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Tree removal deemed a success

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Tom Matthews, of C.M Payne Tree Care of Berryville, cuts along the base of a tree on Valley Avenue in front of John Handley High School in Julya. Rich Cooley/Daily file

City improvement project earns praise from neighborhood group

By Candace Sipos -- csipos@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- The South End Citizens Association threw support behind one big change in the city Thursday evening and expressed concerns about another.

Members said they approved of the removal of trees in front of John Handley High School, mainly because it shows off the school and helps to reduce blind spots while driving.

"I think it really looks nice without the trees," Patsy Musick said. "It's just beautiful when you go down through there and you could see the school."

"A million-dollar school," Bernadine Adams added.

They didn't express such excitement for the proposed Eat for Education program, which could add two cents per dollar to the city's 5 percent meals tax.

"I do know that I eat down on the [walking] mall, and the local businessmen and women are against it," said association President Michael Butler. "The local owners are concerned."

But he understood the reasoning for pushing this program.

"I know they're feeling the pressure from the fiscal standpoint to generate some new revenue," Butler said. "I know this is a tough call for them."

Butler encouraged members to contact their council members if they also have concerns about the proposal.

"It's great to focus everything in education, but I think sometimes you don't take into account what the other sectors of Winchester are up against," Frances Orr said.

City Police Chief Kevin Sanzenbacher told association members that investigators are narrowing down on "a couple" suspects in the recent credit card fraud case that caused about 30 local customers' identities to be stolen.

"It seemed to have died down here in the last couple weeks," he said, explaining that there haven't been many new claims of fraud recently.

Sanzenbacher added that authorities are "closing in on the source," who's expected to be involved with an operation much larger than Winchester. The suspects probably don't live in the area, he added.

The chief also addressed some concerns about last week's police standoff on Shawnee Avenue, when a man threatening to kill himself and claiming he had guns kept authorities outside his home for over two hours. There has been some concern that the police handling of the situation was "overkill," Sanzenbacher said.

"When I started, you went in guns a-blazin'," he said, referring to the beginning of his career. He noted that now, however, police are instructed not to enter a property when there's a suspect who's known or suspected to be armed. Although some people were inconvenienced with the length of time the process required, no one was hurt, he said.

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