You’ll have to excuse me, as I’m still a bit carsick from my slug rides today.
Unfortunately, I have a tendency to get motion sickness unless I’m driving, which I rarely do since my building does not offer parking for most employees. However, I slug back and forth to work all the time and can generally handle it without any problems.
But not today.
This morning, I almost didn’t think I’d make it to my office without getting sick. The driver we rode with, a lady who used her rental car as an excuse for her horrible driving, was all over the road. Distracted by all of the unfamiliar buttons and adjusting the mirrors every few miles, she would find herself drifting off into the other lane before jerking the wheel back to her own lane.
“Wow, I’m telling you, there’s nothing like driving your own car!” she laughed.
Here’s an idea, I thought. Why don’t you just pay attention to where you’re going and stop playing with all of the shiny buttons? I managed a disingenuous laugh instead.
Despite barely driving the speed limit, which is 65 mph in the HOV lanes, our driver couldn’t seem to gently tap the brakes when necessary. Instead, she’d almost slam the brake pedal, sending us forward in our seats each time.
I closed my eyes and attempted to escape to my happy place, but it was too much. The swerving back and forth, the crawling pace, even the sun beaming hard through the window – I couldn’t handle anymore. By the time we got off of the exit and ended up at a traffic light, I quickly took the opportunity to jump out and walk the rest of the way to my office.
I needed fresh air.
By the afternoon, I had all but forgotten about the bumpy ride to work. When I hopped into the backseat of a car, all I wanted to do was close my eyes and wake up back at the commuter lot. I was so exhausted! But when the driver peeled away from the slug line like Speed Racer, I quickly realized that this ride would be anything but relaxing.
Hybrid drivers, who don’t necessarily need to pick up slugs in order to access the HOV lanes, have a reputation for being some of the slowest on the road. I’m not sure why, but I’ve found the stereotype to be fairly accurate in my experience. This driver was certainly out to disprove that. I watched as his speedometer climbed to 75, 80, 85 mph He was driving pretty fast at times, but it wasn’t the speed that bothered me so much. It was the tailgating, the weaving in and out of traffic, slamming his brakes when the cars ahead of him weren’t traveling at lightning speed. It was borderline terrifying!
Keeping my eyes closed, I said a quick prayer. Then I contemplated typing up a quick will on my iPhone. You know… just in case.
I never said a word, never asked him to slow down or to drive more cautiously. Perhaps I should have, but I’ve never felt comfortable speaking up when someone I don’t know is driving erratically. After all, slugs are supposed to be seen and not heard – and what if a seemingly simple request to drive safely escalated into an argument? I’m not a confrontational person, and the very thought of such a thing gives me anxiety.
Thank goodness he was driving so fast; at least we arrived back at the commuter lot quickly, instead of dragging out the ride as we did this morning.
I jumped out the car at the first stop at Horner Road, wished the driver a good evening and walked back to my car. On the outside, I probably looked worn out and tired. On the inside, I was kissing the ground and thanking my lucky stars that we’d made it back in one piece.
It has taken me a while to recover from the stress of both slug rides, but such bad luck is pretty uncommon. My fingers are certainly crossed for a smooth ride tomorrow!
The following area students are among the cast of the University of Mary Washington’s upcoming production of “The Tempest”:
Jen Furlong of Stafford, Va., has been selected to play Caliban. Furlong is a 1989 graduate of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Furlong is a senior theatre major in the bachelor of liberal studies program. She is an instructor at the Stafford House of Yoga. (22554)
Scott Houk of Stafford, Va., has been selected to play Sebastian. Houk is the son of John and Tammy Houk of Stafford and is a 2012 graduate of Mountain View High School. Houck is a freshman at UMW. (22554)
“The Tempest” tells the story of Prospero and his daughter, Miranda, who have been exiled to a majestic island by Prospero’s brother, Antonio. Prospero, seeking revenge, uses the help of a mischievous spirit, Ariel, to summon a storm to shipwreck his brother on the island. The passengers on the ship are separated and believe each other to be deceased. Magic and love interfere as the ship’s crew wanders the island seeking justice.
Produced in 1611 by English poet and playwright William Shakespeare, “The Tempest” is believed to be inspired by Michel de Montaigne’s work, “Of Cannibals.” In its more than 400 year history, “The Tempest” has been performed internationally countless times and has been adapted into several feature films.
Performances will be held April 11-13 and April18-20 at 8 p.m., and April 14 and 21 at 2 p.m. in duPont Hall’s Klein Theatre. Tickets are $18 for general admission and $16 for students and senior citizens. For more information or to purchase tickets, call the Klein Theatre Box Office at (540) 654-1111.
The University of Mary Washington is a premier, selective public liberal arts and sciences university in Virginia, highly respected for its commitment to academic excellence, strong undergraduate liberal arts and sciences program, and dedication to life-long learning. The university, with a total enrollment of more than 5,000, features colleges of business, education and arts and sciences, and three campuses, including a residential campus in Fredericksburg, Va., a second one in nearby Stafford and a third in Dahlgren, Va., which serves as a center of development of educational and research partnerships between the Navy, higher education institutions and the region’s employers. In recent years, the university has seen its academic reputation garner national recognition in numerous selective guidebooks, including Forbes, the Fiske Guide to Colleges and the Princeton Review’s 2012 edition of 150 “Best Value Colleges” and the 2013 edition of “The Best 377 Colleges.”
MANASSAS, Va. — With three successful seasons under their belt, the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas announced their offerings for the 2013-2014 season that include old classics, new favorites, and affordable family-friendly fare.
This upcoming season, the Hylton will tap talent from all over the globe for productions like Peter Nero’s “Classical Connections,” a fusion of both classic musical pieces and more contemporary works, the controversial “Fahrenheit 451,” the classic Shakespearean drama “Hamlet,” and The Peking Acrobats, famous for their appearance in the film “Ocean’s 11”.
For families and children, this season will showcase “Toying with Science,” with Garry Krinsky, perfect for the child that loves performing household experiments, “Simple Gifts” from The Cashore Marionettes, the dynamic Imago Theatre’s “Frogz” and a musical adaption of a Cinderella story from the Pushcart Players, will all take the stage this season at the Hylton.
