FRONT ROYAL – The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday named Marjorie Martin the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority's newest board member, marking the fourth EDA board appointment since October.
After exiting a closed session that lasted about an hour, it was a race between supervisors Tony Carter and Tom Sayre for who was quickest on the draw to suggest a new board member as the two began reading their motions simultaneously. Carter ceded the floor to Sayre, who made a motion that Mark Egger be appointed as a board member.
That motion failed by a 3-2 vote, with supervisors Carter, Linda Glavis and Chairman Dan Murray dissenting. Egger and his daughter, former town councilwoman Bébhinn Egger-Roland, have been vocal critics of the EDA.
Regarding the vote against him, Egger stated in an email: “I applied for the position in order to dissolve the EDA. The new Executive Director should be hired as an employee of the County and continue to do the same job, but without the burden of an incompetent Board of Directors. It is difficult to find seven competent volunteers to fill these positions. The end result has been that we end up with either bigshots with big egos, or politically connected friends of certain members of the Board of Supervisors. I think the fact that the Board of Supervisors refuses to remove the current Chairman of the EDA, who signed a deed without reading it and gave away a piece of real estate that the EDA paid at least $450,000 for, speaks volumes.”
Egger is referencing EDA Chairman Gray Blanton, who previously said that he signed a deed selling a piece of land valued at $437,000 for $10 in November 2018. Blanton said he only saw the last page of the deed, which was provided to him by the authority's former Executive Director Jennifer McDonald and that he had no reason not to trust her at the time. This was despite the fact that the EDA was at the time over two months into an audit investigating McDonald's allegedly fraudulent activity.
After Egger was voted down, Carter then motioned that Martin be appointed, which passed. She will fill the seat vacated by Bruce Drummond, who was appointed to the EDA in 2014 and was the authority’s longest-tenured board member. He resigned last week with no reason given, according to EDA attorney Dan Whitten.
Martin did not respond to a request for comment via email. She is the newest member on a board that has seen a constant reshuffling amid what the EDA alleges in a lawsuit to have been a $17.6 million embezzlement scheme involving nine defendants.
Within the last eight months, the EDA’s only two staff members - McDonald and former administrative assistant Michelle "Missy" Henry - also resigned and were subsequently arrested. They are being held without bond for alleged embezzlements stemming from their time at the authority.
Besides the appointment of a new EDA board member, other reasons for which the supervisors went into closed session included: acquisition of real property for a property located in the Fork Magisterial District, which Murray said the county would not buy; consultation with legal counsel regarding probable litigation; and consultation with legal counsel regarding accounting and debt services.