Whew. It took me a while to calm down after that Slug ride. Some people just have no business having a license to drive, let alone transporting passengers in their car.
This lady was one of those people.
Looking back, I should have seen the signs. There she was, sitting in her SUV with the engine running and hazards flashing, windows down and nervously looking back and forth. I wasn’t sure what or who she was looking for, but she didn’t seem to be picking up riders, and she was blocking the slug line. The other slugs seemed annoyed, and some wondered out loud what she was doing there.
After waiting for a few minutes, I eventually stepped to the front of the line, right next to her car.
“I’ll take two!” she finally called out of the open window. She asked us both to sit in the back, so that her husband could sit up front. He was on his way.
Finally, the long-awaited husband arrived. He mentioned some sort of commotion in the Metro station, and then began talking about homes he had found online. Apparently, these two were house hunting.
I thought nothing of it until we started moving. As she merged onto the highway and then made her way from the far right lane to the far left lane to access the HOV lanes, he fumbled with his iPad, distracting her from driving.
Looking over to help him, she kept telling him what buttons to push.
“Pay attention to the road, will you?” he said, brushing her off.
“I am paying attention!” she retorted. “You don’t know what you’re doing.”
He finally figured it out, and I tried to close my eyes for a nap on the way home. It was impossible. The second my eyes shut, I’d feel the car jerk back into the other lane. She was driving like a maniac, tailgating every car in front of us. When we approached the back of a motorcycle, I cringed for its rider. Silently, I prayed for our safety and the safety of everyone around us.
The longer this went on, the worse I felt. I was a nervous wreck, wanting so badly to ask her to be more careful, yet not wanting to start a confrontation. I watched as the speedometer climbed to 85 mph, then up to 90. Her husband asked her to slow down a couple more times, but she ignored him, saying she was only trying to get home as quickly as possible.
I just wanted to get home, period.
The guy next to me was snoozing away, seemingly unaffected. I wondered if he was praying too, or if he was just that heavy a sleeper. I didn’t know how anyone could sleep through this nightmare of a ride.
I held my breath as she approached the back of a car at over 90 mph, full speed ahead. We were traveling so quickly, it almost appeared the car in front of us wasn’t even moving! As she finally hit the brakes, her husband asked her again to slow down.
“He’s not even going to speed limit!” she snapped back. I let out an exasperated sigh, and hoped that it made a point.
When her husband began showing her photos of homes on the iPad, I could only stare in disbelief. Not thinking the ride could get any worse, each time he held up another photo and she looked over her shoulder, she would start veering to the right, then jerking the wheel back to the left. I just about lost my cool entirely when we almost collided with some sort of large construction vehicle.
Just a few more miles, I thought…
When she finally pulled off the highway for the Horner Road commuter lot exit, she asked where we wanted to be let out.
“First lot! Let me out as soon as possible!” I blurted out. My bags were in my lap and my hand was already on the door handle, ready to jump out.
Just when I thought it was almost over, she stopped short, nearly rear ending the guy in front of us.
“Great, thanks for not killing us all!” The words escaped my mouth before I could think it through. I was desperately trying to open the door to let myself out, but the doors were locked. “Please let me out!” I exclaimed, shaking the handle. I’d had enough at that point, and couldn’t take another second in that car.
“That’s it – get out. I’m driving,” said the husband, jumping out at the same time.
“What? Why?” I heard her ask. I didn’t wait around to hear any more – the second my feet hit the pavement, I was out of there.
It took me a while to calm down, and I wasn’t exactly sure why I had gotten so upset. I guess something about having your life flash before your eyes tends to have that effect.
I’ve said before that I don’t typically turn down slug rides, but honestly, I’d rather walk home than ever get in a car with that lady again!
View Yard Sale Map in a larger map
Yard Sale Map for Saturday, May 18, 2013
17622 Rose Hill Circle in Dumfries
Yard Sale. Located at 17622 Rose Hill Circle, Dumfries. GREAT STUFF, Tools, Collectibles, Furniture, Artworks, Too much to list. Saturday, May 18, 2013. 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.. Easy to get to, just off U.S. 1!
By URIAH KISER
HAYMARKET, Va. — With the population in western Prince William County steadily on the rise, officials on Tuesday broke ground for the county’s 57th elementary school.
Now known as the “Haymarket Drive” elementary school, all that’s here now is red clay, and construction equipment that will be used to transform this rural landscape into a bustling campus for children.
“The school division builds buildings, we build shells, we stack brick on brick, but it will be the members of this school community that build the Haymarket Drive elementary school,” said Prince William School Board Chairman Milton C. Johns.
The school board will be responsible for naming the building that is scheduled to open in September 2014. When it does, it’ll help alleviate overcrowding at nearby Buckland Mills Elementary School in Gainesville, said Schools Superintendent Steven Walts.
Sitting in Prince William’s rural Brenstville District, the 24-acre school site is near the Town of Haymarket, in a wooded area of Haymarket Drive – from which the site takes its name. The $19 million building is set to include 45 classrooms, activity rooms, community rooms, media center, computer lab, a baseball field, and two play areas – one with a concrete surface and the other a mulch surface playground.
More than 700 students are expected to call this school, designed by Mosley Architects and to be built by Scheibel Construction, their home when it opens next year.
A second school already under construction in Nokesville will be the first in Prince William to house students in kindergarten through eighth grades. It will also open next year.
“We are still the second-largest School Division in Virginia. We anticipate enrolling over 2,000 additional students next year, bringing our projected enrollment to about 86,000,” said Walts, who noted the new Haymarket elementary school’s location’s close proxminity to the Fauquier County line.
“Each new school we open is a milestone, and demonstrates the commitment that Prince William County Public Schools has to Providing A World-Class Education in the best learning and teaching environment possible,” said Prince William Brentsville District School Board member Gill Trenum.
