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United We Stand – for our right to publicly disagree politically



Vigil for Democracy founder Len Sherp, seated, finds himself surrounded by the opposition perspective on the president during the September 26 noontime vigil. The press negotiated a truce to facilitate a photo illustrating both sides’ intention of uniting to oppose any municipal effort to move them to a more obscure location. Pictured behind Sherp, from left, are Dean Peterson, Ralph and Michael Waller. Photos/Roger Bianchini

They say politics makes strange bedfellows – and it couldn’t get much stranger than pro- and anti-Trump contingents presenting a united front right here in Front Royal, Virginia.  But that could be the outcome if the Town of Front Royal pursues an initiative brought forward by some downtown, East Main Street business interests to try and move political demonstrators out of the Town Gazebo Village Commons area at the intersection of East Main and Chester Streets.

Photos taken, the truce collapsed into the ongoing debate over the relative merits of the 45th president of the United States, as Ralph Waller prepares to take a playful poke at the loyal opposition in defense of the president and nephew Michael’s side of the argument – it was good natured, we swear.

It is there on both sides of Chester Street that dueling political perspectives regarding the persona and agenda of the 45th president of the United States have been expressed for one hour, once a week over the past 18 months.

The rationale on removal from the center of Front Royal’s Historic Downtown Business District cited by town officials in communication with local Business Forum representatives is that the demonstrations are scaring potential customers away. See Related Story

A council majority and the mayor appeared reluctant to tackle the issue without more substantive evidence of that alleged disruption of local business or tourism.  Town Attorney Doug Napier suggested caution in any attempt to alter the nature or space of the demonstrations due to First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly regarding political opinions written into the U.S. Constitution.

Well, there is this silly, little Constitutional guarantee of the right to assemble in public space to express political viewpoints – Town Attorney Doug Napier briefs council on those rights on September 4.

However, while expressing unfamiliarity with the dueling demonstrations Vice-Mayor Eugene Tewalt volunteered to approach leadership of the two sides about the possibility of relocating to a less obtrusive spot than the town’s public square and nearby public property under the town clock.  A public space between South Commerce Avenue and Happy Creek south of the Pavemint restaurant was mentioned as a possible destination.

From an initial polling it appears the vice mayor’s initiative was met with less than an enthusiastic reaction from both sides of the political street.

“Sure, we’d do it with them – they’re not going to push us out of here,” original pro-Trump demonstrator Ralph Waller told Royal Examiner around noon on September 5, when informed of the business forum initiative brought to council the previous evening.  “Them” are the anti-Trump contingent across Chester Street from both pro-Trump demonstrations AND his Main Street Pawn Shop in front of which he initiated those demonstrations some 17 months ago.

This past Wednesday wasn’t the first time the two sides have crossed the street to seek common ground or debate their dueling perspectives. Here, Bob Hill extends a hand of truce to Ralph Waller in August 2017.

Waller’s business is essentially at ground zero of the dueling demonstrations, and he does not believe those demonstrations are deterring anyone from doing business downtown.  Told a jewelry shop owner across East Main Street was the closest business represented in support of the business forum initiative, Waller observed, “This is a tough time for the jewelry business everywhere.  Our jewelry sales are down but I don’t think it has anything to do with one hour, once a week out here,” he said gesturing toward the door to his shop from behind the counter.

Waller’s expression of potential legal unity with those of a different political perspective was not the only one we encountered that day.

“I’ll be proud to stand next to the Democrats for our right to be out here,”  teenaged Trump supporter Joel Simmons told Royal Examiner later that afternoon as Republicans gathered at party headquarters near the Chester Street political divide for an appearance by Virginia Congressional candidate Corey Stewart between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. on September 5.  In fact, during a brief media interview Stewart expressed support of the dueling downtown Front Royal political demonstrations.

Of downtown political demonstrations, Republican Senatorial candidate Corey Stewart tells WDVM reporter Bria Lloyd, ‘I think it’s really great what you have here in Front Royal – a real town center where citizens can get together and share political views, that doesn’t happen in every community, so it’s a very nice thing.’

