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Warren County budget process continues with requests from outside agencies: Blue Ridge Legal Services, Northern Virginia 4-H, Samuels Public Library

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Northern Virginia 4-H Program Manager Sarah Percival makes her requests to the Board of Supervisors. Photo and video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

 

The Warren County Board of Supervisors held work session with outside agencies regarding the FY 2020-2021 budget on Tuesday, January 28, 2020.

Royal Examiner will follow the process over the next few weeks. In this first session, 15 outside agencies presented their request to the Board of Supervisors. In this first meeting, Supervisor Tony Carter  was absent – sick as well as Archie Fox. No word on why he missed the meeting. Supervisors Walt Mabe, Cheryl Cullers and Delores Oates, along with Doug Stanley and Bob Childress attended.

In part 1, Blue Ridge Opportunities, The Warren Coalition and the Phoenix Project presented their requests to the Board of Supervisors. In part 2, you’ll hear from Blue Ridge Legal Services, Inc, Northern Virginia 4-H and Samuels Public Library.

It’s interesting to hear the discussion and see the detail of what it takes to put a budget together. It’s a slow and long process, but necessary.

Watch the process on this exclusive Royal Examiner video:

 

Blue Ridge Legal Services, Inc

Blue Ridge Legal Services, Inc. (BRLS) is a nonprofit charitable civil legal aid program providing free legal assistance in civil matters of critical importance to low-income residents of the Shenandoah Valley and Roanoke Valley.

Northern Virginia 4-H

The Northern Virginia 4-H Educational and Conference Center’s mission is to facilitate proven experiential learning programs for youth, families, and adults that educate, inspire and connect.

Samuels Public Library

Samuels Public Library brings people, information, and ideas together to enrich lives and build community.

 

 

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Local Government

Front Royal/Warren County urge community to signup for Smart911

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From the Warren County Office of Emergency Management:

As Warren County and the Town of Front Royal prepare for and respond to the spread of COVID-19, public health and safety officials are strongly encouraging the community to sign up for the Smart911 national safety profile registry, a free service that allows individuals and families to provide critical medical information to 9-1-1 and first responders.

The County and Town are launching the “Take Control, Let Us Know” campaign to empower the community to take action and provide valuable and accurate health data that increases the awareness of 9-1-1, first responders, and Emergency Management to an individual’s risk level for Coronavirus. Members of our community are looking for ways to improve the safety of their families, friends, and neighbors as Coronavirus spreads. By signing up for Smart911, individuals can help first responders get the key information they need about every person who may need assistance, not only during this outbreak but during any emergency.

Individuals can create a Smart911 Safety Profile for their household at www.smart911.com or on a mobile device through the Smart911 app that provides critical medical information for those who may be at higher risk of developing a serious COVID-19 illness. As identified by the CDC, the vulnerable population includes older adults, and those with a history of chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, respiratory conditions, and compromised immune systems. When an individual calls 9-1-1, his/her Smart911 Safety Profile is automatically displayed, allowing public safety agencies to send emergency response teams to the right location with enhanced medical data.

Individuals can additionally self-identify if they are under quarantine, and whether it is self-imposed or directed by a health professional. The Smart911 App allows quarantined individuals to receive check-in messages on their health status. Smart911 also allows individuals to sign up for alerts from Warren County and Town of Front Royal officials to receive reliable information about the ever-changing Coronavirus situation. Individuals who sign up will also receive tailored alerts based on their specific needs and geographic location. With enhanced Coronavirus awareness, individuals and first responders have vital information to take proper precautions.

“As Coronavirus continues to be a major public health concern, we are doing everything we can to prepare, respond, and mitigate risk to those in our community who need assistance,” said Richard Mabie, Warren County Coordinator of Emergency Services. “The information provided in a Smart911 Safety Profile enables us to know who is at the greatest risk in our community. We can provide individuals with critical updates based on their location and health history. Ultimately, Smart911 gives our community the chance to be proactive and lets us know who requires our services. We urge the residents of Warren County and the Town of Front Royal to Take Control, Let Us Know. Sign up for Smart911, and help us address the Coronavirus outbreak.”

