MOM ON THE RUN
I’m standing at the open fridge, gathering condiments. We’re having cheeseburgers for dinner, they’re on the grill now, and everyone likes different toppings. I’ve already got a plate of lettuce leaves and tomato slices on the dining room table, and now: ketchup, yellow mustard, spicy brown mustard, relish, mayonnaise … what else?
My arms are full – I refuse to make a second trip, I’ve got this – as I peruse the refrigerator shelves. There was something extra, and I’m trying to remember. Oh! I know! Sweet gherkins.
On Christmas day, my in-laws hosted a buffet dinner. On the table, among the ham and turkey, sour-cream potatoes and sweet potatoes and salad, deviled eggs and seven-layer dip was a bowl of small sweet gherkins. My 17-year-old son had experimentally put a few on his plate, and “These are good,” he had smacked appreciatively after trying them. “Why don’t we get these?”
“We do,” I had explained. “They’re sweet gherkin pickles. We probably have a jar in the house right now.” My kid had nodded, pleased, and shoved more in his mouth.
So now it’s cheeseburger night and, I think, a good meal for pickles. I’m sure we have a jar in here somewhere, though it’s been a while since I ate any myself. I stand, juggling everything else hamburger in my arms, and gaze at the door, with its assemblage of jars and bottles.
There, on the bottom shelf, a short round jar with a gold lid. Is it … nope, dill pickles. But to the left – there it is! “Sweet Gherkins,” confirms the label. I twist the jar around briefly, scan the lid, raise it high to check the bottom. I have no idea when I opened this jar, but there’s no expiration date. I guess pickles don’t go bad, really, all that vinegar. And out onto the table it goes with everything else.
At dinner, my son dresses his burger, squirts a puddle of ketchup for his tater tots. He inhales it all in what seems like just a few bites. He rests, leaning back in his chair, stretches a little, looks around, and spies the jar on the table. “Oh, nice!” he says. He reaches forward, grabs the jar and his fork, and proceeds to spear himself a little green pickle. And a second, and a third, and a fourth.
He’s got five pickles piled on his plate when his dad says, “Don’t you want to try one first, before you get all those out?”
“Nah,” says my son. Then he stops a second, because he knows me and our history, and he looks at the jar. “How old are these, anyway?”
“No idea,” I tell him. “But I looked. There’s no expiration date.”
“Yeah,” he agrees, and he parrots exactly what I thought earlier: “pickles probably don’t really go bad, it’s all vinegar.” And he stabs a pickle on his plate, bites it in half, chews. Then, “Though this tastes a little strange,” he says.
Before he can eat another one, his dad picks up the lid to the jar, looks inside, rotates it toward me, shows me the black tracings on the top. Silently, our eyes meet. Silently, we note the evidence. Silently, we agree not to say anything.
My son, however, notices the eyes-only exchange. He picks up the jar, inspects it, takes the lid from his dad, looks inside. “Awwww,” he groans.
And just like that, I know, the sweet gherkin trend is over!
By URIAH KISER
DALE CITY, Va. – On the day NHL players and league officials broke the ice on a new deal to end a nearly five month player lockout, one of the greatest to ever play the game came to Dale City to give back.
All-Star Jeremy Roenick came to the Prince William Ice Center to coach a game from the bench, skate with fans, sign gear, and to inspire the next generation of hockey lovers.
Roenick grew up in Fairfax County where his love of hockey took root. While playing for teams like the Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers, and Los Angeles Kings, Roenick, a now retired TV hockey analyst, is one of only four U.S.-born players to ever score over 500 goals in his NHL career.
Roenick said the Prince William Ice Center was impressive.
“We didn’t have anything like this. This arena is spectacular. Hockey was just getting going [when growing up in Fairfax], but I think with the emergence of guys like [Washington Capital’s Alexander] Ovechkin, hockey is getting more popular,” said Roenick.
The All-Star is six feet tall and he towered over children who were wearing hockey gear, jerseys, and carrying sticks. Roenick spent an hour signing his autograph on whatever the children and their parents handed him. Then he put on his skates and got out onto the ice where once again the pro was swarmed by fans.
“It’s nice that they’re out as kids, and this gives them something to do. There exploring a competitive aspect to their lives, teaching them about the trials and tribulations of not just sports but life: you have to overcome adversity and overcome different things in their lives,” said Roenick.
Trials and tribulations are something the hockey star knows something about. In a previous player lockout during the 2004 and 2005 season, Roenick took heat when he lashed out at fans who said hockey players had become spoiled. He later made waves when he claimed he was excluded from the 2006 Winter Olympic Games, he got attention when he said an NLH coach was biased against American-born players, and was later tied to a nationwide gambling ring.