Brentsville Supervisor Wally Covington was also at the ceremony and touted his Board of Supervisors increased support for education after a decision this year to allocate 57.23% of its budget to the county school system in an annual automatic transfer of funds, up from 56.75% in previous years.
Mom on the Run
I’m on the phone with Clay, my Verizon service rep. Well, the Verizon service rep who answered the phone. He’s mine now, all mine.
I got my new smart phone, what, a few months ago? I don’t recall exactly, but it was about four days after I dropped my old, less intelligent phone into the toilet. Yes, it was in my back pocket. Yes, I realize that’s a classic rookie move. Anyway, once it became apparent that my less-intelligent phone was dead, or at least would never be the same, my boss suggested I take the opportunity to upgrade. He wasn’t a fan of my being “completely dark” when I left the office every night. So a smart phone it was.
It goes without saying that my phone turned out to be smarter than I need, and much, much smarter than I am. Now, several months later, I have gotten a handle on texting; taking and sending pictures; making and receiving calls (I admit it took about a week and somebody younger to show me how to answer it when it rang … slide the button, don’t tap!); and I have even figured out how to update Facebook.
However, I know there are probably 100 functions I haven’t even touched, much less mastered, a clue to their existence in the row of mysterious symbols at the top of my phone screen. I recognized the ones that meant I had text messages and Facebook updates waiting. I deduced that the little down arrow meant I had successfully downloaded something. But what were the little cars? And the envelope with an M in it? No clue. A message of some kind, right? An envelope? And once I recognized that I was missing some sort of correspondence, I realized: I hadn’t checked my voice mail since I got the new phone. At all. In fact, I had no idea whatsoever how to even reach my voice mail.
I confided in Jon, the IT guy at work, first. He may laugh at me behind my back but only rarely does it to my face. So, “I’ll show you later,” he had said, because he was busy. But then he stayed busy, and when my teammate Sandra called him for something else, he said, “I’ll do that for you if you show Lianne how to get to the voice mail on her cell phone.”
I heard Sandra’s gasp from a cube away. “Lianne doesn’t know how to get her voice mail?” The shock in her voice was unmistakable, and she turned to me, hand at her mouth, for verification. I nodded, and she promptly, immediately bawled with laughter. Sandra has a very loud laugh, too, so everyone heard it. She didn’t even hang up with Jon before giving me direction: “Just hold down the 1 button!” Then she reached out for my phone but, no thanks, I have some pride. I heard her. The 1 button, huh?
I opened my phone’s dial pad. I pressed 1, held it down. And: “Please enter your password.” Yes! Success! “Thanks, Sandra!”
Except … what’s my password? Dang. No clue. None. I typed in some likely passwords. But it wasn’t any of those. “Try 0000,” suggested Sandra. No. “How about ####?” Not that either. And then I was locked out. No more attempts possible; but the electronic voice helpfully recited the number for technical support.
And that’s how I got Clay. Patient Clay, who calls me back on the landline while I fiddle with my cell phone. “Try the last four digits of your phone number,” he says. “And after that, press the pound sign.” I don’t reply, I’m busy pressing numbers – and that’s more complicated than it sounds, because when I hold the phone at a certain angle the dial pad disappears, so I have to be still and swift to press in series of numbers – and because I don’t reply right away, Clay figures I’m having more technical difficulties. “That’s the tic-tac-toe sign button,” he offers helpfully.
I swallow. I almost say, “I know the pound sign is the tic-tac-toe button!” because I am not an idiot! And then I realize how I got here, and how many people it has taken to help me get my months-old voice mail, and that I have three or four other symbols to decrypt still, and it all happened because I let my old phone fall from my back pocket into toilet. Yeah, OK, I can’t really say I’m not an idiot. Quietly, happily, thankfully, I press the tic-tac-toe button.
Betty Weimer, the General Registrar of Prince William County in the Office of Voter Registrations and Elections, has retired after working for 28 year in the elections office.
The Manassas native began working in the elections office in 1985 as the Chief Deputy Registrar while taking courses at Northern Virginia Community College and Strayer University for clerical studies. This was a change in her career, spurred by her commitment to her family and her local roots.
“I had been working in private industry as an office manager and I was commuting every day and my kids were young and I wanted to see if I could work in the county – this is where I grew up,” Weimer said.
Weimer was appointed as the General Registrar in 2003, and has served two four-year appointments in the position. And while some may picture working the elections office as slow paced when there’s not an election happening, Weimer’s duties as General Registrar was anything but.
“The staff and I work with all of the documentation that comes in from all of the people who want to be registered to vote. People move around, so we also try to keep the voting records as accurate as we can. We work with the high schools – we make sure that the students that are eligible to register to vote are registered. We work with the Electoral Board to make sure that the voting precincts are ready and prepared on Election Day. There are many, many aspects of what we do and it all revolves around voter registration and elections,” said Weimer.
And in her 28-year career Weimer has seen quite a few changes in the elections office, mainly centering on updated technology. After last fall’s election that saw long lines at polling places, Weimer also became involved in a discussion about procuring new voting machines for use at county polling places.
“When I first came to the office we had correcting electric typewriters – there were no word processors. The voting equipment was mechanical voting machines and we’ve got electronic touch screens now. We went from doing tally sheets by hand with paper and pencils to computer spreadsheets, which really dates me,” Weimer chuckled, looking back on all of the changes at her time in the voter registration office.
“Technology has really improved the process – for the staff and for the voters,” Weimer went on to say about these changes.
