Virginia Chamber of Commerce economic forecast mixed

Barry DuVal, Virginia, business

The future of Virginia’s economy looks much different from its recent past.

Virginia, a state traditionally reliant on government jobs, is seeing fewer of them due to spending cutbacks and sequestration. That prompted Virginia Chamber of Commerce President Barry Duval to visit Manassas on May 20, where he provided business owners an outline of what to expect as the economy improves.

What’s holding the state’s economy back? Projected slow job growth and competition from other, comparable southern states, said Duval, the former Mayor of Newport News and a self-proclaimed “recovering public official.” Duval said Virginia’s entrepreneurial spirit, access to international markets through an airport like Dulles International, and an educated workforce would make the state competitive in the coming years.

“You will not find a region in the world growing and prospering without an institution of higher education,” Duval told a crowd gathered for a Prince William Chamber of Commerce event held at the Hylton Performing Arts Center.

He called George Mason University – the agency that operates the Hylton – key to the success of the region. He also said the partnership of the university, Prince William County, Manassas City, and the private organizations that utilize the Hylton, a shining example of what success looks like the new economy.

Pro-business policies that have taken hold in the state continue to attract small shop owners to the area, he said.

“You don’t have to go too far north of the Potomac River to find businesses in states suffering from ‘non pro-business’ policies,” said Duval.

The Federal Government can help spur growth in Virginia by creating a new energy policy, promoting free trade, and improving the national transportation infrastructure, said Duval.

Two house fires displace residents in Prince William


There were two home fires this week in Prince William.

On the evening on May 25, Prince William fire and rescue were called to a fire at a single-family home on Edmonston Drive in Manassas.

When Prince William fire and rescue arrived, they saw a fire on the rear deck of the home.

Firefighters were able to put out the fire, and no one was injured.

Prince William fire and rescue have estimated damages at $7,000.

Another fire took place in the afternoon on May 26, Prince William fire and rescue were sent to a fire at a two-story townhome on Larkin Drive in Woodbridge.

When firefighters arrived at the townhome, they found the fire at the back of the home, and were able to put it out. No one was injured.

According to Prince William fire and rescue, two adults and four children were home at the time of the fire. They were able to safely evacuate.

Prince William fire and rescue estimated the damagers at $50,000. Keep Reading…

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Two Haymarket women arrested for narcotics possession


The Haymarket Police department has arrested two individuals involved with the possession of narcotics.

On May 24, a Haymarket police officer stopped a suspect – 24-year old Grace Dryden – for a traffic violation on James Madison Highway. According to Haymarket police, during a search of Dryden’s vehicle, marijuana and other controlled substances were found.

Dryden has been charges with possession of marijuana and possession of a Schedule I or II controlled substance, and was released on a $2,500 bond.

On May 25, Haymarket police arrested 21-year old Kaleigh Reagan for driving under the influence on Washington Street. Haymarket police stated that during the arrest, an officer saw a controlled substance in her possession that was not prescribed to her.

Reagan is being charged with possession of a Schedule IV controlled substance and driving under the influence. She was held without bond.

Manassas bakery offers options for those with food allergies


The Lemonade Bakery creates treats that are peanut, nut and egg-free.
They are hoping to open a storefront location in Manassas.
The bakery does a lot of custom orders for schools and daycare centers.
Their most popular item are their glazed sugar cookies.

The Lemonade Bakery, a home-based Manassas bakery – owned by Kelly Stroh – gives individuals with food allergies an opportunity to enjoy yummy treats.

“My third son has severe allergies…and I had to learn to bake for him. And after working on some of that, I realized that I enjoyed baking and it was something I could do with four small children,” said Stroh.

Stroh started off making cookies and cakes in her own kitchen, and the business has grown over the years.

According to Stroh, all of her products are peanut, nut and egg-free, but they can also accommodate other food allergies.

“We do custom orders primarily. We do orders for individuals – a dozen cupcakes or a cake – all the way up to schools, where we do over 1,000 cookies at a time. We do a lot of [orders for] local schools and daycares centers, a lot of them that have a nut free policy…we’re one of the few [commercial bakeries] that are peanut and nut free,” Stroh said.

The bakery’s most popular item are their glazed sugar cookies, which can be made in any shape and decorated.

