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Photos: Silent Night in Old Town Manassas


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


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


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

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.


4 Spots in Prince William Allow you to Recycle Your Christmas Tree

(Photo: Stephanie Tipple)

Instead of letting the needles fall off, why not take your tree to be recycled this year. It’s fast, free, and if you take care of it now it’s one less thing you have to worry about in the New Year – yes, planning for Valentine’s Day can be a big deal for some.

Here are some Christmas Treet recycling places listed in a press release from Prince William County:

• The Prince William County Landfill at 14811 Dumfries Road in Manassas. Monday – Saturday, 6 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. The facility is closed New Year’s Day. 703-792-4670

• The Balls Ford Road Compost Facility at 13000 Balls Ford Road in Manassas. Monday – Saturday, 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. The facility is closed New Year’s Day. 703-792-4670

• Leesylvania State Park located at 2001 Daniel K. Ludwig Drive in Woodbridge (off Neabsco Road). Trees may be dropped off at Shelter 2 and will be used for wildlife habitat at the Park.

• Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC) located at 5399 Wellington Branch Road in Gainesville. Through Jan. 11, 2012. The drop off area is located in the parking lot in the area outlined with safety cones to the right of the building. For more information, contact NOVEC at 703-335-0500 ext. 1633 or 1661, ornovecrightofway@novec.com. NOVEC will deliver the wood-chip mulch to interested customer-owners at no charge, visit www.novec.com for details.

For more information on recycling in Prince William County, visit http://www.pwcgov.org/recycling or call 703-792-4670.

Word on the Street: What New Years Resolutions are Hardest to Keep?

The New Year is right around the corner and its time to make those annual resolutions. Losing weight, working out, and living a healthier lifestyle are always popular New Years Resolutions for some, but what resolutions do you think are hardest to keep?


“Quit smoking. It’s funny when you see so many people say they’re going to quit smoking and then you see them standing on the back deck smoking cigarettes.”







“Going to the Gym.”







“Giving up sweets”


Beer Drinking Santa Claus: No Photos, No Press

Two beer-drinking Santas met in Woodbridge on Saturday and made it clear they did not want to talk. [Image: Mary Davidson]


Yes, Virginia, we’ve found the two most unjolly old elves in our area.

Their plan was to don a Santa suit and hat, meet at Brixx Wood Fired Pizza in Woodbridge, and later head over to nearby Occoquan and do a little bar hopping. The event was appropriately titled “Santa-Quan,” and I got an invite to attend the shindig on Facebook.

I thought to myself, “what a fun and great idea to spread some joy around town while making a Christmas spectacle of yourself. This would make a great story for our site.”

When I worked in TV news, a group of Santas would gather annually in Washington, walk around from bar to bar, and wish everyone a Merry Christmas. I was ever wrong to think that kind of urban cheer had made its way to Prince William County.

The Santa imposters (I’m told the real Santa Claus doesn’t go out for a night of drinking and revelry so close to Christmas Eve) were going to gather in Woodbridge between 3 and 4 p.m. Our photographer, who always works well with people, met the men in red suits about 5 p.m.

There were just two of them, she said. Both were at a bar with drinks and they had apparently not been there that long. She greeted them and asked to take their photos for a fun story for this community news website.

What she got back was an unexpected, unjolly answer.

“We don’t want to have our picture taken, and Santa doesn’t talk to press,” one replied.

OK, it’s true, you don’t have to talk to “press” if you don’t want to (I had no idea that a meeting of red-suit wearing, beer drinking, santa imposters was such a secret affair).

But the whole part about not having your picture taken? Newsflash: you’re out in public wearing a red Santa suit drinking alcohol. Chances are you’re going to cause a stir, prompt some questions, and yes — whether you wanted them to or not — someone took out their cell phone and snapped a photo of you.

This could have been a great opportunity to showcase the Christmas spirit of those in our area and those who show it in a fun, and albeit unusual way. That didn’t happen this time, so I guess we’ll have to look to our neighbors in Washington who have no problem donning Santa suits and smiling for for cameras all in good fun.

Word on the Street: What Did You Do to Prepare for the End of the World?

The so-called end of the world came and went without a hitch. We guess the Mayans had better things to do than to worry about calendars written thousands of years after their demise.

So, what did you do to prepare for the end of the world on Friday?


Norma Wood
Dale City

“You can’t predict the end of the world. All you can do is say a prayer and hope for the best.”






Briana Coronado

“What can you do to prepare for something like that?”






Priest Estavan






Volunteers Teach English Classes at Dumfries

Sonia Hoehn (left) with Literacy Volunteers of America – Prince William County teaches a ESOL class at the Dumfries Community Center. [Uriah Kiser/PotomacLocal.com]

DUMFRIES, Va. – Those who want to learn to speak English as a second language are attending classes at the Dumfries Community Center.

