I have been following for over a year the slowly stewing story of “irregularities” with the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority.

It was obvious that the press was not telling the public as much as what was known or believed to be known about this case. Now news comes from a lawsuit by the new leadership of the EDA against its former director and Warren County Sheriff, Daniel McEathron.

The charges, if true, strike a savage blow to the not very prosperous people of Warren County. Because of now-revealed funding shortfalls, taxes will be going up for all residents. Needed infrastructure will not be built or improved. Economic development will not be aided. Rarely does malfeasance so directly affect the totality of the citizens of the community.

While it is good news that the Warren County commonwealth’s attorney has requested a grand jury to investigate this matter, the timing of this announcement is unfortunate. Since it appeared that public knowledge of this case could no longer be managed, it appears that this office did what it probably could have and should have done some time ago. The commonwealth’s attorney will have to explain to the public why it took so long for his office to act. Given the inaction of the Town Council and others in the face of clear warning of irregularities, nothing appears to have been done except a half-hearted effort to suppress discussion of the topic amid fuzzy talk of an “ongoing investigation.”

A local grand jury made up of citizens of this small county where many of the suspects are related will not be enough.

Given the appearance of malfeasance, and at the very least incredible incompetence from all levels of Warren County and Front Royal government officials including law enforcement, this case should be referred immediately to federal authorities. This is particularly important as former Congressman Bob Goodlatte’s name has been linked to the case.

The citizens of Warren County and Front Royal will have to take it on themselves to see that this matter receives the attention it deserves from the appropriate levels of government.

Robert Marshall, Front Royal