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Closings and delays for Friday, March 6, 2015

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PRTC service suspended, portion of Dale Boulevard closed

Poor weather conditions led to the closure of a portion of Dale Boulevard, between Gideon Drive and Birchdale Avenue on Thursday afternoon.

Prince William police warned drivers who were on the on the roads or thinking of venturing out into the winter mess to think twice.

The late winter storm also prompted the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission to suspend all services for the remainder of the day. The commission operates OmniLink local buses in Prince William, Manassas, and Manassas Park, as well as OmniRide commuter buses.

Here’s a portion of the message PRTC sent to riders:

Based on the latest National Weather Service report and road conditions, ALL PRTC services are SUSPENDED for the remainder of today, Thursday, March 5.  The LAST Prince William Metro Direct and Manassas Metro Direct buses will depart the Metro Stations at 3PM.

For service on FRIDAY, MARCH 6, you can expect buses to operate regular service unless a new ESP message is sent out.

Emergency crews in Stafford County were also working accidents today:

More than four inches of snow has fallen in portions of Prince William County between noon and 2 p.m., according to the National Weather service.’

Here are some preliminary snow totals from the National Weather Service: 

...PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY...
   3 NNW WOOLSEY          4.1  1245 PM  3/05  TRAINED SPOTTER         
   GAINESVILLE            4.0  1243 PM  3/05  PUBLIC                  
   1 ENE DUMFRIES         2.0   150 PM  3/05  TRAINED SPOTTER     

...STAFFORD COUNTY...
   1 WSW SEALSTON         0.8   110 PM  3/05  COCORAHS         

A winter storm warning remains in effect until 9 p.m. Four to eight inches of snow is expected to fall from this storm.

The heaviest snow is expected to fall before 4 p.m. Cold daytime temperatures follow the snow on Friday as the mercury is not slated to rise above 30 degrees. Saturday is a bit warmer with partly sunny skies and high temperatures in the low 4os.

 

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No changes to tax rate, increases in county salaries and schools proposed in Stafford

Stafford County Administrator Anthony Romanello presented his proposed fiscal year 2016 budget to the Stafford County Board of Supervisors at their meeting Tuesday.

Among the key points in the proposal were that no changes in tax rates were suggested. The real estate tax will remain at $1.019, the same rate as last year, according to Stafford County spokeswoman Shannon Howell. 

According to Howell, the average tax bill for a Stafford resident would be $2,731. 

“There is no change to the average tax bill because this year is not a [property] re-assessment year,” Howell said. 

Real estate taxes is the county’s main source of funding revenue.

Additionally a 2% raise for school and county employees, and more funding to the school system were proposed, according to county documents.

There were six areas that the board stated were a priority for this budget process – reducing the citizen’s tax burden, public safety, education, infrastructure, economic development and service excellence.

With the current budget draft, Romanello stated that the county would be looking to attain a AAA bond rating.

The spending not related to public safety in the county is $3 million less than in 2009, and the staff also made $3.4 millions in reductions and management additions. Keep Reading…

Volunteer fire chiefs uneasy over plan to use fire levy to pay career firefighter salaries

Volunteer fire chiefs weighed in a on plan to use $4 million from the county’s fire levy to pay the salaries of some career firefighters.

The majority of the volunteer chiefs who spoke to the Executive Committee of the Prince William County Fire Rescue Association. It’s the organization that binds and governs the county’s volunteer and career fire services, headed by the County Fire Chief Kevin McGee,

The majority of the volunteer chiefs expressed fears that county officials will raid the fire levy, traditionally used to pay for daily operations and equipment purchases at the county’s 12 volunteer fire stations and one rescue squad.

The fire levy is expected to generate $34.4 million in fiscal 2016. About $30 million of the fire levy revenues generated in 2016 will go to fund fire and rescue operations costs.

The fire levy has a fund balance of $77.8 million and has been used to cash fund county fire and rescue projects such as building new stations and buying new apparatus.

 

Chiefs fear county could become dependent on funds 

County officials say that shifting $4 million from the levy is a needed move to help pay the salaries of career firefighters, more of which are being added to staff stations during what are traditionally volunteer hours, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. and holidays, because volunteer companies cannot staff them.

“The [Prince William County Board of Supervisors] feels that when there’s an emergency, citizens want someone to respond to the call, and they don’t care whether or not it is a volunteer or career firefighter,” Prince William Deputy County Executive Christopher Martino told the volunteer chiefs.

The volunteer chiefs agreed.  They also warned that a reliance on levy funds to pay for salaries could lead to a growing dependence on the fund. That could mean having the needed number of career firefighters to respond to calls but not having the cash on hand to replace aging equipment.

Keep Reading…

$1.3M Service Authority project to rehab two water tanks in Prince William

The Prince William County Service Authority has begun the process of updating two of its water tanks in Prince William, as part of a 10-year maintenance program.

The maintenance program will rehabilitate all 22 water tanks in the county over the 10-year period.

The first two to undergo rehabilitation are the Hoadly tank off of Prince William Parkway in Woodbridge and the Mt. Pone tank located near Route 234 and Sudley Manor Drive in Manassas.

The Hoadly tank was built in 1990, and the Mt. Pone tank was built back in 1969.

Currently, the Hoadly tank is set to be complete by the end of April, and no completion date has been projected for the Mt. Pone tank.

These first two tanks are going to cost $1.3 million to rehabilitate, according to a Service Authority release.

Maintenance and rehabilitation of all of the tanks will include painting, draining and cleaning the inside of the tanks, as well as performing any necessary repairs.

