Connect with us

Opinion

OPINION: Are you concerned about how the County budget is being handled?

Published

on

Fellow Citizens of Warren County,

Are you concerned about how the County budget is being handled? Enough to stand up and get involved? You may or may not be aware, that the County Administrator, Doug Stanley sends out budget requests to all county departments in November. All budgets are due back near the end of December. The Administrator then meets with department heads and Constitutional officers, usually during the second week of January. After this meeting, the Board of Supervisors begin work sessions for outside agencies, i.e., Lord Fairfax Community College, Middletown Fire Department, our local St. Luke’s Clinic, and others in our community who provide a service and seek some assistance to operate.

The budget process goes on through February and March with the Board holding work sessions with the Health Dept, EDA, Northwestern Community Services, SAAA, County departments, Constitutional officers and the School Board. We are now nearing the time when the BOS will adopt a budget for our fiscal year 2019-20, which runs July 1 –  June 30. They are considering a 6-cent tax hike! That means you and me will be paying .72 per $100 of our assessed properties! The Town folk will be paying even more!!!

The meeting to adopt the budget will take place on Tuesday, April 16 at 7:00 p.m. There is a Public Hearing prior to this on Tuesday, April 9 at 7:00 p.m., and I encourage each of you to attend and provide the BOS with facts regarding the impact their choices have had on you, others, and the county as a whole. If you are unable to be present at either of these meetings, please contact them prior via phone or email. You can find their contact information on www.warrencountyva.net/board-of-supervisors.

The County Administrator recently again informed us that there is yet another shortfall – a $5.6M to be exact in our 2019-20 budget. This is unbelievable! 6 years of increases and 2 assessments, and he still cannot operate this County properly as he is well-paid to do! He claims this is based on revenue projections, departmental increases of $1.4M and the School Board’s request of $2.3M from local funding. His idea on closing this large gap is through budget cuts, which he has proven doesn’t really exist. He proposes to cut $255K from the schools, but doesn’t mention anything about how the Sheriff’s Department can be cut to help with the budget (see my explanation following), bumps in revenue projections and another REAL ESTATE TAX INCREASE – same scenario for the past 5 years!

This is our 6th year of increases! Ironically, the BOS just approved a $5.6M for a new Rivermont “Volunteer” Fire Department. This station appears to be needed and should have come as a priority long before now, and before all the other spending that has taken place occurred. Along with this, the WCF&RS are hoping to gain 15 new full-time positions through a grant. If the grant is received, we must provide $234,679 towards their salaries and benefits for 2 years, $610,166 for the 3rd year, and $938,717 annually after that-considering no further increase. They also are seeking to build a training facility on ESA Road. This County has been struggling to obtain loans for the previous $10.SM debt that was supposed to have been funded through the New Market Tax credit but wasn’t.

If you do the figuring on what’s been given to us, this County is about $23.7M in debt, not counting the $10.2M for the new Front Royal police department, which brings us up to approximately $33.9M in debt. For a small area like Warren County – approximately 39K people total (this number includes our children) – that puts roughly $845K over each person’s head – this is an extreme amount of debt to be in, and the services received do not even compare!  It is obvious that the management of our county funds must be looked in to in a more in-depth manner. It is with utmost importance that while providing the services needed to the County, we also manage our ability to pay our debt back in the means the folks can handle. We must prioritize what’s most important and stop reaching for instant gratification of “new this” and “new that”.

The BOS, Administrator, Constitutional officers and Department heads must be held to a higher level of accountability regarding the use of County funds. I’m not sure about you, but I’m uncertain of where this money is going to continue to come from. My salary isn’t increasing at the speed of the tax rates and assessment values! I have great concern about these issues!

Last April, Tony Carter challenged the disgruntled citizens during the budget meeting, telling them that they needed to be more involved with the budget process all year long, and not just at the end. I took Mr. Carter up on his offer in April, and then again when I confronted the entire BOS at their meeting on June 5, about the continued increases, and my willingness to help with the budget. Other county citizens have voiced their concerns about this as well, but it is apparent our concerns fall on deaf ears, due to the position they’ve put us in again this year.

