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Front Royal ponders additional upgrades to WWTP or Intake-Inflow system

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“Just when you thought you were out, they pull you back in again” – is a famous and somewhat colorfully-delivered Hollywood film reference to membership in an organized crime family. At its December 3 work session the Front Royal Town Council got a similarly unhappy and colorfully-delivered message from Wastewater Treatment Plant Manager Timmy Fristoe.

That message was that after completing $40 million in upgrades to the Town’s wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) council is staring at another $21 million in costs for “Phase Two” of plant upgrades.

Wait, what – WHY so soon for another major expenditure, town taxpayers might ask.

WWTP Manager Timmy Fristoe summarizes the state of the Town’s wastewater intake and outflow. The past year’s heavy rain accumulation has pushed the system to the edge of new expenses – how much remains to be seen. Photos/Roger Bianchini

As Fristoe explained it is because when the Town was staring at federal and state-mandated WWTP upgrades in 2008 to help cleanup the Chesapeake Bay watershed in an effort to preserve the Bay’s billion-dollar-plus fishing industry, the original cost estimate to meet State Department of Environmental Quality guidelines was $60 million.

Unable or unwilling to hike taxes enough to meet that cost at the time, the town government negotiated removal of some components of suggested upgrades to reduce the cost to a more palatable $40 million.

And now that the $40-million upgrade is completed the necessity of adding that deleted $20 million of previously deleted components has raised its expensive head, Fristoe told council.

The reason the issue has arisen so close to completion of the first phase of WWTP upgrades Fristoe and Town Manager Joe Waltz explained, is that the exceptionally rainy season the area has experienced over the past year has pushed the town system near the DEQ trigger point for the phase two WWTP upgrades to kick in.

But wait, Fristoe and Waltz explained there may be an alternative solution available – improvements to the town-wide storm and ground water Intake and Inflow (I & I) infrastructure system. Under a consent order from DEQ on that system, the Town recently commissioned a study of its I & I infrastructure. The estimated cost of I & I upgrades it is hoped would pull the Town back from that DEQ WWTP “trigger point” on phase two upgrades is $10 million.

Yea, what that says – and save about $11 million, at least for awhile.

Having experience with I & I issues from his time as the Town’s Public Works Director, Vice-Mayor Eugene Tewalt observed that Intake and Inflow infrastructure has long been an issue for the Town. Tewalt said he believed a $10-million expenditure to correct long-standing Intake and Inflow infrastructure problems that could help push back the necessity for $21 million more in upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant was a preferable path for council to pursue.

In response to a consensus in that direction, the town manager said he would prepare a work session presentation on the I & I plan being developed from the recent study of the system – “I think you’ll be pleased with what we’re doing,” Waltz told the mayor and council.
The precise numbers presented by Wastewater Treatment Plant Manager Fristoe indicated the Town saved $16,920,000 by reducing the scope of its WWTP upgrades a decade ago. Currently the estimate to add those removed components is $21 million – $3 million for design and $18 million for construction. That is a net loss of $4,080,000.

But with Intake and Inflow infrastructure already on the table for upgrades, the coming staff presentation on the estimated $10-million implementation of that plan could help keep Front Royal from reaching that DEQ trigger point for the additional $21 million in wastewater treatment plant upgrades – but for how long?

That may depend on – take your pick: the weatherman, climate scientists, God or those nefarious cloud-seeding planes some believe the deep state is utilizing to control our weather to whatever nefarious ends, including apparently raising Front Royal’s tax rates and burning California to the ground.

Watch the discussion here:

Download the Powerpoint presentation here:

Local Government

Warren County Budget Process: Commissioner of the Revenue, Director of Elections and Social Services

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Commissioner of the Revenue Sherry Sours discusses her budget with the Board of Supervisors. Photo and video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

The Warren County Board of Supervisors held work session with County Departments and Constitutional Officers regarding the FY 2019-2020 budget on Tuesday, February 12, 2019.

Royal Examiner  is following the process and in this fourth session, the Commissioner of the Revenue Sherry Sours, Director of Elections Carol Tobin and Social Services Director DeAnna Cheatham was before the Board of Supervisors with their proposed budget items. Each had about 10 minutes to make their case. The final decision will be determined by the Board of Supervisors.

Watch the process:

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Local Government

Warren County Budget Process: Building Inspector, Airport, Shenandoah Farms, and Magistrate

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Warren County Building Inspections Department David Beahm shares his proposed budget to the Board of Supervisors. Photo and video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

The Warren County Board of Supervisors held work session with County Departments and Constitutional Officers regarding the FY 2019-2020 budget on Tuesday, February 12, 2019.

