Today the kids and I took a day trip to Washington, D.C. It was the first time we have visited the Holocaust Museum and there I saw the #askwhy. This has stuck with me all day. In no way am I saying I have experienced anything near what the Jewish faced during that horrific, evil time, but we (all of us) need to “ASK WHY?”
-Valley Health getting rid of its Women’s Care Unit and ICU in a planned new hospital.
-Building officials and local government leaders–whether hired or elected–bending rules and only following laws when they choose to.
-County attorney saying the USBC and Code of Virginia do not require policies and procedures?
(This one, I said much more, like what is my county? A fly-by-night circus?)
-Citizens receiving special treatment when it comes to overdue taxes.
-A Contractor LLC who claims to be in business since 2002 and advertises as fully-licensed and insured, who has built many homes in Warren County, yet has never bothered to get a Contractor Firm License. County will not act on behalf of citizens harmed by this LLC.
You know why? Because no one comes forward to #Askwhy. No one holds these government employees and elected officials accountable. When you #Askwhy, you make people uncomfortable, you knock on a door, these too-comfortable people don’t want to answer.
The time has come to #Askwhy and let that lead to Who? What? When? Where? How? and a whole Pandora’s Box of other questions these officials and leaders don’t want to answer.
It is time to make these people answer to us, hardworking average citizens. They work for us. They are here to protect us, serve us, and ensure our safety.
But you know what? They are failing miserably. With my house nightmare, (By the way, anyone who would like to know how my family “trashed” the house, I welcome you to come to look.) My family tends not to play in insulation or make exhaust vents look like something from Trailer Park Boys.
My rights have been violated and I have steadily asked why. I have emailed Warren County employees; the administrator, the county attorney, the information officer, the Building Official. I have emailed the Board of Supervisors and you know who has stood up for this Warren County citizen? No one!!!
They are all too busy covering each other’s ass to do the right thing. I have given them chance after chance and no one will stick their neck out and say “This woman has a point, we need to look into it.”
So here it is fellow citizens: David Beahm, the Warren County Building Official committed a Class 3 misdemeanor when he issued the applying entity of Buracker Construction LLC a building permit. Beahm illegally transferred the applying entity’s name to Buracker Construction, BUT that company did not have a valid Warren County Business license until June/July 2018. That is 16 years in business, NO valid contractor’s license with the LLC and no business license for just Buracker Construction. These are the cold hard facts.
How many of you operate a business in Warren County without the proper licenses?
I told Warren County officials and the Board of Supervisors I was taking this issue public if they did not act. The whole group of them are violating my 14th Amendment right of “equal protection of laws”.
Since the Building Official is a permanent title until retiring or being removed, I demanded–and still demand– that Beahm be removed from his office. His actions, or lack thereof, have enabled an improperly licensed contractor to cause great harm and distress to my family.
There are more citizens out there who have been damaged. I know, because they have reached out with their stories. David Beahm, Warren County building official, did not ensure my family’s safety or oversee his department’s work. I recently found during the time my home was being built, Beahm was President of the Virginia Building and Code Officials. Beahm was away from the office at least 1/3 of the time with no one else with the certifications to cover his absence.
WHY did Doug Stanley and the Board of Supervisors allow this to happen?
WHY will they not look into the situation and hold him accountable?
WHY do they allow large conflicts of interest to take place on BOS-appointed boards and allow employees with conflicts of interests to be employed in departments they should not be?
WHY do these employees and officials feel untouchable?
Who can answer my question?
My Granddaddy said, “There is never a dumb question.” so start asking and holding those accountable.
It is time for Warren County citizens to clean house. I think we need to start going done the line demanding resignations. It is time to straighten up and fly right!
Submitted by Bentonville, VA resident Kristie Sours Atwood
Jesus in Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day is now upon us, and of course, the central theme is Love. It is the showing of one’s love for someone and being desirous of and asking for another to return such love in a way to say “I love you too”. A proposal, if you will. In this regard, (which involves a suitor) the dictionary defines such as; a man who courts a woman; a wooer. It further defines a wooer as: to seek the love or affection of, especially to marry; to court.