He retired from the NHL in 2009 having scored 513 goals, 703 assists, playing in more than 1,300 games. Roenick talks about those experiences in his new book, “J.R.: My Life as the Most Outspoken, Fearless, and Hard-Hitting Man in hockey.” It’s a story he’s never told before.
“Everybody knows what I did on the ice. I tried to tell people what life was like for me away from the rink, in the locker rooms, on the planes, in the restaurants, in the bars, with my friends and my family, and my relationships. I think that’s what people want to know. They see one thing when you play but they want to know about the person, too. I think that’s intimacy I brought to the book,” said Roenick.
He signed copies of the book on Sunday, and his presence brought nearly 400 people to the Prince William Ice Center – a larger than usual crowd for a Sunday.
The center itself is on the rebound. A snow storm in 2010 led to the collapse of the center’s roof. Remarkably, everyone who was inside on the day it collapsed made it out without injury. But the center was ruined.
The absence of a hockey rink left many children without a place to play, and league hockey teams without a home. But the owners were undeterred and rebuilt the center better than it was before, and in late September 2011 reopened the doors. They credit a strong hockey brand in the area, as well as great community relationships with being able to attract top talent appear at their center, and to their overall second time around success.
“Bigger and better than ever… we got a plan, we have focused on our plan…we’ve made the right investments and the right relationships… our program is as big as it’s ever been…” said Prince William Hockey Club President Randy Wood.
When Roenick eventually got off the ice to sign copies of his book, some children still remained skating. It’s them who will carry on the love of the ice.
“Whether any of them ever make it to the pros, it’s an extreme long shot, but there’s always that diamond in the rough,” said Roenick.
I was a member of the Prince William County 2013 – 2016 Strategic Planning Team. It consisted of twenty appointees representing a wide variety of political, philosophical, and business points of view. It was a good mix.
Our first task was to develop a Strategic Vision Statement to frame the development of the Strategic Plan.
Strategic Vision Statement: Prince William County is a community of choice with a strong, diverse economic base, where individuals and families choose to live and work and businesses choose to locate.
This was used as the framework for our five goal areas (which follow).
Economic Development Goal: The County will provide a robust, diverse economy with more quality jobs and an expanded commercial tax base
The rational here is simple. Economic development pays for everything else. It creates new jobs in Prince William County, reduces the tax burden on homeowners, and creates multiple long-term streams of significant revenue.
I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with and watching Executive Director of the Prince William County Department of Economic Development Jeff Kaczmarek several times. While Prince William faces unique challenges inside the “federal bubble,” and the change to our fundamentals resulting from sequestration and a general trend to downsize, I believe Jeff is our best bet to at least stay even or perhaps gain a little ground.
The “surprise” in this mix is Chris Price, Prince William County’s Director of Planning. He actually comes from an economic development background, and filling those empty strip malls with new small businesses is on his radar. While Jeff is focused on bringing in new business from outside Prince William County, and helping existing businesses grow, Chris has created a community development position to pay attention to revitalizing our community.
I believe these two Prince William County executives offer the mix we need for the future of Prince William County economic development.
We also added an educational element to our mission.
Education Goal: The County will provide an educational environment rich in opportunities to increase educational attainment for workforce readiness, post-secondary education and lifelong learning.
It’s simple (at least, to me), education is the price of a civil society. The best way to reduce crime, develop mutual respect for each other, and increase employment is through a well-rounded education system. I don’t mind paying for that.
I am interested in a little more oversight in the School Board budget process and greater involvement of our Board of County Supervisors.
Public Safety Goal: The County will maintain safe neighborhoods and business areas and provide prompt response to emergencies.
Full disclosure: I was also on the 2008-2012 Strategic Planning Team. We were organized by functional area. I was on the Public Safety Team. I became so interested in public safety that I volunteered for the Prince William County Police Department Citizens Police Academy to learn more about this complex business.
Public Safety is, to me, government’s prime responsibility. We want the police, firemen and EMT’s to show up when we need them. I suspect, considering the aging demographic in Prince William County, that is not a unique distinction.
Transportation Goal: The County will provide a multi-modal transportation network that supports county and regional connectivity
Transportation is one of those things that only Government can really do. Prince William County does it well. Prince William County Director of Transportation Thomas Blaser was on our planning team. He understands that moving people around isn’t just about putting cars on the road. It includes, trains, bikes, flexible work hours (to reduce folks on the road), and telework (to take people off the road). I believe the ways to move around (or not… that “telework thing”) will be there for our residents as Prince William County grows.