Five local arts groups will also serve as staples for the season, including the Manassas Ballet Theatre with such performances as “The Nutcracker” and “Dracula”, the Manassas Chorale with four concert events, the Manassas Symphony Orchestra with their Annual Family Concert series, the Youth Orchestras of Prince William’s “A Night at the Opera” and “A European Tour” and Prince William Little Theatre with their summer musical and seasonal plays.
Hylton Arts Center Director Rick Davis praised these resident arts partners.
“These outstanding local ensembles have performed world premiere compositions, revived treasured classics, grown their performing ranks, educated, entertained and continued to build audiences and support for their work.,” said Davis.
One event that has become a focal performance for the Center and will continue this summer is the Castleton Festival at the Hylton – a program that has featured conductor Lorin Maazel’s fusion music performances. The Festival is hosted each year to help support Maazel’s program to foster the arts for fledgling musicians.
It’s a little early to be thinking of jingle bells, but consider purchasing your tickets to the Center’s Christmas season offerings early. The holiday performances include American Festival Pops Orchestra’s “Holiday Pops: Songs of the Season,” the magical “Christmas in Vienna” performance from the Vienna Boys Choir and Chanticleer’s “A Chanticleer Christmas”.
“The Hylton Performing Arts Center is coming into its fourth year as an increasingly vibrant and valuable asset to the communities that created it. Tens of thousands of patrons and participants, from every corner of the region and of every age, have made the Hylton Center their artistic home,” Davis said.
Mom on the Run
The text from my son is a little tiny image. No message, just this little forwarded picture. Luckily, I have a new brilliant phone (it’s much more intelligent than I am) so I can open it up, pinch the image, spread it out, and read it.
“People say that good things come in small packages, but in college admissions, good things come in thick envelopes. Consider this the small package, but something bigger is on its way. Be sure to check your mailbox closely in the coming days. Welcome! – The Admission Committee”
Oh! Oh! Really?
I read it again: “People say that good things come in small packages, but in college admissions, good things come in thick envelopes. Consider this the small package, but something bigger is on its way. Be sure to check your mailbox closely in the coming days.” Yes, that sounds like he’s in. Right? I want him to be in, so is that what it says? Or am I wanting it too much?
OK, so, a third, careful read, just to be sure: “People say that good things come in small packages …” OK, that part’s clear. “ … but in college admissions, good things come in thick envelopes.” True. “Consider this the small package, but something bigger is on its way.”
So that means: a small good-things email, followed by a thick envelope, which is a good thing in college admissions?
“Be sure to check your mailbox closely in the coming days.” For the thick envelope, right? That means … that means acceptance, right? Dang, why doesn’t it just come out and say whether he’s been accepted or not? I don’t want my tense brain to make false assumptions, to get excited about nothing.
I look at the message again, getting ready to read it once more, which is ridiculous, I’ve already read it three times, and this time my brain skips over the vague hints about small packages and thick envelopes, and focuses on the end, which says: “Welcome!”
Welcome! That means … come in! That means they want him! That means … acceptance! Yes!
I breathe again, and I pump my fist. This is my son’s final college notification. He applied to four universities: the first two acceptances came in the mail, and they were very clear: “You’re in!” said the first one, emblazoned across the outside of the mailer. “Congratulations!” crowed the second, right at the top of the cover letter. And, yes, both mailings were thick envelopes, with information on applying for financial aid, and selecting a dorm, and upcoming school Open Houses.
The third college is as high-tech as this one, though, and sent an email instead of snail mail: an email that my son read, distilled, and summarized to me in text: “Didn’t get in.” And that was fine, really, because – hmph! – he didn’t want to go to that school anyway.
But this final notification had us holding our breath. The challenge school, the stretch, and yes! He made it! The email says, “Welcome!”
pop my son a quick reply text: “Congratulations! I am so proud of you!” I sit a minute, smiling, and bask in the moment. And for now, right now, this moment, I’m glad, very glad. Right now, I don’t think about my son, my youngest, graduating and moving away. Not now. Right now, I’m just glad.
NORTH STAFFORD, Va. — When you hear “Jimmy the Greek” you may be picturing the renowned sports commentator, but instead think tasty and affordable authentic Greek dishes.
Located off of Garrisonville Road in Stafford, this restaurant is part experience and part food. If you’re on your lunch break and looking for a bite to eat, then you’ll likely have two immediate impressions before you enter the front door; the restaurant is situated on it’s own Boulevard, and they have free wifi.
A blending of authentic Greek décor and Americana trinkets, Jimmy the Greek Family Restaurant is a popular local destination, and was fairly crowded on the afternoon when I sat down to try out their Greek fare for myself.
The menu, which covers breakfast, American favorites, traditional Greek fare and lunch and dinner specials, can make it very difficult to decide on one dish. Making the decision to tread new waters and try Greek cuisine, I settled on the Greek plate lunch special ($8.95) and a side of sweet potatoes; I am admittedly a sweet potato addict.
I found the television and the menu and place setting overly laden with advertisements to be a little distracting, but my server was attentive and I got my food quickly: a must when you have a short window to eat.
The tzatziki sauce paired well with the pita and the cucumbers, which balanced out the rice and pork that took up a large portion of my plate. While the rice was on the blander side, a scoop of the sauce mixed in makes all the difference.
Never being one to say no to dessert, I settled on the turtle cheesecake ($4.95), after selecting from several contenders in the glass display case in the front of the restaurant. The slice was huge, so have a glass of water or your leftover beverage ready.
When you’re in Stafford, you need to stop in and give the Jimmy the Greek Family Restaurant a try. It’s affordable, quick and offers delicious Greek food and a long menu of choices that will keep you coming back for more.
By AL ALBORN
The Prince William County budget process has changed quite a bit during the past couple of years. It has transitioned from an obscure game of insider baseball to a relatively transparent discussion of how the county spends our money.
