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Lifestyle

Questions on Metro to Woodbridge Can’t Be Answered Without Study

By MARK DUDENHEFER
Delegate, 2nd District 

On Tuesday, March 5, Congressman Gerry Connolly and Jim Moran introduced legislation to study the extension of Metrorail from Franconia-Springfield to eastern Prince William County. The extension would include an addition to the Blue Line along Interstate 95 through Woodbridge to Potomac Mills, and the Yellow Line down the U.s. 1 corridor in Prince William County.

I am proud to support their efforts to authorize a project development analysis on the extension.

This study would allow us to analyze the long term economic impact, value for taxpayers, questions over costs, and other information to make well informed decisions on the extension. It is a practical common sense endeavor. The Metrorail extension may not be a solution, and funding road construction is always the first priority. However, we can’t firmly answered the questions without a study.

Recently, I also sat down with the Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton to outline potential mass transit projects, lane additions, and widening of major traffic veins in the area. We have voted for and addressed the funding gaps at the state level.

It is now time to work at all levels of government to prioritize projects and investments that benefit Virginia citizens. With funding from the transportation bill, we will concentrate on widening of U.s. 1 and I-95, needed repairs and safety improvements on secondary roads, using technology to improve traffic flow at peak hours, and exploring alternative transportation resources. With growth in the region expected to continue I am ready join and be a leader in that conversation.

Transportation congestion and safety are issues that we can no longer avoid in the Second District and Northern Virginia. That is why it is necessary to study each alternative and invest in our infrastructure. Virginians are tired of politics as usual and are looking for efficient, cost effective, and cooperative ways to alleviate these issues.

 

Ask Mega Mike: On and Off Points for the 95 Express Lanes?

In his Potomac Local News debut, Virginia Megaprojects Mike “Mega Mike” Salmon takes your questions on all things Megaprojects – from the 95 Express Lanes Project to Metro rail to Dulles Airport – he’ll help you understand what’s happening to improve your commute, and to tell you what you need to know before you go.

Send your questions to the Virginia Megaprojects Mega Man and find out what’s new with your commute! Be sure to include your full name and town.

Dear Megaprojects Mega Mike,

I heard they’re building new on and off ramps for the 95 Express Lanes. Where will I be able to get on and off of the lanes?

Crissy Smith 
Woodbridge, Va. 

Dear Crissy, 
That’s easy, take a look at this updated 95 Express Lanes map that shows all of the access points that will be built along the highway facility’s span, from Va. 610 in Garrisonville to Edsall Road in Alexandria.

Mike Salmon
Virginia Megaprojects 

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Slugging Conversation Creates Comedic Connection

Slug Tales 

By LAURA CIRILLO

If you ask me, it is amazing the connections that you can make while slugging.

In the day and age where social networking generally takes place exclusively on websites like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, it seems building relationships in person is somewhat of a rarity. Within the community of those who spend day in and day out commuting from the suburbs of Northern Virginia to Washington, D.C., however, many connections are made while standing right there in the slug line.

Learn more about PRTCThere have been many times I’ve run into friends, both old and new, just slugging back and forth. Though most people typically will wait in silence for a ride, many conversations are started there, even amongst total strangers.

Usually, these conversations are limited to comments about the length of the line, or the weather, or how happy they might be that it’s Friday. But sometimes, those conversations lead to deeper connections. Perhaps you have a friend or colleague in common, or you happen to live in the same neighborhood. It’s a small world, as they say.

Many times, I’ve run into people who recognize my photo from my dad’s desk at the car dealership (he just so happens to be the best salesman at Karen Radley Volkswagen). Other times, both slugs and drivers have mentioned that they’re in the market for a new vehicle, and I’ve been able to help by passing his card along to get in contact with him. I might be biased when it comes to singing his praises, but the way I look at it, it’s always nice to have a good reference when you’re shopping around.

Just last week, I got into a car headed to Horner Road one evening, and the other passenger started a friendly conversation. She asked the gentleman driver and me about our day, and she joked with the driver about singing to us on the way home. Normally, talking while slugging is against the rules, but the driver seemed okay with it and continued to chat.

Somehow, the passenger ended up mentioning her part-time gig doing Christian-based comedy, and I perked up upon hearing this. It just so happened that a few days prior, a good friend of mine had posted on Facebook that he was in need of a Christian-based comedian for an event at his church! I couldn’t believe my luck, as I shared this with the lady in the backseat. She gave me her information, which I immediately sent his way.

A minute or two later, he sent a text back saying that he had emailed her the night before, inquiring about her services! Unbelievable, I thought – it must be a sign!

Not to mention, this was a friend I had just recently reunited with after several years, only days earlier. My friend was shocked at the coincidence, not to mention thrilled that I had gotten the chance to meet her. After that evening, they were able to have a conversation about the possibility of her performing at his church’s function later this month.

Although I normally enjoy a quiet nap during the commute home, a good conversation is sometimes a welcome change, especially when it leads to a surprisingly valuable discussion. And even if it doesn’t, it can be nice to meet new people, or even to catch up with folks you know or have met before. Turns out, it really is a small world after all.

 

Photographer Goes on Snow Road Patrol

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Mary Davidson

Mary Davidson

So the boss calls me up at 8 a.m. and asks “Where are my snow pictures, I need snow pictures?!”

I couldn’t resist taking my new all wheel drive Subaru out in the snow for the first time. The main roads have been kept clear for the most part. I stopped and talked with a couple of drivers of snow plow vehicles. They said they have been out since 10 p.m. Tuesday treating the roads.

I kept driving on Garrisonville Road in Stafford until I crossed over to Fauquier County. They do have more snow on the ground and on the roads than what was spotted in Stafford.

