Connect with us

Local News

Board of Supervisors hold budget work session with Warren County School Board

Published

on

County Administrator Doug Stanley at the joint budget work session with the Warren County School Board. Video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

On February 19th the Warren County Board of Supervisors held a budget work session with the Warren County School Board.

During a Tuesday, February 19, joint budget work session, Warren County Public Schools Superintendent Greg Drescher could only bring himself to describe the learning environment in his school system as “almost a crisis”. However School Board member Donna McEathron later took the assessment a step further, telling the county supervisors “We’re IN crisis mode”.

Royal Examiner’s camera was there:

 

Click here to download presentation slides.


See related stories:

Share the News:

Local News

Candidate For Sheriff responds to Virginia Police Benevolent Association

Published

on

Jorge Amselle, Democratic candidate for Warren County Sheriff. Photo by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

Front Royal, VA—Jorge Amselle, Democratic candidate for Warren County Sheriff, recently released his responses to a questionnaire from the Virginia Police Benevolent Association, which the association will use in any endorsement decision. “In the interest of transparency and accountability I am releasing the questions posed to me and my responses so that every citizen of Warren Country can see them. I call on the other candidates for Sheriff to publicly release their responses to these important questions. We need to know what kind of policies our next Sheriff will pursue,” said Amselle.

The Questions and Amselle’s responses are posted below.

Issue: Allowing PBA Recruitment of Deputies

Background:
PBA membership affords members numerous benefits and the opportunity to belong to a professional law enforcement association. These benefits include attorney representation for line of duty shootings and in-custody death situations. Membership also includes coverage if a member is civilly sued for actions arising out of performance of their duties. In those tragic cases where a member is killed in the line of duty the accidental death benefit pays up to $70,000 to the member’s beneficiary.

Question #1:
If elected, would you allow the PBA and/or its recruiters to speak to deputies about the value and benefit of having a PBA membership?

Amselle Answer:
Yes. I would welcome PBA to speak with and recruit any employees of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office. I favor organized labor and benevolent associations as an essential part of easing the power disparities between employers and employees and protecting the rights of workers.

Issue: Uniforms
Background:
Over the past several years law enforcement has changed to make law enforcement uniforms more comfortable. In general, the tactical uniform is perceived as more practical for the physical aspects of today’s policing. Police officers now have more everyday gear to carry, and that means officers need to be able to accommodate that on their uniform.

Question#2:
If elected would you authorize deputies to wear a tactical uniform while on duty? Why or why not?
Amselle Answer:
Yes. When appropriate, deputies will be permitted to wear the tactical uniform. I plan to set policy about tactical uniforms after reviewing current policy and discussing it with staff to ascertain their views. Deputies have a right to be comfortable while performing their duties whenever possible. Deputies also have an obligation to present a clean and professional appearance while on duty. In some circumstance and in some job categories the tactical uniform may not be appropriate. I will set policy that makes it clear when and where a tactical uniform may be worn.

Issue: Take Home Vehicles
Background:
In the past, deputies that lived outside the county were allowed to take their vehicles home. Several years ago, the take home privilege was stripped from the deputies with no apparent warning. The take home privilege was a great recruitment tool and would help the deputies save money.

Question #3:
If elected would you be willing to change the current policy to allow deputies who live outside the county to take their cars home within a certain radius of Warren County? Why or why not?
Amselle Answer:
No. County vehicles should be for official use only, never for personal use inside or outside the county by any official or county employee at any level. I support increased compensation as a more appropriate recruitment tool. However, no staff member should lose a current benefit without due warning and proper compensation.

Issue: Unfair Application of Discipline
Background:
In the past, it has been proven that a lack of accountability and wrongdoing have taken place within the sheriff’s department. Members of the Department have been fired only to be rehired a short time later. It appears major issues have occurred with some of the employees, including administrators, and the matters have been “swept under the rug” or overlooked. This lack of accountability can be viewed as corruption and causes the agency to appear unprofessional.

Question #4:
If elected will you make it policy that complaints are investigated by a trained internal affairs department and discipline is administered fairly across the department?
Amselle Answer:
Yes. Any complaint against any member of the Sheriff’s office will be fairly and fully investigated by both trained internal affairs professionals AND an outside, independent body. No incident will be hidden from the public or “swept under the rug.” No one who has been fired with cause will be re-hired.

