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Mayor, council erupt over politicized interim town manager’s report

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After being taken to the “brink” a week earlier during the County Supervisors’ 4-1/2 hour exploration of the intricacies and ethics of municipal government, things looked promising on Monday, July 27th.

A very light two-action item Front Royal Town Council agenda revolving around people GIVING the Town money or LOVE letters for display. How hard could it be, right – even with some critical citizen “Public Comments” from a riled-up Paul Gabbert and a more measured council candidate Bruce Rappaport?

That was before Matt Tederick decided to turn his Interim Town Manager’s report into a political attack on Royal Examiner Publisher and mayoral candidate Mike McCool, not present Monday, over meeting comments made two weeks earlier about the prevalence of unattended-to potholes around town.

Monday night the interim town manager found himself in a quandary, but over what – defending public works staff that had not been attacked or turning his manager’s report into a political campaign attack? Royal Examiner Photos/Roger Bianchini – Royal Examiner videos/Mark Williams

Not that there aren’t any, Tederick admitted – “It’s on me and me alone,” he commented on their presence before attempting at length to portray McCool’s July 13th comments on a lapse of timely Town attention to road infrastructure issues, into an attack on the Town’s Public Works staff.

Tederick’s report started normally as he noted posting on the Town website and various other social media and distribution sources of the application process for the Town’s $1.2 million share of the CARES Act COVID-19 Coronavirus relief funding. But after one-minute-and-43 seconds, Tederick hesitated to say he found himself in a “quandary”.

“I really struggled with what to say tonight, whether I should or should not make these comments,” the interim town manager began, continuing to say he lived by “several personal mottos” including “always speak truth to power.”

So, who was the long-time County Republican Committee chairman, officer, and power broker described favorably by fellow local Republican Committee official Amber Poe Morris earlier this year as “Front Royal’s (Donald) Trump” getting ready to speak to? I found myself wondering.

“The quandary I find myself in, is on one hand I feel strong cause to protect town citizens who have been unfairly attacked. But on the other hand, calling out a current mayor candidate and owner of a local business and newspaper is the quandary I find myself in,” Tederick said in prefacing his coming remarks.

Uh oh.
Saying he would “walk the line” Tederick began his defense of the public works department’s street maintenance crews – crews I do not recall being the target of McCool’s comments two weeks earlier a day after he said he had run through a massive pothole he feared might have damaged the undercarriage of his tiny “smart” car. It was apparently the same pothole the mayor had also hit recently, Tewalt later indicated. In fact, this reporter’s video review of McCool’s July 13 public comments indicated a critical focus on “department heads” and town administrative staff oversight of town crews and contractors for follow-up work, rather than of town staff in the field.

As Mayor Tewalt tries to stop a politically volatile staff report, he found himself at odds with a majority of council, including Letasha Thompson, Jacob Meza and Chris Holloway to the mayor’s left.

After two minutes of recitation of interdepartmental processes aimed at discrediting McCool’s road infrastructure comments, Mayor Gene Tewalt interrupted the interim town manager to say that if the public was going to be limited in the amount of time they could berate town officials, perhaps town staff should also be limited in the amount of time devoted to the personal berating of the political opponent of a sitting councilman, mayoral candidate, and fellow Tederick Warren County Republican Committee member. Chris Holloway is also on the November mayoral ballot.

Responding that he was unaware of time limitations on staff reports, Tederick continued for another 2-1/2 minutes before the mayor again tried to end what had turned into a politically-tinged report. But this time when Tewalt attempted to halt Tederick, he was set upon by several councilmen, including Letasha Thompson, Gary Gillespie, Jacob Meza and briefly Holloway, who concurred with Meza that it was the mayor, rather than Tederick who had turned the meeting into a politicized sideshow – “I’m not surprised,” Holloway said of a negative perception of Mayor Tewalt’s attempts to cut Tederick’s report short.

Above, Jacob Meza was pointedly critical of the mayor as politicizing the meeting by trying to halt the interim town manager’s explanation of why town crews were not at fault on road maintenance issues, not that anyone said they were. Below, mayoral candidate Chris Holloway concurred with Meza’s assessment Mayor Tewalt was politicizing the meeting, not the interim town manager.