In my opinion, it’s not safe to drive on without all-wheel or four-wheel drive car.

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Snowfall impacts areas in Stafford County, rural and suburban. [Photo: Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

 

Slide show: Runners Fill Streets at Inaugural Frigid 5K

[Photo: Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

OCCOQUAN, Va. – On a cold February morning, the first Frigid 5K Run was held in Occoquan.

Area residents and runners filled the streets in the tiny village on Feb. 23 for the inaugural run to benefit the Optimist Club of the Occoquan, Woodbridge, and Neabsco  districts in Prince William County.

The race was promoted by the Neabsco Action Alliance and was billed as a way to bring community together.

“NAA wants to be part of anything that’s good for our community. You know I work with everyone,” stated NAA President Connie Moser in an email.

Occoquan Mayor Earnie Porta and a host of sponsors also helped to promote the event.

The results of the races are below:

Frigid February 5K 2013 Results

Overall

Male:

Miguel Sanchez-Ruano

Mike Enrico

William Burke

Female:

Elizabeth McGrath

Liesl Nopp

Kjersti Smedley

20 & Under

Kaitlyn Peltzer

Victoria Jaeger

21-30

Robert Currer

Jeremy Fleming

31-40

Heather Steele

Kristin Hanley

41-50

Patrick Day

Neil Hogie

51-99

Jim Halley

Jeff Currer

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[Photo: Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

Blurred Vision not Caused by Stroke, but a Very Bumpy Run

Mom on the Run

By LIANNE WILKENS

It’s morning. Early. Not quite 6 a.m. I’m out, walking my dogs in the dark. There’s a faint pink tracing of sunrise on the horizon, but the streetlights are on, and all the cars going by are in full headlight mode.

This morning, my dog Janie has chosen the swimming pool route. It’s her favorite walk, the path she selects most often. There must be something particularly attractive about this walk.

021113-freedom-mom-tagWe’ve left our neighborhood, followed the winding sidewalk, passed the pool, and have just crossed the major intersection. At this time of day the traffic isn’t heavy, but it is steady. We all wait while I watch the lights and the cars, Janie sitting at the very edge of the sidewalk, so eager to move on.

Today, a car has kindly stayed back, waiting for us. The driver leans forward and motions me and my two dogs across. “Let’s go, girls!” I call, and my dogs and I take a quick jog through the dark intersection. “Thank you!” I call, lifting a tethered hand in return greeting, as I run across the street. My two dogs are galloping before me, excited by the brief run, eager to continue our walk.

But when we get across … I stop, as I always do, to rein the dogs in and collect the leashes … and when I look up, oh! Oh my gosh! What’s going on?

My eyes – I can’t see! It’s not right, it’s … wrong, terribly wrong. I look left, right, up, down, trying to make sense of what I’m seeing. Or not seeing. My vision is blurry, and not blurry, it’s changing as I move my head, I can’t focus! It’s scary, and I’m getting upset, my heart and brain are racing, trying to figure out what’s happening. I force myself to calm down. I close my eyes, get a grip, try to reset.

But when I open my eyes, there’s no difference, I can’t see! I turn and face the light, maybe I’m having difficulties with depth perception, looking into the dark? But no, it’s the same there, too, in focus and out of focus, sliding and moving. Oh my gosh, am I having a stroke? Could it be? Something else? I realize I am holding my breath, trying to make everything stand still.

Calm down, Lianne, the rational part of my brain commands. Stop. Think. What did you do? What just happened? OK, we just crossed the street. We ran. But it was a really short jog. A little bumpy, with the dogs and leashes and my walking boots, and trying to wave, but nothing at all strenuous.

Oh! Bumpy! I have a desperate thought, and I reach up with my left hand, dragging an already confused dog closer to me. I reach up, check my glasses … good heavens. The left lens is gone. It must have fallen out, on our short bumpy run. I feel the other side: the right lens is there. They’re progressive, many different prescriptions in one lens, and … that explains it. My eyes. Oh, my gosh.

OK, my lens is missing. I breathe. A long exhale. I’m all right. I fumble on the end of my lanyard, where I have a tiny little flashlight (thank you, Walgreens!), usually used for picking up dog poop. I grip both leashes in my left hand – “Come here, girls,” – and squeeze the flashlight in my right. I scan it back and forth, back and forth across the black pathway. No lens.

I move toward the road, wait for a car to pass, step out, aim the flashlight … and there, on the street, my lens. I look up and around for cars, pull the dogs with me, bend over, pick up the lens, hold it up for inspection. In this pre-dawn darkness I can’t tell its condition.

But the lens is whole, anyway, and it’s in my hand, and after we get back onto the sidewalk I slide it into my pocket and take my glasses off my face, hook them over the collar of my sweatshirt. The dogs pull, looking back at me, questioningly. Janie whines softly. They want to go. But I stand for a minute and breathe. Just breathe.

I peer down the path, into the dark. Now I can’t see at all. But at least I can’t see consistently, right side and left side and up and down. Oh, my gosh. I let out a nervous little laugh. I didn’t have a stroke! Oh, my gosh. And we continue on our walk, a little wobbly, half-blind, but oh so relieved.

Roads are Last Century’s Answer, Telework is this Century’s Answer

Opinion: Al Alborn 

By AL ALBORN
Contributing Editor

I’ve been thinking a lot about the commute north these days.

I was one of the many drivers that made that commute for years. Between 1988 and 2002, I dutifully woke up every morning with 105.9 tuned in on the radio, poured myself a cup of coffee from a pot set on a timer, watched TV traffic reports to see if I needed to take a different route, and then entered the darkness to drive through Clifton to get to Tysons Corner and other points around the beltway.

