On Thursday, September 26, Mark Butler sat down in the Royal Examiner/National Media studios to discuss his independent run for Warren County Sheriff and suddenly surfaced social media rumors about his candidacy and departure from his job with the Town of Herndon Police Department.
Butler’s interview with Royal Examiner occurred two days after the entire sitting Warren County Board of Supervisors, the County Administrator and former County and EDA Attorney, as well as a mix of current and former Economic Development Authority Board of Director members, turned themselves in at RSW Regional Jail to be booked on three misdemeanor charges of misfeasance or nonfeasance in the conduct of their municipal office or jobs.
The charges brought in sealed indictments from the EDA Special Grand Jury on Friday, September 20, allege an absence of due diligent oversight of the activities of former EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald over the final four months of 2018. Those were months following town staff discovery of years of debt service overpayments to the EDA; as well as months during which a contracted public accounting firm fraud investigation of EDA finances had been launched by the EDA and Warren County.
It was those EDA-related criminal bookings of Tuesday, September 24, that Butler told Royal Examiner led to his decision to resign slightly earlier than he had planned while both campaigning for sheriff and moving toward retirement eligibility next June in his current law enforcement job in Herndon.
“This community is hurting and I can’t ask people to go all in for me if I’m not willing to go all in for them in my run for sheriff,” Butler told Royal Examiner during a first attempted video interview at a candidate “Meet and Greet” event at the Front Royal Brewery on Wednesday. That interview was scrapped due to background crowd noise drowning out portions of the audio. So it was into the controlled confines of the Royal Examiner/National Media studios for a rerun the following day.
Butler is in a four-way race to replace Mike Arnold, who took over sheriff’s department leadership on an interim basis following the resignation of Danny McEathron to early retirement on May 1. Arnold, elevated to sheriff from his second in command Major’s position, is not running to keep the Warren County Sheriff’s job.
However former County Deputy Jason Poe who is currently employed in another jurisdiction, long-time WCSO Deputy and current courthouse Bailiff Mickey Licklider and Jorge Amselle are in the race with Butler. Poe and Amselle are carrying political party endorsements, Republican and Democratic respectively; Butler and Licklider are running as independents.
Over the weekend three days after the interview, we asked Butler about an assertion put forth to us by a local Republican Committee member that he was covering up the fact that he was actually forced to resign or be fired from the Herndon Police Force job he has held for 14 of his nearly 20-year law enforcement career.
“The facts are the facts – I left on good terms and I could get a law enforcement job anywhere in the country. As I’ve spoken for the last two years, I won’t play the political mudslinging game and I won’t be bullied by anyone,” Butler responded, adding, “My quote is, ‘Hash tag I’m all in’ – that’s my new logo.”
Listen to Butler’s explanation of his decision to devote 100% of his working time to his campaign for Warren County Sheriff and his thoughts on the community and its sheriff’s department’s future direction in this exclusive Royal Examiner video interview:
‘Provisional employee’ Tederick will head Town’s ‘Business Retention-Expansion’ efforts
Front Royal is expanding outreach to meet the needs of its business community. “A strong recovery for existing businesses from COVID-associated losses is essential to our community,” says Town Manager Steven Hicks. “Improving the economic environment, as our town fully reopens, begins with our staff helping businesses navigate the many processes for full recovery and expansion.”
Matt Tederick, Business Development Project Manager, will lead the effort of connecting with businesses to understand and respond to needs in a timely manner. “We recognize that government/business process navigation can often be challenging for small and start-up businesses, where owners must first focus on product quality, workforce, and customer service,” explains Tederick. “We are going to fill the gap in assisting business owners to comply with state and local government regulations that can often be complicated and time-consuming, slowing business openings, expansions, and startups.”
The largest percentage of new jobs are created by existing businesses and new local startups, according to data provided by national economic development organizations. “Our businesses are a major source of jobs, tax revenues, and quality of life for Front Royal, so helping them grow and remain sustainable is a high priority,” says Steven Hicks. “Tederick has the experience, energy, and institutional knowledge to ensure businesses are successful. He understands how to facilitate and expedite government/business interactions, which is critical to growing the economy.” Hicks also says “The Town has new aggressive programs that will improve operations and provide predictability to citizens, developers, and businesses investing in Front Royal. This includes a new Comprehensive Plan and establishing a Building Codes and Environmental Division, programs that are essential for retention and growth.
Tederick was appointed and served as interim mayor of Front Royal for a short time in 2020. He also served on the Warren County Board of Supervisors from 1996-2000. During Tederick’s service to the County and Town, he always supported a pro-business environment. Matt can be contacted at email@example.com
Tederick is a part time provisional employee for Front Royal with a salary of $3,500 a month.