‘Turf war’ revisited

That late-afternoon September 5 Republican gathering coincided with the first Wednesday in which the pro-Trump contingent had permitted the gazebo area for their demonstration.  That permitting is for six weeks, the maximum length of time a space may be permitted by the town government.  Consequently, as we spoke to Ralph Waller around noon on September 5, the space in front of his shop was empty while Len Sherp’s anti-Trump Vigil for Democracy was back to its earlier fall-winter noon to 1 p.m. timeframe, perhaps six weeks earlier than anticipated.

Warren County Republican Committee Chairman Steve Kurtz verified to Royal Examiner that he had initiated the permitting location change for the pro-Trump side some six weeks after initially being removed by town police from the gazebo during the July 25 pro- and anti-Trump demonstrations. See Related Story

“I went in and asked about its availability and was told it was available as of September 5.  I said they’ve been there what, a year and a half – that’s long enough,” Kurtz said as he prepared for the first Wednesday afternoon occupation of the gazebo area by Republicans on September 5 for the Corey Stewart visit.

Local Republicans prepared the Town Gazebo for Corey Stewart’s September 5 visit in the 4:30 to 6 p.m. time slot.

Asked if the pro-Trump contingent had maintained permitting for both sides of the street, Kurtz said, “No, I wouldn’t do that to them” – indicating he just wanted the demonstration “high ground” for the pro-Trump side for a change.

Asked if he wanted to comment for this story, Kurtz declined, saying he believed that those Republicans cited in the article – Ralph Waller, Joel Simmons and Dean Peterson had done a good job in representing the local committee’s stance.

Faced with a 4-1/2 hour gap between the two demonstrations (Kurtz’s gazebo area permit is from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.) when we talked to him on September 5, Waller laughingly bemoaned that gap – “Now we don’t have anyone to yell at” – though in ensuing weeks the initial pro-Trump contingent of Ralph Waller and his nephew Michael have reappeared at the noon hour with another supporter or two to keep the dueling perspectives in the same time slot.

Vigil for Democracy participants poke a little fun across the street and counter for Democratic candidates Jennifer Lewis in the Sixth Congressional District and flat-Tim Kaine, lurking behind the Lewis sign, in the noon hour time slot.

Both Waller and Vigil for Democracy organizer Len Sherp have noted that for gatherings of less than 50 people, no permit is required other than as a securing of a location.  One of those we encountered with the Wallers on the traditionally Trump and pawn shop side of Chester Street at subsequent noon-hour pro-Trump gatherings was Page County Republican Committee member Dean Peterson.  Peterson has been helping the Warren County Republican Committee with its pre-Congressional mid-term campaign headquarters and has consequently become a familiar face on the pro-Trump side of the street.

Divided we demonstrate …

Peterson, like Ralph Waller and even Simmons on occasion, have been among those hurling pro-Trump, anti-Democratic Party vocal challenges across Chester Street toward the anti-Trump Vigil for Democracy demonstrators.  We asked his opinion of any potential business-driven municipal initiative to move the political demonstrations from the town center.

From left on September 19, Dean Peterson, Ralph Waller, flat-Trump and handler present the noon-time opposition to the anti-Trump vigil side of the street.

“Well, that’s just wrong to start with – the gazebo is the center of town and we’ve always used this for the community, that’s what it’s for.  And even if someone has something that we disagree with, I will still support their right to protest, just as I would want them to support my right to do the same,” Peterson said, adding he believed that to be “a mutual attitude” across what has become Front Royal’s weekly political divide.

Identifying that opposing, anti-Trump side as “socialists” philosophically, Peterson added, “I can’t stand socialism – people call me the most anti-socialist person they’ve ever met.  Yet, I will still stand for their right to protest, even if I disagree with them.”

United We Stand

Vigil for Democracy organizer Len Sherp was away on an extended Labor Day holiday when the downtown Business Forum initiative was brought before council on September 4.  Back for the September 12 Vigil for Democracy, the second of this season at the noon to 1 p.m. time slot, we approached him about that initiative.

Sherp and his Vigil for Democracy contingent have readjusted to their noon to 1 p.m. time slot, continuing to present a slightly different political perspective than that from across the street or at the gazebo at 4:30 p.m.

“If people say this is affecting their business, I respond I am doing business – I am doing the people’s business,” Sherp began.  “Our freedom of speech and our freedom of assembly are not meant to be pushed off to a corner.  The very nature of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly is that it should be available to the public.  This is our town square – the gazebo is the town square.  It was set aside as the public space.  So, as I said I believe we are doing the public’s business, as I believe the other side is doing their version of the public’s business.

