Warren County Public School students will likely face more uniform rules regarding cell phone usage during the school day after a recent survey showed a wide swath of comments from those participating.
At a Wednesday work session, the panel discussed the survey – which separately queried teachers, parents and students about cell phone usage at school. (Discussion begins at 1:59:45 in video below)
Chairwoman Kristen J. Pence, Vice-Chairman Ralph Rinaldi and board members Andrea Lo, Antoinette Funk, and Melanie Salins attended the meeting.
Pence noted that many students responded that cheating and dishonesty were issues with cell phone use. She also cited concerns about photos taken and shared without permission, which is a form of bullying.
Salins stated that she “saw no reason for it (cell phone usage) to be allowed by any teachers in the classroom. I am good with an ‘out of sight’ policy all day. ‘We see it, we take it.’”
Rinaldi voiced support for students having access to their phones during the school day and relayed to the board an experiment he conducted with three students, two from Warren County and his grandchild, a Loudoun County student. Rinaldi said he sent all three students texts during school hours and noted that both Warren County students responded after the school day ended. His grandchild, however, responded to the text immediately, despite being in the classroom.
The teacher survey, Pence said, indicated that some teachers use cell phones as a reward, while others did not, which might put some in a bad light. Whether teachers allow the use of cell phones or not, the survey said nearly half the teachers had to tell students up to five times in each class to put their phones away.
Lo said during the discussion that she favored more consistency regarding student cell phone use, which could be either a set policy or a code of conduct item, which students and parents sign each year.
Board members agreed that the new policy should outline discipline measures for student violations, ranging from warnings to confiscation of the device. Several expressed concern about legal liability for holding expensive personal property and discussed a policy requiring parents to come to the school to retrieve a confiscated phone. The parent survey, however, indicated that only about 20-percent of parents support such a rule.
The board recommended that Superintendent Christopher Ballenger draft a policy encompassing their recommendations, particularly concerning consistency in the county schools.
Also at Wednesday’s work session, board members authorized the superintendent to request that Warren County issue a purchase order for seven 77-passenger buses from Sonny Merryman Inc. at a total cost of $903,693. Six of the buses cost $127,509 each; the seventh bus, which is wheelchair-accessible, will cost $138,693.
The Warren County Board of Supervisors set up a $1-million school bus replacement fund from the division’s fiscal 2020 operating budget surplus. The County agreed to hold the funds until the division was ready to purchase the buses and will issue the purchase order on behalf of the school system because the buses are being ordered in this fiscal year but will not be delivered until January 2023, which is part of the next fiscal year.
The board also voted in favor of a motion to amend an employee’s contract.
Watch the school board work session here:
WATCH: Christmas Parade 2022
If you missed the Christmas Parade or want to see it again, sit back and enjoy!
This year the Front Royal/Warren County Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade was hosted by Mike McCool, Publisher of the Royal Examiner, and Niki Foster, Executive Director of the Front Royal/Warren County Chamber of Commerce. Special thanks to Mark Williams, videographer, and the parade sponsor Lindsay Chevrolet.
If it’s early December it must be time for Kiwanis’s Pancake Day Breakfast thru Lunch community fundraiser
The Kiwanis Club of Front Royal held its annual Pancake Day fundraising event at Warren County High School’s cafeteria from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, December 3rd. This event raises significant funds, which are put back directly into our community and our schools to help the children of Warren County. Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to “changing the world One Child and One Community at a time.”
All proceeds from the event go right back into the community. Kiwanis thanks all those sponsors, members, and others who help make this event an annual community success.
VDOT: Warren County Traffic alert for December 5 – 9, 2022
The following is a list of highway work that may affect traffic in Warren County during the coming weeks. Scheduled work is subject to change due to inclement weather and material supplies. Motorists are advised to watch for slow-moving tractors during mowing operations. When traveling through a work zone, be alert to periodic changes in traffic patterns and lane closures.
*NEW* or *UPDATE* indicates a new or revised entry since last week’s report.
No lane closures were reported.
Mile marker 299 to 300, northbound and southbound – Overnight left lane closures for equipment unloading and barrier installation, 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. through the night of December 15.
No lane closures were reported.
*NEW* Route 840 (Water Plant Road) – Flagger traffic control near I-81 for the I-81 overpass bridge inspection, Monday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Vegetation management may take place district-wide on various routes. Motorists are reminded to use extreme caution when traveling through work zones.
Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511. Traffic alerts and traveler information also are available at www.511Virginia.org.