Right now The Lemonade Bakery offers cakes, cupcakes and cookies, but they’re hoping to add donuts and cinnamon rolls to their lineup.

In the next few months, Stroh and her family plan to move forward with finding a storefront in the Manassas area.

They attempted to fund the expansion through a Kickstarter campaign, which was not successful, but they were able to identify investors to help make the store a reality.

“We didn’t meet our goal – but we got pretty close…what we’re doing now is rounding up a team of private investors for us,” said Stroh.

For Stroh, the business signifies a way to deal with a difficult situation in a positive way.

“A big part of why I wanted to do this was to show my kids that everybody has their challenges, and it’s what you do with them. So you have your lemons – which are your food allergies – and we’re going to make lemonade by making something we enjoy, but it helps others also,” stated Stroh.

Foreman: Tax credits, improved Route 1 key to economic development


Potomac Local sent a candidate survey to Gerald “Jerry” Foreman. He’s running to become the next Virginia State Senator in the 36th District encompassing south Fairfax County, eastern Prince William County, and North Stafford.  The seat is currently held by Linda “Toddy” Puller who will retire. 

Forman faces Democrat Scott Surovell who also seeks the 36th District Seat. Surovell is currently a Virginia State Delegate who represents the 44th District which encompasses Mount Vernon and a portion of Fort Belvoir.

Voters will head to the polls to decide a winner for this race on Nov. 3, 2015.

Find your polling place

PL: What are the top three major issues facing the district you wish to represent?

Foreman: 1. Economic Development/Revitalization
2. Route-1 Transportation Corridor
3. Ethics and Transparency Keep Reading…

Surovell focused on Metro, Medicaid, teachers


Potomac Local sent a candidate survey to Scott Surovell. He’s running to become the next Virginia State Senator in the 36th District encompassing south Fairfax County, eastern Prince William County, and North Stafford.  The seat is currently held by Linda “Toddy” Puller who will retire. 

Surovell faces Republican Gerald “Jerry” Foreman who also seeks the 36th District Seat. Foreman is the Mayor of Dumfries.

Voters will head to the polls to decide a winner for this race on Nov. 3, 2015.

Find your polling place

Keep Reading…

Manassas man hit with shovel


On the evening of May 23, Prince William police responded to a call for an assault in Manassas.

According to Prince William police, the victim – a 36-year old Manassas man – stated to police that we was working on his vehicle when the suspect – 42-year old Manuel Jesus Hernandez – struck him in the head from behind with a shovel.

Hernandez hit the victim two more times with the shovel, said Prince William police. Witnesses on the scene were able to separate the two individuals.

Prince William police stated that their investigation showed that the assault was not provoked.

The victim was taken to a local hospital for non-life threatening injuries, said Prince William police.

Hernandez has been charged with malicious wounding and is being held without bond.

Cardiac Rehabilitation at Mary Washington Healthcare – Chris’ Story

  • Mary Washington Healthcare
  • Address: 1001 Sam Perry Blvd, Fredericksburg, VA 22401
  • Phone: 540-741-1100
  • Website:

Chris was rushed to Mary Washington Healthcare

“I called my son at one o’clock in the morning as I know what’s happening to me? I’m either having a heart attack or I am having anxiety attack,” said Chris.

Chris’ son rushed her to the Mary Washington Hospital Emergency Room.

“They came in and said ‘you have three very massive blockages and you’re going to have to have bypass surgery,’ said Chris.

The Mary Washington cardiac team led by Doctor Alex Na performed successful surgery. Next for Chris – rehab.

“And when I came here from beginning to end I felt very comfortable, very much at home and just like I was really cared for, being cared for by my friends,” said Chris.

Our cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation is medically supervised and certified. Each participant receives a personalized rehab program.

“It really does change your outlook and change the way you feel, because I really feel great,” said Chris.

Mary Washington healthcare — here for you.

Sargent charged in child sex case


Police in Manassas made another arrest in an ongoing investigation into suspected sexual predators. 

Here’s the latest in a press release: 

At approximately 5:30AM on May 14, 2015, Manassas City Police Investigators, in conjunction with the Northern Virginia-District of Columbia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations arrested a man who responded to an undercover advertisement looking for persons willing to travel to Manassas to have sexual contact with juveniles.

