FRONT ROYAL — The three-member Warren County Public Schools (WCPS) summer nutrition team recently received national recognition for their efforts to keep local children fed through much of June and July.
Katherine “Katie” Humenik, Stacey Fox, and Carrie Lohr this month were named to the 2019 No Kid Hungry Summer Hero Hall of Fame, a national honor that recognizes and celebrates those who go above and beyond to find innovative ways to ensure children get the food and nutrition they need during the summer months.
“We were very honored to receive the recognition,” said Humenik, manager of the WCPS Free & Reduced Price Meal Program. “It was a big surprise!”
Among the 20 states recognized in this year’s Summer Hero Hall of Fame, Virginia had the most honorees, with a total of 13 individuals and organizations singled out by No Kid Hungry, a global campaign of the national anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength, which also works to end poverty.
“This roster of Hall of Fame inductees not only showcases the incredible commitment that exists throughout the Commonwealth to help feed children experiencing hunger, but also the deep wells of creativity and energy to make it all possible,” said Claire Mansfield, director of No Kid Hungry Virginia.
No Kid Hungry and its partners connect kids to the Summer Food Service Program, a federally funded, state-administered meal program that reimburses program operators who serve free, healthy meals and snacks to children and teens in low-income areas.
In Virginia, only about 15 percent of students who receive free or reduced-price school lunches during the regular school year also get free summer meals, according to No Kid Hungry.
In Warren County, Va., 42 percent of the students receive either free or reduced-cost meals during the school year, said WCPS Superintendent Greg Drescher.
“The need for food support doesn’t end when the summer break comes,” Drescher told Royal Examiner. “For a number of our families knowing that their children are going to get a meal during much of the summer has been a blessing.”
Humenik and her summer nutrition teammates, Fox and Lohr — who are the cafeteria manager at Skyline Middle School and Skyline High School and the cafeteria assistant manager at Skyline Middle School, respectively — made it their duties to spread around the nutritional blessings this summer.
“We met some really great people in the community who also care a lot about the kids, so it was a blessing to have that support and be around others who care like we do,” said Humenik.
As of July 1, all WCPS food service workers, including Fox and Lohr, became employees of Sodexo, the food service contractor for WCPS. Humenik remains a WCPS employee.
Sue Ann Fox, child nutrition services coordinator at Sodexo for WCPS, said the company years ago brought up the idea for WCPS to participate in the Summer Food Service Program. “And we continue to try to grow it in ways that are beneficial for Warren County,” she said on Wednesday.
“Sodexo has been a wonderful partner for close to 20 years. Sodexo headed up these efforts and figured out all of the logistics of serving lunches to multiple places in our community,” said Drescher. “While this is the second year they have done summer meals at different sites, they have been providing summer meals for a number of years at our E. Wilson Morrison Elementary School.”
In fact, Lohr this summer worked as the program supervisor at E. Wilson Morrison Elementary School.
“She kept things running smoothly at that site but has been a major help to the mobile sites making sure extra food was prepared if the van needed to replenish in the middle of service times,” Humenik said.
Fox, who served as the supervisor for the WCPS mobile meals this summer, drove the WCPS van delivering free bagged lunches around the county.
“She kept things moving at the sites, completed the necessary paperwork, and really established great relationships with so many of the families we served this year,” said Humenik, adding that the WCPS summer mobile meals sites increased to seven this summer from four last year, plus three building sites for a total of 10 sites.
“We served a little over 4,000 meals to kids this summer, which is an increase of over 1,000 compared to last summer,” said Humenik. “I would like to bring up how wonderful the community was in supporting us this summer and helping to spread the word about our program.”
The WCPS team served summer meals to all children up to age 18 at:
• E. Wilson Morrison Elementary — only site where adults also could pay for low-cost meals
• Ressie Jeffries Elementary
• Royal Arms Apartments
• Royal Hills Apartments
• Skyline Vista Apartments
• Blue Ridge Education Center — a closed site where meals were served only to the children enrolled in their program
• Front Royal Church of the Nazarene
• Brinklow Road/Hattie Street/James Street
• Skyline Middle School — a closed site and breakfast was served only to the children enrolled in their summer program
• TDT program at E. Wilson Morrison — a closed site providing lunches for the children enrolled in their program on Fridays
There’s a lot that goes into feeding children over the summer months that many people may not realize, Humenik said.
For example, in addition to the van-delivered meals and on-site lunches, the WCPS team collaborated with the Warren County Backpack Program to ensure donated non-perishable foods were distributed to summer meal program participants every Thursday.
And at the mobile sites, Humenik said the summer nutrition team also set up lawn chairs and put down blankets “to give it a community feel.”
