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Brush fire extinguished in Stafford shopping center

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A small brush fire endangered some structures in the North Stafford Plaza shopping center at around 3:15 p.m., today. According to initial reports, someone at Alliance Physical Therapy called the Stafford County Fire and Rescue Department. Fire fighters discovered some mulch burning. It took only minutes to extinguish the fire.

The shopping center is located on Garrisonville Road near Doc Stone Road. It hosts Aldi, Power Kix Martial Arts, Kobe Japanese Steakhouse, Cardinal Bank, Tony’s Deli & Pizza, Dollar General and more. A Mission BBQ is currently being built in the center.

The cause of the fire is unknown as of press time.

Woodbridge man wanted following assault on young woman

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On the evening of May 1, Prince William police responded to a call about an assault that was reported at an apartment on East Longview Drive in Woodbridge.

According to Prince William police, the victim – an 18-year old Burke woman – told officers that she and the suspect – 20-year old Taylor Aaron Sickmen – were involved in an argument.

During the incident, Sickmen forced the victim into a vehicle and proceeded to assault her, said a Prince William police release. The incident continued to escalate in the residence, where reportedly Sickmen held the victim against her will and continued to assault her, said Prince William police.

Minor injuries were reported.

Prince William police’s investigation showed that when the incident moved outdoors, a witness was able to intervene and stop the assault, at which time Sickmen fled the scene on foot.

Warrants have been issued for his arrest, and officers are attempting to locate Sickmen.

Sickmen is described as a white male, 5’10”, 150 pounds with brown hair, blue eyes, a goatee and tattoos. He is wanted for abduction and assault and battery, said Prince William police.

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“Toby Keith’s” Woodbridge plays final note

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Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill opened back in 2013.
The bar and grill closed it's doors for the last time on Saturday.
The site has a handwritten closed sign on the door.

On Saturday, the Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill closed its doors for good at their Woodbridge location at the Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center shopping area.

The bar and grill had been open for less than two-years, following delayed construction of the site, leading up to its opening in 2013.

Both the location’s website and Facebook page were removed this weekend.

According to Alicia Gerald, a Woodbridge resident, the closing of the bar and grill came as somewhat of a surprise.

“It was the only place around here for mid to young adults…I guess there wasn’t enough people that wanted to actually go there…I feel like it sucks, because I’m not going to have anywhere to go on Saturdays with my friends in Woodbridge,” Gerald said.

Gerald stated that while she enjoyed the entertainment there, she didn’t enjoy the location’s food and service.

“The atmosphere in there was nice. I never ate the food, because I heard mixed reviews…and the waitresses and servers…they weren’t the best…Woodbridge isn’t a big place and this was the only happening thing to do where you could dance, but it was way too large,” commented Gerald.

For Kyran Wallenhorst, a manager at the nearby Soma Intimates location, it was a relief to see that the restaurant had closed down.

“On Saturday I walked by [the restaurant] and there was this big handwritten ‘closed’ sign…I don’t think anyone was that excited about [the location]. It was always loud – there were people always outside. It made me nervous for my own employees when they left at 10 o’clock at night. We’re an all-girl staff – so we started having everybody park together, everybody walk out together,” said Wallenhorst.

Manassas area thrift store struggles following slew of discount chains

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The store employs individuals with disabilities.
The store sells second-hand goods including clothing and home furnishings.
Community Thrift was opened back in 1999.
Due to large discount chains, they're seeing a decrease in their donations.
The store is managed by the disabilities non-profit ServiceSource.

Community Thrift, a locally owned and operated thrift store on Sudley Road in Manassas, is struggling to compete with larger discount retailers in the area.

According to Leslie Morris, manager of the store, the amount of donations has decreased in recent months, as discount chains like Goodwill and Salvation Army have popped up in Manassas.

The Community Thrift store is unique in that its staff is primarily made up of members of the disabled community in the county. The store opened its doors as a non-profit back in 1999, according to Teresa Guzik, Media Relations Specialist for ServiceSource.

Job opportunities for the disabled

ServiceSource – a non-profit disability organization – manages the operation of the store, said Guzik.

“[ServiceSource] serves more than 16,000 individuals with disabilities annually through a range of innovative and valued employment, training, habilitation, housing and other support services,” commented Guzik.

Individuals working in the store expressed their concern about the future of the store – and their jobs – due to the decline in donated goods.

