T he Volume 38, Number 18 POSTAL CUSTOMER Colonial Beach • Westmoreland Wednesday, April 30, 2014 50 Cents helping you relate to your community Westmoreland School Board rescinds transfers, still gets an earful Richard Leggitt In an attempt to defuse a growing controversy, the Westmoreland County School Board rescinded the controversial transfers of a popular teacher-coach and a guidance secretary prior to its Monday night meeting. The school administrators still got an earful from Washington & Lee students, parents, teachers and community leaders. The five-member school board and Westmoreland Superintendent of Schools Rebecca Lowry sat grimfaced while they were repeatedly criticized during a three-hour meeting attended by more than 230 people, including four members of the Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors. “I am not happy to be here,” said Supervisor Board Chairman Darryl Fisher. “I have not attended a school board meeting in 22 years, but I am here tonight because of disturbing events. When citizens have to call their supervisors because they cannot reach you, that is a bad sign. Please do a better job.” Monday’s meeting brought to a head several events over the past three months that have damaged the school board’s respect in the county. On April 12, without any prior notice or warning, Cole Vanover, an award winning teacher-coach, and Stephanie Payne, a popular guidance secretary, were handed letters transferring both of them from W&L High School to Montross Middle School. The letters, signed by Westmoreland County School Board Asst. Superintendent James Cook, said Vanover and Payne were being transferred in a move the board said would be “beneficial to students.” The sting of the transfers was heightened by a comment made by Lowry who responded to those questioning the moves by saying, “You will just have to trust me on this.” Coming on the heels of the school board’s failure to take any action against W&L Principal Andrea Roane who was arrested for drunk driving on Feb. 12, spent a night in jail and still has charges pending, the demotions of Vanover and Payne were a cause of anger and concern among faculty, students, parents and community leaders who showed up at the Monday meeting. Many of the students Monday were wearing blue and white shirts that read “Eagle Pride, We Are W&L.” “We demand better,” said student Jeremy Saunders, who organized a Facebook petition that got more than 300 signatures calling for the board to rescind the transfers of Vanover and Payne. Realtor Cathy Reed said parents and students have grown weary of the school board’s “mumbo, jumbo” and admonished the board for the damage it is doing to the community and the school system. “When See Transfers, page 6 First responders rescue one of their own Overtime loss Leonard Banks Last Tuesday at Colonial Beach, fans witnessed the Northumberland Indians hand the Drifters a heartbreaking overtime 13-9 loss. See the story on page 8. On the evening of Thursday, April 24, a fire broke out in the 800 block of Bancroft Ave. A storage shed sitting between two houses caught fire while resident and Life Member of both the CB Volunteer Rescue Squad and the CB Volunteer Fire Department, J. Carlton Hudson, was sleeping. According to reports, first on the scene was Oak Grove Volunteer Fire Chief Michael Gutridge, who lives a block away. Gutridge investigated the fire status and relayed information to dispatch. Detective David Mundie of the Colonial Beach Police Department arrived next, then Pat FitzGerald with the Colonial Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad. Fearing Hudson was still inside, Gutridge tried to enter through the main entrance. Due to heat and flames from the burning shed, which sits within feet of the residence’s main entrance, Gutridge was unable to enter and began beating on another locked door in an attempt to wake the sleeping resident. Mundie used his baton to break Fire crews work around downed power lines to extinguish blaze. the lock and kicked in the door. He then proceeded inside with FitzGerald to look for Hudson. While the two attempted to locate him, Gutridge cleared the exit of the broken door to allow the three to make their way out. Mundie and FitzGerald found Hudson in bed asleep, with oxygen in use. Mundie said that as the two walked the resident out, the power lines, hooked to the shed, began to fall into the roadway. Hudson, unharmed, was placed in the back of the rescue squad. Firefighters from Colonial Beach, Oak Grove, King George, Westmoreland and NSWC responded to fight the flames from Hudson’s shed, which also damaged Hudson’s house and two adjacent houses and storage buildings. One adjacent house, which fronts on Thackary St., was unoccupied at the time of the fire. The residents of the second adjacent house were unharmed, as well. Mundie said flames were shooting approximately twenty feet high when he arrived, but firefighters extinguished the flames quickly, which contributed to the fact that only minor damage was done to the other two residences. A lifetime member of both the CBVFD and the CBVRS, Hudson actively served both for nearly 60 years. During 1978 – 1984, Hudson served as Captain of CBVRS. In 2013, he was admitted to the Virginia Association of Volunteer Rescue Squads (VAVRS) Hall of Fame. —Linda Farneth Real estate tax increase inevitable for Colonial Beach residents Linda Farneth A lot of numbers have been given out by both Council and School officials during the 20-plus hours spent on the budget. School officials quote the difference between what they are asking for and what they received last year. Town officials quote the difference between what the State requires the Town to pay the School and what the School is asking for. Both figures are very different and serve the purpose of the ones quoting them. The council has been talking about dollars to fund the school, to pay off a bond, for repairs, for operating costs, etc., all while using accounting terms. All this can be quite confusing to the average person. Tensions have been high during meetings at times, but the pressure is on for the Ccouncil to fund the School and the Town at a level the majority of citizens want without raising taxes, a feat that seems unattainable this year. Suggestions from council members have included converting restrooms to pay toilets, eliminating July 4 fireworks, selling off town-owned properties and eliminating funding from the Town for the Jet Ski Races and other events. Making sense of it all: Town Staff brought at balanced budget to the council in April with projected