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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

Front Royal man arrested on three outstanding indictments, multiple drug charges

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Dontreal Trevaun Arrington. Photo/RSW Regional Jail

On Thursday, September 24, 2020, the Front Royal/Warren County team of the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force (NWVRDTF) arrested Dontreal Arrington on three outstanding indictments for violations of Virginia Code section §18.2-248 distribution of schedule I or II controlled substances. These indictments stemmed from previous drug distribution incidents that occurred within the Front Royal/Warren County area. Arrington, who is the subject of an ongoing investigation involving the distribution of cocaine and marijuana within the Town of Front Royal, was also found to be in possession of cocaine at the time of his arrest.

Following Arrington’s arrest, agents with NWVRDTF obtained a search warrant for his residence in conjunction with the ongoing investigation into his drug distribution activities. A search of the property, located at 19 East Prospect Street in Front Royal, led to the seizure of approximately four ounces of cocaine, which has an approximate street value of $4,400.00. Additionally, over $35,000.00 in cash was also seized from the residence in addition to firearms, ammunition, and paraphernalia associated with illicit drug sales and distribution.

Following the search warrant, additional charges were placed against Arrington in connection with the evidence seized during the execution of the search warrant. These charges include one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine (§18.2-248(A)) and two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm while simultaneously possessing a controlled substance (§18.2-308.4(A)). Arrington was held without bond and is scheduled to appear in Warren County General District Court on September 29, 2020, at 10:00 am in relation to these offenses.

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EDA in Focus

Report on EDA’s regular meeting of September 25

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The EDA Board of Directors met for their regular monthly board meeting. Following a 1-hour Closed Meeting session the Board heard from Committee Chairs and Interim County Administrator Ed Daley.

Executive Committee Strategic Plan
Jeff Browne reminded the Board that the initial work on the EDA’s strategic plan will start October 9-10. Led by new EDA Board member, Jim Wolfe, community leaders are being asked to participate in the October 9th session and share their vision for our community. The session on October 10th will include a series of exercises to help Board members articulate goals and plans.

Finance Committee  – Financial Audits

Chair Jorie Martin’s Finance Committee report noted that the auditors from Brown Edwards are finishing up their examination. The committee is expecting the draft audit for 2018 by the end of October at the latest. The Finance Committee will meet and review the draft audit and present to the board if all goes well at the November meeting to finalize.

Bonds:
Bond payments are up to date: Royal Arms Housing bond fees are due every February. The payment for 2020 was paid. $20,500. Christendom College bond fees are due annually in September.

The 2019 fee was paid and the 2020 was just billed in the amount of $6,567.67. The calculation for payment is 1/8 of 1% of the loan balance.

Asset Management Committee:
Royal Lane Property/Workforce Housing Apartments
Committee Chair Greg Harold reported that there has been considerable interest from developers and investors in this property. Executive Director Doug Parsons has been fielding calls from interested parties as well. The RFDP is available in the EDA office. Please contact Doug at 540-635-2182.

Afton Inn
Harold updated the Board with news that the purchasers, 2 East Main, LLC, will not be closing on a loan in September. It is anticipated that closing will now take place by December.

EDA Office Building 400 Kendrick Lane
The staff has undertaken a clean out of the West Basement area. Warren County General Services department is handling the cleanup. All working tools and maintenance equipment were donated to their department and remaining items will be disposed of. We will be clearing out the effects and disposing of them in the proper fashion.

Kendrick Lane CDL Lot
The EDA has partnered with LFCC to provide the parking lot across the street from the EDA Office Building for their CDL Training program. In return, LFCC designed signs will be displayed in the area. There were two sign mock-ups to review by board members for the Workforce Development CDL Lot.

Executive Director
Doug Parsons reported to the board that the new EDA website development is proceeding and a promotional video of the EDA-owned property at 426 Baugh Drive is now available at https://youtu.be/W1EbBQ4avNs.

Many thanks to Brian Kelly of Randolph Macon Academy for his work in the drone footage and producing the video.

The Town of Front Royal Planning & Zoning Commission held a public hearing and then voted to approve the EDA to rezone two parcels in the Happy Creek Industrial Park to Industrial-2. The request will now be sent to the full Town Council for their approval.

The EDA Board of Directors will have their regular monthly board meeting via Zoom on Friday, October 23, 2020, at 8 a.m.

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EDA in Focus

County responds to Town announcement of FRPD financing

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Warren County released the following press release on Friday, September 25, 2020:

The press conference held on September 23, 2020, announcing that the Town of Front Royal has secured permanent financing for the Front Royal Police Department building is great news for the citizens of our community! It closes a chapter on one aspect of the lawsuit the Town of Front Royal filed against the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority (EDA) and ends months of dispute between the EDA, the Town, and the County. It should be viewed as a path forward to a working relationship between the Town of Front Royal, Warren County, and the EDA.

As Warren County citizens, we were brokenhearted by the EDA scandal. The breach by those who were entrusted with our tax dollars and economic development is one that will take years to restore. Efforts taken by the Warren County Board of Supervisors to restore faith and oversight of the new EDA Board of Directors are well documented. Both the Board of Supervisors and the EDA Board of Directors have worked diligently to clean up the mess and recover the stolen assets for taxpayers.

The portrayal by some Town leadership that the County was unwilling to work with the Town to resolve the EDA issues could not be farther from the truth. The County has had every incentive to work with the Town to resolve the Police Station debt owed by the Town and has repeatedly approached the Town to work together on economic development issues critical to the success of our community.