The VDOT Customer Service Center can assist with reporting road hazards, asking transportation questions, or getting information about Virginia’s roads. Call 800-FOR- ROAD (800-367-7623) or use its mobile-friendly website at my.vdot.virginia.gov. Agents are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Drive sober or get pulled over this holiday season, and every day
This holiday season, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is partnering with the Warren County Sheriff’s Office to share the message about the dangers of drunk driving. NHTSA and the Warren County Sheriff’s Office want all drivers to remember this lifesaving message: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over. Drivers will see officers working together from December 16, 2022, through January 1, 2023, to take drunk drivers off the roads.
According to NHTSA, 11,654 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2020 that involved an alcohol-impaired driver. On average, more than 10,000 people were killed each year from 2016 to 2020, and one person was killed in a drunk driving crash every 45 minutes in 2020. Therefore, the Warren County Sheriff’s Office is working with NHTSA to remind drivers that drunk driving is illegal and a matter of life and death. As you head out to the holiday festivities, remember: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.
Warren County Sheriff’s Office and NHTSA are reminding citizens of the many resources available to get them home safely. Drunk driving is not acceptable behavior. It is essential to plan a sober ride home before you ever leave for the party. There are too many resources to get you home safely. There are just no excuses for drunk driving.
Nationally, driving with a BAC of .08 or higher is illegal, except in Utah, where the limit is .05 g/dL. And the costs can be financial, too: If you’re caught drinking and driving, you could face jail time, lose your driver’s license and your vehicle, and pay up to $10,000 in attorney’s fees, fines, higher insurance rates, and lost wages.
- Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve had only one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver, plan to use a ride service, or call a taxi or a sober friend to get home safely.
- If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact the Warren County Sheriff’s Office at 540-635-4128.
- Do you have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely.
For more information about the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement period, visit www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving.
Human remains found in Fairfax identified as missing Front Royal resident Kevin Smith
Last month, Front Royal Police Department detectives received information that the Fairfax County Police Department was working an investigation regarding the discovery of unidentified human remains in their jurisdiction. The remains, which were sent to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, underwent extensive DNA testing and forensic analysis. Based on the DNA testing, statistical analyses, and other facts and circumstances surrounding the case, it was determined that the remains were those of missing Front Royal resident Kevin Smith.
Kevin was first reported missing on January 28th, 2020, after his parents had not seen or heard from him in about a week. Following the initial report, an extensive investigation and search was undertaken in a concerted effort to locate Kevin and bring him home safely. Numerous agencies and community members assisted with the investigation by offering specialized equipment, resources, and information related to Kevin’s disappearance. Despite everyone’s best efforts, Kevin remained missing until the discovery of his remains earlier this year.
We would like to extend our thanks to the public and community members who assisted with this investigation. We would also like to thank the Fairfax County Police Department, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, and the Virginia Department of Forensic Science for their help locating and identifying Kevin’s remains. Chief Magalis added, “This is certainly not the outcome we had hoped for regarding the disappearance of Mr. Smith. We give our sincere condolences to the Smith family during this very difficult time.”
Anyone with any further information regarding this case is asked to contact Detective M.P Gallagher at (540)636-2208 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stephens City Church shelters homeless Nov 19-26 to support local WATTS week-long event
Stephens City UMC (SCUMC) hosted the Winchester Area Temporary Transitional Shelter (WATTS) during the week of November 19-26, 2022, including Thanksgiving Day. Altogether, nineteen churches will rotate the weekly assignment between November 5, 2022 and March 25, 2023. The people we serve (our guests) come from all walks of life and all levels of education. Some are newly homeless; others have been homeless most of their adult life. They are mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons. Many have mental health issues, especially PTSD, and substance abuse. But all need our love and care, and that is what we offer for 7 days. Our guests are fed, clothed, warmed, and kept safe.
This undertaking could not be accomplished without MANY volunteers. There are seven dinners to prepare and serve, seven breakfasts served at 6:00 am, and daily grab-and-go lunches to offer. We also provide snacks and cold and hot drinks for when the guests are first received.
As the guests arrive, they are searched and go through an intake process. No outside food or drinks are allowed, and no vapes. Their weapons (usually knives) are collected before they get on the bus, kept in a locked box, and returned the next morning after they exit the bus. Medications are also kept in a locked box at the shelter and are available upon request. Then the guests are directed to their cot. The shelter is bare bones; each guest receives a hand towel, wash cloth, two sheets, a blanket, and a pillow. WATTS is a low-barrier shelter, which means we do not drug- or alcohol-test, we don’t ask for ID, and we don’t care if a guest arrives intoxicated, high, unkempt, or exhausted. All guests are treated equally and with respect and without judgement. WATTS has only five rules for guests and volunteers to follow:
- No smoking or vaping within the facility or bus and only in designated areas and times.
