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Closing Governor’s School would be a mistake, say parents, teachers

News

CGSlogo_600pixels

It wasn’t on the agenda, but the issue of whether or not to close a location of the Commonwealth Governor’s School in Stafford was the central topic during the citizen comments period of the county school board meeting April 14.

Stafford County Public Schools hired a firm to conduct an efficiency study of district operations in November 2014. That report, which the Stafford County School Board recently received, recommends the closing of one of the three sites for the Commonwealth Governor’s School within the county. There are a total of six Commonwealth Governor’s School sites in the region, but the study focused only on Stafford’s sites, which are at Colonial Forge High School, North Stafford High School and Stafford High School.

The speakers at the school board meeting contend that the report is flawed and contains multiple inaccuracies. 

The efficiency study was done by Evergreen Solutions LLC, of Tallahassee, Florida. Stafford County budgeted approximately $100,000 to conduct the study. 

“Stafford County Public Schools understands that, in order to succeed in this mission, in the face of continuing economic constraints impacting operations and management, the school division will have to be even more effective and efficient than ever before,” stated the report on why the study was conducted.

The report also stated that approximately 27,000 students are currently enrolled in the county’s public schools, which consists of 30 schools and has approximately 3,750 members on staff. It also listed operating expenditures of over $272.9 million.

The report claims that eliminating one CGS site will save more than $680,000 a year. Keep Reading…

Republican primary candidates release their plans for Virginia’s 2nd district

News

On JuneScreen Shot 2015-04-28 at 11.24.11 AM 9, two candidates for Virginia’s 2nd House district – former delegate Mark Dudenhefer and Tim Ciampaglio – will be facing off in a Republican primary for the delegate seat.

The incumbent, Delegate Michael Futrell, is currently running in a three-way Democratic primary for the 29th senate district, and will not be seeking re-election.

In order to establish their viewpoints prior to the primary, Ciampaglio and Dudenhefer have both announced their plans for the district if elected.

Lean government proposal

According to a release, Dudenhefer has a three-point plan to cut taxes in the district, and reduce the size of government.

“Lean government models have been used in other states to cut down backlogs, use taxpayer money more effectively, and improve governmental processes to ensure peak performance,” said Dudenhefer in a release.

Dudenhefer stated that he would direct the Inspector General to implement a ‘lean government philosophy’ in state government, train state government managers to learn and use the lean government model, and target government processes to simplify and streamline processes in government that will reduce waste.

Additionally, Dudenhefer referenced his track record during his time as a delegate, where he stated that he was able to cut taxes and reduce the size of government.

Peak operating efficiency plan

Ciampaglio stated in a release that he has a plan to increase the efficiency of state government with his own three-point plan.

“The plan begins by asking if an expenditure is necessary to the agency mission and then derives a method to drive all expenditures towards only core operating service requirements,” said Ciampaglio in a release.

In his operating efficiency plan, Ciampaglio stated he would teach “agencies and the Inspector General to create strategic metrics that measure the efficiency and effectiveness of agency spending.”

By doing so, Ciampaglio said that the agencies would be able to stretch their budgets, be more transparent in their decision making, make recommendations on improving spending, and provide Virginia tax payers with a way of tracking the state’s efficiency and effectiveness.

According to Ciampaglio, following an editorial he authored, comments were made asking for a release of his peak efficiency-operating plan, in response to the editorial. Ciampaglio stated he is seeking clarification as to whether these comments were made by district voters or by other sources.

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New Manassas zoning law sparks outcry from abortion backers

News
Photo: City of Manassas

Abortion clinics and other medical care facilities must now have special permission from the Manassas City Council before they open.

Such new medical care facilities, other than hospitals and doctors offices — those that have office space, a lab, pharmacy, a physical therapy center, or other medical centers that do not hospitalize patients for care –must now obtain a special use permit from the Council before opening their doors in any commercial district in the city.

