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Tell us the truth, Froncé - “Ain’t nobody stupid here!”

The HELP Center project is required by its agreement with King George County to have “all the footings” in by August 1, 2013. That means it must have architectural drawings, a county building permit and a contractor already on the job by that time.

Supervisor Cedell Brooks says he isn’t going to give any more extensions on the timetable of the HELP Center performance agreement. Since he has been quoted as saying he decided to run for another term on the Board of Supervisors to help the Center, what takes place by Aug. 1 may be a game changer.

While the Board of Supervisors has let the project continue, even in view of the falsified letter from Rappahannock Community College showing its purported involvement with the Center, county residents will be left to see if Froncé Wardlaw, the HELP Center director, can make the deadline as it watches the game play out.

Wardlaw says she will hold an open forum at the University of Mary Washington Dahlgren Campus on July 11 when she will be providing listeners with the real scoop about the project. Hopefully, she won’t be providing platitudes instead of facts which has been her approach up to now.

At least, she should bring some of the following to the meeting:
First of all she should provide the public with a site plan which shows an honest representation of the tenants she plans to have in the project. Right now, in a site plan just approved by the Planning Commission, the HELP Center shows Rappahannock Community College (RCC) with 15,000 square feet of space. According to President Dr. “Sissy” Crowther, RCC is happy with its arrangement with King George County schools to have its students taught at the high school. RCC is providing dual enrollment for students who wish to get a leg up on their college work. And, as she told this writer, the school has no plans to be in the HELP Center project. That business decision of RCC either was not considered by Wardlaw as the site plan was developed, or she callously used RCC for her own purposes.

She should also explain to the participants at the meeting why she continues to show the Virginia Health Department as a tenant when the state has signed a ten year lease on another property.

Lastly, she should explain how and why she proceeds with a free clinic, in view of the fact that it has been turned down by the state for funding. Any free clinic will also be absorbing the effects of Obamacare, so questions about its viability certainly have to be on the table.

At Wardlaw’s open forum at UMW she should also provide copies of minutes from the HELP Center project. Recently a group of people, including Rich Lorey, who is running for the Board of Supervisors, had the Sheriff called on them when they attempted to get minutes from Wardlaw. Granted, they came to her office with their phone video recording the meeting, but when they returned the second time as she instructed them, the Sheriff was called and no minutes have even been provided. Since that time members of the group received a letter delivered by the Sheriff, barring them from going to the Project FAITH office. So far, the minutes are still not public.

Wardlaw should also bring to the meeting some actual figures to show how she plans to finance the project. Looking at her plans she does not have tenants who can pay the mortgage each month on an $8.4 million project, no matter how little interest the mortgage may carry. In addition, people would like to know from whom she borrowed $850,000 for the project and show how she has used the money.

As an aside, when Wardlaw first presented this project in 2010, she signed an option with this writer. At the time the project had some financial viability, as well as many doubters. Since that time, however, the recession has become a fact of life, the project has lost the tenants which would have supported it financially, and it is left with the county eventually being put in the position of having to finance the project. While many have asked Wardlaw for some proof of financial viability, she has yet to produce it. While the county has given her more than five acres of prime real estate, she has never provided any proof that she can be successful and won’t leave residents holding the bag.

There has to be an end of FAITH on the part of supervisors and some good old number crunching has to take place.

Lastly, residents should be spared the racial intimidation being put forth about this project. The gist of charge is if you question the project, you are a racist. Brooks said, “Tell me that’s not color. You say what you want. Ain’t nobody stupid here.”

Look at the facts: as a black female Wardlaw has successfully navigated three projects for Project FAITH worth approximately $22 million. That fact, alone, should dispel any words Brooks, or Wardlaw herself, might utter as to possible discrimination because of her gender or race. She has been out there playing with the “Big Boys” financially for years and doing a great job.

While there will always be vestiges of racism in our lifetimes, King George has navigated the integration of the races as well as any community in Virginia. It should be proud of its efforts.

People are proud of Wardlaw for her successes. The HELP Center, however, is not financially viable.
Wardlaw knows this. King George County knows this. County residents know this.

If this is not true, Froncé, prove to your listeners on July 11 that the project has financial viability. We are all waiting for the truth.

Tell us that for once. Ain’t nobody stupid here.

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