According to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the shoulder lane on I-495 has been opened.
VDOT stated that this has been done to improve driving conditions going northbound, when I-495 Express Lanes join the regular driving lanes.
More on the new lane from VDOT:
The 1.5-mile lane will allow traffic to travel on the left shoulder of northbound I-495 from where the 495 Express Lanes end to the George Washington Parkway. The shoulder will be open to all traffic from 7-11 a.m. and 2-8 p.m. on weekdays. A lane-use management system, with green arrows and red “X’s,” similar to the lane-control system on I-66, will alert travelers when the shoulder is open.
In addition to the extra lane, several safety enhancements have been implemented such as upgraded concrete barriers in the median of I-495, new cameras and electronic highway signs to help with incident response and traveler information, and new pavement.
All travelers and buses will benefit from the new capacity and improved merge. There will be no barrier separation between the shoulder lane and the regular Beltway lanes, ensuring easy access for travelers.
Woodbridge district Supervisor Frank Principi is going to the Trader Joe’s headquarters in California.
Principi is going to their headquarters to petition for a Trader Joe’s location in Woodbridge at his own expense, following consistent feedback from residents.
In a survey he sent to Woodbridge residents, 85 percent of respondents said that they typically spend $100 or more when visiting Trader Joe’s, according to a release.
The “Bring Trader Joe’s to Woodbridge” Facebook page is very active, with more than 1,900 ‘likes’.
Currently, the two closest locations are in Springfield and Centerville, which means that the money spent by area residents at these sites is leaving Prince William.
According to Principi, he hopes to get a meeting with one of the Trader Joe’s officials, and is willing to wear the company’s trademark Hawaiian shirt to do so.
“If it will help me get the meeting – definitely,” Principi stated in a release.
Residents in Woodbridge have not been shy in expressing their desire to have a Trader Joe’s location in their area.
“Trader Joe’s has unique items that are not available at other stores…They have reasonable prices and their selection of foods tend to have much healthier choices. The food is high quality and tasty and the personnel that work there are some of the friendliest and most helpful of any store, grocery or other,” said Woodbridge resident Harry Winnik in a release.
“We love Trader Joe’s, and right now it’s a once a month treat, only because it’s not close enough for us to go more often…We would shop twice a week if it was closer,” said Lake Ridge resident Erika Estrella in a release.
Principi stated that he would like to collect a signature with 2,000 signatures before he leaves for Trader Joe’s headquarters.
Principi formerly attended school and lived in California.
July 7, 2015
July 6, 2015
Discover Prince William & Manassas has plans to close the Occoquan Visitor’s Center on August 2, and will be meeting to talk about it on July 20.
The organization – also known as the Convention & Visitor’s Bureau – who is responsible for tourism in the county, consider the visitor’s center to be a low return on investment, according to their Executive Director Ann Marie Maher.
“The CVB’s Visitor Center was identified as an area with a low return on investment in relation to other CVB programs,” said Maher.
Funding changes for Discover Prince William & Manassas
According to Maher, Discover Prince William & Manassas had made a fiscal year 2016 budget request for $1,346,845 but the organization only received county funding in the amount of $1,162,782.
Additionally, the organization used to receive $87,000 per year from the City of Manassas, but their funding from the city has now dropped to $65,000, according to city spokeswoman Patty Prince.
“Prior to this [year] we had given them $87,000 per year, and this year we gave them $65,000…this is 50% of our TOT (Transit Occupancy Tax) funds…what we’re asking them to do is promote us for our special events, shopping and dining in historic downtown [Manassas] and bring in bus tours. We’re asking them to more narrowly focus than they have been,” said Prince.
Prince also stated that the funds from the city had never been based on TOT funds before, and this was the cause for the shift in funding.
Occoquan district Supervisor Mike May stated that Discover Prince William & Manassas may be closing the Occoquan Visitor’s Center as a way to continue their sports marketing initiative that the county is no longer funding.
