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OPINION: County Administrator replies to Silek letter

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January 4, 2018
David Silek, 8500 Leesburg Pike, Suite 400, Vienna, VA 22182

RE: Letter of December 27, 2017

Dear Mr. Silek,

I am writing to follow up on your letter of December 27th, specifically your concerns relative to your inaccurate assertion that the County is spending taxpayer money to supply NARCAN and on the associated training costs for the administering of such. I am not sure where you received your information, but please be assured that Warren County does not spend any taxpayer money on the purchase of NARCAN.

If first responders from the Warren County Fire and Rescue Department use NARCAN, whether transporting the patient or not, the hospital replaces what was used at no cost to the County. If the patient is transported, the hospital then charges the patient on the hospital bill. Like any other call, the County will only charge for the transport of the patient based on the level of care.

The Warren County Sheriff’s Office recently implemented a program for deputies to carry NARCAN. The NARCAN was purchased through a grant and was provided at no charge to the Sheriff’s Office. Training for our officers to administer NARCAN was also provided at no charge.

As far as your comments regarding the Economic Development Authority, the Board of Supervisors has a great deal of faith in the individuals that it has appointed to the EDA Board of Directors. Among those appointed include the de facto CEO of the largest employer in the County, the Vice President of Facilities Management and Safety for the largest employer in the region, and the former head of the Town’s community development program. While not everyone on the EDA Board of Directors currently works in the private sector, the Board of Directors, like the community, needs to have diverse representation to market the community and to run the various programs of the EDA. The success of the community in the 1990’s for economic development was buoyed by the County providing land either at no cost or at a reduced rate and with considerable Governor’s Opportunity Fund and Enterprise Zone incentives. The opportunities are no longer there for these incentives in the manner in which they were, and the County, unfortunately, does not have large (100+ acre) tracts of buildable land with which to recruit the larger industries. That said, the EDA continues to make progress utilizing the assets that our community does possess in marketing for investment and jobs.

As far as getting rid of the “crappy hotels” in our community, as an attorney I am sure that you are aware of the fact that effective January 1, 2013; Article 1 Section 11 of the Constitution of Virginia was amended to read:
“That the General Assembly shall pass no law whereby private property, the right to which is fundamental, shall be damaged or taken except for public use. No private property shall be damaged or taken for public use without just compensation to the owner thereof. No more private property may be taken than necessary to achieve the stated public use. Just compensation shall be no less than the value of the property taken, lost profits and lost access, and damages to the residue caused by the taking. The terms “lost profits” and “lost access” are to be defined by the General Assembly. A public service company, public service corporation, or railroad exercises the power of eminent domain for public use when such exercise is for the authorized provision of utility, common carrier, or railroad services. In all other cases, a taking or damaging of private property is not for public use if the primary use is for private gain, private benefit, private enterprise, increasing jobs, increasing tax revenue, or economic development, except for the elimination of a public nuisance existing on the property. The condemnor bears the burden of proving that the use is public, without a presumption that it is.”
Accordingly, condemning and tearing down hotels, or in this case motels, for redevelopment would be against the Constitution that we swear to uphold and defend.

The EDA does have a plan for economic development in our community, which was last updated in 2014 and can be found here. StratPlanUpdate2014

David, I trust that I have been able to provide some information of which you were not aware when writing your letter and hope that I have been able to set your mind at ease with the spending of precious taxpayer resources on NARCAN. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Sincerely,

Douglas P. Stanley, AICP ICMA-CM
County Administrator

Editor’s Note:  The above letter was copied to the Chairmen and Members of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, Sheriff Daniel T. McEathron, Warren County Fire and Rescue Chief Richard Mabie and to Royal Examiner staff reporter Roger Bianchini.

Opinion

Move Over Law: Drive safely to protect first-responders and highway workers

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The families of three firefighters were forever changed on the night of October 11, 2018 when a tractor-trailer crashed into the back of a Hanover County firetruck on Interstate 295. Lt. Brad Clark’s family is reminded daily of his tragic death. Our prayers and thoughts go out to them as they prepare to spend their first Christmas without him. We wish the two firefighters who survived the crash strength and wellbeing as they continue their journeys of recovery. That incident occurred during the heavy rains of Tropical Storm Michael.

