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BETTER WATCH OUT & Tantallon Community Players bring St. Nick and “Miracle on 34th Street” to Harmony Hall. A-10 Gazette-Star SERVING SOUTHERN AND CENTRAL PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY COMMUNITIES DAILY UPDATES ONLINE Thursday, December 5, 2013 25 cents Bowie backs store’s controversial site plan Bowie kicks off holiday season n Despite resident outcry, council members say expansion effort is about job creation BY CHASE COOK STAFF WRITER BILL RYAN/THE GAZETTE Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive Sunday on a firetruck to take part in the tree lighting at Belair Mansion in Bowie. The annual ceremony at the mansion grounds featured a program that taught attendees about Christmastime in the Colonial era and introduced them to 18th-century choir songs, said Matt Corley, Bowie special events coordinator. Talented and Gifted seating could expand n More than 300 students are currently on wait lists BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU STAFF WRITER More students may be able to enroll in Talented and Gifted programs, reducing the hundreds currently on wait lists, Prince George’s County school system officials announced Tuesday night. “There are some proposals to increase the number of seats at the middle schools, and the elementary schools as well,” said TAG supervisor Theresa Jackson, who added the plans would expand existing TAG sites, not create new ones. There are currently four middle school TAG programs and seven elementary school programs. Over 250 parents, students and others attended the meeting for both TAG and TAG-eligible parents at Ken- moor Middle School in Landover, said Crystal Lewis, PGTAG board publicist. Students are tested for the TAG program in first and third grade. Those who score above the 80th percentile and meet other criteria, including grades, cognitive ability, and a checklist of gifted characteristics and behaviors, are identified as TAG, Jackson said. More than 12,000 students in the school system, approximately 11 to 12 percent, are TAG identified, Jackson said. TAG-eligible students are entered into a lottery for seats in the nearest of seven TAG schools. If a TAG center is also a neighborhood school, the student may attend automatically, Jackson said. Jackson said there are 354 students on the wait list for TAG centers this year. Monique Davis, deputy superintendent of schools, told the audience that funding has to be approved to expand the program. School system CEO Kevin Maxwell will present his budget proposal to the school board Dec. 12. The school system budgeted $2.3 million for TAG for the current fiscal year, and Maxwell, who was not present at the meeting because of an illness, has said previously that expanding existing programs and reducing wait lists was one of his goals. Schools that are not TAG centers often have other services for TAGidentified students, including an elementary school pull-out program, where TAG-identified students are taken out of their regular classes for programs focusing on advanced research, communication and critical thinking skills. Berniece Reese of Forestville said her son, a fourth-grader at Francis Scott Key Elementary School in District Heights, missed critical lessons when he was pulled out of his regular See GIFTED, Page A-8 Bowie could receive 100 new jobs with the building of a new Walmart Supercenter across the street from the city’s 20-year old current Walmart. The new Walmart facility, which would be about 186,000 square feet and employ about 400 people, would be built at Mill Branch Crossing, right across the street from Bowie’s current Walmart at Crain Highway. The 20 yearold Walmart, about 118,000 square feet, currently employs about 300 associates, who would move across the street once the new building is complete, according to Walmart’s presentation to the council. But some residents, like C.J. Lammers, say the proposal should not be approved as it is not consistent with the city’s master plan, which did not call for discount stores. Other residents spoke against the application as well, stating Walmart would drive away grocery stores Safeway and Giant and cut jobs more than it would hire. “This is a fairly simple case,” Lammers said to the council. “Master plan conformance cannot be found in this application.” Despite the resident feedback, the City Council voted 6-1 in favor of recommending approval for the Walmart application. “It is about jobs,” said Councilman Henri Gardner. “The Walmart is already there and is just moving across the street.” From there the application will be reviewed within about 150 days and be submitted to a zoning hearing