Millennials should support Ruth Anderson this November


Prince William County is made up of close to half a million people.

Millennials (people born between 1980-2000) make up 23% of that population, though at the polls in an election year you wouldn’t know we existed. In a Presidential year, we are underrepresented, and in an off-year state and local election like this one, we might as well not exist.

So, I am writing to every 18 to 35-yearold living in the Occoquan District. Whether you went to Osbourn Park, Woodbridge, or Gar-Field Senior High School, whether you went away for college or went to NOVA, or whether you are a transplant to the area, I encourage you to check out Ruth Anderson to be our Supervisor who will work hard to represent us in local government matters.

Over 60% of millennials are not affiliated with a political party. They base their judgments on a candidates ideas.

As a long-time resident of Occoquan, Ruth is a candidate with a great platform and ideas that will benefit us (the Millennials), as well as the rest of the residents of our area. She is the only candidate I have heard talk about ways to keep Millennials in Prince William instead of having us move elsewhere. She wants to “bring Prince William home.” That’s her campaign theme and her driving message, something she learned from numerous communities she’s lived in while moving around the country during a 21-year military career.

Ruth wants to bring more “living wage” jobs to Prince William County so people can actually work where they live, spend less time commuting, and spend more time with their families. I know so many young professionals who spend so much of their time making that hike to their place of employment that will actually pay the bills, including that student loan.

She is going to do this by advocating for the phase-out of the Business, Professions, Occupations License (BPOL) tax. She’ll also push for a balanced mix of commercial and residential properties so businesses have space to set up shop. She also wants to set aside “enterprise zones” to be hubs for millennial entrepreneurs.

With Ruth’s emphasis on encouraging more living wage jobs in Prince William County, Millennials will benefit in so many ways. It will take some of the tax burden off the backs of residents and put it on businesses. She also wants to make core government services (police, schools, firefighters) stateoftheart enterprises that will be supported by the new businesses (which will also keep professionals and Millennials in Prince William County).

I challenge every Millennial (and anyone who reads this article for that matter) to take out their cell phone and look up Ruth Anderson, right now, on her website, Facebook, or Twitter. Make a decision on who you want to work hard for your local community, right here in Occoquan. This Millennial wants someone who is going to implement policies that will encourage and support my desire for a better work/life balance.

That candidate is Ruth Anderson and I will be voting for her on November 3.

Jacob Mosser is a lifelong resident of Prince William County and works as a substitute teacher in Prince William County.

King: We continue to underpay our teachers and they are forced to go elsewhere


Josh L. King is running for the Virginia House of Delegates 2nd District seat. 

The seat is currently held by Micheal Futurell who opted not to run for reelection to the seat.

King faces Republican Mark Dudenhefer, who held the seat from 2011 to 2o13.

Potomac Local sent a questionnaire to King and he sent us the responses below: 

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PL: What are the top three major issues facing the district you wish to represent?

King: 1. Education- I am running because my daughter and six other autistic students spent the past school year without a teacher. This story is far too common in our public schools. Some schools in Eastern Prince William County are packing nearly 40 elementary students into a classroom. We need to start the hard work of fixing this problem today.

2. Transportation- Traffic is a perennial campaign issue, I would be lying if I said electing me or anyone else would solve the issue overnight. We need to face the reality that the HOT lanes have failed to reduce traffic and are at best a short-term solution.

Wider roads are fine but we all know that more lanes quickly means more lanes where we are stuck in traffic. We need to work toward metro in Prince William County, more VRE trains, and other mass transit options.

3. Jobs- The national capital region is one of the best regions in the country to live and work but I believe there is more that can be done to create jobs where we live. With the threat of a government shutdown averted for a few months, as a region we need to recognize that we can’t count on the federal government as an employer the way we used to.

We have a very talented work force here in Prince William and Stafford counties and I think the region would be very attractive to companies specializing in the high tech fields. We need to make sure we encourage that growth with special tax zones, credits, or other deals. We must also continue to make investments in STEM education, so these new industries have an educated workforce ready to go.