The Council voted last night to approve the measure. It’s a change from what city officials previously recommended, to only require a special use permit for “medical care facility” in the city’s historic downtown area or areas zoned as “B2 – neighborhood commercial zones.”

That change was prompted after a City Council work session held last week where Mayor Hal Parrish gave the tie-breaking vote to put forth the ordinance to require medical care facilities across the board a special use permit.

While this proved to be the most controversial of the measures, the new “medical care facility” zoning rule was one of many city zoning laws updated for the first time in nearly 70 years. The City Council ordered the laws to be updated, said city zoning administrator Matt Arcieri.

Following last night’s vote, several spoke out against the decision.

Katherine Greenier, of the Reproductive Health Project at the ACLU of Virginia, said the move aimed to block access to women’s health. “City zoning laws should not make it disproportionally difficult to access this kind of care,” she said.

“You’re making it difficult for a new abortion provider to open in the city, and making it difficult for the current abortion provider to renovate or move to another location in the city,” added Janis Kraft-Henry.

Others warned there will be political consequences for the move and vowed to get out the vote against the councilmembers who voted to approve the special use requirement.

Some women praised the decision and spoke out against abortion. Many said the decision to give birth to their child vs. choosing abortion was the best decision that could have made.

 

Route 1 widening work in Woodbridge ramps up for summer

News

Route 1 will be widened to six lanes.
Utilities will be buried.
Businesses remain open during construction.

Roadway crews are pushing forward on the job to widen a portion of Route 1 to six lanes in Woodbridge.

The project is in full swing and signs of construction along Route 1, between Neabsco Mills and Featherstone roads, are everywhere.

Unlike other typical road projects where a road is designed, the right of way for land is purchased, and then construction begins, this one is being done all at once. Relocating utilities and burying them underground, as well as widening the road and paving are all happening on the same schedule.

“With everything going on all at once, the project is a little unusual and a little innovative,” said Prince William County Transportation Department Director Thomas Blaser.

The ramped-up pace of construction will allow crews to deliver the project by the end of the year, said Blaser.

Drivers should expect some land closures as the project continues into summertime. The closures will be during “off peak” hours after 7 p.m. and prior to the morning rush hour.

Route 1 will be six lanes from Neabsco Mills Road to Featherstone Road when the work is complete. It will connect to an already widened bridge over Neabsco Creek in Woodbridge.

A separate project to widen Route 1 from four to six lanes from Mary’s Way to the Occoquan River is also underway. 

Boat launch comes to Lake Ridge Marina May 1

News

On May 1, the Prince William County Department of Parks and Recreation will be hosting a grand opening and ribbon-cutting at the Lake Ridge Golf & Marina. 

The ceremony will take place at 11 a.m.

According to a Prince William parks and recreation release, the floating dock and boat launch is being completed as part of the Occoquan Water Trail Access Enhancement project. The project is being funded by the National Park Service and the Chesapeake Bay office with a matching grant.

Future projects in the area will include bank stabilization using bio-socks and a beach launch area, as well as a pathway, mile markets and signage on the water trail, said a Prince William parks and recreation release.

Manassas man charged with abduction, impersonating law enforcement

News

On April 26, the Prince William police responded to a call from an apartment on Camfield Court in Manassas to investigate an assault.

The victim, a 26-year old woman, told officers that she and the suspect, 25-year old Stephen Kwaku Buadu, were involved in a verbal alteraction, said Prince William police.

A statement from Prince William police said that after the initial incident, Buadu knocked on the door of the victim, identifying himself as a police officer. 

When the victim opened the door, Buadu held her against her will and assaulted her, said Prince William police.

Buadu fled the scene before officers arrive. No injuries were reported. 

Following their investigation, Prince William police arrested Buadu without incident. He is currently being charged with abduction, domestic assault and battery and impersonating a law enforcement officer and is being held without bond.

 

Coal ash pond at Possum Point Power Station outside Dumfries will be drained

News
possum point

Updated

Water from a pond used to store coal ash in Prince William County will be drained into Quantico Creek.