One of the busiest times for Weimer has been during election cycles and Election Day, this 2012 Presidential election being no exception. “It was a very busy day. I spent the day trying to help voters get to their precinct if they weren’t sure where they were supposed to go. It’s just a day of trying direct people to the correct place, and act as sort of a traffic cop,” Weimer commented.
The thing that Weimer will miss most about her work as the General Registrar are the interactions that she has had with area voters.
“I like working with the public and organizations, helping them understand the process of voter registration and what we do as an organization behind the scenes to make sure that elections run as smoothly as we can have them run,” said Weimer.
Upon the point of retirement, Weimer is looking ahead at what will happen in this next stage of her life.
“When you’ve done something going in to the 28th year, sometimes you need to just do something. In my case, the doing something else is to spend more time with my family. I have teenage grandchildren who are thrilled to death that I’m going to be more accessible to them. It’s time to let go of all of the responsibility [of being a General Registrar] to just do something else with my life,” said Weimer.
And Weimer has no concerns about her colleague’s ability to continue to carry the torch after her retirement.
“They are a good group of folks – they are smart and I have no problem walking away from it, because I know they’ll do an excellent job and they all know what they’re doing,” Weimer said.
MANASSAS, Va. — Hundreds of Amateur Radio Operators from across Virginia, Maryland and the DC area will come to Manassas to participate in the 39th Annual Manassas Hamfest, which is being sponsored by the Ole Virginia Hams Amateur Radio Club, Inc.
The Ole Virginia Hams (OVH) Amateur Radio Club, Inc. will sponsor the 39th Annual, American Radio Relay League sanctioned, Manassas Hamfest on June 9 at 7 a.m.
Amateur Radio Operators, also known as “Hams”, from around the National Capital Region will come together to share in tailgating (the buying, selling, and trading of used amateur radio equipment) on the Prince William County Fairgrounds.
A number of special events and forums are also planned during the Hamfest, to include: A youth lounge for the younger Hams to meet; forums on DSTAR, the National Traffic System (NTS), and Amateur Satellite; Fleet Watch; and the Civil Air Patrol HF Truck. The Mount Vernon Amateur Radio Club VE Team will be hosting a testing session for people who want to become an FCC licensed Amateur Radio Operator, starting at 8:30 a.m.
While this is a social event for the ham community, we also are trying to increase our operating knowledge and promote Amateur Radio to the general public. This is a good opportunity to investigate this exciting hobby, and learn the many ways we have expanded beyond the “radio of old”.
Amateur radio operators are a valuable asset to the community during times of disaster and other times of communication outages. During the past year, ham radio has been used during the recent severe weather, providing reliable communications when other modes were not available. The local Hams assist local charities and races; providing longer range, seamless communication throughout the courses. Amateur radio operators also provide technological advances which are used for the benefit of the general public.
Amateur radio is seen to have a vital role in our Homeland Security, and its importance has been recognized by both sides of Congress. Come see what all the excitement is about.
TRIANGLE, Va. – In an effort to bring attention to the ever-increasing problem of human trafficking, St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Triangle, Va., will offer human trafficking awareness presentations at the parish after all the Masses on the weekend of May 18-19, 2013.
There will be guest speakers, a video, handouts, and suggestions for direct ways to take action. Everyone is invited to this free event. The Masses are on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. and on Sunday at 7:30 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 10:30 a.m., noon, 1:30 p.m. (Spanish) and 5:30 p.m. The parish is located at 18825 Fuller Heights Road, Triangle, Va. 22172.
“It’s shocking how prevalent and complex human trafficking is and how it plagues our own communities in surprising ways,” said Fr. Kevin Downey, O.F.M., pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish. “The good news is, there are things we all can do to address it, to protect our children and to help those in need.”
The United Nations defines human trafficking as the “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.”
Statistics show that more than 27 million people in more than 161 countries are victims of human trafficking. Two hundred thousand of these are in the United States alone. Fifty percent of victims are children. Every two minutes, 14 people fall victim to this crime. Sex trafficking and forced labor are the most common forms of trafficking in the United States.
Prince William County, Fairfax, and Loudon are among Northern Virginia counties that have or are establishing Anti-Human Trafficking Alliances or Task Forces.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration’s Statement on Human Trafficking clearly outlines the Catholic Church’s teaching on human trafficking, noting, “Human trafficking is a horrific crime against the basic dignity and rights of the human person. All efforts must be expended to end it.”
The USCCB has been a leader in the U.S. and global response to human trafficking for more than a decade, and has even established an Anti-Trafficking Program within its Migration and Refugee Services Department to coordinate the response of the U.S. Church.
The event is sponsored by the parish’s Franciscan Action and Advocacy Council (FAAC).
St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church (www.stfrncis.org) is part of the Diocese of Arlington and was established in 1957 to serve the military community at Quantico Marine Base. For more information, contact the parish office at 703-221-4044.
By AL ALBORN
This news website covered the Prince William Chamber of Commerce’ Legislative wrap-up earlier this week. I attended. For full disclosure, I am a Charter Founding Member of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce, and serve on the Government Affairs Committee. I did not participate in this years score card exercise.
This annual event give the Chamber the opportunity to grade Northern Virginia’s legislatures on their past year’s performance on business issues identified as priority legislation. This year was particularly interesting because some of Northern Virginia’s most stalwart defenders of business received much lower scores than in the past.
Most of the legislatures accepted their lower scores with certain humility; however, Delegate Jackson Miller, R-Va. 50, called it like he saw it.
The legislation that cost Delegate Miller and others a high score was HB 2313/ SB 1355, the Governor’s Transportation Bill. Miller thinks the Chamber was wrong in its assessment of the final version of the bill, and didn’t adequately consider the consequences (perhaps intended and unintended) of its contents.
