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Warren County Circuit Court receives land record preservation grant

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Daryl L. Funk, Clerk of Court, holds Minute Book A, which accounts the first meeting of the Justices of the Peace for the newly formed county of Warren in 1836.

The Warren County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office recently received a Circuit Court Records Preservation (CCRP) grant to preserve important historical records. Daryl L. Funk, Clerk of Court, said in a written statement that the grant was in the amount of $8,713.00, and was used to preserve documents of particular significance to the heritage of Warren County natives.

Foremost among the records preserved, is the “Map of the Proposed Shenandoah National Park, May 1932.” Previously located in the cover of Deed Book 38 and folded up, this map is a critical historical document of local importance showing the human impact of the park’s creation. 74 property owners and countless more family members and undocumented renters were forced from their homesteads for an uncertain future.

A replica of the 1932 map will eventually hang in the Warren County land records room, thanks to a grant to restore the original document.

With their homes razed, this 1932 map represents one of the few official records proving that the community once existed. As part of this grant, a replica has also been produced. Funk said in a written statement that it would eventually be displayed in the land records room.

Minute Book A before preservation

The grant also provided for restoration of Minute Book A, which features the only known written account of the first meeting of the Justices of the Peace for the newly formed county of Warren in 1836. That meeting, according to Funk, shaped the future of Warren County. Prior to preservation, several pages of Minute Book A were loose and severely tattered.

Minute Book A after preservation

Finally, Deed Book H, containing Warren County deeds and other important records related to real property from the year 1860, received treatment in the latest preservation techniques and has also been stored in an electronic format.

Funk stated, “One of the Clerk’s foremost responsibilities is to ensure that the record of legal proceedings in Warren County is maintained for posterity. My office is the custodian of those records, and I take this duty seriously. This grant will ensure that a small but significant piece of our heritage is available to future generations.”

The General Assembly amended the Code of Virginia in 1990 to fund preservation of permanent circuit court records. The grants are administered by the Library of Virginia in cooperation with the Virginia Circuit Court Clerks Association.

Deed Book H and Minute Book A after preservation

Funk added, “While I am pleased that we were able to meet my goals for last year, my office is looking forward. We have already submitted the application for the 2018 grant cycle.

Mr. Funk’s office received a grant in 2017, in the amount of $2,463.50, which was used to preserve Deed Book 5. That volume contains all Warren County deeds and other important records related to real property from the year 1901.

Applications completed by Clerks from around Virginia are forwarded to the Circuit Court Records Preservation Grants Review Board for evaluation based on merit and need. The board is comprised of at least three circuit court clerks, the State Archivist, and the Government Records Services Division Director.

Funds received are processed through the Warren County Finance Department.

Local News

Six-vehicle crash in Frederick County shuts down Route 37, injures deputy

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FREDERICK COUNTY – A Friday afternoon six-vehicle crash in Frederick County sent multiple victims to Winchester Medical Center for treatment and shut down Route 37 Southbound between the Winchester Medical Center and Route 50 exits for about two hours.

A Frederick County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) cruiser was one of the vehicles involved in the accident, which occurred around 3:15 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14. Initial reports indicated that a deputy may have been struck while on a traffic stop or otherwise engaged in law enforcement activity on the shoulder of the highway, as those calling 9-1-1 saw the cruiser off the road along with a semi tractor-trailer. A media release from Frederick County Sheriff Lenny Milholland’s office stated that the FCSO cruiser was one of the six vehicles involved in the crash but was traveling southbound with the other victims, and not stationary along the shoulder of the road.

In addition to the police cruiser, four passenger vehicles and commercial motor vehicle were involved in the accident. Six drivers and two passengers were evaluated on scene by rescue personnel and four drivers and both passengers were then transported to Winchester Medical Center for treatment.

The FCSO deputy, whose vehicle was struck in the driver’s side with heavy impact was trapped in her vehicle and had to be extricated by Frederick County Fire and Rescue personnel before being transported to WMC.

Lieutenant Warren Gosnell of the FCSO Traffic Division is heading up the investigation of the crash stating, “Multiple witnesses and drivers have confirmed the presence of a seventh vehicle that is believed to have been the catalyst of the crash and that subsequently fled the scene. This crash had the potential to be deadly and we are all thankful that those being treated appear to be suffering from only a minor injury.”