The following morning after asking McCool to watch our video of Tederick, the mayor and council’s interaction over the attack on his July 13th “pothole of the day” comments, I asked our publisher for a response to what he saw, reminding him I had told him a month earlier his candidacy would make Royal Examiner, its staff and election coverage a target throughout the campaign season.

McCool replied that I was correct in recalling that his remarks had not been directed at Town work crews, but rather at administrative oversight and communications between contractors and department heads on follow-up work. – “I know, Mike, I re-watched the video this morning,” I told him, adding, “I still hold you responsible for the hellish situation I find myself in as a reporter. – You know, it’ll be my reporting next meeting that is somebody’s ‘quandary’ for comment.

Who’s next – Mike McCool approaches the podium to discuss road maintenance issues on July 13, as reporter scribbles away old school at improvised press table about whatever the previous speaker was talking about.

As for his reply to Monday’s political developments, McCool said, “It seems Mr. Tederick is up to his political tricks and negativity. When I made the comments at the Town Council meeting two weeks ago, Mr. Tederick called my comments ‘absolutely false’. Are they? Mr. Tederick emailed me the next morning asking for the addresses of the potholes and the site of the curb and gutter issues. He said he wanted to address the problem and get them taken care of ASAP.

“And Mr. Tederick told me after the meeting that the Town had seven contractors doing this work, and they were inspecting the jobs, but one contractor had been doing such a poor job, most of which had to be redone, that the inspector was spending all his time with this one contractor. I noticed he didn’t mention any of this in the Town Manager’s report on the 27th.”

McCool added that people could judge for themselves what happened last night from watching the meeting video of the political turn in Tederick’s report and the contrasting reactions to it. In the first video we’ve edited his actual comments to council on July 13 and Tederick’s report which pivots toward McCool, as well as the mayor-manager and mayor-council sparring over the political turn the meeting had taken.


The second video is the entire Town Council meeting of July 27th.

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How’d graduation go? Decreasing COVID deaths? And removal petition expense draw supervisors attention

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Board comments and questions revolving around a variety of financial issues were heard at the August 4th Warren County Board of Supervisors meeting, as was one apology concerning a previous complaint about pandemic-altered high school graduation plans.

“When I’m wrong I’ll admit I was wrong – and I was wrong on graduation,” North River Supervisor Delores Oates said during her member’s report after attending the Skyline High School graduation the morning of Saturday, August 1st, one day after Warren County High’s somewhat wetter one.

Oates said the football stadium parking lot-centered event utilizing the new Hawk tunnel and allowing family members to accompany their graduates for photographs was a rousing success and would likely lead to some permanent changes in the future, post-pandemic graduations – changes she called in some ways an improvement over traditional graduation ceremonies.

Delores Oates gave a shout out to Warren County Public Schools for their pandemic-altered graduation plan – ‘I was wrong’ she said of earlier complaints about a plan she was pleasantly surprised by. Royal Examiner Photos and Video/Mark Williams

“I have a senior. And I was disappointed that we were going to do drive-in graduation. I had no idea, however, of what they had planned to accommodate our family so that we could get up-close and personal graduation with our senior,” Oates began, adding, “In fact, it was better than conventional graduation. And I have to take my hat off to everybody involved with the planning and execution of the graduation.”

She then observed, “The irony of COVID is that through social distancing, we were able to get closer to our graduate. And, so I agree with Ms. Cullers that graduation likely will change because parents enjoy close-up and personal graduation. So, I would like to thank the school system for what they did to make it a memorable day.”

GO Public School Administrators – let’s give them a run through that Hawk tunnel too.

Have they risen?

Happy Creek Supervisor Tony Carter then began with a question revolving around another COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease-2019) impact on the community, an apparent statistical anomaly indicating a reduction in the reported number of COVID-19 deaths in Warren County.

“One of the questions I’ve seen – why have the numbers kind of gone down? I think at one point there were 8 deaths, then it was 7 and now it’s 6,” Carter noted of a decrease in fatality numbers.

