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Best Bets to Ring in 2014

Party goers at the Wingate Hotel in Stafford County line up for an all-you-can-eat buffet as they rang in 2013. [Uriah Kiser/PotomacLocal.com]

Country rock

Virginia’s own Southern Prophets southern rock bank will be the headling act at the newly opened “Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill” in Woodbridge.

The quartet hails from Virginia Beach and plays regularly at Toby Keith’s sister bar in Newport News.

It’s $10 to get in and includes party favors and a champagne toast. Advanced tickets are being sold on the venue’s website.

Party at Mainstreet

The New Year’s Eve party at Mainstreet Grill and Bar in Stafford will include the acoustic rock bank Brownstone.

The cover band’s set list includes tracks from Mumford and Son, Alice in Chains, Smashing Pumpkins, 3 Doors Down, and others that are sure to get you going.

Tickets are $5 in advance and $10 at the door. Admission includes party favors and a champagne toast.

Call 540-288-9277 for more info.

Elegant evening at K2

Those who like jazz and those who like to treat themselves on New Years Eve will want to head over to K2 Restaurant and Lounge in Woodbridge for Big New York Jazz Funk Extravaganza 2014.

The event features three artists including Elliot Levin, Jared, and “Laughing Lenny” at the restaurant in Featherstone Square in Woodbridge.

Doors open at 8 p.m. and dinner is served at 8:45 p.m. The show starts at 9 p.m. with a comedy hour at 10 p.m. An after party starts at midnight and a special breakfast is served at 1 a.m.

Tickets are $65 in advance, $70 at the door, and $40 for the after party.

First Night Fredericksburg

First Night Fredericksburg is an annual event that attracts thousands to that city. With 10 musical acts on 10 stages, and kids and family zones throughout the festival area, it’s one of the region’s premier family-friendly New Year’s Eve events.

While there will be several restaurants and vendors in attendance, the highlight of the night comes at midnight when a globe is dropped at the city’s Riverfront Park after a 10-second countdown.

Tickets to the event are $5 in advance and $8 the night of the event. Paid event-event goers will be issued a button good for admission into all of the venue tents and musical performance areas.

‘Walter Mitty’ Has it All

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty — Rated PG — 4 1/2 stars of 5

“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” got a whole lot less secret today with the release of this new movie by Writer/Director Ben Stiller (“Tropic Thunder“).

Walter Mitty (played by Stiller) works in the bowels of the company that produces “Life” magazine. He is mild-mannered and has lived a sheltered life of no consequence. Walter’s job title is “negative asset manager” and he is good at it. He is also good at daydreaming, which he does most of the time, especially when he looks at Cheryl (Kristin Wig from “Girl Most Likely”). Unfortunately, she is looking for a dream man and not a man that only dreams.

“Life” is coming to an end, and there is one more negative for Walter to prepare for the cover. The only problem is Walter cannot find that negative. He has never lost one in 16 years and this sends him on a real adventure to find the famous recluse photographer Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn from “The Tree of Life”).

There is a circular logic at work here. Walter likes Cheryl but does not have the courage to make a move on her. Although, it is because of her he finds the courage to dive in and out of helicopters and a bunch of other cool crazy things to find this negative. After he has done those things, he has the courage to make his move on her. This is quite normal for men, as a woman is the one thing that will have us running in circles.

I wondered what the fantasy–reality mix would be in this movie, and I must say they found the right ratio. Stiller plays an excellent modern-day Mitty, who does not seek out his visions for fame or fortune, or even ego. He breaks out of his mold because he has to, which is the only other reason men do anything. All this is a welcomed departure from the original short stories of the 1940s.

This movie has everything, from Bowie to Stretch Armstrong to a Poetry Falcon, and it all worked. No other movie in the theater right now will have a bearded Chilean man yell, “Stay gold Ponyboy.”

We are all Walter Mitty in some form. We are all ordinary people with big dreams of doing something extraordinary one day. Very few actually have the courage to take that leap of faith. I give this movie 4 ½ stars out of 5, and I dare you to take a chance, and see the best date movie of the year. Do not keep your dreams a secret.

Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker.

Volunteer Event to Focus on Local Artists, Coincide with McAuliffe Inauguration

 WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Terry McAuliffe has called for a statewide day of service on Jan. 4 ahead of his inauguration as the 72nd Governor of Virginia.

In Dumfries, the Make The Future organization that works with at-risk youth and college students, and also helped to propel Delegate-Elect Michael Futrell (D-Stafford, Woodbridge) to political prominence as the organization he co-founded, has answered the call.

