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‘Disappointment and embarrassment:’ Former Purcellville officials concerned by ongoing saga

Purcellville Town Hall Times-Mirror/Alexander Todd Erkiletian
Former members of Purcellville Town Council and former staff say they are concerned by the ongoing saga clouding the town.

“This is a total disappointment and embarrassment,” said former Town Councilwoman Beverly Chiasson, who served from 1992-2004 and whose family has lived in Purcellville for six generations.

“I can't imagine anything else that comes close to this level. It's a shame no one has taken full responsibility,” she said. “I am waiting for someone to say 'we are going to make it right.'”

Chiasson said she believed the town's situation is the consequence of letting former Town Manager Rob Lohr go earlier this year.

“[Lohr] always seemed to be able to find the balance and do due diligence with everything being asked of him. They had a yes person with Vanegas. Now we see the results. Rob always triple-checked everything, this never would have happened with him. They wanted someone who totally agreed with them,” Chiasson said, referring to the Town Council's decision to hire Interim Town Manager Alex Vanegas, who has been placed on leave.

Former Purcellville Mayor Eric Zimmerman agreed.

“People are paying attention to this – there needs to be transparency. Tell me what's going on rather than try to bury it,” said Zimmerman, who was mayor from 1986 to 1990.

“They made a huge mistake by getting rid of Rob. He was a steady voice there,” he added. “We really don't know what the facts are, but I always held Chief McAlister in high regard. I will be interested to see what comes out,” said Zimmerman.

Prior to his departure June 30, fomer Town Manager Rob Lohr said he had received “no substantiated complaints” against Chief McAlister when he was serving as town manager.

Former Assistant Town Manager Danny Davis – who acted as a liaison between town administration and the police department – said he was surprised by the "no confidence" vote by the Town Council on Nov. 1 and said he was never once contacted during the investigation into the police department's complaints.

Where did the situation begin?

In a Nov. 9 interview with the Times-Mirror, Vanegas said the situation began when seven members of the police department, including the “full command staff” came to him July 27 to discuss personnel issues.

Vanegas said he grabbed HR specialist Sharon Rauch to come in with him.

"We listened to several hours of them grieving. We had grown men crying,” Vanegas said. “ … I was shocked.”

Following their meeting that day, Rauch went on sick leave, and Vanegas, "feeling overwhelmed with the process," said he reached out to HR attorney Patrice Clair to bring in an outside investigator to assist him.

Vanegas said Nuckolls' bid was selected because “it was the cheapest.”

Chief McAlister was placed on administrative leave Aug. 28. Vanegas said “this was done at the recommendation of the HR attorney to protect her and the staff during the investigation.”

“From the get-go we found a lot of rabbit holes, which caused us to investigate more,” Vanegas said.

When asked if he had been deposed by investigators, Vanegas replied “not yet.”

Vanegas said in his time as interim town manager he did not find anything “done wrong or any form of corruption in town finances.”

“I am going to do the right thing and continue to do the right thing even if it costs me my job,” he said.


And it should cost him his job. Vanegas was in way over his head. He took a job that was available because the town Council thought they could do a better job at running the town. What they found out is that they (the Town Council and Mayor) have NO leadership qualities, NO back bones and have no clue about managing people. Why have we not heard from the council? Why have they not apologized for screwing everything up and told the story, the real reason they got rid of Rob. Why don’t they tell us why Keli Grim had so much influence on them. Why don’t they just step down. They are a bunch of clueless jokes. I rather have our HOA president run the town. I think he has more experience then all 7 council members and the Mayor. VOTE THEM OUT IN MAY!!! Kwasi Fraser (Spineless and does not know how to lead),  Karen Jimmerson (Old Two face),  Chris Bledsoe, Ryan Cool, Kelli Grim (She left and is now an embarrassment after destroying our town), Doug McCollum, and Nedim Ogelman (This guy is so full of himself He thinks he is smarter then anyone in the town: What an idiot.

Thanks to one of TC’s insiders we at least know the next targets: be prepared for more pushing out of honest hard working good people Purcellville!  Like Jimmerson said after they got rid of Rob, this uproar is just a little back lash from the “old guard.”  Apparently this is their town now…or at least until next election.

Hold it, grown men, police officers almost crying….About what, why is that part left off? I really find it hard to believe this happened. Pville has bigger issues besides this scandal. They have a police force that is a bunch of ........ or is Vanegas lying about that too? And to think he selected someone and investigation complete less than a month…. Putting out a bid takes at least a week or two. Timeline just doesn’t work.

While parenting my children, they too, occasionally cried when I wouldn’t let them do whatever they wanted, when they wanted and how they wanted.  It’s called having rules and holding people accountable.  Just because a handful of men threw tantrums does not mean they were abused nor that there Chief McAlister abusde her power. It meant that - like parenting - they weren’t allowed to follow their own rules of behaviors and conduct that they had grown accustomed to.  When you have some officers who would choose to lie or steal or cheat the system in order to save their own hides… When you have a handful of officers who refuse to follow policy and procedures they weren’t expected to follow before ... and when you have some officers who expect that they do NOT have to stand up to the same measures as others (especially documented measures), I bet they were ticked off and complained.  It does NOT mean, however, that Chief McAlister acted unethically nor abusively.  Trying to hold some officers to a higher standard of police practices, protocols and expectations is part of her job description as Chief of Police.

Sounds like this mess started when 7 cops complained about their work environment. They weren’t happy with Purcellville department being “Fairfaxed”??ie held accountable? And the town council backed them up due to some shenanigans between them, town management and investigator? Just trying to put 2+2 together from what info is being put out there. I conclude the police department (those complaining)grow up and step up and serve the community in the same professional way Fairfax is run. Our townspeople deserve better. Chief McAlister has the experience to make Pville Police dept one if the best. TC should have let her do her job instead of making our town the laughing stock.

So, you reach into the distant pass to find 2 people who served and spend the rest of the article with a lot of background about the scandal.  Plus, you spell it ” Town Counciwoman ”  Definitely a newspaper going downhill.

Not sure that this ‘crew’ will ever regain anyone’s confidence. Right now they have a resounding vote of ‘no confidence’ working for them. Total lack of leadership qualities from the top down. Unbelievable.

If they want to be transparent let’s see the list of items left on kelli grimms agenda. she said she was going to send it to council after she stepped down. My bet is we will have to FOIA it in order to see who/what is going to be targeted next. She said it was a long list, and from what I’ve seen in six months I think enough damage has been done by this council.

Great, now get over it and hold someone accountable for this corrupt contract award, only then will anyone start to regain confidence in this crew….

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