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Goodlatte speaks at Rotary luncheon, calls for better enforcement of existing gun laws

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Above, Virginia Sixth District U.S. House Congressman Robert Goodlatte was the featured speaker at the Front Royal Rotary luncheon on Friday, March 2. However, Denise Eastham, pictured below, was the meeting’s emotional focal point announcing some endowments left by her late husband Jim. Photos/Roger Bianchini

WARREN COUNTY – In what some constituents might consider a rare sighting in the northwestern outreaches of Virginia’s Sixth U.S. Congressional House District, Congressman Goodlatte addressed the weekly luncheon of the Front Royal Rotary Club on Friday, March 2.

Goodlatte was the featured speaker, though for many the emotional high point of the noon gathering at the Blue Ridge Shadows Holiday Inn was the appearance of Denise Eastham, widow of long time Rotary member, former Front Royal mayor and local banker Jim Eastham, who passed last November after a courageous bout against pancreatic cancer. 

Mrs. Eastham announced some endowments to local agencies and Rotary left by her husband; and received a little help from her friends in tracking down a certain local tree cutter, whom she insists is going to get paid by her husband for including their property in some tree work, whether he wants to or not. 

But back on the political side, Goodlatte opened by acknowledging his post-2017 Election Day decision not to seek re-election in the 2018 Congressional mid-terms.  That November 2017 state election saw Democrats erase all but one of the Republican’s 16-seat majority in the State House of Representatives.  Citing his future political retirement, Goodlatte said he would miss his constituents, though he admitted some remained “grouchy about me”. 

Goodlatte then traced some recent actions and issues on the federal scene.  One presidential initiative Goodlatte reserved judgment on was President Trump’s plan announced in recent days to impose hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.  The Sixth District delegate noted the plan was “making Wall Street nervous” as the specter of a trade war with China and Europe looms.  

Otherwise the House Judiciary Committee chairman generally towed the Trump Administration and Republican partisan line on things like tax reform and lowering corporate tax rates; what he termed “mandatory spending programs” like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid – they will not be eliminated, but reformed he said; infrastructure spending – singling out nearby Interstate 81 as a target for major improvements; immigration reform, including a long-term fix for DACA addressing the situation of people brought to the U.S. illegally as children, many of whom remember no other home and have become productive members of American society; and finally the issue at the forefront of many people’s minds after another mass school shooting – legislative action on gun control. 

In fact, the first three questions asked by Rotary members during a brief question-and-answer session following the delegate’s remarks were about access to semi-automatic weapons and school safety.  Goodlatte responded that he does not support a blanket ban on assault rifles of the kind used in the Parkland, Florida high school shooting that left 17 students and teachers dead.  Rather, the delegate said he thought Congress should focus on keeping such weapons out of the hands of people “who should not have them.” 

Instead of an emphasis on new laws limiting public access to semi-automatic weapons like those used in Parkland, Florida and last year in the Las Vegas concert shooting that was the worst mass murder in U.S. history; Goodlatte said he believed a “lack of enforcement of current laws” was the primary problem on the gun control front.  He called for increased prosecution of people who provided false information on gun purchase forms.  However, Goodlatte did indicate support for banning so-called bump stocks that essentially turn semi-automatic rifles into the machine guns they were designed to be used as in war zones. 

Asked what measures he would “support on Capitol Hill to protect students in school now” Goodlatte pointed to increased training to assure that existing response protocols during attacks were followed and met.   

The Congressman also dismissed the idea of raising the age at which semi-automatic assault weapons could be purchased from 18 to 21.  He noted states generally controlled age restrictions and observed that people are allowed to enlist in the U.S. military at 18. 

Congressman Goodlatte treads carefully on the volatile gun control issue, calling for better enforcement of existing laws and improved training of first responders.

Tax reform and loopholes 

During a brief interview with the media following the meeting, Goodlatte said he believed the boon to U.S. business from the Republican-Trump tax reform bill would eliminate the $1.5 trillion revenue deficit created by the bill’s largely corporate and top income bracket tax cuts.  Of the previous 35% U.S. corporate tax rate – a rate he called the highest in the developed world, reduced to about 21% by the Republican plan – Goodlatte admitted that some major U.S. corporations did not pay that rate when it was in place, at least on paper. 

