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New and improved Ressie Jeffries Elementary School rededicated

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On Tuesday afternoon, August 7, county and public-school officials and staff gathered to rededicate Ressie Jeffries Elementary School after a year-plus, $12-million renovation project.

Speakers included Warren County Board of Supervisors Chairman Tony Carter, County Administrator Doug Stanley, School Board Chair Cathy Bower, and Public Schools Superintendent Greg Drescher.

Their remarks followed a moving invocation by Reverend Alfred Woods. Woods opened the 4 p.m. ceremonies by asking for Divinely-inspired assistance for administrators and teachers in beginning the educational preparation of county students they encounter for the myriad and increasing challenges of the world they will grow into.

Carter also read a letter from South River District Supervisor Linda Glavis, absent due to conflicting commitments, whose constituents the renovated, 60-year-old facility will now continue to serve for perhaps another three decades. Also acknowledged were Project Managers Michael Riley and Jeffrey Hayes.

Present for the dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony in the newly-refurbished gym were the school’s teachers, administrators and facility support staff, some future students and their parents, and Front Royal Rotarians – the latter who were acknowledged for an ongoing financial commitment to the project.

Fundraising efforts on behalf of the playground project are traced near the main entrance.

As County Administrator Stanley noted, the renovation project including a new playground, state-of-the-art energy efficient heating and air conditioning (HVAC) system, expanded parking area and internal improvements, “was a complete community project.”

Speakers acknowledged various aspects of the history of the school first opened during the racial segregation era in 1959 as “The Criser School” for grades 1 through 12; then rechristened as the Ressie Jeffries Intermediate School for grades 4 through 6 from 1976 to 1988; before becoming Ressie Jeffries Elementary School thirty years prior to the August 7, 2018 re-dedication of the renovated facility.

A plaque near the school’s refurbished main entranceway noting the original dedication of Ressie Jeffries Intermediate School, calls the school’s namesake an “Educator, Neighbor and Friend”. Dated December 15, 1976, that original dedication to the school’s namesake is signed by the sitting Warren County School Board.

Current County Board Chairman Carter read a letter sent by South River Supervisor Glavis in her absence: “This school has been an integral part of my South River District and served the community well for many years. It really needed a lot of improvements, and I was so happy when I visited there yesterday to see the wonderful work that has taken place on the building, playground and parking areas. I’m sure the students and their parents will be pleased with the transformation. It’s beautiful. The classrooms and gymnasium are beautifully equipped and ready for South River Warren County students’ ‘Trek to Excellence’.

“I’m sure Mrs. Ressie Jeffries, for whom the school is named, would be very proud of her renewed legacy,” Glavis wrote, adding a reference to the community-wide nature of the project.

“I want to thank Warren County taxpayers, Mr. Stanley, the school board and my co-supervisors for sharing in this dream and the renewed Ressie Jeffries School. It will now serve future generations for many more years,” Glavis concluded.

Carter concurred with his colleague’s appraisal of the school’s future. Noting his own attendance there as an eighth and ninth grader, Carter observed, “Even back then this school’s better days were in the past. Now that the renovations have been completed, its better days are in the future.”

Noting the county government’s commitment to public schools capital improvements over the past decade-plus, Carter said, “As you look at the improvements we have been able to make over the past 15 years, the school system is a top priority for the Board. I am not sure I could have said that when I first came on the Board in 2003 but working together (with the school board) we have greatly improved the facilities and environments that our children and their teachers occupy each day…

“We know that we are not finished with our school capital improvements, but with the most significant of those behind us we hope to be able to start work on addressing the needs to improve teacher and faculty compensation to keep us competitive in the local region and reduce our turnover rate,” Carter observed of the operational aspect of the County’s commitment to its public educational system.

Of specific improvements to the Ressie Jeffries complex, County Administrator Stanley said, “The project consisted of an Energy Savings project to provide a central HVAC system, new windows, doors, wiring and finishes; a new 1200 square-foot entrance addition that not only allows parents and visitors to find the front door, but provides security to our students and staff; a new roof, an expanded parking lot with 62 additional spaces to allow room for people to park; and finally the installation of new basketball goals and scoreboards in the gymnasium … and a new playground for students.”

