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‘Coming To The Table’ bucks a trend toward racial divide in America



As the nation marked the one-year anniversary of the fatal confrontation between racist and anti-Semitic neo-fascist demonstrators and counter-demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia, there is ongoing debate over a rising tide of open racism tied to public posturing from prominent points in the contemporary American socio-political landscape.

But away from the lead-story headlines about the potential or reality of racially-tinged violence on the national landscape, another racially-generated movement of a very different stripe is building across America.

“Taking America Beyond the Legacy of Enslavement” is the motto of a national effort to bridge the gap of racial separation in America known as “Coming to the Table”, or the acronym CTTT as referenced on the organizational website.

Currently there are 32 local affiliate groups operating in 13 states, according to Judith James.  James, along with Ira Chaleff are co-chairs of one of those “Coming to the Table” groups, the Northern Shenandoah Valley Chapter that has been meeting monthly in Front Royal since April.

Ira Chaleff, standing to right, starts a ‘Coming to the Table’ circle of introduction at the group’s second meeting here in May. Co-Chairs Chaleff and Judith James have worked successfully to improve the racial mix at subsequent meetings. Photos/Roger Bianchini

Coming 2018 meetings of “Coming to the Table” in Front Royal are slated for August 30, September 27, November 1 and November 29.  Meeting times have been pushed back to 6 p.m. to allow more time for the type of in-depth discussion and interaction they have encountered since beginning “Coming to the Table” meetings here.

We first met James and Chaleff prior to their May 2018 meeting at an appropriately-named location, the “What Matters Open Space” at 213 East Main Street.  For what could matter more than bucking a trend toward divisive political rhetoric centered on racial, ethnic and religious differences within American society?

And that is what “Coming to the Table” chapters across America aim to do – unite us through familiarity and healing.

“Coming to the Table” offers a platform for Americans to reach across the artificially-imposed social and psychological barriers of centuries, toward each other and the common humanity we all share regardless of race, faith, economic class or national heritage.

We share more than we might know across racial, ethnic and whatever other boundaries some would create to keep us from realizing our common humanity. (art Selah Bridge Project)

We asked James and Chaleff about their involvement with “Coming to the Table”.

Chaleff, coming from a Jewish background and a current member of the Unitarian Universalists of the Blue Ridge in Rappahannock, said a personal goal is to help “create bridges between Rappahannock and Warren County, especially regarding racial history, connection and healing.”  Pointing to the diverse membership of the Northern Valley Chapter, Chaleff believes “Coming to the Table” is the perfect vehicle for that mission.

In addition to his Unitarian ties, he notes membership in the Northern Shenandoah Valley group ranging from a rabbi from Winchester to several pastors from largely African-American churches in Rappahannock and Warren Counties.  We also noted secular humanists welcomed with open arms this spring.

James points to a 2014 invitation from Phoebe Kilby, whose family name is certainly familiar in Warren County’s history of racial relations, to attend a planning meeting at Eastern Mennonite University to discuss establishing a “Coming to the Table” Chapter in the Shenandoah Valley.  The Eastern Mennonite University campus in Harrisonburg is a pivotal site in the creation of “Coming to the Table”.

Judith James, black and white patterned shirt at right, leads one of the smaller target-interest groups meetings often break into.

Bridging the gap

The organization dates its inception from a meeting of two people, Will Hairston and Susan Hutchison in 2003, and a consequent retreat held in January 2006 in Harrisonburg, Virginia, on the campus of Eastern Mennonite University.  However, the connection between Hairston and Hutchison that led to the creation of “Coming to the Table” goes much deeper into the fabric of American life and history.  Both Hairston and Hutchison are descendants of prominent slave-owning families who had life-transforming experiences 23 years apart.

Those experiences, in 1980 for Hairston and 2003 for Hutchison, were attendance at family reunions. – BUT the family members these two white Americans mingled with were black, 800 strong in Will Hairston’s case when he was an 18-year-old boy accompanying his father, Waller Staples Hairston, invited as guest speaker at the black Hairston family event at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Washington, D.C.

