Mon02082016

Last updateSat, 30 Dec 2017 9pm

Stratford Hall celebrates Lee birthday 1862-style

Stratford Hall celebrates Lee birthday 1862-style

Stratford Hall, the Westmoreland County plantation that was the home of the Lee family of Virginia, ...

CB Town Council revamps fees, regulations for special events in town

CB Town Council revamps fees, regulations for special events in town

Colonial Beach Town Council performed several house cleaning tasks during their Jan 14 meeting.

Drifters girls’ basketball topple Washington & Lee

Drifters girls’ basketball topple Washington & Lee

Before Washington & Lee could blink an eye, the Colonial Beach High Drifters offense had run all...

US pageant winner gets modeling shoot at Grove

US pageant winner gets modeling shoot at Grove

Belle Grove Plantation, the historic, luxury King George bed and breakfast that was the birthplace o...

School board sues Trinity Construction over contract dispute

The Colonial Beach School Board and the Colonial Beach School System have filed a lawsuit against Tr...

Unexpected death of Swamp Da Wamp leader casts pall

Unexpected death of Swamp Da Wamp leader casts pall

Fans of Gig Michaels, lead singer of the band Swamp Da Wamp, were shocked to hear of his death Jan 3...


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King George

SETTING

Planners OK plats for seversal projects

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

More stores and services are coming to King George Conty, with site plats and plans approved last week for a hotel, restaurant and more retail stores for Dahlgren as part of the King George Gateway Sh...

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Colonial Beach

SETTING

About $1.3 million available for needs

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

The Town of Colonial Beach has roughly $1.2 to $1.3 million set aside for capital improvements according to Mayor Mike Ham. The town vouncil met with town staff for four hours on Wed Jan 20 to decide ...

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Westmoreland

SETTING

Stratford Hall celebrates Lee birthday 1862-style

Tuesday, 19 January 2016
Stratford Hall celebrates Lee birthday 1862-style

Stratford Hall, the Westmoreland County plantation that was the home of the Lee family of Virginia, celebrated the birthday of famed Civil War General Robert E. Lee Saturday. Hundreds of area res...

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Sports

SETTING

Eagles look to get back on track after pre-snowfall loss

Tuesday, 26 January 2016
Eagles look to get back on track after pre-snowfall loss

Because of the 20-inch snowfall Friday and Saturday, the Washington & Lee boys basketball team, which has been exceeding expectations this year, probably won’t play again until Friday&r...

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Area Deaths

SETTING

Columnists

SETTING

What’s the problem with apology for slavery?

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

John Wayne, in the 1949 movie “She wore a Yellow Ribbon” plays a cavalry officer in who frequently says “Never apologize for anything.  It’s a sign of weakness.” We&...

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Office-for-rent Jrnl Bldg 20130925

“Anticipated litigation” threatened over HELP center

“Anticipated litigation” threatened over HELP center

YMCA, Tea Party communications and media correspondence

Project FAITH has issued a strong threat of legal action against King George County.

The threat of litigation is contained in a six-page letter which Project FAITH refers to as “Document Preservation Notice/Impending HELP Center Litigation” dated Sept. 10, along with a six-page attachment which provides further descriptions saying they are “relevant to anticipated litigation.”

That notice was penned by Stephen West, attorney to Project FAITH in regard to its proposed HELP Center project. Though originally sent via email on Sept. 10, a “corrected” version of the notice was resent by West two days later.

On Sept. 12, West said the replacement was sent after “several typographical errors” had been found in the first paragraph and added, “I ask that the Notice originally received by the County be replaced with the attached revised rendition, wherein the subject errors have been corrected.”

Nonetheless, the first sentence still had the wrong date of the only meeting between the two parties that included West, saying it had taken place on Aug. 21, when it had actually occurred two days later on Friday, Aug. 23.

Others at that meeting were Project FAITH executive director Froncé Wardlaw and two of her board members. They met with county administrator Travis Quesenberry and county attorney Eric Gregory.

West said that meeting spawned the existing disputes, saying it was “based on the positions taken on behalf of King George County…” during it.

The notice includes what appears to be largely boiler-plate language that provides instructions on the types of documents and treatment of their storage media that must be preserved by the county in the event that the threatened legal proceedings are in fact initiated by Project FAITH in regard to a proposed HELP Center.

