213 E. Main Street | Front Royal
WHAT MATTERS will be sponsoring an American Red Cross blood drive for the community on Saturday, March 2, 2019, on Main Street in historic downtown Front Royal. Members from The Area ONE|ders, a new Rotary Club forming in the region, will be showing their support. “As a soon to be new Rotary club in the region, we are eager to begin our commitment to Rotary’s Five Avenues of Service. This WHAT MATTERS initiative is a great opportunity for our involvement in Club and Community Service,” said Doug Sexton, who will be President of the new club. The drive will be held from 9am-2pm at OPEN HOUSE, the WHAT MATTERS community meeting space. Located directly beside the Daily Grind coffee shop, OPEN HOUSE is in the Middle of Main building at 213 E. Main Street.
Blood is routinely transfused to patients with cancer and other diseases, premature babies, organ transplant recipients and trauma victims, according to the Red Cross. “The short amount of time it takes to donate can mean a lifetime to a patient with a serious medical condition. We hope that our community will join us in this remarkably easy way to truly give the gift of life this weekend,” shared Beth Medved Waller, who is President Elect of The Area ONE|ders and Founder of WHAT MATTERS.
Donors of all blood types are needed, especially those with types O negative, B negative and A negative. According to the Red Cross, type O negative is the universal blood type that can be safely transfused to anyone, and is often used to treat trauma patients.
Convenient parking can be found in Waller’s real estate office parking lot at 27 Cloud Street (located adjacent to the street directly behind the Middle of Main building) or along Main Street. For information about eligibility or to schedule an appointment, please contact the Red Cross at 1-800 RED-CROSS or visit www.redcrossblood.org. Walk-ins on the day of the event are welcome, but donors can save time by registering prior to the drive and are now able to speed up the process by filling out the health history questions online.
Town targets Special Prosecutor’s Office over EDA prosecution delays
213 E. Main Street | Front Royal
Less than a week after its September 23 press conference during which the County and EDA boards were vilified as obstructions to good-faith negotiations in resolving the year-and-a-half debt service impasse on the new town police headquarters, the Front Royal Town Council took a strategic turn in its EDA bad guys play.
In a familiarly aggressively worded resolution the Front Royal Town Council took aim at a new target; and asked past targets, the County and EDA’s, cooperation in that targeting. As reported in Royal Examiner’s lead story on the September 28 council meeting, that target is Harrisonburg-based EDA criminal case Special Prosecutor Michael Parker.
Queried on the resolution’s author, co-sponsor Lori Cockrell said she had turned the inquiry over to the interim town manager who “took it from there”. Tederick told Royal Examiner that once handed the issue by Cockrell, in the absence of town legal staff at the end of last week he had drafted the resolution which was given an eventual okay from the legal department to proceed with.
The goal of getting answers and explanations on delays to potential criminal prosecutions related to the EDA financial scandal is a desirable and understandable one. However, is the negative language peppering the resolution appearing to suggest some level of prosecutorial ineptitude tied to a political mandate to “expeditiously proceed to trial on these matters” really necessary or a desirable strategy?
From the resolution’s language it appears to have been written without Town representative discussion with the prosecutor’s office on the legal dynamics of the situation. And without fundamental information from the prosecutor’s office on its process in the EDA criminal investigation is it wise to become publicly aggressive with someone you need and want in your corner as that legal situation progresses?
Okay, it’s been a long time – a little over nine months as the resolution notes since the Harrisonburg Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office was handed the job of criminally prosecuting those believed involved in aiding in and/or benefitting from former EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald’s alleged embezzlements and misdirection of EDA assets to her own purposes.
However, Special Prosecutor and Harrisonburg Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Parker explained at the time he dropped all criminal indictments filed by the EDA Special Grand Jury under the direction of original prosecutors Brian Madden and Bryan Layton to avoid running into speedy trial issues that could have seen those charges dismissed on defense motions and never re-filed, he would do things differently than had been done previously with the EDA Special Grand Jury.
