447 fires. 500 deaths. $554 Billion dollars in property damage. That’s the toll the winter holidays take on the nation, according to Warren County Fire and Rescue’s (WCFR) Lisa Wilbanks. She is spreading the word about staying safe over the busy time period in hopes that the community will suffer no losses.
Wilbanks, a firefighter/emergency medical technician (E.M.T.), along with Lieutenant Tony Hitt, is part of the County’s Community Risk Reduction Team. In addition to busy shifts responding to emergencies, the duo work to educate the public about fire safety.
In a Thursday interview, they offered several tips to help Royal Examiner readers avoid holiday hazards, including how to choose and care for live Christmas trees and how to safely dispose of the mounds of crumpled gift wrap and packaging that accumulates in most homes on Christmas Day.
Wilbanks says Christmas tree shoppers should examine a tree thoroughly before purchasing one. Tree needles should be green and not fall off the tree in large numbers. Shoppers should bend a needle in half with their fingers. Fresh pines should bend but not break, while fresh firs should snap. To test a Christmas tree’s freshness, gently grab the inside of a branch and pull your hand toward you. The needles should stay in place on the branch if the tree is fresh. A tree in that condition, she says, should last about four weeks.
Lt. Hitt added that two inches of the trunk should be sawed off before placing the tree into its stand, so the tree can absorb the maximum amount of water. Watering the tree daily and monitoring it for needles is important. It should also be placed away from any heat sources, such as a floor vent or a fireplace or portable heater.
Hitt said that all lights should be tested before placing any on the tree. Frayed wires should never be used, nor should lights from different manufacturers be used together. That’s because each brand has its own specifications, such as how many strands can be plugged into each other.
Wilbanks said it also important to use lights as the manufacturer intended—indoor lights should never be placed outside, where inclement weather could damage them and possibly cause a fire. One option for consumers are indoor/outdoor lights, which can be used for indoor decor as well as on the rooftop.
Hitt stressed that trees should be placed at least three feet from heat sources, such as fireplaces, radiators, heat vents candles or lights. “Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit,” he said. Willbank added, “Always turn off tree lights and any outside lights before going to bed or leaving the house.”
Regarding the unsafe practice of burning wrapping paper and packaging material in fireplaces and wood-burning stoves, both firefighters stressed that it was an unsafe practice that could lead to the buildup of creosote, and a future fire hazard.
Disposing of ashes from fireplaces and wood-burning stoves should be done carefully, Wilbanks said. Even after two days of proper removal, the potential exists for the ashes to start a fire if not properly stored.
She explained that ashes should be placed in a metal pail, doused with water and covered with a lid. Ashes should never be placed on a deck, nor within 10 feet of a deck, house or other structure.
Hitt offered some tips for the proper use of space heaters and kerosene heaters. “Always plug an electric heater directly into the wall, never into an extension cord” he said. It’s important to note that no other electrical devices should be plugged into the same outlet. The heater should be on a level, flat surface, and never placed on cabinets, furniture or carpet, which can overheat and quickly become a fire. All heaters should be three-feet from furniture and drapery. Children and pets should be supervised and never left alone in a room with a space heater.
The National Fire Protection Association says that heating equipment, including space heaters, is the second lead cause of house fires and the third leading cause of fire deaths.
Kerosene heaters must also be used with caution. They should never be refueled inside living quarters or when the heater is still hot.
One of the best ways to protect your family, Hitt said, is to test smoke detectors monthly. He added, “Most people don’t realize that smoke alarms have a lifespan of 10 years.” It is important to replace any alarms that are not working properly.
Wilbanks stressed the importance of having enough smoke detectors in the home. There should be one in each bedroom, at least one on each floor including the basement and one should be installed outside of each sleeping area.
WCFR has partnered with the American Red Cross to ensure that everyone needing smoke detectors can get them. Citizens can contact the WCFR office to schedule a free in-home visit to assess smoke detectors and install a free one, if needed.
Fire extinguishers are another item that needs to be checked regularly, Hitt explained. Depending on the manufacturer, there may be a gauge that shows the level of charge the extinguisher has. Also, one can look for a date stamp on the inspection tag. That date may be stamped on the cylinder’s body. Consumers can also check the manufacturer’s website for details on locating the fire extinguisher’s expiration date.
As Christmas draws closer, many residents are eager to have Santa–and sometimes Mrs. Claus– visit their neighborhood, riding atop a fire engine.
The schedule for the annual Operation Santa is below:
Company 1 Front Royal
Christmas Eve, beginning at 5 p.m.
Company 2 Rivermont
Christmas Eve, beginning at dusk.