The Prince William Chamber of Commerce,which supported transportation funding reform in Virginia, gave one of its most pro-business representatives in Richmond a “gentlemen’s C” (79%) for not doing it their way. He was not at all shy telling the attendees at the Legislative wrap-up that.
“If the Chamber is going to give me a ‘C’ then I’m going to give them a ‘D+,'” Miller told a crowd that gathered at a legislative wrap-up meeting.
Miller had a plan for Northern Virginia. He signed on to sponsor the Governor’s proposal, and worked hard to get it passed. When it morphed into something that raised Northern Virginians’ taxes from five to 5.3%, with another possible raise to a full 6%, benefitted wealthy Fairfax County at the Expense of Prince William County, and put local businesses at a disadvantage compared to Stafford and Fauquier County, Miller said that’s why he joined many other Northern Virginia Senators and Delegates in opposition.
I asked Miller if we could chat about this. He invited me over to his office in Old Town Manassas.
Miller, like several other Northern Virginia Delegates, recognized tax policy that was bad for Prince William County when he saw it.
The Northern Virginia Transpiration Authority will decide where the additional tax money goes. While some on who make up the Authority assured Miller that we would probably do fairly well under this model, Miller simply doesn’t trust a good outcome will appear.
According to Miller, Prince William County is locked into its 30% share of tax transportation tax dollars it receives from Richmond. Northern Virginia missed the opportunity to revisit the Commonwealth’s formula in the future, that 30%, when the Delegates from rural southern Virginia offered a bargain to agree to the original transportation bill. HB 2049 would have increased the total membership of the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) from 17 to 20 members by doubling the representation for the Richmond, Hampton Roads, and Northern Virginia highway construction districts. This would have allowed the CTB to perhaps revisit the formula in the future, and increase Prince William County’s share.
HB 2049 was defeated, and with it hope of changing the Commonwealth’s formula (or increase our share). The Governor’s Transportation Bill, the focus of the bargain was changed to its current form. The bottom line is that the regions with the greatest transportation problems have the least representation on the CTB.
Miller discussed the “new reality” of Northern Virginia. While the “lines on a map” define Planning District 8 (Prince William, Loudoun, Fairfax et.al), the reality is that Stafford and Fauquier counties are really part of today’s economic engine in Northern Virginia. While Prince William County businesses pay higher taxes for new roads, and perhaps keep the least in terms of return on those taxes, our neighbors to the south get a free ride (literally), said Miller.
Those roads we are so proud of add to the economic advantage of Stafford and Fauquier giving them yet another advantage when competing with us for new businesses.
The man and his plan, supported by other Northern Virginia legislators, wouldn’t go along with a bad deal for Prince William County just because it raised revenue. It had to be a good deal for Prince William County, or no deal at all.
“A lot of people are mad at me, …but I’m not going to put through a bill that’s bad for Prince William County,” said Miller.
Folks in his district unfamiliar with the details or the ultimate cost are ruthlessly criticizing him. His Tea Party base is unhappy that he proposed a tax plan in the first place.
His business base is unhappy that he fought the cobbled together plan that passed. Some criticize him unfairly for not having a plan, when he was among the first at the table to support Governor McDonnell’s original package.
I asked Miller how he felt about the Chamber’s 79% grade. “I have to live with it. It doesn’t change how I will legislate in Richmond, which is as a pro-business legislature.”
Delegate Jackson Miller did the right thing when he opposed HB 2313/ SB 1355, the final version of the Governor’s transportation package. At the details of this legislation come out and the consequences of this legislation become apparent, I suspect the public will revisit their assessment.
I, for one, will always support elected officials who value doing the right thing in Richmond.
Youth from Centreville, Manassas, Gainesville, Warrenton and the surrounding areas will join hundreds of youth at the Fredericksburg Virginia Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as they host the 2013 regional Mormon Prom on Saturday, May 11 From 7 –11 pm. Youth ages 16-18 from McLean to Massaponax are invited to board the “Belle of the ’Berg” gangplank to attend a formal dance in accordance with the high ideals these young people are encouraged to maintain (www.lds.org/youth/for-the-strength-of-youth).
The Fredericksburg meetinghouse is being transformed into a cruise ship inside and out, including a grand ballroom and staircase, ledo deck, live entertainment and more, to be ready to receive over the young people arriving in formal attire. Not only Mormons attend the “Mormon Prom.” Many youth from other faiths are attracted to the clean-cut environment and standards on display.
D. Michael Kitchens, president of the Fredericksburg stake said, “In a few months many of our young people will enter the world of work, college, or missionary service. We see this evening as providing a wholesome atmosphere where their confidence and standards are upheld. It will reinforce their love for and relationship with Jesus Christ. It is worth every effort to be there for them. Improving their future is our main concern.”
McCaela Michas, a junior at Patriot High School in Nokesville, said, “My friends and I are excited to attend the Mormon Prom. I went to my first prom last week at my old high school, and though it was fun, my date and I left early because the dancing became inappropriate as the night went on. I know that this prom will be different. All the kids believe in high standards and respect for themselves and each other.”
Toni Redfern, chair of the prom committee, agrees. “The goals are to provide an atmosphere where the youth feel comfortable and safe and to create long term memories that reinforce their standards and spirituality while experiencing all the exciting things that should be associated with prom night.
“These young people have told us that the pressure to dress, act and dance a certain way at traditional proms heavily distracts from having a good time and therefore they often don’t attend their high school proms. The standards associated with Mormon Prom allow youth to create their type of enjoyment while having a great time associating with those who have similar standards.”
Media representatives wishing to attend the prom are asked to contact:
Lynne Johnston, email@example.com or 540 272-2629
News from Content Partner Boys and Girls Club
Who are some of the area’s top basketball elite perimeter shooters? Using the state of the art G Team Sports Professional Shooting Machine, the Prince William/Manassas Boys & Girls Clubs will find out on May 15, 16 and 17.
