The potential of a delay in the misdemeanor trial of Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Executive Director Jennifer McDonald for filing a false police report has been raised by the commonwealth. That delay requested on October 2 is based on the unavailability of what is described as “an important Commonwealth witness” identified as “James Michael Graham”.
Graham, who is more commonly known by his middle name, served as town manager of Front Royal from October 2006 to September 2010.
The Commonwealth’s motion for a continuance in the McDonald case cites a scheduled two-week business trip to Southeast Asia by Graham that overlaps the trial date. Contacted, Graham said only that he first found out he would be called as a witness in the case a week earlier when he was served a witness subpoena. He declined further comment.
An October 31 (Halloween) trial date has been set in the case alleging that McDonald fabricated a reported vandalism at her home on Thursday, June 15, 2017. McDonald reported the incident at 9:02 p.m. However, Front Royal Police investigators believe McDonald told an unnamed individual details of the incident several hours before it occurred.
The case was eventually turned over to the Virginia State Police who filed a misdemeanor warrant against McDonald on June 13, two days before the statute of limitations on a misdemeanor charge expired.
On June 22, the EDA Board of Directors expressed unanimous support of their executive director “through this ordeal she is going through.” A scheduled annual performance evaluation of McDonald was also scheduled for a closed session that day. While there was no public comment on the evaluation, it would appear the unanimous consensus on Vice-Chairman Bruce Drummond’s expression of support for McDonald might be a clue as to how that evaluation went.
According to a report by Royal Examiner’s Norma Jean Shaw FRPD Chief Kahle Magalis explained that when Acting Chief Bruce Hite first discussed moving a two-pronged investigation of the McDonald home incident and an earlier May 18, 2017 break-in at the EDA headquarters to the state police, they initially declined to pursue the investigation.
After becoming chief on October 1, 2017, Magalis sent the then-inactive case file to Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Brian Madden “who asked (VSP) to consider investigating the case.” That investigation was taken over by VSP Special Agent Eric Deel in March of this year, resulting in the June 13 misdemeanor warrant.
During his tenure as town manager Michael Graham worked with McDonald and the EDA in an effort to bring a 26-acre solar power field as the first commercial endeavor at the former Avtex Superfund site.
That effort fell apart among town council infighting and intrigue that eventually led to multi-million-dollar illegal interference in a business contract negotiation lawsuit being filed by the involved local solar power company SolAVerde and its principals Greg Horton and Donnie Poe against three councilmen – Tom Sayre, Chris Holloway and Carson Lauder. That trio was sued for over $6-million each. However, the case was eventually dismissed on a technical ruling that the actions of the three councilmen were protected as part of their service as elected public officials.
One of those three involved councilman, now Warren County Supervisor Tom Sayre filed a $25,000 defamation lawsuit against McDonald on September 21. Sayre alleges McDonald attempted to frame him for the rock-throwing vandalism she reported at her home in June 2017. A hearing date of November 16 has been set in that case.
Both the misdemeanor criminal case and the Sayre civil suit will be heard in Warren County General District Court.
Elks Lodge donates to FR United Methodist Church student meals program
Jim Sheppard, Exalted Ruler of Front Royal Elks Lodge # 2382, delivered a donation of $5,500 to the Front Royal United Methodist Church Backpack Program. They are currently providing weekend meal supplements to 67 children, and the number keeps rising.
Their goal is to provide some form of meals on Saturday and Sunday and any school holiday. Church members and volunteers meet each Thursday to pack the bags, consisting of breakfast, lunch, fruit and snacks. They are then delivered to seven school locations in the community.
With the rising cost of food, this should help support the Backpack Program goal of $38,190 for the 2021-2022 school year. The donated funds were provided by the Elks National Foundation thru their Spotlight and Beacon Grants.
(From a release by Elks Lodge 2382)
Mackenzie Tolliver of Front Royal named to UA Presidents List
Mackenzie Tolliver was named to The University of Alabama Presidents List for Fall Semester 2021. Mackenzie is a 2019 graduate of Skyline High School. MacKenzie’s mother Tina Tolliver is very proud of her daughter.
A total of 11,979 students enrolled during the fall 2021 term at The University of Alabama made the dean’s list with academic records of 3.5 or above (on a 4.0 scale), or the president’s list with academic records of 4.0 (all A’s).
The UA dean’s and president’s lists recognize full-time undergraduate students. The lists do not apply to graduate students or to undergraduate students who take less than a full course load.
For more information visit news.ua.edu.
LFCC students now have immediate access to free mental health support and counseling
All LFCC students are now able to get immediate help for mental health and other wellbeing needs – at absolutely no cost – through TimelyMD, the leading telehealth company specializing in higher education.
