Town police chief to retire May 1

Norman A. Shiflett

FRONT ROYAL – Town police Chief Norman Shiflett plans to retire this spring, more than a year after an injury sidelined the law enforcement veteran.

Interim Town Manager Joseph Waltz announced during his report to the Town Council Monday night that Shiflett would retire effective May 1 and lauded the chief’s work for Front Royal. Officials received a letter from Shiflett last week about his retirement plans, Waltz said after the meeting. The town likely will begin advertising the chief position soon, he noted.

Waltz referred other questions to Shiflett or Human Resources Director Julie Bush.

Reached by phone after the meeting, Shiflett spoke about his decision.

“I’ve been thinking about retirement for some time, and I just thought now would be a good time to do it,” Shiflett said. “Now would be better than ever, I guess.”

His retirement comes after about 34 years in law enforcement.

“I feel good about it,” Shiflett said. “Of course putting in 33 years I thought it was time. Of course I’m not getting any younger.”

Shiflett told The Northern Virginia Daily in mid-August that he checked in with the department and worked part time from home while letting an ankle injury heal. Shiflett sustained the broken ankle in a household accident in September 2015 but returned to work until complications arose last summer, he said at the time. Deputy Chief Bruce Hite has overseen the department since then.

“I’m doing well with the ankle surgery but still not at 100 percent and I have to be 100 percent before I can go back to duty,” Shiflett said. “That didn’t really have an effect on my retirement. I just thought it would be a good time to go out.

“And although I’m retired from the police department, I won’t fully retire,” Shiflett added. “I’ll find something else.”

Shiflett worked for the Warren County Sheriff’s Office for 28 years, achieving the rank of major chief, before assuming leadership of the town department in September 2012. Since then the agency has implemented some programs for career development. Shiflett also has led the department as town officials and the council looked for its home, which is now in the design phase and slated for construction on the former Avtex Fibers site.

Also at the Monday’s meeting, council:
• Approved a resolution of support for the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority application for a $600,000 industrial revitalization grant to make improvements to the former Afton Inn. The application deadline is Wednesday. Councilman Jacob Meza did not attend the meeting. Councilman John Connolly said he wants the town to exhaust every opportunity to bring the Afton Inn into some use, noting that it’s been a struggle. Business partners who were considering buying the property cited the estimated cost to rehabilitate the structure as prohibitive.
• Received comments during a public hearing held on the town’s pursuit of up to $1 million funding through the federal Community Development Block Grant program. Linda Allen pointed out that the town only would need to spend roughly $130,000 if it received the grant. The proposed grant application includes a request for funds, along with a local match, to implement the Downtown Revitalization Plan developed over the past year by town officials, business owners, community leaders and residents. The plan includes a façade improvement program, community branding, physical improvements in the project area, way-finding signs, a parking analysis and strategies for business recruitment and retention. Council took no action on the matter.
• Approved an application for a Virginia Commission of Arts Local Government Challenge Grant for $5,000 – $4,500 for the Blue Ridge Arts Council and $500 for the Front Royal Oratorio Society. The grant recipients asked the council to apply for grants offered through the state commission. Approval of the requests are contingent upon the commission approving the applications and the town providing matches equal to the grant awards.
• Approved the removal of outstanding accounts left unpaid for seven years or more from the enterprise and general fund liability accounts. Bad debts total $203,809. Mayor Hollis Tharpe said he wanted to shed more light on the matter of bad debt and that town staff do all they can to try to collect the outstanding accounts.
• Met in closed session to consider appointments to the Planning Commission.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com