Council: ATF facility should remain local

FRONT ROYAL – The Town Council hopes the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Canine Center will remain in Front Royal.

The council at its regular Monday meeting unanimously approved a resolution supporting the facility’s continued presence in town. This comes about a month after the Warren County Board of Supervisors passed a similar supporting resolution.

In July, the Committee on Judiciary held an oversight hearing regarding a possible relocation of the canine center from Front Royal to Huntsville, Alabama.

According to previous reports, the relocation was proposed by U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama.

When the county approved its supporting resolution, Supervisor Tom Sayre compared Shelby to a shark smelling blood from miles away who is “trying to come in the back door” pending the retirement of House of Representative Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Roanoke.

Located off Cavalry Road since 1990, the facility employs 30 people and has trained 1,200 canines for agencies in America and abroad.

The resolution states that the center has been a “tremendous economic engine,” positively impacting restaurants, businesses, hotels, veterinarians and more. It adds that the facility’s relocation would have a “significant negative impact” on such industries in the town and county.

The resolution also points out that a feasibility study has found that such a relocation would be too expensive – an estimated $40 million – and would have a negative effect on the dogs.

The Town Council also:

  • Approved the donation of 10 utility poles to Randolph Macon Academy.
  • Approved the $128,065 purchase of three 2019 Ford Interceptor utility vehicles and an accompanying emergency lighting and weapons mount. The vehicles are replacing a 2015 Ford Interceptor with 104,0000 miles and two 2016 Ford Interceptors with 92,000 and 101,000 miles.
  • Approved a proclamation naming Aug. 13, 2018 “Front Royal Little League Day” in celebration of the team’s 4-1 record in the District 3 Championship and advancement to the Virginia State Little League Tournament.
  • Approved the first reading of an ordinance that would add a $5 fee to criminal and traffic cases. Those funds will be used solely to fund software for the implementation and maintenance of an electronic summons system.
  • Approved appointments to the town-county joint towing board. Towing representatives are Gloria Knott, Louis “Peanut” Tharpe and Alan Crawford; law enforcement members are Warren County Sheriff’ Office Lt. William Smoot and Front Royal Police Sgt. Bryan Courtney and citizen representative Emily Mounce.

All council members were present at the meeting.