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Lifestyle

Unearthed Headstones at Merrimac Farm Offer Glimpse into Prince William’s Buried Past

[Submitted photo]

By JEFF IRWIN
Prince William Conservation Alliance

The rapid development and modernization of Prince William County can challenge even the most astute observer’s sense of history. Shopping plazas, crowded roads and sprawling housing developments dominate the landscape. Stories of ancient Indian settlement, colonization and frontier communities, slavery and war, early industry and intensive farming permeate our local history, but the past is sometimes hard to see for the present.

At the Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area, one rich story could be easily overlooked, were it not for the survival and rebirth of a little graveyard in the woods.

The cemetery was all but forgotten until 2003, when a county-funded project to record hundreds of historic cemeteries led to a visit by a local man named Ron Turner. Turner was guided by the property owner to a small spot in the woods where graves were known to exist though none were clearly visible.

In a subsequent visit a few headstones bearing the surname French were found just below the duff layer of soil. Three massive marble tablet style markers, all broken, were lying flat and buried, oriented at odd angles, clearly misplaced from their original rows. Dates indicated graves from before the Civil War.

Since those early visits by Turner many changes have occurred at and around the cemetery. The property has transferred owners and purpose. The new landowner is the state of Virginia, specifically the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. They have conservation partners – Prince William Conservation Alliance, which provides wildlife watching and habitat improvement projects, and Marine Corps Base Quantico, which manages a conservation easement on the property.

The partners have supported an effort to search for additional headstones, record the cemetery with the state, and improve the cemetery’s condition. This effort has been led by a local man, Bill Olson, who is widely known and respected for his unique and tireless passion and dedication to historic cemetery preservation.

With professional volunteer archaeological support and the blessing of another state agency, the Department of Historic Resources, new stones have been unearthed from their shallow periwinkle and thin soil blanket. Five graves have been clearly defined, including William French, his wife Martha, and their daughters Elizabeth, Susan and Maria, their deaths ranging from 1823-1854.

Fragmented headstones have been unearthed and set in wooden frames that are aligned with their footstones. Several of the latter have been erected in their original positions, and overgrown vegetation has been removed from the area. Visitors walking the Cedar Run trail at Merrimac may now glimpse into the woods and notice the signs of an old, sacred place and the air of history.

Who were the French? The name French and the graves hidden in the woods mark one fascinating chapter in Merrimac history dating to the Early Republic and antebellum eras. Efforts to re-discover the cemetery have been matched by research using documents from county and state archives. As this information is pieced together, a plantation and area called Green Level is being revealed. Next week look for more on the story of Merrimac and Green Level.

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Write by the Rails Joins PWC Arts Council

Clockwise from left, Write by the Rails members Cindy Brookshire, Valerie Wallace, Claudia Lefeve, Leigh Giza, Mary Kay Montgomery, Nancy West and Dan Verner participated in a recent meet-and-greet at Panera’s on Liberia Avenue in Manassas.  [Photo: Chip Deyerle]

SUBMITTED NEWS 

MANASSAS, Va. – On Jan. 8, the Board of Directors of the Prince William County Arts Council approved its newest member: Write by the Rails, the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club.

“This expands the Arts Council in a wonderful way,” said Kathy Bentz, PWC Arts Liaison. “For 20 years, the council has represented dance, music, visual art and theatre, but never literature. As soon as we opened membership to individual writers in January 2011, a small trickle became a gushing stream. We welcome their talents!”

Four of those original individual writer members, Pete Pazmino, Sheila Lamb, Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt and Cindy Brookshire, founded Write by the Rails, a networking group for writers in Prince William, Manassas and Manassas Park. Their first gathering at Okra’s in Old Town Manassas in August 2011 brought 12 writers together, and the group has rapidly grown to 150 members through a Facebook group and the website www.writebytherails.org. Group members host bi-monthly “meet and greets” throughout the county, pool money to rent book sale tables at community events and promote book signings, manuscript groups and write-ins on the website’s calendar.

Since earning the Virginia Writers Club’s charter, Write by the Rails hosts monthly meetings at Trinity Episcopal Church, 9325 West Street, Old Town Manassas on the third Thursday of each month at 7 pm. The Jan. 17 speaker is William Golden of PrinceWilliamLife.com, who will talk about setting up author websites and blogs. The group also honors VWC’s mission to engage young writers by spreading the word about the state club’s 2013 Teen Golden Nib Contest, which has a deadline of March 1.

Members currently review books for Prince William Living magazine’s online “Book Nook” column. Twenty-two members are featured in New Departures, an anthology formatted by Manassas author Claudia LeFeve, who, in 2012, sold 7,700 ebook copies of her first three Travelers series books (PARALLEL, PARADOX and PARADIGM) on everything from Amazon Kindle to Barnes & Noble Nook and Apple iBooks and iTunes. LeFeve explained indie authors are estimated to sell, on average, only 100 to 200 books a year. Even traditionally published mid-list or debut authors can expect to sell between 1,000 to 5,000 copies.

