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WATCH: Electric Cost Service Study overview



Town Council discusses the Electric Rate Study. Video/Photo by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

The Town of Front Royal has seen an increase in wholesale power cost over the past year to include transmission and congestion charges on the transmission network. This increase has prompted Town staff to engage GDS Associates to perform a Cost of Service Study to determine the appropriate rate structure to recover all costs.

Jacob Thomas and GDS Associates discuss the Cost of Service Study with a summary and recommendations for rate structure now and into the future.

For a better view of the slides, download the PDF here.

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Local Government

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



Town Manager Joe Waltz leads the discuss on Pedestrian Safety.

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

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

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

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

Now with Part 3, the Council discussed pedestrian safety.

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

Goal 5, Pedestrian safety:

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

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

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

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

The Royal Examiner’s camera was there:

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EDA in Focus

EDA Reform Committee weighs options as information being assembled



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Local Government

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



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

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

Goal 3 – Streets infrastructure improvements:

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

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

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

Goal 4 – I&I issues:

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

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

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

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

The Royal Examiner’s camera was there:

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

Front Royal grapples with pedestrian safety in wake of two fatalities

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

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EDA in Focus

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Goal 1 – The Afton Inn:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goal 2 – EDA:

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

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

The Royal Examiner’s camera was there:

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Local Government

Warren follows Frederick in approval of boundary adjustment



Warren County Administrator Doug Stanley points to a map indicating what was, and will now be following joint county approval of a boundary adjustment agreement between the North River and Opequon Districts of Warren and Frederick Counties. Royal Examiner Photo/Roger Bianchini . Video by Mark Williams.

After hearing from people on both sides of the county line, all urging them to approve the submitted Warren-Frederick County Boundary Adjustment as presented along Foster Hollow Road, the Warren County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the suggested agreement.

The unanimous vote accommodating the wishes of people who have incorrectly been listed in and paying taxes to, schooling children in, and voting in one county and state electoral district while actually being in the other for decades and sometimes generations, was achieved with less effort than on the other side of the municipal government divide.

Discussion indicated an earlier 4-3 split in favor of the agreement by the Frederick County Supervisors. Warren County Administrator Doug Stanley said the dissenting votes in Frederick came from elected officials who appeared to favor not changing a straight county line apparently lost to surveyors for over half a century that has at least theoretically been in place since Warren County was created out of a division of existing counties, including Frederick about three centuries ago.

However in the end the municipal majorities on both sides of the county line adhered to the expressed wishes of impacted residents whose community ties, while perhaps legally mistaken, were deep emotionally and in some cases professionally.

The boundary adjustment must now be forwarded to involved circuit courts for judicial approval.

One speaker who had long believed he had been a Warren County and Sixth State Congressional District resident and voter all his life, Sammy Campbell, told this reporter following the meeting he hopes the judicial approval comes quickly so he can vote in the upcoming November election for candidates he is familiar with.

See the public comments, board and staff discussion and vote in this Royal Examiner video:

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Local Government

Republicans prep for mayoral forum; deal with Sayre-Mabe canvass backlash



Two former mayors, Gene Tewalt, center, and Hollis Tharpe pictured at town council meeting in early 2017 will be facing off for mayor in the November 2019 Special Election to fill out the balance of the term Tharpe resigned from May 2. But will they face off Thursday, August 22, at the Republican Committee-sponsored Mayor’s Forum? Perhaps if Bébhinn Egger, left, returns to moderate – Royal Examiner File Photos/Roger Bianchini

Front Royal mayoral candidates Eugene Tewalt and Hollis Tharpe will have the opportunity to face off in a Candidates Forum held by the Warren County Republican Committee this Thursday, August 22.

However since by town charter and code Town elections are non-partisan – meaning candidates may not campaign under a party banner and their names may not carry a political party designation by them on the ballot – no party nomination is at stake. Rather candidates will simply be trying to court potential voters present for the event, and garner a Warren County Republican Committee endorsement.

Contacted two days before the mayoral forum scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Villa Avenue Community Center (aka the old library), former Mayor Hollis Tharpe said he planned to attend as a committee member but was undecided on participating in the forum surrounding a non-partisan election. Tharpe noted he remains a Republican County Committee member, an affiliation he said he has maintained since 2010.

