FRONT ROYAL – A Warren County school bus was involved in a crash with a passenger vehicle Monday morning at the intersection of Second Street and Royal Avenue. The bus was carrying about 20 students, according to a first responder at the scene.
None of the students appeared to be injured in the incident and the car’s driver, whose identity has not been confirmed, refused treatment at the scene.
A witness who saw the accident occur, who asked not to be identified, said the car that struck the bus failed to stop at the stop sign on Second Street and “t-boned” the bus as it traveled south on Royal Avenue.
Warren County Public School Transportation Director Aaron Mitchell, who was on the scene of the accident, said a statement would be forthcoming from Superintendent Greg Drescher.
June jury trial set for former breeding kennel owners in child, animal cruelty cases
FRONT ROYAL – On Monday, March 18, Circuit Court Judge Clifford L. “Clay” Athey ordered a June trial in the 25-count case against former commercial breeding kennel owners Wendy and Brian Tenney. A two-day jury trial was scheduled for June 3-4. A morning docket hearing date of May 6 was set on the defense motion to suppress certain commonwealth evidence. The Tenneys are free on bond and waived their speedy trial right in response to a question from the court about setting a trial date.
Both Tenneys face six felony counts of child endangerment and neglectful care (“Labor-Cruelty and Injuries to Children”), one count for each of their six children under the age of 18, as well as 19 counts each of misdemeanor animal cruelty. The charges stem from the conditions found in their home and a detached kennel area on their property during the execution of a search warrant on September 12, 2018. That search warrant was executed after Animal Control Officer Laura Gomez went to the Tenney residence to report discovery of some of their goats in the road.
Tenney counsel from the Staunton law firm of Timberlake-Smith noted his clients had waived their right to a jury trial; however, the court ordered the case be heard by a jury of the Tenneys’ peers.
General District Court Judge W. Dale Houff certified the felony charges to the grand jury following a 2-1/2 hour hearing on December 12. And while the Tenneys dropped an appeal of the lower court ruling the 28 surviving dogs and cats (of 30 seized) be released for adoption by the Humane Society of Warren County’s Julia Wagner Animal Shelter where they had been held since September 12, they are taking their fight against the misdemeanor animal cruelty charges to the higher court.
At the time of the September 12 search warrant’s execution the Tenneys were in the process of appealing a Warren County Board of Supervisors’ April 17 decision (by a 4-1 vote, only the Tenneys’ South River District Supervisor Linda Glavis dissenting) to revoke their commercial breeding kennel permit. That permit was revoked following a four-month hearing process before both the county planning commission and board of supervisors. The Tenneys have since dropped that appeal.
The county planning department recommended the commercial breeding kennel permit revocation in the wake of a March 6, 2017 kennel fire at the Tenney property in which 16 dogs died. A county fire investigation indicated the cause of the fire as the type of portable space heater animal control had warned Wendy Tenney against using as they are subject to wire chewing by the dogs. The fire investigation also presented evidence the kennel had been illegally wired without the necessary permitting and inspections.
Addressing the felony counts related to the Tenney children on December 12, General District Court Judge Houff said he did not question that the Tenney children were loved by their parents. However, he disputed defense counsel’s contention that
what was found on the property during the September search presented an uncharacteristic “snapshot” of how the Tenney’s normally lived. Judge Houff said photo evidence and witness testimony presented “such an array of chaos” that it could not simply be dismissed as a momentary aberration without further scrutiny at a higher level, first before a grand jury and then as now certified, before a jury of the Tenneys’ peers.
Following execution of the September 12 search warrant the family’s six minor children were removed from the home and released to the custody of their maternal grandmother. According to Tenney attorney Tate C. Love that transfer was made voluntarily by the Tenneys without a court order. Following the December hearing Love noted that all the Tenneys’ interactions with social services had been voluntary.
Under cross-examination Animal Control Deputy Gomez admitted that on previous inspections of Tenney’s property as recent as March or April 2018 conditions had been normal, clean and acceptable. Defense counsel also pointed out that Mrs. Tenney had asked Gomez to allow her to clean up after she called for the search warrant but had not been allowed to do so.
But under redirect examination Gomez noted that her previous inspections of the Tenney property had always been scheduled in advance – “This was unscheduled,” the animal control officer observed.
