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Meet Kristen Pence, Write-in candidate for South River District School Board

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On November 5th, the South River District will have two choices for Warren County School Board. Kristen Pence and David Downes are both write-in candidates. Pence stopped by the Royal Examiner studio and spoke with our publisher Mike McCool about the issues facing Warren County Schools and School Board.

As a lifelong resident of Warren County and mother of a young child, Pence has a vested interest in both our public school system and our community. Pence said, “Our school system should be the most important focus of this community, and it deserves support from everyone. An education system we can be proud of ensures the success not only of the children in our community, but also of the community as a whole”.

Her goals as a school board member are: Hire a school superintendent that is the right fit for our school system and community, improve teacher retention in Warren County, provide support to teachers who have chosen to make this community their home and ensure graduates of Warren County Public Schools receive an education that prepares them for a successful future, whether that means joining the workforce, military, or attending college.

There is no South River School Board candidate on the November 5 ballot. Pence is running as a write-in candidate, which means that her full legal name needs to be handwritten on the ballot.

Please vote on November 5th.

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Work begins in new Habitat homes in Warren County

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New duplex build coming to Front Royal. Photo courtesy of Warren County Habitat for Humanity.

Warren County Habitat for Humanity (WCHFH) broke ground on their new duplex build at the corner of Brown Avenue and Cherrydale Avenue in Front Royal today. Footers were dug, with foundation work to begin next week. According to WCHFH Executive Director, Jessica Priest-Cahill, the homes are expected to be completed in May. WCHFH is actively recruiting volunteers to assist on this building project. They are also seeking volunteers to work with their Critical Home Repair Program. Construction experience is not required to volunteer; experienced carpenters and tradesmen oversee and instruct volunteers on site. Any group or individual interested in volunteering should contact Jessica Priest-Cahill at (540)551-3232 or jessica@warrencountyhabitat.org.

WCHFH Board President, Amanda Slate, had this to say, “It is an exciting day for Warren County Habitat. We are looking to increase our presence and impact on the community, and the start of our newest build is just the first step on that journey.”

Warren County Habitat for Humanity is a local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity. “Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity began in 1976 as a grassroots effort on a community farm in southern Georgia. The Christian housing organization has since grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in local communities across all 50 states in the U.S., and in more than 70 countries. Families and individuals in need of a hand up partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit habitat.org.” (habitat.org)

For more information contact Jessica Priest-Cahill, WCHFH Executive Director, at (540)551-3232 or jessica@warrencountyhabitat.org, or visit www.warrencountyhabitat.org.

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EDA in Focus

Judge denies EDA civil suit defendants’ motions for removal from case

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In a written ruling signed January 24 and filed in the Warren County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office on January 27, Judge Bruce D. Albertson denied a host of EDA civil litigation defense motions for removal from the case as alleged co-conspirators with central defendant, former EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald.

Among defendant attorneys involved in the December 12 motions hearing were those representing April Petty, Jesse Poe, Donald Poe and his Earth Right Energy (ERE) solar panel installation company, and ITFederal and its principal Truc “Curt” Tran.

The basis of those defense counsel arguments for dismissal of their clients from the civil case primarily revolved around the plaintiff’s notion of an overarching conspiracy that somehow links the various defendants to central figure and former EDA Executive Director McDonald; and that there are legally definable contractual breaches making those defendants individually liable for funds that came their way through McDonald.

At the December motions hearing christened “Groundhog Day” by one media rep present (guilty as charged) for the bulk of four-and-a-half-hours of repetitive legal arguments put forth by each defense attorney on essentially identical claims for removal of their clients from the civil case, lead plaintiff attorney Cullen Seltzer’s counter was briefer.