In this respect, allow me to present to you my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. For the greatest act and show of love the world has ever known, let me direct your attention to the figure there on Calvary’s brow: I can only humbly say, behold Him there! For I am not worthy so much as to even approach Him. As you gaze upon him you will see that he is hanging from a cross by nails driven into his hands and feet. He is covered and “bathed” in his own blood, for as the Scriptures say, “…his visage was so marred more than any man”. The result of a savage, brutal, and one might venture to say, demonic beating.
He wasn’t there merely by chance, but because mankind was under the curse of God’s law which says; ” the soul that sinneth shall die.” His agony was so great, that he cried out; “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” And thus, being made to be sin for us, He took our sin upon Himself! And now hear the prophecies as detailed in Psalms 22, “…I am a worm and no man …despised of the people …I am poured out like water …and all my bones are out of joint …my heart is like wax …my tongue cleaves to my jaw …am brought down to the dust of death.”
His being there was the fulfillment of his intent and determination to die in our place! This was the price that God himself set for our redemption: God himself had to die; God himself had to shed his very own blood! By saying, “If I be lifted up I will draw all men to me,” He is doing exactly that on the cross. He is drawing us, asking us, “to come unto me.” Yes, and by asking the Father to, “forgive them for they know not what they do”, He is throwing the door wide open for us while tugging at our hearts. And, one could almost hear him say “Be Mine”.
Be mine and your sin will be forgiven and no longer under the curse; I am reminded of the prophet who said, “though your sins be as scarlet ye shall be white as snow. Be mine for I am going to prepare a dwelling place for you. Be mine and you will never die, for my special gift to you is eternal life; and you will never thirst or hunger, for I will give you both the bread of life and the water of life.”
But what could be the proper response to such a suitor and his appeal or proposal? To learn of the best, and indeed, the only accepted response (a simple I will) we need only to look again at Calvary’s brow and hear the thief on a cross next to our Saviour when he says; “Master, remember me when you cometh into your kingdom.”
In saying “Be Mine”, “come unto me”, and “Whosoever believeth in me shall never die”, isn’t he asking us to consider and look expectantly upon the eternal, heavenly scene. We have the ‘picture’ of a people for whom a pure, white, shining garment has been prepared. And as we stand so arrayed before the very throne of God our hearts are suddenly filled with an overwhelming measure of love, and our eyes are filled with great tears of joy; for we are now aware that He is present! The Lamb of God Himself has stepped forth from the midst of the throne. And, performing the acts and duty as our Groom, places a wedding ring on our fingers; and then presents us to all the holy, righteous hosts of Heaven as his greatly beloved, glorious, precious Bride! The Church! And all the host of Heaven bow down; reverently, lovingly, and adoringly as kings cast their crowns down before Him!
And so, indeed, as the Lord said on the cross, “It Is Finished!” Thus, the message of God written indelibly throughout space and time by his own blood is there for all to see: I love you! Love has conquered!
Rev. Jess Shifflett
Front Royal, VA
A day and night of football in America: Exactly what we needed
I know that Football may be controversial. It is violent, potentially injurious and often played at less than perfect weather times. How could the coming Super Bowl be better than the Championship games played less than 2 weeks ago.
Yet, on football Championship Sunday – 2 weeks ago – from 3PM until almost 10PM (EST), America was transformed from our divided Nation where blame is rampant and people may be suffering into a huge collection of football fans and even non-football people who had to watch TV because someone significant in their lives was glued to the NFL-AFL Championship round.
And were we ever treated to a spectacular display of talent of players and coaches on the football field. There probably never has been in sports history such a day as yesterday. We, who love the sport, were treated to professional football games that will go down in sports history.
