Misdemeanor trials related to the operation of a Biggs Drive massage parlor involved in the solicitation charge against then-Front Royal Mayor Hollis Tharpe in April were continued to an as-yet undetermined January date on Wednesday in Warren County General District Court.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Layton said he hoped a date could be established sooner rather than later that accommodated attorneys on all sides. Layton said attempts to set dates in December failed due to a combination of court docket and attorney scheduling situations.
Layton and defense counsel David Downes agreed that a major stumbling block on proceeding to trial involves a court protective order being placed on one piece of evidence, a customer list of the massage parlor to keep that list from being made public from the court file until it or portions of it are introduced into evidence at trial.
Cynthia Atkinson Bailey, her daughter Brandy Nicole Atkinson and son Jesse Thomas Atkinson were arrested by Front Royal Police on May 15, 2019 and charged with the misdemeanor offense of maintaining a “bawdy” (defined as gross, indecent or overly graphic) place. Bailey’s son-in-law Joshua Allan Stamper also faces charges related to the massage parlor operation.
Other charges the family faces include receiving money from earnings of prostitution (felony), prostitution (felony), and cruelty to children, the latter charge according to the criminal complaint involving the presence of a juvenile in the Biggs Drive residence who “answered phone calls, arranged appointments and walked clients to the rooms.” The referenced juvenile is believed to be a grandchild of Bailey’s.
Preliminary hearings on the felony charges scheduled for Wednesday, November 6, were also continued to a future date.
Perhaps ironically the trial delays came one day after Tharpe failed in his effort to regain his mayoral seat and serve out the final year of the term he announced on April 19 he would resign from effective May 2 to prevent his legal situation from becoming a distraction to the conduct of Town business.
The indictment against Tharpe cited a May 31, 2018 incident in which he allegedly offered “money or its equivalent to another for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts”. Tharpe admitted to being a customer of the massage parlor operating as Blue Ridge Services, but denied paying for anything other than legitimate massage therapy.
Tharpe’s misdemeanor solicitation case was dismissed at the request of Special Prosecutor Heather Hovermale during a July 15 hearing due to Bailey’s invocation of her Fifth Amendment right to not self-incriminate due to the related charges hanging over her head. His charge dismissed, Tharpe almost immediately announced that he would run in the November election to regain the mayor’s seat he gave up.
However on November 5 Tharpe was defeated by Councilman Gene Tewalt who announced his run for mayor following Tharpe’s resignation but prior to his reentry into the Town political scene.
One vehicle accident downs power lines to Royal Village Wednesday afternoon
The power into Royal Village was interrupted early Wednesday evening as a result of a traffic incident. Town Director of Energy Services David Jenkins responded to Royal Examiner’s request for information on the situation early Thursday morning. Below is the full text of his reply:
“The Energy services department received an online submittal that the power was out in the W 11th St area. a crew was dispatched and upon arrival they found that a vehicle had struck a utility pole that feed’s directly from our Kendrick Lane substation and snapped it off. The crew than began to clear and isolate the primary wire and pole that was on the ground and then proceeded to get the power back on by transferring the loads to another circuit that feeds from our Manassas Avenue substation.
“The pole that was struck also had underground primary feeder attached to it as well. We called in our Public works department for a backhoe to dig up the damaged wire. A contractor for CenturyLink had to be called in to repair the phone lines.
“Power went off at 6:41 pm
“Power back on at 7:27 pm
“Number of customers affected 931”
Information gathered at the scene by Royal Examiner staff indicated the driver of the involved vehicle may have fled the scene on foot.
By late morning Thursday, Front Royal Police Captain Crystal Cline confirmed the arrest of Artavia Michelle Price-Bey for DUI, Property Damage over $1000, and Failure to Maintain Car Insurance, regarding the incident. Price-Bey was transported to RSW Regional Jail and booked into the facility at 9:26 p.m. Wednesday evening. She was released Thursday morning at 11:52 a.m.
Fauquier Health physician services implements telemedicine capabilities
Fauquier Health physician clinics have implemented telemedicine capabilities. This announcement follows the Trump administration’s unprecedented expansion of telehealth services.
For patients who meet certain clinical criteria, Fauquier Health providers are working around the clock to offer two types of telehealth visit options: telephonic and televideo. A telephonic visit is simply a patient phone call with a provider. A televideo visit is a virtual, face-to-face visit via a platform that allows the provider to utilize a video conferencing service. Virtual visits may not be available in all cases and will be evaluated based on a patient’s specific clinical needs.
Brian DeCastro, MD, Fauquier Health Urology, said the Urology practice has successfully conducted several telephonic and televideo visits. Dr. DeCastro shared, “We have to get creative in these unique times. Telehealth is an excellent way to keep providing the care that is needed for the patients. It keeps the providers and patients from unnecessary exposure to COVID-19. In the end it can also help patients stay away from unnecessary hospital and emergency room visits. We are currently offering same day visits.”
In addition to the specialty clinics, telehealth is becoming an integral part for internal medicine and family practice. Providers see telemedicine as a tool to increase access to routine healthcare needs. According to Joseph David, MD, Piedmont Internal Medicine, community residents of all ages should see telehealth as a way for them stay connected with their medical care team. Dr. David shared, “This technology will allow our older patients, who are at higher risk, to have virtual house calls without needing transportation. For our patients who are commuting, it will allow them to have care without having to lose time from work. Once we work through the growing pains we will wonder how we managed without it.”
