New laws to take effect July 1, 2010

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By Dan McDermott
Warren County Report

Many new laws will take effect on July 1st in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Among them are:

  • Assisted living facilities may provide alcoholic beverages to residents in dining areas or their private rooms without an ABC license.
  • ABC stores may offer wine and liquor tastings in certain circumstances
  • Tightening regulation of rates charged for motor vehicle title loans
  • Courts may appoint a vocational expert to determine the earning potential of a person when it in dispute over child or spousal support
  • Potential jurors have to show photo ID or sign a form to verify their identity
  • DUI driving suspensions will run consecutively with any other suspensions ordered by the court
  • An infant born but still attached by an umbilical cord is still a separate independent person in homicide cases. (Stems from a tragic Lynchburg, VA case.)
  • Persons with a concealed weapons permit can carry a concealed weapon into a restaurant that serves alcohol but cannot drink.
  • Anyone who can legally carry a firearm can keep a loaded handgun in their vehicle provided it is locked in a secure container or compartment.
  • A pharmacist may require proof of identification before dispensing Schedule II drugs and must keep records of who gets them.
  • No Virginia citizen can be required to obtain individual health insurance. (This is the subject of dispute between the Commonwealth and the federal government.)
  • For zoning and other purposes, localities must treat an assisted living facility with 8 or fewer elderly and/or disabled residents as a single family residence.
  • Drivers on a 4-lane highway MUST move over when passing public safety or tow/construction vehicles displaying blue, red or amber lights.
  • New license plate option are offered including a ‘buy local’ plate and one advocating for pro choice.
  • Speed limits on highways can be raised to 70 mph.
  • All localities can regulate and prohibit sales, fundraising and the distribution of handbills, advertising and literature on highways and medians.

A good rundown of some of the the laws that passed and those that failed this year is in the document above.

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[Updated to correct DUI suspensions will run consecutively not concurrently.]

Dan McDermott is Publisher of Warren County Report and The Sherando Times. His email address is He is also on Facebook, Twitter and Myspace.

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Published in: on June 30, 2010 at 6:18 pm  Comments (1)  

Riverton Dam claims 9-year-old boy’s life

Rescue workers work to recover the body of 9 year-old Ryan Warner of Bunker Hill, WV who died at Riverton Dam, near Front Royal, VA June 29. Photo courtesy of Stephens City Fire and Rescue. Click image for more photos.

West Virginia youth was visiting relatives, playing on dam

By Roger Bianchini
Warren County Report

The soon to be demolished Riverton Dam claimed its second victim in less than three months on June 29th.

On June 30th Warren County Fire & Rescue Chief Richard Mabie confirmed that the body of 9-year-old Ryan Warner of Bunker Hill, West Virginia, had been recovered at 12:59 p.m. that afternoon. The boy had been playing on or around the Riverton Dam the previous afternoon in the company of two cousins aged 10 and 11, when he slipped off rocks on the upstream side of the dam. Also present with the boys at the time of the accident was a man identified as Warner’s grandfather. Mabie believed Warner’s relatives at the scene were from the Woodstock area though other sources had cited Winchester as their home.

No charges will be brought as a result of the drowning following a Warren County Sheriff’s Office investigation. While the town has “No Trespassing” signs for the dam itself they do not appear to prohibit going into the river around the dam.

According to a July 1st WCSO press release, following interviews with family members and other witnesses, “the three boys were playing on the upriver side of the dam when the nine-year-old boy slipped on rocks in the water and was swept into a large hole on the north end of the dam by the swift water current. Two of the eye witnesses said the boy was very quickly pulled under the water after he fell. The 10-year-old family member borrowed a cell phone from another person near the dam and called 911.”

Mabie said Warren County Emergency Services received the initial alarm call at 4:16 p.m. on Tuesday, June 29. Initial responders included Front Royal Company One and its Swiftwater Rescue Team and North Warren Company 10. Also called and responding to the scene were Frederick County Company 11 with its water rescue team and the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team.