So, for close to 7 hours of play and many hours of hype before and after the games, we had to set aside our politics and painful political choices. Instead, so many Americans and people across the world, watched or listened to men and women talking about football – Not the Shutdown, Not who was right or wrong, Not impeachment, Not the Probe, Not the Russians, Not the Leaks, Not the Chinese, Not even the future of this wonderful country.
For this escape from what we are thinking about, and talking about, from wondering what political parties are going to do next, from our concerns about hurting people, from what happens next – to being thankful for the brilliant performances on the two fields of play and for the coaching and TV or radio coverage of two of the best Championship football games ever!
Thank you Los Angeles Rams. Thank you New Orleans Saints. Thank you New England Patriots. Thank you Kansas City Chiefs.
Now, back to the reality of what happens next.
BUT WAIT, we still have the Super Bowl coming this weekend.
Charles P. Lickson
Front Royal, Virginia
Martin Luther King Jr.’s enduring legacy: ‘Beyond Vietnam’
Sometimes words remain appropriate, not only for the era in which they are spoken, but for multiple eras, and perhaps for the length of humanity’s struggle to overcome the worst aspects of our collective nature – greed, avarice, hypocrisy and the bondage of others to forward one’s own self interests – in other words, FOREVER.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s words of April 4, 1967 now known as the “Beyond Vietnam” speech are such words. They illustrate the depth of Dr. King’s comprehension that the Civil Rights Movement was a struggle of more than one race in one nation at one point in time.
These words, spoken exactly one year to the day before his assassination, are why some pause each January to remember and celebrate his life; while others are simply reminded of why he was, and continues to be hated by those attracted to power without compassion.
As the past two years when Royal Examiner has published these words on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, in this first month of 2019 we might again ask ourselves if our ongoing borderless, worldwide war on terror isn’t at least in part, a legacy of our collective failure to heed Dr. King’s words of April 1967?
And 52 years down the road from this speech as Central American Hispanic refugees fleeing chaos and anarchy in their own nations are increasingly lumped together with international terrorists and drug dealers for partisan political advantage, we must again ask ourselves one final question – how close to the “too late” moment Dr. King described in 1967 are we as a people and a nation today?
– Due to the speech’s length, some introductory comments and other details on the Vietnam era have been edited out – deletions are indicated by (…) and some points have been emphasized with bold highlights.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
I come to this great magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization that brought us together, Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam. The recent statements of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart, and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” … The truth of these words is beyond doubt, but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one
…Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world … Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak.
And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation’s history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history … For we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us …
“Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King?” “Why are you joining the voices of dissent?” “Peace and civil rights don’t mix,” they say. “Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people,” they ask?
And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live …
Since I am a preacher by calling, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I and others have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the Poverty Program.
There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything on a society gone mad on war. And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such …
My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettos of the North over the last three years, especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked, and rightly so, “What about Vietnam?” They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted.
Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today – my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent …
Now it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read “Vietnam.” It can never be saved so long as it destroys the hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that “America will be” are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.
As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1964. And I cannot forget that the Nobel Peace Prize was also a commission, a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for the brotherhood of man. This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances.
But even if it were not present, I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me, the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the Good News was meant for all men – for communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them? What then can I say to the Vietcong or to Castro or to Mao as a faithful minister of this one? Can I threaten them with death or must I not share with them my life?
… Finally, as I try to explain for you and for myself the road that leads from Montgomery to this place, I would have offered all that was most valid if I simply said that I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be a son of the living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of son-ship and brotherhood. Because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned, especially for His suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them. This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation’s self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation, for those it calls “enemy,” for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.
And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond in compassion, my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula … They must see Americans as strange liberators … We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops … Now there is little left to build on, save bitterness … They question our political goals and they deny the reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. Their questions are frighteningly relevant. Is our nation planning to build on political myth again, and then shore it up upon the power of new violence?
… At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless in Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called “enemy,” I am as deeply concerned about our own troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved … and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure, while we create a hell for the poor.
Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now.
I speak as a child of God … I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours.
This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words, and I quote: “Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom, and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism.”