From the CTTT website:

“Waller Hairston descended from a dynasty that, at its height, controlled nine plantations – encompassing upwards of forty farms – stretching from the tidewaters of Virginia to the backwoods of Mississippi.  Many thousands of African American people worked their lands as slaves, making them one of the richest families in the antebellum South.  It was only recently that black and white Hairstons would have gathered for such an affair.  It is a story that few from the family’s storied past would have ever believed possible.”

But possible it was – and as a consequence of that possibility realized in Washington, D.C. in 1980 by Will Hairston and his father; and again in 2003 when Susan Hutchison gathered with descendants of her grandfather to the sixth degree, Thomas Jefferson, and his black slave and mistress Sally Hemings, it is a possibility spreading into communities from coast to coast.

Susan Hutchison and Will Hairston – Photo/Coming to the Table website

The genesis of “Coming To The Table” began to crystallize after Hutchison met author Henry Wiencek at that 2003 family reunion and asked to meet others like her descended from slave owners, but also willing to cross that racial divide into a common ground.  Wieneck had authored the book “The Hairstons: An American Family in Black and White”.  Wieneck introduced Hutchison to Will Hairston, and the rest you might say is “history” – being reassembled person by willing person across America’s racial divide.

And fittingly only 70-odd miles northeast of that original 2006 Harrisonburg retreat, the Front Royal-Warren County community is one of those where people are gathering on a monthly basis under the “Coming to the Table” banner.  And under that banner you will find black, white, brown, Christian, Jew, Muslim and others trying to learn, grow and reach out across the legacy of division, fear, ignorance and stereotyping that slavery and racism have left us with.

For as some local participants noted in “Coming To The Table” meetings attended by this reporter, whether we realize it or not we are all impacted to some degree by ignorance of, assumptions about, or just unfamiliarity with people who are different from us at some basic level.

Reaching beyond that multi-layered veil to find the common denominator of our shared humanity is the bottom line of “Coming to the Table”.

In group to left, one participant in a blue T-shirt can be seen holding the talking stick passed around as members share their experiences, hopes and goals for personal and cultural progress on racial and human understanding levels.

Literature that greets participants notes: “The Northern Shenandoah Valley Chapter of Coming to the Table is a forum for racial connection, healing and action; and provides leadership, resources, and a supportive environment for dialogue.  The approach for achieving our vision and mission involves four interrelated practices:

  • Uncovering History: researching, acknowledging, and sharing personal, family and community histories of race with openness and honesty
  • Making Connections:  connecting to others within and across racial lines in order to develop and deepen relationships
  • Working Toward Healing:  exploring how we can heal together through dialogue, reunion, ritual, the arts, apology and other methods
  • Taking Action:  actively seeking to heal the wounds of racial inequality and injustice and to support racial reconciliation between individuals, within families, and in communities

“The VALUES upon which Coming to the Table operates are inclusion, respect, tolerance, honesty, truthfulness, transparency, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, love, peace, nonviolence, transformation and reconciliation.”

Building bridges & the arts

Building bridges with the arts – from the Selah Bridge Project of June 9

As for the working through “the arts” found in that third bullet above, on June 9, Front Royal’s Selah Theater – named 2017 “Non-Profit of the Year” by the Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce – hosted an event in collaboration with the United Shenandoah Valley Artists.

“The Bridge Project” featured over 120 pieces of art with the theme “Connecting across Differences”.  The art pieces were assembled into the shape of a bridge.  The event at which we saw several people we have also seen at “Coming to the Table” meetings also featured music, poetry and supplies for making more pieces to add to the bridge, as well as a reception.

Beating the drum to get the Selah Theater Bridge Project underway

Selah Theater pre-event publicity for the well-attended event noted: “The idea is to get people thinking about how they connect across differences of race, class, gender, age, religion, culture, etc. EVERYONE IS INVITED!!!!!!”

On that June day in 2018 Selah Theater and Coming to the Table seemed like a cultural marriage made in heaven.

So, if on the one hand national headlines remind us that racism and its consequences of division, ethnic and religious hatred remain a part of the American landscape, there are signs of hope.

More art from the Selah Theater ‘bridge’ to our collective interconnectivity

A rise in interest of the “Coming to the Table” mission is one of those signs.  In addition to an increase in the number of chapters in states as diverse as Virginia, New York, South Carolina, Delaware, Georgia, New Mexico, California, North Carolina, Maryland, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington state and Washington, D.C., James points to other signs of growth.

