About 20 people, including 26th District Democratic State Senatorial candidate April Moore, gathered at Front Royal’s Town Gazebo at noon on Wednesday, March 13, to join Len Sherp in marking the start of the third year of the Vigil for Democracy he began on March 8, 2017.
“We mark our calendar by Wednesdays – we started on the second Wednesday of March 2017 and it’s the second Wednesday of March 2019,” Sherp said of any date discrepancies.
On that second Wednesday of 2017 Sherp explained the impetus for his Vigil for Democracy to Royal Examiner: “This administration in eight weeks has shown that it doesn’t understand the rule of law; does not respect the separation of powers; and has a Republican Congress that for some reason refuses to stand up and be adult. There are threats to our democracy when our president lies every day. And I think there are some underlying issues – I’m holding a sign today that says ‘Show us the Tax Returns’. Every president, I believe since Eisenhower if not even earlier, has released their tax returns, so that we can see that they are not indebted to or beholding to other foreign powers.”
And for Sherp on March 13, 2019, not much has changed.
“At the time I told you that I thought we faced a crisis in our country that basic constitutional principals seemed to be ignored; and we were heading toward a path that I felt the future of our democratic-republican form of government was in peril. Nothing over the last two years has convinced me otherwise,” Sherp said.
“We still have disrespect from the highest office in the nation, the presidency of the United States, for the rule of law; disrespect for the separation of powers; disrespect for the truth; we have disrespect for a free press; we have disrespect for the hardworking members of the federal government; we have disrespect for our allies; and we have instead an affection for dictators and a wish from our president that perhaps he could be president for life like his friend, Comrade Xi (Xi Jinping, president of China).
“And he talks about ‘love letters’ with (North Korean Dictator) Kim Jung Un – and we stopped our annual or semi-annual military exercises with the Republic of South Korea, our strongest ally in the Far East – what did we get for that? Oh, we got a picture with Kim Jung Un.
“And I didn’t even mention the violations of the emoluments clause of the Constitution and the violations of the ban against nepotism – I could go on and on,” Sherp said deciding to end the litany of reasons the Vigil for Democracy continues, and will continue beyond his pending move to Oregon. Sherp and his wife are moving west in several weeks to be close to their daughter.
Sherp pointed us toward other vigil participants for comments, including those who will be instrumental in continuing to see the Vigil for Democracy remains a viable expression of political dissent guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Long-time vigil participants Bob Hill and Jorge Amselle will share Vigil for Democracy organizational rolls after Sherp’s departure.
We asked Amselle why he, like Hill and others in the vigil trenches, has been there on Wednesday afternoons with Sherp for the bulk of two years.
“This is the only thing that keeps me sane; this is the only thing that gives me hope for our country – to be out here with people who recognize the danger that we’re in, who are like-minded. I believe I told you before, I used to be a conservative Republican for 30 years; for years I voted Republican. When Trump was running I kept telling my fellow Republicans ‘You can’t vote for this guy – he’s insane and a racist.’
“And when he won the nomination I decided that’s it, I’m out, I’m done. And I left the Republican Party and volunteered for the Hillary Clinton campaign and did everything I could to make sure Trump didn’t win.”
Over two years later Amselle is maintaining his commitment to make Americans, including Republicans, see what he sees in the 45th president – a would-be demagogue who puts self interest above the national interest.
Amselle pointed out how many congressional Republicans, Lindsay Graham and Ted Cruz being prominent examples, were documented during the 2016 nominating campaign saying horrible things about Trump’s character; but now fall easily in line with the worst of the president’s policy initiatives or personal impulses.
“I think it’s just winning at all costs – nothing matters but winning, you know, no morals, no qualms about lying, cheating, stealing, pandering to white supremacists, empowering racism and other forms of bigotry; being inconsistent on all the things you ever preached. See, there used to be a competition between all different kinds of conservatives, your libertarians, your evangelicals, all different kinds of conservatives were there to argue and debate conservative ideologies.”
“Now that’s all gone, now it’s just Trump – the only ideology that matters is Trump,” Amselle observed of an apparent party-wide fear of not antagonizing Trump’s sizable base among Republican voters.
And when the cult of personality meets ideological intransience tempered with stereotypical vilification of minorities and outsiders you have a historically dangerous combination – a combination often found at the outset of the rise of state totalitarianism.
It is a trend another former Republican present at the March 13 vigil has noticed. April Moore is positioning herself for a Democratic challenge of 26th District State Senate Republican incumbent Mark Obenshain in the upcoming election. See her observations on the trend of Republicanism in the Trump era mentioned by Amselle in this linked story.