- No aggressive, violent, or threatening behavior or foul language.
- No alcohol or illegal substances are allowed in the facility or bus.
- No weapons are allowed in the facility or bus.
- Respect the guests, volunteers, staff, and facility.
The maximum number of guests we can accommodate each night is 35. SCUMC was at or near capacity every night, with 6-7 women. A guest is guaranteed a bed if they were in the shelter the night before. People who are turned away are sometimes offered a blanket and/or a bag lunch and directed to other local resources. Unfortunately, two to ten guests are routinely turned away. And since WATTS is only for adults, families have very few resources available to them.
Once the guests have been through intake, they can relax and enjoy hot drinks and a variety of snacks. You can see the exhaustion and stress on their faces as they walk in the door, but the tense lines and guarded eyes slowly ease. Many go to the bathroom right away because they have not had access to one all day. Others lie down on their cot to rest after spending the day walking around town, trying to stay warm.
At about 7:30 pm, the rules are reiterated by the manager and then a prayer is said. We had some amazing prayers spoken by the guests!
Then it is dinner time! Some of the meals served to the guests included meatloaf, open-faced turkey sandwiches, fried chicken, lasagna, baked chicken, chili, vegetable soup, and pulled pork and chicken BBQ sandwiches. First Presbyterian Church of Winchester delivered turkey dinners on Thanksgiving Day.
This year we offered a Clothing Room in Room 102. We had coats, sweaters, underwear, socks, boots, jeans, and other clothing for men and women. What the guests did not take will be donated to Congregational Community Action Project (C-CAP) in Winchester, except for some coats and leftover snacks and sandwiches I took to the Warming Shelter, located at Market Street UMC at 131 S. Cameron Street in Winchester. They always need donations, especially drinks, lunches, fruit, and other snacks. The Warming Shelter is open 7 am to 6 pm Monday through Saturday except Thursday when it closes at 4:30 pm and Sunday 12 pm to 6 pm.
A huge thank you to all the groups that volunteered. The list includes the Clawson’s Bible Study group, United Women in Faith, the Koinonia Sunday School class, the Caring Outreach Group, and the Stephens City Preschool from SCUMC. Groups that partnered with SCUMC included the Stephens City Mennonite Church, Grace and Mercy Ministries, Grace UMC in Middletown, and Shenandoah University Cross-Country team.
Some individuals who helped tremendously include Diane Clawson (volunteer co-lead); Dee and Steve Morris; Donna Steward; Lisa Gillman; Carole Baker; Galen and Sandi Snider; Laura Fieo; Gary, Missy, and Cindee Steele; Scott and Valerie Taylor; Linda and Rick Taliaferro; Bill and Lorraine Orndorff; and Pastor Bertina Westley. There were many other volunteers who served and I apologize if I didn’t mention you.
WATTS operates year-round, even when the Night Shelter is not open. Transition Support Specialists (TSS) assist the guests in obtaining IDs, Social Security, job applications, forms for Centralized Housing Intake, and apartments, applying for Medicaid, Medicare, and SNAP benefits, and information and placement in drug and alcohol detox/rehabilitation programs. TSS also check on guests who now live in apartments, motels, or nursing homes. TSS take guests to doctor appointments, dialysis, chemotherapy treatments, and other essential appointments.
I would like to thank the community for providing me the opportunity to work with this very necessary mission. And thank you to the church congregations and civic organizations for supporting WATTS!
If you would to know more about the WATTS mission, shelter locations and schedules, or how to donate, visit the web site at watts-homelessshelter.org.
Article by Deborah Phillips
Deborah Phillips is one of the Co-Leader Volunteers of the SCUMC week-long WATTS event and serves as Secretary, Board of Directors for WATTS. Phillips has a MS in Medical Microbiology and Immunology. She worked in research labs for over 15 years, including at the CDC, Emory University, and Indiana University and as a Medical Editor for over 20 years before retirement. Phillips currently owns two businesses. She creates memory art from heirlooms as Heartsong Hill Designs (www.heartsonghill.com). She also owns a hobby farm with chickens, goats, and rescue dogs. Her second business, Heartsong Hill Hungry Goats, (www.heartsonghillgoats.com) employs her goats to offer a natural and chemical-free way to clear land.