The Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority will lose another board member this month as it continues to struggle to hire a new director.

The EDA board of directors met Friday where they discussed, among other matters, the pending departure of member Dr. Thomas Patteson, who plans to resign at the end of the month. Patteson’s four-year term expires at the end of February.

Chairman Jeff Browne, Vice Chairman Greg Harold, Secretary Marjorie “Jorie” Martin, Patteson and directors Scott Jenkins and Jim Wolfe attended the meeting via Zoom. Fellow directors lauded Patteson for his four years of service to the EDA. Patteson returned the compliments.

EDA attorney Sharon Pandak, Warren County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Cheryl L. Cullers, County Administrator Edwin Daley, the county Finance Director Matt Robertson and Deputy Finance Director Alisa Scott and Planning Director Joseph Petty also attended the meeting via Zoom.

Martin, whose term also expires at the end of February, said in an email Thursday she has not decided if she wants to seek a re-appointment.

“The EDA requires a lot of time each month,” Martin stated in the email. “Another four years is a long commitment. I love the work and the opportunity to make a difference. It is a serious decision and one I will make in the next several weeks before my term expires.”

Meanwhile, the Warren County Board of Supervisors has not filled an EDA seat left vacant last summer. Supervisors appointed Robert Hencken to the EDA board in early 2021. Hencken resigned in the summer.

The EDA also lacks employees, a point that Browne and Harold mentioned at the meeting.

“We don’t have staff members at this point and so it has devolved to the board to do a lot of the administrative work, of which there is a substantial amount of it,” Browne said.

Former Executive Director Douglas Parsons left the position in early October for a job with Fauquier County. EDA Administrative Assistant Gretchen Henderson resigned about a month earlier to take a job with the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission.

Deputy County Administrator Taryn Logan has been named interim EDA director while the authority searches for an administrative assistant and permanent director. Logan and Petty work on prospective businesses and industries while Daley handles the EDA’s loans and other financial matters.

The county is in the process of establishing a Department of Economic Development staffed with government employees to work with the EDA board.

But the EDA and the county face a challenge of finding staff for the authority. Browne acknowledged that the county continues to help the EDA. Until the EDA has a full-time executive director, it’s critical that the authority has a full board, Browne said. Some people have shown an interest in serving and have been encouraged to apply for the board seats, Browne said.

Patteson leads the board’s search committee and said recruitment remains a challenge.

“I’m disappointed that the applicants for the administrative assistant took other jobs and ... we had some good, qualified people,” Patteson said.

The county’s Director of Human Resources Jane Meadows in assisting with the recruitment effort has received few applications for the executive director, Patteson said. The administrative responsibilities fall on Browne, which create an extra burden on the chairman, Patteson said.

“But I just don’t think those two positions should be held by one person for (the) long-term,” Patteson said.

The county continues to advertise the director position through the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, LinkedIn and Indeed, Patteson said. The county website also features the application, he said. Patteson suggested that the county advertise the position through the International Economic Development Council.

Also at the meeting, the board met in a closed session to:

• Discuss and receive legal advice regarding the disposition of EDA property at 1321 Happy Creek Road, 426 Baugh Drive and in the Avtex redevelopment area.

• Consult with legal counsel on the EDA v. Jennifer McDonald et al lawsuit.

• Consult with legal counsel about refinancing debt through First Bank & Trust.

• Discuss a personnel matter relating to two specific board members.

The board reconvened in open session and voted in favor of a motion to adopt a resolution to approve a 1-year lease with Donald E. Bowling, the tenant of 13291 Happy Creek Road, for $1,600 a month. The EDA acquired the property through its civil lawsuit against former Executive Director Jennifer McDonald, whose company MoveOn8 LLC owned the 41.1-acre property.

– Contact Alex Bridges at abridges@nvdaily.com

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