Calling all artists!! Design a chair for the SPCA CHAIR-ity Brunch and save homeless animals. Pick up a chair from the SPCA Thrift Shop, build a chair, up-cycle a chair, paint a chair, or upholster a chair. All types of chairs welcome. Chairs must be completed by August 22nd.
For more information, and to sign up to participate in the SPCA’s signature event, please contact Lavenda Denney at 540-662-8616 ext. 406 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Council poised to enact ‘Spot Blight’ ordinance
Following a work session presentation by Town Planning Director Jeremy Camp Monday night, January 27, the Front Royal Town Council appears ready to take a first step in an effort to force property owners’ hands on deteriorating structures within town limits.
Camp told council the staff proposal of a “Spot Blight Abatement” program is based on codes in place in the City of Leesburg and Loudoun County that have a successful track record; at would will be “the most reasonable fiscal approach”.
It has been staffing and potential legal costs tied to forcing derelict building property owners to do something to correct their “blighted property” situation that in the past has paralyzed a council majority from actually taking that first step toward an enforcement code on basic acceptable physical standards for properties within the town limits.
Over the past two years additional enforcement costs led council to totally abandon a proposed “Rental Inspection” code that would force what some Town officials referred to as “slumlords” to provide minimum acceptable living conditions to Town citizens, particularly those at the lower end of the economic spectrum. Some public speakers urging action on rental inspections pointed out that it is those lower-income citizens who are generally the most vulnerable to living standard abuses by landlords, often absentee property owners living outside the community.
However, a council majority’s unwillingness to consider tax increases to provide the revenue to enact such code protections for its citizens killed that aspect of the Town’s exploration of a “Property Maintenance Code”.
But the argument that generally vacant structures left to deteriorate are more than just an eyesore, but also a potential public health hazard, with additional negative impacts on surrounding property values, and consequently on real estate tax revenue coming to the Town, has kept the blighted structure initiative alive.
So if not for its poorer citizens, council has continued to explore ways to enact protections on property values and the tax revenue they produce by targeting blighted properties. According to Planning Director Camp, the “Spot Blight Abatement” plan adopted from the Loudoun-Leesburg code models will initially be cost effective because the costs incurred by the Town in identifying, informing owners of the Town’s Spot-Blight designation of their property, and issuing of a 30-day timeframe through the Town Manager’s Office for a written spot abatement plan to be submitted by the owner, will be covered by placing a lien on the property as necessary.
If the property owner does not comply with the Spot Abatement order, the matter would go before council for a public hearing and vote. That vote would designate the property blighted and a public “nuisance”. The Town would then submit a Spot Abatement Plan for the property leading to its upgrade, “raze or remove the blighted property”.
The staff report notes that State Code authorizes town councils to so designate and legally deal with properties by ordinance adopted by the municipality. Liens placed on blighted properties would have the same legal force as delinquent tax liens.
Wording in the staff summary indicates the Spot Abatement process would be initiated “upon receipt of a complaint”. It was not clear from the limited discussion following Camp’s summary whether the Town could independently initiate the process on obvious offenders.
A council majority appeared to agree with suggested exemptions for “Farm buildings or structures” and buildings in the Town’s Historic District or on National Historic Structure registries. Council agreed to move forward with creation of the Spot Blight Abatement Ordinance. Staff comment indicated a public hearing would likely occur in March.
See the work session presentation in this exclusive Royal Examiner video:
Council hears from citizens on EDA, 2nd Amendment concerns & expanded public transportation service
The January 27th regular meeting agenda of the Front Royal Town Council was very light, with approval of a four-item Consent Agenda; and a recommended softening of the Town Employee Handbook guidelines for non-essential, “Tier 2” employees during severely inclement weather both being unanimously approved.
Council also recognized the Town “Employee of the Month, Timmy Fristoe. Interim Town Manager Matt Tederick acknowledged Fristoe’s 39 years with the Town, at the Wastewater Treatment Facility.
Council, the mayor and one member of the public greeted newly-appointed Councilwoman Lori Athey Cockrell. Cockrell expressed gratitude for her appointment, as well as for staff and council’s help in getting oriented to her new job as a councilman.
