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Preservationists decry
county vote

By Joseph J. McCallister

Manassas Journal Messenger

Following the Prince William Board of County Supervisors
vote Tuesday to oppose a proposed expansion of the Manassas National Battlefield
historic district, some county residents are not satisfied with the decision,
saying the board did not support the will of the people.

If passed, the proposal would add 400 acres of county
land to the National Register of Historic Places as part of the historic
Manassas battlefield site, which already claims more than 5,000 acres.

The proposal would not expand the boundaries of Manassas
National Battlefield Park, however, nor would landowners within the expanded
district lose control of their property.

One point of contention in the debate is whether the district
expansion would cause problems in the construction of the Va. Route 234
Bypass, a road that when completed would provide a connector from the county
to Dulles International Airport, providing a better transportation corridor
for commerce in the county.

Some have suggested that the board opposed an expanded
district because it did not want anything to stand in the way of construction
of that bypass.

County resident Bobby McManus said in a letter to the
Journal Messenger that the board’s decision to oppose this boundary expansion
is an example of supervisors working to serve the development community
instead of county residents.

“Prince William County has become a battlefield,”
McManus said. “[With] every inch of preservation that is presented
in front of the [supervisors], they protect the developer first and then
without understanding what has even been presented to them, they fight
it for fear it will become a problem for the development community.”

But board Chairman Sean Connaughton, R-at large, said
the board did not make the decision based on what would happen to the bypass.

Connaughton said the problem the board had with the proposal
was how little information it had about the effects of the redistricting.

“The issue is essentially one of [having an] understanding
of what the ramifications of this designation are. We have not been able
to get a clear understanding [of that],” he said.

The board’s disagreement with the expansion dates back
to a 1998 proposal in which the board was not presented with sufficient
information to make a decision, he said, adding that he feels the National
Park Service has moved too fast on this most recent proposal.

“All I’m asking for, and what the board is asking
for, is what is [the designation’s] impact and what role do we play in
it? We asked that question two years ago, and we’re asking it again,”
he said. “This [vote] is not a complete opposition. What it says …
is we are asking for a delay for something that seems to be on an extremely
fast track.”

One point that is of particular concern to Connaughton
is whether this proposed expansion is just an attempt to block the Va.
234 Bypass, a possibility that he has heard discussed. He said if that
is the case, then this expansion has a greater potential impact than the
board has been told.

Supervisor Ed Wilbourn, R-Gainesville, who proposed the
resolution to oppose the expansion, answered his critics who have said
that he is only interested in supporting development in the battlefield

Wilbourn said the Va. 234 Bypass is not intended to be
a stem for developments along the road, but is meant only to be a Dulles
connector for the county, which he says is vital to the region’s future.

“[The bypass will be a] huge vital road to the economic
health of Prince William County. You don’t need to develop another inch
as long as you link the Dulles airport with [the county],” he said.
“No single supervisor could create a commercial zone up next to the
battlefield. It’s never going to happen, and no one’s going to try to do

Ruth Griggs, R-Occoquan, was the only supervisor who voted
against the opposition Tuesday. Griggs said she opposed the resolution
because of the wording, saying that “opposing” the proposed expansion
sounded too final, and that voting to defer the decision would be preferable.

“There might be some chance in the future of us thinking
this is a good thing, and I did not want [the board] to go on record as
opposing it,” Griggs said. “There might be something really productive
they’re attempting to do, [and] we should try to find out what it is before
we oppose it.”

County resident Brad Bradshaw, a member of the Freedom
Museum, said he favors the expansion and was disappointed in the board’s
decision. Saying that the county has not done enough to promote historic
preservation, he said the expansion would benefit people well beyond the
borders of Prince William County.

“This is a national battlefield. It belongs to all
people – not just Prince William County and not just Virginia,” Bradshaw

Connaughton emphasized that his decision to vote for opposition
was not a final measure. The Park Service can resubmit its application
for expansion, and Connaughton said if the plan looked positive that he
would back it.

“If this designation ends up [just] protecting historic
structures and properties, I will probably end up supporting it, because
that is a very big issue to me – protecting our historic resources,”
he said. “If that’s all this does, I’ll be behind this thing 110 percent.”

Contact Joseph J. McCallister at [email protected]


Software aids parents
in policing

the Internet

By Patrick Doherty

Manassas Journal Messenger


Parents who want to protect their children from the less-benign
aspects of the Internet can now get a helpful tool for free.

Child Watch, a software package providing Internet filtering
and more, has been endorsed by the Manassas Police Department, which is
distributing free copies of the software.

