Supervisor raises concern with panel appointments

WOODSTOCK – A Shenandoah County supervisor called out his colleagues Tuesday for stonewalling efforts to fill seats on a local panel.

Vice Chairman Richard Walker voiced his concern that the Board of Supervisors has failed to appoint members to fill vacancies on the Social Services Board after several attempts over the past few months.

Virginia requires that the local Department of Social Services Board  have three to five appointed members, Walker said. It remains unclear if the Board of Supervisors or the Department of Social Services appoints members to the panel, Walker added. The Social Services Board has three members.

Supervisors considered two women whose resumes “proved that they would be helpful,” Walker said. A member resigned from the board about two years ago but supervisors had not been notified and the county administration still listed that person as on the panel as of this past February, Walker added.

Minutes of the Social Services Board meetings showed that one member has not been able to physically attend a meeting in more than a year, Walker said. That member did attend one meeting by telephone, he added. Another member might have family matters that could affect that person’s ability to serve, Walker said.

“I believe the refusal to nominate and to accept these additional members is starting to get in the way of running county business and I’m not at all happy with that,” Walker said.

The vice chairman asked county administration if supervisors can set the number of members for the panel.

“I’ve no problem with the two ladies that are having difficulties at this point in time,” Walker said. “They both seem like intelligent and worthwhile individuals.

“But if it’s going to get in the way of the department and the board being able to function, then let’s go to five members on that board and let’s appoint qualified and interested citizens from Shenandoah County,” Walker added.

Assistant County Administrator Evan Vass said he would look into Walker’s concerns and added that officials and supervisors discussed the matter at length in closed sessions.

District 5 Supervisor Marsha Shruntz asked Vass to find out if the Department of Social Services ever received restitution in an embezzlement case involving the agency. Chairman Conrad Helsley said the department did receive the full restitution. Shruntz then asked Vass to determine how long it took for supervisors to learn of Bev Fleming’s resignation from the Social Services Board. Shruntz said she thought it took about two years.

Supervisors appoint people to a dozen or more boards and committees, some of which have numerous members, Vass reminded supervisors. Vass apologized if supervisors did not receive a notification about Fleming’s resignation. Fleming resigned before Vass came to work for the county, Shruntz said.

At the end of the meeting, the board went into closed session to discuss, among other matters, potential appointments to the Planning Commission, the Industrial Development Authority, the Citizens Advisory Committee on the Comprehensive Plan, the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission, the Northwestern Community Services Board, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, the Lord Fairfax Community College Board and the Agriculture and the  Forestal Advisory Committee.

Also at the meeting, the board:

• Approved a special-use permit requested by Paul M. Fravel to operate Expressions Hair Studio hair salon on property between 23642 and 23692 Senedo Road, Woodstock. Paul and Jenna Fravel plan to build a new home on the property and the plans  would include the hair salon.

• Approved a special-use permit requested by Joshua and Krystal Getz to operate a public garage in an existing building at 2957 River Road, New Market. The garage would operate from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday, with the applicant serving as the sole employee of the business.

• Met in closed session to consult with County Attorney Jason Ham about a declaratory judgment action pending in Shenandoah County Circuit Court titled “In Re: Eight Bank Accounts” and legal matters raised in and relating to the complaint. Sheriff Timothy C. Carter and his office’s attorney Harwell Darby Jr. appeared at the meeting in case the board wanted them to attend the closed session. Online court records show that Darby filed the declaratory judgment against a defendant or defendants identified only as “Eight bank accounts” on Aug. 30. The court sealed an affidavit filed in the case at the request of plaintiff.

• Met in closed session to discuss the acquisition of real property for a public purpose, specifically the possible replacement of trash compactor sites in Strasburg. In open session, Shruntz submitted petitions signed by more than 300 people asking that the county put a compactor site in the Clary area of the county.