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Commissioner Sherry T. Sours receives accreditation from the Commissioners of the Revenue Association of Virginia

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Commissioner Sherry T. Sours Receives Office Accreditation. Commissioner Sours and Doug Mullins, Jr. – Past President of the Commissioners of the Revenue Association

Warren County, VA – Commissioner Sherry T. Sours has recently been honored at the 100th Annual Conference of the Commissioners of the Revenue Association by becoming one of the first localities in the Commonwealth to achieve office accreditation.

Accreditation is awarded only to offices which have met the rigorous standards set forth by the Commissioners’ Association. The twelve standards set forth by the Association include education requirements for the Commissioner and staff, customer service, personnel and ethics policies as well as assessment methodology. Each office receiving accreditation has undergone an audit to ensure compliance and will be required to annually demonstrate they continue to meet these standards.

“Commissioner Sours has demonstrated a commitment to Warren County and to good governance. This is an honor that was earned through hard work and leadership. It signifies that the Warren County’s Commissioner of the Revenue office has met the highest standards of professionalism as set forth by the Commissioners of the Revenue Association of Virginia,” stated The Honorable Thomas Blackwell, President of the Association.

Blackwell further added, “The Commissioners of the Revenue Association of Virginia has always been at the forefront in seeking to improve professional skills and overall performance for the good of the Commonwealth and its localities. In this, our centennial year, commissioners from around the state have worked to attain Office Accreditation in order to ensure greater accountability and increased uniformity with respect to office procedures for all our taxpayers.”


About the Commissioners of the Revenue Association

The Commissioners of the Revenue Association of Virginia was formed out of the desire of Commissioners to promote a common understanding of the problems faced in the assessment of taxes and the administration of revenue laws. The Association encourages cooperation with various departments in state government that have a direct relationship to the Commissioner’s office. Various committees within the Association work to promote the education of members and to study tax issues and make constructive recommendation for changes in tax law that will benefit taxpayers and localities.

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EDA in Focus

January 10th set for decision on EDA civil defendant motions to quash

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Attorneys for multiple Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority civil litigation defendants argued for dismissal of their clients’ inclusion in that list in Warren County Circuit Court on Thursday, December 12. After hearing over 4-1/2 hours of testimony surrounding a 45-minute lunch break, Judge Bruce D. Albertson took those arguments and plaintiff counsel counter-arguments under advisement.

After an explanation to defendants present, including Donald Poe, April Petty and Jesse Poe, about the reason for the time he will take before returning to court to make a ruling on their and other defendants’ counsel arguments, Albertson set a date of January 10, at 2:30 p.m. to make his ruling.

That is the same date the judge continued a scheduled Show Cause hearing on a Civil Contempt charge against primary EDA civil and criminal defendant Jennifer McDonald earlier during the Thursday docket. McDonald’s civil contempt hearing will follow an already scheduled McDonald criminal hearing on the 1 p.m. docket on January 10.

McDonald’s criminal case attorney Peter Greenspun informed Albertson he was taking over his client’s civil case as well in the wake of the withdrawal of her former civil attorney Lee Berlik.

Greenspun told the court he needed additional time to familiarize himself with the civil aspects of McDonald’s legal situation.

A third EDA-related hearing on Thursday morning’s docket was Donald Poe counsel William Ashwell’s motion to Quash a Perjury charge regarding the Earth Right Energy principal’s testimony to the EDA Special Grand Jury. That case went forward first on what was slated to be an 8 a.m. start to Thursday’s docket, delayed by late arrivals of a court reporter and McDonald’s Northern Virginia-based attorney.

After hearing Ashwell and new Rockingham County prosecutor’s arguments, Albertson deferred a ruling on dismissal of Poe’s perjury charge to the January 22 date on which that trial is scheduled to begin.

Ashwell told the court that his client was the one defendant “not on the continuance train” with an originally slated perjury trial date of December 6 having been moved to a three-day slot in January to accommodate the recent placement of a new prosecutor’s office to handle all the EDA criminal cases. Incoming Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney John Bell has recused himself from EDA cases and current County Commonwealth Attorney Bryan Layton has withdrawn due to his pending departure from the office.

It was another long EDA day at the Warren County Courthouse – Royal Examiner File Photo/Roger Bianchini

In addition to McDonald on her case and Donald Poe, April Petty and Jesse Poe who were present with counsel Thursday, EDA civil defendants represented in Thursday’s Demurrer motions hearing were Truc “Curt” Tran and ITFederal and Poe’s Earth Right Energy Solar Panel Installation company.

The basis of those defense counsel arguments for dismissal of their clients from the civil case revolved around several points. Primary among those is the plaintiff notion of an overarching conspiracy that somehow links the various defendants to central figure and former EDA Executive Director McDonald; and that there were definable contractual breaches by those defendants making them individually liable for funds that came their way through McDonald.

