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Tederick takes the helm as interim mayor of Front Royal

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Interim Mayor Tederick follows pre-meeting media instruction to pretend to be chairing the work session for a staged photo op. Royal Examiner Photos/Roger Bianchini

On Monday, May 3, Matt Tederick chaired his first meeting as interim mayor of Front Royal. At the 7 p.m. work session at Town Hall on East Main Street council discussed several pending actions and received staff updates on projects already underway.

With lengthy experience in chairing Warren County Republican Committee meetings, Tederick did an admirable job in managing the work session, moving council toward consensus decisions on whether to move forward to final meeting votes or further work session review, getting himself up to speed on aspects of town business without undue delay, and giving council members present the opportunity to chime in with opinions or questions about the matters at hand. Jacob Meza and Gary Gillespie were absent, the former due to a previous commitment, the latter due to a medical procedure according to the mayor.

Among pending matters were consideration of a special use permit request to place a dog training facility with a small kennel aspect for some “doggie boot camp” overnight stays close to residential and commercial buildings at 650 West 11th Street; legal staff action on and council adoption of a code allowing a more aggressive pursuit of delinquent utility accounts, particularly larger commercial ones; and an update on the associated policy on the write off of bad debts deemed uncollectable.

As for updates on things already in motion, progress on the Inflow & Infiltration (I&I) Abatement Program designed to keep the Town from receiving a State Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) mandate for costly system-wide upgrades was presented by Robert Boyer of the Department of Public Works; and Town Manager Joe Waltz briefed council on additional pedestrian safety measures included in the Fiscal Year 2020 Town Budget.

Graphics from the Inflow & Infiltration power point presentation by Robert Boyer of the Public Works Department

Council consensuses were reached to:

  • move the kennel permit request forward with advertisement of a public hearing during which public health issues related to dog waste or any other lingering questions will be addressed;
  • continued tracking of legal efforts to collect certain delinquent utility accounts and receipt of any additional staff recommendations on tweaking of the related town ordinance as seen necessary so that code change can be implemented as soon as possible;
  • and coming meeting action to allow the write-off of 59 delinquent utility accounts totaling $27,756 deemed uncollectable after five years without activity.

On that latter matter the staff agenda summary noted that Fiscal Year 2018 collection and write-off statistics indicated the Town Finance Department was collecting about 99% of accounts billed before write offs as uncollectable were being made. Council adopted a revision of its bad debt policy in March and has included quarterly review/approval of debts facing write-off status.

Town Finance Director B. J. Wilson presents info on movement on the bad debt collection effort and ordinance development

As for the delinquent account collection process, staff reported that it is “currently processing the first round of utility accounts to obtain judgments and continues to work to streamline the process.” As Town Attorney Doug Napier reported during the work session that first round of legal maneuvering is in its early stage with judgment decisions forthcoming.

Also under consideration for the code adjustment are raising the minimum deposit from $125 to $150; obtaining a personal guaranty on business accounts, particularly from LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) operations; and a Proof of Income statement of some kind from new account applicants. Of those latter two options staff noted that while they “should help reduce the Town’s bad debt expense” they will “make the utility application process more cumbersome for applicants.”

The agenda item summary cited “approximately 2,000 new utility accounts opened each year” with “approximately 240” subject to bad debt write offs after five years. And as noted above during the last fiscal year the dollar amount declared “bad debt” after five years was equal to “roughly 1% of the dollar value billed.”

Also during the meeting Councilman Eugene Tewalt raised the issue of code and permitting exceptions for the Workforce Housing Project council granted to the EDA at the request of former Executive Director Jennifer McDonald in November 2016. Tewalt said he would like to discuss rescinding those permitting exceptions because the Town was lied to about who the actual developer of the property would be.

Mayor Tederick actually chairing the work session – his first action was a call for a moment of silence in memory of former Sheriff Daniel McEathron, whose funeral he and Police Chief Kahle Magalis among many others attended prior to Monday’s work session, as well as for the victims of last week’s Va. Beach municipal building shooting.

Matt Tederick – taking the helm of town government until a special election is held in November

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Local Government

Town Council’s goal setting session continues – Health Insurance – Part 5

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Town Manager Joe Waltz leads the discussion on the Town’s Health Insurance.

