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Kristie Atwood vs. Warren County Building Department



Victor and Kristie Atwood talk to their attorney David Silek on the phone. Photo and video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

After some exchanges in a “loud tone” over the phone with Ms Atwood’s attorney David Silek over not properly notifying him of the hearing, the meeting was started. Two Board members, George Cline and  David Buracker recused themselves and stepped down from the platform. After nearly an hour of discussion, the appeal was postponed until July 18, 2019.

The Royal Examiner’s camera was there:

Here’s the report from ABLE Building Inspection:

First, David P. Rushton from ABLE provided a summary list for the appeal session on a few of the report item numbers that he believed would be of concern to David Beahm County Building Inspector.  Mr Rushon stated that Mr. Beahm would not interested in cosmetic or aesthetic concerns as a building official, that he would be primarily concerned with construction deficiencies and possible code violations. Rushon said, “Of course, Mr. Beahm will have his own thoughts about the issues in your home. This is just my idea of the issues that may be of concern to him”.

These numbers reference the main report provided below:

2, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 31, 33, 37, 38, 40, 41, 43, 48, 49, 50, 52, 53, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 61, 63, 69, 70, 76, 79, 80, 82, 84, 85, 87, 88, 89, 90, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 106, 111, 116, 118, 119, 120 and 125.

This is the first report provided by ABLE Inspection on September 11, 2017:
Time Start: 9:45 AM Time Finish: 6:15 PM
Weather: Cloudy, temperature about 65⁰ F.

Click here to download photos.