“So, I would be unlikely under any circumstance to voluntarily move from an area that is actually designated the public commons.  As I’ve often said, this is an open forum.  And if our forum has to change to an immediate question on defending free speech and freedom of assembly, I would welcome all allies,” Sherp concluded of a potential alliance with the pro-Trump contingent on both sides’ Constitutional right to express their political opinion and be heard in that expression.

United Sherp and Waller stand in their right to publicly disagree politically.

Strange bedfellows

Sherp began his Vigil for Democracy at the Town Gazebo space on March 8, 2017 to express opposition to Donald Trump and his agenda, which to Sherp seems to be in large part self-promotion and the self-enrichment of his, his family and friends’ business interests.  Sherp often appears at his vigils supporting a one-word “emoluments” sign – emoluments being the section of the U.S. Constitution prohibiting self-profit from the office of the presidency.

Sherp questions whether the president is adhering to the section of the U.S. Constitution prohibiting self-enrichment from the office of the presidency.

Waller, Simmons, Peterson and their allies from the local political right have often reflected the national defense of President Trump – essentially that negative information about Trump or his past business dealings; Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election on behalf of Trump; possible knowledge of or collusion with that foreign agenda by Trump, his campaign team and even cabinet appointees is “fake news” disseminated by sour grapes Democrats and/or the “Deep State” that has corrupted the federal apparatus to the point that its intelligence and law enforcement agencies that are often the source of negative information about Trump can’t be trusted.

Sherp and his allies from the political “left” have reflected what is sometimes called “the loyal opposition” to those in power – at this point the Republican Party’s control of all three branches of government – the executive, legislative and judicial.

Sherp notes that the loyalty in “loyal opposition” is to America as a nation and the Constitutional system of legal accountability, checks and balances upon which the nation has been built; rather than to power itself or a cult of personality built around any individual elevated to the presidency – even one elected by a nearly negative three-million vote margin.

On March 8, 2017, at his first Vigil for Democracy Sherp said of its impetus, “The government still works for us – ‘of the people, for the people’ – and just because one Party has achieved a majority doesn’t mean they shouldn’t show the same reverence for the democratic principals and values of honesty, openness and fairness which have made us a beacon for two centuries.  This administration, in eight weeks, has shown that it doesn’t understand the rule of law; does not respect the separation of powers; and has a Republican Congress that for some reason refuses to stand up and be adult.”

And you didn’t think you’d ever see these two disparate sides threatening to join hands in mutual cause – their Constitutional right to be heard in opposition to each other.

And you thought nothing could bring these two sides together philosophically?

I’m not sure that’s a fight the Front Royal Town Council wants to take on – but I could be wrong …

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Meet Blake Pierpoint, Owner of Blake & Company in Front Royal



On November 6, the Warren County High School DECA Chapter conducted a “Job Shadowing Day” with local businesses in Front Royal. Twenty-six students shadowed owners, managers, and employees in twelve locally owned businesses. During this week, “Global Entrepreneurship Week”, we will spotlighting some of our successful local business entrepreneurs.

Businesses participating in this job shadowing activity included:

  • Blake & Co.
  • C & C Frozen Treats
  • Down Home Comfort Bakery
  • Jack Evans Chevrolet
  • Main Street Daily Grind
  • National Media Services
  • Ramsey Hardware
  • Royal Auto Works
  • Royal Comfort Shoe Center
  • Truss’D
  • United Bank
  • White Pickett Fence

Blake Pierpoint, owner of Blake & Co., welcomed two WCHS DECA students recently during Job Shadowing Day on November 6.

Blake Pierpoint, the owner of Blake and Company, provides a multitude of hair services, spa services, and makeup sessions out of her shop at 1201 N Shenandoah Avenue, Front Royal, VA 22630. She decided to open her own business, primarily in hair, because it’s her passion, and she wanted to create a business that she could make her own. Blake chartered her own business as soon as she possibly could in 2008 when she found her dream venue; Blake admired the open space and elegant windows, which both add to the upscale ambiance. She says her mission at the outset for her business was to make sure her business was unique. What makes her business so unique is the ambiance, friendliness of her staff, and the high standards she holds for her business.

