The integrity of a Rappahannock County government official who wrote to a Reva resident to “Go [expletive] yourself and mind your own damn business” was questioned by both a county citizen and supervisor during Monday afternoon’s standing-room-only meeting of the Board of Supervisors.
“It has come to my attention,” Hampton district resident Audrey Regnery said during the meeting’s public comment period, “that a Rappahannock County public official, in response to a letter [praising him for a job well done] from a woman who now lives in Culpeper County . . . wrote the following,” repeating out loud the profanity originating from the email account of David Konick, a member of the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals.
“I request that a motion be made by one of you to publicly censure this official and that the motion further direct the county to petition the circuit court to suspend this county official from his duties for a significant amount of time or remove him permanently from his position,” demanded Regnery, owner of a Washington bed and breakfast, who did not mention the names of those involved.
The woman he made the vulgar comment to is Chris Doxzen Green, well known in Rappahannock County and a community columnist for this newspaper.
In response to Regnery’s request, Hampton district Supervisor John Lesinski, upon consultation with Rappahannock County Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff, made a motion that the board consider a censure of Konick.
Apart from BOS Vice Chair Chris Parrish, who opined that a formal reprimand wouldn’t do any good in Konick’s case, supervisors Christine Smith, Ron Frazier and BOS Chair Roger Welch sat quietly. Because Lesinski’s motion was not seconded, it failed.
On August 1, Doxzen wrote to Konick, “So, David, you and I go back a long ways. I’ve been to your pretty house in Rock Mills, you’ve been to my former Harris Hollow home, and I like you and always have, even though in recent years I think you’ve been a local pariah, poaching unsuspecting victims with your brilliant legalese over issues that I think are wildly trivial in nature. That being said, I’ve never doubted your skills.”
Doxzen’s letter goes on to describe some legal work Konick did for an acquaintance of hers.
“I want to thank you for your legal support of [my friend]m” Doxzen wrote. “I spoke to her today, you are a wonderful attorney and regardless of my criticisms of your legal forays, I just want you to know, if I ever need a barracuda attorney, you’re the man I’ll call. Thanks for helping.”
Fourteen minutes later, Konick responded, “Hey, Chris — Why don’t you go [expletive] yourself and mind your own damn business? Love, Dave.”
Soon afterwards, Doxzen’s husband, Larry Green, wrote a letter to Konick, which reads in part, “The way you responded to [my wife’s] kind email, and the history of the way you have disrespected other people in the county makes me question your ability to perform your job as a member of the Rappahannock County Board of Zoning Appeals, makes me wonder how someone of your caliber, your history of verbal abuse of county residents and officials, could be appointed to an official position.
“If you would like to continue this discussion further,” Green added, “I’d prefer to do this in person. Please feel free to join me for dinner, my treat.”
Green also sent his letter, along with the exchange between Doxzen and Konick, to members of the Board of Supervisors.
Asked for an on-the-record reaction, Konick emailed on Tuesday: “I am out of town, and was not at the meeting, have not seen the video and don’t know all the details.
“It appears you are blissfuly [sic] unaware of Chris Doxzen’s ongoing campaign of harassment toward me that’s been going on for the last couple of years. In this latest exchange of emails, she called me a ‘pariah,’ ‘a barracuda,’ ‘an [expletive]’ and alleged that I was guilty of spousal abuse. I responded accordingly in a private email that she and her little group of busybodies circulated. To publish only one side of the story out of context would be highly unfair.
“If Ms. Doxzen took offense to my response to her unsolicited attack on me regarding a private client matter that was none of her business in the first place, that is unfortunate. I didn’t ask her to write to me, and it had nothing to do with my being a public official. Thanks for giving me an opportunity to respond.”
That same day Doxzen wrote a letter to Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey W. Parker asking him to take action against Konick, since Board of Zoning Appeals members are appointed by the court.
“I enclose several email communications regarding Rappahannock County resident Dave Konick who sits on the Board of Zoning Appeals,” she wrote. “My husband, understandably, is rather shocked by Dave’s comments to me, as am I, he is after all a public servant, which as you well know, holds one to a higher standard . . .
“In closing I would just like to say, the Me Too Movement, of which you are no doubt familiar, is not about sexual misconduct per se, rather it is about power, the abuse of power, and Dave Konick has a well documented history of abuse of power and I and my husband kindly request your consideration of this matter.”
Cell tower approved
Two topics dominated the four-hour evening session of the BOS meeting: the public safety paging and cell tower proposed to be constructed on Woodward Road in Sperryville and the schools’ connector path that recently cleared a major funding hurdle.
After years of planning, false starts, and numerous meetings before public bodies, it appears a paging and cell tower might actually be erected — the BOS, after a passionate public hearing, voted unanimously to grant a special exception permit to Wireless Communications Structures to proceed with the tower.
The board, however, added 14 conditions to the permit, including that the tower will be a monopole rather than a lattice structure and that it will be painted blue to better blend in to the environment; there will be no light on it; and microwave dishes will only be used until fiber communications can reach the site. The board gave CWS eight months before it must take down the microwave communications dishes.
Fifteen county residents spoke passionately for and against the tower. Several members of the county’s fire and rescue services commented on the very clear need to for the updated paging system.
Harold Beebout, EMS chief for Sperryville, called the existing paging system “obsolete” and said that the new paging system is dependent on the new tower.
Charlene Bailey, president of the Sperryville rescue squad, echoed the need for the tower to accommodate the new paging system. Emergency calls are being dropped, she said. “If we can’t hear the calls, we can’t [respond to an emergency.]”
“The [fire and rescue] association supports this tower,” said Paul Komar, president of the association.