Mr. Carter offered me his 2017-18 budget books, and said he didn’t have the most recent budget for 2018-19 because he had turned them back in. I was able to obtain this information through the Finance Department, and then requested copies of the most recent 2019-20 budget submittals as they came in but was only able to receive a few of the departments, before it being stopped. I began to compare the Sheriff’s budget for the last 3 years and confronted the BOS via email on Feb. 18 with a letter regarding my concerns and reiterated my nearly $900 real estate increase since 2015, now it will be well over a $1K increase within 4 years. I was shocked when another citizen asked me if that was all – as theirs is even higher! I sent the BOS the attached 25 questions regarding the Sheriff Department’s budget – figuring they should know the answers since they approve it every year, but I only received a response from their Deputy Clerk, who informed me that my document had been forwarded to the Sheriff and I should reach out to him. She also included the County Attorney, and the County Administrator in her response to me, so they all are aware of my concerns.

The following are the questions asked by me and the answers provided by the Sheriff. Please take time to read and review, as nothing is mentioned by the BOS or the County Administrator regarding any budget cuts for this department, only steady increases since he took this position 16 years ago.

1. When was the last salary increase approved in the Department?

  • All eligible County employees received an increase January 1, 2019. To be eligible, hire date had to be prior to July 1, 2018, and employees had to score at least a “meets standards” on their evaluation.

2. Why is the county paying full salaries for 15 more patrol deputies when state allots for 22 for the population our size? – This amount is costing the county $638,619.22 -­not accounting the portion the county pays for health insurance and vehicles.

  • The “15 more patrol deputies” are not new or additional. positions for FY 2019- 2020. The number of deputies employed by Warren County is based upon the workload of the Sheriffs Office.

3. Why is a “Vacant/Patrol” position added to the budget in the amount of $45,892.61?

  • The patrol vacancy will be filled in the current 2018/2019 budget, prior to July 1st 2019. This is not a new position and we had to account for the funding in the next 2019/2020 budget.

4. Why is county paying full salaries for 3 more Administrative positions in the amount of $113,622.82? – not accounting the portion the county pays for health insurance.

  • The “3 more administrative positions” are not new or additional positions for FY 2019-2020.

5. Why doesn’t state cover any of the E-911 salaries – county is paying for 7 full-time positions in the amount of $224,818.87′? – not accounting the county’s portion for health insurance.

  • The state only reimburses for 4 E911 salaries as well as 1 E911 Supervisor Salary. The other 7 positions are county funded positions due to it being an E911 center.

6. Why does county pay full salaries in the amount of $304,514.87 for 6 Resource officers, when State allots for 3 at the present? – not accounting for the county’s portion for health insurance and vehicles.

  • The State Compensation Board does not fund SRO positions; they fund Deputy positions in general. I can use the personnel funding from the compensation board anywhere in my operation based on their certification to offset county personnel expense.

7. Why is a “Vacant” Resource Officer” position added to the budget in the amount of$41,576.43? This adds up to 10 – there are a total of 9 schools.

  • Same answer as #3 and yes, we have 9 schools and the Supervisory Lieutenant of SRO is the 10th that oversees that division and fills in where an SRO is absent, in court, etc.

8. What do these Resource officers do when school is not in session?

  • SRO’s are law enforcement-certified deputies (just like Patrol, Animal Control, etc.). There are still school-related duties that continue even when school is not in session, such as training for security upgrades, lockdown drills, summer school, etc. The Sheriffs Youth Camp also occurs in the summer, and SRO’s are typically very involved in that program. In addition, SRO’s perform other law enforcement duties and may be reassigned to other divisions such as Patrol and Animal Control during non-school hours.

9. Why is county paying full salaries for 3 more court security positions in the amount of $113,021.56 when the state allots for 7? – not accounting the county’s portion for health insurance and vehicles. (Shows a total of .10 in court house – 1 building).

  • The Court Services division has 10 full time deputies. This division is not just court security, which has 2 full time employees, but also court hold with 3 and civil process with 3. There is also a Lieutenant and Captain that oversee this division and communications. In total there are 13 part time employees in the Court Services division and 10 full time.

10. Why is a “Vacant court security” position added to the budget in the amount of $36,747.51?

  • There was a vacancy in the Court Services division because there was one position that was not filled at the time of budget preparation. That position is now filled.

11. Why is county paying full salaries for 2 more Animal control positions in the amount of $85,997.08, when state allots for 2?

  • The State Compensation Board does not fund Animal Control positions; they fund Deputy positions in general. I can use the personnel funding from the compensation board anywhere in my operation based on certification to offset county personnel expense.

12. Why is county still pursuing “Career Development” in the Sheriffs office when the county just paid for a complete review and was informed to back away from it for now and concentrate on other departments instead of just one? (Budget proposal shows $53,405 in the Sheriffs total budget for 2019-20).