As the years passed, I had to adjust my alarm clock to get up a bit earlier to beat the crowd. I remember the dread of being stuck for hours with no way out while a traffic accident was cleared. I also remember two near-death experiences where my life flashed before my life (literally) as I thought I wouldn’t make it to work (the first accident) on I-95 or home (the second accident) on I-66.

Now that I spend more time simply thinking, I question why so many people who don’t really need to commute, well, commute. I suggest that while we have the policy and commonwealth incentives in place to allow people to work at home, at a telework center, at Starbucks or wherever while encouraging companies to let them do so, we lack the strategy to translate this policy into a meaningful reduction of people competing for ever scarcer transportation resources (road, rail, bus, slug lines, van pools, etc.)

One of my favorite books is the classic Only the Paranoid Survive by Andy Grove. It’s a “cult classic” among management consultants and on my shelf of ready references when advising business and Government on how to manage change. In Grove’s book, he discusses inflection points and the importance of recognize when any enterprise faces one.

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Every now and then, any enterprise needs to reassess the world within which it operates and question exactly what its business mission is. It has to look out for inflection points, those changes to the fundamentals in the world within which an enterprise operates. Enterprises that recognize those inflection points increase their chances of thriving in “what’s next”. Those who miss inflection points are usually doomed to failure.

Recognizing an inflection point when I see one allowed me to stop commuting in 2002. Pointing them out as public policy considerations is now an amusement.

So, what’s the question?

The traditional question was, “how do we move people around efficiently to get them too and from work?” In the industrial age where people reported to typewriters, factories, or shops this was a pretty good question.

We’re not in the industrial age any more.

Transportation planning and technology need to converge so building roads to move people around and reducing competition for those roads become part of one solution set. Conceptually, these alternatives are variables in the same model.

I suggest that the question has changed to, “how do we move information around more efficiently to get it to the people who need it?”

Roads are last century’s answer. Telework is this century’s answer.

For a large percentage of our population, those folks who do something with information, there is really no reason to actually drive somewhere to add value to that information. With today’s technology, you may do your job anywhere.

Government “gets” this. At the federal level, the Telework Enhancement act of 2010 mandated that every federal agency implement a telework strategy and make it available to eligible employees. In Virginia, tax credits are in place to encourage businesses to allow employees to telework.

Commuters have figured out that they waste two hours of their day, ten hours of their week, around 500 hours a year risking their lives and sanity commuting to work. I am one of many who survived two near-death experiences while commuting. Every life you take off the road for even a day is a life that’s a bit safer.

People who do business with the Federal Government recognize the increased facility costs of housing people who perform contracts, lost time driving around Northern Virginia to attend meetings, and opportunity cost driving somewhere instead of developing new business.

Our transportation planners, whether they by PWC, NVTA, COG , Virginia’s Secretary of Transportation, local overnments, or whatever consider technology, changes in the nature of work and the simple fact that strategies to take people off our already stressed transportation infrastructure be part of the solution.

Government and quasi-government bodies at all levels assess Northern Virginia’s infrastructure to ensure we have the necessary broadband, technology, services, and policy in place to let people work at home or at a local telework center (particularly important for classified work) and integrate the results into its transportation strategy. We also need to continue developing the right federal, state and local policies to encourage and support both businesses and individuals who wish to work anywhere but a centralized office somewhere.

The right question for transportation planners is, “how do we move information around more efficiently to get it to the people who need it?” Perhaps we need a new group of “Information Planners” to develop strategies for moving information around. In any case, models developed to predict traffic flows and transportation requirements are incomplete if they don’t consider the impact of applying technology to reduce the load on the system.

Letting people work at home under existing policy with available technology is a pretty simple idea. Sometimes, the simple solutions are the best answer to the question. In this case, my question is, “why not?”

Let’s not miss this rather obvious inflection point. The stakes are just too high and the rewards too great. I’m not sure we can afford to do otherwise.

New Classroom in Boys & Girls Club will Focus on STEM Education

Wellburn Management, elected officials, community members, and staff from the Hylton Branch of the Prince William County Boys and Girls Club in Dale City celebrate the opening of a new classroom where children and teenagers may study, complete homework assignments, and focus on science, technology, and math education. [Photo: Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

By URIAH KISER

DALE CITY, Va. – A fully renovated multipurpose classroom where children and teenagers will be able to learn, study, and grow opened for the first time Saturday.

In an celebration featuring local business owners and elected officials, a ribbon was cut for the Wellburn Management Learning Center inside the Hylton Branch of the Boys and Girls Club in Dale City. With brand new desks, tables, and cozy chairs, the center offers a classroom setting complete with SmartBoard technology, a library, and a special childrens’ reading room. Made possible by Wellburn Management, a firm which owns several McDonalds restaurants in Prince William County, students here will be able to focus their learning on science, technology, and math, also known as STEM.

“We are very exited for the STEM program to begin” said Teja Washington, a five-year member of the Boys and Girls Club. “We now have a dedicated place to do homework, to fill out college applications, and to study.”

The learning center is on the second floor of the two-story building off Dale Boulevard. Overall, the renovation will be able to accommodate a growing customer base as the club has doubled the number of children enrolled in programs there in the past 30 days.

“This room will allow us to expand our educational through STEM, or GED, and all-around new educational offerings right here in Dale City,” said Prince William / Manassas Boys and Girls Club Director Glenn Vickers.

Diane Wellburn of Wellburn Management said the learning center came from a vision of helping children succeed.

“We wanted to make a place for children to learn, because with everything going on in the world right now, so many of them are distracted and don’t have a place to come and do homework,” said Wellburn.

The STEM learning program is just getting underway and club officials plan to release more information on the programs that will be offered here in the near future. Vickers said all three of the Boys and Girls Clubs he helps to oversee – the one in Dale City, a branch in Dumfries, and one in Manassas – serves 4,500 children between the ages of 5 and 18 with an annual membership fee of $30.