“There are many, many, many companies that pay the full 35%. But there are some big ones, like GE (General Electric), that some years don’t pay any corporate tax. So, that’s also part of the tax reform – they will be paying more under this system.  Not as much more as I think they should have been,” Goodlatte said, stating he would have liked to have seen more in the way of closed loopholes in the tax reform plan, but believes overall the plan “will be better for the economy.” 

He added that he still believed spending cuts, including for programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid that he mentioned earlier, must be addressed or “shame on us.” 

Trump tariff threat 

Of the Trump tariff plan, Goodlatte elaborated, “I’m still looking at them – it’s a decision that the president gets to make.  Congress can respond and we’re looking at whether we should respond.  I am very concerned about these huge trade deficits that we run year after year after year.  It hurts the U.S. economy greatly when other countries send their products here and they set up barriers of various kinds to keep our products out of their countries.  And this is one response that the president has identified that he is taking.  But, as I mentioned in my remarks, it has some repercussions for doing so.  So, I think we need to look at this.” 

And the elephant on the Hill 

He also said that as Judiciary Committee chair he and his committee were keeping up with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. 

“We have followed the matter very, very closely.  But we have said we are not going to try to duplicate, replicate the investigation,” the congressman began, then pivoting toward other investigations and investigative agencies.  “We have been very concerned about FBI actions taken in their investigation of wrongdoing of former Secretary Clinton and her affiliates.  And we’ve been very concerned about potential misuse of authority by the FBI in their seeking to do the investigation here in regard to the so-called Russia influence matter. 

“However, we have always said that Mr. Mueller should continue his investigation and that I support that investigation.  When he files a report we will certainly look very carefully at what he has to say.  But I also will say that there has been nothing that he has shown us so far that would indicate collusion by the Trump campaign with whatever involvement Russia had with attempts to influence our election, which I do think took place.” 

Just as images of Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos and happy-hour FBI employee “secret societies” began dancing in this reporter’s head, Goodlatte Chief of Staff Pete Larkin interrupted to say it was time for the congressman to “get going” – which is obviously why he is chief of staff, and a timely one at that.  However, he did leave me a staff press contact point by which to submit any follow-up questions.

Perhaps surprisingly, Congressman Goodlatte said he supported the special prosecutor’s investigation and believes there were Russian attempts to meddle in our electoral processes. However, he added he has yet to see any incriminating evidence of Russian collusion here.

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Crime/Court

State Police release details of high-speed chase, arrest of Herndon woman

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On Wednesday, August 12, the Virginia State Police (VSP) issued a press release on the circumstance of the multi-jurisdiction pursuit and arrest of Herndon resident Jennifer L. Arnn. The release indicates the date of the incident as Thursday, August 6. Our initial report indicated the incident occurred on Friday, August 7, which is listed as her booking date on the RSW Jail website. VSP Public Information Officer Brent Coffey explained that Arnn spent Thursday night at the hospital for injuries incurred during the incident, which appear to be reflected in her jail booking mug shot.

Jennifer Arnn faces one animal cruelty charge resulting in the fatality of dog or cat; one reckless driving charge, one vandalism charge of intentional damaging of public property. Photo courtesy of RSW Jail.

That incident began with a reckless driving “Be on the Lookout” issued in Berkley County, West Virginia, after which VSP spotted the vehicle on I-81 in Frederick County, Virginia.
Below is the VSP release in its entirety:

WARREN CO., Va. – A Herndon, Va. woman is behind bars on multiple charges after she fled law enforcement Thursday (August 6, 2020). Virginia State Police have charged Jennifer L. Arnn, 39, in Warren County with three felony counts of assault on law enforcement, one felony count of intentional damage, one felony count of eluding law enforcement, one felony count of animal cruelty, one misdemeanor count of driving under the influence, and one misdemeanor count of possession of marijuana.

On Thursday at approximately 11:17 a.m. the Berkley County Sheriff’s Office issued a “Be On the Lookout” for a reckless driver. A short time later state police observed the suspect vehicle, a 2016 Mazda CS-X on I-81 at the 307-mile marker in Frederick County. State police initiated a traffic stop on the Mazda which stopped but took off when approached by a trooper.

The Mazda continued on Rt. 277 in Frederick County. The Mazda was eventually contained and stopped on I-66 at the 4.6-mile marker in Warren County. The driver, Arnn, was taken into custody without further incident. Arnn was transported to RSW Regional Jail and held without bond.