  • The Career Development Program (CDP) was first proposed by the Sheriffs Office at a work session on October 3, 2017, with funding for the program approved as part of the FY 2018-2019 budget. An outside review of the program was included in the County’s RFP for the Compensation and Benefits study, with a request for the successful consultant candidate to make final recommendations for placement of the program into the County’s current compensation plan to coincide with the approved funding. The information presented by Paypoint HR in December 2018 to the Board of Supervisors was only a preliminary report, and the review of the CDP was subsequently completed. A final report on the Compensation and Benefits study will be forthcoming.

13. Why are cell phone stipends in the amount of $35,896 listed in the budget? Unnecessary – sheriff encrypted all radios.

  • The County utilizes a cell phone stipend plan for employees who request and are approved to use their personal devices in the transaction of public business. The stipends you’re referring to are used for 4 employees who are on call, 3 investigators and 1 E911 supervisor. The total stipend cost is $45 a month, per employee. Additionally, this line item is labeled “telephone” and it is utilized for expenditures to include Century Link (Office wide phone system) MCI (long distance), and Sprint (phones and MDT air card services). The new Motorola radio system already comes encrypted. I chose not to alter this feature and kept it encrypted.

14. How many deputies have a county vehicle assigned to them?

  • All deputies assigned to the Law Enforcement division have a vehicle assigned to them. The Sheriffs Office policy is that if the deputy lives in the county or has a position that requires it, they MAY be allowed to take their vehicle home. There are currently 36 deputies with take home vehicles. Some of these deputies are court services. Any deputy that has a take home vehicle starts work when they leave from home and may be directed to a call for service prior to coming to the office.

15. Why do deputies (court, patrol, animal, resource) drive vehicles to and from home and work?

  • (See answer to question 14) It is proactive to have sheriffs vehicles in and around the county parked at these locations, not to mention if an emergency arose they can respond directly from their residences.
  • A – To lease vehicles in this department alone cost the county$ 201,600
    • The lease program has been a benefit to my office to transition vehicles with high mileage or increased repairs out, keeping the maintenance budget down and ensuring the deputies patrolling are in safe and dependable vehicles while doing their job.
  • B – To insure these vehicles, it cost the county $44,885
    • Yes, that’s the budgeted amount.
  • C – To operate (repairs & fuel) it cost the county $205,397
    • Yes, that’s the budgeted amount. It is not necessarily what the year-end expense is.
  • D – Motor vehicle equipment cost the county $58,584
    • Yes, that’s the budgeted amount. This line item is for set up of the vehicles such as lights, radios, cages, striping, etc.
  • E – Total = $510,466 – total for deputy assigned vehicles per year
    • Yes, that’s the budgeted amount and that total is not just “deputy assigned vehicles.” It covers any vehicles the office has including non-take home vehicles and specialty service vehicles.

16. What company insures these vehicles?

  • VACORP

17. How did the sheriff’s budget get approved an increase of 9.27% for salary increases before budget process began without consideration to other Departments or the possible increase it may cost the citizens of the county?

  • The Sheriffs Office did not “get approved an increase of 9.27%” before the budget process began. As noted on the FY 2019-2020 request breakdown, the 9.27% is “due to previously approved budget salary increases/CDP implementation”. Both the 2.5% merit increase and Career Development Program were approved as part of the FY 2018-2019 budget and became effective January 1, 2019.

18. How was it determined to increase deputy salaries – as high as 21%?

  • When the Sheriffs Office developed our career development program, the career development programs of several other agencies were compared to insure that we were similar in structure and pay increases. The various percent increases are indicative of how underpaid that individual was based on CDP.

19. Why is county paying $313,609 to board dogs? – costing the county $26,134 per month.

  • The County has a three-year agreement with the Humane Society of Warren County, which was last approved in December 2016. Per the contract, “the County shall pay to the Society a yearly sum …in accordance with the following schedule:
    • Beginning July 1, 2017, for fiscal year 2017-2018, a total sum of $301,136.00 plus 2% or the CPI-U for the prior year, whichever is higher, not to exceed 3%. (Adopted budget of $302,129)
    • Beginning July 1, 2018, for fiscal year 2018-2019, the previous year’s sum plus 2%or the CPI-U for the prior year, whichever is higher not to exceed 3%. (Adopted budget of $308,106)
    • Beginning July 1, 2019, for fiscal year 2019-2020, the previous year’s sum plus 2% or the CPI-U for the prior year, whichever is higher not to exceed 3%.” (Budget request of$313,609)

20. How many dogs does the county board?

  • In 2018, the Humane Society of Warren County brought in 593 dogs among other animals.