Gomez called for the search warrant after observing the conditions in a detached kennel area on the Tenney property. Gomez visited the Tenney property on September 12 to report that some of their goats had escaped the property and were in the road.
Prosecution witnesses from the sheriff’s office involved in the search of the Tenney home and kennel on September 12, 2018, indicated that the combined smell of wasting food, trash, animal feces and general smell of ammonia was so bad they could only continue the search in five-minute increments even with ventilators on due to the strength of the odor.
Bridge across Rockland Road railroad tracks coming shortly?
Seemingly hidden in recent reports from Washington D.C., Richmond, and the Virginia Inland Port in Warren County is news of $15.5 million in federal and state funding that will pay for a bridge across the railroad tracks on the county’s Rockland Road, sought by the county board of supervisors for two decades.
The funding came in through the back door, so to speak, since the grants were made directly to the Inland Port to both ease increasing traffic in and out of the port as well as, according to county executive Doug Stanley, answering the problem of trains consistently blocking traffic – including emergency vehicles – in the Rockland area north of the town of Front Royal.
No timetable has yet been set by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (VDOT) but a bridge across one of the two access roads to Rockland – the busier Fairground Road crossing proved impractical – will be welcomed by area residents who have been increasingly inconvenienced by crossings blocked by Norfolk Southern trains. The local ambulance and fire services also welcomed the news. VDOT is charged with building the bridge.
“The U.S. Department of Transportation’s ‘Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development’ (BUILD) grant award for the Inland Port is great news for the port, the county, and particularly residents of the Rockland area,” Stanley commented, adding, “More and longer trains have, from time to time, played havoc with blocking both the Fairground Road and Rockland Road crossings which are located north and south of the port entrance.”
Rockland Road carries about 750 vehicles a day. Blockages have been documented to last up to an hour, at times, resulting in significant delays, safety hazards, and cost to residents, business and industry. Also affected are school buses and fire and rescue response from the nearby North Warren Fire and Rescue Department which provides primary emergency service for the area.
“The closest detour route to avoid these delays is seven miles away and takes an additional 10-12 minutes of travel time that is especially critical during an emergency call,” Stanley said, acknowledging scores of complaints from residents as train traffic has significantly increased year to year.
Due to a sharp increase in business at the Inland port, an additional amount of state funding was added to the federal grant from the state’s Rail Enhancement Fund, according to Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine.
“… we are grateful for the broad support (these) grant applications received from members of our congressional delegation, Virginia’s governor, regional development authorities, and the business community around the Virginia Inland Port,” said Virginia Inland Port CEO and Executive Director John F. Reinhart in a recent release from Governor Ralph Northam’s office.
Said Stanley, “We would like to thank the Virginia Port Authority and VDOT for working with the county to prioritize this (bridge) project and we look forward to advancing it through the design and construction phases as quickly as possible.”
The county underscored its request for a solution to the traffic problems as late as 2016.
Virginia Inland Port in Warren County is a major trucking and shipping center for national and international business and has been operating about 30 years. It is a key to industrial and business expansion in the area.
BREAKING NEWS: Sheriff McEathron announces he’ll retire May 1
Warren County Sheriff Daniel T. McEathron announced Monday, March 18, that he will officially retire on May 1, 2019.
He has served for 37 years with the WCSO, 16 years as Sheriff, and said he is “looking forward to starting a new chapter of my life and pursuing some of my personal passions of restoring classic cars, construction and having the time to spend with family.”
McEathron stated in a press release that Chief Deputy Major Michael Arnold will serve as Sheriff for the remainder of his term, which ends December 31, 2019.
Vigil for Democracy launches into 3rd year in the populist political trenches
About 20 people, including 26th District Democratic State Senatorial candidate April Moore, gathered at Front Royal’s Town Gazebo at noon on Wednesday, March 13, to join Len Sherp in marking the start of the third year of the Vigil for Democracy he began on March 8, 2017.
“We mark our calendar by Wednesdays – we started on the second Wednesday of March 2017 and it’s the second Wednesday of March 2019,” Sherp said of any date discrepancies.
On that second Wednesday of 2017 Sherp explained the impetus for his Vigil for Democracy to Royal Examiner: “This administration in eight weeks has shown that it doesn’t understand the rule of law; does not respect the separation of powers; and has a Republican Congress that for some reason refuses to stand up and be adult. There are threats to our democracy when our president lies every day. And I think there are some underlying issues – I’m holding a sign today that says ‘Show us the Tax Returns’. Every president, I believe since Eisenhower if not even earlier, has released their tax returns, so that we can see that they are not indebted to or beholding to other foreign powers.”
