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‘Save West Springfield Car Care’ Petition Ignites Community Interest

Nearly 500 supporters sign petition in less than one week.

From left - Scott Stephens (owner), Joel Spangler, Andy Kauffmann, Gary Farenholt, and Brent Roberts (owner), and Carlos Rivera, who posted this message on the Change.org petition to keep the business open: "I am an employee at West Springfield Car Care. They shut us down and it affects me, my wife and 3 kids. Please sign this petition and help."

From left - Scott Stephens (owner), Joel Spangler, Andy Kauffmann, Gary Farenholt, and Brent Roberts (owner), and Carlos Rivera, who posted this message on the Change.org petition to keep the business open: "I am an employee at West Springfield Car Care. They shut us down and it affects me, my wife and 3 kids. Please sign this petition and help." Photo Contributed

More than 500 local residents have signed a Change.org petition to Governor Bob McDonnell in an attempt to stop the closing of locally-owned West Springfield Car Care, an auto repair shop that has operated for 12 years at 8400 Old Keene Mill Road.

"This business is three guys who grew up in West Springfield and remain dedicated to providing great auto service to the community," said Karen Stephens, whose husband, Scott, is one of three owners. "Our hearts and souls have gone into working hard, and providing an honest, and reliable auto service."

The petition was launched last week on Change.org by Sarah Rivera, the wife of one of the center’s employees, Carlos Rivera. Change.org is a popular web platform with the stated mission to "empower anyone, anywhere to start, join, and win campaigns for social change."

On the petition’s website, Rivera writes that the shop is "being forced to close their doors by the new landlord Capitol Petroleum Group (CPG). This will affect nine employees and tens of thousands of citizens within the County. Please help by calling Capitol Petroleum Group and ask them to keep West Springfield Car Care open. Keep this honest and trustworthy shop within our community."

VISITORS CAN POST messages on the site, and forward the petition to friends via Facebook, email and Twitter. "This small business deserves to remain a community supporter and their families deserve better than they've been treated," Todd Henby of Springfield wrote in a message posted on the site earlier this week.

Stephens said the owners lease their service bays, and past landlords have chosen to extend their lease because "they respect and support the long-standing good relationship West Springfield Car Care has with our community.

"Now, unfortunately, Capitol Petroleum Group is choosing to force us out without any thought of what it is going to do to our families. A total of nine families will be affected by this, and will most definitely struggle trying to make ends meet after losing their jobs," Stephens said in an email.

The petition has caught the attention of state and local officials, including Del. Dave Albo (R-42) and Supervisor Pat Herrity (R- Springfield).

"WSCC has been a pillar of the West Springfield community for years," Herrity said on Monday. "The guys down there do a great job and are extremely well known for the excellent service they provide their customers and their generosity to our local youth sports teams and community groups."

Herrity said he has heard from many constituents objecting to the closure, and he will "continue to do what I can to see it worked out so they can stay at this location."

ON TUESDAY, JULY 3, two Virginia House legislators – Senator George Barker (D-39) and Senator Dave Marsden (D-37) – signed the petition and added comments to the site. Marsden said he had spoken with the head of the Virginia Petroleum, Convenience, and Grocery Association who would connect him with the Capitol Petroleum Group "to discuss their plans for this great local business."

"Our small businesses know the community the best, and it would be a great loss to all of us if West Springfield Car Care was to close," Marsden wrote in the petition. Barker called the fight an "uphill battle." "I remain committed to the cause and I will keep working to find a common sense solution to this problem," Barker wrote.

According to CPG’s website, the company supplies petroleum to more than 200 Shell and Exxon locations throughout the Washington, D.C. and New York City area. The company is listed as DAG Petroleum Suppliers, a Limited Liability Company (LLC), and was established in 1987 by entrepreneur and majority owner Eyob "Joe" Mamo. CPG, along with its affiliated companies, including DAG, currently owns, operates or supplies more than 200 retail sites.

The Connection contacted Selam Worku, a spokesperson for the company, and requested a statement from the group. She did not respond to follow-up phone messages by the time the paper went to print.

"We are so very humbled by the outpouring of support from the community," Stephens said, "I am hoping, maybe, that this will spread the word of what a hardship it has become to run a small business, without the threat of larger companies taking over, just because they can."

Stephens said they have until July 20 to move or relocate the business.

To sign the petition or view the website, go to http://www.change.org/petitions/the-governor-of-va-stop-the-closure-of-west-springfield-car-care-in-nova