Middletown hears updates, reviews policies

MIDDLETOWN – After missing some committee meetings last month, Middletown’s Town Council caught up on some local developments at a work session this week.

During the public safety committee report at Monday’s meeting, chairman Carolyn Aliff turned the floor over to Police Chief Philip Breeden. He updated the council about plans for area law enforcement to split from the Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy and create their own academy.

He asked for the council’s blessing in the form of a signed letter of support for the change. Breeden also said the council could submit its own suggestion for the new academy’s name.

A private investor will fund the $8 million construction of a new academy building through the Warren Economic Development Agency. Breeden said the new academy would probably look to sell the existing Middletown building – valued at $2.2 million – and use those funds for future operation costs.

“We can’t look a gift horse like that in the mouth, even though I, for one, would hate to see the academy go from here,” he said. “But again, we can’t turn our noses up at this.”

Breeden and former Mayor Ray Steele asked that the council consider establishing a veteran’s memorial at the town park. They mentioned that they had been in contact with those who had worked on the memorial in Stephens City.

“We had a group of concerned individuals with some expertise come together and talk about this,” Steele said. “The actual appointment of a committee is of your responsibility.”

Steele estimated that the monument would cost $35,000. He suggested that the town pay for it from reserve funds and receive contributions and donations later – starting with his own $1,000 donation.

Scott Fink, chairman of the Planning and Zoning Committee, confirmed to council that the Wayside Theatre has been sold and will become a privately owned store with a distillery licensed by the ABC.

George Smith, chairman of the public works committee, did not give an update on the feasibility study for utility cooperation with the town of Stephens City. He repeatedly stressed a conflict of interest in regard to Vice Mayor Tom Simon’s position on the Frederick County Sanitation Authority’s board of directors.

The council discussed deferring a “Workplace Violence” addition to personnel policy for revision. Several members voiced concerns for the ability of town workers to defend themselves before receiving disciplinary action.

Ordinance Committee chairman Jeff Pennington gave the first and second reading of an ordinance that would allow a Town Council member to take part in meetings electronically. The council will vote on the ordinance after a final reading next week.

“What it would allow to do, like when Carole was out of town, it would allow her to participate in meetings via teleconference and to also have a vote,” he said.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com