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Warren County School Board approves FY2020-2021 proposed budget

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On March 11, 2020, the Warren County School Board unanimously approved the proposed fiscal year (FY) 2020-2021 operating budget for Warren County Public Schools and will present it to the Warren County Board of Supervisors next week.

Still to come, however, is news from the Virginia General Assembly, which is set to vote on its budget proposal during an extended session on March 12. The final approved budget that gets signed by Gov. Ralph Northam will dictate what the state Department of Education provides for the division’s state revenue, which is based on the governor’s proposed budget with the addition of the compensation supplemental amount from the Virginia House of Delegates.

WCPS Finance Director Robert Ballentine said the compensation supplemental amount is anticipated to be $389,548 for WCPS, but he added that “we’re still going on assumptions” until there’s an approved and signed state budget.

WCPS Finance Director Robert Ballentine explains the state budget funds to the School Board. Photos and video by Mike McCool, Royal Examiner.

The approved WCPS FY2020-2021 operating budget proposal totals $62,247,344 with a total local contribution from the Warren County Board of Supervisors of $26,956,323 plus $3,070,728 from the division’s Cafeteria Fund Budget.

“This proposed budget … reflects the most immediate needs of the division as determined through numerous stakeholder and staff meetings, as well as five School Board work sessions over the last several months,” said Melody Sheppard, Interim Superintendent for Warren County Public Schools (WCPS), told members during the School Board’s special meeting on Wednesday, March 11.
Specifically, among the changes to the current budget that are proposed for the next fiscal year include full implementation of pay scale revisions for WCPS teachers, instructional assistants, and nurses, as well as a one percent step increase for other employees, Sheppard said.

Additionally, the proposed FY2020-2021 budget will absorb the cost of the rate increase for the Virginia Retirement System, and will make employee health insurance rates market competitive on two health insurance plans while also adding an employee-plus-children tier on those plans, she said.

Other changes include the addition of two English Language teachers and operating the division’s Behavior Support Specialist Program at two schools.

There also will be two special education instructional coaches hired to help certain WCPS schools attain or maintain accreditation, among other duties, and the division also wants to bring on two more instructional resource team specialists, said Sheppard.

The proposed FY2020-2021 WCPS budget also will replace five school buses via a lease-to-own agreement that would run over a five-year term.

Budget funds also will be used to replace textbooks and increase funding for the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program, which has experienced higher enrollment in numerous trades classes, Sheppard said.

Melody Sheppard, Interim Superintendent for Warren County Public Schools (WCPS) discusses budget items with the School Board.

Warren County School Board Vice Chairwoman Catherine Bower motioned to approve the proposed FY 2020-2021 operating budget for submission to the Board of Supervisors, with a second from School Board member James Wells. The motion carried with a unanimous vote from School Board Chairman Arnold Williams Jr., Ralph Rinaldi, Kristen Pence, Bower, and Wells.

Sheppard said she and Ballentine will present the WCPS budget next week to the Board of Supervisors during its budget work session on Tuesday, March 17.

Watch the School Board Special meeting in this exclusive Royal Examiner video:

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Crime/Court

Local arrest made after purchasing pickup truck with fake check

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On June 1, 2020, David S. Twigg Jr. was arrested for using several forged and one fake check to purchase a 2020 Ford F-250 Super Duty Pickup Truck from a local Auto Dealer. Information obtained as part of this investigation has implicated Twigg in similar scams in West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and other parts of Virginia. A record check of Twigg returned an active arrest warrant out of Norfolk Virginia for a larceny charge.

If you have information on this individual, please contact Investigator Jeremy Seabright at 540-635-4128.

Photo courtesy of Warren County Sheriff’s Office.

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Governor Northam announces Phase Two guidelines to further ease public health restrictions

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Governor Ralph Northam on June 2, 2020, signed Executive Order Sixty-Five and presented the second phase of the “Forward Virginia” plan to continue safely and gradually easing public health restrictions while containing the spread of COVID-19. The Governor also amended Executive Order Sixty-One directing Northern Virginia and the City of Richmond to remain in Phase One.

