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Letter: Kudos to Prince William Police


With so much in the news these days regarding community policing and the appropriate level of engagement by members of local law enforcement, I felt compelled to forward a note of thanks to the Prince William Police Department (PWPD). Last weekend the Woodbridge Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. hosted a panel discussion with officers from Prince William County Police Department and area students enrolled in the fraternity’s Guide Right Mentoring Program. The hour and a half panel discussion took place in the foyer of the McCoart Administration Building in Woodbridge.

The officers were most generous with their time and candidly engaged students on a host of topics that included: campus leadership, the pitfalls of bullying, inappropriate text messaging, suggested protocols in the event of a traffic stop, career options in law enforcement, and a day in the life of a Prine William County Police Department officer. There were great exchanges all around and I tip my hat to local law enforcement for understanding the power of community partnerships.

The dedicated men and women that comprise Prince William’s civil service corps sacrifice a great deal in service to the betterment of our communities. I extend a heartfelt thank you for what you do.

Guide Right is a program for the educational and occupational guidance of youth, primarily inspirational and informational in character. The program is designed to aid young men of middle and high school age to grow and develop their leadership talents in every phase of human endeavor.

The ultimate goal is to assist participants achieve worthy goals for themselves, and make constructive contributions to their community when they assume leadership roles. Guide Right provides both challenging and rewarding experiences to enhance their lives. The Fraternity’s membership provides guidance, training, and mentoring to participating young men.

Rod Hall
Member, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
Woodbridge, VA


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Neya’s Party Store a Sign of Life for Featherstone Square

party, birthday, woodbridge

New homes being constructed at Featherstone Square

A new store owner hopes a party will once again happen inside Woodbridge’s Featherstone Square.

Ania Jaffa is the managing director, chief proprietor, and just about any other official-sounding title you can come up with for Neya’s Party Store. She independent business owner opened the store this fall after retiring from working in the account management department at AT&T, not a job one would associate with parties.

Neya’s caters to everyone but has found a niche market with the Hispanic market in Woodbridge. In addition to baby shower party goods, the store has been selling a lot of party favors like plates, napkins, and cups designed by Uzuri Kid Kidz. It’s an Ohio-based artist that draws the characters with the familiar Disney look and feel, but feature Hispanics and African-American children to “mirror their lifestyle and will help fill the void in the current market.”

After Jaffa, of Manassas, retired, she looked around the area for a location for a party store.

“Then I came to Woodbridge and said “you know what, there is a niche here that I think I can fill,” said the New York City native.

The independent party store opened in a place many would consider to be an unlikely spot. For years, Featherstone Square has seen its share of small tenants come and go. The shopping center is anchored by a Food Lion and a large furniture rental store.

The surrounding neighborhood along Route 1 is noted more for its “brown” spots in need of redevelopment, and for its congested traffic.

Much of that is changing. Ryan Homes has opened a new sales office inside the center as construction is now underway for new condos and 30 townhomes on nearly 9 acres of land of Featherstone Road, just across from the shopping center.

The owner of the shopping center is also petitioned the county to build the new homes.

The new construction will bring more people to the neighborhood, and more people to the shopping center, Jaffa hopes.

“I’m used to transitional neighborhoods, you see a lot of that in New York, It’s a cyclical thing,” said Jaffa.


Stafford Experiencing 911 Phone Issues

3 p.m.

A Stafford County email alert stated 911 service is fully restored. We don’t yet know the cause of the problem that affected the system earlier today.

7:56 a.m.

Problems with phone service is preventing some Stafford County residents from calling 911.

The county’s sheriff’s office said Sunday morning people who live in the Berea and White Oak areas of Stafford are having “technical difficulties” reaching emergency services by phone.

Technicians are working on resolving the problem, a sheriff’s spokesman said.

Call to Action: Volunteer to Be a Special Santa to a Kid

Battlefield Garden & Stone Center giving 10% of the proceeds Volunteer Prince William Un Trim A Tree Holiday Gift Program


Hello from Volunteer Prince William. Happy Thanksgiving and Christmas is right around the corner so we are in full swing with our Un Trim A Tree Holiday Gift Program for needy kids. We currently have hundreds of children available and so many need warm clothes! I can provide you their name, age and two toy wishes so you can be a special Santa to a kid. 

Please visit my website volunteerprincewilliam.org and fill out a donor form for me.  You will have a blast.  I’m already stockpiling Frozen characters because I’ve been told that’s the hot item. Come help us provide a little joy to a child.

•         Battlefield Garden & Stone Center is celebrating the season on Black Friday, November 28th. With 10% of the proceeds going to the Un Trim A Tree Holiday Gift Program. Lots of beautiful holiday decorations, fresh trees, local artists and pictures with Santa. Please visit: battlefieldoutdoorliving.com for all the info.