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Local News

Local farm in White Post, Virginia seeking full-time employee

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CARPENTER’S TRAINEE:
Need immediate full-time help in White Post, VA.

We are looking for an honest, hardworking team player, who wants to develop as a craftsman, and able to follow direction from our Master Carpenter. Must be open-minded and mechanically inclined. Little to no carpentry experience is expected, as our Master Carpenter would like to be able to mold and train. This is an excellent opportunity for a young person, just out of high school or college, to learn a skilled trade and get paid for it!

Monday-Friday from 7am-3:30pm. Excellent fully paid benefit package includes 401k, health, dental & vision insurance and much more.

To schedule an interview, please email your resume to sb546appl@gmail.com or mail it to P.O. Box 98, White Post, Virginia 22663.

  • Applicants must be at least 18 years old to apply.
  • References, background check, valid driver’s license and drug test required.
  • Tobacco-free environment.
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Local News

Locally produced short film “The Killer of Grassy Ridge” winning festivals worldwide

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A debut short film produced in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley is winning film festivals worldwide. “The Killer of Grassy Ridge” has won Best U.S. Short Film, Best Debut, Best Horror, Best Cinematography, and has been selected for nearly 40 film festivals across the world.

The nine-minute independent film was shot in November and December 2019 near Front Royal and Luray’s Lake Arrowhead in the Shenandoah Valley, with additional scenes filmed at a cabin in Rileyville and the mountains of Carter County, Tennessee.

First-time filmmaker Johnny K. of Alexandria wrote and shot the film purely as a personal challenge, giving himself just two months to create a finished product using only the limited gear and resources he had on-hand.

“Last year I became inspired by filmmakers who were out making movies using very little equipment. They were telling amazing stories while I was sitting on the couch complaining that my gear wasn’t good enough to make my first film. I’d been making excuses for long enough, so I wanted to prove myself wrong. Written, shot, and edited in 62 days, “The Killer of Grassy Ridge” is the result. My hope is that my movie will inspire other amateur filmmakers the same way I was inspired.”

With an entirely Virginia-based cast and crew, the film marks the debut of actors Michael Stumbo of Winchester and Arlington native Heather Stone. The movie showcases the natural beauty of the region and the isolated environment and scenic landscapes largely contribute to the tone of the film.

The film has now been selected for nearly 40 film festivals on six continents and shows no signs of slowing down.

“The Killer of Grassy Ridge” is now streaming on YouTube and will soon be available on Amazon Prime.

CLICK HERE to view the entire press kit with more images and details!

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Community Events

37th Anniversary of National Night Out to be held on October 6th

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On Tuesday, October 6, 2020, citizens throughout Front Royal are invited to join forces with thousands of communities nationwide for the “37th Anniversary of National Night Out” (NNO) crime and drug prevention event. National Night Out, is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch (NATW) and co-sponsored locally by the Front Royal Police Department and the Front Royal Police Foundation.

“We look forward to hosting this great event every year, but due to COVID-19 restrictions and safety concerns, we have had to cancel the “block party” style event that we usually hold on the Town Commons,” said Front Royal Chief of Police Kahle Magalis. “This year we are going to take National Night Out mobile and caravan to different locations throughout the town and meet up with our citizens in smaller groups in areas where we can practice social distancing.”

We will host neighborhood visits throughout the Town with police officers, foundation members, and our other law enforcement partners. The evening will begin at the Front Royal Police Department with opening remarks starting at 5:00pm and the start of the parade at 5:20pm. The route will continue through town and will utilize 5 stopping points along the route and conclude at the Town Gazebo at 8:00pm.

National Night Out showcases the vital importance of police-community partnerships and citizen involvement in our fight to build a safer nation. “Events like National Night Out are necessary to help strengthen the partnerships between the community and law enforcement,” said Brendan Murphy, Front Royal Police Foundation Vice Chair. This is the police department’s fourteenth year hosting NNO and without this partnership, law enforcement’s battle against crime would be limited.

Please watch for more information about times and locations on our numerous social media outlets.

Lastly, stop by the Front Royal Police Department and pick up blue lightbulbs and thin blue line flags, while supplies last, to help show your support during the parade!

Parade Route Stops

5:00 – 5:20  Front Royal Police Department
5:30 – 5:50 Warren County Skate Park
6:00 – 6:20 Ressie Jeffries Elementary School
6:30 – 6:50 Warren County High School
7:15 – 7:35 Marlow Heights Baptist Church
7:45 – 8:15 Town Gazebo

Route:

FRPD, R on Virginia Ave, L on 1st, R on Union, R on W. Main, SKATE PARK, R on Kerfoot to W. Criser to E. Criser, L into RESSIE JEFFRIES, R on Beeden, L on Hill, R on South St., L on Westminster to WCHS, L on Westminster, R on Walker, L on John Marshall, L on Leach Run, L on Oden, L on Ewell, R on Imboden, R on Happy Ridge, L on Goodview, L on Meadow Court, R on Lewis, L on Happy Creek, L on Manassas Ave to MARLOW HEIGHTS BAPTIST CHURCH, L on Happy Creek to Laura Virginia Hale into TOWN GAZEBO.

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King Cartoons

Front Royal
63°
Rain Shower
7:05am7:02pm EDT
Feels like: 63°F
Wind: 1mph N
Humidity: 93%
Pressure: 30.08"Hg
UV index: 0
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min 57°F
73/59°F
79/63°F