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Dumfries Looking for a Few Good Mentors

Janae Williams, 23, of Dumfries, and Brittany Jordan, 20, of Stafford, are working as part of the new Dumfries Cares program at the town’s community center on Main Street. [Photo: Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

DUMFRIES, Va. — A new community service program in Dumfries aims to pair volunteer mentors with the youths that need them most.

Janae Williams, 23, of Dumfries, and Brittany Jordan, 20, of Stafford, are working as part of the new Dumfries Cares program at the town’s community center on Main Street.

The program will pair children ages 7 through 18-years-old with a pool of 30 mentors who will provide them help on everything from homework to becoming a better community citizen.

Both have developed a two-part application process — one meant for parents to fill out to identify their child’s needs, and the other for the child to complete to gauge their interest — which will help to identify 10 students in elementary, middle, and high school who will benefit from the program.

Once the program is in full swing this spring, Dumfries Cares aims to have three mentors for each group of 10 children.

The mentors will all receive training and, so far, the interest is great.

“We’ve had people come to us and ask if they can mentor students in the program, and we say ‘this is awesome,” said Williams.

The program is open to residents of the town, and mentoring is available between 3:45 and 6:45 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Thursdays at the community center.

The program is also calling for community mentors and is asking businessmen and women, students, church members, and those in the military to help mentor children in the program. Those interested in mentoring should call 703-221-3400 ext. 146.

Telework Would Keep Employees Spending Cash in Local Economy


Contributing Editor

I’m a telework evangelist. I enjoy “connecting the dots” between the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010, Rep. Gerry Connolly’s Telework 2.0 initiative, Virginia Delegates Ramadan and Comstock’s legislation to offer telework tax credits, the federal push to reduce the size and cost of Government, BRAC, and our ever-expanding road budget.

The folks who should really be vocal supporters of telework are local business owners, particularly small business owners that operate in the bedroom communities that support “inside the beltway” business and Government activities. I live in Prince William County however, the principle applies to all bedroom communities.

Many who spend time in Prince William are often struck by how empty our shops and restaurants are during the day, by the number of vacancies in our strip malls, Manassas Mall, and Potomac Mills mall. Our local economy appears to start at around 6 or 7 p.m.

That’s because over half of our local labor force (or around 105,000 folks out of a civilian labor force of 212,230 “in place” employees and an estimated 4,900 self-employed folks) works outside Prince William County, according to county documents.

These folks who don’t work within Prince William County are heading for Reston, Tysons Corner, Downtown Washington, or other points north of here. Every day, we send over half of the county’s labor force, and their wallets and purses somewhere else. They shop somewhere else, eat somewhere else, buy and service their cars somewhere else, drop off and pick up their dry cleaning somewhere else, Christmas shop somewhere else – they live most of their lives in someone else’s economy.

Let’s bring these people and their wallets home.

We do that by implementing a telework-friendly policy at all levels, and integrating a philosophy driven by letting our residents work and shop at in Prince William County instead of thinking of more ways to move people and their pocketbooks out of the county. Let’s integrate telework into our strategy for solving Northern Virginia’s transportation problem. Let’s think about ways to take people out of local roads instead of just building more roads.

Over half of our local labor force (or around 100,000 folks out of a civilian labor force of 212,2301) work outside Prince William County.

Let’s do the math.

Let’s assume that we take 10,000 of those folks (or roughly 10% FTE) off the road via telework. Because they are staying in Prince William County (you can “plug in the math” for any county) and that they spend a modest $5 a day (using a 5 day week) or $25 a week on the local economy (instead of “somewhere else”). Suddenly, we have over $13 million and change spent in our local economy instead of somewhere else.

Five dollars a day amounts to a Venti at Starbucks, gum and a candy bar, or a magazine at a drug store. It adds up quickly.

Some more fun with numbers:

If just 200 of these folks purchased a car that cost $25,000 in Prince William County instead of somewhere else (I purchased three in Tyson’s Corner over the years), that would add another $5 million in annual revenue.

If half of these folks (that 10%) got their car serviced twice a year in Prince William at $100 each service, that would add another $1 million a year pumped into the local economy.

If half of these folks (again, that 10%) dropped of their dry cleaning once a week here $5 a pop, that’s another $1.3 million (and change).

I could go on. This is real money that leaves Prince William County every morning.

These are conservative estimates and admittedly fuzzy math, but they give you an idea of the dollars and cents value of telework to our local economy. The more successful we are integrating telework into our transportation strategy, the more money we keep in Prince William County businesses.

When I commuted to Tysons Corner, I “lived there,” bought and serviced my cars there, bought my family birthday, anniversary and Christmas gifts there, ate lunch there, joined a gym there. I would suggest that perhaps the dollars are big enough to have a more robust analysis performed perhaps by the Prince William County Economic Development Department.

If you’re a business in Prince William County, you really need to get behind telework. Our federal, state, local, and city governments habe been developing transportation policy for years that sends county pocketbooks elsewhere to spend their discretionary income. We need to change this trend.

I’ll be focusing on telework for a while. Delegates Ramadan and Comstock successfully passed a new telework tax incentive in the Virginia House, and Congressman Connolly is working on Telework 2.0 legislation will make it easier for federal contract officers to give contractors more freedom to telework.

I plan to explore how telework impacts economic development, the real estate market, public safety, our quality of life, community involvement, and just about everything in future columns.

Not everyone can telework; however, for those of us who do it’s “what’s next” in the way we live, work and play.

A ‘Perfect Storm’ for Oysters in Harris Creek

Oysters are restoring themselves naturally in the Eastern Shore's Harris Creek, thanks in part to good weather conditions last year. Harris Creek is also the site of the Oyster Recovery Partnership's tributary-wide effort to restore oysters in the Chesapeake Bay. [Photo by Jessica Wilde.]

Capital News Service

MCDANIEL, Md. – A warmer, drier year has been good for oysters, both natural and planted, in the Eastern Shore’s Harris Creek, a tributary of the Choptank River and site of the first tributary-wide restoration effort by the Oyster Recovery Partnership.

The partnership has been working on Harris Creek for about a year, putting hard substrate down for oysters to grow on, and planting spat, or baby oysters, on top of it.

