Students must decide by Dec. 1 if they want to attend Colgan High School next fall

(Photo: Prince William County Public Schools)

Some students who now attend Brentsville, Forest Park, Hylton, and Osbourn Park high schools must decide if they want to stay at their schools, or attend the new Colgan High School opening next year.

For affected students, Colgan High School will become their “base” school because they live within the boundaries of the new school. 

Students must make their decision and notify Prince William County Public Schools by December 1. 

Here’s more in a press release: 

Facing December 1 deadline: 

Current HS sophomores living inside the Colgan boundaries have a one-time choice of whether to accept their boundary-based assignment to Colgan as their new “base school,” or stay with their current “base school.”

• Indicate the “base school” decision by turning in the signed bottom portion of the “decision letter” to the student’s current PWCS high school before its office closes for the day on December 1. No further action is needed if the form was already submitted. Decision letters were sent to eligible students in October.

Print a decision form for submission if the original letter is unavailable.

• All students may apply for admission to PWCS Specialty Programs regardless of their “base school” decision. Specialty Program admission is subject to separate PWCS regulations.

Not Facing December 1 deadline:

Current freshmen living inside the Colgan boundaries do not have a “base school” decision to make. Except for the sophomores identified above, all base school assignments are determined by enrollment boundaries and are not subject to choice.

• Previous letters to freshmen were intended only to confirm their boundarybased assignment and specialty program options.

• All students may apply for admission to Specialty Programs subject to PWCS regulations.

• Acceptance in a Specialty Program does not change the “base school” designations.

Colgan High School is located on Route 234 near Hoadly Road and includes the county’s first aquatics facility to be built inside a county school.

Treat and release: What Dominion wants to do with toxic water at Possum Point


The Possum Point Power Station opened in 1948 as a coal-burning facility, generating electricity for the region.

Coal, when burnt, leaves behind coal ash — a fine powdery, toxic substance. That ash was placed in five ash ponds surrounding the power plant.

Dominion Virginia Power owns and operates Possum Point Power Stations on the banks of the Potomac River outside Dumfries, but it hasn’t burnt coal since 2003. It now uses natural gas and oil to generate electricity.

The plant is in the process of capping those ash ponds. Water from a final pond will treated and drained into the Quantico Creek and then will flow into the Potomac River. Only two of the five coal ash ponds remain — three have been dry since the 1960s.

A 2013 permit allowed Dominion to dig up coal ash from the three old dry ponds and move it to the largest of the five ponds on the site, D-Pond. Some coal ash from E Pond was also moved to D-Pond, as allowed by the permit.

The coal ash movement took place between June and Octobert of this year. Now, Dominion wants to treat the water in D-Pond, scrub it of deadly toxins contained in the ash, and release the water into Quantico Creek where it will flow into the Potomac River.

The utility behemoth will need a permit to do so, and Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality is now taking public comments about Dominion’s request to treat the ash water and eventually flow it — about 2.53 million gallons of water per day — into the river. If approved, DEQ will add an amendment to Dominion’s 2013 permit that allows it to move the coal ash.

If all goes to plan, water in the ponds will be treated and drained, and the ponds “capped” and closed, and filled with dirt.

“Once the final permit conditions are finalized, a waste water treatment system will be selected. The discharge will be routed through the treatment system prior to discharge. DEQ will develop limits for specific constituents that are associated with discharges. These limits are developed using conservative EPA and DEQ procedures that will ensure that the receiving stream and human health are protected. Monitoring of the discharges will occur to ensure that these limits are met,” said Dominion spokesman Dan Genest.

Virginia’s Water Control Board will meet Jan. 14, 2016 to decide whether or not to allow Dominion to drain the water. The change would amend a permit issued in 2013 that allowed Dominion to consolidate ash from all five ponds into one, and then drain treated water from the final pond into the Potomac River.

Written public comments are being accepted by Virginia DEQ until December 14. A public hearing at the DEQ Northern Virginia Regional Office, located at 13901 Crown Court in Woodbridge, will be held at 6 p.m. December 8.

How the coal ash is being moved

Coal ash is grey and dark. It turns to sludge when placed into a ash pond, said Bryant Thomas, with the Virginia DEQ Northern Virginia Regional Office.

There are five ponds at the Possum Point site. All of them are identified by letter: A, B, C, D, and E.

