By Sally Voth -- email@example.com
WOODSTOCK -- Anti-jail sentiment reached a fever pitch during a town hall meeting Monday night at Woodstock Fire Department.
About a dozen or so sign-wielding protesters gathered in the courthouse square while District 4 Supervisor Sharon Baroncelli and School Board Chairman Gary Rutz got the meeting, on what was supposed to be the county's proposed fiscal 2013 budget, under way.
Drivers in several passing vehicles honked in support, and others gave the thumbs-up.
"Sharon Baroncelli's attitude is defiant, and the taxpayers of this county don't appreciate it," protester Marsha Shruntz said. "Baroncelli calls us hysterical."
Inside the fire hall, emotions ran high, with some critics launching a blistering attack on Baroncelli.
Cindy Bailey, who was the chief jailer at the Shenandoah County Jail before retiring several years ago, said taxes keep going up.
"Your taxes haven't been raised in seven years," Baroncelli responded.
Projects kept getting "kicked down" the road, leading to falling-down buildings, she said.
"We're spending money on projects that we don't need," Bailey said. "We don't need them right now. They can wait. Get out of [the jail project]."
The meeting came on the eve of a pivotal vote on the estimated $89 million regional jail project.
The Board of Supervisors is expected to vote this morning on a resolution authorizing the execution of a support agreement with the jail authority to participate in the Virginia Resources Authority's spring bond pool for $65 million, and to issue short-term notes in the maximum of $33 million, said Walker outside the town hall meeting.
And, on Thursday, construction bids are due to be opened, he said.
Several times, Baroncelli tried to change the topic from the RSW Regional Jail to the budget, but was unsuccessful. She and Bailey repeatedly interrupted each other throughout the meeting.
At one point, Bailey accused Baroncelli of dishonesty, which caused the supervisor to bristle.
"I do not lie," she said in a shaking voice. "I have never lied about anything."
Bailey questioned whether money for the jail was factored into the proposed fiscal 2013 budget. Baroncelli said it wasn't, that the county wouldn't have to start paying for that until fiscal 2015.
There are "pretty extraordinary" consequences to pulling out of the jail agreement with Warren and Rappahannock counties, Walker said.
"We're certainly obligated for our share of the money that's already been borrowed, $6 million," he said.
Plus, it's likely a court order would be issued requiring the county to honor its commitment to the other two counties, Walker said.
"I think there are enough people in this county [willing] to purse that avenue," Bailey said. "We're ready to cut our losses."
"I don't think the majority of the citizens are against the regional jail," she said.
Five years of study, and the state's willingness to fund up to half the costs of a regional facility, compared to no contribution for a local jail, tipped the case for the three-county jail, according to Baroncelli. She said Sheriff Timothy C. Carter -- a vocal opponent to the regional approach -- told the supervisors at the onset that doing nothing wasn't an option.
"And, what you folks are presenting to us is doing nothing," Baroncelli said.
Bailey accused Baroncelli of categorizing items in the jail needing repair as the reason "you want to spend, right now, $72 million."
"I lived it," she said. "I worked it in this jail. That's not true about the jail failing. The jail is not failing. They're like any other old building in this county."
New Market resident Mark Capozella accused Baroncelli of ignoring the residents.
"You're not being honest," he said. "Maybe you're not being honest with yourself, but you're sure as heck not being honest with the people in this room about the jail. We will see at the election whether you're right or wrong. What's more important...to the Board of Supervisors, a Republican party that's united, or a jail that the majority of the people in this county do not want?"
Hugh Owen, of Mt. Jackson, said both the sheriff and the former captain of the jail are the best qualified to determine whether the current facility is adequate, and they had been set aside. He said he visited the jail many times while volunteering with his church.
"If you're interested in rehabilitating our inmates, the worst thing you can do for them is to ship them off to a big impersonal facility," he said. "If you're really interested in doing what's right, then every single effort should be expended to reverse a bad decision rather than saying we're stuck with it."
Toms Brook resident Mark Prince brought up his long-running battle against District 5 Supervisor Dennis Morris -- whose seat he unsuccessfully challenged several years ago -- regarding an alleged conflict of interest on a property deal.
"The issue that I see is trust between the Board of Supervisors and the citizens of Shenandoah County," Prince said.
Baroncelli asked, "It is going to be about Mr. Morris, or do you have a question? This is a personal issue that you have with Mr. Morris."
Prince said a large sporting goods company, REI, didn't locate in the county because county officials didn't inform it that the proposed site was on battlefield land.
"Mr. Prince, I don't think you want to go there with REI," Baroncelli said. "We know who sent REI away, and it wasn't Shenandoah County.
"I'm not doing personal agendas. This is our meeting, and we're talking about [the] budget."
Prince continued to argue with Baroncelli, and then her husband, Andrew, spoke up, although he didn't identify himself.
"That's enough," Andrew Baroncelli said. "Shut the hell up."
He went on to ask questions about jail standards and protocol. Andrew Baroncelli said he had a problem with prisoners being offloaded on the sidewalk outside the jail rather than in a sallyport.
Kevin Whalen asked if a petition would carry any weight. Baroncelli said it would have an impact if the cost estimates have changed to the point they were unaffordable. The residents would have to understand the county would still have to pay the money that's been spent so far and it could be sued by Rappahannock and Warren counties, she said.
Baroncelli said residents could bring petitions.
Whalen questioned what would happen if there were 3,000 signatures on a position.
Walker suggested they "talk reality." The bond vote is Tuesday morning.
"The timing makes this pretty darn awkward," Walker said.