Scientists have found that many of the planted oysters are surviving. In addition, and somewhat surprisingly, other oysters on the shoreline that are not part of the project are restoring themselves naturally because of good conditions last year.

While some environmentalists argue that hard substrate and good conditions are enough to restore oysters, scientists on the project believe restoration efforts need to continue to be more extensive because we cannot always rely on good conditions.

Choptank Riverkeeper Drew Koslow found thousands of naturally reproducing oysters on the shoreline of the creek in December, more than any he has seen in years past – a sign, he said, that when conditions are right, the system will come back.

Oysters play a significant role in the bay’s health, filtering water and improving its quality, and eating algae, which allows sunlight through to underwater grasses. Their reefs also provide habitat for other marine life.

Many believe that by restoring oysters, the bay can also be restored.

But it is not that easy. The Oyster Recovery Partnership has been working for nearly 20 years, and its latest tributary-wide effort is in response to President Barack Obama’s 2009 executive order to restore the Chesapeake Bay.

“The system is resilient,” Koslow said. “And I think that’s what this demonstrates, that you give it a chance, you stop harvesting oysters and you build up populations. And if we can do that, I think we can restore the bay.”

Koslow attributes this year’s oyster success to a drier climate, which increases salinity that oysters like, and higher temperatures, since a long freeze might kill oysters on the shore.

“In our business, you don’t have a lot of good news,” he said. “It’s nice to have something we can smile about.”

Koslow said it makes sense to him to just put down hard substrate and allow nature to take its course.

“Because obviously there’s plenty of natural reproduction in this creek already,” he said.

But while this year’s conditions were good, the senior manager of aquatic restoration at the Oyster Recovery Partnership, Steven Allen, said they cannot rely on naturally reproducing oysters alone to restore the population. You can’t always predict that conditions will be right, he said, which is why the partnership is also planting oysters.

The partnership is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other state and federal agencies to plant the hard substrate and baby oysters in 20 tributaries in Maryland and Virginia.

“If we knew what Mother Nature was going to do for us, and we could predict that water temperatures and salinity would be ideal and everybody in the creek would cooperate and we’d have multiple natural recruitments during the summer, I think putting substrate down would be an excellent choice,” Allen said. “However, we don’t have that crystal ball.”

Allen said high salinity levels are also a Catch-22. While they might lead to natural recruitment, they also increase the chance that oysters will catch diseases, one of the many reasons their population is at risk to begin with, along with overharvesting and loss of habitat.

Ken Paynter, director of the Paynter Lab that monitors the partnership’s work, called the success that Koslow found a “perfect storm of natural recruitment.” Paynter is director of the University of Maryland’s Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Sciences graduate program.

His lab found a small amount of natural recruitment on the planted hard substrate as well, but not nearly as much as Koslow found on the shoreline.

“It really wasn’t the kind of natural recruitment we’d like to see,” Paynter said about the oysters on the substrate. They measured 8-10 oysters per square meter, but they would ideally like to see 50-100 oysters per square meter.

Paynter said the lab should be monitoring a lot more than it is, counting naturally recruiting oysters like those that Koslow found, in addition to monitoring the planted oysters and substrate.

“There’s lots to be done,” he said.


View Harris Creek in a larger map


Raenell C. Williams, M.D., Joins Dominion Family Health in Woodbridge

Submitted News

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Raenell C. Williams, MD, has joined Dominion Family Health in Woodbridge.

Dr. Williams received her medical degree from Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC, in 2003. She then completed her internship and residency in family medicine at Riverside Regional Medical Center, in affiliation with the Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University, in Newport News, VA, in 2006.

Before joining the team of medical professionals at Dominion Family Health, Dr. Williams practiced family medicine in Fairfax, VA. As a highly trained and dedicated physician, her focus is on the health and wellness of each member of the entire family. Though she enjoys all aspects of family medicine and the challenges she and her patients often face, Dr. Williams has a special interest in weight loss counseling, adolescent and teen health issues and patient education. She places a great deal of emphasis on building strong relationships with her patients and their families by teaching them the best possible ways to achieve and maintain healthy lifestyles long after they leave her office.

Dr. Williams is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Metz Middle School Competes in Robotics Challenge

Submitted News 

MANASSAS, Va. — Robotics team members from Metz Middle School competed in the Central Division VEX Qualifier at Manassas Park Middle School on Saturday, Feb. 9.

With a focus on building the most innovative robots possible, the team’s six robots competed against a total of 40 robots hoping to earn spots to Roboticon at Forest Park High School on March 9 and the VEX World Championship in Anaheim, Calif., in April. Metz’s robot 5173S ended the qualifying round in 9th place, while robot 5173Z ended in 15th place.

A total of four of Metz’s robots were selected to compete in the tournament round. In what appeared to be a scene from a futuristic motion picture, Robot 5173S selected 5173Z to compete as an alliance during the tournament, winning their best two out of three matches during the round of 16 and quarterfinals before ultimately falling short in the semifinals.

Both robots earned spots in next month’s Roboticon at Forest Park. Roboticon will feature the top 60 robots from public and private middle schools in Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park. Additional spots will be awarded to the VEX World Championship in Anaheim during this competition.

The Metz Robotics team is coached by Metz teacher math teacher, Leonard Newman.

Travinia Italian Kitchen: Style to Spare but Lacking Substance


My wife and me celebrated Valentine’s Day a bit early and went to Travinia Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar on Wednesday night.

It’s one of several new restaurants that have opened at Potomac Town Center next to Wegmans grocery store. It’s a nice place to meet and greet, and the service was awesome, but I wasn’t too impressed with the food.

First off: the short, fat glasses. Loved ‘em. In fact, my wife and I are looking for replacements for my collection of pint glasses I collected during my formidable years. The drinking glasses at Travinia fit right into the palm of your hand and were perfect for a soda, the glass of water I ordered, or would be great for use as a non-stemmed wine glass.

Both hungry, we each ordered a Caesar salad before our meal. Because the kitchen has a great large window that allows guests to peer inside for a behind-the-scenes look at how their food is made, we saw our salads being prepared. But whoever made them skimped on the dressing leaving it rather dry. I’m still hard-pressed to find a restaurant that can make a better side Caesar salad than Sweetwater Tavern.

