County Buzz: School Board Discloses Burglaries, VDOT Discloses Mosby Schedule, Students Lend a Hand with Tornado Relief

Berryville residents are not the only ones having to deal with break-ins and vandalism it seems. On Thursday a school board member told the Clarke County Supervisors that two separate burglary incidents have occurred at the new high school construction site over the last several months.

“Shockey’s construction trailers have been robbed twice” school board member Robina Bouffault (White Post) told the supervisors. “One break-in occurred around  8:00pm in the evening and the trailers were stripped of everything including equipment and tools.”

Bouffault said that officials suspect that the thieves were only in the trailers for a short period of time. However, that short amount of time was apparently enough to pull off the heist without being caught.

“The operation was very well organized” Bouffault said. “By the time it was discovered the next morning the assumption was that the stolen property had already been shipped halfway across the country.”

Berryville Police Chief Neal White verified that equipment and tools were taken from the school site on March 23rd around dark but White said that he was unaware of a second incident.

“The thieves cut the locks on several large storage trailers used to hold equipment and tools” White said. “The thieves were well organized based on the type of equipment stolen. They appear to have been well prepared when they arrived and were able to get in and out quickly.”

Chief White said that although crime rates typically increase in summer months, so far the town residents have not seen an increase in burglaries although vandalism has increased.

White said that the best defense against crime is removing the opportunity before the crime occurs.

“Our officers try to educate residents about risks like leaving garage doors open and not locking car doors” White said. “We send notices to people to alert them about the things that we see in hopes that we can remove the opportunity.

White said that although his department has had a couple of leads on the construction site theft, so far nothing has panned out to allow the perpetrators to be caught.

“Property crimes are among the most difficult to solve’ White said. “However, all of the stolen items have been inventoried and entered into a national database so we’re still hopeful that we may be able to solve it.”

Bouffault said that the equipment and tool losses were covered by Shockey & Sons commercial insurance.

VDOT Set to Move on Mosby Boulevard Plan

Virginia Department of Transportation Program Manager Edwin Carter told Clarke Supervisors that with funding now in place VDOT is ready to move forward on plans to extend Mosby Boulevard west from its current terminus. The road extension will cut through the new high school site before connecting with Whitacre Circle.

“Notice to proceed will be issues by the end of the month” said Carter. “Once notice to proceed has been issued VDOT will commence negotiations with the effected property owners.”

Circuit Court Renovation Nears Completion

According to Clarke County Administrator David Ash, renovations at the Clarke County Circuit Courthouse are nearly complete. With one exception, renovation work will wrap up in the next few weeks.

“When the sound attenuation materials for the courtroom arrived it turned out that the manufacturer shipped the material as a single piece” Ash said.

Ash told the Clarke Supervisors that the sound-deadening material was too large to fit through any of the doors in the courthouse.

Ash said that the contractor handling the project has sent the material back to the manufacturer for correction.

Students Travel to New Orleans to Provide Tornado Relief to Victims

Eleven Clarke County High School students have travelled to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to assist victims of that area’s recent tornado damage.

Weather historians have noted that recent damage stretching from Louisiana to Virginia ranks as the most destructive tornado outbreak in nearly 80 years. According to Reuters, Alabama suffered the most fatalities, with more than 200 confirmed dead while government officials estimate 34 people have been killed by tornadoes in Tennessee, 33 in Mississippi, 14 in Georgia, 11 in Arkansas, eight in Virginia, and two in Louisiana.

School Board Chairman Barbara Lee (Millwood) said that the eleven students, all members of the National Honor Society, will spend five days on-site providing assistance to local communities impacted by the disaster.

In a show of support for the students, Lee said that a Clarke County benefactor has donated money to cover airline fare for the students to make the trip.

“I won’t be able to release the name of the benefactor until the school board officially accepts the gift at our next meeting” Lee said. “But I think that the gift speaks very highly of our community’s love and support of our school system.”