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Proposed Manassas budget increases tax bills, funding for schools

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[Photo: City of Manassas]

Homeowners in Manassas should expect their average tax bills to go up next year under a proposed city budget.

Under a plan from City Manager Patrick Pate, the total average tax bill increase is $164. Townhome owners’ property tax bills would average $2,780, condo owners would pay an average bill of $2,342, and single family home owners would pay an average bill of $4,493.

Residents Monday night will have the chance to come speak out about the city’s proposed $214 million budget. Expenditures on city services, to exclude school funding, are about 6% lower in the next year’s proposed budget than they were a year ago.  The city proposes to give more money to schools than it did a year ago, transferring 58% of the budget — $52.3 million – directly to the schools.

The tax rate would remain the same as last year at $1.368 for every $100 of assessed property value. The rate includes the city’s $0.178 fire and rescue tax levy. The average tax bill would increase 4% under the guidelines of the city’s five year plan.

Taxes going up

Residential assessments increased nearly 5%, and commercial assessments went up just over 3%. These are the few signs of good economic life in the city as other taxes like sales tax, meals tax, and taxes on cigarettes, vehicles, and cable TV and telephone services are flat or declining.

Overall, the city will increase taxes by 4% as part of a memorandum of understanding with thc city School Board that guarantees more funding for city schools.

Manassas Councilman Ian Lovejoy issued a statement explaining the MOU:

Keep Reading…

Call to Action: Haymarket Regional Food pantry first Annual 5K Run for Hunger Saturday May 9

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Good morning  – the Bill Mehr Drop in Center is looking for volunteers to help with general admin tasks, help schedule volunteers and most importantly if you have the credentials is to provide case management to clients. This facility is located close to Potomac Mills Mall and offers wonderful services to homeless individuals. Come be part of this super team. Email Juan at juanmm@juno.com or Terry at teniel3@aol.com to learn more.

· BEACON Adult Literacy needs an electrician to tutor an adult in the Manassas area as he prepares to take his state license exam. Please call Caroline at (703) 368-7491 to learn more.

· Come join the fun mas the Haymarket Regional Food pantry hosts its first Annual 5K Run for Hunger on Saturday May 9th. This year’s event will be at the Vint Hill Craft Winery beginning at 8am. Registration is just $30. Please visit their website: haymarketfoodpantry.org for all the info.

· 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

· Keep Prince William Beautiful is full of fun projects this spring. Volunteers are needed on Saturday May 2nd 10:30am-1pm at the Potomac Library Volunteer Fair, on Saturday May 9th at the Community Expo at Pftizner Stadium from 9am-3pm and throughout the month of May to complete Shopping Center Surveys. Please call Damir at (571) 285-3772 to learn more. Keep Reading…

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Carnival rides going up at Jefferson Plaza in Woodbridge

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woodbridge carnival april 2015

Carnival rides are being set up in parking lot off Route 1 in Woodbridge.

The carnival features a large Ferris Wheel that is set up in Jefferson Plaza, across from Our Lady of Angels Catholic church.

A sign hanging on a fence outside the carnival states it will be open Monday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 1 p.m. to 11 p.m.

FedEx shipping facility near Gainesville to open by Christmas

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fedexA FedEx Ground shipping facility should open this fall in Prince William County.

The new 168,000-square foot shipping hub under construction is now under construction and will be located at 7303 Cushing Road, just off Balls Ford Road and Interstate 66 near Gainesville.

When completed, standing at 35 feet tall, the center will represent a win for county economic development officials who have courted several logistics companies in an effort to lure them to the region.

“The Board of Supervisors made logistics a target industry for us, and since that time we’ve met with several industries to talk about the advantages of locating here,” said Prince William County Economic Development Director Jeffery Kaczmarek.

One of the reasons why the county is so desirable for shipping and transport companies – it’s access to both Interstate 66 and 95. FedEx will join several other logistics companies just off I-66 near Gainesville, including U.S. Foods and Martin Bower, which delivers foods to restaurants like McDonalds.

The new FedEx facility will be built as a shell building. When complete, FedEx will hire a contractor to come and complete the interior of the facility with the installation of shelving and conveyor belts, said Prince William County Development Services Director Wade Hugh

Hugh’s office is in charge of greenlighting building permits for projects like the FedEx facility. Work on the site began in November with an “early grading” permit that allowed crews to begin clearing trees and making roadway access to the site via Cushing Road while the remainder of the permits were still being approved.

In all, it can take up to four months to approve a project like this.

“They want to be up and ready to go before the Christmas shipping season starts,” added Hugh.

Some small road improvements to Balls Ford Road were proffered by the developer, to include the addition of a deceleration lane at Balls Ford and Cushing roads. Cushing Road recently saw the addition of a new commuter lot that provides drivers’ access to I-66, so the area around Balls Ford Road is growing.