It wasn’t that long ago that most people simply didn’t care about the budget process. Our lack of oversight lead to incrementally bolder but perfectly legal uses of our money on things that clearly had nothing to do with the business of governance.
Hubris probably best describes the budget process in of the past. Public interest in Discretionary Funds changed the process in 2012. Public discussion is probably at an all time high in 2013. Things will never be the same.
Like most people, I don’t mind paying taxes. I just don’t want to pay “too much” taxes. What constitutes “too much” is a constant discussion between people of good will with different views regarding just exactly constitutes those things government should do.
Like most people, I do not like seeing my tax dollars spent on things that clearly have nothing to do with the business of government. While this is a gray area, its sorta like pornography. We know it when we see it.
What used to be the simple approval of the budget created by the County Executive (for the record, its her responsibility to create the Prince William County budget) or the School System Superintendent accompanied by a bit of theater to give the public the warm fuzzy feeling that those we elect to be the stewards of our money actually know what’s “in there” is history.
Our elected officials are now engaged, asking detailed questions, drilling down. Some of this is, of course, the theater of politics and for our benefit. I do believe that most of those behind the Dias have realized that keeping that seat with a view of “the rest of us” won’t be as easy as it used to be.
All things operate in cycles. The Prince William County budget process has swung from relative obscurity to an object of intense public scrutiny. In my opinion, this occurred because we simply lost faith in the process. We realized that those in charge perhaps noticed that nobody was watching, and incrementally, quite legally, continued to expand the bounds of just what they might consider spending our tax dollars on.
It will take a while to restore our faith.
As the FY2014 budget unfolds, and we see “whats in there”, we will see who “gets it”.
I am particularly interested in the School System’s budget. It has a history of being even more obscure than the county government’s budget.
Now, not so much.
We now have budget committees across the county going through every line of the Prince William County Budget. The School Board is now on the public’s radar, and decisions that would have gone unnoticed until perhaps the construction equipment showed up are now the grist of local blogs, the press, and citizens’ time.
I suspect that the 2015 elections will be the first time that decisions made regarding the School System’s budget will perhaps generate unusual interest in the election of our representatives on the School Board.
We get the government we deserve. While we elect people to make decisions for us, we have an obligation to give these elected officials our input regarding just what kind of a County or School System we would like to see. If enough of us object to the decisions our elected officials make, we have the opportunity to replace them in 2015. If we don’t like the budget proposed by the County Executive or School System Superintendent propose, we have the opportunity to elect folks who will replace either or both.
Government is like gambling: You can’t win if you don’t play. If you have absolutely no objection to where the money you work for goes, do nothing. Others will decide how to spend it. If you really don’t care what our County looks like, do nothing. There are a few folks willing to make that decision for you.
Most of the Supervisors have budget committees. You might want to chat with your Supervisor to see if they are still meeting, do a Freedom of Information Request (if necessary) to take a look at their findings and conclusions, and make your preferences known.
I am a cynic when it come to government at all levels. Government unchecked starts to think of taxes and fees as “their money”. It’s “our money”.
It is important that we pay attention so they take only enough of “our money” to pay for the County we want, and to spend it on those things about which we care the most. Your chance to weigh in occurs at a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday, April 9 at 7:30 p.m. during a regularly scheduled Board of County Supervisor’s meeting.
Why is the budget particularly important this time? With sequestration looming, predictions of the loss of around 200,000 jobs and the possible collapse of our housing market, small businesses who supply, feed, and do the dry cleaning for the companies and people impacted we want to create the smallest burden possible on our community for the coming years.
We want to rig for possible tough times.
I certainly hope we don’t see those tough times, but the price of guessing wrong is just too high.
By TOM BASHAM
Author Stephenie Meyer brings us “The Host,” based on the novel she penned while counting her “Twilight” money. Instead of vampires with an alternative lifestyles, we have aliens who take over our bodies and perfect them and the planet. They kill us with kindness and everything is for the common good. You know, like Obamacare.
Among the last few “unoccupied” is Melanie (Saoirse Ronan from Hanna), who has managed to keep her brother Jamie (Chandler Canterbury from A Bag of Hammers) safe for a few years. She meets Jared (Max Irons from Red Riding Hood) who seems to be the last man on earth, and they fall in love, naturally. And then, she gets taken (different movie) and implanted with a Host named Wanderer.
I did not read the book, and that is a great place for a character to have competing inner monologues. So, how do you show that on screen? They chose the old 1950’s Twilight Zone method of echoing voice over. Although Ronan is an amazing talent, her inner voice/host comes off as annoying, while the device yields abrupt responses disconnected from emotion.
The militant group of invading aliens all look like missionaries as they “seek” the last few humans for conversion. They don’t want to hurt anybody, and the only evil one, known as The Seeker (Diane Kruger of Inglourious Basterds) is certain that Melanie/Wanderer is going to be problem.
I figure they stuck to the book, as it felt like they were checking off scenes as they went. This happens when the novelist is a producer on the movie and may not understand how to transform her inner invasion to the screen. There is a great theme here, but the movie did not pull it off.
I dated a girl with multiple voices in her head, and it was terrifying. I got none of that from watching “The Host.” What I did get was horrible dialogue from great actors like William Hurt (The Village) who played Jeb, Melanie’s uncle. He actually says, “I am a big fan of science fiction movies, but I never thought I would be living one.” And he was living in the caves of a volcano that had the best set dressing I have ever seen in a cave. Nice lamps, pictures on the wall, Fred Flintsone style windows and all the trimmings.
We were due for an advancement of Jack Finney’s “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” and Meyer does move the ball down the field by taking us inside the occupied mind and letting us know the body snatchers are beings too. This sets up a great dynamic in the main character and for the other characters as well. The ingredients are all there, but the soufflé fell flat. The entire world felt fake to me, and I never felt the horror of the invasion or the desperation of true love in what was an interesting love quadrangle. Director Andrew Niccol (In Time) has nowhere to hide, as he wrote the screenplay. He has done some good work in the past, but this one fell short.