It has been a long EDA litigation day into night, and it’s only just begun – will we be seeing EDA ‘Night Court’ before it’s over? Royal Examiner File Photos/Roger Bianchini

That was because Seltzer’s reply was essentially a one-response-fits-all argument. That response was that there did not have to have to be direct knowledge among all defendants of each interlocking conspiracy McDonald is alleged to having been a party to, for that conspiracy to exist to the benefit of separate defendants in separate transactions. Seltzer scoffed at the idea of McDonald as “a rogue tornado” distributing EDA assets to various defendants without a general common knowledge that something illegal was transpiring to each defendant’s benefit.

“I deny each Demurrer and Plea in Bar for the reasons cited by the plaintiff,” Judge Albertson wrote in his brief, three paragraph ruling.

However, the judge also ruled that a plaintiff claim of “Breach of Fiduciary Duty” against all defendants, cited only McDonald and her former Administrative Assistant Michelle Henry for such action.

“Plaintiff alleges that this count applies to all defendants due to the conspiracy count. The manner in which this count is written, however, names only Ms. Henry and Ms. McDonald as parties that have breached this duty. I find that his count does not apply to the other defendants as written in the Amended Complaint,” the judge ruled.

The judge also continued a decision on Earth Right Energy’s “Plea in Bar and separate Motion for Sanctions” based on other arguments heard December 12. There was disagreement between ERE attorney Ryan Huttar and EDA counsel on the validity of contracts between the EDA and ERE in amounts over $10,000, which is most, if not all involved contracts.

The EDA Board of Directors meets under the executive leadership of Jennifer McDonald, center, in September 2018, about the time the Cherry Bekaert financial fraud investigation began. Who approved what, when and why??? – are likely to be long-contested questions as the various EDA civil and criminal cases grind forward in the coming year …

EDA counsel noted that any EDA transaction or contract over $10,000 had to be approved by the EDA Board of Directors, which EDA counsel stated did not happen in the Earth Right Energy cases. However, Earth Right attorney Huttar contended the company’s contracts, including a $27-million one with the Warren County Public School system negotiated while Greg Drescher was both an EDA board member and superintendent of schools, were legally binding.

It appears a decision on those arguments will require additional factual information to be brought to the court.

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Overnight lane closures on I-66 for demolition at Route 123 and Waples Mill Road overpass this week, Jan. 27-Feb. 1

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Demolition of the current ramp from I-66 West to Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road) South, and partial demolition of the Waples Mill Road bridge over I-66 will require overnight lane closures on I-66 East and West between Blake Lane and Monument Drive starting Monday, Jan. 27, through Saturday, Feb. 1.

Demolition of the Waples Mill Road bridge over I-66 will begin as early as tonight, Monday, Jan. 27. Demolition of the Route 123 flyover ramp is planned to begin Wednesday night, Jan. 29. Demolition activities for both bridges are anticipated to last approximately three weeks.

Details include:

Monday, Jan. 27, through Thursday, Jan. 30
I-66 West from Blake Lane to Route 50
• A single lane will close at 9 p.m.
• Three lanes will close by 11 p.m. for overhead bridge demolition at Waples Mill Road and the Route 123 ramp (begins Wednesday, Jan. 29).
• Drivers should expect occasional 20-minute stoppages between midnight and 4 a.m.
• All lanes will open by 5 a.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 29, and Thursday, Jan 30
I-66 East from Monument Drive to Route 123
• A single lane will close by 9 p.m.
• Two lanes will close by 10 p.m. for overhead bridge demolition at Waples Mill Road.
• Traffic approaching Route 123 will be diverted to the collector-distributor lane on the right.
• Drivers should expect occasional 20-minute stoppages between midnight and 4 a.m.
• All lanes will open by 5 a.m.

Friday, Jan. 31
I-66 East from West Ox Road to Route 123
• A single lane will close at 9 p.m.
• Three lanes will close by 11 p.m. for overhead bridge demolition at Waples Mill Road and Route 123.
• Drivers should expect occasional 20-minute stoppages between midnight and 4 a.m.
• All lanes will open by 9 a.m.

Saturday, Feb. 1
I-66 East from Monument Drive to Waples Mill Road
• A single lane will close by 9 p.m.
• Two lanes will close by 10 p.m. for overhead bridge demolition at Waples Mill Road.
• Drivers should expect occasional 20-minute stoppages between midnight and 4 a.m.
• All lanes will open by 9 a.m.