Providers are the first to admit healthcare needs are facing challenging times during this pandemic. According to Kyle Song, DO, Family Practice at Bealeton, Fauquier Health has been doing their utmost to help the community. He commented, “At the Family Practice in Bealeton, in order to protect our community, patients and staff, we have postponed routine health visits and have initiated telehealth visits. These types of visits will still allow us to continue providing care to our patients while protecting them.” When asked how patients can best protect themselves, Dr. Song said, “We urge everyone to please continue handwashing – soap and water is best – cover coughs, continue social distancing and stay home unless absolutely necessary.” One of the frequently asked questions we see is what if you still get sick? You should call your primary care provider to get direction on where and how to proceed with your symptoms. Dr. Song went on to comment, “In this difficult time, if everyone does their part and we all work together as a community, we will get through this.”
Patients can request a telehealth visit by calling their provider’s office, just as they would for an in-person visit. A patient can also request on appointment online if they are properly set up through the online patient portal. It is important to note that patients will not be able to request an appointment through the website online scheduling features. The provider will determine if a telehealth visit is appropriate based on the patient’s health condition. If the virtual visit is deemed clinically appropriate, the patient will be given an appointment time and instructions for the best way to connect given the available platforms. Then, instead of coming to the office, he or she would call back at the scheduled time and be “checked in” by a nurse or office manager, and then transferred to the provider for the call or two-way video.
Mary Gray, Market Manager of Fauquier Health Physician Services, commented on Fauquier Health’s initiatives surrounding telemedicine offerings, “We have been working diligently to ensure our clinics have the appropriate plans in place to continue providing care to our patients while also preventing the spread of illness. We are excited to share with you our new telehealth options. Whether you want to set up a televideo conference with your provider or a telephonic visit, we can provide the care you need. Please call your provider’s office to learn more information.”
A few restrictions on telephonic visits may apply, including that they cannot be utilized to treat patients for a condition that the patient has been seen for in the previous seven days, and they cannot be used to treat a condition that the patient is already coming in for within the next 24 hours.
Patients who are concerned they may be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 are encouraged to consider telemedicine appointments to help further reduce the spread of the respiratory virus. Leveraging telemedicine also conserves personal protective equipment (PPE) and other clinical resources that are needed when treating a patient with suspected COVID-19 in a clinic or hospital setting. Should patients be concerned or have questions about COVID-19, they are urged not to call the emergency department. Rather, they should contact their provider’s office for guidance or call the dedicated Virginia Department of Health (VDH) hotline at 1-877-ASK-VDH3.
Governor Northam COVID-19 update briefing – April 8, 2020
Town Talk: A conversation with Mayor Eugene Tewalt
Town Talk is a series on the Royal Examiner where we will introduce you to local entrepreneurs, businesses, non-profit leaders and political figures who influence Warren County. Topics will be varied but hopefully interesting. If you have an idea, topic or want to hear from someone in our community, let us know. Send your request to news@RoyalExaminer.com
In this Town Talk, we’ll have a conversation with Mayor Eugene Tewalt. Town of Front Royal Mayor Eugene Tewalt stopped by Royal Examiner’s studio and provided us with an update report on the emergency response process underway and a projected budget shortfall that will be discussed at the next Town Council work session On Thursday, April 9th.
Shenandoah National Park will temporarily close
The National Park Service (NPS) received a letter from the Rappahannock Rapidan Health District of the Virginia Department of Health recommending the full closure of Shenandoah National Park. Upon receiving this request from the health department, Superintendent Jennifer Flynn, with the support of the NPS Deputy Director, Operations, David Vela and Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, made the decision to immediately close the park until further notice.
Virginia State Highways 211 and 33 will remain accessible to pass-through.
The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners is our number one priority. The NPS is working service-wide with federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic. The park will notify the public when it resumes full operations and provides updates on the park website https://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/alerts.htm and social media channels.
The NPS encourages people to take advantage of the many digital tools already available to explore Shenandoah National Park, including:
• Visit our website for interactives, photo galleries, videos, and webcams: https://www.nps.gov/shen/learn/photosmultimedia/index.htm
• Subscribe to our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/ShenandoahNPS
Updates about NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus. Please visit www.goshenandoah.com for updates about park concessioner, Delaware North’s operations.
Governor Northam announces plans to postpone upcoming Virginia elections in response to COVID-19
~ Governor delays June primary by two weeks asks General Assembly to move May elections to November ~
RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today (April 8, 2020) requested the General Assembly move the May General Election and all special elections scheduled for May 5, 2020, to the November 3, 2020, General Election date to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The Governor is also exercising his statutory authority (§ 24.2-603.1 of the Code of Virginia) to move the June primary elections from June 9, 2020, to June 23, 2020.
“As other states have shown, conducting an election in the middle of this global pandemic would bring unprecedented challenges and the potential risk to voters and those who work at polling places across the Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “Making these decisions now will help election officials prepare and implement the necessary changes. This is about protecting the health and safety of Virginians during this pandemic and ensuring our citizens can make their voices heard in a safe, fair, and uniform manner. I urge the General Assembly to do their part and take action to move our upcoming elections.”
“Free and fair elections are at the core of our democracy and no Virginian should have to choose between their health and exercising their right to vote, said Attorney General Herring. “I’m proud to have worked closely with Governor Northam and his team on a solution that protects both public health and the integrity of our elections.”
Moving the upcoming May elections requires action by the General Assembly. The plan the Governor is proposing includes the following measures:
• There will be one ballot in November.
• Voters who are qualified in November will be able to vote in November. An individual who was not qualified in May but is qualified in November will be able to vote.
• All absentee ballots already cast will be discarded. Virginians will have an opportunity to vote for local elected officials in November.
• Those officials whose terms are to expire as of June 30, 2020, will continue in office until their successors have been elected on November 3, 2020, and have been qualified to serve.
For additional resources and information about Virginia’s COVID-19 response, please visit virginia.gov/coronavirus.