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Regional jail foes continue fight

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

Foes of a multimillion dollar regional jail ramped up efforts to put the project on hold.

Meanwhile, the sale of millions of dollars in bonds for the jail on Winchester Road in Warren County could move forward on Wednesday.

Plans call for the construction of a regional jail to house up to 375 inmates for the counties of Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren, along the U.S. 522 corridor.

The Virginia Resource Authority plans to sell $45.36 million in bonds in a separate deal for the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail Authority. The VRA pulled the item from a group of requests totaling more than $300 million days before a scheduled bond sale earlier this month.

VRA Executive Director Suzanne Long told the jail authority the agency planned to sell the bonds Wednesday after it had pulled the request from the list. Long explained the VRA wanted to maintain the integrity of the remaining requests while it looked at questions raised about the jail bond.

Woodstock attorney Bradley Pollack sent a letter Sunday to Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng asking his office to put a hold on the pending sale and allow the VRA and its board of directors to "fully investigate" the bond issue.

"Your Virginia Resources Authority is about to go forward with financing the RSW Regional Jail Authority bonds in the face of a clear violation of the Virginia Constitution, and opposition from Delegate Todd Gilbert, Shenandoah County Commonwealth's Attorney Amanda McDonald Wiseley, Shenandoah County Sheriff Tim Carter, and thousands of citizens of Rappahannock, Shenandoah, and Warren Counties," Pollock states in the letter, provided to the Daily via e-mail. "The violation is that the RSW Regional Jail Authority Service Agreement was not approved by the voters as required by Article VII, Section 10, of the Virginia Constitution."

Pollock on Saturday sent letters to Sen. Mark D. Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg; and Delegates C. Todd Gilbert, R-Woodstock; Beverly J. Sherwood, R-Winchester; Michael J. Webert, R-Marshall, asking each to press Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli II to confirm that the three participating county board of supervisors can choose not to honor the obligations and pay loans to the regional jail authority.

"As many millions of dollars are intended to be borrowed and spent in the next week, kindly ask for such opinion right away," Pollock states in the letter provided to the Daily via e-mail.

Pollock states in his letter to Cheng that Long would say future boards of supervisors for the three counties "can legally, and may. choose not to honor the Service Agreement necessary to repay these bonds. Nonetheless, she and VRA Chairman Bill O'Brien -- without any meeting of the VRA Board since Moody's pulled its rating last month -- have chosen to push forward with the bond sales."

Pollock in his letter also questions whether the VRA has the authority to finance a jail project.

Pollock warned the regional jail authority at its meeting last week no urgency existed that compelled the board to move forward with the bond sale. The attorney reiterated this idea in the letter to Cheng. Pollock also advised an opinion issued by the attorney general's office also would help.

Long did not return a message left at her office Monday afternoon. Gilbert did not respond to an e-mail for comment Monday.



See Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors, YOU'RE GOING ABOUT THIS IN A WAY THAT IS AGAINST THE CONSTITUTION OF OUR STATE. What the HELL is the big problem in respecting the wishes of your constituents? Er...I mean YOUR EMPLOYERS. Is all I have heard in the past several months is that "Shenandoah County is a good ole boy network and these people just get re-elected no matter what." Well, I SERIOUSLY hope that the residents of this county aren't stupid enough to re-elect these people again. It is really time to take out the trash....

We have been following the opposition to the Regional Jail for a while now. In all fairness, we do have sympathy for the opposition. However, why was this opposition not more vocal and organized before the Supervisors approved it? That was the time to act, not NOW!!!

What is the definition of a good ole boy, Gary? My family has lived in Shenandoah County numerous generations. I graduated from high school in this county as well as my children. I married my high school sweatheart. I pay my taxes and would re-elect all of the Board Members. Send the jail to Warren County. Does that make me a good ole boy? If so, then I guess I am a good ole boy.

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