Until a short time ago, Front Royal and Warren County seemed to be quiet, rural communities with their respective governments trying to keep taxes down and provide good services. Things were looking up – after years of a down economy the phoenix of the Avtex site was finally getting a big project in the form of IT Federal – which would mean jobs and a boost in the revenue base. There were many projects like this started by the EDA, which had an almost magical grip on the community. It was led by a person who would prove to be a pied piper of sorts; later to face multiple indictments for her many alleged defalcations. She managed to take a highly respected local sheriff down with her, along with an assortment of townspeople who were friends, relatives or business partners.
Things started to turn ugly. Many people faced criminal indictments and some were jailed. Sheriff Danny – May he rest in peace – took his own life. There was a great sucking sound from their respective budgets as the town and county engaged the services of forensic auditors to figure out the mess. Secret meetings were held; some said so as to not tip off the next batch of indictees as to what was coming their way. The town council and the board of supervisors suddenly became secretive – enemies in the eyes of many. Discontent manifested itself in the form of “in-your-face” confrontations and late night phone calls, yelling, screaming and cursing at the town and county leaders.
Now I’m not a lawyer and I don’t know too much about the law – but I’ve been told that a good lawyer could figure out a way to indict a “ham sandwich”. Well, finally, it did happen! A grand Jury was convened and whoever was in charge of “prosecution” managed to turn the entire Warren County Board of Supervisors and some other public servants into a collective ham sandwich. Yes, they were ALL indicted – all 14 of them. Mass Indictments! Boy that should really solve the problem!
Now if that wasn’t bad enough, a certain group of people went out into neighborhoods and started collecting signatures for a recall petition. I ran into one of them. I asked her what the petition she wanted me to sign was for and she said it was to “remove the entire Board of Supervisors from office” I said, “Well, Ma’am, how can you remove an entire board? – who will run the county? And does this fit with the notion where someone is innocent until proven guilty?” She didn’t have an answer for that, and I asked her if I could see a copy of the petition – she said “no”. I reminded her in passing that this is what elections are for. Throw the bums out if that’s what you want, but go to a place provided for that purpose – the polling place. Yes, Vote!
It sounds like a group of maybe 38 people, or one thousandth of the county population, has designated itself to rule the county by stripping it of its leadership. These people on the board were elected by a constitutional process. Right or wrong, the citizens of the county voted to have them as their representatives. Right or wrong, they have been functioning in that capacity.
Nonetheless, this dissident group got themselves a brave lawyer who filed the petition and suggested that not only should the supervisors be recalled, but (just to be on the safe side?) they should be removed “immediately” (like, in case they might do something even more damaging while in office?). Again, who is going to manage the affairs of the county after they have all been “removed”? Who are you going to put in there, volunteers?
Warren County has somewhat north of 38,000 people. The county supervisors handle some pretty massive budgets – they build and service roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, parks and public facilities, to name a few. For the last 15 years, my wife and I have been very happy living here, having escaped the “surly bonds” of Fairfax with its rapacious tax policy and command and control government. We’ve seen Warren county grow modestly while our taxes and the services provided have been entirely reasonable.
So we love living in the Valley, but don’t appreciate what’s happening right now. First, I don’t understand the mass indictments – it seems that the law could have been applied in a more constitutionally centered and selective way. And for those vigilante types assembled in the streets with torches and pitchforks? I have no use for this kind of justice either, and I doubt if their petition for removal will pass legal muster despite the fact it might have given them a warm fuzzy feeling when they filed it.
Finally, I think what’s happening to the supervisors in this county is a travesty. C’mon folks, these are your friends and your neighbors. They have families! They don’t deserve the treatment they have received, even though the EDA woman and her magic carpet apparently managed to take everyone for a ride. There has been an abundance of available afterthought as to what the supervisors and the county government “coulda/woulda/shoulda” done. I’m not sure what anyone would have done under the circumstances.