The Hylton Boys and Girls Club is open from 3 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, and is closed Mondays.

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Photo: Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News

Deer Population a Challenge for Area Forests

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By CHARLES SMITH
Prince William Conservation Alliance

Many residents in Northern Virginia understand the need to change land use practices to stop or minimize habitat destruction and preserve good examples of our native plant communities. An increasing number of people also support combating the spread of non-native invasive species to include problem plant species and insects such as gypsy moth, which can strip tree foliage and cause their death.

These two conservation priorities remain tremendously important, but there is a critical need to add another: controlling populations of white-tailed deer.

People arrived in North America over 13,000 years ago. Once our species arrived, we, not wolves and mountain lions, gradually became the top predator controlling populations of large herbivores. Many of those species eventually went extinct. The white-tailed deer nearly joined their ranks by about 1900, with very few deer left in the state.

In the mid-20th century, Virginia joined many other states in reintroducing white-tailed deer to supplement the few deer left and increase numbers for sport hunting. From the 1950s through the 1980s two things happened that greatly contributed to the increase in the number of deer. First land use shifted away from agriculture toward suburban and urban uses.

Contrary to commonly held beliefs, suburban landscapes do not take away deer habitat – they create it. Deer are adaptive animals. Suburban development creates preferred edge habitat for deer, and human landscapes provide high concentrations of edible plants close to the ground where the deer can get to them. You can grow more deer in suburbia than you can in a purely forested landscape.

The second major factor is that few people hunt. Deer are a prey species that requires predation to control their populations. Without predation they can double their numbers in as little as one year. With almost no hunting pressure in suburban areas and declining hunting pressure in rural areas, deer numbers have skyrocketed state-wide. In many areas of the state, deer population numbers are at more than three to eight times the densities that native plant communities can sustain.

The result is that our remaining forest ecosystems are decimated. Deer eat everything native with few exceptions. They eat almost all of the non-woody plants in the forest as well as all shrubs and trees within their reach and the majority of the acorns and hickory nuts. They have now removed most vegetation from many of our forests below 5 feet.

The results include the disappearance of most of our forest bird species in many areas due to loss of the understory, the loss of many of our woodland wildflowers, and a change of our forest stand composition to a few species such as tulip tree, American beech and red maple that have smaller seeds and appear to be less palatable to deer.

As our forests are oversimplified we lose native species, non-native invasive plants explode and become the dominant understory. Once the existing trees die, there will be little to replace them.

In 2008 the USDA Forest Service began to make dire predictions about eastern forests due to the over-browsing by white-tailed deer. The problem is so severe that even if we could reduce the number of deer immediately to within ecologically sustainable levels, it would take many decades if not centuries to recover our native plant communities.

If we act soon we can retain enough native plant stock and seed that many species could recover within remaining forests and repopulate surrounding areas over time.

It is time for residents and local governments in Northern Virginia to join with USDA Forest Service, the Virginia Natural Heritage Program, large landowners and managers elsewhere in Virginia, the Maryland Native Plant Society and others in supporting and urging efforts to reduce and manage the number of white-tailed deer in order to protect our native plant species, the communities in which they live and the animal species they support.

Charles Smith is a member of the Prince William Wildflower Society and Prince William Conservation Alliance, and the Natural Resource Management and Protection Branch Manager for Fairfax County Park Authority.

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When Slugging, Do You Know Where You’re Going?

Slug Tales 

By LAURA CIRILLO

When slugging, it’s always a good idea to know where you’re going.

Sure, this may sound like a no brainer, but there are many slugs and drivers alike who assume everyone is on the same page, and well, we all know what happens when we assume.

Slug lines are typically organized at specific locations, based on their destination. For instance, slugs headed for the Pentagon stand in line near the bus bay in the Tackett’s Mill Commuter Lot in the morning, or they wait near the intersection at 14th & Independence in the afternoon to get to the lot at Old Hechinger’s near Occoquan.

Learn more about PRTC

For the most part, slugs generally know where to wait and drivers know where to pick up. However, we’re all human, and occasionally, we make mistakes – and some of us have had to learn this the hard way!

I speak from experience, clearly. There’s one day in particular, where I remember standing in the Horner Road-bound slug line at L’Enfant Plaza. The slug lines there are all located along D Street, with different destinations in Springfield, Woodbridge, and Stafford, and are somewhat close together, even closer on days when the lines are very long.

This was one of those days, and it was getting late, so I was relieved when I was next in line and the next car finally arrived. I got into the front passenger seat, and the driver took two more riders into the backseat. As we settled in for the journey home, I guess none of us thought to confirm our destination – we were just happy to finally have a ride. It wasn’t until I looked up and saw that we were passing the exit that we realized something was wrong.

Confused and almost speechless, I pointed to the exit too late. “Horner?” was all I could manage to spit out.

The driver, just as bewildered, responded only by saying, “Stafford? 610?”

Right away, the two ladies in the backseat awoke from their drowsy state, just in time to tell the driver that we all thought we were going to the Horner Road Commuter Lot, not the lot at Route 610 in Stafford. The driver apologized, and was kind enough to take the next exit to circle back and drop us off.

Later, I heard a story from a friend, who slugs from Woodbridge, that when the same thing happened to her, the driver refused to take her passengers back. That poor slug had to call a family member to be picked up in Stafford.

Since then, I’ve always been sure to confirm my destination with the driver before getting into the car. It only takes a second and can save a major headache later. Still, miscommunications are bound to happen from time to time. Especially in the morning, I’ve gotten into cars with drivers who have said they will go to L’Enfant Plaza, and once they’re on the road, ask for directions. That’s not so bad, if that’s the worst of it. Once, I rode with a couple who said they knew where L’Enfant was, yet somehow, we ended up at Foggy Bottom. What a mess that was!