The other person on the mayor’s ballot, Councilman and former Mayor Gene Tewalt said he would be present to participate. While a former committee member who noted he was endorsed by the local Republicans in his initial run for mayor, Tewalt said he let his Republican Committee membership lapse around 2010. He remains unaffiliated politically at this time.
Partisan pledge uproar

And while the Republican Committee waits to see how its planned mayoral pre-endorsement forum unfolds, it is also dealing with repercussions of the decision not to let independent
Shenandoah District Board of Supervisors candidate Walter Mabe’s wife vote in the party canvass of August 15.

Committee Chairman Steve Kurtz verified that Mabe’s Republican incumbent opponent Tom Sayre, present to help hand out ballots, identified Taffy Mabe entering the voting area. Sayre then approached Mrs. Mabe and asked if she was going to support Republican nominees in the November general election, which obviously include him as her husband’s opponent in the Shenandoah District supervisor’s race.

“No,” was reported by observers as her answer, one might imagine pointedly directed Sayre’s way.

As Ruth Clatterbuck listens Walt Mabe chats with Janice Hart, right, at July 12 candidate’s meet and greet at Strokes of Creativity Boutique & Studio on South Royal Ave. across from the Warren County Courthouse. Mabe is challenging incumbent Shenandoah District Supervisor Tom Sayre in November. Sayre in turn challenged Mabe’s wife’s right to vote in the recent Republican nominating canvass.

A source close to Mabe’s campaign said that Mrs. Mabe’s perception was that Sayre then declined to give her a ballot. However Kurtz said that Sayre looked his way for acknowledgement of a response and the committee chairman standing about 10 feet away, instructed that she not be given a ballot due to her response.

However Kurtz also said that Mrs. Mabe was the only person who showed up to vote in the canvass who was asked that question about general election party support. The committee chairman said he hoped to make a point that a Republican canvass should be for Republican voters.

However asked by this reporter at the canvass what the rules of participation were, Kurtz explained you had to be a registered voter and not show up online as having voted in a Democratic primary in the past several years.

We asked the committee chairman were it answered honestly, how many canvass voters of the nearly 600 who showed up he thought might have been lost had all been asked the same question Mrs. Mabe was about blanket party nominee support in November. In this volatile election season Kurtz admitted half, perhaps more.

Candidate stands outside the Aug. 15 Republican Canvass – why was only one visitor asked THE question?

Anything to be learned from this experience, we asked.

Not on the record apparently.

Republicans who have won their party’s nomination for the November ballot include Stephen Jerome, Circuit Court Clerk; John Bell, Commonwealth’s Attorney; Jamie Spiker, County Treasurer; Sherry Sours, Commissioner of the Revenue; Jason Poe for Sheriff; and Sayre, Delores Oates and Robert Hupman for Shenandoah, North River and South River County Supervisor seats, respectively.

Deputy Circuit Court Clerk Janice Shanks, who is currently serving as Circuit Court Clerk in the wake of Daryl Funk’s departure for a seat on the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court bench, has filed enough signatures with the Registrar’s Office to be included on the November ballot as an independent.

In the wake of her 15-vote loss to Silek Law firm attorney Jerome in last week’s Republican Canvass, Shanks has not responded to Royal Examiner inquiries about whether she intends to campaign as an independent for that office in November. If she does it would make it a three-way race. Former County Deputy Clerk Angie Moore, now in the Frederick County District Court Clerk’s Office, is on the November ballot as an independent in the Circuit Court Clerk’s race.

Poe is in a four-way Sheriff’s race with Democrat Jorge Amselle, and independents Mark Butler and Mickey Licklider; Oates is facing off against independent and former Town Councilman and Vice Mayor Shae Parker in the North River District; and Hupman is taking on independents Leslie Matthews and Cheryl Cullers in the South River District.

North River Supervisor and Board Chairman Dan Murray (R) and South River Supervisor Linda Glavis (I) have both announced their retirements and are not seeking reelection.