“It provides parents with a tool that limits their
children’s use of the Internet, and by doing this reduces the opportunity
for them to be victims of child predators,” said Capt. Don McKinnon,
commander of the department’s administrative division.

The principal feature of the program is that it allows
parents to filter their Web browsers, preventing access to questionable
Web sites and chat rooms, said Louise LeMay, a spokeswoman for PACEL Corp.,
which developed the software. However, the program goes beyond traditional
Internet filters, providing additional features to protect children.

Once the software is installed on a computer it will generate
screen savers displaying pictures of missing children. The screen saver
is updated via e-mail from Child Watch of North America. More than 100 missing
children have been recovered as a result of the exposure generated by the
organization LeMay said. PACEL and Child Watch are trying to get the software
installed on as many computers as possible, both to give greater exposure
to missing children and to raise people’s awareness of the risks to children,
LeMay said.

“We’re trying to create a Child Watch zone, with a
community of people who are looking out for children, and where the Internet
becomes a safe place for children,” LeMay said.

The software also enables the user to limit the total amount
of time children spend on-line by giving each child an account with a specified
time limit. LeMay said this is a useful feature for busy parents.

“The primary responsibility is with the parent,”
LeMay said. “But many parents these days don’t have time to supervise
their children’s Internet use. This gives them a little extra help.”

During the next few month, Manassas police will be distributing
free copies of the software at various civic association meetings, as well
as PTA and PTO meetings, McKinnon said. Copies also can be picked up between
9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday at the Manassas City Police Department,
9518 Fairview Ave. The department has given out about 20 copies so far,
McKinnon said.

Contact Patrick Doherty at [email protected]


Toastmasters teach
how to speak up, not chicken out

By Emily Kuhl

Manassas Journal Messenger

Given the choice between dying or delivering a speech,
most people would choose death. In fact, fear of public speaking outranked
the fear of death by a two-to-one margin, according to “The Book of

So why would anyone voluntarily join an organization centered
on public speaking?

“People recognize it’s a skill they don’t have and
want to take control of it,” said Peggy Kimmey, vice president of
public relations for the Manassas Community Toastmasters Club.

This international, nonprofit organization has spent 76
years teaching people to improve their public speaking skills, learn leadership
techniques and become better communicators. Personal evaluators are assigned
to each speaker to critique his or her performance. Members work with the
“Basic Communications Manual,” which lists 10 speech topics suggesting
a different nuance of speech to focus on. After completing each of the
initial 10 speeches, the member is awarded with a certificate and deemed
a “Competent Toastmaster.” For those wanting to advance further,
more specified training manuals are offered.

Peggy Kimmey gives her 10th and final speech en route
to becoming a “Competent Toastmaster.” Photo by Mitch Hazam.

“[The club] not only offers practice in gaining speaking
and presentation skills, but also, because of the community within each
other, we learn from the evaluations and experiences,” said Lenora
McMillian, president of the club.

To supplement what is covered at meetings, the club offers
workshops, which often act as stepping stone to joining the club. One such
workshop, the Speechcraft Workshop, will run from Sept. 12-Oct. 17 for
$60. Additionally, residents who complete the workshop will have completed
the first three of the 10 required speeches, should they choose to become
a Toastmaster.

Along with an obvious emphasis on improving public speaking,
the club aims to help members build their leadership skills. Toastmasters
has a distinct chain of command, wherein members fill various positions
such as president, secretary and treasurer. During meetings, time is kept,
notes are recorded and votes counted. The club, however, maintains a laid-back
atmosphere, which McMillian said sets them apart from other area Toastmasters
clubs. And, Sergeant-at-Arms Bob Duecaster, said it’s the casual, non-threatening
environment that helps make the club so affective.

The skills and lessons taught by Toastmasters has benefited
its members both professionally and personally, McMillian added.

While programs that improve speaking skills are nothing
new, club member Laura Kimberly stated there’s an advantage to joining
Toastmasters instead of going to your local college.

“The difference between a speech course and Toastmasters
is that you get continual experience. A speech course is a one-time shot,
but if you don’t practice, it doesn’t do you any good,” she said.
“It helps me in my job because I do presentations. It also helps you
to think on your feet.”

Though the benefits make joining the club an easy decision,
leaving can be more difficult.

“At first, I was going to stay just until the 10th
speech,” McMillian said. “Now, I couldn’t imagine [leaving].
I don’t think I ever will.”

