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EDA Executive Committee discusses operational adjustments, coming officer elections and future meeting structure

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During the open session of an Executive Committee meeting of the Warren County Economic Development Authority (EDA), Friday, June 4, several logistical matters moving forward were discussed. Among those were a tightening of the EDA’s committee structure to make it more cohesive; the coming election of EDA board officers; and a move back to in-person meetings when State and County emergency directives related to the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus pandemic are lifted.

On that last matter, as the meeting agenda was being adopted, Jorie Martin suggested adding “personnel contacts with the attorney present”. Perhaps offering a clue on that emerging issue, Tom Pattison commented, “I was going to add that after the morning email I got.”

EDA Board and Executive Committee Chairman Jeff Browne told the four members present the prospective move back to in-person meetings is complicated by the fact one EDA board member is now refusing to be vaccinated or continue to wear a mask in public, while two other board members have high-susceptibility issues either personally or professionally. Since no explanation of the refusal stance was offered during the ensuing discussion, one might guess that the member at issue was not among those present for Friday’s committee meeting. Present in addition to Browne were Jorie Martin, Greg Harold, and Tom Pattison, along with the staff. In the wake of recent County Board appointments to fill EDA Board vacancies, the remaining members of the now-full-compliment EDA board are Jim Wolfe, and new members Scott Jenkins and Robert Hencken. Jenkins and his wife run a B&B near the Appalachian Trail, and our information is that Hencken is in cyber-security work.

Executive Committee and Board Chairman Browne’s bandwidth was low, sometimes distorting his audio transmission at Friday’s ZOOM meeting. However, the discussion indicated it may be an unidentified other board members whose ‘bandwidth’ may be low on receiving recommended continued Coronavirus masking precautions for unvaccinated citizens. Royal Examiner Photos by Roger Bianchini


As noted in a recent Royal Examiner article on updated info on new State and CDC pandemic response guidelines, the relaxed masking, and social distancing standards are primarily aimed at fully vaccinated people, while those unvaccinated are recommended to continue to mask, maintain 6-feet of public social distancing and continue to wash hands regularly. The EDA office meeting room does not lend itself too much social distancing. So, other larger potential meeting spaces, as well as the use of isolating plastic barriers were discussed.

With Board officer elections approaching, Browne noted his position as the “Interim Board Chairman” in the wake of Ed Daley’s departure to the “Interim County Administrator’s” job. Both Daley and Browne’s positions have since had the interim removed. Should his interim appointment and subsequent service filling out a portion of the final year of Daley’s chairmanship term impact his ability to serve a full, two-year term were he to be renominated to the chairman’s seat, he asked his Executive Committee colleagues.

Martin said she believed he should be eligible for a full two-year term, should that be the board’s intent with the experience he has developed in Daley’s place. Pattison and Harold concurred with Martin on the matter.

A consensus of board members present agreed with Jorie Martin’s assessment that Jeff Browne’s appointment to fill out Ed Daley’s EDA board chairmanship should not disqualify him from a full two-year term if a board majority seeks it.

Browne also suggested that all four officers – chair, vice-chair, secretary, and treasurer – be nominated at the same time so that a full slate of candidates could be presented at the regular June EDA Board meeting later in the month. Martin suggested polling of the full board to see which members were willing to take on the added responsibility of officer’s duties. Browne said he would have staff send a description of the various officer duties out to all members.

As to structure, Browne opened discussion on a reduction or consolidation of existing committees to tighten up operations. It was observed that the number of committees, especially as to Finance and Assets, was implemented as an additional move to transparency in the wake of the financial scandal under the previous executive director and board’s leadership. Maintaining that transparency while maximizing efficient operations seemed to be the consensus of a path forward.

It was suggested other committees with more peripheral duties, like Communications, might be combined under an Ad Hoc Committee with sub-committees created as necessary. EDA Attorney Sharon Pandak noted that some committee adjustments might need to coincide with a tweaking of the EDA’s bylaws, as they may apply to the creation or function of individual committees.