(Press release from the Town of Front Royal)
Portion of Route 624 (Happy Creek Road) in Warren County to close for road construction work this summer
A portion of Route 624 (Happy Creek Road) in Warren County will be closed to through traffic beginning Saturday, June 19. The road closure extends from the Town of Front Royal Eastern Corporate limits to Route 647 (Dismal Hollow Road). Access to residential and business properties in this area will be maintained during this closure.
The closure is expected to begin during the morning of June 19 with reopening planned for Friday, August 6. During the closure, crews will be performing road construction work including road widening, road alignment improvements, and drainage improvements.
Detour signs will be posted. Northbound traffic from Route 624 will take Leach Run Parkway to Route 55 (John Marshall Highway) to Route 647. Southbound traffic will take Route 647 to Route 55 to Leach Run Parkway to Route 624.
On April 1, 2021, a construction contract valued at $1,736,387.66 was awarded to Kickin’ Asphalt Paving and Excavating LLC of Strasburg, Virginia. The Route 624 contract provides safety improvements located from the Town of Front Royal Eastern Corporate limits to Route 645 (Manassas Run Road). Project completion is estimated for late 2021.
All work is weather permitting.
Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511. Traffic alerts and traveler information also are available at www.511Virginia.org.
The VDOT Customer Service Center can assist with reporting road hazards, asking transportation questions, or getting information related to Virginia’s roads. Call 800-FOR- ROAD (800-367-7623) or use its mobile-friendly website at my.vdot.virginia.gov. Agents are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
County’s June 10 Situation Report: COVID update and Happy Creek Road closing approaches
Warren County ranked next to last in percentage of the population being fully vaccinated in a June 10th County Emergency Management update related to COVID-19 statistics in the Lord Fairfax Health District (LFHD). According to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) 32.2% of Warren’s population is fully vaccinated, which is just 2.4% below the average LFHD vaccination rate of 34.6%. Statewide in Virginia, VDH reported a 46.7% rate of fully vaccinated citizens.
Vaccination rates in the six-jurisdiction Northern Shenandoah Valley-based Lord Fairfax Health District were:
1/ Clarke County 44.6%;
2/ Winchester City 38.5%;
3/ Shenandoah County 36.8%;
4/ Frederick County 36.4%;
5/ Warren County 32.2%;
6/ Page County 31.6%.
Barring medically established physical reasons for not being vaccinated, citizens are being urged to take advantage of the increasing availability of FDA-approved vaccines as a preventative, not only from becoming symptomatic if exposed to COVID-19 Coronavirus strains but also as a preventative from passing the virus to others if exposed. As previously reported, relaxing CDC, State, and local social distancing and masking standards are aimed at an increasingly vaccinated population, with unvaccinated people urged to continue to social distance, mask, and wash their hands more regularly than normal as noted in the below report.
See above-cited and related information, as well as info on the June 19 closing of a portion of Happy Creek Road into early August, from June 10, 2021, County SITREP (Situation Report) below:
COMMUNITY INFORMATION, 6-10-21, 1:42 p.m.:
COVID update, information & LINKS, June 10, 2021, 1:42 p.m.:
- COVID-19 Information (Current Data):
- Lord Fairfax Health District: As of today (per the VDH website), the number of total COVID-19 cases per locality are: Clarke 991, Frederick 8,084, Page 2,115, Shenandoah 4,328, Warren 3,064 (121 are/were hospitalized, 59 deaths attributed to the County; deaths 1.92% total cases), Winchester 2,937; the current status of these patients is unknown (admitted to hospital, discharged to home isolation/quarantine, departed the District/County).
- Note – Regional population fully vaccinated according to VDH site (avg 34.6%):
- Clarke – 44.6%
- Frederick – 36.4%
iii. Page – 31.6%
- Shenandoah – 36.8%
- Warren – 32.2%
- Winchester – 38.5%
- Commonwealth: 7,521,258 people tested (PCR only); 677,425 total cases [2.0% positive rate (PCR only)]; 30,086 total hospitalized; 11,270 total deaths (1.66%total cases).
- Note: 46.7% of Virginia population fully vaccinated according to VDH site.
- United States: As of June 9, 2021, there are 33,224,075 total cases and 595,625 total deaths (1.79%total cases) attributed to COVID-19.
