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Fire crews called to house on Aquia Drive

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A fire broke out Friday night in the 1200 block of Aquia Drive.

Fire crews were called to the home in the Aquia Harbour subdivision in North Stafford. Crews appeared to have doused any fire that had been in the home. They used large fans to clear smoke from the garage of the house.

No word yet from Stafford County fire and rescue officials on what caused the fire response.

Call to Action: Volunteers needed for minor home repairs

  • Good morning  – Would you by chance speak Dari? We know of a lovely lady who would enjoy a friendly visitor to speak her native language with. She is from Afghanistan and now resides in a local senior living facility to make it easy for you to stop by and cheer her up. Please call Daphne at (703) 792-7662 to learn more about her and the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program.
  • Cheers to the Run Rotary Club for hosting a night with the Capitol Steps on Saturday February 21 st, 7-10pm at the Hylton Performing Arts Center. Ticket sales to this super fun event will benefit Habitat for Humanity Prince William, the Rainbow Equestrian Center, CASA, BARN and Calling All Souls. You don’t want to miss it! Please go online at: http://hyltoncenter.org/calendar/586 for tickets.
  • Fancy Cats Rescue Team needs volunteers age 19+ to work at adoption events throughout Northern Virginia and close to home in Gainesville. Come help give kitties their new forever home. Please call them at (703) 961-1056 or via email at: info@fancycats.org. 
  • SERVE continues to need volunteers to fight hunger by helping in the Food Pantry. As you know folks who work seasonal jobs have a particular hard time in the winter and add to the number of families seeking assistance from SERVE. This is a wonderful opportunity to offer help and your smile to these families. Be prepared for lifting of boxes. Specific positions include picking up food at local grocery stores utilizing the SERVE van. You must be 21 yrs. old, have good driving record and sign a driver’s agreement. They also need volunteers to receive donations. This position can be filled by teens age 16 yrs. +. Please call Jan at (571) 748-2621 to learn more or you can email her at: jhawkins@nvfs.org 
  • Saved Hands Foundation teaches entry level business skills to the disadvantaged. They are looking for volunteers to teach Microsoft office programs to adults in Woodbridge. They also would like a grant writer and marketing director to create a portfolio for them. Please call Pamela at (571) 572-9013 for more info.
  • The Alzheimer’s Association needs volunteers to join their planning committee for the next walk on October 17th in Manassas. Please call Sonya at (703) 766-9025 to learn more.
  • Catholic Charities needs volunteers to teach an English class at their Dale City office. Classes are held Wednesdays 7-9pm. Please email them at: volunteer.hogar@ccda.net to learn more.
  • Beacon Adult Literacy needs volunteer tutors to teach conversation or computer literacy to ESL students in the Manassas area. Please call Caroline at (703) 368-7491 to learn more.
  • Literacy Volunteers is gearing up for their next volunteer training On March 7th. Come learn all the skills you need to help another adult reach their life goals. You do not need any prior experience. This is one person helping another. Please call (703) 670-5702 or visit www.lvapw.org to learn more.
  • Emeritus Senior Living in Lake Ridge is looking for volunteers to help with fun activities such as sewing circle, line dancing and others or simply give one on one companionship. Please call Brigette at (703) 680-0600 to learn more.
  • Project Mend a House needs volunteers to help with minor home repair projects for elderly, disabled and low income families. Come share your handy hands and spirit. Please call (703) 792-7663 to learn more
  • Rainbow Therapeutic Riding Center needs volunteers to help with the silent auction and decoration committees for the big 15th Annual Winter dance on February 21st. Please email Robin at: rainbow@rainbowriding.org to learn more 
  • If you are looking for other opportunities, please don’t forget to call my wonderful team at Volunteer Prince William. Coleen can help you with the Retired and Senior Volunteer (RSVP) opportunities at (703) 369-5292 ext. 1, Shelley can help with any individual or group project and send you weekly updates if you’d like. Shelley is at (703) 369-5292 ext. 0, and Bonnie can help you with opportunities available in Disaster Preparedness at (703) 369-5292 ext. 3. Please visit our newly re-vamped website at www.volunteerprincewilliam.org. Thanks so much for all you do in our community.

