Every photo has a story.
As a reporter for many years, I’ve worked a lot of crash scenes, house fires, and homicide investigations. Never once was I stopped by a police officer and asked for my license and registration.
There’s a first time for everything, they say. Who knew it would be the assignment where I’m taking a photo of a Ferris Wheel?
It was just before 1 p.m. Friday when I was driving along Route 1 and saw a carnival rides erected in a parking lot across from Our Lady Angels church. I pulled into the parking lot to take a photo of the wheel with my camera phone. A police car was sitting in the parking lot.
After pulling in, I stopped my car, rolled down my driver’s side window, stuck my cell phone out the window, and took this photo: Keep Reading…
There are currently five old coal ash ponds at Dominion Resources Possum Point Power Station in Quantico, Virginia which is in the 36th District. Coal ash or fly ash is the end product of burning coal to create electricity. Decades ago, it was common practice to mix it with water and store it in ponds into a “slurry.”
If ponds are not properly lined with impermeable barriers, then they can leach toxic metals into ground water and surface water. According to some sources, depending on the coal used, they can leach toxic elements such as arsenic, beryllium, boron, cadmium, chromium, hexavalent chromium, cobalt, lead, manganese, mercury, molybdenum, selenium, strontium, thallium, and vanadium, along with dioxins and PAH compounds. Metals like this store in the fatty tissues of fish and can aggregate in fish consumers such as birds or humans. Modern practice is to store ash in dry landfills.
The ponds recently came to light after Dominion disclosed them to the public following a spill of 50,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River in February, 2014. After the disclosure, the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) filed suit in an effort to force Dominion to clean the ponds up.
On Wednesday, I had a meeting with several Dominion representatives about this problem and they advised me that once the rules were issued, they expected to begin remediation on these ponds in accordance with practices agreed upon with state and federal regulators, but they could not begin work until the EPA made remediation rules clear.
Yesterday, in response to the new rules, Dominion announced that they are closing all coal ash ponds currently in use.
Water quality reports from the tidal Potomac River still show impairments of numerous metals and toxins such as PCB’s and mercury. Eliminating the sources of these contaminants is a vital step in solving these problems.
Now that the rules are issued, I am pleased that Dominion will start making plans to remove this environmental hazard from our community, and I will continue to stay on top of this situation and push our state regulators as cleanup plans move forward.
April 24, 2015
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The field of candidates for local elections in Prince William County is getting smaller.
Republicans held their “firehouse primary” in Prince William County on Saturday. The results of those races tell us which member of the GOP will go on to face their Democratic challengers in the November General Election.
Voting in the firehouse primary took place between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at various locations across the county. The firehouse primary was held instead of a traditional primary on June 9 due to paperwork filing error on the part of the Prince William County Republican Party.
The results of the 2015 Prince William County Republican Firehouse Primary:
Sheriff: Glenn Hill
Clerk of Court: Michele McQuigg
Board of County Supervisors
Chairman: Corey Stewart
Coles Supervisor: Marty Nohe
Occoquan Supervisor: Ruth Anderson
Woodbridge Supervisor: Steve Chapman
Prince William County Republican Party Chairman Bill Card issued this statement:
“I want to thank all of the dedicated Republicans who helped us put on our Party Canvass with about 6,500 voters,” said Chairman Bill Card. “My hat goes off to all of the candidates who ran but didn’t win. Mike Messier, Austin Haynes, Paul O’Meara, Chris Crawford, and Lee Price were respectful throughout the campaign and they should be proud of their effort.
“We now have a slate of candidates who will represent Republicans well in November. As the County continues to grow, Republicans look forward to putting forward substantive proposals to address the challenges that lay ahead for our community.”
Homeowners in Manassas should expect their average tax bills to go up next year under a proposed city budget.
Under a plan from City Manager Patrick Pate, the total average tax bill increase is $164. Townhome owners’ property tax bills would average $2,780, condo owners would pay an average bill of $2,342, and single family home owners would pay an average bill of $4,493.
Residents Monday night will have the chance to come speak out about the city’s proposed $214 million budget. Expenditures on city services, to exclude school funding, are about 6% lower in the next year’s proposed budget than they were a year ago. The city proposes to give more money to schools than it did a year ago, transferring 58% of the budget — $52.3 million – directly to the schools.
The tax rate would remain the same as last year at $1.368 for every $100 of assessed property value. The rate includes the city’s $0.178 fire and rescue tax levy. The average tax bill would increase 4% under the guidelines of the city’s five year plan.
Taxes going up
Residential assessments increased nearly 5%, and commercial assessments went up just over 3%. These are the few signs of good economic life in the city as other taxes like sales tax, meals tax, and taxes on cigarettes, vehicles, and cable TV and telephone services are flat or declining.
Overall, the city will increase taxes by 4% as part of a memorandum of understanding with thc city School Board that guarantees more funding for city schools.
Manassas Councilman Ian Lovejoy issued a statement explaining the MOU:
Good morning – the Bill Mehr Drop in Center is looking for volunteers to help with general admin tasks, help schedule volunteers and most importantly if you have the credentials is to provide case management to clients. This facility is located close to Potomac Mills Mall and offers wonderful services to homeless individuals. Come be part of this super team. Email Juan at email@example.com or Terry at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
· BEACON Adult Literacy needs an electrician to tutor an adult in the Manassas area as he prepares to take his state license exam. Please call Caroline at (703) 368-7491 to learn more.