PL: What concrete solutions do you propose to address these issues?

King: Education- We need our fair share from Richmond plain and simple. The state contributes less per student than in 2009 but somehow still meets the SQL requirement. The burden of making up this very real short fall has been left to counties and in turn taxpayers. I believe there is also a teacher retention problem as evidenced by what happened to my daughter’s class.

The biggest problem is that we continue to underpay our teachers and they are forced to go elsewhere. There is currently no requirement to track and report teacher retention to the General Assembly and Governor. I think the first step to solving this problem is to understand what is happening in our schools.

Jobs and transit are two issues that I think tie together closely. Many of us commute because our jobs are not in Prince William County, myself included. Stafford County has a better job-to-resident ratio but still has a lot of commuters too. I believe that the ultimate solution to our job and transportation problem lies with extending metro.

A recently released report by Metro indicates that nearly half of the regions jobs are within a half mile of a metro station. In the short term I think we need to look at our tax code and ways that we can incentivize Virginia businesses to place offices closer to where their workers live. We should also look at ways to improve VRE and bus service so commuters have more confidence in the mass transit that is available.

I know Metro won’t get here over night but it is important to note that while the Silver Line took 30 years to plan, actual construction only took six years. If we aggressively complete the studies and planning I believe we can have a metro line in Prince William County sooner than many people think, but this will require hard work and compromise on the part of elected officials. During my time in Iraq, the only thing that mattered was getting the job done. I had to work with people of all stripes to accomplish our mission and that is the attitude I will bring to Richmond.

PL: From your prospective, what is the job description of the office you’re seeking?

King: I believe that a legislator’s first job is to listen and represent the best interests of their constituents. That means being available to them, understanding their lives, and working tirelessly to solve their problems. I think too often politicians forget that we have a government by, of, and for the people. I believe that working together we can do great things.

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

King: I will bring a willingness to find a way to get things done for the residents of Prince William and Stafford counties. I know why education, transportation, and j

obs matter.

I live in Woodbridge with my wife and three children. My two school age kids attend River Oaks and Potomac Middle school respectively. I commute to work in Fairfax County like so many others. My wife and I love the home we have here. I love taking my kids to Stafford County on the weekends.

There are so many great things about this area and I want to ensure we are even better. I also bring an expertise in law enforcement and veterans issues. Having served as a combat soldier in Iraq I know the needs of our returning veterans. I know how to help make sure we have career and education services in place to transition our veterans. As a Deputy Sheriff I work to help make sure we maintain a safe community.

PL: Do you feel that the average citizen is well-informed and understands the workings of local government? If not, how do you intend on improving communication with your constituency?

King: I believe that the average citizen is as informed as they can be about local government. My local PTA has a parent engagement issue because so many parents can’t make it back from work for a 7 p.m. meeting. I think the issues is that people simply don’t have the time to be as engaged as they would like to be. They are probably stuck in traffic somewhere trying to get home.

PL: Have you ever made any mistakes in your public life? How have they effected you?

King: Fortunately, I have not been in public life long enough to make mistakes. I hope I don’t break this streak. 

PL: Our readers want leaders in local government. Why should they vote for you? 

King: I have spent my life in service this country, Virginia, and our community. I believe serving our area in the House of Delegates is another extension of that service.

In the Army we never cared if someone was a Democrat of Republican. You worked together to get things done, and I will bring that same attitude to Richmond. That is a lot of potential allies in reducing class size, fixing our transportation system, and attracting jobs not just to Prince William and Stafford counties, but across the commonwealth.



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We need to house police in the same building with social services staff to help victims, witnesses


Over the past decade, our local government, through its land use decisions and budget process, has created an infrastructure deficit that continues to have significant impacts on our quality of life as residents and our ability to entice businesses to bring more high-paying jobs to our community.

That infrastructure doesn’t just include roads – it’s also schools, public transportation, parks and libraries. These services, and their need for greater support and investment, frequently get the media coverage and attention they deserve.