Mabie said with water levels down on the Shenandoah River there was no water running over the top of the dam the day of the drowning. Mabie said that when Warner slipped into the water he fell into a whirlpool created by a submerged crack at the dam’s base and was immediately pulled down and pinned by the force of the water created by the damaged footing at the base of the dam. It appeared to rescuers that the hole at the dam’s base was the only point at which water was running through the dam. Mabie cited a flow rate of 160 cubic feet per second at the point where the boy became trapped. With no evidence the boy had been washed through the hole downriver, a plumber’s underwater camera was utilized to confirm that Warner’s body was trapped at a location near where he fell into the river.

“After multiple attempts over the next hour to afford a rescue in this area, it was determined that the water pressure was too great,” Mabie said in a press release released late in the day of the recovery. “A plan was put into place to divert the river flow from this area so rescuers could enter the area of the dam that had been undermined. With the assistance of a private contractor, Donald Poe Construction and the use of multiple tons of rock and gravel from Essroc Corporation, working through the night, a temporary diversion dam was erected. This temporary dam diverted the river flow to the south side of the dam, allowing rescuers to safely enter the area where the boy fell in. Within an hour of this operation, the body was located in this area under the dam and removed from the water at 12:59 p.m. today (June 30).”

Mabie also told us some water flow was diverted through an old, long unused opening related to the dam’s last use some 70 years ago as an electrical generating plant. Crews were able to lower a ladder into the slowed water flow and recover Warner’s body from the Shenandoah River. Mabie said the recovery was made virtually at the spot the boy fell in some 20 hours earlier.

April death

On April 7th the dam claimed the life of a 51-year-old Linden man kayaking near the dam with his fiancé. Mark D. Grand had survived four tours of duty in the Iraq War before losing his life to the swirling waters around the Riverton Dam. At the time of that fatal accident the river’s levels were up and flowing hard across the dam. Grand and girlfriend Julie Granger were kayaking separately on the downstream side when Grand and his kayak were sucked into the churning water around the dam.

After backtracking for over a month after a year of discussion of utilizing federal and state Fish and Wildlife Service grant money totaling $123,000 to demolish the dam, the Front Royal Town Council finally voted to accept those funds at its March 22nd meeting (see related story). That vote came after the town received estimates of $500,000 to a million dollars to repair the dam, which would have been done totally at town expense had the Wildlife grants been rejected. The demolition, which will not use explosives, is expected this fall.

That schedule was too late for yet another victim of a dam described by county emergency service’s Officer Raymond Cross as “a drowning machine.” Prior to this year’s two fatalities, the last fatality at the Riverton Dam was in 2002 when Thomas Walker died while fishing with his two sons, 17 and 9, near the dam. If Grand was a hero for his service to his country, Walker died a hero credited for saving his sons’ lives by getting them out of the boat and away from the deadly whirlpool before being swamped himself.

Unfortunately the most recent victim, 9-year-old Ryan Warner, will never have the opportunity to find his life’s direction and the heroism that might have lived within his own heart.


Many agencies worked extremely hard through the night to help bring this incident to an end including;

Time of Dispatch: 4:16 PM Stations 10 and 1, WC Special Operations Team, Advanced Life Support
Arrived on Scene: 4:22 PM
Special Call: 4:28 PM Boat 2
Special Call: 4:54 PM Game and Inland Fisheries
Special Call: 5:08 PM Frederick Co. Boat 11
Special Call: 5:42 PM Frederick Co. Sheriff Office Dive Team
Recovery Made: 12:59 PM (Wednesday)
In Service: 1:40 PM

Other assisting:
· Town of Front Royal- Department of Environmental Services, Police Department
· Warren County Sheriff’s Office
· Poe Construction
· ESSROC Corp.
· HN Funkhauser
· McDonalds- South Street
· Papa Johns

The investigation was headed by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office.

[Update: Sheriff calls death accidental, tragic]

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Published in: on June 30, 2010 at 5:33 pm  Comments (9)  

The Sherando Times: June 30-July 6, 2010

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Published in: on June 30, 2010 at 11:18 am  Leave a Comment  