“Doing our pART, Giving with our heart” is slated to take place Jan. 4 at the Dumfries Boys and Girls Club. The event aims to draw local artists, as well as performance artists, and dancers, to show children the importance of volunteering.

“It will be a day of volunteers talking about volunteering,” said Dr. Bernadine Futrell, who runs the non-profit organization with her husband, Michael. “It’s exposing children about a bigger world and showing them that this volunteering effort is about community, and that it’s bigger than just you.”

The event will also include Zumba, information on healthy living, and children will make special tokens for those with illnesses who are admitted to Children’s Hospital.

IRS mistake

The volunteer day comes as Delegate-Elect Michael Futrell is preparing to head to Richmond to be sworn in to the General Assembly law-making body. He’ll represent Woodbridge, where he lives with his wife and son, as well as portions of Dumfries and North Stafford.

Make the Future became a campaign issue earlier this summer when the IRS incorrectly noted the non-profit had not filed its taxes since it was founded three years ago. Futrell initially told Potomac Local News that he took full responsibility for the tax oversight. Later, the IRS issued an apology and stated the organization was removed from the IRS’s auto revocation list, and that erroneously listed Make the Future as a private organization. That letter is now prominently featured on the organization’s revamped website.

Labor of love

That revamped website is the first of multiple new efforts not only keep the organization appealing to newcomers, but to extend its reach in the community. The Futrells both continue to work full-time jobs and then come home each night to raise their son and work on their non-profit.

They hope to reach more high school students to help them apply for college, especially the ones who don’t think they are college material. Getting donations to help offset the cost of college applications is also big on the non-profit’s wish list.

“The schools do a great job, but there so many kids, and because they’re so many kids what ends up happening is you see the ones who know [about the college application process] are the ones who are reaching out and going out, and there’s a group that gets lost in the shuffle and they don’t know what questions they’re supposed to ask,” said Michael Futrell.


Several of the day-long basketball camps Make The Future holds attracts anywhere between 20 and 50 children, and as many as 15 volunteers on an ongoing basis. The camps are broken up between athletic instruction with Michael “Coach” Futurell during the mornings for team building and exercise, and then academic instruction and help with Dr. Bernadine Futrell for help on class work, as well as college application and guidance.

The organization is constantly accepting new volunteers, and the Futrells – who have paid for the organization’s expenses out of their own pockets – hope more donations in 2014 will allow them to turn some of the those volunteers into paid staffers, as well as provide marketing dollars to reach new youth who can benefit from the program.

Dumfries Vice Mayor’s Surprise Gift of Christmas Turkey Brings Tears, Help to Family

DUMFRIES, Va. – When Angela Armstrong was standing in a checkout line at a Walmart store in Dumfries she never expected this.

After a long day at her government job in Arlington, following a trip to church, and after shopping with her husband and three cranky children for last-minute Christmas gifts, the Triangle wife, mother of five, and new grandmother, was picked to receive a free holiday turkey.

“We were just standing there and there he came,” said Armstrong. “He didn’t know us and we didn’t know him.”

The family was approached by Vice Mayor Willie J. Toney of Dumfries after he spotted them in the checkout line. He asked if they had purchased a turkey for Christmas. When they told him “not yet,” he handed over a gift card good for any turkey in the store.

“I saw them and I wanted to help,” said Toney. “It’s all about giving back at this time of year.”

So, the Armstrongs accepted and thanked Toney, and then went and picked out a 23-pound bird for Christmas dinner. It will be enough to bring together mom and dad, and their family of five children, and a 3-week-old grandchild.

Armstrong cried after she received the gift. She’s not poor, but the government shutdown in October took a toll on the family expenses. Plus, after losing his job locally, Armstrong’s husband found new employment that requires him to travel frequently, so being together at Christmas will mean a lot of the family.

“I spend at least $200 a week on food and it keeps going up. Gas is expensive, everything is expensive. We are a middle-class family. We always give to the church and help those in need. We never qualify for any programs nor do we expect anything from anyone,” she explained.

She added that those who live in Northern Virginia must have a hardened character in order to deal with long commutes and terrible traffic. Maybe resilient would be a better word to describe Armstrong, as she also recently had a tumor removed.

Toney wasn’t wearing a Santa Claus suit that night in Walmart, just a pair of jeans and a hat, said Armstrong. The gift card was one of 40 Toney passed out.

“I do this once a year,” said Toney.

He pays for the turkeys out of his own pocket.

“Up until then it really didn’t feel like Christmas, and now it does,” said Armstrong.

