In the Town Council meeting held on August 5, a formal request for the use of a CITAC center was proposed. Front Royal Police Chief Kahle Magalis requested the approval of a budget amendment to reimburse the expense associated with police salaries in a partnership with a regional Crisis Intervention Assessment Center (CITAC) in collaboration with Northwestern Community Services and Valley Health Systems.
“The problem is that if there is a case or incident where the subject’s mental health is in question there is a timeframe of four hours in which the subject needs to be taken to a proper facility; they have to be treated medically and it is the officer’s responsibility to transport this person to the proper location, which takes the officer away from his duties on the street,” Chief Magalis explained.
What the partnership with CITAC will provide is an easy and safe transition for mentally ill subjects to be detained, many times for their own safety.
This project aims to protect mentally ill subjects and get them the treatment they need, while also allowing the officers to get back on the streets and back to their jobs of protecting the community.
Several other important changes to the community were also brought to light. A presentation by Jeff Mitchell introduced council to new changes in financial accounting laws and budgeting; a proposed lease of space for a Probation and Parole District, and the new recycling laws on single stream were also discussed. The council discussed What residents can do to make sure that their recycling is actually taken such as removing tape from cardboard boxes and plastic labels from water bottles. (more on that later).
Republicans prep for mayoral forum; deal with Sayre-Mabe canvass backlash
Front Royal mayoral candidates Eugene Tewalt and Hollis Tharpe will have the opportunity to face off in a Candidates Forum held by the Warren County Republican Committee this Thursday, August 22.
However since by town charter and code Town elections are non-partisan – meaning candidates may not campaign under a party banner and their names may not carry a political party designation by them on the ballot – no party nomination is at stake. Rather candidates will simply be trying to court potential voters present for the event, and garner a Warren County Republican Committee endorsement.
Contacted two days before the mayoral forum scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Villa Avenue Community Center (aka the old library), former Mayor Hollis Tharpe said he planned to attend as a committee member but was undecided on participating in the forum surrounding a non-partisan election. Tharpe noted he remains a Republican County Committee member, an affiliation he said he has maintained since 2010.
The other person on the mayor’s ballot, Councilman and former Mayor Gene Tewalt said he would be present to participate. While a former committee member who noted he was endorsed by the local Republicans in his initial run for mayor, Tewalt said he let his Republican Committee membership lapse around 2010. He remains unaffiliated politically at this time.
Partisan pledge uproar
And while the Republican Committee waits to see how its planned mayoral pre-endorsement forum unfolds, it is also dealing with repercussions of the decision not to let independent
Shenandoah District Board of Supervisors candidate Walter Mabe’s wife vote in the party canvass of August 15.
Committee Chairman Steve Kurtz verified that Mabe’s Republican incumbent opponent Tom Sayre, present to help hand out ballots, identified Taffy Mabe entering the voting area. Sayre then approached Mrs. Mabe and asked if she was going to support Republican nominees in the November general election, which obviously include him as her husband’s opponent in the Shenandoah District supervisor’s race.
“Hell no,” was reported by observers as her answer, one might imagine pointedly directed Sayre’s way.
A source close to Mabe’s campaign said that Mrs. Mabe’s perception was that Sayre then declined to give her a ballot. However Kurtz said that Sayre looked his way for acknowledgement of a response and the committee chairman standing about 10 feet away, instructed that she not be given a ballot due to her response.
However Kurtz also said that Mrs. Mabe was the only person who showed up to vote in the canvass who was asked that question about general election party support. The committee chairman said he hoped to make a point that a Republican canvass should be for Republican voters.
However asked by this reporter at the canvass what the rules of participation were, Kurtz explained you had to be a registered voter and not show up online as having voted in a Democratic primary in the past several years.
We asked the committee chairman were it answered honestly, how many canvass voters of the nearly 600 who showed up he thought might have been lost had all been asked the same question Mrs. Mabe was about blanket party nominee support in November. In this volatile election season Kurtz admitted half, perhaps more.
Anything to be learned from this experience, we asked.
Not on the record apparently.
Republicans who have won their party’s nomination for the November ballot include Stephen Jerome, Circuit Court Clerk; John Bell, Commonwealth’s Attorney; Jamie Spiker, County Treasurer; Sherry Sours, Commissioner of the Revenue; Jason Poe for Sheriff; and Sayre, Delores Oates and Robert Hupman for Shenandoah, North River and South River County Supervisor seats, respectively.
Deputy Circuit Court Clerk Janice Shanks, who is currently serving as Circuit Court Clerk in the wake of Daryl Funk’s departure for a seat on the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court bench, has filed enough signatures with the Registrar’s Office to be included on the November ballot as an independent.