One that doesn’t, however, and is of critical importance to our community, is the Prince William County Police Department. In 2008, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors adopted a public safety plan that included recommended staffing levels of two sworn officers per 1,000 residents. But as the population in our community continues to grow, our police department hasn’t grown with it. In fact, it isn’t even close.

At the end of 2011, our department had 571 sworn officers, which put staffing at just over 68% of the level mandated by the Board. My opponent for chairman claims that we’ve added new officers significantly during his tenure. But the reality is that over the four years ending in 2014, only a net of 22 additional sworn officers were added despite significant population growth.

Because of that growth, instead of being 267 officers short of meeting the public safety guidelines, we’re 287 officers behind or 67% of where the Board states that should be. In other words, our department is not gaining ground but losing it.

While it is certainly true that overall crime rates have declined in Prince William County overall for the last 20 years, and that’s certainly a good thing, the decline isn’t necessarily attributable to police staffing. Many different economic and demographic factors affect crime rates.

The real cause for concern is the safety of our police officers and their ability to perform important proactive services such as crime prevention and community outreach instead of focusing strictly on reactive policing. Make no mistake; we have a tremendous group of officers at all levels in our police department who want to be more proactive. But they simply don’t have the staffing or support they need to prioritize these functions.

The Board of County Supervisors needs to be more creative and forward-thinking in terms of creating opportunities for our officers and county staff to work better with our citizens. One example that has been suggested by police officers but found no support is the creation of a Victim/Witness Advocacy Center in our community. The concept is to house officers in the same building with Social Services staff to provide victims of and witnesses to crimes a more welcoming environment in which to interact with law enforcement. We know that there are crimes that go unreported. And we know that some witnesses are leery of coming forward to share valuable information that can help solve crimes.

It makes perfect sense to reallocate staff, without added expense to taxpayers, in a way that helps our officers do their jobs and makes residents more willing to come forward. Our community deserves this, and it is time for the Board to make it happen. Our police officers need our support. They need to be paid competitively and offered the benefits warranted to them based on the sacrifices they make on our behalf.

This year, the 401a program was reinstated for local government employees. But the 0.5% they were offered as a match for retirement was nothing more than a slap in the face to hard-working county employees, particularly when considering that departments were told to “find the money” within their existing budgets.

A few hundred dollars a year for retirement for folks who risk their lives on our behalf is unacceptable. It is completely irresponsible to continue to claim that we value public safety but refuse to invest in the people who keep us safe. We owe it to ourselves, and especially our children, to make public safety a top priority. That means investing in our officers.

Our department should reflect the diversity in our county, and we need to do more to ensure that our officers can not only work but also live in our community. It will make us safer, and help bring us together.

Rick Smith is a candidate for Chairman of the Prince William board of supervisors.

Corporations don’t settle in Prince William due to overcrowded schools


When I moved to Prince William County in 1972, the population was 111,000. Today, we have almost 450,000 neighbors.

The County has had monumental growing pains in the interim with a need to build an infrastructure of roads, schools, and County services to this enormous population growth. Our population is 60,000 more than the City of Cleveland and more than twice the size of the City of Richmond.

Corey Stewart has been Chairman of the Board of County Supervisors for almost ten years. In order to fund his election campaigns, he has raised almost $1 million from real estate developers.

Right now, we have some 30,000 homes in the pipeline. As a result, taxpayers will have to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to build new schools.

As Democratic candidate for Chairman of the Board Rick Smith points out, we have one of the largest class sizes in the Washington area. Our teachers are among the lowest paid, and we are among the lowest in per capita aid to education.

We are in a vicious cycle. Some 78% of county expenses come from real estate taxes. And unlike Cleveland, Richmond, and most other large cities, we have little commercial development that other areas have to help support local government costs.

Against these enormous odds, there must be a change in this vicious cycle. Corporations do not settle in Prince William due in large part, to overcrowded schools.

Rick Smith has some fresh ideas to address our problems. We need a change before we drown in debt and contingent liabilities.

