After hearing firsthand from hundreds of Virginians regarding continued widespread U.S. Postal Service (USPS) delays, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) fired off a letter to the U.S. Postmaster General urging him to address the troubling delay of life-saving medicines, groceries, supplies, and much more in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. In their letter, the Senators call on U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to rescind policy changes that are delaying mail delivery, to publish data on COVID-19 cases of postal workers by Postal Area, and to take additional steps to ensure mail-order medications are expeditiously processed.
“We write to express deep concern regarding widespread mail delivery delays across Virginia in recent months. We have heard from hundreds of our constituents that recount unacceptable delays in the delivery of everything from Christmas and birthday cards to mail-order medications and credit card bills. Furthermore, we seek answers about operational decisions and other circumstances that have contributed to such delays and what is being done to prevent future failures,” the Senators wrote to U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.
Last summer, the Senators raised concern regarding the operational and structural changes U.S. Postmaster General DeJoy implemented and the impact it would have on timely mail delivery. In response to these concerns, U.S. Postmaster DeJoy temporarily halted some, though not all, of the operational changes planned until after the November 2020 election and had indicated that only a “temporary service decline” had occurred. However, according to the Postal Services’ own court filings, that proved that to be false.
In December 2020, first-class mail on-time delivery rates averaged just 52.4 percent in the Northern Virginia Postal District (Capitol Metro Area), 55.1 percent in the Richmond Postal District (Capitol Metro Area), and 67 percent in the Appalachian Postal District (Eastern Area). These rates represent drastic declines in comparison to the on-time delivery data from March 14, 2020 – July 11, 2020, the period between the onset of COVID-19-related impacts and the announcement of U.S. Postmaster General DeJoy’s operational changes. The on-time delivery rates of first-class mail in this time frame was 90.9 percent in the Northern Virginia Postal District, 90.3 percent in the Richmond Postal District, and 93.8 percent in the Appalachian Postal District.
“While we seek a general explanation of the factors contributing to substandard delivery rates, we also seek an explanation with respect to two specific issues raised by our constituents. First, dozens of our constituents, particularly in the Eastern region of our state, have tracked packages and mail that have been stuck at the USPS Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC) in Richmond, Virginia, sometimes for weeks at a time. This facility serves hundreds of thousands of our constituents across the Commonwealth and is critical in keeping much of our state connected. Insufficient staffing and capacity at such an essential outpost in Virginia’s mail system have profound consequences,” they continued. “A recent report from the USPS Office of Inspector General found that Richmond P&DC had the fourth-highest late trip rates among P&DCs nationwide and underestimated incoming mail piece volume by 66% in its operations plans. Relatedly, many of our constituents in all corners of the Commonwealth are reporting that they are not receiving any mail for days or weeks at a time despite the Informed Delivery system indicating they are receiving mail. We understand this is likely due to staffing shortages but implore you to create additional contingency plans to ensure a particular delivery route does not miss its mail for days at a time simply because its letter carrier is out sick.”
In addition to addressing postal delays impacting Virginians, their letter also requests that the U.S. Postmaster General publish the number of COVID-19 case levels amongst USPS staff in the interest of understanding where staff shortages may be occurring and affecting mail service, and where Congressional or executive intervention may be warranted.
“In light of the tremendous challenges facing the Postal Service during the COVID-19 pandemic and the failure of its leadership to ensure the timely delivery of mail in recent weeks and months, we urge you to immediately reverse all operational and organizational changes that have contributed to substantial mail delays. We also urge you to collect and publish aggregate data on confirmed COVID-19 cases among postal workers by Postal Area so public health agencies, Congress, and USPS can better surge targeted support towards regions facing substantial staff shortages. Finally, we urge you to review and implement processes to expedite the delivery of mail-order medications in an environment of widespread delays,” concluded the Senators.
Sens. Warner and Kaine have been vocal about reversing any changes to USPS that have affected the reliability of mail delivery. They previously joined their colleagues in a letter asking the U.S. Postmaster General not to take any further action that makes it harder and more expensive for states and election jurisdictions to mail ballots ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Additionally, Sen. Warner previously raised concerns over the USPS operational changes and the heightened impact to servicemembers and their families and pushed to correct the changes that are needlessly delaying veterans’ access to life-saving prescriptions.