And while Carter directed his question at Deputy County Emergency Services Coordinator Rick Farrall, present for a number of COVID-19 related agenda item reports, Board Chairman and
County Pandemic Emergency Response Team Chair Walt Mabe stepped in.

Board and Pandemic Emergency Management Team Chair Walt Mabe explained the county’s decreasing COVID-19 death totals. – No, it is not a supernatural phenomenon, just a point-of-residence statistical adjustment.

“I can do that,” Mabe said of shedding light on the reverse trend in fatalities. “When we have a death that’s actually reported, that death is reported in Warren County. After a period of time, we come to find out that, that person that died is really from Shenandoah County or from Page County or wherever. And when that’s found out, we adjust the numbers – ours goes down, theirs go up.
And it could work the opposite way,” Mabe explained of the nation’s nearly 160,000 pandemic deaths being tabulated by the home community, not the place where the pandemic victim died.

Queried by Mabe, Farrall concurred with this explanation.

We are still seated – at what cost?

Carter then segued into another item of personal and political interest to him, the June 23rd court order of dismissal of all portions of the grassroots citizen county board Removal Petition spearheaded by Bonnie Gabbert and others against the supervisors seated through 2019. Carter and Fork District incumbent Archie Fox, whose seats were not up for re-election in 2019, are the only two targeted supervisors over the EDA financial scandal still seated after the 2019 election.

Two of the targeted supervisors, former Chairman Dan Murray and South River’s Linda Glavis did not run for reelection in 2019, and a third, Shenandoah District’s Tom Sayre was defeated by new Chairman Walt Mabe.

During his member report Tuesday morning, Carter queried Interim County Attorney Jason Ham on the case status and total costs to the County and its taxpayers of defending board members against that recall petition. That cost was $48,500, Ham replied.

And as he explained in a June 24th letter informing the current and past board members of the court action of the previous day, Ham noted that the portion of the suit against the no-longer seated members had been “dismissed with prejudice” meaning it could not be re-filed. And while the “Order of non-suit” and “Dismissal without Prejudice” against Carter and Fox would allow it to be re-filed in six months, Ham wrote that from the conversation with Harrisonburg Special Prosecutor Michael Parker, “I don’t think that is very likely.”

Carter noted that such a removal petition based around what is thus far considered unintentional lapses of oversight allowing alleged criminal behavior of others has rarely if ever been upheld in Virginia. The courts have indicated a preference to let such non-criminal legislative matters be resolved by impacted citizens at the ballot box, rather in another governmental branch’s courtroom.

Supervisor Carter noted that he and colleague Archie Fox are no longer under the gun of a citizen Recall Petition, though at some cost to the county’s taxpayers.

Somewhat playfully perhaps, Carter wondered if a bill for the County Recall Petition legal defense expenses could be added up to be divided among the citizens who signed it seeking a judicial removal of local legislators for non-criminal behavior.

“And I assume there’s not a way … that the people who signed the petition, to send them a bill for 50 dollars each?” Carter asked.

Ham’s answer appeared to be that such a plan was not currently under consideration by him or his co-counsel on the matter.

“Anyway, I just thought I’d pass that information on,” Carter said in concluding that little legal-budgetary foray and notice of ALL those targeted by the Recall Petition’s survival of it.

View the Board of Supervisor meeting of August 4, 2020, in this related story.

Rockland area residents seek shooting ban for their neighborhood

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Rockland area residents seek shooting ban for their neighborhood

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Other than the Confederate soldier statue debate, the other primary topic during the opening public comments portion of Tuesday morning, August 4th, Warren County Board of Supervisors meeting was a proposed ban on recreational shooting in the Clearback subdivision off Rockland Road near the Shenandoah Valley Golf Club. The matter had been scheduled for a work session following the meeting and a closed session.

However, Happy Creek Supervisor Tony Carter suggested adding advertisement for a public hearing on the matter to the meeting’s Consent Agenda to speed up movement on the issue. His motion to add the matter to the meeting agenda was unanimously approved. Consequently, four people urged the supervisors to approve the recreational shooting prohibition for their neighborhood. They, along with others they presented supporting signatures of, called what they are experiencing, not only a public nuisance but also a reckless and potentially dangerous one.

