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Virginia State Police investigating Fauquier County crash involving train

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Virginia State Police Trooper T.D. Greene is investigating two separate crashes that occurred at a railroad crossing in the Delaplane community of Fauquier County. The crashes occurred shortly before 6 p.m. Thursday (July 18).

A Hyundai Tiburon was traveling south on Winchester Road and approaching the railroad crossing near the intersection of Rokeby Road. The crossing’s safety arm began lowering and warning lights were activated to indicate a train was coming. Witnesses say that as the Hyundai began stopping prior to the tracks, it was rear-ended by a Toyota pickup truck. The impact of the crash pushed the Hyundai across the railroad tracks to the other side, but the pickup ended up on the tracks and became disabled.

With the train approaching, the Toyota’s 58-year-old female driver and her three juvenile passengers – a 14-year-old male, 12-year-old male and 8-year-old female – safely escaped the pickup truck on the tracks. But the train was not able to avoid striking the pickup truck. When it hit the pickup, the pickup truck was shoved off the tracks and struck the 58-year-old female.

The woman was transported to Winchester Medical Center for treatment of life-threatening injuries. The children were transported to Fauquier Health Hospital to be checked out. The 8-year-old was treated for a minor injury.

The 24-year-old male driver of the Hyundai was not injured.

The train conductor was not injured. The Norfolk-Southern train remained on the tracks.

Charges are pending as the investigation remains ongoing.

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EDA in Focus

Earth Right Energy countersues EDA for $20 million in damages

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According to a November 7 filing with the Warren County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office Earth Right Energy (ERE) has joined in countersuing the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority for damages it claims the company incurred as a result of cancellation of a contract it asserts was validly put in place during the tenure of former EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald.

As previously reported attorneys for EDA civil defendant ITFederal and its principal Truc “Curt” Tran filed $13.5 million countersuit against the EDA on October 9. The EDA is seeking recovery of as much as $12 million in EDA assets from Tran and ITFederal.

Along with Tran and his company, Earth Right Energy and its principal Donald Poe and Managing Partner Justin Appleton were among defendants named in both the original EDA civil litigation of March 26 and the Amended EDA civil complaint of October 4.

The EDA is seeking recovery of a total of $21.3 million from what has climbed to a total of 15 defendants alleged to have been involved in, or beneficiaries of fraudulent financial schemes surrounding the former EDA executive director. McDonald is now facing 32 criminal felony financial fraud indictments related to the EDA civil litigation and the County and EDA-contracted Cherry Bekaert public accounting investigation of EDA finances at the base of that litigation. Poe is scheduled for a three-day trial January 22 to 24 on three criminal felony charges – two “obtaining money by false pretenses” and one “perjury” – related to the EDA litigation.

Earth Right Energy principal Donald Poe outside the Warren County Courthouse following a recent hearing – Royal Examiner File Photos/Roger Bianchini

The Amended EDA complaint states that ERE, Poe, Appleton “and others, entered into multiple agreements with Defendant McDonald purporting to oblige the Warren EDA to pay for solar installation at Warren County Public Schools, even though Defendant Poe knew, that the Warren County Public Schools did not approve of any agreement to purchase and install solar power equipment from Defendant Earth Right Energy for any Warren County Public School properties.”

While that $27.3 million dollar solar contract for the schools was never acted upon the EDA civil suit cites payments authorized by McDonald to ERE “without permission or authorization by the Warren EDA” totaling $1,279,888. The EDA litigation notes an August 27, 2018 reimbursement payment made by ERE at McDonald’s request to the EDA of $334,851, reducing the total sought for recovery from ERE to “at least $945,037”.

However in its countersuit, ERE attorneys allege that the public schools solar contract was legitimately negotiated and confirmed at some levels in a mid-August 2018 phone conversation witnessed by “Earth Right’s representatives and Mrs. Michelle Henry”. Henry is also facing criminal charges and civil liability in the EDA case.

“Earth Right extended a formal offer in August in the form of an unexecuted written agreement memorializing the terms of the offer.