The Manassas Community Toastmasters Club meets the
first and third Wednesday of each month from 7:30-9 p.m. at the Fairmont
Retirement Home. For more information, call (703) 257-5140.

Contact Emily Kuhl at [email protected]

Action delayed on council
vacancy amendment

By Martha McCracken

A Wednesday work session to discuss a proposed charter
amendment at Manassas City Hall yielded no concrete results, with the city
council voting to put off the decision until its next regularly scheduled

Under consideration are three versions of the amendment
which regulates the election, terms and salaries of the mayor and council
members. Elections and salaries were not discussed in this meeting, because
the council and mayor are satisfied with them. All three versions were
written by City Attorney Robert Bendall.

Wednesday’s discussion centered on the section of the
amendment that deals with appointing a citizen to fill a council seat should
one become vacant between elections. Of the three versions presented, two
were very similar in language. These two versions, according to Bendall,
would have the vacancy filled by council appointment within 45 days, with
the appointed person serving only the remaining days of the current term.

The third version contains the same language with the
additional requirement that the appointed person stand for election to
an additional four-year term in the next general election.

Bendall said that the charter amendments “aren’t
necessary unless the council wants further clarification.”

Councilman Hal Parrish countered, saying that “to
fill the position, citizens should be the ones to take over the seat, however,
without an immediate special election (after the term expires), while costly,
it might be needed.”

Bendall pointed out that under Virginia law, a special
election would not be required; the seat would be filled at the next scheduled

Councilman Ulysses White saw no “cogent reason”
to change the existing charter. Councilwoman Judy Hays was in favor of
the different version “plus four years amendment,” and Councilman
Bob Oliver wanted some change to occur.

Mayor Marvin Gillum made a motion to table the proposal
until the next regularly scheduled full city council meeting Aug. 14, and
the motion was sustained.

Contact Martha McCracken at [email protected]

Planning panel recommends
denying hotel permit

By Martha McCracken

Manassas Journal Messenger

The Manassas Planning Commission voted unanimously Wednesday
to recommend that the city council deny a building permit for a hotel in
the Godwin Drive-Ashton area, in the west end of the city.

Members of the public nearly filled the hearing room to
hear the presentation on the proposed building that would abut the Bristoe
Station townhouses.

City Director of Community Development Roger Snyder worked
with city planners and developer Girlish B. Patel to bring the hotel plans
up to city specifications after an initial denial by the planning commission
in June. These specifications were architecturally to fit in with the surrounding
neighborhood; to secure adequate screening, such as fences and vegetation,
from adjacent residential properties; to provide a buffer to the properties;
and include good landscaping to help protect property values.

A good security plan was also required, as well as a plan
for emergency vehicles in the already tangled traffic in the area. A restaurant
is not allowed because of the noise level produced.

After a short presentation by Yvonne Conatser, who assisted
Snyder, Snyder said that the community development commission was recommending
the permit be denied, as the specifications had not been implemented to
the commission’s satisfaction.

Attorney John Weber represented Patel, the builder of
the proposed site. Weber spoke about the letters sent to residents to address
the permit. He said some people showed up for a scheduled meeting to discuss
the issue at the police station, and they were cordial but unmoved by his
assurances. He also pointed out that the property was zoned commercial
before residential zoning began in the Godwin Drive/Ashton area. He remarked,
“It’s like buying a home next to an airport, then complaining about
the noise.” He also said that the hotel would be of franchise standards,
and that stays in the hotel would be limited to 30 days.

Planning Commission Chairman Charles E. Stonim then asked
if there were any supporters of the proposed permit. Three hands were raised.

Next began a steady stream of residents who voiced opposition
to a hotel being built in their neighborhood. One said a gas station-convenience
store had been successfully defeated by the residents because they didn’t
want the added traffic and fumes. Nearly all who spoke said they didn’t
receive letters sent by the planning commission.

One speaker referred to a nearby hotel which she said
has experienced problems. More than 60 calls have been made to the police
in the past year relating to drug overdose and prostitution in the area,
she said.

All the residents who spoke expressed concern over people
who would be staying at what they termed a “transient hotel.”
They said they were afraid for the children, their neighborhoods, the added
traffic and possible violence.

Mahenia Tewasri, manager of the La Petite Academy for
children, spoke about parents’ perceived danger to their youngsters. The
sum of the arguments was that it was detrimental to the quality of life
in their area.

After a brief rebuttal from Weber, saying people were
equating his client to the other hotel, the planning commission voted to
deny the permit. Their recommendation is scheduled to go before the city
council Sept. 18.

Contact Martha McCracken at [email protected]


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