Next, it was on to our meals. I had the Pollo Isabella, which reminded me of the Chicken Bryan at Carrabbas – a chicken breast topped with goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, basil, served over a bed of baby spinach in a lemon butter sauce for $15. While it sounded good, unfortunately, it wasn’t. The chicken was overcooked and crusty in some places. And the butter sauce tasted more like straight butter, conjuring up the taste of movie theater popcorn. Some butter sauces I’ve had in the past were matured and browned, but this tasted and looked more like melted butter. 

The goat cheese, when mixed in with all the other flavors, did little to save this dish.

My wife had the Sinatra Chicken also for $15 (with a name like that how could you go wrong, I thought). I had a bite of the chicken topped with mozzarella, cream sauce, and cappelinni. We both agreed the chicken on this dish was tasty, but the pasta that came with it went under seasoned, and reminding us of the salads we had just had.

The one thing that was great, overall, was the loaf of bread that came before the meal. While Travinia hasn’t mastered the art of the olive oil dipping sauce which is better served at Carrabbas and Bertucci’s, the bread was a nice touch.

Overall, great atmosphere, prompt service, but the food needs work.

Uncle Slam Appearing for First Time Since Fire

Potomac Nationals' mascot, Uncle Slam, waits tables at a charity event in June 2012. (Submitted)

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Remember the great derecho storm of 2012? Well, just a few hours before it blew into our region a fire broke out at the Potomac Nationals’ front office in Woodbridge.

No damage was done to the adjacent field where the minor league baseball team plays at G. Richard Pfiztner Stadium, but the team’s mascot – Uncle Slam – was toast.

Taking a break from making appearances at community festivals and charity events, Uncle Slam has been on the mend these past seven months. Now he’s ready to make his first public appearance since going on the disabled list, and he’ll do it this weekend at Wegmans grocery store in Woodbridge, near where the team plans to build a new 6,000 seat stadium.

More in a press release from the team:

The Potomac Nationals’ official mascot was famously placed on the 60-day disabled list retroactive to July 4, 2012, and missed the remainder of the ’12 campaign with undisclosed wounds.

 Since the incident, Uncle Slam has been recovering and nursing himself back to full health while rehabilitating at the Official Gym of the Potomac Nationals, Gold’s Gym Lake Ridge.

“We are extremely pleased with Uncle Slam’s off season dedication in getting to better than full strength.  Slam modeled his off season regimen after NFL MVP, Adrian Peterson. Slam has been waiting all off-season to reunite with our fans and looks forward to his best season to date!” says P-Nats Vice President and General Manager, Josh Olerud.

Uncle Slam is now better than ever, and fans will get the opportunity to meet and greet the P-Nats most viral member at Wegmans. This unveiling will run from noon to 2 p.m. and Uncle Slam, himself, is expected to be introduced at 12:30 p.m.

 ‘Slam’ will interact with Nationals fans, sign autographs, and show off his new look.

 Uncle Slam’s inflatable bounce house will be set up outside Wegmans for children to play in, and a coloring station will be set up to the backdrop of balloons. 

 P-Nats staff members will be on hand to distribute 2013 pocket schedules, season ticket and mini plan information, as well as Uncle Slam’s Kids Club sign-up forms. When kids participate in Slam’s MVP Kids Club package, they receive a courtesy Uncle Slam Piggy Bank presented by: TD Bank.

 P-Nats fans can show their Wegmans card at the information table to receive a special code to be used for an upcoming discount offer inside the online National Mall Team Store, the official merchandise hub for the Potomac Nationals. 

Arguably the most popular P-Nats hallmark, Uncle Slam is the face of the Nationals’ community endeavors and can often be found throughout Northern Virginia neighborhoods working on the Uncle Slam’s Reading Program, making youth baseball appearances, and even delivering Valentine’s Day flowers.     

 Uncle Slam, the Director of Fun for the Potomac Nationals, will enter his 9th season serving as official team mascot in 2013. As the central cheerleader for P-Nats Baseball since 2005, Uncle Slam has been a part of the P-Nats’ franchise tradition as long as the last two United States Presidential terms.

 The bluest member of the P-Nats staff, only in hair tone and converse to his persistent P-Nattitude, Uncle Slam is a fixture of the Pfitzner Stadium experience, using a gregarious demeanor to complement his iconic outfit, which represents the hallmark of American patriotism amidst the landscape of our national pastime.


 BORN: 4th of July (he thinks the fireworks are always for him!)

HOMETOWN: Woodbridge, VA

HEIGHT: Really Tall

WEIGHT: Healthy

BATS: Switch


WARDROBE: Red, white, and blue top hat/pants, blue and white hair/goatee, P-Nats jersey, and red sneakers

WALK-OUT MUSIC: “Slam (Let the Boys be Boys)” by Onyx

JOB DESCRIPTION: To make you a P-Nats fan for life!


FAVORITE COLOR(S): Red, White, and Blue

HOBBIES: Dancing, signing autographs, hanging with superstars, and cheering the P-Nats on to victory!

TAGLINE: “Uncle Slam Wants You…to Join the Party!”

Potomac Middle School Celebrates Excellence

A U.S. Marine for more than 20 years, Alan Roach teaches government at Potomac Middle School in Woodbridge. [Photo: Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]


WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Potomac Middle School and its panthers has done something it has never done before: achieve a ranking of School of Excellence in Prince William County.

The six-year-old school is home to 1,100 students and sits on Panther Pride Drive in Woodbridge, where two other schools – Potomac High and Mary Williams Elementary schools – all share the panther mascot.

But it is the students and staff at Potomac Middle who are celebrating a scholastic achievement of excellence, one they want to share with parents and the community.

“I can’t take credit because I wasn’t here last year, but based on last year’s data I truly attribute the success of past leadership of past teachers, students, and success of those who were here last year. My goal is to keep it going,” said school Principal Alfie Turner, who made the transition from elementary to middle school principal in June.

Every school in Prince William County is measured in the “School of Excellence” program sponsored by the county School Board. Criteria such as full school accreditation, parent and student satisfaction, and scholastic improvements are all measured on a scale of 100 points. Those who achieve 90 or above achieve School of Excellence.

