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And that’s not all – the mysterious EDA workforce housing transaction

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Artist’s rendition of workforce housing apartment building – pending the EDA’s 2017 purchase of the land the number of planned 12-unit buildings was reduced from three to two to be initially constructed – today there are still none there. Royal Examiner File Photos/Roger Bianchini

As noted in our story on approval of a half-million-dollar increase (to $760,000) in County funding of the financial investigation (forensic audit) and consequent litigation resulting from that investigation of FR-WC Economic Development Authority finances

during the executive leadership of Jennifer McDonald, the specter of institutional wrongdoing and a lack of municipal oversight to prevent it permeated the April 2nd meeting of the Warren County Board of Supervisors.

SEE RELATED STORY:


Cost of EDA audit skyrockets from $260,000 to $760,000 – and that’s not all

Not long after County Board Chairman Dan Murray’s pre-meeting call for a collective effort to return “peace and tranquility” to the community it continued when two of three public comments speakers addressed the EDA situation. Cheryl Cullers, who said she would be running as an independent to replace the retiring Linda Glavis as South River District supervisor, called for the creation of a “fraud-waste-abuse hotline”.

Independent South River supervisor candidate Cheryl Cullers

“The residents are angry and they want to get to the bottom of what happened to the EDA. They also want to stop this from ever happening again … There is a healing process that must begin now,” Cullers told the county board she seeks to become a part of.

Then Kristie Sours Atwood, who told this reporter she is also pondering a run for South River supervisor, rose to call the EDA audit “a farce – there are so many holes in it,” she said of her exploration into what is known, though according to EDA officials no one outside the EDA Board of Directors has physically seen a draft of the still-evolving report.

Atwood, who has filed suit against the County over alleged conflicts related to building inspection department approvals and review of what she contends was flawed construction of her home by a local builder, asked that no payments be made to the Aikens group and its various legal entities until the final EDA audit report is released.

Perhaps a South River supervisor candidate, Kristie Atwood

Four-and-a-half months ago on November 28, 2018, the Aikens group became owner of the 3.5-acre workforce housing parcel at the end of Royal Lane off the Route 55 East entrance into Front Royal. The much-ballyhooed as of 2015 EDA workforce housing project is cited in the EDA civil litigation as one of several projects from which funds are alleged to have been embezzled.

SEE RELATED STORY:

Sheriff, ITFed principal Tran, Donnie Poe named with McDonald in EDA civil suit

Workforce Housing WHAT?!?

“They’ve got a lot of skin the game,” Atwood said of Aikens Group – actually not that much according to a November 28, 2018 Deed of Sale from the EDA to the Cornerstone LLC branch of the Aikens group. The price of that transfer of ownership from the EDA to the Aikens Group was ten dollars.

If not as good as the one dollar deal given to Truc “Curt” Tran and his ITFederal LLC for 30 commercial acres at the Royal Phoenix Business Park site, it was still a pretty good one considering that in April 2017 the EDA board agreed to pay $445,000 for the 3.5-acre parcel initially presented as a late 2014 gift to the EDA for community development.

During a conversation with the media in the EDA parking lot on Dec. 20, 2018, ‘Curt’ Tran expressed distress that Jennifer McDonald’s job performance was under critical scrutiny. McDonald resigned that day. Tran and his company are among eight defendants named with McDonald in an EDA lawsuit seeking recovery of over $17.6 million in EDA assets. An EDA loan of $10 million to Tran apparently pushed by retired Congressman Robert Goodlatte, R-6, is among those assets being sought.

Asked if the EDA purchased the property for $445,000, why it would sell it to the Aikens Group for $10, a loss of $444,990 by our calculations, Dan Whitten noted he had been conflicted out of the transaction in his duel County-EDA attorney roles.

EDA Board Chairman Gray Blanton, who signed the November 28, 2018, Deed of Sale to the Cornerstone LLC branch of the Aikens group, did not respond to a phone message question about the purchase and sale. EDA officials have been advised not to discuss matters related to the civil litigation filed on their behalf. And as noted above, the workforce housing project is on the lawsuit list of projects from which money is alleged to have been embezzled.