“That’s interesting because the CVB received the exact same amount of TOT revenue for operating this year that they got last year. And in the budget documents it states that operations will remain the same. Now the CVB did get a one time grant of additional TOT money to do some sports marketing initiatives, so that grant was only available in [fiscal year 2015]…what I think that the CVB has decided is the marketing initiative is valuable and they want to continue it. And in trying to find the revenue to continue it, they have tried to find reductions in other areas and one of those areas is the closure of the visitor’s center,” said May.
Elected officials, residents voice concerns on the closure
May expressed concerns about the closure of the visitor’s center.
“I am concerned about it. I think that the Occoquan Visitor’s Center is an asset to the entire county – not just the Occoquan community. I think it provides a personal touch, and it’s one of the best ways to market the community and small town image that Occoquan and some of our other small towns in Prince William present to visitors,” said May.
May stated that he had reached out to Discover Prince William & Manassas through the County Executive Melissa Peacor, to work with the organization to come up with an alternative.
“If nothing else, I think that the quick timing of the decision is problematic, because it did not give the community or the stakeholders an opportunity to thoroughly explore alternatives that we might be able to come up with. At the minimum, I would like to see the CVB keep it open for a time, so we can continue to talk through these things and see about a public-private partnership,” said May.
Maher stated that the budget for the organization, and potential cuts, had been discussed for several months.
“The [board] reviewed budget revisions presented during public meetings on February 23, March 23 and April 20 where the CVB Board discussed estimated FY16 revenues and the best use of these funds. The CVB met with the Mayor and Town Manager of the Town of Occoquan on May 21 to discuss the visitor center closure…although there were no funds allocated to sustain the center operation in the CVB’s FY16 budget beginning July 1, a decision was made by the CVB to extend funding through August 2, 2015 in an effort to work with the town in developing a transition plan,” said Maher.
According to May, he has heard concerns from several of his constituents in Occoquan about the visitor’s center closing.
“I think people are concerned about it and from my perspective, and a lot of my constituent’s perspective, they like it…and it adds that personal touch that you don’t get from a website or a brochure…but even setting that aside, I think the bigger concern is the rapid nature of the decision, in the fact that the stakeholders were never really given a venue to express concerns and let the CVB know how important the visitor’s center is to them,” May commented.
What happens next?
The board of directors for Discover Prince William & Manassas will meet on July 20 to talk about options for the Occoquan Visitor’s Center.
“At the CVB Board of Directors regularly scheduled meeting on July 20, the CVB Board will discuss concerns posed by the Town of Occoquan, Supervisor May and others impacted by the CVB Board’s FY16 budget,” said Maher.
May stated that he would be attending the meeting, and urged residents with an opinion to go to the meeting and speak.
The identities of the three individuals arrested by the Stafford sheriff’s office – following a bank robbery yesterday – have been released.
The three individuals are 35-year old Richmond man Jerome Anderson, 28-year old Richmond man Anthony Washington and 21-year old Richmond man Tyrone Jones.
Anderson, Washington and Jones have all been charged with one count of robbery, one count of conspiracy to commit a robbery, one count of possession of stolen property and one count of grand larceny.
The men are being held at the Rappahannock Regional Jail with no bond.
More from a Stafford sheriff’s office release:
The charge of 1 Count of Possession of Stolen Property is the result of the fact that the three suspects were driving a car reported stolen out of Henrico County, Virginia. The preliminary investigation indicates that the suspects were in the vehicle after leaving the bank but abandoned it on Truslow Road shortly after the robbery.
“The hard work of the Stafford Sheriff’s Office Deputies and the assistance of additional personnel from several other law enforcement agencies played a key role in locating these dangerous criminals,” states Sheriff Charles Jett. “The other key factor in these arrests was the numerous citizens who took the time to call the Sheriff’s Office throughout the search and provide the possible location of the two suspects who were trying to evade capture. The partnership between the citizens and the law enforcement community brought these suspects to justice.”