“We don’t want to diminish transparency, but not have so many groupings we’re not focusing on issues efficiently,” Browne told the Executive Committee. Work toward a viable and functional end result was committed to, as Chairman Browne noted final decisions weren’t yet necessary at the committee level.

The discussion then shifted to assuring the EDA has a bidding system in place on its properties being marketed so that no interested party is excluded from equal representation in the process. Browne pointed to what he called the “good work you’ve already done” in that regard to Asset Committee Chairman Harold. Harold thanked the committee chair for raising the issue as an ongoing matter of scrutiny on processes.

Martin added that a policy should be formulated as to how EDA Board members respond if approached individually about inquiries into a sale or rental properties.

After 45 minutes, at 9:45 a.m. the Executive Committee went into a closed session on two topics: “Avtex Redevelopment” and legal matters related to the dueling litigation between the EDA and Town of Front Royal, as well as other matters involving the town government. As it was a committee, rather than a full board meeting, no announcements or motions came out of the closed session when it adjourned at 11:01 a.m. and the open meeting was quickly adjourned as well.

The EDA hopes the entrance road to the former Avtex site, now the home to the approximate 150-acre Royal Phoenix Business Park property will soon cease to be a road to nowhere. Perhaps the Closed Session topic of ‘Avtex Redevelopment’ is a hopeful sign of some rejuvenated marketing potential there.

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EDA in Focus

Warren County EDA reaches bank agreement on McDonald parcel, moves C-CAP rental forward among other actions in final meeting of 2021

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The Board of Directors of the Front Royal and Warren County Economic Development Authority (EDA) held the combined November and December meeting via Zoom. All Board members attended the meeting.

The Board adopted two resolutions. One resolution to approve C-CAP using Suite C located at the EDA office building to store food for distribution. The use of Suite C is at no cost to the organization while it transitions to a lease in Suite B and C-CAP will provide evidence of an insurance policy to cover the use of Suite C. The EDA and C-CAP will negotiate the terms of a lease on Suite B and possibly Suite C at the Kendrick office location at an agreed rental rate.

The second resolution authorizes the EDA Chair and Treasurer to finalize details of an agreement with Atlantic Union Bank where it gives up its claim in the Jennifer McDonald bankruptcy and the EDA will release its claim on the property formerly owned by “Little Rugratz” on Virginia Avenue. The existing bank loan is more than the value of the property and the release of the EDA claim allows the bank to sell the property. In return, by the bank releasing its claim in the bankruptcy, the EDA can recover a higher percentage of the recovery from the McDonald bankruptcy and save money in attorneys’ fees.

The Board is working with Public Works to address the maintenance issues at the Kendrick Lane building including HVAC repairs and installation of water shut-off valves.


The EDA and County are working on soliciting bids for appraising all the EDA properties. The first priority is the Baugh Drive building.

Chair Jeff Browne updated the board on Nature’s Touch and the VDOT grant. Scott Jenkins stated all the marketing material for the Commonwealth is updated and was approved by VEDP (Virginia Economic Development Partnership).

Greg Harold presented the final draft of three Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) that will be used as guides for EDA and prospective purchasers of EDA property. He stated the documents were not “static”, but are “living” documents that will be modified as needed. The three SOPs approved are Letters of Intent, Contract Management, and Property Disposition Due Diligence. The documents will be posted on the website by December 15.

The EDA and Warren County are working on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to govern the transition of EDA’s staff moving to the County payroll and EDA’s role in future economic development in the county. One change beginning immediately is the County will permanently take over receiving and coding EDA bills prior to the EDA Chair and Treasurer approving the expenses.

The EDA Board approved the meeting schedule for 2022 and future meetings will be in person. The next EDA meeting will be on Friday, January 14th at 9 a.m. The location will be posted on the website as well as the remaining dates for 2022.

