manassas journal messenger 01/03/01



January 3, 2001




found shot multiple times


Kate Bissell




A 30-year-old man died and a woman was critically injured when both

were shot multiple times in their Rollingwood Village town house, off Smoketown

Road, early Tuesday morning.

There were no suspects in the killing by Tuesday evening, Prince William

police spokesman Dennis Mangan said.

Robert Finch was found dead inside the doorway of his home at 3406 Jousters

Way, where he lived with a woman and her two little boys.

The woman, whose name and age were not released, was found seriously

injured on the first floor of the house.

She was flown by helicopter to an area hospital where she was listed

in extremely critical condition Tuesday evening. Police asked that her location

not be printed because her life may still be in danger.

The woman’s sons, ages 4 and 6, were sleeping upstairs at the time of

the attack and were not hurt. They were taken to a neighbor’s home.

There are no known witnesses to the murder. A man walking his dog in

the area about 4:20 a.m. heard shots and a woman screaming and called police.

Officers arrived at the house about three minutes later but did not

see anyone fleeing the area, Mangan said.

Police searched the town house but found no evidence of forced entry

or a robbery attempt, Mangan said. The gun used in the shooting was not


The woman’s sons were interviewed but police Chief Charlie T. Deane

declined to comment on what information they provided investigators.

Residents expressed shock that a murder took place in a neighborhood

they described as quiet, while they watched police detectives file in and

out of the house.

Denese Jones, 33, lives next door to the slain couple and heard several

loud thumps and a scraping sound at the time of the murder. Jones thought

the sounds were coming from the parking lot, as if someone was kicking a

car door, but she looked outside and didn’t see anything.

“It’s so weird. Most of the people here have children so it’s a

quiet, family-oriented neighborhood,” Jones said.

Jones said Finch and the woman moved into the house about two years

ago and she often spoke to the couple in passing.

“[The woman] was really nice, we’d talk when we’d see each other

outside,” Jones said. She did not know what either Finch or the woman

did for a living but said Finch was home during the day and went in and

out of his house frequently.

A neighbor who was watching the woman’s sons Tuesday afternoon described

the couple as friendly but did not want to comment further in front of the


Finch’s death is the first murder of the year but not the first in the

Rollingwood Village area. In 1999, a 25-year-old woman was beaten to death

by two teen-agers on Bentley Circle, just blocks from Jousters Way.

Police are offering up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest

of a suspect in the shooting. Anyone with information is asked to call (703)

670-3700. Callers may remain anonymous.



board begins new year


Alfred M. Biddlecomb



The year began with a business-as-usual attitude from the Prince William

Board of County Supervisors, which proposed no massive changes to the way

it does business during its organizational meeting Tuesday.

One change that may take place soon, however, is an increase in pay

for those who sit on the Planning Commission.

Supervisor Hilda Barg, D-Woodbridge, made that suggestion at the close

of Tuesday’s meeting, and a proposal could be included when the county begins

working on the fiscal 2002 budget in February.

The eight members of the commission each earn a $500 annual stipend.

A heavy work load, which includes meetings that often last well into the

morning hours along with hours spent looking at land use projects, prompted

the request for a pay increase.

A number of high profile land use projects had the commission working

overtime last year, including additions to the Braemar community and the

proposed Southbridge at Cherry Hill town center project in eastern Prince


“It’s been 12 years since the Planning Commission had an increase

in their stipend,” Barg said. “They do so much and work long hours.”

The board itself will not make any major changes in the way it does

business. Last year, county supervisors agreed to reduce the number of legislative

meetings from three to two per month while also refining the part of the

meeting known as “citizens’ time” where residents can voice opinions

on various issues.

The only changes proposed for the board’s meeting process for 2001 is

to move citizens’ time from the end to the beginning of its monthly work

session meetings.

County Executive Craig Gerhart will present the fiscal 2002 budget on

Feb. 27, according to the new meeting schedule released by the board. Adoption

of the spending plan, which goes into effect July 1, is scheduled for April


Chairman Sean Connaughton, R-at large, gave the annual State of the

County address by pointing out the number of economic development accomplishments

achieved by the county in 2000.

“From an economic development standpoint, this has been a stellar

year,” Connaughton said, while mentioning the continued expansion of

high-tech companies into the county. “Overall last year, 23 new targeted

companies announced investments totaling $662.4 million and creating 1,330

new jobs.”

With home building reaching record levels, Connaughton said the value

of homes is also on the increase which is good for home owners and the county.

“Half of the new homes built had an assessed value of more than

$200,000, bringing a balance to the county’s housing inventory,” Connaughton

said. “In a year when the stock market showed much volatility, Prince

William County’s 83,000 homeowners can count their home as one of their

best assets.”

If tax revenue continues to increase, the board may agree to reduce

the real estate tax during the upcoming budget process. The board approved

a 2-cent reduction last year and Connaughton said the board expects to shave

at least another 1 cent from the current $1.34 rate this year.

This year will also mark the county’s 270th birthday, and Connaughton

asked that county staff begin preparation for some sort of celebration commemorating

the founding of Prince William County in 1731.


inspectors to grow


Alfred M. Biddlecomb




A boom in Prince William County home construction prompted the Board

of County Supervisors to create six new building inspector positions to

keep up with the workload Tuesday despite concerns that a future housing

slump and recession could leave the building office overstaffed.

Building inspectors are needed to look over every major construction

project ranging from homes to commercial buildings.

The total number of inspections performed by the 38-member staff reach

an all-time high of more than 100,000 during the 2000 fiscal year. This

includes inspections ranging from home construction to plumbing.

With a strong economy home construction has continued to rise throughout

the 1990’s and seemed to reach record levels last year when more than 4,400

homes were built.

By comparison, 3,751 homes were built in 1999 and 2,798 were built in


Only 1,212 homes were built during the recession in 1991.

The push for more inspectors came from a wide range of sources including

builders who need inspections performed to maintain construction schedules;

homeowners who don’t want shoddy workmanship slipping through the inspection

process; and the county whose staff are overwhelmed by the work load.

Supervisor Ed Wilbourn, R-Gainesville, was a little wary of putting more

inspectors on the job – especially if the county experiences a crash in

the housing market as it did in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.

“What happens when the workload diminishes,” Wilbourn said.

“It’s easy to hire government people but it’s hard to let them go.”

Wilbourn said he was worries the county will pay for inspectors it doesn’t

need when housing construction levels off in the future.

County Executive Craig Gerhart said that even with the new employees

the ratio of inspectors to inspections will still be high thus justifying

employee levels if there is a regular slow down in the housing market.

Supervisor Maureen Caddigan, R-Dumfries, said the new positions are long


“We’ve all had calls on this issue and with the growth experienced

by the county, this is needed,” Caddigan said. “I think things

will work out efficiently.”

More inspections means more fees paid to the county which will pay for

the new positions, County Building Official Eric Mays said.

It will cost $337,680 to hire and make arrangements for the new inspectors

this year. It is estimated to cost $320,992 annually to maintain the six

positions beginning in fiscal 2002.





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