Rick has been a resident of the county for over 35 years. His agenda is to address gridlock on our roads, strengthen our schools and improve the environment to attract new businesses and higher paying jobs to Prince William.

On November 3, please consider casting your vote for Rick Smith for Chairman of the Board of County Supervisors.

We don’t need charter schools in Prince William County


As we enter the final few weeks of campaign season, it is important to remember that we have a great school system in Prince William County.

Charter schools certainly have merit for some parts of the country but we don’t need them here in Prince William County. My campaign platform in 2015 focuses on class size reduction, competitive teacher pay and safe schools.

These are the issues that matter to Prince William County’s parents and educators. Charter schools are helping economically disadvantaged kids in places like Washington, D.C., Houston, and New York City; we cannot deny this fact.

Charter schools are not a panacea for all struggling public school systems (ours not included) but they do offer innovative and responsive solutions to student needs. It is not fair that the quality of a child’s education is sometimes determined by their zip code.

This is why charters enjoy bi-partisan support including Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Rep. George Miller (D-CA), New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, and even President Barrack Obama (, 2015).

With that being said, we have a great school system here in Prince William County. Our staff is hard-working and dedicated; they love their jobs and they love our kids.

We have diverse specialty programs empowering our high school students with choice and educational diversity. Every school in Prince William County has an innovative robotics program teaching our young people to think critically and work together to solve problems.

The business, faith-based and civic communities in Prince William County are eager to partner with our school system. Through partnerships, we build a stronger school system and better Prince William County.

With such a great community and school system, we don’t need charter schools in Prince William County. My family moved to Prince William County in 1979. I am a proud product of Prince William County Schools.

Counting my kids, my siblings, my mom who worked as a school librarian and myself, my family has 70 collective school years and counting in Prince William County Schools. I love this community and want to give back to the school system that has given so much to my family and me.

While necessary in some parts of the country, charter schools are not on my agenda. 

Having the highest student to teacher ratios in the state is not ‘world class’

Every seated school board member and candidate in Prince William County readily agrees our class sizes are too big. Having the highest student to teacher ratios in the state is not “world class.” It is disgraceful.

In the 2015 Superintendent’s Budget presentation Dr. Walt’s stated, “Lowering class sizes by one is not likely to lead to clear and measurable improvements in test results. But it will provide teachers and students with increased one-on-one time.”

Indeed after two years of various reduction plans, such as decreasing 9th grade math classes by one student, our teachers are seeing little to no improvement. Many report their class sizes and caseloads have increased this year and none have had increased one on one time with students.

Out of control class sizes, lowest teacher pay and student performance in the region are symptoms of greater illness. Treating these issues with quick, last minute poorly planned and implemented Band-Aid’s will not be effective.

To cure the symptoms our School Board must be committed to treating the cause. The cause is a lack of priorities. Our current administration has not developed a comprehensive plan and without one our division has been planning to fail.

If we are serious about the educational success of our children, class size reduction cannot be the last line item funded. Attention needs to be paid to the fact that a one size fits all solution is not going to work for our large and diverse school division.

As your elected School Board Chairperson I will bring parents, teachers and administrators together to set an appropriate course. Together we will establish objectives, annual goals and form a comprehensive 10 year plan. Its successful implementation will incorporate the input, buy in and continuous evaluation by our teachers.

Plans made in a vacuum, without consulting the latest research or educational experts, such as those made by Tim Singstock, are careless and will result in waste that PWCS can ill afford. Politicians, like Ryan Sawyers, who claim they will demand unlimited funding, display an enormous misunderstanding of the School Board’s authority.

Prioritizing funding for reduction will require team work, commitment and determination. This is what I am offering. I am not a politician; my interest is in education and the future of our children.

Tracy Conroy is a candidate for Prince William County School Board Chairman.

Skoloda would evaluate operation of Stafford Court Clerk office


Seketta Z. “Zee” Skoloda is running to be the next Clerk of the Circuit Court for Stafford County.

Potomac Local sent a questionnaire to Skoloda and he sent us the responses below: 

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PL: What are the top three major issues facing the district you wish to represent?

