Following an hour-and-a-half closed session at 10:30 a.m. Friday, March 25, the Warren County Economic Development Authority (WC EDA, EDA) convened the open portion of its monthly meeting of March. The meeting held in the caucus room of the Warren County Government Center opened with two motions out of closed session, as described in the EDA Press Release below. After brief Executive and Asset Committee reports the board moved on to “New Business” where Chairman Jeff Browne discussed a game plan moving forward on the movement of EDA properties.
Browne discussed compartmentalization of EDA properties as to relative sale-ability and state of development as a step toward marketing them for sale or disposal as possible. He noted that all EDA transfers of property would need approval by First Bank, the EDA’s lien holder. Most of the EDA’s real estate holdings were inherited from the tenure of Executive Director Jennifer McDonald and the former EDA Board in place during the evolution of the $26-million to $62-million financial scandal the EDA is still trying to recover from.
Browne noted a desire to get the County out from under the expense of supporting the EDA’s ownership of the properties, especially ones that are not currently revenue-producing. In a segue from that observation, Asset Committee Chairman Greg Harold presented a plan he has proposed to develop a 4.5-acre strip of land the EDA owns off Kendrick Lane between Monroe Avenue and the Front Royal Police Station and Massanutten Avenue.
Noting marketability issues with the parcel that is part of the Avtex property, Harold described the land’s potential development as affordable housing along with a Limited Equity Cooperative (LEC) model. Board member Marjorie “Jorie” Martin noted the parcel was designated “totally clean” by the EPA during the Superfund environmental remediation begun in the 1990s.
The Board of Directors of the Front Royal and Warren County Economic Development Authority held the monthly board meeting on March 25, 2022, in person at the Warren County Government Center.
The Board met in a closed session to discuss property and leases. Exiting the closed session, the board voted to approve an addendum to the Sysco lease for 425 Baugh Drive and an additional year for the grazing lease to Jeremy Baldwin. The Visionary Optics lease and CCAP leases are in process.
The main agenda item for the open session was a review of the EDA properties and priorities to develop or sell. Jeff Browne, Chairman, said over the next several months the Board will review properties to determine the priority of sale and how the properties should be sold. He presented several options for the Board to consider depending on the property and priority:
• One tier of properties would be in an auction “bucket “of properties. These properties would generally be smaller parcels and not in the EDA’s best interest to develop.
• The second tier are properties such as parcels in the Stephens Industrial Park and Happy Creek Technology Park where the EDA could consider bringing in a commercial broker to sell the properties to targeted industries.
• The third tier is complex properties such as the Avtex/ Royal Phoenix site where the issues are complex and with many stakeholders including the Town, County, EPA, FMC Bank, and community residents. An international commercial broker with experience with brownfields might be appropriate to help market and sell the property.
• The last tier are properties that may be suited for development as greenspace and deeded to the County.
Greg Harold presented an illustration of the type of planning EDA proposes doing. He showed the Board a LEC concept (Limited Equity Cooperatives) for possible development on Kendrick Lane. The concept plan included forty townhouses, five two-story buildings with eight units each, with joined green space. Homeownership would be through a cooperative with a goal to provide reasonably priced housing to eligible persons in the community. The Board was very interested in developing the idea further and will discuss individual properties at the next meeting.
The next EDA Board meeting is scheduled for April 22. All meetings are posted on the website. The April meeting will be held at the EDA Kendrick Lane office at 8:00 a.m.
A View from a bench on Main Street: Baseball, Fireworks, and a Car Show
On Saturday afternoon, our publisher Mike McCool, joined by C&C Frozen Treats proprietor William Huck on a bench in From of White Picket Fence on the 400 block of Main Street in Front Royal, and discussed all the events going on in Front Royal this holiday weekend. From baseball to fireworks to a car show – all happening in Front Royal.
There is a baseball game on Saturday night, the Front Royal Cardinals vs. Winchester Royals with the pre-game action starting at 6:30 pm. On Sunday, a double-header, Front Royal Cardinals vs. Harrisonburg Turks, with pre-game action at 4:00 pm. If you can’t make the games, you can watch live on the Royal Examiner.
