FRONT ROYAL – The two Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority board seats left vacant upon Greg Drescher’s and Ron Llewellyn’s March resignations will remain empty for the time being.

Drescher and Llewellyn – then the authority’s longest serving members - announced their resignations the same day the EDA announced its intention to file a $17.6 million civil embezzlement lawsuit against nine defendants including the authority’s former executive director Jennifer McDonald.

EDA's unpaid board members are appointed to four-year terms by the Warren County Board of Supervisors, who entered a closed session Tuesday night to discuss the vacancies. It was announced that the supervisors plan to interview four more candidates who have applied and the application submission period will end May 31.

When interviews were conducted in November to fill the seat left vacant upon the resignation of the EDA’s treasurer of 30 years, Billie Biggs, several candidates participated in media interviews. Those candidates, who are being considered again, were Gulraiz Hassan, Jeff Browne and Robert MacDougall.

Supervisor Tony Carter said on Wednesday that, in total, the supervisors have interviewed about 12 candidates so far.

The county previously declined to provide the other candidates' names, citing the voluntary Freedom of Information Act exemption relating to personnel matters.

During the public comments period of the supervisors' Tuesday meeting, speaker Kelly Sprague expressed dismay that the county is interviewing candidates during closed session. She said that while surely there are times closed meetings must be held, she asked: “how often does that really need to happen?”

She said the supervisors should "stop closing the doors" or only do so rarely with "very firm grounds for doing so." 

Sprague said that with all the recent controversy surrounding the authority there is a “dire need” for the public to have confidence in the EDA board.

“Please find honest, competent people to serve on the board. Fix the EDA board, and fix it now,” she said.

She added that any board members present during the alleged embezzlements and who did not provide proper oversight should be removed.

“How are we to believe that they’ve suddenly become capable...it’s time to clean house,” she said.

– Contact Josh Gully at jgully@nvdaily.com