Wed09172014

Last updateThu, 19 Nov 2015 8pm

   20140901MetroCastweb

County opens $9M judicial center

The new Westmoreland County Judicial Center — a facility that has been in the planning stages for 25...

Longtime educator takes over at W&L High School

Longtime educator takes over at W&L High School

When Dashan Turner was a boy growing up in a small town in Mississippi, one of his teachers told him...

Montross council productive July meeting

On July 22, Montross Town Council quickly took care of electing officers for the new fiscal year. R....

Westmoreland County’s Parker Farms Supplies Produce to East Coast

Westmoreland County’s Parker Farms Supplies Produce to East Coast

Parker Farms, headquartered near Oak Grove with 2,000 acres of produce growing along the Rappahannoc...

“Bridge Closed” signs up on Rt 205

“Bridge Closed” signs were posted this week on State Route 205 in Westmoreland County as the Virgini...

14-year-old equipment endangering lives

Oak Grove VFD Chief Mike Gutridge recently advised that he is very concerned about the decaying cond...

 

 eyecareofva201403-web

 

Office-for-rent Jrnl Bldg 20130925

Bank of Essex acquires failed Maryland bank

   The Tapppahannock-based Bank of Essex acquired its second failed financial institution last Friday, according to the press release issued by FDIC on January 30. Its first acquisition of a failed financial institution occurred on November 21, 2008.
   “Suburban Federal Savings Bank, Crofton, Maryland, was closed today by the Office of Swift Supervision and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was named receiver,” the January 30 press release begins.
   “To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Bank of Essex, Tappahannock, Virginia, to assume all of the deposits of Suburban Federal.
   “The failed bank’s seven offices will reopen on Saturday as branches of Bank of Essex. Depositors of Suburban Federal will automatically become depositors of Bank of Essex. Deposits will continue to be insured by the FDIC, so there is no need for customers to change their banking relationship to retain their deposit insurance coverage. Customers of both banks should continue to use their existing branches until Bank of Essex can fully integrate the deposit records of Suburban Federal.
   “Over the weekend, depositors of Suburban Federal can access their money by writing checks or using ATM or debit cards. Checks drawn on the bank will continue to be processed. Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.
   “As of September 30, 2008, Suburban Federal had total assets of approximately $360 million and total deposits of $302 million. In addition to assuming all of the failed bank’s deposits, Bank of Essex agreed to purchase approximately $348 million in assets at a discount of $45 million. The FDIC will retain the remaining assets for later disposition.
   “The FDIC and the Bank of Essex entered into a loss-share transaction. Bank of Essex will share in the losses on the asset pools covered under the loss-share agreement. The loss-sharing arrangement is expected to maximize returns on the assets covered by keeping them in the private sector. The agreement also is expected to minimize disruptions for loan customers as they will maintain a banking relationship.”
“The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund will be $126 million. Bank of Essex’s acquisition of all deposits was the ‘least costly’ resolution for the FDIC’s Deposit Insurance Fund compared to alternatives.
   “Suburban Federal is the fifth bank to fail in the nation this year. The last bank to be closed in Maryland was Second National Federal Savings Bank, Salisbury, on December 4, 1992.
   “Congress created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in 1933 to restore public confidence in the nation’s banking system. The FDIC insures deposits at the nation’s 8,384 banks and savings associations and it promotes the safety and soundness of these institutions by identifying, monitoring and addressing risks to which they are exposed. The FDIC receives no federal tax dollars – insured financial institutions fund its operations.”
   An Interned web search of Bank of Essex and FDIC uncovered a similarly styled FDIC press release with the November 21, 2008 date addressing a Bank of Essex acquisition of a failed financial institution on the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia that had failed.