Stanley noted a funding split of $5.3-million directly from the County, with another $6.7 million through the public school system – “The project has completely transformed this 60-year-old elementary school and added 20 to 30 years of new life to it.”

In addition to the official ribbon-cutting ceremony moved indoors to the brilliantly air-conditioned gym due to sporadic rains and oppressive heat and humidity, and a facility tour and open house following the ribbon cutting, there were also some moments of comic relief.

County Board Chairman Carter called his eighth and ninth-grade years at the school “the best six years of my educational career.”

Referencing the county administrator’s citing of the school as 60 years old, Drescher offered a correction – noting he was born in 1959 the year the school initially opened, the school superintendent protested that he was NOT yet 60, so the school must still be 59 years old too (how many months OR weeks do you have left, Greg?).

And continue your visual tour of the new and improved Ressie Jeffries Elementary School…

Local News

Welcome the FOOD DUDE to the Royal Examiner

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Brandon Frye – aka The Food Dude will now be a regular feature on the Royal Examiner. As his program get produced, we’ll share it here with you.

The latest show features our own “THE APPLE HOUSE” and those wonderful donuts. Be sure to un-mute the audio.

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Crime/Court

Child endangerment and drug arrest in Linden

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Ashley Secor and Misty Morris. Photo courtesy of RSW Regional Jail.

On December 13, 2018 at approximately 3:56 pm Warren County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call in reference to a cardiac arrest at Linden residence on Rambo Lane. The caller also advised that there was an infant in the residence and she was unaware of who the infant belonged to. Upon arrival, Deputies observed CPR being performed on a female lying on the front porch. The female was later identified as 39 year old Misty Morris who resides at that address.

Deputy Stevens assessed Morris’ condition, administered one dose of four milligrams of Naloxone and CPR was continued. Morris slowly began showing signs of a positive reaction to the Naloxone and a second four milligram dose was administered. Morris regained full consciousness and refused medical treatment from Warren County Fire and Rescue personnel.

The caller exited the residence and informed the Deputies that there was another female in the basement. Deputies located and detained 32 year old Ashley Secor of Paw Paw Drive, Front Royal, VA in the locked basement bathroom. Secor is the mother of the 13 month old infant that was left unattended upstairs.

Northwest Regional Drug Task Force Agents and Warren County Department of Social Services were contacted and responded to the scene. The father of the 13 month old was located and responded to take custody of his child.

Secor was arrested and charged with the following:

Distribution of schedule I narcotic
Possession of schedule I narcotic
Possession of drug paraphernalia
Felony child endangerment

Morris was arrested and charged with the following:

Conspiracy to distribution schedule I narcotic
Possession of schedule I narcotic
Possession of drug paraphernalia
Felony child endangerment

Both females were transported to RSW Regional Jail and are currently being held without bond.

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Local Government

Town Council wrestles with new property maintenance authority

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FRONT ROYAL – It’s rough having the power – especially when you’ve pursued it for so long, then finally achieve it.

What now?

That is the situation the Front Royal Town Council wrestled with at a December 3 work session – how to approach enforcement of a property maintenance code that allows it the same powers as cities and counties to enforce building maintenance standards within its boundaries.

Mayor Tharpe worried over first steps in enforcement – ‘Where do we start? We don’t want to be accused of playing favorites,’ he has commented. Royal Examiner File Photo

As Royal Examiner readers may recall from tracking the issue over the course of the last year and a half, the dilemma is that while the town’s elected officials want the ability to enforce standards that will improve the overall look, livability and property values of Front Royal, how much is it going to cost the town government and its citizens to achieve these things?

The one dissenting vote to both readings of the new property maintenance code, Vice-Mayor Eugene Tewalt, has continued to predict unexpectedly high costs, even for what has been described as a lower-cost, middle ground option adopted by council nearly two months ago.  Tewalt has also been critical of his younger council colleagues for continuing to approve capital improvements, and now additional code enforcement, without creating revenue streams to pay for either long-term debt service or required staff additions.

However, undiscussed thus far has been the potential return on investment from more aggressive enforcement if a corresponding rise in property values leads to increased real estate tax-base revenue.