Sonia Hoehn leads ESL classes on Tuesday from 10 a.m. to noon in a classroom at the center next to Town Hall on Main Street. The sessions are free, and would-be students must register with Literacy Volunteers of America – Prince William County to participate in the classes.

The class is a partnership with Literacy Volunteers and Dumfries Department Community Services. Literacy members teach language classes in eastern Prince William County and in the Manassas area.


Manassas Remembers School Shooting Victims

Students gathered outside the Manassas Museum on Monday night for a candlelight vigil honoring the victims of the Connecticut school shooting. (Uriah Kiser/PotomacLocal.com)

MANASSAS, Va. – The victims of the Connecticut school shooting were on the minds of about 20 residents and students who converged on the Manassas Museum for a candlelight vigil.

Many of the students were from Manassas’ Osbourn High School, and that gathered at 5:30 p.m. Monday with school instructional aides to voice their sadness and support for the victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Those who spoke said they were shaken by the shootings, and said they held family members close after they heard the tragic news.

“One of my cousins got off the school bus and all we could do was hug,” said Carlee Jones, 21, of Gainesville. “This is frightening, and this if happening in our schools what can we do?”

Searching for answers, another teenager who spoke said more religion needs to be introduced into public schools and said this tragedy shouldn’t prevent youth from becoming involved in their communities.

“I would hate to have my own child not come from school,” said Kaylah Leigh, 15, a student at Osbourn High School. “We are the future leaders and we have to make sure that this does not hold us back.”

The vigil was organized by Tina Murray who works as an instructional aide at the high school and also chairs Project Infusion – a group of students and faculty that meets at the school to raise awareness of issues facing youth such as gang involvement and human trafficking.

“Virginia has been hit hard with some of its own tragedy,” Murray said, referring to the mass shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007. “But Connecticut is not that far away from us. People at Sandy Hook, people in Connecticut need to know they are loved and that they have friends in the City of Manassas.”

Murray and students spent much of Monday gathering candles and preparing for the vigil. She asked permission to hold the event at the museum from Manassas City Manager John Budesky, who sent his condolences but could not be at the event, she said.

The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School is the second worst school shooting in U.S. history. Twenty children and six adults lost their lives during the massacre on Friday.

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Children Still in Need of Gift Sponsors

MANASSAS, Va. — Each year Volunteer Prince William works to make sure some needy children in our area receive something special for Christmas.

If the numbers of children who are still applying to be apart of the gift program are any indication, the volunteer organization has a steep hill to climb and is in need of help.

More now in an email from Volunteer Prince William Director Mary Foley:

The Un Trim A Tree Holiday Gift Program for needy kids provides 2 gift per child valued at $50 total per child from throughout the greater Prince William community. About 7,500 children have registered for this program and we are most appreciative to hundreds of donors who have provided gifts to 6,300 children so far but we still have 1,200 kids needing a donor to provide them with gifts. There are three ways one can help us meet the wishes of the last 1,200 kids. We can provide a donor with the specific wishes of a child or you can just go purchase toys that we can match to the child or simply make a cash donation to the program for toys and gift cards.

The hot toys this year include: Barbie, Princess and Dora for little girls. Or action figures, soccer balls and legos for little boys. Donations can be dropped off until next Wednesday, December 19th at the Volunteer Prince William office – 9248 Center Street in Old Town Manassas.

To receive a specific wish for a child- please call (703) 369-5292 ext. 201 or via email at: stibbs@volunteerprincewilliam.org or mfoley@volunteerprincewilliam.org

Stafford’s No-Kill Animal Shelter Adding Staff

Three dogs flown from from a kill shelter in South Carolina are welcomed at the Stafford SPCA. (File photo/ Mary Davidson)

STAFFORD, Va. – The non-profit organization in Stafford County dedicated to the betterment of animals is growing.

The Stafford County SPCA is less than five years old, is a no-kill animal shelter, and has an office on U.S. 1 in Stafford and a facility in the rural Brooke section of the county. But now they need help and are looking for some caring, talented people, and are telling the community more about what they do.

More now in a Q and A session between PotomacLocal.com and Stafford SPCA spokeswoman Lori O’Pry:

PL: What positions are you hiring for?

O’Pry: We are currently hiring for the following positions:

Shelter Technician: We prefer an applicant that has worked with a variety of different animals. We would like to offer the position to someone with a vet tech certificate since we do administer medications to shelter pets. This position includes transport to and from vet visits and spay/neuter surgeries so working knowledge of the veterinary process is helpful.

Office Staff: Applicant needs to have meangingful prior office experience and computer skills. Extra consideration will be given to someone with Quickbooks experience. Multitasking and self-direction is a must!