Another time, I rode with a man who was running late for a meeting and decided in the middle of the ride that he wouldn’t have time to stop by L’Enfant to drop me off before shooting over to 14th Street.

“I used to work near L’Enfant,” he kept assuring me. “I’ll drop you off real close.”

Never will I ever believe that lie again – where he ended up dropping me off was not close at all! To be fair, it was walking distance, but it was absolutely freezing that day. I would have never accepted a ride knowing that I’d have to walk such a distance in the wind and cold. And you know how much I hate the cold. I was bamboozled.

At the end of the day, there’s always a chance that something will go wrong; people will make mistakes, or change their minds, and life will go on. But clear communication is your best bet in avoiding such situations, to make sure everyone gets where they need to go without any issues along the way.

Lunch at Stafford’s German Roadhaus Eatery a Bustling Experience

Schnitzel sandwich at the Roadhaus Eatery in Stafford. [Photo: Stephanie Tipple / Potomac Local News]
Inside the Roadhaus Eatery in Stafford. [Photo: Stephanie Tipple / Potomac Local News]

Inside the Roadhaus Eatery in Stafford. [Photo: Stephanie Tipple / Potomac Local News]

By STEPHANIE TIPPLE
Features Editor

While the words ‘gulasch’ and ‘schnitzel’ may not sound the most appetizing, once you’ve ordered a plate at the Roadhaus Eatery & Bier Garten in Stafford, you may have to change your mind.

Located on U.S. 1 in Stafford County, between Garrisonville Road and the Quantico Marine Base, this restaurant promises genuine German fare, along with a few more Americanized dishes for your friend or spouse who’s a bit of a xenophobe.

Not afraid to try some foreign fare, I stopped by the Roadhaus Eatery one evening. Or should I say, I attempted to. After reading the hours posted for the restaurant, I drove there, only to find they were closed – with a hand made sign that showcased their new ‘winter hours’.

Disappointed but not deterred, I ventured to Roadhaus during lunchtime on a different day to give it another shot. This time the restaurant was buzzing with activity, with several customers coming in for lunch from Quantico.

I was immediately greeted by my server and brought to a table, where I could take in all of the décor. With different knick knacks that reinforced the German theme, complete with cuckoo clocks and a full bar stocked with German beer and spirits, I could tell I was definitely in a place where lederhosen wasn’t just Will Ferrell’s costume in Elf.

With the lunch rush there was a high volume that resonated throughout the building, so if you’re sensitive to loud noises, or you want a more relaxing environment, it’s best to come during the evening.

Many of the menu items were normal lunch fare, including a Chicken Salad sandwich ($7.95), or the Southwest Chicken wrap ($8.95). But if you want an authentic experience, you want to stick to the specialty sandwiches section of the menu or splurge on a meal from the dinner menu.

And while it’s almost impossible to properly pronounce some of the items, the menu offers short ‘German lessons’ that define the different food items – very helpful when trying foreign food. They also offer an endless salad bar ($9.45) for those with dietary restrictions.

I ordered the Schnitzel sandwich ($9.95), which is a pork cutlet that is breaded and served on a Kaiser roll with a lemon zest mayo. My food came quickly – a major plus for someone with a short lunch break – and I began to dig in.

Biting in, I immediately noticed the presence of the lemon zest mayo, which was subtler than I imagined, but had a unique taste that broke up the flavor of the breaded pork. I was satisfied after eating a majority of my sandwich – a good portion size for a bigger lunch.

My sandwich was served with frites, or French fries, which were crispy and delicious. It took me till the end of my meal to see a small puddle of grease at the bottom of my plate, so avoid this particular sandwich if you can’t eat greasy foods.

Aside from enjoying my meal, I was pleased with a majority of the service I received. My waiter was quick and attentive, and other staff checked on me to make sure I had been served. I do feel that I was rushed a bit out the door with the check, and that I wish I could have seen if there was a dessert menu, but I chalked it up to all of the busy patrons stopping in with a short lunch break and a big appetite.

I would recommend this as a lunch stop when you’re in the area. The prices are reasonable, the concept is unique and the service is excellent. While some of the dinner entrées seem pricey, like the Jaeger Schnitzel ($19.95), it’s worth taking the time to try it out.

Woodbridge Woman Wins $250,000 While Running Errand

[Photo: Virginia Lottery]

Submitted News

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Danielle Sherred was running errands with her mom when they stopped at the Shell station located at 13890 Noblewood Plaza in Woodbridge. She bought two Big Winning Numbers tickets from the Virginia Lottery. They then discovered that one of the tickets was a $250,000 winner.

“My mom was next to me and kept screaming,” she told Lottery officials as she claimed her prize. “I just remained in shock.”

Ms. Sherred said she had no immediate plans for her winnings.

Big Winning Numbers is one of dozens of Scratchers offered by the Virginia Lottery. It features prizes ranging from $5 all the way up to $250,000. This is the first top prize claimed in this game, which means four top-prize tickets remain unclaimed.

Mick’s Restaurant & Sports Lounge Revamping Menu, Staff

By URIAH KISER

NORTH STAFFORD, Va. – It’s not a full on make over as much as it will be a new way of doing things.

Mick’s Restaurant and Sports Lounge plans to revamp its menu, build a more female-friendly atmosphere, and improve the quality of the service inside the restaurant now known for Tex-Mex and American food.

On the new menu, you’ll find things like flatbread pizza, seafood, and new healthier salads and wraps. They’ll be more consistency behind the bar so made-to-order drinks are poured according to their recipes. And servers waiting on guests will be taught to trade phrases like “sure, no problem,” for “absolutely.”

