manassas journal messenger 01/29/01



January 29, 2001




pay plan considered: PWC School Board must decide to accept or reject recommendations


Diane Freda




Discussion of possible action on an Arthur Andersen pay plan study of

the Prince William County school system is likely to come up again as board

members begin 2002 budget deliberations next month.

Not all the study’s findings found favor with School Board members.

“We have some hard decisions to make,” said Coles School Board

member John David Allen Jr. The board must decide whether to go along with

the consultants’ recommendations or address attracting and keeping employees

in some other way. “I know we are going to look at it when personnel

comes in to present their budget,” Allen said.

The county paid $85,000 for a study of the school system to determine

how its compensation and benefits compares with other employers. The study

compared Prince William County schools with six other systems: Chesterfield,

Henrico, Stafford, Fairfax and Loudoun counties and the city of Virginia


Among its findings were that the county has too many different job titles.

When the consulting firm made its presentation to the board in December

one firm partner called so many titles for 6,400 employees “onerous.”

Instead the firm recommended giving employees who performed similar jobs

the same titles to help them develop a sense of teamwork and purpose.

“Job title consolidations can reduce administrative effort and

provide a better method of career progression and training,” said Chris

Hamilton, an Arthur Andersen manager.

“People don’t always leave jobs because of compensation. They leave

jobs because of what they are supposed to do and career progression. With

the system in place now, with so many multiple job descriptions that are

out of date, employees are going to be lost,” Hamilton said. “They

don’t know where they are headed in their careers. They don’t know what

training to take.”

Pay and benefits, the usual hotbeds of discontent for workers, fared

pretty well under the study. It found most school employees were satisfied

with their compensation package.

For the 2000-2001 school year, employees received an average increase

of 6.35 percent, said Rick Fitzgerald, director of personnel.

In general, base salaries in the county were found to be 2 percent above

average for teaching positions at comparable systems and 7 percent above

peer systems for non-teaching positions.

However when comparing Prince William’s schools’ non-teaching pay with

average private sector jobs in the Washington, D.C. area, salaries were

about 3 percent lower.

Woodbridge School Board member Steven Keen said he was looking for specific

recommendations that would help him project the pay needed to keep high

quality teachers. He also said he did not agree with the broadbanding proposals

made by Arthur Andersen.

“Their observations were good but when they got down to specific

reocommendations there were some that didn’t connect,” he said. While

broadbanding, otherwise known as consolidation of titles, might encompass

three or four pay scales with an opportunity to make more money, it also

necessitates continuing studies to make sure teachers and others aren’t

being overpaid, Keen said. He said he would much prefer a pay for a performance

system that rewards teachers who excel.

“I consider our current evaluation system to be a joke. It’s just

pass or fail.”

Another idea suggested by the consultants has also drawn fire.

“I questioned them because they were talking about certain types

of incentives for teachers that sounded like merit pay,” Allen said.

“Fairfax County tried that and had to get rid of it because it didn’t


Hamilton said what his company was suggesting was pay for performance,

which he said differs from merit pay. This would involve giving annual increases

based on performance, not just step and grade increases. Merit pay is a

sort of bonus system, he said.

Fitzgerald said the study was on target with nationwide large group

employer trends that are increasingly focusing on performance.

For Allen the question is still, at least in part, about money. The school

system has cut jobs and titles in the past in efforts at consolidate but

that does not address how to keep teachers over the long haul.

“We have to do something about salaries,” he said.



is hot on the trail of cold cases


Patrick Wilson




When the Prince William police decided in 1998 to assign one of their

best investigators to reopen the county’s unsolved homicides, Detective

David C. Watson began the job with files on 22 murders since 1970.

Now there are 21, following the August indictment and Jan. 18 conviction

of Rowland Alfonso Wheeler for the beating death of Enrique Raul Elizarbe

in 1985.

Police and prosecutors promise more cold cases will be solved.

“There are a number of people out there who have been free for

a number of years who will not be free in the future,” said Prince

William Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert.

Watson, 49, was chosen to become Prince William’s one-man cold-case

unit. He is in his 21st year as a Prince William detective, and has investigated

about 100 murders in the area.

Watson has a flair for securing confessions from murder suspects, such

as James Berkley Moore, the Manassas Park man who in 1999 admitted strangling

his wife, Lisa Moore.

Still, the cold cases Watson is investigating are anything but elementary.

Detectives have spent thousands of hours pouring over them and going

after leads, but – for whatever reason – the cases were never solved.

“The detectives who worked these cases before me are good detectives.

In a majority of these cases, I find very little that was missed,”

Watson said. “These are not cases that are going to be solved overnight.