General Notes
A. Directions, e.g. front, rear, left and right, are as viewed from the street facing the front of the house.
B. The inspection was limited by belongings and storage in the home and garage.
C. This report was prepared with the following information:
i. Meeting with Kristie Sours Brown on September 20, 2017,
ii. Copy of construction plans provided by Ms. Sours Brown,
iii. Copy of construction plans files and approved by Warren County, VA,
iv. LP SmartSide Install Instructions Strand,
v. LP SmartSide Trim and Soffit Install Instructions, and
vi. The 2009 Virginia Residential Code.
D. The final building inspection was issued on July 18, 2016.
Contract Administration
1. The construction contract was issued by Buracker Construction, LLC, and signed by Martha A. Buracker. Buracker Construction, LLC, is not registered as a licensed contractor in Virginia.
2. The building permits for the construction of the home were issued by the Warren County Building Department on or about July 22, 2017 to the applicant, Buracker Construction, LLC, a business entity that does not have a valid contractor’s license.
3. The construction contract calls for written and signed change orders for all contract changes. There were numerous plan and material specification changes through the course of the contract. No written changes orders were provided by Buracker Construction, LLC.
4. The construction contract specifies an initial draw payment, a payment when the house is one half complete and a final draw upon completion. Overages or refunds were to be adjusted at closing. Eight actual draws were provided during the course of construction.
Structure and Framing
5. The garage roof trusses are not 12 in 12 pitch as shown on the building plans. OSB flooring was installed on the roof trusses for storage accessed by pull down stairs into the garage. Per information from Ms. Sours Brown, the attic storage room and stairway shown in the original plan were to be installed with conventional framing. The finishes for the garage storage room were the only items that were to be deleted from the construction specifications. All other construction in this area was to remain as originally specified. No change orders were provided to document this construction change.
6. Diagonal bracing is recommended for the garage roof truss system and the upper, main attic conventional framing system.
7. The upper roof framing is 16” on center. 24” on center was specified for the framing in the plans.
8. There were signs of moisture through the foundation walls in the cold cellar. The foundation insulation installed on the inside of the basement walls limited the inspection of these walls for moisture penetration concerns.
9. Cardboard was visible under the cold cellar roof structure steel pans. This may cause settling of the concrete slab above and be an attractant for termites. The cardboard should be removed and metal shims or non-shrink grout installed in any openings created by the cardboard removal.
10. The joist hangers are missing fasteners and adhesive at the basement stairway.
11. The floor and roof support beam bearing is inadequate at the right side porch. The design size of this beam should be confirmed by a registered design professional.
12. The post for the porch roof is not properly supported on the beam below the porch floor.
13. The support for the ends of the diagonal beam under the front deck is inadequate.
14. Joist hangers are missing at the diagonal beam at the front right corner of the porch floor.
15. The porch posts have no restraint against vertical uplift or horizontal forces at their connection to the patio slab.
16. The porch posts have structural screws installed diagonally as restraint against vertical uplift at the lower connections to the deck. Are these screws rated for uplift in this installation? Evaluation by a registered design professional is recommended.
17. The porch posts and diagonal bracing are secured to the roof beam with finish nails. No structural fasteners are visible in these connections. Evaluation by a registered design professional is recommended.
18. One support post was cut too short for the beam under the front porch. Shims were installed under the beam. These shims were not installed vertically and will shrink allowing the beam to settle more at this post than the others.
19. The access to the rear attic is not a minimum of 20” wide.
20. A ceiling joist is cut with no header at the fireplace chimney through the rear attic.
21. The installation of the exterior LP Smartside siding and trim materials does not comply with the manufacturer’s installation instructions.
22. The concerns with the LP Smartside installation are:
a. Flashing is missing at the horizontal siding joints on the gable ends,
b. Some fasteners do not appear to be galvanized or stainless steel in an exterior installation,
c. The fastener installation for the trim does not comply with the manufacturer’s nailing instructions,
d. The fasteners for the trim were not installed flush but were overdriven in past flush,
e. 1” minimum space was not provided between the concrete patio, the siding and trim,
f. The required 3/8” space at butt joints in the siding and at joints between the siding and window and door trim, and inside and outside corner trim has not been provided,
g. The cut ends of the siding and trim have not been sealed,
h. The siding and trim joints have not all been caulked,
i. A minimum clearance of 6” between the siding and grade has not been provided,
j. The siding projects past the corner trim on the garage,
k. The siding trim is in direct contact with the stone veneer of the fireplace chimney, and
l. The gutters do not terminate at least 1” away from the siding. The siding and trim installation problems will affect the manufacturer’s warranty on the products.
23. The porch guardrail posts do not extend through the decking and are not fastened to the structure except with diagonal finish nails. Finish nails are not considered to be structural connectors in guardrail applications. The wood members of the guardrail have shrunk and are no longer tight. The guardrail should be designed to withstand 200 pounds of horizontal force at any location and 50 pounds of horizontal force per linear foot of railing.
24. The porch floor trim boards are loose and twisting.