The primary difference, he explained, would be what he called a more normal process, perhaps one without political pressures for immediate legal gratification at play, where no indictments would be filed until the grand jury had completed its investigation into all potential defendants. That strategy would prevent the kind of looming speedy trial issues Parker inherited after newly elected Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney John Bell and his staff recused themselves from the EDA prosecution due to personal, social and/or professional ties to many of the defendants.
Parker also inherited a voluminous amount of evidence cited at over a million pages of documentation that even got the attention of the State Supreme Court as to filing and Discovery motions issues.
So, is the silence from the Special Prosecutor’s Office ominous as in a failure to proceed with a workable case, or perhaps “golden” in that it implies that sufficient time is being taken to assemble and coordinate evidence to facilitate successful prosecutions once the grand jury has completed its work and indictments are forthcoming?
On Monday, September 28, a five-person, partisan Republican political majority of the Front Royal Town Council, with independent and “Beer Party” endorsed Letasha Thompson dissenting, answered that question on prosecutorial silence from its perspective.
“WHEREAS, the Special Prosecutor, Michael Parker, who was designated by Marsha Garst, Harrisonburg/Rockingham County Commonwealth Attorney, to prosecute these matters, moved to dismiss all of the True Bills returned by the Special Grand Jury based upon his professed inability to provide discovery to the defendants and his lack of preparation to competently prosecute (emphasis added) the over seventy-five True Bills, previously issued against McDonald and other defendants,” paragraph four of the resolution brought to council by Council members Cockrell and Chris Holloway reads as it moves past three background introductory paragraphs to target council’s newest EDA villain for a lack of criminal results, or even at this point, action.
The resolution’s final paragraph asks last week’s EDA villains, the Warren County Board of Supervisors and Economic Development Authority Board of Directors, to join the Town in approving the resolution “on behalf of Town and County residents demanding justice on behalf of our mutual constituents”.
But will the resolution which seeks the reconvening of the EDA special grand jury within 60 days of approval of the Town Resolution work to the benefit of town residents seeking justice in the EDA situation?
Politics and the Law: Do they mix?
According to local defense attorney, Virginia Beer Museum proprietor and “Beer Party” founder David Downes, that remains to be seen. Apparently having seen the resolution text in the agenda posted on the Town’s website prior to the meeting, Downes came to Monday’s meeting with prepared remarks on the proposed resolution and its legal versus political contexts.
With the resolution’s sponsors Holloway and Cockrell seeking election this November, Holloway to mayor and Cockrell to her appointed council seat with County Republican Committee endorsements, Downes wondered at the level of partisan politicking that might be involved in the pair bringing this resolution forward at this time.
“Why are councilmen running for office the only councilmen ‘seeking justice for citizens of Front Royal as a result of the EDA scandal’,” Downes asked in opening his critique of the Cockrell-Holloway introduced, Tederick-drafted resolution.
Having noted his 33-year career as a criminal defense attorney in this community, Downes wondered at the advisability of what he saw as a mix of political posturing and critical legal analysis of complex and still pending criminal cases.
Why, he asked, hadn’t council simply resolved to ask its mayor “our Town representative to simply call” Harrisonburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Marcia Garst or her appointed EDA Special Prosecutor Parker to inform them of the Town’s concerns and desire for an explanation on causes for delays in resurrecting criminal EDA financial scandal prosecutions.
“Why wait two months,” Downes asked of the resolution referenced 60-day demand for reconvening of the EDA Special Grand Jury.
However, the attorney also wondered at the legal advisability of the Town Resolution’s demand “to expeditiously proceed to trial on these matters”.
“This is exactly the kind of resolution I would want if my client was involved in the EDA scandal,” Downes told council, explaining, “I would want the prosecutor to feel rushed and not read all one million documents – which works out to reviewing over a thousand documents per day for three solid years – because they will not be prepared for trial and double jeopardy will preclude my client’s prosecution.
“Please be careful what you wish for and end the political grandstanding a month before the election,” Downes concluded to council and the resolution’s sponsors.
Over an hour after Downes remarks as the resolution came before council as the agenda’s final open meeting item, Holloway denied a political motive.
