Lifestyle

80s Music Festival Planned for Manassas

By MARY ROSENTHOL
For Potomac Local News 

MANASSAS, Va. — On Saturday May 4, Crossroads Realty, PWC Entertainment and other area vendors will hold a special concert at the Olde Town Sports Pub. The Rock Show, a Journey tribute band, and the Rick Sickman Band will play hits songs from the 1980s. Proceeds from the show will go to benefit Operation Renewed Hope an organization that helps homeless veterans.

“I personally think the 80s were great,” said show organizer John Csoka. “I feel like there are very few concerts for the over 40 crowd, so we wanted to find something that would really appeal to them.”

The Rick Sickman band is coming all the way from the Midwest to entertain in Manassas and Csoka said he’s really looking forward to the show. Entry to the concert is free and vendors plan to donate any proceeds to charity.

“I met my wife at a Journey concert in 1986 so the era is obviously very special to us.” Csoka said. “We love the music from the 80s.”

Since alcohol will be available during the concert, no one under 21 will be able to attend. Csoka said he hopes to see the kind of crowd that turns out for St. Patrick’s Day at the Old Town Pub.

“It’s not uncommon to see more than 2,000 turn out for St. Patrick’s Day or New Years,” Csoka said. “We would love to have an even better turnout for this concert and really show our appreciation for our veterans.”

The concert will run from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. on May 4 at the Old Towne Sports Pub 8971 Center Street in Manassas.

Chic Dress of the Season Falls Flat Once Unwrapped

Mom on the Run

By LIANNE WILKENS

Finally! It came! I’m thrilled, and I’ve got just enough time before starting dinner.

Upstairs I run with the package. Inside should be my new dress, purchased online a few days ago. I’ve been going a little crazy with online shopping this spring. I’m finding adorable clothes on sale, plus extra discounts, plus free shipping and handling. My poor bill-paying husband has been very patient.

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In between the sleeveless dresses, sheath dresses, polka-dotted dresses, and floral dresses I’ve been looking for the perfect colorblock dress, the must-have style of the season. Every website offers some, dresses with two or three big zones of color. I have carefully studied pictures, read online reviews, zoomed in for detail and clicked for additional views. I have been very picky.

Until finally I found the one! The dress in this package has a white top, with a black skirt, a khaki belt, and khaki-traced rectangles on the sides. It’s different from all the other colorblock dresses I’ve seen, with a scoop neck and short sleeves, and a slender belt dividing the black and white. Oh, it will be so cute with my strappy black wedge sandals!

So, “Buy now,” I clicked, typed in my address and my credit card number, and began the impatient wait.

And now it’s here! I throw the rest of the mail on the kitchen table and run upstairs with my prize. I’m already thinking about tomorrow’s weather: is it going to be warm enough for my fabulous new dress?

In my room, I rip open the plastic bag, pull out the inner plastic bag. I find the sealed flap, peel it open, and the dress falls out.

Greedily I reach, and … well, the fabric is not at all what I expected. All my other new dresses are this amazing polyester-spandex blend, machine-washable with beautiful, flattering draping. I expected this dress to be the same, but it’s – I take a sleeve between my fingers and rub it experimentally – cotton, like a button-down blouse. Huh.

Well, that’s OK, I decide. I can iron. I don’t like to, but I can. I lift the whole dress, shake it out. Yes! Let’s see it on!

Quickly I unbuckle the belt and unzip the back. Completely disrespectfully I dump my shirt and slacks on the floor. I pull the new dress over my head, slide my arms through the sleeves and reach up-up-up as far as I can, pushing up the zipper, then stretch from the top to pull it the rest of the way.

Excited, I turn and look in the mirror, ready, finally, to see the dress! The flattering trendy on sale-plus-a-discount dress! And – oh. It looks … horrible. Absolutely horrible.

The dress is too big. Much too big, everywhere, hips, waist, torso. And shapeless! The skirt is straight, and ends, squarely, ugly, in right angles at my knees. Um, maybe … hurriedly I buckle the belt, hoping to give it shape, bring the dress together. The belt … well, it’s too big too, but if I add some holes? I pull the belt farther through the end, to simulate where the right hole would be. I turn and look again.

And no. Just no. Even fitted, it’s a bad dress. The fabric is terrible. The khaki rectangles are weird and distracting. The waist is high, the sleeves much shorter than I thought.

Hopefully I turn to the side, regard the dress from another angle. No. Yuck. Eww. I fumble with the belt and the zipper, wanting the dress off just as badly as I wanted it on. Annoyed, I fold the offending garment roughly, stuff it back into its plastic bag, shove that into the shipping package, then study the packing slip for return instructions.

Dang. Dang, dang, dang. I was so excited. But the fantastic dress isn’t, it’s a bad dress. And now it has to go back.

