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Warren County School Board increases 2020-21 school year meal prices

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The Warren County School Board on April 15 unanimously voted to approve an increase in paid school meal prices for the school year 2020-2021.

Breakfast and school lunch prices will increase 10 cents to meet federal law requirements, said Interim Superintendent Melody Sheppard, with the new breakfast price set at $1.35 and the new lunch price is $2.20 for elementary students and $2.30 for middle and high school students.

“This will be the first time the breakfast price has increased since the 2014-2015 school year,” Sheppard said during the board’s regular Wednesday meeting, which was live-streamed from the Warren County Government Building in Front Royal.

All board members were present for the meeting, with School Board member Ralph Rinaldi remotely participating with Chairman Arnold Williams Jr., Vice Chairwoman Catherine Bower, and School Board members Kristen Pence and James Wells.

During her report to the School Board, Sheppard also noted that “at this time, it is too early to predict” when teaching will resume onsite at the actual school buildings, rather than via distance learning.

“Although challenged by the COVID-19 virus, our teachers and principals are reaching out to students and families in new ways,” she said, pointing out that they have checked in with most of their Warren County Public School (WCPS) students through telephone, email and Google Classroom. “Our teachers are providing new instruction and strengthening skills already taught.”

Additionally, Sheppard said that WCPS staff have assessed the number of students who do not have internet connectivity at each of the division’s schools and are providing them with printed learning materials.

Secondary teachers have office hours from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and again from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. each day, she said, with elementary teachers having office hours from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. daily and again from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

“Our teachers are working on delivering critical content to our students to help prepare them for the next school year,” said Sheppard.

Currently, WCPS staff also are planning summer school.

“We are not certain when we will be able to have summer school, but we want to be prepared and ready to move forward,” Sheppard said. “The goal of summer school will be to mitigate the learning slide from the school closure.”

For WCPS seniors, she said the division plans to schedule the graduation ceremony and other celebrations “as soon as we are able to select a date… but at this time with the current information available, we cannot predict when that will happen.”

Sheppard also said WCPS continues to deliver breakfast and lunch to students and last week delivered almost 11,000 meals.

“We are serving meals in a drive-through fashion at E. Wilson Morrison Elementary School, we are delivering meals with our food service van to 6 sites, and we are using our buses to deliver to an additional 15 sites,” said Sheppard. “We added Shenandoah Shores and Shenandoah Commons last week.”

Regarding the WCPS budget for the upcoming school year, Sheppard reported that due to the economy’s slowdown as a result of the pandemic, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has made recommendations for revisions to the state budget.

“We will receive the specific information as it relates to Warren County Public Schools after the General Assembly reconvenes on April 22,” she told School Board members. “The governor has recommended several areas to be suspended in the budget so the General Assembly can come back in the fall when they have a better idea of how the state budget will be impacted as a result of the coronavirus.”

Sheppard said that one of the items on the suspension list is the proposed 2-percent salary increase. “We will have a better idea of where we stand with the budget at the end of next week,” she added.

In other action items, School Board members unanimously adopted a resolution suspending existing School Board policies when they are found to be in conflict with state and federal laws that have been adopted or waived in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

“Many school board policies reflect state and federal laws and regulations, some of which have been waived by actions of the relevant government authority. The waivers of existing laws and regulations are designed to last for a relatively short period of time,” according to the WCPS summary of the resolution. “Thus, it would be impractical, if not impossible, for most school boards, especially those that generally adopt or amend policies after readings at two meetings, to change the policies that they currently have in place quickly enough to implement the legal and regulatory changes that have been made to address the coronavirus.”

School Board members also unanimously approved a request to be made for an additional 180-day extension on the appointment of a WCPS superintendent.

According to the WCPS summary of the action item, Warren County School Board Policy File: CBB – Appointment and Term of the Division Superintendent and Code of Virginia Section 22.1-60 require the School Board to request from the Superintendent of Public Instruction an additional 180 days within which to appoint a superintendent if the board will be unable to make such an appointment within 180 days of the vacancy.

The request for an extension is to be made within 120 days of the vacancy. As the current superintendent vacancy began on January 1, the formal request will need to be made by April 29, according to the summary.

And in order to be in compliance with the state and federal Stay at Home orders, it was decided to postpone the April 4 special meeting, as well as the candidate interviews, until such time as it is once again safe to do so.