Record December snowfall Dec. 9, 2018 led to at least four Virginia State Police troopers being struck by skidding vehicles in a 12-hour period on slick interstates in Central and Southwest Virginia. Thankfully the troopers’ injuries were only minor and the other drivers remained safe.

For the men and women whose “office” is the highway, these incidents are not limited to major weather events. Close calls, injury and death are a daily risk to every state and local law enforcement officer, firefighter, EMS worker, highway maintenance employee, and tow truck operator working across the Commonwealth. Even the arrow boards, crash cushions and barrels in a highway work zone are not enough to guarantee one’s safety. In February of this year, a Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) contract employee was struck and killed in an active work zone on Interstate 95 in Prince George County by a distracted driver. Another family we remember during the holiday season.

At the beginning of this month, Governor Northam issued a directive to establish the Executive Leadership Team on Highway Safety. The mission of this collaboration among the Virginia departments of Education, Health, Motor Vehicles, State Police and Transportation and traffic safety advocates is to reduce the rising number of fatalities on Virginia’s roadways. The directive is to save more lives through the advancement of education, engineering and enforcement relative to traffic safety. Those most committed to achieving such objectives are the very ones most at risk or harm for the purpose of saving others.

Like all 50 states, Virginia has what is called a “Move Over” law. It’s a state law designed to protect those working alongside the highways by requiring motorists to move a lane away from vehicles stopped on the side of a road with flashing red, blue or amber lights. If unable to move over, then the Code of Virginia requires a driver to pass such vehicles “cautiously”. Simple as this concept may be, those few extra feet can mean the difference between life and death. Yet across the nation traffic incidents continue to be the leading cause of death for law enforcement and highway maintenance workers; and the second leading cause for firefighter deaths in the nation.

There are a number of special days and weeks designated to recognize these professionals and their work. April has National Work Zone Awareness Week. June is designated in Virginia as “Move Over Month.” There are efforts underway to designate a National Tow Truck Operator Week in September. In October, Virginia has special days designated to recognize firefighters for their service and sacrifice. Our firefighters, state troopers, police officers, sheriff’s deputies, highway maintenance workers and tow truck operators – spend every day on our highways working to serve and protect the motoring public. They are dependent on every driver observing the Move Over law every day and not just some of the time.

The first priority of a police officer is to go home to his or her family at the end of the shift. This applies to all those working alongside a Virginia highway in a vehicle with red, blue, or amber lights. It is time for Virginians to take a serious step forward to help save the lives of those who have chosen a career to look out for and save ours.

Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine
Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran

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Opinion

Elections Matter?

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Last week, the Stephens City Town Council appeared to take a page from the GOP playbook when they decided to confiscate powers from the newly elected mayor, Michael Diaz. The Council voted to remove powers given to the Mayor by the town charter and transfer them to the town manager.

Mr. Diaz was elected in November to the mayoral position, but the Town Council took it upon themselves to strip the new Mayor of supervisory duties and relegate his role to being “consulted for general advice.”

This unfortunate notion that one party believes their views so correct that they justify usurping the public’s will expressed by voters seems to reflect the Republican view that has seized power in other instances across the country. Apparently, patriotism does not extend to voter representation when it conflicts with the Republican right to rule.

Steve Foreman
Chair, Warren County Democratic Committee

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Opinion

What Christmas is all about: “We cannot go to Him; He had to come to us”

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Wonderful? Marvelous? Glorious? What words could adequately describe the experience of yet another Christmas?

Yes, Christmas, the celebration of His birth. Whose birth? God’s birth! God incarnate, the God-Man!

Yes, the God of the Bible, the One and only God who created all that exists, including creating and breathing life into man.

Yes, the only and very God who walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden Of Eden! The Scriptures speak of Him as the One “whose going forth are from of old, from everlasting.”

But why? His own great love and nature compelled Him to do so, for mankind had fallen into sin and was lost and separated from Him. The result was that death came upon all men, not only physically but spiritually as well.

For scripture says man became a living soul, and the soul that sins will die. Further, it says “there is none that sinneth not, no, not one.”

Thus, being/having a soul, we are all lost and without hope of living and escaping death. Perishing is where we find ourselves. Our situation: we cannot remove the stain of sin and thus perfect ourselves before God and His law. We cannot find Him. He has to find us.

Further, being temporal, physical beings we are unable to approach Him, and, however earnest and pure in thought, plead our case to Him.