One of the authors featured in New Departures is Robert Bausch, an NVCC-Woodbridge professor who is planning to lead his third annual Woodbridge Writers Retreat on May 15-18 with his brother, novelist Richard Bausch and Tom Zoellner, author of Uranium: War, Energy, and the Rock That Shaped the World. The cost is $650 and only 18 slots are available. More information is available at www.robertbausch.org. Another author featured in the anthology is Gainesville writer June Pair Kilpatrick, whose memoir, Wasps in the Bedroom, Butter in the Well: Growing Up during the Great Depression, will be the subject of a Book Talk at The Manassas Museum on Sunday, Jan. 27 at 2 p.m.

There are no dues to join Write by the Rails, however all local authors are encouraged to join the Virginia Writers Club to amplify their local art to the state level. For more information, email writebytherails[at]gmail.com.

Potomac Local News Launches Redesigned Community Events Calendar

One of the most popular sections on Potomac Local News is the community events calendar. It’s a no-brainer, really, as many of our readers want to know what fun things are happening where they live.

Starting today, it’s even easier for readers to view events in their area, and list their own events for free.

The newly redesigned Potomac Local Communities Calendar is now live on our site and has been a work in progress as we expand our efforts to cover more of what’s happening in Prince William and Stafford counties.

To view the Potomac Local Communities Calendar, simply click on Events at the top of the site. To submit events to the calendar, simply click Submit at the top of the site and select Submit Event. Fill out the easy-to-use submission form and get posted to the calendar. It’s the fastest, easiest, free way to have your events seen by Potomac Local News readers.

Thanks for reading and your continued support of local news and events in our communities.

 

Conservation Alliance Working to Open Pedestrian Access to Featherstone Refuge

[Photo: Prince William Conservation Alliance]

By CHARLIE GRYMES
PRINCE WILLIAM CONSERVATION ALLIANCE CHAIRMAN

A starfish opens a clam by attacking its “feet” to the shell, then pulling steadily until the clam finally tires and the starfish succeeds in getting a meal.

That’s the same strategy used by the Prince William Conservation Alliance and others to get Featherstone National Wildlife Refuge opened to the public.

The natural area, 325 acres of wetlands and forest, is located on the Potomac River next to Rippon Landing. The refuge has been closed to public visitation since it was acquired by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service starting in 1970.

In 2011, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Compatibility Study determined that there are no sensitive natural resources that preclude wildlife-related recreation on the refuge. (Portions of the wildlife refuge at Mason Neck are closed seasonally for eagle nesting.) The Federal agency changed its access restrictions and allowed public visits, but only by boat.

At the nearby Virginia Railway Express Rippon station, you still can’t step off the station’s platform and simply walk into the refuge – legally. A new agreement is in the works to allow access from the station, but it has not yet been finalized.

Trespassers have created trails through the woods, as well as piles of trash and occasional tent shelters, but the refuge is essentially closed to legitimate public use. Anglers, hikers, birdwatchers, neighbors interested in a walk in the woods to a riverbank view of where John Smith sailed up the Potomac River in 1608… keep out, still.

There are no physical barriers blocking access to Featherstone; the bridge to the VRE platform already crosses the dangerous railroad tracks. However, CSX railroad lawyers still must authorize a trail across several feet of their right-of-way between the platform and the refuge.

County staff, Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi, and Congressman Gerry Connolly have all been nudging the legal process to closure. In December, Prince William County committed to provide $2 million in additional insurance coverage beyond what VRE already carries for liability. A proffer associated with a development approval will fund building some new steps from the VRE platform to the ground.

So close, and still so far… Featherstone National Wildlife Refuge is public land – but the public can’t get there from here, except by boat.

It has been a multi-year effort to get to this point. Recently in 2007, there was much public response when an update of the Parks and Recreation chapter was considered for the Prince William County Comprehensive Plan. The Prince William Conservation Alliance led a charge to increase the county’s commitment to meet requirements for passive recreation, as well as to develop more active recreation ball fields as population increased.

That effort exposed the incongruity of having a 325-acre natural area on the Potomac River already owned by the taxpayers, but closed to public use. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was not inclined to open Featherstone National Wildlife Refuge to public use when it started its management planning process in 2007, but the Alliance ensured that the public kept up pressure to complete the plan.

In 2011, the Washington Sustainable Growth Alliance (WSGA) highlighted the opportunity to open the refuge, making it a regional conservation priority. In the final 2011 Comprehensive Conservation Plan, the federal agency finally committed to allowing wildlife-dependent recreation. Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-Fairfax, Prince William) led a special celebration walk from the VRE station to the river.

Since then, the starfish have kept pulling on the closed shell to settle the final liability issues. Organized, steady public engagement can spur official action, over time. Perhaps in 2013, Featherstone National Wildlife Refuge will be fully open to public access.

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[Photo: Prince William Conservation Alliance]

Sweet – and Sour – Gherkins

MOM ON THE RUN

By LIANNE WILKENS

I’m standing at the open fridge, gathering condiments. We’re having cheeseburgers for dinner, they’re on the grill now, and everyone likes different toppings. I’ve already got a plate of lettuce leaves and tomato slices on the dining room table, and now: ketchup, yellow mustard, spicy brown mustard, relish, mayonnaise … what else?

My arms are full – I refuse to make a second trip, I’ve got this – as I peruse the refrigerator shelves. There was something extra, and I’m trying to remember. Oh! I know! Sweet gherkins.