“Because of this unavoidable and unanticipated delay, it is possible the Board may not be able to make an appointment by the original 180-day (June 28, 2020) deadline,” the summary says.

“Therefore, it is recommended that the Board take action to formally request an extension of up to 180 days.”

Following the action items on the agenda, School Board members received an overview and update on the WCPS Energy Services Performance Contract it has with Ameresco.

According to WCPS Maintenance Director Greg Livesay, the school district in December 2015 entered into the Ameresco agreement, which included numerous upgrades to WCPS facilities and performance measurements to save utility costs and enhance the operational efficiency of the school buildings.

According to a presentation by Ameresco executives Kevin Fetzer and Richard Ritter, who attended the meeting remotely, the company installed LED lighting, low-flow plumbing fixture retrofits and replacements, upgraded the energy management system, and created an alternate water source for supply to HVAC systems and sports field irrigation at both WCPS high schools, among other upgrades.

According to their project savings summary, the contract upgrades resulted in WCPS receiving $422,664 in cost savings in 2019, along with reduced emissions and additional positive environmental impacts.

The School Board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for May 6.

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EDA requesting Development Proposals for Royal Lane property

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Request for Proposals Sought for Royal Lane—A 36 Apartment Unit Development The WCEDA is pleased to announce the release for sale or request for proposals for the development of a thirty-six-unit apartment complex to be developed and built on Royal Lane within the Town of Front Royal. EDA Administration and the Asset Management Committee are presenting two acquisition and development options to qualified individuals or firms seeking to develop and build the first new apartment complex in Front Royal in over twenty years.

The primary mission and goal of the WCEDA is to provide a thriving climate for economic development opportunities within the entire community. Providing a mechanism for offering a market-based apartment complex, designed for the workforce community, is a necessitating factor for the overall economic health and maintaining sustainable and smart growth for the region. Communities thrive with the appropriate mix and balance of industry, service, education, sound government, and safe, affordable housing. Newly constructed apartments will provide additional housing options and fill a void in the current market structure.

Asset Committee Chairman Greg Harold recently presented and consulted with Mayor Eugene Tewalt and Vice Mayor William Sealock on the EDA’s continued ambitions in developing this project for its highest and best use. Town Council’s recent action in reducing System Development Charges and the granting of a Special Use Permit for this location will provide long term benefits to the community. The reduced fee structure along with Council’s recognition that the in-town housing stock for new apartment complexes and land parcels for multifamily developments are nearly non-existent will provide a new opportunity with the EDA’s partnership and leadership.

Committee Chairman Harold would like to convey to the community that while “workforce housing” is a popular buzz word amongst development and municipal circles, previous EDA leadership unintentionally mischaracterized such labels due to their inexperience and lack of true understanding of such housing structures. Workforce Housing initiatives are routinely sponsored and administered through local or regional Housing Development Authorities, secular and non-secular non-profits, or housing trusts that have clearly defined parameters that have been codified in town code or zoning ordinances; neither of which is present in Front Royal’s guiding documents.

What was once previously represented as housing designed for teachers, firefighters, nurses, and government administration staff, will not be the only community stewards eligible for residency.

All working individuals and families that find themselves beyond subsidized housing thresholds may find an opportunity in the development of this nature. By virtue of it being a private-public partnership and not seeking state or federal housing dollars, it will be a workforce housing project in the truest sense; regardless of professional affiliation. Other distinguishing attributes of this newly re-tooled project is the EDA’s ambition and commitment of being a facilitator in this transaction and operating with a high level of transparency in devising an RFP process where the investment community can competitively participate and present options and successful models with measurable results.

The WCEDA looks forward to engaging with all interested investors and developers in helping realize this project for the Town of Front Royal and the community at large. Request for development packages can be obtained at the 400 Kendrick Lane office or through Doug Parsons at Dparsons@wceda.com. Mr. Parsons can also be reached at 540-635-2182 Ext.2 for additional information.

Existing site engineering plans can be purchased through the WCEDA. Please contact Doug Parsons for further information.

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Town Talk: A conversation with Vicki Davies, St. Luke Community Clinic

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In this Town Talk, our publisher Mike McCool speaks with Vicki Davies, Executive Director, St. Luke Community Clinic in Front Royal.  The clinic services the residents of Front Royal/Warren County.