In the wake of her 15-vote loss to Silek Law firm attorney Jerome in last week’s Republican Canvass, Shanks has not responded to Royal Examiner inquiries about whether she intends to campaign as an independent for that office in November. If she does it would make it a three-way race. Former County Deputy Clerk Angie Moore, now in the Frederick County District Court Clerk’s Office, is on the November ballot as an independent in the Circuit Court Clerk’s race.
Poe is in a four-way Sheriff’s race with Democrat Jorge Amselle, and independents Mark Butler and Mickey Licklider; Oates is facing off against independent and former Town Councilman and Vice Mayor Shae Parker in the North River District; and Hupman is taking on independents Leslie Matthews and Cheryl Cullers in the South River District.
North River Supervisor and Board Chairman Dan Murray (R) and South River Supervisor Linda Glavis (I) have both announced their retirements and are not seeking reelection.
So as summer and political temperatures rise toward triple digits, stay tuned as Warren County and Front Royal move through an already volatile 2019 election season in the shadow of public discontent over “business as usual” in the wake of the Town-County Economic Development Authority financial fraud investigation and consequent civil and criminal cases stemming from it.
Town Notice: Energy Services Alerts
As temperatures are expected to reach well into the 90’s in the next few days, the Town of Front Royal’s electric customers are being asked to conserve power. If we can conserve during these peak hours (3:pm – 6:pm), we can save on transmission and capacity costs, and help keep the electricity rates low.
The Town requests electric customers to voluntarily reduce energy consumption beginning today,Aug 19, 2019 from 3:pm – 6:pm through Aug 21,2019 from 3:pm – 6:pm each afternoon.
Customers can take simple conservation steps such as:
• shutting off lights when not needed
• avoid using ovens/stoves from 3:pm-6:pm
• unplugging small appliances and electric chargers
• raising the air conditioner thermostat, a degree or two
• doing laundry and other household chores that require hot water or electricity during hours other than 3:pm-6:pm
• turning off televisions, computers, radios and other electronic devices when not being used.
If you have any questions or concerns please call the Energy Services Department at (540) 635-3027, Monday – Friday, 7:00am – 3:30pm
New splash pad under construction for October debut
FRONT ROYAL — Construction started earlier this week on a new splash pad that’s being built in the Dr. Saul Seide Memorial Botanical Gardens on 8th Street, near the Parks & Rec Youth Center across the creek from Bing Crosby Stadium.
The Warren County Splash Pad will be completed and operational in early October, Warren County Director of Parks and Recreation Daniel Lenz told Royal Examiner
“Splash pads have been an attraction around the country for a number of years,” said Lenz. “This facility will hopefully entice our citizens to come out and enjoy the features.”
Lenz explained yesterday that Warren County personnel are performing the site work, including the demolition of the existing fountain and the pouring of the concrete pad for the project.
SeaSpray, LLC will be installing the splash pad components.
The $94,140-project is being funded by Warren County ($45,000); Warren County Parks and Recreation ($16,254); the Dominion Foundation ($15,000); the Warren Coalition ($11,386); the Rotary Club of Front Royal ($6,000); and the Kiwanis Club ($500).
To maximize the potential of the splash pad, Lenz said it is centrally located at the existing park adjacent to the Raymond E. Santmyers Youth Center; has access to ample parking areas, restrooms and picnic areas; and is just a short stroll to a second park system, athletic fields and Bing Crosby Stadium.
“The first phase of the Splash Pad project will include the installation of the actual Splash Pad facility,” Lenz said. “A second phase will include the installation of a sidewalk, benches, trash receptacles, and landscaping.”
He said that the second phase will be implemented as funding allows.
The Warren County Splash Pad is part of the overall revitalization of the 3.5-acre Dr. Saul Seide Memorial Botanical Gardens, which along with the rest of the local park system is experiencing increased usage, Lenz said.
The recently removed lighted water fountain at Seide Memorial Gardens was over 40-years-old and — according to the Request and Proposal for the splash pad’s design and installation — had started “to look unsightly and worn down.”
At the same time, park technicians had to make repairs to the fountain several times a year over the course of the operating season that runs from April through September.
“Installation of the splash pad will provide citizens with a new form of outdoor recreation currently unavailable in our community and encourage citizens to participate in outdoor recreation in Warren County rather than traveling to other localities for this feature,” said Lenz.