Call to Action is a column written by Volunteer Prince William Director Mary Foley.

Potomac Local Wants You To Know

Man arrested after impersonating a police officer

Shawn Robinson was arrested yesterday morning, after impersonating a police officer, following an individual in a white Crown Victoria in Dumfries.

More in a police press release:

On January 29th at 12:58AM, officers responded to investigate a suspicious vehicle which was reportedly last seen in the area of Cliffview Dr and Waterway Dr in Dumfries (22025).The caller, an off-duty police officer, reported to police that he was driving on Benita Fitzgerald Dr when he observed a white Crown Victoria following him.

While the vehicle was behind the caller, the driver turned on a spotlight which was affixed to the vehicle. The caller believed the other vehicle was a police officer and promptly pulled over. The driver of the Crown Victoria never exited the vehicle but instead, pulled alongside the caller and attempted to make contact. At the point, the caller identified himself as an actual police officer which caused the other driver to immediately speed away.

The caller was able to provide police with a tag number and followed the vehicle to the area above where the driver and a passenger fled on foot. During the investigation, officers were able to identify the driver as the accused and obtained a warrant for his arrest. The accused turned himself into police later that same day without incident.

Arrested on January 29th: Shawn Michael ROBINSON, 27, of 3408 Beechcraft Dr in Alexandria
Charged with impersonating a police officer
Court date: March 4, 2015 | Bond: unavailable

Charges stand for police dog bite victim, friends call her a leader

Breanna Beasley spoke fondly of the fun times she had with her long-time friend London Colvin. “She can eat. We used to have eating contests so we could see who could eat more,” Beasley said.

“She loves to dance. Any kind of you music you put on, and she’s literally out there [dancing],” added Beasley.

Colvin, of Woodbridge, was captain of the step team at Woodbridge Senior High School her senior year, and played a leadership role in the school’s JROTC.

Beasley was surprised to hear of Colvin’s arrest, stating that she was never one to act out or get into trouble.

“She wasn’t a big trouble maker in school. I really followed behind her steps. I stayed out of trouble thanks to her,” Beasley said.

London Colvin is a 21-year old Army Reservist and Norfolk State University student, who was attacked by a Norfolk police dog on Sunday. Colvin has been charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, according to Norfolk Police.

 

Norfolk Police Chief confirmed “unreasonable force” used

Yesterday Norfolk Police Chief Michael Goldsmith posted a media release, claiming that an investigation into the incident with Colvin’s arrest showed that “unreasonable” force had been used.

Goldsmith released the following statement:

“Since January 25th, my department has been investigating the arrest of London Colvin. While we continue to wrap up the final few interviews with witnesses and officers, I feel I have enough information to determine the use of force in Ms. Colvin’s arrest was unreasonable.

I will address my officers’ actions through our disciplinary process.

My review of the policies governing the use of police canines continue. This review will ensure that Norfolk canines are used appropriately in all circumstances. As Chief, I am responsible for the policies and procedures that govern my officers’ actions. While I expect my officers to make the best judgment in all circumstances, if the policy doesn’t support the outcomes I expect, I have failed them. I am committed to having the best trained department and I will make this right.

I will make the revised policy available once I have completed my review.”

The canine officer involved in the altercation was placed on administrative duty while the incident is being investigated. His name was not released and no further details were given. Colvin’s charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest still stand.

Friends and family of Colvin appreciated Goldsmith’s statement.

“It really took a weight off my chest. I know that without that being said, that it was going to be a lot of extra work done [to tell] the public, and get them to notice that this wasn’t right,” said Carman Chatman, a Norfolk State University (NSU) student and friend of Colvin who witnessed the attack on Sunday.

“I spoke with some of her friends [at NSU] and everybody is really happy – this is a great first step in getting justice. It was nice to hear what [Goldsmith] said,” said Whitney Dunn, Colvin’s cousin.

However, Dunn is still seeking answers.