To sign up, visit www.smart911.com or download the Smart911 app to your mobile device through the Apple Store or Google Play.

This is a rapidly changing situation, and the most current information is available on the following websites: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus or www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/. Please consult www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus for the latest number of COVID-19 cases in Virginia.

Additionally, you can find local information on the Warren County COVID-19 website: https://www.warrencountyva.net/coronavirus-latest-information, the County of Warren, VA Facebook page, or the Town of Front Royal COVID-19 website: https://www.frontroyalva.com/645/Covid-19-Local-Response.

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COVID-19 Emergency Management Team briefing number 2: Community, patience with restrictions, and expanded Schools free-lunch program

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The three speakers at the second weekly local COVID-19 Emergency Management Team briefing, from left, Acting School Superintendent Melody Sheppard, County Board Chairman Walter Mabe, and Lord Fairfax Health District Director Dr. Colin Greene. Royal Examiner Photos/Roger Bianchini – Royal Examiner Video/Mark Williams – Royal Examiner Audio/Mike McCool

At the second of weekly briefings, the joint Warren County-Town of Front Royal COVID-19 pandemic Emergency Management Team was joined by Lord Fairfax Health District (LFHD) Director Dr. Colin Greene and Warren County Public Schools Acting Superintendent Melody Sheppard.

County Board and Management Team Chairman Walter Mabe opened the 3:30 p.m., Thursday afternoon, April 2nd roundtable discussion and question and answer media session with a brief review of public and personal health do’s and don’ts and online sources of information, as well as a call for a community response to the threat of the pandemic.

“The other thing we’re asking you to do is to help others. Not everybody that you know has access to the Internet … They are people who are your neighbors, they’re your friends and associates that may not have the Internet. They need to be spoken to … and told what they need to do, especially for just the simple things that we’re trying to do,” Mabe said of neighbors helping neighbors at a time when social distancing is a pandemic response key phrase.

Banished to the adjacent caucus/work session room to keep room numbers under 10, are from left, Town IT/Communications Director Todd Jones, County Board Clerk Emily Ciarrocchi – happy belated wedding wishes, Emily – Interim Town Manager Matt Tederick, County Fire Chief Richard Mabie and County Administrator Doug Stanley. County Emergency Manager Rick Farrall and FRPD Chief Kahle Magalis were also present, if not pictured.

But whether it’s at the suggested 6-foot face-to-face distance, or by phone, Mabe said we can maintain our sense of community through the pandemic response period, however long it may last.

And how long, among other medical and statistical variables, were among topics touched on by Dr. Greene. The doctor pointed out that the basic recommendations of frequent hand washing and other precautionary tactics will be worth keeping beyond the first wave of COVID-19 in the nation and localities across the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Dr. Greene said there have now been four confirmed COVID-19 cases among Warren County residents, though he added that they may not have all been identified by testing at Valley Health’s station at its Commerce Avenue site in Front Royal. He also said the number of confirmed cases in the six-municipality LFHD has risen to 43, with a nearly even split between men and women.

Most of that number has been between the ages of 40 and 70, with a spectrum from “under 20 to over 80”. Thus far, none of Virginia’s 41 fatalities have been in our health district that includes the City of Winchester, Clarke, Frederick, Warren, Shenandoah and Page Counties.

Dr. Greene declined to speculate on how many actual cases in the health district or commonwealth there may be. As the State Health Department website notes, only 17,589 of Virginia’s 8.62 million population have been tested.

Dr. Greene, far right, plays to a largely-empty room – there’s Emergency Director Farrall, seated at far left, back to camera.

He also updated national statistics, including about 225,000 confirmed cases and 5200 deaths in the U.S. – about a 2% fatality rate. It is a rate the mandated restrictions many states and cities are implementing are hoped to maintain or decrease from higher numbers seen elsewhere, including Europe. Greene noted death rates from 6% to 11% in Western Europe, with Italy holding that high number, followed by Spain’s 9% fatality rate. Only Germany at about 1.2% has a lower fatality rate among western European nations than the U.S. currently has, Greene said.

