Warren County joined the mounting protest against massive proposed fee hikes to national parks on Wednesday morning, November 8. The county board of supervisors unanimously approved a resolution urging the National Park Service to reconsider the 180-percent hike from the current $25 daily rate for vehicles to $70. The item had been part of the Consent Agenda but was removed by Happy Creek Supervisor Tony Carter so the reasons for the action could be publicly discussed.
The resolution asked the county’s congressional delegation – Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, as well as Delegate Robert Goodlatte – to pressure the park service to reject the increase proposed by the Trump Administration. Warner and Kaine have already expressed strong opposition.
A letter from the local Chamber of Commerce in the board agenda packet also urged the county’s elected officials, business owners and citizens to express their opposition directly to the park service by the public comment deadline of November 23. That letter from Chamber President Niki Foster, who was present at the morning supervisors meeting, summarized the two-pronged concerns at the heart of growing opposition to the plan – “… a fee of this magnitude may be prohibitive to many tourists, and with fewer tourists come decreased revenue to our business community. In addition, this fee could make it less affordable for families at the lower end of the economic scale to enjoy the beauty and educational opportunities offered at the Shenandoah National Park.”
As to Foster’s latter point, as Front Royal Town Attorney Doug Napier told us of the proposal’s impact on lower-income Americans, “It’s mean, it’s just mean spirited.” fee hike plan – maintenance or something else?
As we previously reported, according to the Trump Administration, which is charged with administering the National Park Service (NPS) through the Department of the Interior, the fee hikes will serve to address an $11.3 billion maintenance backlog.
Of the administration proposal, Senators Warner and Kaine said, “These fee increases, many of which are two-to-three times that of current levels, could price out many of our constituents and other individuals and families across the country from visiting these national treasures …we do not believe that shifting the burden to our park visitors in the form of significant fee increases is an appropriate or practical way to reduce the deferred maintenance backlog.”
Warner and Kaine pointed to alternative bipartisan legislation, which Warner co-sponsored, introduced earlier this year as a counter-solution to deal with the long-time national park maintenance backlog.
“The National Park Service Legacy Act would help eradicate the maintenance backlog at the Park Service by directing existing revenues from mineral royalties toward high-priority deferred maintenance needs of the National Park Service, including investing in critical NPS infrastructure like Arlington Memorial Bridge.
“This bipartisan legislation would help repair and restore the aging and deteriorating infrastructure of our national parks and ensure that these treasure are preserved for future generations to enjoy. It would allow the Park Service to reduce its maintenance backlog without having to significantly increase the cost of admittance for visitors of our national parks,” Virginia’s senators said.
The full list of 17 parks targeted in the fee hike proposal is: Shenandoah, Yellowstone, Acadia, Yosemite, Arches, Glacier, Grand Teton, Rocky Mountain, Grand Canyon, Glacier, Denali, Mount Rainier, Sequoia & Kings Canyon, Olympic, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, and Joshua Tree.
As Town Attorney Napier pointed out, North Carolina’s Smokey Mountain National Park with more visitors than Shenandoah annually, is mysteriously off the list. – “There’s no logic to it,” Napier observed.
Current passes at Shenandoah National Park (SNP) are priced at:
- Weekly (which serves one to seven days):
- $25 vehicle (private);
- $20 motorcycle;
- $10 bike or walking;
- Annual, $50;
- Lifetime (62 or older), $80.
At other parks the current 7-day entrance fees vary from $30 at Yellowstone and Yosemite; $25 at Glacier and as little as $10 at Arches.
Proposed peak season fees at the designated parks are:
- Weekly passes:
- $70 vehicle (private) (180% increase at SNP);
- $50 motorcycle (150% hike at SNP);
- $30 bike or walking (200% hike at SNP);
- Annual pass $75 (50% hike at SNP).
I-81 southbound slow roll scheduled in Frederick County on October 26th
A slow-roll is scheduled on Interstate 81 in Frederick County on Tuesday, October 26 at 11 a.m. This operation, managed by the Virginia State Police, will take place in southbound lanes between exit 307 at Route 277 in the Stephens City area and exit 302 at Route 627 in the Middletown area. All slow-roll activity will conclude by noon.
The slow roll is needed for blasting operations near I-81 that will take place on a developer’s construction site in the Middletown area.
All work is weather permitting.
Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511. Traffic alerts and traveler information also are available at http://www.511Virginia.org.
WCHS conducts National Honors Society induction ceremony
On October 14, 2021, Warren County High School’s National Honors Society chapter held an induction ceremony. The chapter inducted twenty-six (26) new members. National Honors Society is a national organization dedicated to scholarship, character, service, and leadership. These new inductees will be a part of an organization of incredibly impressive alumni.
All new members received a certificate and their membership cards. Mrs. Jyoti Vasishta, NHS advisor, stated in her introduction speech: “Our chapter is proud to have been inducting new members since 1963 and today’s ceremony indicates the continuing emphasis on excellence that we represent for our school and community”.