“Those [charges] are still being filed, and personally…to me, it’s very important that we get these charges dropped, and that that’s part of the justice. I would like to know what happens to the police officers as well, because that was not stated during the press conference [held by the Norfolk Police Department]. This shouldn’t happen in 2015,” Dunn stated. Keep Reading…

Marine Corps Museum at Quantico ready for MRE cook-off

In the field, most Marines consider MRE’s required sustenance. At the National Museum of the Marine Corps, they’re practically gourmet.

The museum at Quantico will hold “Meals Ready to Eat” (MRE) Cook-off on Feb. 7. They started this event three years ago in order to draw more attention to the Museum during the cold winter months.

“We’re always looking for new and interesting things to offer here at the Museum, especially during the slower winter months. Michele Flynn, our Visitor Services Chief, came up with this idea. With cooking reality shows being such a big hit and MREs being such a big part of military life, it is a natural fit for us” said museum spokeswoman Gwenn Adams.

Participants in this event randomly draw two MREs from a box. Participants are allowed to dress up their meal by bringing any additional ingredients they would like to have with them during the event. However, it’s essential that it fits in a gallon sized bag, as glass containers are not allowed.

The gallon bag is important to the Museum because it’s the volume of the utility uniform’s cargo pocket which is where Marines store everything that they need to go into the field. The Museum is supplying a can of sterno as well as a folding sterno camp stove to assist in the process of cooking the entrées.

“Some examples of MRE packs are Beef Patty with Jalapeño Pepper Jack, and Southwest Style Chicken Stew. Each package usually included an entrée, a side, a dessert and a drink powder” said Adams.

The event starts at noon and is free attend. All museum-sponsored events are open to the public. For more information, email Michele Flynn at, Michele.r.flynn@usmc.mil.

 

Woodbridge protestors want action in police dog bite case

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Former Woodbridge Senior High School students and friends of London Colvin gathered in front of the school this morning on Old Bridge Road, protesting the recent incident where the 21-year old was attacked by a police dog in Norfolk

Just a day after Norfolk Police Chief  Michael Goldsmith came forward and stated that the amount of force used against Colvin was unreasonable, the protest signals a larger sentiment in the community that justice needs to be served for the Army Reservist and Norfolk State University student. 

J’quante McGhee and Breanna Beasley, long time friends of Colvin, were the main organizers of this morning’s protest.

“I feel like what the cops did was wrong. There was unreasonable force they didn’t have to do what they did [with the dog]. They already had her where they wanted her,” McGhee said. “We need to stop the police brutality.”

“Seeing that the Chief said that the force used was unreasonable really lifted my spirits. That did make me feel a little bit better,” Beasley said.

While McGhee was happy with the chief’s words, he doesn’t feel like it’s enough.

“The [police department] needs to take further action. They need to follow up and indict the officers or whatever the case is – kick them out of the force – because they didn’t handle it properly,” McGhee commented.

In addition to signs sporting the “#justiceforlondon” hashtag, Beasley created t-shirts to wear for the protest, with the Army Reserve logo, and the Woodbridge Senior High School emblem.

“I got this made yesterday…a sign says a lot, but to me, this is not just a shirt for today. It’s a shirt that I can wear longer than today to say, ‘Okay, it’s not just something that happened today and we’re done with it.’ Me wearing this shirt is going to say it happened and we’re not forgetting and we’re not going to forget,” Beasley said.

For Beasley, the incident is something that is being echoed across the country, but now feels more personal than ever. 

“It’s been happening around the country, but the fact that it happened here, to someone [I consider my] sister is just too close to home,” Beasley commented, referencing other cases of police brutality in recent months.

Another protest will be held at Norfolk State University this evening at the Douglas Wilder building at 8p.m., following a Division of Student Affairs Speaker Series event, where commenters on Instagram have said that the lawyers for the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown cases will speak.

Manassas Park wants to extend school year, increased costs a concern

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Added intersessions would include college prep courses, internships, field trips

Brenda K. Foster

Foster

This week, Manassas Park City Schools held round table meetings for its community members to address concerns about the district implementing a new balanced school calendar.

The new calendar would begin August 17 and close again on June 20.  This new schedule includes week-long breaks in October and March, with the usual 10-day holiday vacation in December.  Additionally, two-week long intersessions will be added to the calendar in October and April.  Intersessions are optional for the students and would include everything from college prep courses to internships and field trips.  They would be of no additional cost to the students.