Ponds A, B, and C haven’t been used since the mid-1960s. Coal ash was buried in the ponds, and then dirt was used to cover, or cap the ponds. Trees and bushes now grow on the land, and power lines were strung overhead.

Between June and mid-October, crews at Possum Point have been digging up dirt and coal ash from ponds A through C and moving the ash into Pond D — the largest of two remaining ash ponds at the site. Some ash from Pond E — located next to Pond D, and easily seen from Possum Point Road — is being moved into Pond D.

A 2013 permit allows Dominion to consolidate the coal ash into one pond. The ash is toxic, and chemicals contained in the ash have been linked to causing cancer, neurological disease, respiratory illness, and organ disease. 

Treating the water

Waters from ponds D and E is largely contained by earthen berms. Some water from the ponds drains into Quantico Creek from two small toe drains or outfalls.

The water and sediment from around the toe drains are consistently monitored by DEQ, said Thomas. The sediment in the water contains elevated levels of copper, nickel, and zinc. However, elevated levels of those elements are not detected in the water.

“A domino effect is possible, where the detected elements in sediment could affect the water column, but we’re just not seeing that,” said Thomas.

Dominion says it has the experience to do the job correctly.

“We have benchmarked with other companies that are closing ash ponds and are applying best practices. Firms to complete the work were evaluated and a firm selected based on experience and performance in conducting similar work. We have project oversight to ensure the project is completed in compliance, focusing on safety and according to the design,” said Genest.

DEQ is now taking public comments on defines appropriate levels of metals are allowed in the waters of Quantico Creek and the Potomac River near Possum Point. DEQ would require Dominion to test regularly the waters for as long as it deems necessary, and then report their findings to the state.

Such self-reporting requirements are common in cases like these as Dominion could rack up several penalties that could lead to major fines if incorrect information on water contaminants is given to state authorities, said Thomas.

A large “Brita like” filter would be used to treat the water that would eventually flow into the creek.

“It could take months to drain,” added Thomas.

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Coats for Syrian and Iraqi refugees collected at Dumfries Town Hall

043012 Dumfries Town Hall

You can drop off of a coat to Dumfries to help refugees from Syria and Iraq. 

Here’s more in a press release from Dumfries Mayor Jerry Foreman: 

Northern Virginia elected officials, religious groups and aid organizations have partnered for a blanket and coat drive aimed at assisting Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Turkey.

Coordinated through the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, the drive accepts new or lightly-used blankets & coats as well as monetary donations that can be dropped off at Dumfries Town Hall until December 4.

Stop by Dumfries Town Hall and drop off your blanket(s). Staff will put it in the Mayor’s office. Last year we collected over 200 blankets.

Turkey is home to more than four million refugees who have fled from Syria and Iraq to escape war and violence caused by ISIL.

Trump will rally voters in Manassas


Donald Trump will rally the vote in Manassas on Wednesday.

The Republican will come to the Prince William County Fairgrounds at 7 p.m. to tell voters why he should be elected the next U.S. President.

The gates to the fairground will open at 5 p.m. Attendees should plan to arrive early, and parking at the event will be free.

Trump is the second presidential candidate to rally at the Prince William County Fairgrounds for the 2016 Election. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders rallied at the fairgrounds in September.

“All of the presidential candidates’ visits here in Prince William County show that they recognize the political importance of Prince William County as not only a bellwether County for Virginia but also for the national race for the Presidency. The road to the White House runs through Prince William County,” said Prince William County Republican Committe Chairman Bill Card. “For more than a decade now, this electoral track record has proven to be true. I’m confident that we’ll see many more candidates come through Prince William between now and Election Day.” -Bill Card, Chairman, Prince William County Republican Committee

Trump is coming out of a November that saw hin host Saturday Night Live and debate his fellow Republicans at a GOP debate in Milwaukee. Trump continues to have high name recognition, but a Gallup Poll showed he has a higher than average unfavorability rating among fellow Republicans.

Occoquan River Communities to celebrate ‘WinterFest’ December 12

The River Walk Shops in Occoquan are dressed for the season. (Mary Davidson/

A full-day Christmastime festival will take place near and along the Occoquan River. 

Here are the details from Occoquan River Communities

Communities along both sides of the Occoquan river are collaborating to present WinterFest – a festival of winter fun in Lake Ridge, Lorton, Occoquan and Woodbridge on December 12.