So as summer and political temperatures rise toward triple digits, stay tuned as Warren County and Front Royal move through an already volatile 2019 election season in the shadow of public discontent over “business as usual” in the wake of the Town-County Economic Development Authority financial fraud investigation and consequent civil and criminal cases stemming from it.

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Upcoming Events

4:30 pm Front Royal Salvation Army Corps... @ Salvation Army
Front Royal Salvation Army Corps... @ Salvation Army
Aug 24 @ 4:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Front Royal Salvation Army Corps BBQ Cookout @ Salvation Army
The Front Royal Salvation Army Corps will host a BBQ Cookout on Saturday, August 24, 2019, from 4:30 pm to 8:30 pm at 296 South Street, Front Royal. A BBQ chicken meal, including chips and[...]
1:30 pm Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
Aug 27 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
This four week course with the instructor, Elena Maza, will deal with the basic three-primary color palette, different pigments and how they interact, how to mix all colors from three primary colors, how to apply[...]
1:00 pm Substance Abuse and Recovery Summit @ Mountain Home Bed and Breakfast
Substance Abuse and Recovery Summit @ Mountain Home Bed and Breakfast
Aug 29 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Substance Abuse and Recovery Summit @ Mountain Home Bed and Breakfast
The McShin Foundation and RSW (Rappahannock, Shenandoah, and Warren County) Regional Jail would like to invite you to our substance abuse and recovery summit to be held on August 29, 2019, in Front Royal, Virginia.[...]
1:00 pm DJ Skyhigh’s End of Summer Blast @ Warren County Fair
DJ Skyhigh’s End of Summer Blast @ Warren County Fair
Aug 31 @ 1:00 pm – 9:00 pm
DJ Skyhigh's End of Summer Blast @ Warren County Fair
Come join DJ Skyhigh for his end of summer blast. Lisa Bell will be hosting wine tastings (at an additional charge) of over 50 international wines. Wines may also be purchased by the bottle to[...]
1:30 pm Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
Sep 3 @ 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
This four week course with instructor Elena Maza will focus on learning basic skills to create watercolor landscape paintings: basic composition and use of color and value to create a sense of depth and distance.[...]
1:30 pm Botanical Drawing @ Art in the Valley
Botanical Drawing @ Art in the Valley
Sep 4 @ 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Botanical Drawing @ Art in the Valley
Learn and practice the art of botanical drawing in pencil with local artist and instructor Elena Maza. This four session course will focus on learning basic drawing skills as applied to botanicals: basic line drawings[...]
10:00 am SHS Marching Band Mattress Fundr... @ Skyline High School
SHS Marching Band Mattress Fundr... @ Skyline High School
Sep 7 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
SHS Marching Band Mattress Fundraiser @ Skyline High School
Skyline High School Marching Band is having a mattress sale fundraiser on Saturday, September 7, 2019, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Skyline High School (151 Skyline Vista Drive, Front Royal, Virginia). There will[...]
12:00 pm 2019 NFL Kick Off Party @ Sly Fox Golf Club
2019 NFL Kick Off Party @ Sly Fox Golf Club
Sep 7 @ 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm
2019 NFL Kick Off Party @ Sly Fox Golf Club
Golf – “Captains Choice Format” 12pm Shotgun “Tail Gate” Food and Drinks – 5pm to 8pm Golf + Food & Drinks $45 Tail Gate Food & Drinks Only $15
1:00 pm Strokes of Creativity: 1-year ce... @ Strokes of Creativity
Strokes of Creativity: 1-year ce... @ Strokes of Creativity
Sep 7 @ 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Strokes of Creativity: 1-year celebration @ Strokes of Creativity
Join us for our 1-year celebration on Sept. 7 from 1-6 pm. We will have demos, and Artist meet and greets. Unique and one of kind items, face painting, crafts and Chase from Paw Patrol will[...]
6:00 pm FRUMC Celebrates Homecoming @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
FRUMC Celebrates Homecoming @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
Sep 7 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
FRUMC Celebrates Homecoming @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
In tandem with the 110th anniversary of the church building, the Front Royal United Methodist Church will host Homecoming ceremonies on Saturday and Sunday, September 7th and 8th. Five previous pastors have agreed to return[...]