· Come join the fun mas the Haymarket Regional Food pantry hosts its first Annual 5K Run for Hunger on Saturday May 9th. This year’s event will be at the Vint Hill Craft Winery beginning at 8am. Registration is just $30. Please visit their website: haymarketfoodpantry.org for all the info.
· I’m calling on individual’s age 55+ in the Gainesville, Haymarket area including Heritage Hunt and Dominion Valley to join our Drive a Vet Program with RSVP. We have requests from veterans or their spouses for a ride to their doctor appointments. Come join this wonderful program of simply giving someone a ride! Please call Coleen at (703) 369-5292 ext. 1 to learn more
· Keep Prince William Beautiful is full of fun projects this spring. Volunteers are needed on Saturday May 2nd 10:30am-1pm at the Potomac Library Volunteer Fair, on Saturday May 9th at the Community Expo at Pftizner Stadium from 9am-3pm and throughout the month of May to complete Shopping Center Surveys. Please call Damir at (571) 285-3772 to learn more. Keep Reading…
Carnival rides are being set up in parking lot off Route 1 in Woodbridge.
The carnival features a large Ferris Wheel that is set up in Jefferson Plaza, across from Our Lady of Angels Catholic church.
A sign hanging on a fence outside the carnival states it will be open Monday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 1 p.m. to 11 p.m.
The new 168,000-square foot shipping hub under construction is now under construction and will be located at 7303 Cushing Road, just off Balls Ford Road and Interstate 66 near Gainesville.
When completed, standing at 35 feet tall, the center will represent a win for county economic development officials who have courted several logistics companies in an effort to lure them to the region.
“The Board of Supervisors made logistics a target industry for us, and since that time we’ve met with several industries to talk about the advantages of locating here,” said Prince William County Economic Development Director Jeffery Kaczmarek.
One of the reasons why the county is so desirable for shipping and transport companies – it’s access to both Interstate 66 and 95. FedEx will join several other logistics companies just off I-66 near Gainesville, including U.S. Foods and Martin Bower, which delivers foods to restaurants like McDonalds.
The new FedEx facility will be built as a shell building. When complete, FedEx will hire a contractor to come and complete the interior of the facility with the installation of shelving and conveyor belts, said Prince William County Development Services Director Wade Hugh
Hugh’s office is in charge of greenlighting building permits for projects like the FedEx facility. Work on the site began in November with an “early grading” permit that allowed crews to begin clearing trees and making roadway access to the site via Cushing Road while the remainder of the permits were still being approved.
In all, it can take up to four months to approve a project like this.
“They want to be up and ready to go before the Christmas shipping season starts,” added Hugh.
Some small road improvements to Balls Ford Road were proffered by the developer, to include the addition of a deceleration lane at Balls Ford and Cushing roads. Cushing Road recently saw the addition of a new commuter lot that provides drivers’ access to I-66, so the area around Balls Ford Road is growing.
“It appears, talking with the clients that we work with, that there is major capacity with existing [roadway] system. But if we’re going to continue to grow, the county road system needs to keep pace with that,” added Kaczmarek.
On May 2 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., residents will be able to enjoy the Arts Alive festival at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas – but this could be the last time.
During the initial budget draft written by County Executive Melissa Peacor, she was given the instruction to create the draft with a 1.3% tax rate increase – versus the 4% allotted in the county’s strategic plan. This then cut the funding for the Arts Council, the organization that hosts the festival.
Over the course of the budget process, the funding for the Arts Council was re-added, and was kept in for the final budget adoption on April 21, but there are some concerns that the funding for the council may be on the chopping block again next year.
“It is absolutely correct to say that if the funding for the Arts Council fails, or goes away, or is drastically reduced, I just don’t see how we have that festival anymore,” said Sheyna Burt, the head of the Arts Council.
Burt stated that currently she feels confident about the future of the Arts Alive Festival, provided that the Prince William County Board of Supervisors continues their commitment for funding.
“I feel pretty good about the board of county supervisors restoring our funding. As long as they [continue to] do that…the Arts Alive is the Art Council’s biggest project all year. So the vast majority of the funding we get, goes to making that happen. As long as the board of county supervisors comes through in the way that they’ve been representing that they will, then I think the festival is actually going to survive,” Burt stated.
The Arts Council and the community group Our Prince William partnered heavily during the budgeting process to protect the arts and related community items in the county’s budget.
They plan to continue their mission by having a dialog with the board of supervisors in the coming months.
“What we’re hoping is that we can get some supervisors to sit down seriously with us, and talk about the budget process – talk about the timeline, talk about the philosophy of setting a rate before you talk about the values of the county,” said Burt.
Burt also stated that she hopes that the Arts Council can expand the festival next year, to include some activities in the eastern end of the county.
On April 21, Prince William County police responded to a call at St. Marks United Methodist Church on Well Street in Manassas, to investigate a burglary.
According to Prince William police, a member of the church stated that a burglar broke into the church between 1 p.m. on April 19, and 9 a.m. on April 29.
Prince William police investigated the scene, and stated that entry was likely made into the church by an unsecured front door.
A Prince William police release stated that no property was reported missing.
Manassas City Police found the body of 23-year old Tyler Abt yesterday afternoon on Godwin Drive.
Abt was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to the Manassas City Police, Abt’s death appears to be a suicide.
Abt was reported missing on April 21, and was concerned to be ‘possibly suicidal’, said a Manassas City Police release.
Officers from the Manassas City Police, Prince William County Police, City of Manassas Park Police and Fairfax Police worked collaboratively in an attempt to locate Abt.
The case is still an active investigation, said Manassas City Police.
April 24, 2015
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