“Monthly visitors to the website has increased from 3,500 per month to an average today of more than 12,000.  Subscriptions to the monthly newsletter have grown from a few hundred to 2,300. The Facebook group has more than doubled to 4,400 members,” she says.

And there are plans for publication of two books recounting the “Coming to the Table” experience, James noted.

“In 2019, two books will be published, an anthology of stories by 2 dozen CTTT members, ‘Shared Legacies: Narratives of Race and Reconciliation by Descendants of Enslavers and the Enslaved’ by Rutgers University Press in May, and ‘The Little Book of Racial Healing: Coming to the Table for Truth-Telling, Liberation, and Transformation’ by Tom DeWolf and Jodie Geddes.”

So, if on the one hand national headlines remind us that racism and its consequences of division, ethnic and religious hatred remain a part of the American landscape and even at the forefront of contemporary political discussion, there is hope.

A rise in interest of the “Coming to the Table” mission is one of those signs.  And perhaps another is the number of white supremacist demonstrators versus counter-demonstrators that did show up in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, August 12, 2018, to revisit their relative perspectives on events a year earlier in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Organizers of the “Unite the Right” demonstration sympathetic to last year’s white nationalist Charlottesville demonstration had anticipated a turnout of about 400 according to national media reports.  What they got was reported as “about two dozen” of what was described as “thousands of demonstrators” who gathered in D.C. on Sunday, August 12.

But one small victory in numbers, and non-violence in the nation’s capital on one weekend day in the summer of 2018 does not mean victory in the ongoing battle for compassion, equality and understanding at the heart of the American soul.

“Coming to the Table” offers an ongoing and substantial effort to improve each of us as people, and collectively as a nation.  And what could matter more than that as we approach the end of the second decade of the 21st Century?

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Meet Blake Pierpoint, Owner of Blake & Company in Front Royal



On November 6, the Warren County High School DECA Chapter conducted a “Job Shadowing Day” with local businesses in Front Royal. Twenty-six students shadowed owners, managers, and employees in twelve locally owned businesses. During this week, “Global Entrepreneurship Week”, we will spotlighting some of our successful local business entrepreneurs.

Businesses participating in this job shadowing activity included:

  • Blake & Co.
  • C & C Frozen Treats
  • Down Home Comfort Bakery
  • Jack Evans Chevrolet
  • Main Street Daily Grind
  • National Media Services
  • Ramsey Hardware
  • Royal Auto Works
  • Royal Comfort Shoe Center
  • Truss’D
  • United Bank
  • White Pickett Fence

Blake Pierpoint, owner of Blake & Co., welcomed two WCHS DECA students recently during Job Shadowing Day on November 6.

Blake Pierpoint, the owner of Blake and Company, provides a multitude of hair services, spa services, and makeup sessions out of her shop at 1201 N Shenandoah Avenue, Front Royal, VA 22630. She decided to open her own business, primarily in hair, because it’s her passion, and she wanted to create a business that she could make her own. Blake chartered her own business as soon as she possibly could in 2008 when she found her dream venue; Blake admired the open space and elegant windows, which both add to the upscale ambiance. She says her mission at the outset for her business was to make sure her business was unique. What makes her business so unique is the ambiance, friendliness of her staff, and the high standards she holds for her business.

Blake attributes her success to her husband, because he’s been a big supporter throughout the whole process of creating her business. When asked what she would recommend to someone who’s starting out their own business, she says that they should make sure they have professional help from an attorney and an accountant from the start. Blake also suggests to make sure you have a business plan established from the start. If you’re interested in Blake and Company’s services, call 540-635-4033, or visit their shop Tuesday through Friday from 9am-7pm, or Saturday from 9am-5pm.

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How could one woman steal $53 million without anyone noticing?



How could one woman steal $53 million without anyone noticing? As city comptroller of Dixon, IL, Rita Crundwell stole $53 million of public funds across 20 years–making her the perpetrator of the largest case of municipal fraud in American history. She used the funds to build one of the nation’s leading quarter horse breeding empires, all while forcing staff cuts, police budget slashing, and neglect of public infrastructure. ALL THE QUEEN’S HORSES investigates her crime, her lavish lifestyle and the small town she left in her wake.