On Christmas day, my in-laws hosted a buffet dinner. On the table, among the ham and turkey, sour-cream potatoes and sweet potatoes and salad, deviled eggs and seven-layer dip was a bowl of small sweet gherkins. My 17-year-old son had experimentally put a few on his plate, and “These are good,” he had smacked appreciatively after trying them. “Why don’t we get these?”

“We do,” I had explained. “They’re sweet gherkin pickles. We probably have a jar in the house right now.” My kid had nodded, pleased, and shoved more in his mouth.

So now it’s cheeseburger night and, I think, a good meal for pickles. I’m sure we have a jar in here somewhere, though it’s been a while since I ate any myself. I stand, juggling everything else hamburger in my arms, and gaze at the door, with its assemblage of jars and bottles.

There, on the bottom shelf, a short round jar with a gold lid. Is it … nope, dill pickles. But to the left – there it is! “Sweet Gherkins,” confirms the label. I twist the jar around briefly, scan the lid, raise it high to check the bottom. I have no idea when I opened this jar, but there’s no expiration date. I guess pickles don’t go bad, really, all that vinegar. And out onto the table it goes with everything else.

At dinner, my son dresses his burger, squirts a puddle of ketchup for his tater tots. He inhales it all in what seems like just a few bites. He rests, leaning back in his chair, stretches a little, looks around, and spies the jar on the table. “Oh, nice!” he says. He reaches forward, grabs the jar and his fork, and proceeds to spear himself a little green pickle. And a second, and a third, and a fourth.

He’s got five pickles piled on his plate when his dad says, “Don’t you want to try one first, before you get all those out?”

“Nah,” says my son. Then he stops a second, because he knows me and our history, and he looks at the jar. “How old are these, anyway?”

“No idea,” I tell him. “But I looked. There’s no expiration date.”

“Yeah,” he agrees, and he parrots exactly what I thought earlier: “pickles probably don’t really go bad, it’s all vinegar.” And he stabs a pickle on his plate, bites it in half, chews. Then, “Though this tastes a little strange,” he says.

Before he can eat another one, his dad picks up the lid to the jar, looks inside, rotates it toward me, shows me the black tracings on the top. Silently, our eyes meet. Silently, we note the evidence. Silently, we agree not to say anything.

My son, however, notices the eyes-only exchange. He picks up the jar, inspects it, takes the lid from his dad, looks inside. “Awwww,” he groans.

And just like that, I know, the sweet gherkin trend is over!

Hockey Great Roenick Appears as Prince William Ice Center Continues Rebound

Hockey All-Star Jeremy Roenick spent some time skating with children on at the Prince William Ice Center on Sunday. [Uriah Kiser/Potomac Local News]

By URIAH KISER

DALE CITY, Va. – On the day NHL players and league officials broke the ice on a new deal to end a nearly five month player lockout, one of the greatest to ever play the game came to Dale City to give back.

All-Star Jeremy Roenick came to the Prince William Ice Center to coach a game from the bench, skate with fans, sign gear, and to inspire the next generation of hockey lovers.

Roenick grew up in Fairfax County where his love of hockey took root. While playing for teams like the Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers, and Los Angeles Kings, Roenick, a now retired TV hockey analyst, is one of only four U.S.-born players to ever score over 500 goals in his NHL career.

Roenick said the Prince William Ice Center was impressive.

“We didn’t have anything like this. This arena is spectacular. Hockey was just getting going [when growing up in Fairfax], but I think with the emergence of guys like [Washington Capital’s Alexander] Ovechkin, hockey is getting more popular,” said Roenick.

The All-Star is six feet tall and he towered over children who were wearing hockey gear, jerseys, and carrying sticks. Roenick spent an hour signing his autograph on whatever the children and their parents handed him. Then he put on his skates and got out onto the ice where once again the pro was swarmed by fans.

“It’s nice that they’re out as kids, and this gives them something to do. There exploring a competitive aspect to their lives, teaching them about the trials and tribulations of not just sports but life: you have to overcome adversity and overcome different things in their lives,” said Roenick.

Trials and tribulations are something the hockey star knows something about. In a previous player lockout during the 2004 and 2005 season, Roenick took heat when he lashed out at fans who said hockey players had become spoiled. He later made waves when he claimed he was excluded from the 2006 Winter Olympic Games, he got attention when he said an NLH coach was biased against American-born players, and was later tied to a nationwide gambling ring.

He retired from the NHL in 2009 having scored 513 goals, 703 assists, playing in more than 1,300 games. Roenick talks about those experiences in his new book, “J.R.: My Life as the Most Outspoken, Fearless, and Hard-Hitting Man in hockey.” It’s a story he’s never told before.

“Everybody knows what I did on the ice. I tried to tell people what life was like for me away from the rink, in the locker rooms, on the planes, in the restaurants, in the bars, with my friends and my family, and my relationships. I think that’s what people want to know. They see one thing when you play but they want to know about the person, too. I think that’s intimacy I brought to the book,” said Roenick.

He signed copies of the book on Sunday, and his presence brought nearly 400 people to the Prince William Ice Center – a larger than usual crowd for a Sunday.

The center itself is on the rebound. A snow storm in 2010 led to the collapse of the center’s roof. Remarkably, everyone who was inside on the day it collapsed made it out without injury. But the center was ruined.