Lead plaintiff attorney Cullen Seltzer argued that there did not have to have to be direct knowledge among all defendants of each interlocking conspiracy McDonald is alleged to having been a party to for that conspiracy to exist.

He used an analogy to a gang that planned to rob every Bank of America in Richmond, saying a gang member assigned to one “bank job” did not have to know the detail of every other bank robbery to be criminally liable for the entire take.

Seltzer dismissed defense arguments that “McDonald is a rouge tornado dumping all this EDA money into all these pockets” without the recipients’ knowledge that something illegal was transpiring that they were beneficiaries of.

However, Jesse Poe and April Petty’s attorney William Schmidheiser argued that such a conspiracy theory did not apply to his clients, whose alleged “unjust enrichment” did not go directly to them, but rather to real estate companies handling the closings on their homes.

Schmidheiser noted his clients’ limited incomes, telling the court the reason he represented them both was a necessity to pool their resources to finance their defenses. He called their being packaged as part of an alleged $21 million civil suit conspiracy for mortgage payoffs of $125,000 (Petty) and $280,000 (Jesse Poe) was, short of the loss of a child or a cancer diagnosis, one of the worst things that could happen to an average person.

He said that while there might be “unjust enrichment” claims the plaintiff could argue – we’ll deal with those down the road, he told the court – the circumstance of his clients’ involvement distanced them from the plaintiff EDA counsel’s conspiracy theory.

He compared his clients’ circumstance to that of the casino McDonald is alleged to have lost at least $750,000 gambling at, noting that while the casino received cash from McDonald that could have been EDA assets, the casino was not a defendant.

In arguing that Earth Right Energy’s (ERE) contracts with the EDA through its then-executive director were valid and binding, attorney Ryan Huttar told the court that at the time those contracts were enacted “Jennifer McDonald (was) the EDA”.

That was a point the EDA legal team disputed, noting that large dollar (over $10,000) transactions had to be approved by the EDA Board of Directors, which they stated, did not happen.

ITFederal attorney Brandon Elledge argued that the EDA Board did approve the $10 million dollar loan it is seeking recovery of from his client, as well as the subsequent vendor payments of $1.4 million also in dispute.

Sands Anderson plaintiff counsel countered that the loan and the vendor payments were received under false pretenses concocted by Tran and McDonald in concert.

Elledge also stressed that Tran remains current on his loan payments, and that no proof had been offered that his client personally benefited from the payments, rather than professionally as intended. Oddly however, the Deed of Trust on the property was amended so that Tran only has to spend $2 million of the $10 million loan on the Front Royal property.

In setting the January 10 date for a decision on the motions to dismiss the defendants from the civil suit, Judge Albertson compared himself to a student.

“The attorneys teach us their view of what the law is” related to their cases “and it will take several weeks to fact check their arguments – I will treat this seriously, please be patient,” he asked the defendants present.

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Crime/Court

Clear Brook woman charged in South Royal Avenue traffic incident

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A 44-year-old Frederick County woman has been charged regarding a Monday evening traffic incident on South Royal Avenue in Front Royal. According to the RSW Jail website, Susan Miller Harbaugh, from Clear Brook, Virginia, was booked on two charges, Driving While Intoxicated and Vandalism, Intentional Destruction of Property (monument).

Harbaugh was booked into the jail at 12:29 a.m. Tuesday morning, December 10, and released at 5:28 p.m. that afternoon.

Susan Miller Harbaugh at time of processing into RSW Jail – Photo RSW Jail website

According to Front Royal Police Sgt. Jason Winner, “On December 9, 2019, at approximately 9:50 p.m. FRPD officers were dispatched to the area of the 200 block of South Royal Avenue for a report of an accident. While responding to the area, officers were informed that a vehicle had left the scene of that accident and was traveling North on Royal Avenue.

“Officers located the vehicle that left the accident and conducted a traffic stop. It was determined during the accident investigation that the vehicle had struck a light pole on the side of the road.

That pole was knocked down into the roadway and was struck by another vehicle.”

Harbaugh was apprehended on North Royal Avenue.

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Crime/Court

Front Royal man arrested after reported shooting in the 200 block of Cloud Street

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George Lee Good. Booking photo, courtesy of Front Royal Police Department.

On November 27, 2019, at approximately 11:55 pm, the Front Royal Police Department responded to a report of a shooting in the 200 block of Cloud Street. When Officers arrived on scene, they encountered a male subject with non-life-threatening injuries, including a gunshot wound to his inner thigh.