All of these projects are being doing a preemptive way to extend the life of the water tanks in Prince William County.

“By establishing a rigorous maintenance program, the Service Authority is extending the life expectancy of its tanks and improving the quality of the water stored inside of them,” said Operations and Maintenance Director Don Pannell in a release.

Next on the list for completion are the Maplewood and Haymarket tanks on the western end of the county.

Letter: Article brought attention to some false ideas of the homeless community

A JMU student reached out to our Potomac Local staff about a recent article written about the issue of homelessness in Prince William County. 

Dear Editor, 

I am responding the article written titled “Winter weather, community outreach brings attention to homeless population in Prince William”. I live in the Manassas/Woodbridge area, and I often use the Dale City exit to get on and off the highway. I have seen tents on the hill as I drive to get onto the highway, but it never occurred to me that there were so many people who are homeless living in the woods; so many people that this area is called Tent City.

Reading the article on these people brought to my attention some of the false ideas we have in our minds about people who are homeless. I think this article was really great because it mentioned that many people who are homeless are employed, and even work multiple jobs, but still cannot afford the cost of living. Most people who have a place to stay find picking up and moving, or even just leaving their things for a while is hard. Just like most everyone, getting people who are accustomed to living in their tent to move is difficult, especially if they cannot take their things with them.

Prices of living are high, and in our society we value high education and specialized work in order to land a job or career that can supply a livable income. As a college student, I know it is easy to forget that the ability to obtain a degree is a privilege. The Homeless Outreach program gathering supplies and advocating on the behalf of the people living in Tent City, and other similar places in the area, is a great example how  community cohesiveness can help people who are less fortunate. I think more articles and awareness on community problems like homelessness are important and should be published not just when it’s cold outside. I believe if more people were aware of the problem, there would be more people willing and able to help. 

Best Wishes, 

Eriel Ledbetter 

*Editors note: This letter was received on March 3.

Closings and delays for March 5, 2015

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Bumper sticker blues for Dumfries Democrat Derrick Wood?

wood

Derrick Wood is running to unseat longtime Prince William County Potomac District Supervisor Maureen Caddigan.

Wood is a Dumfries Town Councilman, and the Council spent some time Tuesday night discussing a campaign sticker affixed to the top of Wood’s laptop computer. Wood used the laptop during the televised Feb. 17 meeting of the Council, and that sticker was clearly visible to the cameras.

While a Dumfries Town Council meeting doesn’t bring in the same kind of TV ratings as, say, American Idol, there were some questions about the appropriateness of the campaign sticker that was displayed at the public meeting.

“Council should be reminded not to use the town meetings and council resources to advance a political agenda… I asked Councilman Wood how he would like to proceed… to give me a call to talk about it…” said Mayor Jerry Foreman.

Following the Feb. 17 meeting, Foreman, who also seeks higher office in the Virginia Senate and bids to replace longtime Senator Toddy Puller, sent an email to Wood, which he read a portion of Tuesday, referencing the bumper sticker and demanding a phone call to talk about it.

That call never came.

“I did not respond to you due to the tone of your email saying you ‘expected’ a phone call from me, knowing the phone works both ways,” Wood responded.

Vice-Mayor Willie Toney agreed with the mayor and urged the Council move on to other matters.

“When you put out the email you, you were spot on. I don’t think this is the appropriate time to discuss something that is to appease you,” said Toney.

That was followed by several outbursts from Councilwoman Helen Reynolds demanding the Mayor to “stop talking” and move on to other issues.

Foreman  once again called for the adoption of a code of conduct for Town Council members. Dumfries Town Attorney Oluan Simmons on Wednesday confirmed there is no such document on file that governs the conduct of elected officials in the town.

Councilwoman Gwen Washington urged the council to take up the matter again away from TV cameras during a closed session.

“I don’t see this is a closed session discussion,” said Councilman Cliff Brewer. “We need to have some kind of rules in place so this doesn’t happen again by anyone, whether it be this council or a future council.”

Before Wood can run against Caddigan, he must first win an Primary Election facing fellow Democrat Andrea Bailey, who currently holds no public office.

Nokesville man arrested in Woodbridge for indecent exposure

Yesterday afternoon, Prince William County police officers responded to a call in Woodbridge in relation to an indecent exposure.

According to call made to police, the suspect, Paul Arthur Cocca, was sitting outside of a hair salon, exposing himself to employees. 

Cocca fled the scene prior to the officers’ arrival, but police located his vehicle near Minnieville Road and Summit School Road and made an arrest. 

He is currently being held without bond.

More from a Prince William County Police Department release:

Indecent Exposure – On March 3rd at 1:28PM, officers responded to the 12700 block of Darby Brooke Ct in Woodbridge (22192) to investigate an indecent exposure. The caller reported to police that an unknown man was sitting on a sidewalk, outside of a hair salon, exposing himself to employees through a window. The caller contacted police and the man fled the area prior to police arriving at the business. Witnesses were able to provide officers with a description of the vehicle that the suspect was last seen driving. Officers located and stopped a vehicle matching the description in the area of Minnieville Rd and Summit School Rd. Through the investigation, officers positively identified the driver as the accused and further determined that he was the man involved in the incident. Following the investigation, the accused was arrested. 

Arrested on March 3rd:

Paul Arthur COCCA, 64, of 13504 Highland Farms Ct in Nokesville

Charged with indecent exposure

Court date: April 23, 2015 | Bond: held WITHOUT bond

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