The most interesting part of the open meeting prior to adjournment to a work session and closed session was the public comments near the meeting’s outset. Paul Aldrich, a 2nd Amendment advocate, opened those comments by bringing a suggested Resolution to council that would add the Town of Front Royal to the list of municipalities around Virginia declaring itself a “2nd Amendment Sanctuary”.
Aldrich noted that the former Warren County Board of Supervisors had unanimously passed a similar resolution. That vote occurred on December 10, before the new county board majority was seated.
Aldrich continued to suggest council, rather than create he pointed out, acknowledge an existing armed citizen militia in the community as an auxiliary to law enforcement and emergency services.
Following Aldrich to the podium was Paul Gabbert. After his welcome to Cockrell on her appointment to the job for which he also applied, Gabbert reiterated his previous comments to the county supervisors that he did not feel authorization of any kind of militia was a necessary or good idea. – “We don’t need militias, we only need people to volunteer if they want to help in emergencies,” Gabbert suggested.
While 2nd Amendment sanctuary and militia advocates have attempted to distance themselves from an existing image of armed political extremism, their sanctuary initiative has the potential to put local governments and law enforcement at legal odds with the State if any pending gun control bills on the floor of the Virginia General Assembly and its new Democratic majorities are passed into state law.
Neither Aldrich on Monday, nor other 2nd Amendment sanctuary advocates who have appeared before the County, have differentiated between any gun control bills now under consideration by the General Assembly. In addition to the redefinition of what would be an illegal “assault weapon”, they appear to believe background checks and red flag laws tied to firearms purchases and possession, as well as age restrictions on youth use of guns unsupervised by adults, to all be potential unconstitutional infringements upon their right to legally bear arms.
Why fight with new EDA?
But Gabbert’s counterpoint to the militia aspect of the first speaker’s comments was not the main thrust of his presentation to council. He chastised town officials for their increasingly hostile and litigious stance against the existing EDA Board of Directors and staff as they wrestle with the consequences of the $21.3 million financial scandal that developed under a former board majority and executive leadership.
Gabbert was critical of the Town’s refusal to pay an $8-million-plus debt to the EDA on construction of the new Front Royal Police Headquarters as the EDA faces hitting a financial wall in March at which point it will not be able to cover its monthly debt and operational expenses.
“You owe the money on the police station – you got lied to, get OVER it,” Gabbert suggested of promises allegedly made by former EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald on lower interest rates tied to a state tax credit economic development funding program the police station project didn’t even qualify for.
Gabbert suggested rather play expensive legal hardball with a cooperative new EDA administration, the Town become proactive in helping the county government stabilize and subsidize the continued operations of the EDA, which as previously pointed out, cannot declare bankruptcy while owing debt on its economic development projects on behalf of the municipalities that created it.
“You’re fighting a losing battle … you’re not going to get a dime out of McDonald or a dime out of the EDA – you’re wasting your time,” Gabbert told council and town administrative and legal staff of the $15 million civil suit it has filed against the EDA.
Gabbert’s criticism led to a lengthy response from Councilman Jacob Meza, who attempted to justify the Town legal strategy and delays in paying its uncontested principal debt on the FRPD project.
Council also heard from two mental health professionals – Rene McDaniel Flowers and Deborah McQuinty – who asked that the Town expand its trolley service to accommodate transportation needs of some citizens without transportation who have second or third shift jobs.
See the 2nd Amendment and EDA give and take and other public comments, as well as Cockrell’s welcome, Fristoe’s acknowledgement, and other Town business in this Royal Examiner video:
Colonial family cemeteries retain early immigrant history
Colonial Virginia churchyards were not always the first preferences for burials. The custom was to bury the dead at home. While uncommon today, family (or private) cemeteries were a matter of practicality during the colonial settlement of America. The farm itself served as the burial ground. These family graves may be found in many places in various types of communities throughout the state. If a municipal or religious cemetery had not been established, settlers would seek out a small plot of land, often in wooded areas bordering their fields, to begin a family plot. Often, two families from adjoining properties would arrange to bury their dead together. Later on, during the 18th century, pastors complained about this practice because it meant they had to travel to plantations and farms to oversee funerals. The ideal situation during the Colonial period in English colonies was to bury the dead in churchyards located in close proximity to church buildings. Churchyard burials remained standard practice into the 20th century for European Americans and other cultures in the Judeo-Christian tradition.