It’s going to take a while for all the legal & criminal proceedings to work their way through, and I would suggest that the residents of the county tone down the rhetoric and turn out and get your revenge the correct way – at the polls. Dan Murray & Linda Glavis are retiring. Some good people are running for their seats. Tony Carter and Archie Fox are not up for election this cycle. The only one with his head sticking up for re-election is Tom Sayre. Despite all the negative talk being thrown his way, I would consider Mr. Sayre to be entirely worthy of re-election. I believe he is an honorable man who was trying to take Magic Lady to task (and got sued for it). I’m sure he will continue to try to sort through the mess, and he should be reelected.
I worry now that the next group to be targeted is the town council. Are they keeping their heads down, waiting for the same fate as the county? Keep this disgusting trend going and we’ll have indicted and recalled every ham sandwich in the Valley! These people do not deserve the stain of indictments on their records, even if they are only little “fluffy” non-criminal indictments. I believe these are a gross misuse of the law.
And I’ll be damned if I’m going to allow some group of dissidents to recall and overturn my constitutionally elected supervisor!
So please, don’t forget to go out and vote on November 5th!
Front Royal, Virginia
Continental Congress calls upon the Black Regiment
The debating was over, and the Declaration of Independence had been approved by the Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia on a hot July day. Questions abounded still and anxiety as to the future was on the minds of men who had now affixed their signatures to a piece of paper destined to be the greatest and most historic document in the history of the world.
At the bottom of the original Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress had ordered that when printed and ready for distribution on July 4th the documents would be sent to parish clergy and ministers. The importance of this is that the instructions did not direct this circulation to town clerks or newspapers, but to preachers of the Gospel, men known as the “Black Regiment” thus named for the black robes they wore.
The pulpit had already played and would play a more important role in American freedom. The black-robed ministers would encourage activism and many would personally join in the fighting and serve as soldiers and chaplains. As many as one hundred would leave the pulpit of the church for the “pulpit of the camp and battlefield.”
The Declaration when it arrived in the hands of the clergy was “required to read the same to their respective congregation, as soon as divine service ended, in the afternoon, on the first Lord’s Day after they have received it.”
Church members would find it hard to have services without their ministers now gone to war and with attendance dropping off for lack of clergy personnel on the home front. However, the war and home front would be the same… every place where the British chose to camp and sought to destroy George Washington’s “rag tag” army in the north and Nathanael Greene’s in the South.
Tempers flared in all corners of the land and debates were held between Loyalists and patriot members of congregations. In Loudoun County, Virginia, at Ketoctin Baptist Church, a debate between Tory John Osborn and Preacher John Marks was arranged. Heated tempers caused the debate to be called off and John Marks joined General Washington’s Army as a Chaplain. John Osborn would not give up his support of the King’s cause and in defiance would name a new son Tarleton after one of General Cornwallis’ most cruel officers, Colonel Banastre Tarleton. Tarleton is portrayed in Mel Gibson’s movie The Patriot as merciless and inhumane.
The Rev. Jonathan Boucher, Anglican Priest, would carry not just his sermon into the pulpit but also a loaded pistol. His congregation was split and the danger of personal attacks was ever present.
The Rev. Peter Muhlenberg of Woodstock, Virginia, preached regularly for the cause of freedom for the American colonists. He had a surprise for his congregation on the day of his final service in his Woodstock church to drive home his point that the American Revolution must succeed. Following the final hymn, he threw off his black robe as he recited Ecclesiastes 3:1 to reveal his uniform of a militia colonel. He then recruited men of his congregation to join the fight for independence and they became known as the “German Regiment.” He had been licensed as an Anglican priest and ministered to the German settlers of the Shenandoah Valley. He served with honor as a Revolutionary War officer and rose to the rank of major general. There is a statue of this black robed priest in the yard of the old courthouse in Woodstock honoring the Rev. Major General John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, Priest, Patriot, Soldier and Hero.
The majority of Baptists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Puritans, Methodists, and most of the denominations in the Colonies excepting the Quakers would join in preaching the insurrection. Anglican priests were split because of their vows of allegiance to the King but still many would heed the call of Independence. The torch of Independence was lit early with Anglican George Whitefield’s arrival in the Colonies in 1740. He was known as the greatest preacher in the Colonies. He preached salvation through Jesus Christ and gave warning to the people about the oppression of the King in his revivals and launched the “Great Awakening.” He traveled from New England to Georgia setting attendance records and started “field preaching” which Anglican John Wesley also used. The difference in the political points of view of Whitefield and Wesley were commonly known. Wesley taught “obedience” to the Crown and Whitefield spoke of “man’s right of freedom” from oppression, including the slaves.