Yesterday afternoon there was a bank robbery at the Union 1st Market Bank on Warrenton Road in Stafford County.
According to the Stafford sheriff’s office, employees at the bank stated than an individual entered the bank and handed the employee a note to demand money.
The individual fled the scene and was last seen running through a field behind the bank, said the Stafford sheriff’s office.
Deputies set up a perimeter around the bank and searched for the individual with K-9 units. According to the Stafford sheriff’s office, witnesses to the robbery stated there may be two additional individuals involved.
Shortly after the robbery, the individual matching the description by a witness was seen walking down Truslow Road, said the Stafford sheriff’s office. The individual was taken into custody.
Additional deputies, detectives and K-9 units, along with a helicopter provided by the Maryland State Police, searched the area where the individual was arrested to look for the two other potential suspects. Following a 4-hour search, the two individuals were spotted running into the wooded area of Abel Lake, said the Stafford sheriff’s office.
A K-9 unit was able to locate the two individuals, who have been taken into custody, stated the Stafford sheriff’s office.
According to the Stafford sheriff’s office, units from the Fredericksburg Police Department, the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office and the Maryland State Police all participated in locating and apprehending the individuals.
Information about the suspects and their charges will be provided today, said the Stafford sheriff’s office.
A new workforce development center is set to open in Woodbridge in January.
First, the specifics from Northern Virginia Community College Woodbridge Campus spokeswoman Charlene Wilkins:
On January 2016, the Regional Center for Workforce Education and Training (RCWET) will open on the NOVA Woodbridge Campus offering a convenient, local solution for highly specialized continuing professional education.
The RCWET is a 55,000 square-foot state-of-the-art building that will be the epicenter of high-quality training and education delivery, creating a workforce to meet the technological demands of Northern Virginia businesses, government and military communities.
Training programs provided will include:
· Program Management
These programs will allow area employers and their incumbent workers the ability to expand their professional expertise and stay in step with the ever-changing advancements in today’s business environment. The Regional Center will also include a Certified Testing Center and 7,500 square-foot Conference Center designed to host a range of events from industrial-type training, exhibits and trade shows, to formal gatherings and special events.
The Prince William County Board of Supervisors committed $1 million to the project, and that caught the attention of Virginia lawmakers in Richmond who opted to fund the remainder of the $27 million project.
Woodbridge Campus Provost Dr. Sam Hill said the center’s ability to hold events would make it attractive to several organizations in the region.
“Prince William now has a center to hold events on the eastern side of the county,” said Hill.
Many events for Prince William County are held at the Continental Events Center in Manassas City, and at the Hylton Performing Arts Center just outside the city where Hill made his presentation about the new workforce development center.
According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Marshals found Wilson and Shook in Smyth County, Virginia, where they were taken to a nearby sheriff’s office.
Fourteen year old Hayleigh Wilson has been missing since June 22.
Wilson, who is from Surgoinsville, Tennessee, may be with 41-year old convicted sex offender Benjamin Shook, according to Prince William police.
According to Prince William police, Wilson and Shook may have met using the online “Kik” app.
They were last seen in Smyth County Virginia.
Prince William police are still searching for an individual that robbed a PNC Bank branch on Hedges Run Drive in Lake Ridge last week.
According to Prince William police, on July 2 at 12:08 p.m., officers responded to a call from the bank to investigate a robbery.
A bank employee said that an unknown individual approached the bank area, showed a handgun and demanded money, said Prince William police.
The individual took an undisclosed amount of money and fled on foot.
No one was injured.
According to Prince William police, a police K-9 unit was used to search for the individual.
He is described as a male, between 20 and 30, 5’3” to 5’4” with a slender build. He was last seen wearing a gray and black North Face hooded jacket, dark sunglasses, blue jeans and a black scarf covering his face.
The police were very busy this past holiday weekend, with several calls in Woodbridge.