The workforce housing projects dates to late 2014 when a Deed of Gift was arranged to the EDA from local realtors Walter and Jeanette Campbell for their 3.5-acre parcel at the end of Royal Lane off the John Marshall Highway/Route 55 East entrance into Front Royal. As later explained by EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald, who is the Campbell’s niece, the couple would receive a federally-generated tax credit for the undeveloped property in exchange for the land gifted to the EDA for economic development.

As that Deed of Gift situation unraveled in 2017, at one point McDonald asserted that the Aikens Group had been involved in the workforce property transfer from near the beginning, agreeing to a purchase from the original owners at the price on the Campbells Deed of Gift to the EDA. As for the absence of any mention of Aikens’ involvement prior to 2017, McDonald alleged that the regional developer did not want its name tied to the project publicly due to competitive advantage issues.

A shot down Royal Lane toward its dead end at the boundary of the EDA’s workforce housing parcel – despite a reported EDA expenditure of $500,000 on engineering, prep work and permitting, five years down the road the property looks pretty much the same.

During a November 2016 Front Royal Town Council discussion of special exceptions requested by the EDA for the workforce housing project to be built on a dead-end street, Town Planning Director Jeremy Camp referenced a funding stream through the “Home Consortium” that the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission managed. Faced with questions from Councilwoman Bébhinn Egger about a $445,000 price attached to the Deed of Gift, the town planning director suggested further clarification from McDonald who was present at the 2016 council meeting.

Pressed by Egger for reasons the $445,000 price – the property was then assessed at $310,000 – appeared on the Campbell’s Deed of Gift to the EDA, McDonald explained that the former owners got a tax credit based on the price listed on the Deed of Gift.

“That’s the amount of our Home Fund. It’s not actual money we ever had our hands on; that’s Home Funds that go directly from the DHUD to the property owner, so it’s never money that we see,” McDonald said of the EDA and the price listed on the Deed of Gift. Royal Examiner’s research at the time indicated that the federal tax credits were based on a third of the value of the involved property, thus apparently explaining the need for a price on a Deed of Gift.

SEE RELATED STORY:

Missing appraisal raises workforce housing questions

Jennifer McDonald and Bébhinn Egger often butted heads over assertions made about EDA projects by the EDA executive director. Until Town Finance Director B.J. Wilson’s spring 2018 discovery of a history of annual debt service overpayments by the Town to the EDA, Egger had been the only elected town official to question the often fluid and secretive dynamics of EDA projects under McDonald’s executive leadership.

At the time Royal Examiner research into that funding stream indicated it was regionally-administered money, by the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission, originating in a federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD or DHUD) program.

Despite council approval of the requested zoning permit exceptions, the project floundered with no apparent site work being done. In 2017 McDonald pointed to delays in town and DEQ permitting as reasons for delays.

Following an April 28, 2017, EDA board closed session it was announced that a failure to meet a previously undisclosed developmental deadline related to the Campbell’s tax credit eligibility would negate the deed of gift. McDonald elaborated that the deadline was part of confidential agreement between the Campbells and the EDA on the exchange of the property. In the wake of the unmet deadline the EDA’s options were to deed the land back to the Campbells or purchase it.

SEE RELATED STORY:  

Missing appraisal raises workforce housing questions

Asked about the decision to purchase following the meeting, McDonald said the EDA had already spent a half-million dollars in preparatory work, including site planning, engineering, town and state DEQ permitting fees, so the board decision was that it would be best to proceed with the transaction as a purchase, rather than abandon the project and site at this point.

“We’re frugal,” then EDA board Chair Patty Wines commented.

As Executive Director Jennifer McDonald watches, then-EDA Vice-Chair Greg Drescher reads an April 2017 motion to pursue a $445,000 purchase of the 3-1/2 acre workforce housing parcel the EDA had allegedly done $500,000 of engineering, permitting and site work on.

In reaction to that change in the workforce housing dynamic adding over $440,000 to the EDA’s cost of the project, one town official reacted angrily at a subsequent May 2017 council meeting.

“I feel extremely manipulated, not only as a councilman, but also as a town citizen. We were told by Jennifer at our public meeting in November that the $445,000 price was from an appraisal. That was false. I even pointed out that the assessed value was much, much lower,” Councilwoman Egger began.

