Author archive: Letter to the Editor

McDonald defends work of the Front Royal-Warren County EDA
March 12, 2018


To the Editor:

Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress and working together is success.”  It seems that whenever there is progress – there is dissention.

Despite the millions of dollars of net revenue the Town and County have realized from the work of the EDA there still remains that dissention and suspicion. It brings to question why local officials would question the work of the EDA when in fact the work performed by the EDA is at the direction of both the Town Council and Board of Supervisors. They have direct oversight and supervision of the EDA through budgeting, monthly and/or bi-monthly meetings by the Executive Director, EDA annual reports, EDA Strategic Plans, Liaison meetings, attendance at our EDA Board meetings (including closed sessions), and projects they have assigned to us to handle on their behalf.

There are some that believe the EDA is funded 100% through local funds and that is not the case. The County funds 25% of our operating budget (approximately $100,000) and the portion of our debt service that is funded by the locality is only on those projects we have been asked to participate in by the locality. Currently the County contributes $372,681 or 61% of the debt service, Town pays $141,390 or 23%, and EDA funds $100,600 or 16%. Projects include Leach Run Parkway, industrial parks, Ressie Jeffries upgrades, West Main Street extension, among others.

I’d like to remind the Front Royal-Warren County community of where we were 30 years ago.   Our community was reeling from the shutdown of one of its largest employers, Avtex, due to environmental abuses.  The shutdown left the Town of Front Royal with 500 acres of deteriorating manufacturing structures and basins full of chemical waste.  The site was fenced in and padlocked to keep the citizens away from the unidentified and uncatalogued toxins.

Our industrial tax base was at a low of 8.5%, rendering the community unable to effectively maintain its infrastructure (roadways, water systems, sewage systems, police and fire protection, schools, parks, etc.).  There were few commercial centers for shopping, dining or entertainment in the community.

Unemployment was at a staggering 12%, and there were few jobs to be had locally.  Most citizens commuted long distances for work, leaving them away from their families and unable to participate in their community.  Truth be told:  this community was dying.

A group of citizens assembled and determined the need for aggressive economic development to:  recruit businesses and jobs to Warren County; to build the commercial and industrial tax base to a sustainable 20%; to bring our commuting labor force back home to their families and community.

I have been fortunate enough to have been a part of the Economic Development Authority through my last years in college as an intern, and in the intervening years as Property/Project Manager and now Executive Director. Over those years I have witnessed the success that the hard work of those citizens along with the cooperation of the locality has brought to this community.

Since 1999, the EDA has:  taken legal ownership of the 500-acre Avtex site; worked in concert with Environmental Protection Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the community and many others to clean and remediate the site for development.  In 2014, 147 acres of the Avtex site was officially released by the EPA for redevelopment, and the remaining acreage is slated for a riverside conservancy park and walking trail.  In 2015, we identified our first business to locate there and ground prep work has been underway since October of 2017.  We are working with the Town to engineer a pump station that will serve the first developable portion of the site as well as a roadway that will connect Kendrick Lane to the downtown commercial district via a Main Street connector road.

Since 1994, EDA and County have recruited:  Family Dollar Services, Ferguson Enterprises, SYSCO Corporation, Interbake, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, Toray Plastics, Dominion Virginia Power plant, IT Federal among others.  That has accounted for 2,600 new jobs and a $1.8 billion in investment. Dominion alone generates $4 million in tax revenue to this community.

The taxes from these recruitments has allowed us to build new schools and renovate others for our growing population.   Our school system is now one of the most technologically advanced in the Commonwealth and our national academic standing is on the rise.

Our industrial tax base has grown to 30% — exceeding our 20% goal and supporting a stable local economy and the ability to provide infrastructure and services for its citizens.

This community is now home to a state-of-the-art Public Safety Facility under the direction of the Warren County Sheriff, construction is underway for a state-of-the-art police department headquarters on a portion of the former Avtex property.  We have built new roadways and bridges and improved our gateways into the Town.  We have beautiful soccer fields and a state-of-the-art skateboard park – that people come from all over the nation to experience.