We cannot avoid, ignore, or abandon our responsibilities in striving to preserve the heritage secured by our Founders. Laity and the clergy must be vigilant and ever ready to fight for our Republic to ensure it is not weakened by interlopers and left for scavengers who come to suckle from the breast of Liberty bought with the blood of patriots. We must speak out against the mocking of our form of government and the eschewing of our Constitution to satisfy alien purposes while abandoning individual freedoms we treasurer. Our Founders knew and voiced the reality that moral values of Christianity are the “bedrock” foundation of our Republic and it will crumble without them.
I invite all true Americans from the mountains to the plains, from sea to shining sea, from Alaska to the Keys, and from Virginia to Hawaii to light the fires of that “old time religion” and preserve the freedoms won on the frozen tundra of Valley Forge, in the icy Delaware River, on the dusty field at Guilford Courthouse, in the snake filled swamps of South Carolina, and finally, on the sandy beaches at Yorktown.
Arise if you heart is filled with concern for the future of our Country.
Larry Wilson Johnson
Front Royal, Virginia
Is there something to hide regarding past County actions at FR Golf Club?
My name is Brandon Tolson. I have been a member and\or worked at the Front Royal Golf Club for the last 2 decades, under the member-run tenure and the current county-run administration. With that being said I’ve been part of, and witnessed firsthand many different good and bad situations. That is why I’m trying to get as much information out that many county citizens know little about.
First, being how the County inherited such a prime piece of commercial real estate. It was decided by 1 vote in the end, and there are still people to this day that voted nay to County occupation who believe it was a payed-for land grab. Many still want the members to take back control of this facility. But let’s move past that and talk about what the County has done at Front Royal Golf Club.
Well after the initial handshaking and back patting died down and we got past all the “what the county was going to do for you” talk, the wheels quickly appeared to start spinning on how to sell some of the property – and it was moved as Dominion Power became interested in the area. Some would say for the good others for the bad, I let you be the judge of that.
So then most folks would say there should have been some profit here since you sold/leased off prime long-term equity for short-term gains, right? There must have been. With that being a one-time deal you would think if you were in it for the love of historic recreation and a frugal money manager (which you should be when you handle all our tax dollars) you would know that you would have to set that aside for minor restoration and upkeep at the very least.
Even at this point a large investment and major restoration could offer even larger rewards. But instead, it was put in the county government fiscal year churn and spit out God knows where, with both the County and the EDA involved in the property’s advisory group.
Then they did their patent move: raise the price on everything to the club membership and guests.
At this point I can only speculate whether it was to start to sink the ship for a land movement, or was it just because they thought they could. But basically what you’ve done for your loyal followers thus far was to sell or lease one-third of our land; did nothing new for the golf course or boat ramp; and put a walk trail thru it which everyone with proper mental compacity was against, citing hitting little white rockets at children and chihuahuas as potentially cruel and inhumane. But they did it anyway to diversify the recreational uses and because they’re trying to connect that corner of the world with walk trails.
And some lucky fella down river has been getting fencing material ever since. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good walking trail, and my son and soulmate and I have even enjoyed the Shenandoah National Park at the top many times, as I’ve witnessed many families do. But I wouldn’t have built a walking trail thru a dead man’s memorial golf course built for his unfortunate son, pre-WW II and left basically to the people – too much opportunity for a BAD golf ball/hiker accident. I wish I could have met them both so I could shake their hand and say thank you for all the recreation and employment it has given me; not to mention just the life lessons learned while being out watching other earthlings operate.
But looking past headache lane, the course was handicapped further when all stormwater and trash from the Walmart and Lowes-anchored shopping center was allowed to run off on top of the course and what we couldn’t clean up, was in to your beloved Shenandoah River for years now. All the trash that doesn’t make it in the dumpsters, and even some that does, goes on our course and then in the river. It seems the course is used as a filter. Does the course get paid to be a trash and litter filter?
