems That Work, Keeping Your Books, Building Your Team, Marketing on a Dime on Your Time, Networking Like a Rock Star and Controlling Stress as examples.
“I appreciate all the support I’ve received,” said a former participant Samantha Spittle who went on to form her own podcast, Flushing It Out With Samantha Spittle. Tune in for the fun conversations at samanthaspittle.com.
This 12-week class is valued at $2,250 but because this program is new and in the beginning stages, your investment is only $475. In return for the value provided, participants will be asked to complete a short evaluation at the end of the program to offer feedback for future programs.
“Out of COVID’s chaos, many nonprofits like ours, have had to adapt and create new opportunities,” said board member Anita Sherman. “We’re excited to offer these classes to women nationwide…we’ve seen firsthand the collaboration and connections made…the virtual platform will open more doors.”
Enrollment for the Fall 2021 semester is open now! Class starts September 14, 2021.
Bargain-hunters flock to now legendary Route 11 yard crawl
“Don’t give up, don’t get pale, straight ahead, for more yard sale.”
It is going to be a fantastic, festive day, attracting tons of people who are visiting the Lower Shenandoah Valley for the first time. The Valley’s stunning summer scenery, with lush greens and spectacular mountain views will provide each newcomer with an unforgettable experience to take back home and tell family and friends. Folks from all over the country are becoming interested in the event. Vendors within the mid-Atlantic area recognize the Yard Crawl as a major happening for selling product. The Yard Crawl has morphed into a cultural phenomenon and an economic boon to the small towns of the Valley community.
Each year more and more people are participating in the Route 11 (Old Valley Pike) Yard Crawl. A yearly event since 2005 (Stephens City and Middletown joined in 2008), held during the second Saturday in August; the Yard Crawl is a 43-mile-long yard sale that stretches from Stephens City’s Newtown Commons through seven historic small towns to New Market. As many as 1,000 vendors will be set up along the route and an average of 30,000 to 40,000 vehicles will rubberneck their way through each town. Over 3,000 individual sellers will clear their attics, basements, garages and carports and set up for the marathon event.
The Route 11 Yard Crawl is a partnership of the Valley Towns of Stephens City, Middletown, Strasburg, Woodstock, Edinburg, Mt. Jackson and New Market, the Shenandoah County Chamber of Commerce and the Shenandoah County Tourism Office. It is all about experiencing the heart and soul of small-town America.
The Yard Crawl is celebrating (Saturday, August 14) its 16th anniversary of flea market madness! It’s Virginia’s longest yard crawl, offering miles of yard sales, food trucks, fresh produce stands and indescribable family fun. The Crawl typically includes private residences, businesses and popup vendors who set out tables of sale items in empty parking lots, parks and sidewalks filled with tents and trailers, drawing crowds of yard crawlers and frugal shoppers along the route. Saleable items can include antiques, vintage collectibles, books, jewelry, furniture, tools, clothing, sporting goods, toys and the most unusual objects imaginable. Just start fantasizing about all the incredible treasures waiting to be discovered! It is almost Yard Sale Heaven.
Local businesses can count on a 30% increase above normal summer revenue. The Crawl attracts thousands of visitors from around Virginia and other neighboring states and is a godsend for area restaurants, hotels and small businesses. The Crawl is a huge economic driver for the small-town communities to include our area nonprofits. The event has encouraged additional yard sales on adjoining days, soliciting tourism dollars from bargain-hunters and summer travelers alike.
Dudley Rinker, Chair of the Lions Club Yard Crawl Committee says, “business in Stephens City has increased with calls for more vendor spaces this year.” There are approximately 90 vendor spaces allotted at Newtown Commons on Main Street (where the yard crawl begins on the north end). The Commons are at 75% capacity, but rentals are filling quickly and there is a need to expand spaces at the Old School lot on the south of town,” Rinker said. Currently Lions Club has 17 spaces rented at the Old School and can expand to 50 spaces, if needed. The vendor spaces are 16′ X 20′ and cost $20 per spot. “Vendors can join spaces if they require additional room,” Rinker said. According to the Lions Club website, profits from the rentals provide financial and human resource support to sight/hearing conservation, youth activities and community improvement.
Former Lions Chair, Jack Treece, claims about one third of the residents living on Main Street also set up on front porches to sell their own wares. “Between vendors and locals as many as 400 people can be selling product within the Stephens City town limits,” Treece said.
Rick Kriebel, Manager of Collections and Programs, Newtown History Center, says he has 16 vendor spaces (front porch, south yard and parkway) for rent with excellent locations. Kriebel cites many prime spots are still available. Kim Begnaud, Trinity Lutheran Church Community Outreach Minister, has 10 designated spaces for rent in the church parking lot on Main Street. “However, all spots have been taken,” Begnaud reported.
Yard Crawlers can prepare for the event by bringing small bills and change to make shopping more convenient, but also may get you a discount by enabling a smoother transaction for the vendor. The Crawl officially opens at 7 a.m. on Saturday, but the stores and antiques sellers typically welcome early birds. Some Route 11-yard crawl vendors setup on the Friday before and traffic usually begins to pick up on Route 11 by early Friday afternoon. Saturday is the prime travel day and traffic will be stop and go for the entire stretch of Valley Pike. Adept shoppers begin on Friday or early Saturday before the event to locate any rare or collectible items for cherry-picking at daybreak.
By the end of this epic day folks are doing a lot of “lookie loo” shopping, driving slowly by the roadside stands and viewing from the car. Churches, businesses and civic organizations sell snacks, boxed lunches and beverages all along this historic thoroughfare. Bring bottled water to stay hydrated. Stow away nylon rope, lashing straps or bungee cords to tie down any oversized purchases.
The event will be held rain or shine. Expect traffic congestion along Route 11 most of the day. Watch for pedestrians crossing Route 11. Navigate streets carefully, as pedestrians get distracted by displays and may appear to meander across the street without watching for oncoming traffic. Park vehicles completely off the road and do not block driveways. No double parking is permitted along the route.
May God continue to bless our Shenandoah Valley communities.