FBI enters investigation as Michaele Salahi runs off with Journey guitarist

Warren County, Va. Sheriff Daniel McEathron discusses the allegation that Michaele Salahi had been kidnapped prior to learning that she had apparently instead run off with the lead guitar player for Journey, according to TMZ.

By Dan McDermott
Warren County Report

Front Royal, VA – FBI agents (and TV crews) descended this afternoon on the Warren County home of Tareq and Michaele Salahi to investigate allegations that Mrs. Salahi had been kidnapped.

Rather than being held against her will, Mrs. Salahi had instead run off with Journey lead guitarist Neal Schon, according to the Hollywood gossip site TMZ.com which reported tonight that Michaele was in Memphis where the band is set for a concert with Foreigner.

Separate Ways

The first hint of potential domestic trouble in the Salahi home came on Sept. 7 when Tareq sent this writer a Facebook add request with a message saying he had set up his own profile, sans Michaele. This seemed very odd since they usually do everything together.

Then according to Warren County Sheriff Daniel T. McEathron, Mr. Salahi called the Sheriff’s office Tuesday at 11:50 pm to report that his wife was missing. Deputy Mike Glavis called him back at 11:55 pm to get the details. Shortly afterward, the sheriff’s office got in touch with Mrs. Salahi who “seemed calm, was engaged in conversation and assured the deputy that she had left the residence with a good friend and was where she wanted to be,” according to the Sheriff who said Mrs. Salahi indicated she did not want Mr. Salahi to know where she was.

After midnight, Deputy Glavis called Mr. Salahi to tell him his wife was safe but didn’t want to come home.

Don’t Stop Believing

12 hours after the sheriff’s office told Tareq they had spoken with his wife and she was safe, TMZ ran a story saying they “just spoke with Tareq” and that he believed “his wife was abducted but he doesn’t feel the cops are taking the situation seriously.”

According to TMZ, “he believes Michaele had been FORCED to make the phone calls [to the Warren County Sheriff’s office] by her abductor … and believes she is in very real danger … especially because the Salahis have received death threats in the past.”


Tareq Salahi gave interviews to a skeptical cadre of media who had camped out in front of his house for the first time since the White House State Dinner fiasco. One tear jerker was with a reporter for WRC-4 who literally asked Tareq to “swear to God” his story was true. He did.

Dan McDermott dan@mcdermottreport.com
Circle Dan on Google+ gplus.to/mcdermott

Earlier today I spoke with Salahi attorney David Silek.

Published in: on September 14, 2011 at 7:17 pm  Comments (3)  

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.


Dan is on Facebook and Twitter.

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

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Councilman asks police to lock up process server as members receive $30 million lawsuit

NOTE: This post has been updated.

By Dan McDermott
Warren County Report

FRONT ROYAL, Va. — July 19, 2010 — Three members of Front Royal Town Council and the Town Attorney were served with legal documents at a Town Hall work session tonight, protesting the whole while.

“Lock em up,” said newly installed Councilman Hollis Tharpe as process server John Arena went about his business with Town Police Lt. Clint Keller racing up from behind.

Earlier today, Warren County Report exclusively reported that the complaints in a $30 million lawsuit charging the town and three councilmen with defamation and hurting a business would be served after the work session, held most Mondays in between the more formal twice-monthly council meetings.

The council had just voted to go into a closed session to discuss their lawsuit with the town attorney (an item conspicuously absent from the agenda) and it appeared to some that one meeting had ended but another had not yet begun as spectators, staff and reporters began packing their items up to leave.

At this point, process server Arena, 6’8″ tall and armed with size 18 feet and four 154-page copies of a lawsuit that could cost Front Royal taxpayers millions, casually sprung into action.

Arena first placed a folder in front of Town Attorney Thomas R. Robinett and walked away. Looking surprised, Robinett said “Sir, you are going to interrupt a public meeting?”

Arena said nothing and proceeded around the table toward his next target, Councilman Chris W. Holloway. Holloway sat and didn’t say anything (yet.)