   “The Community Bank, Loganville, Georgia, was closed today by the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was named receiver,” the November 2008 FDIC release began.
   “To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Bank of Essex, to assume all of the deposits of The Community Bank.
   “The Community Bank’s four branches will open on Monday, November 24, 2008 as Bank of Essex. Depositors of the failed bank will automatically become depositors of Bank of Essex.”
   “As of October 17, 2008, The Community Bank had total assets of $681 million and total deposits of $611.4 million. Bank of Essex purchased approximately $8.4 million of The Community Bank’s assets, and did pay the FDIC a premium of $3.2 million for the right to assume the failed bank’s deposits. The FDIC will retain the remaining assets for later disposition.”
   “The transaction is the least costly resolution option, and the FDIC estimates that the cost to its Deposit Insurance Fund will be between $200 million and $240 million. The Community Bank is the twentieth FDIC-insured institution to be closed nationwide, and the third in Georgia, this year.”
   Congress adopted the economic bailout legislation known as TARP on October 7, 2008. Additional Internet research resulted in more detailed information concerning the two failed Bank of Essex acquisitions.
   For over fifty years Suburban Federal Savings Bank of Crofton, Maryland, specialized in residential lending but the financial institution became critically undercapitalized when the mortgage boom turned sour.
   The result was a capital to risky assets ration of 3.09 percent on September 30, 2008. Adequate capitalization requires that ration to be 8 percent or higher.
   Suburban Federal Savings Bank lost a reported $4.5 million in the third quarter of 2008. Over 11 percent of its loans were noncurrent and on September 30 the establishment had funds to cover only 14 percent of the noncurrent loans. The cited figures were five times the industry average for the third quarter of 2008.
   The Federal Office of Thrift Supervision that closed Suburban Federal Savings Bank last Friday evening faulted that financial institution’s Board of Directors for its failure to appropriately oversee the “aggressive” lending practices that occurred between 2005 and September 2008.
   Mortgage loans were issued without appropriate proof of a borrower’s financial resources and the lending program was extended to residential construction, development and land loans. During 2006 some of those mortgages were becoming toxic. During the third quarter of 2007 the troubled assets resulted in a loss of capital.
    February 2007 OTS examined Suburban Federal Savings Bank and noted a spike in troubled assets. The thrift was subsequently banned from issuing additional loans for residential construction, acquisition and development or land.
An August 2007 examination of the establishment’s books revealed worsening conditions and in March 2008 a public order was issued for the establishment to cease its “unsafe and unsound” real estate lending practices.
    prospective Dutch insurer reportedly considered acquiring Suburban in November 2008, exploring its qualifications for what is known as the TARP Capital Purchase Plan. According to the economic recovery measure adopted by Congress on October 7. 2008, the U.S. Treasury has the standing to purchase stock in banks.
   When Bank of Essex acquired Suburban Federal Savings Bank, a loss-sharing agreement with FDIC requires Bank of Essex to cover only limited losses on the purchased assets. The FDIC will cover any losses suffered by Bank of Essex that exceed the limit whose value may never be released for public dissemination. According to the available information, Suburban Federal Savings Bank engaged in lending practices that will cost the FDIC $126 million and its acquisition by Bank of Essex was the most cost effective remedy.
   The Community Bank in Loganville, Georgia had a similar history. Its seizure last November resulted from falling home prices and a rising incidence of foreclosures as ever more mortgages assumed a toxic character.
   The Bank of Essex is headquartered on Prince Street in Tappahannock. Its Internet website relates the existence of “thirteen convenient locations” in Virginia, along with a statement that Bank of Essex is “building upon a foundation of community bank values.”