Of her presence in staunchly Republican Front Royal and Warren County for the March 13 Vigil for Democracy Moore said, “I’m impressed people here in Front Royal have been out here every week for the last two years protesting what the Republican Party has become and what it’s doing: this party that nominated, elected and now serves as accomplices to a president who lies to the public multiple times every day; and who is assaulting our rule of law; and even seems to be in some kind of strange cahoots with our most dangerous adversary.
“So part of why I’m running is the reason they’re out here,” Moore said of Vigil for Democracy participants.
Bob Hill, who with Jorge Amselle will continue the organizational impetus for the Vigil for Democracy in Sherp’s pending absence, sees a fundamental necessity for that continuation.
“I think the vigil has been an awakening for a lot of the people here in Front Royal that there is a two-party system and two parties make us stronger. Obviously if you have a one-party system you are heading away from democratic principals,” Hill observed of the role of political dissent in non-totalitarian nations.
Hill, who was a primary vigil player in establishing a dialogue with elements of the pro-Trump contingent across Chester Street, pointed to mutual concerns about local politics.
“My Trump friends over there,” he said gesturing toward Ralph and Michael Waller and their pro-Trump signs across Chester Street, “when I talk to them about what’s going on locally, about the EDA or about insurance policies (against abuses) they’ll say to me ‘Well, it’s the politicians’ and I’ll say ‘What politicians?’ and they’ll say ‘The ones we voted in’ – and I’ll ask ‘What party are they?’ And in staunchly-conservative Warren County and Front Royal the answer with few generally independent exceptions is Republican.
“Years ago my wife came home and said, ‘Look, I could be a Republican – I believe in smaller government except for one thing: smaller government would mean fewer people overseeing and making sure that I, as a Republican, don’t think of myself first and foremost.’
“Sure it’s smaller government, but it’s also corrupt government,” Hill said of an unmonitored economic system where the largest and wealthiest competitors are free to prey upon, not only smaller-positioned competitors, but the marketplace itself.
“Sometimes people just don’t see the forest for the trees,” Hill concluded with an age-old expression of the problem of seeing the bigger picture when you find yourself immersed in the middle of that picture.
And when one looks at the political picture being painted by the current occupant of the White House: from a general disregard for federal institutions from law enforcement to intelligence and the diplomatic wing of the State Department, coupled with the number of unfilled federal positions after two-plus years of the Trump presidency, as well as the conflicting professional interests of many who have been appointed to head oversight agencies like the EPA, Commerce and Interior, it would seem the core political issues that have brought Vigil for Democracy participants together for over two years are nowhere near a resolution.
So we imagine you will continue to see these anniversary reports, along with those coming across the Chester Street political divide, for at least another two years …
CARES Act and REBUILD! Virginia informational WebEx on Friday, August 7th, 9:00 am
The Town of Front Royal in partnership with the consulting firm, Strategic Solutions by Tricia (SST), will host a webinar to Front Royal local businesses to aid in kick-starting business recovery.
The webinar will include guidance and actionable steps for navigating small business relief through CARES Act grants and REBUILD! VA grants. Interested business owners can join the meeting by visiting http://www.frontroyalva.com/meeting
● CARES Act Application: www.FrontRoyalVA.com/CARES
● Rebuild! VA Information: www.governor.virginia.gov/rebuildva/
The Town of Front Royal supports local businesses in getting #BackToBusiness#BackTo Nature. Front Royal has never allowed setbacks to stop our Town from coming together and supporting each other. We are a resilient community. Together, we will recover and be stronger than ever.
About Rebuild! VA
The Rebuild VA Grant Fund is a program to help small businesses and non-profits whose normal operations were disrupted by COVID-19, including restaurants, brick and mortar retail, exercise and fitness facilities, personal care, and personal grooming services, entertainment and public amusement establishments, and campgrounds.
Businesses and non-profits that are approved for a Rebuild VA grant may receive up to 3 times their average monthly eligible expenses up to a maximum of $10,000.
Who is eligible for the grant?
Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria:
The business or non-profit must be organized as one of the following:
Corporation (C-Corp), pass-through entity (S-Corp, Partnership, LLC), or other legal entity that is organized separately from the owner; A 501(c)(3), 501(c)(7), 501(c)(19) organization or a Virginia tribe; A sole proprietorship; or An independent contractor.