I am sour and frowning, until I realize … hey, I still don’t have a colorblock dress! I grin, realizing I get to try again.

Indie News Org Wins Top Nods for Gov’t & Feature Reporting, Photography

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NORFOLK, Va. — Potomac Local News has been recognized by the Virginia Press Association as the state’s leading online-only news source.

The independent news organization’s photography and writing took home seven first place awards in the VPA’s newly created online-only category at last night’s annual Awards Banquet held at the Marriott Waterside Hotel in Norfolk.

Potomac Local News was recognized for outstanding breaking news, portrait, feature  and pictorial photography, feature series writing and government reporting.

In addition, the independent news organization won the overall sweepstakes award in the online-only category, a contest in which the winner is determined by adding up the most points earned by winning first, second, and third place awards. Each first place earns three points, each second place wins two points and each third place earns one point.

This is the first year online-only news organizations were allowed to compete in the Virginia Press Association news and photography contests.

Potomac Local News was founded in 2010 by publisher and long-time area resident Uriah Kiser as an independent news organization dedicated to serving the communities of Prince William and Stafford counties.

The Virginia Press Association was incorporated in 1881 and serves member newspapers from across the state and Washington, D.C., and includes three online-only members: CharlottesvilleTomorrow.orgFauquier Now, and Potomac Local News.

Our proud winners are…

 

Mary Davidson

Mary Davidson

Mary Davidson

1st Place Breaking News Photo – Found Four Door

After a teenager was shot and killed by a Stafford County Sheriff’s Deputy inside his Fauquier County home, investigators worked feverishly to piece together what led to the shooting, and found the car the teenager had been driving just hours earlier, nearby his home.

1st Place General News Photo – Casket Carry

When long-serving OWL Volunteer Fire Department Chief Richard “Ricky” Arrington passed away, members of his family, his friends, and many dedicated public safety professionals came to the First Baptist Church of Woodbridge to pay their respects.

1st Place Feature Photo – Child Salutes Casket

While paying respects to OWL Volunteer Fire Department Chief Richard “Ricky” Arrington, 10-year-old Benjamin stood next to his father, Micheal Clark, and saluted Arrington’s casket as is past.

1st Place Personality or Portrait Photo – Obama Fist

When the 2012 Presidential Campaign came to Woodbridge on Sept. 21, thousands packed the stands at Richard G. Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge. When President Barack Obama took the podium, he convinced residents it was not the time to change leadership in the White House.

 

KJ Mushung

KJ Mushung

KJ Mushung

1st Place Pictorial Photo – Marine Corps Museum

With wispy clouds overhead and with one of the region’s most iconic structures in the foreground, the Virginia Press Association recognized KJ Mushung’s photo of the National Museum of the Marine Corps as the year’s best in the online-only category.

 

Kiser

Kiser

 

Uriah Kiser

1st Place Government Writing

In 2012, the Stafford County Board of Supervisors tackled issues like deciding whether or not to begin the process of adding an At-large Supervisor to represent all county residents, formulating a plan for what the future of the county’s courthouse district will look like in the future, and the creation of the county’s first wetlands mitigation bank. Potomac Local News Publisher Uriah Kiser’s reporting was recognized as the year’s best in the online-only category.

 

KJ Mushung & Uriah Kiser

1st Place Feature Series

Hydrilla, a weed that has overtaken Quantico Bay in Dumfries, has plagued boaters, property owners, and has brought nearly all boat traffic on the once-busy bay – a port that once rivaled New York City – to a halt. Through a series of reports, Virginia Press Association recognized the reporting of KJ Mushung and Uriah Kiser as the year’s best on the online-only category.

 

Weary of Fairfax Envy, Let’s Make Prince William ‘Good Enough’

OPINION 

By AL ALBORN
Contributing Editor

I notice a lot of Government Agencies at all levels have “Centers of Excellence” to ensure the highest standards of service. I’ve been involved in a few over the years, and I have matured my thinking to realize that centers devoted to driving up the size, cost, and complexity of government are perhaps not such a great idea.

I have a suggestion.

In the interests of reducing the size, complexity and reach of Prince William County Government and its operating costs, I am proposing that we initiate a “Center of Mediocrity”.

“Good enough” costs a lot less.

The quest for excellence has taken the Federal Government to the brink of failure. The Commonwealth is next. Perhaps Prince William County should be proactive and focus on “good enough” for a while.

It’s good to be proactive.

I know, it will take a bit of time to get used to certificates of recognition for “most mediocre” and a string of inspirational posters and phrases extolling the virtues and benefits of mediocrity, but change isn’t easy.

Every budget discussion is always framed around competition to be “the best.” We constantly compare ourselves to neighboring jurisdictions regarding economic development, cost of government, size of staff, academic, and financial performance – I could go on.