25. Siding batten spacing is 24” apart. Ms. Sours Brown was shown several houses by Martha Buracker and was told that the siding and trim installation would match that of the other houses. The example houses had the battens spaced 16” apart per Ms. Sours Brown.
26. Board and batten siding was not installed on the right garage gable wall. Horizontal siding was installed on this gable wall.
27. The aluminum cap trim is not cut tightly to the wood posts. The gaps have not been caulked.
28. The aluminum trim is wavy and loose.
29. The cap trim repair where the posts were relocated on the rear and right side porches does not match the other trim.
30. The aluminum trim is buckled and dented on the garage door frames.
31. The flashing is lifted and loose at the chimney.
32. The stone veneer and mortar on the chimney is bleeding onto the chimney and the adjacent roof shingles. The stone veneer is bleeding onto the porch floor.
33. Head flashing was not found above the front circle head window. Water stains are visible in the interior finishes around this window.
34. The pre-finish on the LP siding has been damaged in numerous locations.
35. The touch ups of the LP siding paint do not match the original finish.
36. Sealant is missing on the left side of the right front dormer.
37. The stair stringer attachment at the both porch steps is inadequate. The front porch steps are settling and pulling away from the porch. Metal stair hangers are recommended. This is a safety concern.
38. No foundation was provided at the stair stringers to support the stairs.
39. The front porch steps do not flare out as specified in the construction contract addendum.
40. Some fasteners in the cedar porch posts and trim appear to be corroding prematurely. Stainless steel or double dipped galvanized fasteners are recommended with cedar due to the natural acids in the wood that contribute to its’ weather resistance.
41. No foundation to frost line was found below the rear patio slab that was poured between the basement cool storage room and the garage.
42. The right side porch floor does not overhang the concrete block foundation wall. Water is running from the floor and wall above down the foundation wall. The parging on the wall is subject to freeze/thaw damage in this area.
43. No drain holes were found at the base of the masonry wall on the rear porch.
44. The cap has not been installed on the right side rear porch wall.
45. The front entry door latch is broken.
46. The master bathroom exterior door knob handle is loose and comes off.
47. The master bathroom exterior door deadbolt does not lock.
48. The rear porch has no screened in section as shown in the plans.
49. The rear porch has no bay style bump out for the roof and floor as shown in the plans.
50. No windows were installed in the garage upstairs gable end walls.
51. The basement entry door lock is damaged.
52. The basement door threshold has not been secured or sealed to the concrete floor.
53. The rear garage entry door threshold has not been secured or sealed to the floor.
54. The rear porch concrete slab projects past the end of the side deck.
55. The rear left corner of the patio by the garage is settling excessively.
56. Grading and drainage at the front does not slope away from the foundation a minimum of 6” in the first 10’ especially under the front porch.
57. The stone veneer is set tightly to the roof shingles at the chimney. A minimum space of 1” is recommended in these intersections. Weep screeds were not found at this location.
58. Kick out flashings are missing at the breezeway roof into the garage and house walls.
59. The openings in the basement foundation wall at the door and windows have not been covered with stucco. The stucco mesh does not extend over the joints between the foundation wall and wood frame. This joint will crack immediately and re-crack after every repair.
60. The rear entry door is scratched.
61. A concrete form board has not been removed outside the basement entry doors.
62. The contract plans call for cedar ceiling on the porch. Vinyl ceiling panels were installed.
63. The dirt and masonry demolition and construction debris was pushed over a hill. It does not appear to be buried. Large pieces of concrete and concrete block are visible in the debris.
64. The driveway does not have the final grading completed. The front lawn drains across the driveway causing erosion and chronic maintenance in this area.
65. Final grading, seeding and straw cover were completed but the grass failed to grow. The final grading was not completed per the discussion between David Buraker, George Cline, the excavating subcontractor, Vincent Atwood, Jr.and Kenny Sours, Kristie’s father. The yard has areas that remain wet in spring and wet weather.
66. The left side porch roof shingles are stained from the air conditioning condensate draining onto the shingles. Replace the stained shingles is recommended.
67. The roof flashing has been sealed with roof cement at the lower ends of the front dormers.
68. The downspout is dented at the front left corner of the garage.
69. A roof/ wall vent has not been installed at the front porch per the plans.
70. The plumbing vent pipes should be supported every 4’ through the main attic and pitched to drain down into the drain system.
71. The tub faucet spout is loose in the upstairs right bathroom.
72. The front shower handle is loose in the master bathroom.
73. An access panel was not found for the tub motor.
74. The toilet seat is broken in the master bathroom.
75. The laundry and whirlpool tub plumbing are located on exterior walls and subject to freezing.
76. A tempering valve was not found for the master bathtub. This is a potential scald hazard.
77. The two stage toilet in the powder room does not refill properly.
78. The upstairs bathroom toilet was running during the inspection. It needed the handle to be jiggled to stop the water flow.
79. The basement floor drain is not accessible under the heat pump air handler. This is a maintenance concern.
80. The frost-free hose bib near the basement entry door freezes in winter. The bib is not pitched to drain water down and out of the fixture.
81. The foundation drain outlet is damaged and restricted in the right side yard.
82. A single, small gauge copper wire is running through the garage attic to the electrical panel. This may be a bonding wire for the whirlpool tub. Small gauge wires are required to be protected with running boards when installed across framing members through an accessible attic.