Free Lunch Program expanding
Following Dr. Greene’s question-and-answer with the media, Public School Acting Superintendent Sheppard traced the free lunch distribution program schedule, stops and times. The school system is expanding its free lunch program available to students under the age of 18, out into the community through the state-mandated school closings. She also explained that while the doors are closed to the County’s bricks and mortar educational sites, education continues through online and other methods to see the county’s students are not robbed of this school semester or year.

Dr. Greene had some newer statistics than those posted on the Virginia Health Department website earlier in the afternoon.

If you missed the live stream video, or even if you didn’t, see the full COVID-19 Emergency Management Team briefing in this Royal Examiner video – there is information included that you, and your neighbors, need to know:

 

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Local Government

Town Notice: Fairground tank rehab project

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The Fairground Tank will be removed from service beginning April 13th, 2020 for full rehabilitation. The telecommunication antennas on the tank have been relocated to temporary poles on the property adjacent to the tank site. The antennas will remain on the temporary poles until the tank work is complete which is planned to last for 45-60 days.

The Town has prepared a plan to provide continued water service throughout the duration of the project. The work planned for the tank will include repainting the interior and exterior of the tank. The Town requests that any fire flow testing related to business insurance purposes be planned for after the tank project is completed.

Please contact Mike Kisner at 540-636-7474 or Robert Boyer at 540-635-7819 if you have any questions.

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Council poised for decision on CDBG pavilion project despite added costs

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‘CH’ – Gallagher’s Cheri Herschman – tried to open the council’s March 30th virtual work session with an employee health insurance presentation. However, her audio hook up experienced issues, leading to her getting bumped to second on the agenda. Royal Examiner File Photos/Roger Bianchini – Royal Examiner Audio/Mike McCool

After technical difficulties with the remote hook up of Gallagher representative, Cheri Herschman knocked the employee insurance plan presentation off the top of the Monday virtual work session agenda list, the Front Royal Town Council heard from Interim Town Manager Matt Tederick on issues with the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program’s revitalization of Front Royal’s Historic Downtown Business District.

“Needless to say, we’ve had some challenges with the CDBG in general, and now with the Coronavirus hitting our community it’s been even more of a challenge,” Tederick told the council to begin the March 30th work session discussion.

Among those challenges needing to be addressed almost immediately, Tederick explained were approval of amendments to bylaws to address personnel changes in the Façade Advisory Board and acknowledgment of the decision to move to the “materials only” option on financing downtown business façade improvements due to unexpectedly high bids on work and materials through the federal-state grant process.

“Several members got off the board; we have to add new members to the board,” Tederick said of the necessity of bylaw updates regarding program staffing.

As the agenda packet noted, those several “members who got off the board” included two, former Town Planning and Zoning Director Jeremy Camp and Tourism and Community Development Director Felicia Hart, whom Tederick terminated as part of his January 27 municipal downsizing initiative tied to his FY-2021 budget proposal. Also on the list was former Town Manager Joe Waltz, whom many observers of Town Hall believe resigned several months earlier to avoid being asked to implement then-Interim Mayor Tederick’s staff and departmental cutback plan.

The bylaw amendment would acknowledge Tederick’s replacement of Waltz as the program’s Grant Administrator, Director of Finance B. J. Wilson’s stepping into Hart’s role as “Assistant Project Manager” and the addition of Interim Planning-Zoning Director Chris Brock as “Project Manager”.

To build or not to build
Also on the table for movement toward quick council action, as in its first meeting of April, was a decision on whether or not to proceed with construction of the new Village Commons-Gazebo area Pavilion building aspect of the CDBG plan. Staff noted in the agenda packet that project estimates have added $143,349 to the $140,000 the Town has available for that major new downtown revitalization construction project now estimated at a total cost of $283,349.

The Front Royal Visitors Center has been a popular stopping point for community tourism information. After Town ‘Tourism’ promotion was suggested for outsourcing and removal from the Town budget, is council eyeballing a ‘Tourism’ promotional facility upgrade?