revenues and expenses at $6,410,651; not including the utility fund or capital improvement projects. The current balance does not allow for fully funding the school system’s draft budget. Capital improvement is any construction for town government or operational purposes. New buildings, new equipment, and water and sewer pipe replacements are some of the examples of capital improvements. During the last few weeks, so many proposed changes have occurred in such a short time, that staff has been unable to provide the press with a working draft budget that is up to date. Nothing has been voted on by council, so the budget is still preliminary. The Town hopes to have come to some agreement by May 7 in order to advertise their budget numbers, as well as potential tax rate increases. The council left budget talks on Monday, April 28, with the following intentions: • Reinstating the town’s boat tax at $1.39 per hundred dollars of value • Raising sewer usage rates by $25.00 per quarter • Raising water connection fees by $1,000 CBVFD appeals to council for more funding At one of the many recent budget meetings, Colonial Beach Deputy Fire Chief Dana Reed appealed to the Colonial Beach Town Council to increase funding by $10,000 a year, until funding from the Town of Colonial Beach reaches $100,000 a year. Westmoreland County currently funds CB Volunteer Fire Department (CBVFD) $115,000 anually. On the morning of April 23, Reed came before the council stating that last year, they had asked council for the increase, but did not receive it. Reed warned that if annual funding, which is currently $42,000 from the Town, doesn’t increase, then the level of service may drop and insurance rates will increase drastically for residents of the town. “We cannot operate where we are and continue to deliver the level of service that we do now. That is just the fact.” “We met with the Town Manager last year, and I have been staying in touch with her this year with some budget requests. We want to make sure folks understand, and I know it’s beating a dead horse. I know things are tight in the town. We are looking at service cuts,” Reed said, adding, “The Town needs to make a decision as to the level of service you want from emergency services.” Reed said that the fire department has cut its budget about 15% since last year and also warned the council that ISO ratings have been reduced, due to a lack of proper equipment to service the area homes and businesses. This, in turn, will cause insurance rates to increase for home and business owners in town. Currently, CBVFD is rated at 5 out of 10, which is unheard of, according to Reed, adding that, “The Town is “The Town needs to make a decision as to the level of service you want from emergency services.” —Deputy Chief Dana Reed getting ready to be reduced to a 4.” Reed told the council that the fire department has been keeping up with training and equipment in order to keep the rating high. Reed said, “This flies under the council’s radar because the fire department See ISO, page 6 • Raising real estate tax by $0.23 per hundred dollars of value Colonial Beach Schools is currently asking for money to relocate the elementary students, perform repairs to the high school on First St. and for their operating budget. The Council has decided and passed a resolution to handle the first two items by taking out a $1.2 million bond. The Town will also add to that figure in the bond to take care of some town repairs and capital improvements. The Town’s exact figures have not been fully identified. Council is confident that with the amount of real estate in Colonial Beach, every penny of real estate tax equates to roughly $45,000 in revenue for the Town. If the council takes out a $2 million bond to cover the school’s moving expenses, high school repairs and the town’s needs, the estimated payments on the bond will run the Town about $160,000 per year to pay off. Council attributes $0.03 of the proposed real estate tax increase to that bond payment. The other $0.20 is attributed to the council needing the funding to fully fund what the School is asking for in their operational budget. The School is asking the Town give them $2,530,704. Based on State mandated calculation, the Town is only obligated to give the School $1,532,321. This is a difference of $998.383. According to calculations, an additional $0.20-increase in real estate tax rates will generate $900,000 in additional revenue. Council must both advertise tax increases and hold public hearings in order to raise taxes. However, the bottom line is that the See increase, page 6 Lawsuit against Good Eats owner scheduled to be heard this week Richard Leggitt Jury selection was set to begin this week in Westmoreland County Circuit Court in the civil trial of Westmoreland County restaurant owner Stephen Anderson, accused in a $10 million wrongful death lawsuit of being responsible for the death of his wife, 49-year-old Sally Rumsey. Rumsey was found dead in a snow bank near her home on Feb. 9, 2010, an apparent victim of exposure. She went outside during a winter storm without a coat, hat or gloves on Feb. 5, and disappeared. Anderson reported her missing on Feb. 7. The lawsuit was filed in the case by Sarah Thrift, Rumsey’s eldest daughter from a previous marriage. The suit seeks to end Andersen’s control over the popular restaurant Good Eats in Kinsale, and other properties he and his late wife co-owned. Rumsey’s share of the restaurant was willed to him upon her death. The Westmoreland County death certificate issued after the discovery of Rumsey’s body lists her death as a suicide, caused by “hypothermia due to environmental cold exposure.” Authorities found a wine bottle and a bottle of Ambien prescription medicine near the body. An autopsy indicated that Rumsey had “three or four times the therapeutic dose” of Ambien in her bloodstream, as well as a blood alcohol level of .09. Anderson has denied any involvement in Rumsey’s death. Now you can follow local breaking news daily on our website at www.journalpress.com Thrift’s suit against Anderson, however, claims he “was and is directly responsible for the death of Rumsey through his negligent or intentional acts.” In addition to seeking Rumsey’s share of the Good Eats Cafe on Cople Highway in Kinsale, the suit seeks $10 million in damages from Anderson. A seven-person jury will be selected and asked to determine during a three-day trial in Westmoreland County Circuit Court this week whether Andersen had a role in the death of his wife and business partner, or whether the suit against him is without merit.