Speaking on the matter were James Harper, Jean Isner, Robert Aylor, and Bruce Benzie. While not present due to family health concerns, our contributing writer Malcolm Barr Sr. sent an email in support of the requested ban to the board through Board Clerk Emily Ciarrocchi.

With no parameters on public speaking time, the Board of Supervisors got an earful on two issues added to their August 4th agenda at the meeting’s outset. Thirteen of 14 speakers addressed either a requested shooting prohibition in Rockland (4) and the Confederate soldier monument relocation issue (9). With 14th speaker, Gary Kushner’s critique of COVID-19 CARES Act funding parameters and advice that the supervisors “not look to the Town for guidance on how to govern” the meeting’s opening public comments period lasted 80 minutes. Royal Examiner Photo/Roger Bianchini – Royal Examiner Video/Mark Williams

“I compliment and support Mr. James Harper in his efforts to obtain relief from a long-standing irritant that has been thrust upon residents of the Rockland Historic Area of the county for several years – that of irresponsible target shooting on at least two properties on Rockland Road, one of them specifically affecting residents of the Clearback subdivision, the other detrimental to the operators and users of Shenandoah Valley Golf Club. I secured, as a matter of record, the signature of Richard Runyon, owner, and operator of the SVGC who joined most Clearback Subdivision residents in seeking relief from the incessant noise and possible danger that is imposed on us. Almost daily, the sound of rifle fire beginning as early as 10 a.m. can continue up to 90 minutes to 2 hours, then begin again in the late afternoon,” Barr wrote the board.

Harper opened the Public Comments telling the supervisors, “Several weeks ago on a Saturday we all heard automatic gunfire for over 5-1/2 hours. This was non-stop gunfire,” Harper said of one obtrusive example of what has become a regular situation for area residents.

“Years ago this was farmland, now it’s a neighborhood. Is it fair for two houses to disrupt the neighborhood?” Harper asked the board before presenting a list of signatures in support of the shooting ban for the subdivision area, including from former supervisor Ben Weddle, former town councilman Kermit Nichols, and as Barr noted in his email, SVGC principal Richard Runyon. Harper told a story told him by Runyon when Harper first arrived in the area to introduce him to the shooting issue.

“He told me they were hosting a wedding, and they went across the street to ask them to stop shooting while the wedding was going on because it was an outdoor wedding. And they said ‘No’ and kept on shooting. That’s what we’re dealing with,” Harper told the supervisors.

“I ask you to put yourselves in our shoes during this discussion,” Aylor added, “The pop-pop-pop-pop-pop is loud, it’s annoying and it’s disrespectful … Some of us have pets and it’s annoying to them as well.”

Of one neighbor’s nearby pasture land, Benzie said, “Her cattle go absolutely ballistic when they hear that weapons fire. It’s just amazing.”

Of the potential of danger to neighboring properties, Benzie referenced a report he had heard about a “six-year-old child” being wounded under similar shooting circumstances in Middletown over the past weekend.

During his opening remarks, Harper said inquiries to the Warren County Sheriff’s Office indicated there was nothing law enforcement could do until a County code change added the neighborhood to those where such shooting is prohibited as a public nuisance and danger in a residential area.

That puts the ball in the Supervisors’ court just as both the County and Town have been approached about passing resolutions not to join the state government in imposing restrictions on firearms being carried into government offices, properties, and meetings. Maybe the cited Rockland offenders will bring their “automatic” or semi-automatic weapons to the coming public hearing to illustrate why their use shouldn’t be restricted.

The Royal Examiner video of the August 4, 2020 meeting is in two parts:


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No middle ground apparent in Confederate statue debate

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An unexpected debate over the fate of the Confederate Soldier Monument on the Warren County Courthouse lawn erupted at Tuesday morning’s County Board of Supervisors meeting.
In fact, after an agenda addition was proposed by Tony Carter to add authorization for Interim County Attorney Jason Ham to submit a request to the court that a public referendum on the 109-year-old statue’s fate be added to the November county ballot, nine of 14 speakers at the first public comments period addressed the issue. The split was a tight 5-4 in favor of keeping the statue at its public site, rather than remove it as a lingering sign of racism and the slavery issue at the root of the American Civil War.