A copy of the letter is found here and below.
Dear Mr. DeJoy:
We write to express deep concern regarding widespread mail delivery delays across Virginia in recent months. We have heard from hundreds of our constituents that recount unacceptable delays in the delivery of everything from Christmas and birthday cards to mail-order medications and credit card bills. Furthermore, we seek answers about operational decisions and other circumstances that have contributed to such delays and what is being done to prevent future failures.
Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has played a critical role in keeping Virginians connected and safe. Whether it is the delivery of groceries, household necessities, or medications, countless Virginians continue to depend on USPS as a critical link to vital resources. For this reason, we, along with dozens of other lawmakers, wrote to you repeatedly last summer to express our apprehension with respect to operational changes you implemented at USPS without consulting Congress or key postal stakeholders, including unions. In response to these concerns, you temporarily halted some, though not all, of the operational changes planned until after the November 2020 election. In correspondence from August and September 2020, you assured us that changes to insist mail carriers operate strictly on schedule and eliminate extra trips had resulted in only a “temporary service decline.” You also noted your plans to resume operational changes, such as the removal of mail-sorting equipment and collection boxes after the November election. In light of this information, we are deeply troubled to see that mail delivery has once again precipitously declined across Virginia, this time to new lows, according to public court filings.
In more recent correspondence from your office, USPS government liaisons have cited the historic surge in holiday mail, temporary personnel shortages related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and capacity challenges as contributing factors to recent delays. While we appreciate USPS’s efforts to hire seasonal workers, add delivery and retail hours in select locations, and lease extra vehicles, it is clear that USPS leadership’s interventions have thus far been insufficient in matching its operational challenges.
In December 2020, first-class mail on-time delivery rates averaged just 52.4% in the Northern Virginia Postal District (Capitol Metro Area), 55.1% in the Richmond Postal District (Capitol Metro Area), and 67.0% in the Appalachian Postal District (Eastern Area). These rates represent drastic declines relative to baselines in on-time delivery from March 14, 2020 – July 11, 2020, the period between the onset of COVID-19-related impacts and the announcement of your operational changes. The on-time delivery rates of first-class mail in this time frame was 90.9% in the Northern Virginia Postal District, 90.3% in the Richmond Postal District, and 93.8% in the Appalachian Postal District. This decline is unacceptable. Because widespread delays also extend to periodicals and marketing mail, we must assume that vital packages, including medicine, are also experiencing substantial delivery delays.
While we seek a general explanation of the factors contributing to substandard delivery rates, we also seek an explanation with respect to two specific issues raised by our constituents. First, dozens of our constituents, particularly in the Eastern region of our state, have tracked packages and mail that have been stuck at the USPS Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC) in Richmond, Virginia, sometimes for weeks at a time. This facility serves hundreds of thousands of our constituents across the Commonwealth and is critical in keeping much of our state connected. Insufficient staffing and capacity at such an essential outpost in Virginia’s mail system have profound consequences. A recent report from the USPS Office of Inspector General found that Richmond P&DC had the fourth-highest late trip rates among P&DCs nationwide and underestimated incoming mail piece volume by 66% in its operations plans. Relatedly, many of our constituents in all corners of the Commonwealth are reporting that they are not receiving any mail for days or weeks at a time despite the Informed Delivery system indicating they are receiving mail. We understand this is likely due to staffing shortages but implore you to create additional contingency plans to ensure a particular delivery route does not miss its mail for days at a time simply because its letter carrier is out sick.
In addition to playing a vital and constitutionally mandated role in the life of every American, the Postal Service also directly supports nearly 17,000 jobs in Virginia. These letter carriers and postal workers deserve our gratitude for their remarkable service in these extraordinarily difficult times. We understand USPS has worked to establish COVID-19 protocols to equip its workforce with the necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and heightened sanitation standards. However, it has been difficult to ascertain the impact of COVID-19 on the USPS workforce. Unlike other federal agencies like the Department of Defense and the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Postal Service maintains no public repository on the COVID-19 case levels amongst staff across postal areas and districts. We stand committed to marshalling federal resources towards our postal workers in areas where staff has been hard hit but cannot do so without reliable information sharing from USPS.