The absence of a hockey rink left many children without a place to play, and league hockey teams without a home. But the owners were undeterred and rebuilt the center better than it was before, and in late September 2011 reopened the doors. They credit a strong hockey brand in the area, as well as great community relationships with being able to attract top talent appear at their center, and to their overall second time around success.

“Bigger and better than ever… we got a plan, we have focused on our plan…we’ve made the right investments and the right relationships… our program is as big as it’s ever been…” said Prince William Hockey Club President Randy Wood.

When Roenick eventually got off the ice to sign copies of his book, some children still remained skating. It’s them who will carry on the love of the ice.

“Whether any of them ever make it to the pros, it’s an extreme long shot, but there’s always that diamond in the rough,” said Roenick.

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[Photo: Uriah Kiser/Potomac Local News]

With Lean Times on Horizon, Prince William set to Outline its Future

OPINION

I was a member of the Prince William County 2013 – 2016 Strategic Planning Team. It consisted of twenty appointees representing a wide variety of political, philosophical, and business points of view. It was a good mix.

Our first task was to develop a Strategic Vision Statement to frame the development of the Strategic Plan.

Strategic Vision Statement: Prince William County is a community of choice with a strong, diverse economic base, where individuals and families choose to live and work and businesses choose to locate.

This was used as the framework for our five goal areas (which follow).

Economic Development Goal: The County will provide a robust, diverse economy with more quality jobs and an expanded commercial tax base

The rational here is simple. Economic development pays for everything else. It creates new jobs in Prince William County, reduces the tax burden on homeowners, and creates multiple long-term streams of significant revenue.

 I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with and watching Executive Director of the Prince William County Department of Economic Development Jeff Kaczmarek several times. While Prince William faces unique challenges inside the “federal bubble,” and the change to our fundamentals resulting from sequestration and a general trend to downsize, I believe Jeff is our best bet to at least stay even or perhaps gain a little ground.

The “surprise” in this mix is Chris Price, Prince William County’s Director of Planning. He actually comes from an economic development background, and filling those empty strip malls with new small businesses is on his radar. While Jeff is focused on bringing in new business from outside Prince William County, and helping existing businesses grow, Chris has created a community development position to pay attention to revitalizing our community.

I believe these two Prince William County executives offer the mix we need for the future of Prince William County economic development.

We also added an educational element to our mission.

Education Goal: The County will provide an educational environment rich in opportunities to increase educational attainment for workforce readiness, post-secondary education and lifelong learning.

It’s simple (at least, to me), education is the price of a civil society. The best way to reduce crime, develop mutual respect for each other, and increase employment is through a well-rounded education system. I don’t mind paying for that.

I am interested in a little more oversight in the School Board budget process and greater involvement of our Board of County Supervisors.

Public Safety Goal: The County will maintain safe neighborhoods and business areas and provide prompt response to emergencies.

Full disclosure: I was also on the 2008-2012 Strategic Planning Team. We were organized by functional area. I was on the Public Safety Team. I became so interested in public safety that I volunteered for the Prince William County Police Department Citizens Police Academy to learn more about this complex business.

Public Safety is, to me, government’s prime responsibility. We want the police, firemen and EMT’s to show up when we need them. I suspect, considering the aging demographic in Prince William County, that is not a unique distinction.

Transportation Goal: The County will provide a multi-modal transportation network that supports county and regional connectivity

Transportation is one of those things that only Government can really do. Prince William County does it well. Prince William County Director of Transportation Thomas Blaser was on our planning team. He understands that moving people around isn’t just about putting cars on the road. It includes, trains, bikes, flexible work hours (to reduce folks on the road), and telework (to take people off the road). I believe the ways to move around (or not… that “telework thing”) will be there for our residents as Prince William County grows.

Human Services Goal: The county will provide human services to individuals and families most at risk, through innovative and effective leveraging of state and federal funds and community partnerships

While there are some things only government may do, there are some things that are best left to others. Prince William County is blessed with an army of volunteers and not for profits who focus on the full range of human services.

I would actually like to see greater utilization of Community Partners to reduce the size of our local Government. My only angst with our Community Partner program is its potential for politicization. Many of us will be watching to see if the process truly plays out objectively (as intended) free from political interference.

So, what’s next? The 2013-2016 Strategic Plan will be presented in detail at a public hearing in January 2013

Every meeting started with citizens time. If you still have comments or input, this is your last chance. Watch the Prince William County website or Potomac Local News for information on when this will be scheduled.

While our Board of County Supervisors will look to the Strategic Plan for a framework within which to allocate our tax dollars, it doesn’t drive where our tax dollars actually go. This is the ultimate trade-off. Would you prefer more police & firemen, or a larger school board budget? Is our investment in economic development worth fewer community partners?

The community is paying more attention to the budget process than it has in past years. I suggest that for those things not in our Strategic Plan that show up as potential budget items, operative question might be “why?”

The Strategic Plan defines “core services” for Prince William County, and we need a really good reason not to get the police or firefighters we need, fund education for our children, or support Community Partners in under served areas before straying into funding things that serve no strategic purpose.

I personally believe that the fundamentals for Prince William County are about to change. Sequestration, the wind down of foreign wars, and a trend to downsize the Federal Government, the engine of our local economy, will sent perturbations through the housing market, our projections for growth, and our revenue base.

