manassas journal messenger 12/21/00



December 21, 2000




tops budget issues


Alfred M. Biddlecomb




Plans to continue phasing out the car tax, despite a slump in the economy,

are getting mixed reviews from lawmakers in Richmond where another fierce

debate seems to be brewing over Northern Virginia transportation needs.

Gov. James S. Gilmore III renewed his pledge to eliminate the unpopular

tax during remarks made to the Senate and House budget-writing committees

Wednesday morning.

Wednesday’s briefing gave lawmakers a look at Gilmore’s amendments to

the state’s $48 billion budget which will be debated during the 2001 General

Assembly session beginning Jan. 10.

State legislators have already abolished 47.5 percent of the personal

property tax on automobiles and a 70 percent reduction is expected next

year with a full phase out expected in 2002. Phase out of the car tax is

contingent on 5 percent yearly increases in state tax collection.

With revenue projections for this year lagging below 5 percent, Gilmore

proposed a plan to use a lump sum payment of the state’s share of the national

tobacco settlement to raise revenues to the 5 percent level, thus triggering

further car tax relief.

“The bond of trust between the people and their government is a

sacred one,” Gilmore said in his remarks to the committees. “I’m

a man of my word and I keep my promises.”

Gilmore’s insistence on eliminating the tax, which was the cornerstone

of this 1997 campaign for governor, will cost an estimated $1.2 billion

per year.

Car tax reduction and slumping revenue figures caused Gilmore to postpone

further reduction in the sales tax on food which was reduced from 4.5 percent

to 4 percent earlier this year.

Another half percent was scheduled to be shaved off the tax on food

in April, but state revenue estimates won’t allow it.

Sen. Madison Marye, D-Shawsville, said the money and effort being made

to eliminate the car tax should go toward tax relief on groceries and helping

to give public school teachers a raise.

“I don’t see how you can find money to fund the car tax and can’t

find enough to remove this measly half a percent of the sales tax on food,”

Marye said.

Gilmore said he’s open to creative suggestions to further reduce sales

taxes on food during the upcoming legislative session.

Gilmore is also asking state agencies to make cuts ranging from 3 to

6 percent in order to save another $206 million from the budget.

Transportation worries

Del. John A. “Jack” Rollison, R-Woodbridge, was visibly upset

at some of Gilmore’s new budget numbers and said he’s expecting a battle

over keeping transportation funding that was fought for by Northern Virginia

lawmakers during the last session.

The General Assembly approved a priority transportation fund last March,

which is supposed to set aside money to accelerate needed road projects.

Rollison said Gilmore’s plan would shift some of that money around replacing

cash with debts.

“This plan would turn $70 million in cash into debt and it would

take another $65 million out of the highway trust fund,” Rollison said

after Gilmore’s remarks. “That’s $135 million in transportation commitments.”

Rollison, co-chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said he

worries about money shuffling in the transportation budget.

“It’s as if the governor promised to buy us a home and then a year

later gives us a mortgage to pay off as well,” Rollison said. “The

governor is not being faithful to his promises.”

A number of Northern Virginia lawmakers are expected to endorse legislation

forming a special taxing district to fund Northern Virginia highway projects.

The formation of a Northern Virginia transportation authority would

allow the region to raise special tax revenues – either through sales

or fuel taxes – in order to finance regional road projects.

“There’s going to be legislation on that but we’re still debating

the form such an authority will take and how it will be funded,” Rollison

said Wednesday.

Rollison said he supports such a bill as long as the final decision

is left up to the voters in a local referendum. Such an authority would

include Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington counties and Alexandria

and all other cities and towns within those counties’ boundaries.

Though Gilmore vetoed similar legislation last year, he has shown signs

in recent days of possibly supporting such a referendum. He even went as

far to say it sounded like a good idea on a local radio program earlier

this week.

Rollison, however, isn’t that optimistic.

“From what I’ve been hearing today, the governor’s already backtracking

on that,” Rollison said. “We’re still going to take a look at

it and see where it goes.”

