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    Tourism spending up in Prince William, county ranks 10th in state

    leeslyvaniastatepark

    From Discover Prince William / Manassas

    Tourism in Prince William County generated over $541.5 million in travel related expenditures in 2015, an increase of 3.1% compared to 2014 and supported 6,223 jobs, a 5.6% increase from 2014. Visitor related tax receipts provided $8.4 million dollars and provided over $62 in tax savings per household to residents of the county.

    Tourism revenue in the City of Manassas generated over $67 million in expenditures, up 0.1% when compared to 2014 and continued to support 575 jobs, a 0.5% increase vs. 2014. Visitor spending related tax receipts provided over $1.7 million dollars to the City of Manassas and provided nearly $69 in tax savings per household to residents of the city. 

    According to a 2015 Texas A&M University Study conducted of Discover Prince William & Manassas’ impact on tourism and visitor spending, visitors to Prince William County spend an average $580 per visitor party with $76.6 million in spending attributable to the efforts of Discover Prince William & Manassas. Visitors to the City of Manassas spend an average $396 per visitor party with $7 million in visitor expenditures attributable to the agency.

    Among the 135 counties and cities throughout the commonwealth, Prince William County ranks tenth in total visitor expenditures and shares that ‘Top 10’ ranking with other tourism leaders including Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Loudoun, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, Richmond and others.  In addition, Prince William County ranks sixth in the Commonwealth for counties exceeding 3% growth or more in tourism related economic spending.

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    Short on staff, Dumfries cancels fall festival

    dumfries, virginia, town, route 1

    Dumfries leaders canceled the town’s annual fall festival.

    Mayor and Acting Town Manager Jerry Foreman said the town does not have enough staff to plan and execute the event that had been scheduled Oct. 15 at town hall. The annual event draws musicians, crafters, vendors, and food trucks to Dumfries.

    Foreman said Community Services Director Brittany Heine, who is in charge of planning the festival, has been out on maternity leave. Other departments — many with only one person working in them — could not spare their time to help plan and execute the fall festival.

    “Ms. Heine went on leave, though no fault of her own, and our staff is not big enough and is not wired, so to speak, to handle multiple events,” said Foreman.

    The town this year had budgeted $4,000 for the event. Instead, Foreman said staff will focus on Christmas events that include:

    Christmas Parade December 10
    Christmas Tree Lighting December 10
    Christmas in Dumfries at Triangle Rescue Squad December 17

    “We’re stuck between a rock in a hard place,” said Dumfries Councilman Derrick Wood “To eliminate [the fall festival] for a year… that void for a year… would definitely have to come back stronger and better.”

    Foreman added that town staff is focused “100 percent” on the Christmas events, and noted his disappointment in the lack of a fall festival to be held this year.

    “We didn’t want to do this event and have it come out poorly,” he said.

    Dumfries plans two outdoor festivals each year: a multicultural festival in spring and a fall festival in late September or October. 

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    Hylton Performing Arts Center breaks ground on 10-room addition

    Hylton Performing Arts Center [Courtesy photo]

    From George Mason University: 

    George Mason University broke ground this week on an $8.5 million, 14,000-square-foot addition to the Hylton Performing Arts Center on its Science and Technology Campus in Prince William County.

    The Education and Rehearsal Wing, slated to open in 2018, will be used by regional arts organizations, Mason students, Prince William County and city of Manassas schools, and the business community.

    The 10-room addition, next to the Hylton’s Gregory Family Theater, will be accessible from the Didlake Grand Foyer. It will feature six practice/teaching rooms, two classroom/ensemble rooms and two rehearsal spaces. The smaller of the two rehearsal halls will be named the Ballard Postma Studio in recognition of a generous gift from Hans and Mary Postma of Haymarket, Va. Ballard is Mary Postma’s family name.

    “This campus is where STEM becomes STEAM—Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics,” said Ángel Cabrera, George Mason’s president. “Discoveries of all kinds are being made here, and with this new wing, even more musicians, actors and dancers will have the opportunity to develop their skills and pursue their artistic passions.”

    “This much-needed new space will allow creativity and collaboration to flourish at the Hylton Center,” said Rick Davis, the center’s executive director and dean of Mason’s College of Visual and Performing Arts. “Our community has spoken. This beautiful wing will be filled with teaching, learning and rehearsals on the day it opens.”

    The project is funded in part by $6 million from the Commonwealth of Virginia, and through the continued support of retired Virginia Sen. Charles Colgan.

    An additional $2.5 million gift from the Cecil and Irene Hylton Foundation, along with the Postmas’ gift and other private donations to be sought over the next two years, will complete the funding for the wing, including adding state-of-the-art equipment.

    A groundbreaking ceremony was held Thursday and attended by about 200 guests, who heard remarks from Cabrera and Davis.

    The project is expected to take 12 to 18 months to complete and is planned to open in time for the 2018-19 performance season at the Hylton Center.

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    Natural Bridge today named Virginia State Park, National Park Service affiliate

    natural bridge

    Not local, but very cool. 

    From the National Park Service: 

    U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell has designated the geologically and historically significant Natural Bridge site in Rockbridge County, Virginia as an Affiliated Area of the National Park Service (NPS).  The site, recently designated as a state park, will be managed by Virginia State Parks.

    First purchased by Thomas Jefferson from King George III of England in 1774, Natural Bridge has captivated visitors for hundreds of years.  The limestone arch rises 215 feet above Cedar Creek and is located within a hilly, wooded landscape with hiking trails and scenic vistas.  It was designated as a national historic landmark in 1998.