“We were told that we had to abandon all logical planning practices to build on THIS particular lot, because the land was being donated. That is now also false,” Egger said of the April 2017 explanation of the new dynamic requiring an EDA purchase of the workforce housing property.

SEE RELATED STORY:

Despite safety concerns, Town granted EDA project road exceptions

 

“Are we supposed to believe that the EDA is so incompetent that they can’t meet a deadline two and a half years later? I don’t believe that for one second,” Egger told her colleagues, adding, “Why is the agreement between the EDA and the Campbells confidential? … Why is the EDA continually hiding behind confidential agreements and permitting processes?”

As Bébhinn Egger and Eugene Tewalt listen, former colleague Bret Hrbek speaks. Hrbek was one especially critical of Egger’s questioning of EDA projects, once claiming those questions threatened to run ITFederal and its principal ‘Curt’ Tran away from the sweetheart deal he had on EDA land and financial resources. Tewalt was among Egger’s former colleagues to recently apologize for not listening to the councilwoman in 2016-17. Now retired from politics, Hrbek remains publicly silent on the evolving EDA and ITFederal legal situations.

Egger then concluded with an observation that seems particularly timely in the spring of 2019 as the community awaits the next legal filings to drop following a now $760,000 forensic audit of EDA finances over the past decade.

SEE RELATED STORY:

Madden requests, Athey empanels special grand jury in EDA case

“It gives me little hope for the future of our town, knowing that the council blindly went along with approving this project, even though the numbers didn’t add up; it will create a planning nightmare, and the information provided to us was lacking. The EDA can pass the buck all they’d like, but those of us with our eyes open see this for what it is: another botched project where none of the numbers make sense, all of the pertinent information is confidential, and the council and public are given false information which is never retracted and never apologized for.”

If not the community, Egger, now Bébhinn Rowland of Maryland, received May 25, 2019 apologies from Mayor Hollis Tharpe and Councilmen Eugene Tewalt and Jacob Meza for their roles in minimizing Egger’s questions and council’s collective unwillingness to explore the myriad issues about EDA processes presented by their colleague at the time.

SEE RELATED STORY:

Mayor admits: we ‘drank the Kool-Aid’ in apology to former councilwoman

SEE RELATED STORY: 

Council confronted over past protectionism of EDA and its chief executive

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EDA in Focus

County work session takes unexpected turn on EDA front – ‘Reunited’ operational option broached

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What had been an hour-plus work session update on Capital Improvement Projects (CIPs) by County Project Manager Jeff Hayes took an unexpected turn about an hour and a quarter into that work session at the conclusion of Hayes PowerPoint presentation. I say “unexpected” because the only open session agenda cover sheet item was Hayes’ CIP report. However, the board elected to take what was labeled “Closed Session” discussion of “Personnel re: Economic Development Authority” into open session discussion.

What followed was County Administrator Ed Daley’s presentation on organizational opportunities presented by the pending October 1st loss of the second and final member of the two-person EDA staff. As previously reported, following Administrative Assistant Gretchen Henderson’s August 27 departure to the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission, Executive Director Doug Parsons announced his resignation, effective October 1, to take the EDA executive director’s job in Fauquier County.

Warren County Administrator Ed Daley explains the operational dynamics of realigning the EDA staff within the County’s administrative structure inside the WCGC. Royal Examiner Photos by Roger Bianchini

And what Daley presented to the board in open session echoed what EDA Board Chairman Jeff Browne told Royal Examiner in the wake of the pending loss of the entire EDA staff – this can be an opportunity, rather than a derailing of the EDA’s recovery from the multi-million-dollar financial scandal uncovered in 2018-19 under previous executive and board leadership. And while Browne focused on replacement personnel selection as the opportunity, Daley used that as a jumping-off point to explore previous supervisors discussion dating to early 2020 about an organizational realignment of the EDA. The County has already taken on the role of Financial Agent of the EDA. Continuing the broached realignment would bring the EDA staff into the Warren County Government Center, functioning more like a County Department. That option was first considered by some supervisors in the wake of the Town of Front Royal’s decision to operationally withdraw from the half-century-plus old joint EDA, in favor of creating its own unilateral Front Royal EDA (FREDA).



