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Animal shelter’s fresh start with new management

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Sophie, a Chinese pug, relaxes in the office of Royal Examiner Editor Norma Jean Shaw

Today’s the day (December 3) that Front Royal’s animal shelter’s executive director begins her first hours in her new job and the day that the humane society’s president announces a revitalized board of directors with new visions for the future.

Meghan Bowers, whose appointment as executive director of the Julia Wagner Animal Shelter was announced two weeks ago,
fills the vacuum left last September when her predecessor resigned after only six months on the job. Bowers, of Rappahannock County, was one of a dozen applicants interviewed for the job.

Meanwhile, Ellen Aders, president of the Humane Society of Warren County (HSWC), announced a new and successful beginning for her organization when she said her board had “rolled up its sleeves and really gone to work” to where the HSWC has become a viable organization once again.

Funding picked up in recent months, much of it due to Aders, her board and shelter staff members, some of it, including $50,000 from the estate of an HSWC member, entirely unexpected.

“All of our work is paying off towards the end of the year,” a jubilant Aders said, pointing first to the recent “Tails and Ales” sellout dinner which netted a tidy $10,500, the second highest amount in the event’s history. She said that absent an executive director until now, each board member was assigned to be the point person of a fundraiser. For example, she said board member Katrina Meade partnered with shelter manager Kayla Wines, to make the year’s final event the outstanding success that it was.

Aders announced the restoration of the highly popular, and extraordinarily remunerative, “Waggin’ for Dragons” boat race on the Shenandoah River. It is set for August 3, 2019.

The “Save the Paws Alliance,” representing a group of high-end contributors, at the suggestion of board secretary Amy Thurman, received a $28,000 response to Aders’ letter to the Elizabeth Clark Foundation. About the same time came the $50,000 check from the estate of Pearl Ziglar, a longtime supporter of the shelter.

The absence of the boat race last summer created a potential $40,000 or larger shortfall in HSWC’s current account, but board member Tammy Williams brokered a deal with Bowling Green Country Club for a substantial share of a golf tournament in October which partly filled the financial hole.

Aders said she has applied for a Petco Foundation grant worth $20,000. “Fingers crossed that we will be awarded it again,” she said.

Money aside – but very much needed – Aders said THE most important goal next year is the maintenance of the shelter’s no-kill status.

In addition, an animal transport van is on the target list. Money from a Rotary Club of Warren County fundraiser is earmarked for such a vehicle which will come under discussion at a December 11 meeting of the board.

On its future wish list is the establishment of the shelter’s own spay and neuter clinic. Aders called this a “dream” that could happen if funds can be made available from the Julia Wagner Trust. It will be pursued.

Finally, Aders gave kudos to the busy group of volunteers who’ve been doing everything from stuffing envelopes to animal adoption activities around town.

“All of our hard work is paying off right at the end of the year,” Aders said.

Crime/Court

Child endangerment and drug arrest in Linden

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Ashley Secor and Misty Morris. Photo courtesy of RSW Regional Jail.

On December 13, 2018 at approximately 3:56 pm Warren County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call in reference to a cardiac arrest at Linden residence on Rambo Lane. The caller also advised that there was an infant in the residence and she was unaware of who the infant belonged to. Upon arrival, Deputies observed CPR being performed on a female lying on the front porch. The female was later identified as 39 year old Misty Morris who resides at that address.

Deputy Stevens assessed Morris’ condition, administered one dose of four milligrams of Naloxone and CPR was continued. Morris slowly began showing signs of a positive reaction to the Naloxone and a second four milligram dose was administered. Morris regained full consciousness and refused medical treatment from Warren County Fire and Rescue personnel.

The caller exited the residence and informed the Deputies that there was another female in the basement. Deputies located and detained 32 year old Ashley Secor of Paw Paw Drive, Front Royal, VA in the locked basement bathroom. Secor is the mother of the 13 month old infant that was left unattended upstairs.

Northwest Regional Drug Task Force Agents and Warren County Department of Social Services were contacted and responded to the scene. The father of the 13 month old was located and responded to take custody of his child.

Secor was arrested and charged with the following:

Distribution of schedule I narcotic
Possession of schedule I narcotic
Possession of drug paraphernalia
Felony child endangerment

Morris was arrested and charged with the following:

Conspiracy to distribution schedule I narcotic
Possession of schedule I narcotic
Possession of drug paraphernalia
Felony child endangerment

Both females were transported to RSW Regional Jail and are currently being held without bond.

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Local Government

Town Council wrestles with new property maintenance authority

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FRONT ROYAL – It’s rough having the power – especially when you’ve pursued it for so long, then finally achieve it.