The business or non-profit must also fall within one of the following businesses categories:
Restaurant and Beverage Services
Restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, cideries, distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms, and farmers markets (or vendors within the farmers market)
Non-essential Brick and Mortar Retail
Non-essential brick and mortar retail establishments include everything EXCEPT the following:
Grocery stores, pharmacies, and other retailers that sell food and beverage products or pharmacy products, including dollar stores, and department stores with grocery or pharmacy operations;
Medical, laboratory, and vision supply retailers; Electronic retailers that sell or service cell phones, computers, tablets, and other communications technology; Automotive parts, accessories, and tire retailers as well as automotive repair facilities; Home improvement, hardware, building material, and building supply retailers; Lawn and garden equipment retailers; Beer, wine, and liquor stores; Retail functions of gas stations and convenience stores; Retail located within healthcare facilities; Banks and other financial institutions with retail functions; Pet and feed stores; Printing and office supply stores; and Laundromats and dry cleaners.
Fitness and Exercise Facilities
Fitness centers, gymnasiums, recreation centers, swimming pools, indoor sports facilities, and indoor exercise facilities
Personal Care and Personal Grooming Services
Beauty salons, barbershops, spas, massage practices, tanning salons, tattoo shops, and any other location where personal care or personal grooming services are performed
Entertainment and Public Amusement
Theaters, performing arts centers, concert venues, museums, racetracks, historic horse racing facilities, bowling alleys, skating rinks, arcades, amusement parks, trampoline parks, fairs, arts and craft facilities, aquariums, zoos, escape rooms, indoor shooting ranges, public and private social clubs
Private Campgrounds and Overnight Summer Camps
The business or non-profit must meet the following additional eligibility criteria:
Principal Place of Business is in Virginia
25 or fewer full-time employees
Gross revenue of less than $1.5 million in the last fiscal year
Operating prior to March 12, 2020
Currently, in good standing with the Virginia State Corporation Commission
The applicant must engage in legal activity
The following applicants are ineligible for the Rebuild VA grant funds:
Applicants that are not individually owned and operated; Applicants that have already received CARES Act funding from any federal, state, regional or local agency or authority; Applicants that are delinquent on Virginia state income taxes and do not have a payment plan in place; Applicants that are lobbyists; An applicant, owner, or a principal of the business with 20 percent or greater ownership interest is more than sixty (60) days delinquent on child support obligations.
VDOT: Warren County Traffic alert for August 3-7, 2020
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.
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.
*NEW* Mile marker 0 to 7, eastbound and westbound – Right shoulder closures for sign installations at various locations, Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
*NEW* Route 658 (Rockland Road) – Flagger traffic control for soil and rock testing between Route 620 (Bennys Beach Road) and Kelley Drive, August 3-14 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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 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 my.vdot.virginia.gov. Agents are available 24 hours-a-day, seven days a week.
Girl of Destiny 2020 Awards – A celebration of leadership, service, and empowerment
This weekend Reaching Out Now held the Girl of Destiny Luau Awards Ceremony. The girls and their families gathered to celebrate, enjoy delicious food by Chef Devin Smith, and wish the graduating 8th graders good luck as they move into leadership roles in 9th grade! There were several tears shed when remembering how far the girls have come.
Watch this video to hear some of the kind words shared by Samantha Barber (Founder and President) and Marlena Conner (Board Member & Mentor Liaison) as they present the awards. Michelle Rutledge (Board Member & Community Outreach) shares the opening prayer and recognizes Samantha for her hard work and dedication. The video also features Kendallee Walker (Samantha Barber’s daughter) as she addresses the group regarding a “Note on Leadership”, Anne Cobb (Vice President) reads a special letter from Dr. Michelle Edwards written to the girls, and closing prayer by Judith James:
To learn more about Reaching Out Now and programs, please visit: www.reachingoutnow.org
Special thanks was given to all of the community supporters who have helped Reaching Out Now throughout the year. Extra shout-out to the Front Royal Women’s Resource Center and Rotary Club of Warren County represented by Jen Avery at the ceremony. Thank you to Royal Examiner for helping to spread the word about Reaching Out Now.
Virginia War Memorial seeks entries for 2020 Veterans Day Student Essay Contest
The Virginia War Memorial in Richmond is seeking entries for the Virginia War Memorial 2020 Veterans Day Student Essay Contest. The contest is open to all Virginia middle and high school age public, private and homeschooled students.
One winner will be selected from among all middle school entries (grades 6-8) and one from high school (grades 9-12) entries.
The topic for the 2020 contest is “An American Who Served in The Military During World War II Who Inspires Me.” Students can consider a member of their family, of their community, or a famous man or woman who served in any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces as their subject. Essays should be 500-750 words in length and utilize interviews and primary sources whenever possible.