“In mid-August (2018), representatives from Earth Right, met in person with Jennifer McDonald, then the Executive Director of the EDA, to inquire as to (1) whether the EDA had approved and agreed to the terms in the Offer, and (2) whether the Warren County School Board was amenable to being a third-party beneficiary of the agreement and would endeavor to aid Earth Right and EDA in fulfilling the terms of therein.

“Jennifer McDonald, as Executive Director and in the presence of Earth Right’s representatives and Ms. Michelle Henry, telephoned Mr. Greg Drescher, then Chairman of both the EDA and the Warren County Public School Board (writer’s note: actually Drescher was superintendent of schools, not a member of the School Board).

Jennifer McDonald and Greg Drescher during signing of authorization of the purchase of the Workforce Housing property once believed to be a $10 ‘gift’ at a cost of $445,000. That expenditure has also come under question in the EDA civil litigation.

“Mr. Drescher confirmed to Jennifer McDonald during the above-mentioned telephone conversation that the EDA had approved the agreement and that the Warren County School Board would endeavor to take whatever reasonable steps the EDA and Earth Right needed to have solar installed on the Roofs of the schools subject to the agreement,” four consecutive paragraphs of the ERE counterclaim contend, adding that “on September 4, 2018, Jennifer McDonald … on behalf of the EDA, formally executed the agreement with Earth Right …”

Of the agreement the ERE Counterclaim states, “The intent of EDA and Earth Right though not written was to secure third-party grants and other sources of funding such that the EDA either did not have to make any capital outlays required by the School Solar Agreements or such that the EDA would be recoop all monies paid (grammar in context).”

As a consequence of what it claims was a legitimately enacted contract, Earth Right Energy asks the court for a judgment of $20 million in damages; court costs; “and any other relief deemed just and appropriate.”

And so the legal wheels continue to spin around EDA civil and criminal litigation now estimated to have generated between 700,000 and a million pages of related materials being accumulated by the Warren County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office.

Good thing there is such a thing as ‘digitization’ of paperwork in the 21st Century or court files would be spilling out of all the Courthouse windows.

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Crime/Court

UPDATE: Local school contractor employee arrested on child porn charges

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Robert Daniel Heishman at booking – Photo/RSW Jail website

An employee of ABM Service Company, a contractor for custodial services for Warren County Public Schools, was arrested in the early morning hours of Saturday, November 9, and charged with two counts of child pornography. Specifically, on the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren County Regional Jail website the charges were cited as “Obscenity – Child Porn – Take part, film child porn, age <15, offender 7+ years”.

Robert Daniel Heishman, 27, was booked into RSW Regional Jail at 5:26 AM Saturday and was being held without bond pending a court hearing according to the RSW Jail website.
Attempts to verify details of Heishman’s employment with the school system administration prior to publication were unsuccessful.

Melody Shepard, Assistant Superintendent of Warren County Schools said that WCPS is co-operating with the investigation.

This story will be updated as additional information becomes available.

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Crime/Court

Cyberstalking indictment highlights the dark side of social media contacts

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The indictment filed October 15 (2019) against a 19-year-old Odessa, Texas man accused of cyberstalking and making social media threats against the family of a 16-year-old Linden girl who was found dead not far from her Apple Mountain home 12 days after going missing the evening of April 26, 2018, show the dark underbelly of social media use to dark and pathological ends.

While Adrian Raul O’Dell is charged on four counts related to online threats and harassment of Sarah Rose Genari’s mother, father, sister and brother occurring between June 2018 and June 2019, the indictment indicates O’Dell’s claim of driving the 16-year-old Warren County girl two thirds of the way across the country to suicide through their social media contacts prior to her disappearance and the May 8, 2018, discovery of her body in a heavily wooded area just off the road not far from her home.

SRG, as Sarah Rose Genari is referred to in the indictment, died of what was ruled by the state coroner’s office as a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

“From on or around September 2017, to on or around March 2018, SRG had an online relationship with defendant ADRIAN RAUL O’DELL, with whom she communicated about, among other topics, depression and suicide,” the indictment states. It continues to describe several subsequent online and social media interactions in which O’Dell references himself in the third person or uses Facebook alter egos to direct credit for SRG’s death to “Adrian O’Dell”.

