Burning Smell Leads to Burning Desire for New Wheels

Mom on the Run


I looked around, I confess. I looked around, with envy, and lust. Want tainted my thoughts.

And, for a minute, I thought it was not want, but need.

I purchased my minivan in July 2002. She was brand-new, a shocking luxury at the time. But, “I’m going to drive this for at least 10 years,” I had told my husband, to justify the expense.


He had rolled his eyes, “Sure, 10 years,” he had said skeptically. He never believed we would keep it that long, but we went ahead and bought it, because with the kids we needed something reliable, and because a brand-new minivan was only a few thousand dollars more than a used minivan.

Oh, she was beautiful. Back in ’02 my brand-new minivan was shiny silver, with pristine dove gray velour seats, and – ahhh! – the fabled new-car perfume.

Now, almost 11 years and 152,000 miles later, my minivan is still shiny silver on the outside, but those dove gray seats aren’t exactly pristine anymore. She’s been in two accidents (Neither of which was my fault! Really!) and has a persistent rear-end rattle. The interior carpet is stained with the spills of 100 drinks and mud from 100 pair of cleats. The passenger-side back door handle is worn out from thousands of openings and closings and requires a hard yank to engage. And after a few months sporadic, weakened performance, the remote door opener recently gave up, and doesn’t work at all anymore.

But the engine is in great shape. Aside from brakes, tires, and oil changes – which don’t count, obviously, that’s regular maintenance – she’s only needed a set of belts and, recently, shockingly, a catalytic converter. That was a big expense, had to be done, and, my husband figured, a reasonable investment to get the van through another couple of years.

Because we have one kid in college and another one heading off in the fall, and a car payment is something we really want to avoid. Because I live and work in Manassas, and don’t drive far. Because we don’t need a minivan, really, anymore, and won’t be replacing her with another one, but she’s handy for delivering kids to college and hauling around Sunday School kids. So we are nursing along my minivan, getting as much time out of her as possible.

But last week, I noticed a burning smell. It started about a mile into any trip, and it arose on every trip. “Is it oil?” my husband asked. “What does it smell like?”

I had shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s a burning smell.”

I did know that burning smells are bad. And so I looked. With lust and envy and materialism in my heart, I looked around and I thought about cars. I thought about two-door cars and sports cars. I thought about small SUVs and hybrids. I thought about new cars, and then, more realistically, thought about used cars. I thought about clean cars, and highly efficient air conditioning, and heated seats. I thought about cars. Longingly.

And now I’m looking at my phone. We dropped the minivan off for service last night, and, “I talked to Classic Automotive,” reads the text from my husband. It’s the moment of truth, and I hold my breath: how’s this going to go? What’s the dollar limit for repairs? What would be the dollar limit for a new car?

“What did they say?” I text back. There are, I know, a thousand possibilities. I chew my lip and wait for the reply.

“There was a plastic bag burned onto an exhaust hose,” my husband texts.

Oh! A plastic bag? I laugh. Snap! And my new-car dreams go up in – smoke?

Nurses Honored in Manassas

[Submitted photo]

Submitted News

MANASSAS, Va. — Prince William Health System celebrated Certified Nurses Day on March 19 by honoring its board certified nurses. The following nurses are being recognized for their professionalism, leadership and commitment to excellence in patient care:

Certification in Critical Care Nursing (CCRN): Julia Burgess, RN; Rene Ernest, RN; Jan Griffin, RN; Sarah Herbert, RN ; Katie Hoffman, RN; Darcy Jenkins, RN; Janet Moore, RN; Oi- Mei Yau, RN; Alicia Marie Ruiz, RN; Carlos Bernal, RN; Deana Coy, RN; Jacinta Gomes, RN; Donna Rea, RN; Cynde Sturm, RN; Seong Kim, RN; Jamie Stern, RN; William “Topper” Cramer, RN; Amy Ebert, RN

Cardiac Medicine Certification (CMC): Julia Burgess, RN

Certified Nurse, Operating Room (CNOR): Kathleen Abromavich, RN; Shawn Craddock, RN; Patricia Kerns, RN; Ancy Kulakkattolickal, RN; Oakjoo Lee, RN; Jeanne Lese, RN ; Debra Parrish, RN; Amelia Atwell, RN; Linda Stohon, RN; Mar Tortajada, RN; Terea Diggs, RN

Certification in Emergency Nursing (CEN): Pam Smith, RN; Molly Mello, RN; Seong Kim, RN; Debra Oakes, RN; Joanne Broomer, RN; Melissa Morin, RN; Tricia Sutherland, RN; Christel McGovern, RN; Victoria Scott, RN

Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN): Jeanie Barlow, RN; LeeAnne Green, RN; Dawn Harris, RN ; Suzanne McAndrews, RN; Illana Naylor, RN ; Donna Pfost, RN ; Dolores Torres, RN; Jessy Tramontana, RN; Carin Ashbrook, RN

Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN): Gail Behrle, RN; Christine Keaveny, RN; Jillian Powers, RN; Pamela Komaridis, RN; Sally Randall, RN

Certification in Inpatient Obstetric Nursing (RNC-OB): Theresa Alicea, RN; Judy Ballard, RN; Claudia Barnish, RN ; Marylou Soto, RN; Jan Dagenhart, RN; Leann McMullen, RN; Dana Shanks, RN; Ronda Webb, RN; Christen Grimes, RN