Issue: Department and Community Relations Background
Background:
Currently, judging by media reports, there appears to be a large amount of mistrust between members of the community and elected officials in Warren County. The sheriff’s office and the elected sheriff are at the forefront of public safety and community trust. Professionalism within the sheriff’s department is recognized by the citizens and enhances public safety.

Question #5:
If elected what measures will you take to ensure that the sheriff’s department is viewed as a professional law enforcement organization from both inside and outside the department?
Amselle Answer:
A lack of trust in our public and elected officials has severely damaged our community. This lack of trust is due to a repeated and longtime trend of insider dealing, corruption, and lack of accountability and transparency. I will have a clear policy that no employee of the Sheriff’s Office may engage in any private business transactions or dealings with anyone in a position of authority within the county or town government. Exceptions may be made for routine transactions unrelated to employment duties but they must be publicly disclosed if they fall above a specified dollar threshold. In addition, any appearance or evidence of unlawful behavior by any town or county official will be immediately referred to the State Police to investigate.

To learn more and keep up to date on Jorge Amselle’s campaign visit www.amselle4sheriff.com and follow on Twitter and FaceBook.

Meet Jorge Amselle – Democratic candidate for Warren County Sheriff

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Crime/Court

Chief District Judge Albertson poised to hear Henry bond arguments

Published

on

Michelle ‘Missy’ Henry continues to wear jailhouse garb pending a third date for her bond hearing this Tuesday, July 23. However, she will remain housed at RSW Jail until that hearing, rather than be returned to the Manassas jail she was transferred to on June 25. Photo RSW website

Former Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Director Michelle “Missy” Henry had a second bond hearing continued Friday, July 19. Henry appeared with co-counsel Ryan Nuzzo and David Hensley near the end of the 9 a.m. morning docket at 12:07 p.m. The hearing was over at 12:10 p.m.

Judge William W. Sharp reaffirmed his recusal from all EDA matters, then continued Henry’s bond hearing to Tuesday, July 23, on the morning docket. Sharp indicated that 26th Judicial District Chief Judge Bruce D. Albertson would be present to hear arguments at that time. As chief presiding district judge Albertson is responsible for naming a substitute judge to hear EDA civil and criminal cases in the wake of Judge Sharp’s recusal and Judge Clifford L. Athey’s move away from circuit court duties as he prepares to take a seat on the Virginia State Appeals Court on September 1.

Sharp submitted a written recusal on July 12, citing what might be called “small-town syndrome” – a personal or professional familiarity with many involved parties either named as defendants or potential witnesses in EDA matters. Albertson is based out of Harrisonburg.

Discussing their client’s situation outside the courtroom Friday afternoon, Henry’s attorneys said it was their understanding that not only would Albertson be present to hear and make a ruling on bond arguments Tuesday, but was poised to name a substitute judge on the criminal and civil matters arising from the EDA fraud investigation. They said it was also their understanding that appointment could be a self-appointment.

“Missy” Henry became the second person indicted criminally by the Special Grand Jury empanelled to investigate potential criminality tied to the EDA financial fraud investigation begun in mid-September 2018. The first criminal indictments handed down were against Henry’s former boss, former EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald. McDonald was arrested by Virginia State Police on special grand jury sealed indictments May 24, Henry on June 24.

It appeared that at least five Henry family members were present to see Tuesday’s developments unfold. In arguing for bond at Henry’s first hearing on June 25, the day after her arrest, Nuzzo pointed to Henry’s long and deep community ties. He also noted that the events named in her two embezzlement indictments surrounding the EDA’s B&G Goods small business loan and asset dispersal on the old Stokes Mart property dated to 2014 to 2016.

For Michelle Henry’s family the wheels of justice must seem to be spinning in neutral. Royal Examiner File Photos/Roger Bianchini

“These are very old actions …If she was a flight risk she would have fled by now,” Nuzzo told substitute Judge Thomas D. Horne. Horne deferred a ruling on bond arguments due to his unfamiliarity with the case, continuing the matter to July 19.

Jail transfer sought
In a related matter, Henrys’ counsel filed a motion Thursday, July 18, to have their client moved out of the Prince William Manassas Regional Adult Detention Center some 44 miles out of this community and away from her family’s home base.

Of that move over an hour’s drive away following her first bond hearing on June 25, Henry’s “Motion To Compel Jail To Cancel Courtesy Hold” observes, “Without agreement of the parties or Order of this Court, the RSW Regional Jail, which is the holding facility for inmates and Defendants held without bond for Warren County, arranged for the transportation of Your Defendant … to the Prince William Manassas Regional Adult Detention Center, located at 9320 Lee Ave., Manassas, VA 20110 … This holding facility has an incredibly limited visitation schedule, including for legal visits, and has no direct phone line from which Counsel may contact their client.”