In light of the tremendous challenges facing the Postal Service during the COVID-19 pandemic and the failure of its leadership to ensure the timely delivery of mail in recent weeks and months, we urge you to immediately reverse all operational and organizational changes that have contributed to substantial mail delays. We also urge you to collect and publish aggregate data on confirmed COVID-19 cases among postal workers by Postal Area so public health agencies, Congress, and USPS can better surge targeted support towards regions facing substantial staff shortages. Finally, we urge you to review and implement processes to expedite the delivery of mail-order medications in an environment of widespread delays.
It is our belief that the Postal Service has an acute responsibility, especially while Americans attempt to weather unprecedented health and economic crises, to live up to its mission of “prompt, reliable, and efficient services to patrons in all areas.”
To that end, please answer the following questions by February 11, 2021:
1. To what does USPS attribute the rapid decline in on-time delivery rates of first-class mail since November across the nation? What factors specific to Virginia have led it to consistently report some of the worst on-time delivery rates for first-class mail?
2. Has USPS continued to pursue operational changes that contributed to mail delays over the summer, including eliminating most “extra trips” to a single delivery site and disallowing letter carriers to wait for all of their mail at a distribution center?
3. Has USPS resumed operational changes that were postponed through the November election, including the removal of mail sorting equipment, collection boxes, cutting operational hours, and encouraging limited use of overtime for letter carriers? Has USPS pursued other operational or organizational changes since the November election? If so, when did USPS begin implementing such changes?
4. Now that the holiday surge is over, what efforts is USPS undertaking to ensure mail service, particularly for first-class mail and packages, improves during the coming weeks? Will USPS pursue initiatives to locate packages and mail that are significantly delayed (more than two weeks beyond expected delivery) to expedite their processing and delivery as soon as possible?
5. Please share any data you have on the delivery rates of mail-order medications in Virginia and nationwide. What actions has USPS taken and does it plan to take to prioritize pharmaceutical package service performance in light of mounting mail delays?
6. Please share relevant data on the performance of the Processing and Distribution Center in Richmond, Virginia. What factors have contributed to substandard performance? Is the Richmond P&DC experiencing significant staff shortages?
7. How many USPS employees have contracted COVID-19 nationwide and in Virginia? Will USPS release aggregate data on postal worker cases by Postal Area, similar to the Department of Defense or Department of Veterans Affairs?
8. What actions has USPS taken and does it plan to take to address staffing shortages, particularly of postal workers delivering mail? Are there other organizational challenges that would explain why constituents would not be receiving any mail service for days or weeks at a time?
9. What can Congress do to support USPS in its critical efforts to keep Americans healthy and connected during these uncertain times? Are there additional federal resources that would be helpful in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 among postal workers?
10. Does USPS have plans for further “organizational realignments” similar to the efforts undertaken in July and August? If so, can you please discuss such plans as well as associated efforts by USPS to meaningfully engage with relevant stakeholders, including unions and mailing industry stakeholders?
New Warren Memorial Hospital ‘95% complete’ – transfer from North Shenandoah Ave. due in June
In a “Zoom” talk before the Rotary Club of Front Royal April 16, Warren Memorial Hospital Board Chairman Floyd Heater reported construction of the new $100-million hospital on Leach Run Parkway “95% complete” and a ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for June 8.
Several other community open houses, among those for employees and donors, will be scheduled before and after patients are admitted June 23. By then, hospital departments will be in place (June 16) The emergency department will be operational June 23.
Already complete and awaiting Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspection on the 150-acre site is a helipad, most welcomed by employees of the old hospital site where a stamp-sized parking lot was used for air evacuations. Calling the helipad a “great enhancement,” Heater further remarked, “There’ll be no more moving of cars every time (air evacuations) are necessitated,” with a nod to long-suffering staffers at the old hospital that has been operating at its North Shenandoah Avenue location more than 70 years.
Generally, the new $100 million complex is state of the art, while Heater singled out the three operating rooms he said would be “the envy of many other hospitals.” Also, he gave mentions to Front Royal Rotarian Fred Andreae and his family for their contributions to a 2.5 mile wellness and recreation trail on the property, and to members of the public who contributed more than $2.5 million to the Warren Memorial Hospital Foundation capital campaign, including some of the trail costs, a history wall and medical history display, plus a brick paver engraved with the names of brick-buying donors. The bricks will become part of an outdoor patio in the hospital’s courtyard.