“People treat other people [here] like family…I am still a little bit worried about the [donations] going down. This program and the store is here to help needy people,” said Ashley Hatton, who has been an employee for 8-years.

“I like working here. I like the people. I want to try something new [to get more donations],” said Jennifer Gifford, an employee that has been with the store for 9-years.

Family and friend’s thoughts on Community Thrift

Morris stated that community businesses that support causes like the disabled in the area were worth supporting.

“I took the position here as manager of the store because it had such a warm feeling. I’ve been in this industry for a long time, and I gravitated towards this specific store because of its charity work – working with people with disabilities. I originally thought it was going to be a very challenging experience, but it’s turned out to be a very rewarding experience,” Morris said.

For parents with disabled individuals, the store has also been a positive experience.

“The Community Thrift Store has been a godsend to our daughter. The store has provided our daughter with a sense of purpose and feeling of accomplishment…there are too few opportunities for those with special needs in our community where they can be contributing members to the community. It’s continued success relies on the support and contributions of all our neighbors. Without them, this establishment and those that it directly supports would become even more dependent on government assistance programs,” said Jane Hatton, a parent of one of the employees.

All donations made to the Community Thrift store are tax-deductible, and can be dropped off anytime during store hours.

Panel meets to tackle role of Virginia ABC law enforcement

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Virginia leaders today will review the state’s Alcohol Beverage Control authority law enforcement powers and procedures.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe formed a 19-member panel that is scheduled to meet for the first time today to discuss ABC’s law enforcement efforts following the arrest of 20-year-old Martese Johnson outside a Charlottesville bar. A photo of Johnson’s bloodied face was shared extensively on social media. He was arrested and charged with public intoxication and obstruction of justice by ABC law enforcement officers.

“We were going to be doing a lot of these changes anyway, before the whole Charlottesville thing,” said David Albo, who serves Fairfax residents in the Virginia House of Delegates, and of Albo & Oblon Attorneys at Law.

Albo was picked to serve on the review board but was unable to make it for the first meeting because he was due in court. The legislator has been active in the restructuring process of ABC that began this year.

Legislators changed ABC from a government agency to an authority that changes rules for how ABC procures goods and services. The changes also outline increased qualifications for ABC Board of Directors members and its chief operating officer, said Albo.

Instead of patrolling streets and making arrests for underage drinking, Albo said he wants ABC law enforcement officers to tackle more administrative enforcement, such as making sure establishments that serve alcohol are compliant with the law.

Kurt Erickson, of the Washington Regional Alcohol Program — the agency that coordinates the taxi car Sober Ride program during Christmas and New Year’s holidays — was also selected to be on the panel. It meets from 2 to 5 p.m. in Richmond.

Stafford leaders must approve Widewater Beach party

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The “Annual Creek Party” at Widewater Beach is scheduled for June 27.

But first, the Stafford County Board of Supervisors must approve a permit to allow the party to take place in the river community.

There will be live music, a food truck, and games for families and neighbors. The party is a celebration of birthdays for the Curry family who lives at 111 Woodrow Road on Aquia Creek.

The event is a private festival open to friends of the Curry family. Due to the nature the party, a loudspeaker permit was issued by the county’s sheriff’s office so the party could take place.

Live music will begin at 2 p.m. and end at 10 p.m., according to the permit. According to county documents, the Curry family told Stafford officials guests at the festival will not be able to stay at their home but could find suitable lodging at hotels on Route 610 in North Stafford.

Alcoholic beverages will be permitted at the festival but will not be sold, according to county documents. The Curry family has held the festival at their home in the Widewater beach area of the county for the past 10 years. The Board of Supervisors will vote to approve or deny the application for the party on Tuesday.

Stafford’s Widewater peninsula, with Aquia Creek to the west and the Potomac River to the east — is the site of one of Virginia’s newest state parks – Widewater State Park. Widewater became a state park in 2006 but has yet to be developed.

Camp grounds, a boat launch, picnic areas, and hiking are all planned for Widewater State Park.  When built, it will join Leesylvania and Mason Neck state parks that also sit along the Potomac River.

Merrick wants to address development, public safety in Woodbridge supervisor run

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Antonio Merrick, an Army veteran, has announced his run as the Independent candidate for Woodbridge District Supervisor.