Betsy Ficklin

O’Gara Group may pull away from Westm'd County deal

   The word on the street this Monday was that the O’Gara Group might be changing its plans to locate a security training facility in the Westmoreland County Industrial Park.
   County officials approved a purchase contract on January 12 that would allow O’Gara Group to buy the publicly owned industrial shell building and the remaining 25 acres of industrial park property for development as a security training school.
The contract with the local government was contingent on the prospective buyer’s ability to purchase an adjacent 325-acre tract, but District 2  Westmoreland Supervisor Russ Culver advised The Journal this Monday afternoon that there may be problems with the purchaser’s ability to obtain the necessary financing.
   O’Gara’s purchase contract with the local government names S. Bryan Chandler as the owner of the adjacent 325-acre tract. O’Gara would pay Westmoreland County $679,178 in certified funds at settlement. Five percent of the total purchase price was delivered to Westmoreland County as a non-refundable deposit when the purchase contract was approved.
   Settlement was to occur within thirty days of the end of what the contract described as a feasibility period. A closer look at the contract’s feasibility section discloses conditions that would reverse the so-called non-refundable character of the buyer’s $33,959 deposit to Westmoreland.
According to the contract, the purchaser was given a 60-day feasibility period “to determine, in [the purchaser’s] sole discretion, through engineering and feasibility studies, i[f] its location, intended use of, and financing of the property are practical.
   “If within said period, Purchaser notifies Seller or an agent of Seller in writing by either facsimile or certified mail, that his plan, in his sole and absolute judgment, is not practical, this Contract is to be considered null and void [and] Purchaser shall be entitled to a return of its Deposit.”
According to this reporter’s understanding of Supervisor Russ Culver’s February 2 comments on the subject, O’Gara had an option contract on the adjacent 325-acre tract and had expected to raise the money to buy the land by engaging in a public offering during February 2009.
The plans went awry when the Securities Exchange Commission advised O’Gara Group that it cannot have a public contract while it is offering shares.
“So they put another contract in with Bryan Chandler,” Culver stated.
   The Supervisor went on to relate that O’Gara’s plans “may stall because of a problem getting money from the bank. They needed $12 to $20 million, so they wanted to have a public offering.”
    Monday afternoon Culver continued to encourage the Westmoreland Citizens Association to host a meeting in which O’Gara Group would meet with county residents to answer questions and make their intentions better understood.
Earlier on Monday the Association’s officers held a meeting and decided not to become involved as an intermediary between O’Gara and the public.
   “People are unhappy that the county government kept this from the public,” Association President Kennon Morris related. “If there is a problem with the people, it’s the fault of the county government. Let them schedule a meeting with O’Gara and the people, if that is what they really want.”
Culver said he asked the Association to schedule a meeting with O’Gara because he said he felt the purchaser’s difficulty in obtaining financing can provide an opportunity for the local government to revisit the matter and give the public an opportunity to deliver input and have their questions answered.
According to Culver’s reading of the purchase contract, O’Gara “has 30 days to come in and make the contract valid.
   “The problem,” said Culver, “is that right now everything is up in the air. It’s important to get a meeting with a lot of people in attendance. If O’Gara Group could have an opportunity to give us honest answers, I feel certain they could alleviate a lot of fears.”
   Although Senator Richard Stuart represented O’Gara Group on January 12, the previously referenced contract lists M .R. Foley & Associates, LLC of Richmond as the agent of the purchaser.
   The county government purchased its industrial park property at a cost of $361,844.25. The park’s shell building cost $461,995 to construct and $25,000 was expended for architectural and engineering fees.
   It was Northern Neck Electric Cooperative that carried the cost of the industrial shell building’s construction. Over a period of 9.61 years Westmoreland County paid the Cooperative $4,000 each month and the final payment on the building’s debt service was made just prior to the county government’s January 12 approval of the purchase contract with O’Gara.
   In addition to the $679,178 Westmoreland expected to receive from O’Gara Group, a portion of the industrial park property was previously sold to Carry-On Trailer for $445,128.46. A smaller section of the park’s property was conveyed to Scott Travers for $61,000. The O’Gara transaction would have completed the park’s development.

Betsy Ficklin

Global economy impacts Westmoreland school division

Global economic patterns some have termed as the beginning of the Very Great Depression reached Westmoreland County when the jurisdiction’s School Board met this Monday.
Division Superintendent Elaine Fogliani had done the math that utilizes current school division budget numbers and an anticipated $420,000 reduction in the state’s basic aid contribution to Westmoreland.
The basic aid contribution from the state is used to calculate the minimum level of funding a locality must contribute to support its school division. Fogliani anticipated that the minimum contribution the county is required to contribute would be similarly reduced, resulting in the loss of more than $800,000.
It was understood that such a shortfall would have dire impacts on an already bare bones budget with a $19 million bottom line. Additional reductions in state and federal revenue must also be taken into account, the Division Superintendent advised the members of the Board.
“These will be some of the toughest decisions we ever had to make,” said Fogliani. The Superintendent has proposed a 1 percent cut in employee salaries that would generate $400,000 to help support the division’s most essential programs.
Administrative staff would be reduced and assistant principal and teacher’s assistant positions would be lost to accommodate the shrinking bottom line. Other cost saving measures would include elimination of some or all field trips, extra curricular activities and the pre-school programs at the elementary schools.
The School Board will tackle the problem of the division’s shrinking budget when it convenes its February 16 work session. At that time the General Assembly’s intentions may be better understood.