83. The electrical panels were installed in the side wall of the garage rather than in the basement per plan/contract reference.
84. A GFCI receptacle is recommended in the basement for the water conditioning equipment.
85. The exterior fireplace glass doors were binding and not closing. The fireplace doors shattered during the third use of the fireplace.
86. The fireplace in family room is different manufacturer and model than shown on the receipt from Acme Fireplaces.
87. Family room fireplace damper is damaged and not closing tightly.
88. The interior of the family room fireplace is damaged and bent at the damper/ chimney pipe connection at the top of the firebox. This is an unsafe condition (fire hazard).
89. The family room fireplace refractory lining is significantly damaged and cracked.
90. Significant smoke evidence and heat damage is visible on the exterior metal and stone veneer of the family room fireplace.
91. The glass doors are not installed on the family room fireplace. The doors were damaged during the second use of the fireplace.
92. The family room fireplace chimney system does not match fireplace itself but is made by a different manufacturer. Metal fireplace and chimney systems are tested and listed as complete systems. This is an inappropriate installation and an unsafe condition.
93. There is less than the 2” required minimum spacing between the living room fireplace metal chimney system, the roof framing and fiberglass insulation in the attic.
94. The upstairs heat pump primary condensate drain in the attic discharges through the attic side wall and onto the porch roof below. The condensate drain line should be brought down through the interior of the home and discharge into the sump pump or outside onto the ground.
95. The insulation is incomplete at the refrigerant line to the air handler in the attic.
96. The flexible duct in the basement was not fully extended. This is a manufacturer’s installation instruction and system efficiency concern.
97. The heat pump disconnects are located behind the exterior equipment. Access to the disconnects is restricted.
98. The wood fired boiler noted in the extra cost addendum was not installed.
99. The stair riser heights differ by more than 3/8” from the house into the garage. The top riser height exceeds 8 ½” measured to the top of the door threshold.
100. The attic pull down stairs are missing fasteners to secure the stair frame to the garage ceiling framing. This is a safety concern.
101. The attic stairs, wood corner trim and plastic access panel breech the fire separation between the garage and the attic. This is a fire safety concern.
102. The access to the rear portion of the upper attic should be at least 20” wide.
103. Have the garage roof trusses been designed to accommodate anticipated storage loads?
104. 7/16” thick oriented strand board has been installed for storage across the garage ceiling trusses spaced 24” apart. This material is not intended for use as flooring. It may break under storage or personnel loads creating a safety concern.
105. No shelving was installed in the basement or garage.
106. Firesafing material has not been installed in the following locations:
a. At the fireplace chimney firestops in the attic, and
b. The electrical cables into the attic (visible above the main panel), and
c. At the tub drain in the basement.
107. The interior drywall finishing and painting is incomplete at the upstairs left bathroom and the upstairs family room wall. Touch up of all drywall and paint was to be provided by Buracker Construction LLC per Kristie’s conversation with Martha Buracker.
108. A square shoe molding has been installed throughout the house at the base moldings on the hardwood and tile floors. This square profile is difficult to clean. A ½ x ¾” tapered shoe molding is typically installed at this location.
109. The entry foyer wood floor is stained in front of the powder room wall from a toilet that was stored on the wood floor.
110. The ceramic tile is loose at the rear of the master bathtub platform.
111. The master walk-in closet does not have adequate space between the rods and shelves to hang clothes and walk between the clothes.
112. Several windows are stuck and/or binding. Adjustments are recommended.
113. Three pocket doors were specified in the contract. No pocket doors were installed in the home.
114. The tile work in all the bathrooms was repaired several times during the final completion of the home. The tile in the master bath shower is misaligned and out of square. The niche in the shower wall has a joint at the sill that will permit water to enter the wall behind the tile.
115. The root cellar in the basement measured 6 x 6 ½’. The contract calls for a 6 x 8’6” room.
116. The door thresholds were not cut out in the basement interior walls. This is a trip hazard.
Kitchen, Baths, Insulation and Ventilation
117. The insulation has been displaced in the garage and upper attics. This lessens the performance of the insulation and increases the heating and cooling costs of the home.
118. The bathroom fans from both upstairs baths vent into the upper attic. Exterior terminations are required for both fans.
119. No exterior termination was found for the master bathroom exhaust fan.
120. Insulation is missing on both attic hatches and the bathroom bay cantilever.
121. The floor is loose in the kitchen cabinet mounted over the refrigerator.
122. The right side of the kitchen cabinet over the refrigerator is damaged by a nail.
123. An anti-tip bracket should be installed on the kitchen range. This is a safety concern.
124. The flexible dryer vent is restricted behind the dryer.
125. Foam insulation is exposed on the basement wall behind the heat pump air handler. Foam insulation should be covered per the manufacturer’s requirements.
126. Foam insulation should be installed on the ceiling and walls of the root cellar and covered with 1/4” tile backer board to provide a non-combustible, water and mold resistant finished surface.
If you have any questions about the above information, please do not hesitate to contact me.
David P. Rushton
ABLE Building Inspection, Inc.
(540) 636-6200
Virginia Licensed Home Inspector
New Residential Structures License #3380 000161 NRS