We have two large commercial centers located at the intersection of Interstate 66 and Route 340/522N, providing shopping, dining, banking and entertainment while keeping those sales and meals taxes in our local coffers. Twenty years ago when we crossed the bridges it was not to shop in our community, it was to take us to Winchester where we spent tax revenue dollars to help build their schools and infrastructure.

The boost in our local economy has encouraged private development along our historic Main Street where buildings are being renovated and small businesses are emerging in creation of a vibrant downtown experience for both locals and tourists.

So – although there are those naysayers and certain ones who would denigrate the work of the EDA or the County leadership – there is much good happening in our Town and our County which relates directly to solid and principled economic development and planning practices.  I look forward to the day when we will all appreciate our success.


Jennifer McDonald

Executive Director

FR-WC Economic Development Authority

OPINION: County Administrator replies to Silek letter
January 4, 2018

January 4, 2018
David Silek, 8500 Leesburg Pike, Suite 400, Vienna, VA 22182

RE: Letter of December 27, 2017

Dear Mr. Silek,

I am writing to follow up on your letter of December 27th, specifically your concerns relative to your inaccurate assertion that the County is spending taxpayer money to supply NARCAN and on the associated training costs for the administering of such. I am not sure where you received your information, but please be assured that Warren County does not spend any taxpayer money on the purchase of NARCAN.

If first responders from the Warren County Fire and Rescue Department use NARCAN, whether transporting the patient or not, the hospital replaces what was used at no cost to the County. If the patient is transported, the hospital then charges the patient on the hospital bill. Like any other call, the County will only charge for the transport of the patient based on the level of care.

The Warren County Sheriff’s Office recently implemented a program for deputies to carry NARCAN. The NARCAN was purchased through a grant and was provided at no charge to the Sheriff’s Office. Training for our officers to administer NARCAN was also provided at no charge.

As far as your comments regarding the Economic Development Authority, the Board of Supervisors has a great deal of faith in the individuals that it has appointed to the EDA Board of Directors. Among those appointed include the de facto CEO of the largest employer in the County, the Vice President of Facilities Management and Safety for the largest employer in the region, and the former head of the Town’s community development program. While not everyone on the EDA Board of Directors currently works in the private sector, the Board of Directors, like the community, needs to have diverse representation to market the community and to run the various programs of the EDA. The success of the community in the 1990’s for economic development was buoyed by the County providing land either at no cost or at a reduced rate and with considerable Governor’s Opportunity Fund and Enterprise Zone incentives. The opportunities are no longer there for these incentives in the manner in which they were, and the County, unfortunately, does not have large (100+ acre) tracts of buildable land with which to recruit the larger industries. That said, the EDA continues to make progress utilizing the assets that our community does possess in marketing for investment and jobs.

As far as getting rid of the “crappy hotels” in our community, as an attorney I am sure that you are aware of the fact that effective January 1, 2013; Article 1 Section 11 of the Constitution of Virginia was amended to read:
“That the General Assembly shall pass no law whereby private property, the right to which is fundamental, shall be damaged or taken except for public use. No private property shall be damaged or taken for public use without just compensation to the owner thereof. No more private property may be taken than necessary to achieve the stated public use. Just compensation shall be no less than the value of the property taken, lost profits and lost access, and damages to the residue caused by the taking. The terms “lost profits” and “lost access” are to be defined by the General Assembly. A public service company, public service corporation, or railroad exercises the power of eminent domain for public use when such exercise is for the authorized provision of utility, common carrier, or railroad services. In all other cases, a taking or damaging of private property is not for public use if the primary use is for private gain, private benefit, private enterprise, increasing jobs, increasing tax revenue, or economic development, except for the elimination of a public nuisance existing on the property. The condemnor bears the burden of proving that the use is public, without a presumption that it is.”
Accordingly, condemning and tearing down hotels, or in this case motels, for redevelopment would be against the Constitution that we swear to uphold and defend.