Betsy Ficklin

O'Gara's director faces drunken driving charges in Westm'd

   The O’Gara Group’s Tactical Operations Branch Manager, Ronald Boline, was in Montross last Monday night when the Westmoreland Industrial Development Authority accepted a contract that will allow the O’Gara Group to locate a training facility in the county’s industrial park near Montross.
   According to O’Gara’s mission statement, the new establishment will “provide a world-class tactical training and services facility that increases the level of professionalism supporting the United States of America’s initiatives and policies.”
   Boline shared that characterization with the Westmoreland public on January 12. On January 13 the Westmoreland Sheriff’s Office issued a press release reporting that on January 6, 2009 “Ronald P. Boline age 48 of King George was arrested on D.U.I charges.”
   The Sheriff’s report and news that the O’Gara Group would locate in Westmoreland were published in last week’s edition of The Journal and readers responded immediately. On January 14 The Journal reviewed the public information on file in Westmoreland County’s General District Court concerning Boline’s January 6 arrest.
Boline was arraigned in Westmoreland County General District Court on January 13 and a trial was scheduled in the same court for 10:00 a.m. on March 3. The March trial date was established in order to accommodate the legislative calendar of Boline’s defense attorney, Senator Richard Stuart. A former County Attorney and Commonwealth’s Attorney in Westmoreland county, Stuart also represented the O’Gara Group when the Westmoreland Supervisors met with the Industrial Development Authority and the O’Gara Group on the evening of January 12.
   Westmoreland Sheriff’s Office Deputy R.R.Torres authored the incident report this paper reviewed in that General District Court public file.
   “While on patrol on Route 205,” wrote Torres, “I observed a vehicle that had run off the road at the intersection of Route 628. At that time I observed a white male on the rear of the vehicle trying to attach something to get the vehicle pulled out.
   “At that time I approached the subject on foot and asked the male what happened. He stated to me that he was traveling north on Route 205 and he passed his turn at Route 631. When he attempted to turn around at Route 628, he ran off the road.
   “While speaking with him I was able to smell a strong odor of alcohol coming from his breath. He had slurred speech and glassy eyes. At that time I asked him how much he had to drink and [he] stated 'three Crowns and Coke.'
   “I began FST’s [field sobriety tests] and he failed. He was placed under arrest at 11:01 p.m.”
Boline appears to have been given a reckless driving charge at the scene of his driving mishap. According to the records on file in Westmoreland’s General District Court, it was at Northern Neck Regional Jail that a magistrate reviewed the Sheriff’s Deputy’s sworn statement and found that there was “probable cause to believe that [Boline] committed the offense charged” under Section 18.2-266 of the Virginia Code.
   The DWI charge is described as a first offense in the General District Court paperwork. The same records reveal that Boline was released at the regional jail after putting up $2,500 in unsecured bond as a condition of recognizance. A court employee familiar with the procedure explained that the man had been released from jail on his own personal recognizance.

