Joseph Johnson, who has served the Manassas School Board since 1975, the year of the board's inception, stepped down as chairman last week and Vice Chairman Marvin Gillum, a local dentist, was unanimously elected to take his place. Johnson, who will now serve as Gillum's vice chairman, said he "needs more time to do the things he enjoys." Gillum said he will work to improve communication among the board, the community, the faculty and the students and will call on Johnson's "wisdom and experience" often. "Joe Johnson has bigger shoes than I'll ever wear in this job. I am going to need him to help me serve this city," said Gillum.
The Manassas City Council last week approved $4.9 million in bonds for improving the city's water system and building a fourth elementary school. More than $1 million will be spent for the school; the remaining $2 million needed for construction is expected to come from a state loan, officials said.
In other business the board deferred action on the police department's request for $2,000 to purchase stun guns (weapons that can temporarily disable a suspect with an electric charge) because, according to Vice Mayor Stewart Vetter, "We need more time to study these guns. We keep reading conflicting reports about how effective and how dangerous they are. I want other jurisdictions using them to get a little more experience before we commit ourselves to them." The council agreed to study the issue for four months before making a decision.