Wait there’s more: then we started the whole indentured servant program picking up prisoners from RSW to work for free on the course. Then forcing your workers to take responsibility of inmates without any training or pay increase. And making them pick up different sex inmates which anybody would know you are putting your workers in a bad situation, as well as the inmate. Not to mention the county-wide expenditures put on the golf course cost code.
Year after year; bad decision after bad decision.
But to be honest with you, how could we not at least give these new guys that got some love for the game a shot at running it just for the very least to get to the bottom of a financial enigma using them as a cheap 3rd party audit, and maybe a long-term good thing for us, the people Mr. Carson Sr. intended the course’s use for into the future.
So what if they are competing with other businesses? If the course loses there will be a Home Depot or it’s like competing there, providing pollution and no recreation. Did I mention by then we might just find out what was really going on out there at the Front Royal Golf Club?
The only way they can’t take the new deal being offered that brings money to the county is if they’re scared of uncovering a financial trail to explain some of what I have described above; or they are just incompetent. One thing I know thru all my experience – and for anyone that doesn’t know me, it’s vast and I know multiple successful golf business owners here and abroad – that place can operate at a tenth of the cost of what they’re telling you at the worst. The place didn’t stay in business for 80 years losing money. I don’t think we have a Golf Course Problem as much as we’ve had a county management problem. Properly managed it is just fine with the beautiful river beside it. And even during the recent turmoil it has remained a place for many to get out and find themselves, as I think Mr. Carson intended beyond his and his son’s lives. Damn near any county would be grateful to have it as a municipal recreational option for its citizens.
Say yes to the new course management contract offer and no to incompetence and abandonment.
Warren County, Virginia
Domestic Military Action
If you read this column, then you know my goal is not to persuade a particular belief but to merely inform with historical knowledge. Such is the case with many online comments I have read over the past few weeks. With protest marches widespread, President Trump has threatened to use military action to stop the violence. I read recently that if the President uses military action against American citizens, then this country as we know it is over. I am not saying that we should use the army, and I am hoping it is not necessary. However, historically speaking, it has been done before, and actually our Constitution was created because of it.
As always first things first, something we don’t always use as much as we should. The Preamble to the Constitution lays out the five main roles of the federal government. The government is to establish justice, provide defense from our enemies, promote the welfare of its people, secure our liberty, and of course ensure domestic tranquility. In other words, one of the principal functions of the government is to protect us from internal threats.
In the first century of our nation, those functions meant very different things. This was the century where the federal government had little role in people’s lives. One area the government took seriously was domestic tranquility, especially when it came to strikes. As labor unions grew and began to strike, the American government always took sides with management. If the companies and their people could not break strikes themselves, then state militias and even the federal government was always willing to step in. Arguably the most famous of these strikes was the Pullman strike.
In 1894 the American Railway Union went on strike. It started at the Pullman company town outside Chicago. Among the many complaints was that the Pullman Company reduced wages but not rent on the home’s employees were forced to live in. When railway workers across the nation struck, President Cleveland called out the Army to put it down.
As I said in the beginning, the idea of using federal forces helped lead to the Constitution. When men like Alexander Hamilton called for a stronger federal government at the Annapolis Convention in 1786, they did not receive much support. However, shortly after they adjourned, Massachusetts experienced Shays’ Rebellion. As always, my space is limited, so suffice to say a group led by Daniel Shays, upset with treatment from the Massachusetts government, marched in Boston. Governor Bowdoin called out the militia, but Shays’ men were veterans and many were part of the militia. Bowdoin was forced to collect private funds to raise a private militia. Under the current government then, there was no federal support. Shays’ Rebellion scared the other states who were having similar incidents and worried about what might happen with rebellions in their own areas. Shays’ Rebellion was one of the incidents that motivated leaders to meet at the Constitutional Convention to secure federal protection against domestic insurrection.