 Betsy Ficklin

Fisher returns as Board Chairman

The Reverend Darryl Fisher will serve for a fourth year as Chairman of the Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors. An organizational meeting was held Jan. 5 and veteran District 4 Supervisor Woody Hynson was elected to serve for the fifteenth year as Vice Chairman of the Board.
County Administrator Norm Risavi presided over the first segment of the annual Board of Supervisors organizational meeting. He opened the floor for nominations and Russ Culver, the Republican Supervisor from District 2, immediately nominated Fisher, a fifth term Democrat from District 1.
“Our reasoning,” said Culver, “is that Larry and I discussed rotation of the Chair’s position one year ago, but this year the economy is in disarray. Last year we as a Board looked at what was going to occur [as global economic conditions worsened].
“We worked together as a Board and we have been conservative, working together very effectively to do the citizens’ business. In order for this to continue in 2009, I’m offering a motion for Darryl Fisher to stay on as Chairman for another year.”
Risavi immediately closed the nominations for Chairman of the Board, but District 5 Supervisor Larry Roberson sought an opportunity to speak.
“I still believe we need to rotate,” Roberson commented. “All of us have been elected by the people from our individual districts. Darryl Fisher is a very fine gentleman. I have nothing against him, but I still feel very strongly about the need to rotate the position of Board Chairman on a regular basis."
Risavi called for the vote and it was unanimous.
“I thank all of you,” said Fisher. “I give thanks to my colleagues for giving me the opportunity to serve as Chairman and for the confidence that you have placed in me. It is something I don’t take lightly.”
Fisher then spoke for himself and the Board’s four other members.
“We pledge to continue to do the very best we can,” he told the public.
“During the past year this Board has faced many challenges, but we have not encountered the kinds of infighting that has been seen in other jurisdictions. That isn’t something that has happened to this Board. What we have in Westmoreland County is a Board with well-rounded membership.”
Fisher then opened the floor for nominations for the position of Vice Chair. District 3 Supervisor Lynn Brownley delivered the motion that nominated Woody Hynson, who was elected with another unanimous vote.
Fisher praised Hynson’s services.
“With the two of us being the longest continuously serving members of the Board, I can honestly say it’s been a pleasure to serve as Chairman with Mr. Hynson as Vice Chair,” Fisher related.
“Having him in the position of Vice Chair has nothing to do with him not being capable of service as the Chair. It just takes a mighty mature individual to not push to be the Chair, and Mr. Hynson has always been a source of strong support.”
“I thank the citizens for the privilege of being permitted all these years of service,” Hynson stated.
“I thank the Board for giving me the nomination. Everyone on this Board is a very fine gentleman whose only goal is to make the county where all of us enjoy living a better county.
“2009 is going to be a very difficult year, but there is nothing wrong with being a conservative county when the hard times hit. I remember attending a meeting this past summer, when other counties’ Boards were talking about their very large deficits.
“In Westmoreland County we don’t have to talk about how deeply we are in the hole. That’s because we work together as a Board to make Westmoreland a better county and a county we can all feel lucky to live in.”
Later in this Monday’s session Admiral Robert Fountain took advantage of a public comment segment to express satisfaction with the local government’s leadership.
“I have worked very closely with the county government for quite a number of years,” Fountain commented. “Our people have been extremely well served by the County Administrator and the Board of Supervisors.
“You all are lightening rods at times,” Fountain then stated. “But the people have been well served by the continuity brought by the senior members of this Board. I am not convinced rotation is the best way to proceed.
“The Westmoreland County board is evenly divided,” Fountain said of the individual members’ political affiliations. “You have demonstrated an ability to work together closely and harmoniously. I feel sure this will continue for the remainder of your terms.”
By Betsy Ficklin

Westmoreland locates buyer for its industrial shell building and park

Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors Chairman Darryl Fisher’s opening remarks this Monday morning included an observation that divine “blessings have really smiled on Westmoreland County.”

Fisher credited “divine intervention” for the fact “that we are in better [financial] shape than other jurisdictions.” That was 9:30 in the morning and members of the public would have to wait nearly twelve hours to learn just how providence had in fact intervened.
The day and evening’s frozen temperatures and the global economic freeze did not impede the effort of the Westmoreland County local government to unload its industrial shell building and surrounding 25 acres that have been empty for approximately one decade.

This Monday night the Westmoreland Supervisors and Industrial Development Authority returned from their closed door meeting and the Authority very quickly accepted the proposal made by The O’Gara Training Facility and Academy Initiative to pay the jurisdiction $679,178 for the empty industrial shell building and its surrounding grounds.