21. Where does the county board the dogs?

  • The Humane Society of Warren County boards the dogs, per agreement.

22. Since Sheriff mentioned the Horse Mountain Patrol, I ask …when was the Horse Mountain Patrol created?

  • I established a “Mounted Horse Patrol” in 2005 that lasted until October 2007, due to two members leaving to go elsewhere to work. The mounted horse patrol had 3 members that provided their own horses, vet services, feed and boarding, all at the deputy’s personal expense. The Mounted patrol was utilized to assist in any search and rescue efforts, and to patrol large populated events like the WC Fair, occasionally ridden in parades, and patrolled Andy Guest State Park.

23. Why was the Horse Mountain Patrol created?

  • See answer to question 22.

24. Who were the deputies that made up the Horse Mountain Patrol’?

  • See answer to question 22.

25. When and why did the Horse Mountain Patrol subside?

  • See answer to question 22.

I am concerned about the budget County wide. The Sheriff’s department has been the cause to raise county taxes at least 3 times, and we are paying for 78 deputies when the state allots 41 for a county of our population. I can understand maybe a handful more, but this is 4 less of being totally ½ over the allotment.

Our BOS approved an SRO in each school last year, and in doing so raised our taxes, but you’ll see where the Sheriff added a 10th SRO this year, stating that this one oversees that division and fills in when another is absent. Unbelievable the attitude of how “I get what I want and then more” with no regard to how others continue to scrap up all they can to make ends meet!

Our teacher’s will receive a 5% increase from the State this year, in which we all pay taxes into, and our Superintendent is still proposing another 3% from us on the local level. I am all for our children’s education, our fire and rescue and our law enforcement, but if we don’t get the spending under control, there won’t be a need for any of this, because there won’t be any money to operate anything around here and then the EDA can truly advertise us as a “distressed area”!

There are still plenty of areas in the County budget that can be cut as I just proved through the Sheriff’s budget. We can save over $1M in this department alone if our BOS will get a backbone and just say NO! Our school system cries that we’re “in crisis” mode, all the while they spend money on buildings that aren’t even full, instead of putting our money into our children’s education!

We are paying a hefty salary to a County Administrator who is running us all in the ground! When will the BOS wake up? I hope it isn’t too late! Fellow Citizens, please plan to be present on April 9 & 16, 2019 at 7 p.m. in the Government Center Board Room – 220 N. Commerce Avenue, and if it is impossible, contact the BOS beforehand. They need to hear and heed to what we the people are saying!


Mrs. Leslie Mathews
Life-long & true citizen of Warren County

Share the News:

Opinion

Second Amendment Sanctuary

Published

on

I couldn’t contain my amusement from afar when Warren County became a Second Amendment Sanctuary, particularly as local Democrats regurgitated worn out talking points. The Chairman of the Warren County Democrats claimed to see similarities between the sanctuary and the Massive Resistance of the 1960’s, and another of Warren County’s “best and brightest” took the curious position that resistance to unconstitutional usurpations was unconstitutional. Their Confederate forefathers would be quite proud.

Such dogma has clouded the unique history of these constitutional disputes. The doctrine of nullification was best articulated by Thomas Jefferson in 1798 in opposition to the Alien and Sedition Acts. It played a unique political role in the years preceding the Civil War. In his Farewell Address to the Senate in 1861, Jefferson Davis condemned the Northern states for their “disregard of its constitutional obligations.” Just what were these obligations? Enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act.

The most heroic instance occurred in Wisconsin. The state legislature called for “positive defiance” of efforts by federal marshals to capture and return runaway slaves. “Personal liberty” laws were common in the North at the time. But local Democrats, then as now, seem to think that this act of resistance was just simply awful. Then as now, they would defer the matter to the Roger Taney’s of the courts for settlement. (Apparently the Second Amendment’s protection as an individual right hasn’t been settled by the Supreme Court according to local Democrats. But I digress.)

To their ignorance they have built common ground with the proponents of Massive Resistance of the 1960’s. In 1680, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation making it illegal of a black person to carry any weapon. In 1723, they specifically forbade firearms. Predictably enough disarming blacks received support among the terrorist wing of the Democratic Party, the Ku Klux Klan. Rosa Parks recounted that her husband “slept with a gun nearby for a time,” and Frederick Douglass recognized that “A man’s rights rest in three boxes. The ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box.