Those five speaking for keeping the statue dedicated to the memory of Warren County’s 600 Confederate soldiers, both known and unknown, who fought in the war all argued that the statue was not a glorification of slavery and continued racism in America, but rather a tribute to non-slave-owning soldiers – other than five of those 600 – most likely drafted into service who may have viewed the war from a different perspective than many of those of us in the 21st century might assume.

Above, FR Unites’ Samuel Porter insisted he is not out to divide the community. Below, one of the county’s first integrated black students, Gene Kilby, said from his perspective the statue does remind people of color of slavery and racism. Royal Examiner Photos/Roger Bianchini – Royal Examiner Video/Mark Williams

The four speaking for removal included two principals from Front Royal Unites, Samuel Porter and Stevi Hubbard, as well as Gene Kilby, James Kilby Sr.’s youngest son and one of the county’s first integrated public school students of color, and Episcopal Reverend Valerie Hayes. From their varying perspectives, all four countered that for the county’s black citizens the statue does echo of slavery and racism.

Speaking for maintaining the statue under some compromise solution that does not glorify slavery or racism included several members of a family tied to Front Royal’s Chester Street Warren Rifles Confederate Museum, including Suzanne Wood Silek, her nephew and museum curator Gary Duane Vaughan, cousin and local attorney David Silek. Others speaking for keeping the statue where it is were Richard Bruce Colton and Richard Hoover.

Above, Suzanne Wood Silek; below her nephew Gary Duane Vaughan – both with family ties to the Warren Rifles Confederate Museum. They and others on the non-relocation side insisted the statue dedicated to the county’s common soldier does not stand in glorification of slavery or racism, but of service and sacrifice.

Several of the speakers on the removal side of the debate who had arrived late after being notified of the agenda item addition, complained of the unannounced late addition they said prevented more speakers from their side from coming to voice their opinions.

However, Carter noted that the board’s hand was forced by the discovery that there was an August 14 deadline on submission to the court of a County petition to add a referendum on the statue issue to the November ballot. Carter pointed out the next scheduled board meeting was August 19. Cheryl Cullers made the motion to add the item to the Consent Agenda, Delores Oates seconded the motion which then received the necessary unanimous vote of approval to become a late agenda addition.

An updated story with more detail on the debate will be forthcoming. But for now, watch those speakers listed above present their conflicting viewpoints in what ended up stretching the prescribed 40-minute public comments period to 80 minutes Tuesday morning in this Royal Examiner video:

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Council seeks clarification on guns into town offices & meetings request

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The march of 2nd Amendment advocates recruiting local municipal governments to become “sanctuaries” against State laws passed by the Democratic majority in the Virginia General Assembly continues. At the Monday, August 3, Front Royal Town Council work session a new resolution seeking local immunity from a new state law allowing municipalities to join the Commonwealth in banning the carrying of weapons into government buildings, meeting rooms and other properties was brought to council by staff.

The request for passage of the newest 2nd Amendment sanctuary rebellion against the current Democratic-controlled state government’s gun-control legislation was brought to council by Paul Aldridge, who was not present Monday, in mid-July. Both the Town and County approved “2nd Amendment Sanctuary” resolutions brought before them late last year, joining a number of conservative municipalities resolving not to enforce proposed gun control laws before the General Assembly.

Over a thousand people packed the WCHS auditorium in December 2019 in support of an earlier 2nd Amendment Sanctuary initiative. That one before the county supervisors was passed by a 5-0 vote. Royal Examiner Photos/Roger Bianchini – Royal Examiner Video/Mark Williams

As to the newest proposed resolution, it references VA Code Section 15.2-915(E). That newly passed state code states “…a locality may adopt an ordinance that prohibits the possession, carrying, or transportation of any firearms, ammunition, or components or combination thereof…” in government buildings and open spaces or spaces utilized for permitted community events or other municipal or recreational activities.

The code, as with others approved this year regarding background checks and red flag laws, appears to be a Democratic initiative to head off the type of mass shooting violence that has become uncomfortably common in the U.S. in recent decades. However, certain 2nd Amendment “purists”, for lack of a better term, in Virginia and other politically conservative states and regions have taken such gun control legislation as an assault on their 2nd Amendment right to, not only own a firearm but “bear it” in any public context in which they see fit.