Gosnell stated that, based on driver and witness statements, it appears the seventh vehicle had been seen driving in an erratic manner and was possibly being observed by the deputy when the driver suddenly stopped in the roadway on his own.
“We have several independent reports that a black passenger vehicle stopped in the middle lane for reasons unknown causing everyone behind him to brake hard and starting the chain reaction crash,” Gosnell concluded.

Gosnell identified the deputy involved as Deputy Kristen E. Bradford, a three-year veteran of the agency, who is also a member of the Traffic Division. He said that Deputy Bradford was admitted to Winchester Medical Center for further treatment and evaluation for a concussion and non-life-threatening injuries.

Sheriff Lenny Millholland added, “The good Lord was watching down on those involved in this incident today and we are so very thankful for that and for all the well wishes Kristen and our other deputies have received from members of the public.”

Millholland continued, “It’s one of the worst calls you can receive, as a Sheriff or Chief, that one of your people has been involved in a crash and is hurt. I’m proud of our people and how they responded to the scene yesterday and took care of Kristen while also doing their jobs.”

Gosnell went on to say, “At this time, based on the investigation and statements given by drivers, passengers, and witnesses, none of the six drivers involved will be charged.”

Lieutenant Gosnell said anyone with information regarding the identity of the black vehicle or the male driver involved in the incident should contact the Frederick County Sheriff’s Department.

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McShin Foundation, AG Mark Herring help launch RSW Jail rehab program

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RSW Jail Superintendent Russ Gilkison greets McShin Foundation President John Shinholser, left, and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring to the rehab program kickoff. Photos/Roger Bianchini

State Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring visited the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren (RSW) Regional Jail on Friday, December 14, along with several local and state Republicans including Delegate Todd Gilbert, R-15th and county Supervisor and RSW Authority Board member Dan Murray. The occasion was the launching of a McShin Foundation substance-abuse rehab program at the jail.

The event was cited as a bipartisan effort to help fight a drug-abuse problem that knows no partisan boundaries as it sweeps across the nation blind to economic or social class, racial or ethnic heritage.

Jails aren’t often thought of as ‘houses of hope’ – but a new peer-to-peer McShin Foundation-sponsored rehab program’s goal is just that – bring hope to inmates whose battle with addiction has led to criminality.

Event organizers were John Shinholser (McShin President), Christopher Ronquest (Virginia Recovery and Re-Entry Project Director), Kate Obenshain Keeler (McShin Advisory Council) and RSW Jail Superintendent Russ Gilkison, in collaboration with SAMHSA, Recovery Connection, and Grace Downtown.

The afternoon gathering of social and political luminaries from around Virginia celebrated the opening of an innovative, peer-to-peer based program designed to help facilitate the recovery journey for incarcerated individuals with Substance Use Disorders. RSW Superintendent Gilkison was lauded for bringing the program to the facility.

“This is a coming together – thank you so much for opening up this jail for this program,” Obenshain Keeler told Gilkison. In her opening remarks, Obenshain Keeler noted that she had once been part of the “lock them up and throw away the key” contingent regarding drug abuse until it struck close to home – in fact, in her home in the person of her oldest child. She called her experience an eye-opening “walk through the Gates of Hell” and dismissed political differences in approaching the drug problem as “ridiculous”.

McShin Foundation Advisory Council member Kate Obenshain Keeler told the crowd it’s easy to stereotype drug abusers until you are confronted with the reality of substance abuse close to home.

Gilbert agreed. The Shenandoah County-based Republican House delegate referenced his legal experience on both sides of the prosecution and defense fence. He said particularly from his work as a defense attorney he felt that “99.8% of the people in the criminal justice system are simply struggling with issues” ranging from how they were brought up to how they learned to cope with problems on the streets.

Virginia Attorney General Herring called the mission to help Virginia citizens rehabilitate their lives “a very personal one” from his role at the top of the state legal apparatus – “This is something that can happen to any of us.”

Noting the large percentage of people present who had raised their hands when asked to acknowledge they were in long-term recovery from substance abuse, Herring said, “What gives me hope – YOU. I don’t see a room full of bad people.”