Skoloda: Ensure the highest quality of service. Update technology and training. Improve accessibility.

PL: What concrete solutions do you propose to address these issues?

SkolodaEstablish a transition team to evaluate the operation of the office. Seek the input of the court family including on staff personnel. Network with neighboring Clerk of Court Offices. Reach out to other Stafford administrative offices where similar improvements and upgrades have been instituted.

PL: From your prospective, what is the job description of the office you’re seeking?

Skoloda: The Clerk of the Circuit Court is a constitutional officer elected to an eight-year term. The clerk’s duties are twofold: to administer the Circuit Court’s judicial proceedings and serve as record keeper for the county.

The Clerk’s Office is reflective of our county, our government and our democracy. It is a repository of our county’s records; marriage licenses, business names–trade and fictitious, deeds, judgments, jury summons, and other records. The office of the Clerk of Court is the face of Stafford County to those who seek this information.

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

Skoloda: Among the attributes I will bring to the office are honesty, integrity and a passion for customer service and accuracy in our records management. I have experience with the Virginia Court System as well as with Maryland and the Federal System.

I have risen to positions of leadership and have experience supervising, training, budgeting and administering in very related fields. My experience includes: Child Support Enforcement Case Worker in Prince Georges County, Maryland. Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D. C. Commonwealth of Virginia’s Division of Forensic Science Laboratory. Magistrate in Virginia’s 15th Judicial District.

PL: Do you feel that the average citizen is well-informed and understands the workings of local government? If not, how do you intend on improving communication with your constituency?

Skoloda: I feel the average citizen believes that he or she understands the workings of local government, especially if that citizen is an active voter. Making sure that understanding is correct is best accomplished by transparency and accessibility. I will ensure that the level of customer service provided is friendly, competent and professional. I will maximize the use of technology to enhance access to needed records.

PL: Have you ever made any mistakes in your public life? How have they effected you?

Skoloda: Everyone makes mistakes, but the mistakes are experience too. Mistakes have effected me as education and training has effected me. Learn, adapt and improve and of course, remember what your goals are.

PL: Our readers want leaders in local government. Why should they vote for you? 

Skoloda: Stafford County has grown in the last eight years. It has grown tremendously in the last twenty years and it will grow even faster and different in the next few years. I will lead an office that stays attuned to the need for an accurate and complete repository of our important records and documents while meeting the current demands and planning for the future challenges.



Battlefield Garden and Stone Center fo hosting Volunteer Prince William at Fall Festival


Good morning  – Cheers to Battlefield Garden and Stone Center for hosting Volunteer Prince William at their Fall Festival on Saturday October 17th from 10am-4pm. Bring the kids and enjoy free concert, local crafters, food vendors, free kids’ activities and a beer/wine garden. All proceeds from the beer garden benefit the Un-Trim-A-Tree Holiday Gift Program for needy kid’s right here in our community.

· 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.

· Mark your calendars for the SERVE Empty Bowls event on October 15th. Enjoy a lovely meal, enjoy Greater Manassas Children’s Choir and bid on silent auction items. Tickets are just $20 in advance at Manassas Church of the Brethren from 5-8pm. Please visit their website at: to learn more. Volunteers are needed throughout the day for set-up and help pick-up donated food as well as during the event and delivering any leftovers back to the SERVE campus. Volunteers age 16+ are welcome and younger with a parent. Please email Jan at: to learn more.

· Catholic Charities- Hogar Immigrant Services needs volunteers to help with office skills at their Manassas office. Hours are very flexible. Basic computer skills required with other light admin duties. Second Language is helpful but not required. Please call Cynthia at (571) 208-1572 ext. 103 to learn more.

· Volunteers are needed for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Saturday October 17th at the Harris Pavilion. Please visit their website: to learn more.

· Come support the ACTS I-Walk on Saturday October 17th at Pfitzner Stadium at 9am. Registration is just $20 per person or $50/family. Great way to kick off your weekend. Please visit: to learn more.