After the game on Sunday, the Town of Front will be hosting fireworks at Bing Crosby Stadium. Don’t forget the car show, starting at noon on Sunday at Lindsay Chevrolet on South Royal Avenue.
Lots to do – enjoy the weekend with family and friends – celebrate responsibly and don’t drink and drive.
As your holiday weekend festivities begin, don’t forget to remember why the 4th is officially called Independence Day. The name observes the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, and equally celebrates our declared independence from Britain.
Earlier on Saturday, the Royal Examiner was at the Warren Heritage Society, where the Colonel James Wood II Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution read the Declaration of Independence on the porch of the Archives. Read more here.
The Declaration of Independence: What Does it Say?
On 2 July, at 11:30, the Colonel James Wood II Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution read the Declaration of Independence on the porch of the Archives at the Warren Heritage Society. The Chapter Color Guard also fired a three-volley musket salute to commemorate the signing of the document.
Participating Compatriots: Sean Carrigan, Paul Christensen, Dave Cook, Jim Cordes, Dale Corey, Chip Daniel, Jim Heflin, Marc Robinson, Bill Schwetke, Jime Simmons, Mike St Jacques, and Richard Tyler.
Visit the Warren Heritage Society at 101 Chester Street in Front Royal for more information on the Virginia signers of the Declaration of Independence.
The National Archives provided us with the following:
The Declaration of Independence was designed for multiple audiences: the King, the colonists, and the world. It was also designed to multitask. Its goals were to rally the troops, win foreign allies, and to announce the creation of a new country. The introductory sentence states the Declaration’s main purpose, to explain the colonists’ right to revolution. In other words, “to declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” Congress had to prove the legitimacy of its cause. It had just defied the most powerful nation on Earth. It needed to motivate foreign allies to join the fight.
These are the lines contemporary Americans know best: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness.” These stirring words were designed to convince Americans to put their lives on the line for the cause. Separation from the mother country threatened their sense of security, economic stability, and identity. The preamble sought to inspire and unite them through the vision of a better life.
List of Grievances
The list of 27 complaints against King George III constitute the proof of the right to rebellion. Congress cast “the causes which impel them to separation” in universal terms for an international audience. Join our fight, reads the subtext, and you join humankind’s fight against tyranny.
Resolution of Independence
The most important and dramatic statement comes near the end: “That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States.” It declares a complete break with Britain and its King and claims the powers of an independent country.
Note: The following text is a transcription of the Stone Engraving of the parchment Declaration of Independence (the document on display in the Rotunda at the National Archives Museum.) The spelling and punctuation reflects the original.
In Congress, July 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Georgia – Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton
North Carolina – William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
South Carolina – Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Massachusetts – John Hancock
Maryland – Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia – George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
Pennsylvania – Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Delaware – Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
New York – William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
New Jersey – Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
New Hampshire – Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple
Massachusetts – Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island – Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Connecticut – Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire – Matthew Thornton
VDOT: Warren County Traffic alert for July 4 – 8, 2022
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 or revised entry since last week’s report.
Mile marker 0 to 15, eastbound and westbound – Right shoulder closures for utility work from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm through July 30.
*NEW* Mile marker 7 to 15, eastbound and westbound – Overnight single lane closures for pavement marking, Tuesday and Wednesday nights from 9:00 pm to 5:00 am.
Mile marker 8 to 7, westbound – Right lane closures for utility work, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm through July 30.
Mile marker 300 to 299, northbound and southbound – Right shoulder closures for utility work, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm through July 30.
Route 55 (Strasburg Road) – Flagger traffic control for safety improvements between Shenandoah County line and Front Royal town limits, 7:00 am to 7:00 pm through July 29.
Route 55 (Strasburg Road) – Shoulder closures for utility work in the area of Route 664 (Whipporwill Road), 8:30 am to 3:30 pm through July 15.
Various roads – Flagger traffic control when needed for debris cleanup. Weekdays during daylight hours. Estimated completion July 22.
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 www.511Virginia.org.
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 my.vdot.virginia.gov. Agents are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Town man charged with 20 felony counts of child pornography possession after lengthy investigation
Following an eight-month investigation, Front Royal Police officers have arrested a town man for possession of child pornography.