    “Growing up near and working at Natural Bridge in my early years may be the true source of my 40 years of commitment to the protection and enjoyment of our National Parks,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “It is with great pride that it is now part of the Virginia State Park System and an Affiliated Area of the National Park Service.”   

    Affiliated Areas are neither owned nor administered by the federal government, but they preserve important segments of the nation’s heritage. Some of these have been recognized by Acts of Congress, others have been designated national historic sites by the Secretary of the Interior under authority of the Historic Sites Act of 1935.The National Park Service administers 22 national park sites in Virginia.  Visitors to national parks in Virginia spent $983 million in 2016 resulting in an overall economic impact of $1.3 billion.

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    ‘Escape Room’ opens in Lake Ridge October 15

    Escape Room Woodbridge

    Submitted: 

    Two local businesswomen are first to bring new live action entertainment trend to the area

    Escape Rooms – the hottest new trend in entertainment – are arriving in Woodbridge! Escape Room Woodbridge is scheduled to open October 15th, at 12668 Darby Brook Ct. in Woodbridge. With three differently themed rooms, each accommodating up to ten people, Escape Room Woodbridge will be the first to offer this kind of interactive live gaming in Prince William County.

    An escape room is a physical and interactive adventure game where players are locked in a room and have to use elements of the room to solve a series of puzzles and clues in order to escape within a set time limit. The games are physical versions of “escape the room” video games.

    Co-Owners, Angela Curtis and Birgit Campana, have each lived and worked in PWC for over 20 years. “We are bringing fun to Prince William County. PWC is our home and a place we want to help continue to grow. It’s a great place to live and play.” says co-owner, Campana. “Excitement and adventure are right here in our neighborhood. Stay home and play in PWC.” Escape rooms started gaining attention in the U.S. about two years ago as locations first appeared in large cities and quickly became wildly popular. Before that, they were all the rage overseas, and it doesn’t appear their popularity will fade anytime soon.

    Each room at Escape Room Woodbridge is themed differently, such as “Adventures in Wonderland”, “Lights, Camera, Murder” and “Dr. Jones’s Apprentice.” Co-owner Curtis says they are ready to help coordinate corporate events and personal celebrations, as well as individual players. “We would love to help you plan your team building event or party.”

    The price for the Escape Room Woodbridge adventure is $28 per person for 60 minutes of puzzle and clue solving, and takes place Wednesdays – Sundays. Their motto is find the clue, solve the puzzle, play the game. For more information and convenient online scheduling visit them at http://www.escaperoomwoodbridgeva.com/.

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    Man shot, killed on Wyndale Court in Woodbridge

    Updated 

    Murder Investigation *SUSPECT IDENTIFIED and VICTIM NAME CORRECTION– Detectives from the Homicide Unit have identified the suspect as Juan Manuel POLANCO. The initial investigation revealed that the victim and the suspect were known to one another and were involved in a verbal altercation which escalated. During the encounter, the accused brandished a handgun and shot the victim in the upper body. Following the investigation, the accused was arrested. Please note the correction to the last name of the victim which was originally released. The victim’s correct last name is noted in italics.

                    Arrested on September 23:

                    Juan Manuel POLANCO, 27, of 1301 D Street in Woodbridge

                    Charged with 1st degree murder

                    Court Date: November 21, 2016 | Bond: Held WITHOUT Bond

    Identified:

    The victim was identified as Francin Jose Solano CAMPO, 23, of Woodbridge

    Updated

    From Prince William police: 

    Updated Homicide Investigation- On September 23 at 8:44PM, officers responded to the 3200 block of Wyndale Ct in Woodbridge (22192) to investigate a shooting. When officers arrived, they located a victim suffering from gunshot wounds to the upper body and attempted to render aid.

    The victim was then transported to an area hospital where he later died as a result of his injuries. Currently detectives do not believe this is random and a suspect is in custody with charges pending. The investigation continues and additional information will be released once it is made available. This is Prince William County’s 17th homicide of 2016.

    * Identified: The victim was identified as Francin Solano Campo KEMPO, 23, of Woodbridge

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    News
    Plans for mosque in Rural Crescent ready for planning commission

    adams

    For the first time, the Prince William County Planning Commission will review plans for a mosque in Bristow.

    The All Dulles Area Muslim Society proposes building the Gainesville Community Center, a 22,400 square foot building large enough to house 500 people inside its worship hall. The center would be located at Vint Hill Road and Schaffer Lane, just inside the Rural Crescent land conservation area.

    The project would need a special use permit issued by the Board of Supervisors after the Planning Commission approves it. A planning commission hearing date has yet to be set, but one could be set soon following the submission of revised site plans in late August, said Steve Donohoe, with the county’s planning office.

    A previous set of plans for the site included a right turn lane, which would provide access to the property from Vint Hill Road to the center’s parking lot, that was not up to standards set by the Virginia Department of Transportation. The applicant went back to the drawing board and came up with new plans that relocated the turn lane into another portion of the property, said Donohoe. 

    The planning process for the mosque has taken more than two years, which is significantly longer than normal. The average special use permitting process takes about nine months to a year, added Donohoe. 

    The public has been extensively involved, and the Muslim association went back to speak with residents, and that has prolonged the approval process. 

    “In this case, when you elicit a response from the public in such a way this one has, [the applicant has] gone to the public, to the citizens, to work with them,” said Donohoe. 

    The Muslim association is expected to petition the Board of Supervisors for access to the county’s sewer system. Although in the rural area, the site will already have easy access to the county’s water system because the property sits in an “edge area” along the border of the Rural Crescent.

    ADAMSsite

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