Staff’s recommendation should the council decide to proceed with this new construction aspect of the CDBG program, which was to request a CDBG budget amendment that would allow a 50/50 Town-CDBG Program split of the additional costs.

“We just need to get some guidance from council whether to continue down the path of staff trying to find the $75,000 dollars – in the packet we have various line items that I’ve been able to identify in the current budget in order to fund the $75,000 dollars. So, I just need to know … if that’s what you want to do,” Tederick told the council.

The line items Tederick identified to raise the Town’s half of the needed additional revenue should the State Grant administrators agree to the budget amendment for the project, came from departmental budgets whose staffs were impacted by Tederick’s late January terminations. They include a total of $39,079 from the Community Development Department; $25,000 from former Council Clerk Jennifer Berry’s budget; and $10,921 from the remaining staff salary allotment for the Horticulture Department.

First, Councilman Jacob Meza questioned whether the Town could commit the money to this project while so many revenues and timeframe on business closing variables from the COVID-19 pandemic emergency response remain unknown.

Revitalize what – targeted for federal funding through state agencies for a façade facelift, downtown businesses are currently facing an undetermined shut down as part of attempts to stem the tide of the COVID-19 pandemic spread statewide and locally.

“We’re still kind of structuring our budget for next year. But I still think there might be decisions to be made on the dollars that’ll be spent out of our budget considering the financial impact that we’re going to sustain with the all the preparation and the work keeping the COVID-19 down,” Meza said, adding, “All I’m saying is I think I’m okay with tonight deciding that we’re going to put the $75,000 in the budget with the line items that you’ve put in our packet that went out. But I’m still not a hundred percent sure that some things will be financially feasible depending on the financial impact of the COVID – does that make sense?”

While replying that he understood Meza’s concerns, Tederick noted that the line item funds he had identified were out of the existing budget, not next year’s where the Town will see the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and response on Town revenue streams and expenditures. The interim town manager pointed out staff needed a direction from council in the short term on whether they wanted to pursue a major aspect of the CDBG project in this budget year, or leave it to an uncertain budget-year future.

“So, you’re saying take it out of this year’s budget, but I thought we originally talked about having to set aside additional funds because the cost overage was unexpected, and you’re saying not take it out of the next year’s budget,” Meza replied.

Tederick reiterated that the additional $75,000 he had identified to try and move the pavilion project forward with a requested CDBG budget amendment was, indeed, out of the Town’s current FY-2020 budget.

Noting that due to project changes some funds committed to the façade aspect of the downtown revitalization project might end up coming available to other CDBG projects like the pavilion, Vice-Mayor Bill Sealock suggested council seize the moment if funding was now available, rather than wait facing an uncertain budgetary future.

I’ve got an idea for a downtown façade improvement – a movie marquee with films and playing times listed for a non-pandemic-stricken citizenry.

“So, I’m thinking looking forward instead of looking backward with this epidemic or pandemic, that we need to think about going forward in a positive manner,” Sealock told his colleagues.
Tederick then told council he did not feel there was great time pressure, and that the matter could be forwarded to another work session “to give you time to process … and have another round of discussion on whether to move forward or not”.

However, Finance Director B. J. Wilson noted that the building contractor on the project had been holding the price now on the table for some time. He pointed out that work session discussion of the matter had been on council’s schedule several weeks earlier; and that it was currently an unknown how much longer the price estimate at the root of the March 30 discussion might hold in what has been a builder’s market.

After the mayor polled a somewhat nervous council, a majority consensus was established to move the matter forward for a decision at the council’s next meeting.

Hear, if not see, council and staff’s discussion in the linked Royal Examiner audio recording:

Town will waive card-payment fees thru June, undecided on long-term options

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Warren County Parks and Recreation facilities closed

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From the Warren County Office of Emergency Management:

Warren County is taking additional precautionary measures to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the community. Among these is restricting the use of Warren County’s parks to trails and outdoor spaces only. The Front Royal Golf Club is also open to the general public.

During the use of these areas, individuals must, at all times, maintain social distancing as described in the Governor’s Executive Order 55 (Temporary Stay At Home Order Due To Novel Coronavirus – COVID-19).

