FRONT ROYAL – The Front Royal Thermal Shelter will remain open longer than usual to provide shelter to those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved allowing the Warren County Department of Social Services to provide the shelter up to $12,000 to continue operations.

Michelle Smeltzer, the shelter’s director, told the supervisors that this should allow the shelter to remain open through mid-June. In normal times, it would have closed last week. She said the extra money will provide salaries, laundry services and transportation for those unable to travel to the shelter.

DSS Director DeAnna Cheatham said this is the cheapest option, opposed to alternatives such as providing hotel rooms.

She added that it is a vital service.

“Some of these people also work and have jobs. So to have access to somewhere where they’re actually able to wash their hands and…perhaps do some personal hygiene before they’re able to go to work is certainly beneficial in keeping them employed,” Cheatham said.

Depending on when the virus crisis ends, Smeltzer said the shelter may close before mid-June or stay open longer.

“It’s a little up in the air as to how long this is going to last,” she said.

County Administrator Doug Stanley explained the expense will not affect the overall county budget as it will come out of $77,000 DSS has set aside over several years for emergencies.

Warren County Deputy Emergency Manager Rick Farrall said he will work with the DSS to closely monitor potential avenues for reimbursement.

Also on Tuesday, the supervisors:

  • Approved a three-year animal impoundment agreement with the Humane Society of Warren County in which the animal shelter will receive level funding next year and slight increases the following two years.
  • Nominated Gary Kushner for the Warren County Board of Zoning Appeals, which must be affirmed in circuit court.
  • Approved an additional $534,370 state appropriation to Warren County Public Schools.
  • Approved the Sheriff's Office's request to donate a trailer to the Fredrick County Sheriff's Office. That trailer was used to transport a canoe that the Warren County Sheriff's Office donated to Frederick County. The transactions mark ongoing cooperation between the counties, as the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office recently donated $15,000-plus worth of uniforms to Warren County.
  • Approved a supporting resolution of the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority’s forbearance agreement with the First Bank of Strasburg.
  • Approved the $37,063 purchase of case management software for the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office.
  • Approved the $57,628 purchase of software to upgrade the Sheriff’s Office’s call and radio recorder, which is necessary to stay in line with mandated requirements.

– Contact Josh Gully at