It’s a new plan to help redirect a 4-year-old restaurant that needs some sprucing up.

“We want people to come in to the restaurant with their families and say ‘this is our bar’ where we love to go out to eat,” said manager Lexi McDaniel.

Mick’s as we know it today will be closed for lunch on Thursday so servers will get new training from everything from new menu items to clearing tables.

“No one wants to go into their next course with a reminder of what they just had to eat, and we recognize that,” said McDaniel.

The restaurant will reopen Thursday at 4 p.m. with a re-launch party where customers have been invited to come in and try new menu items.

The restaurant sits on a hill in North Stafford where U.S. 1, Interstate 95, and Va. 610 all come together near bustling Aquia Harbour. While the residential neighborhood stays busy, the nearby shopping center in which Mick’s sits – Town Center at Aquia – has been slow to redevelop five years after many businesses were boarded up and were demolished to make way for newer ones.

While the restaurant wants to bring in families by day, Mick’s has found success in turning down the lights at night to become one of the area’s only nightclubs. Most recently in January, the restaurant hosted its “Anything But Clothes” party where revelers were encouraged to dress in anything, well, but clothes, and were told to be sure to have their vital areas covered up.

These afterhours events, which also include more common attractions like open mic nights and live music, are something McDaniel says Mick’s can continue to do all while redefining itself as a family brand.

“We are a family restaurant during the day, and our customers respect the fact that we have a bar and often hold events at night. It really shows both sides of what Mick’s is,” said McDaniel.

The restaurant’s staff, some of which are new hires, will begin a dry run of the new menu and concept starting tomorrow, and they’ll don new uniforms and start a new concept called team service – where everyone pitches in to make sure guests are comfortable and full – when the restaurant re-launches on Thursday.

Gold Medalist Benita Fitzgerald Mosley to Headline Steak ‘N Stake

News from Content Partner Prince William / Manassas Boys & Girls Clubs

MANASSAS, Va. – The Boys and Girls Club for the first time will hold their annual Stake ‘N Steak charity dinner at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas.

The show will be hosted by Olympic great Benita Fitzgerald Mosely – an Olympic gold medalist in track and field who grew up in Dale City. Fitzgerald Mosley competed in the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, and she has a street named after her in Dale City. 

The show and fundraiser will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on June 7.

“We’re taking the show off the road this year,” said Prince William / Manassas Boys and Girls Clubs Director Glenn Vickers. “For years we’ve been trying to make a gymnasium into a banquet hall, now we’ll make the Hylton Performing Arts Center into a Boys and Girls Club.”

For the past three years Prince William Potomac District School Board Representative Betty Covington has hosted the show, which has traditionally been held at  Boys and Girls Club branches in Manassas and the Hylton Branch in Dale City.

The fundraiser is aptly named Steak ‘N Stake as choice cuts of beef are served, and the organization during the fundraiser Illustrates the involvement of the clubs in the lives of children and what’s at stake if the club was not able to be involved in the community.

While it was easy in years’ past to showcase the work of the clubs during the dinners held at inside club gymnasiums, Vickers said there will be videos and other visual aides on display at the Hytlon Performing Arts Center to showcase the work that happens inside the clubs.

Last year, the Boys and Girls Clubs raised $40,000 during the annual charity event. The organization has two clubs in Prince William – in Dale City and Dumfries – and another location in Manassas.

Completing FAFSA Forms a Series of Questions & Deep Breaths

Mom on the Run

By LIANNE WILKENS

I take a deep breath, and type: “www.fafsa.gov.”

I am set, and ready. To my right, completed taxes and bank account information. To my left, my precious dark-green folder, containing an inch of papers – virtually everything I have learned about the FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, over the past three years.

I first became acquainted with the FAFSA 021113-freedom-mom-tagwhen my daughter was a senior in high school. Despite three “All About Financial Aid” sessions presented during various college tours, that first application took me hours. Hours of reading fine print, and clicking for more information, and running up and down, up and down the stairs finding financial information.

The second year, before my daughter’s sophomore year of college, the process was easier. I had learned what documentation I needed, and kept all the passwords in my vital green folder. And the third time around, last spring, I felt so comfortable with and annoyed with the process that I procrastinated until the absolute last minute.

Which is darned near what I’m doing this year. In 2013, my son is a senior in high school, and a completed FAFSA is required just to apply to certain colleges. We got our taxes done early, because I know the FAFSA is entirely reliant on completed taxes; I have been collecting additional materials as they have popped up in the mail since the first of the year; and now, a week from deadline, is the night.

I type: www.fafsa.gov, and up pops the familiar website. OK, here we go. Um, two big green buttons, “Start a new FAFSA” or “Login.” OK. “Start a new FAFSA.” Next page … Student Information. Name, Social Security number .…” Dang. Up from my chair, trot downstairs, dig through papers, find my son’s Social Security number. Back upstairs, type it in, hit the blue “Next” button.

“Federal Student Aid PIN.” My hand hovers over the green folder. Except … this is the first FAFSA for my son. All previous FAFSA requests have been for my daughter. I need a new PIN for him, right? OK. “Get Federal Student Aid PIN.” Click. Um, input email address. I hate that field. Whose email address? Mine, or my son’s? I’m completing this form, I want any related emails to come to me. So in goes my email address. “Your PIN confirmation will be sent to your email address.”

Sigh. I minimize the browser on my screen, open my email, sit and wait for a minute … ah, the PIN delivery email. Click, copy the PIN, close the email, reopen the browser, paste in the PIN. Ta da!

