Roanoke County Projects Update
Submitted by Megan Cronise, Roanoke County Planning Department
Spring Beauty arrives at Plantation and Williamson Roads
Spring is almost here and with its arrival Friendship Retirement Community, in partnership with WRABA, will spruce up the northeast and northwest sides of the intersection of Williamson Road and Plantation Road. WRABA planted several trees and bushes in this location in 1999, and new bushes and plants will supplement the mature stock currently in place. “Landscaping Planted By” signs will also be installed as part of the project which falls under VDOT’s Comprehensive Roadside Management Program. One of the requirements of the program is a public hearing with the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors, which was held February 28th, 2012. At that meeting the Board endorsed the project. WRABA, through a bid process, has awarded the planting and maintenance to Richard’s Landscaping.
Delegate wants sales tax to apply to motor fuels
The 5 percent general sales tax would be partially offset by reducing the fuel tax by 5 cents per gallon.
RICHMOND - It's a long shot, but at least one state lawmaker is trying to head off the impending re-tolling of tunnels in his area by raising taxes on gasoline sales statewide.
Del. Kenny Alexander, D-Norfolk, has submitted legislation that would apply the state's 5 percent general sales tax to motor fuels, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in new funding for Virginia's overburdened transportation infrastructure.
If passed, Alexander says, his measure could provide an alternative means of financing the planned expansion of the Midtown Tunnel and rehabilitation of the Downtown Tunnel. That project is now slated to be funded by the reimposition of tolls on the two Elizabeth River crossings later this year.
Alexander's proposal, HB892, is unlikely to get traction in the current political climate. Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell and the Republican-led General Assembly have consistently opposed any new taxes for transportation.
If tolls are imposed on the two tunnels, Alexander said he at least wants motorists to have the option of paying them in cash.
To that end, he has introduced another measure, HB889, that would enable drivers to pay the tolls without the use of automated or electronic devices.
Current plans call for collecting the tolls only via the electronic E-ZPass system, eliminating the need for toll booths.
Cash or E-ZPass, the tolls will impose a burdensome cost on his constituents, Alexander said.
The tunnel project is being undertaken by a public-private partnership. The toll for cars during peak hours will start at $1.84 and could be increased up to 3.5 percent a year for 58 years.
For many area residents, the tunnels are essential for getting to jobs, medical services and government offices, Alexander said.
"Hampton Roads is one community," he said. "To toll those roads, to me, is problematic because we're so interdependent."
Alexander's funding proposal would generate an estimated $800 million a year by imposing the 5 percent general sales tax on motor fuels. He would partially offset that by reducing the current fuel tax from 17.5 cents to 12.5 cents per gallon, reducing revenue by $250 million a year.
The remaining $550 million in new revenue would be dedicated to highway construction and distributed according to this formula: 38 percent to Northern Virginia, 31 percent to Hampton Roads and 31 percent to the rest of the state.
The bill also authorizes the issuance of $5 billion in bonds to be repaid from the net new revenue.
Another lawmaker, Del. Algie Howell, D-Norfolk, has introduced a bill, HB393, to raise the existing fuel tax by 10 cents per gallon.An identical bill from Howell last year was killed in committee.
WRABA Spreads Christmas cheer
This is the eleventh year of a project we at WRABA call Christmas Cheer. This program is a partnership with the four schools in our area, Round Hill, Preston Park, Monterey and Burlington, to provide children with a Merry Christmas. WRABA’s Executive Director receives the wishes of several children from these schools and WRABA Members then adopt the Angels and provide them with Christmas gifts out of their own generosity and pockets. In addition to gifts, WRABA members also donate to the project so each child also receives a stuffed stocking containing toiletries, snacks, coloring books, crayons and a stuffed animal to cuddle.
This has been a project WRABA is extremely proud of. We feel that the children are our future customers, employees and possibly business owners! In short, they ARE our future. Additionally, we feel strongly that everyone should have a positive holiday experience. It is times like this we can make a difference in the life of a child and, in addition to adding happiness today, maybe introducing them to the fact that others care and there is a reason to work hard and succeed! If you wish to participate in this program, feel free to call the WRABA office for details.
Roanoke Greek Festival’s 6th Annual Event
The Greek community of SW Virginia invites you to the 6th Annual Roanoke Greek Festival to be held on September 16th, 17th and 18th. The festival will be held at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 30 Huntington Boulevard rain or shine.
Last year, over 24,000 people attended the three day cultural event. Although taking place in Roanoke, the festival boasts a regional draw with supporters from Blacksburg, Lynchburg, Harrisonburg and other nearby communities. Our festival is a cultural event that shares our wellknown cuisine such as souvlaki, gyro, pastichio, moussaka, dolmades, spanakopita, tiropita, baklava and other delicious pastries. We also feature our Greek drinks including wine, beer and coffee. The Kosta Kas- tanis Band will be our featured Greek band this year along with traditional dancing performed by our young dance group. Visitors are also able to purchase a variety of imported items in our ―Agora‖ (marketplace) which has vendors selling fine gold, silver jewelry, clothing, pottery, artwork, music and a variety of foods in our mini Greek grocery store.
In addition, church tours are also offered. The Holy Trin-ity Greek Orthodox Church is the only place to see and learn about authentic Byzan- tine iconography, the centu-ries old fresco painting seen in some of the oldest churches in the world today.
In a hurry? Please stop by our drive-thru located at 3815 Williamson Road. Orders can be called in at 362-3601 or faxed to 362-3038. Admission is free. Portion of proceeds will benefit the Res-cue Mission, Center in the Square and Apple Ridge Farms.