Newly installed Mayor Tim Darr asked Arena to wait until after the closed session “which will only last about five minutes.” Arena slowed for a moment before placing the next folder in front of Holloway.

FRPD Lt. Keller (presumably there to beef up the security normally provided solely by Chief Richard Furr) hurried to catch up to Arena and Furr stood guard at the other side of the table.

Councilman Tharpe (perhaps emboldened since he wasn’t on Arena’s $30 million hit list) issued some advice to Arena and instructions for Keller. “You’ve been warned. Lock him up,” Tharpe said in a most serious tone.

At this point target 3 Councilman Sayre (who had been ducking behind people throughout the meeting to avoid our reporter’s camera) got up and walked around the table to flee Arena and his intimidating folders. Councilman Carson Lauder, target 4, sat calmly and took it like a man. Even calmer, considering he was being threatened with jail by a councilman, being told to leave by a mayor and town attorney and chased–albeit slowly–by the top two officials of the town police department, Arena simply proceeded to slowly walk around the table and drop the last two lawsuits of a lifetime in front of Lauder and where Sayre would be again seated, once Arena had left and it was safe to return.

Arena, followed closely by Lt. Keller, simply slowly walked out of the room and left the building.

Mayor Darr (who is not an attorney and may not have realized that the serving had been completed once the packets were placed in front of the recipients) asked Chief Furr to return the complaints to Arena.

“He’s going to jail. He can’t take them to jail,” offered Tharpe, unaware that Arena had committed no crime and already left the building.

Town Attorney Robinett, realizing the deed had been done, suggested they keep the thick folders.

As the only person in the room with a video camera, I stayed to capture all this, apparently drawing the ire of target 2 Holloway who turned to me and said, “Hey Dan, this is a closed meeting,” while raising his eyebrows almost to his scalp and jabbing at the air toward the door with his pen.

“I’m leaving, chill out buddy,” I said to Holloway as I very slowly packed up my things and kept the camera rolling for a few more precious seconds.

Council then went into closed session to discuss the lawsuit and were perhaps advised on the matter for the last time by Town Attorney Robinett, who’s own packet probably contained a letter from Attorney David W. Silek warning that Robinett would be called as a witness in the case and would most likely be deposed, making it improper for him to offer any further advice or counsel on the case to his clients.

Dan McDermott: editor@warrencountyreport.com

Care to comment on this story? Please do! We’ll print some in the paper. Click here to leave a comment.

Published in: on July 19, 2010 at 10:00 pm  Comments (31)  

Silence of the Guinea Pigs

Charles Hamilton Woodson of Front Royal, VA was convicted of animal cruelty May 18 for slaughtering a pet guinea pig and wearing the hide as a hat. Photo courtesy Warren County, VA Sheriff's Office.

Woodson convicted in throat slitting-hat making incident

By Roger Bianchini
Warren County Report

FRONT ROYAL, VA – A local man remains incarcerated after being convicted on May 18th of a Class I misdemeanor charge of cruelty to animals related to the throat slitting of a guinea pig he had purchased from a local pet store in January.

Forty-one-year-old Charles Hamilton Woodson was sentenced to six months in jail, with four months suspended. He was also fined $1,000, with that fine entirely suspended. Woodson was also found guilty of violating the conditions of his initial $2500 unsecured bond but received no additional sentence on that charge, which landed him in jail on March 28. Prior to that he had been free on the unsecured bond since his Feb. 3rd arrest at his Royal Arms Apartments residence. Woodson had been held in the Warren County Jail for 51 days at the time of his conviction, leaving nine days to be served on the two months of unsuspended time.

However after Woodson’s attorney, Margarita Wood appealed the convictions and returned to court to argue against a $100 appeal bond being imposed, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Elizabeth Bradley argued that Woodson continue to be held without bond pending the appeals.

Warren County General District Court Judge W. Dale Houff agreed, citing concerns around the capias arrest for violating bond by making threatening gestures to a neighbor woman and her three young children. At 5:25 p.m., two hours and fifteen minutes after the trial started and 65 minutes after the guilty verdict, Houff ruled Woodson would continue to be held without bond. Defense attorney Wood indicated she would return to court to argue against that ruling, likely as the trial moves to the Circuit Court level.