After months of debate dating to at least July of 2017 for this council, on October 22, 2018 council approved the second reading of a new property maintenance code that took the above-described middle ground approach of five options presented by staff. That option, formerly known as Option C, enforcement-wise “addresses all structures in the Town”; “addresses maintenance issues” and “can be enforced on a complaint basis or proactive enforcement”.

At the December 3 work session Chris Morrison pushed for immediate implementation of that option – “I think things can be implemented now – tell me if I’m wrong,” Morrison challenged his colleagues.

Is he trying to hypnotize me? – Jacob Meza appears uncomfortable with Chris Morrison’s use of his pen to make a point on more aggressive enforcement of the Town’s new property maintenance code. Photo/Roger Bianchini

He also suggested council give citizens some clarity on the parameters of what has been approved – that citizens can initiate action through complaints to the town government.

Morrison has been the chief council proponent of a new property maintenance code and a rental inspection program, the latter eliminated from consideration by a council majority as definitely too expensive to implement. And on the back end of his council tenure having failed to hold his seat in the November election, Morrison seemed driven to see a commitment to forward movement on what has been adopted by his colleagues before the end of his council tenure come January.

Morrison suggested outsourcing the role of a building inspector to make legal judgments on mandated repairs or demolition in the absence of council agreeing to fund creation of its own building inspection department. Morrison noted that council had set aside funds toward some kind of implementation of a building inspection operation. While he cited $40,000 available, staff appeared to put the amount as high as $75,000 in past work session discussion.

“So why can’t we outsource now … why can’t we do it immediately?” Morrison asked his colleagues.

“If we do it under those conditions I have no problem starting with blighted buildings,” Tewalt replied of a proactive approach with outsourcing as necessary when town mandates on corrective action are challenged by property owners.

Council’s biggest skeptic on a broad enforcement approach, Vice-Mayor Tewalt to left, voiced support of proactive movement on a smaller target base – dilapidated buildings, as Councilman Meza ponders council options. Photo/Roger Bianchini

Councilman William Sealock suggested bypassing use of Warren County’s Building Inspection Department and utilization of town staff for initial phases up to the point where a state-certified official whose opinion would have legal standing in court was needed. Morrison agreed.

Town Manager Joe Waltz suggested revisiting the option of partnering with the Town of Strasburg in enforcing a property maintenance code. Like Front Royal now, Strasburg has taken the first step of approval of a property maintenance code but has yet to begin enforcement due to cost parameters.

“We can put it out there and see what kind of prices are set,” Waltz suggested.

“We can start slow – there’s nothing wrong with doing it right,” Mayor Hollis Tharpe suggested of a measured, slow and inexpensive approach to implementation.

“We’ll let Joe get behind the wheel,” the mayor said of having the town manager explore enforcement and outsourcing options.

“We need time so the town manager can put a plan together,” Sealock observed.

“I will move as fast as I can,” Waltz replied.

Morrison said he felt some good had come out of the discussion that will allow the Town to move on complaints forwarded by citizens, as well as initiate proactive movement against derelict structures. However Morrison worried at the lack of “closure” on a process as council’s final meeting of 2018 approached on December 10.

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Local News

Wildlife Center at Boyce sets record-breaking year

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A Red-shouldered Hawk quickly takes flight at Aug. 13 release in Flint Hill. The injured hawk mended at the wildlife center before heading back to the wild. Courtesy Photo/Zep Greenfelder

BOYCE – The Blue Ridge Wildlife Center (BRWC) at Boyce is ending a record-breaking year during which – in September – it collected the first exotic Asian Longhorned tick found on any bird in North America.

First, setting new records during its 18th year, the center highlighted an 18-percent increase in wildlife patients – 2,135 animals, reptiles and birds.
An upsurge in education endeavors delivered more than 100 programs to 5,000 people in eight counties, thus stimulating interest in and learning about native wildlife, their habitat, and their important roles in nature. Also, the center’s training of future wildlife professionals at the only full service, wildlife teaching hospital in the Northern Virginia area was highlighted in an end-of-year letter to BRWC members.