Youth and adults will be challenged to test their basketball shooting accuracy and speed while taking variety of jump shots from around the basket. Event sponsor G Team Sports Basketball Shooting Machine guarantees the same high quality shot selection, speed and distribution that college athletics and professional athletes are given every day.
Video of the challenge rules can be found at gteamsports.com. Registration is free for all participants, spectators fee is $2 at the entrance. One hundred percent of entrance fees go directly to the Boys &Girls Clubs Send A Kid To Camp summer camp financial aid assistance program.
This event is open to the public with three age divisions; Division I ages 10 – 13, Division II ages 14 – 17, division III ages 18 years and up.
Shooting elite Challenge will start at 6 p.m. at each location:
May 13 Manassas Boys & Girls Club 9501 Dean Park Manassas, Va. 20110 703-365-2582
May 14 Hylton Boys & Girls Club 5070 Dale Boulevard Dale City, Va. 22193 703-670-3311
May 15 General Heiser Boys & Girls Club 17565 Old Stage Coach Road Dumfries, Va. 22026 703-441-0611
In athletics alone, The Prince William County Boys & Girls clubs serves over 2,000 youth athletics in various sports from introductory to elite level players.This month’s elite basketball shooting challenge also kicks off the Boys & Girls Clubs new county wide summer elite basketball league for 10u 12u 14u 15u 16u age divisions.
The Boys & Girls Clubs provide a safe and positive experience to youth in Prince William County, Dumfries, and Manassas; positively impacting the lives of youth their our priority outcome areas: Academic Success, Healthy Lifestyles and Good Character & Citizenship.
MANASSAS, Va. — The Prince William County and Manassas public schools Robotics programs, and the Manassas City Orchestra will be blending two seemingly different worlds – classical music and robotics – on Saturday in their first program, “Bach to the Future.”
The robotics group, which is comprised of students from elementary to high school in, Micron and the Northern Virginia Community College Education Foundation will use the opportunity to showcase their newest robotic creations that they’ve constructed.
The displays will be shown during the pre-show and intermission of the program, hosted at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas.
Paired with the orchestra’s renditions of classics by Tchaikovsky, Bach and Copland, the robotic displays will work with the orchestra pieces, making it a fun and exciting blend of classical music and high tech gadgetry.
STEM and robotics programs in Northern Virginia have grown in popularity in recent years, and the programs aim to give students the hands on experience in robotics technology. These programs have the ability to fuel student’s desire to move into math, science and technology related fields, which are high in demand in the region and throughout the United States.
“The development and operation of robots in the last few years has trickled down from scientists and engineers to students in grade school, middle school, high school and on in to college. These future robot developers build their robots and engage them in competition throughout the school year, gathering an ardent following that rivals the passion of many athletic events,” a press release from SySTEMic Solutions, the event sponsor from Northern Virginia Communtiy College’s robotics program.
Tickets for adults are $18, for senior citizens $12, for educators $12 and for all students, college students and children, admission is free.
For more information about the robotics program, visit nvcc.edu/systemic/.
WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Those charged with bringing more visitors to Prince William County got a lesson in social media on Wednesday.
In the Fashion District at Potomac Mills mall, representatives from local government, parks, hotels, and others in the tourism business gathered to kickoff National Travel and Tourism Week. This was the third year Discover Prince William / Manassas held the kickoff event, which this year focused on marketing the region online and via social media.
Social media tourism expert Shelia Scarborough urged destinations in Prince William to increase their appeal by using search engine optimization, so local businesses and attractions are easier to find by those using the web to search for information about the area.
“If I don’t live in this area but am planning a visit, chances are I’m not searching for ‘things to do in Prince William County,’ but rather looking for ‘things to do in Washington, D.C.,” said Scarborough.
When it comes to social media marketing, Facebook, by far, is the most popular with audiences, followed by Twitter, and the YouTube video sharing service owned by Google, according to inforamation from W20 Digital distributed at Wednesday’s event.
More than 50 people gathered at Potomac Mills Wednesday to hear Scarborough’s presentation. During previous National Travel and Tourism Week events, Discover Prince William / Manassas highlighted events for the sesquicentennial celebration of the Civil War, and the roll out of a new website for the tourism agency.
National Travel and Tourism Week is recognized each year during the first week in May. This year’s week runs from May 4 to May 12.
By ANNIE BLEWETT
Farmer’s Market Coordinator
Many of my favorite memories with family and friends involve food.
In college, my best friend and I would get together every Tuesday, choose a new recipe and cook dinner together. Spending Tuesday nights with her was how I learned to peel a butternut squash, the proper way to chop veggies, and how to sauté garlic without burning it. I had a monthly tradition with friends when I lived in Florida to gather for themed potlucks (“breakfast for dinner,” “Spanish tapas” and “Greek night” to name a few). Everyone would lovingly prepare a dish that contributed to a meal that would be slowly eaten while sharing stories and laughs.
Countless important pieces of life news have been celebrated over a good meal, and more than one heartache has been assuaged with a sweet treat and a hug (something about a cupcake makes being dumped more tolerable). These moments and more have helped to create my passion and love affair with the kitchen table.
And when I say food—I mean whole foods. Foods that are prepared from scratch and made with love to contribute to the health of those that will eat it (with the occasional homemade dessert item). My interest in gastronomy and the community that is built around it naturally led to a fascination with the Farmer’s Market.
Growing up shopping in the grocery store often produces a disconnect between food and source. Many children today don’t know where food actually comes from. The beauty of a Farmer’s Market is that patrons can get the chance to know where their food comes from, who is producing it, with what practices, and build trust with that person.
