Manassas Journal Messenger 02-23-01


February 23, 2001




pileup — Weather cripples area with traffic accidents


Keith Walker



Dave Ellis/Staff Photographer

Jerry Gordon, left, a safety engineer, and Paul Stephens,

a Fredericksburg tow truck driver, survey some of the damage caused by a

late morning pile-up on the southbound lanes of I-95 in Stafford on Thursday.

More than 100 vehicles were involved in the accident, which resulted in

at least one death and the shutting down of that part of the interstate

for most of the day.

The lack of salt or sand on area roadways early in Thursday’s snowstorm

caused all types of vehicles to slip and slide toward the edges of back

streets and the shoulders of major thoroughfares.

Although the Virginia Department of Transportation was poised with 1,010

trucks at strategic locations throughout the area, driving during the storm’s

outset before the roads were treated was dicey at the safest spots and downright

dangerous everywhere else.

According to VDOT spokeswoman Joan Morris, the salt trucks need to wait

until a 1/4 inch layer of snow covers the roads before they can begin spreading



case sent to grand jury

By Patrick Wilson



MANASSAS – A Triangle woman accused of planning the murder of a Dumfries

man last year told a detective she lured him into the woods for sex to set

him up for a gunman, according to testimony from a Thursday court hearing.

Prince William General District Court Judge Wenda K. Travers found enough

evidence to send a murder charge against Rhonda Y. Stewart, 30, to the grand

jury that will meet in March.

Thursday’s preliminary hearing for Stewart was the latest event in the

strange case. Stewart, who was having sex with victim Ronald Lee Hogan just

before he was shot, had given a detective five different names of people

she said fired the gun.[more]


beverage bill gets killed


Nancy Carroll



The Virginia General Assembly Monday killed a bill that would disallow

open containers of alcohol in motor vehicles.

“Drunk drivers rejoice. Your right to drink and drive in Virginia

has been upheld,” said Kurt Erickson, Executive Director of the Vienna-based

Washington Regional Alcohol Program, and a staunch supporter of the bill.

The Virginia House of Delegates’ Militia and Police Committee quashed

a bill authored by Sen. Tommy Norment, R-Williamsburg, which sought to ban

open containers of alcohol from the passenger compartment. Norment’s bill

would have created a $25 fine for opening containers of alcohol in the passenger

compartment of vehicles, but would have allowed alcoholic beverages to be

carried as cargo in either the trunk of a vehicle or behind the last upright

back seat.[more]


swims into kids’ book business


Tiffany Schwab



Tiffany Schwab/For the Manassas Journal Messenger

Ann Marie Stephens stands in front of a picture of the

main characters in her recently published children’s book, “Surprise

for Ray.”


MANASSAS – Ann Marie Stephens has had loads of practice writing children’s

stories. As a first-grade teacher, she often creates short stories or rhymes

for her students as reading-comprehension lessons.

“Maybe we’d be working on rhyming, so I’d write a rhyming story

about rats,” she explained.

Tackling a children’s book seemed like second nature, a dream she’s had

since high school.

The Round Elementary School teacher got her chance to break into the

business a few years ago after talking with local author Lezlie Evans, who

has published five books of her own.[more]


alleges discrimination in county schools


Louise Cannon



MANASSAS – The National Association for Advancement of Colored People

is holding a town meeting tonight to discuss its allegations of discrimination

in the Prince William County School System.

The meeting will focus on the “unfair discipline” of African


students and the lack of African American staff and coaches in the school

system, said Ira Patterson, president of the Prince William County Branch

of the NAACP.

The allegations grew out of the expulsion of four black students at Gar-Field

High School who were involved in a fight with a white student in 1999. The

white student was not disciplined. Assault charges were filed against the

black students by police. Police said the white student was the victim in

the incident and no charges were filed against her.[more]


Tigers, Cougars ready to rumble


wrestling coach Thad Kiesnowski shrugged off his team’s narrow loss in the

Bull Run District tournament last Saturday. His team did the same.

The Tigers were two points shy of claiming their second district title in

three years. But Clarke County, who had only two grapplers win individual

district titles, managed to hold on for the 192-190 victory.

Initial disappointment in the Tiger contingent was evident. It is never

easy to lose.

Yet, there are no long faces in Nokesville. Not with the Region B tournament

a day away.

“(The tournament loss) didn’t have any effect on the team,” Kiesnowski

said. “That was a close loss. We wrestled real well. Things just didn’t

go our way.”[more]


Center stage

— Community theaters collaborate to hold first awards celebration

Ellen Young had

acted in Los Angeles and New York City. Ashley Sherry had acted in children’s

theater. Gary Crawford had never acted in his life.

These Prince William residents came to community theater with a wide range

of experiences, but now they share at least one thing in common: Each received

an outstanding achievement award nomination for acting last year.

The 2-year-old Washington Area Theatre Community Honors (WATCH) group will

announce the winners March 4, when it debuts the awards ceremony it patterned

after the Academy Awards in Alexandria.

WATCH designed the public event to acknowledge the best work in community

theater and garner recognition for its volunteer society.

“We’re trying to show that it’s a serious business,” said Don

Wilson, the Prince William Little Theatre’s liaison to WATCH. “Some

of the best are cutting their teeth in community theater and going on to

professional theater.”

For this reason, Wilson led his Manassas-based troupe to a partnership that

grew to 13 companies in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area at the beginning

of this year. The Prince William Little Theatre was nominated for 12 awards.



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