I looked forward to “The Host,” and while it is a great concept, the movie did not deliver the theme, and therefore I did not find my viewing a hospitable experience. I give it 2 ½ stars out of 5 for using a tired technique on an interesting story. I am left with the thought, “What would Kubrick do?”
Tom Basham is a Virginia filmmaker and writes BashMovies.
WOODBRIDGE, Va. – A Dumfries woman is $150,000 richer this today after winning big with a scratch game. Virginia Lottery officials say there are still two more top prizes yet to be claimed.
More in a press release:
You might say it was a team effort when Sandra Vasquez of Dumfries won $150,000 in the Virginia Lottery’s $150 Grand game. Her husband bought the ticket and scratched it. She took the winning ticket to the Lottery’s customer service center in Woodbridge to claim the prize.
The winning ticket was bought at the 7-Eleven at 13897 Telegraph Road in Woodbridge.
“I was happy, crying,” the mother of four said.
$150 Grand is one of dozens of Scratcher games from the Virginia Lottery. It features prizes ranging from $5 all the way up to $150,000. This is the third top prize claimed in $150 Grand, which means two top-prize tickets remain unclaimed.
STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. — A group of area residents have formed a non-profit public access channel, Central Virginia Public Access Television Corp (CVTV), that will cover Stafford and Spotsylvania County. It will launch this summer.
Run by Charles Thomas and Michele Trampe, the channel will showcase 24 hours of original programming a week.
“What we’re proposing is a multiple year ramp up to that, because we want to put good programming on,” Trampe commented, going on to say that the channel will rely on volunteers and fundraising to create and broadcast the programs.
“Living in Spotsylvania and Stafford, we’re located between Richmond and D.C. and that’s really what gets covered on local television. There’s so much here; I get really offended when people say that this area is just a bedroom community of either D.C. or Richmond,” Trampe said.
In addition to this void in local television coverage, Thomas felt that there needed to be more balanced and appropriate options for children and family television programs.
“I’m very passionate about kids, and working with youth, and giving them a good foundation. Having kids myself, and sitting down and watching TV with them at a supposedly family channel, and you look at it and you go, ‘Guys, we need to look at something else’, because they’re not really promoting a good element for children to be watching,” Thomas said.
Both Thomas and Trampe are currently talking with community members in hopes to tap into local talent for CVTV. With intended programming to cover education, family, sports, finances, cooking and physical fitness, “We’re looking for people who have passion about what they’re doing, and want to get that story out; writers, producers, story tellers. I can see the void – I can see the talent that’s here,” Thomas said.
CVTV’s first big program will focus on the history of the John J. Wright museum; a museum located in Spotsylvania County that was formerly a segregated school during the Civil Rights Movement. While the group is still going through the legal approvals, they have met with the Spotsylvania County Telecommunications Board, and expect to be up-and-running by this summer, said Thomas.
To get the word out about this launch, CVTV has relied on the use of social media sites and community meetings to spread the word.
Thomas hopes that CVTV will, “give the communities of Central Virginia programs with purpose, meaning and excellence, through the voice of public access television,” and Michael Nelms, a Co-Chair for the channel, expressed his excitement at the development of the project.
WOODBRIDGE, Va. – It might not have felt like spring these past few days, in the parking lot of Gar-Field Senior High School, it’s going to look like it.
The carnival is back in town starting today through Sunday, and it’s ran by Amusements of America, whose employees spent much of Thursday afternoon getting ready for weekend business.
The traveling carnival offers rides like Ferris Wheel and carnival games. Workers were setting up for this weekend’s show under gray skies in temperatures in the upper 40s on Thursday. Temperatures will be warmer this weekend, approaching 60 degrees.
To ride, carnival goers will pay $1 per ticket, with some rides taking several tickets. Riders can purchase 56 tickets for $50, and pay $20 for a hand stamp for unlimited rides on a limited number of rides that allow patrons at least 36 inches tall to ride.
WOODBRIDGE, Va. — The Easter Brunch at Osprey’s Restaurant will mark the final chapter in a sort of part two for the only eatery in Belmont Bay.
Executive Chef T.J. Fisher says the restaurant nestled inside of a golf club among high rise residential homes overlooking the Occoquan River will no longer be open to the public when it closes Sunday. Afterward, the restaurant will only be used by private caterers during special events like parties and weddings.
“It’s sad because we all really put a lot of effort into this place to make it work,” said Fisher.
And some things did work here, like the restaurant’s happy hour specials, and special events like this Sunday’s sold out Easter Brunch. At $25 per person, it’ll feature cinnamon French toast, Lavender Barbeque Chicken, baked Atlantic Salmon with peach salsa, and pretzel dusted three cheese macaroni.
But what didn’t work here was the location, said Fisher. While the Occoquan River is clearly visible from the restaurant, it sits at the very end of the Belmont Bay neighborhood, making it hard for passersby to notice. While Osprey’s was a neighborhood favorite by those who live and could walk here, it never became a destination restaurant.
After it closed for the first time in 2009, Osprey’s reopened for its second incarnation in 2011 and quickly brought back their signature American food served with French flair, along with popular deserts like waffle bread pudding and crème brulee.
By GLENN VICKERS II
With spring in the air, that only means one thing: allergies. OK, correction, two things: allergies and the renewal of creativity.
Especially for children. Creativity is the freest form of self-expression. There is nothing more satisfying and fulfilling for children than to be able to express themselves openly and without judgment. I’ve been very fortunate to work with teams of passionate youth development professionals, board members and various community stakeholders nationwide that collaborate proactively to solve social challenges in their communities. Without creative thinking, these challenges couldn’t be accomplished.
Keeping to the theme of creativity, let me tell you about Bradley Leighton and his mission to the moon.
In the month of March, Leighton (better know as Brad) Director of Justice Title & Escrow had the ingredients for a great mission.
Brad’s Mission To The Moon Beef Stew:
- 1 six foot dog mascot.
- 10 cups of “walking to the moon”
- 5 tea spoons of “Send A Kid To Camp.”