(From an EDA Press Release of December 5th)

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’Tis the Season

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The town Christmas Tree and decorated light poles in Front Royal’s Gazebo-anchored Village Commons area before and after additional holiday season lights were placed on surrounding trees by the Public Works crew on Friday, Dec. 3, just prior to the Christmas Parade the following day. Photos by Roger Bianchini

One seasonal float appears to be taking an early dry run as the crowd gathered throughout the late morning and afternoon awaiting the parade’s scheduled 4 p.m. start.

Santa greets and is hugged by happy children in front of Front Royal’s Virginia Beer Museum.

Town Manager Steven Hicks and his dog Charlie are greeted by a Beer Museum elf in the person of Museum proprietor David Downes


The holiday spirit was building throughout the day at the center of Front Royal’s Historic Downtown Business District.



 

WATCH: Christmas Parade 2021

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WATCH: Christmas Parade 2021

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If you missed the Christmas Parade or want to see it again, sit back and enjoy!

This year the Front Royal/Warren County Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade was hosted by Mike McCool, Publisher of the Royal Examiner. Thanks to Connor Clark for operating the video camera and the parade sponsor Lindsay Chevrolet.

Winners in this year’s parade are:

Best in Show – Edward Jones


Walking Group – Warren County High School Band

Best Large Float – White Horse Car Wash

Best Small Float – Samuels Public Library

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Explore Art & Clay opens on Main Street Front Royal

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Explore Art & Clay has opened a gallery at 501 East Main Street in Front Royal. The Gallery features locally handmade pottery, ornaments, mugs, glasswork, plates, paintings, cards, ink work and so much more. Local potters, artists, photographers, and makers work added every day.  Love Front Royal? Love Virginia? This is the shop for you!

Visit their website for more information or Facebook page.

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Student at E. Wilson Morrison Elementary School EarlyAct Club collecting canned goods for Salvation Army

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For the month of December, the EarlyAct students at E. Wilson Morrison Elementary School (EWM) are collecting canned foods (soups, canned meats, etc) for the Salvation Army.


If you have canned foods you would like to donate, please stop by our main office at EWM, and drop off your donations. For any questions, ask for Student Support Coach, and Early Act Faculty Advisor, Michael Williams.

The Early Act Club at E. Wilson Morrison Elementary School is sponsored by The Rotary Club of Warren County. For more information on Rotary and/or InterAct/EarlyAct programs, please e-mail Michael at mdub0308@gmail.com or visit www.rotary.org

Town Talk: A conversation with Michael Williams – RYLA, EarlyAct/InterAct Club

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Update: ‘Tis the Season for Kindness

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(Editor’s note: This story has been updated with photos taken during Shae’s trip to Ecko Studio in Memphis, TN.)


A local singer/songwriter has a message for the world in his debut release starting with the opening lyrics, “Put the kind back in humankind”. “SAVE THE HUMANS TOO” was written by local musician and businessman Shae Parker and recorded in Memphis, TN earlier this year. Parker, who has been playing music semi-professionally for the past three decades is no stranger to helping convey messages. The sign maker and owner of Hanna Sign Company also spent years as a radio broadcaster and as a Front Royal Town Councilman and Vice Mayor.

“I’ve always written songs”, says Parker. “In retrospect, I’ve always helped to convey messages. Whether it was a commercial on the radio, a sign for someone’s business, or as a public servant I’ve always tried to help others convey their message.”

Like many during the pandemic, Parker says he did some soul searching and decided he needed to put his own message out in song. After combing through years of writings and narrowing down a list of about two dozen, he formulated a plan to record as many songs as possible. Shae says he reached out to a childhood friend and fellow former disc jockey, Till Palmer who is the Chief Engineer at Ecko Records in Memphis for help.


Inside Ecko Studio; below, Recording Engineer Till Palmer behind the glass with drum reflection

“Initially the plan was to take the band with me (River Driven Band), but schedules didn’t align and I realized I either needed to reschedule or refocus on a solo project”, said Parker. “A big part of my pandemic soul searching revolved around doing this before I turned 50, so I headed to Memphis for a solo project”.