Jennifer Flynn, Shenandoah National Park superintendent, spoke about the harm to the view shed, saying the tower would be visible from Skyline Drive, the Appalachian Trail, and Mary’s Rock, a popular hiking destination.
The most poignant voices against the tower were those of Mike and Sue Luthi, whose property is across the road from the proposed tower site. At past public meetings, the Luthis have pleaded with the county to find another location on the Woodward Road site, as the tower would be 800 feet from their home and visible from the porch.
“I found it interesting,” said Mike Luthi, “that a letter [from CWS to County Administrator Garrey Curry] stated that CWS is unable to move the location [of the tower] because ‘significant time and money have been spent at that location . . . My wife and I have also spent significant time and money — looking for a place to buy, purchasing the land, architectural drawings, permitting fees, mortgage payments, loans, real estate taxes, etc. Nineteen years of hard work are going down the drain because [the board] is looking at a commercial enterprise over a family. We can’t afford to move.”
Said Sue Luthi, in tears as she addressed the board: “Mr. Curry said it would cost about $200,000 to build the paging system. Well, that’s our loss just for the tower going up. It doesn’t include our loss of income from [a rental unit on the same property].”
Several citizens came to their defense.
Meeting attendees applauded roundly after Mike Mahoney, Hampton district resident, said, “If it’s the case that [the county] is saving a substantial amount of money on the paging system by putting this tower up, isn’t it the case that you might be able to find the way, somehow, to compensate the Luthis [for their loss]?”
The board members expressed the difficulty of the decision they were making during the discussion.
“No matter which direction we [vote], we’ll lose,” lamented BOS Chair Roger Welch.
John Lesinski, Hampton supervisor, agreed. “I think the hardest thing we need to do as elected officials and as leaders is to ask someone to sacrifice something on behalf of the greater good of the community.”
Piedmont Supervisor Christine Smith said, “I don’t relish the idea of a tower. When other technology is available, I hope the tower will be taken down.”
School Connector Trail
On the evening’s agenda was a preliminary review of the School Connector Trail (aka the “bike trail”), grant documents that define the proposed legal relationships and obligations regarding the project.
In June, the state Commonwealth Transportation Board approved a grant of $815,871 (80 percent of the estimated cost) for construction of the 1.2 mile, paved multi-use trail adjacent to Highway 211 connecting the Rappahannock County elementary and high schools.
The nonprofit group has raised $206,468, surpassing the 20 percent of the project cost required by the state. The budget includes a 30 percent contingency of $157,916 for construction costs in an effort to protect against unanticipated expenses.
Before the document review began, more than 30 county residents spoke (some of them more than once) for and against the bike path, some questioning the cost and the county’s purported financial investment.
Hampton resident Demaris Miller called the project “a boondoggle” and “an enormous cost before and after [completion].”
Tom Woolman, also from Hampton district, wanted to know about maintenance and liability costs.
Jackson resident Page Glennie asked which of the board members had walked the proposed bike trail. Hampton Supervisor John Lesinski, Ron Frazier (Jackson), and Chris Parrish (Stonewall-Hawthorne) raised their hands. Chair Roger Welch said he had been there the day before. Glennie seemed surprised.
Citing the engineering expertise of both Frazier and Curry, Glennie asked how likely they thought it would be for the cost of the trail to come in at the $1 million estimate. Glennie was told that the public comment period is not a conversation.
Dorothy Wharton of Jackson district asked the board to “please reject the grant money. [The county’s obligation] is too expensive.”
Earlier in the day, during the afternoon session, Tim Pagano from Wakefield district berated board chair Roger Welch.
“The bike path is opposed by a significant majority of your citizens,” he said. “It won’t serve the majority of them in any way and it leaves all of them collectively responsible for financial liability.”
Of the 30 or so residents who spoke about the bike path that evening, 16 spoke in favor. A couple of people questioned why the sheriff has not been at county meetings to comment on the security of the bike path.
Jane Whitfield, the prime mover behind the project, answered questions about parking, crime on other jurisdictions’ bike trails, and finances. “It’s a mischaracterization to say this hasn’t been well thought out,” she said.
Cliff Miller, one of the organizers of RappTrails, the group proposing the bike trail, said he had never seen any of the naysayers at open houses to discuss the project. “Our doors are open,” he said. “There’s a lot of misinformation out there. Just come ask us.”
The board took up many other matters during the course of the almost seven-hour meeting:
— The security training school special permit application from RSM, a security training company based in Manassas, was tabled because co-owner Mike Blyth was out of the country. His wife, RMS co-owner Kristen Blyth, was unable to answer questions the board and citizens raised.
— The board unanimously approved a special exception permit for John Hallberg to adapt the old Estes Mill in Sperryville into a dulcimer museum.
— Rappahannock School superintendent Shannon Grimsley reported that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had declared Rappahannock County no longer eligible for Head Start funding. She said that she and her staff had been trying to find places at other schools in the county for the children affected.
— The board approved expenses incurred by the Fire Levy Board. Curry said it was time to review the FLB charter to make sure it was consistent with the the recently revised fire services agreement.
— The BOS voted three-to-two in favor of a resolution to allow County Attorney Art Goff to hire attorney Mike Jones as needed to help prepare for Marian Bragg’s lawsuit against the county filed in 2016 and known as Bragg 1. She filed another suit in 2017.
— The board discussed the possibility of restricting through-truck traffic on Ben Venue Road after residents complained of truck traffic generated by the Williams Tree Service operation on the road. Curry reported that VDOT does not support the restriction, as it would not take all the trucks off the road.
An unedited video of the meeting can be found online at rappnews.com/video, or on the newspaper’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/RappNewsPlus. The meeting agenda and related documents are online at boarddocs.com/va/corva/Boar