WCSO strives for full transparency on death of subject

Warren County Sheriff's Office

An email from Major Jeff Driskill of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) strives for complete transparency involving the death of  man in a traffic stop.

A Warren County Sheriff’s Deputy followed a vehicle driving erratically down Winchester Road doing 63 in a 55 mile per hour zone.

After initial attempts to stop the vehicle failed the Deputy followed the offender.

The Deputy observed the vehicle’s movements consistent with someone driving impaired.

After approximately 4 miles  assistance was requested from the Front Royal Police Department to use stop sticks if needed.

The vehicle then illegally entered a convenience store parking lot near the intersection of Routes 522 and 66.

The driver stopped and did exit the vehicle being identified as 77 year old Ralph C. Ennis of  Gainsville Virginia.

Ennis failed to stop moving towards Deputies despite commands to stop.

A Deputy tried to control Ennis by approaching from behind.

Two Deputies and the suspect fell over the protruding trailer hitch at the back of Ennis’s vehicle.

Ennis sustained non-life threatening injuries a cut to the ring finger of his right hand along with a cut above his right brow at his forehead which was treated immediately.

Ennis was placed upright was conscious and responding to questions when he was taken to Warren Memorial Hospital.

A deputy was also treated and released from the hospital after treatment for his minor injuries.

At Warren Memorial Hospital doctors conversing with Ennis determined he was exhibiting signs of a hemorrhage and was transferred to Winchester Medical Center for further evaluation.

While in Winchester it became apparent that Ennis was showing signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s and assistance was sought from Northwestern Community Services.

During further investigation it was found that Ennis was reported as missing on March 11 and later located in Front Royal.

Talking with Ennis’s family it was found he had a history of mental illness and dementia.

On April 15 it was learned that Ennis had passed away under the care of Blue Ridge Hospice in Winchester.

The Warren County Sheriff’s Office has requested a full medical examination with the knowledge and support of the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.

The actual cause of death is pending the official notification by the Medical Examiner’s Office.

Meanwhile the Warren County Sheriff’s Office is conducting an internal investigation of the incident.

Warren County Sheriff Mark Butler wants the public to know they are being as proactive and transparent as possible in this investigation.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

Front Royal Town Hall changes their hours

A press release from the town of Front Royal announced new hours for the town hall.

Beginning November 1 Front Royal’s Town Hall’s business hours will be 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m..

These new hours bring consistency to the offices in town hall opening and closing all at the same time.

The Front Royal finance department offers these options for bill payment.

A check or money order can be mailed to Town of Front Royal Town Hall 102 E. Main St. P.O Box 1560 Front Royal VA. 22630.

Payment can be made by phone with credit and debit cards with a convenience fee at (540) 635-7799.

Cash, Checks and money orders can be delivered in person to 102 E. Main St.. Visa, Mastercard and Discover cards are accepted again with a convenience fee attached.

Automatic withdraws from a bank account can be made by contacting the Department of Finance. An authorization form is also available online at frontroyalva.com.

Atlantic Union Bank at 473 South St. can accept utility payments with the bill. The bank can not look up account information.

The secure drop box behind the town hall can be used anytime as well.

Call (540) 635-8007 with any concerns or questions.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.  

WPD announces the retirement of their first female Officer

lorenzo wheeler homicide

Winchester Police Department (WPD) announced the retirement of their first female Police Officer.

According to the WPD press release Deputy Chief Kelly Rice announced her retirement starting Monday.

Joining the department in 1995 Rice worked her way through the force to become Deputy Chief of Police in 2012.

According to the press release Rice’s greatest accomplishment was the development of the department’s mental health case management program.

That program reduces the number of crisis encounters resulting in violence.

Other accomplishments include the implementation of the peer to peer support team as well as the civil disturbance and honor guard units.

Rice was the first of what is now 15 female officers on the 70 officer roster.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.  

Governor Northam Announces More Than $2.5 Million in Appalachian Regional Commission Grants for Virginia Communities  

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Virginia will receive more than $2.5 million in grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission’s (ARC) Partnership for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative. The funding will support broadband infrastructure expansion, workforce development, and job growth efforts through economic development initiatives.   “As our economy recovers from the impacts of COVID-19, it is critical to invest in Appalachia,” said Governor Northam, ARC Co-Chair. “ARC’s POWER initiative will continue to build on the region’s strengths and address its challenges, driving growth and opportunity throughout Appalachia. These projects demonstrate how regional collaboration can spur innovation, encourage entrepreneurs, diversify our economy, and support the critical infrastructure needed to bridge the digital divide, all of which strengthen Appalachian communities.”  
In February, Governor Northam was elected by Appalachia’s 13 governors to serve as the Appalachian Regional Commission’s states’ co-chair for 2021. The ARC POWER Initiative is a congressionally funded program that helps communities and regions affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries due to the changing economics of America’s energy production. $46.4 million in funding for 57 projects across 184 counties was made possible by the POWER initiative as part of the efforts to support economic diversification in the Appalachian region.
  “Ensuring Appalachian residents and businesses have resources to create thriving and robust communities has been a top priority for this administration,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “This funding will foster employment opportunities, critical infrastructure improvements, and broadband expansion, helping to build a stronger and more resilient economy in the Appalachian region.
  “The downturn of the coal industry has impacted economies across Appalachia. That’s why ARC’s POWER initiative helps to leverage regional partnerships and collaborations to support efforts to create a more vibrant economic future for coal-impacted communities,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “Many of the projects we announced today will invest in educating and training the Appalachian workforce, nurturing entrepreneurship, and supporting infrastructure—including broadband access. These investments in our Appalachian coal-impacted communities are critical in leveling the economic playing field so our communities can thrive.”  
2021 ARC POWER Virginia Awardees:   Buchanan/Tazewell Wireless Communication Job Growth Corridor | Virginia Coalfield Coalition | $1,000,000 The Virginia Coalfield Coalition will build six new, fiber-lit cell towers along a 20-mile stretch off U.S. Route 460. A public-private partnership with a national wireless service ensures the coverage provided by these new cell towers will fill the current service gaps. The project is expected to serve 25 existing businesses and facilitate business retention and recruitment at industrial parks in the region.   Central Appalachian CDC: Bringing Community Development Investment to Coal-Impacted Communities | Appalachian Community Capital | $1,500,000 Appalachian Community Capital and its partners will create high-quality community development and entrepreneurial opportunities by helping communities and businesses access new sources of capital. Serving five central Appalachian states (North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia), the project will provide 40 coal-impacted communities with technical assistance, guidance, and outreach support. This will lead to a portfolio of investments that provide sufficient financial and social returns. Financial support for the project will be provided by the CDFI Fund at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Dogwood Health Trust, Goldman Sachs, and Ohio SE Economic Development Financial. The project is expected to create 15 businesses and 3,000 jobs, while also leveraging $400 million in private investment.  
Project Trace | LENOWISCO Planning District | $49,875 The LENOWISCO Planning District, in partnership with Invest SWVA, will determine the feasibility of adapting or creating an ag-tech tool to track and report food miles of specialty grains grown in Southwest Virginia. This tool will help capture the value that Southwest Virginia grains add to the industry, increasing grain market opportunities for area farmers and driving additional revenue.