Estate Planning Seminar

Fran Gomez and Nick Dudley recently led a discussion on practical estate planning ideas at a seminar sponsored by Steve Campbell of Cornerstone Wealth Advisor Group to help folks to make plans for their surviving loved ones.  The seminar focused on the reasons you need a will, additional estate planning documents, taxes and trusts.

Fran practices primarily in the areas of estate planning and administration, corporate law and real estate.  Nick focuses his practice in the areas of estate and trust planning and administration, administrative law and corporate advisory and related litigation.

If your organization would like to have Fran and Nick speak on a topic this summer, please contact Rebecca Rawley by submitting a request at

Lucas I. Pangle Honored for Pro Bono Work

Pangle was one of three local attorneys recognized for his extraordinary pro bono work done on behalf of Blue Ridge Legal Services.

Lucas I. Pangle was one of three local attorneys recognized for his extraordinary pro bono work done on behalf of Blue Ridge Legal Services.  The awards were presented during the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Bar Association’s annual Professionalism Seminar in October.  Dana Cornett, president of BRLS board of directors, said, “Our local bar as a whole provides outstanding support to legal aid clients in our area, but these awards recipients deserved special recognition for the level of service they donated.”

Blue Ridge Legal Services, Inc., founded in 1977, is a non-profit charitable law firm providing free legal assistance in civil matters of crucial importance to low-income residents of the Shenandoah Valley and Roanoke Valley through staff and volunteer attorneys.

Lauren R. Darden Named YMCA Board President

The News Virginian Article – September 4, 2016

Lauren Darden has always been a big fan of the Waynesboro YMCA, and she has always aimed to do her part. Now even more so.

Darden, who has served on the Y’s board since 2009, is the board’s new president. She has also chaired the Spring Gala Committee for the last two years and is on the executive committee.

Darden, a native of Baltimore, has been in the Shenandoah Valley since 1996 when she attended James Madison University. A lawyer, she currently lives in Waynesboro with her husband, Christopher, and their two children.

“Lauren brings a wealth of energy and dedication to our mission and the families we serve,” said Waynesboro YMCA Executive Director Jeff Fife. “She’s an ideal person to lead our board of directors with her business acumen, but more importantly, her history of engagement with our organization. She is a phenomenal volunteer and our organization is blessed to have her time and talent.”

Darden said she is proud to lead the board and continue to help the Y make an impact in the lives of local residents.

“My time on the board so far has been very rewarding and I’ve seen first-hand the good the Y does in the community through programs aimed at serving children in our community, promoting healthy living and encouraging community involvement,” she said. “I am constantly impressed by the passion of the members of the board of directors and the staff and volunteers that make the Y a vital part of the community.”

Darden said it is an exciting time at the Y with all of the programs and opportunities offered. But it’s just the start.

“I hope to serve as a steward for the Y’s message in the community,” she said, “and to make some exciting improvements to better serve and grow our membership.

WAW Sponsors Award at Tech Nite

The 16th Annual Shenandoah Valley Technology Council Tech Nite was held on May 4, 2016.

Wharton Aldhizer & Weaver sponsored the High Tech Award at the 16th annual Shenandoah Valley Technology Council Tech Nite.  The award was presented by Partner Matthew Von Schuch to Giv2give.  The organization is based out of Augusta County and tracks donations to nonprofit organizations.  To read the full article published by the Daily News-Record, click here


WAW Sponsored a Seminar on Active Shooters In the Workplace

‘Every Employer Has A Duty’ – Police Official Presents Talk On Active Shooters
Daily News-Record  – January 20, 2016 ~ By Vic Bradshaw
Photo by:  Austin Bachand / DN-R

Americans, Wayne Freeman said Tuesday, should prepare themselves for the possibility that someone will enter their workplace intent on killing people, because active-shooter incidents are on the rise.

“These are getting worse,” the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division special agent told a crowd of about 100 local law enforcement and business professionals at Blue Ridge Community College’s Robert E. Plecker Workforce Center. “They’re going to get worse. They’re going to get much worse. …  Paris is a drop in the bucket. Paris is a warm-day picnic.”

Between 1965 and 2000, he said, the number of workplace active-shooter incidents in the United States totaled 100. In the last 15 years, the total is 210.

Canada is second in active-shooter incidents over the last 50 years with a total of nine.

Thomas Ullrich, who specializes in U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration issues for Wharton Aldhizer & Weaver, said the Harrisonburg law firm brought Freeman to speak to invited guests because OSHA is placing more emphasis on violence in the workplace.

“Every employer has a duty,” Ullrich said, “to take action to minimize workplace violence.”

People might feel safe in this community, but he noted that workplace violence has happened in the Valley. Two people were shot by a man who committed suicide at American Home-Patient in Harrisonburg in May 2006, and a man was shot and killed at F.R. Drake Co. in Waynesboro in February 2014 by a man who turned himself into police.