Dominion says once water inside the ponds at Possum Point has been deemed safe and complies with new EPA and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality rules, the water will be drained.

Dominion Virginia Power says it no longer uses coal to generate electricity at the Possum Point Power Station near Dumfries, and two of its other power plants in Virginia.

Coal ash is what’s left over after coal is burned to generate electricity.

The waters of Quantico Creek flow into the Potomac River.

Here’s more in a press release:

The company will close ponds at four locations in Virginia: Bremo Power Station in Fluvanna County, Chesapeake Energy Center inChesapeake, Chesterfield Power Station in Chesterfield County, and Possum Point Power Station in Prince William County. 

Coal ash is the remainder left after coal is burned to generate electricity. In recent years, Dominion has closed or converted to cleaner fuel five coal-fired power stations serving Virginia. Nearly two-thirds of the electricity produced by Dominion’s generation serving the state now comes from carbon-free nuclear generation, clean-burning natural gas and renewables.

The company no longer uses coal as a fuel at its Bremo, Chesapeake and Possum Point power stations.

The pond at Possum Point will be drained and covered with an impermeable liner. Then 24 inches of soil will be placed where water once was. Grass seed or sod will then be placed on top of the soil, depending upon rules set up by Virginia DEQ.

A Dominion Virginia Power spokesman said he could not accommodate a request from Potomac Local to photograph the pond due to an outage causing safety issues in the area. The company offered to send a submitted photo of the pond, and said a photographer would be permitted to access the site once the safety issues had been resolved.

The Possum Point Power Station on the bank of the Potomac River generates electricity by using natural gas, oil, and a dual fired combined cycle unit that uses natural gas converted from coal.

“Movie Night” on the Manassas Museum lawn May 15

News

On May 15, the Baldwin Elementary School PTO will be hosting their annual Family Movie Night on the Manassas Museum lawn.

The movie – Paddington Bear – will begin at 8:15 p.m. 

Entry to the movie is free for all participants.

Prior to the movie, residents can take part in lawn games at 6:30 p.m. with the OHS Community Action Athletes, OHS Honors History Club, OHS, Mayfield & Metz Robotics teams, Premier Martial Arts and the NOVA Music Center Conga drum line.

Pizza, hot dogs, popcorn, candy, chips and other food items will be available to purchase with cash. All food and drink sales will benefit the Baldwin Elementary PTO.

If there is rain, the event will be rescheduled for May 29.  

Should government seize your property without a criminal conviction?

Opinion 

In 2012, Mandrel Stuart, the 35-year-old owner of a small Staunton barbecue business, was stopped for a routine traffic violation in Fairfax County. In his vehicle was $17,550 in cash from his business that was going to be used for payroll and other expenses. Without being convicted of a crime, the Fairfax County Police Officer took the $17,550 under the authority of the current Virginia Asset Forfeiture laws.

He rejected a settlement for half his money, demanding a jury trial. He eventually got all of his money back, but lost his business because he didn’t have cash to pay his costs. Currently a local sheriff or police officer can seize your property without a criminal conviction. In fact you can be found not guilty of the criminal charge and the forfeiture action could continue.

Delegate Mark Cole, representing the 88th District which includes parts of Stafford and Spotsylvania Counties, is leading the fight against this practice with HB1287.

“Current Virginia law allows for seizure of personal property without a criminal conviction. My legislation would require criminal conviction before property could be taken,” said Delegate Mark Cole. I believe most commonwealth’s attorneys, sheriffs, and police are using the system responsibly,” Cole said. “However, there is the potential for abuse and it is fundamentally un-American for the government to take someone’s property when they have not been convicted of a crime. This legislation will protect property owners from potential misuse or abuse of the state asset forfeiture provisions.”

And why would there be potential misuse and abuse of this power? The state collected an average of $7.2 million a year between 2000 and 2008 by seizing cash and selling property involved in suspected drug-related activity, according to the Institute for Justice. Keep Reading…

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