It did not take long for the new government and Washington to use the army. In 1794 when western Pennsylvania farmers protested a new tax on whiskey, Washington sent out the U.S. Army to squash the protesters and show the nation that there was a new sheriff in town or at least a new government. He even led the army part of the way, the only time a president marched at the head of the U.S. Army.
Washington was not alone. In fact, three of the four presidents respected enough to make Mount Rushmore used the army domestically. Most people know Lincoln used the army to maintain martial law in the south, but he also used it to influence domestic affairs in officially union states, like Missouri and Kentucky. The army even arrested the Democratic candidate in the 1863 Kentucky governors’ election. Teddy Roosevelt did not end up using the army, but in 1902 during the Anthracite Coal strike, when management refused to negotiate with the union, he threatened to use the army to take over the mines.
Throughout the rest of the 20th century, presidents continued to use the army in domestic affairs. When WWI vets marched on Washington to collect their promised bonus in 1932, President Hoover called out the army to disperse them. Then of course there are all the events during the Civil Rights Era. In 1957 when Governor Faubus of Arkansas blocked the Little Rock Nine from entering Central High, President Eisenhower called out the 101 Airborne Division. There were several riots in 1967 and 1968, especially after the death of Dr. King, and while National Guard units handled most of the violence, in some episodes the army was called out.
I am hoping the army is not needed in the protests and that the message is given without violence. You can also share your opinions on whether the President should or should not use the army on civilians. Make your arguments for both sides, but make them correctly.
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.
Editorial Reply: An American or Christian ‘taking back’ of our nation?
We find ourselves torn by Mr. Accornero’s submission: on the one hand, we do not disagree that the American political system has become extremely dysfunctional on both sides of the aisle, though our editorial board may be divided on which side has gone further off the deep end.
That said, we are collectively confused by Mr. Accornero’s assertion that we pick “the Bible” up in one hand and “the Constitution” in the other to “take back our country” from dysfunctional and self-serving politicians.
Don’t get us wrong, faith is an integral and important part of the lives of many Americans, as well as others around the world. However, our Founding Fathers were clear in outlining a political and cultural nation in which there would be no one, dominating faith telling all how to worship, believe, or whether to believe at all. The then-recent experience of the Puritan abuses in the New England colonies, where those found wanting to the Puritan ideas of faith and worship were publicly humiliated, physically tortured and sometimes murdered as “witches” for a differing, nature-oriented belief system, was fresh on the minds of our early national leaders.
Consequently, while faith was not discouraged, it was made clear that no one religion, not even the dominant Christian theology with its branches, would hand down a prescription for how American lives would be led and prayers said if said at all.
Rather, it would be a system of secular law applied equally to all – well, except for those imported African slaves and Native Americans white Europeans so inconveniently found already settled in the “New World” when they arrived looking for a shortcut to the Far East trading nations, hence the misnomer “Indians” for those natives.
But at least it would be secular laws applying equally to all qualifying citizens, and their guests.
And importantly, our Constitution would be written so it could be amended and improved upon as we and our society grew and improved. It would not be a stagnant society with set-in-stone tablets of “Divine Law” creating an oppressive theocracy such as some colonies had experienced with the Puritans, a particularly offensive branch of Christianity essentially driven from Europe for their fanatical interpretation of faith and “Divine Law”. Nor did our Founding Fathers want a duplication of the Catholic Inquisitions that had plagued portions of Europe as faith collided with scientific discoveries and diverse opinions on the nature and implementation of “God’s Law”.
Yes, God may have become acknowledged on our money and in our Pledge of National Allegiance, but it was no one faith’s GOD. It was whatever one chose to believe of a Creative Force of the universe and our nation.
So, when Mr. Accornero says “pick up a Bible in one hand” is he limiting participation in the take-back of the nation from a failing and corrupt political system to Bible-carrying Christians alone? And if so, would he further limit participation to the Christian brand and Bible version he subscribes to? Were he Catholic, would he fear another Calvinist uprising were Protestants allowed to participate? And if Protestant, would he fear the rule of the “Bishop of Rome” were the Catholics involved?
You see where this leads.