We do not have such standing before His holy, righteous and majestic throne. Simply put, WE CANNOT GO TO HIM. Simply put again, HE HAD TO COME TO US!

And that is what Christmas is all about. He saw that mankind needed deliverance; hence, a Saviour, a Redeemer. God delivered! And because of the babe in the manger, I and all others who accept Him can shout with the hymnal writer, who, in speaking to our physical deaths, says; “….this robe of flesh I’ll drop and rise to seize the everlasting prize!”

God’s gift is eternal life, never to die. Death has been swallowed up in victory!

Rev. Jess Shifflett
Front Royal, VA

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Opinion

Jesus, Miracle Worker

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Seeing the words, “I make beer disappear” on a man’s shirt, I asked him if he worked miracles since he was able to make beer disappear, and he replied that all he did was put it in his tummy and his tummy did the rest.

Miracles? I immediately thought about Jesus, the greatest miracle worker of all the ages. It was, however, about water, not beer. Not only did he make it disappear, he turned it into wine!

Jesus said that he was doing things that no man had ever done before, which helps people understand that he was saying that he was God; saying “If you can’t believe my words, believe for my works’ sake!”

As God, Jesus could say, “I am the light of the world, and he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” And further, that he would lay down his life for his sheep; indicating the path he would take in order to bestow eternal life to his sheep.

Being God, Jesus could ask when healing the man with palsy, “Which is easier to say, your sins be forgiven you, or take up your bed and walk?” The Jews had just remarked that God alone can forgive sins. Well, only God could do either one! Jesus said further that he said what he did in order that “…you might know that the Son of Man has the power on earth to forgive sin,” saying, in effect, I am God!

But how could God give his life for mankind; who, having spurned his love in the Garden Of Eden, continues to reject him to serve other Gods? Well, God says it’s not about us (who are as filthy rags in his sight; therefore, nothing to love) but all about him. For he said; “I am God and not man!” So in his perfect love he loves us IN SPITE OF our sinfulness and unworthiness. So, can you possibly fathom that God; yes,  Almighty God, the Heavenly Father, in order to “win back” his lost love, came “courting” to regain what was lost to him? Remember that the Scriptures say, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son.” Truly, he must be saying, “Be Mine!” Believe and follow me and I will give you the water of life and you will never thirst again; and the bread of life and you will never be hungry again; and not only will you never die, I will never leave you nor forsake you!

It’s been said that to love someone you must get to know them. Well, Jesus knows us through and through because he created us! Could it be then, that he doesn’t love us as we are but for what we have the potential to become as the result of the workings of a wondrous miracle of God; or more pointedly, from “the touch of the Master’s hand?”

Rev. Jess Shifflett
Front Royal, VA

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Opinion

Veteran: Jennifer Lewis will protect health care for those with pre-existing conditions

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To the Editor:

I have been fortunate to count so many veterans as friends and family. As a veteran myself, I am familiar with the many sacrifices these men and women make for our country. I never experience combat myself, but I know some veterans who have and some still carry those scars with them suffering from PTSD or struggling with substance abuse. This issue got my attention recently with a shocking statistic. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have resulted in nearly 6,000 combat deaths of our service members. In that same period over 200,000 veterans have committed suicide, twice the rate of non-veterans.

On November 6th we go to the polls to pick our leaders in Congress. Leaders who will decide the future of health care, including mental health care, in this country. In the 6th district, one candidate wants to eliminate health care coverage for 20 million Americans and strip us of protections for pre-existent conditions, including PTSD. His opponent is a mental health care worker who has promised to expand access to health care for all and to protect health care for those with pre-existent conditions. That candidate is Jennifer Lewis.

Jorge Amselle
Front Royal, VA 
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Opinion

With Trump, America is winning

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Two years ago this week, Democrats were stunned when they lost in strongholds they had taken for granted. We recall that, after candidate Clinton had mocked Trump voters as “deplorables,” she went on to brand them as “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic—you name it.”

Yes, these are the same miserable folks whom Obama, as president, had called “bitter” because “they cling to guns or religion.”

After all that, one wonders, how could these deplorable losers not vote for Hillary?