- 2 ounce of “creativity”
- 3 tablespoons of “bounce”
- 1 pinch of cayenne pepper
To support the Boys & Girls Clubs Send A Kid To Camp Annual Campaign, Brad wanted to do something high energy to appease his appetite, so he created a challenge with the help of our friend Jackie Sisouphonh of Amusement Bouncers . Using the Manassas Boys & Girls Clubs new Chase’s Play Yard, an affordable indoor inflatable bounce house, Brad’s challenge was simple for the youth: Walk to the moon and back!
Using pedometers to help count the 477,000 miles to the moon and back, each step counted as one mile. Justice Title & Escrow donated $ .02 for every step to the Send a Kid to Camp Campaign. After thousands of steps were taken to walk to the moon and (almost) back, this creative idea raised over $8,000 for summer camp scholarships and helped the fight against childhood obesity.
As adults we should never loose the creative nature that we are born with as children. As adults we should continue to invest in children’s creavtiy. So take this time with the warm weather to smell the roses, paint a fence, help a neighbor or even walk to the moon.
More to come….
By URIAH KISER
Sitting at his desk on a snowy late March morning, Dumfries Police Chief Robert Forker answers a phone call. He, and is second in command Capt. Rebecca Edwards, are the only ones in the office this morning because their two-person front office staff is contending with a minor bout of the flu.
It’s a small department for a small town, made of up eight officers, charged with serving about 5,000 residents. But Forker has been around a long time, and has worn many badges and hats in Prince William County. Now, he plans to hang it up and move on to his next patrol beat – permanent retirement.
Forker started his career in as a cop in Washington in 1973, following in the footsteps of his father-in-law. He became a Prince William County police officer in 1981 and served until 2007, working in units like accident investigation, crime prevention, internal affairs, and in the department’s criminal investigation division during the infamous D.C. sniper attacks of 2002. He retired – the first time – as a Captain at the county’s 911 Public Safety Communications Center at the McCoart Building.
But he retired from Prince William’s force only to be called up again in 2011 to lead the Town of Dumfries Police Department, which during the previous year was undergoing a leadership change following an FBI investigation into the department. The changeover meant long-serving chief Calvin Johnson would exit and just retired Prince William police Major Ray Colgan would takeover as acting chief.
It wasn’t until after Colgan’s replacement, Daniel Taber, was promoted to Dumfries Town Manager that Forker was called in for an interview.
“[Colgan] told me it probably wouldn’t take more than six months before they found a permanent replacement chief. That was in 2011,” joked Forker.
During Forker’s time here he’s worked to the make the police department more responsive to its residents, and to make his officers more accountable.
“We initiated a program that has our officers walking a beat at least one hour a day. That means they get out of their cars and get out into neighborhoods and talk with citizens,” said Forker.
He also implemented a complaint tracker system used to identify complaints made to the department for things like parking and noise violations. Officers were required to document the actions used to rectify the complaints, and then report back to the to residents what measures officers used to resolve the problem.
His public open door policy came after routine police reports were not being logged properly, and after he learned that what records were being kept under Johnson were locked away from public view.
Forker doesn’t hold any ill will for Johnson, however.
“Chief Johnson was the right man for the job at the time,” explained Forker. “There was a large drug problem in this town, as well as other issues, and he was tasked with responding to that.”
New issues have also arose in the town, as the department will be the first and only in the county to hire and implement a school police resource officer for Dumfries Elementary School following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. The move was ordered by the town council, who will also ultimately decide who will replace Forker.
But the whispering wail of retirement is calling him, and Forker plans to hang up his police cap for good come September’s end. He’ll follow his old boss, Chief Charlie T. Deane, who retired from the Prince William County Police Department last fall. He was one of the longest serving police chief’s in the country.
“Chief Deane was an institution in Prince William County. Under him, I learned that if you don’t have the support of your community you could not do your job,” said Forker.
Forker credits the implementation of his community policing strategy with what he learned from Deane.
Forker works hand in hand with his second in charger, Capt. Rebecca Edwards, who came to Dumfries after rising through the ranks a deputy in Spotsylvania County. She could be in line to replace Forker, but wouldn’t say if it’s a job she wanted to take on.
“We’re really going to miss his professionalism and his personality around the station,” said Edwards.
Come September, Forker knows what items will be piling up on his agenda.
“I’m going fishing, and if you can’t find me there I’m probably around the house doing a whole lotta nothin’, and if you can’t find me there you’ll probably find that I’ve gone fishing again,” said Forker.
By MARY DAVIDSON
My parents were born in Massachusetts, so if I trust anyone’s prediction of potential snow fall amounts, it would be theirs.
Once when my siblings and I were very young, we were delighted to wake up to see big fat snow flakes falling from the sky. We felt surely this would mean loads of snow.
My mother just smiled, and said that if the snow had started with tiny snow flakes we would have likely got more snow, so go get ready for school!
Sure enough by the time we were dressed for school the snow had all but melted. Through the years my mothers way of predicting measurable snow fall has been right more times than any weather report out there.
By MIKE SALMON
Hear ye, hear ye, the Virginia Megaprojects is closing all lanes of Interstate 95 south at Quantico for one hour!
Do I have your attention now? As part of the 95 Express Lanes project, the Telegraph Road bridge in the Quantico area is being demolished and replaced with another overpass that will span both the north and south bound lanes of I-95 as well as the future Express Lanes.
• Monday, April 1, the Telegraph Road highway overpass over I-95 will close for nine months. This closure will allow crews to rebuild a new Telegraph Road bridge that will span the future 95 Express Lanes. This closure will have localized impacts and a long-term detour will be in place via Russell Road or U.S. 1.
• Demolition will also begin as early as Monday, April 1 requiring multiple lane closures on I-95 South. Motorists should expect delays. This will continue for the next couple of weeks.
• In addition to the multiple lane closures, on or about Friday, April 5, crews will close all lanes on I-95 South at Telegraph Road in the overnight hours for one-hour so the steel girders can be demolished. I-95 southbound traffic will be detoured from Russell Road to Route 1 to Garrisonville Road and back to I-95 south.