Blake attributes her success to her husband, because he’s been a big supporter throughout the whole process of creating her business. When asked what she would recommend to someone who’s starting out their own business, she says that they should make sure they have professional help from an attorney and an accountant from the start. Blake also suggests to make sure you have a business plan established from the start. If you’re interested in Blake and Company’s services, call 540-635-4033, or visit their shop Tuesday through Friday from 9am-7pm, or Saturday from 9am-5pm.

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How could one woman steal $53 million without anyone noticing?



How could one woman steal $53 million without anyone noticing? As city comptroller of Dixon, IL, Rita Crundwell stole $53 million of public funds across 20 years–making her the perpetrator of the largest case of municipal fraud in American history. She used the funds to build one of the nation’s leading quarter horse breeding empires, all while forcing staff cuts, police budget slashing, and neglect of public infrastructure. ALL THE QUEEN’S HORSES investigates her crime, her lavish lifestyle and the small town she left in her wake.

On November 24th at 2pm, at the Warren County Community Center, the Warren County Coalition will be showing the documentary ALL THE QUEEN’S HORSES, where you’ll also meet the author of this movie, Kelly Richmond Pope. This is a free event and open to the public. See the Warren County Coalition Facebook page for more information.

Kelly Richmond Pope is an Associate Professor in the School of Accountancy and MIS at DePaul University in Chicago, IL, and founder of Helios Digital Learning, Inc. She received her doctorate in accounting from Virginia Tech and she is a licensed certified public accountant. She worked in the forensic practice at KPMG, LLP on anti-money laundering engagements, insurance fraud investigations, and fraud risk management projects. Kelly is a recognized expert in the forensic accounting field and has conducted forensic accounting seminars around the world for universities, corporations and governmental entities.

Kelly is the creator and executive producer of the award winning educational white-collar crime documentary, Crossing the Line: Ordinary People Committing Extraordinary Crime. Her current documentary, All the Queen’s Horses, which chronicles the largest municipal fraud in U.S. history, will be released August 2017. She was selected by the TED Ed team to develop a teaching lesson on “How People Rationalize Fraud” which can be found on the TED Ed website. Her TEDx talk “Why We Hate Whistle-blowers” discusses the whistle-blower dilemma and the need for whistle-blowers in fraud discovery.

Watch the trailer:

All the Queen’s Horses from Gravitas Ventures on Vimeo.

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Shenandoah Valley physicians provide medical aid for people of rural Honduras



Dr. Tommy Ball cutting a ribbon to formally open a new school. Photos by Dr. Joe Schwartz.

Since 2008, Dr. Thomas Ball, M.D., (“call me Tommy”), who lives in Browntown, has worked a two-week stint in Honduras, a poverty-stricken country where health care is marginal at best for most people and non-existent for others, including children.

Sponsors of the medical visitations by American doctors include many U.S. colleges and universities beneath the umbrella of a non-profit called “Shoulder to Shoulder”, which is committed to providing quality health care in the world’s poorest countries.

Ball recently returned from this year’s visit in which he led a five-man brigade of medics, plus a Winchester school teacher, tending to scores of patients in a village called Pinares. Many locals walked several miles for medical treatment, among them children suffering from malnutrition and seeing a doctor for the first time in their lives.

Pinares is in the province of Intibuca where the volunteer medical teams numbering between six and 15 American physicians and support personnel visit three times a year. It is among the poorer areas of the Central American country sandwiched between Guatemala and Nicaragua. Wages, mostly for agricultural work, average about one dollar a day, Ball said.

The medical brigade this month included doctors Joe Schwartz of Front Royal; Tyler Felton of Strasburg; Nelson McKay of Stephens City; David Clark of Winchester, and Clark’s wife Meaghan, a Winchester school teacher. Each volunteer pays his or her own travel and other expenses, and expects to “live in the rough” during their stay.

Schwartz, on his second tour in Honduras, said he returns home with a “high degree of satisfaction” and eyes wide open to the problems of people in a “Third World” country.

“It was definitely a learning experience,” he told me in a telephone interview. Schwartz, a U.S. Navy reservist, mentioned that his early years as a Boy Scout helped him overcome living in less than modern circumstances.

Dr. Nelson McKay interviews a patient at a remote Honduran school during screening exams.

Ball told of sleeping in a one-room school house, while Schwartz was complimentary of a local lady’s skills who cooked meals for the group on a wood stove.