The department here does not put undue pressure on me to do things quickly.”

Investigators who reopen cold cases often find that witnesses have died

or moved away, and people’s memories have faded.

But there are benefits, and the passage of time becomes an ally, Watson


“Attitudes change. We look at things differently. Forensics change,”

he said. “Relationships change. People who thought to keep a secret

years ago have no reason to keep that secret now.”

A good cold-case investigator needs years of experience, said Mike Sullivan,

a cold-case homicide analyst with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service

and a former detective with the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police.

“It’s self-motivating,” Sullivan said. “They need little

supervision, and a drive and willingness to work cases that they’ve got

to bring back to life after they’ve been sitting on a shelf for years.”

The NCIS cold-case squad, which has solved 30 military-related cold

homicides since it was created in 1995, provides training in cold-case investigation

to local and state police.

Creating cold-case units was a concept that arose in the late 1980s,

said Sullivan, who was one of the original detectives assigned to the D.C.

cold-case unit when it was formed in 1992.

“Nationwide, crime is down,” Sullivan said. “This is

allowing detectives to give a closer look at unsolved homicides and unsolved

crimes in general, and the public deserves every bit of it.”

Investigators in Stafford County closed a 19-year-old murder case this

month. Scott Eugene Grooms, 38, was indicted Jan. 3 by a Stafford grand

jury on a murder charge in connection with the Dec. 7, 1981, stabbing of

John Orville Roach, a 45-year-old who lived in Woodbridge.

“We are committed to looking at all of our old cases until we finally

bring them to some type of successful conclusion,” said Stafford County

Sheriff Charles E. Jett.

The Stafford Sheriff’s Office seven months ago assigned two deputies

exclusively to cold cases – not just homicides, but other unsolved crimes

as well. There are three unsolved homicides in Stafford that are considered

cold cases.

Jett said DNA evidence will be part of the prosecution of Grooms. DNA

and new technology to examine forensic evidence play a role in many cold

cases, as they did in the Wheeler trial earlier this month.

For example, prosecutors confirmed that all blood at the crime scene

was the victim’s blood. They also learned that Wheeler’s boots had a tiny

amount of blood in a seam, and appeared to possibly have been cleaned.

That evidence was not available in 1985 when the homicide occurred. New

DNA evidence also can be used to eliminate suspects.

Watson was on pins-and-needles as the Wheeler jury came back to announce

its verdict, finding Wheeler guilty of first-degree murder.

But had the jury not convicted Wheeler, Watson said his views on the

case would be no different. His job, he said, is to conduct an unbiased

investigation that prosecutors can present in court, regardless of the impact.

“What happens in that jury room has no impact on the way I would

feel about a case,” Watson said. “In this case, the Wheeler case,

we put our best case forward and put it in the hands of the jury.”

Prince William doesn’t have nearly the number of unsolved homicides

large cities do. There are 21 unsolved homicides in Prince William, encompassed

in 18 cases. One case involves an apparent double murder; in another case,

there are three victims.

The oldest cold case is Oct. 10, 1970 – Patricia Ann Moore, 10, disappeared

from her home in the Clifton area and her remains were found three months

later in Prince William by squirrel hunters.

The freshest cold case was the May 3, 1996, death of Ziska Rodgers,

19, who was found on a gravel driveway in Lake Ridge with stab wounds and

her throat slashed. Coins had been strewn on her body.

Watson has visited the crimes scenes of most of the Prince William cold

cases to get a good feel for what he’s investigating. In some cases, however,

the crime scene was probably in another jurisdiction and the body was dumped

in Prince William.

Watson has made three trips to the site where the body of a 26-year-old

Manassas Park woman was found.

Judith Lynn Rue’s body was discovered by some children on Aug. 18, 1982,

on a private drive off Davis Ford Road near Bent Tree Lane.

The roads in the area have changed, but the crime scene is eerily similar

to photos at the time, Watson said. Watson got his bearings at the scene

by identifying two trees nearly touching each other in 1982 photos, which

look the same today.

For Rue’s mother more than anything else, Watson wants to solve the


There is a suspect in the Rue case, as there are in many of the cold


“These cases are particularly troubling to detectives who worked

these homicides,” said Prince William police Maj. Ron W. Sullins, who

decided to create the cold-case office. “You never forget them.”

Logically speaking, it’s unlikely that every single cold case in Prince

William will be solved, Watson said.

“But I feel confident that a good portion of these cases will be

solved,” he said. “And if they’re not solved, it won’t be for

a lack of trying.”

When might the next cold-case arrest be made? Watson doesn’t want to

give out too much information.

