Town gets its terms on Dominion Power H2O

Dominion Power Director of Business Development John Ragone and Front Royal Town Councilman Shae Parker shake on a deal for central water and sewer to Dominion's billion-dollar business investment in this community.

Absent Conkey blasts county silence on help with corridor expenses

By Roger Bianchini
Warren County Report

After two weeks of intense negotiations the Front Royal Town Council approved a final version of a contract to provide central water and sewer service to Dominion Power/VEPCO’s gas-fired electrical generating facility in Warren County’s 522 North Industrial-Commercial Corridor. The planned power plant formerly known as CPV-Warren since being introduced as a means of helping meet future eastern, urban corridor power needs in 2002, is now targeted for a 2015 or 2016 opening following a 2-1/2 to 3-year construction period.

The vote came at a Special Meeting called for March 7th in the midst of a previously scheduled town council work session. The 5-0 vote, Tom Conkey was absent, came after some last minute closed session discussion. The only substantive change in the terms of the contract originally on the table since a Feb. 22nd work session was a wording change that the removed the description of the town water service as essentially an accommodation to the customer while the town has “excess capacity” in its water supply.

As explained by officials on both sides of the negotiation, that change was requested by Dominion, which did not want to go before a pending State Corporation Committee rate hearing with a utility contract essentially stating the plant’s water service could be terminated by the provider – the Town of Front Royal – at any time it deemed its water service as exclusively needed by in-town customers. The lifespan of the plant has been estimated by Dominion at half a century.

Despite not getting an additional five years of in-town service rates to compensate for a requested total of $5.4 million in up-front expenses, Dominion officials seemed relieved to get a contract guarantee in place that will allow them to explain their desired rate structure to the SCC and move development of the plant forward.

“I think we’re pleased with what happened tonight with the agreement that was reached,” Dominion spokesperson Dan Genest said following the vote. “We plan to be a part of this community for the next 40 to 50 years – and being a part of that community means getting along and working things out and settling our differences and I think the agreement tonight represents that.”

While Dominion had been seeking a reduction in up-front costs of $5.4 million, including $4 million in capital improvements to the existing system, in the end it agreed to pay those costs in exchange for a decade of reduced service costs. However, Dominion did not get the additional five years at the flat, in-town service rate it had been seeking in exchange for a $3.5-million contribution to implement a long-sought after looping system to assure service to all corridor water customers in the event of a break in the water line. Rather, the company will get the originally proposed five years at the in-town rate and an additional five years at 1.5 times the in-town rate before paying the full double rate to out-of-town customers.

While county Supervisor Tony Carter was again an interested observer to the evening’s developments, the county’s ongoing official silence on the matter of helping the town or Dominion defer their respective costs didn’t sit well with at least one councilman, Tom Conkey. Conkey and other town officials involved in the negotiation have pointed out the town will receive only its hook up and service costs, by law based solely on the cost of providing a municipal utility, while the county will realized between $3 million and $4 million per year in tax revenue almost exclusively profit.

“My only disappointment is that it seems that at least some members of the board of supervisors still see the relationship between the town and county governments as an adversarial one, rather than the partnership I believe it can and should be,” Conkey stated by way of a letter read into the record by Mayor Tim Darr. Darr explained Conkey was absent due to a previous out of town commitment. “The town’s discussions with Dominion were open and frank as partnerships should be. I think this was the perfect opportunity for our two bodies to work together to come up with an arrangement that would be mutually beneficial. As it is, we now find ourselves in the position of working our a deal with Dominion and hoping that we have done enough to ensure that this power plant is built in this community,” Conkey concluded in his letter sent to the mayor to be included as part of the meeting’s public record.

Background

The town’s exiting corridor water-sewer system began service about a quarter century ago when town utility was extended outside its boundaries to facilitate the location of the county’s first new industrial corridor client, DuPont, to build here. That utility service extension was seen as pivotal to this community attracting an increased commercial-industrial presence and tax base to keep residential costs and taxes down.