Monday night’s discussion indicated some confusion as to what was being asked as it applied, not only to existing town codes regarding citizens being given carte blanche to come armed into Town Hall and any town council or other board or commission meeting or visit to any town official or departmental office. In the end, council asked for more detail on the impacts of approval of the resolution to continue the discussion at a coming work session. But what a discussion it was to get to that “stay tuned for our next exciting episode” on this crucial request pitting some people’s perception of their 2nd Amendment right “to bear Arms” versus other people’s perception of their “inalienable right” of “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” without being randomly gunned down by an armed citizen having a bad day.

Town Attorney Doug Napier explained that the above-referenced state code allowed municipalities “including the town” to set their own guidelines on firearms in public places, a power they did not previously have in this Dillon Rule state where no jurisdiction can pass laws that goes beyond what state law has set forth.

Town Attorney Doug Napier, far left, outlined security issues for town staff were council to approve a new 2nd Amendment resolution before it and responded to questions on potential impacts on the Town Employee Handbook.

“Now localities, including the town, are allowed to allow firearms, they are allowed not to allow firearms. Obviously, this is something that is political and a policy issue, as opposed to a legal issue,” Napier told council, pointing to matters of concern on a decision on the requested resolution.

As the town attorney pointed out in the subsequent discussion, by passing the resolution the town’s elected officials would commit themselves legally to “not exercise any authority granted to it by § 15.2-915(E) of the Code of Virginia to regulate or prohibit the otherwise legal purchase, possession, or transfer of firearms or ammunition.

“If this is passed in its entirety, would you feel comfortable to allow the public to bring firearms into Town Hall? We have ladies in the finance department downstairs dealing with members of the public who have had their utilities cut off. Sometimes people feel a little agitated with that,” Napier observed.

He also noted that while council at meetings and work sessions has a security presence of town police, as illustrated Monday night by an armed FRPD Chief Kahle Magalis – whom later acknowledged he had not yet been consulted on the requested resolution – but that other boards and commissions do not normally have that same armed Town security presence in meetings the town attorney described as occasionally volatile with zoning, building-permitting, and business operations at issue.

“Would you feel comfortable in that situation,” Napier asked council of allowing armed involved citizens making their cases toward a sometimes unhappy town appointed, or elected, board resolution of their request?

FRPD Chief Kahle Magalis at the head of a row of town staff listening to Monday’s council discussion on the approval of a requested resolution allowing the unlimited bearing of arms in Town buildings and properties. The chief, present as security, said he had not yet been consulted on the requested resolution.

As to the potential of barring firearms from public park areas where alcohol consumption might be prohibited, other than special festival events and which it could on occasion have been consumed illegally, the town attorney also pointed to the potentially volatile mix of alcohol and firearms.

Napier then noted that the Town Employee Handbook prohibits employees from being armed on the job, other of course than police officers. How would the requested resolution impact that employee prohibition, Napier asked.

“And then the issue is, do you want employees to carry firearms?” Napier told council, wondering if council would try to allow it for some, but not others – “So, these are some of the issues to consider.”

OK – Everyone but employees?

“Does this resolution affect our employee handbook directly?” Councilman Jacob Meza asked. Napier’s response was “not directly” to which Meza observed, “But we wouldn’t have to address that unless we wanted to consider letting our employees having handguns to defend themselves against crazy people coming in and try to shoot up the place. That doesn’t have a bearing on the resolution,” Meza reasoned.

“Not directly,” the town attorney replied, stumbling to find the proper wording to describe the indirect bearing it might have, which essentially was approving the resolution would contradict the employee handbook’s prohibition on employees, who are also citizens, carrying firearms to work, potentially now as a means of self-defense against armed citizens unhappy with some town action or issue.

“So, everybody but employees could carry firearms,” Napier said of the impact of approving the resolution under current town employee handbook guidelines.

The town attorney, above, and Councilman Meza, below, discussed potential impacts on the Town Employee Handbook’s prohibition on non-police town staff carrying firearms on the job.