The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit … and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing “clergy and laymen concerned” committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about … Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end, unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy.
And so, such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God. In 1957, a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution … It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments.
I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin … the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, “This is not just.”
The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them, is not just … America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood …
We must not engage in a negative anti-communism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy, realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice … It is a sad fact that because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries … A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional.
Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies … This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind … When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response … I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality … This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John: “Let us love one another, for love is God”
…We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late … Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, “Too late.”
There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. Omar Khayyam is right: “The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on.” We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace … and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight … Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world …
As that noble bard of yesterday, James Russell Lowell, eloquently stated:
Once to every man and nation comes a moment do decide,
In the strife of truth and Falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God’s new Messiah offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever ‘twixt that darkness and that light.
Though the cause of evil prosper, yet ‘tis truth alone is strong
Though her portions be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.
And if we will only make the right choice, we will be able to transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of peace. If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.
Letter to the Editor: Protest Board of Supervisors’ attempts to silence Egger
All law-abiding citizens of Front Royal are strongly encouraged to attend a public hearing in the County Government Building, 220 N. Commerce Ave. across the street from the post office, on Tuesday, January 22nd at 7 p.m. — and protest the disgraceful actions of three members of the Warren County Board of Supervisors to silence Mark Egger a courageous member of our community.
The three board members — Tony Carter, Dan Murray, and Linda Glavis — are shamefully trying to force a change to Warren County Code 56-3 that has been on the books since 1975 — a total of 44 years. The current law allows a private citizen to appear before the Board Supervisors and talk at length on an item of public interest that two members of the board consider important enough to be heard.
The change to Code 56-3 that Carter, Murray, and Glavis want to implement would:
Eliminate the ability of two supervisors — a minority on the board — to demand a citizen of Front Royal be allowed to speak at length on a subject that the two members deem important.
Limit a speaker to no more than three minutes at any one meeting.
Limit the number of meetings at which a speaker can talk on the same subject to no more than three in a twelve-month period.
The reason Carter, Murray, and Glavis are pushing this change is that Mark Egger had the audacity and courage to stand before the Board of Supervisors at meetings in February, May, and November 2018 and talk for a total of about 37 minutes in detail about the hanky-panky — dirty-trick shenanigans — of the Economic Development Authority (EDA) board appointed by the Warren County Board of Supervisors.
Carter, Murray, and Glavis did not like what Mark said.
In his testimony, Mark presented clear and convincing evidence that:
- The EDA board awarded thirty acres of EDA property to a shell company.
- Two fake crimes appeared to have been committed.
- The EDA board held closed meetings under questionable premises — and the Warren County Board of Supervisors did nothing.
- The EDA board told the Front Royal Police Department to stop investigating a crime — and the Warren County Board of Supervisors did nothing.
- Members of the EDA board refused to answer legitimate questions from the Warren County Board of Supervisors that appointed them — and the Board of Supervisors did nothing.
- $140,000 of taxpayers’ money is now being spent to investigate clear financial irregularities of the EDA board — money that could have been saved if the Board of Supervisors had taken prompt action a year ago when Mark brought evidence of irregularities to their attention.
- The entire EDA board should be fired and a new one appointed by the Board of Supervisors.
The citizens of Front Royal must not allow Code 56-3 to be changed. The law must remain on the books exactly as written.
If Carter, Murray, and Glavis do pass this change by a 3-2 vote, they must be told at Tuesday’s public hearing — in no uncertain terms — that a rising groundswell of opposition to the corruption of the EDA board will spare no effort to vote them out of office at the first opportunity — and Change 56-3 back to what it was!
Pass the word to family and friends to come to the public hearing and sign up to speak on Mark’s behalf. Get there early to sign up. Speakers talk in the order in which they sign up. Each speaker will be given three minutes to talk.
There are four public hearings on the 22nd. Make sure you sign up for the correct one.
Let’s pack the meeting room at the County Government Building at 7 p.m. on the 22nd with Mark Egger supporters!