examiner who approves or denies the application, which is then sent to the Prince George’s County District Council, which accepts or appeals the examiner’s decision, according to the county’s See WALMART, Page A-8 County Council approves minimum wage increase Amended legislation to take effect over four years instead of three n BY CHASE COOK STAFF WRITER Minimum wage workers in Prince George’s County will be taking home some extra cash over the next four years after the County Council approved a $4.25 increase to minimum wage over four years. The council unanimously approved on Wednesday the legislation, which will take effect starting in October, with the minimum wage increasing from $7.25 to $8.40. Subsequent increases will occur in 2015, 2016 and 2017 to $9.55, $10.75 and $11.50 respectively. “This small change over four years isn’t going to end poverty,” said County Council Chairwoman Andrea Harrison, (D-Dist. 5) of Springdale. “We know that this small raise does give people hope.” The county approved the increase after Montgomery Council voted Tuesday to increase its minimum wage at the same rates. Originally, Prince George’s County, Montgomery County and Washington, D.C., all planned to increase their wages over three years, but Montgomery County amended its legislation, so Prince George’s County followed suit. Harrison said the District’s Council will have an initial vote on its minimum wage legislation on Dec. 3. Councilman Mel Franklin (D-Dist. 9) of Upper Marlboro said the amendments were to insure that the wage increases were a regional decision to cut back on businesses fleeing to closer counties with lower wages. The decision to remove requirements to adjust the wage for inflation were made to make the legislation in line with Montgomery Council’s amended legislation, he said. See WAGE, Page A-8 Bowie council approves plans to upgrade temporary holding room for pets Renovated facility will hold animals for up to five days, officials say n BY CHASE COOK STAFF WRITER Finding lost pets in Bowie soon will be easier, with the City Council voting to expand a temporary holding room for animals at City Hall. Currently, because of limited hold- NEWS GOING DIGITAL Checking out digital media from the Prince George’s library system is now a little easier. A-4 ing space for lost pets, animals picked up by Bowie animal control are driven around the neighborhoods to look for the owner, said Steve Roberts, Bowie’s animal control supervisor. If the owner isn’t found by the end of the day, the animal is taken to the Prince George’s County animal shelter in Upper Marlboro, he said. City leaders’ approval of the expansion will allow lost pets to be held in Bowie longer, meaning residents will have a better chance of picking up the pet locally before it’s sent to the Upper Marlboro shelter, Roberts said. “Finally,” said Tara Kelley-Baker, president of Bowie Citizens for Local Animal Welfare (CLAW), a community group that advocates for animal welfare in the city. “It took five years. ... We are excited.” The group has pressed for a city animal shelter facility, so the city’s approval was a compromise between the city and the group, as a new facility would be too expensive, Kelley-Baker HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL PREVIEW Region becoming a hotbed for schools that specialize in developing top college basketball players. B-1 said. It took five years to get all of the council behind the project, she said. The approval of the new holding room — a renovation and expansion of the current room — will let City Hall hold four dogs and eight cats for up to five days, according to a Bowie Planning Department staff report. Kelley-Baker said the city doesn’t handle many animals — about five per month. Once the facility can hold animals longer, she said, she anticipates more residents will know to look Automotive B-13 Calendar A-2 Classified B-11 Community News A-4 Entertainment A-10 Opinion A-9 Sports B-1 Please RECYCLE in the Bowie holding area instead of the county shelter, where animals are taken at the end of the day if they aren’t claimed at Bowie City Hall. The cost of the holding room expansion hasn’t been determined yet. CLAW and city staff will negotiate specific details, such as ventilation and temperature controls, Kelley-Baker said. Roberts said he anticipates the renovated temporary holding room will be See PETS, Page A-8 SPECIAL SECTION BEST OF PRINCE GEORGE’S Gazette and Gazette-Star readers voted for their favorite businesses in more than 40 categories—from best auto repair to best soul food to best pediatrician. Find out who won inside today. PROMOTIONAL SUPPLEMENT 1906201

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