Overall, space-wise, employees will have 52,000 more square feet to work in – 177,000 vs 125,000 square feet.
“Taking Health Care to New Heights” is the title of a Valley Health handout, available online, which describes the new hospital and all of its 21st century features.
Warren County/Skyline High School Senior Prom scheduled for May 22 at the Gazebo
The Senior Prom for 2021 will bring both senior classes together on Saturday, May 22, 2021, at the Gazebo in downtown Front Royal. A group of concerned parents got together and planned this event for this year’s graduating class.
The Senior Prom signifies one last unforgettable evening as High School Seniors, and with the ‘Old Hollywood’ theme, it will be an evening to remember. Formal wear is required, so get the gowns and tuxedos ready. It’s also a free event, but tickets are required. Go here to sign up.
Watch the video for all the details, and go to the Facebook group to stay updated.
Warren County School Board meets Wednesday to act on van purchases, ESY staff raises
The Warren County School Board during its Wednesday, April 21 meeting will consider requests by Warren County Public Schools (WCPS) to increase hourly pay rates for extended school year positions, purchase two vehicles, and approve the 2021-2022 local Perkins Career and Technical Education Plan.
The first of three action agenda items to be considered this week by the School Board is to approve a request by WCPS to increase the hourly pay rates for extended school year (ESY) positions, which provide services to qualified students with disabilities throughout the county. ESY student support generally occurs in the summer but is designed and planned to meet the individual needs of each student, according to the School Board’s agenda.
Due to this year’s short summer break, it has been increasingly difficult to secure staff, according to WCPS Director of Special Services Michael Hirsch, who will recommend increasing the hourly rates of the ESY administrator from $35 per hour to $45 per hour; the speech pathologist and physical and occupational specialists from $35 to $45 per hour; the ESY teachers from $25 an hour to $35 per hour; the Summer School and the ESY school nurse from $25 to $35 per hour; and the ESY instructional assistants from $10 to $15 per hour.
The second action agenda item for the School Board’s consideration is the 2021-2022 Local Plan for Career and Technical Education Perkins Funds, which provide WCPS with funds to support Career and Technical Programs and includes equipment, professional development, and student organization support. The funding is not to supplant but to enhance local funding, according to the agenda.
The last item slated for School Board action on April 21 is a WCPS request to purchase two used Dodge Caravans from G&M Auto Sales in Front Royal, Va., that will be used primarily for student transport in and out of Warren County. WCPS Transportation Director Aaron Mitchell will explain that WCPS seeks to maintain a quality, safe, and needs appropriate vehicle fleet, and the plan is for WCPS to trade in four vehicles for the two Caravans, according to the School Board’s agenda.
A work session is also scheduled during the School Board’s Wednesday meeting during which time Hirsch is scheduled to discuss required immunizations for WCPS students, and WCPS Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Melody Sheppard will provide a second reading and further discussion on the Virginia School Board Association’s School Board Policy Updates.
April 7 meeting summary
In highlights from the School Board’s April 7 meeting, Sheppard reported that the WCPS Food Services staff has prepared more than 900,000 meals for students since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. In recognizing staff members for their hard work, Sheppard commented on the extraordinary job that both Food Services and transportation employees have done in preparing and delivering meals during this time.
She also presented Nickole Kinsey, WCPS Food Services general manager, with a plaque from the state in appreciation for the work that has been done to make sure students remained fed during the pandemic.
In his report to the School Board on April 7, WCPS Superintendent Christopher Ballenger said that as of that date, there were 15 active student cases of COVID-19 and six staff cases. He said that the school division will continue to utilize the same mitigation guidelines it has been using.
Ballenger also reported that he has held initial conversations with both high schools and class representatives about upcoming graduations. The current plans call for Warren County High School’s graduation to be held in the stadium on Saturday, June 12 at 8 a.m., and for graduation at Skyline High School’s stadium to be held at 10 a.m. on the same day.
Students would be given four tickets with 10 feet of social distancing required between families, said Ballenger, noting that the plan is based on the current state and federal guidance and could be adjusted if that guidance changes between now and graduation.