The Ewing clan headed by William Ewing settled in the lower Shenandoah Valley more than 280 years ago. The Ewing’s are one of Stephens City’s oldest families dating back to 1737 before Frederick County and Stephens City (formally Stephensburg) were founded. The Ewing Family Cemetery was established prior to the first local church graveyards. Living on the frontier, the very earliest Ewing settlers had no professional stone workers to hire when their loved ones died. They would either craft simple wooden markers or wooden crosses to mark recent burials. Gravestones tended to be of a lesser size and most often fashioned from softer types of stone such as limestone and slate, which were easier to quarry, cut and carve. Often times field stones and roughly carved rocks were employed with names and dates scratched onto the stone.
The cemetery property was part of the original acreage of William Ewing who acquired more than 625 acres from Josh Hite. Hite had received a grant of 100,000 acres from the Virginia governor and council in the late 1720’s with the stipulation that 100 families be settled within two years. Ewing and his descendants came and farmed their land for 175 years.
The cemetery is located within the Southern Hills housing development in Stephens City at the end of the Brandenbury Court cul-de-sac. The property was once included in the Julian Carbaugh farm. The burial plots reside high on a hill overlooking the Shenandoah Valley with beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains looking east and the Alleghany Mountains to the west.
Ray Ewing was born in a house that resided on Fairfax Pike (Route 277) near the old homestead. His family later moved in the 1940s to a house on Germain Street behind the Methodist Church. “I couldn’t be prouder that my ancestors are some of the first families to migrate here,” Ray Ewing said. “Knowing that one’s ancestors have lived in a community for more than 280 years really helps you to appreciate your roots,” he said. “It’s reassuring to look along Main Street at sights in the historic old town and know that your great, great grandfather observed these very same sights.”
The Ewing Cemetery was enclosed in 1994. A 50 foot by 60 foot wire fence was erected to protect the existing headstones from cattle grazing on the then Julian Carbaugh property. A great deal of brush and several trees were removed so that the grave markers could be more readily identified. During this time a number of headstones were unearthed increasing the number of Ewing family burial stones from 9 to 16. Four stones or parts of stones are illegible and the Ewing’s have not yet been able to identify who they may have been. Town Elders cited that at one time there were 20 headstones located here.
Twelve of the old headstones which could be accurately identified were replaced with newer ones courtesy of the Ewing Family Association in advance of a September 2008 dedication ceremony. The cemetery is currently surrounded by a new metal fence and appears to benefit from regular lawn maintenance.
John Ewing born in 1648 and died 23 Sep 1745 (aged 96–97). John emigrated from Londonderry, Ireland to Pennsylvania (Chester County) with his sons William and Samuel and their families in 1729. After remaining in Chester County for some years after William and family moved south, it is fair to believe in his last years John moved down to Virginia to be closer to his sons. John is buried in the Ewing Cemetery.
William Ewing born 1711 and died 27 Dec 1781 (aged 69–70). William Ewing was born 1711 in Carnshanagh, Ireland, to John and Janet McElvaney Ewing. With his family, William came to Pennsylvania in 1729, and in April 1737, William moved down from Pennsylvania just six years after the first European American settlements began. William is the ancestor of the Stephens City Ewing’s. William is buried in the Ewing cemetery.
Samuel B. Ewing born 1719 and died 24 Aug 1798 (aged 78–79) Samuel B. Ewing married Margaret McMichael or McMeekin. They moved from Chester County, Pennsylvania to Frederick County, Virginia, and then, on to Kentucky. Samuel returned to Virginia and is buried in the Ewing Cemetery.
Margaret E. Ewing Carr born 1750 and died 18 Jun 1815 (aged 64–65). Samuel’s daughter, Margaret married her cousin Robert Ewing in 1790. Old headstone for Margaret read “Margaret Ewing died June 18, 1815, Age 62 years.” Margaret is buried in the Ewing Cemetery.
Elizabeth Tharp Ewing born 1732 and died 17 May 1816 (aged 83–84). John’s wife Elizabeth married in 1750 and was buried in the Ewing Cemetery.