Drivers should expect delays and are urged to avoid the area. The following week, Friday, April 12, this work is scheduled to shift to the northbound side and I-95 North will be closed in the overnight hours for 30 minutes at a time.
All road construction is weather dependent, visit vamegaprojects.com for updated schedules.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned since I started slugging a few years ago, it’s that slugs don’t adapt easily to change.
That may seem surprising, considering slugging is so innovative in itself. As legend has it, this unique method of commuting traces back to the 1970s, when commuters would wait for rides near bus stops, fooling the bus drivers who mistakenly thought they were waiting for the bus. Becoming annoyed by the confusion, the nickname “slugs,” just like the counterfeit coins passengers might try to pass off as payment for bus fare, caught on… so the story goes.
And since then, new commuter lots were constructed and new slug lines were created over the years, and it all seems to work pretty well. So when I considered the idea of starting a new slug line at Tackett’s Mill for L’Enfant Plaza, I knew it would take a lot of work, but it seemed completely feasible.
Early in my commuting days, I would slug back and forth from the commuter lot at Potomac Mills. The location was convenient, and I could almost always find parking and a ride available, but it didn’t last long. In February 2011, Potomac Mills mall decreased the number of commuter parking spaces by 75 %, and many commuters like me had to find other places to park.
I tried the Horner Road lot, but could never find available parking, so a friend suggested the lot at Tackett’s Mill. The lines at that commuter lot only went to the Pentagon, Crystal City and Rosslyn, so my friend explained that she would slug to the Pentagon every morning and take the Metro one stop to L’Enfant, doing the reverse every afternoon.
That worked fine for a while, but then I started to realize how much time we were wasting on the Metro. Occasionally, I would ask drivers in the morning if the Pentagon was their final destination, or if they’d be driving into D.C. Many times, they were and didn’t mind driving me across the bridge, which was nice. Then it hit me – I’m not the only one commuting from Tackett’s Mill to D.C. My friend is doing it, some of the drivers are doing it, and I was willing to bet many slugs were doing the same thing.
So my friend and I decided that we could change this; we could start a new line. We made signs that said “L’Enfant” for the morning, and “Tackett’s Mill” for the afternoon ride home. We created flyers advertising a “new slug line!” and distributed them periodically on cars in the evenings. We put up signs by the Pentagon line, posted in message boards, spreading the word. We were pioneers!
But every morning, without fail, well-intentioned slugs would see me standing with my “L’Enfant” sign and advise, “Oh, you can’t slug to L’Enfant from here. You have to go to Horner.” Most drivers would pass me by in the Pentagon line, but I would hold out as long as I could for that one driver who’d be willing to drop off in D.C. Sometimes, other slugs would stand and wait with me. It was finally catching on!
In the afternoon, I’d do the same, standing in the line for Horner Road while holding my sign for Tackett’s Mill. When it was my turn for the next ride, I would ask the driver if they would drop off at Tackett’s Mill. My friend and I would usually attempt this together, giving drivers more incentive to take both of us and make only one stop. Until the backlash came.
I could feel the tension building that day in the slug line, but wasn’t entirely sure why anyone would be bothered by where I was slugging. It wasn’t affecting them; if anything, I was letting people behind me go ahead when drivers weren’t willing to drop off at Tackett’s Mill.
“If she keeps holding that sign, drivers are going to think this line isn’t going to Horner and they won’t stop here!” said one lady, as if I wasn’t standing right there, within earshot.
Thinking she was being irrational, I started ignore her. Nobody is going think that, I thought. Drivers know that this line is for Horner, and they will understand that I’m the only one holding a sign. It’s not like I was stopping cars from picking up; plenty of drivers were picking up slugs for Horner Road.
Then the others started to chime in.
“Yeah! She holds that sign every day! That’s probably what’s making the line move so slow!”
Okay, now I was becoming the scapegoat for a slow-moving slug line? My sign had nothing to do with that!
Finally, I became frustrated. I was tired of being turned down, rejected by drivers who weren’t going the direction I needed to go. I was sick of the slugs, bless their hearts, telling me every day that I couldn’t go where I needed to go, just because “this line doesn’t go there.” I tried, but I was sick and tired of trying. And eventually, I gave up.
Since then, the Prince William County attempted to start a new lot by leasing space in a church parking lot, which failed miserably. Afterward, a new commuter lot on Telegraph Road is open, and six months later, finally starting to catch on with slugs. Although the supporting infrastructure to connect the Telegraph and Horner Road lots has yet to be completed, the location is more convenient and is more easily accessible to commuters from the HOV lanes.
When it comes to slugging, I suppose change may indeed be possible, it just takes time… a lot of time!
While the continuation of the winter chill and the unexpected snow may make you inclined to stay inside with your children this spring break, there are some events going on in the Northern Virginia area that are worth getting out of your pajamas for. All of these events are children and family friendly, and affordable – a definite plus.
If you and your children love to be outdoors, then you’re in luck. Locally in Prince William County, take a day to visit the Prince William Forest Park. The miles of green are an excellent place to take a picnic, go on a bike ride or even go fishing, for a $5 daily entrance fee. And if you’re children have their heart set on taking a trip, you can rent a campsite in the tents-only Oak Ridge Campground for $20 per night; a budget friendly alternative.
The D.C. area is known for their cherry blossoms, and with them the Cherry Blossom Festival, every year. It’s near the peak of the cherry blossom season, making it a perfect time to take a drive up Interstate 95 and have a look for yourself. While the Festival isn’t until mid-April this free activity is popular with children of all ages and an opportunity to take a few family snapshots.
While you may believe that you have to drive up to D.C. to bring your children to a fun and educational museum, there are actually local options worth checking out. The Weems-Botts Museum, located in Dumfries, is on land that has been a part of the town since before the Revolutionary War, as well as being home to George Washington’s first biographer. For a $4 fee for adults, $2.50 for children ages six to 16, and free admission for children under 6, you can have a guided tour that is informative as much as it is fun.
