NSVRC honors Frederick County administrator

Dennis Morris, chairman of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission, hands a bag of Route 11 barbecue potato chips to John Riley, left, retiring Frederick County Administrator, in commemoration for his service on the commission on Thursday. Henry Culvyhouse/Daily

FRONT ROYAL — The Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission honored an outgoing commissioner Thursday night at the organization’s annual Christmas dinner.

John Riley, Frederick County administrator, is set to retire from his post Feb. 1 and subsequently from his position as a commissioner representing Frederick County on the NSVRC board. Riley has been an administrator since 1983 and a commissioner since 1984, overseeing a population explosion and the issues that come with it.

Dennis Morris, chairman of the NSVRC, said Morris has been a reliable asset for the commission for his 30-year tenure during remarks at the dinner held at the Holiday Inn at 111 Hospitality Drive in Front Royal.

“He was a true believer in the commission and he was a faithful in attendance at the commission,” Morris said. “We leaned on him a lot because 30 years is a long time and he been there and done that and it wasn’t his first rodeo.”

For his service on the commission, Morris presented a resolution that commemorated Riley’s service on the commission.

” … He is a true leader in fostering progress in a fiscally responsible manner, whereas he has demonstrated time and time again a commitment to offering guidance and advice for the emerging and developing professionals in the commission and in the community,” Morris read from the resolution.

Martha Shickle, executive director for the NSVRC, said Riley has been “a wonderful mentor” for her and her staff on the commission.

“He’s always been available, he’ll pick up the phone and you can ask questions and chat to get an idea of what programs to implement,” Shickle said. “They’ve helped us in areas we had no expertise in.”

Shickle said a great example is when the NSVRC moved into their new facility at 400 Kendrick Lane in Front Royal in 2011, Riley lent the organization the Frederick County building official and project managers to oversee construction and renovation, along with information technology support when the commission acquired a new server.

Shickle said Riley’s personality has taken him a long way in his career as a county administrator and regional commissioner.

“The longevity he has in Frederick County is remarkable, but the fact he has been able to be a leader in the region where we have communities with all different priorities and to be able to make an impression on those communities is a testament to his flexibility that he has in his personality,” Shickle said.

During Riley’s tenure on the commission, he has been involved in various transportation, water and economic issues that have faced the region. Riley said one of the biggest issues he helped with was getting the NSVRC staff into their present facility.

“I think the biggest part was getting them out of the building they were in to something that’s now functional so they can be more productive,” Riley said. “I think the commission is focused on all the needs of cities, counties and towns.”

Riley continued, “They’re very visible, they’re helpful where asked to help. The creativity and initiative to look at regional projects that benefit all of us is great.”

Riley said he was happy to help with the commission to supply them with resources and information to further the group’s mission.

“There’s no reason to not help,” Riley said. “It’s for the good of the region. We as towns, cities and counties compete on the same playing field for economic development, but when we lose out, we always lend our support to whoever benefited from it in the region.”

The NSVRC gave Riley a bluegrass album, two bags of Route 11 potato chips and tickets to a bluegrass concert for his time on the commission. Riley said he is happy, but little unsure to see retirement.

“I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do, but that’s the fear of the unknown,” Riley said. “When the last day comes and the screens go dark and you’re longer on the end of a text from the fire marshal telling you what’s going on in one end of the county, it all goes away. We’ll see what happens.”

Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or hculvyhouse@nvdaily.com