Click here to download photos.

Board of Building Code Appeals

Pursuant to Section 36-105 of the Code of Virginia, there shall be established within each local building department a local board of Building Code appeals which hears and determines appeals from any order, requirement, decision, or interpretation made by the Building Official or his agent in the administration or enforcement of the Virginia Statewide Building Code. Any person aggrieved by the local building department’s application of the Building Code or refusal to grant a modification to the provisions of the Building Code may appeal to the local board of Building Code appeals.

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He’s back: Hollis Tharpe’s solicitation charge dropped – will run for mayor



Flanked by colleagues Bill Sealock and Letasha Thompson, then Mayor Hollis Tharpe listens as former Councilwoman Bébhinn Egger addressed council on March 25 regarding past mistakes on the EDA front. Royal Examiner File Photos/Roger Bianchini

An emotional Hollis Tharpe let one of his attorneys speak for him in the wake of Special Prosecutor Heather Hovermale’s request that Judge William W. Sharpe dismiss the misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution charge against him Monday afternoon. It was a request Judge Sharpe granted.

“Based on this testimony the Commonwealth believes it cannot go forward,” Hovermale said after posing several questions to Cynthia Bailey, operator of a massage parlor on the 300 block of Biggs Drive in Front Royal. Bailey responded to each question, including whether she knew Tharpe or if he had ever touched her in a way she did not invite, asserting her Fifth Amendment right not to self incriminate.

As noted by her attorney David Downes prior to her questioning by the special prosecutor, the 55-year-old Bailey is facing two misdemeanor and two felony charges related to the operation of her massage parlor under the banner of Blue Valley Services.

Prior to questioning Bailey, Hovermale told the court prosecutors initially believed Bailey would be a cooperating witness, but later learned through her attorney that she planned to exercise her Fifth Amendment right if called as a witness in the Tharpe prosecution. Hovermale noted that the Commonwealth’s case against Tharpe revolved around Bailey, whom she observed was the only person present to hear the alleged solicitation request by Tharpe.

The whole hearing lasted 10 minutes, ending at 3 p.m., Monday afternoon, July 15.

Tharpe initially stopped outside the second-floor Warren County Circuit Courtroom B to address media present, but then quietly turned away arm in arm with his wife Debbie, saying, “I’m a little emotional right now,” as tears welled in his eyes and the couple moved away for some privacy.

Beau Bassler and David Hensley represented Tharpe. As Hensley returned to the courtroom for another case, Bassler commented on the outpouring of support his client had received from old friends and new – “Hundreds, thousands of people have sent prayers to him; they believe in him. He is a man of faith and that faith has taken him far. His wife, family and friends have all stood by him.”

Bassler noted his client’s resignation as mayor of Front Royal in the wake of the charges – “He stepped down so as not to be a distraction to the conduct of town government. Fortunately now the distraction in his life is over.”

“I guess it is appropriate at this time to announce I will be on the ballot for the November 5th election,” Tharpe did manage to say outside the courtroom. He said he had turned about 190 signatures in to the Voter Registrar to get on the mayoral ballot in November, 125 signatures are required to be put on the ballot.

After being indicted on the one misdemeanor count of solicitation by a Warren County Grand Jury, perhaps ironically whose foreman was now Interim Front Royal Mayor Matthew Tederick, on April 15, Tharpe initially announced he would place himself on administrative leave. But four days later on April 19 Tharpe said he would resign as mayor effective May 2. Tharpe explained his decisions as not wanting the charge against him to distract town government from the conduct of its business pending a resolution of his case.

At the time Tharpe called the misdemeanor charge against him “embarrassing” and “baseless”. He admitted to visiting the massage parlor, but for what he said were legitimate massages on his aching 67-year-old body.

Asked Monday if he now regretted stepping down as mayor, Tharpe said no. But he later added outside the courthouse, “They can’t take the mayor’s job away from me, the people gave it to me with 95% of the vote. Tharpe ran unopposed in his last election for a term slated to run to 2020. Interim Mayor Tederick has said he is not interested in seeking election to a full term.

Tharpe converses with constituent following March 25 meeting – could a reprise of such mayoral conversations be on the horizon following Monday’s developments?

Tharpe attorney Bassler praised the special prosecutor for her actions at Monday’s hearing. “Heather Hovermale is a fair prosecutor, a prosecutor of integrity. Instead of prolonging this to torture someone, in the face of developments in the case she let it go.”

Front Royal mayor poised for indictment on sexual solicitation charge

A Virginia State Police press release announcing Tharpe’s pending indictment on April 12 indicated Tharpe’s charge stemmed from an investigation launched at the direction of the Virginia Attorney General’s Office.

That there was an investigation into Tharpe went public on August 30, 2018, when Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Brian Madden filed notice he would recuse himself from any possible prosecution relating to an “Investigation Concerning Hollis Tharpe”. Special Prosecutor Hovermale works out of the Winchester Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office of Marc Abrams, which was handed the case following Madden’s recusal announcement.

As press releases fly, plot thickens in Tharpe sex solicitation case

Had Bailey testified against Tharpe during Monday’s hearing, arguments on a change of venue request by the prosecution would have been heard. However in the wake of Bailey’s invocation of her Fifth Amendment right, the change of venue request became a moot point.

Trial date of Oct. 25 set in Tharpe solicitation case – prosecution seeks change of venue

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McDonald criminal plea hearing postponed



The anticipated entry of pleas on the initial 12 felony criminal financial charges against Jennifer McDonald did not occur on Monday, July 15, due to judicial recusal. Royal Examiner File Photo/Roger Bianchini

The entry of pleas to the 12 felony criminal charges of embezzlement or fraudulent misdirection of EDA assets by former Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority Executive Director Jennifer McDonald has been put off to a yet-to-be determined date. McDonald’s plea hearing was scheduled as part of the 9 a.m. docket on the July Grand Jury-Term Day on Monday, July 15.