- Current Executive Orders and Local Directives (not all inclusive):
- Local – Designation of Critical and Essential Employees during an Emergency Memorandum, effective May 7, 2020, until further notice
- Key Leader Public Messaging (CDC) – Take Prevention Measures:
- Vaccinated People:
- Prevention measures not needed
- Unvaccinated People:
- Wear a mask
- Stay 6 feet apart
iii. Wash your hands
- Valley Health – VDH Lord Fairfax Health District Vaccine Information (as of 6/1/2021)
- STATEWIDE: Get your shot and help others make a plan to get vaccinated. Getting a shot has never been easier—vaccines are readily available at many supermarket pharmacies, hospitals, doctor’s offices, local health department clinics, and state-run community vaccination centers. To find a vaccine provider near you, visit vaccinate.virginia.gov, call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682), or text your ZIP code to GETVAX (428829). Call center representatives are available from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. All Virginia residents aged 12 and older are eligible to get vaccinated.
- LOCALLY: VDH will offer a COVID-19 clinic every Wednesday in June (except 6/30) at the 15th St. Cafeteria in Front Royal; call 877-VAX-IN-VA or the Heath Department to schedule an appointment.
- Executive Order 79 (2021) (Effective May 28, 2021):
- EO-79 is in furtherance of Amended Executive Order 51 (2020). Further, this Order terminates Seventh Amended Number Seventy-Two (2021) and Order of Public Health Emergency Nine, shall be effective midnight on May 28, 2021, and shall remain in full force and effect until amended or rescinded by further executive order.
- EO-79 (2021): https://www.governor.virginia.gov/media/governorvirginiagov/executive-actions/EO-79-and-Order-of-Public-Health-Emergency-Ten-Ending-of-Commonsense-Public-Health-Restrictions-Due-to-Novel-Coronavirus-(COVID-19).pdf
- EO-51 (2020): https://www.governor.virginia.gov/media/governorvirginiagov/executive-actions/EO-51-AMENDED-Declaration-of-a-State-of-Emergency-Due-to-Novel-Coronavirus-(COVID-19).pdf
- CDC Update as of May 28, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated-guidance.html
- Updated Choosing Safer Activities infographic with new considerations for the example activity for outdoor gatherings with fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (Emergency Coordinator)
- Overallproject coordinator is Rick Farrall, Emergency Coordinator
- Warren County’s total allocation is $7,801,386
- An application was submitted to the Department of Treasury
iii. Details to follow
LONG-TERM (scheduled completion over 3-months)
- FEMA Emergency Protective Measures (Category B) Reimbursement (Deputy County Administrator)
- Warren County. Main lead is Taryn Logan, Planning Director
- All departments/staff send monthly expense update to Taryn NLT the last working day of each month
- Approximate County expenditure to date is approximately $510,000 (5/18/2021)
- Town of Front Royal. Main lead is B.J. Wilson, Finance Director
- Approximate Town expenditure to date is $70,000 (10/14/2020)
- Point of Distribution (POD) (Parks and Recreation)
- POD established at the 15thSt. Gym/Cafeteria in coordination with VH/VDH for the mass distribution of critical medical supplies as required (COVID-19 vaccination). Another term being circulated is “CVC” or Community Vaccination Center.
Coming traffic pattern change
- 2. Happy Creek Road Closure:
- A portion of Happy Creek Road (Route 624) will close next Saturday, June 19, 2021 through approximately August 6, 2021. VDOT’s (and Norfolk Southern) intent is to complete the reconstruction project before our public schools resume classes in August.
- The project will impact Happy Creek Road from the Town of Front Royal limit east to Dismal Hollow Road; it includes work on the railroad crossing site just prior to Dismal Hollow Road.
- Residents and First Responders will have local and emergency access to the areas west and east of the railroad crossing. Once Norfolk Southern begins work on the crossing site, no vehicles will be able to pass from one side to the other until construction is complete.
- Please plan your travels accordingly.
Front Royal, Warren County included in Flash Flood Watch alert
Warren County Emergency Services has issued a release noting the inclusion of Warren County and the Town of Front Royal is a Flash Flood Watch issued by the National Weather Service-Baltimore MD/Washington D.C. at 3:03 AM EDT Fri Jun 11, 2021. Public alerted to possibility of more imminent Flash Flood Warnings if conditions persist through the day:
FLASH FLOOD WATCH IN EFFECT THROUGH THIS EVENING
The National Weather Service in Sterling Virginia has expanded the Flash Flood Watch (through this evening) to include portions of Virginia and West Virginia, including the following areas: in Virginia: Clarke, Eastern Loudoun, Fairfax, Frederick VA, Page, Shenandoah, Warren and Western Loudoun. In West Virginia, Berkeley, Eastern Grant, Eastern Mineral, Eastern Pendleton, Hampshire, Hardy, Jefferson, Western Grant, Western Mineral and Western Pendleton.
Additional showers and thunderstorms capable of producing heavy rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 additional inches are expected to re-develop early this morning and persist into this afternoon.