On November 24th at 2pm, at the Warren County Community Center, the Warren County Coalition will be showing the documentary ALL THE QUEEN’S HORSES, where you’ll also meet the author of this movie, Kelly Richmond Pope. This is a free event and open to the public. See the Warren County Coalition Facebook page for more information.

Kelly Richmond Pope is an Associate Professor in the School of Accountancy and MIS at DePaul University in Chicago, IL, and founder of Helios Digital Learning, Inc. She received her doctorate in accounting from Virginia Tech and she is a licensed certified public accountant. She worked in the forensic practice at KPMG, LLP on anti-money laundering engagements, insurance fraud investigations, and fraud risk management projects. Kelly is a recognized expert in the forensic accounting field and has conducted forensic accounting seminars around the world for universities, corporations and governmental entities.

Kelly is the creator and executive producer of the award winning educational white-collar crime documentary, Crossing the Line: Ordinary People Committing Extraordinary Crime. Her current documentary, All the Queen’s Horses, which chronicles the largest municipal fraud in U.S. history, will be released August 2017. She was selected by the TED Ed team to develop a teaching lesson on “How People Rationalize Fraud” which can be found on the TED Ed website. Her TEDx talk “Why We Hate Whistle-blowers” discusses the whistle-blower dilemma and the need for whistle-blowers in fraud discovery.

Watch the trailer:

All the Queen’s Horses from Gravitas Ventures on Vimeo.

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Shenandoah Valley physicians provide medical aid for people of rural Honduras



Dr. Tommy Ball cutting a ribbon to formally open a new school. Photos by Dr. Joe Schwartz.

Since 2008, Dr. Thomas Ball, M.D., (“call me Tommy”), who lives in Browntown, has worked a two-week stint in Honduras, a poverty-stricken country where health care is marginal at best for most people and non-existent for others, including children.

Sponsors of the medical visitations by American doctors include many U.S. colleges and universities beneath the umbrella of a non-profit called “Shoulder to Shoulder”, which is committed to providing quality health care in the world’s poorest countries.

Ball recently returned from this year’s visit in which he led a five-man brigade of medics, plus a Winchester school teacher, tending to scores of patients in a village called Pinares. Many locals walked several miles for medical treatment, among them children suffering from malnutrition and seeing a doctor for the first time in their lives.

Pinares is in the province of Intibuca where the volunteer medical teams numbering between six and 15 American physicians and support personnel visit three times a year. It is among the poorer areas of the Central American country sandwiched between Guatemala and Nicaragua. Wages, mostly for agricultural work, average about one dollar a day, Ball said.

The medical brigade this month included doctors Joe Schwartz of Front Royal; Tyler Felton of Strasburg; Nelson McKay of Stephens City; David Clark of Winchester, and Clark’s wife Meaghan, a Winchester school teacher. Each volunteer pays his or her own travel and other expenses, and expects to “live in the rough” during their stay.

Schwartz, on his second tour in Honduras, said he returns home with a “high degree of satisfaction” and eyes wide open to the problems of people in a “Third World” country.

“It was definitely a learning experience,” he told me in a telephone interview. Schwartz, a U.S. Navy reservist, mentioned that his early years as a Boy Scout helped him overcome living in less than modern circumstances.

Dr. Nelson McKay interviews a patient at a remote Honduran school during screening exams.

Ball told of sleeping in a one-room school house, while Schwartz was complimentary of a local lady’s skills who cooked meals for the group on a wood stove.

Virginia Commonwealth University oversees the Front Royal group’s annual visits to Honduras. Dental, community health, education and nutrition programs are included in what “Shoulder to Shoulder” accomplishes through its continuing efforts to bring medical assistance to peoples of the “Third World” over the past quarter century.

Dr. David Clark and his wife Meaghan with the grandchildren of an elderly blind woman they visited at her home.

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$20,000 donation for county animals announced at ‘Yappy Hour’



A donation of $20,000 to the Humane Society of Warren County (HSWC) was greeted by loud applause at Friday’s “Yappy Hour” at ViNoVa restaurant on Main Street, Front Royal, on November 15.