The attorney general noted his department’s intention of filing suit against one pharmaceutical company – Purdue Pharma, manufacturer of myriad opioid-based products including OxyContin – for misleading advertising about those products.

Attorney General Mark Herring drew an appreciative reaction when he told the crowd of his office’s intention of filing suit against one pharmaceutical company a justice department investigation was ready to prosecute for intentionally minimizing the addictive qualities of its product.

Online research indicates a 2006 government report concluded that while Purdue Pharma knew about “significant” abuse and addictive patterns of behavior by OxyContin users in the first years after the drug’s introduction in 1996, it concealed that information and continued to promote the drug as “less addictive”.

“Based on their findings after a four-year investigation, the prosecutors recommended that three top Purdue Pharma executives be indicted on felony charges, including conspiracy to defraud the United States that could have sent the men to prison if convicted. But top Justice Department officials in the George W. Bush administration did not support the move, said four lawyers who took part in those discussions or were briefed about them. Instead the government settled the case in 2007,” a report summary stated.

I guess some are slow to learn the non-partisan lessons of drug abuse – and responsibility, even corporate, for pushing addictive drugs for profit.

The media spoke with Attorney General Herring prior to the official start of Friday’s program.

AG Herring stressed a multi-faceted statewide response to substance abuse, mixing education and prevention with recovery and hope for the future.

“Addiction has its roots in the medicine cabinet – so addiction can happen to any of us,” Herring said, echoing a theme that would be repeated often during the coming introductory program. “And so it is critical that we have a multi-faceted response, which we have, and a key piece of it is treatment and recovery. And I have come to know the recovery community well over the years and seen how peer-to-peer services like what McShin does is very often the key to successful recovery. And we’re going to work really hard to get information out through our education and prevention efforts about the dangers of opioids, how addictive these drugs are; but also a key part of the message is that it is possible to live a successful life through recovery.

“And a lot of people have had the courage to reach out for help, and you know it’s hard work but there are a lot of people who are willing to help. And that kind of support is really essential in order to help people recover. So, the message is twofold – not only do we want to let people know about the danger of these drugs, but also that there is hope for recovery.”

McShin Foundation President John Shinholser moderated the RSW Jail rehab program launch event before and appreciative audience.

The Virginia Recovery and Re-Entry Project, facilitated by The McShin Fountain, is part of the Building Communities of Recovery (BCOR) funding opportunity from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Through this project, two new Substance Use Disorder Recovery Programs are being implemented in RSW Regional Jail and Riverside Regional Jail.

In addition, a re-entry component to the project will take place through The McShin Foundation in Richmond, VA, providing housing and recovery support services to individuals as they re-enter society. Through this project, the participating organizations hope to reduce the rate of recidivism and the negative consequences created by Substance Use Disorders by providing authentic peer-to-peer services and a multi-disciplinary approach to recovery.

The McShin Foundation was founded in 2004 and is Virginia’s leading non-profit, full-service Recovery Community Organization (RCO), committed to serving individuals and families in their fight against Substance Use Disorders.

Special acknowledgement was given to the team that would bring the program to RSW inmates and program co-sponsors from the Recovery Connection and Grace Downtown. One of those team members, known as “Cricket”, spoke of how “something clicked in me” when the type of message of hope he is now bringing to others, was first delivered to him in a time of need for rehabilitative guidance.

Surrounded by fellow program team members, ‘Cricket’ explains how he received the message of hope for long-term recovery he now helps pass on to others.

Cricket pointed to 23 volunteers bringing the program to RSW – “every one in long-term recovery” as both McShin President Shinholser and the event invocation Pastor Brad Hill of Grace of Downtown in Winchester both acknowledged they were.  As one of the principals of the Winchester-based Recovery Connection Program told the crowd, “I celebrate another day clean so I can show up to give a message of hope to others.”

Warren County North River Supervisor and RSW Authority Board Member Dan Murray, left, greets Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring at the rehab program launch event.

RSW Superintendent Russ Gilkison, left, and Del. Todd Gilbert, right, flank the food table security line. Gilbert and Kate Obenshain Keeler appear to have spotted a potential table raider in the media ranks.

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Community Events

WATCH: Randolph-Macon Academy’s 2018 Christmas Concert

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Photo and video by Mike McCool, Royal Examiner

The Randolph-Macon Academy (R-MA) Christmas Band Concert was on Sunday, December 16th at 4:00 pm. This free concert took place in Boggs Chapel on the R-MA campus.