The Waples Mill Road bridge over I-66 is being rebuilt to provide room for future mass transit as part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway Project. This work is being done in phases in order to maintain traffic on Waples Mill Road throughout demolition and reconstruction.

The current ramp from I-66 West to Route 123 South is being demolished to allow construction of new ramps for the redesigned I-66/Route 123 Interchange, to include Express Lanes access to and from the east and west.

All work is weather dependent and will be rescheduled if inclement conditions occur.

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Community Events

‘Burns’ Night’ celebrated with haggis, neeps and tatties by kilted crowd at Virginia Beer Museum

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More than a hundred people, many dressed in Scottish plaid, jammed into the Virginia Beer Museum on historic Chester Street in downtown Front Royal Saturday night to celebrate the birthday of a far away and late-lamented Scottish poet, Robert Burns, who lived and died in the 18th century.

Bagpipes skirled, poetry was read, tartan kilts were the dress of the evening, and a haggis – sheep’s entrails cooked in the animal’s stomach – was eaten (by some), along with neeps and tatties (mashed turnip and potatoes). All was washed down with “wee drams” of Scotch whiskey, accompanied by many a toast to the Bard of Scotland.

The perfect host and hostess, David Downes and his wife Redz, in tartan splendor. Royal Examiner Photos/Roger Bianchini. (8925)

The event this year – owner David Downes launched the local Burns’ Night celebration in Front Royal three years ago – fell precisely on the poet’s birthday, January 25 (1759). A Scottish flag hanging outside the museum’s front entrance proclaimed the Burns night event.

From the official 6 p.m. start of the event, the crowd inside and out – a bonfire burned merrily in back of 16 Chester Street – was kept entertained by piper Sean Patrick while, between times, Eric Bartock, who claims no specific Scottish ancestry but provided the haggis, read the traditional Burns poem “Address to the Devil” to a more-or-less hushed audience, who were informed of Burns’ disdainful message to the Calvinists of his era. Bartok then presided over the presentation of the haggis by the sword-bearing Sloan Culver, and ceremoniously made the first cut.

Above, Beer Museum regular, Eric Bartock, reads “Address to the Devil” by Robert Burns near the formal opening of the celebration of Scottish ‘Bard’ Robert Burns’ 260th birthday; below, ‘Tickets, anyone?’ Special guest hostesses – Robert Burns was a known admirer of Scotland’s fairer sex – pull double duty in 50/50 raffle ticket sales.

Tribute was paid by Downes to several mini-dressed (tartans, of course!) young women who circulated in the crowd selling 50-50 raffle tickets and generally contributed an attractive side to the more sedate kilts of the menfolk.

Walter Mabe, the new chairman of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, dropped by and said a few words.

Among Burns’ best known “hits” is “Auld Lang Syne” published in 1788 and traditionally sung on New Year’s. was rendered last Saturday night by scores of lusty voices, during and following one of the “wee dram” toasts.

Above, the traditional Scottish haggis is ceremonially bagpiped from an upstairs dining area into the Virginia Beer Museum’s Burns’ George Washington Room, converted for the evening to the Robert Burns Room. Bagpiper Sean Patrick and ceremonial sword bearer Sloan Culver led the procession; as below Bartock brings the delicacy in for those with an adventuresome culinary streak.

Meanwhile, at local inns, pubs, and restaurants throughout the United States and most of the English-speaking world, people saluted the memory of this erstwhile Scot who penned 550 poems and songs throughout his relatively short life. The much loved “Rabbie” Burns died on January 1, 1796 at the age of 37.

He will never be forgotten.

The actual ‘Bard’, Robert Burns, at left in an 18th century print; to right, an actor ‘double’ several centuries later.