TimelyMD developed its proprietary TimelyCare technology to offer students 24/7 health and counseling resources that are as easy and convenient as making a video or phone call. Through the TimelyCare app on their phone or other device, LFCC students can now select from a wide-ranging menu of virtual care options from licensed physicians and counselors in all 50 states – at no cost to them and without the hassle of traditional insurance – including:
- On-demand mental health support (TalkNow)
- Appointment-based mental health counseling
- Psychiatric support
- Health coaching
While students can log into TimelyCare to set up a counseling appointment, students in crisis can get immediate support through TalkNow. With TalkNow, they can reach a behavioral health professional 24 hours a day to talk about any issues they may be having, such as suicidal thoughts, exam anxiety, stress and relationship issues.
The health coaching feature includes unlimited virtual sessions with a nutritionist, as well as coaching in a variety of topics, including exercise, healthy sleep habits, blood pressure issues, mindfulness, gut health, eating disorders, and more.
TimelyCare allows students to see the profiles, faces and specialty care details of a diverse range of licensed physicians and counselors available to them. They can choose to meet with a specific provider or select the first available. Typical consultations begin within 5-10 minutes – less than the amount of time it takes to walk across campus.
TimelyCare’s ease of use, convenience and immediacy make it easier than ever for LFCC students to get the help they need, when they need it. In fact, 60 percent of all students who have sought mental health support from TimelyMD said they would have done nothing if the service were not available to them.
“This is the first time LFCC has ever been able to offer mental health counseling and psychiatry to our students,” said Caroline Wood, associate vice president of student services and academic support. “We would think it’s a win if every student signed up to use it.”
If a student doesn’t feel a need for counseling, perhaps they’d enjoy participating in free yoga classes, she said.
Previously, the college would refer students seeking mental health help to the community services board serving the area where they lived. And, with the dearth of psychiatric providers in the region, students would sometimes have to wait months for an appointment, according to Wood.
Dean of Students Amber Foltz said students can access TimelyCare online or through its mobile app. She said there will be more than 250 counseling slots – in addition to the Talk Now feature – available each week to students in the Virginia Community College System.
“It’s open to all LFCC students, whether they enroll in one credit, or 18 credits,” she said.
Demand for teletherapy visits in particular skyrocketed during the pandemic, and mental health remains the top concern of college and university presidents. A recent survey found the majority of college students feel even more stress and anxiety than they did a year ago as Covid-19 continues to disrupt their plans to resume everyday activities and enjoy a more “normal” semester.
“College students said the number one thing their campuses can do to support them right now is provide more virtual services focused on their health and well-being, such as telehealth and teletherapy,” said Luke Hejl, TimelyMD CEO and co-founder. “Through TimelyCare, we are proud to deliver best-in-class virtual care to help LFCC students thrive.”
Students can sign up for the program at lfcc.edu/timelycare.
Founded in 1970, Lord Fairfax Community College is a multi-campus public institution of higher education. With four locations — Middletown, Warrenton, Luray-Page County and most recently, Vint Hill— the College serves eight localities in the Shenandoah Valley and northern Piedmont regions. The localities are the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren and the city of Winchester. LFCC offers more than 75 associate degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines, in addition to providing access to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs offered on site by a four-year institution. LFCC also serves the business community by offering workforce preparation programs for employees and employers. LFCC serves more than 9,000 unduplicated credit students and more than 11,000 individuals in professional development and business and industry courses annually.
Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC) is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Lord Fairfax Community College. Lord Fairfax Community College is an equal opportunity institution providing educational and employment opportunities, programs, services, and activities and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, age, religion, disability, national origin, marital status, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or other non-merit factors. LFCC also prohibits sexual misconduct including sexual violence or harassment.
TimelyMD is the leading telehealth provider specializing in higher education. Its mission is to improve the well-being of college students by making virtual medical and mental health care accessible anytime, anywhere. The comprehensive TimelyCare solution optimizes campus resources and supports clinical staff by delivering continuity of care to hundreds of thousands of students at more than 130 colleges and universities. Customizable by school, TimelyCare’s wide-ranging telehealth and teletherapy services – including on-demand and scheduled medical care, on-demand and scheduled mental health counseling, psychiatric support, health coaching, and faculty and staff guidance – are designed to help students thrive in all aspects of their lives. Visit timely.md for more information.
The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank promotes food finder tool amid winter weather, rising food prices
Following another weekend of winter weather, many individuals and families across the region are experiencing hunger because they could not afford to both heat their home and buy food. For those facing this tragic dilemma, the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank has an online tool for people to find food assistance in their community.
Improved and re-launched in the spring of 2021, the user-friendly and mobile-accessible Food Finder tool can be navigated in 12 different languages and displays a broad range of partner and program sites (including mobile food pantries and more). Search results can be filtered by service type, days of operation, distance and even the availability of evening hours.