From the apocalyptic outrage at the election of a Republican president to Ralph Northam’s classless costume choice, Virginia Democrats are certainly living up to their Confederate heritage.

Devon Downes

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Opinion

Three lessons from Christmas

Published

on

For people of most religious persuasions, Christmas represents the high point of the year, as stories of the Christ and His humble beginnings are told and retold, enriched by the millennia of traditions and practices, and passed on to each generation in turn. For the many without religious affiliation, the Christmas season presents somewhat of an enigma- the goodwill on public display, the celebrations of light and music, and the timeworn admonitions to “be good for goodness’ sake”, contrast sharply with the unbridled materialism and crass appeals to humankind’s worst instincts – greed, grasping, win-at-all-costs competition.

It’s possible to benefit from the true and transcendent values of the Christmas season even if one shrinks from the more spiritual interpretations. At the same time, people with a strong faith tradition would do well to consider the more practical lessons that Christmas is prepared to teach.

It’s true that the Christmas season does stimulate a desire in many to participate in the traditional gift-giving exercise, whatever the belief about the holiday itself – if it is only a deep need not to row your boat against the current of social convention. And seldom will a Christmas nonbeliever refuse a gift given them!

So lesson one could be: Think about every gift and give only what you believe will really be appreciated. It may be that something unusual or hand made by you will be much closer to the heart than a standard box of candy. If you don’t know someone well enough to give them something they will appreciate, as they say, you don’t know them well enough.

It’s also true that “Things” have value in different ways. Getting older makes one realize that the value of “things” with which we fill our homes gets drastically smaller over time. Christmas teaches us to reevaluate what is really important to have in our life. Sometimes a visit from a friend beats a gold watch!

So lesson two is: Identify what’s really important to you, and let go of the rest!

Our kids are inheriting much more from us than whatever we leave in a will – they are inheriting our values. Modern Christmas focuses so much on satisfying the material wants of our children that what they really need is often forgotten. If our own lives are filled with the pressures of succeeding in a competitive world, building up the net worth, appearing successful to the world around, while our children live in a form of emotional and spiritual poverty, we have failed the following generations.

Lesson three, then, is: Children are the most important thing we leave to the world. Christmas provides the opportunity to shape their worldview as influencers and leaders. Shouldn’t we strive to give them the best tools, opportunities, and motivations?

These three lessons seem simple, but the more you think about them, they capture the essence of a fulfilled life and a legacy for the future. As fractured as our world seems to be, sometimes the simple approach is best. For you and your friends and family, Merry Christmas!

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Opinion

Let’s ‘cut to the chase’ regarding the 2nd Amendment and more proposed gun control

Published

on

Disregarding the U.S. Constitution for a moment, in my opinion, being able to protect yourself, family and property is a HUMAN right, not subject to compromise or negotiation with government agencies or any other entity, period! The Declaration of Independence had it correct, we all have an unalienable Right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Considering the existence of violent threats only a firearm gives one the ability to effectively respond.

Firearms ARE the means to ensure Liberty. Vast public ownership of firearms in America is one of the major elements that distinguishes us from the rest of the world. Maintaining a free citizenry is only guaranteed through the public ownership of firearms.

The right to keep and bear arms is only ‘affirmed’ in the Second Amendment in the Constitution. The actual Right was addressed previously above. Since a primary reason for separating from England was to have religious freedom, that is enshrined in the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights. It is no coincidence that the affirmation of gun Rights was addressed next because the Framers knew that it was only through force that other Rights in the Constitution could be guaranteed. The Framers purposefully used the phrase ‘Shall Not Be Infringed’ to emphasize the absoluteness of that Right. No other Amendment has similar language. The gun Right provision was prescribed to the PEOPLE since all adults were to comprise the militia. That’s in essence the basis for the Supreme Court Heller ruling that the Second Amendment applies to individuals, not to a collective government institution.

The arguments by some that hunters don’t need semi-automatic rifles, large capacity magazines or other accessories, that may seem scary to some, are irrelevant because access to such products has nothing to do with NEED. It’s about the freedom to choose what we want and not be told what is appropriate for us. To guard against tyranny the public has a right to any weapon that is generally used by soldiers in the military, end of argument.

The problem with Progressives (Democrats), in my opinion, is that their brains are more tuned to emotion than logic. They are the ‘feelers’ as opposed to Conservatives (Republicans) being the ‘pragmatists’. Unfortunately, emotions can be a stronger force than intellect. That’s why advertisements such as children with medical problems and neglected or abused animals are so effective. Democrats are wired such that they have a need to ‘do something’ to address a problem even if the proposed actions have little, if any, real affect.