The defense motion included an attachment with the Manassas jail’s visitation schedule and rules. It showed two, 2-1/2-hour visitation blocks (8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.) and one 3-hour block (noon to 3 p.m.) per day; and a notation that “general population inmates” are allowed one 20 to 30-minute visit per week.

At the time of the transfer RSW Jail Superintendent Russ Gilkison indicated Henry was moved due to the high-profile nature of the EDA investigation locally and personal safety concerns. McDonald was transferred to the Fairfax Adult Detention Center for similar reasons on June 11.

“While RSW may have had good motives in being concerned for Your Defendant due to Your Defendant’s son being an employee of the Warren County Sheriff’s Department, the location they have chosen is unduly unfair to her access to Counsel and her family,” the defense motion for a jail transfer observes.

Contacted Friday afternoon, Gilkison said Henry was being transported directly back to the Manassas jail from the Warren County Courthouse when a notice from the court to keep her housed at RSW pending Tuesday’s bond hearing was received. So that transport will be redirected to RSW, Gilkison indicated.

Henry attorney Nuzzo said that were bond to be denied Tuesday, it is likely the court would hear arguments on the change of jail location motion submitted last Thursday. As an alternative to either the Prince William-Manassas Jail or RSW, the defense motion suggests the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center in Frederick County, a 27 mile, approximate half-hour drive.

6601 Winchester Rd – ‘Missy’ Henry will remain closer to home pending her Tuesday bond hearing. Her family hopes she will return home following that hearing which will come one month after her June 24 arrest.

Share the News:
Continue Reading

EDA in Focus

Meet EDA Board members Jeff Browne and Greg Harold – into the firestorm

Published

on

Greg Harold, Jeff Browne and Roger Bianchini in the Royal Examiner's studio. Photo and Video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

In this July 18 video interview, Royal Examiner introduces two of the three newest Economic Development Authority Board of Directors members. Jeff Browne and Greg Harold were appointed by a unanimous vote of the Warren County Board of Supervisors on June 18. They were selected from an interview pool of 19, according to County staff.

They replaced two of the board’s longest-serving members, Greg Drescher and Ron Llewellyn, who jointly announced their resignations at the March 22 EDA board meeting, effective the following day.

Browne and Harold will join the EDA board’s newest member, Marjorie Martin, in their second, Martin’s first, EDA board meeting the morning of July 26.

Martin, whom Royal Examiner hopes to soon interview, was appointed Tuesday, July 16, following the unexpected resignation of EDA Board Vice-Chairman Bruce Drummond last week.

Drummond’s resignation continues turnover within the EDA board and staff as the investigation into financial fraud in EDA operations and consequent civil litigation and related criminal charges have proceeded.

Related or coincidental, that turnover includes the retirement or resignation of the entire three-person EDA staff: Marketing Director Marla Jones (retired) late 2017; Executive Director Jennifer McDonald and Administrative Assistant Michelle “Missy” Henry, resigned in December and March respectively; as well as three-decade Board Treasurer William “Billy” Biggs and long-time EDA bookkeeper Josie Rickard who both retired last October; as well as the above-mentioned Drescher, Llewellyn and now Drummond board resignations.

McDonald and Henry are the only two people thus far charged in criminal indictments related to the EDA fraud investigation. Both are currently jailed out of county, McDonald without bond on 12 felony embezzlement or fraud charges, Henry on two embezzlement counts. Henry is scheduled for a once-delayed (June 25) bond hearing tomorrow, Friday, July 19.

Why jump into the EDA firestorm now, we asked Browne and Harold to open our interview:

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Local News

Virginia State Police investigating Fauquier County crash involving train

Published

on

Virginia State Police Trooper T.D. Greene is investigating two separate crashes that occurred at a railroad crossing in the Delaplane community of Fauquier County. The crashes occurred shortly before 6 p.m. Thursday (July 18).

A Hyundai Tiburon was traveling south on Winchester Road and approaching the railroad crossing near the intersection of Rokeby Road. The crossing’s safety arm began lowering and warning lights were activated to indicate a train was coming. Witnesses say that as the Hyundai began stopping prior to the tracks, it was rear-ended by a Toyota pickup truck. The impact of the crash pushed the Hyundai across the railroad tracks to the other side, but the pickup ended up on the tracks and became disabled.