Bizarre behavior

In rendering his verdict and sentencing, Judge Houff noted he remained concerned about Woodson’s behavior related to the case. “While he has no previous record I am concerned with his unusual behavior. He slaughtered it, cut its throat – I’m not sure I can parlay that into not being cruel. I don’t want it to appear the court condones this type of behavior.”

The judge called the entire affair “an unusual and troubling situation.”

Included in the court ruling was a condition that Woodson continue to get psychological counseling apparently begun in the wake of a psychological evaluation ordered by the court.

There is also a one-year prohibition on Woodson owning pets.

Woodson’s attorney told the court that her client was now on medication and that he was receiving counseling at Northwestern Community Services. Questioned by the court, Woodson’s mother, present for the trial with a number of others with some relationship to her or her son, confirmed crisis intervention counseling her son was receiving at NWCS. She added she had also been told her son would be seeing an additional caseworker at Northwestern.

Throughout his day in court, both awaiting and during the trial, Woodson exhibited bizarre behavior. He smiled, often broadly, at nothing in particular, and occasionally held a Catholic rosary he was wearing around his neck, over his orange jail jumpsuit, up in his right hand, sometimes while looking at a pamphlet in his left hand. After observing Woodson for awhile prior to the trial, a bailiff crossed the courtroom to where Woodson was seated alone on an inmate bench and removed a pencil from Woodson’s orange jumpsuit pocket and gave it to the bailiff standing next to the defendant. After he was ordered held without bond, Woodson smiled broadly at the group with his mother and made the sign of the cross before leaving the courtroom.

Silence of the guinea pigs

Unlike Clarice Starling, a character in the book and movie “Silence of the Lambs”, it appears Woodson does not wake up sweating from nightmares about the dying screams of animals locked within his memories.

Of course Starling was not the perpetrator of the slaughter for butchering of the lambs of her childhood memories, while Woodson came to trial on May 18th accused of the throat-slitting slaughter for hide of a guinea pig he purchased from a pet store.

Past media reports prior to his incarceration on bond term violations quote Woodson as saying he has been partially disabled since being hit by a truck and suffering “closed head trauma” 15 years ago while studying biology at the University of California at Berkeley. No testimony about Woodson’s mental condition was introduced until the sentencing phase of the trial, and then nothing specific was identified concerning his condition.

While Woodson’s reported statements about his condition appear to indicate he is aware he has problems resulting from his accident, he does not seem to understand how those problems impact his ability to function and interrelate with the world around him on a daily basis. Consequently neighbors describe hostile, troubling and sometimes threatening behavior, while Woodson’s earlier public statements indicate he believes he was doing what any good Davy Crockett fan might, employing humane throat cutting techniques on his guinea pig learned in college before the fall, or in this case, the accident.

Threats to neighbors

On March 26, neighbor Kelly Mills told authorities Woodson had made a throat slitting gesture toward her and her three young children, ages three, two and one years. Two days later he was arrested on a capias for being in violation of the good behavior terms of his bond.

Woodson was initially arrested on a cruelty to animals charge on Feb. 3rd after a neighbor supplied authorities with a photograph of Woodson sporting a guinea pig carcass on his head. At that time Woodson raised not only eyebrows, but also the fears of some neighbors in the Royal Arms Apartments when they saw the most recent addition to what they described as an often bizarre array of clothing worn by their neighbor.

During Woodson’s May 18th trial, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Bradley asked one neighbor if she had noticed anything unusual about Woodson’s appearance early this year.
“There’s always something unusual about his appearance – [this time] I called it a skunk on his head – and he had that robe thing he often wears on and sandals,” Lucinda Jenkins, who lived across the hall from Woodson, replied about her first impression at seeing Woodson’s new head gear. Jenkins noted that her brother had been visiting at the time and had come up to stand next to her at her apartment door during this encounter.