I am growing weary of comparisons to Fairfax County. We will never be like them. Constantly casting ourselves in “catch up” mode is expensive. We just don’t have the commercial economic base to compete, and it will be decades before we come even close.

I’m not really interested in paying for the absolute best government. I want to understand what is “good enough”, what satisfies the measures established in the Strategic Plan, what performance measures are important to the education of our children.

I would just as soon have a smaller, mediocre government that costs less and actually delivers more in terms of relevant, measurable results. I’d get rid of those decorative plants sprinkled all over Prince William County Government buildings and the maintenance that goes with them, for starters. They just don’t strike me as the mediocre response I’m looking for when entering the McCoart Administration Building.

I think the Prince William should start a recognition program for county employees who contribute to government mediocrity. Perhaps a lapel pin. Denim shirts would be nice to spread the message, as long as we didn’t get the really expensive ones.

Citizens with suggestions regarding how to be “good enough” should also be recognized by their District Supervisor or perhaps our Chairman during board meetings. I’d print the certificates of recognition on a color printer instead of getting expensive plaques to be consistent.

I already have a slogan for coffee cups and T-Shirts:

“Mediocrity… It takes a lot less time and most people won’t notice the difference!”

Aquia Officer Saves Heart Attack Victim’s Life

Officer of the Week

Editor’s Note: Officer of the Week is a new feature on Potomac Local News that will recognize the work of members of law enforcement in our communities. 

By STEPHANIE TIPPLE

AQUIA HARBOUR, Va. — Officer Stephen DeBrular of the Aquia Harbor Police Department saved a life.

When a resident of the gated community in North Stafford went into cardiac arrest, DeBrular’s CPR and defibrillator training kicked in.

DeBrular had just left the scene of a call for shots fired when he received the cardiac arrest call.

“When I got the scene it was chaotic; [I had] the husband waving me down and when I got there, it was an older female – no breathing, no pulse, no response of any kind,” DeBrular said.

He immediately began performing CPR and using an AED, an automated external defibrillator, which uses electric therapy for those in cardiac arrest. It was a tense six minutes before the EMS arrived. “I was finally able to get a pulse and her breathing back,” DeBrular commented.

DeBrular, who has worked at the department for the past six years, has had a wealth of law enforcement experience including military police and state police work, so when he got a call for cardiac arrest this past Winter, he knew he had to act fast.

“What I was told by the doctors was that someone in cardiac arrest for the amount of time she was in and having the AED and CPR being done at that point was probably the key point in saving her life. They said she had a less than 20% chance at that point, which actually ended up being a less than two percent chance. If I hadn’t been there when I was, there was no way she could have survived,” said DeBrular.

Chief Patricia S. Harman of the Aquia Harbor Police Department has helped to create and maintain a team that certifies officers and local citizens in first aid, CPR and use of the AED machine. In a life-saving coincidence, “The cert team had just given us a refresher course – we had just recertified for CPR a couple of weeks to a month prior to this incident,” said Harman.

The woman did not return requests for comment to maintain her privacy, but has made a full recovery since the incident and has no after effects.

To celebrate DeBrular’s life saving actions, the department has nominated him for the AED Life Saver Award and the Stafford Sheriff’s Office Life Saver Award.

“It’s a great feeling. I don’t feel like I’m a hero or anything like that. I was glad I was able to do my job and I’m glad I had the training. I was just at the right place, at the right time, with the right training. It makes me feel really good that she can continue on with her life, so it’s a great feeling,” DeBrular said.

Fitness Tradition Honoring Prince William’s First Fallen Firefighter Continues

Walkers “pack the track” for the annual Kyle Wilson Walk for Fitness. (Kylewilsonmemorial.com)

Walkers “pack the track” for the annual Kyle Wilson Walk for Fitness. (Kylewilsonmemorial.com)

By LAURA CIRILLO
For Potomac Local News

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — The Kyle Wilson Walk for Fitness is unlike most other walks for a cause within the community.

The first firefighter in the Prince William County fire and rescue department’s 41-year history to die in the line of duty, Kyle Wilson is remembered this year with a 10K memorial walk, just as he has been each year since 2008.

Kyle Wilson was killed in a Woodbridge house fire in 2007.

Kyle Wilson was killed in a Woodbridge house fire in 2007.

The event, which is free for all particiants, begins and ends at C.D. Hylton High School, where Wilson graduated in 2000. Leaving from the school’s football stadium, event goers will head north on Spriggs Road towards Hoadly Road, then circle back to the school to complete the course.

Wilson was one of the first responders on the scene of a three-alarm fire at 15474 March Overlook Drive in Woodbridge in the early morning of April 16, 2007. Wilson lost his life searching for occupants who were possibly still trapped inside the burning home.