Human Services Goal: The county will provide human services to individuals and families most at risk, through innovative and effective leveraging of state and federal funds and community partnerships
While there are some things only government may do, there are some things that are best left to others. Prince William County is blessed with an army of volunteers and not for profits who focus on the full range of human services.
I would actually like to see greater utilization of Community Partners to reduce the size of our local Government. My only angst with our Community Partner program is its potential for politicization. Many of us will be watching to see if the process truly plays out objectively (as intended) free from political interference.
So, what’s next? The 2013-2016 Strategic Plan will be presented in detail at a public hearing in January 2013
Every meeting started with citizens time. If you still have comments or input, this is your last chance. Watch the Prince William County website or Potomac Local News for information on when this will be scheduled.
While our Board of County Supervisors will look to the Strategic Plan for a framework within which to allocate our tax dollars, it doesn’t drive where our tax dollars actually go. This is the ultimate trade-off. Would you prefer more police & firemen, or a larger school board budget? Is our investment in economic development worth fewer community partners?
The community is paying more attention to the budget process than it has in past years. I suggest that for those things not in our Strategic Plan that show up as potential budget items, operative question might be “why?”
The Strategic Plan defines “core services” for Prince William County, and we need a really good reason not to get the police or firefighters we need, fund education for our children, or support Community Partners in under served areas before straying into funding things that serve no strategic purpose.
I personally believe that the fundamentals for Prince William County are about to change. Sequestration, the wind down of foreign wars, and a trend to downsize the Federal Government, the engine of our local economy, will sent perturbations through the housing market, our projections for growth, and our revenue base.
I would suggest that it would be wise to focus on the fundamentals, and leave the “other stuff” on the budget floor to brace for the lean times ahead.
Al Alborn is a political blogger, and active resident who lives in Prince William County.
Story By URIAH KISER
Photos By MARY DAVIDSON
WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Cold temperatures filled the air as memories of Prince William police officer Chris Yung were shared at the Hylton Memorial Chapel.
A funeral service was held Friday morning to remember the 35-year-old motorcycle officer who was killed on New Years Eve while responding to a car crash near Bristow. With lights and sirens activated, Yung’s motorcycle collided with a minivan outside of Sowder Village Square shopping center at Va. 28 and Piper Lane.
Yung was remembered as a dedicated father, husband, friend, and outstanding police officer.
“If you would given him a few minutes of your time, you would have walked away a friend forever,” said Dale Yung, Chris Yung’s brother.
Dale Yung said his brother inspired him to become a Prince William police officer, said his brother loved to ride motorcycles since a young age, and that he was always looking for the next challenge in life. After serving in the Marine Corps, Yung found that faced that challenge for the past seven years as a police officer.
“Chris was a special person with a big heart. He understood what police work was about…from members of the community, to our colleagues in law enforcement, to our fire fighter friends, we lost one of our very best,” said Acting Prince William police Chief Barry Barnard.
Police work was a family affair for Yung. Not only did he encourage his brother to become a law enforcement officer, his sister in-law is also a police officer, and his widow has also worn the uniform.
Several police agencies from across Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., as well as local fire and rescue squads were on hand to bid farewell to the officer. The funeral service inside the chapel was open to the public while audio of the ceremony was piped outdoors for reporters to hear, as well as police officers who were assisting with funeral operations, and mounted police officers on horseback who stood post nearby in the chapel’s parking lot.
A large U.S. Flag hung from two ladder fire engines above the entrance to the chapel. Following the funeral a procession passed under the flag included hundreds of police cars, and motorcycles. The casket carrying Yung’s body and a police motorcycle symbolic of the one Yung used while on duty were also apart of the procession that that made it’s way to the Eastern District Police Station in Woodbridge, then to the Western District Station in Manassas, and then to Quantico where it was received at a reception at the National Museum of the Marine Corps.
During the 30 minutes it took for the processional to pass the Eastern District Station, drivers slowed and neighbors looked on as the wave of police passed. Some waived flags while others put their hand over their hearts in a show of respect for a man who died doing what he loved, and serving his community.
Yung leaves behind a wife and three children. He is the third Prince William police officer to die in the line of duty since the department was founded in 1970.
The Washington Redskins are headed back to the playoffs this weekend after clinching the NFC East Division Title with a win over the Dallas Cowboys. The Redskins will face the Seattle Seahawks – a team they last faced and lost to in the playoffs in 2007.
So, what’s the one thing the Redskins need to keep in mind to win this game?
“Don’t drop the ball. Hug it.”
“Be confident and don’t give up.”