The security firm will additionally buy a privately owned wooded tract of approximately 325 acres that is immediately adjacent to the county government’s industrial shell building property and is situated in the rear.

When the Supervisors and Industrial Development Authority returned from their joint closed session, King George resident Ron Boline delivered the buyer’s power point presentation to the small group of interested county residents who waited to attend the recessed portion of the Supervisors’ January meeting. The session did not adjourn until approximately 10:30 on Monday night.

Boline holds the position of Tactical Operations Branch Manager with The O’Gara Group’s Training and Services Division whose address is 1120 Euro Rally Road, Alton, Virginia. The O’Gara Group is based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The long-awaited presentation from the shell building buyers included a mission statement explaining that “The O’Gara Training and Services Division’s Training Facility and Academy seeks to provide a world-class tactical training and services facility that increases the level of professionalism to enhance the capabilities of Federal, State and Local law enforcement agencies and security professionals supporting the United States of America’s initiatives and policies.”

The company objectives segment that followed described intentions to create “a world-class training facility and academy that supports training requirements of The O’Gara Group customers, promotes economic development of Westmoreland County and the Northern Neck area of Virginia [and] is a good neighbor within the community.”

The public learned that the establishment will maintain its reputation of conducting operations in a manner that “is environmentally conscious and compliant with all applicable regulations and best practices, [providing] a safe, yet challenging, environment for Local, State, and Federal law enforcement, government agencies and their supporting personnel to refine enabling skills critical to national defense.”

The O’Gara Group was described as “a leading provider of advanced security products and training solutions to aid in the global war on terrorism and to enhance Homeland Security.”
The Group has three business divisions. The Sensor Systems Division or SSD manufactures night vision equipment and tagging, tracking and locating devices. The Group’s Advanced Transparent and Mobile Systems Divisions manufactures armored vehicles and support materials.
The third division that is now expected to locate in Westmoreland County is the Training and Services Division or TSD that provides O’Gara Group clients with “innovative tactical and security training and services solutions to satisfy emerging requirements.”

The public learned that O’Gara’s TSD “provides comprehensive tactical and security training solutions through its tactical operations, technical services, preparedness and response and international training branches.

The tactical operations training facility that had been temporarily located in the Danville, area’s Virginia International Raceway will relocate to the tract described as approximately 2.5 miles south of Montross on State Route 3.

A training academy or school will be established on the 350-acre site. According to Richard Stuart, the attorney representing O’Gara Group on Monday evening, due to existing zoning in Westmoreland County the local government’s review of the new development will be limited to the county officials’ January 12 deliberations and Westmoreland Land Use Office’s administrative review of the project’s site plan.

The training facility will have capacity “to teach up to 120 personnel simultaneously in classroom and practical skills.” Curriculum will include academic offerings, motor vehicle driving skills, physical fitness, personal security tactics, techniques and procedures, and weapons handling/marksmanship training.

The facility will include a 1.5 mile driving course, an off-road driving course, development of a simulated urban training area of six square city blocks, student lodging and dining accommodations, a gymnasium, an obstacle/fitness course, ten small arms shooting ranges with reaches that vary from 50 to 1,000 yards and a complex of classrooms and laboratories.

The projected total cost of the completed facility is $20 million and the annual operating budget is projected to range from eight to nine million dollars if current valuations hold. Local suppliers will be utilized when possible for labor, consumables and materials.

The facility will carry what the presentation described as a “large potential for growth,” and will have only “minimal impact” to the county’s fire and rescue resources. Utilities already are in place.
Economic benefits cited in the presentation were additional tax revenues for the county and the state, local purchase of materials when feasible, use of local sub-contractors when possible, and engagement of general construction contractors having “specific military experience.”

The facility will have 22 full-time employment positions and will budget $900,000 a year for salaries. There will also be 60 part-time positions that include scenario role players, part-time on call instructors, mechanics, food service workers, facility support employees, IT support and administrative personnel.

Environmental impacts were addressed in the presentation and the public learned that the training facility will be “minimally intrusive to the environment,” with approximately one-third of the acreage utilized for instructional purposes.