“It is so worth it to see the kids during the summer, to be a friendly face for them, and to feed them,” she added. “We do it because we care about the kids in our community and we love what we do, so getting recognized was the icing on the cake!”
Some of those joining the WCPS team as Virginia inductees to 2019 No Kid Hungry Summer Hero Hall of Fame were employees with Fairfax County Public Schools; Fredericksburg City Public Schools; Loudoun County Public Schools; and Radford City Public Schools.
Virginia Coronavirus Fraud Task Force, IRS-CI warn of potential COVID-19 economic impact payment scams
The Virginia Coronavirus Fraud Task Force and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI) are warning taxpayers to be alert about possible scams relating to COVID-19 economic impact payments.
United States Attorneys Thomas T. Cullen and G. Zachary Terwilliger, and the Virginia State Police along with Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS-CI Washington DC Field Office, made the announcement today in an effort to prevent taxpayers in need from being victimized by criminals using the recently approved payments as an opportunity to commit a crime.
“During this time of crisis, scammers and thieves prey on those most vulnerable in our community in an attempt to personally benefit by stealing their money and personal identifying information,” Special Agent in Charge Jackson said today. “Please help us protect everyone in your community by telling family, friends and elderly neighbors to be on the lookout for these potential scams.”
“While most act selflessly and responsibly in a crisis like this, there are fraudsters out there who are attempting to scam and exploit good people,” said U.S. Attorney Terwilliger. “We are likely to see an uptick in government check scams tied to coronavirus-relief, including advanced-fee schemes promising government relief checks, student loan relief, and adjustments in other government benefits, such as increased social security payments. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
“As we have seen over the past few weeks, the worst among us are finding new ways to exploit a global pandemic and prey upon the vulnerable,” said U.S. Attorney Cullen. “Americans need to be extremely vigilant in protecting their personal, financial, and tax information. Assume all unsolicited phone calls and emails regarding IRS or COVID-19 refunds and are potentially fraudulent. Do not respond and report them to law enforcement.”
In a matter of weeks, COVID-19 economic impact payments will be on their way. For most Americans, this will be a direct deposit into your bank account. For the unbanked individuals who have traditionally received tax refunds via paper check, they will receive their economic impact payment through the mail.
Scammers may try to get you to sign over your check to them or get you to “verify” your filing information in order to steal your money. Your personal information could then be used to file false tax returns in an identity theft scheme. Because of this, everyone receiving a COVID-19 economic impact payment is at risk.
Special Agent in Charge Jackson offers the following information and tips to spot a scam and understand how the COVID-19 related economic impact payments will be issued.
• The IRS will deposit your payment into the direct deposit account you previously provided on your tax return (or, in the alternative, send you a paper check).
• The IRS will NOT call and ask you to verify your payment details. Do NOT give your bank account, debit account, or PayPal account information to anyone – even if someone claims it’s necessary to get your check. It’s a scam.
• If you receive a call, do NOT engage with scammers, even if you want to tell them that you know it’s a scam. Just hang up.
• If you receive texts or emails claiming that you can get your money faster by sending personal identifying information or clicking on links, delete these texts and emails. Do NOT click on any links in those texts or emails.
• Reports are swirling about bogus checks. If you receive a “check” in the mail now, it’s a scam. It will take the Treasury a few more weeks to mail out the COVID-19 economic impact payments. If you receive a “check” for an odd amount (especially one with cents), or a check that requires you to verify the check online or by calling a number, it’s a scam.
• Remember, the federal government will not ask you to pay anything upfront to get a legitimate benefit. No fees. No charges. Anyone who asks for an up-front payment for a promised benefit is a scammer.
The Virginia Coronavirus Fraud Task Force: https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdva/covid-19-fraud
Western Virginia Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Baudinet, USAVAW.COVID19@usdoj.gov or 540-278-1494.
Eastern Virginia Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kaitlin G. Cooke, Kaitlin.Cooke@usdoj.gov or 804-819-5416.
To report a COVID-19 fraud scheme or suspicious activity, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) by calling the NCDF Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or sending an email to email@example.com.
For more information, visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov/coronavirus
FBI at: https://www.ic3.gov or 804-261-1044.
To report fraudulent activity to the Virginia State Police, Virginians can contact the Virginia Fusion Center (VFC) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For continuing information on the COVID-19 virus and the federal response, check https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
COVID-19 meeting restrictions lead to 2nd EDA grand jury extension
Contacted by phone, Rockingham County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Parker confirmed that Judge Clark Ritchie had extended the term of the Warren County Special Grand Jury impaneled to explore potential criminality tied to the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority (EDA) civil litigation.
That extension is for six months and came as the grand jury’s first extension was coming to an end Tuesday, March 31. The EDA special grand jury was empaneled shortly after the EDA civil litigation was filed on March 26, 2019. Its first six-month term was extended another six months in October 2019.