OK, now I’m in, and really starting. I take my second deep “here we go” breath. I easily complete the first several questions. My name, my husband’s name. My son’s name. Permanent street address. What school year does this FAFSA form cover? Which colleges should receive a copy of the FAFSA? I click on drop-down menus, I fill in open fields. Question by question I plod through, gaining confidence with each answer. Yes, I dread the FAFSA, yes, it is time-consuming and involves a lot of research, but I am doing it! It’s unpleasant, but I’m prepared and experienced.

So I’m feeling good when I arrive at the first financial question. “Income for 2012.” That should be easy enough. I pick up the draft copy of our tax return from our tax preparer. There are two pages per sheet of paper, and the print is teeny. I look and look. There’s the total “wages, salaries, tips, etc.” but … no breakdown of income for me and my husband. Just our total income.

Uh oh. I take my mouse, scroll down, look at the next questions. And I realize, on the very first financial question of the FAFSA … I’ve only got the draft copy of our taxes. Not the final copy. No W-2s, with salary and tax and 401(k) breakdown. The accountant still has all that backup paperwork.

Quickly, I analyze. Quickly, I decide. Quickly, I slide my keyboard in and stand up, victorious. For completely legitimate reasons, I can’t do this today. The FAFSA just has to wait. Yahoo!

Budget Season: Speak Up Now or Suck it Up Later

Under the current advertised tax rate, if approved as is, the average residential tax bill for FY 2014 will be $3,449. [Image: Prince William County]

 

Alborn

Alborn

Opinion 

By AL ALBORN
Contributing Editor

Prince William County Government is characterized in many different ways. Some frame it within the county’s Strategic Plan while others talk about core services. The county’s Comprehensive Plan is mentioned often.

Make no mistake, government is about our money. Every thing government does depend upon how much of our money it collects as taxes and fees, and how it is spent.

Are you interested in fields for football or soccer, or basketball hoop for your kids? Do you have a disabled son or daughter who might need a little help? Are you familiar with an abused child or spouse who needs protection? Interested in helping the homeless? Like more cops or firefighters on the streets? Tired of seeing your kids sit in trailers at school? Overcrowded classrooms getting on your nerves? Now is the time to get engaged, and speak up.

It’s our money. It’s your money.

If you show up at a Community Partner – organizations that provide services such as healthcare, wellness, and arts — and find their doors closed because Prince William cut funding during the budget process, you have absolutely no standing to complain unless you advocated for them during the budget process.

If your son or daughter’s sports team can’t find a field because there wasn’t enough money in the budget, suck it up unless you spoke up during the public hearing.

If you are wondering why we are building a swimming pool instead of giving teachers a raise, perhaps now would be a good time to mention it.

If you see something in Prince William County that you think you shouldn’t be paying for, just drive on by unless you spoke out against funding it to your Supervisor.

If you’re one of those folks who simply don’t care how Prince William County Government spends your money, you can stop reading this column right now. If I’ve captured your attention and you wish to advocate for or against something, or perhaps both read on.

Virginia Code gives the County Executive responsibility for preparing and proposing a budget. You may see the proposed budget on Prince William County’s Office of Management and Budget website.

If you have a question about the budget, or are interested in what other questions have been asked, I strongly recommend you check out the FY 2014 Budget Questions Database

During the next six weeks, Prince William County Government will be engaged in the annual discussion over just how much of our money they should take during FY 2014 and what they should spend it on. While the Chief Executive has the responsibility to prepare the proposed budget, only the Board of County Supervisors (which includes the Chairman) has the Authority to actually approve it.

If you want to engage in the process, you should take note of these dates and participate in at least one or two of the events.

March 5 Budget Work Session

March 12 Budget Work Session

April 2 Schools

April 9 , 2:00 p.m. Budget Recap

April 9, 7:30 p.m. Budget Public Hearing

April 16 Budget Markup (Board of Supervisors regular public meeting)

April 23 Budget Adoption (Board of Supervisors regular public meeting)

If you can’t make it to one of these events, or are really passionate about some particular issue let your Supervisor know. We elect our Board of County Supervisors to represent our interests. They don’t know what we care about unless we tell them.

So, tell them. Here’s their contact information.

Chairman At-Large: Corey A. Stewart

Brentsville District Supervisor, Vice Chair: Wally Covington

Coles District Supervisor: Martin E. Nohe

Gainesville District Supervisor: Pete Candland

Neabsco District Supervisor: John D. Jenkins

Occoquan District Supervisor: Michael C. May

Potomac District Supervisor: Maureen S. Caddigan

Woodbridge District Supervisor: Frank J. Principi

Government at all levels, in spite of the rhetoric, is about our money, how much of it our Government collects, and how our elected officials decide to spend it.

Typically, only a few people actually participate in the budget process. I’m one of them. This column isn’t about advocating the County that I would like to see, it’s about advocating about the County that the majority would lie to see.

If you are happy with a few folks advocating for some narrow agendas deciding whether or not your kids have a sports field, the folks who need a little help get that help, schools are overcrowded, mid-county gets a new swimming pool.., or not, get involved, speak up, communicate with your Supervisor.

If you opt not to get involved, you’ll get the County the few folks who show up think you should deserve.

After Losing Child, Family Holding Fundraiser to Benefit Other Parents

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STAFFORD, Va. – United States Marine Corps Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient Sgt. Travis Zabroski and his wife of 6 years Lindsey Zabroski recently gave birth to their precious baby boy Bohden. After fighting for life for 30 hours, Bohden Eugene Zabroski passed away. The Zabroski family started the non-profit foundation Bohden’s Hands to help other families to cope with the loss of their infant children.

March 2, 2013 the non-profit organization Bohden’s Hands will be hosting a fundraising event at Mick’s Restaurant and Sports Lounge in Stafford. All of the funds raised will be donated to families that have suffered the bereavement of losing a baby. The event is from 3pm – close.