During the course of the pursuit, Arnn pushed her dog out the window. State police were able to locate the dog, but it did not survive its injuries.

Arnn struck three state police cruisers during the pursuit. One of the state police troopers suffered minor injuries during the incident.

The pursuit reached speeds of up to 100 mph.

Woman held at RSW Jail after state police chase, animal abuse-fatality charge

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Lynchburg City Council appoints Doug Stanley as new City Manager

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On Tuesday, August 11, Lynchburg City Council ended its search for a new City Manager with a vote to appoint Douglas P. Stanley to succeed the current City Manager, Bonnie Svrcek who will retire effective September 1, 2020. Stanley is the former County Administrator for Warren County, Virginia. He will assume his duties as City Manager on September 1, 2020.

Before taking a public vote during City Council’s work session, Mayor MaryJane Dolan stated that City Council had conducted a nationwide search for the City Manager’s position, and they were pleased with having had a number of very qualified candidates to consider. “Even with having to deal with a nationwide pandemic, we had a very competitive pool of talented candidates from across the country,” said Dolan. “Council has been very deliberate in making its choice, and we have complete confidence in Doug being the right person to lead the organization. Bonnie leaves behind a strong leadership team that will provide great support for him as he becomes acclimated in his new position.”

Stanley served as Warren County’s administrator for 20 years. He began his career in public service at the age of 25 when he was hired by Warren County as a Zoning Administrator. He became Planning Director at the age of 27 and then County Administrator in 2000, only the fourth person to hold the position of administrator in the county.

During his tenure with Warren County, he directed the construction of an over $200 million Capital Improvement Program including the construction of a new high school, renovation of a junior high school to a high school, the renovation of a former high school to a middle school and the construction of a new middle school, a library, a community center, and the renovation of a baseball stadium. He also spearheaded the concept and development of the creation of a three jurisdiction regional jail and served as its board chair.

Stanley is a graduate of Mary Washington College where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Geography. He received a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Graduate Certificate in Public Administration from Shenandoah Institute, Marsh Institute. Stanley is also a graduate of the Senior Executive Institute-Weldon Cooper Center at the University of Virginia.

His wife Jenny is an English teacher, and they have two children, Jenna and Whill.

“I want to thank the Lynchburg City Council for selecting me to be the next City Manager. My family and I look forward to this fantastic opportunity the next chapter in life brings. For me, it is not simply the job; it is about getting involved and becoming part of the community. I look forward to meeting citizens and stakeholders and becoming an active participant in our community.

Lynchburg is known throughout the Commonwealth for its stable and visionary leadership both at the Council and staff levels. I am honored to be following in the footsteps of Bonnie Svrcek and Kim Payne, two people who I have a tremendous amount of respect for, and I look forward to working with the dedicated staff of the City of Lynchburg in moving this community forward. I have a proven track record of 20+ years of local government management experience having been successful in Warren County, Virginia in helping the community rebuild its tax base, improve its infrastructure, and build strategic relationships with community partners and stakeholders. I am proud to have left Warren County a stronger, more vibrant, and resilient community, and I look forward to bringing that experience to the Hill City.”

(Press release from the City of Lynchburg)

Town Talk: A conversation with Doug Stanley

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New Student Welcome Week coming up at LFCC

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With the start of this fall semester’s first classes less than two weeks away, LFCC is rolling out the welcome mat – virtually, in most cases – for its new students.

A series of online sessions is scheduled to provide information on everything from career pathways, to available resources, to what a typical college day is like. Additionally, LFCC swag and important information will be handed out during curbside pickups.

“This year, with physical and social distancing a must, we’ve been given the chance to reinvent our New Student Welcome program, using both the virtual platforms – like Zoom – that we are now so accustomed to using while still keeping up with the traditional in-person festivities, but with a twist,” campus life and student engagement specialist Chris Lambert said. “Instead of just one day to welcome our new students, we have extended it into an entire week, which will allow us to introduce new sessions and programming options.”

The first set of fall classes starts Monday, Aug. 24, with other classes beginning Sept. 8 and Oct. 19. Most classes will be delivered remotely, but some classes that require in-person delivery will be on campus.