In Dec. 2019 file photo, then-Mayor Gene Tewalt at an EDA Board meeting. Tewalt urged Town Council to accept EDA-offered negotiations to determine exactly what the Town’s losses in the EDA financial scandal were – but council wasn’t listening. Will they now? Then EDA Board Chairman Ed Daley is at far left, flanked by Greg Harold, Doug Parsons, Jeff Browne, standing, a partially obscured Gray Blanton, and Jorie Martin. Now Supervisors Chair Cheryl Cullers is seated behind Mayor Tewalt.

That decision was driven by the Town Council’s decision, against the advice of then-Mayor Gene Tewalt, to civilly sue the old EDA for a larger portion of the allegedly embezzled and misdirected EDA assets related to County and Town business dealing handled by the EDA. Rather than costly and divisive litigation, Mayor Tewalt urged council to accept the new EDA leadership’s offer to have staffs simply sit down and follow the money to determine who was owed what. However, a council majority wasn’t listening to its then mayor. Consequently, the Town and EDA are currently engaged in dueling civil litigations.

And while Daley’s presentation began as a logistical exploration of processes of incorporating the EDA into the county governmental apparatus, it took a turn when one supervisor posed a legal question. “I’m going to call the elephant out in the room,” North River Supervisor Delores Oates said in pointing out that the existing EDA was jointly founded by the county and town governments over a half-century ago, and legally remains a Town-County EDA. So, can the County legally bring the EDA into its sole administrative oversight, she wondered.

“If I were sitting where you sit, I would invite the town council to participate in a staffed economic development department that works for the EDA but can also work for us in the County and the Town on economic development projects,” the county administrator replied. And as Daley pointed out, neither EDA currently has a staff, though at least one, the old EDA, has an exceptionally competent and proactive re-tooled board of directors.

“And I think that would be the best tactical advantage for the community, is if we would actually collaborate and not create independent organizations. Because otherwise we’re spending twice the money to do the same job,” Oates said in response to Daley’s suggestion.

Fork District Supervisor Archie Fox wondered how close to day-to-day EDA operations the county supervisors really wanted or needed to be. Below, North River Supervisor Delores Oates called ‘the elephant out in the room’ – the fact that legally the existing, co-founded EDA remains the ‘FR-WC EDA’. So, can the Board incorporate it into the county governmental apparatus were that path chosen?

The first face-to-face discussion of this latter option of reestablishing a jointly functioning Town-County EDA will apparently take place this Thursday, at the first Town-County Liaison Committee meeting since the Town Council decided to cut those quarterly meetings off in the wake of initiating the now dueling Town-EDA/County civil litigations. Daley noted that Liaison Committee opportunity was presented by the inclusion on Thursday’s Liaison agenda of a Town presentation on the status of development of its unilateral Town EDA.

Members of both council and the board of supervisors have recently suggested an altered, more collaborative Town-County path forward from the divisive and litigious one launched by council during the tenure of Interim Town Manager Matt Tederick. So, it will be interesting to see how Thursday’s Liaison Committee discussion develops with a new town manager involved; and how the full council will react to the idea of realigning into a jointly functioning EDA apparatus, possibly including collaboration in selecting the new FR-WC EDA staff were a speedy, positive reaction achieved.

The EDA discussion begins at the 1-hour-16-minute-30-second mark of the linked county video; Oates calls out the “elephant in the room” at the 1-hour-44-minute-45-second mark. The Capital Improvement Project PowerPoint and Q&A takes up the first hour-and-15-minutes of the video. And between the CIP and EDA portions of the work session, Board Chair Cullers gave an update on news of the birth of her newest grandchild Tuesday evening. – Welcome to the world on September 14, 2021, Ella Louise.

About those CIP projects

Prior to that turn toward the EDA and Town-County relations regarding cost-effective cooperation versus costly, counterproductive competition in future economic development initiatives, there were some interesting turns on the CIP front. Those included discussion of downtown Front Royal parking issues and the County’s ability to impact those issue with owned property in the Historic Downtown Business District vicinity. Also, under board scrutiny was the cost and effectiveness of air purification devices under consideration for other County facilities after being installed at the Warren County Courthouse to allow more normal judicial proceedings to be reinitiated during the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic. Discussion of the potential effectiveness against, not only the COVID-19 Coronavirus but other virally spread illnesses was broached in considering the purchase of as many as 60 of the machines at a cost of $2100 per unit.