“Earlier we were accused of political grandstanding – No, it’s called demanding justice and that’s what we’re here for, the citizens of Front Royal, not for a political party,” Holloway asserted. “Our citizens demand justice and they deserve justice and I think this is a step in the right direction,” Holloway added of a resolution seeming to suggest EDA criminal prosecutor ineptitude and perhaps unwillingness to bring charges forward in what Downes had also noted is a court system slowed considerably, particularly as to jury trials, due to COVID-19 pandemic social distancing precautions.
“Are we taking into account that the Virginia Supreme Court has stayed virtually all jury trials between … April 17, 2020, and today? … In other words, Warren County is not currently prepared to try ANY jury trials due to COVID-19,” Downes told council during his public concerns comments.
Cockrell read a prepared statement explaining her support in introducing the resolution with Holloway into the meeting record. She cited door-to-door campaigning during which “hundreds of town citizens have asked me why those who embezzled money from the EDA have not been brought to justice. It is obviously first and foremost on their minds,” Cockrell said in opening.
“This request is based upon my many conversations with citizens on their front porch, walking down the street, or just this past weekend at my class reunion. I believe the community wants us to work together to bring the criminals to justice first, and then leave for another day how any monies recovered should be distributed as a result of these crimes,” Cockrell added with a somewhat surprising turn in that the proposed resolution said nothing about ending the Town suit against the EDA.
That Town civil suit is seeking virtually all the alleged $21.3 million in misdirected or embezzled assets cited in the EDA’s initial civil filing against what has climbed to 15 defendants. A second EDA civil action added nine defendants and $4.45 million in alleged misdirected EDA assets. Cockrell cited McDonald’s recent bankruptcy filing, suggesting that criminal liability and restitution could present an alternate method of recovering McDonald assets now under bankruptcy court control.
Cockrell’s statement indicated a desire to see that justice is done on the EDA situation to the benefit and will of her constituency and seeks the resolution as a means of achieving Town-County-EDA cooperation. However, the career educator’s perspective is not a legal one from which she might have been able to answer some of her constituent questions about reasons for delays in the EDA criminal prosecutions referenced in prosecutor Parker’s initial explanation of his grand jury strategy or attorney Downes’ observations on the legal obstacle course the prosecutor is facing.
So hopefully a council majority has not jumped the gun in seeking to force prosecutorial movement as November 3rd approaches before approaching the prosecutor’s office about the status of their investigation. Perhaps someone on the County side might initiate such a conversation with the Harrisonburg prosecutor’s office prior to a decision on joining the Town in approving the resolution as currently crafted.
Watch the video in this related Town Council story:
Gleaning has Biblical origins, modern day applications
213 E. Main Street | Front Royal
“Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the Lord your God” – Leviticus 19: 9-10.
God was very concerned for all the people in Israel, but took special interest in the poor and the vanquished. In the Old Testament, He commanded that farmers were not to “gather the gleanings,” or harvest all the way to the edges of their fields, but to leave whatever they dropped for the poor and the immigrant in their midst.
Gleaning is the second harvesting of the land’s produce by the poor and those who had no land of their own. The crucial premise underlying this double command is Israel’s understanding that the land belonged to Yahweh. No one in Israel was a landowner in the modern sense. Each tribe and clan had its own “portion in Yahweh,” the piece of land that represented its share in the covenant with God. The land was Yahweh’s to distribute.
Allowing others to glean on the Israelite farmer’s property was the fruit of holiness. Landowners had an obligation to provide poor and marginalized people access to the means of production (the land, in Leviticus) and to work it themselves. In this sense, it was much more like a tax than a charitable contribution. Also unlike charity, it was not given to the poor as a transfer payment. Through gleaning, the poor earned their living the same way as the landowners did, by working the fields with their own labors. It was simply a command that everyone had a right to access the means of provision created by God.
Notice the difference from our more contemporary way of thinking. The Israelite farmer did not “allow” gleaning by the poor; Yahweh God commanded it. There is no charity involved, no hand out. The poor are not to be regarded as beggars or freeloaders. They are valid members of the covenant community, and they have as much right to glean as the farmer has to harvest the crops. I believe these commands regarding gleaning give us plenty to consider if we think about our own society’s attitudes toward ownership, consumption, acquisition, benevolence, and welfare.