•         Please mark your calendars for Saturday December 6th for the 4th Annual Manassas Miracle event at Mackey’s American Grille.  Tons of fun bring the kids for the afternoon then come back for all the festivities at night.  The Guilty Ones Club throw a huge party and again to benefit the Un Trim A Tree Holiday Gift Program.

•         Virginia Cooperative Extension invites you to their next training of How to be a Terrific Tenant – know your rights and responsibilities on Tuesday December 2nd at 7pm in Woodbridge.  Please register for this via email at: smartmoney@pwcgov.org or by calling (703) 792-8082

•         Habitat for Humanity needs volunteers on Saturday December 6th from 10am-3pm in Woodbridge.  Come get your hands a little dirty by clearing kudzu, chinaberry and Japanese honeysuckle.  You can sign up for this activity at: habitatpwc.org

•         SERVE in Manassas is looking for volunteer groups to prepare the evening meal at 5pm. for the residents of the shelter on weeknights beginning December 8th.  You’ll need to provide all the food and can either prepare it at their kitchen or bring it in.  It’s a great way to bring together your family, friends or colleagues for such an important job.  Please email Jan at jhawkins@nvfs.org for more info.

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Holiday Heavy Lifting: Follow These Special Tips to Avoid Injury

lifting, advantage physical therapy,

The team at Advantage Physical Therapy wishes you a very happy holday season.

The heavy lifting that comes with Thanksgiving cooking, Black Friday Shopping and decking the halls can put a real strain on your body. Lifting heavy items such as a turkey, a new flat screen TV and box full of holiday decorations with the wrong mechanics can cause strain and injury to the neck, shoulders and lower back.  

The estimated direct costs associated with chronic lower back pain each year are a staggering $96 million.   Furthermore, 8 out of 10 individuals will experience some sort of back pain during their life.  

With the average size of the American Thanksgiving turkey dressed & in a pan weighing in at 30 pounds and the hot ticket Black Friday flat screen TV that you’re shopping for around 45 pounds, we are more and more susceptible to suffering a back strain while partaking in holiday preparations and festivities.

And if you celebrate the holidays with a live evergreen tree, you can expect to haul around about 70 pounds of pine on your posterior.

And if you celebrate the holidays with a live evergreen tree, you can expect to haul around about 70 pounds of pine on your posterior.

Being laid out with a back injury during the holidays is no fun.  Utilizing proper lifting techniques and body mechanics can prevent lifting injuries that might otherwise come from something as simple as lifting a turkey out of the oven, loading the latest flat screen into your trunk, or hauling frosty the snowman onto your rooftop.

To keep your holidays merry and prevent lifting injuries, follow these tips from the American Physical Therapy Association:

  • Plan ahead before lifting heavy objects. Make sure you have a clear path. This will help you avoid any awkward or sudden movements that can strain your muscles.

  • Test an object’s weight before lifting by pushing it with your foot. If it seems too heavy, ask for help.

  • Lift with your legs, not with your back. Don’t lean over an object to lift it. Face the object you intend to lift and avoid twisting. Instead, stand close to the object, bend your legs and keep your back straight, then lift.

  • Keep feet shoulder-width apart and maintain your balance by distributing the object’s weight equally on both sides of your body.

  • If you count yourself among those who like to marathon shop on Black Friday (or any day for that matter) wear comfortable shoes, preferably walking shoes.    Wearing shoes that provide the proper heel and ankle support will prevent foot & back pain while walking on the hard surfaces found at many shopping malls

  • If a back injury does occur, seek help from a physical therapist. What starts as a minor back injury can progress to a chronic condition without early intervention.   Seek a physical therapists care within 14 days of experiencing lower back pain for the best outcome.

We can instruct on proper lifting techniques and provide a treatment plan to assist with pain.  We will work to make you feel better and keep you happy during the holidays.   

This post was written by Advantage Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation, LLC. Their team works with individuals to restore & improve movement of the body to achieve long term quality of life.   

Planning Asst. Chief Faces Obscene Sexual Display Charges

2 women reported driver exposed himself


Raymond Utz, head of Prince William County’s planning office, is charged with two counts of indecent exposure.

Here’s the full police report:

Indecent Exposure | Obscene Sexual Display – On November 17th at 11:58AM, officers responded to investigate an indecent exposure which was reported to have occurred in the area of Gideon Dr and Smoketown Rd in Woodbridge (22193). The victim, a 38 year old woman of Triangle, reported to police that she was stopped at the above intersection when an unknown vehicle pulled beside her. The victim then observed the driver, and only occupant of the vehicle, lower the passenger side window. At that point, the victim noticed that the driver was exposing himself and making an obscene sexual display. The victim was able to provide police with a description and license plate information of the vehicle. Officers were able to determine that the vehicle, a black Honda CRV, was registered to the accused and that the same vehicle was reported to have been involved in a similar encounter reported earlier in the day. In that incident, the victim, a 39 year old woman of Woodbridge, reported to officers that a black Honda CRV with a similar looking driver pull next to her while stopped in the area of Old Bridge Rd and Mohican Dr in Woodbridge (22192). As with the later incident, the driver lowered the passenger side window to get the attention of the victim. As the victim looked over towards the suspect vehicle, she observed the driver expose himself while making an obscene display. The victim pulled away from the other vehicle and immediately contacted police. Following the investigation, the accused was connected to both incidents and was subsequently charged.