Virginia Commonwealth University oversees the Front Royal group’s annual visits to Honduras. Dental, community health, education and nutrition programs are included in what “Shoulder to Shoulder” accomplishes through its continuing efforts to bring medical assistance to peoples of the “Third World” over the past quarter century.

Dr. David Clark and his wife Meaghan with the grandchildren of an elderly blind woman they visited at her home.

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$20,000 donation for county animals announced at ‘Yappy Hour’



A donation of $20,000 to the Humane Society of Warren County (HSWC) was greeted by loud applause at Friday’s “Yappy Hour” at ViNoVa restaurant on Main Street, Front Royal, on November 15.

The announcement, by HSWC president Ellen Aders over a swiftly provided bullhorn, overwhelmed the collection of $220 raised at the recently re-introduced fundraiser for the Julia Wagner Animal Shelter which, in its first two months, has donated almost $1,200 to the Humane Society. The event, held every Friday evening, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., receives a share of sales toward the shelter operation as it did for two years previously at the old Vino e Formaggio restaurant, netting $12,000 for HSWC over the period.

Ophelia, a miniature pug, was rescued by the writer and his wife, Carol, from the Julia Wagner Shelter 10 years ago. Photos/April Jansen

Aders said the anonymous donation was received earlier in the day “in memory of (an animal shelter supporter) who passed recently.” She took the opportunity to encourage people to “remember the animals” as they prepare their own wills.

ViNoVa, owned and operated by Rachel Failmezger and Chef Chris Kenworthy, opened last August in the same but improved premises as the old Vino e Formaggio at 124 Main Street. It brought “tapas” to the area and deals exclusively in wines and beers from Europe and basic foodstuffs fresh from the fields of Warren County.

Diva, a Siberian Husky rescue, also owned by the writer and his wife, is a fervent watcher of television.

To the uninitiated, tapas are servings of expertly prepared foods on small plates accompanied by beverages of choice.

Malcolm Barr Sr. and Christian Failmezger organized and launched “Yappy Hour” in Front Royal. The current version of “Yappy Hour” is increasingly well supported, so a packed house of mainly animal lovers was on hand to hear last Friday’s good news.

Diva takes a nap on a forbidden couch.

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EDA in Focus

EDA authorizes litigation to recover Workforce Housing parcel or its value



Following an hour-and-a-half Closed Session Friday morning, November 15, the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority Board of Directors unanimously approved a motion to authorize litigation to sue Cornerstone, LP, LLC, its principals and affiliates to recover “EDA land improperly conveyed to Cornerstone without EDA authority or collect the full value of the conveyance and such other damages to the EDA”.

The land in question is the 3.5-acre Workforce Housing parcel sold to the Cornerstone group on November 28, 2018, at a price of $10 dollars.

After initially receiving the parcel as a $10 gift from the aunt and uncle of former EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald, local realtors Mr. and Mrs. Walter Campbell, the EDA Board agreed to purchase the property for $445,000 in April 2017 after missing a previously undisclosed developmental deadline that would have enabled the Campbells to pursue tax credit compensation for the gift of the land to a public purpose.

It is believed that Cornerstone, LP, LLC, is a branch of regional developer the Aikens Group. Aikens was cited by former EDA Executive Director McDonald as a behind-the-scenes, private sector player in the Workforce Housing financial riddle from its inception in late 2014.

The property in question lies at the end of Royal Lane, stretching to the right toward Remount Road. Royal Examiner File Photos by Roger Bianchini. Video by Mark Williams.

When contacted in April about the transaction Gray Blanton, who signed the Deed of Sale to Cornerstone for the EDA as board chairman in November 2018, told Royal Examiner he had only seen the final signature page of the four page document. Blanton seconded the motion made by Greg Harold to authorize the litigation.

Local real estate attorney Joe Silek Jr., who represented the EDA due to the recusal of then EDA Attorney Dan Whitten for a potential conflict of interest as EDA and County Attorneys, told us in April there was no price on the deed of sale when it was forwarded from the EDA to the Winchester law firm of McCarthy-Akers for completion.

Asked why the EDA would agree to take a $444,990 loss or even a $651,690 if disputed EDA developmental and peripheral purchase costs are included, Silek said, “I don’t think they did,” and referred us to attorney Doug McCarthy of the McCarthy-Akers law firm for further information.