Gleaning once was a common practice across Europe in the middle ages. Landowners would invite the poor onto their land to gather up whatever had been left un-harvested. In 18th century England, the sexton would often ring a church bell at 8 o’clock in the morning and again at 7 in the evening to alert needy families when they were invited to gather produce.
Fast forward to a period of austerity and increasing reliance on food banks in 21st century America. Food banks are stressed to keep up with demand. Times again are harsh for thousands of families who can’t afford a steady diet of fresh, wholesome fruits and vegetables. Yet an estimated 30 percent of all food crops go un-harvested in our nation — billions of kilograms, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). There is evidence that the market demand for perfect looking produce has resulted in fruits and vegetables with mere cosmetic blemishes rotting in fields. More produce is discarded because of harvesting schedule issues or unstable market prices. There has never been a better time to revive gleaning.
Farmers and their Local Communities Rely on Each Other
Gleaning benefits every community. People need food, particularly healthy food and farmers usually manage a surplus. Fruits and vegetables help restore health, help kids perform better in school and get people to cook it in their homes to improve their overall diets in the fight against obesity. Farmers will box up and donate food that doesn’t sell at the stand or allow gleaners to pick in the fields. Consumers want food that is without blemishes, so farmers always have products that aren’t good for sale that can be donated.
A number of farmers actually give their “first fruits” – that is, they allot a portion of their crop prior to the harvest. They feel that God has so abundantly blessed them that they want to “give back” to the community. These farmers love to share. It’s a wonderful feeling to give to people and know that they will enjoy it just as much as farmers do growing it.
Some farmers feel they have nothing to lose. The motivation has little to do with a biblical command though they are pleased that their surplus will feed the hungry. They will also pocket a tax deduction worth the value of what the farm gives away. All farmers by nature want to see the food they’re growing made accessible to everyone.
The gleaning system cited in Leviticus does place an obligation on the owners of productive assets to ensure that marginalized people have the opportunity to work for their food. No contemporary individual landowner can provide opportunities for every unemployed or under-employed worker the same as no one farmer in ancient Israel could provide gleanings for the entire district. But corporations are called out to be key players in providing opportunities for work. Perhaps we working people are also called to appreciate the service that business owners perform in their role as job-creators in their respective communities.
Gleaning Collects Food for Needy and Eliminates Food Waste
It used to be that gleaning was simply tolerated, that it was legally accepted but had some sort of indignity attached. Currently gleaning is becoming more popular because the sheer quantity of the bounty that doesn’t get consumed is incredibly immense. For farmers, it is a matter of reducing waste.
In the United States, food waste is estimated at between 30-40 percent of the food supply. This assessment, based on estimates from the USDA Economic Research Service of 31 percent food loss at the retail and consumer levels, corresponded to approximately 133 billion pounds worth of food in 2010.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2017 alone, estimated that almost 41 million tons of food waste was generated, with only 6.3 percent diverted from landfills and incinerators for composting. EPA estimates that more food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other single material in our everyday trash, constituting 22 percent of discarded municipal solid waste. Food waste includes uneaten food and food preparation scraps from residences or households, commercial establishments like restaurants, institutional sources like school cafeterias, and industrial sources like factory lunchrooms.
Local non-profit organizations in Virginia are successfully building a network that will take food which would not make it to market for a variety of reasons and distribute it to local agencies that are feeding the hungry. Supply and demand is the first rule of the deal, say farmers. And if you have more supply than you have got demand, then it’s going to go to waste.
Top 6 Reasons Why You Should Volunteer for Gleaning
- Get involved in a mission opportunity that will make a big difference in your local community without taking up a lot of your precious free time.
- Teach your children about hunger, about our blessings and the importance of becoming involved in serving others. Here in Virginia, 13 percent of children, approximately 247,000, are food insecure (No Kid Hungry Virginia, 2017).