Investigators identified Walter SARGENT (48) of 1401 N Rhodes St #304, Arlington, VA 22209 as a suspect after he responded to an undercover Investigator on Craigslist on April 29th about having sexual relations with a fictitious 12-year-old male. A search warrant was conducted at the suspect’s residence on May 14, 2015 and SARGENT was taken into custody without incident. SARGENT was charged with use of a communications device to facilitate certain offenses involving children and attempted forcible sodomy. He was held without bond and has a pending court date of June 11, 2015 in General District Court.

SARGENT’s apprehension was the second such arrest made by Manassas City Police as part of “Operation Broken Heart”, a collaborative effort that involves local, state, and federal authorities targeting sexual predators and traffickers during April and May of 2015.

VDOT still has a huge amount of catchup


As the weather warms and summer nears, we are approaching the road mowing and paving season in Northern Virginia. Several paving projects are coming to eastern Prince William County and northern Stafford County in the 36th District.

VDOT plans to pave I-95 from Neabsco Creek to Smoketown Road, all of VA-123 and Old Bridge Road from VA-123 to Minnieville. Cardinal Drive will get a new surface from U.S. 1 to Minnieville as well.  Southbridge will see new blacktop in on Wayside Lane, Pine Ridge Boulevard and several surrounding streets.  VDOT will pave the entire length of Joplin Road from U.S. 1 to Bristow Road and all the streets of the entire town of Quantico. The Main Street between Curtis Drive and Quantico Gateway Drive through Dumfries is also scheduled to be repaved.

Many of Stafford County’s secondary roads are in better condition than streets in other areas since many are newer.  In northeastern Stafford County, VDOT will resurface half a dozen streets around Dorothy Lane and Anita Drive in Garrisonville with all of Stefaniga Road.

Legislature Addressed Road Neglect

Over 70% of Northern Virginia’s secondary roads, roads numbered over 600, have been rated as having substandard pavement quality and despite my efforts, the state legislature has not met the challenge. From 1987 to 2013, the Virginia General Assembly refused to raise Virginia’s $0.17/gallon gas tax to even keep up with inflation.  As salaries, the cost of materials and infrastructure needs all increased, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) had to prioritize funds for other critical maintenance needs.  As a result, VDOT limited grass mowing, prioritized primary and interstate highway maintenance and curtailed secondary road paving. Deficient road pavement has been a consistent, frequent complaint since I have been in office these last six years.

In 2013, the legislature replaced the retail fixed gas tax with a wholesale percentage gas tax plus an overall sales tax supplement, steps which restored some roads and maintenance funding .  We also passed a series of local taxes to fund transportation construction, but these taxes do not apply to Stafford County which is in the Fredericksburg Transportation District.  Last year, VDOT started a major phase of paving in our communities as the direct result of this infusion of funds.

VDOT tries to bid out paving projects based on need and geographic location.  Contractors may provide competitive bids when projects are conducted all within compact areas.  This is why VDOT usually does not repave random streets miles apart (there are some exceptions).  Also, typically, not but always, roads in entire neighborhoods tend to deteriorate at the same rate.     

If you would like to see a more detailed map including your specific street you can go to my online newsletter, The Dixie Pig at or you can go to

I am pleased that VDOT is finally taking steps to properly maintain our roadways, but VDOT still has a huge amount of catchup ahead.  Nearly every secondary road in Woodbridge still has substandard pavement quality and after this summer, and over 50 percent of Virginia’s 36th Senate District’s roads will still need repaving.  You can find a map of the 36th Senate District at

If you review the entire Northern Virginia map at, you can see that we are very lucky to be getting attention this summer given the massive backlog.  I am working to make our area a continuing priority after this year.

Our experience over the last two decades is a basic lesson in the consequences of starving basic government services.  If we do not keep our revenues commensurate with our needs, from schools to health clinics to roads, infrastructure and quality of life will suffer.  In 2013, with bipartisan support, the state legislature addressed the transportation revenue shortfall and you are now seeing the results. These steps can likely save your family an alignment or a tire or two. 

If you have any questions or complaints, please contact me at  It is an honor to a state delegate and I look forward to earning your vote as your State Senator.

*Scott Surovell is currently serving as a delegate in Virginia, and is seeking a seat in the State Senate.

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