This past year, students at Potomac Middle improved significantly in reading and language arts. It’s an achievement that especially been celebrated by the men and women who came to open this school in Sept. 2006.

“The emotion on the faces of the staff members, especially the inaugural staff – the group that’s been here from the time the school opened – we had teachers stepping out and saying ‘praise the lord,’ and you can see that sense of pride wanting to continue,” said Turner.

Something else Turner hopes will continue: parents who want to remain involved in their child’s education. Coming from an elementary school where more parents “are a little more connected” to their parent-teacher associations, Turner said parents are always welcome to sit in classrooms here, and many have also taken an active roll in volunteering and recognizing the hard work of teachers each month.

A total of 40 elementary and middle schools in Prince William County achieved the School of Excellence rating for the 2012-13 school year. Individual celebrations to honor these achievements at each respective school began last month.

Ticketed at Horner Road Lot, Slug Vows to Fight the Law

Slug Tales

I am one angry slug.

Why, you ask? I’ll tell you. On Monday evening, I received a parking ticket in the Horner Road Commuter lot. And as far as I am concerned, I was not parked illegally.

If you remember as far back as Monday evening (is it only Wednesday?), you’ll remember that it was a dreary, rainy day. It hadn’t started out very well for me, either. That morning, I waited past 9 a.m. for a ride. Thinking it was hopeless, I thought I might have to drive in, or at least drive to Springfield to take the Metro in to D.C.

Learn more about PRTCLuckily, a nice lady passing through the lot felt bad for the poor souls still waiting for a ride, and offered to drive us to Crystal City. It was very kind of her, and I appreciated it greatly – but as I got into her car, another car pulled up and took the other three riders who were waiting with me to my destination, L’Enfant Plaza. Since two of those riders were actually behind me in line, I was pretty annoyed; however, I suppose it was my own fault for not waiting to see where that other driver was going.

Anyway, I digress…

On Monday evening, I was parked alongside the shoulder, closest to the entrance at the Prince William Parkway intersection. If you’re familiar with the Horner Road lot, you’ll know that cars have always parked along that road, within the painted white lines. Where the white lines end on either side, there are No Parking signs with an arrow pointing away in either direction, which seems to signify that parking is allowed within that designated area.

Arial view of  the Horner Road Commuter Lot in Woodbridge

Arial view of the Horner Road Commuter Lot in Woodbridge

I have been commuting from Horner Road for years, and as far as I know, parking has always been allowed in this area.

On Monday evening, however, there were two Prince William County Police officers who believed otherwise.

It was beginning to get dark and still slightly raining as I made my way up the shoulder of the road towards my car, carrying my bags and the dry cleaning I picked up before slugging home. In the distance, I noticed the flashing lights of a police cruiser. It was double-parked dangerously close to my car, but I wasn’t worried, knowing I had safely parked in a legal space – or so I thought.

No Parking sign, indicating parking is prohibited from the sign in the direction of the arrow.

No Parking sign, indicating parking is prohibited from the sign in the direction of the arrow.

As I got closer, I noticed small, white papers in the windshield of two of the cars near mine, and then saw one in my windshield as well.

It couldn’t be a ticket, I thought. No way! I’ve gotten my share of tickets for parking illegally, but I was good today. I had plenty of room to park before the No Parking sign!

Just as I approached where the police car was parked, there was another lady, waving that little white piece of paper in her hand. She didn’t look happy, and she was parked just a couple of cars ahead of me.

“That’s not a ticket, is it?” I asked.

Much to my dismay, it was indeed a ticket. Her car, my car and the car in between us had all received one, and the two young police officers insisted that parking was prohibited in this area.

This was certainly news to us! I tried reasoning with them, explaining that cars had been parking here for years. We told them we had never heard of anyone being ticketed for parking in this area, and pointed out the arrows of the No Parking signs, which indicate that parking is allowed within the signs on either side.

It was no use; the damage was done. The tickets were written. Our only option now, according to the ticket, is to “appear in person… and file the necessary paperwork” at one of the locations listed, in order to have our case heard in court. Of course, this means taking time out of work to file the paperwork, and more time off to appear in court. Lovely.

Some may say a $35 is not worth the trouble. I disagree. I can understand if we had disobeyed the law, if we had parked somewhere that parking is not allowed. Hey, I’ve paid my share of parking tickets. Begrudgingly, maybe, but I knew I had broken the rule, and as such, I had no choice but to pay the piper.

This time, I refuse. I will not pay for something that is not right. I believe these officers ticketed us unfairly, and that they were incorrectly interpreting the signage in the commuter lot.

If parking is indeed prohibited in the area where we were ticketed, then it needs to be clearly and properly communicated to drivers who park here and should be done so before tickets are issued. And if parking is no longer allowed on that shoulder, all of us who use that area for parking will have to find space elsewhere to leave our cars. That should be interesting…

I may be an angry slug, but I will stand up for my commuter rights!

Sentara Offering $1,000 Scholarships to High School Seniors

Submitted News 

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center Auxiliary is offering $1,000 scholarships to area high school seniors who plan to pursue careers in a healthcare or medical related field.

Only those students attending one of the six public high schools, private high schools or home-schooled students in the eastern Prince William County area, and current Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center Junior Volunteers, will be eligible to apply for the Auxiliary Scholarship.

The six public high schools are: C.D. Hylton; Forest Park; Freedom; Gar-Field; Potomac and Woodbridge. The deadline to apply is Friday, March 15, 2013.

For scholarship rules and to download an application, visit sentara.com/NorthernVirginia.

‘Be Strong for Dom’ Rally to Remember Child Superman

STAFFORD, Va. — Be strong for Dom. It’s the powerful catchphrase that caught on as of late; words used to remember a six-year-old Superman who fought hard for his life.

Dominic Thomas Beltran, of Stafford, passed away Thursday, Feb. 7 at his home. He was diagnosed with cancer the day just after turning 1-year-old, when a mass was discovered in his abdomen – doctors said it was Stage IV Neuroblastoma.