The announcement, by HSWC president Ellen Aders over a swiftly provided bullhorn, overwhelmed the collection of $220 raised at the recently re-introduced fundraiser for the Julia Wagner Animal Shelter which, in its first two months, has donated almost $1,200 to the Humane Society. The event, held every Friday evening, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., receives a share of sales toward the shelter operation as it did for two years previously at the old Vino e Formaggio restaurant, netting $12,000 for HSWC over the period.

Ophelia, a miniature pug, was rescued by the writer and his wife, Carol, from the Julia Wagner Shelter 10 years ago. Photos/April Jansen

Aders said the anonymous donation was received earlier in the day “in memory of (an animal shelter supporter) who passed recently.” She took the opportunity to encourage people to “remember the animals” as they prepare their own wills.

ViNoVa, owned and operated by Rachel Failmezger and Chef Chris Kenworthy, opened last August in the same but improved premises as the old Vino e Formaggio at 124 Main Street. It brought “tapas” to the area and deals exclusively in wines and beers from Europe and basic foodstuffs fresh from the fields of Warren County.

Diva, a Siberian Husky rescue, also owned by the writer and his wife, is a fervent watcher of television.

To the uninitiated, tapas are servings of expertly prepared foods on small plates accompanied by beverages of choice.

Malcolm Barr Sr. and Christian Failmezger organized and launched “Yappy Hour” in Front Royal. The current version of “Yappy Hour” is increasingly well supported, so a packed house of mainly animal lovers was on hand to hear last Friday’s good news.

Diva takes a nap on a forbidden couch.

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EDA in Focus

EDA authorizes litigation to recover Workforce Housing parcel or its value



Following an hour-and-a-half Closed Session Friday morning, November 15, the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority Board of Directors unanimously approved a motion to authorize litigation to sue Cornerstone, LP, LLC, its principals and affiliates to recover “EDA land improperly conveyed to Cornerstone without EDA authority or collect the full value of the conveyance and such other damages to the EDA”.

The land in question is the 3.5-acre Workforce Housing parcel sold to the Cornerstone group on November 28, 2018, at a price of $10 dollars.

After initially receiving the parcel as a $10 gift from the aunt and uncle of former EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald, local realtors Mr. and Mrs. Walter Campbell, the EDA Board agreed to purchase the property for $445,000 in April 2017 after missing a previously undisclosed developmental deadline that would have enabled the Campbells to pursue tax credit compensation for the gift of the land to a public purpose.

It is believed that Cornerstone, LP, LLC, is a branch of regional developer the Aikens Group. Aikens was cited by former EDA Executive Director McDonald as a behind-the-scenes, private sector player in the Workforce Housing financial riddle from its inception in late 2014.

The property in question lies at the end of Royal Lane, stretching to the right toward Remount Road. Royal Examiner File Photos by Roger Bianchini. Video by Mark Williams.

When contacted in April about the transaction Gray Blanton, who signed the Deed of Sale to Cornerstone for the EDA as board chairman in November 2018, told Royal Examiner he had only seen the final signature page of the four page document. Blanton seconded the motion made by Greg Harold to authorize the litigation.

Local real estate attorney Joe Silek Jr., who represented the EDA due to the recusal of then EDA Attorney Dan Whitten for a potential conflict of interest as EDA and County Attorneys, told us in April there was no price on the deed of sale when it was forwarded from the EDA to the Winchester law firm of McCarthy-Akers for completion.

Asked why the EDA would agree to take a $444,990 loss or even a $651,690 if disputed EDA developmental and peripheral purchase costs are included, Silek said, “I don’t think they did,” and referred us to attorney Doug McCarthy of the McCarthy-Akers law firm for further information.

As we first wrote in April, as of publication there has been no response to a phone-message inquiry about the transaction from the attorneys who represented the buyer in the now legally-disputed sale.

Of the transaction, the initial March 26 filing of the EDA civil suit says, “When interviewed on December 6, 2018, Defendant McDonald continued to maintain that the Aikens Group would refund the Warren EDA the full cost of the Royal Lane Property and any improvements, when she knew said property had been conveyed by the Warren EDA on November 28, 2018 to Cornerstone for consideration of $10.”