If you want to celebrate Easter with your family during spring break, then take a trip to Ticonderoga Farms for their Spring Easter Festival. The farm, located in Chantilly, will have photo opportunities with the Easter Bunny, and egg hunts for the whole family every weekend. For weekend activities, which include hayrides and picking your own flowers, it costs $11.95.
By URIAH KISER
NORTH STAFFORD, Va. — In the event of a school shooting, it can be survival of the fittest.
That’s why officials in Stafford County worked to exercise the minds of teachers and school administrators, to prepare them for the possibility of an armed intruder who could potentially kill them and their students.
A special seminar was held Thursday night at North Stafford High School for teachers from across the county. A partnership between the schools and sheriff’s department, it was billed as the first of its kind in the state following the school shooting that killed 27 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
A retired Stafford sheriff’s deputy, 1st Sgt Frank Martello, told teachers who don’t normally confront violent situations that they need to be prepared to run, hide or fight in the event of an active shooter situation at their schools. In many cases, attackers are thwarted before police arrive, so its important teachers have a plan and know what to do.
“If we have police on the scene in two minutes and you have an active shooter, that could be one minute and 58 seconds too late,” said Martello. “We will get there and we will find you. But the idea is to find you while you are still alive… inaction is not an option.”
Teachers were urged to go back to their classrooms following the training and take inventory of anything that could be used as a weapon and locate anything that would provide cover to hide behind in the event on an armed intruder. A chair is one of the weapon teachers were suggested to use, but it’s not the only one.
“…look around… almost anything, with a little practice, can be used as a weapon,” said Martello.
Profile of a possible school shooter
This countywide training is the first of many new security initiatives planned for the schools, said Sheriff Charles E. Jett. It wasn’t held in response to a specific threat but due to concerns about improved security in the county’s schools. Such improvements might include placing large numbers over every school entrance to make it easier for public safety crews to respond to shooting victims and giving police access to hallway security cameras at schools.
“There are a lot of things you don’t know about, and then there are a lot of things you know about that we don’t,” said Jett, urging cooperation and better communication between teachers and law enforcement.
School shootings are nothing new, with the first in the U.S. dating back to 1927 when 38 children were shot and killed, said Martello. Since then, in mass shootings like Columbine High School in 1999, Virginia Tech in 2007 and Sandy Hook in December, the shooters all had things in common, said Martello:
-Usually bullied in past
-Did not threaten victims
-Showed prior behavior / told others about idea to attack
-Did not intend to survive shooting incident
Teachers who attended the training said they’ve been teaching behind locked doors since Sandy Hook. They also wanted to know when it’s OK to act if a child seems suspicious.
“I already have children that fit into that profile,” said Laurie Gildstead, a second-grade teacher. “We need more awareness in the schools because, as teachers, we have to teach more than just the basic subjects, we have to teach basic manners to children who have parents who want to be their ‘friend’ and not their parent.”
Martello said the burden falls on the teacher, or those who spend the most time around the child, to report suspicious behavior.
What to report in during a shooting
If the worse happens, it’ll also be up to the people inside to report accurate and helpful information to law enforcement who will be charged with immediately entering the building and disarming the shooter. Police will want to know things like:
Are there any hostages?
Is there a barricade?
Have you heard any explosions others than gunfire?
Where is the shooter inside of the building?
When was the last time you saw the shooter?
What kind of weapon did the shooter have?
That last question about the type of weapon prompted Martello to show a variety of weapons – such as shotguns, rifles and handguns – so teachers would have a better understanding of what firearms look like and how to better described them to 911 call takers.
By MARY DAVIDSON
NORTH STAFFORD, Va. — About two inches of snow fell in Stafford County overnight and into this morning. With no concerns about commuting into work, these horses near Va. 610 seemed to have no worries about the white stuff.
The old barn is on Emerald Downs Farm off Garrisonville Road in Stafford.
Mom on the Run
I looked around, I confess. I looked around, with envy, and lust. Want tainted my thoughts.
And, for a minute, I thought it was not want, but need.
I purchased my minivan in July 2002. She was brand-new, a shocking luxury at the time. But, “I’m going to drive this for at least 10 years,” I had told my husband, to justify the expense.
He had rolled his eyes, “Sure, 10 years,” he had said skeptically. He never believed we would keep it that long, but we went ahead and bought it, because with the kids we needed something reliable, and because a brand-new minivan was only a few thousand dollars more than a used minivan.
Oh, she was beautiful. Back in ’02 my brand-new minivan was shiny silver, with pristine dove gray velour seats, and – ahhh! – the fabled new-car perfume.
Now, almost 11 years and 152,000 miles later, my minivan is still shiny silver on the outside, but those dove gray seats aren’t exactly pristine anymore. She’s been in two accidents (Neither of which was my fault! Really!) and has a persistent rear-end rattle. The interior carpet is stained with the spills of 100 drinks and mud from 100 pair of cleats. The passenger-side back door handle is worn out from thousands of openings and closings and requires a hard yank to engage. And after a few months sporadic, weakened performance, the remote door opener recently gave up, and doesn’t work at all anymore.
But the engine is in great shape. Aside from brakes, tires, and oil changes – which don’t count, obviously, that’s regular maintenance – she’s only needed a set of belts and, recently, shockingly, a catalytic converter. That was a big expense, had to be done, and, my husband figured, a reasonable investment to get the van through another couple of years.
Because we have one kid in college and another one heading off in the fall, and a car payment is something we really want to avoid. Because I live and work in Manassas, and don’t drive far. Because we don’t need a minivan, really, anymore, and won’t be replacing her with another one, but she’s handy for delivering kids to college and hauling around Sunday School kids. So we are nursing along my minivan, getting as much time out of her as possible.
But last week, I noticed a burning smell. It started about a mile into any trip, and it arose on every trip. “Is it oil?” my husband asked. “What does it smell like?”
I had shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s a burning smell.”
I did know that burning smells are bad. And so I looked. With lust and envy and materialism in my heart, I looked around and I thought about cars. I thought about two-door cars and sports cars. I thought about small SUVs and hybrids. I thought about new cars, and then, more realistically, thought about used cars. I thought about clean cars, and highly efficient air conditioning, and heated seats. I thought about cars. Longingly.