Michele is Friendly, Playful

This lovely, orange and white, Maine Coon mix female is a sweet and mellow little kitty. If you are looking for the perfect companion cat, she is the one. Michele is friendly, playful & enjoys other cats. She is UTD on her shots and has been spayed.

For more information on this animal, visit staffordspca.org/contact-us.html

‘Dallas Buyer’s Club’ Moving Example of the Human Condition

Dallas Buyer’s Club — Rated R — 5 stars of 5

I thought the “Dallas Buyer’s Club” was about Jerry Jones and the Cowboys. I found out it’s about another cowboy named Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey from “Mud”) who blazed his own trail in the 1980s.

In 1986, he was your standard redneck, good for nothing, day-to-day working electrician until he was diagnosed with HIV. The fact he got it through heterosexual sex did not seem to matter to his immune system. To be clear, Ron did not get Magic Johnson AIDS. He got the full-blown, Freddy Mercury, Rock Hudson, cut-you-down-to-the-bone AIDS. His friends, with their hate and ignorance, treat him like a leper.

He was given 30 days to live, and instead of giving up he went to this place called a “library” to find some answers. With the FDA and American doctors on their heels, his search for treatment led him to Mexico. There he finds Dr. Vass (Griffin Dunne from “Broken City“), who does not nurse at the teet of big Pharm Americana style and their wonder drug AZT.

It seems all these wonderful medications from Mexico are not illegal; they just don’t have the FDA stamp of approval. Ron only cares about staying alive and the proof is in his pudding of vitamins, proteins and enzymes. So he hooks up (business-wise) with AIDS stricken Rayon (Jared Leto from “Lonely Hearts”) and starts the Dallas Buyer’s Club. It’s an almost legal way to get these drugs to people who need them, as membership has its privileges.

You see, Ron was not book smart, but he was street smart. And those are the skills that made a difference. That and not letting anyone, anything or any law stand in his way. He does everything possible to live. In fact, he does not stop there; as he actually does things nobody thought was possible. He did not do this for fame or pride but merely for the rights of him and his fellow diseased patrons to live.

This film is such a moving example of the human condition. With an Oscar-worthy performance from McConaughey, we see a man evolve in the way he sees people and his place in the world. While much has been said about McConaughey’s weight loss, I think Jared Leto even tops that. I understand he lost 39 lbs., but he did not have it to lose. If I lost 39 lbs. people would just ask if I got a haircut.

I saw this movie a few days ago and have been trying to think of a reason not to give it 5 stars. This movie did not preach, yet represents the best sermon I have ever seen on the human condition. So I say unto thee, I hereby give this movie 5 out of 5 stars. Join the club, and find out what life is really all about.

Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker.

Sarge a Mastiff Mix

122313 sarge

Sarge is 2 yrs. old and a mastiff mix. He loves to play and have a good time. He loves to get attention.

We are helping TLC Home Vet Care, we are listing these dogs who are losing their home. All dogs need to have a new home within 30 days. These are not SPCA dogs and we have no further information on the dogs that what’s posted here. If you would like to give these dogs a home, email lori@staffordspca.org and I will put you directly in contact with the owner that is rehoming.

Doberman and Has a Very Sweet Personality

Hero is 13 yrs. old and has arthritis. He is a doberman and has a very sweet personality. Never been around cats. Needs to be tested for HW and brought up to date on shots. Dr. E has offered to help with that.

We are helping TLC Home Vet Care, we are listing these dogs who are losing their home. All dogs need to have a new home within 30 days. These are not SPCA dogs and we have no further information on the dogs that what’s posted here. If you would like to give these dogs a home, email lori@staffordspca.org and I will put you directly in contact with the owner that is rehoming.

Otis is Missing

My beloved Otis, neutered male, medium size (40 lbs), floppy ears, crescent moon tail, mixed poodle/terrier (looks like a Goldendoodle), mostly white with tan on back, disappeared from my yard in Annandale, VA on 9/22/2013.

His hair is shorter than shown in photo and may be matted by now. He has an implanted ID chip. I need help to get him home.

Last seen wearing a brown leather collar with tags and a pink fabric leash, but someone may have removed them. If you have any information contact me at https://www.facebook.com/kbkjlostdog .

Toby Keith’s Open in Woodbridge, Concerts Scheduled


WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill has opened its doors in Woodbridge.

It is the latest eatery to open in the ever-expanding Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center that is also home to Wegmans grocery store.

The new venue – half restaurant and bar and half concert venue – will welcome their first live act to their stage tonight and tomorrow. Casey Rae, a country artists whose been performing since she was five years old and hails from Matthews, Va. just an hour and a half outside Richmond, will perform.