That transaction came as scrutiny of McDonald’s executive leadership of the EDA was intensifying as the Cherry Bekaert financial fraud investigation progressed. Following several hours of closed session discussion of the Cherry Bekaert findings and her job performance on December 14, 2018, McDonald had her contract, check-writing and administrative authority over EDA bank accounts stripped by the EDA board.

Facing a second closed session on the same topics a week later, McDonald submitted her resignation by email, and according to the EDA lawsuit attempted to cap her financial liability to the EDA at $2.7 million dollars.

Then EDA Board Chairman Greg Drescher and Executive Director Jennifer McDonald found themselves facing hard questions from two supervisors, Fox and Sayre, about how the Workforce Housing Project had evolved during a June 2017 joint EDA-County Board work session.

As previously reported, in initial defense motion filings McDonald’s now former civil case attorney Lee Berlik claimed his client was being vilified and scapegoated for past bad decisions of the EDA Board of Directors.

However, the EDA civil action alleges a lengthy pattern of gaps, conflicting or misinformation from McDonald to the EDA board regarding what is termed the “Royal Lane Property Embezzlements” among other allegations of financial fraud that have led, not only to civil liability claims against the former EDA chief executive, but also 32 felony financial fraud indictments from a Special Grand Jury empanelled to investigate potential illegalities tied to the EDA civil suit.

And now it seems the Aikens Group finds itself on the perimeter of that EDA civil litigation regarding what has been a twisting and often inexplicable, five-year saga surrounding the attempted transfer of the Campbells’ 3.5-acre Royal Lane parcel to a public use.

See if you can make any sense of this – on May 19, 2017, the EDA released this 383-page explanation of the Workforce Housing Project after Councilwoman Bébhinn Egger sought answers on the project’s shifting financial dynamics.

Also unanimously approved after the Closed Session, on a motion by Jorie Martin, seconded by Blanton, was authorization for Executive Director Doug Parsons to forward Adjusted Journal Entries developed by retired County Finance Director Carolyn Stimmel and Hottel & Willis’s Heather Tweedy to the Yount-Hyde-Barbour accounting firm for use in development of the EDA’s 2018 Audit Report; and on a motion by Harold, seconded by Tom Patteson, acceptance of the Commission Agreement for the sale of the EDA-owned McKay Springs property, subject to receiving the Agency Agreement within 14 days.

Open Session Business
The pending McKay Springs property transfer and a County Planning Commission Public Hearing two days earlier on Wednesday, November 13, were topics discussed During County Administrator Doug Stanley’s Report during the open portion of Friday’s meeting.

That open portion of the meeting was eventful as the full EDA Board received monthly reports and six-month Strategic Priorities Lists from the EDA’s Asset Management, Finance, Communications and Executive Committees; as well as the monthly report on County business; and Executive Director Parsons’ Strategic Priorities List.

Major topics included the status of the Afton Inn as far as the developer resuming work on site; the status of removal of the Earth Right Energy-installed solar panels on the EDA’s Kendrick Lane Office Complex to allow roof repairs to facilitate empty space rental marketing; and the status of resolving payment issues with the Town of Front Royal on the new Police Station across Kendrick Lane.

As part of the Asset Committee Report Jorie Martin told the board that there had been three replies on the solar panel RFP, with one of particular interest. That one was from a non-profit with the expertise to remove the panels, and then market them for resale at no cost to the EDA. Martin added that it was possible the EDA could even see some revenue from the arrangement.

The EDA is abandoning the idea pushed by McDonald to provide sustainable solar power to the EDA Office Complex, ostensibly as an incentive to help attract a high-end commercial client to the county, supposedly Amazon according to one former board member. Issues include a lack of individual unit metering equipment and the fact the Town has sole authority to charge for the provision of power inside the town limits.

Removal of the EDA Kendrick Ln. solar panels will not be as difficult or costly has first thought. It was discovered the panels are not bolted to the roof, and removal might even turn out to be profitable.

During discussion of the Kendrick Lane roof-solar panel situation it was noted that one positive was that the solar panels were not bolted to the roof in any way, and rather are just sitting on the roof on the panel row bases. Executive Director Parsons pointed out that it had been established that the roof damage did not come from the solar panel installation, but was a consequence of “faulty roof work ages back”.