And for Sherp on March 13, 2019, not much has changed.
“At the time I told you that I thought we faced a crisis in our country that basic constitutional principals seemed to be ignored; and we were heading toward a path that I felt the future of our democratic-republican form of government was in peril. Nothing over the last two years has convinced me otherwise,” Sherp said.
“We still have disrespect from the highest office in the nation, the presidency of the United States, for the rule of law; disrespect for the separation of powers; disrespect for the truth; we have disrespect for a free press; we have disrespect for the hardworking members of the federal government; we have disrespect for our allies; and we have instead an affection for dictators and a wish from our president that perhaps he could be president for life like his friend, Comrade Xi (Xi Jinping, president of China).
“And he talks about ‘love letters’ with (North Korean Dictator) Kim Jung Un – and we stopped our annual or semi-annual military exercises with the Republic of South Korea, our strongest ally in the Far East – what did we get for that? Oh, we got a picture with Kim Jung Un.
“And I didn’t even mention the violations of the emoluments clause of the Constitution and the violations of the ban against nepotism – I could go on and on,” Sherp said deciding to end the litany of reasons the Vigil for Democracy continues, and will continue beyond his pending move to Oregon. Sherp and his wife are moving west in several weeks to be close to their daughter.
Sherp pointed us toward other vigil participants for comments, including those who will be instrumental in continuing to see the Vigil for Democracy remains a viable expression of political dissent guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Long-time vigil participants Bob Hill and Jorge Amselle will share Vigil for Democracy organizational rolls after Sherp’s departure.
We asked Amselle why he, like Hill and others in the vigil trenches, has been there on Wednesday afternoons with Sherp for the bulk of two years.
“This is the only thing that keeps me sane; this is the only thing that gives me hope for our country – to be out here with people who recognize the danger that we’re in, who are like-minded. I believe I told you before, I used to be a conservative Republican for 30 years; for years I voted Republican. When Trump was running I kept telling my fellow Republicans ‘You can’t vote for this guy – he’s insane and a racist.’
“And when he won the nomination I decided that’s it, I’m out, I’m done. And I left the Republican Party and volunteered for the Hillary Clinton campaign and did everything I could to make sure Trump didn’t win.”
Over two years later Amselle is maintaining his commitment to make Americans, including Republicans, see what he sees in the 45th president – a would-be demagogue who puts self interest above the national interest.
Amselle pointed out how many congressional Republicans, Lindsay Graham and Ted Cruz being prominent examples, were documented during the 2016 nominating campaign saying horrible things about Trump’s character; but now fall easily in line with the worst of the president’s policy initiatives or personal impulses.
“I think it’s just winning at all costs – nothing matters but winning, you know, no morals, no qualms about lying, cheating, stealing, pandering to white supremacists, empowering racism and other forms of bigotry; being inconsistent on all the things you ever preached. See, there used to be a competition between all different kinds of conservatives, your libertarians, your evangelicals, all different kinds of conservatives were there to argue and debate conservative ideologies.”
“Now that’s all gone, now it’s just Trump – the only ideology that matters is Trump,” Amselle observed of an apparent party-wide fear of not antagonizing Trump’s sizable base among Republican voters.
And when the cult of personality meets ideological intransience tempered with stereotypical vilification of minorities and outsiders you have a historically dangerous combination – a combination often found at the outset of the rise of state totalitarianism.
It is a trend another former Republican present at the March 13 vigil has noticed. April Moore is positioning herself for a Democratic challenge of 26th District State Senate Republican incumbent Mark Obenshain in the upcoming election. See her observations on the trend of Republicanism in the Trump era mentioned by Amselle in this linked story.
Of her presence in staunchly Republican Front Royal and Warren County for the March 13 Vigil for Democracy Moore said, “I’m impressed people here in Front Royal have been out here every week for the last two years protesting what the Republican Party has become and what it’s doing: this party that nominated, elected and now serves as accomplices to a president who lies to the public multiple times every day; and who is assaulting our rule of law; and even seems to be in some kind of strange cahoots with our most dangerous adversary.
“So part of why I’m running is the reason they’re out here,” Moore said of Vigil for Democracy participants.