A New Year’s Eve party with country music artists Southern Prophets is scheduled, and WMZQ-FM will present Dustin Lynch at the venue Thursday, Jan. 30 at 8 p.m. Tickets for the show are selling for $22 each.

The opening comes after long months of delays for the venue that was supposed to have opened in July. While the building sat unfinished, many shoppers at Stonebridge and area residents wondered what was taking so long to get the heavily promoted venue open.

Company officials said they had delays with proper building permits and liquor licenses.

The following statement was posted to the venue’s Facebook page on Dec. 16, just hours before officially opening:

Folks we received our Liquor License this afternoon so we will be opening once we get food prepped and ready to go. There is nothing stopping us now so get ready folks we are finally going to kick this thing off!! Thank you all (or at least most of you) for your patience and we will see you this week!


Local Author Tackles Cancer, Loss of Parents in New Book

Very few young people in their early 20s must go through the pain of losing their mother and father.

But that’s what Mary C. Rosenthal did when she was just 22 years old, a week before her first wedding anniversary — she buried her mother after a long bout with Metastatic lung cancer. A year later, she buried her father. Both smokers and died of cancer.

Now, Rosenthol, who is a member of Manassas’s Write by the Rails publishers group and a freelance writer for Potomac Local News, has published her account of loss to help other young people who may be reeling from losing a mother, father, anyone else they held dear.

“After it happens you are miserable, people say really dumb things to you, and you’re hit with so many details at one time very little, if anything, really makes sense,” said Rosenthol about the burial and grieving process.

She began writing her book shortly after her father died 14 years ago. When she was finished, she stored it away while friends and family encouraged her to get the work published.

“I didn’t write it for them, I wrote it for me,” said Rosenthol.

But after she spent an evening with another published author she decided it was time to dust of her writings and try to share them with the world.

She sent her manuscript to several publishers and within two weeks she got good news via email — she was going to be get published. On Dec. 10, Tate Publishers released published copies of the book “Terminal: Handling the Reality of Love and Loss” to bookstores and the company’s website. It is Rosenthol’s first published work as an author.

“I think the biggest takeaway from all of this is that I want people to know that every emotion their feeling after a loss is normal,” she said. “It’s OK to be totally lost.”

There are many support groups for children and for older adults, but Rosenthol said she found few for people in their 20s. This book, she hopes, will let someone know that someone out there is going through the same problems and is willing to listen to them.

Editor’s note: Mary Rosenhol is a freelance reporter for Potomac Local News covering Manassas and Manassas Park.

Porter Now Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center President

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Steve Porter is now serving as the President of Northern Virginia Medical Center.

He replaces Sentara Northern Virginia President Megan Perry who is transitioning to a new role of Sentara’s Corporate Vice President for Mergers & Acquisitions.

More in a press release:

Since joining Sentara in 1997 as an Administrative Fellow at Optima Health, Porter has moved through the organization’s ranks, demonstrating an enthusiasm for taking on increasingly demanding responsibilities and a commitment to the Sentara mission of improving health every day. “I am very excited to join Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center and am committed to building upon the work of my predecessor to expand Sentara’s community health initiatives while continuing to deliver exceptional care to patients. Working with the great team at SNVMC, I’m confident we will continue to thrive.”

Porter has served as President of Sentara Princess Anne Hospital (SPAH) since 2006, where he led the transformation of SPAH from an outpatient facility to a vibrant healthcare campus, providing for the growing healthcare needs of the southern Virginia Beach community. Prior to the opening of SPAH, Porter led the development of the Princess Anne Ambulatory Health Campus. Porter also served as executive lead across Sentara for transitioning from Joint Commission accreditation to Det Norske Veritas (DNV) accreditation, which was achieved in September 2012; re-accreditation was earned in September 2013.


Greater Prince William Community Health Center Holding Invitation-Only Job Fair

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – The Greater Prince William Health Center will hold an invitation-only job fair tomorrow.

The center has a location in Woodbridge at Ridgewood Center off Prince William Parkway and soon will expand to a second location in Manassas, at Evergreen Terrace at 9705 Liberia Avenue.

The center is looking to fill a total of 27 positions from doctors, dental assistants, to managerial and administrative jobs.

The Woodbridge center currently offers child wellness care, physicals for school, work, and sports, lab work, and family and internal medicine. Services are offered five days a week Monday through Friday, and evening appointments are available Mondays and Wednesdays.

In November, the center won a $650,000 grant from the Department of Health and Human Services under the national healthcare imitative known as Obamacare to expand. The new center is expected to open in March and plans to serve 5,000 new patients.