The EDA does have a plan for economic development in our community, which was last updated in 2014 and can be found here. StratPlanUpdate2014

David, I trust that I have been able to provide some information of which you were not aware when writing your letter and hope that I have been able to set your mind at ease with the spending of precious taxpayer resources on NARCAN. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Douglas P. Stanley, AICP ICMA-CM
County Administrator

Editor’s Note:  The above letter was copied to the Chairmen and Members of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, Sheriff Daniel T. McEathron, Warren County Fire and Rescue Chief Richard Mabie and to Royal Examiner staff reporter Roger Bianchini.

OPINION: Thoughts on Alabama and America
December 13, 2017

Let me start by offering the disclaimer that I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat. I am neither conservative, nor liberal. I am who I am. When I vote, I look at the person, their voting record, values, and previous experience with a real job. I try my best not to become nauseated with party affiliation.

Last night’s Alabama election results should (but probably won’t, given the sad history of party politics in America) send a message to Democrats, as well as Republicans…quit thinking that you are immune to the realities of life, and that, because of the prestige and power that comes with your position, that you are immune from the following:

Obeying the law.

Doing your job, as an elected official, and looking out for the best interests of those you were chosen to serve, as opposed to yourself, and those whom you have allowed to own you, through their contributions to you and your campaign.
Living by the same standards you have the audacity and hypocrisy to demand to others that they should live by.

Creating and voting for laws which you have no intention of following yourself.
To think that more than 48 percent of a state can still vote for a moral reprobate is mind boggling.

To hear excuses such as “It was more about the balance of power” which influenced my vote simply goes to show why the two party system in America is corrupt, and eliminates the U.S. as “One Nation Under God.”

One can only hope and pray that, whether it is the new Alabama Senator, a sitting Senator, Congressperson, or Governor of any state or Commonwealth within our nation, that, at some point soon, a tide of decency in politics will rise, we will vote for who is right, against who is wrong, and hope and pray that the ability to do such (as opposed to voting for “the lesser of evils”) will one day make a consistent showing among our Election Day options.

One can always dream.

Michael S. Williams is a resident of Front Royal, VA.

OPINION: Thank you for reporting depth and quality
November 30, 2017

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people at the Royal Examiner that work so hard to keep the citizens of Warren County and Front Royal apprised of the important issues facing our community.

I have noticed that the depth and quality of the reporting from the other news reporting organizations has declined greatly over the last several years. I appreciate knowing that there is a news service that takes the time to gather the facts and present them to the public; it is a necessity for a balanced community.

This creates an environment of accountability and transparency while holding the elected officials to the highest level of integrity for which they were elected to guide our town and county.

Again thank you for your dedicated service you provide for our community.


Michael Graham,  Front Royal, VA


OPINION: If the council again enacts this poor idea, what problem is it going to solve?
November 7, 2017

This is letter I sent to the Mayor, Hollis Tharpe, and the town council. My intention is that this is an opinion or letter to the editor.

I retired after 29 years of listing and selling real estate. I have managed my own rental property the entire time as well as advised clients on rental property and occasionally rented it for them by selecting the best tenant we could. Therefore, I have plenty of experience with tenants and rental property.

I have great concerns on the Landlord/Tenant ordinance that is being proposed. I have addressed the council on this matter twice recently as well as in the past when that poorly thought out ordinance was enacted and then dismissed due to failure. Always my first thought for any problem is…. what is the real problem… what is the root of the problem… how do I solve the problem?

As I see it, the real problem is a people problem, not a government problem. If the council again enacts this poor idea, what problem is it going to solve?

First a discussion of what “regular” landlords are looking for in a qualified applicant: Credit scores that meet the landlords criteria Income to support the monthly rent payment. References supporting that the tenant left the previous property in good condition and paid rent on time. Property managers also run a criminal background check.

So, now what do we do? How do we solve the problem? I have the answers to my questions. The real problem is tenants who do not have an acceptable credit history and/or adequate income and/or a criminal background history. Tenants who left previous rental property in poor condition and/or did not pay rent. The root of the problem is people behavior.