“I asked what he had on his head and he said, ‘I will slaughter all of you and remove the bones from your body.’ I shut the door,” Jenkins said of her termination of the conversation with the 6-foot, 230 pound Woodson at that point.

Betty Stockslager said she first encountered Woodson and his new “hat” in early January when she had left to pick her daughter up for school. She said her neighbor came downstairs in a wool robe with an animal on his head. Asked on cross examination what kind of animal, Stockslager said “between a rabbit and a guinea pig. Stockslager said that as an animal lover she objected to the headpiece and eventually took a picture of the bald-headed Woodson with it on his head.

Noah’s Ark Pet Store clerk Stacy Leary testified Woodson entered the store on the cold morning of Jan. 11, dressed in sandals, a long brown robe with lots of “necklaces” with crosses on them around his neck. She said she didn’t initially wait on Woodson because she heard him talking and thought another employee was helping him. However after she realized he was talking to himself, she asked if he was looking for a pet. Eventually Woodson asked about the cheapest guinea pigs available.

“I said these old guys are on sale,” Leary testified. Woodson picked a brown and tan one she said. After Woodson told Leary he did not need a cage or food, she said she told Woodson what she tells all customers – “Enjoy your pet and call if you have any questions.”

“Oh it will be the most fun I’ve had in a long time,” Leary said Woodson replied.

On cross examination defense counsel tried to establish what has been Woodson’s public contention from the time of his arrest, that he had killed an animal sold by pet stores at least in part, as a food source for other animals like pythons. However Leary replied that Noah’s Ark only sells mice and rats as a food-source for other animals. Guinea pigs and rabbits were sold only as pets, Leary testified.

I hear you knockin’

Warren County Sheriff’s Office Animal Control Deputy Gerald Cubbage testified he initially visited Woodson’s residence on Feb. 3rd to ask if he could speak to him after his department had been presented a photo of Woodson and his headpiece. Cubbage testified Woodson met him at his apartment door wearing the guinea pig carcass, including its head. Cubbage added that there was “a very bad odor” emanating from the apartment, its occupant, or his “hat.”

After the deputy verified the visit was about the guinea pig, Cubbage said Woodson backed into his apartment, said “no” and shut the door. A short time later two more deputies arrived with the search warrant Cubbage requested. Woodson then let the three deputies in. Cubbage said at one point he asked if there were any weapons in the house to which Woodson replied “no.” But after spotting a knife on a living room table in close proximity, he informed Woodson he was under arrest at which time he cuffed and Mirandized him.

Cubbage said Woodson said he didn’t want to talk about “what was on his head” but did respond to other questions.

Animal control officer Laura Gomez testified after receiving the photo of Woodson with the guinea pig head ornament, she had called area pet stores to see if a similar colored guinea pig had recently been sold, pinning down Noah’s Ark as the possible source of the Woodson head ornament. When she arrived with the search warrant on Feb. 3, she verified Woodson came to the door wearing the headpiece in question.

When Woodson sat at a chair by a table at which she said she saw what she described as a guinea pig leg or leg bone, she asked him to remove his headpiece. Gomez testified that Woodson identified a sock-covered wine glass on the table as the place he put his headpiece when he took it off. After she saw a bag of cat food, Gomez asked Woodson if he had a cat. He replied no, that he fed stray cats with the food.

Gomez also said Woodson volunteered that he had “humanely euthanized” the guinea pig by cutting its throat.

A third animal control officer, Deputy Jim Petty also testified that Woodson had volunteered the information that “the animal did not suffer” and that he had killed it “within the standards of American culture.”

Asked if Woodson said how he killed the guinea pig on cross examination, Petty said Woodson said he “had severed its head with a pocket knife,” adding “it did not suffer.”

Defense counsel Wood asked Petty if he had Mirandized Woodson prior to this conversation. Petty said not, but that Woodson had volunteered the information.

It’s just a guinea pig

Wood argued for a dismissal of the charge of animal cruelty. She said that Virginia codes only prohibit the killing of dogs and cats for their hides. “There is no evidence this defendant cruelly killed this animal – all you have is a dead guinea pig,” she told the court.