As we first wrote in April, as of publication there has been no response to a phone-message inquiry about the transaction from the attorneys who represented the buyer in the now legally-disputed sale.

Of the transaction, the initial March 26 filing of the EDA civil suit says, “When interviewed on December 6, 2018, Defendant McDonald continued to maintain that the Aikens Group would refund the Warren EDA the full cost of the Royal Lane Property and any improvements, when she knew said property had been conveyed by the Warren EDA on November 28, 2018 to Cornerstone for consideration of $10.”

That transaction came as scrutiny of McDonald’s executive leadership of the EDA was intensifying as the Cherry Bekaert financial fraud investigation progressed. Following several hours of closed session discussion of the Cherry Bekaert findings and her job performance on December 14, 2018, McDonald had her contract, check-writing and administrative authority over EDA bank accounts stripped by the EDA board.

Facing a second closed session on the same topics a week later, McDonald submitted her resignation by email, and according to the EDA lawsuit attempted to cap her financial liability to the EDA at $2.7 million dollars.

Then EDA Board Chairman Greg Drescher and Executive Director Jennifer McDonald found themselves facing hard questions from two supervisors, Fox and Sayre, about how the Workforce Housing Project had evolved during a June 2017 joint EDA-County Board work session.

As previously reported, in initial defense motion filings McDonald’s now former civil case attorney Lee Berlik claimed his client was being vilified and scapegoated for past bad decisions of the EDA Board of Directors.

However, the EDA civil action alleges a lengthy pattern of gaps, conflicting or misinformation from McDonald to the EDA board regarding what is termed the “Royal Lane Property Embezzlements” among other allegations of financial fraud that have led, not only to civil liability claims against the former EDA chief executive, but also 32 felony financial fraud indictments from a Special Grand Jury empanelled to investigate potential illegalities tied to the EDA civil suit.

And now it seems the Aikens Group finds itself on the perimeter of that EDA civil litigation regarding what has been a twisting and often inexplicable, five-year saga surrounding the attempted transfer of the Campbells’ 3.5-acre Royal Lane parcel to a public use.

See if you can make any sense of this – on May 19, 2017, the EDA released this 383-page explanation of the Workforce Housing Project after Councilwoman Bébhinn Egger sought answers on the project’s shifting financial dynamics.

Also unanimously approved after the Closed Session, on a motion by Jorie Martin, seconded by Blanton, was authorization for Executive Director Doug Parsons to forward Adjusted Journal Entries developed by retired County Finance Director Carolyn Stimmel and Hottel & Willis’s Heather Tweedy to the Yount-Hyde-Barbour accounting firm for use in development of the EDA’s 2018 Audit Report; and on a motion by Harold, seconded by Tom Patteson, acceptance of the Commission Agreement for the sale of the EDA-owned McKay Springs property, subject to receiving the Agency Agreement within 14 days.

Open Session Business
The pending McKay Springs property transfer and a County Planning Commission Public Hearing two days earlier on Wednesday, November 13, were topics discussed During County Administrator Doug Stanley’s Report during the open portion of Friday’s meeting.

That open portion of the meeting was eventful as the full EDA Board received monthly reports and six-month Strategic Priorities Lists from the EDA’s Asset Management, Finance, Communications and Executive Committees; as well as the monthly report on County business; and Executive Director Parsons’ Strategic Priorities List.

Major topics included the status of the Afton Inn as far as the developer resuming work on site; the status of removal of the Earth Right Energy-installed solar panels on the EDA’s Kendrick Lane Office Complex to allow roof repairs to facilitate empty space rental marketing; and the status of resolving payment issues with the Town of Front Royal on the new Police Station across Kendrick Lane.

As part of the Asset Committee Report Jorie Martin told the board that there had been three replies on the solar panel RFP, with one of particular interest. That one was from a non-profit with the expertise to remove the panels, and then market them for resale at no cost to the EDA. Martin added that it was possible the EDA could even see some revenue from the arrangement.

The EDA is abandoning the idea pushed by McDonald to provide sustainable solar power to the EDA Office Complex, ostensibly as an incentive to help attract a high-end commercial client to the county, supposedly Amazon according to one former board member. Issues include a lack of individual unit metering equipment and the fact the Town has sole authority to charge for the provision of power inside the town limits.