The way I solve my problem is to rent to the most creditworthy tenant who has shown past behavior of paying the rent and leaving the property in good condition. If perspective tenants do not meet my criteria, the application is rejected. Personally, I discuss this ahead of time with the applicant and if they think they won’t meet the criteria, they do not complete an application. Generally, property managers have the same process.

You can inspect my properties and the properties of the landlords providing poor housing, but you can never make me rent to tenants who do not meet my qualification standards. Those standards consist of a credit score of no lower than 640, acceptable former landlord references, and the income to support living in the property. Most property management professionals also do a criminal background check and tenants must meet that standard.

Since I am renting for myself and not a client, I do not consider hospital bills that are so high a person cannot pay them, nor some bankruptcies or other credit issues. I consider each applicant on a case-by-case basis. No matter what ordinance is enacted, I will not rent to perspective tenants who do not meet my criteria. Other landlords and property managers will not rent to perspective who do not meet their criteria. So inspecting my property and others like it are not going to resolve the issue up for discussion. I can say with 100% certainty that I am not going to rent to the tenants who occupy Batouli’s properties or those like his. Those tenants are generally in desperate situations and generally have very poor credit, often have issues with substance abuse, and criminal backgrounds.

Everyone knows what I am talking about here. I have owned a property next door to Mt. Vernon apartments for 15 years. I have had occasions to talk to some of the tenants there who have asked me about housing when they are being evicted or are moving because they cannot tolerate the conditions. I have asked them why they rented there and it is always the same answer. I desperately needed a place and no one else would rent to me.

So they do know the conditions of the property when they rent it. The only way some of these tenants can change their living conditions is to upgrade their credit, get a job or a better job or move somewhere else where they can live on public assistance.

Bottom line, I do not think this problem can be solved with an ordinance. Our tax dollars will be spent with a new office requiring everything an inspector needs to work, perhaps an assistant, the benefits costs to the employer, vehicle cost, and only the Historic District is affected. So the rest of Front Royal can rent anything in any condition. This is not acceptable to me and shouldn’t be to you either.

This is government for the sake of government to quell some squeaky wheels so the rest of the landlords can abide by an ordinance where these tenants cannot live. Doesn’t make any sense to me. If you seriously want to solve this problem, get a committee together of people who know what the issues are, tenants who are having problems, town officials, and go from there. Perhaps there is a way to solve this, but I don’t see the answer as an ordinance for Landlords in Front Royal.

Look at it and see how we can solve it. At a previous town council meeting, I offered to field calls on this issue as a volunteer. I am still willing to work with a group to see if we can solve this issue. I do believe everyone is entitled to a roof over their head. Perhaps Front Royal needs to consider a “project” type of housing to meet the demands of this kind of tenant. Who would be the property manager? Not I. Too much of a bad thing. I’ve read newspaper articles on building “workforce” housing. Those folks generally meet my criteria for renting as well as other property managers. That is a no brainer, but for those who don’t meet the criteria and who don’t, won’t, can’t pay the rent, we still have a problem.

Please start a committee so we can start to work on this issue. At a minimum, everyone would gain a lot of knowledge on the subject.

Nancy Heflin

OPINION: Voters are confronted by a specter from the past
November 1, 2017

In this election season, voters are confronted by a specter from the past. One political party is spreading discord by advertising that plays on fears and lies to create a wedge. Much like the leader of their party, they want to take advantage of a simmering anger that many can’t express.

Republican candidates are complicit in the deep divisions that are damaging our country. They would remove protections for consumers, deny remedies for pollution and climate change, repeal personal freedoms, and remove affordable healthcare for millions. Rather than reduce economic inequality, they promote the power and fortunes of the 1%.  Their candidates, regardless of how home-grown they claim to be, do not speak for the common person. Their interests lay in increasing advantages for the privileged few.