In addition, Ballenger told School Board members that a proposal for a Linden, Va., bus stop is being reviewed by the Virginia Department of Transportation and an initial meeting with families has been held to review the plan.
The School Board also on April 7 adopted a resolution honoring Ballenger as a Virginia Superintendent of the Year for 2020-2021. The Virginia Association of School Superintendents (VASS) is honoring all 133 division superintendents throughout the state as Virginia superintendents of the year due to their extraordinary leadership during the 2020-2021 school year and their roles in serving their communities through the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the School Board’s April 7 meeting minutes.
VASS plans to recognize all the superintendents during its spring conference and asked that each school board in Virginia adopt a resolution recognizing their superintendent as a Virginia Superintendent of the Year for 2020-2021. The motion to adopt the resolution honoring Ballenger was made by School Board Vice Chairwoman Catherine Bower, seconded by board member Ralph Rinaldi, and carried by a 5-0 voice vote with School Board Chairman Arnold Williams, Jr., and members Kristen Pence, James Wells, Rinaldi, and Bower voting aye.
In other action on April 7, the School Board unanimously approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the School Board and the Warren County Sheriff’s Office for School Resource Officers (SROs) that was signed by the superintendent.
Current policy requires that the Warren County School Board and the Sheriff’s Office have an MOU that sets forth the powers and duties of the SROs. The MOU is reviewed and affirmed or amended at least once every two years and is modeled after the Virginia School-Law Enforcement Partnership Model MOU, Sheppard told School Board members.
The partnership between WCPS and the Warren County Sheriff’s Office is intended to facilitate effective, timely communication and coordination of efforts, and the MOU establishes a framework that both the schools and the Sheriff’s Office can work within to achieve shared goals toward creating and maintaining safe and secure school environments and to promote a positive and supportive school climate, according to the School Board’s agenda.
The Warren County Sheriff’s Office will employ and provide WCPS with 10 law enforcement officers to serve as SROs who will assist with matters related to the safety and security of the schools. Sheppard pointed out that SROs also will help school administrators develop school crisis and response plans, as well as coordinate crime prevention and school safety, among other tasks.
The School Board also unanimously approved a request that WCPS enter an MOU with Shenandoah University to provide a reading specialist endorsement program within the school division and that the superintendent be authorized to sign the memorandum.
As part of the partnership, WCPS will provide a cohort with a minimum of 20 participants at the cost of $624 per student per course, to cover the cost difference should the cohort drop below 20 participants, and to secure a commitment from participants to complete the program.
Sheppard said that WCPS has 21 teachers and one instructional specialist who have signed commitment letters to complete the reading specialist endorsement program. For those seeking the add-on endorsement, they have committed to completing the program and remaining in the division for three years following their completion of the program, she said, adding that for those seeking a master’s degree as a reading specialist, they have committed to completing the program and remaining in the division for five years following their completion of the program. Should they fail to complete the program or not stay the agreed-upon three or five years, she said they are responsible to pay back all funds paid on their behalf.
For its part, Shenandoah University will provide the instructional delivery, invoice the school division based on the agreed-upon rate, and will waive all graduate application fees and offer direct admission for all cohort participants, Sheppard explained.
The MOU will remain in force for two years but can be terminated by either party given a 90-days written notice, she said, adding that courses will be paid for using a combination of Title I funds, tuition reimbursement funds, and local professional development funds.
In another unanimous approval, the School Board voted to award a $17,543.75 contract to Roanoke, Va.-based Time Technologies Inc. for the purchase and installation of a digital marquee sign at Skyline High School to replace the current manual one.
Skyline High School (SHS) Assistant Principal Jody Lee told School Board members that SHS administration recognizes “this is not a need but rather a want but feel that this will be an asset to SHS and the community to enhance notifications for the students, families, and surrounding community members.”
“We feel that due to COVID-19 impacts, being virtual has allowed us to spend less than normal and feel this opportunity will not come again without a long-term fundraiser,” Lee said, noting that the sign will be single-sided with an illuminated routed nameplate for the school’s name. SHS also wants to use a Cloud-based software program for the sign images and notices.
