Inserts Weekend Forecast Follow Westmoreland News on Facebook and Twitter and visit our website www.NewsOnTheNeck.com $1.00 W estmoreland ews N March 8, 2023 NewsOnTheNeck.com Friday Saturday Sunday 49°/39° 55°/36° 51°/38° Two men have been charged for the mur- der of Laura Quinn Combs, a 58-year-old Westmoreland woman found dead in King George last fall. According to King George Sheriff’s Office (KGSO), a civilian found the body of a female in a wooded area off Stoney Knoll Rd. That female was later identified as Combs. Detectives in King George and Westmoreland launched a joint investigation, and last week, KGSO announced Colonial Beach resident Albert Odell Stewart, age 61, and Richard Jimmy West, age 67, of Westmoreland have each been charged with one count of 2nd degree murder and one count of aggravated malicious wounding. Court records cite the offense date as Oct. 30, 2022. Although Combs was identified, the med- ical examiner’s office has not yet determined the cause or manner of Combs death. Authorities have not disclosed what, if any, connection there was between Combs and the two men charged. Nor have they revealed if the location where the body was discovered is believed to be the location where she was killed. But the investigation has led authorities to believe that Combs was murdered in King George. Before West was booked for the charges in King George on March 1, he was arrested for this same incident in November on charges brought in Westmoreland. “There was some question at that time about where the murder occurred, in Westmoreland or King George,” explained Julia Sichol, Westmoreland’s Commonwealth’s Attorney. “I believed based on the information obtained during the initial investigation he should be arrested that evening, so we brought charges against him for conspiracy to commit murder and abduction. Further investigation revealed that the offense did in fact occur in King George and so King George was the proper jurisdiction for the murder charge,” she added. Like the coordinated effort between police in the two counties, Sichol’s office worked with the King George Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office to ensure West remained incarcerated on the Westmoreland charges until he was served with the King George charges. He was transferred from Northern Neck Regional Jail to Rappahannock Regional Jail without being released, Sichol said. Stewart was arrested on February 27 and is also being held in Rappahannock Regional Jail. West, whose criminal record includes an assault and battery conviction in 2020, is scheduled to return to court for the Combs’ case on April 13. Stewart, who is also currently facing numerous drug distribution and failure to appear charges in Westmoreland, is set to return to court for the Combs’ case on March 30. 2 charged for murder of Westmoreland woman Albert Odell Stewart Richard Jimmy West Photos: KGSO BY MICHELLE SMITH Colonial Beach is looking at getting new surfaces for several of its park areas. These include Castlewood, Washington Avenue, and Torrey Smith. At the most recent Town Council work session, Sally Adams, the interim director of Parks & Recreation Events, gave a pre- sentation on the matter. “You received a memo on this last week,” Adams explained. “But the infor- mation had changed today, and so we changed our recommendation based on the new information.” Generally speaking, the goal is to get a surface that lasts long and doesn’t require much maintenance. The four possibilities presented to the Council came in the form of engineered loose wood fiber, a pour-in- place cork product called corkeen, loose mulch, or pour-in-place rubber. At $1.15 per square foot, wood fiber is extremely cheap, cheaper even than normal mulch, non toxic, and has no bark and less splinters, but it requires regular refilling and has to be replaced from year to year. There is also very little accessibil- ity unless mats are used, which requires the aforementioned regular refills. Corkeen, meanwhile, is accessible, sustainable, and heat resistant, but at $25 per square foot, on top of the $15,000 installation fee, the cost would be sky high. Repairs also would require a certi- fied technician, and monthly leaf blowing would be needed. Corkeen was the pre- ferred option for many in the department, despite its cost. “At the time, we were looking at the numbers, it looked long-lasting,” Adams explained. “But the information we got today led us to believe that we really don’t know how long it lasts. It could be the thing we use in the future, because it has all of these benefits, and nowhere near as many drawbacks of the other surfaces.” Unfortunately, the high cost, particu- larly from the installation fee, put a cor- keen surface just out of the department’s budget. It is hoped that corkeen will go down in price eventually as competition starts arriving. The other big unknown is just how long its lifespan is. Playground mulch, which is currently in use, is cheap, coming in at $1.34 per square foot. It’s non-toxic and easy to replace, but there can be mold and bark in it along with splinters. It having to be replaced each year is another problem. “I don’t think it will be a difficult decision,” Adams continued, “because the thing we’re asking to refill with is actually cheaper.” BY RICHARD BURRELL Colonial Beach decides on park surfaces See PARKS, page 7 Washington Ave. Park Photo: VisitCBVA As each month goes by, the town of Montross’ replacement of its old piping draws closer and closer to completion. The project was initially unveiled several years back with the goal of replacing the smaller water pipes that go through some sections of the town with 6-inch piping like the rest of the town possesses. When the Town Council’s February meeting rolled in, Vice Mayor Joey King gave his take on where things stood. “It’s very interesting how the process is going,” he commented. “They’re making it look easier than it is, for some reason. But there still has to be the hookups when they finish with running the pipe. I’m sure some folks are not completely happy with the process once they start the digging, but they do try to put everything back as they go. It’s looking better, but the weather doesn’t help, but they are committed to making sure the process goes good.” General feedback so far from the public appears to be largely posi- tive, particularly in the sections of town off the beaten path. Meanwhile, the Request for Proposals involving the meters went out last week. “Of course, there will be little snags here and there,” King continued, “things that come up that we have to be cool, calm, and collected about, and work through any concerns people may have. People don’t like hav- ing their yards dug up, but this is bigger than any of us.” Bobby Reamy had a couple of questions for the Council when pub- lic comment came, specifically with regards to the extent of the pipe replacement, which Councilwoman Carolyn Carlson helped clear the air on. “The question is not what kind of water system we’re getting,” Reamy stated, “but rather how much of a water system are we getting for the town. The perception for many people is that we’re getting a completely new water system for the town, but what are we really getting?” “We’re getting a new well,” Carlson explained. “We are required to get one. There are areas that already have the 6-inch lines, and that’s what’s being put in over in areas where there were 2.5 to 3-inch. The entire town, at this time, is not going to get new water lines.” Town Manager Francine Taylor has made arrangements for cost esti- mates to be whipped up for what the price tag for extending the main line further down Route 3 in the direction of the Cancer Center might look like, but it will be a while before anything comes back. Montross clears the air on water project BY RICHARD BURRELL Dot Reid’s barber shop used to have 20 employees and two floors of space in Richmond’s Fan District. Coming out of a pandemic when many people treated hair- cuts as optional or more of a do-it-yourself thing, she’s down to five employees on one floor. As she cut a customer’s hair Friday morning, Reid explained the trouble she’s had in recruiting new barbers and hairstyl- ists as she tries to rebuild her business. She had a qualified job candidate with over a decade of experience, she said, but because he would’ve been coming from Maryland, it would’ve taken a while for him to get licensed to cut hair in Virginia. “That was a huge challenge for me to actually have qualified candidates right there in front of me,” Reid said. “But then I knew we had to deal with the regulation challenges.” Reid’s customer, Governor Glenn Youngkin, chimed in to say it’s harder for people to move to Virginia if they know they can’t work and make money imme- diately. “The income that you had where you were coming from generally stops,” Youngkin said as he sat in Reid’s chair at Refuge for Men. “And if there’s a long gap before you can start working again, you can’t move.” Youngkin signs universal license recognition law at Richmond barber shop BY GRAHAM MOOMAW VIRGINIAMERCURY.COM See LICENSING, page 2