A later investigation determined that Wilson and another firefighter were separated after the roof and ceiling collapsed, and that Wilson became trapped in the rapidly spreading fire. All seven occupants were able to escape the fire without injury; however, rescuers were unable to locate Wilson after his emergency radio calls for help. Wilson was 24-years-old.

Prior to the first annual memorial walk, the Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue approached the Wilson family, asking if there was anything that they could do to help. Because Wilson was so passionate about fitness, the idea to hold an annual community walk was born.

With the help of corporate donations, and financial support from local businesses, friends, family and local residents, the family has been able to raise between $10,000 and $13,000 annually toward the Kyle Wilson Memorial Scholarship Endowment at George Mason University’s School of Recreation, Health & Tourism.

Each year, interested GMU students have the opportunity to submit an application package, which are reviewed by a committee that selects an individual to receive the athletic training program scholarship. It is the same program where Wilson received his degree before joining the fire department in January 2006.

“To see the continued support we receive from the community, and knowing that everyone shows up to honor Kyle and support our cause is very heartfelt,” said the fallen firefighter’s father, Bob Wilson.

“I’m sure he would run the event and would want to finish first!” he added. Participants have the option to run or walk the course.

For Wilson’s sister, Kelli Gray, the best part of the event is seeing friends and family, as well as people from all over the community come together to keep her brother’s memory alive.

“I remember the first year’s walk on Prince William Parkway,” Gray recalls. “It literally took my breath away to look behind me and see a huge line of people following, all in honor of Kyle. It truly was remarkable and very touching.”

The 6th annual Kyle Wilson 10K Walk for Fitness will take place this Saturday, April 20, at C.D. Hylton High School in Woodbridge. Participants can register on location starting at 9 a.m., or online at kylewilsonmemorial.com. The walk begins at 10 a.m., and raffle winners are announced at noon.

 

Curtain Raised on 911 Call Center During Telecommunications Week

Angela McMillian, a 911 call center operator for Stafford County, dispatches fire trucks to an elementary school after a problem with an HVAC machine is reported. [Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

STAFFORD, Va. — It can be a stressful job, but Stafford County’s Telecommunicators are the front lines of emergency services.

They were recognized on Saturday during an open house at the Ford T. Humphrey Public Safety Center in Stafford during an open house. The event allowed residents to come inside the building that houses a 911 call center, and the sheriff’s and fire and rescue departments.

The open house is held to coincide with National Public Safety Telecommunications Week.

“We want to know first is where is the emergency, then we want to know what is the nature of the emergency, and everything else after that becomes an interrogation so we can get more information from the caller, to keep them calm, to provide CPR instructions, or whatever else the caller may need,” said Carol Adams, of Stafford, a communications supervisor in the call center.

After gathering the information, from their desks, dispatchers put that information into a CAD, or computer aided dispatch system to notify the proper emergency response, and then announce the nature of the emergency call over the county’s emergency radio transmitter.

Severe injuries, car crashes, or most anything involving small children can make for a difficult call to take. That’s why after help has been sent, there’s a nearby quiet room for call takers to take refuge where you’ll be hard pressed to find a TV, radio, or anything else that could break the silence, as the room is meant to be used to recoup after a tough call.

Interestingly enough, these call takers go through the same training as the sheriff’s deputies in the field, minus the physical testing law enforcement officers go through. Much of that training is done inside the Nick E. Stepaniak Communication Training Center adjacent to the 911 call center. Stepaniak, a decorated emergency call taker, passed away earlier this year after long battle with cancer, and officials here dedicated the training center in his honor.

National Public Safety Telecommunications Week continues through Saturday.

May Urges Trader Joe’s to Consider New Store in Prince William County

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LAKE RIDGE, Va. — There’s a Facebook group dedicated to the cause, and residents have been asking for one for years.

Now Prince William Occoquan Supervisor Mike May has lent his voice to the chorus of people asking that a Trader Joe’s supermarket be built in Lake Ridge. May penned a letter to the specialty supermarket chain this week asking them to consider the area.

“To be candid, it’s not every day that I write to companies asking that they consider investing in our community. However, I’m compelled to do so because barely a day goes by that I am not approached by a constituent asking, ‘Mike, why can’t we get a Trader Joe’s?’” stated May.

There are several Trader Joe’s in Fairfax County, in Washington, D.C., and Maryland, and new stores are planned for states like New York, North Carolina, and Texas, to name a few. But there’s no indication that Lake Ridge, Woodbridge, or anywhere else in Prince William County, is has made it onto the company’s radar, according to their website.

On the “Bring Trader Joe’s to Woodbridge, VA” Facebook group, posters to page use it to remind fans to periodically go to Trader Joe’s website and again fill out the online form to ask the company to consider putting a store in the area. They also post news articles about Prince William County being one of the wealthiest places to live in the U.S. – a fact May drew attention to in his letter.