The project, which should take roughly two months from the date of a signed contract, is over the $15,000 threshold so SHS asked to use its School Board funds to pay for the sign due to the current availability of allocated funds.
The School Board also voted 5-0 to adopt the 2021-2022 Special Education Annual Plan, which includes an application for federal funding in the total amount of $1,241,840.
The board’s April 21 meeting starts at 5 p.m. and will be held at the Diversified Minds meeting room located at 465 W. 15th Street in Front Royal.
The Golden Throne: Fundraiser for Warren County Habitat for Humanity
You might see a golden toilet making its way around Front Royal through the end of April. This is a fundraiser for Warren County Habitat for Humanity (WCHFH). If you are lucky enough to find the Golden Throne in your yard, you can pay $10 to have it removed or $20 to have it removed and taken to a friend. To ensure that the toilet won’t return to your yard, you can purchase “Plumbing Insurance” for just $30. You may pre-purchase Plumbing Insurance if you’d like to support WCHFH, but would rather not have the honor of showing off the Golden Throne at your home or business.
You can “follow” the Golden Throne as it travels around our community. Follow WCHFH on Facebook.
For questions, removal, or to request toilet placement or insurance, contact Amanda Slate, WCHFH Board President, at Amanda.firstname.lastname@example.org or (540) 974-1827. For more information about Warren County Habitat for Humanity programs, contact Jessica Priest-Cahill, WCHFH Executive Director, at (540) 551-3232 or email@example.com.
Founded locally in 1993, Warren County Habitat for Humanity seeks to build homes, community, and hope in Front Royal and Warren County. Habitat for Humanity homes are sold with no profit received. The homes are built utilizing volunteer labor, donated resources, and money from the community. Homeowners must meet three qualifications: willingness to partner; ability to pay; and have a need for decent, affordable, and safe housing. In addition to the Habitat Homeownership Program, WCHFH provides home repair programs for low-income homeowners, homeownership and home maintenance education, and advocacy for affordable home ownership. To learn more visit warrencountyhabitat.org.
Front Royal man charged for sexual solicitation of underage victims
On Wednesday, April 14, 2021, Front Royal Police detectives initiated an investigation regarding the solicitation of minors in the Warren County/Front Royal area. Detectives started a proactive approach to apprehend individuals soliciting underage victims for sexual purposes.
An undercover operation ensued, and an adult male began soliciting one of our detectives who he believed to be an underage female for photographs and sexually explicit material. The adult male suspect sent sexually explicit materials to the detective. The initial conversation was unsolicited and started by the offender in this case.
Police identified the suspect as 20-year-old Front Royal resident, Daniel Currence. Currence was arrested on 04/16/2021 and transported to the Rappahannock Shenandoah Warren (RSW) Regional Jail. Currence was ordered to be held on a $5,000 secured bond with a scheduled court date of May 20, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. in Warren County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.
The Front Royal Police Department is an active member of the Northern Virginia/DC Metro (NOVA/DC) Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, which is coordinated by the Virginia State Police. We request anyone with information regarding the exploitation of a minor to contact Front Royal Police Detective M.R. Ramey at (540) 636-2208 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Virginia Beer Museum and Shae Parker celebrate in-house Aries birthdays
Due to a rash of owner-staff April birthdays over the past week, on Saturday, April 17, Shae Parker headlined an “Aries Birthday Celebration” at the Virginia Beer Museum in Historic Downtown Front Royal. Parker, also an April birthday, of the River Driven band performed three solo sets, 24 songs in all, of original material.
Parker, proprietor of Hanna Signs in town, also produced the event’s very late-1960’s psychedelic-era themed poster that may have led some of the “more mature” attendees into time-space continuum flashbacks to the glory days of the “English Invasion” and Haight Ashbury-centered classic rock & roll they grew up with.
So, Happy Birthday, David (April 14), Jeremy (April 17), Derek (April 19) and Shae (April 14), from this reporter (April 17).
And always remember, Aries, numero uno – the rest will always be followers of the Ram along the celestial path of the zodiac; and whose ruling planet, Mars, as of April 19, 2021, has the first man-made flying object hovering around the surface of another planet as mankind explores for signs of past or present life, and potential sites for future human exploration and colonization on the red planet.