Last time I checked Fortune 500, small-farm operations aren’t the most lucrative businesses around—many small farmers, artisans, and bakers choose what they do because it’s what they love. They show up to Farmers Markets week after week to say “hello” to the faces of folks who take their products home to nourish their families.
So here’s where it all comes together for me: buying products from people who produce them with care and creating meals that are deliberately made and shared with friends nourishes me on a much deeper level. It feeds me physically and emotionally. If you are seeking the comfort of community and home cooked meal, I encourage you to start with the freshest ingredients around; those available at the Farmer’s Market. As I begin this blog with Potomac Local, I hope you join along in my adventures, musings and more as I joyfully work with the Farmer’s Market in Manassas.
Want to go?
Thursdays (producer-only market)
7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Saturdays (producer/non-producer market)
7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Parking Lot B (on the corner of West and Prince William Streets)
TRIANGLE, Va. — Virginia Army National Guard Specialist David J. Stanford, of Triangle, is heading onward to his first year at West Point United States Military Academy, starting this July.
In June 2012, the Virginia Army National Guard’s 29th Infantry Division had one of its Infantrymen (who had deployed to Iraq with the Virginia Army National Guard in 2011, reassigned to the United States Military Academy Preparatory School (USMAPS) at West Point. It was a long, challenging academic year, and not every Soldier assigned to USMAPS had what it takes to move upward and onward to West Point at the end of their year, Stanford’s father, Dan, who is deployed in Afghanistan, told Potomac Local News in an email.
David Stanford learned on May 3 that he was accepted into West Point, who member of the Virginia Army National Guard’s 29th Infantry Division’s only representative of this year’s USMAPS class, said Dan Stanford.
David Stanford is one of three members of the Virginia Army National Guard’s 29th Infantry Division accepted to West Point this year.
Summer Camp Chronicles
By KEEYANA MAHONEY
Initial thinking would have you believe this article was about a poor report card brought home by someone who didn’t study well enough on their final exams. Don’t worry, it’s not the case.
Recently, purchases were made for shirts at the Prince William County/Manassas Boys and Girls Clubs for staff to adorn in preparation for summer camp and the promotion of our series of summer camp open houses. It brought back memories of being a staff member who wore those same shirts and transformed into an amazing summer camp counselor, if I do say so myself.
Then, just like now, there were five F’s that turned summer time into magic.
Summer is fun! And working during the summer can be too. Let’s face it; what other job do you get paid to go to King’s Dominion and Six Flags and hang out with children ages 5 to 14 who help you feel like a kid again?
As a summer camp counselor at the Boys & Girls Club, I visited many venues. I went to museums in Washington, rode Metro, petted animals at the zoo and bowled a couple of frames at the bowling alley. I ate Popsicles on “special snack” days, judged the talent show during the fifth week of camp, didn’t brush my hair for crazy hair day and ate two hotdogs during the cookout at the end of the summer. It was like a vacation that was paid for by someone else; all inclusive and I was even getting paid just for participating. I couldn’t beat it!
Yes, there is a bit of frenzy to summer camp. Let’s do the math. Seventeen camp counselors and 180 campers. We had many more names to memorize than the kids had to. Throw two sets of twins in the daily mix and six children named Michael to distinguish from can sometimes be tough.
Learning allergies was the hardest part for me and not forgetting the sunblock I thought was in the pool bag for 42 kids that were already sitting at the pool. On a daily basis, I encouraged 12 kids to eat the sandwiches their parents packed (because they didn’t like the cheese) and had to put Band-Aids on three scrapes I really couldn’t see because the child felt better with it on.
Each bus carries 14 kids who all liked to talk to each other at the SAME exact time and sing their favorite song…loudly. Amidst all the frenzy, I still felt the experiences were well worth it.
For 10 weeks I was a star! Kids, whom I didn’t know, knew me when they came through the doors on the first day. How was that? My reputation for being one of the greatest counselors of all time must have superseded me I suppose. Perhaps, the large name badge I was told to wear on my shirt gave them a bit of a hint. Either way, I felt as if I was a star and for the remainder of camp I acted as such; determined to win the “favorite counselor” award by the end of the summer.
Believe it or not, counselors make friends too during camp. It’s like a jammed packed four years of middle school summed up in ten weeks. You sit in a room with new faces and get trained on CPR, first aid, playground safety and group management.
Throughout the summer you bond with other counselors who had a rough day just like you, got hit in the head by a kickball just like you, and had juice spilled on their shirt just like you. The experiences are similar and bring counselors together and by the end of the summer, I too cried for kids I wouldn’t see any longer because they aged out and had fellow counselors along with members sign my shirt with lines that read, “See You Next Summer!”
Like I said, middle school relived.
This brings me back to shirts. Oh, yes, summer camp counselors care about fashion. While I have traded in my summer camp shirt and sneakers for a pant suit with heels, I still recall getting my shirt for the very first time. Off to the store I would go to find just the right selection of shoes to go with every single color inked in the shirts I possessed.
Accessories were important too in completing the outfit. However, it was never about the shoes. It was always about the person I became while wearing the shirt. For those ten weeks of camp I was part of an elite group of people hired to change the lives of young, impressionable youth and make their summer camp experience memorable and fun.
I will never forget it, 14 years later.
Opening on June 1 and on exhibit until June 30, the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton will showcase an exhibition by artists, Kathy Strauss and Maria Bennett Hock. Their show, Weddings & Destinations celebrates brides, the wedding process and all of the sights & sounds a couple can see on their honeymoon. Maria’s traditional oil painting & Kathy’s photography integrate various antique techniques with modern digital methods. The result is a bright combination of artistic expressions that celebrate all of the happenings of a wedding.