I would suggest that it would be wise to focus on the fundamentals, and leave the “other stuff” on the budget floor to brace for the lean times ahead.

Al Alborn is a political blogger, and active resident who lives in Prince William County.

Fallen Police Officer Yung Remembered During Funeral, Cross-County Procession

The body of Prince William police Officer Chris Yung is placed into the back a hearse following a funeral at the Hylton Memorial Chapel in Woodbridge. [Mary Davidson/Potomac Local News]

Story By URIAH KISER

Photos By MARY DAVIDSON

Yung

Yung

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Cold temperatures filled the air as memories of Prince William police officer Chris Yung were shared at the Hylton Memorial Chapel.

A funeral service was held Friday morning to remember the 35-year-old motorcycle officer who was killed on New Years Eve while responding to a car crash near Bristow. With lights and sirens activated, Yung’s motorcycle collided with a minivan outside of Sowder Village Square shopping center at Va. 28 and Piper Lane.

Yung was remembered as a dedicated father, husband, friend, and outstanding police officer.

“If you would given him a few minutes of your time, you would have walked away a friend forever,” said Dale Yung, Chris Yung’s brother.

Dale Yung said his brother inspired him to become a Prince William police officer, said his brother loved to ride motorcycles since a young age, and that he was always looking for the next challenge in life. After serving in the Marine Corps, Yung found that faced that challenge for the past seven years as a police officer.

“Chris was a special person with a big heart. He understood what police work was about…from members of the community, to our colleagues in law enforcement, to our fire fighter friends, we lost one of our very best,” said Acting Prince William police Chief Barry Barnard.

Police work was a family affair for Yung. Not only did he encourage his brother to become a law enforcement officer, his sister in-law is also a police officer, and his widow has also worn the uniform.

Several police agencies from across Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., as well as local fire and rescue squads were on hand to bid farewell to the officer. The funeral service inside the chapel was open to the public while audio of the ceremony was piped outdoors for reporters to hear, as well as police officers who were assisting with funeral operations, and mounted police officers on horseback who stood post nearby in the chapel’s parking lot.

A large U.S. Flag hung from two ladder fire engines above the entrance to the chapel. Following the funeral a procession passed under the flag included hundreds of police cars, and motorcycles. The casket carrying Yung’s body and a police motorcycle symbolic of the one Yung used while on duty were also apart of the procession that that made it’s way to the Eastern District Police Station in Woodbridge, then to the Western District Station in Manassas, and then to Quantico where it was received at a reception at the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

MORE to the STORY: Hear the final End of Watch radio transmission for Prince William County Police Officer Chris Yung

During the 30 minutes it took for the processional to pass the Eastern District Station, drivers slowed and neighbors looked on as the wave of police passed. Some waived flags while others put their hand over their hearts in a show of respect for a man who died doing what he loved, and serving his community.

Yung leaves behind a wife and three children. He is the third Prince William police officer to die in the line of duty since the department was founded in 1970.

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[Mary Davidson/Potomac Local News]

Word on the Street: What Do the Redskins Need to Keep in Mind to Win?

The Washington Redskins are headed back to the playoffs this weekend after clinching the NFC East Division Title with a win over the Dallas Cowboys. The Redskins will face the Seattle Seahawks – a team they last faced and lost to in the playoffs in 2007.

So, what’s the one thing the Redskins need to keep in mind to win this game?

010412-Street-redskinsSally
Manassas

“Don’t drop the ball. Hug it.”

 

 

 

 

010412-Street-redskins02Monica
Warrenton

“Be confident and don’t give up.”

 

 

 

 

010412-Street-redskins03Charles
Okras Cajun Creole Restaurant, Manassas

“I’m trying to become a Redskins fan. While RGIII has been explosive this season, don’t forget anyone can win any given Sunday.”

 

Photos: Silent Night in Old Town Manassas

By URIAH KISER

The holiday season of 2012 may be gone but it’s certainly not forgotten.

Let us take you back to a silent, foggy night in December 2012 in Old Town Manassas.

Ice skaters filled the Harris Pavilion, wreaths and Christmas lights lined the streets, and gifts sat in store windows waiting for Santa Claus to come pick them up.

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Viewing, Funeral Details for Officer Yung Announced; Cross-County Procession will Pass Prince William Police Stations

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. – The details for the funeral of Prince William police Officer Chris Yung have been released.

A public viewing will take place tonight at the Hylton Memorial Chapel in Woodbridge at 6 p.m. A public funeral will be held at the chapel on Friday morning.

Following the funeral, a procession will take Yung’s body across the county where it is expected to pass both the Gar-Field Eastern District Police Station in Woodbridge and Western District Station in Manassas.

Yung will be buried during a private service in Albermarle County on Saturday.

