$60,000 Used Against Augusta County On Courthouse Issue?


Augusta County resident Becci Harmon recently wrote a letter to the editor asking what could be bought with $60,000, the amount of money raised by the two Staunton organizations that are urging people to vote “no” and not move the Augusta County Courthouse from downtown Staunton to the Government Center in Verona.

Ms. Harmon wrote, “What could you buy with $60,000? The Augusta Citizens Coalition and Common Sense Courthouse Solutions has raised just under that amount so far in an effort to stop the move of the Augusta County Courthouse from downtown Staunton to Verona. That’s more than the average local taxpayer’s salary, and an awful lot of money that will be geared toward advertising in an effort to persuade us to keep giving our money to the city of Staunton.”

Think about it. The citizens of Augusta County who could very well be the David in this David and Goliath match, are facing Staunton opposition made up of very powerful people with deep pockets: lawyers, retired judges, businessmen, the city newspaper — all with far more financial resources than the average county citizen. Ms. Harmon notes:

The top donors include William Stuart Moffett, Rudolph Bumgardner, Julian Moffett, HC Stuart Cochran and Lee Stuart Cochran. These family names have circulated within the judicial system for decades. One can’t help but wonder how their ancestors would respond to moving the courts with the condition they are in today, and knowing these courts do not meet the current needs in regards to space, safety and accessibility for the elderly and handicapped. Who knew then how much the need for court functions would grow?

Among the $5,000 donors are Richard Cullen, who is originally from Staunton. He is chairman and senior Litigation Attorney for McGuire Woods, a Richmond-based law firm.

Others of the small group of donors include Allen Dahl, Elk Trucking Co., Presley Moore, Arbor Life Professional Tree Care, Paul Vames, Tom Sheets, Franklin Root, David Didawick, William Saxman, Herbert Godschalk, and H&R Contractors janitorial services. The majority of these wealthy donors are not Augusta County residents. Most own businesses in the city, so of course they want us to keep pouring money into Staunton pockets.

Safety is a number one reason to build a new Courthouse, as Ms. Harmon shares: “Every day, officers escort inmates from Middle River Regional Jail and Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Detention Center. Every day, on this five-mile stretch of road, we place our officers lives on the line. Inmates’ lives are at risk as well.  One bad decision could easily cost lives. Safety within the courthouses puts everyone in those buildings at risk.”

Others whose lives could be in danger are judges, juries, witnesses, and the public.

Ms. Harmon closes by adding, “The time has come for us and our hard earned dollars to benefit our pockets. So many of our government businesses are already located in Verona. Augusta County citizens, please vote ‘yes’ on moving the court.”

Tuesday, November 8, on the ballot. #VoteYES

What you can do to learn more:                                   

For more information, see:

Letters to the Editor in favor of moving Courthouse to Verona:

#VoteYES on November 8.


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