Open Forum: A plea for a ‘miracle’

Posted: February 28, 2014

Remind me to steer clear of Front Royal in the future. It’s more than easy to do, and may be more conducive to your pocketbook if you do so also!

My recent trip there was necessitated by a dental visit and was the first time necessary to frequent the town in at least three months. I’d consider changing dentists right now, but I appreciate the work and treatment of Drs. Frederick and Daisy Broadhead of Front Royal Dental Care. If I experience further annoyances with Front Royal, I will surely change, simply to avoid the town.

For years now it seems obvious that Front Royal is aggressively attempting to shed its “one-horse, “one-stoplight, Mayberry-like” image. But my recent experience there suggests this effort has hardly been accomplished.

In the past, rumors have surfaced about Front Royal being rife with “speed traps” and “traffic traps” and a concerted “Barney-Fife-like” circumspection of driving habits overall. When heard, they were dismissed as probably “sour grapes” over some traffic violation rightfully deserved.

But communities have made the media with questionable practices of revenue-generating schemes quite a few times. Unfortunately, my basket seems full of a considerable amount of “sour grapes” at this time also!

Upon my trip to the dentist because of an agonizingly painful tooth that eventually needed to be removed, I was pulled over by an unmarked police vehicle for failing to make a stop at a questionably located stop sign — ironically, right in front of the dental office.

Since one pays court costs if waiving the court appearance and paying the fine by mail or electronically (which seems a scam and a revenue-generating attempt), I thought I’d have my “day in court” and get my money’s worth and plead my innocence. Needless to say, my testimony differed a bit from the issuing officer’s testimony (whose name or service I do not wish to impugn).

Between his testimony and the brief conversation with him outside the courtroom where I informed him we would have to agree to disagree, he admitted he was parked up the street from the stop sign because people regularly ran the stop sign.

Now, in my perception, such practices tend to fit the description of a “trap.” You be the judge. Wouldn’t he be of greater service out patrolling than waiting for old men like myself to make traffic blunders?

The result of the fiasco is that I lost in court although the “Honorable” Judge W. Dale Houff gave me an opportunity to explain my side, but unfortunately I believe he was inking the “GUILTY” stamp as I spoke. (He ought to work on his “I’m listening” act.) Somehow the court cost of 50-some dollars outweighing the fine of $30 just somehow sits unsettled in my brain.

Also, it bothers me that the longer and more-traveled street has the stop sign and the short two-block, less-traveled street does not. Some signage about court parking locations would be welcome also, since the Warren County courthouse has no public parking. A simple stand-alone sign directing people to the right courtroom at the courthouse entrance might be a good addition also.

In conclusion, I sincerely wish Front Royal luck in shedding that “one-horse,” “one-stoplight” “Mayberry-like” image. Good luck with that. Miracles do happen!

Larry J. Walters is a resident of Winchester.