Full details were outlined in a press release from the Prince William County Police Department:

· Viewing Service: *OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Thursday evening, January 3rd, 6:00PM-9:00PM

Hylton Memorial Chapel – 14640 Gideon Dr, Woodbridge

· Funeral Service: *OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Friday morning, January 4th, 10:00AM

Hylton Memorial Chapel – 14640 Gideon Dr, Woodbridge

· Procession Service:

Following funeral service, January 4th, tentatively around noon

Left onto Gideon Dr

Right onto Dale Blvd

Left onto Benita Fitzgerald Dr

Left onto Cardinal Dr

Short pause at the Eastern District [Garfield] Police Station

Right onto Jefferson Davis Hwy, RT 1

Right onto Dumfries Rd, continuing on Prince William Pkwy

Right onto University Blvd

Left onto Freedom Center Blvd

Short pause at the Western District Police Station

Left onto Wellington Rd

Left onto Prince William Pkwy, continuing on Dumfries Rd

Right onto Jefferson Davis Hwy, RT 1

Short pause at the Iwo Jima Memorial [RT 1 and Joplin Rd]

Procession will continue to a private reception

· Burial Service: *PRIVATE SERVICE

Saturday, January 5th in Albemarle County, Virginia.

Several Prince William police officers will attend the funeral service. Officials assure county residents calls for service will not go unanswered during the memorial service:

Police response to calls for service WILL NOT disrupted during funeral proceedings on Friday, January 4th. The public can expect Virginia State Police troopers (east end of the county, east of Hoadly Rd) and the Manassas City Police officers (west end of the county, west of Hoadly Rd) to respond to calls within the county from 8:00AM to 2:00PM on Friday, January 4th. The public will still be asked to call 911 for emergencies and 703-792-6500 for non-emergencies.

Yung was killed while on his police motorcycle on Monday while responding to a crash near Bristow.

The family has asked members of the media to not enter the Hylton Chapel during the viewing or funeral service.

Woodbridge Couple Welcomes Sentara’s First New Baby of 2013

Proud parents Ryan and Diana Crider, of Woodbridge, welcome their new baby girl, Grace, into the world at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center in Woodbridge. [Submitted photo]

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Better late than never. A Woodbridge couple welcomed the first baby of 2013 born at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center.

The child was born the Woodbridge hospital not on New Year’s Day, but today.

Here’s more from Sentara spokeswoman Charlene Wilkins:

Welcome to the world, Grace Ann Crider! Grace was born on Wednesday, Jan. 2 at 1:28 a.m. and was the first baby born at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center in 2013.

Grace was welcomed by her parents, Ryan and Diana Crider of Woodbridge, and her big sister, 3-year-old Zoe.

She was 7 pounds, 2 ounces and 19 inches long. The Criders weren’t expecting to have the first baby of the New Year as Grace wasn’t due until Jan. 9; however, her early appearance was a happy surprise.

Congratulations to the Crider family on the birth of their beautiful daughter.

The region’s first new baby of the New Year was born at Stafford Hospital Center on late Tuesday morning.

 

Hockey All-Star Jeremy Roenick to Appear at Prince William Ice Center on Sunday

DALE CITY, Va. – A hockey great is coming to the Prince William Ice Center this weekend.

Jeremy Roenick, a member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame and one of only four American-born players to score over 500 goals in his career in the National Hockey Leauge, will sign copies of his new book at the skate center at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Roenick’s new memoir, “J.R.: My Life as the Most Outspoken, Fearless, and Hard-Hitting Man in Hockey” is an autobiography about his career as a nine-time NHL All-Star player, and the book also delves into his 18 seasons with teams like the Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Fliers Flyers, and Los Angeles Kings.

Prior to the book signing, Roenick is slated to coach on the bench for the Prince William Hockey Club’s Travel Bantam against a team from Chevy Chase, Md. at noon. The public is invited to watch the game for free.

Here’s more about Roenick’s book in a press release:

In his new memoir J.R.: My Life as the Most Outspoken, Fearless, and Hard-Hitting Man in Hockey, Roenick, alongside Kevin Allen, shares his life story in this frank and unflinching autobiography. Holding nothing back in this often hilarious book, he tells of his rise to stardom as an 18-year-old playing for the Chicago Blackhawks. After being traded to several other teams – including the Philadelphia Flyers and L.A. Kings – Roenick used his skills to thrill fans on the ice with his flashy style and his take no-prisoners approach to playing hockey. Before finishing up his career as a player Roenick managed to rack-up 513 goals, the second most for any American-born NHL player. Now in this revealing autobiography Roenick takes his fans behind the scenes, bloody noses and all, of his illustrious career from the ice to the microphone.

The event is being brought to the region by the Prince William Hockey Club, which is a non-profit youth sports organization that plays at the Prince William Ice Center on Dale Boulevard in Dale City.

Leesylvania Collecting Items for Care Packages for Soldiers

091112-Leesylvania-State-Pa

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Volunteers at Leesylvania State Park are putting together care packages for soldiers in honor of the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

The care packages are being assembled for Operation Homefront, and various items are needed to fill boxes.

More in a statement from Leesylvania State Park:

Help us let our soldiers know how much we appreciate all that they do for us. We would like to assemble 50 care packages for Operation Home Front(http://www.operationhomefront.net), a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping military personnel and their families. We will be asking for donations of different items like phone cards, baby wipes, tooth brushes, digital or disposable cameras, etc. For the full list please call the visitor center [(703) 730-8205] or email at leesylvaniavc[at]dcr.virginia.gov.

A full list of items that have been requested for the packages can be viewed here. 

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is celebrated this year on Monday, Jan. 21.

Leesylvania is a Virginia State Park nestled along the shores of the Potomac River in Woodbridge.