However newly-seated Circuit Court Judge William W. Sharpe, who is moving from Domestic Relations Court to replace Judge Clifford L. Athey Jr. who is taking a seat on the Virginia Appeals Court on September 1, entered a written recusal from EDA-related cases on Friday, July 12. In the wake of that recusal notice neither McDonald nor her criminal attorney Peter Greenspun were in court Monday. McDonald was transferred from RSW Regional Jail to the Fairfax Adult Detention Center on June 11. Greenspun’s office is in Fairfax.

In his recusal Sharpe writes, “It is necessary for this judge to recuse from all cases that may relate to the Warren County Economic Development Authority and Jennifer McDonald, in order to ensure that all parties can be confident the judge has no association with any persons who might be involved in a particular case, either as parties or a witness.”

Sharpe prefaces that statement by pointing out that, “a number of persons who are named as defendants in the pending EDA civil action against Jennifer McDonald and other parties, as well as members of the EDA Board and persons who it appears may be material witnesses in the civil action filed by the EDA, as well as other related civil actions or filed and possible criminal proceedings arising out of the same transactions, are personal friends or former clients or persons with whom the judge has otherwise had regular associations.”

In fact this reporter ran into Judge Athey outside the courthouse on Friday, July 12. During a brief conversation about the coming week’s EDA-related hearings Athey explained that he would be fazed out of the EDA hearings equation during the coming week to accommodate both his pending move to the state appeals court and the transfer of judicial authority over the EDA civil and criminal cases to other 26th Judicial District judges.

Athey was aware of Sharpe’s recusal and even commented that had he not been moving off the Warren County bench as the EDA cases progressed toward evidentiary hearings and trial he likely would also have recused for similar reasons to those stated by Sharpe, personal or professional familiarity with involved parties. He said he felt it acceptable to hear early motions prior to evidentiary testimony becoming involved in order to keep the cases moving forward in their early stages.

Athey’s primary rulings thus far have been to deny McDonald bond as a flight risk in her criminal cases and an order that EDA civil counsel produce the evidentiary basis for what is a currently a nine-defendant civil suit seeking recovery of a total of over $21-million dollars. That order led to the release into court files of public accounting firm Cherry Bekaert’s “working papers” from its contracted investigation of indicators of financial fraud in EDA operations.

Above, former EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald was arrested by Virginia State Police on May 24, making her the first person to face criminal charges stemming from the EDA fraud investigation. McDonald’s Administrative Assistant Michelle ‘Missy’ Henry, below, was the second person arrested in the case. Henry has been jailed since June 24 awaiting a once-delayed bond hearing. Photos RSW website

On Monday Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Layton said it was unclear how the coming judicial appointments might impact other scheduled EDA hearings this week. Motions in the EDA civil action are scheduled for the 9 a.m. docket Wednesday, July 17 and former EDA Administrative Assistant Michelle “Missy” Henry’s already once-delayed bond hearing is scheduled on the 9 a.m. docket Friday, July 19.

Henry was arrested by VSP on sealed special grand jury indictments on June 24. Retired substitute Judge Thomas Horne deferred a decision on bond for Henry on June 25, citing his unfamiliarity with the case. It now remains unclear if the ongoing judicial juggling may again delay a bond decision for Henry this week.

The Warren County Special Grand Jury empanelled to investigate potential criminality connected to the EDA civil case is also scheduled to meet through the latter part of the week.
In a not directly-related criminal case, former Front Royal Mayor Hollis Tharpe has a motions hearing scheduled Monday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. on his solicitation of prostitution misdemeanor case.

Ranking presiding 26th Judicial District Judge Bruce D. Albertson will be responsible for appointing judges to hear EDA-related cases that Sharpe has recused himself from. According to the Virginia Judicial website, active 26th District judges besides Sharpe and the soon-to-be-departed Athey, include Clark A. Ritchie, Kevin C. Black, Alexander R. Iden and Thomas J. Wilson.

However, it is possible Judge Albertson could appoint another substitute judge, including retired court officers who still help the district fill its judicial requirements when shortages and recusals occur.

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EDA in Focus

EDA Investigation Series Parts 9 – Bianchini 2nd interview



Lt Landin Waller interviews Roger Bianchini again.

In the second of two Front Royal Police interviews with yours truly, Royal Examiner reporter and editorial consultant Roger Bianchini on June 16, 2017, investigators Landin Waller and Crystal Cline revisit information given them in his initial interview around 10:45 a.m. that morning.