The Democratic Party draws on a long and deep concern for the common good. Instead of restricting voting, Democrats encourage the expression of all citizens at the ballot box. Instead of allowing corporate and family fortunes to determine policy, we encourage participation from all Americans.

Democrats promote economic security by supporting greater access to healthcare, more affordable education at all levels, and better wage opportunities for individuals whether they live in cities or rural areas. Democrats believe we are in this struggle together, and that improving individual lives will benefit all.

Steve Foremam
Chair, WCDC

OPINION: Vote Tuesday, November 7th for the ticket of Gillespie, Vogel, and Adams.
October 24, 2017

As Chairman of the Warren County Republican Committee, it may not come as a surprise that I am supporting Jill Vogel for Lt. Governor on Tuesday, November 8th.  What you may not expect is why I think you should as well. Unlike most candidates for statewide office, I have known Jill personally for many years. Her family is from the Shenandoah Valley and run a successful local business. During a summer break in college, I interned in Jill’s law firm.  I witnessed firsthand the high ethical standards by which Jill Vogel operates.  She is exactly the sort of smart, successful businesswoman with great integrity we need in Richmond.

To say that Richmond needs Jill Vogel is true, but our Shenandoah Valley needs her as Lieutenant Governor even more. I bet most people cannot name the last person elected to statewide office from the Shenandoah Valley (Harry Byrd, Jr., who left office in 1983). It has become increasingly clear that most politicians in Virginia do not know the difference between Western Virginia and West Virginia. Jill Vogel lives here, has repeatedly campaigned in the Shenandoah Valley, and—most importantly—was raised with our shared values.

Now, I would be remiss not to mention that Ed Gillespie, my pick for Governor, held an event in Warren County just last month, at the height of the campaign; and John Adams, who headlined last year’s John Smedley Pig Roast, has campaigned actively in the Valley. If you want to know who cares about the Shenandoah Valley, look to action, not just words. If our Shenandoah Valley values are important to you, then I ask you to vote Tuesday, November 7th for the ticket of Gillespie, Vogel, and Adams.


Daryl Funk
428 Kerfoot Avenue
Front Royal, VA 22630

OPINION: Random Acts of Bureacracy Make Me Cranky
October 12, 2017

Everybody seems to be aggravated about something all the time these days.

I don’t remember it being this bad when I was growing up or even when I was raising a family.

My aggravation started when I received an email from my bank letting me know that my credit score had changed and to call their credit service department ASAP to review.

My mind started to race about the possibility of my identity being stolen. Visions of the many advertisements promoting identity protection ran through my mind as I recalled the internet stories telling how peoples lives were destroyed while trying to correct the situation. I called the credit service to get the full story of the situation.

The credit service was accommodating informing me of the reason why my credit score had decreased by more than 100 points in the last 30 days. It was caused by the 3 new notifications of accounts that were put in collections . I was taken back being unaware of any reason for the need for collects and what was generating the problems.

The first issue pertained to an unreturned library book valued at $30 that was placed in collection. I discovered that my son had checked out a book and the library assumed I was responsible for the book, not my 20 year old son with the same first name. I had to contact the local library to correct this mistake and shift the responsibility to my son and inform the collection and credit service to take it off my report

The second issue was a $25 charge for a missed appointment of my adult daughter from our family medical practice that was reported to collections. This situation developed because the doctor’s office did not realize that my daughter had reached an age that she was responsible for her own health care and was never sent a bill for missing the appointment. This was corrected after many conversations with several administrative assistants informing them that I was not responsible for these bills for my adult daughter. They reluctantly informed the credit service of the mistake that would take 60 days to show up on my report.

The most time consuming collection issue was dealing with the free magazine subscription that I was given as gift for purchasing retail products at a national retail store for opening up an account. I was told the subscription would be free for 6 months and would cancelled after the 6 months was over. The problem occurred after the 6 months subscription had ended, the company continued the bill my account each month for several months without my knowledge since the account was closed. It was sent to collection for non payment. It was time consuming and frustrating to correct because of the time it took to find the right person in the company that had the power to correct the problem. It took over a week to locate the person that understood the situation which apologized for their internal $40 billing mistake.