While mass killings, especially in schools, are extremely tragic there is nothing that can be done to absolutely eliminate that as a possibility in our future. Even if guns magically disappeared from the planet, mentally damaged or evil people would construct bombs, use biological agents or employ other weapons to kill and injure. That’s why I believe we’re seeing the rash of gun control proposals by the Democrat majority in the upcoming Virginia Legislature. They have to ‘do something’ even if its only symbolic rather than practical or effective.

Democrats seem to exist in a fantasy-land where they think they can legislate a perfect, risk free world. They cannot accept the reality that making certain conduct or products illegal will actually prevent criminals from evil activities. You’ve no doubt heard arguments that draconian restrictions are justified if just one person is saved from harm or ill-consequence, regardless that they’ll restrict liberty for a multitude of law abiding citizens as a side effect. The problem though is that their gun control proposals conflict with Liberty and there can be no middle ground at this point between those concepts. This is exhibited by the overwhelming level of demonstration we are seeing by freedom loving people against their anticipated proposals. Approximately half of Virginia’s county’s have already passed or are considering resolutions of support for the Second Amendment even if such action is only symbolic.

It has been said that Ben Franklin once stated something to the affect that ‘those that would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.’ I believe he was right on the money. Personally, I would rather die a free man than live as a dependent or slave of the government. We’ve lost too many liberties already and this is a bridge too far! Even in a democracy there are some things that can’t be compromised and most of what the Democrats are proposing is simply unacceptable. Thomas Jefferson once said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Fortunately I believe we haven’t reached that point yet and much of what is advertised that Democrats will propose would be ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court if actually enacted into law. Also, lower courts would almost certainly enjoin enforcement of such laws until the highest court could make it’s ruling.

Regardless though, all Liberty loving citizens should act now in an attempt to prevent dangerous laws from being passed. Contact the authors of the objectional Bills and make rational arguments against their proposals. Ensure that you and those you know are registered to vote so we can expand pro-liberty influence in the Legislature in 2022. Contribute money if you can to organizations and representatives who promote liberty and logic over more government and ineffective restrictions on our freedoms. Be willing to take the time to participate in public, non-violent demonstrations against further gun laws.

Finally, speak with your family, neighbors, friends and anyone else you come in contact with and explain the logic of why more gun laws are detrimental because only law abiding citizens are negatively affected.

Gary Kushner
Front Royal, Virginia
A Libertarian Patriot

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Opinion

The Christ of Christmas

Published

on

The Christian church year begins with the Advent of Our Lord, the four weeks of getting ready for the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem on Christmas Day. Advent is a time of joyful preparation for the wonderful time when the Son of God came to earth to live as a person among the people.

The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming” or “arrival.” The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in His First Advent and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in His Second Advent.

The Christian Christmas is a brief season (twelve days), beginning on Christmas Day, December 25, and continuing through January 5, celebrating the Name of Jesus which is the eve of Epiphany. Christmas is a season of thankfulness for the goodness of God. The purpose of Jesus Christ’s birth was to save us from our sins, to reveal the Father to us and lead us to Him and to reveal the Kingdom of God so that we can live according to God’s Way. Jesus came to reconcile us to God so that we can have eternal life. “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.” (Luke 17:20-21)

Our Christian desire is to turn the eyes of all men and women upon the true Creator and Christ of Christmas. The true light of the world has come. The Christmas season and celebration presents the Church with an outstanding opportunity to preach the good news; that men can be made righteous and have peace with God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas and God bless us, every one!

Mark P. Gunderman
Stephens City, Virginia

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Opinion

Some thoughts about the “2nd Amendment ‘Sanctuary’ drive” article

Published

on

Let’s start with a simple evaluation of the efficacy of HB 2. It sounds like a great idea, right? let’s be clear on what this really means and whom this is aimed at, because it’s not retailers, its private citizens.

How about a word swap; Firearm = Motor Vehicle and Background = Drivers License. Now let’s read that again.

“Requires a Drivers License check for any Motor Vehicle transfer and directs the Department of State Police (the Department) to establish a process for transferors to obtain such a check from licensed Motor Vehicles dealers.”

Such checks would become mandatory, rather than voluntary. Selling without the required Drivers License check would be declared a Class 6 felony; receipt of a Motor Vehicle without the required Drivers License check would be classified a Class 1 misdemeanor.”