Most of Virginia is expected to enter Phase Two on Friday, June 5, as key statewide health metrics continue to show positive signs. Virginia’s hospital bed capacity remains stable, the percentage of people hospitalized with a positive or pending COVID-19 test is trending downward, no hospitals are reporting PPE shortages, and the percent of positive tests continue to trend downward as testing increases. The Governor and Virginia public health officials will continue to evaluate data based on the indicators laid out in April.

“Because of our collective efforts, Virginia has made tremendous progress in fighting this virus and saved lives,” said Governor Northam. “Please continue to wear a face covering, maintain physical distance, and stay home if you are high-risk or experience COVID-19 symptoms. Virginians have all sacrificed to help contain the spread of this disease, and we must remain vigilant as we take steps to slowly lift restrictions in our Commonwealth.”

Executive Order Sixty-Five modifies public health guidance in Executive Order Sixty-One and Sixty-Two and establishes guidelines for Phase Two. Northern Virginia and the City of Richmond entered Phase One on Friday, May 29, and will remain in Phase One to allow for additional monitoring of health data. Accomack County delayed reopening due to outbreaks in poultry plants, which have largely been controlled through rigorous testing. Accomack County will move to Phase Two with the rest of the Commonwealth, on Friday, June 5.

Under Phase Two, the Commonwealth will maintain a Safer at Home strategy with continued recommendations for social distancing, teleworking, and requiring individuals to wear face coverings in indoor public settings. The maximum number of individuals permitted in a social gathering will increase from 10 to 50 people. All businesses should still adhere to physical distancing guidelines, frequently clean and sanitize high contact surfaces, and continue enhanced workplace safety measures.

Restaurant and beverage establishments may offer indoor dining at 50 percent occupancy, fitness centers may open indoor areas at 30 percent occupancy, and certain recreation and entertainment venues without shared equipment may open with restrictions. These venues include museums, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, and outdoor concert, sporting, and performing arts venues. Swimming pools may also expand operations to both indoor and outdoor exercise, diving, and swim instruction.

The current guidelines for religious services, non-essential retail, and personal grooming services will largely remain the same in Phase Two. Overnight summer camps, most indoor entertainment venues, amusement parks, fairs, and carnivals will also remain closed in Phase Two.

Phase Two guidelines for specific sectors can be found here.

Phase One guidelines sectors are available here.

Visit virginia.gov/coronavirus/forwardvirginia for more information and answers to frequently asked questions.

The full text of Executive Order Sixty-Five and Order of Public Health Emergency Six is available here.

The full text of amended Executive Order Sixty-One can be found here.

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Crime/Court

Sunday night house fire ruled arson – occupant charged

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On Sunday, May 31, 2020, at approximately 10:20 pm, the Warren County Department of Fire and Rescue Services was dispatched to 121 E. 14th Street, Front Royal, for a reported residential structure fire.

Fire, Rescue, and officers from the Front Royal Police Department arrived at the scene and observed an active fire in the basement with a significant amount of smoke coming from the doors and windows of the first floor. Firefighters initiated a rapid search of the residence and determined no one was trapped inside the home. The fire was quickly extinguished, however, the residence was rendered uninhabitable with an estimated $80,000 in damages. One of the occupants of the home has received assistance from the American Red Cross.

An investigation by the Warren County Fire Marshal’s Office determined the fire was caused by an act of arson and requested assistance by the Front Royal Police Department Criminal Investigations Division.

As a result of the investigation and consultation with the Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Office, Lauren T. Roberts, a 33-year-old Front Royal resident, has been charged in connection with the fire incident. Ms. Roberts has been charged with a single felony count of Virginia Code § 18.2-77 Burning or destroying a dwelling house. Roberts was transported to the Rappahannock, Shenandoah, Warren (RSW) Regional Jail where she was held without bond. The court date for this offense is on July 28, 2020, at 9 am in Warren County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.

Lauren T. Roberts. Photo courtesy of RSW Jail.