Following the 2009 legal challenge of meals tax-based fees tied to the town’s water-sewer bills by three chain corridor restaurants, the town lost a major portion of its “Corridor Agreement” fees. According to the judge’s comments, that legal decision came about in part at least due to the changing corridor tax landscape, primarily the county’s 2002 introduction of its own meals tax.

The town and county have only recently began “corridor committee” discussions of how to adjust the 1998 Corridor Agreement designed to compensate the town for its utility service allowing business and industry to locate on county land. That agreement, approved by a 3-judge state panel in 1998-99, likely headed off a contentious annexation fight between Front Royal and Warren County’s municipal governments.

Dominion had initially agreed to cover the full $490,000 cost of upgrading the system’s pumping system to assure its estimated average of 350,000 to 400,000 gallons of water per day without placing an undue strain on the system. However, it was seeking help in meeting the capital improvement expense of a looping system seen as a system-wide benefit to all corridor customers in Warren County. Some councilmen, obviously including Conkey, thought it would have been appropriate for the county to step into the recent negotiations after Dominion complained about all the additional rate and infrastructure costs it was being asked to shoulder.

The county did have a closed session “corridor contract” discussion with Dominion at its March 1st meeting. However, no announcement was forthcoming following that session.

Published in: on March 8, 2011 at 2:37 pm  Comments (1)  

Salahi’s civil litigation dance back in court Friday

This story has been updated.

Unpaid $5k fee for Feb. 2010 photographs, at issue in district court

By Roger Bianchini, Warren County Report
and Dan McDermott, The Lynchburg Times and MyLynchburg.net

[This story was first reported in The Lynchburg Times.]

[CLARIFICATION: Dylan Howard attorney Eryk Gabhran Boston told Roger Bianchini Friday that they are not contending that the apartment number was purposefully left off the summons but rather was due to a clerical error.]

On Friday, Jan 7, one half of Warren County’s most famous alleged White House gatecrasher and Reality TV couple is due back in a Warren County Courtroom on an appeal of a $5,000 civil claim he won against an executive at a national celebrity gossip website.

On September 3rd in Warren County General District Court Tareq Salahi received a default judgment of $5,000 against Dylan Howard. Salahi claims Howard never paid him an agreed upon $5,000 fee for photographs taken of Salahi and his wife Michaele the weekend of February 20th at the Salahi’s private residence in Warren County.

Howard is Senior Executive Editor for RadarOnline.com. Radar Online was bought by American Media several years ago. American Media owns national tabloids The Star, The Globe and National Enquirer. According to Wikipedia Howard has appeared on a wide range of television and radio programs as a news expert. Included on that list are Entertainment Tonight, The Insider, CNN, Fox News, HLN, CBS News, ABC’s Nightline, Good Morning America, MSNBC, Inside Edition, the BBC, Britain’s Sky News and HLN’s prime-time program “Issues With Jane Valez Mitchell”

Howard, whose address in court documents is listed as 55 Wall Street in New York City, is seeking to have the judgment against him voided and money taken as a result of a subsequent garnishment issued Sept. 27th returned. Court records indicate Howard claims Tareq Salahi knew his apartment number but withheld it from the affidavit so that he could not be successfully served. The result was that Howard says he was unaware of the claim or court date and did not appear or have representation in Warren County General District Court in September to tell his side of the story. The defendant’s New York City address is described in his appeal of the judgment as a huge apartment complex with hundreds of units.

A $5,000 invoice from Tareq Salahi for “Celebrity Photography for 3 hours” in the case file contains the notation “Originally sent: April 30, 2010” and “Resent: May 20, June 21 & June 29, 2010.” That invoice is addressed to: Dylan Howard, 55 Wall Street, Apt. 824, New York, NY 10005-2826.