Frank Principi, who also serves at the elected Woodbridge District Supervisor on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, will serve as the director for both community medical faculties.

Lupo Still Missing


Update 12/13/13: Still missing! Hartwood area: Lupo is a 3-year-old husky mix. He was let out around 12:30 p.m. on Dec. 9.

He is solid white with ice blue eyes and his tail curls like the husky. He was not wearing a collar.

Lupo is skittish toward strangers, so he may not come up to you, But he is extremely friendly.

He is missed dearly and we have been out looking everyday since his disappearance.

Please call or txt me at 540-220-1325. I miss him and would like him home.

Manassas Mall Goes to the Dogs at Christmastime

Picture 1 of 5

MANASSAS, Va. – When it comes to pets this Christmas, Santa and his elves at Manassas Mall didn’t forget about their furry friends.

Hundreds lined up inside the mall Sunday night for the final night of pet photos with Santa. While there were mostly dogs – large and small – waiting for their close up with the jolly old elf, there were other kinds of animals, too.

Nicole Stone, of Centreville, brought her pet rabbit.

“…because he’s my rabbit…it’s a pet night, it didn’t say what type of animal you had to bring,” she said. “He’s pretty calm so I think he’ll behave when we get to sit on Santa’s lap.”

Two dogs, Peanut and Mookie, both three and four years old, respectively, were so excited it seemed they drug their owners to the mall to get photos.

“They are part of our family, and we want wanted to come get some crazy pet photos with them,” said Alisha Dantin, Centerville.

There was also an off-duty Prince William County Animal Control Officer standing in line. She brought her 3-year-old female whippet, Terra, to have her photo taken.

Dressed in uniform, she could’ve easily kept law an order among the pets if they had gotten out of hand, but the officer instead answered many questions about adopting animals at the county’s animal shelter.

“I get that a lot of adoption questions, almost on a daily basis, when I’m out working in uniform, like what kind of dogs there are to adopt,” said Officer Marcia Burns. “Many times when I go into neighborhoods, especially during the summertime, I love it because it’s an opportunity to educate kids, and opportunity to show the [animal control] vehicle, show the equipment, and show how it works.”

Manassas Mall held pet night photo sessions from Dec. 1 to Dec. 15. Photo packages ranged from $21 to $47.

‘Nebraska’ has Solid Lead Actor, Poor Script

Nebraska — Rated R — 2 stars of 5

I went to “Nebraska” today, and boy, are my eyes tired. Not sure who was more bored, me or the characters on the screen.

Ole Woody Grant (Bruce Dern from “Django Unchained”) got a letter saying he won a million dollars. He is set on going from his home in Montana to Lincoln, Neb., to pick up the money if it’s the last thing he does. His family tries to explain it’s all a scam, but Woody has to see this thing through.

Woody’s son, David (Will Forte from “Rock of Ages“), decides to drive him there after Woody attempts to walk the 900 miles a few times. These two barely get along and don’t know much about each other, and therein lies the purpose of the movie.

It seems life in the Midwest is so bleak that everything is black and white. I did appreciate Woody’s wife Kate (June Squibb from “Would You Rather“) bringing some colorful language and an inspired performance into the story.

Dern’s portrayal of a doddering old fart was so good you may think he didn’t even know he was in a movie. Nobody really likes Woody, including himself, and I must admit that Dern plays annoyed and annoying better than most.

I found much of the movie to be hampered by poor writing and superfluous scenes. The dialogue was so hacky and cliché’ you would think I wrote it. If this were a small indie I’d seen at a festival I would say, “Nice job.” But this picture was helmed by two-time Oscar winner Alexander Payne (“The Descendants”). This is his kind of movie, in an “About Schmidt” kind of way, although here the material came off as dreary as the scenery.

I love a good father and son story, and the geriatric road trip is one way to get there. I just wished they had gotten there and not literally stopped on the side of the road. There was so much talent in this movie and it was so poorly used. I swear to you, I thought for the first half of the movie they had just filmed their rehearsal.

For most fathers and sons, life does not work out like they would think. Woody thought he was going to win a million dollars and I thought I was going to see a great movie. We both were disappointed. I can only give this movie 2 stars out of 5. Nebraska may be a nice place to visit, but the movie isn’t.

Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker.

New Video Claims Ghost Hunters Touched at Weems-Botts Museum


DUMFRIES, Va. – A new video posted to Dumfries’ Weems-Botts Musuem Facebook page appears to chronicle the experience of a group of paranormal investigators at the museum, an old home that dates back to the 18th century.

The Weems-Botts Museum has gained national attention from TV shows on major networks. The center also holds annual ghost walks every October.


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