Anyone with additional information regarding this incident is asked to contact Fire Marshal G. Maiatico at 540-636-3830 or Detective M.R. Ramey with the Front Royal Police Department Criminal Investigations Division at 540-636-2208.

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Royal Comfort Shoe Center relocates and trades spaces with the OPEN HOUSE meeting space on Main Street

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WHAT MATTERS Warren—Despite the plethora of challenges faced by retail establishments the past few months, Mark and Yuliya Poe, owners of the Daily Grind and Royal Comfort Shoe Center, have taken a leap of faith that has strengthened their dedication to their Main Street businesses and to the community in which they serve. As of last month, their establishments are now adjacent to each other in the Middle of Main building and the doors of The Daily Grind now open into the delightfully appointed Royal Comfort Shoe Center. The couple can now share resources and staff as the shoe center benefits from a better location closer to the heart of historic Main Street.

More than just a shoe store, the Center offers custom fittings, consultation, and a wide range of high-end footwear. Opened in 2018, they have expanded to now offer 250+ different styles of well known and leading brands in the comfort shoe industry including SAS, Vionic, Propet, Thorogood Boots, Naot, Jambu, Samuel Hubbard, Taos, Sanita, Crocs, Drew, Clarks, Aetrex, Birkenstock, Florsheim and New Balance, and they are constantly adding new brands. In addition to high quality, comfortable, stylish footwear and orthotics, they offer specialty socks as well as shoe repair and shoe lifts (all work is completed in-house). Owner Mark Poe is also proud to provide his guidance from his expertise as a Certified Pedorthist (C-Ped). His decades of experience in the industry ensure customers find the footwear that best supports their individual needs.

The entrepreneurs did much more than embrace relocation and expansion during these trying times surrounding the COVID crisis. They have dedicated their former shoe center storefront at 114 E. Main Street to become the new OPEN HOUSE space and will continue to fulfill the mission of the community meeting space Beth Medved Waller began funding four years ago. In mid-April, as Waller prepared for another month of investing her $2,000 per month commitment to fund the OPEN HOUSE space (unused due to the quarantine since early March), she did some sobering soul-searching. As much as she loved providing the free meeting space, she forced herself to face the reality that she had already invested $4,000 in a building that was sitting empty and would be for the considerable future. “One of my favorite WHAT MATTERS Initiatives was sponsoring OPEN HOUSE. It always warmed my heart to drive by Main Street and see wonderful people of our community gathered and meeting. Great connections, service, ideas, and memories have originated within the space throughout the years. But I couldn’t justify spending thousands more to fund an initiative that would likely be dormant for many months,” said Beth.

Yuliya Poe, who has been the neighbor to OPEN HOUSE for years as she operates The Daily Grind shared, “When we learned of Beth’s decision to close OPEN HOUSE, we offered to immediately take over her lease. We respect the commitment she has for the community and loved what she was doing with the space. When we ran into her in the hallway, and she proposed using her furnishings at OPEN HOUSE to convert the former shoe center location into a meeting space for the community, we did what we do—followed our hearts. Within 24 hours, plans were being made to turn the former shoe center space into a non-profit center and carry on the mission she started.”

Stay tuned for updates about the new OPEN HOUSE, which will be sponsored by their businesses and expanded to offer even more to the Front Royal/Warren County community. And when you find yourself ready to click on Amazon for your next shoe purchase, or drive to neighboring zip codes to open your wallet, be sure to stop by The Royal Comfort Shoe Center instead and give your feet the benefit of friendly local expertise and your heart the privilege of supporting a business that gives back to our community (and of course you’re welcome to enjoy a cup of Daily Grind coffee while you shop). Learn more on Facebook or call 540-749-2741. They are open Tuesday-Friday from 10 to 5, and Saturday from 9 to 2.

WHAT MATTERS INITIATIVE

Are you or your group in need of a free video that could be created to help market your cause or event? Beth’s WHAT MATTERS Warren videos post on Facebook and YouTube.