(Malcolm Barr Sr. of Rockland, who reported on this event along with Roger Bianchini – the latter noting the flow of Scotland in his maternal blood line – recalls covering a much more sedate, “posh” he called it, Burns’ night in Tynemouth, England, close to the Scottish border, in 1949. Downes’ event was Barr’s first Burns’ night celebration since that date 70 years ago, and he said it “brought back many memories” of his days as a teenage “cub” reporter in the United Kingdom.)

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Seven WCHS DECA students place in district competition

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On Friday, January 10, 2020, thirty-three (33) WCHS DECA students competed in the Virginia DECA District 9 Conference held at the Apple Blossom Mall in Winchester. Twelve students were recognized as finalists, with seven students placing in their respective competitive events.

DECA’s Competitive Events measure a student’s proficiency in knowledge and skills identified by marketing professionals as common academic and technical content across marketing, finance, hospitality, and business management and administration. Students compete in role-play scenarios and written tests. Students placing 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in these district events then are eligible to compete in the Virginia DECA State Leadership Conference to be held at VA Beach, February 28 – March 1.

The following students placed in their respective events:

  • Haley Cockerham: 1st Place in Principles of Hospitality & Tourism
  • Reina Garnett: 1st Place in Principles of Finance
  • Syndi Davidsen: 2nd Place in Accounting Applications
  • DJ Rizzo, Jr.: 2nd Place in Selling
  • Wes Merchant: 3rd Place in Sports & Entertainment Marketing
  • Jackson Pond: 3rd Place in Principles of Business Management & Administration
  • Kyra Robinson: 3rd Place in Personal Financial Literacy

Additionally, the students recognized as Finalists were:

  • Halea Hose in Entrepreneurship
  • Emily Johnson in Hotel Management
  • Makayla Grant in Personal Financial Literacy
  • Stephanie Chevez in Principles of Hospitality & Tourism
  • Niall Anderson in Principles of Marketing

Students placing at the state conference will be eligible to compete at the International DECA Conference to be held in April in Nashville, TN.

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Cajun cuisine, donuts and bagels coming to Front Royal’s East Main Street

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Following a closed session at its monthly meeting Friday morning, January 24, the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority Board of Directors confirmed what had been hinted at during the open portion of the meeting.

C&C Frozen Treats owner William Huck is poised to purchase the vacant Stokes Mart building at 506 East Main Street. By a 6-0 vote, Jorie Martin by phone, Mark Baker absent, the board authorized the sale at a price of $185,000. The EDA purchased the property including a detached, three apartment rental building, at the east end of Front Royal’s Historic Downtown Business District for just over $398,000 in 2014, during the executive directorship of Jennifer McDonald.

Current EDA Executive Director Doug Parsons has repeatedly expressed a desire to divest the EDA of the property, particularly due to the presence of the residential building on it, noting the property is generally not the type an EDA would invest in for economic development purposes.

As business partner and brother-in-law John Politz listens in doorway, William Huck, far right, reacts to EDA approval of his purchase of the old Stokes Mart building at 506 E. Main St. County Supervisors Cheryl Cullers and Delores Oates were interested observers, along with Walter Mabe, not pictured. No one from the town government was present to hear the announcement of the sale and business plan for the currently-vacant downtown property.

Huck said the plan for the building after some maintenance and remodeling work is for a café featuring Cajun-style food common to his native state of Louisiana, and freshly-made donuts and bagels, with accompanying non-alcohol liquid refreshments. Huck said he hopes to close on the purchase within the next few weeks so that he can begin needed maintenance in February.

“Yes, the building needs work like every building on East Main Street,” Huck told us, adding that he did not consider needed repairs, including to a leaking roof, too severe.

Huck will be partnering with brother-in-law John Politz – “I’m known as Farmer John around here” – Politz alerted us during a photo op walk to the property several doors down and across East Main Street from C&C Frozen Treats, shortly after the EDA meeting’s adjournment. Not to be outdone on nicknames, earlier during the EDA board’s closed session Huck regaled media and citizen observer Linda Allen with impersonations of a proposed “Crazy Willie” cartoon character he has been approached about as an additional marketing tool for his downtown business interests.