Putting the same language to that very simple test shows that it is unreasonable. First if we wouldn’t put the burden of validating a person’s driver’s license on the person selling a vehicle, so why shouldn’t the same be true for selling a firearm. Second the sale of the gun is what’s being made a felony, but the purchase is only a misdemeanor. If the goal is to keep guns from criminals, why is the penalty less for the theoretical criminal buying the gun? Now on the other hand if the goal is the widening of bureaucracy and over burdening an already understaffed state agency it might sound like a swell law. Or perhaps its just designed to pray on the fears of the citizens of Virginia? Theoretically the goal is to keep guns from those already bared from having them so shouldn’t it be written that way and not to place an undue burden on law abiding citizens?

To the earlier metaphor comparing guns to cars, driving a car requires you be a minimum age, get a permit, show proficiency with a road test. Many drivers will only ever go to the DMV to get a new photo or register a new car. There is no continuous requirement to prove themselves eligible to drive. Yet every gun I have purchased over the past 20 years has required a background check, including my black powder, to prove I was eligible to make the purchase. Just like driving you must be of legal age to purchase a firearm. Obtaining a permit to carry requires not only a background check but a review by the circuit court for approval, after submitting proof of proficiency with a firearm. Every future purchase will still require an additional background check for each gun I buy. The dealers from whom I have purchased these guns face a mountain of paperwork. Each dealer is required to maintain completed forms for 20 years in the case of completed sales, and for 5 years where the sale was disapproved as a result of the NICS check. If I went to any auto dealership in town do you suppose they have records proving person they sold a car held a valid license even 5 years ago.

On maximum clip or magazine size: “Another aspect of SB 16, the maximum clip or magazine size, is another legitimate topic for legislative debate. Should the general public have access to military-sized clips carrying 30 or more rounds? Is a 10-round clip limit too small or too large for recreational shooting use? Is there justification for public access to larger clip sizes, and if so, how large? Correct me if I’m wrong hunters, but to my knowledge semi-automatic assault-style rifles and their large clips are not legal for hunting, and certainly wouldn’t be very sporting if they were.”

Do you enjoy country music, or perhaps classical, or R&B maybe? What’s the point? Just like there are many types of music and fans there are many types of gun owners and shooting sports. Just because the popular misconception is that the only legitimate private use of a firearm is hunting doesn’t make it true. Simply because someone may not be fully versed in sporting arms and the various ways in which other individuals may choose to enjoy the use of their firearms dose not make those pursuits any less valid than an individual’s personal choice in music. Under that same flawed logic NHRA, NASCAR, and F1 should not exist because cars are for transport to work and not racing. There are many a gun owner whom have never stepped foot into the woods to hunt and have no desire to do so, but it doesn’t mean that their right to enjoy shooting targets should be limited due to a lack of knowledge on the part of others.

There are a lot of statements made, often with little or no supporting facts given, and the responsibility is then on the reader to “fact check” and determine what is “news” and what is “opinion”. We are frequent Royal Examiner readers because in general you do a good job of limiting the rhetoric and clarifying what is opinion. However, some statements like this that refer to trends, really need the numbers to help clarify the magnitude of what we are discussing.

“Okay, I can live with background checks. In fact, in the face of the rising tide of mass shooting violence in America I believe a majority of Americans, perhaps even a majority of gun owners, support them.”

So, these are some of the “facts” as I understand them from sources, I was able to find readily available via Google. (numbers are from 2017 with sources cited below).

  1. There were 4.26 times the number of deaths due to overdose (1,507) than to gun related homicide (353).
  2. Automobiles accidents (843) accounted for 2.38 times the number of deaths as gun related homicide (353).
  3. Gun related deaths (1028) in Virginia represent 29.2% of the top three causes of non-natural death (Motor Vehicle, Gun, & Overdose totaling 3520).
  4. 10% of the other than natural deaths in Virginia in 2017 were gun related homicides (353).
  5. 64.5% of gun related deaths in Virginia are suicide.
  6. 7.8% of all deaths (6,7762) in Virginia are of unnatural causes (5,298).
  7. Gun related homicides (353) represent 0.52% the all deaths (6,7762) in Virginia.
  8. Gun related suicide (664) represent 0.98% the all deaths (6,7762) in Virginia.
  9. 79% of gun-related assault injuries were among persons aged 15-34 years, 89% were male, and 77% were minorities.
  10. 47% occurred in the Eastern region, followed by 34% in the Central region.
  11. 51% of gun-related self-harm injuries were among persons aged 25-54 years, 76% were male, and 74% were white.