Early in the morning on July 3, Prince William police responded to a call for shots fired at a home on Port Hope Point in Triangle.
According to Prince William police, the homeowner stated that shots were fired into the dining room in the home.
No one was injured, and no other homes were hit.
Officers and a K-9 unit checked the area, and several shell casings were found, said Prince William police.
Prince William police were called to one incident in the evening of July 3 for a robbery call at a home on Touchstone Circle in Woodbridge.
According to Prince William police, the victim – a 42-year old Woodbridge man – told police he had plans to meet with a stranger from Craigslist in the area to sell him a cell phone.
During the incident, the individual took the phone from the victim and fled on foot. The victim attempted to chase the individual, who then pointed an unknown object toward him, said Prince William police.
No one was injured.
The individual is described as a black male, between 17 and 20, 5’3” and 140 pounds with a thin build, dark complexion and short black hair, stated Prince William police.
Early in the morning on July 5, Prince William police responded to a call at a home on Esquarre Court in Woodbridge for an assault.
According to Prince William police, the victim – a 32-year old Woodbridge woman – was asleep in her bedroom when 42-year old Clayton Holly, a known acquaintance, began to choke her.
The victim was able to activate a home alarm, which caused Holly to leave temporarily, before he returned and attempted to choke the victim again, said Prince William police.
Holly took the victim’s cell phone and fled before police arrived.
Minor injuries were reported.
Holly – described as a black male, 5’8” and 185 pounds with black hair and brown eyes – is wanted for strangulation, grand larceny and preventing the summoning of law enforcement.
Around 10 a.m. on July 5, Prince William police were called to a home on Cronin Drive in Woodbridge for a burglary.
The homeowner reported that the robbery took place between 11 p.m. July 4 and 10 a.m. July 5, said Prince William police.
Officers determined that entry into the home was made through a bedroom window, by pushing out an air conditioning unit, according to Prince William police.
No property was reported missing.
Later in the evening on July 5, Prince William police received another burglary call for a home on Dunleigh Court in Woodbridge.
The homeowner said that the burglary took place between 8 a.m. on July 3 and 6 p.m. on July 5, said Prince William police.
According to Prince William police, officers found that entry was made using a rear sliding glass door that was shattered.
Two gaming consoles and several TVs were reported missing.
Former Stafford supervisor Robert Gibbons has announced he will run this year in the Rock Hill district.
According to a release, Gibbons began his political career in the 1980s, and is a business owner and a retired veteran.
Gibbons spent 16 years on the Stafford County Board of Supervisors.
During his time as a supervisor, he worked with the board on constructing courthouse buildings, the Stafford airport, the regional landfill, Centreport Parkway, establishing a University of Mary Washington campus in Southern Stafford and creating the Fredericksburg Regional Transit (FRED) bus system, stated a release.
“Between the beauty, safety, and strong education available in our region, not to mention the strong opportunities for business owners, Stafford County will only continue growing. It’s important that county leaders are able to support that growth without unduly burdening residents and while maintaining the area characteristics that make the county such an inviting place,” stated Gibbons.
During his candidacy, Gibbons would like to address continued expansion of the I-95 Express Lanes.
Late in the evening on July 5, Prince William fire and rescue were called to a single family home for a fire on Nassau Drive in Woodbridge.
According to Prince William fire and rescue, there was fire seen on the back deck that had reached the attic.
Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire.
Prince William fire and rescue stated that three adults and one child was home at the time of the fire. The family was alerted about the fire by a neighbor knocking on their door to tell them, said Prince William fire and rescue.
The four individuals were able to safely evacuate. The Red Cross was on scene to assist the family displaced by the fire.
No one was injured.
A Building Inspector has declared the home uninhabitable, and has stated the damagers are worth $187,000.
The fire is currently being investigated by the Fire Marshal’s Office, said Prince William fire and rescue.
July 1, 2015
June 29, 2015