The two students who write the winning essays will each receive a $200 gift card and each of their teachers, will earn receive a $100 gift card to purchase classroom supplies. The student winners will also be invited to come to Richmond to read aloud their essays and participate in the Commonwealth’s Veterans Day Ceremony at the Virginia War Memorial on Wednesday, November 11, 2020.
The deadline for entries for the Virginia War Memorial 2020 Veterans Day Student Essay Contest is 11:59 p.m., Sunday, October 11, 2020. Complete information regarding the essay theme, rules, guidelines and how to enter is available online or by calling Virginia War Memorial Assistant Education Director Morgan Guyer at 804-786-2060.
About the Virginia War Memorial
The mission of the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond is to Honor Veterans, Preserve History, Educate Youth and Inspire Patriotism in All. Dedicated in 1956, the Memorial includes the names of the nearly 12,000 Virginia heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, and the Global War on Terrorism. Located at 621 South Belvidere Street in Richmond, the Virginia War Memorial is a division of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services and serves as an integral part of its mission in support of all Virginians who have served in our military. For more details, visit www.virginiawarmemorial.org or www.dvs.virginia.gov.
About the Virginia Department of Veterans Services
The Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS) is a state government agency with more than 40 locations across the Commonwealth of Virginia. DVS traces its history to 1928 and the establishment of the Virginia War Service Bureau to assist Virginia’s World War I veterans. Today, DVS assists veterans and their families in filing claims for federal veterans benefits; provides veterans and family members with linkages to services including behavioral healthcare, housing, employment, education and other programs. The agency operates two long-term care facilities offering in-patient skilled nursing care, Alzheimer’s/memory care, and short-term rehabilitation for veterans; provides an honored final resting place for veterans and their families at three state veterans cemeteries. It operates the Virginia War Memorial, the Commonwealth’s tribute to Virginia’s men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice from World War II to the present. For more information, please visit www.dvs.virginia.gov.
Valley Health extends Paycheck Protection Plan to ensure workforce stability during COVID-19 uncertainty
Valley Health System announced last week that it has extended the Paycheck Protection Plan enacted in April to provide income security to employees during a time of service disruption due to COVID-19. The protection initiative has been extended from an initial 90-day period, set to expire July 25, to remain in effect through the end of the year.
Valley Health implemented the Paycheck Protection Plan in mid-April as a pre-emptive response to significant declines in outpatient care, diagnostic testing, and elective procedures at Valley Health’s six hospitals and outpatient facilities. This reassurance to Valley Health’s employees was announced as hundreds of hospitals and health systems in the U.S. were laying off staff. Valley Health System’s Board of Trustees has authorized the use of reserve funds, if needed, to extend the Paycheck Protection Plan through 2020.
“As our health system and community were confronting COVID-19 and preparing for a potential surge of patients, we wanted our associates focused on one thing – providing safe, high-quality care and protecting their health — not worrying about their employment status or the financial impact of reduced hours,” said Valley Health President and CEO Mark Nantz. “Our initial commitment to the PPP initiative was for 90 days, and I’m proud to say that during this time, hundreds of our associates were able to maintain at least 70% of their pay and continued benefit coverage.”
The not-for-profit health system employs more than 6,000 dedicated associates, hundreds of whom benefited from the Paycheck Protection Plan after experiencing a reduction in hours due to service closures. While Valley Health’s day-to-day operations have not returned to pre-COVID normal, most full and part time associates have resumed their regular schedules, and the immediate need for the PPP has significantly decreased. But the local impact of the global pandemic has been difficult to predict.
“Acknowledging lingering uncertainty about the course of the virus in the months ahead, our leadership team and Trustees are committed to guaranteeing each associate a minimum of 70% of their regular pay should there be a reduction in hours related to COVID-19,” Nantz said. “Our priority is to remain strong and resilient, with our workforce intact, prepared to safeguard the health of our community.”
Valley Health is a not-for-profit health system serving a population of more than 500,000 in the Northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle and Potomac Highlands, and western Maryland. Valley Health includes six hospitals, more than 50 physician practices, Urgent Care centers, regional medical transport services, home health services, and outpatient rehabilitation and fitness centers in six communities. Visit www.valleyhealthlink.com.
Skyline High School Class of 2020 Graduation Ceremony
On August 1, 2020, the Skyline High School Class of 2020 had their long-awaited ceremony. The ceremony was in two sections with students last name A-K at 8 am and L-Z at 10 am.
Congratulations to the Class of 2020.