60-DAY CURE PERIOD COMING TO END
In the meantime, the clock is ticking toward the end of a contractual 60-day “cure” period that began on Aug. 2 with a notice of default sent to Project FAITH by the county.

The notice of default was triggered by the failure of Project FAITH to meet an Aug. 1, 2013, deadline for commencement of construction of the HELP Center on land donated by the county.

The donated land parcel is 5.529 acres slated to revert back to the county if the default is not cured.

“Reversion” is the legal term used in the two guiding documents, a Performance Agreement and a Deed of Gift, for the county to reclaim the parcel of land if there is a default of those contracts. The parcel is located on the north side of Route 3 (Kings Hwy) across a side street from the new Sheriff’s office building.

As of this past Friday, Sept. 20, Project FAITH had not yet submitted the required documents or payment that would trigger issuance of a building permit or even for a land disturbance permit for any construction activity on the donated property.

NO RESPONSE FROM COUNTY
King George has not provided a response. West’s letter requested the county to confirm that the 12 pages of notice and instructions for records retention are being followed.

The county administration and all of its departments are well-versed in the definitions of public and exempt records retention and storage, as well as a legal requirement to produce them upon request, since it follows the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

Under West’s document preservation notice, the county is demanded to retain records relevant to the dispute in the event of a lawsuit.

CATEGORIES INCLUDE YMCA, TEA PARTY & MEDIA
There are at least a couple of interesting categories of documents that are requested to be preserved in case of a potential lawsuit by Project FAITH.  

The expected categories of documents are included, such as any directly relating to the proposed HELP Center documents, its design, leasing, funding, and default.

The categories also include communications between county board, supervisor or staff with local newspapers, including written or oral communications exchanged by county board, supervisor or staff about coverage of the HELP Center project.

They also include documents relating to communications regarding the HELP Center project involving county board, supervisor or staff and any individuals who may be affiliated in any way with the King George Tea Party.

Documents are also requested to be preserved relating in any way to communications regarding county land conveyance for the YMCA or construction funding, written or oral involving county board, supervisor or staff with Barney Reiley, Executive Director of the Rappahannock Area YMCA and other YMCA employees, representatives, etc.

APPLES & ORANGES?
When asked why the YMCA was of particular interest in a potential lawsuit by Project FAITH, Gregory said he would not speculate.

But it was Cedell Brooks who tried to draw a comparison between giving land in 2005 for a YMCA to operate and provide free pool time to the high school swim team forever, and giving land for a HELP Center to lease to government agencies and non-profits.

That was at a meeting on June 25, with a standing-room only audience and after lots of public comment against the HELP Center, when Brooks said, “When the YMCA came here there were no black members of the YMCA , and nobody said anything and we gave them – what was it?”

Ruby Brabo finished the sentence, chiming in, saying “20 acres of land and $4 million.”

FEDERAL CASE?

The Deed of Gift states, “The Grantee shall have an opportunity to cure any alleged default and to appear before the Board to contest the allegations. The Board’s decision shall be final, with the exception that neither party waives any rights that it may have at law.” Generally when contractual disputes are pursued, it is in the Circuit Court.

But West’s letter cites preservation of electronically-stored and paper records according to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Is West signaling that Project FAITH intends to file a civil rights action? When asked, Gregory told The Journal he’d rather not comment.

Though again, it was Brooks who pulled the race card during a meeting on Feb. 5. Wardlaw appeared at that meeting to request an extension to the contractual deadline for commencement of construction from Feb. 28 to Aug. 1, which was agreed to by a majority of Supervisors with Gregory directed to prepare amendments, which were approved at the following meeting.

But during the Feb. 5 meeting, Brooks blamed racism for negativity coming from some members of the public, not the board, saying, “A lot of negativity is coming from in the community and they have a lot of animosity because we gave this woman, an African-American woman, some land and they’ve got a problem with that. And I don’t care what nobody says – that’s what it’s all about.”

But it’s also true that numerous public comments have complained about public land being given away to build an office building while there are a growing number of empty storefronts and office space adding up to a large amount of available square footage for lease, sale or rent in the county due to the sluggish economy.

 

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