WINCHESTER — The Board of Supervisors on Wednesday considered making Frederick County a “constitutional sanctuary” in response to what it believes are overly restrictive state mandates.

Last year, Virginia mandated numerous business closures, crowd capacity restrictions, mask mandates and sanitization measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, which has resulted in the deaths of 11,270 people in Virginia to date.

The discussion was prompted after members of the Small Business Freedom Alliance, a local group of nearly 300 small business owners, accused the super

visors of not sticking up for them against state-mandated COVID-19 restrictions. They told the board that the pandemic resulted in many small businesses closing permanently and that regulations for those that were allowed to stay open were cumbersome.

Josh Phelps of Winchester Metals, a Small Business Freedom Alliance member, said small business owners in the county felt they were not valued by local officials. He said he felt the board failed “to protect us from unchecked government overreach at any time for seemingly any reason.” He urged the supervisors to “push back against Richmond” and say that the businesses in Frederick County are not going to be told how they will operate.

Those who spoke at Wednesday’s meeting especially objected to emergency orders from the governor that did not require support from the General Assembly. They accused the state government of overreach and violating their constitutional freedoms.

“This cannot be allowed to happen again, and this will happen again,” Phelps said. “Some new emergency will emerge that state or federal leadership will attach itself to, and this whole exercise will begin one more time. That’s why we must take a stand now.”

School Board candidate Miles Adkins added that the supervisors should also reaffirm their commitment to making the county a “Second Amendment sanctuary.”

In December 2019, the supervisors adopted a resolution opposing any laws that would infringe on Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat, has said these resolutions “have no legal effect.”

Several members of the board, which is entirely Republican, said Wednesday night and at previous meetings that they sent letters to Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam and state representatives objecting to the state-mandated restrictions, to little avail.

Back Creek Supervisor Shawn Graber said he would like either the county’s Code and Ordinance Committee or the county attorney to explore making the jurisdiction a “constitutional sanctuary county.”

“What does that mean? That simply means that if any law or ordinance is passed at the federal or state level that it would not be enforced in Frederick County if it was deemed to be unconstitutional,” Graber said. “I believe that can go a long way to mitigating some of the concerns that have not only been represented tonight through the speakers but have been represented through many constituents in my district.”

Gainesboro Supervisor J. Douglas McCarthy said he would support making a resolution declaring the county a constitutional sanctuary but that “it’s not going to have a whole lot of effect.”

“Because we as a body have no control over the other constitutional officers,” McCarthy said. “So unless you get a commitment from the other constitutional officers including your treasurer, your commissioner and your clerks and your sheriff, then what we pass here doesn’t have a whole lot of impact. And that’s why it’s so important that you don’t rely on this body to solve this problem but that you go to the root of the problem, which is in Richmond.”

McCarthy said the way to make change happen is “to take the tyrants out of Richmond and replace them with the people who will do the right thing.”

“Even if they don’t get elected, that doesn’t mean that our constitutional rights go away,” he continued. “They are inherent in our being. We are born with these rights. And if it comes down to it, at some point you and your children may have to decide it’s time for civil disobedience. You do not have to give in to a government that will infringe upon your God-given constitutional rights.”

Opequon Supervisor Bob Wells apologized to the crowd for not making them feel like the board supported them. He also encouraged the public to vote in November.

“Let’s take our state back,” Wells said.

Also at the meeting, the board passed a resolution of appreciation for County Administrator Kris Tierney for his more than 30 years of service to the county. He was hired as zoning administrator in 1988 before becoming deputy planning director and then deputy county administrator. In 2017, he was named county administrator. Tierney plans to retire on July 1.

Attending the meeting at the County Administration Building at 107 N. Kent St. were Chairman Charles DeHaven Jr. and board members Bob Wells, Blaine Dunn, Shawn Graber, J. Douglas McCarthy, David Stegmaier and Judith McCann-Slaughter.

— Contact Josh Janney at

(33) comments


Winchester Metals received a $566,100 PPP loan. Mr. Phelps and his business didn't suffer that much. I'll bet other small business owners also received PPP loans. Look, we don't want you to lose your business to COVID or a similar crisis. But, more importantly, we don't want to lose YOU!


Exactly. Businesses can be rebuilt, but people can't be raised from the dead.


I recently moved into Frederick County and have lived all over the Nation. I believe I have lived in a Constitutional Sanctuary all my life. It is called the United States of America. I didn't know when I moved to Frederick County that it was considered to be a non-Constitutional County (sanctuary) and makes its own laws. It appears to me the Board is mucking around in non-county business. What is or isn't Constitutional certainly isn't something within their duties. They need to focus on our county and we the people, not Constitutional law. My guess is that most of them haven't even read the Constitution and they are definitely not qualified to determine what is or isn't Constitutional. That is what the Supreme Court was created for -- you know, the third body of the separation of powers. I need my County Supervisor focusing on issues relative to the county, not the whole country.