                Arrested on November 19th: [No photo available]

                Raymond Ernst UTZ, 49, of 44 Bexley Ln in Fredericksburg

                Charged with 2 counts of indecent exposure and 2 counts of obscene sexual display

                Court date: pending | Bond: released on court summons

Utz worked for Prince William County since 2003. He was fired on Nov. 20, 2014, said Prince William County spokesman Jason Grant.


Prince William’s ‘Emergency Kit Rap’ Video a Hit

Video produced by Prince William County communications staff in Woodbridge


Prince William County just entered the rap game.

A new video produced by county’s communications staff features Prince William County Communications Director Jason Grant rapping a list of items you’ll need in your emergency preparedness kit. The video was produced in October in honor of National Preparedness Month.

The video was shot in front of a green screen in the format of a mock newscast. Grant wrote the rap and then recorded it for the video.

“There’s tons of videos out there with people walking you through want to have in an emergency preparedness kit,” said Grant. “We wanted to create something memorable, something that someone would watch again.”

The video also features Nicole Brown, who works with Grant inside the county’s communications office. Grant said the video has been well received in the halls of county government at the McCoart Building in Woodbridge, and that it has been shown in several staff meetings.

When not rapping, Grant oversees the production of the county’s website, newsletters, as well as other media the county uses to get out their message. He also takes questions from reporters on a regular basis.

Grant minored in theater and does improvisational comedy in his spare time, he said. He’s also available for holiday parties, birthdays, and bar mitzvahs.

Firefighters Go to Great Heights to Rescue Cat

PWC Firefighter goes over 89 feet in the area to rescue a resident's cat.

PWC Firefighter goes over 89 feet in the area to rescue a resident’s cat.

Video shows cat rescue in Montclair


Four firefighters with the Prince William Department of Fire & Rescue went out of their way to make sure that a Woodbridge resident’s family cat was returned safely.

The cat, referred to by the firefighters as “Kitty”, had gotten stuck in a tree over 89 feet late last week in the area of Tallowwood Drive and Spring Branch Blvd. in Montclair.

“We received a phone call from our Battalion Chief — he asked us to check out an incident. Station 17 in Montclair had gotten a phone call requesting assistance – that their pet cat was stuck in a tree,”

The cat and its owner [Submitted]

The cat and its owner [Submitted]

said Lieutenant Dave Caruana, one of the firefighters at the scene.

 Technicians Adam Mowry, Shawn Riley, Shawn Bliss and Lt. Caruana were called out to the scene when Station 17 was unable to retrieve the cat.

“Engine 17 headed over there to check the incident out, to see if they could handle it and the cat was in the tree further than their ground ladders could reach,” Caruana said.

The four men quickly responded to the call, and were able to safely remove the cat from the tree, returning it to its owner.

“We arrived onscene and our driver, Shawn Riley, positioned the [ladder] appropriately…and we retrieved the cat out of the tree,” said Caruana.

Jennifer Leigh Titus, a witness who was present and filmed the rescue, feels grateful to have such dedicated firefighters on call in her neighborhood.

“They were pretty awesome, the first truck came and the ladder was too short and then they called in the big guns. That cat would have either fallen or froze to death. They didn’t have to [trek] out in that freezing weather to save a cat, but they did. That makes me feel really safe knowing that they would go through so much for a kitten, imagine what they would do for us,” said Titus.

Children’s Hospital in North Stafford Evacuated

Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, the North Stafford location, was evacuated this morning due to an odor inside the building.

Odor prompted evacuation of Children’s Hospital


Stafford County Fire and Rescue crews were dispatched to Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, the North Stafford location to investigate a strange odor at 10:30 this morning. 

The children’s hospital unit was evacuated, said Stafford fire and rescue Asst. Chief Mark Doyle. Several adults and at least one child waited outside while fire fighters checked for a cause of the reported odor. 

Children’s Hospital is located in the Aquia Park Shopping Center on Jefferson Davis Highway. It’s next door to Engineering for Kids. 

Fire fighters reported not smelling an odor and said no cause was evident. They wanted to enter the adjacent business to determine if there was a problem of some kind coming from that location, but Engineering for Kids was closed and no problems could be seen through the glass door. 

After discovering that a fire wall was between each unit of the building, even through the roof, it was determined that, if there was a problem, it likely would not be coming from another unit with the fire wall in place.Rescue crews left the scene about an hour after arriving.

Fire Crews Called to Panera Bread in Manassas


Fire crews were called to Panera Bread on Liberia Avenue in Manassas.

A false alarm triggered the response, said Manassas spokeswoman Patty Prince.

Photo credit: Allissa Jones

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