Many local businesses have generously donated amazing prizes as a part of our silent auction. There will be music, great food and drinks as well as many opportunities to support this amazing non-profit organization and help local families with the financial and emotional burdens of losing a child.

Bohden’s Hands Spring Fundraising Event
March 2, 2013
3 p.m. unitl close
Mick’s Restaurant and Sports Lounge
2866 Jefferson Davis Hwy Stafford, Va. 22554

Prince William First-Grader Makes Film Debut in ‘Bad Parents’

Janeane Garofalo and Adrian Fucito in scene from Bad Parents (Credit: Fox Meadow Films)

Submitted News

Local Prince William County first-grader Adrian Fucito gets his big Hollywood break playing Janeane Garofalo’s son in Bad Parents, a witty new satirical comedy film about sports parents behaving badly and a suburban mom who relives her season with the soccer obsessed sports parents whose outrageous “win at all costs” behavior spirals out of control.

Co-starring Christopher Titus, Cheri Oteri and Michael Boatman, Bad Parents has been making waves as an official selection for the Los Angeles Comedy Festival, Austin Film Festival, Gold Coast International Film Festival, Orlando Film Festival and the Chicago Comedy Film Festival, and will make its DC-area premiere at an exclusive 7:30 p.m. screening on Thursday, March 21 at the AMC Hoffman 22 Theater in Alexandria

About the Film

From tryouts to the State Cup Championship game, Kathy (Janeane Garofalo – SNL, The Truth About Cats & Dogs) is swept up into the mania of competitive, over-involved parents who stop at nothing to ensure their daughters get the playing time and training to make it to the top. Writer/Director Caytha Jentis, with insider authenticity, shares the absurd, yet very real world of suburban youth sports. With humor and heart, she exposes the void in parents’ lives that youth soccer fills. We know these people. They are our friends and neighbors. For everyone who has ever sat on the sidelines of their kids’ sporting events, for anyone who has dared to dream of making it big at any cost, this is your story. Are you THAT parent? http://badparentsmovie.com

Nodding off for a More Restful Commute

Slug Tales 

By LAURA CIRILLO

Many people say there are not enough hours in the day. I vehemently disagree with this statement. If you ask me, there are not enough hours at night!

Think about it. There are 24 hours in each day. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults require seven to nine hours of sleep per day, but research says that many adults report less than six hours of sleep per day. So even if we’re getting the recommended amount of sleep, that’s still 18 hours, give or take, spent moving and shaking on a daily basis.

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired just thinking about that.

Learn more about PRTCJust imagine your own routine – commuting to work every day to deal with meetings, emails, your demanding boss, then coming home, making dinner, taking care of children and pets, cleaning, laundry, trying to squeeze in a workout… it’s all so exhausting.

And often times, the only thing that keeping me going is my daily nap while slugging.

My power naps are one of the many features of slugging which I consider a great luxury. Not only is it fast, free, and relatively easy to slug, but I can use that time to catch up on some rest while riding, preferably in the backseat.

My fiancé tries to discourage me from sleeping in strangers’ cars because he’s convinced I won’t wake up when the car stops and I’ll wind up a prisoner in some weirdo’s garage. I try to assure him that this has never happened, and if it did, I’m pretty sure the driver or other passenger would wake me up. This actually happened one morning last week, when the passenger in the front seat had dozed off and wasn’t easily awoken when we arrived at L’Enfant Plaza.

“Ma’am?” the male driver said, carefully attempting to rouse the sleeping passenger. I paused for a moment before exiting the backseat to see if she would open her eyes, but she didn’t.

Finally, he gently tapped her shoulder. When she finally woke up, she looked a bit alarmed. She apologized, and seeming embarrassed, grabbed her things to quickly get out of the car. The driver was understanding and sort of laughed it off, unlike one driver I can recall who openly wouldn’t tolerate his passengers sleeping, but I could totally relate to the tired slug’s humiliation.

Once, after a long evening ride to the commuter lot, I was told by the gentleman who slugged in the backseat that he “felt so bad” watching me nod off and wished he could have given me a pillow. I was mortified to picture myself conspicuously falling asleep, my head falling over, right next to the driver. How embarrassing! I must have been such a distraction.

But I honestly can’t help it. I’m just like a baby – put me in a moving vehicle, and BAM! Out like a light. I may not be able to sleep soundly through the night, but the second I get into the passenger’s seat of a car, it’s almost guaranteed that I will fall asleep.

As with most rules, however, there are exceptions to this. Stop-and-go traffic always puts a damper on my evening slug naps, for whatever reason. Until we’re cruising down the highway, I’m wide awake. And like clockwork, I always wake up the second we hit the exit ramp for the commuter lot. It’s as though my body just knows it’s time to wake up.

Recently, I’ve found that books on tape also interfere with my beauty sleep. I’m not sure why this is, especially when I’m not at all interested in the topic, but I find myself completely unable to turn my brain off with any sort of commentary in the background. It’s the same reason I can’t fall asleep with the television on, regardless of the volume.

Normally, I have no complaints about what a driver chooses to play on the radio while I slug happily along, but I suppose audio books are the one exception. Audio books and complete radio silence are on my overall short list of pet peeves while slugging. For whatever reason, both interrupt my much-needed catnaps.

Sure, I could probably manage to get through the day without the extra rest, but it sure helps to supplement the sleep I’m probably not getting every night.

So until some genius scientist comes up with more hours for us to sleep at night (or, more realistically, until I can find a way to get to bed earlier), I’ll be using those hours I spend commuting every weekday to catch some shuteye.

Judge me for sleeping if you wish, but I recommend you do the same… that is, unless you’re driving!

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