Both artists will be on hand to talk about their work and the processes they used at the opening reception on June 8, 2013. It will be held from 6-9 p.m. in W16 in the Vulcan Gallery. The Workhouse Arts Center is located at 9601 Ox Rd. in Lorton. Gallery hours are Mon.-Fri.: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m; Sun: 12-5 p.m.
The artists have created pieces that will stimulate conversations, spark imagination, and bring smiles to all who see their work. Kathy says, “Have you ever walked by a scene & what you see takes your breath away? You remember these images in your dreams, they might be clear, they might be small & slightly out of focus… but for some reason it sticks with you… you feel it’s energy… it makes you feel good. I try to capture this energy in each piece I create — allowing the viewer to feel.”
Kathy Strauss is the Creative Director and Partner at ImageWerks. Her work is informed by 30 years of experience as a designer, photographer, creative coach, artist, teacher, business owner and community volunteer. Her graphic design background gives her imagery a distinct clean style that electrifies each image with precision and harmony. In her pieces, she uses a digital technique called High Dynamic Range to exaggerate the linear aspects of the scene, invigorating just the right spark, to bring each image to life. She is an Associate Artist in Gallery 902 at the Workhouse Arts Center where she exhibits her work. She exhibits her work at festivals and other galleries throughout the Washington Metropolitan area and mid-Atlantic. Both her work and business have garnered numerous awards.
Maria Bennett Hock specializes in painting portraits that convey emotion. Along with commissions and gallery exhibits, Maria is an Associate Artist in Gallery 902 at the Workhouse Arts Center, and is also a member of the Portrait Society of America, Oil Painters of America, Springfield Art Guild, Torpedo Factory Art Center and volunteers as a docent at the Workhouse Art Center. Maria is also a Copyist at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. She has studied in Europe and Asia as well as throughout the United States. She has a Bachelors degree from George Mason University with a degree in Art and Visual Technology.
For more information about the artists or the Workhouse visit: www.workhousearts.org
The 3rd Anniversary Gala theme was “The Best of Virginia” and this year’s event honored three distinguished Virginians – Dr. Randall Edwards, the late Dr. Marvin L. Gillum and The Honorable Kathleen K. Seefeldt – for their passion, dedication and visionary leadership in the creation of the Hylton Performing Arts Center and their support of the Prince William Campus of George Mason University.
Distinguished guests included The Honorable George Allen and Mrs. Susan Allen; actress and Castleton Festival co-founder Dietlinde Maazel; George Mason University President Ángel Cabrera and Dr. Beth Cabrera; Dr. Annie Hunt Burriss, CEO of George Mason University’s Prince William Campus; the honorees, Dr. Randall Edwards, The Honorable Kathleen K. Seefeldt and Martha Gillum (widow of the late Dr. Marvin Gillum); City of Manassas Mayor Harry J. Parrish, II; Alicia Colgan, the wife of Sen. Charles J. Colgan; Del. Mark Dudenhefer; Del. Jackson Miller; Councilman Mark Wolfe; Councilman Ian Lovejoy; Dr. Sam Hill, provost of Northern Virginia Community College’s Woodbridge Campus; Dr. Roger Ramsammy, provost of Northern Virginia Community College’s Manassas Campus; Carol Merchant Kirby and Peter Kirby; Til and Ann Hazel; John O. Gregory; and many others.
More than 340 guests attended the 3rd Anniversary Gala, which included a reception in the Hylton Center’s Didlake Grand Foyer, where guests were entertained by live music by Charlottesville-based folksinger/songwriter Tara Mills and her band, Yankee Dixie. Following the reception was dinner in the Hylton Center’s Gregory Family Theater. Guests enjoyed “The Best of Virginia” themed menu catered by Susan Gage Caterers, which included mini shrimp and grits, peanut soup shooters, spring pea soup, buttermilk fried chicken, Chesapeake crab cakes and a dessert of strawberry-rhubarb pie with sour cream ice cream, paired with Virginia wines from Barboursville, White Hall and Early Mountain Vineyards. The evening concluded with a performance by bluegrass legend and Virginia native Dr. Ralph Stanley and The Clinch Mountain Boys in the Hylton Center’s Merchant Hall.
The gala raised a total of $206,000 and funds raised support the Sen. Charles J. Colgan Community Arts Benefit Fund, which enables local arts organizations to present at the Hylton Center and make it their artistic home.
I very rarely, if ever, pass on a slug ride.
That’s not to say that it never happens, but the truth is that I’m not very picky when it comes to getting a ride. I may laugh about a driver’s strange behavior, or complain about a stuffy car, but at the end of the day, I’m happy just to get back and forth to work without any major issues.
The only time I will choose not to accept a ride is when the driver and I are headed to different locations. For instance, if I approach a vehicle and the driver says they’re going to Crystal City, I will generally pass and look for another driver who is headed to L’Enfant Plaza, or somewhere closer to my destination in Washington.
Some people will refuse rides from certain drivers after a bad experience, such as a driver who makes them feel unsafe, or even one who smokes. I know someone who stopped slugging altogether and formed her own carpool because she couldn’t stand riding with strangers who poured on the cologne or perfume – it made her nauseous!
While waiting to slug home one afternoon, I saw two gentlemen allow the people behind them in line to get into a car before them. I wondered why they hadn’t taken the ride until one of them joked, “I’m too big for that car!” They were both very tall, and apparently didn’t think that they could squeeze into the small coupe.
It reminded me of my own car, and one of the many reasons I am almost always a rider and not a driver in the slug line. When I do drive, I’m afraid my passengers will be uncomfortable in my small, two-door Honda.