To my earlier metaphor comparing guns to cars, driving a car requires you be a minimum age, get a permit, show proficiency with a road test. Many drivers will only ever go to the DMV to get a new photo or register a new car. There is no continuous requirement to prove themselves eligible to drive. Yet every gun I have purchased over the past 20 years has required a background check, including my black powder, to prove I was eligible to make the purchase. Just like driving you must be of legal age to purchase a firearm. Obtaining a permit to carry requires not only a background check but a review by the circuit court for approval, after submitting proof of proficiency with a firearm. And any future purchase will still require an additional background check for each gun I buy. The dealers from whom I have purchased these guns face a mountain of paperwork. Each dealer is required to maintain completed forms for 20 years in the case of completed sales, and for 5 years where the sale was disapproved as a result of the NICS check. If I went to any auto dealership in town do you suppose they have records proving person they sold a car held a valid license even 5 years ago?

If were looking for things that need to be discussed in our community, commonwealth, and country let’s try a few of these:

  • Let’s start looking at the under lying socioeconomic issues that result in firearm violence.
  • Let’s start focusing on the treatment and prevention of mental health issues.
  • Let’s start focusing on the growing suicide epidemic.
  • Let’s start focusing on education both for gun safety and understanding.
  • Let’s start putting funding into micro-loans to foster economic development.
  • Let’s start helping community leaders develop mentoring programs.
  • Let’s start by installing hope and breaking cycles of violence.
  • Let’s start focusing on the growing addiction crisis in our community.

As a responsible gun owner, I have the right to hunt, target shoot, and project myself, my loved ones and my property. My second amendment right is not a bargaining chip for anyone, pundit or politician, that would use my ownership of guns to strike fear in others.

Respectfully,

Patrick A. DeZess
Linden, Virginia


Statistical Sources:

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Opinion

The absolute hope and promise of Christmas

Published

on

Dear Editor,

Christmas once again; when we joyfully celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Who is He? Isaiah 9:6 proclaims, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given… and his name shall be called… The mighty God, The heavenly Father…”. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Verse 14 says, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us… the only begotten of the Father…” Why? God had to become flesh to die! He had to shed His own blood! This is the price God Himself set for our redemption/salvation; and His being willing to pay that price resulted in the birth of the Christ Child at Christmas! Called Immanuel, meaning “God with us”!

Being known to utter amazing and profound things concerning you and me; it seems He was speaking from His heart; the heart of God, to our hearts! Saying (John 10:10), “…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” Saying, in effect, He came to offer the remedy to the scourge and surety of death! The natural life, suffering death and dying, is both fleeting and temporary. Therefore, Jesus is not speaking of it here. Rather, He is saying He came to give us something we didn’t/don’t already have: Life (never-ending)! The free gift of God revealed in Romans 6:23; Therefore, we will have life forever!

As to “abundantly”, abundant means “existing in plentiful supply; abounding.” An adjective, it here describes the subject “the new life!” We do have spiritual and other blessings in this life, but it here seems opposed to prosperity; for prosperity means “being successful, flourishing, material well-being.” Maybe a care and problem-free life now. Therefore, “abundantly” is speaking to the subject: eternal life, not of “more of”, “better than” or even happiness in this temporal life. Hence, “abundantly” is referring to the plentiful, abounding supply of what we don’t have in the now. It’s what He came to give us: eternal life!

Knowing of our pain, struggles and sorrows, Jesus said in Matthew 11: 28-29, “Come unto me… and I will give you rest… rest unto your souls.” Amazingly, in John 16:33, He said, “…in this world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Also, saying in Revelation 2:9, “I know thy works, tribulation and poverty, but thou art rich!” The more abundant life is achieved in this life in part only, however, in the fact that he will never leave or forsake us. Thus our greatest happiness, glory and joy is in our walk and talk with Him!

Jesus said (John 1o:25-26), “I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live, and… shall never die.” In effect, guaranteeing to those who believe, are saved/born again, the abundant, never-ending life! Saying in John 14:2-3; “I go to prepare a place for you… I will come again and receive you unto myself…”

Clearly a “done deal”; The sealing of the deal!

Forever in the place He is preparing, an abundant life guaranteed by our eternal guarantor Jesus Christ, being sealed in His blood!

This then, is the absolute and sure Hope and Promise of Christmas!

Rev. Jess Shifflett
Front Royal, Virginia

Share the News:
Continue Reading