“We don’t know,” he said. “We may get a lead today that

solves a case.”



students learn hip-hop moves


Tiffany Schwab



PRINCE WILLIAM – Saturday’s hip-hop dance class at Sudley Dance &

Arts Studio could have been the inner workings of a music video.

Girls between the ages of 8 and 17 threw their bodies into the beat

as they turned, spun and twisted in all directions for a short hip-hop routine.

“It’s just a little combination I put together,” said instructor

Sarah Clark, a 21-year-old senior dance major at James Madison University.

The moves were mostly jazz infused with hip-hop styling, Clark said.

While jazz has more technique involved, hip-hop is a bit looser, she

said, noting the style has been influenced by rap music, club music and

music videos.

Clark led the 20 or so dance students in barrel turns – big turns through

the air – and a number of intricate moves that sent their dance shoes thumping

on the wooden floor and their arms sweeping through the air.

“Five, six – look – seven, eight,” she called out as students

followed, turning their heads in unison.

“Your arms are doing this, like bicycles,” she said as the

girls moved their arms back and forth.

Each time through the routine, the students moved faster and faster

until finally Clark added music for the final few run-throughs.

Most of the students who attended the one-hour class take jazz, tap

or ballet at the dance studio, located at 8838 Rixlew Lane.

A group of older students said they enjoy their lessons.

“It’s a good way to express myself,” said Alyssa Gurney, 16.

Added 13-year-old Stephanie Goodie, “It’s fun. You get to be with

your friends and move around.”

The girls said they enjoy dancing, and most want to be dancers or instructors

one day.

“I feel like this will help me later in life,” said Ashley

Moorefield, 15, of the classes. Her sister Rachel agreed, noting she hopes

to teach one day, too.

The hip-hop class, a one-time, special class, gave students an outlet

to expand their dance repertoire. Clark said learning a new style, such

as hip-hop, is beneficial.

“It helps develop a sense of rhythm,” said Clark, who has

been dancing since she was 3 years old and is a former student of the studio.

Depending on where one goes with dance, knowing a little hip-hop can

go far, she said, especially for dancers who opt to tour with music groups

or work as backup dancers in music videos, she said.

Jay Drzewicki, director of the studio, said she brings in a variety

of instructors so her students can learn new techniques along the way.

“What I try and do is bring in different teachers so the students

can be aware of all the different kinds of dancing,” Drzewicki said.

She also offers as many types of dance classes as possible, such as

the hip-hop class and a one-time class on contemporary modern dance.

Ballet is really the basis of everything, Drzewicki noted. It helps

to try out other dance styles, she said.

“The instrument in dancing is your body,” she said. “It

helps to do it all because it stretches the body in different ways.”

In addition to the classes for girls and boys, Drzewicki offers adult

classes. Grownups can take jazz and tap Monday nights or ballet, tap and

lyrical dance on Tuesday mornings.

· Contact Tiffany Schwab at [email protected]


arts activists honored


Bennie Scarton Jr.




MANASSAS – The arts are flourishing in the Manassas area.

That’s what a group of honorees happily stressed at a Celebration of

the Stars on Friday night at the Cramer Center.

“Because of the tremendous support of the entertainers, businesses

and audiences, the arts are flourishing as never before,” said Kathleen

Seefeldt, an honoree who through the years has been been a big supporter

of arts in the community.

In accepting her award, Seefeldt thanked the Prince William County Park

Authority “for a wonderful evening.”

Seefeldt was one of 16 Prince William County nominees for the 2000 Virginia

Governors Arts Awards. As a past chairwoman of the Prince William Board

of County Supervisors, Seefeldt consistently supported arts programs. She

continues to provide support as a member of the George Mason University/County

Committee to construct a new performing arts center in the county.

She received the loudest and longest applause of all the honorees Friday


The businesses, individuals and organizations nominated have made significant

contributions to the arts and quality of life in the county.

Echoing Seefeldt’s sentiments was another award winner, Stephen Cramer,

owner of the Cramer Center, which hosts a variety of arts presentations.

“Without the support of the audiences at all of our shows, there

wouldn’t be a Cramer Center but just an empty shell,” Cramer said in accepting

his award.

Another recipient, Tim Shaw, with Vpstart Crow Productions, said “We

are in our eighth season and are very blessed for all the support we receive.

People have long said there is no art west of Fairfax; this ceremony tonight

disproves that.”