Old Western Man

Smh. Spoken like a serf. Worshipping a court of imperfect political appointees, that have repeatedly demonstrated their cowardice in the face of tyrants. An easy example for nomadic Jon, 120k Japanese Americans (and/or their descendants) probably wish that some representative body had made a courageous stand on their behalf as executive order 9066 was upheld by SCOTUS.

No, the Constitution is ours to protect the individual from both government power and pure democracy, not theirs to inflict interpretation and populist outcomes upon us. “Consent of the governed” — you know, the Declaration of Independence.


Serfs fear repercussions of their actions and words. Would that make you a serf, too?

Party free

I'm glad they are going to protect my constitution rights. My favorites are the first and the fourth amendments.

First: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion …

Fourth: The right of the people to be secure in their persons against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated.


Do you really think they are reading anything other than the 2nd?


I have been mulling this over all I am a citizen of the United States, State of Virginia and resident of Frederick County and the yahoos on the latter - Board of Supervisors are the best (in their infinite wisdom) to determine what my constitutional rights are....It is a sad day ..............what grandstanding and contempt they obviously have for the voice of the people. Have we been down this road ?


Read "Frederick County" for "Fairfax County." Sorry.


May as well add an addendum to the "Welcome to Fairfax County" signs -- "Yahoos, anti-maskers, big lie supporters and rednecks welcome."


This is Frederick County.....not Fairfax County....what is your point?

john brown

And to think, frederick county pays for this backwards nonsense.

Jim McCarthy

Most of the comments are spot on. The worst part of the deadly pandemic is in the rear view mirror and surely some of the folks at the meeting or friends or family were protected by the emergency measures. Yes, there was fall out but it could have been far worse.

john brown

Embarrassed yet Frederick County? I am embarrassed for you. Your reps are steroid marjorie greene crazy.




It's helpful when local business owners show me who they are so that I can choose to support other entrepreneurs. More time spent being innovative to work around restrictions would be better than meeting up with a highly politicized group to fret and grumble. Sadly, as much as I like supporting local businesses, I have lost my local hardware store and butcher to people's belief that their customers need to know their politics.


“In December 2019, the supervisors adopted a resolution opposing any laws that would infringe on Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat, has said these resolutions “have no legal effect.”’

Much ado about NOTHING. In case frederick supervisors missed the last few years (remember they’ve been in shock and complete denial that their supreme leader lost his Presidency…and caused them to lose control of Congress) this was world wide and not confined to the county, the state, or the nation. It’s like making a proclamation that its not daylight, regardless of what the clock says. We need sanctuary alright, from their buffoonery and silly sideshow antics. Where are the adults in the room????

john brown

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]... they are real embarrassments everytime they open their pie holes. What is their position on the coup of January 6, 2021 or the Big Lie? I would love to see them go public with their opinion/position on whether they believe the criminal tRump will be reinstated in August? Inquiring minds want to know.


this sounds like a scenario where the likes of garber, greene, rump roast would say something like "if you don't like how we do things in virginia, MOVE".


What a bunch of nut jobs! They have clearly lost their minds- disgraceful!


Can we all agree that any emergency orders from a Governor should require General Assembly approval to last more than 30 days? Emergency orders that never end give one branch too much power and take away from the legislative branch. Plus, the executive branch started making decrees that had the same effect of law. To all progressives, imagine if a Republican won and started making decrees that had the effect of law and bypassed the GA which was Democrat? So think long term and think balance or power. This needs to be fixed. Many states already have limits on a Governor's emergency power.

john brown

sounds like someone want to change the rules in the middle of the game. let republiclans impose their bigoted and racist rules on the public. when they do, we get rid of them sooner. Virginia ain't west virginia by a long shot.


Weird that your delegate or senator never opposed the emergency orders. Did you ever contact them? No? Is that because you couldnt be bothered or that you dont even know who they are?


"You don't even know who they are?" Of course, I do and I know a lot more than you do.


Great. Name them.

Chris 22602

A bunch of nut jobs! The Republicans lost the state government in the election because the citizens are fed up with their policies.


I guess the county has become the fiefdom of a group of parochial egotists. If they don't like state laws and mandates I suggest they resign and run for state positions.


Take our state back? From who? Elections have consequences and Republicans are not in power at the state level. The state voted to not give them power because so many of them are nuts.

Spock Here


Old Western Man

A prudent action BoS. Symbolism has power, and courage inspires courage.




Graber is making his bid to be the Marjorie Taylor Greene of Frederick County....

Spock Here


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