As a Warren County/Front Royal Resident and do not have health insurance:

  • if you are a single person making $38,280 or less per year,
  • if you are a family of 2 and your total household income is $51,720 or less per year,
  • if you are a family of 3 and your total household income is $65,160 or less per year,
  • if you are a family of 4 and your total household income is $78,600 or less per year,

For more information on new patient screening requirements call: (540) 636-4325. St. Luke Community Clinic, 316 North Royal Avenue, Front Royal, Virginia.

Please support the online auction the Clinic is holding, starting September 12, 2020, at 7 am and will end on September 26, 2020, at 6 pm.

Visit the event page of the Clinic here for auction information –https://saintlukeclinic.org/events/

Special thanks to the sponsors of the auction: Southern States, Winchester Ciderworks, Advanced Auto, Photography from Barbara Moore, Blue Wing Frog, Custom Golf Club from Bobby Chestnut, Field and Main, Ferguson Enterprises, Frontier Culture Museum, Glen Manor, Dr. Stoners and Griffin Tavern.

St. Luke Community Clinic
316 North Royal Avenue
Front Royal, VA 22630

Call:  (540) 636-4325
Fax: (540) 636-1743
Email: executive.director@saintlukeclinic.org


Town Talk is a series on the Royal Examiner where we will introduce you to local entrepreneurs, businesses, non-profit leaders, and political figures who influence Warren County. Topics will be varied but hopefully interesting. If you have an idea, topic, or want to hear from someone in our community, let us know. Send your request to news@RoyalExaminer.com

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Warren County Public Schools seeking car drivers and school bus aides

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School bus aides ensure the safety of students during transport.

Are you looking for a part time job? Do you like working with children? Do you want to be off when your kids are off? This may be the job for you! Warren County Public Schools is looking for car drivers and school bus aides. No experience necessary – we will train you.

Car drivers transport students between assigned stops and schools according to specified routes and time schedules, maintain order during trip, and adhere to safety rules when loading and unloading.

School bus aides oversee students over scheduled routes to and from schools and ensure the safety of students during transport, loading, and unloading from buses.

Apply online HERE, or apply in person at Warren County Public Schools (210 Commerce Avenue | Front Royal, VA 22630).

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People Inc. receives additional funding for rent and mortgage relief program

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WOODSTOCK, VA – People Incorporated has received additional funding for the rent and mortgage relief program serving residents of Clarke County, Frederick County, Page County, Shenandoah County, Warren County and the City of Winchester who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Additional funding will allow People Inc. to continue to serve residents who are in danger of eviction from their homes,” said Kyle Sensabaugh, director of housing services. “We want anyone in need of assistance to contact us – we’re here to help you remain in your home during this uncertain time.”

The agency received over $200,000 in additional funding from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to continue to serve residents across the region.

As of Wednesday, People Inc. has served 86 households in the region with over $183,000 in assistance to help them avoid eviction or foreclosure on their homes.

The agency received its initial funding to implement the program in 17 Virginia cities and counties in June. Over $422,000 has been paid to landlords and lenders across the total service area to help residents since that time.

The program will pay the current month’s rent or mortgage payments and any past due payments since April 2020 for residents impacted by the pandemic. Residents who have already received assistance and are in further need may also reapply. Landlords who accept payments through the relief program must agree not to evict the tenant for non-payment.

Residents interested in applying for assistance should call the agency hotline at 833-437-0114.

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Novice race callers set to announce at the upcoming Shenandoah Downs harness season in Woodstock

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Shenandoah Downs will open its fifth annual season of harness racing this Friday (September 18) at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds with a ten-race card beginning at 2:00 PM. Horses, trainers, and racing personnel have been shipping onto the property all week preparing for the five-week stand.

Ten racing enthusiasts are also preparing to work the meet in a unique position. They will each call a complete card of racing, though none have any experience in the announcer’s booth.

A month ago, the track sought out harness fans via social media who wanted to pursue this opportunity in an actual live race setting at an extended meet. Within several days, all ten announcing slots were filled. The fans selected have little or no announcing experience but showed a passion for harness racing.

Since the upcoming season will be conducted without spectators due to COVID-related precautions — and the track had only offered on-site wagering — the potential viewing audience is limited. At one time, track officials decided to go without an announcer but at a future planning meeting, decided to switch gears and opt for this unusual route.