A WCSO note on her disappearance was accompanied by this photo of Sara Rose Genari posted on social media.

“In or around June 2018, defendant ADRIAN RAUL O’DELL sent an email to the WCSO using a Gmail account, odellgamez@gmail.com. In the email, defendant told a WCSO investigator that he knew who drove SRG to suicide and that the person was ‘Adrian,’ who lived in Odessa, Texas … In or around June 2018, defendant ADRIAN RAUL O’DELL, using Amino, an online social media application, made posts and messaged others also using Amino in which he claimed responsibility and took credit for SRG’s death,” the indictment continues.

The indictment also describes a November 29, 2018, “anonymous tip” to the FBI stating that a suspect named Adrian O’Dell of Odessa, Texas “has willingly admitted to killing (SRG).”

In August 2018, just three months after Sara Genari’s death, O’Dell is described establishing contact with the Genari family through Facebook Messenger, asking if they were related to the deceased girl.

By December 2018, O’Dell is said to have made contact with the family and friends of SRG through a Facebook account named “Amanda Williams” in which screenshots of Snapchat messages in which Snapchat user “EN stated how he killed SRG.”

The family did not respond and/or blocked the “Amanda Williams” account, the indictment states.

The cutback section of overgrowth at right indicates where Sarah Genari’s body was found 12 days after her disappearance. Royal Examiner File Photos/Roger Bianchini

O’Dell then is alleged to have used other Facebook identities to contact Genari’s family and friends, two under the name “Tim Johnson” in which O’Dell began sending profanity-laced, “gangsta”-tinged lingo berating and threatening family members and bragging about causing the girl’s death.

“…I’m glad I called that hit out on her, I’m glad I killed her … was fun to do. Posting about me on here?? You dumb af hoe I’ll put a 5k bag on your head and have you dead just like I did your … daughter I know your exact address hoe Go ahead and press charges and try and arrest me. You better hope they do or its ur a** I’ll come to Virginia and blow up yo sh*t … I made his daughter take y’all gun for some fun. Guess I am Satan …Give me two months and y’all gonna be in a coffin … Don’t mess with gang sh*t bruh You’ll end up like your daughter … Post about me again and I’ll show you wtf happens,” was part of a December 20, 2018 message to Genari’s mother.

On December 28, 2018, he wrote Genari’s sister, “… that’s why we … killed her, Adrian and all of us. You think you guys are gonna catch us, y’all won’t bruh …a whole a** police investigation. Y’all Stoopid! I guess we will just keep getting away with it …”

I guess “he” and “they” guessed wrong.

“The subscriber information for the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses associated with the above accounts and messages – i.e. <odellgamez@gmail.com; Amino; FBI Tip; and Facebook accounts for ‘Adrian O’Dell’, ‘Amanda Williams’, and ‘Tim Johnson’ – correspond to defendant ADRIAN RAUL O’DELL’s residence in Odessa, Texas,” the final evidentiary paragraph of the indictment reads leading into the five counts O’Dell was arrested on.

“Cyberstalking and communicating threats through social media are serious federal crimes and prosecuting them is a priority of this office,” U.S. Attorney Thomas T. Cullen stated in the Western District of Virginia, Harrisonburg Division press release on the O’Dell indictments, adding, “I am grateful for the hard work of the FBI and the Warren County Sheriff’s office in identifying this defendant and bringing him to justice.

“This case is important to us because a young girl’s family, while still mourning her death, was re-victimized with the messages sent by the accused. We are grateful for the assistance of the FBI El Paso Division’s Midland Resident Agency and the United States Attorney’s Office during the course of this investigation.”

The Western District press release on the O’Dell arrest notes that Assistant United States Attorney Kate Rumsey will prosecute the case for the United States.

That location was soon marked by a cross commemorating a life lost too young.