School Board Chair Brenda K. Foster said that they modeled the new calendar off of Galax City Public Schools, which successfully implemented it last year.

“I am excited about any calendar option that can help improve learning success for our students,” Foster said.  The meetings were a way to get parents and community members involved in finding solutions or ideas for potential problems that may arise with the changes.  Over the course of the three meetings, 300 people attended, a huge turnout, according to Foster.

Community members raised some concern over the changes, particularly about the effect it would have on finding childcare and the costs involved.

“I’m a little concerned about overall cost and additional effort required by the teachers to implement the sessions,” said Leeann Brogdan, a parent  

She added that she liked the concept but wasn’t sure if the execution was the best.

Another concern was how this would affect summer vacations.  The meeting participants sat around circular tables and were able to discuss their concerns with others seated at their table. Then, they listed them on flip chart paper and taped them to the wall so that everyone could share ideas and opinions.

Despite parent’s hesitation, teachers seem willing to try out the new format at the risk they’d have to work more. 

“I feel like teachers by nature are willing to do extra work to help children succeed,” said Sara Silber, a 5th-grade teacher at Cougar Elementary School in Manassas Park.

Children also supported the change.

“You can prepare for the tests and all of that, but that’s nothing compared to real-world experience,” said high school freshman Alex Petsopoulos said about the proposed intersessions.

Petsopoulos expressed excitement in the type of activities that might be available in that week.

Though he did have some reservations about the start date. 

“My birthday’s the 18th, and we start school on the 17th so that can’t happen,” Petsopoulos joked.

Foster and the rest of the school board plan on traveling to Galax City Public Schools on Feb. 11 through 13 to observe their spring intersession before the board votes on the new calendar on February 23. 

Blaze rips through Montclair home, residents displaced

Update

Firefighters searched the premises during the fire when one adult in the home was unaccounted for on Thursday night. The home was cleared, and the adult was found outside of the premises. 

One adult suffered non-serious injuries, and did not require transport.

More in a press release from the Department of Fire & Rescue:

On Thursday, January 29th, at approximately 2:00 p.m., fire and rescue units were dispatched to a structure fire in a garage located in the 15000 block of Holleyside Drive in Dumfries.

Upon arrival, firefighters observed the garage fully engulfed in flames with extension to the home’s rear, attic and roof and a second alarm was requested.

As firefighters proceeded to attack and extinguish the fire, they were informed, one occupant, an adult, had not been accounted for and possibly remained in the home. As firefighters began searching the premises, they were notified that all occupants had safely evacuated the home.

One adult incurred injuries but did not require medical transport. No additional injuries reported.

Red Cross was called to the scene to assist three adults displaced by the fire.

A Building Official inspected the residence and posted the building unsafe.

County Police assisted with traffic control.

The origin of the fire was the garage; the cause is undetermined and is currently under investigation by the Fire Marshal’s Office.

Original Post

A fire ripped through a home in the 15000 block of Holleyside Drive on Thursday.

Crews were called to the home in Montclair about 2 p.m. Flames were seen shooting through the roof and a 2nd alarm was called. However, crews on the scene were able to bring the blaze under control and then put it out, negating the need for the second alarm, said Prince William fire and rescue Battalion Chief Curtis Brodie.

The residents of the house were displaced. Brodie said no major injuries were reported.

Investigators are looking into the cause of the fire.

Move over 95 Express, toll lanes wanted on I-66

Dulles Metrorail Megaproject underway at Rt. 66 and 267, Falls Church.

New lanes will be tolled 24 hours a day, seven days a week

There’s a new plan for Interstate 66 that looks a lot like what just happened on I-95.

Virginia transportation officials want to build more of those famous “managed lanes,” or toll lanes between U.S. 15 in Haymarket in Prince William to the Capital Beltway in Fairfax County, just outside Tysons Corner. Two new lanes would be added to each side of the highway and, like the 95 E-ZPass Express Lanes, drivers will pay a toll 24 hours a day to use them. The new lanes would be free to drivers with three or more occupants in their vehicles.