As discussion progressed into the different treatment employees faced from all other citizens and visitors to the town due to the handbook prohibition, Meza said, “I have no desire to change our handbook employee policy for this …” He added he would defer to the interim town manager, if he wanted to do a poll to establish whether the employee handbook needed to be altered as a consequence of approval of the requested resolution.

Councilwoman Lori Cockrell observed that council’s meeting were at the County-owned government center, so council likely did not have the authority to authorize the carrying of weapons, at least into Town meetings at the Warren County Government Center. A similar resolution request is also apparently before the County at this time.

No guns in Town Hall, no tourists?

The resolution presented to the Front Royal Town Council Monday evening actually referenced passage of any local firearms prohibitions into government facilities and properties as having a potential negative affect on tourism.

“… and WHEREAS, certain legislation has been passed in the Virginia General Assembly that allows localities to, by ordinance, ban otherwise lawfully possessed and transported firearms from certain public spaces, causing law-abiding citizens to be exposed to a patchwork of local ordinances as they travel throughout the Commonwealth,
“and WHEREAS, the Front Royal Town Council acknowledges the significant economic contribution made to our community by tourists and visitors and does not wish to discourage travel to Front Royal,

But should ‘Super Heroes’ be allowed to carry firearms on town shopping sprees? Spiderman’s wouldn’t be concealed it appears, so no permitting necessary.

“and WHEREAS, Front Royal wishes to welcome all law-abiding citizens who wish to live in, visit, or otherwise participate in the economy of our community, including those citizens and visitors who choose to legally carry a firearm for personal protection, and …” the resolution continues toward the requested Town “resolution/reservation of its right” to make all citizens and employees at its facilities and recreational properties less exposed to the potential of random or directed gun violence.

See this nearly 15-minute discussion about 15 minutes into the work session, as well as other council business, including updates on the town building mural art project; applications for the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief funding – 25 of 50 business applications for relief approved and $225,000 of $1.2 million in relief funding approved to those 25 qualifying applicants; South Street Capital Improvement plans; and a potential change to town vending-peddling regulations allowing for competition in the ice cream truck sale of frozen treats town-wide in this Royal Examiner video. Currently only former Mayor Hollis Tharpe is “grandfathered” in to sell frozen treats town-wide. C&C Frozen Treats owner William Huck would like to change that existing one-truck monopoly, staff indicated.

Back from a slight ‘vacation’ fall off the wall, Hollis Tharpe, second from right bottom, was back on Town Hall’s mayor’s row Monday night. But could his town-wide ice cream truck monopoly be about to end?

Oh, and Mr. Tharpe’s mayoral portrait was back in its place on the 2nd floor Town Hall meeting room wall Monday night.

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Town of Front Royal is providing financial assistance to small businesses

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The Town of Front Royal, administered by the Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce, will begin taking grant applications from Town businesses for financial assistance. The intent of the forgivable grant program is to provide immediate relief to Town small businesses that can demonstrate economic hardship from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant funds shall be used to pay outstanding Town of Front Royal utility bills in order to continue to receive essential services, the remaining grant funds may be used to pay for other expenses associated with a business interruption.

Businesses may receive grant funding between $2,500 and $20,000 depending on their 2019 gross receipts. The Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce will work in conjunction with the Town of Front Royal Finance Department and the Front Royal CARES Committee to administer the grant.

“The Town Council has been anxious to help local businesses and was prepared in April to use Town reserve funds. Fortunately, the Town has received over one million dollars in CARES Act funds to help our local small businesses and boost our economy. I would personally like to thank the Town Council, the Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce, and the Front Royal CARES Committee for all their hard work getting us to this point. I am looking forward to checks being cut in a few weeks.” said Matthew Tederick, Interim Town Manager.

Niki Foster, President of the Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce said, “The Chamber’s Vision statement is, ‘To be recognized as the leading resource for business in Front Royal-Warren County.’ That is why we are so honored to be able to not only help the Town of Front Royal administer the financial assistance grant program, but as importantly, help our local small businesses who are the backbone of our community.”