But that wouldn’t get Dominic down, as he successfully fought the disease and gave his family hope along the way. Dominic relapsed twice, once in Feb. 2010 and again in March 2011.

Now, community members are coming together Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. at Mainstreet Grill and Bar in North Stafford help raise money to help Dominic’s parents payoff mounting medical bills. In honor of Dominic’s spirit, everyone has been asked to dress like Superman.

“We called him our ‘little Superman’ because he had radiation therapy so many times and made it through, so we knew he had to have special powers like the Green Lantern or Superman, or some kind of super hero,” said Jaymie Gerace, a family friend who lives next door to Dominic’s parents, Harvey and Margaret.

Gerace said she was with the family through nearly every step of the treatment process for the child, and she’s now speaking for his grieving parents who are set to bury their son Thursday following a ceremony in Fredericksburg.

Part of the reason Dominic was able to stay positive and fight his disease for so long, said Gerace, is because his parents didn’t let cancer get him down.

“We never used the word ‘cancer’ around him,” said Gerace. “After Dominic relapsed, we didn’t want our children to be afraid of that word, and always thought it would be best for his recovery if he was able to focus on the positives and getting better and not his cancer – it’s mind over matter.”

Dominic and Gerace’s son often played together, running around outside on soccer fields, playing video games, riding go-carts, and because Dominic’s mother is also a nurse, the two children would play together inside Dominic’s living room while he was given treatment for his ailments, said Gerace.

At the fundraiser this Sunday, live music will be featured on stage, and so will door prizes, a silent auction, and 50/50 raffle. Tickets can still be purchased for the raffle and prizes won even if you can’t attend the event, organizers said. Those pre-event raffle tickets can be purchased at Mainstreet Grill and Bar.

Water Tower Going Up in North Stafford

 Either this will be a water tower or very large margarita glass. Most likely the former, this water tower is being erected at the corner of Sheilds Road and Austin Ridge Drive in North Stafford. [Photo: Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

Either this will be a water tower or very large margarita glass. Most likely the former, this water tower is being erected at the corner of Sheilds Road and Austin Ridge Drive in North Stafford. [Photo: Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

Last Minute Valentine’s Day Ideas


Hey guys and gals, Valentine’s Day is Thursday. Yep, Thursday. And that means you should plan do something sweet for your sweetheart. And we’ve got some last-minute ideas for where you can treat that special someone in your life.

Osprey’s Sweetheart Dinner

Try a three-course meal with salad, a choice of Beef Wellington or Baked Salmon, and a fitting desert of chocolate and almond strawberries at this special dinner for two.

Osprey’s at Belmont

Feb 14 – 16

5 – 9 p.m.

$30 per person

Weekend romantic getaway in Manassas

Want to get away close to home? The Fairfield Inn & Suites in Manassas is offering a special Valentine’s Day package that includes a bottle of champagne or sparkling cider, one rose, and a box of chocolates with your room stay through Feb. 16.

The package starts at $214.

Chick-fil-A Valentine’s Date Night

For those who want a family restaurant as a backdrop for their Valentine’s Day events, Chick-fil-A in Woodbridge has invited guests to join them for Valentine’s Date Night where flowers, candy will be given out each half hour between 5 and 6 p.m.

Thursday 5 – 8 p.m.

Chick-fil-A Woodbridge

2425 Prince William Parkway in Woodbridge

Valentine’s Day story time

Not everyone is a fan of chocolates and candy hearts, and if that sounds like you, come out and hear stories meant just for you at this free story time event at Lake Ridge Neighborhood Library.


10:30 a.m. until 11 a.m.


Sinfully Sweet at Potomac Point

Valentine’s Day events spill over into the weekend at Potomac Point Winery in Stafford County as they will hold their Sinfully Sweet event at 1, 3, 5, and 7 p.m. on Saturday. They’ll offer tours of their coyote wine cave and decadent deserts paired with Potomac Point wines.

It’s $25 per person, $22 for wine club members, and reservations are required by calling 540-446-2107 or by emailing Jane[at]potomacpointwinery.com.

Hockey Warm-up Pants Found: Score!

Mom on the Run


“Beth Beth Beth Beth!!” I am so excited, typing this email. “I found the pants!” I’m dancing in my seat, I’m so happy.

OK – backing up.

For my son’s senior-year season of ice hockey I volunteered to manage spirit wear. Not a big deal: pick the stuff out, get quotes, create an order form, collect orders and money, distribute orders. Right?

021113-freedom-mom-tagPretty much. The process took a little longer than I thought, and involved two vendors for two batches of stuff, screenprinted and embroidered, but ultimately everything came together. Almost everyone on the team ordered something screenprinted – sweatpants or sweatshirt or t-shirt – and a new coach and a new player each ordered an embroidered warm-up jacket, and one previous player ordered a new pair of warm-up pants. Everything came in quickly, was accounted for, and was delivered.

Well, the screenprinted stuff came in and was delivered quickly. The embroidered stuff took longer, and when those three items finally came in, I gave the box to my son. “Give Coach Britt and James their jackets, and give Andrew the pants.” “Uh huh.”

Later that night, “Did you give everyone their warm-up stuff?” But: “None of them was at practice.” Oh, OK.

So, before the next practice: “Don’t forget to give out the warm-up suit stuff.” “Yeah, I know.” That night: “Did you give out the warm-up stuff?” “I gave Coach his jacket. Nobody else was there.”

It took a couple of practices and a bunch of nagging, but finally everything was delivered. I saw the boys wearing their spirit wear. There were no complaints or questions. Everyone was pleased. I was pleased!

Until a month later, when I got the email from Beth: “Andrew never got his warm-up pants.” What? Dang it!

I checked with my son: “Andrew says he didn’t get the warm-up pants. Did you give them to him?” Ha – a month later. I really bothered to ask? “Uhh … I gave out everything you gave me.”

“We gave the pants to Andrew,” I emailed Beth. And she replied: “Andrew says he doesn’t have them.”

I checked with my kid again: “Are you sure you don’t still have the pants?” “I’m sure!” I had him check his hockey bag, the back seat of the car, the trunk of the car, his room.

Beth had her son check his hockey bag, his backpack, his bedroom. No pants. Not at our house, not at their house.