Learn more Beth’s nonprofit, WHAT MATTERS, a 501 (c) (3), at www.whatmattersw2.com – check out the “Community” section to request a TOWN TIP or WHAT MATTERS WARREN BETHvid or contact her at 540-671-6145 or beth@whatmattersw2.com.


About WHAT MATTERS:

WHAT MATTERS is a 501(c)(3) that focuses on local and global outreach to help spread the word, support and raise funds for causes that matter (primarily through Facebook). WHAT MATTERS has ZERO overhead as 100% of the expenses are funded by Beth’s real estate business thanks to her clients and supporters. Every cent raised goes to the cause she’s promoting and most are matched by Beth. If you’d like to get involved, or travel to Africa with her on a future trip to work with the children of Light up Life Foundations, please visit www.whatmattersw2.com.

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Governor Northam COVID-19 update briefing – June 2, 2020; addresses protest, Phase 2 starts Friday

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Governor Northam joins the Virginia Emergency Support Team to share the latest updates on the COVID-19 response. Here are the highlights:

The Governor began the June 2 briefing by discussing the protests across Virginia. His message to protesters is “I hear you,” and that he pledges to stand with them. Several spoke with the Governor including 70th District Del. Delores McQuinn, Shirley Ginwright with the Virginia African American Advisory Board, and Jim Bibbs, chief human resources officer for the Virginia Port Authority.

The Governor announced most of the state can move into Phase Two of reopening the state this Friday, June 5. He said Northern Virginia, Richmond, and Accomack County will stay in Phase One.

Here are some changes under Phase Two:

  • Restaurants can have indoor seating at 50 percent capacity
  • Gyms can have indoor classes/ workouts at 30 percent capacity
  • Pools can open with some restrictions
  • Museums/zoos can open with restrictions
  • Recreational sports allowed but there can be no shared equipment
  • Gatherings limited to 50 people rather than 10
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Changing a life, one car at a time

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WHAT MATTERS Warren — Bill and Sandy Long, owners of the Auto Care Clinic in Front Royal, had no idea in 2018 that their car giveaway event would prompt them to start their own 501 (c)(3) nonprofit a year later. The generous couple has a goal of giving away one car per month through “Cars Changing Lives” and they have already donated 7 cars to those in need. Learn more about their efforts as they passionately describe their nonprofit during this video:

The Longs have a long history of giving back to the community they love. They enjoy providing uniforms for several sports teams, monetarily supporting local non-profits and completing charity repairs for local churches. They’ve also raised significant funds through area fundraisers. They are partnering with case managers of local non-profit organizations such as Phoenix Project, United Way, Front Royal Women’s Resource Center, and Valley Assistance Network (VAN), to discover recipients for their free vehicles. If you or someone you know is in need of transportation, contact a local nonprofit to inquire about being nominated.

Those interested in learning more about their ministry, volunteering, contributing tax-deductible funds, donating vehicles (running or not) or helping with preparing cars for grateful new owners are encouraged to contact them at (540) 635-2455 or carschangingliveswarrencounty@gmail.com. Be sure to visit their website and like their Facebook page.


WHAT MATTERS INITIATIVE

Are you or your group in need of a free video that could be created to help market your cause or event? Beth’s WHAT MATTERS Warren videos post on Facebook and YouTube.

Learn more Beth’s nonprofit, WHAT MATTERS, a 501 (c) (3), at www.whatmattersw2.com – check out the “Community” section to request a TOWN TIP or WHAT MATTERS WARREN BETHvid or contact her at 540-671-6145 or beth@whatmattersw2.com.


About WHAT MATTERS:

WHAT MATTERS is a 501(c)(3) that focuses on local and global outreach to help spread the word, support and raise funds for causes that matter (primarily through Facebook). WHAT MATTERS has ZERO overhead as 100% of the expenses are funded by Beth’s real estate business thanks to her clients and supporters. Every cent raised goes to the cause she’s promoting and most are matched by Beth. If you’d like to get involved, or travel to Africa with her on a future trip to work with the children of Light up Life Foundations, please visit www.whatmattersw2.com.

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