Bob Hill, who with Jorge Amselle will continue the organizational impetus for the Vigil for Democracy in Sherp’s pending absence, sees a fundamental necessity for that continuation.
“I think the vigil has been an awakening for a lot of the people here in Front Royal that there is a two-party system and two parties make us stronger. Obviously if you have a one-party system you are heading away from democratic principals,” Hill observed of the role of political dissent in non-totalitarian nations.
Hill, who was a primary vigil player in establishing a dialogue with elements of the pro-Trump contingent across Chester Street, pointed to mutual concerns about local politics.
“My Trump friends over there,” he said gesturing toward Ralph and Michael Waller and their pro-Trump signs across Chester Street, “when I talk to them about what’s going on locally, about the EDA or about insurance policies (against abuses) they’ll say to me ‘Well, it’s the politicians’ and I’ll say ‘What politicians?’ and they’ll say ‘The ones we voted in’ – and I’ll ask ‘What party are they?’ And in staunchly-conservative Warren County and Front Royal the answer with few generally independent exceptions is Republican.
“Years ago my wife came home and said, ‘Look, I could be a Republican – I believe in smaller government except for one thing: smaller government would mean fewer people overseeing and making sure that I, as a Republican, don’t think of myself first and foremost.’
“Sure it’s smaller government, but it’s also corrupt government,” Hill said of an unmonitored economic system where the largest and wealthiest competitors are free to prey upon, not only smaller-positioned competitors, but the marketplace itself.
“Sometimes people just don’t see the forest for the trees,” Hill concluded with an age-old expression of the problem of seeing the bigger picture when you find yourself immersed in the middle of that picture.
And when one looks at the political picture being painted by the current occupant of the White House: from a general disregard for federal institutions from law enforcement to intelligence and the diplomatic wing of the State Department, coupled with the number of unfilled federal positions after two-plus years of the Trump presidency, as well as the conflicting professional interests of many who have been appointed to head oversight agencies like the EPA, Commerce and Interior, it would seem the core political issues that have brought Vigil for Democracy participants together for over two years are nowhere near a resolution.
So we imagine you will continue to see these anniversary reports, along with those coming across the Chester Street political divide, for at least another two years …
26th District candidate April Moore worries over the direction of her former party
As mentioned in Royal Examiner’s lead story on the launch of the third year of Vigil for Democracy demonstrations against the political agenda and lack of transparency of the Trump Administration, April Moore is positioning herself for a Democratic challenge of 26th District State Senate Republican incumbent Mark Obenshain in the upcoming election.
In the above linked story we alluded to a concern Moore shared with vigil participant and former Republican Jorge Amselle over what both see as disturbing trends in the Republican base and that base’s elected representatives.
Moore said it is personally painful to witness what she considers a Republican abandonment of inclusive and constructive conservatism in favor of bigotry-tinged extremism because like Amselle, she too has Republican roots.
“I used to be a Republican; I grew up Republican. My parents, I am sure, would just roll over in their graves if they could see what their party has become. And I am trying to help Republicans who don’t like what their party has become to see it and reject it, so they can get to work building a decent, constructive conservative party. Because I think American needs a conservative party that’s constructive.”
Or as conservative columnist George Will has observed, “The American Eagle needs a healthy left and right wing to fly.” But a healthy, constructive conservative voice is not what Moore sees in the current Republican Party, either in Congress, State Legislatures or at its base.
“We’ve all watched what the Republican Party has become right in front of our eyes – and the nomination and election of Trump are just the most visible symbol of that. I mean, this has been building for a generation. We’ve had people like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity with this kind of drum beat poisoning people’s minds and getting people to believe things that just aren’t true – getting them to think Democrats are their enemies instead of just people who care about their country and might have different ideas,” Moore observed.
“And a lot of people fall for it. They believe what he or they are saying. It’s very dangerous to our democracy that we have something like 40% of our fellow citizens liking what they see when they watch Trump. I mean okay, maybe people voted for him because they thought ‘Oh okay, let’s have a change’. Now we’ve had three years to watch him tell all these lies and threaten our national security by not even believing his own intelligence agencies – he’ll believe Putin or North Korea’s Kim Jung Un instead of what his own intelligence agencies are telling him. I mean, this is very dangerous. And we have to fight it and try to help people see that even after Trump leaves if you have 40% of our citizens liking what he did it will be an ongoing problem.”