Texas man charged with cyberstalking, making interstate threats

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Community Events

The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 recalled this Veterans Day 2019

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Officials from the Giles B. Cook Post 53 of the American Legion again hosted Front Royal’s Veterans Day ceremonies on the grounds and in the street in front of the Warren County Courthouse. The marching bands of Warren County and Skyline High Schools and Randolph Macon Academy were on hand, as well as a color guard of R-MA cadets.

RMA Color Guard. Photos and video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

The weather cooperated with sunny and balmy temperatures the day before snow flurries have been predicted for the area.

Post 53 Commander Rick Kinsey hosted the event, introducing veterans present and speakers including Marine vet and Front Royal Vice-Mayor Bill Sealock and keynote speaker John F. Kokernak, U.S. Army retired.

Tribute was paid, not only to those who have served and sacrificed, but those family members left behind to ponder whether their loved ones will ever return home.

John F. Kokernak, U.S. Army retired was the guest speaker.

“You know it’s a pleasure to be here because I have been at (battle site location), I have seen the poppies, I know about those kinds of things; I’ve been to the wheat field, I’ve been to Iwo Jima. I know these battlefields,” Sealock said of the respect paid to those who have served, adding, “but I sat there today thinking about things for the service I thought about the forgotten ones. The one who are left behind during the deployments and time overseas, those people, the Gold Star mothers, the spouses, the children, the family as a whole, the parents. These people are forgotten in my estimate, and I always think of those who do not return – what effect did it have on these individuals and families? For that, I welcome you to this great celebration,” Sealock concluded.

The vice mayor’s remarks echoed what makes this annual celebration that began as Armistice Day to commemorate the end of “the war to end all wars”, World War One on November 11, 1918, so special. The honor of service and sacrifice of all impacted, both on the battlefields of the world, and those waiting anxiously at home for their return; as well as the enduring desire for a peace achieved through a commitment to international justice for all nations that will make those sacrifices of war someday a less necessary part of our collective history.

Armistice Day, now Veterans Day, is traditionally celebrated at 11 a.m., November 11. That was the moment when the guns along the fronts of World War One fell silent a final time in 1918 as the Armistice to end that war was achieved.

RMA Cadet Kiyesioluwa Abiodun plays taps.

The poppies Sealock referred to on this 101st celebration of service and an end to war come from a poem from World War One “In Flanders Fields”. The poem, often referenced at these services, was written in May 1915 by Canadian military doctor and artillery commander Major John McCrae. Its impetus is believed to have been McCrae’s conduct of the field burial service for Lieutenant Alexis Helmer in the absence of a company chaplain:

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

“We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

“Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.”

See Front Royal and Warren County’s celebration of Veterans Day 2019, including keynote speaker John F. Kokernak’s full remarks and the laying of the wreaths in this exclusive Royal Examiner video:

Uh oh, somebody forgot to turn the Courthouse Bell Tower clock back to standard time – it was really 10 till 11 AM as the traditional time of 11 AM on the 11th day of the 11th month commemorating the Armistice that ended World War One in 1918 approaches. Royal Examiner Photos/Roger Bianchini

The R-MA Color Guard helps launch Front Royal and Warren County’s 2019 Veterans Day ceremony.

There were no Gold Star mothers present this year.

Maybe they won’t have to grow up to fight for international justice between nations – it’s a nice dream.

Nov. 11, 2019 was a beautiful fall day with sun and temperatures in the 60’s.

Vice-Mayor Bill Sealock invoked the poppies of ‘The Fields of Flanders’ poem in acknowledging those family members who wait anxiously for the return of their loved ones from battlefields around the world.

An R-MA bugler blows the traditional Taps in memory of those who didn’t return from the battlefields.

Memorial Wreaths were laid in several locations on the courthouse grounds.

The three town high school marching bands, from left, Skyline, R-MA and Warren County, gave a musical launch to Veterans Day.

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Sons of the American Revolution honor Veterans at Commonwealth Senior Living

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The Sons of the American Revolution honored veterans on Friday, November 8th at the Commonwealth Senior Living Center in Front Royal. The Color Guard from Randolph Macon Academy also participated. Watch on this exclusive Royal Examiner video.