The day-long series of events kicks off at 11 a.m. with a “Rock & Roll Christmas” parade, featuring Santa arriving via firetruck.

The parade begins at the corner of Minnieville and Harbor Drive, continuing along Harbor Drive to Tackett’s Mill, where a Holiday Art Market will be open from noon until 4 p.m.

From 4 to 7 p.m., festivities move to Historic Occoquan and the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, where there will be evening shopping, fire pits, marshmallow roasting, carolers and more.

The Workhouse will host its monthly Second Saturday Art Walk that evening. All venues will feature free hot chocolate.

Visitors are also invited to visit the Prince William Marina which will host its annual holiday boat decorating contest and where donations of toys or food may be made to the Un-Trim-A-Tree program.

Free transportation between the town of Occoquan, the Workhouse Arts Center and the Marina will be provided courtesy of the Occoquan Transportation Company.

The evening’s grand finale will feature a festive display of fireworks dedicated to all active military service members, sponsored by Prince William Marina.

For the best views, visitors may park for free at the Occoquan Regional Park or watch from along the river in Historic Occoquan.

WinterFest is a collaboration of several communities and organizations, including Tackett’s Mill, Lake Ridge Rotary, Santa’s Old Bridge Parade, Inc., the Town of Occoquan, Workhouse Arts Center, Occoquan Regional Park and Prince William Marina. Organization and promotional support is provided by Occoquan River Communities – a not-for profit, grass roots organization, whose mission is to create a preferred destination along the Occoquan River and to foster responsible development, promotion, and stewardship of the Occoquan Watershed.

For details of the WinterFest schedule of events, go to

Call to Action: Children in need of healthy sack lunches


Good morning  – The Un Trim A Tree Holiday Gift Program needs your help- Come share the joy of the season with a child.  We provide the child’s name, age and their 2 wishes from Santa. This promises to put you in the spirit!  I still have over 1200 children needing toys and warm clothes.  Please visit our website at: for more info and fill out a donor form.  I can provide all the info on the child right away.  You can be shopping tomorrow!

• The Manassas Christmas Parade still needs a few volunteers to help out along the parade route in Old Town Manassas on Saturday December 5th. This is tons of fun. Please email Nora at: for more info.

• Contract Solutions is looking for groups of volunteers especially youth groups to assemble bags of needed essentials for individuals staying at the Woodbridge homeless shelter. This is the perfect off-site project! Lunch size bags should be filled with new socks, snacks, candy bars and personal toiletry items. The folks at Contract Solutions deliver these Hope in a Bag every other week from now through March. It’s an on-going project of simple joy to our neighbors. Please call Carole at (703) 686-4846 for more info or via email at: • SERVE is looking for 3 groups who can make 80 sack lunches for a Nutrition Education Outreach for children on December 5th. The sack lunches need to be assembled and delivered to SERVE on December 4th. Groups provide the food, lunch bags, sandwich bags and napkins. Come be part of the solution of teaching our kids good eating habits. Please email Jan at: jhawkins@nvfs,org for more info.

• NBC 4 is looking for volunteers at their next community shredding event on Saturday December 12th at the Manassas NVCC Campus from 7am-12 noon. Volunteers age 14+ are most welcome. Please register with Claudia at: or give her a call at (571) 285-3772 to learn more.

• The Salvation Army is looking for volunteers to ring the bells at Red Kettles at area Walmart, Giant and Safeway stores between now and Christmas Eve. This program helps people throughout the year. Please call Katie at (703) 618-0511 to learn more.

• Meal on Wheels is looking for a volunteer to coordinate the service to the Gainesville/Haymarket area. Duties include picking up the meals at the Manassas Senior Center and delivering them to the warming station in Gainesville so other volunteers can deliver them to the seniors in the area. There has been a tremendous increase of seniors in the Gainesville area needing nice warm lunchtime meal and this volunteer opportunity sounds like a wonderful solution. Please call Melodee at (703) 792-4583 to learn more.

• The Novant Health Foundation is looking for volunteers to serve on their Gala Committee. Duties include securing donations for the auction at their Annual Gala onFebruary 27, 2016. This is a big event that helps tons of people in our community. Please call Abby at (703) 369-8201 to learn more • Historic Manassas needs volunteers at the Visitor Center during traditional business hours. This is fun place with people from all over the world stopping in to gather historical information on our community. Please call Erin at (703) 361-6599 for more info.