A Flash Flood Watch means that conditions may develop that lead to Flash Flooding. Flash Flooding is a very dangerous situation. You should monitor later forecasts and be prepared to take action should Flash Flood Warnings be issued.
Involved Communities: VA: Shenandoah-Frederick Page-Warren-Clarke-Fairfax-Western Loudoun-Eastern Loudoun; W.VA: Hampshire-Berkeley-Jefferson-Hardy-Western Grant-Eastern Grant-Western Mineral-Eastern Mineral-Western Pendleton-Eastern Pendleton; including the cities and towns of Shepherdstown, Purcellville, Charles Town, Winchester, Herndon, Ruddle, Keyser, Martinsburg, Woodstock, Brandywine, Mount Storm, Bayard, Chantilly, Antioch, Luray, Centreville, Berryville, Sterling, New Market, Shenandoah, Ashburn, Moorefield, Mount Jackson, Front Royal, Leesburg, McLean, Russelldale, Riverton, Franklin, Fort Ashby, Elk Garden, Oak Flat, Reston, New Creek, Sugar Grove, Romney, Annandale, Headsville, Strasburg, Stanley, Franconia, Ridgeville, and Petersburg.
Teacher Appreciation with the Rotary Club of Warren County – School year 2020/2021
Teachers who navigated this unique challenging year all deserve awards! The Rotary Club of Warren County decided to express a small token of appreciation by providing a yummy breakfast for the teachers and staff of our Warren County Public School system. Warm apple cider donuts from the Apple House, apples, granola bars, hot coffee and water were on the menu for the teachers to enjoy!
As a club, members enjoyed coming together to serve the community once again. Rotarian Krista Beahm delivered breakfast every morning during this project! She noted, “The teacher and staff appreciation was a success! This was a much deserved treat for the wonderful WCPS employees for all they have done this past school year.”
A note to the teachers:
Rotary believes education is a right. Our members across the globe unite to educate and uplift students through scholarships and service. The Rotary Club of Warren County wants to thank our teachers and staff for their dedication to our youth during this difficult year! THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO!!!
Please watch this video to not only see the project in action, but to hear a few fun shout outs from teachers to the students, including a message from a Warren County Middle School Principal – Amy Gubler, Rotary Teacher of the Year – Luke Heater, and School Dean – Carolyn Sheppard.
Thank you to our sponsors:
- Rotary Club of Warren County
- Jean’s Jewelers
- Melanie Hamel – Weichert Realtors
- Jen Avery – Crum Realty, Inc.
Blue Ridge Wildlife Center Patient of the Week: Blue Jay
What is making these young birds sick?
This fledgling Blue Jay is one of dozens of sick birds we have admitted in the past couple of weeks with an unknown illness. This patient came in with its eyes swollen shut and showing discharge. Unfortunately, we don’t know what this illness is.
What you need to know:
- Affected birds are most commonly blue jays, European starlings, and common grackle fledglings, though fledglings of other species have been seen in smaller numbers with similar signs. We have not yet seen this disease in adults.
- Affected birds most commonly appear like the blue jays pictured. Eyes are often shut, sometimes enlarged or showing discharge or reddening. Some affected birds have mild neurological signs (see the video below) while others are severely uncoordinated and stumbling or rolling. Birds may have neurological signs, eye issues, or both.
- Cases have been reported in our area and throughout northern Virginia, DC, Maryland, and many other states. We are working with multiple agencies searching for an answer. Until we know more our recommendation is to call the Center if you see a fledgling exhibiting signs.
- As we do not yet know if this is an environmental toxin or contagious disease, we strongly encourage you to wear gloves and a mask when containing these birds. We will recommend disposing of the container so don’t use anything you plan to keep. If you find a dead bird, please wear gloves and a mask and dispose of the bird in an outdoor trash can (ideally wrapped in a plastic bag) to avoid potentially exposing others to the disease.
This video shows the neurological signs in a young blue jay and grackle:
Unfortunately, this disease appears to have 100% mortality. We did attempt treatment early on in the outbreak (as did other facilities) none with any significant success.
Given the data we have accumulated between centers, the lack of any treatment success, and the lack of knowledge of what is causing these signs and if they are communicable to other animals/humans, all of these fledglings are being euthanized on intake. This limits their suffering and the risk to other patients/staff/volunteers.
We know that not everyone is understanding of this and will choose not to bring these animals in when there is no chance of success. It is worth noting that these birds die on their own, very unpleasantly, in 24-48 hours if left in the wild. Also, leaving them in the wild could potentially expose others to the disease. We do recommend safely containing and bringing them in for care AFTER you have discussed the case with our staff and we have all determined that this is likely such a case.