Four of the 16 nominees performed at the black-tie optional event. A

song-and-dance routine from “The Wizard of Oz” featured Laura

Mays singing “Over the Rainbow” and Matthew Leuthy singing “If

I Only Had a Brain.” They represented the Center for the Arts Pied

Piper Theatre; Amy Grant Wolfe and Yuri Nikitenko, with the Manassas Dance

Company, provided a moving ballet performance of “Return to Me”;

The Woodbridge Flute Choir performed “The Woodbridge Suite” by

Gretchen Morse featuring “Prince Will’s Promenade,” “The

Settlers,” “At the End of the Water” and “Manassas Struttin’

“; and “Mozart: String Quartet, Movement #1” was played by

Youth Orchestras of Prince William members Jennifer Hom, Sarah Choe, Sarah

Taylor and Edward Prevost.

The other nominees all were presented plaques by either Peggy Baggett,

executive director of the Virginia Commission for the Arts; Sean Connaughton,

chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors; or Jim Johnson,

chairman of the county park authority. The nominees were state Sen. Charles

J. Colgan, William B. Evans III, Joyce Gloeckler, Mark Holcomb, Sally Lay,

William H. Mastbrook, Katherine Nelson-Tracey, Stella Olinger, Merchant’s

Tire and Auto Centers and the county park authority.

Olinger said she has lived and dreamed for the past 19 years to see

arts flourish in the county. “Thank you for making my dreams come true,”

she told the audience in the Cramer Center for the first-ever event.

In his welcoming remarks, Connaughton said, “Great things are happing

in the art community. Word is getting out just how much the county has to

offer, but you (the public) can continue to make it happen and grow by

spreading the word to your friends and neighbors.”

Johnson told the audience that there are now 28 groups “focused

on the arts, with each making the county a better place in which to live.

We are very lucky for the community support they are receiving, and that

is really terrific.”

· Contact Bennie Scarton Jr. at [email protected]



family cashes in on game show


Lucy Chumbley




MANASSAS – Last September, Manassas resident Jannell Brooks was home

on maternity leave watching NBC’s “Family Feud.” At the end of

the show, viewers were invited to audition.

Friday morning she will be watching “Family Feud” again –

but this time, she’ll be on the show – and winning.

“Family Feud” auditions take place at the NBC studios in Burbank,

Calif. Since the show does not pay air fares or accommodation for its contestants,

most feuders are from California.

But Jannell and her husband, Matthew “Lenny” Brooks, work

for United Airlines and were able to make the flight for free. They’re also

regular visitors to California, where Lenny’s cousin Jeannine Judon lives.

“Remember the earthquake in ’89?” said Lenny. “I was

there. Remember the Rodney King riots? I was there then, too.”

Each family on the show is made up of five people. Assembling the three

remaining family members was no problem: Dorothy Brooks, Lenny’s mother,

and Jean Hart, Jannell’s mother, were both eager to make the trip. And Jeannine,

the California cousin, made up the numbers.

“My mother-in-law is retired, I was on maternity leave, and my

mother doesn’t work,” said Jannell. “And he [Lenny] took a day


Abigail – Jannell and Lenny’s new baby – and Matthew Brooks, the baby’s

grandfather, came along as well. “He was Mrs. Doubtfire,” said


The first trip, in mid-September, was for the audition. The family joined

about 400 other people for the interview process and a mock game against

another family.

“When you go there, there’s just so much excitement. There’s all

these families of five,” said Dorothy.

“They look at the chemistry of the people in your group,”

she said. “You have to take three different outfits. They look at

your makeup. If they don’t like your outfit, they’ll ask you what else you

brought with you and make you change.”

The family breezed through the audition and were invited back to tape

the show Sept. 27-28 with their rivals, the Currio family, and host Louie


“He said we were an ‘A’ family, whatever that means,” said


The studio tapes five shows a day for two days, including two backup

shows that do not air, so the family got to meet many of the other contestants.

They are now recognizing them each week on the show.

“The people are just so nice,” said Dorothy. “Everybody

wants everybody to win.”

Anderson got two thumbs up, too.

“He is so nice,” said Dorothy. “Right in the middle of

the show, he did an autograph for her [Jannell’s] mother. They say he wants

to give away the money, because he grew up poor.”

And give away the money he did: The family walked away with the show’s

top prize – $10,000.

They are looking forward to watching the show, but say there are some

potentially embarrassing moments, such as when Dorothy screams, “Condoms!

Condoms! Condoms!” in answer to a question.

The question? You’ll have to watch the show, which airs at 10:30 a.m.

Friday on WJLA channel 7.

“I’m almost afraid to watch it,” said Lenny.

“I’m afraid, too,” said his mother.

But watch it they will. “I just stopped by WalMart and got me some

tapes,” said Dorothy. “I’ll be taping it on three TVs.”

Would they do it again?

“In a heartbeat,” said Dorothy. “I taught school for

36 1/2 years, and I tell you, this was one of the most exciting things I

have done.”




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