Performance Dance Troupe Coming to Workhouse Also Offers Class for Youth

Workhouse Arts Center  in Lorton (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

LORTON, Va. – The en Route! dance group touring Richmond, Va. and Baltimore, Md. will perform at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton. Their performance will come with a special dance lesson for youth dancers at any experience level.

More in a press release from the Workhouse:

Artists from Fairfax and Richmond, VA are included as part of the first en Route! performance presented at the Workhouse Arts Center.

At least five artists have worked together to bring the dance group to the stage. One of them will offer a youth dance class, according to the press release:

Furia Flamenca’s Artistic Director, Estela Velez will teach a free flamenco master class from 11:30-12:15 p.m., on January 26th at the Workhouse Arts Center as part of en Route! This workshop is open to youth dance students at any experience level. Contact Workhouse Arts Center for registration.

Want to go?

Saturday, January 26th 2013 at 7:30pm

Workhouse Arts Center

Building W-3, Theatre, 9601 Ox Road

Lorton, Va.

Tickets: $25 general admission, $20 senior/military, $10 youth/student.

Purchase tickets online or call 703-584-2900

Revelers Ring In 2013 at Stylish Stafford Hotel Bash

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

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. – A sweet piquanté pepper filled with cream cheese called a Peppadew was a favorite food on New Year’s Eve.

“I think it’s one of most unique things on the menu tonight,” said Tracy Augstell.

Her “Taste of Excellence” company catered Stafford County’s most formal New Year’s Eve celebration at the Wingate Inn off U.S. 17. About 200 people were expected at the first of its kind event at the hotel, and many came in black tie and evening gowns.

Those peppers complimented a fully catered buffet complete with spinach artichoke dip, chicken wings and antipasto salad. There was also a live band, a ballroom for dancing, a photo place, and an opportunity to ring in the New Year in style.

As many came to ring in 2013, the celebration was also an effort to highlight various local businesses that partnered with the hotel to put on the event. Some party goers – all of whom paid at least $75 per couple to attend the event – took advantage of special hotel offers at the Wingate to spend the night in suites with a Jacuzzi and a special 1 p.m. Tuesday checkout time.

Robert Smoot, who produced the event, recently moved from Maryland to Stafford and wanted to bring quality entertainment to the area. Some guests that arrived early said they had attended some of his previously held events in Alexandria and appreciated having an event held so close to home. Almost everyone said they enjoyed not having to drive to Washington or Richmond to attend a formal New Year’s event.

For one couple, this was the first time in their 20-year marriage that they went out for a New Year’s Eve celebration.

“We found a sitter for the kids, my husband is here, and we are having a great time,” said Tamara Poole, of Stafford.

While she was enjoying her evening, she said he was anxious about what the New Year would bring in the wake of the fiscal cliff and looming higher taxes. With any luck, congress will fix the fiscal cliff problem, she said.

Others at the party also had their finances on their minds and had goals for 2013.

“I’m hoping to get a new house this year,” said Michelle Poindexter, of Fredericksburg.

Another woman from Spotsylvania said they don’t pay much attention to New Year’s Resolutions, they just came for the party atmosphere.

“Normally we have a party at home, but I said ‘let’s go out this year’ and here we are,” said Deb Flemming.

Next year, Stafford County plans a large New Year’s Eve party at Stafford Marketplace in North Stafford to ring in 2014 as part of the county’s 350th birthday celebration.

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[Uriah Kiser/PotomacLocal.com]

Area New Years Events Offer Everything from Concerts to Ballroom Dancing

Double New Years Event at Harvest Life Changers Church

Harvest Life Changers Church in Woodbridge will hold a two-day New Year’s celebration starting with a concert Sunday night and a worship service on New Year’s Eve.

Grammy nominee Tye Tribbett, the Harvest Life Changers Choir, and comedian Akintunde are scheduled to take the stage at 6 p.m. Sunday. Tickets for the show are $25 each for adults and those between 4 and 17-years-old. Children three and under are free.

The following night, Harvest Life Changers will hold a free evening of praise during a New Year’s Eve service. No ticket is required to attend this event.

Stafford Celebrating New Years at Ballroom Event

It’ll be ball gowns and top hats in Stafford County for New Years Eve. (OK, maybe not that formal) but the Wingate Inn off U.S. 17 in south Stafford will hold an elegant evening of music and dancing in their ballroom.

Guests will be treated to an all-you-can eat hors d’oeuvres bar, New Years Eve party favors, a champagne toast, and a cash bar. Those who want to make a night of it can stay at the hotel for a special rate.

Guests will be charged $75 per person to attend the ballroom event, and there are special packages of up to $250 per couple that offer a room with a Jacuzzi, breakfast in bed, and a checkout time of 1 p.m.

Those who want to attend the event can call the Wingate at 540-368-8000.

Fredericksburg First Night Offers Wide Range of Entertainment Options

Revelers have once again been invited to Fredericksburg First Night for a street festival and fireworks.

Known for the Pear Drop, and in more recent years the Pineapple drop at midnight, the city this year will hold a World Illumination along with its annual New Year’s fireworks display. Thousands of revelers fill pack Caroline and Sophia streets, and surrounding areas in Downtown Frederickburg to ring in the New Year.

The event is alcohol free, and the street festival is free to attend. Buttons are being sold for those who want access to live music performance tents and other premium attractions.