Removal of the EDA Kendrick Ln. solar panels will not be as difficult or costly has first thought. It was discovered the panels are not bolted to the roof, and removal might even turn out to be profitable.

During discussion of the Kendrick Lane roof-solar panel situation it was noted that one positive was that the solar panels were not bolted to the roof in any way, and rather are just sitting on the roof on the panel row bases. Executive Director Parsons pointed out that it had been established that the roof damage did not come from the solar panel installation, but was a consequence of “faulty roof work ages back”.

Also during the Asset Committee Report Harold said the committee “was sad to report that the majority of current bad debt and aging receivables is owed by the Town of Front Royal for their municipal projects”. Primary among those projects is the $8 million to $11 million Town Police Station project financed through the EDA.

Interim Town Manager Matt Tederick was present and in response to a question told the EDA that “the Town is in receipt of the invoice that was most recently sent” regarding the police station and that it would be discussed at a coming council work session.

Tederick also said the Town had received an EDA FOIA request and that the Town Finance Director had scanned relevant material which should be forthcoming shortly. The Interim Town Manager said he had discussed with the Town Attorney setting up a conference call for 3 p.m. Monday to discuss Town-EDA issues.

The Town has filed civil litigation against the EDA to collect “as much as $15 million” in assets it believes were misdirected or lost by the Town during McDonald’s executive leadership of the EDA.
Talking to the press after the EDA went into Closed Session Tederick said he believed the referenced FRPD project invoice was for $8.7 million dollars, with assessed interest calculated at 3.5%, which he added, “differs from the agreed-upon terms the Town was originally offered by the EDA.”

How are we paying for this thing? – Someone may have been thinking at the Nov. 1, 2017 groundbreaking for FRPD headquarters, or not …

Tederick confirmed the Town’s perceived agreed-upon interest rate on the FRPD project involved New Market Tax Credit Program (NMTC) financing, which is believed to calculate at about 1% over the life of the bond payback.

“So it’s all coming to a head and we’re trying to figure out how to best move forward,” Tederick said. Asked if the Town and EDA were trying to make the financing dispute less adversarial, the Interim Mayor replied, “Make it less adversarial, of course. But we have to agree upon what we can agree upon. And what we can’t agree upon we have a judge to determine what the right numbers are.”

As Royal Examiner has previously reported, a council majority decided to gamble on a best case New Market Tax Credit scenario brought forward by McDonald during consideration of a bond issue on a number of Town or County Capital Improvement Projects. That NMTC Program would have offered a seven to nine-year interest free payback term over an estimated 20 or 30 year payback.

However, that gamble was made over the advice of then-Town Manager Joe Waltz, Town Finance Director B. J. Wilson and NMTC Regional Administrator People Inc. representative Brian Phipps.

Due to uncertainties with the NMTC Program’s future, as well as municipal competition for limited regional funds controlled by People Inc, Waltz, Wilson and Phipps all recommended to Council that a bank-offered, locked-in 2.65% interest rate over a 30-year payback term was the best bet because its favorable interest rate was locked in and the money was not subject to being lost in a municipal competition for funding.

People Inc. NMTC Program Administrator Brian Phipps tells Town Council that private-sector 2.65% interest locked in for 30 years sounds pretty good, without the gambling aspect of vying for the government funds involved. But a council majority decided to go the ‘casino’ option on a project that didn’t even qualify for the tax credit program.

It was also later established that the FRPD headquarters project didn’t qualify for the NMTC program because it was a capital improvement project that did not create jobs, a primary goal of that federal and state overseen program.

“Here comes the judge,” as comedian Flip Wilson used to say.

Watch the entire open session EDA Special Meeting, with the above-referenced discussions and reports, among others of high interest in the exclusive Royal Examiner video:

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VDOT: Warren County Traffic alert for November 18-22, 2019



The following is a list of highway work that may affect traffic in Warren County during the coming weeks. Scheduled work is subject to change due to inclement weather and material supplies. Motorists are advised to watch for slow-moving tractors during mowing operations. When traveling through a work zone, be alert to periodic changes in traffic patterns and lane closures.

(NEW) or (UPDATE) indicates a new entry or a revised entry since last week’s report.