Bradley countered that state codes defined a standard of treatment for “companion animals” that mandated they be fed, given water and housed. “I can’t fathom that the legislature would require these standards of treatment but would say it is okay to kill it for a headpiece.”

In rebuttal Wood argued that if her client was guilty, it was of a Class IV misdemeanor, failure to care for a domestic animal, rather then the Class I cruelty charge. – “It’s called butchering, slaughtering without suffering whether it is a tiny, little rabbit or guinea pig, it is not different than a cow. It should not be an appeal to emotions – it is what it is. It may be unusual, dare I say weird. But it doesn’t rise to the level of this statute,” Wood argued for her client.

In denying the motion to dismiss, Judge Houff said he believed the prosecution evidence had risen to the standard of proving that Woodson’s act was done “cruelly and unnecessarily.”
When the court asked if there was more evidence to be presented prior to a verdict being rendered, Wood added, “You have to kill it to take its hide.” The defense presented no witnesses.

Apparently the judge disagreed with the premise the hide taking was justified or legal, and found Woodson guilty of both the cruelty to animals charge and the violation of his bond through the throat slitting gesture made to his neighbor and her children.

Neighbors said Woodson’s apartment appears to have been cleaned out and they assume that once released, he will no longer be their neighbor. Bradley said Woodson’s living situation would be a topic of discussion at any future bond hearings.

Asked about the availability of Woodson’s court-ordered mental evaluation, Bradley added that like information about the medication he is now on as a result of that evaluation, the information is not part of the open court record.

I discussed what I’d heard in court on May 18th with a number of people, several of whom pointed out the killing of small animals is a described pattern of behavior exhibited by some convicted serial killers. Is there a danger Charles Woodson could eventually act on some of his threatening gestures or statements to neighbors? After all, throat slitting and bone removal are things Woodson had recently done to the guinea pig in question as the Noah’s Ark clerk testified, essentially “for fun.”

All of this, as Judge W. Dale Houff commented, has been “an unusual and troubling situation.” Unfortunately, it is likely a situation that will not end with this misdemeanor verdict, appeal and eventual sentencing and release of Charles H. Woodson.

Roger Bianchini: rogerb@warrencountyreport.com

Published in: on May 21, 2010 at 7:24 pm  Comments (8)  


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  

McDermott & Bianchini Episode 1

Healthcare Hysteria!
– President Obama’s healthcare bill has passed. What’s in it?
– Why so much misinformation?
– People are freaking out. Is it similar to the reaction to desegregation?
– Australia spends half as much of GDP on healthcare and everyone is covered.
– Doctors say it was a bad idea to have let the health insurance companies take over health care.

Guinea Pig-Gate: A Front Royal man is charged with buying a guinea pig at a pet store, killing it and making it into a hat which he wore around his neighborhood.
– Should he be charged with a hunting violation?
– Should you be allowed to kill your pets?
– Is the man competent to stand trial?
– Is it hypocritical to say cute furry animals can’t be killed but cows can?
– What if he had fed it to a snake?

Is Front Royal about to over burden local businesses with luxury taxes?
– Front Royal, VA will not raise real estate or personal property taxes.
– The town is facing a $700,000 budget shortfall but by law must balance it’s budget.
– The town is considering some luxury tax hikes that could affect smokers, restaurants and hotels.
– People freaking out over $20 a year
– Will town businesses lose customers to Warren County?

Police Chief criticized for speaking at public hearing in uniform with gun.
– Front Royal, VA Police Chief Richard H. Furr was criticized for an email sent by an aide advocating a tax hike to fully fund his department.
– He was also criticized for speaking at a town council public hearing while wearing his uniform and gun.
– Fair charge or silly town politics?
– Town police chiefs always go to town council meetings in uniform.