• The VETS Program of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program is looking for volunteer’s age 55+ to drive veterans and/or their spouses to their doctors’ appointments. Most of these appointments are local. They do have one client needing a ride from Manassas to Landsdown on December 8th. Please call Coleen at (571) 292-5307 to learn more about these vets and how you can give them the ride they need.

• Habitat for Humanity needs volunteers to get the brand new ReStore ready to go as well as the current location. Tasks include getting donations on the floor- especially all the holiday decorations. Please visit their website at: for all the specifics and to register for any of these fun events or email Tammy

• Nominate your volunteers! The 2016 Virginia Governor’s Volunteerism & Community Service Awards Program is open for you to nominate your wonderful volunteers. It’s really easy to do right on-line at: The deadline for nominations is December 16, 2015 so you have a little time but don’t forget to do it.

• 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 Thanks so much for all you do in our community.

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

Quantico gets first new police cruiser since 1995

quantico cruiser

The Town of Quantico Police Department has its first new police vehicle in 20 years.

Here’s more in a press release written by Town of Quantico Mayor David Brown:  

On 20 Oct 2015 the Town of Quantico received a new police cruiser purchased with grant funding received from the Office of the Attorney General’s Asset Forfeiture Transfer Program.

The new cruiser is a 2016 Ford Explorer outfitted with industry standard law enforcement equipment and is the first new police cruiser purchased by the town since 1995.

The town has been working with the Office of the Attorney General since February 2014 to ensure the town would benefit from the available grant funding.

I would like to thank Chief John Clair for his efforts in identifying this grant opportunity and submitting the grant application which resulted in this new vehicle.

I would also like to thank Mr. Mark Fero from the Office of the Attorney General who assisted the chief throughout the process.

The addition of this new police cruiser is a  big win for the Town of Quantico and our police department.

This new police cruiser not only provides a more reliable vehicle for our officers but also improves officer safety and helps to promote a more professional image for the Quantico Police Department.

It also fits into the town’s plans to increase its emergency and disaster preparedness posture by providing new capabilities such as a 9,000 pound winch and an on-board power converter.

On behalf of the town council and the residents of the Town of Quantico, I would like to thank the Office of the Attorney General for approving our grant application.

Receiving this grant will allow the town to keep the majority of its police department funding focused on keeping officers on the streets and keeping Quantico safe.

It is the town’s understanding that the funding for the grant resulted from a Medicaid fraud settlement during Ken Cuccinelli’s term as AG of Virginia.

The vehicle was purchased from Sheehy Auto Sales, Municipal Sales & Service Center of North Chesterfield, VA for $40,333.00.

The town also celebrated another milestone this year. The town’s streets were paved for the first time in 30 years.

Virginia Railway Express adds new train to Fredericksburg line


Fredericksburg line riders who Virginia Railway Express will see a new train starting Monday.

Virginia’s only commuter railroad added a new morning and afternoon train following the opening of the system’s Spotsylvania station last week. The new morning 304 train leaves Spotsylvania station bound for Washington’s Union Station at 5:23 a.m. The new afternoon 303 train leaves Union Station at 3:10 p.m.

The trains will operate Monday through Friday, like other VRE trains.

Here’s more in a press release:

Starting Monday, November 30, 2015, the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) is adding a new round trip train to its Fredericksburg Line. Schedule changes will be made to all Fredericksburg and Manassas line trains to accommodate the increase in service.

“Our Fredericksburg Line riders have been requesting more commuter rail service for a long time and we’re pleased to deliver greater flexibility and travel choices in the I-95 corridor. The opening of our new station in Spotsylvania County and near completion of a third railroad track between our Crossroads Yard facility and Mine Road have allowed us to provide the new train,” said Doug Allen, VRE Chief Executive Officer.

The new round trip Fredericksburg Line train provides an additional early morning and afternoon opportunity for travel between Spotsylvania and Washington D.C.’s Union Station. The new

VRE schedules are being implemented in partnership with Amtrak, CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway.

3 ways to give local, taste local at Manassas Olive Oil Company this holiday season


Manassas Olive Oil wants you to give and taste local this year.

The shop in Historic Downtown Manassas has three unique gift items that are perfect for family, friends, and clients.