“As you may be aware, Prince William County is a community of over 400,000 residents located about 25 miles south of Washington, D.C. We are home to a diverse and thriving community, with a strong economic base,” penned May. “Our county has grown over 40% in the past 10 years, and much of that growth has brought new consumers who are looking for new and upscale retail opportunities for the community.”

In Lake Ridge, residents have said Tackett’s Mill shopping center would be an ideal candidate for Trader Joe’s to locate.

‘Oklahoma’ Hits Woodbridge High School Stage

By RENEE ORDOOBADI
For Potomac Local News

LAKE RIDGE, Va. — Comedy, Romance, singing, dancing and a live orchestra – Woodbridge Senior High School students combined all of these talents to perform the musical ‘Oklahoma,’ on Saturday.

Without a doubt, excessive work was needed on stage and behind the scenes for such a grand performance to be made possible.

Michael Viola, an English teacher at Woodbridge Senior High School, voluntarily involved himself in the production of ‘Oklahoma.’

“My involvement began simply by me asking [Woodbridge Senior High School Arts program director] Ms. Carol Rethmel if she needed help. When she said that she would love some help, I jumped right in,” Viola said.

In addition, Viola was glad to put a lot of his artistic vision into the show.

“Some of my favorite things to do as a director is evoke more realistic characters out of each and every actor, choreograph and stage large production numbers, and make the show seamless through fluidity of movement. I was able to achieve all of that. I am very proud of the final product – the overall production quality exceeded my highest expectations,” Viola said.

Junior Reece Miller took note of Viola’s efforts.

“I liked the choreography of the wedding, it was so mystical. And my favorite part was the fight scene; the actors did really well,” Miller said.

Woodbridge Senior High School’s orchestra students put the audience in a sweet disposition before act one began. When the curtains rose, sophomore Patrick Kelly (who played Curly) captured the audience’s attention as he sang ‘Oh, What a Beautiful Morning.’

“The Oklahoma Song, where the whole cast came together with such enthusiasm and teamwork was my proudest moment on stage. All of our hard work came together as one,” Kelly said.

Although singing in front of an audience can be nerve-racking, acting may also put people out of their comfort zones, depending on the characters they must portray.

For junior Jordan Frederick (Ado Annie) and Duane Macatangay (Ali Hakim) they learned to overcome certain difficulties when performing in ‘Oklahoma.’

“Well Duane had to overcome his fear of kissing people on stage, and for me, I had to overcome my conservative qualities and be more out there with my physicality. It was a little tricky because I was not used to being all over boys, and with my character that’s all she thinks about. I’m going to miss that show; it was so much fun!” Frederick said.

For many seniors, including Jenna Grazzini, ‘Oklahoma’ was officially their last high school musical/play.

“Yeah, it is (‘Oklahoma’) my last play at Woodbridge, sadly. I can look forward to our choir department’s Spring Show at least, which still incorporates costumes and choreography,” Grazzini said. “Last night was so rewarding because the huge crowd was so responsive that we truly felt as if our hard work paid off. Every actor had been put in the perfect role and it showed.”

Mega Mike: New Website Shows Drivers How to Get Around

By MIKE SALMON
Virginia Megaprojects 

As the 95 Express Lanes Project construction increases this summer, travelling on I-95 and on 395 from the Beltway towards Duke Street may be challenging. To deal with the impacts, consider carpooling, vanpooling or using transit. The folks at Megaprojects are aware of the challenges that come with a large project like the 95 Express Lanes, so they’ve come up with getaroundva.com– a new website for commuters in Northern Virginia that looking for alternatives to I-95.

Getaroundva.com is a one-stop shop for commuters offering different transit options that are available to get just about anywhere in Northern Virginia. Options are available for a variety of situations, whether it’s a difficult schedule, an attempt to keep expenses down or someone seeking an environmentally friendly commute. GetAroundVA.com has links to:

• Bus

• Commuter Rail (click to learn about the new step-up fare between VRE and Amtrak)

• Park-and-ride lots (click for a map of lots in PW Co.)

• Ride sharing

• Bicycling

• Reward systems

• Employers Solutions

• Military Solutions

• Additional Regional services

Although this stand-alone site resembles the Virginia Megaprojects website, getaroundva.com has a separate photo gallery and ticker bar for current transit focused news.

Long Lines Make for Tough Monday Commute

Slug Tales 

By LAURA CIRILLO

Doesn’t everything seem more difficult when you’re tired?

This Monday was particularly rough for that very reason: I was exhausted. Sunday night had been one of those nights, the kind where every time you look at the clock, it’s yet another hour later and you still aren’t asleep.