With the train approaching, the Toyota’s 58-year-old female driver and her three juvenile passengers – a 14-year-old male, 12-year-old male and 8-year-old female – safely escaped the pickup truck on the tracks. But the train was not able to avoid striking the pickup truck. When it hit the pickup, the pickup truck was shoved off the tracks and struck the 58-year-old female.

The woman was transported to Winchester Medical Center for treatment of life-threatening injuries. The children were transported to Fauquier Health Hospital to be checked out. The 8-year-old was treated for a minor injury.

The 24-year-old male driver of the Hyundai was not injured.

The train conductor was not injured. The Norfolk-Southern train remained on the tracks.

Charges are pending as the investigation remains ongoing.

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Crime/Court

Former RSW Corrections Officer arrested; held without bond

Published

on

Chasity R. Sherfey. Photo courtesy RSW Jail.

On July 9, 2019, the Warren County Sheriff’s Office was requested to respond and investigate an incident at RSW Regional Jail.

RSW Regional Jail staff reported that they received information that a former Corrections Officer at their facility, identified as Chasity R. Sherfey, may have been involved in delivering items to an inmate and having a sexual relationship with an inmate.

During the course of the investigation, interviews were conducted along with reviewing video footage and collecting other evidence.

On July 18, 2019, Chasity R. Sherfey, 39 of Stanley, was arrested and taken before a magistrate on the following charges.

  • § 18.2-474. Delivery of articles to prisoners or committed person (5 counts)
  • § 18.2-64.2. Carnal knowledge of an inmate, parolee, probationer, detainee, or pretrial or post trial offender (2 counts)

Sherfey was held without bond at RSW Regional Jail.

The investigation is ongoing and anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact Investigator Baker at (540) 635-7100 or invbaker@warrencountysheriff.org.

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Local News

Shenandoah community leaders receive Unsung Hero Award

Published

on

Seated left to right – Mercedes Abbet Martinez, Quality Assurance Manager, Shenandoah Community Health Clinic (SCHC); Clare Matthews, Behavioral Health Team Leader, SCHC; Pam Murphy, Executive Director, SCHC. Standing left to right – Dr. Mark Johnston, Superintendent, Shenandoah County Public Schools (SCPS); Erika Richman, former Assistant Principal at Ashby Lee Elementary. SCPS; Debbie Litten, Student Services Supervisor, SCPS; Richard Koontz, Jr., School Board member, SCPS; Karen Whetzel, Chairperson of the School Board, SCPS.

Woodstock, VA – The Shenandoah Community Health Clinic (Shenandoah County Free Clinic and Shenandoah Dental Clinic) and Shenandoah County Public Schools (SCPS) have received a 2019 Unsung Heroes Award from the Virginia Health Care Foundation. They were recognized for their teamwork in increasing the availability of medical, dental, and counseling services to the students and families of Shenandoah County. Implementing a satellite clinic on the Quicksburg school campus in 2017, Shenandoah South Wellness Center, the effort expanded the following year to supporting professional counselors from Shenandoah Community Health Clinic to provide services at all of the area schools.

Individual nominees from SCPS include Dr. Mark Johnston, Superintendent; Debbie Litten, Student Services Supervisor; Erika Richman, former Assistant Principal at Ashby Lee Elementary; Karen Whetzel, Chairperson of the School Board; and Richard Koontz, Jr., School Board member. Nominees from the Shenandoah Community Health Clinic include Mercedes Abbet Martinez, Quality Assurance Manager; and Clare Matthews, Behavioral Health Team Leader.

“As I hear story after story of the children being helped, I’m so grateful for this partnership that is making such a difference for these kids – and for the adults they will become.” said Pam Murphy executive director, Shenandoah Community Health Clinic.

Shenandoah County has been declared “underserved” by the federal government for dental, medical, and mental health services, meaning that there aren’t enough health providers for the population here. Programs like these are working to fill in those gaps in healthcare services for neighbors in need.

Shenandoah Community Health Clinic provides medical, dental and counseling services to families with Medicaid and other insurances. Sliding scale fees based on family income are available to residents of Shenandoah County. Please call (540) 459-1700 for questions about medical or counseling services, (540) 459-9333 for dental questions.