Effective immediately, all Warren County parks restrooms, playgrounds, and picnic shelters will be closed to the general public. The Warren County Parks and Recreation community center, indoor and outdoor recreation facilities remain closed. Registration for classes and events is temporarily disabled on our website. Events and organized activities are canceled; this includes use by sports leagues. Equipment rental is not available at this time. The Warren County Parks and Recreation Department offices remain open (but closed to the public) to field your related questions via phone at 540-635-7750 or 540-635-1021 or via email at kzitzer@warrencountyva.net.

This is a rapidly changing situation, and the most current information is available on the following websites: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus or www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/. Please consult www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus for the latest number of COVID-19 cases in Virginia.

Additionally, you can find local information on the Warren County COVID-19 website: https://www.warrencountyva.net/coronavirus-latest-information, the County of Warren, VA Facebook page, or the Town of Front Royal COVID-19 website: https://www.frontroyalva.com/645/Covid-19-Local-Response.

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What are you looking for in the next Town Manager for Front Royal?

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Baker Tilly, a leading local government executive search and advisory firm, is managing the search process for the next Town Manager for Front Royal, Virginia. The position is critical to the functioning of Town operations and the successful candidate will be responsible, under the guidance of the Mayor and the direction of Town Council, to manage Town operations as they collectively endeavor to enhance the quality of life for current and future residents of the Town. The application portal for those interested in applying can be found here, where a brochure is posted describing the organization, the position responsibilities and the leadership opportunities presented by the post. The brochure also describes the desired capabilities, qualifications and experience sought by Town Council for the job.

Additionally, the Town seeks any input that community stakeholders wish to contribute on the experience, management and leadership qualities they would like to see in the Front Royal’s next Town Manager, along with any other issues they may feel are relevant to the selection process. A survey to gather this input has been established online. Citizens and other stakeholders are encouraged by Council to respond to the survey by April 17th, 2020. Results will be tabulated and returned to the Town in order that it be available for candidate screening and selection. When published and returned to the Town, the survey report will be made available by the Town.

The link to the survey will be posted on the Town’s web page. The Mayor and Council encourage as many as possible to respond so that their perspectives may be registered.

For more information, please contact:

Steve Miner
Managing Director
Steve.Miner@bakertilly.com
804-240-9760

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Upcoming Events

Apr
7
Tue
10:00 am Focus on Health Employment & Edu... @ LFCC | Science and Health Professions Building
Focus on Health Employment & Edu... @ LFCC | Science and Health Professions Building
Apr 7 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Focus on Health Employment & Education Fair @ LFCC | Science and Health Professions Building
Two sessions: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. Different vendors at each session. Held in the Science and Health Professions Building at LFCC’s Middletown Campus. Contact Taylor Luther for more[...]
4:30 pm Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 7 @ 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! Tuesday, March 17 –  Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! This[...]
Apr
8
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 8 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, March 18 and Thursday, March 19: Our stories, songs, and craft this week will be about friends! Come to story time and see your friends,[...]
Apr
9
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 9 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, March 18 and Thursday, March 19: Our stories, songs, and craft this week will be about friends! Come to story time and see your friends,[...]
Apr
10
Fri
6:00 pm Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Apr 10 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Apr
14
Tue
4:30 pm Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 14 @ 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! Tuesday, March 17 –  Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! This[...]
Apr
15
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 15 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, March 18 and Thursday, March 19: Our stories, songs, and craft this week will be about friends! Come to story time and see your friends,[...]
Apr
16
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 16 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, March 18 and Thursday, March 19: Our stories, songs, and craft this week will be about friends! Come to story time and see your friends,[...]
Apr
17
Fri
6:00 pm Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Apr 17 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Apr
18
Sat
9:00 am Community Earth Day Celebration @ Skyline High School
Community Earth Day Celebration @ Skyline High School
Apr 18 @ 9:00 am – 2:00 pm
Community Earth Day Celebration @ Skyline High School
In honor of the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, Front Royal/Warren County Tree Stewards would like to plant at least 50 Native Trees in our community. We are working with the Department of Forestry to[...]