County Project Manager Jeff Hayes had the floor with a power point review of Capital Improvement Projects for the first hour-and-15-minutes of work session.

See Hayes’ CIP power point on renovations to the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office; the Parks & Rec Department Splash Pad Pavilion; Rivermont Volunteer Fire Company 2 renovations; Shenandoah Farms Company 6 renovations; the Morgan’s Ford Boat Landing project; and Juvenile and Domestic Court renovations and related parking issue, including the observation that you “don’t build a court facility over or under a parking deck – BOOM!” (due to domestic terrorist concerns).

On the downtown parking deck front, Ed Daley noted that the Winchester City Council was scoffed at for proposing a downtown parking deck 20 years ago, adding that now the city has four.

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EDA in Focus

EDA develops transition plan through staffing losses

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The Front Royal/Warren County EDA’s Executive Committee met on September 10, 2021, at 9:00 a.m. to discuss personnel matters arising from the upcoming vacancy of its executive director, and a transition plan for continuity of EDA operations.

The Executive Committee is developing a detailed plan to handle all aspects of the EDA’s operations including business retention and attraction, finance, legal, personnel, and day-to-day office operations. Both the Board and the Executive Director are confident that this plan will ensure a seamless transition and ensure the EDA remains a competitive entity for investment and expansion of businesses in Warren County.

(From a Sept. 10 Press Release by the WC EDA)

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EDA in Focus

EDA dealt a staffing blow as executive director joins administrative assistant in moving on to new horizons

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On Tuesday, September 7, both Warren County Economic Development Authority (EDA) Board of Directors Chairman Jeff Browne and Executive Director Doug Parsons confirmed Parsons’ resignation, effective October 1. So, the EDA will lose its two post-financial scandal staffers within three weeks. As previously reported, Administrative Assistant Gretchen Henderson resigned last week to take a higher-paying job in the field of accounting across the EDA office hallway at the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission (NSVRC).

Parson’s new job will require a little more travel than across the hallway – 18 extra miles each way from his West Virginia home, he told us – as he will assume the Economic Development Authority Executive Director’s position in Fauquier County.

Doug Parsons, upper right white shirt and tie, joins his Administrative Assistant Gretchen Henderson, below under the watchful eye of the Royal Examiner camera, in accepting offers ‘they couldn’t refuse.’ Both EDA board meeting file photos are from Dec. 27, 2019, when this dynamic duo was still relatively new on the job. Royal Examiner File Photos by Roger Bianchini

We first spoke to Browne, who, while admitting the staffing losses were a blow coming in rapid succession as they have, preferred to look on the bright side. “Certainly it is tough short term. We were lucky to have them both for two years as they helped us through difficult times in recovering from what we inherited here,” Browne said of the re-tooled EDA Board’s navigating the aftermath of a $26-million to $62-million financial scandal alleged to have revolved around the EDA’s former executive director, Jennifer McDonald.



“But long-term, I look at this as an opportunity to find folks who will help navigate us into the future as we finish resolving our legal situations, and continue to refocus on this community’s economic development and retention. In the meantime, EDA Board members are stepping up to keep working with prospects and developing opportunities. I can only wish both Doug and Gretchen the best in their new endeavors,” Browne concluded.

We then reached Parsons by phone at the EDA office and asked about his experience of landing in the Warren County EDA job at a rather chaotic point in its half-century-plus history.

“It’s been a pleasure to serve as Executive Director of the Front Royal/Warren County Economic Development Authority over the last 28 months. The Board of Directors here has been the best I’ve ever worked with. Many of them have volunteered an incredible amount of their time to rebuild this organization. Chair Jeff Browne is essentially working 40 hours a week, and several others are putting in nearly that amount of time. I want to thank the Board of Directors, the Warren County Board of Supervisors, the County Department heads and staff, and everyone else that worked in collaboration with us to untangle the past and to help us with recruiting new business and assisting our current businesses.