Richard E. Jones, 41, of Front Royal, was arrested on Thursday, June 30, and transported to the Rappahannock Shenandoah Warren (RSW) Regional Jail, where he was charged with 20 felony counts of Possession of Child Pornography.
A Friday media release from Police Chief Kahle Magalis states that detectives, on Oct. 12, 2021, executed a search warrant on an Accomac Drive home, where “several electronic devices were located and seized for evidentiary purposes.” The release says, “Over 400 images of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) were extracted from the seized electronics.”
Jones went before the magistrate and was ordered to be held without bond. He has an initial court date for the listed offenses on July 28, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. in Warren County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.
FRPD Detective T. A. Smith is the lead investigator in the case. Anyone with further information regarding this case is asked to contact Detective Smith at (540) 636-2208 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Front Royal Police Department is an active member of the Northern Virginia/DC Metro (NOVA/DC) Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, which is coordinated by the Virginia State Police. Anyone with information regarding the solicitation or exploitation of a minor is encouraged to contact the Front Royal Police Department.
Front Royal Police investigating an unattended death in Town
The Front Royal Police Department is investigating an unattended death after responding to a Thursday night, June 30 call around 10:30 p.m.
Upon arriving at First Bank, at 1729 North Shenandoah Avenue, officers located a deceased white male, 41, in the grassy area between First Bank and United Bank parking lots. The Front Royal man, whom the FRPD has not identified, appeared to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
A media release from FRPD Chief Kahle Magalis said the victim was not affiliated with the bank and is believed to have walked there from a nearby hotel. This incident is under investigation with assistance from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
The release states, “Due to the pending nature of this ongoing investigation and respect for his family, no further details can be provided at this time.”
Anyone with information regarding this case is asked to contact Detective T. A. Smith at (540) 636-2208 or by email at email@example.com.
School Board approves reduced FY23 operating budget ‘to keep the doors open’
While the local school district’s new budget isn’t exactly what the Warren County School Board originally sought, they voted 5-0 on Wednesday, June 29 to approve it so that Warren County Public Schools (WCPS) may continue operating uninterrupted.
During the School Board’s special meeting, School Board Chair Kristen Pence, Vice-Chair Ralph Rinaldi, and members Antoinette Funk, Andrea Lo, and Melanie Salins unanimously adopted the WCPS fiscal year 2022-2023 budget, which totals roughly $69 million and includes approximately $53.2 million for its operations fund, almost $12.4 million for capital improvements, and nearly $3.4 million for the cafeteria fund.
The new operations budget is less than what the school district initially adopted and then sought approval from the Warren County Board of Supervisors (BOS) because the BOS on Tuesday, June 28 unanimously voted to temporarily fund WCPS operations at 75 percent due to fiscal concerns. So, while WCPS had requested almost $71 million for its school operating fund for FY23 — which brought its total FY23 budget request to nearly $92 million — the school division for now, agreed to adopt the total $69,007,344 budget for the upcoming school year.
That amount, said WCPS Superintendent Christopher Ballenger, is enough to allow the district to continue operations starting on July 1. “If we did not have a budget of course on Friday we would not be able to open our doors,” he told the School Board. “This at least allows our doors to stay open.”
As part of the FY23 budget, WCPS employees will receive a 5 percent salary increase, inclusive of an experience step, as well as $1,000 bonuses provided by the State of Virginia. WCPS Finance Director Robert Ballentine said employees can expect to receive those bonuses by the end of the year.
The state bonuses will be in addition to the pandemic-related bonuses for WCPS employees. Full-time employees who worked during the 2021-2022 school year — and who are returning for the upcoming school year — will receive a net bonus of $1,500; this includes recent retirees. Part-time WCPS employees during school year 2021-2022 will receive $750, while employees hired after Dec. 31, 2021, are eligible for half of the full-time and part-time bonuses.
After some back and forth during the last month between the boards, the BOS on Tuesday agreed to allow WCPS to transfer $125,000 between School Board budget categories to help cover its one-time employee bonuses, which are expected to total about $1.7 million and are majority funded by leftover funds from the last school year’s vacant positions, mid-year turnover, new employees entering on a lower pay scale, etc.