And next thing you know, there’s the sound of your alarm clock blaring. Time to get up!

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I had a case of the Mondays, and I had it bad. As I dragged through my morning routine, I wondered how busy the day ahead would be. Maybe if it wasn’t too hectic, my boss would let me leave a bit early. The thought of being at work all day was almost painful.

Managing to leave just a few minutes later than usual, I used an app on my iPhone to check the traffic heading toward the Horner Road Commuter lot in Woodbridge and was relieved to see that it was pretty clear. Arriving in almost record time, I pulled into the lot and scoped the scene for a parking spot. Finding none, I continued toward back to the third lot, but was stunned at what I saw ahead: a long slug line going to L’Enfant Plaza!

The closer it gets to 9 a.m. when the restrictions are lifted in the HOV lanes, the lesser the chances are of getting a ride, and there were more than a few slugs waiting. I couldn’t believe it!

Pressed for time, I hurried over to the new lot on Telegraph Road. Maybe I’d find cars waiting over there, I thought.

No such luck. Disappointed, I made the trek back to Horner and got in the slug line, which hadn’t moved an inch since I had driven by minutes ago.

We all waited, with our fingers crossed each time we saw a car slowing down before the slug line, but to no avail. What was going on this morning?! One by one, slugs began to drop out of the line. One went to check the line for the Pentagon, further up the lot. A couple left without a word, and one more gave up and went to wait for the Metro Direct bus. With only a few minutes left until 9 a.m., there were still a few of us left.

Finally, a gentleman stopped by the line and rolled his window, saying that he could drop off at the Woodley Park Metro Station. Most likely picturing Woodley Park along the red line, and counting the number of stops and the hassle of switching stations, the slugs ahead of me reluctantly took him up on the ride. Meanwhile, I wondered if anyone else would stop.

By 9:15 a.m., the OmniRide Metro Direct arrived, and I wondered if we should cut our losses and take the bus.

“That’s a long Metro ride though,” said the other guy waiting with me. “Don’t worry, I’ve gotten picked up later than this,” he assured me.

By 9:30 a.m., I was worried, and apparently, so was he. I wondered if not getting on that bus was a mistake. That’s when another car stopped, and the driver asked where we were going. He agreed to take us to Pentagon City, and that was good enough for us. I was late, but at least I had a ride.

When the clock struck five that afternoon, I couldn’t believe I had lasted all day. I wrapped up my work and was walking out the door a few minutes later, but was shocked at the sight ahead of me – the slug line going back to Horner was longer than I’d ever seen before!

Quickly, I rushed to the back of the line. As more slugs filed behind me, I could hear the anxious chatter about the length of the slow-moving line, and whether or not we’d get a ride. As the clock ticked closer to 6 p.m., when the HOV restrictions are lifted for the evening, I couldn’t believe I might end up in the same predicament I’d been in that morning. Meanwhile, the slug line moved forward at a snail’s pace.

Finally, I was next in line and another driver arrived, even taking three of us into his car. With only a few minutes to spare until 6 p.m., I was relieved, even though it meant sitting in quite a bit of traffic. Oh, well – the long ride just meant more time for my power nap!

Monday was definitely tough, but luckily, I made it through. With such a difficult start to my week, I could have looked at it as a bad sign. Instead, I told myself, it could only get better from here!

More Than 70 Boats Used in Occoquan Clean Up

[Submitted photo]

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — Using kayaks and an army of volunteers, a the results of a large coordinated clean-up of the Occoquan River have been tabulated.

More in a press release from the Neabsco Action Alliance:

The Prince William Trails and Streams Coalition successfully coordinated and conducted a multi-prong clean-up event from 9 different sites along more than 24 miles of the Occoquan River. The clean-up ranged from the River’s confluence of Cedar Run/Broad Run, through Lake Jackson, from the base of Lake Jackson Dam south of Lake Ridge Marina. 

Over 70 watercraft (mostly kayaks, canoes, some rowboats, motorized Jon Boats, Pontoon boats,  and a 22 foot motor boat) put-in at appropriate sites to collect debris from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  More than 140 volunteers contributed 553 hours of service in cleaning up debris on the water, land or assisted in moving the debris on shore to waiting trucks or dumpsters. 

More information and a link to more photos taken during the clean up are available at the Neabsco Action Alliance’s website.

Ridge Runners Gathering to Honor Boston Victims

The Lake Ridge RidgeRunners (Photo: Lakeridgerunners.com)

LAKE RIDGE, Va. – Runners will gather tonight to honor the three people killed and nearly 200 injured during the Boston Marathon Bombings on Monday.

The Lake Ridge Ridge Runners Club invites all area residents to meet in the parking lot of Lake Ridge Elementary School at 7 p.m. for a moment of silence, and then proceed for a two-mile walk to honor the fallen and all those impacted by Monday’s terrorist attacks.