“The taxpayers of Front Royal and Warren County now have an EDA they can be proud of that is working to bring more jobs and investment to the community. My successor will have many assets with which to work and great people to help accomplish the goals in the EDA’s strategic plan. I wish the people of Front Royal and Warren County the very best,” Parsons concluded.

And on that bright side that Browne chose to focus on – the multi-talented and very committed EDA Board of Directors Parsons lauded, remains in place as the County endeavors to fill the EDA staffing gap with people of comparable character and talent to those it has lost in this ninth month of 2021.

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Crime/Court

Update: Federal Prosecutors charge McDonald on 34 criminal counts in EDA financial scandal

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On Tuesday morning, August 31, former Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Executive Director Jennifer McDonald was arrested on a 34 count indictment handed down by the Western District of Virginia Federal Prosecutor’s Office in Harrisonburg. The 40-paragraph True Bill elaborating on the charges to a Harrisonburg Grand Jury is dated August 25, and signed by Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel P. Bubar. Of those 34 counts, 16 are for money laundering, 10 for bank fraud, 7 for wire fraud, and 1 count of aggravated identity theft regarding someone identified only as “T.T.”

The charges and outline of the case in support of them (Jennifer McDonald Indictment) echo earlier criminal indictments filed at the state level before the State Special Prosecutor’s Office in Harrisonburg turned the case over to federal authorities in late 2019. The state special prosecutor had dropped the indictments it had filed to avoid speedy trial issues due to the volume of evidentiary material – estimated at 800,000 to over a million pages at the time. Failure to meet speedy trial deadlines could have led to defense motions for dismissal of charges on the criminal side of the EDA financial scandal case.

Jennifer McDonald booked during state criminal prosecution process in 2019. Royal Examiner File Photos by Roger Bianchini – Mug Shots RSW Jail

An attempt to reach McDonald attorney Peter Greenspun at his Fairfax office for detail on his client’s arrest and bond situation was unsuccessful prior to publication. However, a check of the RSW Jail website indicated no new booking of McDonald at the tri-county regional facility.


In a statement on the McDonald prosecution released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Harrisonburg at 3 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, it was noted that McDonald had an initial court appearance on the new federal charges earlier in the day and that she was released pending trial.

While not reaching McDonald’s attorney, Royal Examiner did reach Warren County EDA Board of Directors Chairman Jeff Browne, who circulated the indictment document Tuesday morning. We asked Browne for a reaction to the long-awaited development on the criminal side of the EDA financial scandal case.

“We’re going to continue to pursue the civil case and are pleased that justice is being served on the criminal side – it’s been a long time coming,” Browne said of the nearly two-year lag time on refiling of criminal charges related to what was a $26-million-dollar civil litigation related to the allegations of criminal misdirection and embezzlement of Town-County EDA assets. That total has climbed to a $62-million claim after McDonald’s bankruptcy filing involved the state bankruptcy court in the case.

The FBI and VSP were both involved in the April 2019 search of McDonald’s former office; below, being locked down after her resignation under mounting investigatory pressure by her board on Dec. 20, 2018.

“We don’t control the criminal side, but there are some familiar numbers in this criminal filing that reflect work done by the Cherry Bekaert staff,” Browne commented of the company the EDA contracted to investigate EDA financial records during the later years of McDonald’s executive director’s tenure. “Any help we can offer, we’ll be there for federal prosecutors. But our focus is on the civil side and bringing assets back to the community,” Browne added. He noted that federal authorities are forecasting a criminal trial for McDonald in 2022.

As recently reported out of the bankruptcy process, the EDA and McDonald have reached a no-fault agreement on a debt of $9-million by the former EDA executive director to the EDA. That agreement in which McDonald admits no wrongdoing, has also been accepted by EDA civil case Judge Bruce D. Albertson. Exactly how that agreement will result in payment of that debt remains to be seen on the civil case side.

Another perspective on FBI-VSP presence at EDA headquarters during April 2019 seizure of materials from McDonald’s former office. Federal prosecutors from the Western District of Virginia have begun to reinitiate criminal charges in the EDA financial scandal case.