I’m mad as hell for the amount of time that was required to contact each company and having to talk to many different people to locate the person with the authority to correct the mistake. The reality of having to wait for up to 120 days for the corrected information to be received and changes reflected on my new credit report is irritating All this aggravation created over a total $95 of internal mistakes from the companies and organizations that reported these collections issues not of my making. I had to address these issues to correct because of the impact to my credit score which affects our day to day lives.. This was very aggravating and I am mad as hell to have to go through it. I am sure that I am not the only person to have this happen to them, so I can understand why people are so aggravated with life. My sign would read “ just aggravated ”


Rental standards: Find a code that will work
October 6, 2017

I was not at the recent meeting for the proposed Town Inspection Code but wanted to put my “two cents” into the discussion. I have been a landlord for more than thirty years and currently own forty rental units in Front Royal on Cherrydale Avenue (which will not be subject to the proposed inspection code). When we bought these units, they were one step from slums. Our intent was to “provide decent housing at reasonable cost for deserving people.” I had considerable experience with rental units previously and thought this would be a way to serve people who sometimes fall through the cracks.

On the day that we took possession, there were more than thirty water leaks and a number of jacked-up vehicles in various states of repair distributed around the property. Less than twenty keys were provided by the prior owner and most of the exterior doors did not lock. The siding was asbestos. Interestingly, the tenants were responsible for cutting the grass in front of their apartment even if they lived on the second floor. There were no stoves and few refrigerators. Tenants were responsible for providing these themselves.

Several hundred thousand dollars later, we had a much improved property with new kitchen cabinetry, steel entrance doors and dead-bolt locks, new bathrooms, carpet, appliances, etc. and began to rent to our new tenancy. After about ten years, I told my wife that we were going to change the motto. She asked what the new one was. I told her that the new motto was “We will not be your next victim.” We once again began to renovate for the second time. New tenants were required to have decent credit, adequate income and a few other qualifications that pertain to responsible people.

So, having had considerable rental experience with both those in the lower income bracket and those who have higher income, I feel qualified to comment on the upcoming inspection code.

First of all, it is virtually impossible to provide decent housing at a low price. Everything done to maintain or improve property costs money. This in turn causes rents to rise and therefore causes real estate taxes to rise. The better the apartment is, the higher the rent is. The better the rental unit is the better tenant who will be attracted.

Poorly maintained rental units are less desirable and are frequently, all that an individual can afford. They may be a single mother with one or more children, a menial job and no education. Their spouse or baby-daddy may have left them. They sometimes live on food stamps. Maybe they have been abused or have an alcohol or drug problem. Whatever the issues, these people need a place to live that is cheap. That is all that they can afford.

One little change causes their entire world to collapse. The car won’t start or their babysitter didn’t show so they cannot go to work. Then their rent becomes overdue and the Town shuts off their utilities. If they cannot find a way to resolve this, they might vacate their apartment without notice, sometimes leaving huge piles of furniture, rotting food and a filthy apartment. The apartment will be vacant until the landlord finds a new tenant and does what is necessary to get the apartment rented. Fixing the bare minimum will not make the apartment attract more responsible people. A large expenditure will likely result in better tenants but the price will rise considerably and those who are not economically viable will not be able to afford the higher rent. Where are they going to live?

It would seem that a rental unit inspection prior to occupancy would solve the problems associated with poorly maintained rental housing but it will not in my opinion. An inspection will not improve the rental unit appreciably. It will simply mean that the landlord will repair the items delineated in the inspection report. Door and window locks, lack of heat, leaks and sagging floors, might be repaired but the unit will still be a slum.

As an example, suppose that the kitchen ceiling is sagging from a plugged toilet upstairs. The inspector requires the owner to repair the ceiling and fix the toilet. The owner sends someone to the upstairs apartment to unstop the toilet and puts a piece of quarter-inch plywood over the sagging ceiling, attaches it using drywall screws and the job is done. It meets the inspector’s requirement but the apartment is still substandard and has not been improved at all.