Officials identified this 25-mile “outside the Beltway” stretch of highway as their target improvement zone because federal laws prevent I-66 from being widened inside the Capital Beltway. Arlington residents saw to that when the highway was built.

“For all of us who have ever traveled I-66, w know we have once choice: congestion. And, that congestion is getting worse,” said Virginia Department of Transportation Deputy District Administrator Renee Hamilton.

A round of winter weather forced the postponement the first few in a series presentations held to educate residents on the proposed changes. The agency held a meeting in Prince William and in Fairfax the past two nights, respectively.

After building toll lanes on the Beltway, and opening new toll lanes last month on I-95, VDOT has learned a thing or two about holding these public meetings. Display boards were set up in a large room, transportation experts posted around the room, and a court reporter made available to anyone who wanted to confess their concerns.

New commuter lots will spur slugging, officials hope

As to how the road will be built, the early favored design appears to be adding two new lanes in each direction with the lanes in the center of the highway, much like the E-ZPass Express Lanes are on the Beltway. The early favored plan also calls for the addition of new park and ride lots that would be served by a new bus rapid transit system in Prince William and Fairfax counties.

The new lots, officials hope, will spur slugging – a free, user-organized carpooling system in use on I-95 and 395 since the 1970s, and never yet implemented on I-66. Options to expand Virginia Railway Express or Metro along the corridor as part of this project don’t seem likely.

“For those asking ‘why not Metro,’ we’re not saying ‘no’ to Metro. We’re saying ‘not today,” said Hamilton.

In traffic congestion hot spots on I-66 in Fairfax County between Routes 29 and 50, a fourth auxiliary lane will be added as part of the project to allow drivers more room to merge on and off the highway.’

Land sits in the way

VDOT must take property to make this new vision for I-66 a reality. Segment one of the project between U.S. 15 in Haymarket and Route 28 in Centreville has 430 parcels of land standing in the way of development. Segment two between Routes 28 and 50 has 108, and segment three between Route 50 and the Beltway has 750 homes. About 70 families could be displaced.

The private firm, Australia-based Transurban was hired to build and maintain the E-ZPass Express Lanes on the Capital Beltway and I-95. The company also maintains the Pochohantas Parkway in Richmond.

State officials guarantee this highway expansion, like the previous two in Northern Virginia, will be a public-private partnership – a contract that will be awarded to a company that completes the state’s bidding process. Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board will meet Jan. 18 to discuss what they want in a qualified bidder for the project, and a request for proposals should go out sometime this summer.

Construction of the new lanes is slated to begin as early as 2017. The new lanes will not open before 2021.

Wintry mix possible this afternoon, tonight

A winter weather advisory is not in effect for Prince William County, as well Fairfax County . There could be some rain mixing with some sleet for commuters on their drive home from work.

Here’s what the National Weather Service says about our chances for wintry precipitation this afternoon and into tonight:

* PRECIPITATION TYPE...SNOW...SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN.

* ACCUMULATIONS...SNOW AND SLEET ACCUMULATION LESS THAN ONE INCH.
  ICE ACCUMULATION FROM A TRACE TO A FEW HUNDREDTHS OF AN INCH.

* TIMING...THIS AFTERNOON AND EARLY EVENING. THE BEST CHANCE FOR
  FREEZING RAIN WILL BE BETWEEN 2 PM AND 5 PM.

* TEMPERATURES...IN THE LOWER 30S.

* WINDS...SOUTH 5 TO 10 MPH WITH GUSTS AROUND 15 MPH.

* IMPACTS...UNTREATED ROADS AND SIDEWALKS WILL BECOME ICY.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY MEANS THAT PERIODS OF SNOW...SLEET...OR
FREEZING RAIN WILL CAUSE TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. BE PREPARED FOR
SLIPPERY ROADS AND LIMITED VISIBILITIES...AND USE CAUTION WHILE
DRIVING.

As mentioned in the weather statement, temperatures will determine how much of any wintry mix we see tonight. 

A word from our local sponsors

Come see the Capitol Steps at Hylton Arts Center & help Cecily replace the asbestos-laden siding on her home

When Cecily was in her 20’s she immigrated to the U.S. from Nicaragua. Taking a job at Home Depot in Keep Reading...
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