Compounding the hardships stemming from winter weather, food prices also continue to rise. Food-at-home prices (e.g., groceries) were up 6.5% in December 2021 from December 2020, according to the latest Consumer Price Index. Meat, fish, poultry, and eggs rose 12.5% over the same period.
At least one in 12 people in the Blue Ridge area experiences hunger, with children and the elderly suffering the worst consequences.
“We are in the midst of the coldest part of the year, and with more winter weather on the way, many people are faced with the impossible question of, ‘Do we heat our house today or buy food?’” said Michael McKee, CEO of The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. “We understand the gravity of these situations, and we are committed to offering resources to those facing these difficult decisions. We’ve already seen the positive impact of Food Finder, and we hope more across our service area can find help through the tool should they need it.”
For those interested in utilizing Food Finder, go to: foodfinder.brafb.org for more information.
About the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank
Founded in 1981 and headquartered in Verona, Virginia, the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank is the largest organization alleviating hunger in western and central Virginia. The Food Bank serves an average of nearly 119,000 individuals each month across 25 counties and eight cities through distribution centers in Charlottesville, Lynchburg, Winchester, and Verona. Together with our network of 207 community partners and 187 program sites, we’re serving record numbers of Virginians during a prolonged pandemic and its associated economic impacts. We pledge to continue innovating and adapting to secure, store, and distribute more food to more individuals, families, children, and seniors experiencing hunger. The Food Bank is a member of Feeding America, a national food bank association that supports 200 food banks across the United States providing 6 billion meals to 42 million people through 60,000 partner pantries. For more information, visit www.brafb.org.
Blue Ridge Wildlife Center Patient of the Week: Red-shouldered Hawk
Why are hawks so often hit by vehicles?
This Red-shouldered Hawk was admitted last week due to a vehicle collision. This hawk had a guarded prognosis on intake due to the severity of head and lung trauma.
This bird improved over the first few hours with supplemental oxygen and pain medications, but was quiet for a few days after admission. Over time, this patient’s breathing improved as did the head trauma.
Now, after a week in care, this patient has been moved to an outdoor enclosure. Though able to fly, there are still some coordination and endurance issues.
We are hopeful that this hawk will recover fully and be released!
We are only a couple of weeks into January, yet we have already admitted six raptors for confirmed vehicle collisions this year.
Why does this happen so often? And how can you help?
We all know that littering is bad. But it may surprise you that biodegradable items like banana peels, apple cores, and other food waste are especially dangerous to wildlife! Often, people will toss these items out of their car window thinking they are harmless and will biodegrade quickly. In reality, the food scraps attract prey species to the roads, and then predators, like hawks, follow.
Don’t give these birds of prey more of a reason to frequent roadways. Help wildlife by disposing of your trash properly!
Looking for an easy way to help native wildlife? Become a monthly BRWC donor! For as little as $5/month, you can provide year-round, sustainable support that helps us fulfill our mission.
Summary of the Warren County EDA meeting of January 14, 2022
The Board of Directors of the Front Royal and Warren County Economic Development Authority held the first board of directors’ meeting of the New Year via Zoom. The meeting was authorized under Governor Northam’s executive mandate for the health emergency.
The Board adopted two resolutions.
The first resolution the board unanimously approved was a one-year lease with a 60-day notice clause for 1329 Happy Creek Road. The house is part of a settlement on the Jennifer MacDonald bankruptcy.
The second resolution supports Sands Anderson, EDA’s legal counsel, in the lawsuits to recover lost funds during the Jennifer MacDonald tenure as executive director. The resolution authorizes the EDA Chairperson, Jeff Browne, to direct Sands Anderson in trial strategy as necessary regarding claims and defenses based on the EDA’s strategies.
Beginning with the January 14, 2022 meeting, committee reports are in writing and submitted prior to the meeting with the board report. The committee reports along with the agendas of each meeting will be posted on the website prior to the meeting. The January committee reports are posted. The committee chairs highlighted the items in the reports and answered questions.
Board Vice-Chairman and Asset Committee Chair Greg Harold discussed the long-term need for housing in the community to support businesses brought to the county in the future. Tom Patteson presented an oral report on the staffing for the EDA. Dr. Patteson expressed disappointment that several qualified candidates interviewed but took other positions. He recommended expanding the advertising for the Executive Director position to include the IEDC, an association of professional economic developers.
Dr. Patteson resigned effective January 31, 2022, at the end of his four-year term. The board as a whole and individual board members expressed their gratitude and appreciation for all his work on the board including serving as treasurer. Dr. Patteson provided a balance to the board, attention to detail, and business acumen.
As of January 31st there will be two open positions on the board. Jeff Browne emphasized a full board is needed especially now with the board managing much of the day-to-day operations of the EDA.