Interior painting, replacement of older appliances, new bathrooms, etc. are not included in inspection deficiencies that could be done to improve the apartment unit but a landlord cannot be compelled to make the changes that could be made. Therefore, the inspection items will be completed and the rent will rise to pay for these costs. Meanwhile, the unit will still be a slum.

The Town previously had an inspection law that I personally succeeded in having overturned by the Circuit Court. This was due to the fact that the ordinance that the Town passed violated state statutes (which the town fathers knew about from the beginning but chose to enact anyway).

Typically, this is the way it would work: Before an apartment could be rented, the landlord would make an application for an inspection. The inspection was scheduled for a certain day (which could be in one day or several days later). No time was given so the owner would need to make arrangements to have someone available all day while waiting for the inspector. Ultimately, the inspector would arrive and always find several insignificant items that needed repair. I was once cited for a light switch cover that had “speckles” of paint on it. Once the required repairs were done, the apartment would have to be re-inspected before occupancy which meant going through the entire scheduling routine again.

The proposed ordinance under consideration would also require the owner to pay a fee to the town for the inspection. The cost of the inspection, waiting time for the owner, etc. would fall on the owner. If the inspector found nothing wrong, the costs for compliance would still fall on the owner and once again, the costs will be passed on to the tenant who cannot afford to pay more rent. Further, it is likely that deficiencies will be minor and the rental unit will still be a slum.

So how do we make an attempt at resolving at least some of the problems with substandard housing without causing expense to the owner and tenant for an inspection and the creation of an entire new department in city hall? A simple idea would be to have the Town include a notice to new tenants when having the utilities put in their name. The notice would inform them that they can ask for an inspection either by the Town or a shared inspector from the County acting on behalf of the Town. A checklist of serious violations could be printed on the form and the tenant could check off what they think is wrong and either call, email or deliver the form to the appropriate Town office. This will NOT rectify the slum or substandard rental properties in our town but neither will an “inspection law.” At least this would allow tenants from any location in town to call for an inspection. The new proposed ordinance only applies to certain parts of town that have been designated as “blighted” such as downtown and surrounding areas.

Winchester, Portsmouth, Petersburg and almost every other town in Virginia has slums and substandard housing. Have they found a way to solve their problems? Answer: Not to my knowledge.

The concept of a new inspection ordinance to replace the one found illegal is almost worthless. The previous one did not change anything (when the old law was in effect) and a new will not change it this time.

Town Council: Show us some personal initiative and go out and research to see what other communities have done and find out if they were successful. Simply sitting in a chair and voting for a new ordinance when the old one was of no value will not fix the problem. Hopefully, someone is listening and willing to work to solve these issues.

John Costello

OPINION: KKK has no place in our town
September 26, 2017

Yesterday, I returned to my car in the park & ride lot in Front Royal to find a flyer inviting me to join the Klu Klux Klan. It was quite a shock and an ugly reminder of the thousands of black Americans they lynched over the past almost 100 years.

I hope everyone understands why the KKK has no place in our town, and knows about their long history of violence targeting primarily black Americans, but also Jews, immigrants, gays and lesbians and, until recently, Catholics. They are the definition of a radical hate group.

What I found particularly disturbing was the language they used on their flyer. It sounded a lot like the language a religious cult or a street gang would use, offering solidarity and saying “You will not be alone anymore.” It also vilifies the Black Lives Matter movement, which is a non-violent social justice movement. The flyer also claims that the KKK can keep members’ identities secret. If they are not a hate group, as they claim, why do they need to hide? They most certainly are not a Christian organization. The fact that they are trying to appeal to members of our community who may be isolated, resentful, and weak is appalling and cowardly.

Front Royal, as a community, must come together to fight back against any infiltration by the KKK. Through peaceful resistance and the example of our solidarity across differences of race, class, sexual orientation, culture, and other categories, we show what kind of town we are — one whose diversity makes it strong.

Heather Davis