Tederick discusses status of EDA, Crooked Run 2 water request & his brief tenure as interim mayor in this Royal Examiner video interview
Front Royal’s Interim Mayor Matt Tederick sat down with the Royal Examiner and yours truly on Thursday, August 15. Over nearly an hour Tederick discusses his decision to accept the May 28 appointment as mayor in the wake of Hollis Tharpe’s May 2 resignation; as well as his decision not to run in the November Special Election to serve out the final year of Tharpe’s term; as well as two prominent issues – the EDA and Crooked Run 2 central water request – facing council over the final three months of his tenure as mayor.
Included in the EDA discussion is the revelation Tederick plans to seek appointment of a citizens’ committee to review the report of the Town-County governmental personnel-staffed EDA Reform Committee announced at Tuesday’s joint meeting of the Town Council and Warren County Board of Supervisors.
Regaining public trust will be crucial to successfully moving forward with a re-tooled EDA mission, Tederick told Royal Examiner. The interim mayor hopes a citizens’ review committee can help achieve that trust.
Tederick also discusses the status of the County’s request for Town central water to facilitate the revamped Crooked Run 2 plan to establish a primarily residential development outside the town limits just west of the Crooked Run Shopping Center near the Route 340/522 and I-66 intersection.
Tederick also responds to our suggestion that the status of the planned Front Royal Limited Partnership (FRLP) residential development of approximately one thousand homes on about 750 acres of town land be included in discussion of the Crooked Run 2 request.
And if you hang to the interview’s conclusion you will hear the interim mayor promise other potential “exclusive” revelations regarding planned residential development in the community in future Royal Examiner interviews during his term of office.
It is a term slated to end shortly after the November 5 Special Election in which Tharpe will try to regain his mayoral seat in a two candidate face-off with current Councilman and former Mayor Eugene Tewalt.
Hints of Deeper Issues: The many problems with the Crooked Run Development
In a Town Council meeting held on August 12th, several items of importance were brought to public attention. Town resident Linda Allen spoke to the council urging them to be more open with the public on the matter of the Crooked Run West development. In a letter addressed to the Council, she raised questions and concerns of citizens regarding the development. (Read her letter here or watch on the video below)
Referencing the public hearing held by the Board of Supervisors on April 10, 2019, she stated that “There are no citizen comments from that hearing that favor this change.” The concerns caused by the change from commercial to residential are mainly due to the problems with water and sewer services. This concern has been raised in the past by citizens who question the town sending central water to the County for development when there is roughly 750 acres of undeveloped land in town earmarked for residential development.
Allen raised another issue she saw with the water service problem, telling council, “It would be a change that no longer restricts the Town’s obligation to provide water to the corridor for commercial development only. This change would set a precedent. It may not matter how restrictively the agreement is written, once the change is made, it is a basis for argument in court to expand water and sewer throughout the county.” Why would this be an issue for Front Royal citizens? The answer is simple: taxes.
Allen raised other questions, such as the lack of a traffic plan. “The citizens who spoke of the road there and projected traffic volume and access to our major highway are quite clear that it is a difficult, even dangerous set of conditions.”
Increased traffic would lead to a higher rate of accidents, and with a higher resident count the traffic would not be coming from highway travelers on road trips but from residents in town.
Without an updated traffic plan, the Crooked Run Development could cause an irritating and hazardous spike of cars in town.
And as to residents, Allen pointed to the potential need for a new elementary school should the projected growth of Crooked Run’s development be accurate. “A.S. Rhodes Elementary School is at capacity which would indicate that we would have to consider building another elementary school—up goes the debt service in the county budget.”
Interim Mayor Matthew Tederick responded to the list of grievances briefly: “We have not made any decisions in regards to the Crooked Run Development. We have had a business that has come here to do business, and we welcome that, but I believe in the process of gathering facts and presenting them to the public.” Hopefully this was an indicator that town citizens will get some more concrete information about the project prior to a decision being reached, rather than a dismissive gesture.
The real question here is why the Town would okay the extension of additional utilities into the county to facilitate residential development out of town when there are more profitable for the Town and less problematic places to build inside town limits?
Opponents of Town facilitation of County residential development believe the town council is overreaching its Enterprise Fund utilities and setting the stage for future problems that would seem avoidable by keeping the rules as they have been written, of facilitate community-wide commercial development.
The Council meeting proceeded with a second speaker, Mrs. Fern Vasquez who also expressed many of the same negative opinions that Linda Allen pointed out. “The amount of money that we would put in towards this project is not worth what we would get out of it.”
The third item presented to the Council was the celebration of a town hero. Fifteen-year-old David Deavers was awarded the certificate of Hometown Hero for his brave actions saving a young boy Jordan Beall from a wasp nest he was trapped near. David had rescued the young boy and ran with him over his shoulder to safety. David’s selfless actions saved Jordan’s life and the Mayor personally thanked him for his service.