Volunteer Coordinator: This position requires experience leading large groups of people. Scheduling skills are very important. We’re looking for a person that can motivate themselves daily while continuing to motivate our volunteers, provide encouragement and help us build a volunteer program that serves the communities needs as well as helps us staff our shelter and care for animals.

Marketing and Fundraising Coordinator: He/She will need to have documented experience in both fields. This position works closely with the Volunteer Coordinator to plan events, fundraisers and supply drives, in addition to marketing the SPCA animals using print media, television and radio media. We’re looking for someone who thinks outside the box and can help us spread the word about our animals AND ‘brand’ the SPCA name and mission.

We’re also offering a position within our home for help with our personal and SPCA dogs and light domestic duties that will help us to focus more time on building the SPCA.

PL: What qualifications are you looking for? What will the interview process be like?

O’Pry: Interested applicants can read more about the job availability at staffordspca.org by clicking the employment link. On that page, they’ll find detailed job descriptions.

Our application process is a bit out of the ordinary, but has been very helpful in our selection process in the past. Applicants must submit a three-part application package including a Power Point presentation, a front and back, tri-fold brochure in Word format and a chronological resume including references and salary history.

All three pieces are required to be considered for any position with our organization and it demonstrates that you can work with the programs we use on a daily basis to convey your skills and your personality.

We print the packages and discuss what each applicant brings to the table and, based on their qualifications, ask them to come in for an interview and a tour of the facility.

PL: Is this the first time the Stafford SPCA has hired a new employee?

O’Pry: We’ve actually hired staff in the past and have run ads in the local paper. We currently have one full time shelter tech and three part-time shelter techs that balance school and work to help us out.

PL: What responses have you gotten from applicants for the open jobs?

We ran ads recently and had hundreds of phone calls but only had about 30 people submit application packages. We are prohibited from hiring anyone with an animal cruelty, abuse or neglect convictions and we do run criminal background checks so after you eliminate people with criminal records and those without specific skill sets, we will only be calling about 10 people for interviews.

PL: What has led to this expansion?

O’Pry: As we’ve continued to develop as an SPCA over the last couple years, we’ve found ourselves working “in” the SPCA rather than working “on” the SPCA and it’s future growth, which has required us to hire dependable staff for the day to day animal care and turn our focus toward actually building the organization.

PL: Is the facility growing to meet the needs of the community?

O’Pry: Our facility is meeting the needs of the community to the best of our ability at the moment. We have been at maximum capacity for a little over a year when it comes to our cat population. We made the decision in November 2011 to start housing dogs at the facility and have gradually moved our cats into the east wing of the former nursing home building to designate our west wing for our dog population.

With the current layout, we’re able to house eight dogs in single occupancy rooms. If dogs are able to live peacefully with another dog, we can, at times, assign roommates to increase the amount of dogs we can help but we have to be careful not to overwhelm our current staff and volunteers.

When we complete a dog adoption, we are immediately sanitizing that room and have our attention turned toward bringing in another dog in need. Animals in our care get 14 hours a day, seven days a week, care and socialization from our staff and volunteers. Our dogs get walked a minimum of four times a day, usually more, in addition to play time with other dogs on property, supervised by our staff. What this means to the community is that we’re putting well-socialized pets into homes with fewer reasons for future surrenders, cutting down on the overall demands placed on our local high-kill shelters and other no-kill rescues.

We also serve the community with our ‘no-waste’ policy for donations. Any pet food or pet supply donation that isn’t used in our facility is donated to S.E.R.V.E here in Stafford, which assists that organization in their mission to supply needy families, not only with food for themselves, but with food for their pets as well. More Stafford residents are able to continue to care for their pets in their home rather than surrendering them to an already overpopulated animal rescue situation.

PL: What lies ahead in the new future for the Stafford SPCA?

O’Pry: In our future, we plan to offer a Humane Education program within Stafford area schools. We are also looking at plans for a much needed public dog park and would like to offer law enforcement agencies in the area a K-9 training facility on our property.

PL: How can the community continue to help the Stafford SPCA grow?

O’Pry: Donate and volunteer. Those are the two most effective ways the community can support our work. As a privately run SPCA, we don’t get federal, state or local funding. Many people are under the impression that because you’re an SPCA, there are government funded programs that are readily available for you to care for all the homeless, sick and rejected animals that the community can produce.

Many people that call us are offended to hear that we have limited resources. When we’re full, we’re full and we have to tell people that we can’t take their animals in. We don’t kill [animals] to make space for more animals and in an economy where surrenders are at an all-time high and donations are at all all-time low, we just cannot be the ‘end all, be all’ solution that everyone expects.

We have plenty of alternative solutions but the general public is, for the most part, unwilling to participate in the solution to their own problems and would prefer to dump the pet and walk away. For those that are willing to contribute to being part of the solution, we’re able to provide resources.

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