A Warren County supervisor questioned the Sheriff’s Office investigation into claims that Front Royal workers illegally dumped sludge at a local collection facility.
Happy Creek District Supervisor Tony F. Carter brought up the subject of the investigation at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday. Sheriff Mark Butler and his office, along with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, investigated a claim that Front Royal employees dumped sludge at a county transfer station in violation of the town’s permits. Butler and deputies recently set up a sting at the facility and confronted town employees who dispose of waste treated by Front Royal.
The matter remains under investigation by the county even though DEQ officials have said the town did not violate any regulations.
But the fall out and response from town officials prompted Carter to question the actions taken by Butler, Interim County Administrator Edwin Daley and Board Chairwoman Cheryl L. Cullers.
“If there’s a concern expressed by a citizen, I believe it’s our role to pass that on and have staff look into it, and if there’s a concern from staff, in my opinion, it should be brought up with his or her direct supervisor and/or his department head,” Carter said. “My understanding is Mrs. Cullers passed this to Mr. Daley regarding the incident at the transfer station. He then contacted the sheriff.”
Carter asked Cullers if she directed Daley to contact the sheriff or did the administrator make the decision to contact the sheriff. Carter also asked if the county administration contacted Director of Public Works Mike Berry. Daley said Berry was contacted at the same time he contacted the sheriff.
Cullers said that since the investigation remains ongoing she would make no further comments other than those she made already. Butler said in response to Carter’s question that the investigation is still active.
“My understanding is the town has been doing this for years,” Carter said. “The materials, known as screening and grit — those particular materials that they were transferring up there in Bentonville — they were coming from the county septic haulers.
“So I guess my question is why did this all of a sudden become a problem?” Carter said. “And the other question is, could this have been resolved with just a phone call to the town manager, sit down with Mr. Berry and town staff and ask them?”
Carter went on to say “it seemed to me it could have been worked out a lot easier than the process we’re going through at this time.”
“And the last thing I got — members of this board keep saying they want to have a good relationship with the (town) council and work together to move the community forward,” Carter said, reading from a written statement. “You certainly have a strange way of showing it, and I guess actions speak louder than words.”
“Once this investigation is concluded, I and the public expect a full accounting of this event,” Carter read.
No other supervisors commented on the matter or responded to Carter’s remarks.
Last week, Front Royal Mayor Christopher W. Holloway announced in a media release that the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality found the town did not violate regulations when crews disposed of waste at the county transfer station in Bentonville earlier in April. Holloway threatened in a corresponding letter to county officials that he would look into possible legal action over the matter if the Board of Supervisors did not meet certain demands such as making formal apologies to the town workers who were disposing waste at the station as part of their regular duties. Holloway also called for the Board of Supervisors to fire Daley and to ask Butler to resign.
This article has been corrected to add that in response to Carter’s question Butler said that the investigation is still active.