“It appears, talking with the clients that we work with, that there is major capacity with existing [roadway] system. But if we’re going to continue to grow, the county road system needs to keep pace with that,” added Kaczmarek.

Is this the end of Arts Alive?

News

On May 2 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., residents will be able to enjoy the Arts Alive festival at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas – but this could be the last time.

During the initial budget draft written by County Executive Melissa Peacor, she was given the instruction to create the draft with a 1.3% tax rate increase – versus the 4% allotted in the county’s strategic plan. This then cut the funding for the Arts Council, the organization that hosts the festival. 

Over the course of the budget process, the funding for the Arts Council was re-added, and was kept in for the final budget adoption on April 21, but there are some concerns that the funding for the council may be on the chopping block again next year.

“It is absolutely correct to say that if the funding for the Arts Council fails, or goes away, or is drastically reduced, I just don’t see how we have that festival anymore,” said Sheyna Burt, the head of the Arts Council.

Burt stated that currently she feels confident about the future of the Arts Alive Festival, provided that the Prince William County Board of Supervisors continues their commitment for funding. 

“I feel pretty good about the board of county supervisors restoring our funding. As long as they [continue to] do that…the Arts Alive is the Art Council’s biggest project all year. So the vast majority of the funding we get, goes to making that happen. As long as the board of county supervisors comes through in the way that they’ve been representing that they will, then I think the festival is actually going to survive,” Burt stated. 

The Arts Council and the community group Our Prince William partnered heavily during the budgeting process to protect the arts and related community items in the county’s budget.

They plan to continue their mission by having a dialog with the board of supervisors in the coming months.

“What we’re hoping is that we can get some supervisors to sit down seriously with us, and talk about the budget process – talk about the timeline, talk about the philosophy of setting a rate before you talk about the values of the county,” said Burt.

Burt also stated that she hopes that the Arts Council can expand the festival next year, to include some activities in the eastern end of the county.

Methodist church burglarized in Manassas

News

On April 21, Prince William County police responded to a call at St. Marks United Methodist Church on Well Street in Manassas, to investigate a burglary.

According to Prince William police, a member of the church stated that a burglar broke into the church between 1 p.m. on April 19, and 9 a.m. on April 29. 

Prince William police investigated the scene, and stated that entry was likely made into the church by an unsecured front door. 

A Prince William police release stated that no property was reported missing. 

Missing man found dead in Manassas

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Manassas City Police found the body of 23-year old Tyler Abt yesterday afternoon on Godwin Drive.

Abt was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to the Manassas City Police, Abt’s death appears to be a suicide.

Abt was reported missing on April 21, and was concerned to be ‘possibly suicidal’, said a Manassas City Police release. 

Officers from the Manassas City Police, Prince William County Police, City of Manassas Park Police and Fairfax Police worked collaboratively in an attempt to locate Abt. 

The case is still an active investigation, said Manassas City Police. 

 

Why your Facebook Updater ad won’t work

How changing the text of your Facebook Updater ad can lead to great results for your business 

Street  Prince William Ice Center   Social Media Enhancer 2014Our Facebook Updater ad unit is unlike anything else in the market.

A display ad unit that links to your Facebook or Twitter pages — it gives you the opportunity to have a new ad on Potomac Local any time you want one by simply updating your Facebook or Twitter accounts. The reader is taken to either your Facebook or Twitter page after they click on your ad.

While we can count the many benefits of using the Facebook Updater ad, we’d rather focus on why it doesn’t work for some customers.

We’ve heard from various customers who’ve used the Facebook Updater, “hey, the numbers look great, it’s clear people are seeing it, but it’s just not working for me.”

For advertising and marketing to work properly, we must deliver the right message to the right group of potential buyers. The Facebook Enhancer ad unit puts the power of marketing in the hands of the business owner.

“You’re wasting your money”

Street  Nyeas Party  NyeasParty Facebook enhancedThe ad must be updated on a daily, or near daily basis for it to be effective – just as you do your social media pages – for it to be effective. If you can’t do it, we suggest you ask a friend or family member update your ad or hire someone to do it for you.

Trust us — if you buy a Facebook Updater ad and then don’t update your Facebook page, you’re wasting your money.

What’s the best way to see your Facebook Enhancer ad deliver zero results for your business? Don’t update it.

But here’s the helpful part: The ad has a built-in reminder that can email you if the text of your Facebook Updater ad goes stale. It’s just a simple reminder stating “it might be time to update your ad.”