Check again, I told my son, five, 10 times. Five, 10 times he checked. Check again, Beth told her son, five, 10 times. Five, 10 times he checked. No pants. Finally, Beth emailed, “I’m sure they’re buried here somewhere. Don’t worry about it.”

Not worry? No way. This was my project! And my kid! I was so distressed; I needed to find those pants!

So I thought about it. I thought and thought. And – oh! James only got a jacket! Maybe my son thought James got a full warm-up suit? I pulled out a whole-team email, guessed at a James-family email address, and sent out: “You only ordered a warm-up jacket. Did you happen to get a pair of pants as well?”

I was holding my breath. It was a leap, thinking James had the pants, and I made a note to move forward on Plan B, which was to wait a few more weeks, see if the pants popped up, and then pay for a new pair of pants for Andrew. But still, before Plan B came Idea A: maybe James has them. I was hopeful.

And finally, a return email! “Yes, we have the pants. We will get them to Andrew.”

Victorious, I email Beth: “Beth Beth Beth Beth! I found the pants!”

Beth writes right back: “Fantastic!” And then she says, with relief, what we were both thinking: “Neither of our boys is crazy!” Exactly. Exactly.

Mason Planning Town Hall as Prince William Campus Expands

One educational institution winner of the Governor’s 2012 Volunteerism and Community Service Award was The Campus Kitchen at the College of William and Mary, a student-run organization that uses existing food resources in the Williamsburg area to address the hunger and nutritional needs of individuals in the community. [Photo: courtesy: InShutterVision Photography]

Outside Old Town: What’s Happening Around Manassas 

For Potomac Local News

Today is Deadline to Nominate Volunteers for Governor’s Awards

Do you know an individual, family or group of volunteers who are making an outstanding difference in Manassas, Manassas Park or Prince William County? How about a business, educational institution or community or faith-based organization? Let Governor Bob McDonnell know! Each year the Governor presents Volunteerism and Community Service Awards that highlight the efforts of outstanding Virginians who seek to enhance the lives of others in their communities. This year’s deadline for nominations is Mon., Feb. 11 at 5:30 p.m. Winners will be announced at a ceremony during Volunteer Week in April. Past honorees from the Manassas/Prince William area include New Dominion Learn & Serve and The Joe 15 Team of Manassas and Volunteers of the Year Bathsheba Felice Bryant and Edward Roman of Woodbridge and Stephen Michalski, MD of Gainesville. For a nomination form and more information, visit the Governor’s Volunteerism Awards.

Love Life at Manassas Mall Feb. 16

Join Action in Community Through Service (ACTS) for Love Life Day at Manassas Mall on Sat., Feb. 16 from noon to 4 p.m. in the JCPenney Court. Find out how you can manage stress, illness or loneliness, and celebrate all the things you love. (ACTS) Helpline is 703-368-4141 or visit actspwc.org.

Birth Matters Virginia, Prince William Chapter Meets Feb. 21

The local chapter of Birth Matters Virginia meets Thurs., Feb. 21 at the Manassas Midwifery offices, 8425 Dorsey Circle, Suite 102, Manassas, starting with a 6:00 p.m. potluck and fellowship. Bring a friend and a dish to share. The mission of Birth Matters Virginia is to improve the culture of birth in Virginia by promoting an evidence-based model of maternity care and supporting care providers who practice mother-friendly care. The meeting topic will be birth options and rights. Come to share your experience as well as learn how others have made a change in their births by enacting their rights. Who should attend? Local moms, doulas, friends, childbirth educators, peer lactation specialists, midwives, obstetricians, chiropractors…anyone who wants to increase evidence-based birth options for the women in the Manassas and Prince William area. “Like” the chapter’s Facebook page at Birth Matters Virginia Prince William.    

23rd Annual Mardi Gras Gala and Auction is Feb. 23

The Prince William Health System Foundation is hosting its 23rd Mardi Gras Gala and Auction extravaganza on Sat., Feb 23, from 6:30 pm to midnight at the Westfields Marriott Conference Center in Chantilly. Black tie optional and tickets are $150 per person. Support of the Gala is vital for the foundation to accomplish its community healthcare goals. Working closely with Prince William Health System and its affiliate organizations, the Foundation helps to provide equipment and community outreach programs that could not normally be funded without raising fees. Tax-deductible contributions may either be directed to the endowment for use when and where needed, or designated for a specific department of any Prince William Health System facility, from prenatal and infant care to prescription drugs for the elderly. The Gala provides an ideal opportunity to socialize and promises to be a fun-filled evening of fine dining, dancing with a live band (the Fabulous Fantoms), and an exciting auction. RSVP by Fri., Feb. 15 at 703-369-8201.

Mason’s Vision – Town Hall Feb. 26 on PW Campus

As the Prince William campus of George Mason University continues to expand in Manassas, the university is soliciting comments about their vision from members of the community. University president Angel Cabrera, recently unveiled a draft Vision document and Working Group Reports. Anyone is welcome to read the documents and let him know what you think. Leave a comment on the website, send an email to vision@gmu.edu, or attend a town hall on Tues., Feb. 26 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. in the Verizon Auditorium on the Prince William campus. Your participation matters.

Library Seeks Applicants for May 4 Local Author Fair

Bull Run Regional Library is pleased to announce Saturday, May 4, 2013 as the date of its Second Annual Local Author Fair. This will be a great opportunity for authors to promote their published work, whether it is fiction, nonfiction, adult, young adult or children’s. Self-published authors are also welcome. Participating authors will be permitted to sell their works. Space is limited, so apply now. Due to space limitations, the library reserves the right to limit participation by selecting a representative sample of types of work. Applications must be received by Sat., March 22. Authors selected to participate will be notified by email. Tables and chairs will be provided, as well as publicity. If you or someone you know is interested in being a part of this event, please contact Librarian/Adult Program Coordinator Dolores Bowman at 703-792-4546 for an application. The May 4 Author Fair is free and open to the public.

Getting People Off Roads, Knowledge to Workers Should Be 21st Century Transportation Strategy

Al Alborn: Connecting  the Dots

Contributing Editor

I like roads. When I drive Va. 234 from Interstate 95 to 66, or the Prince William Parkway from Woodbridge to Manassas, I am grateful Prince William County’s proactive approach to transportation infrastructure. I’m looking forward to the Tri-County Parkway.