In the interim between the two interviews FRPD investigators have learned from the Warren County Sheriff’s Office that the rock-throwing vandalism Bianchini reported being told about by Jennifer McDonald the previous afternoon, had been reported by McDonald as occurring around 9 p.m. the previous evening. That was some five to six hours after Bianchini said the EDA executive director described the front-door vandalism of her home to him, leading him to believe the incident had occurred over the course of the previous week.

In interview two, Episode 9 of Royal Examiner’s series of FRPD investigative interview videos Bianchini returns around 3 p.m. to confirm the information given to investigators that Friday morning.

Perhaps ironically, McDonald’s lengthy FRPD interview concerning the EDA office break in, separated into three parts in this series, occurred Thursday afternoon, June 15, 2017, between 1:15 p.m. and 2:56 p.m., just prior to the meeting in her office Bianchini would to describe to FRPD the following morning.

Reference FRPD’s June 16, 2017, interview with EDA Marketing Director Marla Jones (Episode 7) in which Jones corroborates Bianchini’s story that he had a lengthy, closed door meeting with McDonald mid-afternoon, Thursday, June 15, and was not at the EDA office the morning of Friday, June 16, to be informed of the vandalism as McDonald attorney David Crump asserted he was during McDonald’s misdemeanor Filing a False Police Report trial of October 31, 2018. Jones’ interview was conducted around 1 p.m., between the two Bianchini interviews of June 16, 2017.

For some reason the prosecution did not call Jones to corroborate their main witness Bianchini’s story, though she was present to be called that Halloween Day and her FRPD interview was available to the prosecution. Also uncalled to testify at that trial that saw McDonald acquitted without having to present a defense were the FRPD officers who developed the false police report case.

As noted in the preface to Bianchini’s morning interview (Episode 8) video, in the coming year and a half the EDA executive director would come under increasing scrutiny by multiple levels of law enforcement, as well as by the Town of Front Royal, and eventually the County and her own EDA Board of Directors, culminating with her December 20, 2018 resignation; as well as apparent written acceptance of responsibility for the return of $2.7 million in misdirected EDA assets McDonald remains jailed without bond as a flight risk in the Fairfax Adult Detention Center, where she was transferred from RSW Regional Jail on June 11. She was arrested by Virginia State Police on four felony counts of fraud or embezzlement of EDA assets on May 24, 2019. She will be in court Monday, July 15, to enter pleas on those initial charges, and possibly on eight related financial felony counts she was served with on June 21.

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Local News

I-66 Outside the Beltway Project: Lane closures and traffic changes Week of July 14, 2019



Project construction continues throughout the corridor during daytime and overnight hours as weather conditions allow. Current activities include:

• Constructing bridge foundations at I-495, Route 28, and Route 234 Business interchanges, and Bull Run Drive overpass
• Constructing retaining walls along I-66 and Route 28
• Demolishing of structures

• Small charge blasting operations at the Route 28 Interchange
• Clearing trees and brush, grading, and installing drainage throughout the corridor
• Demolishing closed ramps at Route 123 Interchange
• Grading and installing drainage at the future park and ride lots at University Boulevard (Gainesville) and Balls Ford Road (Manassas)
• Grading and excavating for the new E.C. Lawrence Park Access Road and temporary realignment of Braddock Road
• Relocating underground and overhead utilities along I-66 and Route 28
• Corridor-wide roadway maintenance as needed

The Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project will add express lanes stretching 22.5 miles from the Capital Beltway to Route 29 in Gainesville, rebuild major interchanges along the I-66 corridor, create thousands of new park and ride spaces, and expand trail options for cyclists and pedestrians. Learn more at

Upcoming Lane Closures and Traffic Changes

The following planned lane closures are expected to have significant traffic impacts. All work is subject to change based on weather and schedule. Find the latest information on travel conditions and work zones by visiting or downloading the Virginia511 app.

No significant traffic impacts scheduled.

No significant traffic impacts scheduled.

Route 28 North at ramp to I-66 East
Route 28 South at Braddock Road
Ramps from I-66 West to Route 28 North and South
Turn lanes from Route 28 North and South to Braddock Road
Braddock Road at Newton Patent Drive
Monday, July 15, through Friday, July 19: 11 a.m. to noon
Temporary stoppages of up to 15 minutes between 11 a.m. and noon on Route 28 North and South at the I-66 Interchange, and on Braddock Road at Newton Patent Drive due to small charge blasting at the I-66/Route 28 Interchange. Additionally, the ramps from I-66 West to Route 28 North and South will be temporarily closed for up to 15 minutes beginning at 11 a.m.