The update on activities by the center, located at 106 Island Farm Lane, Boyce, Virginia (22620) – just off Route 50 – was accompanied by a funding appeal interesting in its specificity: “We cannot do this critical work without your support and participation,” wrote Lisa Goshen, Chair of the BRWC Board of Directors and Executive Director Hillary Russell Davidson, continuing, “You take the time to bring us an injured animal or reunite (for example) a baby owl with its parents: you donate your time, animal food, and cleaning supplies to help us care for those that don’t have a voice; BRWC is open 365 days a year because you care about our native wildlife.”

Onk the opossum – Courtesy Photo BRWC

It was in its fall newsletter that BRWC first reported not only a significant rise in West Nile virus, a mosquito-born disease that is of great concern locally, particularly to horse farm owners, but the above-mentioned capture of the first Asian Longhorned tick from a bird, in this case a red-tailed hawk from Page County. In her report, BRWC Veterinarian Jennifer Riley said the tick is suspected of being around on animals, including humans, since about 2010. That it has spread to birds was new to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study and an evident cause for concern.
This month, the BRWC reported the number of wildlife with West Nile virus treated at the Boyce facility increased by 300 percent. Also, amphibian patients increased three-fold and aquatic turtle patients have increased by 350 percent in the past two years.

Davidson explains the mission of BRWC this way: “(It is) to care for native wildlife by integrating veterinary medicine, rehabilitation, education and research.”

In addition to being a hospital and a rehabilitation care facility for wildlife, BRWC also trains future wildlife professionals. As noted above, it is the only full service wildlife teaching hospital in the northern Virginia area, hosting many people with their eyes set on a career in wildlife-specific vocations. Additionally, BRWC’s education program for those interested in the wildlife and conservation fields worked with four licensed veterinarians, five veterinary students, and 22 interns during the past year.

Seow the owl – Courtesy Photo BRWC

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Crime/Court

ATF raid results in 19 arrests for drug and firearm violations

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House on South Royal Ave, Front Royal was one location raided by ATF early in morning last week. Photo by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

Thomas T. Cullen, the United States Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, Thomas L. Chittum III, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington DC Field Office of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, and Sheriff Timothy Carter announced this morning (December 13th) that the following persons (19) were arrested in December 2018 on Sealed Federal Indictments. Also listed are three additional persons who were arrested for state narcotics charges during this operation.

Jonathan L. Hodges, 30 years old, of Front Royal, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Distribution of Controlled Substances

William R Shoemaker, Jr. 45 years old, of Edinburg, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Three (3) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substances
  • Possession of Firearm by Prohibited Person

Katie L. Harlow, 27 years old, of Woodstock, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Three (3) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substances

Dana M. Silvious, 29 years old, of Maurertown, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Three (3) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substances

Erica N. Lam, 29 years old, of New Market, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine

Brandon W. Eppard, 28 years old, of Mount Jackson, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Maintaining Drug Related Premises

Tiffany Bowman-Lopez, 30 years old, Quicksburg, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Six (6) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substances

Amanda J. Mullins, 30 years old, Edinburg, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Two (2) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substance

Anthony Testerman, 25 years old, of Mount Jackson, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substances

Kenneth J. Webb, 36 years old, of Woodstock, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Three (3) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substance

Dietrich M. Day II, 28 years old, of Dumfries, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Distribution of Controlled Substance


The following individuals were arrested on Tuesday 11, 2018 on Sealed Federal Indictments:

Jeffrey C. Mays, 32 years old, of Basye, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Possession of Firearm in Furtherance of Drug Trafficking Crime

Javon E. Cook, 26 years old, of Woodstock, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Distribution of Controlled Substance
  • Possession of Firearm by Prohibited Person
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substance
  • Use and Carry Firearm during Drug Trafficking Crime

Michael L. Mullins, 32 years old, of Edinburg, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Two (2) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substance
  • Possession of Firearm by Prohibited Person

Christian M. Burhop, 27 years old, of Mount Jackson, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Distribution of Controlled Substance w/TBL
  • Four (4) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substance

Justin T. Mumaw, 26 years old, of Mount Jackson, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Two (2) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substances

Brooke N. McIntosh, 27 years old, no fixed address

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine

Christopher T. Trimble Fishersville, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Possession of Firearm by Prohibited Person