What now?

That is the situation the Front Royal Town Council wrestled with at a December 3 work session – how to approach enforcement of a property maintenance code that allows it the same powers as cities and counties to enforce building maintenance standards within its boundaries.

Mayor Tharpe worried over first steps in enforcement – ‘Where do we start? We don’t want to be accused of playing favorites,’ he has commented. Royal Examiner File Photo

As Royal Examiner readers may recall from tracking the issue over the course of the last year and a half, the dilemma is that while the town’s elected officials want the ability to enforce standards that will improve the overall look, livability and property values of Front Royal, how much is it going to cost the town government and its citizens to achieve these things?

The one dissenting vote to both readings of the new property maintenance code, Vice-Mayor Eugene Tewalt, has continued to predict unexpectedly high costs, even for what has been described as a lower-cost, middle ground option adopted by council nearly two months ago.  Tewalt has also been critical of his younger council colleagues for continuing to approve capital improvements, and now additional code enforcement, without creating revenue streams to pay for either long-term debt service or required staff additions.

However, undiscussed thus far has been the potential return on investment from more aggressive enforcement if a corresponding rise in property values leads to increased real estate tax-base revenue.

After months of debate dating to at least July of 2017 for this council, on October 22, 2018 council approved the second reading of a new property maintenance code that took the above-described middle ground approach of five options presented by staff. That option, formerly known as Option C, enforcement-wise “addresses all structures in the Town”; “addresses maintenance issues” and “can be enforced on a complaint basis or proactive enforcement”.

At the December 3 work session Chris Morrison pushed for immediate implementation of that option – “I think things can be implemented now – tell me if I’m wrong,” Morrison challenged his colleagues.

Is he trying to hypnotize me? – Jacob Meza appears uncomfortable with Chris Morrison’s use of his pen to make a point on more aggressive enforcement of the Town’s new property maintenance code. Photo/Roger Bianchini

He also suggested council give citizens some clarity on the parameters of what has been approved – that citizens can initiate action through complaints to the town government.

Morrison has been the chief council proponent of a new property maintenance code and a rental inspection program, the latter eliminated from consideration by a council majority as definitely too expensive to implement. And on the back end of his council tenure having failed to hold his seat in the November election, Morrison seemed driven to see a commitment to forward movement on what has been adopted by his colleagues before the end of his council tenure come January.

Morrison suggested outsourcing the role of a building inspector to make legal judgments on mandated repairs or demolition in the absence of council agreeing to fund creation of its own building inspection department. Morrison noted that council had set aside funds toward some kind of implementation of a building inspection operation. While he cited $40,000 available, staff appeared to put the amount as high as $75,000 in past work session discussion.

“So why can’t we outsource now … why can’t we do it immediately?” Morrison asked his colleagues.

“If we do it under those conditions I have no problem starting with blighted buildings,” Tewalt replied of a proactive approach with outsourcing as necessary when town mandates on corrective action are challenged by property owners.

Council’s biggest skeptic on a broad enforcement approach, Vice-Mayor Tewalt to left, voiced support of proactive movement on a smaller target base – dilapidated buildings, as Councilman Meza ponders council options. Photo/Roger Bianchini

Councilman William Sealock suggested bypassing use of Warren County’s Building Inspection Department and utilization of town staff for initial phases up to the point where a state-certified official whose opinion would have legal standing in court was needed. Morrison agreed.

Town Manager Joe Waltz suggested revisiting the option of partnering with the Town of Strasburg in enforcing a property maintenance code. Like Front Royal now, Strasburg has taken the first step of approval of a property maintenance code but has yet to begin enforcement due to cost parameters.

“We can put it out there and see what kind of prices are set,” Waltz suggested.

“We can start slow – there’s nothing wrong with doing it right,” Mayor Hollis Tharpe suggested of a measured, slow and inexpensive approach to implementation.

“We’ll let Joe get behind the wheel,” the mayor said of having the town manager explore enforcement and outsourcing options.

“We need time so the town manager can put a plan together,” Sealock observed.

“I will move as fast as I can,” Waltz replied.

Morrison said he felt some good had come out of the discussion that will allow the Town to move on complaints forwarded by citizens, as well as initiate proactive movement against derelict structures. However Morrison worried at the lack of “closure” on a process as council’s final meeting of 2018 approached on December 10.

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Local News

Wildlife Center at Boyce sets record-breaking year

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A Red-shouldered Hawk quickly takes flight at Aug. 13 release in Flint Hill. The injured hawk mended at the wildlife center before heading back to the wild. Courtesy Photo/Zep Greenfelder

BOYCE – The Blue Ridge Wildlife Center (BRWC) at Boyce is ending a record-breaking year during which – in September – it collected the first exotic Asian Longhorned tick found on any bird in North America.