Company 3 South Warren
Saturday, December 17, beginning at 6 p.m.
Company 4 Linden
Monday, December 19, and Tuesday, December 20,
beginning at 6:30 p.m. each evening.
Company 5 Shenandoah Shores
Christmas Eve, beginning at dusk.
Company 8 Fortsmouth
Christmas Eve, beginning at dusk.
The best way to keep abreast of Operation Santa is to follow the Facebook page of the fire department that serves the neighborhood, Hitt said. He also encourages everyone to follow the Facebook page of WCFR.
That page, Wilbanks stressed, is the best way to keep abreast of events and volunteer opportunities with the agency. For example, the Citizen’s Fire Academy will make a comeback soon. The annual program took citizens through a series of weekly classes and safety demonstrations, culminating with a graduation ceremony. The academy took a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Assistant Fire Chief Gerry R. Maiatico. He said the academy is being “retooled” before being offered to the public.
Graduates of that program often turn into volunteers, Maiatico said. Brenda Diehl, Recruitment & Retention Coordinator for WCFR is always eager to talk to potential volunteers. She can be reached at 540-636-3830, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Virginia DMV Rolls Out Permanent Farm Use Placards
Seeking Safer Roads and Clearer Use of Farm Tags.
Farmers across Virginia have something new to be thankful for. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has announced that permanent placards for unregistered farm vehicles are now available. These placards come as a response to a legislative decision aiming for safer roads and better regulation of farm vehicle identification.
Virginia’s DMV now offers permanent farm use placards for unregistered farm vehicles at all customer service centers. Applications for the permanent farm use placard are available on our newly redesigned website, dmv.virginia.gov.
This move has been met with support and encouragement from key officials. DMV Commissioner Gerald Lackey expressed his optimism about the new system, stating, “It is our hope that these placards will help ensure the proper use of farm use tags and, most importantly, make Virginia’s roads safer.” Farmers can avoid lines and long waits by mailing their applications in advance, which Lackey highly recommends.
Beginning July 1, 2024, these DMV-issued placards will be mandatory for unregistered farm-use panel trucks, pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles. This new requirement emerges from legislation the 2023 General Assembly passed, aiming to replace unofficial farm use tags often bought at local stores. Unlike the informal tags of the past, these placards are priced at $15 and last for the vehicle’s entire lifespan. However, it’s essential to note that they can’t be passed between vehicles. In cases where the vehicle’s title isn’t already with the owner, an extra $15 charge will apply.<br><br>
For those considering this service, the application will ask for several details, including:
- Vehicle owner’s name and a corresponding FEIN, SSN, or DMV customer number.
- Specific vehicle details such as the year, make, model, and vehicle identification number (VIN).
- Detailed information about the farm’s location, its size, and the agricultural products it produces.
- A promise, through signatures, that the vehicle will strictly serve the purposes covered under the farm use exemption and that the vehicle is properly insured.
However, this new convenience doesn’t extend to online transactions for placards. Applicants are advised to either mail their forms with enough time for processing or set an appointment at the DMV to handle the matter in person. Further information about the right plates or placards for farm vehicles is available on the DMV website.
With the introduction of these placards, Virginia takes a step forward in ensuring safety on its roads and clarity in farm vehicle identification. As the 2024 enforcement date approaches, the state’s farmers are equipped with the information and tools they need for a smooth transition.
Honoring Old Glory: A Flag Retirement Ceremony in Middletown, Virginia
SAR Chapter Conducts Reverent Farewell to Worn U.S. Flags at Historical Inn.
On a memorable day at the historic Wayside Inn in Middletown, Virginia, the air was thick with nostalgia and reverence. The Colonel James Wood II Chapter of the Virginia Society Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) convened to perform a solemn duty: retiring U.S. flags that had served their time with honor.
Dating back to 1797, the Wayside Inn holds the distinction of being the oldest continuously operating inn in the nation. Its foundations, laid in the 1740s, resonate with tales from America’s history. In such a place, what could be more fitting than paying homage to the flag that embodies the nation’s spirit and pride? When a flag becomes worn out, the United States Code mandates its respectful destruction, preferably by fire.
Chaplain Tom Reed’s invocation heralded the ceremony’s commencement, paving the way for a vibrant display of colors by a combined Virginia State Color Guard, marshaled by Commander Sean Carrigan. With the stage set, Emcee Dale Corey led the gathering in the Pledge of Allegiance. A weighty silence descended as attendees prepared for the ritual’s crux: the flag’s formal retirement.