Lake Ridge Ridge Runners President Stephanie Drupal-DeMartin said no one from the club participated in this year’s Boston Marathon as they have in years past, but said the tragedy has affected the running community at large. Drupal-DeMartin also had a cousin who had just finished the race about a half hour before the bombs went off.

“It was very stressful to know my cousin was there after the bombings, but we were relived to find out she was OK,” said Drupal-DeMartin.

The running community is a tight knit one she added, and many from both Maryland and Virginia have expressed their condolences after yesterday’s attacks.

Everyone is invited to tonight’s walk whether they’re a Ridge Runners club member or not.

The intention is to bring people together, and instead of focus on darkness of these events, it’s to show our support of everyone’s courage yesterday, and that it’s important to keep going and to show up at next year’s Boston Marathon to run again,” said Drupal-DeMartin.

Air Force Band Caps Arts Alive! Festival

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[Photo: Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

MANASSAS, Va. — The Prince William Arts Alive! festival capped off Saturday night with a free concert featuring the U.S. Air Force Band.

The band played a full show featuring numbers from Gustav Holst’s “The Planets,” vocal performances like “On the Wheels of a Dream” from Broadway’s “Ragtime,” a salute to opera, and traditional patriotic favorites.

The band played their show in front of a packed crowd at the Hylton Performing Arts Center.

 

Father-Daughter Dance Planned

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MANASSAS PARK, Va. — The City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation invites you to join us at our annual Father, Daughter Dance, taking place at the Manassas Park Community Center on May 3rd from 7 p.m. –  8:30 p.m. This event is for all young ladies in grades k-5 with their fathers or favorite male guardian (Uncle, brother, etc.) and will feature music, dancing and games. Each young lady receives a corsage and refreshments are served.

The event will have photos for keep sake, dancing music and more. We will have fun games, crafts and cup cake decorating.

For additional information about our annual Father, daughter Dance, please visit www.ManassasParkCommunityCenter.comor contact Brian Hanifin at 703.335.8872 or via email at b.hanifin@manassasparkva.gov

The annual Father, daughter Dance is a rain or shine event. Information will also be posted on our website, www.ManassasParkCommunityCenter.com, and on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/manassasparkcommunitycenter.

Text Saves Mom’s First Call in the Press Box

Mom on the Run

By LIANNE WILKENS

I’m up in the press box, microphone in front me, ready for my debut as a high school lacrosse game announcer. I’ve never aspired to sports broadcasting, but once upon a time I promised to fill in wherever nobody else volunteered so, tonight, yup, I’m calling the game.

I really have very little idea what to do up here. I know the basics, that the announcer lists off the starting players, tells the score, reminds people to visit the concession stand. And Christy gave me a script for today. Surely I can figure this out, right? How hard can this be?

021113-freedom-mom-tagBut immediately it gets complicated. After checking out the press box, and familiarizing myself with the equipment there, I realize something’s missing. So I climb back down the tightly angled ladder, and half-run all the way down the very deep bleacher steps, then I walk all the way around the fence, then all the way over to the scorekeeping table, and check in with the opposing team: “Do you guys have a roster?”

The two girls flip through papers, look around, look at each other, and shrug. “No, sorry.” I stand, perplexed, for a minute, not sure what to do. This is my first time: was I supposed to ask someone else? Should I track down their coach? Then, “You don’t have to give our players’ names,” the girls offer. “It’s our fault.”

Except … that doesn’t seem right. Their players deserve recognition after goals and big plays too. What if that was my son?

So I hem and haw and think. And as I look around for a scrap of paper to quickly scribble out their roster, I notice a cell phone, the omnipresent teenage accessory. “Hey,” I wonder out loud, “could you text it to me?”

The girls look at each other. “Yeah, sure,” they say, and one girl hands me her phone. I peck in my number, then start my long walk back. Across the field. Around the track. Up the uncomfortably sized bleacher stairs. Up-up-up the narrow pitched ladder, back into the press box.

Where, panting a little, I look at the scoreboard clock, and down on the field, and realize that time has run out, the boys are lining up for the game, and I have to start, opposing team’s roster in hand or no.

So. I flip on the microphone, and for the first time, after all that rushing, get a few butterflies. Looking out the window, down onto the bleachers below me, there are people here, a bunch of them, and they’re all listening to me! I barely know the rules of lacrosse. I cheer for the wrong thing all the time. What am I doing?

Well, there’s nothing for it. I’m here, and it’s time. I take a deep breath, pick up my script, and start reading. “Thank you for attending the Osbourn High School Boys Lacrosse game!” I try to speak slowly, listening wonderingly to my echo outside. I get through all my handy script bullets, and, “Osbourn starting lineup!” Down I go through the list. “In goal ….” All the while watching my phone. My still, silent phone.