Combat Scenario

Active-shooter incidents are more lethal than actual military combat, Freeman said, because soldiers have combat training. Most people in the workplace don’t.

“An active shooter,” he said, “is combat.”

Prevention, of course, is the preferred way to deal with such issues. Freeman said anyone who feels unsafe at their job should take their concerns to human resources.

As a rule, he said, shooters can’t be talked down. He’s heard of people trying to reason with them, only to be shot.

So, it’s imperative that people try to stay safe as long as possible — hopefully at least the three minutes it takes the average police department to respond to a call. Freeman said the average active-shooter incident lasts 12 minutes.

He said the top priority for police responding to a call is to save as many people as possible.

“We’re not there to help the wounded,” he said. “We’re there to stop the shooter.”

What To Do

In an active-shooter situation, Freeman said questioning or denying what’s going on could be deadly. The sooner reality is accepted, the quicker a person can take steps to save his life.

A person should call 911 as soon as he realizes he’s in danger so police can be sent to the scene, Freeman said.

If people can escape safely, he said they should flee without delay or hesitation. If they can’t, they should protect themselves by locking the shooter out of the room they’re in and placing barriers in front of the door.

“You want to create as many time barriers as you can,” he said. “The more time you can take away from that shooter, the closer [law enforcement] can get.”

If an officer bursts into a room, he advised that people fall facedown on the floor, cover their head with their hands and stay calm and quiet.

A person should charge the shooter only if it’s necessary to defend himself, Freeman said.

When fleeing workplace violence, he said people should have nothing in their hands and keep them visible. That way, officers won’t mistake them for an attacker.

Employers, Freeman said, should prepare for an active-shooter situation by establishing a site for a command post and interior and exterior patient-care locations; making plans for triage and transport to an alternate location; determining separate staging areas for first responders and the media; and establishing a spot for reunification of survivors with families.

Susan Grossman, human resources generalist for Truck Enterprises Inc., said her company has a workplace violence policy, and employees have received basic training about whether to run, hide or fight.

“I’d like to take it to the next level,” she said.

WAW Sponsors an Active Shooter Response Seminar

Labor and employment attorney, Tom Ullrich, will be hosting a seminar on Active Shooters in the Workplace:  Prevention & Response.
To view the details about the guest speaker and the seminar location, date and time, please click here

Aldhizer’s Life Heralded – Daily News-Record Article

Retired former partner, George R. Aldhizer, Jr., died on Saturday, September 19, 2015 at the age of 84.

HARRISONBURG — Bill O’Brien laughed Monday as he remembered an exchange from years ago when the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors was discussing a “thorny” issue in closed session.

The late Jennings Morris, one of the supervisors, asked George Aldhizer Jr. a question and received the county attorney’s “forthright” response.

“[Morris] said, ‘Mr. Attorney, I don’t particularly like that answer,’ O’Brien, then the county administrator, recalled. “And George said, ‘Mr. Supervisor, I didn’t particularly like that question, and if you’ll withdraw the question, I’ll withdraw the answer.’”

Colleagues and friends on Monday remembered Aldhizer as a detail-oriented attorney who was adept at finding solutions to problems rather than relying on the courts to settle disputes.

The retired former partner with Wharton Aldhizer & Weaver died Saturday at his farm in Rockingham County at the age of 84. A memorial service is set for 3 p.m. Saturday at Emmanuel Episcopal Church.

Don Showalter, who joined WAW in 1965 and remains with the firm, fondly remembered the way his mentor and friend practiced law.

“He was the quintessential Virginia lawyer,” said Showalter, 74, who became the firm’s fifth attorney when he was hired 50 years ago. “He was gracious, collegial, didn’t show anger toward his opponents, and he tried to work out difficult matters without litigation, and for the most part he was very successful at it.”

Player Behind Scenes

Aldhizer focused on local government, business and estate law during a career with WAW that began in 1958 and ended with his retirement in 2003. He also raised Angus cattle on Maple Leaf Farm.

As the legal counsel for Rockingham National Bank and its successors for more than 40 years, WAW colleague George “Skip” Roberts said Aldhizer was “a critical player in the economic growth of the community.” He helped the bank grow, and it helped finance many local businesses.

Jim Hoover, formerly of S.B. Hoover and Co., said he often handled the accounting end of deals in which Aldhizer was involved. They attended Security and Exchange Commission seminars in Washington, D.C., together to brush up on banking regulations and did a lot of traveling when local hotelier Tommy Tucker was acquiring properties, especially in Florida.

He also had a profound effect as Rockingham County’s legal adviser from July 1, 1977, until Dec. 31, 2001.

“One of the most successful things he did as our attorney, he kept us out of court,” said O’Brien, who began his 26-year run as county administrator in 1977. “He had the interest of the county at heart. If there was a compromise to be found, he’d find it.”

O’Brien said annexation of county land by Harrisonburg was the key issue of the first six years of his and Aldhizer’s tenures, calling it a “nasty time” in city-county relations. They almost reached a deal but “some personalities” got involved and the case wound up in court.