Additional Federal Arrest Warrant:

Merle Stephens, 50 years old, of Basye, VA

  • Possession with Intent to Distribute
  • Possession of Firearm by Prohibited Person
  • Possession of Firearm in Furtherance Drug Trafficking Crime

SCSO arrested the following on State charges:

John K. Barb, 38 years old, of Woodstock, VA

  • Possession of Methamphetamine

Christopher A. Miller, 31 years old, of Edinburg, VA

  • Possession of a Controlled Substance

Felicia A. Gainer, 31 years old, of Mount Jackson, VA

  • Two (2) Possession of Controlled Substance
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Crime/Court

Bonds set in Christendom College arson-vandalism cases

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christendom fire

Ryan Farrell anf Christopher Shanahan / Courtesy Photos RSW Jail

FRONT ROYAL – Two Christendom College students facing multiple charges for setting fire to a common-access campus dorm bathroom on December 6 were in Warren County General District Court on Tuesday, December 11.

Ryan Farrell, 23, and Christopher Shanahan, 20, face identical charges of Arson, burning of an occupied building; Arson, burning or destroying personal property; Vandalism, entering property of another for purpose of damaging it; and Trespass with intent to damage property or interfere with property rights; Petit larceny, under $200; and § 18.2-415 – Disorderly conduct in public places.

In addition, Shanahan was also charged with one count of Underage Possession of Alcohol.

The arson and vandalism charges are felonies, the others misdemeanors.

During the Tuesday hearing, both Farrell and Shanahan saw bond set at $2500, with court dates of April 10, 2019, set at 1:15 p.m. Court records indicate that Farrell was represented by Todd Gilbert and Shanahan by Jerry Talton.

An online search of the RSW Jail inmate locator program indicated Farrell and Shanahan were no longer inmates as of December 12.

See related story: Two Christendom College students charged in campus dorm arson

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Upcoming Events

Dec
16
Sun
all-day The Nutcracker in Front Royal @ Skyline High School
The Nutcracker in Front Royal @ Skyline High School
Dec 16 all-day
The Nutcracker in Front Royal @ Skyline High School
Don’t miss The Nutcracker! This professional production of the seasonal classic ballet will be presented at Skyline High School, Front Royal, VA on December 15th and 16th, Saturday 2:30 & 7:00 pm and Sunday 2:30[...]
4:00 pm R-MA offers Free Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA campus
R-MA offers Free Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA campus
Dec 16 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
R-MA offers Free Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA campus
The public is cordially invited to attend the Randolph-Macon Academy (R-MA) Christmas Band Concert on Sunday, December 16th at 4:00 pm. This free concert will take place in Boggs Chapel on the R-MA campus. The[...]
Dec
17
Mon
10:00 am Paper Sculpture Party: Koi Fish @ Art in the Valley
Paper Sculpture Party: Koi Fish @ Art in the Valley
Dec 17 @ 10:00 am – 12:30 pm
Paper Sculpture Party: Koi Fish @ Art in the Valley
Create your own 5″ x 7″ koi fish paper sculpture with your friends! Schedule your own party for up to 8 people (3-person minimum). No drawing skills are necessary. Artist Tiffany Budzisz will walk you[...]
6:00 pm Volunteer Info Session – Child A... @ Middle of Main
Volunteer Info Session – Child A... @ Middle of Main
Dec 17 @ 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
Volunteer Info Session - Child Advocate @ Middle of Main
Learn how you can help ensure abused and neglected children find safe, loving, and permanent homes.  The first step to becoming a CASA volunteer is to attend an Information Session. There, you will have the[...]
Dec
18
Tue
9:00 am 2019 Dare to Dream Grant Applica... @ Front Royal Women’s Resource Center
2019 Dare to Dream Grant Applica... @ Front Royal Women’s Resource Center
Dec 18 @ 9:00 am – 11:00 am
2019 Dare to Dream Grant Application @ Front Royal Women’s Resource Center
Front Royal Women’s Resource Center (FRWRC) Now Accepting Applications for 2019 DARE TO DREAM GRANTS (Take classes, start a business, purchase a computer, learn a new skill, train for a profession, start a non-profit, anything[...]