· Habitat for Humanity needs volunteers at their ReStore, for clean-up projects or preparing lunches for the other volunteers. Please visit their website at: for all the specifics and to register for any of these fun events.

· Historic Manassas is looking for volunteers on Saturday October 24th for their fun Haunted Happenings event as well as the new date of Fall Jubilee. This fun event includes trick or treating at local shops and fun activities throughout the Center Street are. Please email Erin at: to learn more.

· Keep Prince William Beautiful needs volunteers for the Recycling Day on October 17th from 9am-2pm or at their Clean Sweep event at the Hypothermia Shelter on October 24th from 9am-2pm as well. Please call Claudia at (571) 285-3772 to learn more.
· Community Residences Group Homes in Manassas Park is having a fall clean-up on Saturday October 24th from 9am-2pm. Great way to help others and enjoy a beautiful fall day. Please email Liya at: for all the specifics.

· Pathway Homes in Woodbridge needs volunteers as friendly visitors and to help out in their group homes for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Please call Abigail at (703) 876-0390 to learn more about these activities.

· Volunteer Prince William invites all volunteer managers to the next Volunteer Management Training series starting October 27th from 9am-12noon and continues for the next 4 Tuesday mornings. This is a great course that includes exploring the heart of the volunteer, recruiting, training, supervising and evaluating your program. Please register for this free training series at:

· Neighbors in Need are looking for volunteer help in the office answering the phones and other admin duties during daytime hours. Please email Mrs. Cahill at: to learn more.

· MADD needs volunteers for their Annual 5K Walk/Dash on October 31st at Burke Lake from 7am-noon. Please check out their website at: walklikemadd/ to learn more.

· House of Mercy is hosting their 2015 Campaign to End Hunger on Saturday October 17th. Volunteers are needed to work a 2 hour shift and contribute $20. This fee covers the cost of the food ingredients for 150,000 meals. Volunteers are needed to help lift 50# bags of raw materials for this event either for a 2hr morning or afternoon shift. Please call (703) 659-1636 or via email at: 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 Thanks so much for all you do in our community.

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

Sports complex to be named after Ali Krieger


A new sports complex at Potomac Shores could soon bear the name of hometown sports hero Ali Krieger.

A new sports complex to be built by Potomac Shores as part of a 2013 agreement between the developer and Prince William County will include nine new fields, some to include soccer fields, a softball field, and two little league fields.

Potomac District Supervisor Maureen Caddigan wants to name the new sports complex after Ali Krieger, a member of the 2015 World Cup Championship U.S. Women’s Soccer Team. Krieger was born in Alexandria and grew up in Dumfries.

“This is really the last large park that is going to be built in eastern Prince William County, most likely, and in the Potomac District there really aren’t any soccer fields in the district, and this is a way to recognize one of Prince William County’s finest,” said Director of Prince William Soccer Inc. Mike Yeatts.

Krieger now lives in Arlington. Yeatts said he planned to speak with krieger family to gauge their reaction to the naming proposal. The soccer star could issue a statement through her agent, added Yeatts.

The “Ali krieger Sports Complex” would be located at 2400 River Heritage Boulevard.

A name change is also being considered for the Ben Lomond Community Center outside Manassas.

Located at 10501 Copeland Drive, the nearly 10,000 square feet commuity center has two meeting rooms, a multipurpose room, two dance studio, and a classroom, according to county documents.

Officials want to rename the center the “Pat White Center at Ben Lomond.” White was a community organizer who in 1970 formed a coalition of people who banded together to save a barn on the old Ben Lomond property — a dairy farm that purchased by a developer and turned into the residential neighborhood it is today.

The “save the barn campaign” was successful and county officials passed a bond referendum to save the structure. But repairs to the old barn became too costly, and the barn was replaced with a replica structure, according to county documents.

A naming committee inside the county’s parks and recreation department went to work August 19 and decided to name the center after White.

The naming of the sports complex, and renaming the community center are expected to be discussed Tuesday at the Prince William County Board of Supervisors meeting.

