Loudoun Board of Supervisors Chairman Dale Polen Myers (R-At Large) lashed out yesterday at critics who have questioned whether she should be allowed to continue as a regular guest on a half-hour local cable TV show while she's running for reelection.
Speaking from the dais at Wednesday's board meeting, Myers said the show is designed to inform residents about county issues, not to promote her candidacy. The show is recorded twice a month and replayed daily on Cablevision of Loudoun's Channel 3.
Kathleen Hazelton, who was fired during the summer as news anchor on Channel 3, has since appeared twice at public hearings on the proposed sale of the cable operation, saying the station has pandered to Myers. Hazelton says her dismissal was prompted in part by complaints from Myers.
"I'm sick of the lies," Myers said yesterday, her voice cracking. "I'm sick of the witch hunt. . . . It's got to stop."
Loudoun supervisors are considering whether to sign off on the sale of Cablevision to Adelphia Communications Corp., of Pennsylvania. Hazelton and other Cablevision critics have asked the board to look at issues of fairness in news coverage when considering the sale. A Cablevision official yesterday reiterated his company's position that the station is providing fair coverage to all candidates.
Plan for Teacher Pay Raise Advances
Veteran teachers and those with doctoral degrees would get a salary increase under a new pay scale adopted Monday by a School Board panel.
Under the plan, a teacher with a doctorate would make $35,969 to $68,919, depending on experience. The current pay scale is $34,652 to $66,398. A certified instructor with a bachelor's degree who has been teaching more than 15 years also would get a boost in pay, from a maximum $39,419 to a top rate of $56,202.
The higher salaries must be approved by the full School Board, but a majority have said they support them, as does Superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick III. It is unclear whether the Board of Supervisors would finance the raises or require the School Board to cut its budget.
Leesburg's Tax Man Cometh, Only Later
Leesburg residents are getting a slight reprieve. The deadline for paying the town's personal property tax has been extended to Oct. 29 from Oct. 5.
Credit--or blame--for the postponement goes to Republican Gov. James S. Gilmore III's car-tax rollback, launched last year. Leesburg employees had to refigure tax bills and got them out a month late, said town spokeswoman Susan Farmer--hence the delay.
More good news: Residents will see their tax rate fall 27.5 percent this year, with vehicles and trailers taxed at the rate of $1 per $100 of assessed value.
Utilities Sued in Fatal Gas Line Blast
A New York insurance company is suing two area utility companies, claiming they are responsible for a July 1998 natural gas explosion that destroyed two South Riding homes, killing one woman and injuring her family.
The suit, filed Monday in Loudoun County Circuit Court by Westchester Fire Insurance Co., names Washington Gas Light Co. and Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative as defendants. The suit also names Northern Pipeline Construction Co., the contractor that installed the gas line.
The July 7 explosion leveled the home of Andrea Bea Jacobs, 40, killing her and injuring her husband, David, and their two children. The blast also destroyed the house next door being built by Engle Homes Inc., which was insured by Westchester.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board have not released their final report but have said the accident was caused by gas that seeped into the Jacobses' basement and was ignited by a pilot light. The NTSB found a small hole in an underground plastic gas pipe near the home that crossed within one inch of an electrical line.
The investigators are trying to determine whether the gas leak resulted from the power line being buried too close to the gas line. They also are investinging whether electrical repair crews nicked the gas line during some work in the area three weeks before the blast.
Westchester is asking for $70,134, the amount it paid to Engle.
More Space for Cars at Bike Trail
The Ashburn segment of the popular Washington & Old Dominion trail has 40 new parking spaces.
An estimated 3 million visitors travel portions of the 45-mile-long multi-use recreational trail each year on foot, skates, bicycles and horseback, according to the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority.
The new parking spaces are located near mile marker No. 28 on the trail, across from Partlow Brothers store.
For more information, call the trail office at 703-729-0596 or visit its Web site, www.wodfriends.org.