For more information about the Sons of the American Revolution, click here to visit their website.

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Local News

Veterans Day: Success after service

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We’ve all been taught to honor our veterans on Veterans Day, November 11. They served in the military and fought battles the rest of us couldn’t or didn’t know how to fight. They learned a trade and fulfilled a commitment to support the American presence abroad. In many cases they were separated from family; in some cases, they lost friends and colleagues on the battlefield. But when they return to civilian life, as eventually they must, what then?

Getting back on track
A crucial element of successful reintegration after service is experiencing a sense of belonging. Veterans’ organizations such as The Mission Continues aim to help former service members cultivate that essential quality. In this case, it’s done through volunteerism and giving back to the community through teamwork. As The Mission Continues puts it, “We redeploy veterans in their communities, so that their shared legacy will be one of action and service.”

Team Rubicon, another veterans’ organization, has a similar mission. It pairs experienced veterans with first responders to create dynamic, skilled emergency response teams in our communities.

There are other groups out there that aim to help veterans feel good about civilian life. They’re run by veterans or concerned Americans who want reintegration to go better both ways. They want to build relationships with potential employers to show that veterans are valuable human resources for their organizations, and they want to help veterans transfer their leadership skills to the civilian sector.

This Veterans Day, let’s celebrate the social power and potential of our veterans, who are an asset to daily life in every community.

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King Cartoons

‘Tis the Season

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Front Royal
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Feels like: 29°F
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Humidity: 75%
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UV index: 0
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Upcoming Events

Nov
15
Fri
12:30 pm Kaine Connects in Front Royal @ Samuels Public Library, Lou Benson & Naomi Salus Conference Room
Kaine Connects in Front Royal @ Samuels Public Library, Lou Benson & Naomi Salus Conference Room
Nov 15 @ 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm
Kaine Connects in Front Royal @ Samuels Public Library, Lou Benson & Naomi Salus Conference Room
Dear Friends, On November 15, my staff will host Kaine Connects office hours in Front Royal from 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM. Although I can’t be there in person, this is a terrific opportunity to[...]
Nov
16
Sat
10:00 am Tech Bytes – Nontraditional Skil... @ LFCC
Tech Bytes – Nontraditional Skil... @ LFCC
Nov 16 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Tech Bytes - Nontraditional Skills needed in Cyber-security @ LFCC
One of the major trends in cyber attacks is cyber threat actors (CTAs) are successful in penetrating systems using humanistic approaches such as hacking the humans.  In order words, they get around advanced cyber defenses[...]
11:00 am Kooky Chefs Cook It Up: Thanksgi... @ Samuels Public Library
Kooky Chefs Cook It Up: Thanksgi... @ Samuels Public Library
Nov 16 @ 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Kooky Chefs Cook It Up: Thanksgiving Feast @ Samuels Public Library
Kids will get to feast on several classic Thanksgiving Day foods to get them ready for the holidays! They will also get to make a dish themselves. For ages 8 and up  Registration begins October[...]
5:30 pm Tails and Ales Cash Party @ Front Royal Moose Lodge
Tails and Ales Cash Party @ Front Royal Moose Lodge
Nov 16 @ 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Tails and Ales Cash Party @ Front Royal Moose Lodge
The 8th annual cash party fundraiser for the Humane Society of Warren County will be held at the Front Royal Moose Lodge on Saturday, November 16, 2019. Doors open at 5:30pm, and dinner will be[...]
Nov
18
Mon
5:00 pm FAFSA Party @ LFCC Middletown Campus
FAFSA Party @ LFCC Middletown Campus
Nov 18 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
FAFSA Party @ LFCC Middletown Campus
Join other college-bound students and their parents at LFCC for a FAFSA Party on the Middletown Campus on the following dates: Monday, Nov. 4 Thursday, Nov. 14 Monday, Nov. 18. Time: 5-7 p.m. Learn about[...]
Nov
19
Tue
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[...]
Nov
20
Wed
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[...]