At the August 19th Front Royal Town Council work session, the Council had a list of seventeen items to discuss. The first six goals have been covered in previous stories on the Royal Examiner.

In part 5 of our coverage, Goal item number 7 was discussed – Health Insurance.

Town Manager Joe Waltz leads the discussion.

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Local Government

Town Council’s goal setting session continues – Happy Creek Area – Part 4

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Town Manager Joe Waltz leads the discussion. Photo and video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

At the August 19th Front Royal Town Council work session, the Council had a list of seventeen items to discuss. The first five goals have been covered in previous stories on the Royal Examiner.

In part 4 of our coverage, Goal item number 6 was discussed – Happy Creek area development, infrastructure.

Council indicated staff is working to get development of the Happy Creek Road area moving forward. A primary goal is to qualify for a funding split with VDOT on area road infrastructure improvements. New road infrastructure improvements were designed over 20 years ago. That plan needs to be redesigned and reengineered in order to improve the Town’s ability to qualify for a VDOT funding split.

The road plans for the area are closely tied to the Front Royal Limited Partnership (FRLP) plans for a primarily residential development of some one thousand homes on about 750 acres of land on the town’s east side.

Staff informed council that a revised road plan needed to be created by October 30. It was also determined that a plan for roads in the nearby designated Urban Development Area and near the new Valley Health hospital project also be completed by October 30. Council also decided to reevaluate PND (Planned Neighborhood Development) /Subdivision ordinances.

“I’m not finger pointing the planning division, I want to find a happy medium between what the planning division and the town council wants,” Interim Mayor Tederick stated. A council consensus was to create a committee to address the issues with PND/subdivision ordinances by September 30. This committee will provide a report to the council by January 30, 2020.

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Town Council’s goal setting session continues – Pedestrian safety – Part 3

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Town Manager Joe Waltz leads the discuss on Pedestrian Safety.

At the August 19th Front Royal Town Council work session, the Council had a list of seventeen items to discuss. The first two were covered in this related story:

Town tackles priority issues over Melting Pot pizza at 4-hour work session – Part 1

In Part 2, the Council discussed Streets/Infrastructure improvements (paving, storm sewer, curb & gutter and sidewalks) and I & I, or Inflow and Infiltration, issues with its drainage system.

Town Council’s goal setting session continues – Infrastructure – Part 2

Now with Part 3, the Council discussed pedestrian safety.

Pedestrian Safety has been championed by Vice Mayor Bill Sealock this past year. The Town has taken steps to heighten public awareness and elevate common sense in conjunction with existing traffic laws to reduce the likelihood of more vehicular-foot traffic collisions.

Goal 5, Pedestrian safety:

The final high priority item was the ongoing issue of pedestrian safety on Town roads. South Street and North Shenandoah Avenue continue to be high-traffic areas of primary concern. It was noted that pedestrian-vehicle accidents have primarily occurred at dusk and dawn during the busiest traffic flow times of the day. It was noted that a 50/50 cost sharing request has been submitted to VDOT for improved lighting to combat the visibility issue.

Additional signage and improved pedestrian crossing markings are also planned. Educating pedestrians to utilizing marked crossings and alerting drivers to pedestrian right of way in these areas continues to be a crucial factor in heading off future vehicle-pedestrian collisions.

“I’d like this council to review the study and recommendations on getting more curb; it’s more complicated but I think it would help with increasing pedestrian safety,” Councilman Meza said.

Council determined to re-evaluate the South Street plan by September 30, and to develop a safety plan for Kerfoot Avenue near the soccer fields by September 29.

The Royal Examiner’s camera was there:

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EDA in Focus

EDA Reform Committee weighs options as information being assembled

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The EDA Reform Committee gets down to business – Royal Examiner Photos/Roger Bianchini. Video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

The committee grown out of the first full joint Town-County meeting to discuss the future of the Economic Development Authority held its first meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon, August 22, at the Front Royal Town Hall.

Among topics of discussion were:
– election of a chairman;

– the “Pros and Cons of limiting the EDA mission”;
– “Types of EDA Structures and Relationships in Virginia and Nationally”;
– “How to dissolve the EDA legally”;
– The “EDA filing bankruptcy”;
– And the advisability of separate County, EDA legal counsel.