I-66 West from Route 286 (Fairfax County Parkway) to Route 28
Wednesday, July 17: 9 p.m. to 9 a.m.
Three lanes will be closed on westbound I-66 with periodic 20-minute stoppages between midnight and 5 a.m. to remove an overhead gantry.

I-66 West from Route 608 (West Ox Road) to Route 286 (Fairfax County Parkway)
Thursday, July 18: 9 p.m. to 9 a.m.
Three lanes will be closed on westbound I-66 with periodic 20-minute stoppages between midnight and 5 a.m. to remove an overhead gantry.

Ramp from Route 50 West to I-66 West
Monday, July 15: Midnight to 4 a.m.
The ramp from westboundRoute 50 to westbound I-66 will be closed between midnight and 4 a.m. Traffic will be detoured farther west to Route 608 (West Ox Road) South, stay to the right for Route 50 East, and then follow signs to I-66 West.

Ramp from I-66 West to Route 50 East
Monday, July 15: Midnight to 4 a.m.
The ramp from westboundI-66 to eastbound Route 50 will be closed between midnight and 4 a.m. Traffic will be detoured farther west to Route 286 (Fairfax County Parkway) South, stay to the right for I-66 East, and then follow signs for Route 50 East.

No significant traffic impacts scheduled.

No significant traffic impacts scheduled.

No significant traffic impacts scheduled.

Commuter Alternatives
VDOT and the project team have invested in a broad range of programs to help commuters and others stay mobile and safe during construction. Learn more about carpool, vanpool, telework, and commuter bus alternatives.

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Local News

Warren County Traffic Alert for July 15-19, 2019



Here’s the latest from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT):

(NEW) Mile marker 1 to 0 – Shoulder closures on ramp from I-66 westbound to I-81 southbound for bridge inspection, July 15 from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.


No lane closures reported.

(NEW) Route 340 (Stonewall Jackson Highway) – Alternating lane closures just south of Route 605 (Poor House Road) for inspection of Gooney Run bridge, July 16 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
(NEW) Route 340/522 (Winchester Road) – Overnight alternating lane closures between Route 637 (Riverton Road/Guard Hill Road) and Route 639 (Ashby Station Road) for pavement resurfacing, July 14-31 from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.

(NEW) Route 613 (Bentonville Road) – Flagger traffic control for sign installations between Route 738 (Jennings Lane) and Route 672 (Quail Hollow Road), July 15 from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Various roads – Flagger traffic control for utility tree trimming. Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Vegetation management may take place district wide on various routes. Motorists are reminded to use extreme caution when traveling through work zones.

Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511. Traffic alerts and traveler information also are available at

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Local News

Strasburg mayor charged with DUI in May ATV-library collision



Strasburg Mayor Richard A. Orndorff

Late Friday evening Virginia State Police released notice of drunk driving charges against Strasburg Mayor Richard A. Orndorff stemming from his May 17 All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) collision with the Strasburg Community Library. The release reads:

“Virginia State Police Trooper C.S. Peer has charged Richard A. Orndorff Jr., 54, with DUI – 2nd offense within 5 years and for driving an all-terrain vehicle on a public roadway. Orndorff was served early Friday (July 12, 2019) at his residence.

“The charges stem from a single-vehicle crash in the Town of Strasburg. The crash occurred May 17, 2019 at 10:58 p.m. on West King Street at South Fort Street.

“A John Deere Gator (RTV) was traveling southbound on West King Street (Route 11) when the driver lost control, crossed the center line, ran off the left side of the street and struck the Strasburg Community Library.

“The operator and only occupant of the RTV, Orndorff of Strasburg, Va., was flown to INOVA Fairfax hospital with serious, but non-life threatening injuries. Orndorff was the RTV’s only occupant.”

Orndorff continues to recover from his injuries. His term as mayor is scheduled to expire in June 2020.

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1:30 pm Botanical Drawing 1 @ Art in the Valley
Botanical Drawing 1 @ Art in the Valley
Jul 23 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Botanical Drawing 1 @ Art in the Valley
Learn and practice the art of botanical drawing in pencil with local artist and instructor Elena Maza. Tuesdays: 1:30pm – 4:00pm, July 9th – 30th. Classes will be held in our upstairs studio at 205[...]
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Pour Me Another Fluid Art @ Strokes of Creativity
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Two classes in July – the 18th and 26th at 6:30pm. Pre-Registration is a must! Pour Me Another is an actual class. You will learn the ins and outs of paint pouring and go home[...]
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