At stake in the Jan. 7 hearing scheduled before Judge W. Dale Houff is a total of $5,451 in allegedly unpaid fees, interest and court costs. Tareq Salahi is represented in the matter by Manassas-based, local attorney David Silek.

The case file includes an alleged e-mail exchange between Salahi and Howard dated Feb. 16-18-19 indicating the Salahis’ agreement to do the photo shoot the coming weekend.

“Michaele and Tareq, How is everything looking for the photo shoot I want to do? My offer of $5,000.00 is firm and hope we can do more after this. How is your schedule the next two weeks?” Howard e-mailed the Salahis on Feb. 16 according to court records.

“Dylan, my wife & I have agreed. Please confirm. We are free this weekend,” Tareq Salahi replied on Feb. 18.

On Friday, Feb. 19, again according to court records, Howard e-mailed the couple to confirm, stating he would take photos of the couple together and separately, adding, “I will pay you $5,000 for the photos. In addition, if you allow me to take video of you two, Radar Online may also be interested in purchasing that for an additional $5,000 or $10,000 …”

Howard allegedly concludes this final “pre-shoot” e-mail by alerting Tareq that he “will also need to ask some questions of you about playing polo with Prince Charles & Prince Harry. You had some interesting anecdotes, from memory, about Harry.” The references are to Charles, Queen Elizabeth’s son and heir to the British throne and his and the late Princess Diana’s youngest son Harry.

Reached late Wed., a spokesperson for Wide Eye Communications provided The Lynchburg Times with the following statement:

“In a publicity stunt aimed solely at garnering media attention, the Salahis, whose notorious history speaks for itself, recently named WIDE EYE and its principal Dylan Howard as defendants in a frivolous lawsuit.

“There is absolutely no merit to the Salahi’s claims.

“We look forward to vigorously defending ourselves in a court of law and speaking with the Commonwealth of Virginia and law enforcement to expose yet another fraudulent act perpetrated by these individuals, in this instance, the creation of fictitious e-mails.”

Responding just prior to press run, Salahi attorney David Silek said the following:

“The Salahis are once again the subject of a baseless attack. First, Wide Eye’s assertion that it is a defendant in this matter is simply false. So inquiry must begin with that false assertion. Second, if service did not get to Mr. Howard, fine. So be it. His attorney failed to enter a special appearance and rather entered what is known as a general appearance in this matter and has given our Court jurisdiction over Mr. Howard. Now that Mr. Salahi has counsel in this matter, any procedural difficulties will be corrected. We look forward to setting this case down for hearing and a trial on the merits. We are certainly glad that Mr. Howard elected to make a general appearance and give our court in personum jurisdiction over him, which was lacking as he was served by the secretary of the Commonwealth.

“Third, Mr. Howard came to VA to take pictures of the Salahi’s and then I assume sold the pictures to someone. It is a shame that he now refuses to honor his obligations.”

Discuss this story in the forum.

rogerb@warrencountyreport.com
dan@lynchburgtimes.com

Dan is on Facebook and Twitter.

Published in: on January 6, 2011 at 1:17 pm  Comments (5)  

New newspaper to launch in Lynchburg, Va. Thursday

Dan McDermott, Publisher of The Lynchburg Times, Warren County Report and The Sherando Times

You may have noticed a new newspaper in businesses in and around Lynchburg lately. The Lynchburg Times is making its weekly debut Sept. 9th and a launch issue is on stands now in all area Krogers, Food Lions, McDonalds and about 250 other stores.

The newspaper is a free community weekly, a local format popular in many US cities. It features coverage of local government and politics, businesses and feature stories on local personalities.

The Lynchburg Times is published by Dan McDermott, who got his start in the news business in the Hill City, working as News Director at WLVA radio in the late 1980s. He also spent a year at WGOL-WLLL radio as an afternoon DJ and newscaster.

“I’ve had friends encouraging me for years to start a newspaper here in Lynchburg and while there are several popular and well-done publications in the area, we think that the kind of free local newspaper we put out will add to the mix,” McDermott said.