Supervisor Frank Principi is the incumbent, and will be seeking reelection as the Democratic candidate. Steve Chapman will be running as the Republican candidate in the three-way race.

After serving in the United States Army, Merrick worked as a veteran’s disability representative for the National Headquarters of the American Legion in Washington, D.C. He obtained his Master’s from Central Michigan University in Administration Leadership.

In the community, Merrick has worked as a representative from the Virginia Employment Commission, a human resource task force member for the Northern Virginia Technology Council, secretary for the Prince William Veteran’s Council, Woodbridge vice chairman of the Prince William Republican Committee served as a member of the Woodbridge magisterial district and a member of the Prince William Committee of 100.

During his campaign, Merrick would like to address county spending practices, over development in Woodbridge, and public safety.

“I intimately relate to the current experiences, expectations and realties of all the residents of Woodbridge. If elected, I will bring new and fresh ideas that would greatly enhance the quality of life for all the residence. In addition, I am confident I could create consensus on the Board of Supervisors that will not only benefit the residence of Woodbridge, but benefit Prince William County as a whole,” said Merrick.

Merrick lives in Woodbridge with his wife and two daughters.

 

Need a VRE ticket? Tap the app

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121212 VRE

You’ll soon be able to tap your phone to purchase a Virginia Railway Express ticket.

The commuter railroad on May 15 will roll out its first-ever mobile ticketing system. Riders will be able to purchase any VRE ticket – single ride, two ride, five-day pass, monthly ticket, Amtrak Step-Up ticket – with the push of a button on their mobile device.

“We’re working on a way for people to avoid ticketing and vending machines, and to makes rides easier for our customers,” said VRE spokesman Brian Jungwirth.

Riders will also be able to use transit benefits with the new mobile service.

Users must download an app to their phone that will allow them to use a credit card to buy their tickets. When it’s time to validate the ticket, a train conductor will ask to be shown riders’ cell phone screens, where the ticket will be displayed. Jungwirth said the screen would have an animated background and a QR code, so conductors know the difference between an actual mobile ticket and a computer screenshot counterfeit version.

Mobile ticketing has been in the works for years at VRE. A request for proposals to vendors who could deliver the service went out in 2013. In September of that same year, VRE awarded a $3.2 million contract to Portland, Ore.-based Globe Sherpa to deliver the ticketing system.

A similar mobile ticketing system is being used at TriMet, a public transit system in the Portland area, according to VRE meeting minutes from September 2013.

VRE users were excited about the prospect of mobile ticketing. More than 600 users signed up to beta test the new system in the first hour after VRE made a request for testers, Jungwirth said.

Moblie tickets will not replace paper tickets, according to VRE documents. 

Call to Action: Sign up for local emergency alerts

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Good morning – with tornado season upon us I thought I would remind everyone to sign-up for their local alert network to receive severe weather notifications. In Prince William County, go to pwcgov.org/pwcan and in Manassas go to manassascity.org/alert, and in Manassas Park visit cityofmanassaspark.us and scroll to the bottom right or the page and click on the sign-up icon. The American Red Cross has excellent apps for your cell phone as well. Stay safe out there!

· Learn more about your community! Join Volunteer Prince William and a host of other organizations Saturday May 9th during the Community Expo at Pftizner Stadium from 9am-3pm.

· 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

· The Alzheimer’s Association is looking for volunteers to assist with our community outreach and awareness efforts. They need volunteers for several upcoming events. Please contact Sony for additional information: samartey@alz.org or 703-766-9025.

· Brain Injury Services is looking for volunteers to be matched in one to one friendships with survivors of brain injury. Experience is not necessary only your interest. Please call Michelle at (703) 451-8881 ext.232 to learn more.

· BARN is in need of more raffle baskets for their upcoming golf tournament fundraiser named in honor of Senator Colgan. This is a great way for a business, group, or individual to help homeless women and children. Call Tammy at 703-369-1325. Keep Reading…

Occoquan Art on the Block comes May 9

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Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 2.41.32 PMOccoquan’s annual Art on the Block celebration will be taking place on Saturday, May 9 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Residents will be able to meet with local artists, view art demonstrations along the streets of Occoquan, and take part in a raffle to win a wildlife river tour by Rivershore Charters.

Many Occoquan businesses will be taking part, including Art a la Carte, the Artist’s Undertaking Gallery, Red Art & Design, Spiral Creations and The Loft Art Center.

 

 

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