Coming up with new content to put on your ad isn’t difficult. Talking about your business should be fun, especially if you like what you do – it’s probably why you went into business in the first place. Keep Reading…

Michelle Obama comes to Manassas, urges companies to hire vets

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First Lady Michelle Obama spoke at Micron Technologies in Manassas. [Photo: Mary Davidson/Potomac Local]
Bobbie Bilberg is head of the Northern Virginia Technology Council. [Photo: Mary Davidson/Potomac Local]
The first lady highlighted the need to hire more U.S. military veterans into the workforce. [Photo: Mary Davidson/Potomac Local]
Air Force Gen. Frank Klotz spoke about the need to hire more veterans.  [Photo: Mary Davidson/Potomac Local]
Tamika Carroll is a military veteran employed at Micron in Manassas.  [Photo: Mary Davidson/Potomac Local]
John Holdren, Assitstant to the President for Science and Technology. [Photo: Mary Davidson/Potomac Local]

There’s a little piece of Manassas in electronic devices around the globe.

Buddy Nicoson, a site director at Micron Technology, said that parts created on-site in their Manassas plant are used for devices and cars around the world.

“Chances are that your [mobile] device has a component in it now that’s made in Manassas. On average, there are three Micron parts in every car made globally,” said Nicoson.

Micron hosted First Lady Michelle Obama yesterday to speak about the administration’s Joining Forces initiative for hiring veterans.

Micron is one of the companies that have taken part in the initiative, which just celebrated its 4-year anniversary.

Following the drawdown in the Middle East, the Obama administration saw a huge uptick in unemployment for United States veterans.

“The year that we launched [Joining Forces] the unemployment rate for our 9/11 generation of veterans was more than 12%. And for our younger veterans – it was far worse…and so we knew we had a crisis on our hands,” Obama said.

According to Obama, President Obama challenged the private sector to hire 100,000 veterans and military spouses in 2011.

As of right now, private companies have hired more than 850,000 veterans and their families since Joining Forces was formed, said Obama.

“That number comes on top of the hiring that we’ve done on the Federal government. This is an amazing accomplishment, and I am really so grateful to everyone across this country who made it possible…we should all take a moment to sit back, and feel good about what we’ve achieved together – but we should only sit back for a moment because we know there’s so much work left to do,” Obama commented.

Tamika Carroll, a Micron employee and Army veteran, struggled to find employment after leaving the military.

“When I transitioned from the Army, I wasn’t sure of my job prospects…after seven months of applying for positions, I finally found Micron. I was actually looking for the mall. And there was a huge sign out that [said] ‘We’re hiring’ and I thought ‘good because I need to be hired’…the leadership and technical skills I learned in the Army are tangible skills you can’t learn elsewhere. And I’m able to use those skills here,” Carroll said.

There are several companies across the United States, including local companies such as the Northern Virginia Technology Council – with their Veterans Employment Initiative – and Dominion Power, which have taken on the administration’s challenged to increase the amount of veteran, hires they make.

Governor McAuliffe announces George Mason campus name change

News

Governor McAuliffe came to George Mason University to announce the name change of the Prince William Campus.
The institute is a 75,000 square foot biosciences facility.
GMU President Angel Cabrera thanked McAuliffe and other local officials for their support.
The institute will have space for more than 100 researchers.
IMG_0701.JPG

McAuliffe makes official rebranding of George Mason University Prince William Campus 

Governor Terry McAuliffe was on site at the George Mason University campus in Prince William to launch the Institute for Advanced Biomedical Research and to announce the campus’ new name.

The institute, which is a 75,000 square foot space that has room for more than 100 researchers and scientists, is all a part of the university’s decision to focus their Prince William Campus on the sciences and technology. 

“We’re here to officially cut the ribbon on our new institute for advanced biomedical research…We are renaming this campus, it’s no longer the Prince William George Mason University Campus – we are now renaming it the George Mason University Science and Technology Campus,” said McAuliffe. 

Researchers have already begun their work, according to George Mason University president Angel Cabrera – working on Lyme disease tests and human genome sequencing.

Cabrera stated at the ribbon cutting that the changes to the university are aimed at changing Virginia’s economy.

“The governor ran for office on a campaign on jobs – on innovation, on rebuilding the economy. And when he talked about jobs and innovation, we actually listened…it is about transforming the economy in Virginia, it’s about turning this region into one of the most innovative places – that is constantly attracting the best talent around the world,” Cabrera said. 

McAuliffe stated that Virginia is falling behind in the area of biosciences, and expressed concerns about the regional economy relying to heavily on Department of Defense and federal related jobs, which are subject to frequent cuts and sequestration over the past few years. 

“I talk a lot about building that new Virginia economy – we have to do it…it’s all about science and technology. It’s all about biosciences…and we have lagged behind in biosciences. I went to a big bioscience conference in Las Vegas last year… and they listed the top 25 states in America for biosciences. We were not on that list folks…we can create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the bioscience space,” said McAuliffe.

Following the ceremony, McAuliffe also attended the VA BIO 2015 THRIVE conference on bioscience in Fairfax.

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