Parker said the newest six-month extension comes from an “abundance of caution” both legally and medically.
Due to restrictions on public gatherings ordered by Governor Ralph Northam as part of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s emergency management response to the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, what have been described as non-essential court functions have joined other enterprises deemed “non-essential” in the private sector in being put on hold at least through much of April. Consequently, it was decided it was unsafe for the grand jury to continue meeting in this pandemic emergency response environment.
In this fluid medical and legal environment, it is uncertain when the EDA Special Grand Jury will be able to meet again. However, Parker said he believes once those meetings begin, it will not take anywhere near six months for the grand jury to complete its business.
“Our goal is to conclude as soon as possible,” Parker said.
Following the recusal from EDA legal matters of Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney John Bell and his entire staff in the wake of his November 2019 election, Parker was appointed to handle criminal indictments stemming from alleged EDA financial improprieties discovered by a forensic audit commissioned by Warren County on behalf of the EDA in September 2018.
The EDA civil litigation is now seeking recovery of $21.3 million from 15 defendants, including former EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald and two real estate companies she is alleged to have used to misdirect EDA assets to her own benefit.
In a series of filings by the EDA grand jury, McDonald now faces a total of 34 financial felony charges. Also indicted criminally on fewer charges has been a tight circle around McDonald, including her husband Samuel North, her former EDA Administrative Assistant Michelle “Missy” Henry, and former EDA small business loan recipient and B&G Goods proprietor William Lambert. At the time of his business relationship with the EDA Lambert is purported to have been in a relationship with a McDonald sister.
Criminal charges against another McDonald associate, Donald Poe, were dropped by Parker due to an approaching January perjury trial date he was not prepared for with his late 2019 appointment and the mountain of paperwork filed in relation to the EDA civil and criminal cases – estimated at or around a million pages of documentation.
However, as he noted at the time, Parker can refile the criminal indictments against Poe if he feels the evidence so warrants. Poe’s perjury charges related to his testimony to the EDA Special Grand Jury regarding his business ties to McDonald.
The next EDA criminal case hearing dates are scheduled for April 17. Parker said he should have more information on how things will be proceeding forward within the coming week.
A federal grand jury has also been impaneled in Harrisonburg related to the EDA financial allegations and civil litigation. On April 16, 2019, agents from the FBI and Virginia State Police searched and seized documents and materials from the EDA’s Kendrick Lane offices, including the executive director’s office that had been cordoned off and locked down since McDonald’s December 20, 2018 resignation under increasing scrutiny by the investigative auditing firm Cherry Bekaert and her EDA Board of Directors. However, the federal grand jury has yet to issue any indictments from its investigation.
FDA requests removal of all Ranitidine products (Zantac) from the market
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced (April 1, 2020) it is requesting manufacturers to withdraw all prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) ranitidine drugs from the market immediately. This is the latest step in an ongoing investigation of a contaminant known as N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) in ranitidine medications (commonly known by the brand name Zantac). The agency has determined that the impurity in some ranitidine products increases over time and when stored at higher than room temperatures and may result in consumer exposure to unacceptable levels of this impurity. As a result of this immediate market withdrawal request, ranitidine products will not be available for new or existing prescriptions or OTC use in the U.S.
“The FDA is committed to ensuring that the medicines Americans take are safe and effective. We make every effort to investigate potential health risks and provide our recommendations to the public based on the best available science. We didn’t observe unacceptable levels of NDMA in many of the samples that we tested. However, since we don’t know how or for how long the product might have been stored, we decided that it should not be available to consumers and patients unless its quality can be assured,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “The FDA will continue our efforts to ensure impurities in other drugs do not exceed acceptable limits so that patients can continue taking medicines without concern.”
NDMA is a probable human carcinogen (a substance that could cause cancer). In the summer of 2019, the FDA became aware of independent laboratory testing that found NDMA in ranitidine. Low levels of NDMA are commonly ingested in the diet, for example, NDMA is present in foods and in water. These low levels would not be expected to lead to an increase in the risk of cancer. However, sustained higher levels of exposure may increase the risk of cancer in humans. The FDA conducted thorough laboratory tests and found NDMA in ranitidine at low levels. At the time, the agency did not have enough scientific evidence to recommend whether individuals should continue or stop taking ranitidine medicines, and continued its investigation and warned the public in September 2019 of the potential risks and to consider alternative OTC and prescription treatments.