And now I’m looking at my phone. We dropped the minivan off for service last night, and, “I talked to Classic Automotive,” reads the text from my husband. It’s the moment of truth, and I hold my breath: how’s this going to go? What’s the dollar limit for repairs? What would be the dollar limit for a new car?
“What did they say?” I text back. There are, I know, a thousand possibilities. I chew my lip and wait for the reply.
“There was a plastic bag burned onto an exhaust hose,” my husband texts.
Oh! A plastic bag? I laugh. Snap! And my new-car dreams go up in – smoke?
MANASSAS, Va. — Prince William Health System celebrated Certified Nurses Day on March 19 by honoring its board certified nurses. The following nurses are being recognized for their professionalism, leadership and commitment to excellence in patient care:
Certification in Critical Care Nursing (CCRN): Julia Burgess, RN; Rene Ernest, RN; Jan Griffin, RN; Sarah Herbert, RN ; Katie Hoffman, RN; Darcy Jenkins, RN; Janet Moore, RN; Oi- Mei Yau, RN; Alicia Marie Ruiz, RN; Carlos Bernal, RN; Deana Coy, RN; Jacinta Gomes, RN; Donna Rea, RN; Cynde Sturm, RN; Seong Kim, RN; Jamie Stern, RN; William “Topper” Cramer, RN; Amy Ebert, RN
Cardiac Medicine Certification (CMC): Julia Burgess, RN
Certified Nurse, Operating Room (CNOR): Kathleen Abromavich, RN; Shawn Craddock, RN; Patricia Kerns, RN; Ancy Kulakkattolickal, RN; Oakjoo Lee, RN; Jeanne Lese, RN ; Debra Parrish, RN; Amelia Atwell, RN; Linda Stohon, RN; Mar Tortajada, RN; Terea Diggs, RN
Certification in Emergency Nursing (CEN): Pam Smith, RN; Molly Mello, RN; Seong Kim, RN; Debra Oakes, RN; Joanne Broomer, RN; Melissa Morin, RN; Tricia Sutherland, RN; Christel McGovern, RN; Victoria Scott, RN
Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN): Jeanie Barlow, RN; LeeAnne Green, RN; Dawn Harris, RN ; Suzanne McAndrews, RN; Illana Naylor, RN ; Donna Pfost, RN ; Dolores Torres, RN; Jessy Tramontana, RN; Carin Ashbrook, RN
Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN): Gail Behrle, RN; Christine Keaveny, RN; Jillian Powers, RN; Pamela Komaridis, RN; Sally Randall, RN
Certification in Inpatient Obstetric Nursing (RNC-OB): Theresa Alicea, RN; Judy Ballard, RN; Claudia Barnish, RN ; Marylou Soto, RN; Jan Dagenhart, RN; Leann McMullen, RN; Dana Shanks, RN; Ronda Webb, RN; Christen Grimes, RN
Certified Post Anesthesia Nurse (CPAN): M. Kate Edwards, RN; Brenda Primus, RN
Certified Nurse Executive, Advanced (NEA-BC): Shawn Craddock, RN: Beatrice Holt, RN: Karen Webb, RN: Eileen Caulfield, RN
Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse (CMSRN): Kadi Kanu, RN; Schelly Harrison, RN
Orthopedic Nurse Certification (ONC): Claye Avera, RN; Mary Pat Blanchette, RN
Certified Gastrointestinal Registered Nurse (CGRN): Linda Henderson, RN
Certified in Low Risk Neonatal Nursing (RNC-LRN): Leeann Brown, RN; Michelle Curran, RN; Patricia Irvin, RN; Judy Jenkins, RN; Shanna Leary, RN; Constance Rickerson, RN; Sheryl Roloff, RN; Pamela Scarce, RN; Lisa Whitmer, RN; Carrie Banks, RN; Stephanie Pigeon, RN
Certified in Neonatal Intensive Care (RNC-NIC): Maryann Savage, RN; Patricia Irvin, RN
Progressive Care Certified Nurse (PCCN): Jan Griffin, RN; Dae Park, RN; Pam Smith, RN; Julie Garcia, RN; Stephanie Fournier, RN; Jennifer McEachin, RN
Adult Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP-BC): Jan Griffin, RN
Adult Clinical Nurse Specialist (ACNS-BC): Julia Burgess, RN
Psychiatric & Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist (PMHCNS-BC): Susan Campbell, RN
Adult Nurse Practitioner (ANP-BC): Rene Ernest, RN: Susan Campbell, RN
Certification in Nursing Professional Developmen
(RN-BC): Michele Poblador, RN: Lily Batayola, RN
Certified Wound and Ostomy Nurse (WOCN): Tracy Fields, RN
Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML): Kelly Davis, RN
Certified Registered Nurse First Assistant (CFA): Jeanne Lese, RN
International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC): Teresa Baltuano-Post, RN: Rosemary Wlaschin, RN
Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator (LCCE): Kathryn Orski, RN; Rosemary Wlaschin, RN
Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ): Kathryn Moss, RN
Certified Infection Prevention and Control (CBIC): Kathryn Moss, RN
Legal Nurse Consultant Certified (LNCC): Tina Stoernell, RN
Certified Professional In Healthcare Management (CPHM): Miriana Gomez, RN
Accredited Case Manager (ACM): Dorothy Mullenix, RN
Certified Case Manager (CCM): Monica S. Noonan, RN
Certified Diabetes Educator: Linda G. McMillan, RN: Jane C. Suliga, RN
Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse (CHPN): Christel McGovern, RN
Certified Electronic Fetal Monitoring (C-EFM): Judy Ballard, RN
National Certified School Nurse (NCSN): Schelly Harrison, RN
Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN): William “Topper” Cramer, RN
Certified Transport Emergency Nurse (CTRN): William “Topper” Cramer, RN
Family Nurse Practioner – Board Certified (FNP-BC): Karen Sisa, RN
Maternal Newborn Nursing (RNC-MNN): Karen Foster, RN