Based on investigative findings, a suspect was identified as George Lee Good, 28, of Front Royal. Warrants were obtained on Good for 18.2-51 Maliciously Shoot or Wound; 18.2-53.1 Use of a Firearm in the commission of a felony; and 18.2-308.2 Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Other charges may be forthcoming regarding other involved individuals.

George Good was taken into custody without incident by Winchester Police Department during a DUI checkpoint. Good is currently at Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center where he is being held without bond. This investigation is on-going and anyone with further information is asked to contact Detective D. L. Fogle at (540)636-2208 or via email dfogle@frontroyalva.com.

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Local News

Three hospitalized after Saturday night Route 55 East head-on collision

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A 20-year-old Front Royal woman has been charged with reckless driving in connection with a three-car accident at 10:53 p.m. Saturday evening, December 7, off John Marshall Highway near Linden. According to a Virginia State Police Press Release issued Tuesday afternoon, December 10, a head-on collision between two of the involved vehicles sent the three occupants of those cars to Winchester Medical Center with serious injuries.

The driver of the third vehicle, which was being passed westbound on Route 55/John Marshall Highway 100 feet west of Route 651 (Gore Road), was uninjured.

Virginia State Police Trooper D. Ayers is investigating the accident. That investigation is ongoing.

According to VSP, “A 2014 Chevy Cruze was traveling west on Rt. 55 when it crossed a double solid yellow line and attempted to pass a westbound 2006 Nissan Murano. The Chevy attempted to avoid an approaching eastbound 2006 Hyundai Sonata and collided with the Nissan. That impact caused the Chevy and Hyundai to collide head-on.”

Above, White’s Chevy Cruze, and below the Hyundai Sonata following Saturday night’s head on collision that seriously injured all three occupants who were, fortunately wearing seatbelts. The driver of a third vehicle the Chevy was attempting to pass and struck trying to avoid a head-on was uninjured.

The driver of the Chevy, Brittney N. White, 20, of Front Royal, Va. was charged with reckless driving (46.2-854) passing at a hillcrest. White, along with a 19-year-old female passenger in her car, were two of those transported to Winchester Medical Center for treatment of serious injuries. Both were wearing seat belts.

The driver of the eastbound Hyundai, a 17-year-old female of Front Royal, was also reported to be wearing a seatbelt and was also transported to Winchester Medical Center with serious injuries.

The driver of the Nissan that White was attempting to pass, a 58-year-old male, of Stanley, Va. was uninjured and was also wearing a seat-belt.

The crash remains under investigation.

The Virginia State Police were assisted by the Warren Sheriff’s Office, and Warren County Fire and Rescue.

According to a Warren County Fire and Rescue post on the incident one of the occupants of the head-on collision vehicles had to be cut out by responding units, a process that took 10 minutes. The other injured and uninjured parties were able to self-extricate from the vehicles. Of the incident Warren County Emergency Services wrote:

“Just before 11:00 p.m. on Saturday night, WCFR units were dispatched for a reported motor vehicle traffic crash in the area of John Marshal Highway and Faith Way.

“An EMS unit from Linden Station 4 quickly arrived on the scene to find two vehicles with major damage from what appeared to be a head-on type collision. It was determined that a total of three vehicles were involved in the crash which contained a total of four possible patients. Three patients were able to self-rescue from their vehicles, a fourth was trapped as a result of the crash.

“Crews began to treat the injured victims while firefighters worked to extricate the trapped driver. It took approximately 10 minutes to extricate the trapped patient.

“Three total patients were ground transported to Winchester Trauma Center, the fourth refused any treatment on the scene.

“Crews were assisted on the scene by Warren County Sheriff’s Office and the Virginia State Police.

“Units on the call: Ambulance 4, Medic 1, Medic 10, Rescue Squad 1”

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Local News

Winter is coming and VDOT is ready

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While most in Virginia were enjoying extended summer weather, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has been making plans for snow. Staffing, equipment and materials are in place and ready to go once winter makes an entrance.

Snow by the numbers“Our top priority is to keep motorists safe,” said VDOT Chief of Maintenance and Operations Kevin Gregg. “The Commonwealth has a complex network of roads and bridges, and we prepare year-round to keep Virginia moving when winter weather arrives. Our crews are trained, experienced and equipped to get the job done when those first flakes fall.”

Readiness Resources On-Deck for Winter:

$205 million set aside for winter weather
More than 2,500 VDOT crew members and additional contractors available for snow removal statewide
More than 12,100 pieces of snow-removal equipment, including trucks, loaders and motor graders
Nearly 700,000 tons of salt, sand and treated abrasives and more than 2.4 million gallons of liquid calcium chloride and salt brine
VDOT Plows: Online Snowplow Tracker

Across the state, if snow reaches two inches or more, VDOT activates an online snowplow tracking map. VDOT trucks are equipped with automatic vehicle location technology and can be monitored on the tracker during snow-removal operations.