Royal Examiner  is following the process and in this third session, Warren County Building Inspections Department David Beahm, Deputy Administrator Bob Childress and Chief Magistrate Monica Martin each had their ten minute block of time to discuss their proposed budget with the Board of Supervisors. Deputy Administrator Bob Childress discussed the Airport and Shenandoah Farms Sanitary District budget items. The final decision will be determined by the Board of Supervisors.

Watch the process:

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Local Government

Warren County Budget Process: Sheriff, Administration and Finance

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Warren County Sheriff Danny McEathron makes his pitch to the Board of Supervisors. Photo and video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

The Warren County Board of Supervisors held work session with County Departments and Constitutional Officers regarding the FY 2019-2020 budget on Tuesday, February 12, 2019.

Royal Examiner  is following the process and in this second session, Warren County Sheriff Danny McEathron, County Administrator Doug Stanley and County Finance Director Andre Fletcher each had their ten minutes in front of the Board of Supervisors to give the highlights of their proposed budget. The final decision will be determined by the Board of Supervisors.

Watch the process:

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Local Government

Warren County Budget process underway

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County Administrator Doug Stanley leads the discussion on the FY 2020 Warren County Budget.Photo and video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

The Warren County Board of Supervisors held work session with County Departments and Constitutional Officers regarding the FY 2019-2020 budget on Tuesday, February 12, 2019.

Royal Examiner  will follow the process over the next few weeks. In this first session, County Administrator Doug Stanley gives the committee an overview discussion before the County Departments and Constitutional Offices appear. It’s interesting to hear the discussion and see the detail of what it takes to put a budget together. It’s a slow and long process, but necessary.

 

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Local Government

County Fire & Rescue presents 5-year plan to augment staff, service

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You don’t need them till you need them – and when you do, you appreciate their importance to you and your community. Photos/Roger Bianchini. Video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

Warren County Fire Chief Richard Mabie and Fire Marshal Gerry Maiatico presented a Five-Year Staffing and Implementation Plan to the Board of Supervisors at a February 5 work session. Maiatico utilized a power point presentation (see Royal Examiner video below) to explain the rationale and cost implications to the county’s elected officials who hold the purse strings to realize the plan.

Maiatico stressed that the plan was developed to be “realistic and attainable”, taking into consideration where the county has been, is, and is anticipated to be demographically in five years; as well as where emergency services across the country are. That latter aspect is important as a comparison point to other communities’ departments the County’s Fire & Emergency Services Department must compete against in seeking federal or state grants to help fund operations or departmental expansion.

So far the department has not fared well in such grant applications, Maiatico noted. However, movement toward implementation of the plan presented Tuesday morning will give the department, not only a needed staffing boost, but also improve its competitive position in future grant applications.

“If you don’t swing, you don’t get a hit,” Maiatico said in response to Supervisor Linda Glavis’s frown at the information that emergency services grants are competed for by a nationwide array of emergency services departments.

Gerry Maiatico explains the process and plan to expand county fire & rescue over next five years to meet county needs – Dan Murray, right, and Archie Fox are pictured.

Crucial to the plan titled “Evaluating the Past, Preparing for the Future” is bringing the department into compliance with standards for staffing and response times based on specific community demographics developed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Those standards are called NFPA 1720.

“How do we meet NFPA 1720 standards to be eligible for grant funding,” Maiatico asked in prefacing the five-year plan he was about to present details of.

The short answer is over a five-year period add a total of 26 uniformed positions to the department’s current paid, uniformed career staffing total of 46 positions. Without significant grant assistance, Maiatico acknowledged such a goal “was not likely” within the recommended time frame.

But you have to start somewhere – and somewhere appears to be tied to a successful application for funding through the Safety for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant Program to add 15 additional staff positions; or failing that, a County commitment to add initial additional staff through County funding likely tied to a tax increase.

“If you don’t have adequate professional fire & rescue it is hard to attract better-paying jobs to the area – that is one thing companies look at when they are considering where to locate or expand,” Board Chairman Dan Murray commented.

A map of county fire & rescue service areas and station locations

The plan for the initial 15 positions, as with the eventual total of 26, would be to place them strategically, including floater positions that could move as countywide needs dictate.

“Some positions are slated to staff and serve additional units in underserved areas of the county, while others are planned to provide essential support services for field personnel,” page 4 of the report states.

The report includes a five-pronged “strategic objectives” plan of departmental priorities. Those objectives are: 24/7 staffing at Rivermont Company 2; increased staffing in high call volume stations; an increase in “floater” positions; adding some support service positions; and an increase in volunteer retention.