Other budget amendments include:

n Taking $460 million of the tobacco settlement in a lump sum to pay

for college building and economic development projects.

n Bond issues totaling $600 million for public building construction,

improvements and maintenance. This includes $30.7 million for new academic

buildings at George Mason University’s Fairfax and Arlington campuses.

n An additional $10.1 million for public education, including $6 million

to expand a remedial program for students at low-performing schools.

n $38 million to give state employees raises averaging 3.5 percent under

the new pay-for-performance plan.

Alfred Biddlecomb is a staff writer for the Potomac News in Woodbridge.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.




Venison: Deer hunters provide food for the hungry


Chris Newman




Bambi is good for Virginians in need.

The facts: Venison is one of nature’s leanest meats, and deer populations

continue to overburden limited land resources in Northern Virginia. In Virginia,

one in eight families is affected by hunger.

Hunters for the Hungry was started in 1991, and since then the program

has provided nearly 4 million servings of venison to Virginia’s needy.

In Manassas, the meat has gone to SERVE Inc.

“God love them. We love them over there,” said SERVE food

closet coordinator Helen McWhorten, of the hunters and meat processor Manassas

Frozen Foods. “And our clients love it.”

Over the past five years, she said SERVE has gotten hundreds of thousands

of pounds of meat from local hunters, who donate their freshly killed deer

through the program that pays for the meat processing.

This year, Manassas Frozen Foods on Main Street reports that local hunters

this season donated 56 deer, up from 24 last year.

Frank Parrish, owner of Manassas Frozen Foods, was going through donation

receipts last Thursday.

“Here’s a guy who donated two deer, 58 pounds and 105 pounds,”

he said. “Here’s one. 62 pounds. This guy donated Nov. 29, 82 pounds.

Here’s one. Not only did he donate the deer, he left $40 to pay for the


Hunters for the Hungry also makes the public aware of the tradition

of hunting and quality of deer meat.

“Five years ago when we started this, we couldn’t pay anyone to

eat deer meat,” McWhorten said.

So she said SERVE staff passed out recipe tips on how to cook venison.

It should be treated like beef, but cooked just a bit longer. For people

who want to dilute its bit of a gamy taste, it can be soaked in milk or

vinegar. Venison is superb in spaghetti sauce, or as a stew, McWhorten said.

“And now we have people who ask for it,” she said.

Parrish said hunters bring in their deer usually within 24 hours of

killing them. Deer can be hung overnight, provided they were gutted in the

field, and it is cold outside, he said. The deer is best kept clean by not

skinning them in the field, he said.

Manassas Frozen Meats provides SERVE with family-size packs of deer

meat, Parrish said.

The SERVE food closet provides an average of 2,200 people with a week’s

worth of groceries every month. The shelves are swelled now from Operation

Turkey, evidence of the community’s extreme generosity, McWhorten said,

and the venison is just one of many sources of protein families get.

Fresh produce, milk, overflowing amounts of bread, formula for infants,

meats from grocery stores and just about anything else you’d find at the

grocery that has been donated is given to needy families by SERVE, McWhorten


· Contact Chris Newman at [email protected].


to close Saturday


Chris Newman





The strength of the economy is forcing Wolf’s Pizza to close its doors.

The pizza delivery shop has had problems with getting dependable help for

the last 10 months, and chef/owner Danny Wolf said it’s gotten to the point

where they can’t survive.

Wolf said his shop may shut down as early as this Saturday, or after

a few days next week.

“It’s funny, or sad, to say this – the economy is too good,”

Wolf said.

Fellow downtown business owners sympathized with Wolf’s plight at the

Old Town Business Association meeting Wednesday morning.

“It’s a shame too because he makes award-winning pizza,” said

Arnold Levine, vice president of the Old Town Business Association. “But

if you can’t get the pizza delivered, you can’t get the business.”

Wolf’s Pizza opened in September 1999. His product is so good that Italian

chefs traveled to Manassas to learn his methods after he was the only non-Italian

to place at the World Pizza Championships in Italy last April.

That was three weeks of labor, too, Wolf joked at the time, saying he’ll

take it any way he can get it.

Some customers mail his breadsticks to friends in California, and others

come in to learn how he cooks them.

But the labor market was tougher than he ever imagined it would be.