Arrests in lottery ticket thefts

On May 14, 2010 the Front Royal Police Department was notified by the owner of Big Al’s on South Street that 4 bundles of lottery tickets valued at $1,600.00 were stolen from his store. According to VA lottery officials, twenty three of the stolen winning tickets were cashed at nine different retailers in the Town of Front Royal all on May 13, 2010. The investigation revealed that a brother and sister duo were in possession of the tickets and were passing those stolen tickets at various locations. Darron Lee Porter, 23, of Front Royal has been charged with two counts of obtaining money by false pretenses, two counts of possession of stolen property and one count of conspiracy to obtain money by false pretenses. He remains free on a $3000.00 secured bond pending court proceedings. Porter’s sister, Cassandra Porter, 20, also of Front Royal has been charged with two counts of obtain money by false pretenses, two counts of possession of stolen property, one count of conspiracy to obtain money by false pretenses and one count of unlawfully converting lottery tickets to her own use. She remains free on a $2000.00 secured bond. Anyone with additional information in this crime is asked to contact Detective Jason Winner with the Criminal Investigations Division at 540-636-2208.

Published in: on June 29, 2010 at 11:35 pm  Comments (1)  

Winchester woman arrested in stolen payroll checks case

On April 27, 2010 the Front Royal Police Department received a report that three payroll checks had been stolen. Those three stolen checks were cashed at All Star Check Cashing on April 21, 2010 for a total of over $2000.00. The investigation revealed that Nicole Stamps McAvoy, 30, of Winchester, Virginia cashed those three stolen checks, forging another person’s name on each check. McAvoy was subsequently charged with three counts of forgery, three counts of uttering a forged document, and three counts of obtaining money by false pretenses. Investigation also revealed that McAvoy is a suspect in similar offenses in Frederick County. She remains free on a $2000.00 secured bond pending future court proceedings. Anyone with additional information in relation to this crime is asked to contact Detective Jason Winner with the Criminal Investigations Division at 540-636-2208.

Published in: on June 29, 2010 at 10:52 pm  Comments (1)  

Front Royal Police announce drug, malicious wounding arrests

Front Royal woman arrested on drug charges

Front Royal police arrested a local woman on three counts of possession of a Schedule Two narcotic Friday night. Carol Ann Counts, 45, was arrested for possession of Ritalin, Percocet, and Oxycodone after police were called to the 7-11 store located at 6th and North Royal. Police had been advised that a female subject sitting in a vehicle was possibly intoxicated.

Upon arrival, police found Counts and identified her. Police were given consent to search her vehicle and found a container with multiple pills inside. Police identified the pills as controlled substances and arrested Counts on the possession charges. Counts was released by the magistrate on an unsecured bond and will appear in the Warren County General District Court on July 20 on the charges.

Man charged with malicious wounding

Front Royal police arrested a Front Royal man after a fight on June 23 and charged him with attempted malicious wounding. Police responded to the fight call in the 600 block of Belair Avenue at 11:20 pm last Wednesday night. Upon arrival, witnesses advised police that Thomas A. Ashby, who lives in the 600 block of Belair Avenue, had chased a female around the yard with a large knife, threatening to kill her.

Police found Ashby inside the house and, after a brief struggle, arrested Ashby and took him to the Warren County Jail. Ashby was charged with being Drunk In Public and Attempted Malicious Wounding. He was held without bond and will appear in the Warren County General District Court on July 27 on the charges.

Published in: on June 29, 2010 at 9:56 am  Leave a Comment  

A new look for Front Royal Police Department cruisers

Published in: on June 28, 2010 at 8:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

The early July edition of Warren County Report

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Published in: on June 25, 2010 at 3:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Should Va. adopt Arizona-style law on immigration?

Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart is pushing for Virginia to adopt an Arizona style law on immigration that would do the following:

– Direct Virginia law enforcement officials to ascertain, in any lawful contact, the legal presence of an individual, when practicable.
– Direct Virginia jails to release illegal aliens to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after serving their sentence.
– Allow law enforcement officials to arrest illegals without warrant if they have reasonable suspicion that the arrest would make them removable from the United States.
– Make it a violation of Virginia law to fail to complete alien registration documents.
– Prohibit cities and counties from preventing law enforcement officials from inquiring about legal presence or preventing them from sharing information with ICE.
– Allow law enforcement officials to break up day laboring operations.
– Prohibit solicitation along all public roads, directed at day labor sites.

What do you think?

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Published in: on June 23, 2010 at 5:53 am  Comments (18)  

The Sherando Times: June 23-29, 2010

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Published in: on June 23, 2010 at 5:46 am  Leave a Comment  
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