McDermott owns two other newspapers in Northern Virginia, Warren County Report and The Sherando Times.

In addition to its in-depth coverage of the local political scene, Warren County Report is best known for its acclaimed coverage of the alleged White House Gate-crashers Tareq and Michaele Salahi, who live in Warren County.

McDermott has appeared on Good Morning America and on network and local TV newscasts around the country and his work has been referenced in newspapers around the world.

McDermott appeared in the latest episode of Real Housewives of Washington, DC which aired Aug. 26. The appearance was discussed in The Washington Post here.

Published in: on September 6, 2010 at 10:41 pm  Comments (3)  

WFTR-AM scores top honors from the VAB

Royal Broadcasting Inc., which owns WZRV-FM and WFTR-AM, earned two more ‘best of’ awards at the 73rd annual Virginia Association of Broadcasters Awards Banquet in Virginia Beach.

WFTR-AM earned top honors for Outstanding Newscast in small market for its News at Noon program. It was the seventh time since 2002 that WFTR-AM has either won or placed second in its class a for long-form local newscast, which airs live weekdays from noon until 12:30pm.

WFTR-AM also scored a runner-up award, for Best Local Sports Programming for its year-long commitment to area high school and little league sports, including Warren County and Skyline High School athletics.

Since 2002, WFTR-AM and WZRV-FM have received 22 top or runner-up awards at the annual V.A.B. Convention and Awards Banquet. Awards are presented to outstanding broadcast radio and television stations each year in a variety of categories, including news, sports, commercial production, series, promotions and community service.

Andrew Shearer, president of Royal Broadcasting stated. “Virginia has a strong history of competitive medium, including radio. It’s an honor for WFTR and WZRV and our entire staff to be recognized once again as providing a great product to the Northern Shenandoah Valley.”

WZRV-FM was recently selected as a finalist for radio’s 2010 Crystal Award, presented by the National Association of Broadcasters for a commitment to year-long community service programming. The station broadcasts with 6,000 watts at 95.3 megacycles. WFTR-AM broadcasts with 1,000 watts of power at 1450 kilocycles and has been serving Warren County since 1948.

From a release.

Published in: on July 15, 2010 at 10:44 am  Leave a Comment  

Entire contents of Front Royal, VA Town Attorney Tom Robinett’s file on solar energy. Released July 8, 2010 under the Freedom of Information Act.

View this document on Scribd

Original PDF files also posted on the town’s website.

COMMENT on this.

Published in: on July 8, 2010 at 7:04 pm  Comments (543)  

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?

Leave your thoughts.

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

AT&T sorry for threatening man who emailed CEO

By Dan McDermott
Warren County Report

AT&T says they apologize for threatening a man with legal action because he emailed their CEO.

Iphone user Giorgio Galante told Engadget that after he sent two emails in two weeks to CEO Randall Stephenson an AT&T Executive Response team representative threatened to send him a ‘cease and desist’ letter.

AT&T spokesperson Alexa Kaufman tells us that her company has “reached out to Mr. Galante to offer a deserved apology.” Kaufman says it is not their usual policy to threaten customers who send them emails. “This is obviously something we need to apologize for,” she said.

Galante told Engadget that he is switching to Sprint.

editor@warrencountyreport.com
twitter.com/danielpmcdermot
mcdermottreport.com

Published in: on June 3, 2010 at 4:38 pm  Comments (1)  

Welcome

Greetings to our visitors from the New York Times. We hope you enjoy your stay!

Published in: on May 20, 2010 at 11:29 am  Leave a Comment  

An open letter to Yahoo Small Business

Dear Yahoo,

Why have you forsaken me?

On Nov. 12, 2002 I signed up for a free email account with your service. The web interface was (and is) great. It’s easy to use, fairly fast and free.

I recommended to my staff, friends and family that they get accounts and many did.

I was so impressed that I decided to buy my first domain and web hosting/email package from you on Aug. 3, 2003.