Rockingham County lost the original case and an appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court, O’Brien said, but Aldhizer helped influence county leaders to put the matter behind them and work with the city on matters that could be handled regionally, such as a jail and landfill.

In the early 1980s, O’Brien said, Aldhizer helped Rockingham County and Bridgewater become the first localities to take advantage of state legislation that allowed “friendly” town-county annexations. The attorney also helped rewrite the county’s zoning ordinance.

“We were on the cutting edge, I think, in setting our ordinance to support the farmer’s right to farm,” he said. “We strengthened that right to farm in our ordinance, and George was a key player, along with a lot of staff members, in making that happen.”

Law Man

Showalter called Aldhizer “a very intelligent, studious lawyer” who excelled at drafting legal documents.

“I’d draft a document for him,” Showalter said, “and get it back some with rather kind comments that meant, ‘You can do better than this.’”

Roberts joined the firm in 1971 and found Aldhizer’s attention to detail noteworthy, as well as the way he handled people and his vision.

Said Roberts: “I’d have to say he had the skill to step back, look at the big picture and evaluate what he should accomplish for his client.”

Chris Brown learned from Aldhizer when he joined WAW in 1990 and quickly became “sort of a second-string county attorney.” He replaced Aldhizer when he retired as county attorney and now is Harrisonburg’s city attorney.

He remembered poring through volumes of the Code of Virginia in researching an issue and said Aldhizer had “an extraordinary knowledge” of the legal workings of local government.

“He was just a real lion when it came to local government law,” Brown said. “He also gained the trust and confidence of county staff members and the different supervisors over the years.”

Brown once represented the county before the Virginia Supreme Court and remembered having Aldhizer and Glenn Hodge, another WAW attorney, unexpectedly show up in Richmond to provide moral support.

“He was a real magical kind of guy,” Brown said.

Even after retirement, WAW managing partner Humes “Tripp” Franklin said Aldhizer was something the firm “could rely on to draw upon for his depth and his experience, his knowledge of the law and the community.”

Lawyers outside the firm also valued Aldhizer.

David Penrod of Hoover Penrod called Aldhizer “the consummate professional” and an “ethical, dependable” attorney.

“It was always a pleasure to be working for or against George because he was always able to keep his eye on the ball and didn’t get bogged down on unimportant things,” Penrod said. “He was always about solving a problem in as efficient a way as possible.”

Sense Of Community

Friends and family members also made it clear that Aldhizer had fun away from work and did a lot in the community. But his family, daughter Mary Sloat said, isn’t sure how many community organizations he might have helped because he seldom discussed his volunteer work.

They know he was on the Harrisonburg-Rockingham County Free Clinic’s board of directors from 2007 to 2013 and championed veterans’ issues, so they’ve asked that memorial contributions be sent to the clinic or the Wounded Warrior Project.

“He was very committed to helping this community meet the needs of those who are having a rough go of it,” said Keith Gnagey, the clinic’s executive director. “He had a sensitivity for people for whom health care was not available.”

Aldhizer also sang in two barbershop quartets, Sloat said, and was known for his humor. In a statement she prepared with brother George Aldhizer III and sister Carol Delia, she said her father wasn’t above poking fun at himself, and “[e]ven in the hospital, he joked with the nurses and doctors.”

Hoover remembered playing tennis on the court Aldhizer built on his farm. Friends also recalled him reveling in attending Washington Redskins and University of Virginia football games.

Aldhizer probably could have gone to a larger city and made more money, but his family said in their statement that that wasn’t their dad.

“We think he would say that he was fortunate to be raised in a loving family in a beautiful valley with a remarkable sense of community,” she said. “He grew up with a slew of friends, many of whom chose to stay in Harrisonburg.

“Their shared history and community grew along with them. The town provided opportunities for career, family and contributions, all of which were important and all of which fulfilled dad.”

Contact Vic Bradshaw at 574-6279 or

Ullrich and Darden Speak on Social Media Legal Issues

Wharton, Aldhizer & Weaver PLC attorneys Tom Ullrich and Lauren Darden spoke on legal issues surrounding use of social media by businesses at a recent Shenandoah Valley Society for Human Resource Management chapter meeting.

Tom Ullrich and Lauren Darden discussed social media issues for employers at a recent Shenandoah Valley Society for Human Resource Management chapter meeting.  The presentation addressed the vexing legal issues and circumstances encountered by employers when faced with demeaning, disparaging (even false) comments made by current and former employees on social media sites.  The presentation used interactive technology to facilitate audience participation and discussion of the issues, using hypothetical cases based on real scenarios.  Topics covered included:  (1) the NLRB’s aggressive application of the NLRA’s prohibition on interference with protected, concerted activity by employees (even in non-union settings) to company social media policies; (2) options available to employers when informed of harmful or inappropriate social media posts; and (3) use of social media posts for purposes of hiring, disciplining or firing employees.