- Establish an opportunity for your family to work together, drawing you closer and providing lots of dinner discussion opportunities.
- Provide local families (your neighborhood) in need with fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables at no cost to them. (Food pantries usually stock only non-perishable items which typically have less vitamins and antioxidants).
- In the process of serving, you will be served. Your heart will be lifted as you know you’ve made a difference in peoples’ lives in your local community.
- Salvaging unused crops prevents perfectly fine produce from getting plowed under, sent to the local dump site or allowed to perish.
Mark P. Gunderman
Stephens City, Virginia
4 tips to broaden your child’s palate
213 E. Main Street | Front Royal
If your child’s a picky eater, getting them to try new dishes can be a challenge. Here are four things you can do to gradually increase the number of foods they’ll eat.
1. Serve new foods on a regular basis
It may take several attempts before your child gets used to a new taste or texture. If they don’t enjoy a particular food you serve, incorporate the ingredient into another recipe or cook it a different way next time.
2. Don’t use food as a reward or punishment
3. Be patient and a role model
Pressuring your child to try new foods can actually make them more resistant to eating. If your child pushes their plate away, just leave it in front of them. They may be inclined to try a new dish if they see you enjoying it.
4. Introduce new foods incrementally
At every meal, include at least one healthy food that you know your child enjoys. This can help make the new ingredient more tempting or at least ensure your child eats part of their meal.
Finally, a positive dining environment can contribute to your child’s enjoyment of food. Eat your meals as a family, turn off the TV and other distractions, and take time to ask your child about their day.
Learning about common types of breast cancer
213 E. Main Street | Front Royal
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and an ideal opportunity to learn more about a disease that affects one in eight American women. In an effort to raise awareness, here is a bit of information about the two most common types of breast cancer and their main characteristics.
1. Ductal carcinoma
This type of cancer, which originates in the milk ducts of the breasts, can be divided into two categories. Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a non-invasive variety that remains within the duct tissues. Invasive (or infiltrating) ductal carcinoma is more aggressive and involves cancerous cells that have traversed the duct walls and invaded the surrounding breast tissue.
Invasive ductal carcinoma is the most common type of breast cancer, accounting for about 80 percent of all invasive cases.
2. Lobular carcinoma
This type of breast cancer develops in the lobules, which are the milk-producing glands at the end of the ducts. As with the ductal type, lobular carcinoma can be in situ or invasive. The latter is the second most common type of breast cancer, accounting for about 10 percent of all invasive cases. The non-invasive variety is sometimes referred to as lobular neoplasia because it’s not true cancer. Rather, someone with this diagnosis is simply at a higher risk of developing breast cancer due to abnormal cell growth.
For more information about the characteristics, prevention, and treatment of various types of breast cancer, visit the American Cancer Society website at cancer.org.
Senior volunteers: pillars of the community
213 E. Main Street | Front Royal
For 30 years, the United Nations has recognized October 1 as International Day of Older Persons. It’s an annual opportunity to highlight the valuable role of seniors in society. While many have retired from the workforce, they tend to dedicate more time and money to volunteer work than any other demographic. Here are some ways seniors contribute to their communities:
• As caregivers for an ailing spouse, with responsibilities ranging from managing household tasks to offering emotional support and providing medical care.
• As babysitters for their grandchildren, whose parents are productive members of the workforce.
• As organizers for events hosted by religious groups and other types of community-based organizations, which often struggle to attract younger participants.
• As donators of time and money to charities, foundations, and non-profit organizations that support members of the community.
• As mentors for the next generation, passing on family legacies, a lifetime of experience, and a career’s worth of knowledge.
• As part of a support system for other seniors, such as by planning activities at their seniors’ residence or running errands for someone with reduced mobility.
In addition to recognizing the generosity of seniors in your community, October 1 should be a time to reciprocate and thank these caring members of society. Whether it’s a phone call to an older relative, a day spent volunteering at a retirement home, or a donation to an elderly rights advocacy group, there are numerous ways to give back to the seniors in your life and community.