Ultimately it leads to the same kind of division we are currently sliding into as that corrupt and failing American political system Accornero has targeted for change pits us against each other, rather than against a common enemy – corruption.
And we would suggest that Mr. Accornero not simply look overseas for those who would buy and control corrupt politicians. Sure they are there, directly impacting our political system to this day. But beware of threats to the Republic “both foreign and domestic” as we have been warned.
So, let us unite across faiths, and even with those of no set faith, to put our country back on a path of transparency and honesty in the conduct of a government by the people and for the people, rather than for a corrupt financial elite and their bought and paid for political operatives on either side of the political aisle.
Can I hear an “AMEN” brother – Though a strictly non-denominational, non-faith binding one?!!?
Roger Bianchini, Member, Royal Examiner Editorial Board
Time We the People to take back America!
How have we gotten into the mess we are in? We have a do-nothing Congress who does not have the courage to stand up for our Constitution, God, and Country or their oath of office. We have a Court system that has surrendered the United States Constitution to special interest. How did we come this far without a fight?
We have surrendered our rights as American Citizens to the likes of outside interest groups, who buy our candidates and then tell us who we should vote for? They do not care who the President is.
Democrat or Republican makes no difference to them because both are bought and paid for by them. Did we really forget that our President, Government, and Courts work for “We the People”?
Did our Founding Fathers really want a Government who are career politicians who make more than the military who defend our country? Do you remember when we allowed prayer in schools, parents had rights, and we stood up for the pledge of allegiance? When there was respect for parents, the elderly, and one another?
Now it’s time to right our wrongs. When did we take the Bill of Rights and our Constitution for granted? Too many brave young men and women have given their all to defend it. It’s time we take account of ourselves and take the Bible in one hand and our Constitution in the other and remember what we stood for.
It is not too late if we get on our knees and ask God to forgive us for what we allowed to happen to our Country. We can no longer sit on the sidelines and leave it for others to do. We are all in this together. Our two-party system has for many years sold us out. We need to vote for the best man or woman that represents our values regardless of what party they are in.
Let us begin to take back our God, our Constitution, and our Country. Let us thank our military for the job they have done to keep us free from the very people who are trying to take over our country from within. They have taken an oath, as have all elected officials, to defend our Country for all enemies both foreign and domestic. I would humbly suggest, our Judges, and Congress take our Constitution off their shelf, dust it off, and actually read it. Time to get back to the BIBLE AND THE CONSTITUTION!
WAKE UP AMERICA IT’S TIME TO TAKE BACK OUR COUNTRY!!
‘Helltown’ and race
I take offense to Warren County and Front Royal being referred to as racist, full of white supremacy, if your born white you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth. There is racism in some people no matter what color or nationality. Maybe one day in the future this will change. One can march, hold festivals, or whatever to stop racism, but it will not change some minds who do not want the change for now.
I saw a post on one of the local Facebook pages stating Front Royal was known in the past as “Helltown” because of the slavery here. Nothing is further from the truth. In the late 1700s, livestock traders and boatmen coming through on the Shenandoah River, stopped here for the local saloons and yes, you guessed it, raise “hell”. It had nothing to do with slavery. Let’s keep non-truths out of this.
The following is what I see in this community. People of a different color, different nationalities letting other people of a different color or nationality go ﬁrst at a four-way stop sign. Not racism.
I see people of different colors or nationalities hold a door open for another of a different color or nationality. Not racism.
I hear the words “excuse me” at a store from one person to another no matter what the color or nationality. Not racism.
I see and hear the word “hello” or the words, “have a good day” from people of different colors or nationalities. Not racism.
I see good conversations taking place, with not caring about color or nationality. Not racism.
As I said, racism may come to an end in the future in all societies, but you can’t force it to end. It lies in whites, blacks, and all nationalities. But what I see here locally is people living, working, shopping, playing, and dining out together no matter the race, color, or nationality. We need to look at how far we have overcome racism from people of all colors and nationalities in this area if we want to continue, not condemn. To blame a certain color of people as the problem for racism only fuels racism. It is not a wise judgment for one to say all people of one race or another are racists because of the actions of a few.
Front Royal, Va.