Okras Cajun Creole Restaurant, Manassas
“I’m trying to become a Redskins fan. While RGIII has been explosive this season, don’t forget anyone can win any given Sunday.”
By URIAH KISER
The holiday season of 2012 may be gone but it’s certainly not forgotten.
Let us take you back to a silent, foggy night in December 2012 in Old Town Manassas.
Ice skaters filled the Harris Pavilion, wreaths and Christmas lights lined the streets, and gifts sat in store windows waiting for Santa Claus to come pick them up.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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
Tickets: $25 general admission, $20 senior/military, $10 youth/student.
Purchase tickets online or call 703-584-2900
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.
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.
NEWS FROM YOU
Basil Earl “Trey” Moncrief III graduated this month from the Navy’s Aviation Electrician’s Mate school as the class honor man with a 98.91 grade point average.
Moncrief was also selected for meritorious promotion to Petty Officer Third Class (E-4), his second meritorious promotion since graduating Navy boot camp in June 2012.
Aviation Electrician’s Mate school is an intensive four-month curriculum focusing on aircraft electrical and navigational equipment including power generators, power distribution systems, flight instruments, and state-of-the-art computer systems.
Moncrief is a 2005 graduate of Woodbridge High School and is now assigned to Patrol Squadron 62 (VP-62) at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida.
By KIM HOSEN
Prince William Conservation Alliance Executive Director
At the crack of dawn two days before Christmas, 40 volunteers fanned out across Nokesville and beyond to look for birds. While many were focused on last minute holiday shopping, Northern Virginia birders flocked together to count bird species and abundance as part of the annual Nokesville Christmas Bird Count.
This holiday tradition started in 1900 when concerns about declining bird populations were beginning to attract attention. Ornithologist Frank Chapman proposed counting and appreciating birds as an alternative to the annual Side Hunt, a competition to see who could shoot the most birds.
Now in its 113th year, the Christmas Bird Count is the largest and oldest citizen science event in the U.S. The National Audubon Society leads the effort, compiles data nationwide and makes the results available to all on their website. The data collected by volunteers is used by researchers, conservation biologists and others to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America.
In Northern Virginia, hundreds of people volunteer every year for one or more of five survey areas, which each cover a 15-mile diameter circle (113,000 acres).
The Nokesville Christmas Bird Count Circle, sponsored by Prince William Conservation Alliance, covers a diverse landscape at the edge of the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area and captures the transition from coastal plain to piedmont ecosystems. It extends from the Prince William County landfill on Va. 234 to Nokesville, and from the Lunga Reservoir near Interstate 95 to Catlett in Fauquier County. The count circle includes portions of the Rural Crescent, Prince William Forest Park and large areas within Quantico Marine Corps Base.
Birders at this year’s Nokesville Christmas Bird Count saw clear skies and calm winds, with morning temperatures ranging from 20 degrees in the morning to a high of nearly 50 degrees. Together volunteers identified 90 different species of birds and nearly 13,000 individuals.
Highlights of the day included American Tree Sparrows and a surprise showing of Evening Grosbeaks at the Foggy Bottom Wetland. Fourteen Northern Shovelers were visiting a private pond in Nokesville and two Screech Owls were spotted near Bristow Road.
At Quantico, there was a solitary Common Loon and Red-headed Woodpeckers, which were also seen at the Cedar Run Wetland Bank. Common Ravens were at the Cedar Run Wetland Bank and four Brewer’s Blackbirds at a farm near Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area. In Fauquier County, birders were excited to see 32 Horned Lark and 12 Rusty Blackbirds.
Traditionally the Prince William County Landfill has the largest numbers of Bald Eagles and this year was no different. Birders counted 10 adults and 10 immature Bald Eagles, along with many gulls including 650 Ring-billed Gulls and three Great Black-backed Gulls.
European Starlings were by far the winner for the most individuals, with more than 2,300 included in the count. Canada Geese were also well represented, with more than 1,400 individuals, and we recorded more than 1,000 Ring-billed Gulls.
Species lists from previous Nokesville Circle counts are online here, where you can also find more information about this year’s survey.
The Christmas Bird Count is a holiday tradition that is lots of fun and helpful to scientists seeking to protect bird diversity nationwide. Volunteers for the Nokesville survey meet midday at Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area for a hot lunch and to trade news about the morning’s adventures before heading out to cover areas not surveyed in the morning.
Everyone is welcome, regardless of birding expertise. It’s a great way to learn more about local wildlife and meet new friends.
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.
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, email@example.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.
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”
By URIAH KISER
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.
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?
“You can’t predict the end of the world. All you can do is say a prayer and hope for the best.”
“What can you do to prepare for something like that?”
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.