New FDA testing and evaluation prompted by information from third-party laboratories confirmed that NDMA levels increase in ranitidine even under normal storage conditions, and NDMA has been found to increase significantly in samples stored at higher temperatures, including temperatures the product may be exposed to during distribution and handling by consumers. The testing also showed that the older a ranitidine product is, or the longer the length of time since it was manufactured, the greater the level of NDMA. These conditions may raise the level of NDMA in the ranitidine product above the acceptable daily intake limit.
With today’s announcement, the FDA is sending letters to all manufacturers of ranitidine requesting they withdraw their products from the market. The FDA is also advising consumers taking OTC ranitidine to stop taking any tablets or liquid they currently have, dispose of them properly and not buy more; for those who wish to continue treating their condition, they should consider using other approved OTC products. Patients taking prescription ranitidine should speak with their health care professional about other treatment options before stopping the medicine, as there are multiple drugs approved for the same or similar uses as ranitidine that do not carry the same risks from NDMA. To date, the FDA’s testing has not found NDMA in famotidine (Pepcid), cimetidine (Tagamet), esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid) or omeprazole (Prilosec).
In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA recommends patients and consumers not take their medicines to a drug take-back location but follow the specific disposal instructions in the medication guide or package insert or follow the agency’s recommended steps, which include ways to safely dispose of these medications at home.
The FDA continues its ongoing review, surveillance, compliance, and pharmaceutical quality efforts across every product area, and will continue to work with drug manufacturers to ensure safe, effective and high-quality drugs for the American public.
The FDA encourages health care professionals and patients to report adverse reactions or quality problems with any human drugs to the agency’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program:
Complete and submit the report online at www.fda.gov/medwatch/report.htm; or
Download and complete the form, then submit it via fax at 1-800-FDA-0178.
The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.
VDOT: Warren County Traffic alert for – April 6 – 10, 2020
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 entry or a revised entry since last week’s report.
*NEW* Mile marker 0 to 15, eastbound and westbound – Mobile alternating lane closures for bridge sweeping. Monday and Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Mile marker 0 to 15, eastbound – Right shoulder closures for shoulder work. Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
*NEW* Mile marker 9 to 11, eastbound – Alternating shoulder closures for tree removal operations. Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
*NEW* Mile marker 11 to 7, westbound – Right shoulder closure for sign installations. Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
*NEW*Mile marker 299 to 300, northbound and southbound – Overnight alternating shoulder closures for bridge sweeping, 8 p.m. Wednesday to 7 a.m. Thursday.
*NEW* Mile marker 300 to 299, southbound – Right shoulder closures for sign installations. Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
No lane closures reported.
*UPDATE* Route 613 (Bentonville Road) – Northbound right shoulder closures for utility work at various locations between Route 340 (Stonewall Jackson Highway) and Route 738 (Jennings Lane), 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. through April 30.
Route 659 (Hardesty Road) – Stop-and-proceed traffic pattern just east of Route 603 (Howellsville Road) for pipe replacement, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through April 24. Vehicles limited to 9 feet in width.
Various roads – Flagger traffic control for utility tree trimming. Monday through Friday during daylight hours.
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 http://www.511Virginia.org.
The VDOT Customer Service Center can assist with reporting road hazards, asking transportation questions, or getting information related to Virginia’s roads. Call 800-FOR- ROAD (800-367-7623) or use its mobile-friendly website at https://my.vdot.virginia.gov/. Agents are available 24 hours-a-day, seven days a week.
Social Security benefits will be paid on time and other updates related to the COVID-19 pandemic
Andrew Saul, Commissioner of Social Security, reminds the public that Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit payments will continue to be paid on time during the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency also reminds everyone to be aware of scammers who try to take advantage of the pandemic to trick people into providing personal information or payment via retail gift cards, wire transfers, internet currency, or by mailing cash, to maintain Social Security benefit payments or receive economic impact payments from the Department of the Treasury.
“Social Security will pay monthly benefits on time and these payments will not be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Commissioner Saul said. “I want our beneficiaries to be aware that scammers may try to trick you into thinking the pandemic is stopping or somehow changing your Social Security payments, but that is not true. Don’t be fooled.”
The Department of the Treasury will soon provide information about economic impact payments under the recently enacted law, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act. Treasury, not Social Security, will be making direct payments to eligible people. Please do not call Social Security about these payments as the agency does not have information to share.
The agency continues to direct the public to its online self-service options whenever possible. Local offices are closed to the public but are available by phone. People can find their local field office phone number by accessing the Field Office Locator.
To allow available agents to provide better phone coverage, the agency is temporarily changing the National 800 Number hours starting on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. The hours will change from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. local time to 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. local time. The agency is experiencing longer than normal wait times on the 800 Number and asks the public to remain patient, use its online services at www.socialsecurity.gov, or call their local office.
Please visit the agency’s COVID-19 web page at www.socialsecurity.gov/coronavirus/ for important information and updates.