Fourteen songs were recorded in Memphis over three days according to Parker, with twelve of those planned for release. Most of the overdubs were handled by Shae before leaving, but he says over the coming months the remaining overdubs will be completed by him and his bandmates from the River Driven Band before being sent back to Palmer for mastering. The other two tracks, “SAVE THE HUMANS TOO” and “SHE LOVES ME, BUT” were independently released in November by Parker on most digital streaming platforms.

“SAVE THE HUMANS TOO” has a message that I felt all humans needed to hear”, explains Parker. “It’s about kindness and how easy it is to just be kind, that’s why I had to put it out first”.

Shae says that independently releasing his music has its own challenges. He says it has been a learning curve from researching and finding a digital distributor to upload the songs to Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube Music among others, to registering songwriting credits with BMI and SESAC.

“There is a reason it’s called the Music Business”, quips Parker. “What is an ISRC number or a DDP? Things like that I didn’t have a clue about as a performer, but Till being in the industry gave me a lot of insight of what needed to be done to make this a reality.”

Shae recording with Till’s grandfather’s 1956 Gibson.

While Parker maintains the music is the best thing to come out of the experience, he is quick to point out the joy of working with a lifelong friend and using a vintage Gibson Les Paul Junior on some tracks that were bought new by Palmer’s grandfather, Ralph Palmer in 1956. He also finds irony in his and Palmer’s past on radio given that a fellow DJ, Rick Dee’s recorded his number one hit “DISCO DUCK” in the same studio in the 1970s. Parker also recounts that his nickname at 4H camp growing up (where he and Palmer first met) was Duckie. Irony indeed, however despite a good beat you can dance to any other similarities in the compositions end there as Parker’s message of kindness prevails.

The Daily Planet/Shoe Productions studio was built by STAX Records founder Jim Stewart and Bobby Manuel (Booker T & the MG’s) shortly after the shuttering of STAX in 1975. In 1995 John Ward bought the studio and changed the name to Ecko Studios/Records, an American Blues and Soul Blues label that has released albums by Rufus Thomas, Ollie Nightingale, Bill Coday, Barbara Carr, and others.

Mural on outside of Ecko Studios

Shae Parker’s first two releases “SAVE THE HUMANS TOO” and “SHE LOVES ME, BUT” are available on all streaming platforms or wherever you listen to music. Links to the songs and information on booking can be found on his website at www.SongsByShae.com.

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Thank You to our Local Business Participants:

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Apple Dumpling Learning Center

Apple House

Auto Care Clinic

Blue Ridge Arts Council

Blue Ridge Education

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C&C's Ice Cream Shop

Code Ninjas Front Royal

Cool Techs Heating and Air

Downtown Market

Dusty's Country Store

Edward Jones-Bret Hrbek

Family Preservation Services

Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce

Groups Recover Together

I Want Candy

I'm Just Me Movement

Jen Avery, REALTOR & Jenspiration, LLC

Main Street Travel

Marlow Automotive Group

Mary Carnahan Graphic Design

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National Media Services

Northwestern Community Services Board

Phoenix Project

Reaching Out Now

Royal Blends Nutrition

Royal Examiner

Royal Oak Bookshop

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Salvation Army

SaVida Health

Skyline Insurance

Studio Verde

The Studio-A Place for Learning

The Valley Today - The River 95.3

Warren Charge (Bennett's Chapel, Limeton, Asbury)