Lead containment and best practices that go beyond the minimum required will be utilized, as will training range noise abatement and reduction measures, minimized night fire and mufflers installed on all training vehicles.

The establishment has promised “continuous environment protection of Westmoreland County. The large tract’s timber management plan will be continued and expanded and a wildlife management plan will be coordinated with state and local authorities. The facility will additionally coordinate and cooperate with local hunt clubs and concerned or interested citizens.

Safety was addressed and citizens learned on Monday night that the new training facility will make Westmoreland County “a safer place. Local responders [will] use [the] facility for training at no cost,” a teen driving program will offer four classes each year and the establishment will hire off-duty local law enforcement employees to serve as role players.

Citizens received assurances that the establishment has a “history of safe training,” that there have been “no significant injuries to students at our training facility in Alton, Virginia” and that as many as 50 students were trained in the Alton facility in a single 12-month interval.

The final section of the December 12 presentation to local residents expressed the goal of the O’Gara Group to “be a good neighbor and economic partner to Westmoreland County and the Northern Neck.”
Work on the new facility is expected to begin in the upcoming weeds, with classes beginning as quickly as August or September. The empty 50,000-square foot industrial shell building will be transformed into a 125-occupant student dormitory, gymnasium, kitchen, dining facility, office and garage.

Proceeds from the sale will allow the local government to retire the public debt associated with creation of the industrial park and its industrial shell building’s construction.
Remaining proceeds from the sale can now be utilized by the local government to launch the long-awaited industrial development initiative in the Washington District sewer’s service area.
Betsy Ficklin 

Legal fees climb in Westmoreland County

A published report not quite one month ago detailing County Attorney Tom Bondurant’s contract with Westmoreland County’s local government sparked a not unanticipated response from local residents having concerns about how they will find money to pay the next round of real estate taxes.
The group of residents who came together as the Westmoreland County Citizens Association in late 2007 attempted to influence the county’s Board of Supervisors in Spring 2008, when a new county budget was being prepared.
The group maintained that more must be done to conserve the county’s finite financial resources. Suggestions were brought forward but generally failed to make it into the local government budget that was adopted by the Board.
Most recently an Association spokesperson urged the Westmoreland Supervisors to eliminate the position of the County Attorney.
“It may be better just to pay for legal services as they are needed, like a lot of other Northern Neck counties do,” the spokesperson told the members of the Board.
Review of Bondurant’s contract and other information gathered by the citizens’ group revealed that Westmoreland County paid its County Attorney just under $60,000 during the 12-month budget period that stretched from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008.
Bondurant was hired to advise the Westmoreland Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors and he earns $36,000 a year for attending the monthly Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors meetings and for advising the County Administrator and Westmoreland’s usually inactive Industrial Development authorities.
The County Administrator can authorize the County Attorney to provide legal advice to other local government agencies or departments, but the Westmoreland Social Services Department must engage a legal advisor of its own.
Bondurant’s additional services to Westmoreland County are compensated at a rate of $90 per hour and a private citizen recently collected information detailing payments the County Attorney has received for those additional services that could duties associated with appearances in the courts on the county government’s behalf and work on county sewer systems.
The information in hand indicates that in July 2008 Bondurant was paid his monthly salary of $3,000 and additional payments of $154.00 and $3,060.00. In August 2008 he received the contracted $3,000 and an extra $$2,394.00.
Aside from the regular monthly earnings of $3,000, Bondurant was paid an extra $$720.00 in September, an additional $1,665.00 in October, and an additional $2,205.00 in November 2008.
As of January 6 the public has not seen accounts detailing the County Attorney’s December 2008 earnings, but the Citizens Association has not forgotten the suggestion its spokesman presented to the Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors.
From July 1, 2008 until November 30 the records indicate that Westmoreland paid its part-time County Attorney $25,198. The current budget cycle’s earnings appear consistent with the payments made to Tom Bondurant in the county government’s prior fiscal year.

Betsy Ficklin

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Journal Print Shop

Contact Steve Detwiler

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540-709-7288 • 540-775-2024

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