The festival begins at 7 p.m. and will feature 15 stages, 30 entertainers, events for children, dancing, carriage rides, trolley rides, a Chinese Dragon, as well as other attractions.

More information for the festival is available at fredericksburgfirstnight.com/faqs.

Moncrief Graduates Navy School With Honors

Basil "Trey" Moncrief

NEWS FROM YOU

Basil Earl “Trey” Moncrief III graduated this month from the Navy’s Aviation Electrician’s Mate school as the class honor man with a 98.91 grade point average.

Moncrief was also selected for meritorious promotion to Petty Officer Third Class (E-4), his second meritorious promotion since graduating Navy boot camp in June 2012.

Aviation Electrician’s Mate school is an intensive four-month curriculum focusing on aircraft electrical and navigational equipment including power generators, power distribution systems, flight instruments, and state-of-the-art computer systems.

Moncrief is a 2005 graduate of Woodbridge High School and is now assigned to Patrol Squadron 62 (VP-62) at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida.

Prince William County Landfill Still a Haven for Bald Eagles

By KIM HOSEN
Prince William Conservation Alliance Executive Director 

At the crack of dawn two days before Christmas, 40 volunteers fanned out across Nokesville and beyond to look for birds. While many were focused on last minute holiday shopping, Northern Virginia birders flocked together to count bird species and abundance as part of the annual Nokesville Christmas Bird Count.

This holiday tradition started in 1900 when concerns about declining bird populations were beginning to attract attention. Ornithologist Frank Chapman proposed counting and appreciating birds as an alternative to the annual Side Hunt, a competition to see who could shoot the most birds.

Now in its 113th year, the Christmas Bird Count is the largest and oldest citizen science event in the U.S. The National Audubon Society leads the effort, compiles data nationwide and makes the results available to all on their website. The data collected by volunteers is used by researchers, conservation biologists and others to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America.

In Northern Virginia, hundreds of people volunteer every year for one or more of five survey areas, which each cover a 15-mile diameter circle (113,000 acres).

The Nokesville Christmas Bird Count Circle, sponsored by Prince William Conservation Alliance, covers a diverse landscape at the edge of the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area and captures the transition from coastal plain to piedmont ecosystems. It extends from the Prince William County landfill on Va. 234 to Nokesville, and from the Lunga Reservoir near Interstate 95 to Catlett in Fauquier County. The count circle includes portions of the Rural Crescent, Prince William Forest Park and large areas within Quantico Marine Corps Base.

Birders at this year’s Nokesville Christmas Bird Count saw clear skies and calm winds, with morning temperatures ranging from 20 degrees in the morning to a high of nearly 50 degrees. Together volunteers identified 90 different species of birds and nearly 13,000 individuals.

Highlights of the day included American Tree Sparrows and a surprise showing of Evening Grosbeaks at the Foggy Bottom Wetland. Fourteen Northern Shovelers were visiting a private pond in Nokesville and two Screech Owls were spotted near Bristow Road.

At Quantico, there was a solitary Common Loon and Red-headed Woodpeckers, which were also seen at the Cedar Run Wetland Bank. Common Ravens were at the Cedar Run Wetland Bank and four Brewer’s Blackbirds at a farm near Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area. In Fauquier County, birders were excited to see 32 Horned Lark and 12 Rusty Blackbirds.

Traditionally the Prince William County Landfill has the largest numbers of Bald Eagles and this year was no different. Birders counted 10 adults and 10 immature Bald Eagles, along with many gulls including 650 Ring-billed Gulls and three Great Black-backed Gulls.

European Starlings were by far the winner for the most individuals, with more than 2,300 included in the count. Canada Geese were also well represented, with more than 1,400 individuals, and we recorded more than 1,000 Ring-billed Gulls.

Species lists from previous Nokesville Circle counts are online here, where you can also find more information about this year’s survey.

The Christmas Bird Count is a holiday tradition that is lots of fun and helpful to scientists seeking to protect bird diversity nationwide. Volunteers for the Nokesville survey meet midday at Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area for a hot lunch and to trade news about the morning’s adventures before heading out to cover areas not surveyed in the morning.

Everyone is welcome, regardless of birding expertise. It’s a great way to learn more about local wildlife and meet new friends.

Battalion Chief Todd Lupton Honored

MANASSAS, Va. – A firefighting professional in our area with more than 17-years of experience has been recognized.

More in a press release from the City of Manassas:

Battalion Chief Todd Lupton has received certification as a Chief Emergency Medical Services Officer from the Center for Public Safety Excellence. Currently, there are less than 100 fire officials in the U.S. who have earned this designation.

With more than 17 years of experience in Fire and Rescue, Battalion Chief Todd Lupton is a nationally registered paramedic. Lupton’s community involvement, public speaking, and field and professional contributions are a great benefit to the City of Manassas.

The Chief EMS Officer (CEMSO) Designation Program recognizes emergency medical services leaders of fire, private, hospital and third-service providers who have demonstrated excellence throughout their careers. The designation verifies past accomplishments and represents a launching point for continued achievement.

The program specifies minimum academic achievements and practical experience required for eligibility, and assesses contributions to the emergency services field through professional articles, public speaking, teaching, and research as well as professional memberships and community and civic involvement.

 

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