The Royal Examiner’s camera was there to capture the event. Sitting in the balcony in Boggs Chapel provides a birds-eye view, but the sound is wonderful. It’s quite a distance to the stage and the camera might jump and the microphone may not capture the sounds as it really is – but it was enjoyable, so sit back and enjoy this Christmas moment.

The Virginia 091 Air Force Junior ROTC band consistently wins awards throughout the East Coast; most recently, the band won first place for junior/senior high school bands in the 93rd Alsatia Mummer’s Parade held in Hagerstown, Maryland on October 27th.

We spoke with RMA BandMaster Ed Richards after the concert.

Reminder that the American Legion Community Band will present its annual Christmas Concert on Tuesday, December 18, 2018 at 7:30 pm in the R-MA Chapel in Front Royal.  It will be a free concert although a love offering will be collected for the local C-CAP charity. There will be music to please everyone, including traditional carols, a beautiful chorale and light-hearted selections sure to delight kids and grown-ups alike. Take time to enjoy the beauty of the season and welcome Christmas with the celebration of music.

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EDA in Focus

EDA board removes executive director’s authority to sign checks, contracts

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Flanked by Ron Llewellyn, left, and Chairman Gray Blanton, Executive Director Jennifer McDonald responds to a query during a regular meeting shortly before the EDA board adjourned to a 3-3/4 hour closed session during which past and future financial processes were under scrutiny. Photos/Roger Bianchini

FRONT ROYAL – After a nearly 3-3/4-hour closed session Friday morning (Dec. 14) the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority Board of Directors passed two resolutions removing EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald from contract and check-writing authority and from administrative authority over the EDA’s bank accounts.

The board shifted the bank account administrative function to board Treasurer Thomas Patteson and check and contract-writing authority to a pool of two of three board officers – Chairman Gray Blanton, Vice-Chairman Bruce Drummond or Treasurer Patteson – “after review by legal counsel”.

The closed session was convened during the board’s regular monthly meeting at 8:35 a.m. McDonald was excluded from the session at 9:50 a.m., about the point it reached discussion of “accounting services” related to discussion of “EDA loan programs, EDA debt service and new market tax credit program.”

Those programs and processes have come into question in the wake of the Town of Front Royal Finance Director’s discovery of years of overpayments by the town government to the EDA. Those overpayments were initially cited at about $291,000, though a final figure has yet to be determined.

Following that 3-3/4 hour closed session, what was left of the EDA board passed two resolutions reducing the executive director’s role in check and contract signing and administrative oversight of EDA bank accounts.

Following the closed session, EDA Attorney Dan Whitten downplayed the financial signatory and oversight changes as administrative suggestions made in the wake of the recent auditor and accounting reviews. Blanton agreed, calling the changes “a tightening up” of some processes to fix recently discovered mistakes.

Queried after the monthly morning meeting’s adjournment at 12:34 p.m. board Chairman Blanton said McDonald had been excluded during the discussion “because sometimes people become defensive” about altering processes they are used to.

However, asked about the changes during a special meeting called for 4 p.m. that afternoon to discuss her job performance, McDonald was not at all defensive about the earlier process changes approved by the board.

“It’s time for a change because the responsibility shouldn’t fall on one person,” she said of recently-discovered inaccuracies in the EDA’s accounting processes. She also noted that EDA checks have always been signed by two people and did not take issue that she would no longer be one of them.

Asked earlier about the accounting discrepancies uncovered by the Town, McDonald told Royal Examiner, “We have acknowledged the issue and are working on it and are committed to making it right.”

No action was taken following the 4 p.m. special meeting comprised entirely of a closed session that lasted one-hour-and-20-minutes and which McDonald was a participant in other than a portion toward the end, after which she was called back in.

The closed session adjourned shortly after that with a motion read into the record acknowledging that only matters cited in convening it had been discussed – those matters cited as performance-related discussion “limited to the executive director position.”

Blanton explained the necessity of the second, afternoon meeting due to McDonald’s absence to discuss the changes authorized following the conclusion of the morning closed session. Excluded from the closed meeting at the time, McDonald left hurriedly at 10:15 a.m. after receiving a call about a family medical emergency. However, she was able to return for the 4 p.m. session.