The short answers were: Archie Fox; probably a good idea to focus on commercial and industrial recruitment and facilitating a positive environment for existing businesses; regional associations and independent ones; probably cannot be done within the existing financial situation but long run make EDA employees County staff; not enough info to determine an answer but probably not; and perhaps separate counsel as a short term trial in the wake of current County-EDA Attorney Dan Whitten’s pending departure for another job on September 13 with his assistant on maternity leave until mid October.

Soon-to-be-departed for other horizons County-EDA Attorney Dan Whitten, left, Committee Chair Archie Fox and new EDA Executive Director Doug Parsons listen to the noise from the other side of the table.

Some public skepticism greeted the announcement of the committee’s makeup of the Town Manager and County Administrator, County and Town Attorneys, EDA Executive Director and one representative of both the Front Royal Town Council and Warren County Board of Supervisors.

And while those two elected municipal officials and appointed administrative and legal staffers may be best positioned bureaucratically to develop a game plan to guide the EDA forward or not, it was their presence in their positions in recent years – save new EDA Executive Director Doug Parsons – as the EDA financial fraud scandal was allegedly developing under their collective noses that contributed to any public perception that a municipally-led committee might not be best qualified to reach a permanent solution to see past mistakes are not repeated.

Perhaps in reaction to such public skepticism, Interim Front Royal Mayor Matt Tederick told Royal Examiner in a recent video interview that he plans to suggest creation of a citizen committee to review the EDA Reform Committee findings.

Interested spectators included six of the seven EDA Board of Directors, from left in back row are Greg Harold and Ed Daley, and in front of them from left, Tom Patteson, Jorie Martin, Jeff Browne and Gray Blanton – only Mark Baker was absent.

But judge for yourself – watch the committee, whose name newest EDA Board member Jorie Martin suggested at Friday morning’s monthly EDA meeting be considered for a change, get their feet wet in establishing what went wrong in the past and how such mistakes can avoid being repeated in the future as the EDA board and staff move to right the ship of community economic development in this Royal Examiner video (And Jorie, we have a name suggestion not so reminiscent of “Reform School” – how about The EDA Steering Committee? After all, they are steering toward a plan of action.)

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Town Council’s goal setting session continues – Infrastructure – Part 2

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Town Manager Joe Waltz continues the goal setting work session with streets, infrastructure and I&I issues. Photo and video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

The Town Council continued the goal setting session with the next two items.

Goal 3 – Streets infrastructure improvements:

The council next addressed its road infrastructure, putting it high on its budget priority list. “We need to address the infrastructure, it’s a real problem here, as it’s falling apart in my area. The budget will not sustain a project to fix our streets at this time, we need another source of financing,” Councilman Tewalt told his colleagues.

Several councilmen suggested a bond issue or loan might be required to take on this problem.

There were several particular problem roads discussed such as the Bridge on Prospect Street, as well as traffic lights on North Shenandoah, which are in need of repair. Eventually an infrastructure plan with cost estimates was proposed to catalog all the roads and bridges that need repairs. Council will seek fund alternatives to help with cost estimates given that the projected budget can’t withstand the number of repairs needed. A project plan is scheduled for submission and approval by September 30.

Goal 4 – I&I issues:

The Council then addressed I & I, or Inflow and Infiltration, issues with its drainage system. Due to heavy rainfall, the council had a meeting with DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) and have been under a State Consent Order on upgrades since 2009. Consequently a new meeting is scheduled to rewrite the order because of existing violations. Apparently plans of action are already in effect and the staff estimate is about $3 million dollars to come into compliance with mandated upgrades to control stormwater runoff.

The unusually high amount of rain last year was pointed to as the cause of the overflow issues and consequent Consent Order water treatment violations. Flow tests will be conducted in the spring of 2020 to see if the repairs and upgrades have worked and brought the I&I system up to code. However, these repairs are on town owned properties, but involve customer owned pipes that have not yet been repaired. Council has designed a plan for long term repairs and upgrades to the customer-owned pipes. This plan is scheduled to be contracted by December 31 of this year.