P.S. For those of you who want to see and hear Mark speak before the Board of Supervisors in February, May, and November 2018, here are videos of all three appearances:
John Lundberg is a citizen of Warren County.
Move Over Law: Drive safely to protect first-responders and highway workers
The families of three firefighters were forever changed on the night of October 11, 2018 when a tractor-trailer crashed into the back of a Hanover County firetruck on Interstate 295. Lt. Brad Clark’s family is reminded daily of his tragic death. Our prayers and thoughts go out to them as they prepare to spend their first Christmas without him. We wish the two firefighters who survived the crash strength and wellbeing as they continue their journeys of recovery. That incident occurred during the heavy rains of Tropical Storm Michael.
Record December snowfall Dec. 9, 2018 led to at least four Virginia State Police troopers being struck by skidding vehicles in a 12-hour period on slick interstates in Central and Southwest Virginia. Thankfully the troopers’ injuries were only minor and the other drivers remained safe.
For the men and women whose “office” is the highway, these incidents are not limited to major weather events. Close calls, injury and death are a daily risk to every state and local law enforcement officer, firefighter, EMS worker, highway maintenance employee, and tow truck operator working across the Commonwealth. Even the arrow boards, crash cushions and barrels in a highway work zone are not enough to guarantee one’s safety. In February of this year, a Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) contract employee was struck and killed in an active work zone on Interstate 95 in Prince George County by a distracted driver. Another family we remember during the holiday season.
At the beginning of this month, Governor Northam issued a directive to establish the Executive Leadership Team on Highway Safety. The mission of this collaboration among the Virginia departments of Education, Health, Motor Vehicles, State Police and Transportation and traffic safety advocates is to reduce the rising number of fatalities on Virginia’s roadways. The directive is to save more lives through the advancement of education, engineering and enforcement relative to traffic safety. Those most committed to achieving such objectives are the very ones most at risk or harm for the purpose of saving others.
Like all 50 states, Virginia has what is called a “Move Over” law. It’s a state law designed to protect those working alongside the highways by requiring motorists to move a lane away from vehicles stopped on the side of a road with flashing red, blue or amber lights. If unable to move over, then the Code of Virginia requires a driver to pass such vehicles “cautiously”. Simple as this concept may be, those few extra feet can mean the difference between life and death. Yet across the nation traffic incidents continue to be the leading cause of death for law enforcement and highway maintenance workers; and the second leading cause for firefighter deaths in the nation.
There are a number of special days and weeks designated to recognize these professionals and their work. April has National Work Zone Awareness Week. June is designated in Virginia as “Move Over Month.” There are efforts underway to designate a National Tow Truck Operator Week in September. In October, Virginia has special days designated to recognize firefighters for their service and sacrifice. Our firefighters, state troopers, police officers, sheriff’s deputies, highway maintenance workers and tow truck operators – spend every day on our highways working to serve and protect the motoring public. They are dependent on every driver observing the Move Over law every day and not just some of the time.
The first priority of a police officer is to go home to his or her family at the end of the shift. This applies to all those working alongside a Virginia highway in a vehicle with red, blue, or amber lights. It is time for Virginians to take a serious step forward to help save the lives of those who have chosen a career to look out for and save ours.
Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine
Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran
Last week, the Stephens City Town Council appeared to take a page from the GOP playbook when they decided to confiscate powers from the newly elected mayor, Michael Diaz. The Council voted to remove powers given to the Mayor by the town charter and transfer them to the town manager.
Mr. Diaz was elected in November to the mayoral position, but the Town Council took it upon themselves to strip the new Mayor of supervisory duties and relegate his role to being “consulted for general advice.”
This unfortunate notion that one party believes their views so correct that they justify usurping the public’s will expressed by voters seems to reflect the Republican view that has seized power in other instances across the country. Apparently, patriotism does not extend to voter representation when it conflicts with the Republican right to rule.
Chair, Warren County Democratic Committee