Manassas set the bar with high-quality, truly local craft spirits and beer

KO Distilling

The craft beer, wine, and spirits industry has been growing in leaps and bounds.

In the last few years, two breweries and a distillery have opened in the City of Manassas. While each place offers their own unique vibe and products, two characteristics unite and set them apart from the competition – a commitment to quality and local ingredients.

“Similar to the farm-to-table movement, people are excited by the grain-to-glass concept and high-quality products made from local grains,” says Bill Karlson, the co-founder and CEO of KO Distilling. “We make a point of telling people during tours that our wheat comes from Renwood Farms in Charles City and our rye came from Bay’s Best Feed Farm in Virginia’s Northern Neck.”

KO Distilling
Heritage Brewing
KO Distilling Bottles

KO Distilling opened in September and welcomed 450 people to its grand opening. During its first week, more than 100 people stopped by to sample its whiskey and gins. The distillery is a true agribusiness – the spirits are not just made in Virginia, but the majority of the grains used are sourced from local farms.

A Nielsen study found that “local, authentic” are qualities desired of beer and spirits growing in importance among consumers, most largely among the 21-34 demographic.  Perhaps that is because today about 75% of adults over the age of 21 live within 10 miles of a brewery. The Atlantic reported that there were 70 small distilleries in the U.S. in 2003. Karlson says that KO is the 19th craft distiller in an industry of about 1000 microdistillers.

Customers seek quality and want to know how ingredients are sourced, says Sarah Meyers, co-founder of Manassas’ first craft brewery BadWolf Brewing Company.

“We try to source local whenever possible and at Little BadWolf they get to see beer being made right in front of them. Given how many craft breweries are popping up, we might hit a saturation point, so you need to make sure your quality is way up there and that is our biggest focus.”

The beer made at Heritage Brewing has a 100-percent organic base and 92 percent of all ingredients are either organic or locally sourced.  Sean Arroyo, CEO of Heritage Brewing, explains, “Our approach is committing ourselves to the consistency and quality of our product and bringing the best ingredients that we can through organics and local aspects.”

This fall, Heritage is collaborating with The Bone, a barbecue spot in historic Manassas, on a bacon stout. And BadWolf is working with downtown Manassas restaurateurs on an “Old Town” Beer that will only be available in downtown establishments.

Experimenting with new creations keeps the excitement alive. Heritage, which is a 20-barrel brew house, also operates a small pilot system for making small batches of creative releases for the taproom. “It gives us a way to interact with our consumers and let them decide what our next big beers will be,” says Arroyo.

After BadWolf’s successful first year, Meyers and her business partner and husband Jeremy opened a 6,000-square foot production facility. Little BadWolf Brewing Company, the smaller, original location, is where people can try out the experimental batches and even suggest recipes, while the new Big BadWolf has space for special events and growler and kegs of their flagship brews.

“We are using our space for more than beer,” says Meyers. “We focus on giving back to charities and bringing people together for social events.” One look at BadWolf’s event calendar shows there is always something going on, including yoga, painting, and Craft Beer Bingo – all accompanied with a pint. Similarly, Heritage hosts trivia and live music nights in addition to special events like a new beer dinner series.

While all three businesses are committed to building a sense of community, they also take being a regional destination seriously. As Meyers says, “people won’t go to just a bar, but places like a brewery are something special they will seek out.”

Karlson says that he and his business partner, John O’Mara, always envisioned KO Distilling being a tourism destination by matching a great product with a great experience. “The minute visitors walk through our doors,” he says, “they know they aren’t in a warehouse anymore.”

KO Distilling’s tasting room has leather couches, a fireplace, and copper and oak design elements that mimic the copper pot still they use for distilling and barrels they use for aging. The atmosphere rewards locals as well as travelers for making the drive. Karlson, Meyers, and Arroyo all agree that Manassas, with its close proximity to I-95 and 66 and its abundance of historical sites and attractions, is an ideal location for attracting tourists from the metro area and beyond.

“What we want to do is bring in the community, produce a quality product, and have a great time doing it,” says Meyers.

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