So now we’ve covered four out of seventeen – Part Three will be Pedestrian Safety.

Pedestrian Safety has been championed by Vice Mayor Bill Sealock this past year. The Town has taken steps to heighten public awareness and elevate common sense in conjunction with existing traffic laws to reduce the likelihood of more vehicular-foot traffic collisions.

The Royal Examiner’s camera was there:

Town tackles priority issues over Melting Pot pizza at 4-hour work session – Part 1

Front Royal grapples with pedestrian safety in wake of two fatalities

One day after traffic safety discussion, another pedestrian struck in town

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EDA in Focus

Town tackles priority issues over Melting Pot pizza at 4-hour work session – Part 1

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Town Manager Joe Waltz leads the Goal Setting session. Photo and video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

A closed session originally scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., an hour into a projected four-hour Town Council Work Session, instead took up the first hour of the Monday, August 19 meeting. That closed session was called to discuss the performance, salaries, etc. of unspecified “employees of the Town”. No action was taken following the closed session adjournment.

So it was the open portion of the work session that ended up beginning around 6 p.m. to face an agenda more indicative of a weekend council retreat in its far-ranging scope. And to assure the survival of all participants, who would likely be missing dinner with a 5 p.m. start to a projected four-hour work session, some Melting Pot pizza was delivered to Town Hall to bolster the troops.

The open session began with a presentation on how council’s goal setting is an important first step in the town’s budget process. Council tackled 17 specific topics, with six additional ones listed under “Other goal areas” added toward the meeting’s conclusion. Those “Other Goals” included: “Reduce Town Government Expense”, “Public Relations/Communications”, “Marketing”, “Steele Street Paving Concerns”, “Fleet Management Plan”, and “Parking – Main Street”.

The stated goal was to spend 15 minutes on each of the first six subjects, as they were prioritized as the most important, then spend less than 10 minutes on the remaining topics. However, those “Other goal areas” were not addressed due to time and complexity and were moved to the next work session agenda.

The first two topics were a familiar list of Town and citizen priorities, including: 1/ the status of the Afton Inn renovation project now on hold due to number 2/ the “EDA (EDA lawsuit/project financing/local EDA).

Goal 1 – The Afton Inn:

Redevelopment of The Afton Inn has been a point of major concern since the EDA civil litigation of March 26 was filed and brought restoration work to a halt. The work stoppage appeared due to “Afton Inn embezzlements” being listed as one point in the EDA civil suit. And while the developers have not been implicated in any wrongdoing, the EDA civil litigation alleges that former EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald illegally moved EDA resources under the scope of Afton Inn project work orders or designations.

So the massive brick shell of the 151-year-old former Montview Hotel dating to 1868 looms gutted, windowless and crumbling at the head of Front Royal’s Historic Downtown Business District. Council priorities concerning the project were to find a solution to get the redevelopment restarted or tear the building down and expand downtown parking onto the property.

And while that latter solution would anger many citizens who expressed concerns about replacing such a historic structure with a parking lot, rather than a redeveloped showpiece for downtown, the council consensus appeared to be a need to move toward a quicker resolution, or be out of other options.

Council is currently working with the EDA on a deal to retake ownership of the property and move toward a resolution on the project. Part of the problem is that council is unwilling to co-sign a loan with the EDA and allow EDA to keep ownership of the property due to the EDA financial scandal and related litigation between the two parties.

Another issue looked at is that 2 East Main Street LLC, the redevelopment entity responsible for rebuilding the Afton Inn, had a condition to finish this project within 5 years. That condition may need to be revisited due to the ongoing work stoppage. Money is also owed to the 2 East Main Street LLC and its sub-contractors for work done.

So the big questions here are taking ownership, negotiating terms with EDA, and negotiating with the contractor. Council seems committed to re-taking ownership and moving more quickly to some final resolution. Council determined to develop an action plan for the project by September 15.

Goal 2 – EDA:

The question of what to do about the EDA still hangs over council’s head. There is confusion on what actions can and need to be taken. “The reform committee needs to meet, in the meantime we have a civil suit in place, what other action is needed at this time,” Interim Mayor Tederick asked. The upcoming EDA reform committee meeting of August 22 was looked to for answers. Another primary issue of concern is financing and payments being made on the new police headquarters construction.