Just as I get to, “And at Attack,” there it is! My phone vibrates! My text! Still reading aloud, I reach for my phone, open the message, and see … a photo. A little tiny photo. “The Eagles are coached by ….”

Oh! It’s their scorebook! The girls took a picture of the scorebook, with all the players listed! Just in time, as I finish reading my team’s coaches’ names, I pinch the picture, expand it, slide it up and to the right. Little stars noting the starters! Whoo! Seamlessly, I start: “Starting in Defense for FreedomHigh School ….”

And hey, I’ve got this, I realize. Still reading, silently, internally, I give a little fist pump. Shoot, if I figured out the texted roster photo thing, the rest of this announcer gig has to be a cakewalk!

‘Be There’ Campaign Encourages Parents to Take Active Role in Students Lives

By CATHERINE MAGOUYRK
Superintendent
Manassas City Public Schools

When I entered the world of public school education as a starry-eyed math teacher, it didn’t take long for me to learn that although I was charged with the task of teaching formulas and equations, I, and the other educators in my building were not the most important teachers in my student’s lives.

The truth of the matter is parents, family members and even neighbors are the first teachers children encounter. The adage that “it takes a village to raise a child” is still true. This is why Manassas City Public Schools recently launched a new initiative called, “Be There”.

Be There is a multi-media campaign designed to inspire families to become more involved in their children’s education. While parent involvement in the school building is very important, Be There focuses on the benefits of parental involvement at home. Research shows that family and community involvement makes a huge difference in student achievement. Basically, we can’t do it without you, whether you are a parent, a sibling, a mentor or a supportive community member and taxpayer. The home environment is the strongest indicator of student success.

We are reaching out to families with the Be There campaign based upon solid research. National surveys show schools where teachers reported high levels of outreach to parents, test scores grew considerably higher than in schools where teachers reported low levels of outreach. Research indicates the following benefits of family and community involvement for students:

• Higher grades and test scores

• Better attendance and more homework done

• Higher graduation rates

You may think it’s difficult to be involved because your days are full. We understand. As I mentioned, the Be There campaign takes a little different approach to traditional parent involvement. Simply engage your child in a conversation about what happened each day at school. Ask specific questions about teachers, friends and extra-curricular activities. No matter your child’s age, use everyday moments — like trips to the bank, grocery store or gas station — to teach your child about money matters, reading food labels or conserving energy. Turn routine trips into games. For more information and ideas, visit www.betheremcps.org.

As our division’s Strategic Plan is being developed, community engagement and family involvement have been deemed as a top priority. The Be There campaign is an excellent way to put this in action.

Contest Winners to be Recognized at Workhouse Arts Center

Submitted News 

More than 140 high school students from Virginia’s 11th Congressional District and their parents will gather Saturday for the unveiling of the works of art they submitted to Congressman Gerry Connolly’s annual Congressional Art Competition for residents of Virginia’s 11th Congressional District.

Winners will be announced at a reception hosted by Connolly for all participants in the contest on Saturday, April 13 from 2 to 4 pm at the Workhouse Arts Center’s McGuire Woods Gallery, 9601 Ox Road in Lorton. All of the artwork will remain on display at the gallery through May 26.

Prizes will be awarded to the first through fifth place winners of Connolly’s art competition. The first place winning entry will be displayed in the U.S. Capitol for one year, while the work of another high school artist, judged to be a “Rising Star,” will have his or her artwork displayed prominently for a year on the Workhouse campus. Judging was conducted by representatives of the Prince William Art Society, Council for the Arts of Herndon, Greater Reston Arts Council, The Workhouse Arts Center, and Arts Council of Fairfax County.

This year, Connolly received a record number of submissions to his annual Congressional Art Competition, An Artistic Discovery, with 111 students, representing 23 different public and private high schools in Fairfax and Prince William, submitting 144 works of art.

“I am thrilled by the interest among our young artists and by their artistic creativity and talent,” Connolly said. “It is a pleasure to host this competition to showcase the work of our high school students and emphasize the importance of the fine arts.”

Connolly’s annual Congressional Arts Competition is open to all high school students who reside in Virginia’s 11th CD. Public, private, and home-schooled students are invited to participate.

 

Bluebell Festival Draws Nature Lovers

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Three year old twins, Samuel and Charlotte Kennedy, get a lesson on antlers and pelts. [Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

NOKESVILLE, Va. — The Virginia Bluebell Festival was held Sunday, April 7, at Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area.

And while it was a bit too soon for the Bluebells – a flower native to Virginia and the official flower of Prince William County – to have bloomed due to unseasonably cooler weather, that didn’t stop crowds from coming to the area event celebrated by naturalists and outdoor enthusiasts.

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