The approved FY23 WCPS operating fund also covers funding for 15.5 new positions, grounds maintenance, pupil transportation, and technology, among other items, according to the supervisor’s budget document.
The School Board and the BOS plan to continue working together to finalize the FY23 budget for WCPS. Both Pence and Ballenger told the Royal Examiner earlier this week that they remain hopeful for improved communication between their boards.
“I’m glad we now have the opportunity to talk about this budget in more detail and discuss how this will impact the school system so that a sound decision can be made concerning the division’s FY23 budget,” Ballenger wrote in an email.
“I look forward to the conversations that lie ahead between the School Board and Board of Supervisors budget subcommittee,” wrote Pence.
During the School Board’s special meeting on Wednesday, Funk said that the board’s budget committee members are discussing the budget and the options presented during the BOS meeting on Tuesday and hope to meet with BOS budget subcommittee members next week.
Lo said that School Board budget committee members also discussed how to build better communication between them and the BOS budget subcommittee members “to ensure our goals are aligned with the goals of the supervisors so that we’re working together.”
Rinaldi said there should be a timeline developed and adopted to have the FY23 budget settled. “I think that’s important to start our plan for the fall,” he added.
The School Board unanimously agreed to request that the BOS increase the WCPS technology category in the FY22 budget operating fund by $140,476. WCPS has received a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) grant to install Wi-Fi connectivity on its school buses. To spend the grant money, an additional appropriation must be received by the BOS. Ballenger said the grant money is for a Wi-Fi radio system being installed to allow direct communications between the buses and the schools. “We’re getting close to having [this system] fully implemented for this year,” he added.
In circling back, Pence said, the School Board during a previous meeting had voted to approve the purchase and the use and to date had not made this additional appropriation.
For this type of grant, WCPS Finance Director Ballentine explained that WCPS must spend the money first before getting the federal reimbursement, “which is in the pipeline right now,” he said.
Because of that, the County has already fronted, so to speak, the money to pay for it. So, this request would basically be paying back the County for those local funds that were advanced to pay for the system, and then WCPS will get reimbursed with the federal funds, said Ballentine.
In a proactive step, School Board members asked Ballentine if they should change how they make such requests of the BOS. For instance, when informed of receiving a grant, should the School Board then go to the BOS and explain that the grant is forthcoming, what will be done with the funds, and at that time make a request to increase an appropriation by that specific amount. Then the School Board would be in a position to issue a contract and accept the grant.
“The way that I look at it, that would be, in an ideal world, the best way to handle that,” Ballentine said. “It’s asking for permission rather than forgiveness.”
Following a motion by Rinaldi to request that the BOS increase the School Board’s fiscal year 2021-2022 operating fund budget category 68000 Technology by $140,476, with a second by Funk, the board voted 5-0 to approve.
Additionally, WCPS Director of Personnel Shane Goodwin (above) presented the 2022 Personnel Report to the School Board on Wednesday for approval.
“We’ve all been working hard to make sure we find the very best candidates for our students to be in our classrooms and in each one of our facilities,” Goodwin said.
Prior to the vote on the personnel report, School Board member Salins asked if board members could be present during exit interviews for outgoing WCPS staff. Goodwin said he’d like to ask Dr.
Ballenger to work with the group “and we’ll find a way to present that in a format that you’d like.”
Salins again asked: “Is there a way for us to heed the advice the [Warren County] Board of Supervisors gave us [during its June 28 meeting] and actually do physical interviews with staff that is leaving in the hopes that we can stop them from leaving and just settle any issues that they might be having?”
“The practice that is in place now goes back some time,” Goodwin answered. “I’m sure there’s an opportunity for us to adjust that as you may see fit or as needed.
“Of course, I would love the opportunity for us to retain people because we wouldn’t have to recruit,” said Goodwin. “We’d be glad to look into that as long as it fits into our policy that you all have approved. If needed, we could create a new one. We would be happy to do that together.”
Following a motion by Funk with a second by Salins, the School Board voted 5-0 to approve the 2022 Personnel Report, which included four resignations, one retirement, and 12 appointments.
To watch the meeting in its entirety, go to: https://wcps.new.swagit.com/videos/176504