If I understand the math correctly, we just can’t get ahead of our transportation problem regardless of how many new roads we build. Unless we start thinking differently.

We continue to be locked into the old paradigm of moving people to their jobs. If you build things or service things, you do have to get to your job one way or another. The simple fact is that in the Washington, D.C. area, most people work with knowledge. They take information and do something to it adding value.

These people are knowledge workers.

Knowledge workers don’t have to drive somewhere to do their jobs. They only need access to the information with which they work. With today’s technology, knowledge workers may work anywhere.

Telework is the 21st Century paradigm for connecting knowledge workers with the knowledge they need to do their jobs.

The old paradigm is to continue to build roads, trains, buses, carpool parking lots, or other tools to move people to some physical location to work with knowledge. The new paradigm is to move the knowledge to the people who need it to do their job.

In today’s economy, perhaps a strategy that reduces the resources devoted to building and maintaining roads by simply taking people off them might be a good thing. This would help us win another battle, lower taxes.

The word “transportation” is defined as moving people around. I suggest it’s time to redefine that word to include moving information around.

Transportation authorities all need to incorporate telework strategies for incorporating today’s technology and public policy into transportation planning to take people off the roads. Broadband, wi-fi, cyber security, and telework friendly public policy are the tools that will help us get ahead of the problem of moving people around every morning and evening.

Using the right tools, we can focus on moving fewer people around.

The simple fact that telework is good public policy because it reduces the cost of Virginia’s transportation infrastructure and allows us to finally get ahead of the demand to get people to the knowledge they need to do their job. It improves public safety, reduces road building and maintenance costs, creates jobs, is good for our residents quality of life, keeps discretionary dollars in their communities instead of sending them “north.”

A few politicians “get it”. Congressmen Gerry Connolly and Frank Wolf successfully passed the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 mandating Federal Employees be allowed to telework. Congressman Connolly is now working on Telework 2.0 to extend this mandate to Federal Contractors. Virginia Delegate Rich Anderson is working with other Delegates to use telework to create jobs, reduce traffic, and improve the quality of life of Virginia residents. Delegates Anderson, Comstock, and Ramadan just hosted the first Northern Virginia Telework Summit to increase public awareness of its potential. Ramadan just successfully passed a telework tax credit in the Commonwealth’s House of Delegates. Governor McDonnell recognizes it’s a good idea.

I still do not see our transportation planners at all levels “connecting the dots” between telework and transportation planning. I haven’t found the Government entity who has re-defined their mission to include the tools and infrastructure to take people off the roads.

People are locked into mental models of the way things were. We need a few leaders who may ponder the way things could be: knowledge workers who stay here instead of commuting to Washington D.C. to do a job that they could just as easily do on their back deck, or Starbucks.

It’s not lost on me that one of the reasons government emphasizes roads at all levels is because that’s what our business infrastructure knows how to do. If all you are really good at is building more roads, you focus on building more roads. You also look for politicians who are interested in building more roads.

If there is a huge opportunity here for existing businesses to redefine themselves for “what’s next”, for existing businesses to expand and add jobs to meet the demand of a large percentage of the local population working within their community, and for new businesses to provide a range wide of services to support a telework community.

Telework is a business development opportunity. Prince William County’s Economic Development Team needs to integrate telework and the businesses it both attracts and creates into its strategy.

To do otherwise it to “miss” perhaps the 21st Century’s greatest tipping point in how people perform work and the business opportunities that come after the nature of work changes.

Hudson Taking Over Police Department ‘Renowned for its Reputation of Excellence’

Prince William County Police 

I am truly humbled and honored to be chosen to serve as just the third Police Chief of the Prince William County Police Department. As a career-long member of this Department, I am thankful and proud to have worked alongside dedicated officers and civilians who strive to provide exceptional service to the citizens of Prince William County.

I want to thank Lieutenant Colonel Barry Barnard for his leadership as the Acting Chief since Chief Deane retired on September 1, 2012. Over the past months, LTC Barnard has wisely guided this Department, with steadfast devotion to the well-being of the organization and to each of us. I am pleased to be making this transition with his unwavering support.

It was a privilege to work for Chief Deane for his entire 24 year tenure as Chief of Police, as well as for our first Police Chief, George T. Owens. Both men set an exemplary standard for our Department. Chief Owens founded this Department in 1970, and was responsible for laying its foundation of principled service and commitment. Chief Deane continued this tradition, earning international recognition for integrity and high standards. Because of their tireless and dedicated leadership, this Department is widely renowned for its reputation of excellence.

I have a deep personal commitment to this County, its government, and its citizens. I’ve lived in Prince William County since 1976 and graduated from Gar-Field High School. My wife works for the Prince William County School system, and we were blessed to have our children and now grandchildren here. I am very proud of this community and am privileged to now serve as its Chief of Police.

I was hired as a police officer with this Department in 1982 and have enjoyed many varied experiences since then.

Most recently, I served as Assistant Chief of the Operations Division and the Criminal Investigations Division. I also served as the commander of Special Operations, Internal Affairs, and the Vice/Narcotics Bureau. I had the pleasure of supervising units in CID, the Academy, and Patrol. As an officer and detective for over thirteen years, I served on the SWAT team, as an Academy Instructor, a plain clothes Detective, and a Patrol Officer. Each assignment increased my understanding of the diverse activities of our job. Every day brings progress and innovation. I will do my utmost to build on the Department’s many great strengths and help prepare our next generation of leaders for the complex challenges of the future.

I believe strongly in open communication, teamwork, creativity, and accountability to the citizens we serve. I cannot fully express how honored I am to have the opportunity to work alongside all of the members of our department as we serve the citizens of Prince William County together.

Cold Weather, Time Crunch Weighs on Those in Slug Lines

Slug Tales


 Man, I hate the cold.

That taste of 70-degree weather was such a tease, just to be followed by a dusting of snow at the end of the week. And unless the snow is significant enough to close the government, or at least get us a telework day, I’m not interested.