Early in the civil process, then presiding Judge Clifford L. “Clay” Athey Jr. froze some real estate assets McDonald held in her name alone, while leaving others she co-held with other family members free of possible civil liability. However, since that time several of her family members have been named as co-defendants in the EDA civil litigation alleging a McDonald-led conspiracy to move EDA assets to the personal benefit of her and others. The defendant list in that civil case has climbed to as many as 23 co-defendants alleged to have conspired and/or benefitted from the alleged embezzlements.

What implication movement on the McDonald criminal case might have on charges against some, if any, of the civil case co-defendants, some who also previously faced criminal charges dropped by the state Special Prosecutor’s Office on speedy trial/dismissal concerns, remains to be seen.

Royal Examiner will publish additional information on this evolving situation as it becomes available. This story was updated at 3:55 p.m.

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EDA in Focus

EDA deals with banking issues, marketing strategies – and bids a fond farewell to administrative assistant

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The EDA Board of Directors met today for their regular monthly meeting. After an approximately 90-minute Closed Meeting, several motions were presented:

Royal Arms Bond Conversion

On a motion by Greg Harold, seconded by Jim Wolfe, and by unanimous vote, the Board approved the following resolution:

“To authorize the Chairman and Secretary and/or other officers of the Authority to execute, seal as appropriate, and deliver the Amendment to Multifamily Housing Note (Fixed Rate) and the Replacement Certificate, and any related certificates or documents to evidence the conversion of the Authority’s $15,400,000 Multifamily Housing Revenue Construction/Permanent Note (Royal Arms Apartments) 2019 Series A-1 from the construction draw-down note to the fixed rate note effective on the conversion date which is expected on August 27, 2021.”


EDA Loan Restructuring with First Bank & Trust

On a motion by Tom Patteson, seconded by Jim Wolfe, and by unanimous vote, the Board approved the following resolution:

“To authorize the Chairman and Secretary and/or other officers of the Authority to execute and deliver, as appropriate, the proposal from First Bank & Trust (the “Bank”) entitled ‘First Bank Term Sheet for Warren EDA Loans Restructuring (including Exhibits A and B thereto)’ and to proceed to prepare final loan restructuring documents for review and approval by the Authority.

Other items that the Board of Directors addressed included unanimously approving a settlement with Steve diPasquale d/b/a Front Royal Premier Copiers for an outstanding balance on his RBEL loan, lease, and utility reimbursements. The Board also unanimously approved updates to the EDA Bylaws.

In other news, Director Jim Wolfe reviewed how current EDA activities in marketing and finance are fulfilling the goals of the Strategic Plan. He also discussed the desire of the board to have final FY2018 and 2019 audits for presentation next month.

The EDA is looking increasingly toward a bright economic development future for this community. But that future will be realized without Administrative Assistant Gretchen Henderson, seated under the watchful eye of the Royal Examiner camera in file photo, who is moving across the hall to the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission where she will take on full-time accounting duties.

Finally, Chairman Jeff Browne led the Board in bidding a fond farewell to EDA Administrative Assistant Gretchen Henderson, whom he cited as being a pivotal staff cog willing to put the extra time in to help the EDA “turn a corner where we’re beginning to put things behind us” and look toward the community’s economic development future, rather than spend so much time cleaning up the past.

“Gretchen has been a wonderful help … I’ve frequently gone, ‘Well, how would you like to take this on’ and she did it magnificently. And I just want to day how much we appreciate her, and I think I speak for everyone – You were a Godsend to have here; we were lucky to have you for three years.” And Browne noted that she wasn’t going far, just moving “next door” where she will become a full-time staff accountant for the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission. The now vacant EDA position, Friday was her last day, will be advertised on the Warren County government website, as well as Indeed.com, and on LFCC Workforce Solutions.

(From an EDA Press Release)

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EDA in Focus

County taking over EDA client rental and small business loan payments

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Starting October 1, 2021 the Warren County Finance Department will take over and manage payments made to the EDA for rents and the Small Business Loan Program (RBEL and IRP). The EDA will no longer be accepting payments at their office or office address. You must hand carry or send your payments to:

Warren County Government
ATTN: Finance Department
220 N. Commerce Ave.
Front Royal, VA 22630

Small business loan clients will each receive one official notice and a copy of their account balance and previous year’s payment history in the mail. This balance is what will be sent to the county. If there are any questions or concerns, it is imperative to contact the EDA prior to October 1 to discuss. Also, if any small business loan client is in a position to pay off their loan, they are encouraged to do so before October 1. Please contact EDA Executive Director Doug Parsons to schedule.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.