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Local Offers

King Cartoons

Front Royal
97°
Fair
06:0420:33 EDT
Feels like: 110°F
Wind: 4mph WSW
Humidity: 47%
Pressure: 29.85"Hg
UV index: 6
SunMonTue
min 74°F
86/65°F
75/59°F

Upcoming Events

Jul
22
Mon
10:00 am Design a chair for the SPCA CHAI... @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties
Design a chair for the SPCA CHAI... @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties
Jul 22 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Design a chair for the SPCA CHAIR-ity Brunch @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties
Calling all artists!! Design a chair for the SPCA CHAIR-ity Brunch and save homeless animals. Pick up a chair from the SPCA Thrift Shop, build a chair, up-cycle a chair, paint a chair, or upholster[...]
Jul
23
Tue
1:30 pm Botanical Drawing 1 @ Art in the Valley
Botanical Drawing 1 @ Art in the Valley
Jul 23 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Botanical Drawing 1 @ Art in the Valley
Learn and practice the art of botanical drawing in pencil with local artist and instructor Elena Maza. Tuesdays: 1:30pm – 4:00pm, July 9th – 30th. Classes will be held in our upstairs studio at 205[...]
Jul
26
Fri
6:30 pm Pour Me Another Fluid Art @ Strokes of Creativity
Pour Me Another Fluid Art @ Strokes of Creativity
Jul 26 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Pour Me Another Fluid Art @ Strokes of Creativity
Two classes in July – the 18th and 26th at 6:30pm. Pre-Registration is a must! Pour Me Another is an actual class. You will learn the ins and outs of paint pouring and go home[...]
Jul
27
Sat
10:00 am Build a Whimsical Clay House @ Explore Art & Clay
Build a Whimsical Clay House @ Explore Art & Clay
Jul 27 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Build a Whimsical Clay House @ Explore Art & Clay
In this clay workshop you will make a whimsical house, using several decorating techniques to achieve textures, that you can later highlight with color. Perfect for beginners and potters alike. Choose to make it a[...]
3:00 pm Teacher Classroom Door Hanger @ Strokes of Creativity
Teacher Classroom Door Hanger @ Strokes of Creativity
Jul 27 @ 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Teacher Classroom Door Hanger @ Strokes of Creativity
Welcome in the new school year with a Personalized Classroom Door Hanger! Make your choice of a pencil, bus, apple or cloud sign. Must preregister with deposit of $10 and the choice of shape by[...]
Jul
28
Sun
12:00 pm Crop With Us @ Strokes of Creativity
Crop With Us @ Strokes of Creativity
Jul 28 @ 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Crop With Us @ Strokes of Creativity
Come Crop With Us Sunday, July 28, 12 noon to 5:00 pm. Receive a gift for pre-registering and attending. $15 No refunds. Feel free to bring your own snacks or drinks!
Jul
29
Mon
10:00 am Design a chair for the SPCA CHAI... @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties
Design a chair for the SPCA CHAI... @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties
Jul 29 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Design a chair for the SPCA CHAIR-ity Brunch @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties
Calling all artists!! Design a chair for the SPCA CHAIR-ity Brunch and save homeless animals. Pick up a chair from the SPCA Thrift Shop, build a chair, up-cycle a chair, paint a chair, or upholster[...]
10:00 am Let’s Explore Art @ Strokes of Creativity
Let’s Explore Art @ Strokes of Creativity
Jul 29 @ 10:00 am – 12:30 pm
Let's Explore Art @ Strokes of Creativity
Monday July 29th – Wednesday July 31st – Friday August 2nd 10:00 AM -12:30 PM Ages: 6-9 $100 per student: Includes an art supply kit and snack & drink Day One: Lines, lines, they go[...]
Jul
30
Tue
1:30 pm Botanical Drawing 1 @ Art in the Valley
Botanical Drawing 1 @ Art in the Valley
Jul 30 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Botanical Drawing 1 @ Art in the Valley
Learn and practice the art of botanical drawing in pencil with local artist and instructor Elena Maza. Tuesdays: 1:30pm – 4:00pm, July 9th – 30th. Classes will be held in our upstairs studio at 205[...]
Jul
31
Wed
10:00 am Let’s Explore Art @ Strokes of Creativity
Let’s Explore Art @ Strokes of Creativity
Jul 31 @ 10:00 am – 12:30 pm
Let's Explore Art @ Strokes of Creativity
Monday July 29th – Wednesday July 31st – Friday August 2nd 10:00 AM -12:30 PM Ages: 6-9 $100 per student: Includes an art supply kit and snack & drink Day One: Lines, lines, they go[...]