First, setting new records during its 18th year, the center highlighted an 18-percent increase in wildlife patients – 2,135 animals, reptiles and birds.
An upsurge in education endeavors delivered more than 100 programs to 5,000 people in eight counties, thus stimulating interest in and learning about native wildlife, their habitat, and their important roles in nature. Also, the center’s training of future wildlife professionals at the only full service, wildlife teaching hospital in the Northern Virginia area was highlighted in an end-of-year letter to BRWC members.

The update on activities by the center, located at 106 Island Farm Lane, Boyce, Virginia (22620) – just off Route 50 – was accompanied by a funding appeal interesting in its specificity: “We cannot do this critical work without your support and participation,” wrote Lisa Goshen, Chair of the BRWC Board of Directors and Executive Director Hillary Russell Davidson, continuing, “You take the time to bring us an injured animal or reunite (for example) a baby owl with its parents: you donate your time, animal food, and cleaning supplies to help us care for those that don’t have a voice; BRWC is open 365 days a year because you care about our native wildlife.”

Onk the opossum – Courtesy Photo BRWC

It was in its fall newsletter that BRWC first reported not only a significant rise in West Nile virus, a mosquito-born disease that is of great concern locally, particularly to horse farm owners, but the above-mentioned capture of the first Asian Longhorned tick from a bird, in this case a red-tailed hawk from Page County. In her report, BRWC Veterinarian Jennifer Riley said the tick is suspected of being around on animals, including humans, since about 2010. That it has spread to birds was new to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study and an evident cause for concern.
This month, the BRWC reported the number of wildlife with West Nile virus treated at the Boyce facility increased by 300 percent. Also, amphibian patients increased three-fold and aquatic turtle patients have increased by 350 percent in the past two years.

Davidson explains the mission of BRWC this way: “(It is) to care for native wildlife by integrating veterinary medicine, rehabilitation, education and research.”

In addition to being a hospital and a rehabilitation care facility for wildlife, BRWC also trains future wildlife professionals. As noted above, it is the only full service wildlife teaching hospital in the northern Virginia area, hosting many people with their eyes set on a career in wildlife-specific vocations. Additionally, BRWC’s education program for those interested in the wildlife and conservation fields worked with four licensed veterinarians, five veterinary students, and 22 interns during the past year.

Seow the owl – Courtesy Photo BRWC

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Crime/Court

ATF raid results in 19 arrests for drug and firearm violations

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House on South Royal Ave, Front Royal was one location raided by ATF early in morning last week. Photo by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

Thomas T. Cullen, the United States Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, Thomas L. Chittum III, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington DC Field Office of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, and Sheriff Timothy Carter announced this morning (December 13th) that the following persons (19) were arrested in December 2018 on Sealed Federal Indictments. Also listed are three additional persons who were arrested for state narcotics charges during this operation.

Jonathan L. Hodges, 30 years old, of Front Royal, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Distribution of Controlled Substances

William R Shoemaker, Jr. 45 years old, of Edinburg, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Three (3) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substances
  • Possession of Firearm by Prohibited Person

Katie L. Harlow, 27 years old, of Woodstock, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Three (3) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substances

Dana M. Silvious, 29 years old, of Maurertown, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Three (3) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substances

Erica N. Lam, 29 years old, of New Market, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine

Brandon W. Eppard, 28 years old, of Mount Jackson, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Maintaining Drug Related Premises

Tiffany Bowman-Lopez, 30 years old, Quicksburg, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Six (6) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substances

Amanda J. Mullins, 30 years old, Edinburg, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Two (2) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substance

Anthony Testerman, 25 years old, of Mount Jackson, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substances

Kenneth J. Webb, 36 years old, of Woodstock, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Three (3) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substance

Dietrich M. Day II, 28 years old, of Dumfries, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Distribution of Controlled Substance


The following individuals were arrested on Tuesday 11, 2018 on Sealed Federal Indictments:

Jeffrey C. Mays, 32 years old, of Basye, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Possession of Firearm in Furtherance of Drug Trafficking Crime

Javon E. Cook, 26 years old, of Woodstock, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Distribution of Controlled Substance
  • Possession of Firearm by Prohibited Person
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substance
  • Use and Carry Firearm during Drug Trafficking Crime

Michael L. Mullins, 32 years old, of Edinburg, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Two (2) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substance
  • Possession of Firearm by Prohibited Person

Christian M. Burhop, 27 years old, of Mount Jackson, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Distribution of Controlled Substance w/TBL
  • Four (4) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substance