Also during the Asset Committee Report Harold said the committee “was sad to report that the majority of current bad debt and aging receivables is owed by the Town of Front Royal for their municipal projects”. Primary among those projects is the $8 million to $11 million Town Police Station project financed through the EDA.

Interim Town Manager Matt Tederick was present and in response to a question told the EDA that “the Town is in receipt of the invoice that was most recently sent” regarding the police station and that it would be discussed at a coming council work session.

Tederick also said the Town had received an EDA FOIA request and that the Town Finance Director had scanned relevant material which should be forthcoming shortly. The Interim Town Manager said he had discussed with the Town Attorney setting up a conference call for 3 p.m. Monday to discuss Town-EDA issues.

The Town has filed civil litigation against the EDA to collect “as much as $15 million” in assets it believes were misdirected or lost by the Town during McDonald’s executive leadership of the EDA.
Talking to the press after the EDA went into Closed Session Tederick said he believed the referenced FRPD project invoice was for $8.7 million dollars, with assessed interest calculated at 3.5%, which he added, “differs from the agreed-upon terms the Town was originally offered by the EDA.”

How are we paying for this thing? – Someone may have been thinking at the Nov. 1, 2017 groundbreaking for FRPD headquarters, or not …

Tederick confirmed the Town’s perceived agreed-upon interest rate on the FRPD project involved New Market Tax Credit Program (NMTC) financing, which is believed to calculate at about 1% over the life of the bond payback.

“So it’s all coming to a head and we’re trying to figure out how to best move forward,” Tederick said. Asked if the Town and EDA were trying to make the financing dispute less adversarial, the Interim Mayor replied, “Make it less adversarial, of course. But we have to agree upon what we can agree upon. And what we can’t agree upon we have a judge to determine what the right numbers are.”

As Royal Examiner has previously reported, a council majority decided to gamble on a best case New Market Tax Credit scenario brought forward by McDonald during consideration of a bond issue on a number of Town or County Capital Improvement Projects. That NMTC Program would have offered a seven to nine-year interest free payback term over an estimated 20 or 30 year payback.

However, that gamble was made over the advice of then-Town Manager Joe Waltz, Town Finance Director B. J. Wilson and NMTC Regional Administrator People Inc. representative Brian Phipps.

Due to uncertainties with the NMTC Program’s future, as well as municipal competition for limited regional funds controlled by People Inc, Waltz, Wilson and Phipps all recommended to Council that a bank-offered, locked-in 2.65% interest rate over a 30-year payback term was the best bet because its favorable interest rate was locked in and the money was not subject to being lost in a municipal competition for funding.

People Inc. NMTC Program Administrator Brian Phipps tells Town Council that private-sector 2.65% interest locked in for 30 years sounds pretty good, without the gambling aspect of vying for the government funds involved. But a council majority decided to go the ‘casino’ option on a project that didn’t even qualify for the tax credit program.

It was also later established that the FRPD headquarters project didn’t qualify for the NMTC program because it was a capital improvement project that did not create jobs, a primary goal of that federal and state overseen program.

“Here comes the judge,” as comedian Flip Wilson used to say.

Watch the entire open session EDA Special Meeting, with the above-referenced discussions and reports, among others of high interest in the exclusive Royal Examiner video:

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VDOT: Warren County Traffic alert for November 18-22, 2019



The following is a list of highway work that may affect traffic in Warren County during the coming weeks. Scheduled work is subject to change due to inclement weather and material supplies. Motorists are advised to watch for slow-moving tractors during mowing operations. When traveling through a work zone, be alert to periodic changes in traffic patterns and lane closures.

(NEW) or (UPDATE) indicates a new entry or a revised entry since last week’s report.


*NEW* Mile marker 15 to 14, westbound – Left shoulder closures for drainage work, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

No lane closures reported.

*NEW* Route 340 (Winchester Road) – Northbound and southbound right lane closures for inspection of Crook Run bridge just north of Front Royal, Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Route 624 (Morgan Ford Road) – Closed between Route 643 (Howellsville Road) and Route 661 (Fairground Road) for roadway repairs just south of Shenandoah River bridge. Follow posted detour. Estimated completion June 2020.