Well, we didn’t. And you’d think Democrats had learned their lesson – but they’re at it again. Left-wing bigotry abounds. An MSNBC commentator of color asserts that white men are the most likely terrorists – referring perhaps to John Hodgkinson, the Democrat Bernie Sanders volunteer who attempted to massacre an entire baseball field of Republican Congressmen last year. Or to the Antifa terrorists who brutally attacked a group of Young Republicans waiting to hear a conservative speaker at Cal-Berkeley (yes, those the terrorists were indeed white, a fact revealed only after they were arrested and forced to remove their masks and body armor).

Despite their stinging loss in 2016, this year’s Democrats are more radical than ever. Their heroes preach socialism, but socialist Bernie Sanders won’t answer when asked about Venezuela, where socialism has brought the vast majority of the population to the point of starvation, and the inflation rate is somewhere between 25,000% and 30,000%.

(To make sure you’re still distracted, this past Tuesday Socialist Sanders called Trump “the most racist, sexist, homophobic, bigoted president in history.” He has nothing left but epithets).

Why do our socialist Democrat friends want you to ignore Venezuela? Because they don’t want you to know that socialism means government ownership and control of the economy, which invariably leads to economic and social collapse.

However, if you do happen to believe that government can run your life better than you can, be sure to vote for them.

Socialism’s bad enough – but wait, there’s more. Hillary “passionately” wants to change the Constitution so Democrats can win more easily. Virginia’s own Senator Tim Kaine, her 2016, running mate, is just as extreme, sporting a 100% approval rating from the National Abortion “Rights” Action League, a group that considers unborn babies fair game for the abortionist until they are entirely out of the womb.

The Left’s tsunami of epithets is designed to distract us not only from the Democrats’ record, but from Donald Trump’s. And it not surprising, when you take a look at the how things have changed in America since January 2017.

Democrats and their elite establishment friends don’t want you to notice the accomplishments that have benefited our neighbors of all classes, colors ethnic groups, and denominations. Obama’s dreary, anemic economy is now history. In the past two years, four 4 million new jobs have been created. Economic growth last quarter hit 4.2 percent. New unemployment claims recently hit a 49-year low. Median household income has hit the highest level ever recorded. African-American, Asian-American, and Hispanic-American unemployment rates have reached the lowest rate ever recorded. Women’s unemployment recently reached its lowest rate in 65 years. Almost 3.9 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps.

Trump’s tax reform means that small businesses will have the lowest top marginal tax rate in more than 80 years. With the doubling of the Standard Exemption, millions of families will no longer have to itemize deductions (and pay an accountant to file their taxes).

And here’s a gem they won’t mention. After years of demanding that Republicans must “tax the rich,” Democrats in states like California, New York, and New Jersey, are complaining because Trump’s tax reform does raise taxes the rich – raises them so much, in fact, that Democrat state legislators are already hard at work trying to get around it.

Donald Trump’s policy improvements are not limited to the booming economy. He has reversed the pro-abortion policies of the Clinton and Obama Administrations that sent millions in US taxpayer funds to fund abortions in Third World countries. He has freed religious groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor from the onerous pro-abortion policies of Obamacare. He has appointed two sterling Supreme Court justices who will consider cases according to the Constitution, and not the agenda of the Democratic National Committee. He has defended the rule of law and demands that foreigners obey our laws when entering the US, just like the rest of us do here at home. After years of bipartisan weakness, he has confronted China and other trading partners to demand a level playing field in trade – resulting in tens of thousands of jobs being brought back to the United States from overseas

And, yes, he has striven to Make America Great Again.

The radical Democrats don’t want you to know about Trump’s successes, so they’re using a massive campaign of media and online censorship of that news, while blaring Hillary’s and Bernie’s vapid stream of epithets at every opportunity. When words don’t work, they send in mobs to harass and even assault law-abiding Americans. Who knows, maybe they think we’ll be so ashamed of clinging to our Bibles and guns, deplorable bigots that we are – maybe we’ll just be ashamed to show our face at the polls on election day!

What’s at the bottom of their hatred? A simple fact: they were supposed to win in 2016. They controlled the media, the radical college and university faculties, Internet social media (with Facebook, Twitter, and Google “shadow-blocking” millions of conservative users), the “Deep State” bureaucracies, the government and public school unions, the billion-dollar foundations, Hollywood and entertainment – it’s all theirs.

And they still lost.

It boils down to this: even though Democrats control virtually every sector of the American establishment, they still can’t win elections.

And it drives them nuts.

Christopher Manion
Warren County

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