“Those factors allowed us to offer first-time callers a chance to spend an entire afternoon on the microphone and behind the binoculars,” said Shenandoah’s Darrell Wood. “These ten fans will get a chance to announce for several hours and will get to interact with judges, the chart caller and television crew. This should create a fun experience and a nice memory for everyone.”

Races, and the first-time announcer’s calls, will be streamed live via the track’s website at shenandoahdowns.com so fans can follow the action.

Racing fan Micahel Langer, who grew up in Freehold, New Jersey, and has attended the Little Brown Jug for 40 years, will call Friday’s opener. The 64-year-old has been a fan of the Grand Circuit for decades and follows races from Canada to New Zealand.

Richmond, Virginia based Doug Gurney will tackle Saturday’s 13 race card in which 131 horses initially entered. The program will showcase Virginia Breeder’s three-year-old prep and elimination races. Gurney is a fan of both thoroughbred and harness races and was a trackside fixture at Colonial Downs from day one in 1997.

The second weekend will feature lifelong racing fan Steven Rice, a cold storage inventory technician who has visited 40 tracks, and Brad Hinton, a local enthusiast who works at Finish Line Plumbing.

The third weekend could be the most interesting. 12-year-old Woodstock resident Morgan Marston will call the Friday card and 10-year-old Dylan Dougherty will invade from Pennsylvania to call the $300,000 Virginia Breeder’s Day of Champions program. Both youngsters have been tutored by legendary race caller Roger Huston who put Marston on air occasionally during the past several Shenandoah County Fair meets. Dougherty called 25 races — in a paid position — at the Meadville, Pennsylvania Fair this summer.

Shenandoah Downs regular Danny Ortts, who has also attended Shenandoah County Fair festivities his whole life, will kick off the fourth weekend. Jeff Jenkins, another local who used to drive at Rosecroft Raceway, will finish the weekend in the crow’s nest on October 10.

The final weekend features thoroughbred fan Nick Hahn of Greene County, Virginia on October 16. Hahn has hosted the weekly “Off to the Races” radio show in Richmond for over 20 years and is a regular writer for “The Racing Biz”. Marty Sendek, a former military officer, and retired attorney will bring the meet to its conclusion on October 17. Sendek estimates he has watched 20,000 races in his lifetime.

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In-person voting starts September 18

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RICHMOND, VA — The Virginia Department of Elections announces that in-person voting begins Friday, September 18, 2020. Also, absentee ballots will be sent to all voters who have requested a ballot by mail.

Voters no longer need a reason to vote absentee. Any registered voter may request an absentee ballot, either in-person or by mail. Voters can request a mailed ballot online at elections.virginia.gov/voterInformation. They can also find a vote-by-mail ballot form at elections.virginia.gov/forms. Or they can contact their local voter registration office and ask them to mail them an application. Contact information for local registrars can be found at www.elections.virginia.gov/localGR.

The last day to request an absentee ballot is Friday, October 23, 2020 at 5pm. Absentee ballots returned by mail must be postmarked by Election Day, November 3, 2020 and received by the local voter registration office by noon on Friday, November 6, 2020. Voters can also drop off their marked and sealed ballots at a drop off location at their local voter registration office or polling place up to 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Early in-person voting ends October 31, 2020. Voters do not have to fill out an application to vote in person. Voters can simply go to their general registrar’s office or satellite voting location, show ID and cast a ballot. More information about what IDs are considered acceptable can be found at elections.virginia.gov/vote.

Because of the anticipated high volume of mail-in votes, The Department of Elections is urging all those who wish to vote by mail to request and return their ballots as soon as possible. Voters can track the status of their ballot applications online at www.elections.virginia.gov/voterInformation. They can also call their local registrar’s office to determine the status of their application.

If you believe you may not safely have a witness present while completing the absentee ballot for the November 3, 2020 Election, you are not required to have a witness present. Also, if you are blind or have low vision or have impaired manual dexterity, you have the option of voting an absentee ballot using an electronic ballot marking tool.

Voters with questions about absentee, mail-in and in-person voting or any aspect of the November 3, 2020 election may call the Virginia Department of Elections at (800) 552-9745, email the department at info@elections.virginia.gov, or visit our website at elections.virginia.gov. Voters are also encouraged to follow us on Twitter at @vaElect, Facebook at @VirginiaELECT and Instagram at @va_election.

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