“We don’t have a recruiting problem, we have a retention problem – it is too easy to walk away these days,” Maiatico told the supervisors.

On the volunteer side of the department’s current makeup are 65 operational volunteer response personnel, with 45 associate personnel. Those volunteer responders help man eight combination fire and emergency medical staff stations serving more than 39,600 citizens over a 216 square mile county.

And as one person who is alive to write this story due to the timely, approximately two-minute response time, I am told, by Company One’s Advanced Life Support (ALS) unit upon the occasion of my cardiac arrest just over six years ago, I vote – if I had gotten that board vice chairmanship and had a vote – to see that County Emergency Services gets the funding and staffing necessary to adequately cover Warren County as we approach the third decade of the 21st Century.

Because as has been pointed out to me by a number of people since, had Company One’s ALS staff been covering, as they often do, an emergency outside town limits I would not be here now – lobbying for any necessary expansion of their budget to meet departmental needs.

As noted above, see Royal Examiner’s linked video of Gerry Maiatico’s power point presentation detailing a departmental staffing overview and Strategic Five-Year Staffing and Implementation Plan.

 

Oh, and thanks to Paula for keeping me going for those two minutes till Company One’s ALS boys arrived on scene.

A month after his heart abruptly stopped for no good reason this reporter thanks some of those who saved his life the afternoon of Dec. 31, 2012. Photo/Roger’s camera in hands of Co. 1 staff

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Holloway says too early to discuss Beer Museum legal challenge

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The Front Royal Town Council hurried through a brief open-meeting agenda – then there were those ongoing closed session EDA debt service issues. Photos by Roger Bianchini, Video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

A perhaps record-setting for brevity 10-minute long regular meeting of the Front Royal Town Council on Monday, February 11, saw an approval, an appointment and adjournment to closed session – a closed session that went on over an hour.

The closed session discussion was of two items requiring private legal counsel regarding “legal mechanisms related to handling potential debt service related to prior and current budget years with respect to the Economic Development Authority”.

During the regular meeting, appointed unanimously to the Urban Forestry Advisory Committee was Jason Lamb; and approved unanimously was a requested revision of proffers by BMW Real Estate LLC for development of a vacant property across John Marshall Highway from Royal Lane at the southeastern entrance into town.

No announcement was forthcoming following the closed session, which included EDA Interim Executive Director John Anzivino and EDA Attorney Dan Whitten, as well as 2 East Main Street LLC architect Jim Burton. The second closed session agenda item involved the Afton Inn property which the 2 East Main Street group is redeveloping.

However, of particular interest was one item that did not make the agenda. Newly-installed Councilman Chris Holloway, a former councilman and vice mayor, cast a lone vote not to add a third closed session item – discussion with legal counsel of David Downes’ Friday filing of a court petition seeking a legal reversal of council’s 4-2 vote denying his request for an off-street parking exemption for his Virginia Beer Museum.

Eugene Tewalt made the motion to add the third closed session item, which as a last-minute addition required a unanimous vote of approval. Queried about his vote keeping the item from being added to the closed session agenda, which drew a surprised glance from Mayor Hollis Tharpe, Holloway said he didn’t believe the discussion was necessary at this point. He noted council had just received information on the filing and observed that as of Monday evening the Town had yet to be served with Downes’ court petition.

Chris Holloway was in no mood to discuss a legal challenge of one of his first majority votes back on council.

As previously reported by Royal Examiner, Downes filing claims the January 14, 4-2 negative vote reversing a December 10, 4-3 vote of approval of the parking exemption request singled Downes out unconstitutionally as “a class of one without any rational basis for treating similarly situated property owners differently that own (a) other art galleries and museums in Town; (b) other properties on the west side of Chester Street between East Main Street and Peyton Street, and (c) other properties on Main Street and Jackson Street that are in the same revitalization area of downtown Front Royal.”

Virginia Beer Museum owner petitions court to overturn parking exemption denial

On January 14 Holloway joined Eugene Tewalt, Gary Gillespie and Bill Sealock in forming that 4-2 majority vote denying Downes’ parking exemption request (Meza and Letasha Thompson voted for approval). That vote reversed a December 10, 4-3 vote approving the request – Sealock, Meza, Morrison, Tharpe for, Tewalt, Connolly, Gillespie opposed.

Asked by the media whether he would consider changing his negative vote as the meeting adjourned to closed session, Holloway said, “I can’t be bullied into changing my vote.”

See all 10 minutes of this believed-to-be historically short regular meeting in this Royal Examiner video:

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