Last year’s new members were unable to receive an official induction ceremony due to the pandemic. A part of the ceremony was dedicated to recognize and honor these members. These members also received the certificate and the membership pin.
Mr. Kenneth Knesh, Warren County High School’s principal, delivered an inspirational speech to students and parents in the closing.
“Tonight you join judges, lawyers, teachers, military officers, Ivy League graduates and yes, even a current rocket scientist at NASA as members of our NHS fraternity. Now your name will be among those distinguished alumni who proudly call Warren County High School their alma mater. They went on to do great things and we believe that you are destined to join them in helping to shape the world we live in and become future leaders of this great country of ours. Be bold, be brave and be the light of someone’s world.”
New members include: Alyssa Albritton, Genevieve Blodgett, Anthony Carter, Zane Michael Clark, Nicholas Foltz, Amanda Genari, Lacie Glascock, Ginger Gouda, Ian Hoelscher, Arthur Kresge, Audrey Moya Machuca, Gabriella Mangene, John Martin, Emily Mawson, Haley Oyler, Cayden Patton, Mason Polk, Landon Pond, Nicole Ranney, Julianne Rappole, Mia Santillan, Sara Waller, Sebastian Ward, Leah Webster, Olivia Yates, and Brian Zook.
Former members include: Paige Arndt, Madeline Bryant, Aidan Grupac, Cayla Kleinschmidt (Historian), Griffin Martin, Maya McKean, Joanna Mendez-Dorado, Savannah Mitchell, Mavryck Lance Mora, Emma Mullins, Sydney Nalls (Treasurer), Margaret Plosch, Taye Russell, Nathalie Schelin, Jordan Searcey, John Schultzaberger (President), Kiersten Stives (Secretary), and Francis Treutlein (Vice President).
By Emily Mawson, NHS Inductee
FR-WC Anti-Litter Council awards Fall 2021 Clean Business Award to Twi-Lite Motel
On October 20th, 2021, Shiv Patel, co-owner and assistant manager of the Twi-Lite Motel located at 53 West 14th Street was presented with a framed certificate for the Fall 2021 Clean Business Award. The FR-WC Anti-Litter Council President, Justin Proctor nominated them for this award based on their efforts to maintain their parking and recreational pool areas clean and free of litter, cigarette butts and neatly presented to the public and their guests. They also were sited for having landscaping that accents and enhances the property as more than just another lodging facility in the entrance corridor to the Town of Front Royal. The ALC awards local businesses in the community with a framed certificate to recognize their contributions to protecting the environment through recycling and litter control and planting of landscaping and trees to improve the street views of the Town and County.
These contributions are made possible through a non-competitive grant from the Office of Environmental Education of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, which promotes educational opportunities for the recycling, reusing, and reducing of litter and waste products in our everyday lives.
The Front Royal – Warren County Anti-Litter Council’s Mission is: “To educate, motivate and participate in the prevention of litter and to assist the citizens of Front Royal and Warren County to become better stewards of our environment.”
For further information on becoming a member or other ALC programs contact: Matt Wendling or Chase Lenz in the Warren County Planning Department at (540) 636-3354 or via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Carter Myers Automotive donates almost $30,000 to pediatric cancer non-profits
Carter Myers Automotive (CMA) observed Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in a big way. For each vehicle sold during the month of September, CMA’s dealerships throughout Virginia made a donation to local non-profits that support pediatric cancer research and treatment and provide resources for local children and their families as they undergo cancer treatment.
“We are so proud to support the incredible work of these organizations,” said Liza Borches, President and CEO of Carter Myers Automotive, “As a family and employee-owned company, CMA has always made giving back to our communities a top priority. Our corporate mission is Moving Lives Forward, and I cannot imagine a better way forward than to help children and their families as they endure such a difficult point in their lives.”
CMA has five dealerships in the Richmond area and chose the ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation as the recipient of funds raised at those stores. CMA’s dealerships in Staunton, Charlottesville, and Winchester chose UVA Children’s Hospital. CMA’s Williamsburg Ford chose the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters. In addition to donating for every car sold, CMA associates and customers collected personal donations at each dealership.
Altogether, CMA is donating a total $29,655 to #FueltheFight against childhood cancer.
About Carter Myers Automotive
Carter Myers Automotive (CMA) is a family and employee-owned business founded in Petersburg, VA, in 1924. Liza Myers Borches is the fourth generation of the Myers family to lead the company. Through a unique Employee Stock Ownership Plan, employees now own over 26% of the business, and CMA is still one of the only auto groups in the country that shares ownership equity with its employees. CMA has 15 dealerships in Virginia and more than 700 associates representing 17 new cars brands including Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, GMC, Honda, Hyundai, Jeep, Kia, Lincoln, Nissan, RAM, Subaru, Volkswagen, and Volvo. With nearly 3000 new and used vehicles in stock, CMA offers online car buying through CMA’s Easy Purchase, can transfer inventory to any other CMA location, and offers home delivery throughout Virginia. Learn more at www.CMAcars.com.
