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Supervisors authorize county attorney to take action on HELP Center

If building footers not poured by Aug. 1

The King George Board of Supervisors took action last week to authorize the county attorney to start a time clock on Aug. 1 for potential reversion of the 5.53 acres of donated land back from Project FAITH, should footers not be poured for the proposed HELP Center’s four buildings.
The action came at the very end of the meeting on July 16.

The action by county officials sends a strong message to both Project FAITH officials and to the public that it is unanimous in its desire to strictly enforce all legal requirements regarding the proposed project and without acquiescing to let deadlines slip farther or grant any extensions.

It followed a closed session, for which the discussion of HELP Center legal matters was added to the agenda as a last-minute item earlier in the meeting.  

After 45 minutes, Supervisors came out from behind closed doors looking grim.

They voted unanimously to authorize “all actions authorized and provided for by the Project FAITH HELP Center property Deed of Gift and Performance agreement, and as amended,” should it not meet the Aug. 1 deadline for commencement of construction defined as “at least the pouring of all footers.”

Assuming that deadline is not met next week, county attorney Eric Gregory would be expected to immediately provide written notice to Project FAITH that it has defaulted.

The performance agreement with the county then allows 60 days for Project FAITH “to cure any such default before any reversion” shall take effect.

According to agreements, “The Board’s decision shall be final,” on the question of whether default is cured effectively.

REVERSION OF PROPERTY
Reversion is the action to return the donated land to the county due to failure of Project FAITH to meet its obligations under either or both of the two companion agreements with the county.

The commencement of construction by Aug. 1 is only one of numerous obligations listed for Project FAITH to meet. There are several other obligations enumerated in the companion agreements that also may not hold up to legal scrutiny.

REVERSION CLAUSE
The county “retains the right to reclaim the property through reversion of the property and all structures, appurtenances and improvements of any kind, in the event that Company does not meet all of its obligations under this Agreement and as set forth in the Deed.”

The documents also intend that Project FAITH must own and operate the facility in perpetuity, or reversion would occur. It states, “Company is solely responsible for the continued maintenance and operation of the Facility solely for its stated and intended purposes.”

If the land were to revert to the county, the county would also get the liability on the property and any improvements.

It is unclear what liability, if any, is counted by Project FAITH as having accrued to the land.

BOARD UNANIMOUS
Dahlgren Supervisor Ruby Brabo made the motion at last week’s meeting, which was seconded by James Monroe Supervisor John LoBuglio, both erstwhile supporters of the proposed project, along with Shiloh Supervisor Cedell Brooks.

Chairman Dale Sisson and James Madison Supervisor Joe Grzeika had both been skeptical all along that the project could obtain financing under the strict conditions of the deed of gift and performance agreement.
Those conditions also include a prohibition against “any and all for-profit and/or commercial uses” in the facility. That’s a tough lease restriction.

In making her motion, Brabo stated, “Since the current agreement with Project FAITH requires that they have footers in the ground by Aug. 1, and this board will not be convening again until Aug. 6, I’d like to make a motion to authorize the county attorney to take all actions authorized and provided for by the Project FAITH HELP Center property Deed of Gift and Performance agreement, and as amended.

POTENTIAL FRAUD
The three-vote margin by Brooks, Brabo and LoBuglio fell apart in early June after the whiff of potential fraud attached itself to Project FAITH executive director Froncé Wardlaw.

That’s when Wardlaw publicly took responsibility for an altered letter after she passed it on to Brabo to bolster the false notion that Rappahannock Community College (RCC) was still actively interested in becoming a major tenant in the proposed facility.

That had been the case back in March 2010, the date when the letter was written to show support for the project in applying for a different Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) three years ago.

Wardlaw had given Brabo a copy of the altered letter in early May. The first page of the letter had the date altered to read “2012,” while page two contained the original date in 2010.

That detail had been noticed by The Journal, after Brabo offered it to the paper. When RCC officials were asked about the letter, they quickly disavowed the altered letter when it became publicly known.

The knowledge of the alteration of the letter changed everything.

In addition to calling into question Wardlaw’s integrity, it also called into question the authenticity of other documents provided by Project FAITH to the county, including those that were provided by Wardlaw to be included in the county’s application for federal funding for the CDBG grant.

Brabo has distanced herself from Wardlaw since that time, telling The Journal on July 15 in response to a request for any recent correspondence with Project FAITH, “I do not respond to any emails Ms. Wardlaw sends me since learning the RCC document was altered.”

In addition, Project FAITH has also basically placed a gag on Wardlaw talking about the project, and not allowing her to speak at a “open community forum” earlier this month on July 11.

The slide presentation presented at that forum also provides several contradictions to what has been publicly stated by Wardlaw.

Phyllis Cook

 

 

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