I hate walking our puppy in the snow; it’s too distracting for him and he only wants to eat the snow or play in it. I hate cleaning my car off in the morning, and I don’t drive well in icy conditions (really, does anyone?). But more than anything else, I dread slugging in the cold.

Learn more about PRTCThe walk from my car to the slug line in the morning and back in the evening seems so much longer in the cold, especially with that biting wind and all the nasty rain and snow we’ve had lately. It’s almost painful just to stand in the slug line, counting down the number of riders in front of you before you’re in a warm car.

As much as I love slugging, cold, dreary weather can make it pretty miserable. And the unpredictability of slugging, of not knowing how long you’ll be waiting in the slug line, freezing and shivering and pathetic, well, that’s pretty much the worst.

If you don’t slug, you may think I’m being overly dramatic. And if you do slug, and you hate the cold as much as I do, you know just how right I am about this.

Yesterday evening, I left my office just after 5 p.m. and, much to my dismay, walked out the door to find a very long slug line filled with people headed for the Horner Road Commuter lot in Woodbridge. My heart sank, as it usually does when this happens, and I trudged to the end of the line. Five minutes passed and then 10, then 20. It seemed the slug line was barely moving, and I silently cursed each car that created any sort of obstruction in the road, preventing slug drivers from possibly getting to us faster.

I tried counting all of the people waiting ahead of me in line, but stopped after about 12. It seemed hopeless. What if it gets too close to 6 p.m. when the restrictions are lifted in the HOV lanes, and I end up on the bus again? I stayed pretty calm when that happened last week, but I may not be able to handle it again tonight.

Finally, I got closer to the front of the line, but I refused to get my hopes up. I made that mistake last week, and then waited at the very front of the line until after 6 p.m. but wound up taking the Metro back to the Pentagon to take the commuter bus to my car to drive home. Yeah, it’s a trip.

I just couldn’t do it again.

Checking the time again, I continued to worry. After 5:30 p.m., and still no ride. And I wasn’t even next in line! Tomorrow, I need to bring gloves, I reminded myself. My hands were nearly frozen and I could picture them sitting in the passenger seat of my car, right where I left them that morning.

Next thing I knew, we were moving up again. Two people were in a car, with another car waiting behind them, and there went the next two. Finally, I was at the front of the line, and a few minutes later, there was my sweet, sweet chariot (or Ford Explorer, but whatever).

It was about 35 minutes of unpleasantly cold, sheer torture overall, but getting into that warm and toasty SUV and napping on the way back to the commuter lot was just what I needed. Of course, the bus runs on a more predictable timetable, but when something throws that schedule off, you can be stuck waiting, or worse – standing in the aisle the whole ride home. My preference is almost always to slug. Besides the possible wait time, it’s just faster than any other alternative.

As much as I hate the cold weather, I don’t love sweating in the scorching hot sun in the summertime, either. I’m sure I’ll be complaining about that in a few months, but for now, I’m just so over winter. Bring on the heat!

 Laura Cirillo works for the federal government and lives in Prince William County

Hylton Boys & Girls Club Plans Final Bingo Night

DALE CITY, Va. — All good things come to an end, and so is true for bingo at Hylton Boys and Girls Club in Dale City.

The popular Friday night attraction will end it’s run on Feb. 15. The final session will be called, appropriately, Achy Breaky Bingo.

“We’ve invited all of our old volunteers who gave a lot of their life and energy to making it a success,” said Prince William / Manassas Boys and Girls Clubs Director Glenn Vickers. “It will be good to have them all back for this.”

The Clubs once relied on the funds generated from bingo night, but an increased need to serve the community in other ways, and an increased enrollment at the Boys and Girls Clubs has prompted the organization to find new ways of raising funds, said Vickers.

“At one point, bingo made up six to eight percent of our annual funding, but now the clubs take into account for our formula for impact and have changed the way we fund our Clubs,” Vickers added.

Staff at the Boys and Girls Clubs will now focus winning more grant funding for the facilities.

The bingo sessions at the Hytlon Club begin at 6 p.m. and the players have their rituals, as many bring family photos and other family heirlooms to set up on tables to bring them luck.

Most games dole out prizes of $100, and a jackpot prize of $1,000 is also awarded at the bingo sessions.

NOVA Hockey Team Retiring Founder’s Jersey at Prince William Ice Center

For Potomac Local News 

DALE CITY , Va. — On Saturday, hockey players, students, and fans will gather at Northern Virginia Community College to watch the final game of the season and to honor former team captain Rob Lucier who died in October. Lucier’s #3 will officially be retired during a ceremony prior to the game.

“Rob was more than a Captain; he was a friend. Rob loved to talk about how he came up with the idea for a program- it was the pride of his life,” said NOVA Head Coach Barrett Haga. “Everywhere he went he talked about NOVA Hockey. Rob loved the game so much that he would teach hockey to his friends, and many of those friends play for NOVA today. His influence on the program will be felt for generations.”

Rob, who had recently relocated to Spartanberg, SC, tragically took his own life.

In 2009, Rob Lucier worked with officials at NOVA to use $3,000 from the student budget to buy 10 practice slots and fund one game. More than 30 interested students showed up to try out for the team and the NOVA hockey program was declared a success.

Current team co-captain Steve Morales appreciates how hard Lucier worked for the sport and for the school.

“I try not to take my time on this Earth for granted,” Morales said. “Rob put a lot of time and energy into this program and I’m sorry I never got to meet him.”

Head Coach Haga went on to say, “Rob was so proud of how far the program has come since that first practice at Mt. Vernon so long ago. We spent countless hours putting in the pieces needed to build this program. Retiring his jersey is the right thing to do to honor his memory.”

Lucier’s parents Gary and Debbie will be at the game in February and are touched by the retirement of his number.

“Although Rob certainly left a great legacy in the NOVA sports program, his direct or indirect impact on individual lives is what inevitably will mean the most,” said the Luciers. “We remain forever grateful to all those who befriended, advised, coached, and instructed our son Rob during his time at NOVA”

The hockey team will play against George Mason University at the “Battle of Northern Virginia” at 10 p.m. Saturday at the Prince William Ice Center in Dale City, states the team’s Facebook page.

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