Asked if the primary ongoing problem would be a significant, if at this point minority portion of the American public favoring a move toward authoritarianism based on cults of personality, Moore upped the ante on potential consequences.
“That’s very dangerous, yes,” she said of a rising tide of blind-faith political allegiance steeped in a vilification of enemies, real or imagined. “But even more dangerous than that is the threat of nuclear war. Because Trump has pulled us out of the intermediate-range nuclear missile treaty,” she noted of an agreement between the U.S. and Russia dating to the Reagan era that has kept mid-range nuclear weapons out of Europe on Russia’s western frontier.
It is a frontier many political and military analysts believe current Russian leadership, and we all know who that is, would like to see re-drawn toward former Soviet Union parameters across Eastern Europe.
Asked if a military, perhaps even nuclear, conflict broke out between Russia and the EU or NATO, which side she thought a Trump-led America might throw in with, Moore laughed nervously and moved on to another pending crisis – climate change.
“Climate change is really the biggest challenge confronting humanity. And the president pulled out of the (climate) treaty and he’s saying it’s fake news and fake science – and it’s so harmful. It’s at a time when we’re in great danger and we need to be moving full speed ahead (to correct things). What we really need on climate is a World War II-type effort. We need that big a mobilization; and meanwhile he’s dragging us in the opposite direction.”
We pointed to the negative Republican reaction and vilification of freshmen Democratic House membership rolling out the idea of a “Green New Deal” similar to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s economic New Deal that created jobs and helped push America out of the Great Depression.
“Yea, that it’s socialism or what is it going to cost,” Moore responded, adding, “Why don’t they consider the cost of doing nothing about climate change, with all the dramatic weather which is only going to get worse; creating many more refugees?”
So one underlying question for many, including former Republicans like Moore and Amselle, at the current political divide across Chester Street in Front Royal on Wednesday afternoons, as well as across Main Street America on any given day, is whether the Republican Party can regain a more moderate philosophical center or will continue a flirtation with political, social and economic extremism.
Ultimately it is a question only those choosing to remain Republican will be able to answer.
Bringing HOPE to Appalachia
Local small business owners, Ellen Aders of State Farm and Jennifer Avery of Jenspiration LLC & NextHome Realty Select prepare for a second trip to the mountains of our neighboring state, Kentucky. In 2012, HOPE for Appalachia launched its first adventure to bring HOPE to children in our most distressed region of America with just one team visiting 3 schools. This year there will be over 200 people on 7 teams visiting 30 school in 7 counties.
Watch this video to see part of the journey to Appalachia and meet some of the children (and a few seniors) who took part in the 2018 HOPE for Appalachia trip. See the hope, joy, and appreciation in their smiles as they open their HOPE boxes.
Learn about the children and families in the Appalachia region:
In February 2009, Diane Sawyer recorded an ABC News documentary titled: A Hidden America – Children of the Mountains. In this documentary, Diane interviews numerous children and families who have remained hidden in the hills of Appalachia. These families struggle with drug abuse, depression, early death, cancer, toothlessness, and alcoholism. Poverty we can’t imagine. In ways, they have been left behind.
Help stuff HOPE boxes:
This year 100 boxes will be stuffed and sent on the trip to Appalachia from Front Royal. If you are interested in donating items for HOPE boxes, please reference the attached list of items. All items are welcome and appreciated, highlighted indicate greatest need. Girls in 6th-8th grade. All items are requested by April 6th.
Drop off site: Aders Insurance, Ellen Aders
23 Church St, Front Royal, VA 22630
Office number: 540-635-3336
OR Call Jen Avery at 540-683-0790 to help make other arrangements.
*HOPE for Appalachia is a 5013C Non-Profit organization
|Hope Boxes Basic Items In Each Box|
|PK to 2nd Grade||3rd to 5th Grade||6th – 8th Grade|
|Socks ( Boys/Girls – Medium)||Socks (Boys/Girls – Large)||Socks (mens/womens)|
|Glue Sticks||Elmers Glue||Highlighters|
|Character Bodywash||Character Bodywash||Bodywash Deodorant|
|Hair bows/Ties||Hair bows/Ties||Hair bows/Ties|
|Small Toys||Small Toys||Small notebook|
|**Items highlighted are what we really need! And, our 100 boxes are for little girls|