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Sep 20 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Trauma-Informed Training @ ONLINE
WARREN COALITION OFFERS FREE TRAUMA-INFORMED TRAINING IN SEPTEMBER Have you ever felt alone? Do you wonder why you react the way you do? Do you work with children? If you answered yes to any of[...]
Sep
23
Thu
6:00 pm Monument to Mosby’s Men Ceremony @ Prospect Hill Cemetery
Monument to Mosby’s Men Ceremony @ Prospect Hill Cemetery
Sep 23 @ 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
Monument to Mosby’s Men Ceremony @ Prospect Hill Cemetery
The Col. John S. Mosby Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans, will lead the annual “Monument to Mosby’s Men Ceremony” commemorating the fallen of Mosby’s command at 6 pm on Thursday, September 23rd, at Front Royal’s[...]
Sep
25
Sat
10:00 am 3rd Annual French & Indian War W... @ Abram's Delight
3rd Annual French & Indian War W... @ Abram's Delight
Sep 25 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
3rd Annual French & Indian War Weekend @ Abram's Delight
Saturday, September 25, and Sunday, September 26, from 10 am to 5 pm. 18th Century Colonial encampments with historical interpretation of British, French and Native Americans on the Western frontier of the Virginia Colony during[...]
10:00 am National Public Lands Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
National Public Lands Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Sep 25 @ 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
National Public Lands Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Carriage Barn in the Historic Area. A blight decimated American Chestnut trees in North America in the 1920s. One hundred years later, Sky Meadows State Park has teamed up with the Virginia Chapter of the[...]
11:00 am Friends of Sky Meadows Farm Market @ Sky Meadows State Park
Friends of Sky Meadows Farm Market @ Sky Meadows State Park
Sep 25 @ 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Friends of Sky Meadows Farm Market @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. Stop by the Friends of Sky Meadows Farmer’s Market for tasty preserved products, heirloom vegetables, eggs and more. Pick from seasonal vegetables grown in Sky Meadows’ authentic Kitchen Garden, July through September. Grab[...]
Sep
26
Sun
10:00 am 3rd Annual French & Indian War W... @ Abram's Delight
3rd Annual French & Indian War W... @ Abram's Delight
Sep 26 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
3rd Annual French & Indian War Weekend @ Abram's Delight
Saturday, September 25, and Sunday, September 26, from 10 am to 5 pm. 18th Century Colonial encampments with historical interpretation of British, French and Native Americans on the Western frontier of the Virginia Colony during[...]
Sep
27
Mon
2:00 pm Trauma-Informed Training @ ONLINE
Trauma-Informed Training @ ONLINE
Sep 27 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Trauma-Informed Training @ ONLINE
WARREN COALITION OFFERS FREE TRAUMA-INFORMED TRAINING IN SEPTEMBER Have you ever felt alone? Do you wonder why you react the way you do? Do you work with children? If you answered yes to any of[...]
Sep
28
Tue
7:00 pm Community Parent Night @ Dominion Ridge Academy
Community Parent Night @ Dominion Ridge Academy
Sep 28 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Community Parent Night @ Dominion Ridge Academy
Dominion Ridge Academy is proud to host this free community event for parents featuring international speaker, author, and comedian Christopher O’Shaughnessy. Come enjoy an evening of laughter and inspiration as Chris addresses the themes of[...]
Oct
2
Sat
4:00 pm Oktoberfest: Family Fun Day @ Wakefield Country Day School
Oktoberfest: Family Fun Day @ Wakefield Country Day School
Oct 2 @ 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Oktoberfest: Family Fun Day @ Wakefield Country Day School
October 2, 2021 from 4pm-8pm All are welcome to attend the 2nd Annual Oktoberfest at Wakefield Country Day School. Loosen your Leiderhosen and get ready for Oktoberfest! This year, the Edelweiss Band is coming to[...]