Warren County Department of Social Services

Warrior Psychotherapy Services, PLLC

What Matters & Beth Medved Waller, Inc Real Estate

White Picket Fence

Woodward House on Manor Grade

King Cartoons

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Upcoming Events

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6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Dec 8 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
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Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
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7:00 pm Clara, Little Mouse, and the Gol... @ Skyline Middle School
Clara, Little Mouse, and the Gol... @ Skyline Middle School
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Clara, Little Mouse, and the Golden Key @ Skyline Middle School
Dancing By His Grace Classical Ballet Ensemble presents Clara, Little Mouse, and the Golden Key, featuring selections from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet, at the Skyline Middle School in Front Royal, Virginia. Join us for our original[...]
7:00 pm Glory Bea: A Shenandoah Christma... @ LFCC's William H. McCoy Theatre
Glory Bea: A Shenandoah Christma... @ LFCC's William H. McCoy Theatre
Dec 10 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Glory Bea: A Shenandoah Christmas Story @ LFCC's William H. McCoy Theatre
GLORY BEA: A Shenandoah Christmas Story, by Rich Follett and Larry Dahlke, set in the 1930’s in the Shenandoah Valley and the Depression has hit the valley residents. This story is being presented by Selah[...]
7:30 pm Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
Dec 10 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
Friday, December 10, 2021 7:30pm Front Royal United Methodist Church 1 West Main Street | Front Royal, VA 22630 COVID-19 Guidelines: Masks are required for attendees Sunday, December 12, 2021 4:00pm Trinity Episcopal Church 9108[...]
Dec
11
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2:00 pm Clara, Little Mouse, and the Gol... @ Skyline Middle School
Clara, Little Mouse, and the Gol... @ Skyline Middle School
Dec 11 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Clara, Little Mouse, and the Golden Key @ Skyline Middle School
Dancing By His Grace Classical Ballet Ensemble presents Clara, Little Mouse, and the Golden Key, featuring selections from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet, at the Skyline Middle School in Front Royal, Virginia. Join us for our original[...]
7:00 pm Glory Bea: A Shenandoah Christma... @ LFCC's William H. McCoy Theatre
Glory Bea: A Shenandoah Christma... @ LFCC's William H. McCoy Theatre
Dec 11 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Glory Bea: A Shenandoah Christmas Story @ LFCC's William H. McCoy Theatre
GLORY BEA: A Shenandoah Christmas Story, by Rich Follett and Larry Dahlke, set in the 1930’s in the Shenandoah Valley and the Depression has hit the valley residents. This story is being presented by Selah[...]
Dec
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2:00 pm Clara, Little Mouse, and the Gol... @ Skyline Middle School
Clara, Little Mouse, and the Gol... @ Skyline Middle School
Dec 12 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Clara, Little Mouse, and the Golden Key @ Skyline Middle School
Dancing By His Grace Classical Ballet Ensemble presents Clara, Little Mouse, and the Golden Key, featuring selections from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet, at the Skyline Middle School in Front Royal, Virginia. Join us for our original[...]
3:00 pm Glory Bea: A Shenandoah Christma... @ LFCC's William H. McCoy Theatre
Glory Bea: A Shenandoah Christma... @ LFCC's William H. McCoy Theatre
Dec 12 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Glory Bea: A Shenandoah Christmas Story @ LFCC's William H. McCoy Theatre
GLORY BEA: A Shenandoah Christmas Story, by Rich Follett and Larry Dahlke, set in the 1930’s in the Shenandoah Valley and the Depression has hit the valley residents. This story is being presented by Selah[...]
3:00 pm Valley Chorale’s Christmas Concert @ Calvary Episcopal Church
Valley Chorale’s Christmas Concert @ Calvary Episcopal Church
Dec 12 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Valley Chorale's Christmas Concert @ Calvary Episcopal Church
This year’s yuletide concert is titled THIS SHINING NIGHT.  Join us for a selection of seasonal songs — ranging in style from classical to spirituals to pop — sure to brighten your holiday and lift[...]
4:00 pm Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Trinity Episcopal Church
Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Trinity Episcopal Church
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Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Trinity Episcopal Church
Sunday, December 12, 2021 4:00pm Trinity Episcopal Church 9108 John Mosby Hwy. | Upperville, VA 20184 COVID-19 Guidelines: Masks are required for attendees