Young people can easily move from job to job, which doesn’t lend itself

to a strong work ethic, he said. Drivers would not show up to work, and

didn’t bother to call. Wolf’s had to close for more than a day last month

because they couldn’t deliver.

Many low-skilled workers will only work for several weeks at a time,

he said, and McDonalds pays $8 to $9 an hour and doesn’t require that employees

speak English.

“How do you compete with that?” Wolf asked, since it takes

six weeks before a new hire is cooking good pizzas consistently.

He points out that Pizza Outlet has closed three locations in Prince

William County but is holding on to them until the economy slows down.

Levine said independent shops are more greatly impacted when hired help

is not dependable. People will go to Target and Wal-Mart no matter who is

there, he said.

But shop owners have to project an image, and Wolf saw his service slipping.

“I’m that mom-and-pop shop that the big guy has hurt,” Wolf

said. “He survived because he’s got lots of crutches. The only crutch

I got is, well, nothing.”

Wolf does have his cooking skills to fall back on.

He is a trained chef who has cooked for Ronald Reagan in the White House.

He’s looking to taking a post as a chef at a top restaurant in Washington,

D.C., but nothing is final, he said. The shop maybe sold to one of the pizza

chains; he won’t say which.

· Contact Chris Newman at [email protected].


sells Jewish gifts


Caryn Goebel



There’s an air of excitement among the young people shopping in the

Ner Shalom Judaica Shop.

Hanukkah has arrived and the adults help children select small gifts

to give to their parents during the Festival of Lights at Prince William

County’s only temple located on Spriggs Road.

But it wasn’t always this way.

For years, the Judaica Shop was like a traveling road show. The Menorahs,

candles, dreidels, gelt and gifts for sale were unpacked and repacked after

every event. It wasn’t until 1994 that a home was found for the shop in

the Congregation Ner Shalom temple.

“We’d load up our cars with all the boxes during the November and

December meetings and services,” Joan Cohn, manager of the store said.

“We’d set up our little store and then pack it all up again.”

When the temple was built six years ago, a space was designed by the

architects to house the Jucaida Shop. Now the walls of what was once a mobile

shop are lined with shelves, all holding merchandise related to the Jewish


Since the shop has become stationary, the inventory has grown as well.

Candle-lit and electric Menorahs, chocolate coins, wrapping paper and gift

items of all types are available, Cohn said. Plus, all the supplies needed

for a traditional Hanukkah celebration.

Cohn shops the area for Jewish-related gifts that might appeal to the

congregation of more than 125 families. While it used to be hard to find

Hannukah-related gift items in stores, Cohn said its become much better.

“Places stock things for Hanukkah now, it’s just how you stumble

upon it,” Cohn said.

The store is open before Sunday and Friday services, except in the summertime

when it remains closed for the season.

But the weeks before Hanukkah and during the eight days of the lighting

of the Menorah, which begins this evening, are special to everyone in the

congregation, Cohn said.

“Everybody has their own traditions. It depends on the family,”

Cohn said. “But this is a wonderful time.”

Hanukkah, observed by millions of Jewish people around the world, is

a holiday celebrating the rededication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem after

it had been turned into a pagan shrine by the Seleucid Emperor Epiphanes

Antiochus IV.

The eight-day holiday falls according to the Jewish lunar calendar and

is celebrated by the Festival of Lights. Each night, a candle is added and

lit on the Menorah, symbolizing the number of days one jar of divine oil

lasted the Maccabees when they reentered the temple.

The Judaica Shop is a wonderful asset to the temple, according to its

president, Scot Rittenberg.

With families coming from all over Prince William County, southern Fairfax

County and northern Stafford County to attend services, it’s important to

offer the congregation a place to find gifts and supplies related to their


Friday’s annual Hanukkah service is always a special time to the congregation,

Rittenburg said.

“The story of Hanukkah will be told and we will give gifts to the

children of the congregation,” Rittenberg said.

Following the lighting of the Menorah, everyone will eat latkes, the

traditional potato pancakes.

“This is the time for a festive celebration,” Rittenburg said.

· Caryn Goebel is a staff writer for the Potomac News in Woodbridge.




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