Town of Front Royal businesses interested in applying for the business recovery grants can do so now at www.FrontRoyalVA.com/CARES

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Murray asks for ‘LOVE’ correction, and gives some LOVE to the departing county administrator

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Former Warren County Board of Supervisors Chairman Dan Murray, who did not run for re-election to his North River District seat last year, paid a visit to his old Warren County Government Center stomping grounds on Tuesday night, July 21st – but it wasn’t just a polite social call to see how things were going.

In fact, in two visits to the podium, Murray had some pointed words for his three first-term successors, Walt Mabe, Cheryl Cullers, and his old district’s Delores Oates. First, Murray chastised the chair and his colleagues for not correcting past board meeting misstatements indicating that the previous board which Murray chaired had authorized the LOVE sign under consideration for placement at the Route 340/522 intersection with Guard Hill Road.

“I’d like a retraction on that because this goes out to the public, and they don’t know what the real truth is. – So, let’s give them the real truth, thank you,” Murray concluded in a brief visit to the public speakers’ podium during consideration of the LOVE sign.

Contacted later, Murray explained that while he was chairman in his last term the LOVE sign had been before the County Planning Commission, never being forwarded to the supervisors for a final vote up or down.

Vice-Chair Cheryl Cullers responded to Murray by noting that at a subsequent meeting she had apologized for the incorrect allusion to previous board approval of the LOVE sign project.

“Because I was under the impression that no projects went through without board approval and I knew it hadn’t come before us. So, that was a wrong assumption on my part and I do apologize, and I will apologize to you personally,” Cullers said, drawing a “Thank you” from the former chairman.

“I was wrong and if I’m wrong I will admit it,” Cullers added to conclude the matter.

About an hour-and-a-half later with its nearly 4-1/2 hour open meeting headed to a conclusion, Murray revisited the podium to say goodbye to County Administrator Doug Stanley, who as previously reported, has reached an “Involuntary Separation Agreement” with the current board to leave the county administrator’s positions he has held for the entire 20 years of this century, out of his quarter-century of service to the county government.

Following Rick Novak to the podium after the Royal Cinemas owner also acknowledged Stanley’s decades of service to the County and community – “What we’ve accomplished in this county in that time period, through some of your efforts and a lot of other people’s efforts, is amazing,” Novak began, adding, “Warren County, even the EDA believe it or not,” Novak said referencing pre-financial scandal years and efforts under executive directors prior to Jennifer McDonald, “was the envy of the state for many years for all the things we got accomplished here. And Doug, you were a huge part of that. There are things this board will never know, the places in this community he has touched as a Rotarian, and you will be missed,” Novak concluded drawing applause from some of the hearty remaining crowd at 11:15 p.m.

Though not signed up to speak, Murray, Stanley’s former boss as board chairman, asked permission to return to the podium, which Chairman Mabe granted.

“Mr. Chairman, I come before you, your board and staff with a heavy heart. We are losing so much institutional knowledge and you don’t realize what we’re losing,” Murray began asking if he could approach the county administrator at his position on the dais, also granted by the chair, as Murray continued with rising emotion.

“I want to thank you for everything you’ve done for this community. You are a cornerstone that’s not appreciated. Doug, I found you to be amongst the best of the best,” Murray continued with a phrase from his military service.

See Murray’s heartfelt farewell to the only administrator this county has known through the first 20 years of the third millennium of the Gregorian Calendar in the Royal Examiner meeting video, as well as Murray and his former colleague Richard Traczyk’s stinging appraisal of the new board majority’s motivation in seeking Stanley’s “involuntary” separation from the Warren County government.

“And he (Traczyk) said please mention my name, that I agree with this: That it’s a shame to pay back election promises this way having not even worked with you (Stanley) for a full year,” Murray said before continuing to describe what he found to be a perhaps over-dedicated public employee during his tenure as a supervisor.

In the wake of the EDA financial scandal erupting through 2019, the newly-elected board majority generally campaigned on an “end of business as usual” platform seen by many as a major contributing factor in the evolution of that alleged in dueling civil litigations $20-million-plus financial misappropriation of EDA and municipal resources during the EDA executive directorship of Jennifer McDonald.

Stanley’s lengthy tenure as county administrator was perceived by some as a key element of “business as usual” here.

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