Front Royal Police Chief Kahle Magalis introduced Matthew Stephenson as the newest member of the Front Royal Police Department. Officer Stephenson has extensive experience as a first responder and was welcomed warmly into the community by the Council. His wife, Jasmine Stephenson is also a police officer with the Winchester Police Department.
The Council then moved to officially approve several items that had made it through previous work sessions, such as a bid from Wesco for Okonite cable in the amount of $25,440 and to Anixter for 750 Okonite cable in the amount of $36,471.60 to be used by the Energy Services Department for Leach Run Parkway Infrastructure. The Council also approved the lease of space at 23 E. Jackson Street or 30 E. Jackson Street for the Probation and Parole District #11 sub-office of the Department of Corrections as well as approving the funding needed for the staffing of a regional CITAC (Crisis Intervention Assessment Center) proposed in last week’s work session. The Council also approved a new item, the request for a 20-foot Deed of Easement for Sanitary Sewer Utilities from the Warren County School Board near Warren County Middle School located on Heritage Drive.
The Council then moved into a closed session to discuss “specific legal matters” before opening again for their work session.
See the full Council Meeting, discussion and questions in the linked Royal Examiner video:
Good Bye, Warren County; Good Bye EDA controversy – Whitten moves on
A hint was dropped at Tuesday night’s joint Town-County meeting on the EDA about County and EDA Attorney Dan Whitten’s pending availability to serve as a member of the newly-formed EDA Reform Committee. That hint came from Shenandoah District Supervisor Tom Sayre’s comment that Whitten wouldn’t be serving on the seven-member committee despite his inclusion and approval as the county attorney.
Reached for comment on Sayre’s allusion to his unavailability, Whitten confirmed that he had taken a job as County Attorney for Prince George County, Virginia. He said a press release would be forthcoming Wednesday morning, adding that the only ones who knew of his acceptance of the Prince George County job were his bosses, the county supervisors. This reporter agreed to sit on the news overnight as a negotiating tool for a follow-up interview.
While that negotiation is still being hashed out – you sure, no camera, Dan – we can now verify Whitten’s pending move to the county attorney’s role in Prince George County. Reached by phone Wednesday morning Whitten confirmed he will realize a $13,486 salary increase with the move. He is taking his new job at a salary of $117,300, compared to the $103,486 he makes here.
With the move Whitten leaves behind the EDA financial scandal that has immersed him as both County and EDA Attorney since the March 26 filing of the EDA civil suit naming nine human and corporate “people” defendants seeking the return of as much as $20 million in allegedly misdirected or embezzled EDA assets.
To varying degrees the media, public and social media have questioned whether “scope limitations” imposed by county and EDA officials described by the contracted investigative public accounting firm Cherry Bekaert might indicate an investigation that was “channeled” toward certain financial irregularities and away from others.
An indicator of the public mood surrounding, not only the EDA civil and criminal actions, but his role as attorney for the primary governmental and quasi-governmental involved entities was illustrated by a question from Town Councilman Chris Holloway and the public reaction to it at last night’s joint Town-County meeting.
“Who do you represent tonight, the EDA or Warren County?” Holloway asked, creating the only public outburst of the meeting as a low murmur of approval of the question and applause ensued.
Whitten’s answer of “both” explaining no direct conflict of interest in answering questions about various legal dynamics of the EDA and County situations drew no public reaction.
In the press release received by the media at 11:06 a.m., Wednesday morning, August 14, Whitten expresses gratitude for his professional and personal experience in Warren County:
“Since starting my employment with Warren County on February 16, 2010, I have thoroughly enjoyed working for Warren County. I would like to thank the Board of Supervisors for offering me the opportunity to serve as the Warren County Attorney for the past three years. I will treasure the friendships that I have made with numerous Warren County employees and officials over the last nine years,” he stated in the release.
County Board of Supervisors Chairman Dan Murray added, “I am sorry to lose Dan as his knowledge and experience will be hard to replace. I appreciate how he has handled many contentious situations with grace, patience and respect. I consider him to be a friend and he will be sorely missed. He has been an asset to the County and the agencies he supports.”
Whitten did an internship at the State Attorney General’s Office while in law school. He also interned in Richmond immediately after his 2009 graduation from William and Mary Law School. Whitten received his Undergraduate Degree with a major in American Politics from the University of Virginia. He arrived as assistant county attorney to Blair Mitchell here in 2010 and took over as Warren County Attorney in September 2016 upon Mitchell’s retirement.