The audience listened, spellbound, as a tribute penned in 1933 by Master Sergeant Percy Webb of the United States Marine Corps echoed through the space. Titled “I Am Old Glory,” the piece captures the flag’s journey through America’s evolution, its significance during times of war and peace, and its enduring representation of national unity and freedom. Its words reminded everyone of the timeless values the flag stands for and the sacrifices made to preserve them.
I Am Old Glory
I am old Glory; for more than ten score years, I have been the banner of hope and freedom for generation after generation of Americans. Born amid the first flames of America’s fight for freedom, I am the symbol of a country that has grown from a little group of 13 colonies to a united nation of 50 sovereign states. Planted firmly on the high pinnacle of American Faith, my gently fluttering folds have proved an inspiration to untold millions. Men have followed me into battle with unwavering courage. They have looked upon me as a symbol of national unity. They have prayed that they and their fellow citizens might continue to enjoy the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness which have been granted to every American as the heritage of free men. So long as men love liberty more than life itself, so long as they treasure the priceless privileges bought with the blood of our forefathers, so long as the principles of truth, justice, and charity for all remain deeply rooted in human hearts, I shall continue to be the enduring banner of the United States of America. (Originally written by Master Sergeant Percy Webb, USMC.)
In a poignant moment, sergeant-at-arms Richard Tyler presented a flag to Corey for inspection. Deeming it no longer fit for service, the presiding officer oversaw its respectful and dignified disposal. As flames consumed the flag, a three-round salute rang out, punctuated by the somber notes of Taps, played by Tyler.
The ceremony became interactive as attendees, which included members from SAR, Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), Girl Scouts, American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America, and Veterans of Foreign Wars, stepped forward to retire their flags. It was an eclectic group of representatives, from Virginia State SAR President Ernie Coggins to DAR representatives Anita Bonner and Anne Simmons, reflecting the wide-reaching impact of the flag on diverse groups.
As the flames of the ceremony died down, they left behind not just ashes but a renewed sense of unity and appreciation for the flag’s enduring symbolism. Through ceremonies like these, we are reminded of the importance of traditions, the sacrifices made for our freedoms, and the perpetual flame of patriotism that burns in American hearts.
Virginia’s Attorney General Opposes Planned Dulles Greenway Toll Hike
A Hefty Price for Daily Commuters: Proposed $2.00 Increase During Peak Hours.
If you’re one of the many Virginians traveling the Dulles Greenway, be prepared: your commute may get a tad costlier. The Toll Road Investors Partnership II (TRIP II) has put forward a proposal to jack up the tolls on this vital 14-mile stretch northwest of Washington, D.C. But not everyone’s on board with this increase, especially Attorney General Jason Miyares.
In a move signaling support for daily commuters, Attorney General Miyares has lodged a formal notice with the State Corporation Commission (SCC), indicating his intention to participate in TRIP II’s application process for the toll increase. His engagement in this case illustrates the office’s commitment to standing shoulder to shoulder with Virginia ratepayers, Northern Virginia’s denizens, and regular commuters who would be directly impacted by such a hike. A complete objection will be presented at a fitting moment down the line.
To break down the numbers, right now, Virginians are shelling out $5.80 during those bustling peak traffic hours and $5.25 during the more tranquil off-peak hours for a standard 2-axle vehicle. With TRIP II’s proposal, these tolls would jump to $8.10 and $6.40, respectively. That’s a sizeable leap for folks using the toll road, especially considering the cumulative cost over weeks, months, and years.
Speaking out on the matter, Attorney General Miyares voiced the struggles of the everyday commuter: “Traffic in Northern Virginia is a daily challenge, and rising inflation only adds to the costs of commuting to work.” He emphasized his office’s position of standing beside Virginia’s commuters, understanding their daily grind, and promoting fairness by pushing back against toll hikes. For Miyares, every penny earned by Virginians holds immense value, and his goal is to shield them from unwarranted financial strains.
The Dulles Greenway toll increase, while seemingly a matter of a few dollars, has a broader implication for the countless individuals using the road daily. As inflation continues to press down on households, any additional financial burdens can be distressing. Thankfully, with Attorney General Miyares stepping into the ring, Virginia’s commuters have a vocal advocate in their corner. It remains to be seen how this toll tug-of-war unfolds, but one thing’s certain: the fight for fair tolls has indeed heated up.
Equus Seals a $38.2M Deal: Virginia Inland Port Logistics Center Finds a New Owner
Affiliate of Silverman Group Acquires Prime Industrial Property in Front Royal.