Published in: on March 26, 2010 at 1:38 am  Comments (2)  

VIDEO: Freezing for food on a school bus

Joe Woodall from WZRV The River 95.3 FM in Front Royal, VA is camping on a school bus with no heat for one week to get folks to bring non perishable food for the local food banks. You can help by passing this video around and by bringing food to him by Saturday at the Royal Plaza Shopping Center. (And a space heater?)

Published in: on November 17, 2009 at 1:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

Virginia legislator: ‘My War with the Eastern Box Turtle’

(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department photo)

Dear Friend

“What do you have against turtles?”

Today I did something I never imagined I would have to do when I was elected to serve in the Senate of Virginia. I spoke and voted against legislation to make the box turtle as our state reptile (passed 24-15). That has led to some asking me, “What do you have against turtles?” It’s not a question I anticipated being asked this session, but it’s one I’ve heard more than a few times in the last few days.

For the record, I don’t have anything against the Eastern Box Turtle or terrapins in general, so there’s no need to speculate.

No, I don’t object to turtles; I object to wasting time on trivialities while seriously contemplating pushing back the budget for some later date. I have nothing against the Eastern Box, but I do have a problem with the amount of time we’ve spent this session on bills that have nothing to do with making our Commonwealth a better place, to say nothing of getting our economy back on track. This bill is just one isolated, albeit absurd (okay, even slightly amusing), example of a larger trend.

Is designating a state reptile really worth our time? We already have a state beverage, state insect, and a state gold mining interpretive center – presumably to distinguish it from the pretenders. We even have a state fossil, an extinct scallop.

I concede that Virginia trails other states in designations. We don’t have a state shrub, a state grass, or even a state donut. But if we’re to pick a state reptile, how to choose? Sure, the Eastern Box Turtle is a fine choice, but there’s something to be said for the endangered stinkpot turtle, too. And who doesn’t have a soft spot for other reptilian species, like the yellow-bellied slider, the common five-lined skink (and, of course, some would undoubtedly suggest politicians and lawyers)?

You know, we have a state shell as well. Increasingly, though, I think our state shell should be the one some in government are hiding under they we wait for the economic ill winds to pass us by. One of the counties I represent has an 11.7% unemployment rate, and they’re not alone. People are struggling to make ends meet across the Commonwealth, and they need the General Assembly to redouble its efforts to promote economic recovery, not ignore the problem in the hopes that it will just go away.

So nothing against the turtle – but if I had my way, he’d have to get in line.

Mark Obenshain
Virginia State Senator

Published in: on February 10, 2009 at 2:19 pm  Comments (10)  

Free complete print edition: Mid January, 2009

Click here to open

Inside this issue:

  • Front Royal, VA woman loses finger in domestic dispute
  • Browntown Road shooting
  • Additional charges filed in Warren County, VA house ramming incident
  • Two arrested in Papa John’s Pizza robbery
  • Be on the lookout for Daniel Eli of Bethlehem, PA
  • Driveway scams
  • Openings for Citizens Police Academy
  • R-MA teacher honored
  • State River Park attendance down
  • New Linden, VA trash site opens
  • Town of Front Royal, VA approaches liaison: Let’s talk – just not about ‘that’
  • Warren County, VA approves 5-pronged January liaison agenda
  • Capt. Richard H. Furr makes it official – applying for Front Royal, VA police chief’s job
  • Del. Clay Athey’s Report from Richmond, VA
  • Neighbors point fingers (not guns) during shooting debate
  • ‘Pawsitive Pup’ makes dog grooming more convenient
  • NFL playoffs – Still Cheering Purple Pride
  • Activities & events in Front Royal and Warren County, VA
  • Opinion: The Gaza Holocaust
  • Letter: History’s Revenge
  • Front Royal/Warren County, VA Chamber of Commerce news
  • Entire issue is free here.