A busy slate of information and introductory sessions is scheduled for Aug. 17-22. Highlights include:

  • A New Student Panel that will let students know how they can get involved at the college, and what student life looks like these days. The panel will feature current LFCC students and is at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 17 on Zoom.
  • Ask the Faculty is a general question and answer session that will be on Zoom at 2 p.m. Aug. 20.
  • President Kim Blosser, Fauquier Campus Provost Chris Coutts and other college officials will have a special session just for parents and supporters of students to ask questions about LFCC and college resources during a Zoom session at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 19.
  • Curbside welcome pickups will be all week at all locations, with varying times.
  • Resource chats for everything from campus safety, to online learning, to academic accommodations are planned.
  • Zoom sessions on career pathways, including health professions, engineering, business, education, humanities and arts, transfer planning and undecided students are lined up.

For in-person classes, LFCC will follow the latest guidelines issued by the Virginia Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Students attending these classes will be required to sign an agreement stating they won’t attend class when sick or if they’ve been exposed to someone with coronavirus, will wear a mask while in class and will practice social distancing and follow other safety measures.

To see the full schedule of events, and get Zoom codes, visit lfcc.edu/welcomeday.

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School Board to consider moving start date of school to September 8th

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Dr. Chris Ballenger, Warren County Schools Superintendent, issued a press release on August 11, 2020, to notify parents and the community that they will propose to the Warren County School Board, moving the start date of school from August 27, 2020, to September 8, 2020. This proposal will be presented at the School Board meeting on August 19, 2020.

School officials indicated that more time is needed for longer delivery times of supplies and delays in implementing the Learning Management Systems. This change will also provide more time for teachers and staff to learn the new Learning Management Systems which will be the main portal students will use to access the virtual learning materials and courses.

The proposed calendar includes the following dates:

September 8 – First day of school for students

November 3 – Professional Day
November 10 – End of 1st advisory
November 11 – Holiday
November 25-27 – Thanksgiving Break
December 23-January 1 – Winter Break
January 18 – Holiday
January 29 – End of 2nd advisory/1st semester
February 15 – Holiday
March 29-April 5 Spring Break
April 13 – End of 3rd advisory
April 30 – Professional Day
May 31 – Holiday
June 17 – Last day of school for students

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Crime/Court

Woman held at RSW Jail after state police chase, animal abuse-fatality charge

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A 39-year-old woman is in Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren County (RSW) Regional Jail without bond on six charges related to an August 7th law enforcement chase during which at least one Virginia State Police cruiser was sideswiped.

Jennifer Arnn faces one animal cruelty charge resulting in the fatality of dog or cat; one reckless driving charge, one vandalism charge of intentional damaging of public property, likely at least police cars, and three charges of assault on law enforcement officers in the conduct of their job.

Jennifer Arnn sports some facial abrasions in her RSW mug shot. She was booked into the regional jail at 2:34 p.m., Friday, Aug. 7. Photo courtesy of RSW Jail.

A portion of the Friday afternoon incident was captured on a cell phone video posted on social media (see below). The video involves Arnn’s vehicle and what appears to be marked and unmarked police cars and an unidentified fourth vehicle stopped at an intersection in Warren County’s north commercial corridor near the Target-anchored Crooked Run Shopping Center.

The video appears to show Arnn attempting to leave the scene with something appearing to be hanging out of the rear passenger side of her car, the sideswipe of a pursuing state police car and Arnn’s vehicle heading southbound on Route 522/340 toward the intersection with I-66.

No place of residence was listed on the jail website and no further detail of the incident was available at the time of publication. This story will be updated as additional information becomes available.

The social media video (posted by Desirae Jean) of a portion of the incident in Warren County’s north commercial corridor:

YalllllllThis lady was getting flung around her car with every ram, and they had guns drawn on her, she was hell bent to get away 👀😳😳

Posted by Desirae Jean on Thursday, 6 August 2020

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Town Notice: Road Closure 17th St – N Shenandoah Avenue (Sheetz)

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The Town of Front Royal will be installing a slip lane on 17th Street at the intersection of W 17th Street and N. Shenandoah Avenue.

W. 17th Street will be closed from N. Shenandoah Ave to the side entrance to Sheetz from August 13, 2020-September 11, 2020 from 6:30 am-2:30 pm (Weather Permitting).

Signs and cones will be in place during closure and motorists are asked to use caution while driving in this area.

We apologize for any inconvenience.

Public Works 540-635-7819

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