In what can be seen as a significant move in the realm of real estate development and investment, Equus Capital Partners, Ltd. (“Equus”), a national heavyweight, declared the culmination of the development and subsequent sale of the Virginia Inland Port Logistics Center. This grand warehouse/distribution asset, stretching across 339,450 square feet and located conveniently along Route 522, has been acquired by SL Industrial Partners, an affiliate of Silverman Group, for a whopping $38.2 million.
At the moment of sealing the deal, the facility was fully occupied, with Iron Mountain Incorporated, a paramount figure in data storage and information management, holding a 10-year lease since May 2022. This strategic location, in close vicinity to the Virginia Inland Port—linked directly by rail to The Port of Virginia in Hampton Roads/Norfolk, VA—and the Northern Virginia/Washington D.C. /Baltimore metro region played a pivotal role in Iron Mountain’s commitment to a long-term lease.
Brimming with state-of-the-art amenities, the building parades a modern rear load design equipped with advanced throughput features. The design has the flexibility to accommodate dual tenants. Among the many features, it stands tall with 32’ clear height, 34 loading dock doors armed with up-to-the-minute facilities, and the potential for expansion to 55 dock door locations. Energy efficiency hasn’t been compromised either, with features like LED high bay lighting with motion sensors and a heat-load-reducing roof.
Dan DiLella Jr., Senior Vice President of Equus Capital Partners, commented on this successful venture, “The disposition of the Virginia Inland Port Logistics Facility embodies the successful stride of the Equus industrial development program.” He further acknowledged the contributions of Colliers International and Jones Lang LaSalle in the leasing process and expressed gratitude towards the Warren County Planning Department for their unwavering support, deeming the project an economic triumph for the region.
The acquisition of the Virginia Inland Port Logistics Center by SL Industrial Partners is a testament to the evolving real estate landscape and the strategic importance of such developments in bolstering the economy. As businesses grow and the demand for advanced infrastructure rises, such deals are set to pave the way for future investments in the industry.
About Equus Capital Partners, Ltd. Hailing as one of the eminent real estate developers and investment managers in the country, Equus Capital Partners boasts an eclectic portfolio of office, multi-family, and industrial properties scattered across the U.S. Headquartered in Philadelphia, the firm has an expansive reach with regional offices in several states. Further details can be found on their official website www.equuspartners.com.
VDOT: Warren County Traffic Alert for October 2 – 5, 2023
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 lane closures as needed for road and bridge work, 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. through the night of November 27. Shoulder closures 24/7. Work zone speed limit: 55 miles an hour. Work is related to southbound acceleration ramp extension and bridge widening, with estimated completion in fall 2024.
No lane closures were reported.
Route 702 (Baugh Drive) – Flagger traffic control between Baker Plaza and Route 661 (Fairground Road) for paving operations, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Friday.
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.
Front Royal’s Town Council Race: Candidates Share Visions on Housing and Blight
Candidates Open Up About Their Plans and Backgrounds at Recent Forum.
On September 27, the Warren County Builders Association played host to a riveting forum featuring candidates eyeing a seat on the Front Royal Town Council.
Melissa DeDomenico-Payne: A familiar face in the Front Royal political scene, Melissa has been serving on the Town Council since her appointment in January 2023. A local resident since 1971, she vividly remembers the water pollution issues from Avtex during her younger days. Melissa’s approach to blighted properties leans heavily on beefing up the enforcement of rental rules and town codes. She’s vocal about the need for affordable housing. Melissa’s rich background in public service was a focal point during her closing, and she urged builders to establish better communication channels with the council.
Connie Marshner: Branding herself as the “uncandidate,” Connie brings a fresh perspective, free from the binds of political history. She moved to Front Royal in 1995 and recalls a childhood dictated by her Navy family’s frequent relocations. Her take on neglected properties echoes a common sentiment—more hands on deck. She envisions Front Royal as a “lifelong community” with houses everyone can afford. Ending her segment, Connie painted a picture of Front Royal at a crossroads, emphasizing the need to cherish its unique charm and walkable streets.
Glenn Wood: A true Front Royal son, Glenn’s roots trace back to his school days in the local institutions. After dedicating half a century to manufacturing and human resources, he hung up his professional boots, although his heart remains tethered to community service. Glenn expresses deep concern over blighted properties, advocating for prompt actions. On the housing frontier, he’s all for partnerships that benefit those earning under $50k annually. In wrapping up, Glenn put his planning commission experience on display, pledging to ensure the well-being of Front Royal’s residents.
Missing from the forum was the fourth candidate, Skip Rogers, who couldn’t make it to the event. The discussions from that evening painted a clear picture of each candidate’s vision for Front Royal, especially on burning topics like blight and housing affordability. As election day approaches, the residents of Front Royal are undoubtedly better equipped to cast their votes.