Over the holidays, I drove in one day and parked at Pentagon City, where parking is a few dollars cheaper than it is in D.C. I decided to pick up slugs at the Pentagon, and ended up with two of the biggest, tallest men in the line sitting in the front and rear passenger seats. As the first one climbed into the backseat, I apologized profusely, acknowledging the lack of space. Both passengers said they’d be fine, but I still felt badly for them, and tried to make the rest of the ride as smooth as possible.
Other drivers don’t seem as concerned with their passengers’ comfort, or sometimes, even their safety. I’ve ridden with many drivers who treat the commute like a race, speeding and weaving in and out of traffic. There’s a lady I’ve ridden with to the Pentagon a few times – she’s as nice as can be, very friendly – but she drives like a maniac! When I rode with her earlier this week, we made it from the Horner Road Commuter Lot in Woodbridge to the Pentagon in about 15 minutes. She said that she was running late that morning, but the other passenger had ridden with her before as well, and we laughed that she always drives that fast.
I’m always much more careful when I drive with other people in my car; I want them to feel as safe and secure as possible. At the same time, I’ve never had the guts to speak up to a driver who isn’t driving carefully, like the hybrid driver I rode with recently. Even though that ride in particular made me nervous, if I encountered that driver in the slug line again, I’m not sure that I would pass on the ride. When the line is long and moving slowly, I’m just happy to get into a car no matter what!
That said, there have definitely been times where I’ve been relieved not to have to get into certain cars, too. One morning when I used to slug from the Tackett’s Mill Commuter Lot in Lake Ridge, I rode with a lady whose car smelled overwhelmingly like a wet dog – you know the smell. It was awful, and I couldn’t wait to get out. When I saw her car pull up to the slug line that evening, I cringed. I couldn’t handle that again! But luckily, there were two people ahead of me in line, and I was able to take the next car. Whew!
When it comes down to it, slugs and drivers both have the choice to decline a ride or a passenger, it’s just not something I do very often. However, I’ve learned after years of slugging to never say never. Each day and each ride bring different circumstances, and if I ever felt unsafe (or sick!) from a ride, I’d probably have to just wait for the next one.
Historic Manassas, Inc. has been designated as an accredited National Main Street Program for meeting the commercial district revitalization performance standards set by the National Main Street Center®, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Each year, the National Main Street Center and its partners announce the list of accredited Main Street® programs that have built strong revitalization organizations and demonstrate their ability in using the Main Street Four Point Approach® methodology for strengthening their local economy and protecting their historic buildings.
“We congratulate this year’s nationally accredited Main Street programs for meeting our established performance standards,” says Valecia Crisafulli, acting director of the National Main Street Center. “Accredited Main Street programs are meeting the challenges of the downtown in the economy head on and are successfully using a focused, comprehensive revitalization strategy to keep their communities vibrant and sustainable.”
The organization’s performance is annually evaluated by Virginia Main Street, which works in partnership with the National Main Street Center to identify the local programs that meet ten performance standards. These standards set the benchmarks for measuring an individual Main Street program’s application of the Main Street Four Point Approach® to commercial district revitalization. Evaluation criteria determines the communities that are building comprehensive and sustainable revitalization efforts and include standards such as developing a mission, fostering strong public-private partnerships, securing an operating budget, tracking economic progress and preserving historic buildings.
Historic Manassas, Inc.revitalization strategies include promoting a positive image of downtown Manassas by encouraging economic development, sponsoring special events throughout the year, and creating partnerships with local businesses to foster further growth and development of the community. Historic Manassas, Inc. is also responsible for the operation of a state-accredited Visitor Center, and a year-round Farmer’s Market
The Prince William Wildflower Society recently donated five copies of the long awaited book, The Flora of Virginia, to the Prince William Library System. The books will be placed in the regional and central libraries and one in the Ruth E. Floyd Information Center.
Prince William County Cooperative Extension was a recipient of another copy.
Two Prince William County schools focusing on science or ecology were given copies also. The schools receiving copies were The Biotechnology Center at Osbourn Park High School in Manassas as well as the Center for Environmental and Natural Sciences at Freedom High School in Woodbridge. Another copy in honor of Ms. Nicky Staunton, an active conservationist at many levels, botanical illustrator, and charter member of the PWWS was given to George Mason University, Mercer Library, Prince William Campus.
The Flora of Virginia published November 2012 is the first reference manual on Virginia’s native plants since 1762 and took seven years to compile. The flora, according to Nancy Vehrs VNPS and PWWS president, “is a tremendous tool for plant enthusiasts as well as scholars and scientists to help in identifying and conserving Virginia’s native plants.”
For more information on The Flora of Virginia or to order your copy, go to flora of virginia.org. Find out more about PWWS @ www.pwws.vnps.org or see our Facebook page.
WOODBRIDGE, Va. — The place where the Potomac Nationals play, Richard G. Pfitzner Stadium, was packed on Saturday for the Prince William Community Expo.
An estimated 15,000 people, adults and children, came out to celebrate the expo’s second year. More than 100 community organizations and businesses participated in the event. A rock climbing wall, bicycle courses, and a live music stage were just some of the events offered at the expo.
Put on in 2012 by the Prince William Chamber of Commerce, Prince William County Public Schools this year took over organizing and executing the expo.
“The event could not have been successful without the support from volunteers, sponsors, Prince William County Public Schools, SPARK, the Education Foundation for PWCS, Prince William County Parks and Recreation, and the generosity of the Potomac Nationals for allowing the event to be held at Pfitzner Stadium as well as PWC Parks and Recreation for use of their grounds and hard working employees,” said Brittany Hoffman, who helped to organize the expo.
The following organizations also supported the event:
ED OUT partners
PWC Healthy Communities?Healthy Youth
PWCS Health and Physical Education
PWC Parks and Recreation
Education Foundation for PWCS
Potomac Local News also helped to sponsor the event.