Huck and Politz read a little history of the property, which once housed Lane’s Tavern where in 1836 the first justices of the newly-created Warren County met.

As to those interests Huck said his focus will remain with C&C Frozen Treats, with Politz taking the lead on the Cajun food and accoutrements enterprise. Politz, appropriately attired in an NCAA football national champion Louisiana State University hoodie and jacket, and Huck helped this reporter with the spelling of “kolache”, a Cajun-style wrap that will be a key part of getting the café’s Alligator Sausage and other home-made Cajun delicacies to your palate.

Huck and Politz, or should we say Crazy Willie and Farmer John, explained that the production of the kolaches lends itself to adding fresh donuts and bagels to the menu.

Huck’s enthusiasm for his adopted hometown was apparent as we awaited his wife, Nina’s, arrival after she spotted us heading for the Stokes Mart property while driving by on East Main.

“I’ve said it over and over, this is the best community in the world – I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. I am invested in this town 110%,” the founding organizer of Downtown Front Royal’s “Family Fun Day” enthused, adding, “2020 is going to be a good year”.

Sure it needs a little work, but this family trio, from left, John Politz, Nina and William Huck, believe they are up to the task of repair and opening a Cajun-style café for downtown Front Royal at 506 E. Main St.


Economic Development Authority Board of Directors Meeting – January 24, 2019

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King Cartoons

Front Royal
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Upcoming Events

Jan
30
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 30 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, January 29 and Thursday, January 30: Puppies are cuddly! Puppies are cute! Our stories, songs, and craft will be about our friends, the puppies! Siblings[...]
Jan
31
Fri
10:00 am Citizenship Day Workshop @ Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington | Hogar Immigrant Services
Citizenship Day Workshop @ Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington | Hogar Immigrant Services
Jan 31 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Citizenship Day Workshop @ Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington | Hogar Immigrant Services
On Friday, January 31, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington is partnering with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) to host its annual Citizenship Day Workshop. The workshop is one of six AILA is[...]
7:00 pm Love Revival – FREE Monthly Comm... @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Love Revival – FREE Monthly Comm... @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Jan 31 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Love Revival - FREE Monthly Community Dinner @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Free Community Dinner for everyone! Come enjoy a hot meal on the last Friday of every month at Love Revival Ministry Center.
Feb
1
Sat
10:00 am Books and Barks @ Samuels Public Library
Books and Barks @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 1 @ 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Books and Barks @ Samuels Public Library
Come to our extremely popular monthly program that gives developing readers the chance to read and relax with a trained therapy dog.  For beginning readers and up.  Choose a time slot at registration, which begins[...]
11:00 am HSWC Polar Plunge @ Northern Virginia 4-H Center
HSWC Polar Plunge @ Northern Virginia 4-H Center
Feb 1 @ 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
HSWC Polar Plunge @ Northern Virginia 4-H Center
The Humane Society of Warren County will hold their 1st annual Polar Plunge event on February 1st at the Culpeper Lake, located at the Northern Virginia 4-H Center in Harmony Hollow. “Plungers” are asked to[...]
2:00 pm World of Lego @ Samuels Public Library
World of Lego @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 1 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
World of Lego @ Samuels Public Library
Children ages 5 and up are invited to explore all the amazing things you can do with Legos.  Registration begins January 1.
Feb
4
Tue
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 4 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, January 29 and Thursday, January 30: Puppies are cuddly! Puppies are cute! Our stories, songs, and craft will be about our friends, the puppies! Siblings[...]
4:30 pm Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 4 @ 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! Tuesday, February 4 – Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! After[...]
Feb
5
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 5 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, January 29 and Thursday, January 30: Puppies are cuddly! Puppies are cute! Our stories, songs, and craft will be about our friends, the puppies! Siblings[...]
Feb
6
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 6 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, January 29 and Thursday, January 30: Puppies are cuddly! Puppies are cute! Our stories, songs, and craft will be about our friends, the puppies! Siblings[...]