Various roads – Flagger traffic control for utility tree trimming, Monday to Friday during daylight hours.

Vegetation management may take place district wide on various routes. Motorists are reminded to use extreme caution when traveling through work zones.

Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511. Traffic alerts and traveler information also are available at

The VDOT Customer Service Center can assist with reporting road hazards, asking transportation questions, or getting information related to Virginia’s roads. Call 800-FOR- ROAD (800-367-7623) or use its mobile friendly website at Agents are available 24 hours-a-day, seven days a week.

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King Cartoons

‘Tis the Season


Front Royal
Mostly Cloudy
07:0016:56 EST
Feels like: 43°F
Wind: 3mph S
Humidity: 89%
Pressure: 29.84"Hg
UV index: 2


Upcoming Events

1:30 pm Botanical Drawing II: Drawing in... @ Art in the Valley
Botanical Drawing II: Drawing in... @ Art in the Valley
Nov 19 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Botanical Drawing II: Drawing in Color @ Art in the Valley
Learn and practice the art of botanical drawing in colored pencil with local artist and instructor Elena Maza. This four week course will focus on continuing to build drawing skills as applied to botanicals: students[...]
4:30 pm Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Nov 19 @ 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Tuesday, November 5: Kids will explore popular books and book series through science, games, food, and more! Based on the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, we will do some taffy pulling and have a[...]
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Nov 20 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, November 6 and Thursday, November 7: It’s playtime! Come in for stories, songs, and a craft about our favorite toys, games, and imaginings! Siblings welcome.[...]
1:30 pm Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
Nov 20 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
This four week course with instructor, Elena Maza, will deal with the basic three-primary color palette, different pigments and how they interact, how to mix all colors from three primary colors, how to apply washes,[...]
7:00 pm Drama Performance: “Loserville” @ Melton Memorial Gymnasium | R-MA
Drama Performance: “Loserville” @ Melton Memorial Gymnasium | R-MA
Nov 20 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Drama Performance: "Loserville" @ Melton Memorial Gymnasium | R-MA
On Wednesday, November 20th, and Thursday, November 21st, Randolph-Macon Academy’s Performing Arts Department will present its 2019 fall production of Elliot Davis’ and James Bourne’s musical, Loserville. The musical, which will take place in Melton[...]
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Nov 21 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, November 6 and Thursday, November 7: It’s playtime! Come in for stories, songs, and a craft about our favorite toys, games, and imaginings! Siblings welcome.[...]
7:00 pm Drama Performance: “Loserville” @ Melton Memorial Gymnasium | R-MA
Drama Performance: “Loserville” @ Melton Memorial Gymnasium | R-MA
Nov 21 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Drama Performance: "Loserville" @ Melton Memorial Gymnasium | R-MA
On Wednesday, November 20th, and Thursday, November 21st, Randolph-Macon Academy’s Performing Arts Department will present its 2019 fall production of Elliot Davis’ and James Bourne’s musical, Loserville. The musical, which will take place in Melton[...]
9:00 am Veteran Services Visit @ Able Forces Professional Services
Veteran Services Visit @ Able Forces Professional Services
Nov 22 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Veteran Services Visit @ Able Forces Professional Services
Able Forces will once again be hosting a visit by Andre Miller, Resource Specialist, Virginia Veteran and Family Support, Department of Veteran Services, Commonwealth of Virginia this Friday 22 November from 9AM to Noon. As[...]
10:30 am Children’s Class: Drawing A Self... @ Art in the Valley
Children’s Class: Drawing A Self... @ Art in the Valley
Nov 23 @ 10:30 am – 12:30 pm
Children's Class: Drawing A Self Portrait @ Art in the Valley
In this class students will learn how to draw facial features and the proportions used for placement of features on a face.  They will complete a self portrait using graphite. Classes are designed for the[...]
2:30 pm The Princess & the “P___” @ Samuels Public Library
The Princess & the “P___” @ Samuels Public Library
Nov 23 @ 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm
The Princess & the “P___” @ Samuels Public Library
Lyla sees no purpose to princes. They’re ugly, stupid—and obnoxious! Why can’t Hagabah see that, and why must the master insist that she keep the prince around three more days? The world would be a[...]