Front Royal/Warren County Chamber of Commerce Candidate Forum
The Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce hosted a Candidate Forum on Thursday, October 20, at the Government Center at 220 N. Commerce Avenue in Front Royal, Virginia.
The forum included candidates for Town Council, Board of Supervisors, and School Board.
The candidates for Warren County Board of Supervisors include Vicky Cook, Fork District, and Jay Butler, Happy Creek District. Write-in candidates were not invited to participate in this forum.
Board of Supervisors Forum
The candidates for Front Royal Town Council include Amber Morris and Bruce Rappaport.
Town Council Forum
The candidates for Warren County School Board include Stephanie Short and Antoinette Funk for Happy Creek District, Andrea Lo, Fork District, Melanie Salins, and Angela Robinson, North River District.
Warren County School Board
School Board sets 2022 grad date; approves higher substitute nurses pay rate, GT plan
The Warren County School Board chose a May 28, 2022, graduation date for high schools in Warren County and unanimously approved the education plan for gifted students in Warren County Public Schools (WCPS), as well as an increased pay rate for substitute nurses.
School Board member Kristen Pence, who chaired the board’s Wednesday, October 20 meeting and work session, along with board members Ralph Rinaldi and Melanie Salins attended the meeting, while School Board Vice Chair Catherine Bower and member James Wells were absent. Wells arrived later and joined the work session portion of the meeting.
High school graduation for both Skyline High School and Warren County High School will be held on Saturday, May 28, 2022, which is Memorial Day weekend. Skyline High School students will graduate at 8 a.m.; Warren County High School students will graduate at 10 a.m. on the same day.
In another action agenda item, the board approved the WCPS Local Plan for the Education of the Gifted for school years 2021 through 2027. New items in the local plan include the addition of an online cognitive abilities test, also known as the CogAT, and the addition of two full-time gifted and talented (GT) resource teachers, “which will really increase our gifted offense this year at the elementary level,” WCPS Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Alan Fox told School Board members.
In other action, WCPS Superintendent Christopher Ballenger also received unanimous approval from the School Board to request that the Warren County Board of Supervisors increase the School Board’s fiscal year 2021-2022 Operating Fund Budget by $4,062,240. The money would be distributed to cover instruction ($2,907,875); operations and maintenance ($9,721); facilities ($1,042,644); and technology ($102,000).
According to Ballenger, since the original fiscal year 2022 operating budget was adopted on May 5, there has been $4,062,240 in federal and state grants awarded to WCPS. To receive and spend this unbudgeted revenue — which resulted from the receipt of federal pandemic relief grants and several state grants — an additional appropriation must be received from the Board of Supervisors, he said.
On another item, School Board action was postponed following a lengthy discussion on the Virginia School Screening Testing for Assurance (ViSSTA) program, which is being launched by a partnership between the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Virginia Department of Education.
The ViSSTA program is a new, free COVID-19 screening testing program for Virginia public and private K-12 students, teachers, and staff for the 2021-2022 school year, according to the VDH website, which said that while it “strongly encourages schools to participate” in the ViSSTA program, it is optional.
Under ViSSTA, public and private schools in the state can be matched with vendors who will conduct pooled screening testing in schools, VDH said. Public schools can also receive funding for needed supplies and/or to hire local school staff to support the program, such as school division testing coordinators, school nurses, or mitigation specialists. There is no cost to schools to conduct screening testing in schools and schools may have to assign certain duties to the existing staff to help support the program and liaise with the vendor and school community to help make the program successful, VDH said.
The new hires would “have no fiscal impact on the school system,” Hirsch said, and the additional supports also would help implement voluntary pool screening, support building-level administrators and school nurses, and the division coordination of its COVID response.
“Our nurses and my department have been really, really bogged down… with the [pandemic] on an hourly and minute-by-minute basis throughout the last 18 months,” said Hirsch. “This will alleviate the stress on our nursing system so that they can focus on their clinics” and would allow them to get back to pre-pandemic “business as usual,” he added.
Nevertheless, because more information on ViSSTA is expected to be forthcoming from VDH and the state education department, the three present board members voted to postpone action on the item until the School Board’s November 3 meeting.
WCPS Personnel Director Shane Goodwin said that increasing the pay rate for substitute nurses would help WCPS build a solid pool of substitute nurses, which are in high demand across Virginia due to the ongoing pandemic. The board approved an increase from $90 a day to $100 per day for substitute nurses and a long-term substitute nurses’ pay rate to be set at $120 per day effective through June 2022.
Several WCPS central office staff provided the School Board with updates on numerous items, including on Facilities, Child Nutrition, and Transportation operations, the WCPS Comprehensive Long-Range Plan for 2021-2026, as well as the WCPS Special Education Advisory Committee 2020-2021 annual report.
Other items under discussion included the advisability, scope, frequency, and method of discipline and incident reporting to the School Board, as well as possible revisions to board policy regarding Public Participation at School Board Meetings.