Also, 2008: The Year in Review

  • 2008 – It wasn’t that great: From bad weather to a lousy economy – good riddance
  • Inventor John Kovak: Childhood machine could be key to clean energy production in Front Royal, VA
  • CPV, Dominion Power make it official – the ‘buy’ is on
  • Paying for our own noose? Front Royal, VA debates the true price of power – 50 years of coal
  • Loss of father, two young children mourned at Candlelight Vigil
  • Town of Front Royal, VA approves corridor, EDA resolutions  – Threat of litigation by Riverton Commons restaurants hovers over passage
  • First Crooked Run Center tax revenue estimates in
  • Town, FDR Services settle water-sewer rate war – Two years of litigation ends with compromise, 15-year service contract
  • Should the Dow be at 3,000? Up a grand, down a grand – Great Depression 2.0?
  • Show me the money – Brooks calls out EDA financing – EDA’s reduced municipal funding request opens a fiscal can of worms
  • Town move on EDA assets likely futile – Virginia state law protects autonomy of economic development authorities
  • Town to EDA – ‘Pretty please with sugar on top’ – Town rephrases effort to gain control of millions in EDA assets
  • Abusive driver fees’ hit the dustbin of legislative history – Refunds included in ‘civil remedial fee’ repeal signed into law by Virginia governor
  • Virginia Governor Tim Kaine cites importance of dialogue in state government
  • Va. Supreme Court rules against NVTA road taxing – Local plaintiff, delegate weigh in on decision, state funding responsibilities
  • Questions remain about Virginia state trooper collision – Public’s right to know at issue as accident investigation continues
  • Humane Society board recalled under contentious circumstances – Accusations fly over membership voting eligibility, animal care priorities
  • Wagner Shelter two weeks later – ‘a remarkable change’; In the wake of contentious board recall, humans & animals move on
  • Monk murder mystery – A personal remembrance of a soul in wonder
  • Entire issue is free here.

Inmate walks out of jail, roams through town bumming cigarettes…in handcuffs

Faith McHale chats with FRPD K-9 Officer Jason Bates before being whisked back to Warren County Jail

Faith McHale chats with FRPD K-9 Officer Jason Bates before being whisked back to Warren County Jail

By Dan McDermott
Warren County Report Newspaper

The Warren County County, Virginia Jail had its first escape in years Nov. 8th when an inmate walked out of the “cage” and began a trek through town in search of cigarettes and freedom.

She had more luck bumming the smokes.

According to Jail Captain Steve Barr, Faith McHale, 36, had been brought to the jail and was handcuffed when she discovered that the magnetic door at the Jackson Street entrance had not closed.

Around 4:30 pm “she just walked out with the handcuffs on,” said Barr.

Initial reports that McHale was also wearing leg shackles proved to be untrue.

The sight of McHale walking through town with county bracelets on generated a number of calls to area dispatchers.

The woman apparently borrowed a cigarette from someone at Roy’s Express at the intersection of North Royal Ave. and Chester St. before reportedly entering a blue pickup truck headed toward South Street.

“We did not confirm the pickup,” said Barr.

Authorities converged on Main Street after receiving a call that McHale was standing next to the woodpile at Stokes Mart.

She was found there puffing away and was quickly brought back to the jail where the magnetic lock was presumably double checked.

“She was apprehended after about 15-20 minutes,” Barr said.

Barr, who has been at the Jail since 1991, said it was the first time he could recall someone actually escaping from the jail since an early 1990’s renovation that added central heating and air and sealed off inmate’s windows.

[Just prior to presstime, however, WC Report’s crack research staff reports that another female prisoner walked out of the jail about five years ago after disabling the wiring to an electronic holding cell lock near the prisoner transport entrance.]

Barr said most “escapes” are actually work release inmates who either walk off the job or simply don’t return to jail after work.

McHale was a resident of the local women’s shelter and appeared to be intoxicated during the ordeal. According to Barr, McHale was originally charged with child abuse and has now been charged with escape from the jail, where she currently resides.

Barr said the lock appears to be functioning correctly now but noted that a security company has been asked to come and check it out.

The Warren County Jail welcomes about 167 “guests” a month.

[ From the current issue of Warren County Report Newspaper. On stands now. Dan McDermott: editor [at] warrencountyreport.com ]

Read more news free in our back issues.

Published in: on November 15, 2008 at 12:24 pm  Comments (10)  
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