So that’s two out of seventeen – Part Two will included Streets/Infrastructure improvements (paving, storm sewer, curb & gutters and sidewalks) and Inflow and Infiltration (I & I) issues.

The Royal Examiner’s camera was there:

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Upcoming Events

Aug
27
Tue
1:30 pm Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
Aug 27 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
This four week course with the instructor, Elena Maza, will deal with the basic three-primary color palette, different pigments and how they interact, how to mix all colors from three primary colors, how to apply[...]
Aug
29
Thu
1:00 pm Substance Abuse and Recovery Summit @ Mountain Home Bed and Breakfast
Substance Abuse and Recovery Summit @ Mountain Home Bed and Breakfast
Aug 29 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Substance Abuse and Recovery Summit @ Mountain Home Bed and Breakfast
The McShin Foundation and RSW (Rappahannock, Shenandoah, and Warren County) Regional Jail would like to invite you to our substance abuse and recovery summit to be held on August 29, 2019, in Front Royal, Virginia.[...]
Aug
31
Sat
1:00 pm DJ Skyhigh’s End of Summer Blast @ Warren County Fair
DJ Skyhigh’s End of Summer Blast @ Warren County Fair
Aug 31 @ 1:00 pm – 9:00 pm
DJ Skyhigh's End of Summer Blast @ Warren County Fair
Come join DJ Skyhigh for his end of summer blast. Lisa Bell will be hosting wine tastings (at an additional charge) of over 50 international wines. Wines may also be purchased by the bottle to[...]
Sep
3
Tue
1:30 pm Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
Sep 3 @ 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
This four week course with instructor Elena Maza will focus on learning basic skills to create watercolor landscape paintings: basic composition and use of color and value to create a sense of depth and distance.[...]
Sep
4
Wed
1:30 pm Botanical Drawing @ Art in the Valley
Botanical Drawing @ Art in the Valley
Sep 4 @ 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Botanical Drawing @ Art in the Valley
Learn and practice the art of botanical drawing in pencil with local artist and instructor Elena Maza. This four session course will focus on learning basic drawing skills as applied to botanicals: basic line drawings[...]
Sep
7
Sat
10:00 am SHS Marching Band Mattress Fundr... @ Skyline High School
SHS Marching Band Mattress Fundr... @ Skyline High School
Sep 7 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
SHS Marching Band Mattress Fundraiser @ Skyline High School
Skyline High School Marching Band is having a mattress sale fundraiser on Saturday, September 7, 2019, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Skyline High School (151 Skyline Vista Drive, Front Royal, Virginia). There will[...]
12:00 pm 2019 NFL Kick Off Party @ Sly Fox Golf Club
2019 NFL Kick Off Party @ Sly Fox Golf Club
Sep 7 @ 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm
2019 NFL Kick Off Party @ Sly Fox Golf Club
Golf – “Captains Choice Format” 12pm Shotgun “Tail Gate” Food and Drinks – 5pm to 8pm Golf + Food & Drinks $45 Tail Gate Food & Drinks Only $15
1:00 pm Strokes of Creativity: 1-year ce... @ Strokes of Creativity
Strokes of Creativity: 1-year ce... @ Strokes of Creativity
Sep 7 @ 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Strokes of Creativity: 1-year celebration @ Strokes of Creativity
Join us for our 1-year celebration on Sept. 7 from 1-6 pm. We will have demos, and Artist meet and greets. Unique and one of kind items, face painting, crafts and Chase from Paw Patrol will[...]
6:00 pm FRUMC Celebrates Homecoming @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
FRUMC Celebrates Homecoming @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
Sep 7 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
FRUMC Celebrates Homecoming @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
In tandem with the 110th anniversary of the church building, the Front Royal United Methodist Church will host Homecoming ceremonies on Saturday and Sunday, September 7th and 8th. Five previous pastors have agreed to return[...]
Sep
10
Tue
1:30 pm Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
Sep 10 @ 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
This four week course with instructor Elena Maza will focus on learning basic skills to create watercolor landscape paintings: basic composition and use of color and value to create a sense of depth and distance.[...]