Elizabeth Ewing McGinnis born March 2, 1763 and died 7 Dec 1820. Elizabeth Ewing (aged 57) was the fourth child of William and Elizabeth. Elizabeth married John McGinnis and lived near Stephens City. Old headstone read, “McGinnis died Dec 7, 1820 aged 57 years.” Elizabeth is buried in the Ewing cemetery.
Joshua Ewing born unknown and died 24 Jul 1824 (aged 26 years). Very little is known about Joshua’s life. Joshua is buried in the Ewing cemetery.
Mary Ewing McBean born March 31, 1765 and died 17 Sep 1825 (aged 60). Mary Ewing, the second daughter of William and Elizabeth Ewing, was born. Mary, called Pollie, married Mr. McBean. Old headstone read, “Mary McBean died Sept 17, 1825 Aged 60 years.” Mary McBean is buried in the Ewing cemetery.
Robert Ewing born 28 Feb 1761 and died 7 Oct 1826 (aged 65). Robert is the son of William Ewing and is buried in the Ewing cemetery.
Sarah M. Nelson born 21 Nov 1831 and died 7 Dec 1831 (aged 16 days). Old headstone for infant daughter read “Sarah M. daughter of Moses and Elizabeth Nelson died Dec. 7, 1831 aged 16 days.” Sarah is buried in the Ewing cemetery.
Mary J. Nelson born 18 Oct 1834 and died 13 Nov 1834 (aged 26 days). Old headstone for infant daughter read “Mary J. daughter of Moses and Elizabeth Nelson died Nov. 13, 1834 aged 26 days.” Mary J. is buried in the Ewing cemetery.
Elizabeth Ewing Nelson born 28 Oct 1793 and died 25 Dec 1856 (aged 63). Margaret and Robert’s daughter, she married Moses Nelson. Old headstone read, “Elizabeth wife of Moses Nelson died Dec. 25, 1856 aged 63 years.” Margaret is buried in the Ewing cemetery.
Janette McElvaney Ewing born 1663 and died unknown. Married to John Ewing in 1683 and buried in the Ewing family cemetery. No headstone has yet been located.
Margaret McMichael Ewing born 1723 and died unknown. Married to Samuel B. Ewing in 1744. No headstone has yet been located.
There once was a county road beginning at Rt. 277 (Fairfax Pike) and working its way for about one mile to the old Ewing property. When modern housing development began, all of the last remnants of the original Ewing homestead and outbuildings were demolished along with Ewing Lane. A later home was built outside of the development and used the old Ewing road. The developers were required to construct a private entrance to that property and chose Ewing Lane for the new street, thus memorializing the family homestead.
Mark P. Gunderman
Stephens City, Virginia
My last article dealt with the growing crisis with Iran and the history of American presidents using missile attacks on their enemies. Based on those acts, House Democrats have passed a war powers resolution ordering the president to stop all hostilities with Iran within thirty days. This brings up many Constitutional questions and seems confusing for many. In some ways the Constitution contradicts itself by appointing the president commander-in-chief, while giving Congress the power to declare war. If this seems confusing, that is because it is, even to our political leaders. This is not the first time Congress and the president have tackled this issue and as always it will probably not be the last.
First things first. Article II, Section II of the U.S. Constitution reads, “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States.” That is it. It does not go on to clarify what that means. At the same time Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 states, “To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.” Here the Constitution does give some clarification. In Clauses 12-16 it reads, “To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years; To provide and maintain a Navy; To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces; To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions; To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.” From this it seems the Constitution does favor Congress when it comes to war powers.
As I have said before, the Constitution was purposely written vague. It is meant to be interpreted. From only reading the Constitution, it seems as if the Founders wanted to give Congress more authority in warfare. This idea is also supported by statements of the Founders.
Historically, war powers had always been in the hands of the monarch. The monarch could take the nation to war without any consideration for the people’s welfare. When debating the power of our president, the Founders appointed many of the same functions of the monarch to the president, but one area in which the Founders felt restrained was war making. In a radical departure from Europe, the people’s representatives were given the power to declare war.
Some believed the president was best served with all war powers, but too many saw too much military power in one branch as a threat to democracy and so gave the power to Congress. The compromise came in the way it is written. Originally, the clause in Article I read Congress has the power to “make” war. That was changed to Congress has the power to “declare” war. The thinking was that the president as commander-in-chief needed the ability to use the army in self-defense if Congress was not in session. What seems to be agreed today is that the Founders’ intention was to give the president power to wage a defensive war.