Council debates CARES reimbursement for Electric Department purchase as Monday’s Main Event – more EDA-related target shooting – approaches
213 E. Main Street | Front Royal
On Monday, September 28, at its second regular and third total meeting – fourth if you count the September 23 press conference announcing a pending bank deal to assume the debt service on its new, thus-far EDA and County-financed police station – the Front Royal Town Council covered a wide range of business.
Following a Boy Scout troop’s leading the Pledge of Allegiance, that business included:
- final approval of an ordinance amendment to allow ice cream trucks other than the former mayor’s grandfathered operation to use town streets to “peddle ice cream and other frozen desserts”. And speaking of ice cream trucks and frozen desserts, C&C Frozen Treats proprietor William Huck told council downtown businesses were hoping to proceed with at least a pared back, weekend walking mall Downtown Halloween this year – at least everyone will be masked;
- enactment of a $113,280 budget transfer from the General Fund to the Electric Fund to cover costs of upgrades to a “SCADA” electrical distribution monitoring system purchased in 2009 and now in severe need of updating. The appropriation will switch the provider to what was described as a more reliable company, Survelant, than the one the original system was purchased from over a decade ago. The two companies were described as the only regional provider for towns Front Royal’s size. One dissenting vote was cast on this appropriation by Councilwoman Letasha Thompson.
Thompson cited anticipated reimbursement from CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Securities) Act funds that she believes may not be a sure thing.
Interim Town Manager Matt Tederick assured council that other jurisdictions, including Warren County, were utilizing the same funding process, which he said would involve LEOS (Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act) funding to qualify for the CARES Act reimbursement of the Electric Department purchase. Council’s five-member Republican Committee majority took those assurances as adequate to approve the budget transfer.
In other business near the meeting’s outset the mayor presented “Stars of the Month/Pride of Performance” employee recognitions to Kayla Thomas and FRPD Officer Andrew Haywood for their professionalism and/or compassion in the conduct of their jobs.
Council also heard a report from Regional Director of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission Brandon Davis on the availability of “Go Virginia” economic stimulus funds that require multiple-municipality joint applications.
The meeting flirted with tediousness during a half-hour presentation by contracted Tourism Marketing company Strategic Solutions by Trisha’s team of four representatives, three of whom elaborated on what they cited as climbing numbers of social media viewers and “Likes” from their promotional work on the Town’s behalf.
An eight-item Consent Agenda of routine business was passed without discussion. And at the open meeting’s conclusion, council went into Closed Session to discuss the town manager search, EDA litigations, and a public property disposition issue.
Blame game takes a turn
But then there were the public comments – AND agenda item number 10 where council, with Thompson again dissenting, refocused its sights in the “we’re not going to try EDA-related matters in the court of public opinion” or “point the finger at everyone but ourselves regarding lapses of due diligence that allowed the EDA financial scandal to develop”.
The target of this Town “Resolution Seeking Justice for Citizens of Front Royal as a Result of the EDA Scandal” was EDA criminal case Special Prosecutor Michael Parker of the Harrisonburg Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.
But before reaching that final public meeting agenda item, nearly an hour and 15 minutes earlier two citizens took council to task, one over that coming Resolution, and the other over the previous week’s EDA shooting gallery press conference targeting the county supervisors and EDA board of directors.
First, Gary Kushner blasted council’s attack mode assertions of the previous week regarding its absence of accountability for its decisions on an unavailable, if verbally promised by Jennifer McDonald 1.5% FRPD project interest rate. Then local defense attorney David Downes called the agenda’s “EDA Justice” resolution a shortsighted, counterproductive, seemingly partisan political effort; an effort he cautioned was more likely to help potential criminal defendants than find justice and restitution for the community.
But here at just under 700 words, let me suggest you go to the Royal Examiner video with the above clues as to where to find the early Kushner, Downes public comments; council’s response with its “Resolution for Justice” remarks, particularly by November election candidates Lori Cockrell and Chris Holloway who brought the Resolution forward, in the final open meeting agenda item; and Jacob Meza’s Council Reports reply to Kushner’s belaboring of the September 23 council press conference comments about 55 minutes into the meeting.