The first unique gift we offer are variety packs. They come with three paired olive oils and balsamic vinegars” said Cameron Thomson, manager at Manassas Olive Oil Company. “These are a great way to introduce people to good olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It gives you a nice variety of flavors as well as some of our more popular items.”

Because Manassas Olive Oil Company has so many options to choose from, they’re also a perfect gift for guests who are a little unsure of what to get their loved ones.

Manassas Olive Oil Company offers two variety packs: their Italian Collection and Manassas Collection. Included in the Italian Collection are Traditional Balsamic Vinegar, Sicilian Lemon Balsamic Vinegar, Fig Balsamic Vinegar, Garlic Infused Olive Oil, Basil Infused Olive Oil, and Tuscan Herb Infused Olive Oil.

In the Manassas Collection contains the Thomson family’s favorites and includes Traditional Balsamic Vinegar, Cranberry Pear Balsamic Vinegar, Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar, Leccino Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Blood Orange Fused Olive Oil, and Tuscan Herb Infused Olive Oil.

Gift baskets at Manassas Olive Oil come in two different sizes
Manassas Olive Oil Company offers two variety packs.
Manassas Olive Oil carries a variety of one and two bottle gift bags.
The Manassas Collection has the Thomson family’s favorites and includes Traditional Balsamic Vinegar, Cranberry Pear Balsamic Vinegar, Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar, Leccino Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Blood Orange Fused Olive Oil, and Tuscan Herb Infused Olive Oil.

Variety packs are also customizable per your personal preference. Each box is also uniquely packaged in a beautiful box, which are durable and hold up great during shipping. Variety packs are available for just $36.95.

Gift baskets at Manassas Olive Oil come in two different sizes. The largest pre-made gift basket comes with four bottles, two spouts, a dipping dish, and a sea salt.

It includes Traditional Balsamic Vinegar, Tuscan Herb Infused Olive Oil, Garlic Infused Olive Oil, and Fig Balsamic Vinegar. The smaller gift basket comes with two bottles, two pour spouts, and a dipping dish.

”Gift baskets are a great way to introduce people to olive oils balsamic vinegars because they feature our best-selling products, so they are definitely something people will love and use, said Thomson. .

You can also purchase gift baskets with different themes, such as winter, solid colors, and more colorful ones. These gift baskets are perfect for the holidays but are also a great gift all year round.

If you’re a business owner or a sales agent, gift baskets are great gifts to give to loyal clients.

Cameron said, “Since it’s the time of the year for rewarding clients, right now we have an order for several gift baskets from a company, so it’s proved to be another nice way to say thank you to anyone.”

The large gift baskets retail for $96 and the smaller gift baskets for $56. Manassas Olive Oil Company will customize gift baskets to suit your needs.

Customers can request to have products added, removed, or substituted in order to create something personal. They can even customize the type of basket and bows, And if the customer is wants a basket, but is unsure of what to add, the knowledgeable staff at Manassas Olive Oil will help.

“The third gift option is buying our products off-the-shelf,” said Cameron. “When purchasing, we wrap the bottles in colorful paper, but if our guest would like a different presentation, we carry a variety of one and two bottle gift bags in different themes.”

Manassas Olive Oil receives its bags from a company that specializes in wine packaging, so they are a better fit for the bottles that it carries.

“Olive oil and balsamic vinegar are gourmet products, which make wonderful gifts. Everyone loves to eat, so surprise your host, friends, and family with the gift of taste,” stated Thomson.

Fire crews called to Dale City home

Dale City Volunteer Fire Department (Boulevard's Bravest) 2

Fire and rescue crews were called to a home in Dale City on Tuesday. They said the fire started after a man was working to repair his vehicle. 

Here’s more in a press release: 

On Tuesday, November 24th, at approximately 12 noon, fire and rescue crews were dispatched to a structure fire in a single-family home located in the 13500 block of Princedale Drive in Woodbridge.

Upon arrival, fire and rescue units observed two vehicles in the driveway on fire that had extended to the home.

Firefighters commenced suppression and extinguishment of the fire while checking for further extension into the home; although no further extension was found, a light smoke/haze permeated throughout the home in which firefighters commenced ventilation to clear the smoke.

No injuries reported. Preliminary damages estimated at $29,000.

The origin and cause of the fire was a vehicle in the driveway and has been determined accidental.

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