It’s just a little shift of authority and oversight toward the board side, Chairman Gray Blanton later explained of the resolutions regarding the executive director.

After the 5:20 p.m. adjournment of that afternoon session, Chairman Blanton said, “We did talk about her performance – yes. It was all the things the auditor brought up we didn’t have total explanations for. We’re getting those – we got half of them now and we’ll get the other half later. We’re going to find out what went wrong; get the Town their money as soon as we can come up with that figure.”

Related story: Resolution commends Town staff for uncovering overpayments to EDA

Blanton acknowledged that auditors are also exploring the EDA’s finances regarding County projects to see if there are mistakes on that side of the ledger as well.

The morning closed session went on so long that both board Chairman Blanton and Vice-Chairman Drummond left due to other commitments prior to its completion. In fact, Chairman Blanton returned about the time the board reconvened to regular session at 12:17 p.m. However, board members Greg Drescher and Mark Baker left for other commitments as the regular meeting moved toward adjournment at 12:34 p.m. after the four resolutions presented all passed without a dissenting vote.

A third resolution passed following the morning closed session included McDonald with Chairman Blanton and Vice-Chairman Drummond in a retroactive authorization to execute modifications to loans with United Bank related to three projects. Those modifications included: reduction of the Leach Run Parkway debt from about $7.165-million to $933,417; an increase in the Ressie Jeffries Elementary School capital improvement debt from $5.421 million to $5.651 million; and an increase in the Avtex Restructure from about $1.179 million to $3.302 million.

McDonald explained that while executing an early-summer board decision to alter a group loan into individual categories for refinancing that some totals had been incorrectly entered – “The decision today was to separate each and correct those mistakes,” she said.

A fourth resolution approved by the board authorized Chairman Blanton or Vice-Chairman Drummond to execute a contract to install a new entrance sign at the Kelley Industrial Park at a cost not to exceed $20,000.

Also discussed at the morning closed session was a part-time public relations position that came open with the recent retirement of Marla Jones who had stayed on in a part-time capacity after retiring from full-time work last year.

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Local News

Welcome the FOOD DUDE to the Royal Examiner

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

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

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Crime/Court

Child endangerment and drug arrest in Linden

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

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

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

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

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

Secor was arrested and charged with the following:

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

Morris was arrested and charged with the following:

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

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

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10:00 am Paper Sculpture Party: Koi Fish @ Art in the Valley
Paper Sculpture Party: Koi Fish @ Art in the Valley
Dec 17 @ 10:00 am – 12:30 pm
Paper Sculpture Party: Koi Fish @ Art in the Valley
Create your own 5″ x 7″ koi fish paper sculpture with your friends! Schedule your own party for up to 8 people (3-person minimum). No drawing skills are necessary. Artist Tiffany Budzisz will walk you[...]
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Volunteer Info Session – Child A... @ Middle of Main
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Learn how you can help ensure abused and neglected children find safe, loving, and permanent homes.  The first step to becoming a CASA volunteer is to attend an Information Session. There, you will have the[...]
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9:00 am 2019 Dare to Dream Grant Applica... @ Front Royal Women’s Resource Center
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Front Royal Women’s Resource Center (FRWRC) Now Accepting Applications for 2019 DARE TO DREAM GRANTS (Take classes, start a business, purchase a computer, learn a new skill, train for a profession, start a non-profit, anything[...]
10:00 am Paper Sculpture Party: Dragon @ Art in the Valley
Paper Sculpture Party: Dragon @ Art in the Valley
Dec 18 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Paper Sculpture Party: Dragon @ Art in the Valley
Create your own 5″ x 7″ dragon paper sculpture with your friends! Schedule your own party for up to 8 people (3-person minimum). No drawing skills are necessary! Artist Tiffany Budzisz will walk you through[...]
4:00 pm Introduction to Watercolor Paint... @ Art in the Valley
Introduction to Watercolor Paint... @ Art in the Valley
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Introduction to Watercolor Painting: 5-Session Course, December Session @ Art in the Valley
This class provides a hands-on experience for painting with watercolors, and meets on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons (5 sessions). During each class we will work to build a solid foundation in technique. Materials are provided,[...]