Things went well and I bought three more packages in 2004, 2008 and 2009.

Currently we use our commercial Yahoo services to host a web TV show, a local calendar of events and sites for our two popular Northern Virginia newspapers, Warren County Report and The Sherando Times.

A few years ago my account was having technical issues and it took days for you to fix. I stuck with you.

Last year you were having problems with your email search. It took months for you to fix. I stuck with you.

Then our current nightmare began.

We have a main news editor account for our newspapers. Editor@warrencountyreport.com.

With this account we get press releases from everyone from the local police department and the United Way to the Smithsonian and the White House.

People might inquire as to where to go to buy an ad or get a back issue.

We use this account to communicate with our 27,000 readers. We get complaints, praise, tips, you name it. Sometimes people just want to talk.

This account is our main method of staying in touch with the people we report on and those who read our work.

On Friday this email account was incorrectly “temporarily suspended” by you and no one could send us email. If they sent us a message it was bounced back. We have no idea who may have sent us email these past four days but it is not unusual for us to get hundreds in a day.

I didn’t discover this until Sunday because no at Yahoo bothered to tell us. You just shut it down.

I spent hours on the phone with your customer service representatives. They agreed that my account should not have been suspended but said that it should be cut back on within 48 hours.

I explained that since you agreed it shouldn’t have been cut off it should be cut back on right away or within a reasonable period, say 30 minutes. They said that the technical people didn’t work on weekends and that they would be busy on Monday but that I would probably be cut back on then.

Probably.

It is now day four and I am still waiting.

We think the problem was caused when a salesperson at one of my papers got a phishing email asking for her username and password. She forwarded the email to me to ask if it was real. I forwarded it to one of my tech/design staff.

We believe that when I forwarded the email it triggered an alert that we might be sending out spam.

My mistake.

Even though I had innocently forwarded it to a tech at my paper (all within our domain) I can see that your filter might have been wary.

No problem. I don’t like spam or phishing emails any more than anyone else and I applaud you for trying to prevent it.

But after 6 years of paying you, shouldn’t you tell me if there is a problem?

Shouldn’t you alert me that you are cutting off my account and returning all of our email?

And should this occur on a Friday is it fair to make a newspaper–or any business–wait until Monday or Tuesday to get the service restored?

Do you have any idea how many days it will take to try and straighten out all of the things we missed? How many wasted days? How many angry people we will have to deal with? How many important emails we will never know were sent? Events we didn’t cover?

You call your service “Yahoo Small Business.” What business can go four days without email because your tech people don’t work weekends?

Nobody is perfect. And for the fifty bucks I send you every month I don’t feel I am entitled to my own tech support substation in my office.

But you cut us off, didn’t tell us and then left for the weekend.

I hope when you return you figure out a better way to handle this.

I hope you work harder to treat your small business customers like their business matters.

Until then I am disappointed in an old friend.

It is day 4.

Sincerely,

Dan McDermott
Newspaper publisher and loyal Yahoo customer since 2003.

[For publication in the print and online versions of Warren County Report and The Sherando Times. ]

Published in: on May 17, 2010 at 5:31 pm  Comments (1)  

Dan McDermott: Just another tech show (VIDEO)

- Google has a new look.
- FCC push to ‘softly regulate’ broadband: http://www.pcworld.com/article/195773/
- Virgin: $25 text/data plan: http://tinyurl.com/26ty59s
- Nowmov.com is cool: http://nowmov.com
- Justin.TV CEO on live video: http://tinyurl.com/34nojx7
- Check out Larry Sabato on Twitter: http://twitter.com/larrysabato
- Dan McDermott: http://twitter.com/danielpmcdermothttp://live.warrencountyreport.comhttp://youtube.com/wcrnewshttp://warrencountyreport.comhttp://sherandotimes.com
Recorded on 5/8/2010 – Captured Live at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/warrencountyreport-com-live

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