Justin T. Mumaw, 26 years old, of Mount Jackson, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Two (2) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substances

Brooke N. McIntosh, 27 years old, no fixed address

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine

Christopher T. Trimble Fishersville, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Possession of Firearm by Prohibited Person

Additional Federal Arrest Warrant:

Merle Stephens, 50 years old, of Basye, VA

  • Possession with Intent to Distribute
  • Possession of Firearm by Prohibited Person
  • Possession of Firearm in Furtherance Drug Trafficking Crime

SCSO arrested the following on State charges:

John K. Barb, 38 years old, of Woodstock, VA

  • Possession of Methamphetamine

Christopher A. Miller, 31 years old, of Edinburg, VA

  • Possession of a Controlled Substance

Felicia A. Gainer, 31 years old, of Mount Jackson, VA

  • Two (2) Possession of Controlled Substance
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Crime/Court

Bonds set in Christendom College arson-vandalism cases

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christendom fire

Ryan Farrell anf Christopher Shanahan / Courtesy Photos RSW Jail

FRONT ROYAL – Two Christendom College students facing multiple charges for setting fire to a common-access campus dorm bathroom on December 6 were in Warren County General District Court on Tuesday, December 11.

Ryan Farrell, 23, and Christopher Shanahan, 20, face identical charges of Arson, burning of an occupied building; Arson, burning or destroying personal property; Vandalism, entering property of another for purpose of damaging it; and Trespass with intent to damage property or interfere with property rights; Petit larceny, under $200; and § 18.2-415 – Disorderly conduct in public places.

In addition, Shanahan was also charged with one count of Underage Possession of Alcohol.

The arson and vandalism charges are felonies, the others misdemeanors.

During the Tuesday hearing, both Farrell and Shanahan saw bond set at $2500, with court dates of April 10, 2019, set at 1:15 p.m. Court records indicate that Farrell was represented by Todd Gilbert and Shanahan by Jerry Talton.

An online search of the RSW Jail inmate locator program indicated Farrell and Shanahan were no longer inmates as of December 12.

See related story: Two Christendom College students charged in campus dorm arson

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Local News

Ressie Jeffries Elementary School Chorus opens the BOS Meeting with some Christmas Spirit

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Photo and video by Mike McCool, Royal Examiner.

The Ressie Jeffries Elementary School Chorus opened the Board of Supervisors December 11th Meeting with some Christmas Spirit. Chorus Director Kim Okland directed the school chorus in three holiday songs.

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Upcoming Events

Dec
15
Sat
all-day The Nutcracker in Front Royal @ Skyline High School
The Nutcracker in Front Royal @ Skyline High School
Dec 15 all-day
The Nutcracker in Front Royal @ Skyline High School
Don’t miss The Nutcracker! This professional production of the seasonal classic ballet will be presented at Skyline High School, Front Royal, VA on December 15th and 16th, Saturday 2:30 & 7:00 pm and Sunday 2:30[...]
Dec
16
Sun
all-day The Nutcracker in Front Royal @ Skyline High School
The Nutcracker in Front Royal @ Skyline High School
Dec 16 all-day
The Nutcracker in Front Royal @ Skyline High School
Don’t miss The Nutcracker! This professional production of the seasonal classic ballet will be presented at Skyline High School, Front Royal, VA on December 15th and 16th, Saturday 2:30 & 7:00 pm and Sunday 2:30[...]
4:00 pm R-MA offers Free Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA campus
R-MA offers Free Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA campus
Dec 16 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
R-MA offers Free Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA campus
The public is cordially invited to attend the Randolph-Macon Academy (R-MA) Christmas Band Concert on Sunday, December 16th at 4:00 pm. This free concert will take place in Boggs Chapel on the R-MA campus. The[...]
Dec
17
Mon
10:00 am Paper Sculpture Party: Koi Fish @ Art in the Valley
Paper Sculpture Party: Koi Fish @ Art in the Valley
Dec 17 @ 10:00 am – 12:30 pm
Paper Sculpture Party: Koi Fish @ Art in the Valley
Create your own 5″ x 7″ koi fish paper sculpture with your friends! Schedule your own party for up to 8 people (3-person minimum). No drawing skills are necessary. Artist Tiffany Budzisz will walk you[...]
6:00 pm Volunteer Info Session – Child A... @ Middle of Main
Volunteer Info Session – Child A... @ Middle of Main
Dec 17 @ 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
Volunteer Info Session - Child Advocate @ Middle of Main
Learn how you can help ensure abused and neglected children find safe, loving, and permanent homes.  The first step to becoming a CASA volunteer is to attend an Information Session. There, you will have the[...]