For most of our history, there was no reason for debate, as the wars we fought were seen as defensive, whether they were or not. James Madison received a declaration of war when the U.S. was attacked by England in 1812. James Polk claimed America was attacked by Mexican forces and hence a declaration of war was needed. Lincoln told Congress there was open rebellion. McKinley asked for a declaration of war after the believed attack on the USS Maine. Woodrow Wilson needed to keep the world safe for democracy and FDR needed to save us from the Nazis and Pearl Harbor.
Even though each of these wars was officially declared as a war, what we see is that the presidents, each time, taking on more power for themselves. Lincoln constantly fought with Congress over the war, constantly taking more authority to himself. The Emancipation Proclamation is a great example of a war act Lincoln made without congressional approval. After WWII, presidents took even more power for war. With the Cold War it was easy for them to continue with the idea that the commander-in-chief had responsibility for defense. With beliefs such as the Domino Theory, it was believed that we must stop communism everywhere in order to stop it here. So, wars such as Korea and Vietnam were conceived as defensive wars–which presidents took us into without an official declaration. I should say that starting in the 20th century we saw the president take on more power and responsibility in almost every aspect, not just war making. Presidents today cannot get away with half what they did in the 19th Century.
Finally, during the Vietnam War, Congress decided to take back some of their war powers and in 1973 passed the War Powers Resolution. Because of limited space, I can only summarize the effects of the resolution and have to skip important steps. Basically, the president has, in the end, 90 days to use the military until he has to pull back, unless either given permission by Congress or the U.S. is under attack. It is suggested he confer with Congress before any actions taken, but not required. After any attack, the president is required to report to Congress within 48 hours. However, what that should look like is not spelled out. This became an issue with President Trump when Democrats and even some Republicans were not satisfied with the president’s report after the recent missile attack.
Presidents have seen the Wars Powers Resolution as unconstitutional. Nixon vetoed the Resolution on the grounds it handcuffed his ability to act as Commander-in-Chief. Other presidents have also argued against this. In 1983, the courts did agree that the president did have the right to sign or veto any war resolutions passed by Congress, making it necessary to compromise.
Historically Speaking, reading the notes from the Founders does seem to favor the Congress in the ability to make war, but also that the powers should be shared. War powers seem to follow the same track as most congressional/presidential powers. What we see is that in the 20th Century Congress allowed the president to slowly strip away congressional powers.
As I wrote in an earlier column, we saw the same things with tariffs. Maybe we are seeing a new trend of Congress trying to reclaim their power. We will not know until the majority power in Congress is the same as the party of the president to see if this is a real change or, as I guess, just a political show against a president from a different party.
Dr. James Finck is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. Follow Historically Speaking at www.Historicallyspeaking.blog or Facebook at @jamesWfinck.
How to treat sprains
The first few days following a sprain should be devoted to healing and treating the injury. The best way to do this is to follow the RICE method: rest, ice, compression and elevation. Taking a time out from your daily activities will help to heal the injury and will prevent you from aggravating it any further. Applying ice for 10 to 15 minutes every two to three hours will reduce swelling and pain. Compression is used to help limit inflammation. You can use an elastic bandage to do this, but be careful not to cut off blood flow to the area. Similarly, elevating the injured area will reduce swelling, which not only relieves pain but also speeds up recovery.
Rehabilitating a sprain using physical therapy can significantly improve healing. For example, a physical therapist can help strengthen stabilizer muscles to enable your joints to move through their full range of motion. This will enable you to safely resume your activities as quickly as possible.
To learn more about sprains, consult a physical therapist.
10 washable hygiene products
Given the monetary and environmental costs associated with single-use hygiene products, switching to washable versions is a no-brainer. You can now easily find the following reusable items:
1. Tampon applicators
2. Sanitary pads
4. Cotton swabs
5. Diapers (including special swimming diapers)
7. Facial tissues
8. Toilet “paper”
9. Incontinence protection
10. Makeup removal wipes
Most of these reusable items are offered in a variety of sizes and styles. But to reduce your carbon footprint as much as possible, be sure to privilege locally made products.
Be sure to carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and sanitizing your reusable hygiene products. Other¬wise, they could present a health risk.