*NEW* Mile marker 15 to 14, westbound – Left shoulder closures for drainage work, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

No lane closures reported.

*NEW* Route 340 (Winchester Road) – Northbound and southbound right lane closures for inspection of Crook Run bridge just north of Front Royal, Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Route 624 (Morgan Ford Road) – Closed between Route 643 (Howellsville Road) and Route 661 (Fairground Road) for roadway repairs just south of Shenandoah River bridge. Follow posted detour. Estimated completion June 2020.

Various roads – Flagger traffic control for utility tree trimming, Monday to Friday during daylight hours.

Vegetation management may take place district wide on various routes. Motorists are reminded to use extreme caution when traveling through work zones.

Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511. Traffic alerts and traveler information also are available at

The VDOT Customer Service Center can assist with reporting road hazards, asking transportation questions, or getting information related to Virginia’s roads. Call 800-FOR- ROAD (800-367-7623) or use its mobile friendly website at Agents are available 24 hours-a-day, seven days a week.

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‘Tis the Season


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Upcoming Events

1:30 pm Botanical Drawing II: Drawing in... @ Art in the Valley
Botanical Drawing II: Drawing in... @ Art in the Valley
Nov 19 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Botanical Drawing II: Drawing in Color @ Art in the Valley
Learn and practice the art of botanical drawing in colored pencil with local artist and instructor Elena Maza. This four week course will focus on continuing to build drawing skills as applied to botanicals: students[...]
4:30 pm Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Nov 19 @ 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Tuesday, November 5: Kids will explore popular books and book series through science, games, food, and more! Based on the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, we will do some taffy pulling and have a[...]
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Nov 20 @ 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, November 6 and Thursday, November 7: It’s playtime! Come in for stories, songs, and a craft about our favorite toys, games, and imaginings! Siblings welcome.[...]
1:30 pm Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
Nov 20 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
This four week course with 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 washes,[...]
7:00 pm Drama Performance: “Loserville” @ Melton Memorial Gymnasium | R-MA
Drama Performance: “Loserville” @ Melton Memorial Gymnasium | R-MA
Nov 20 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Drama Performance: "Loserville" @ Melton Memorial Gymnasium | R-MA
On Wednesday, November 20th, and Thursday, November 21st, Randolph-Macon Academy’s Performing Arts Department will present its 2019 fall production of Elliot Davis’ and James Bourne’s musical, Loserville. The musical, which will take place in Melton[...]
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Nov 21 @ 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, November 6 and Thursday, November 7: It’s playtime! Come in for stories, songs, and a craft about our favorite toys, games, and imaginings! Siblings welcome.[...]
7:00 pm Drama Performance: “Loserville” @ Melton Memorial Gymnasium | R-MA
Drama Performance: “Loserville” @ Melton Memorial Gymnasium | R-MA
Nov 21 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Drama Performance: "Loserville" @ Melton Memorial Gymnasium | R-MA
On Wednesday, November 20th, and Thursday, November 21st, Randolph-Macon Academy’s Performing Arts Department will present its 2019 fall production of Elliot Davis’ and James Bourne’s musical, Loserville. The musical, which will take place in Melton[...]
9:00 am Veteran Services Visit @ Able Forces Professional Services
Veteran Services Visit @ Able Forces Professional Services
Nov 22 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Veteran Services Visit @ Able Forces Professional Services
Able Forces will once again be hosting a visit by Andre Miller, Resource Specialist, Virginia Veteran and Family Support, Department of Veteran Services, Commonwealth of Virginia this Friday 22 November from 9AM to Noon. As[...]
10:30 am Children’s Class: Drawing A Self... @ Art in the Valley
Children’s Class: Drawing A Self... @ Art in the Valley
Nov 23 @ 10:30 am – 12:30 pm
Children's Class: Drawing A Self Portrait @ Art in the Valley
In this class students will learn how to draw facial features and the proportions used for placement of features on a face.  They will complete a self portrait using graphite. Classes are designed for the[...]
2:30 pm The Princess & the “P___” @ Samuels Public Library
The Princess & the “P___” @ Samuels Public Library
Nov 23 @ 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm
The Princess & the “P___” @ Samuels Public Library
Lyla sees no purpose to princes. They’re ugly, stupid—and obnoxious! Why can’t Hagabah see that, and why must the master insist that she keep the prince around three more days? The world would be a[...]