When Snowflakes Fall: Be Prepared

During winter, it is important to regularly monitor weather forecasts and have a winter weather driving plan ahead of time. When inclement weather arrives, motorists are encouraged to visit 511virginia.org or call 511 for up-to-date information on road and traffic conditions before travel.

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Jenspiration

Rotary connects our kids: Letters to soldiers for Christmas and a talk with the police chief

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Over the weekend, young people from Front Royal Interact/Early Act Clubs came together to write letters to soldiers who had just completed boot camp, and will be spending the holidays away from families. Many thanks to the Rotary Clubs of Warren County and Front Royal, and our good friends at Royal Family Bowling Center for a fun “HyperBowling” and pizza fest. Special thanks to Front Royal Chief of Police, Skyline Middle Interact Liaison and Warren County Rotarian, Kahle Magalis, for speaking with our young people about growing up in Warren County, and what being a leader in this community truly means (leading by example).

If you are interested in your child being part of this wonderful Service Above Self organization, please speak with the Principal at your child’s school or call/text Michael Williams at 540-336-3127.





To view the full photo album, click here.

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King Cartoons

‘Tis the Season

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Front Royal
33°
Rain
07:2216:51 EST
Feels like: 33°F
Wind: 0mph SSE
Humidity: 75%
Pressure: 30.36"Hg
UV index: 0
FriSatSun
38/36°F
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Upcoming Events

Dec
13
Fri
6:00 pm Holiday Open House @ Ruby Yoga
Holiday Open House @ Ruby Yoga
Dec 13 @ 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Holiday Open House @ Ruby Yoga
Ruby Yoga will host a Holiday Open House Friday, Dec. 13. Doors open at 6 p.m. with free gentle yoga starting at 6:20, followed by refreshments and door prize drawings.
7:30 pm Canticum Novum: Sing a New Song @ Front Royal Presbyterian Church
Canticum Novum: Sing a New Song @ Front Royal Presbyterian Church
Dec 13 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Canticum Novum: Sing a New Song @ Front Royal Presbyterian Church
The Blue Ridge Singers presents its 2019 Christmas concert titled “Canticum Novum:  Sing a New Song” featuring some of the finest Christmas choral music across the centuries at one of the most popular events in[...]
Dec
14
Sat
11:00 am Celebrate George Washington @ Samuels Public Library
Celebrate George Washington @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 14 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Celebrate George Washington @ Samuels Public Library
December 14 is the 220th anniversary of George Washington’s death. Today we will learn more about this great leader of our country and celebrate his legacy. Refreshments will be served. For ages 7 to 18.[...]
11:00 am Saturday with Santa @ Warren County Community Center
Saturday with Santa @ Warren County Community Center
Dec 14 @ 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
Saturday with Santa @ Warren County Community Center
Bring the kids and your camera for yummy snacks, crafts, and a picture with Santa and Mrs. Claus! All are welcome!
1:00 pm “Clara, Little Mouse & the Golde... @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
“Clara, Little Mouse & the Golde... @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Dec 14 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
"Clara, Little Mouse & the Golden Key" @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Join us for this original version of the timeless story ballet The Nutcracker Suite. Follow Clara and Little Mouse on a journey to find what the Golden Key unlocks… Christmas will never be the same[...]
Dec
15
Sun
4:00 pm R-MA Hosts Community Christmas C... @ Randolph-Macon Academy | Boggs Chapel
R-MA Hosts Community Christmas C... @ Randolph-Macon Academy | Boggs Chapel
Dec 15 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
R-MA Hosts Community Christmas Concert @ Randolph-Macon Academy | Boggs Chapel
The local community is invited to join the Randolph-Macon Academy family for an afternoon of holiday spirit with the R-MA Band and Chorus! The annual R-MA Christmas Concert will be held on Sunday, December 15th,[...]
Dec
17
Tue
4:30 pm Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 17 @ 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Tuesday, December 3: Kids will explore popular books and book series through science, games, food, and more! After reading a Christmas story, we’ll discuss giving and how it affects us and the people around us.[...]
7:30 pm Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA Campus
Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA Campus
Dec 17 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA Campus
Christmas Concert | Presented by the American Legion Community Band Tuesday, December 17, 2019, at 7:30 pm Boggs Chapel on the R-MA campus in Front Royal, VA
Dec
18
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 18 @ 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, December 4 and Thursday, December 5: Gingerbread and Candy Canes will be the delicious theme of our stories, songs, and craft this week! Siblings welcome.[...]
Dec
19
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 19 @ 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, December 4 and Thursday, December 5: Gingerbread and Candy Canes will be the delicious theme of our stories, songs, and craft this week! Siblings welcome.[...]