Certified Post Anesthesia Nurse (CPAN): M. Kate Edwards, RN; Brenda Primus, RN

Certified Nurse Executive, Advanced (NEA-BC): Shawn Craddock, RN: Beatrice Holt, RN: Karen Webb, RN: Eileen Caulfield, RN

Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse (CMSRN): Kadi Kanu, RN; Schelly Harrison, RN

Orthopedic Nurse Certification (ONC): Claye Avera, RN; Mary Pat Blanchette, RN

Certified Gastrointestinal Registered Nurse (CGRN): Linda Henderson, RN

Certified in Low Risk Neonatal Nursing (RNC-LRN): Leeann Brown, RN; Michelle Curran, RN; Patricia Irvin, RN; Judy Jenkins, RN; Shanna Leary, RN; Constance Rickerson, RN; Sheryl Roloff, RN; Pamela Scarce, RN; Lisa Whitmer, RN; Carrie Banks, RN; Stephanie Pigeon, RN

Certified in Neonatal Intensive Care (RNC-NIC): Maryann Savage, RN; Patricia Irvin, RN

Progressive Care Certified Nurse (PCCN): Jan Griffin, RN; Dae Park, RN; Pam Smith, RN; Julie Garcia, RN; Stephanie Fournier, RN; Jennifer McEachin, RN

Adult Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP-BC): Jan Griffin, RN

Adult Clinical Nurse Specialist (ACNS-BC): Julia Burgess, RN

Psychiatric & Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist (PMHCNS-BC): Susan Campbell, RN

Adult Nurse Practitioner (ANP-BC): Rene Ernest, RN: Susan Campbell, RN

Certification in Nursing Professional Developmen

(RN-BC): Michele Poblador, RN: Lily Batayola, RN

Certified Wound and Ostomy Nurse (WOCN): Tracy Fields, RN

Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML): Kelly Davis, RN

Certified Registered Nurse First Assistant (CFA): Jeanne Lese, RN

International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC): Teresa Baltuano-Post, RN: Rosemary Wlaschin, RN

Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator (LCCE): Kathryn Orski, RN; Rosemary Wlaschin, RN

Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ): Kathryn Moss, RN

Certified Infection Prevention and Control (CBIC): Kathryn Moss, RN

Legal Nurse Consultant Certified (LNCC): Tina Stoernell, RN

Certified Professional In Healthcare Management (CPHM): Miriana Gomez, RN

Accredited Case Manager (ACM): Dorothy Mullenix, RN

Certified Case Manager (CCM): Monica S. Noonan, RN

Certified Diabetes Educator: Linda G. McMillan, RN: Jane C. Suliga, RN

Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse (CHPN): Christel McGovern, RN

Certified Electronic Fetal Monitoring (C-EFM): Judy Ballard, RN

National Certified School Nurse (NCSN): Schelly Harrison, RN

Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN): William “Topper” Cramer, RN

Certified Transport Emergency Nurse (CTRN): William “Topper” Cramer, RN

Family Nurse Practioner – Board Certified (FNP-BC): Karen Sisa, RN

Maternal Newborn Nursing (RNC-MNN): Karen Foster, RN

Neville Named to Top 10 Under 40

Dumfries Director of Community Services Cydny Neville (Photo: Uriah Kiser/

DUMFRIES, Va. — The woman who plans and oversees community events in Dumfries is one of Virginia’s top 10 under 40.

Cydny Neville is the Driector of Community Services in Dumfries and is fresh off planning and executing the town’s Easter Egg Hunt, and is planning for other events in the town including the 4th Annual Multicultural Festival on May 4. But this month she’s been recocnized by the Virginia Leadership Institute, an organization charged with increasing the number of black elected officials in the state.

More in a press release:

“The Virginia Leadership Institute is proud to honor young African-Americans in Northern Virginia who are raising the bar in their professions and in the community,” said Virginia Leadership Institute founder and CEO Krysta Jones. “Our honorees are entrepreneurs, elected officials, military veterans, executives and community leaders. Not too long ago some Blacks avoided moving to Virginia because of the long-held stereotypes associated with Virginia’s role as a slave state. These honorees prove that young African Americans are actively working to make the commonwealth a better place for all Virginians to live and work.”

Since its inception, VLI staff and volunteers have trained over 200 future candidates and campaign professionals in skills ranging from fundraising, communications, field operations and constituent research.

In addition to being director of community services, Neville is a mother and entrepreneur who has her own company, Spirit Catcher Productions. A former secondary education teacher, Neville holds degrees from Virginia State University and University of Phoenix.

VLI’s 2013 Top 10 Under 40 are:

John Chapman- educator and Alexandria City Council member (Alexandria City)

Howard A. Foard, III-Army veteran and community leader (Fairfax County)

Erica Jeffries-Army veteran and senior executive (Fairfax County)

Monte Johnson –corporate executive and candidate for VA House District 10 (Loudoun County)

Cydny Neville-entrepreneur and community leader (Town of Dumfries)

Ryane LeCesne- program director and philanthropist (Alexandria City)

Rahman Parker- Non Governmental Organization founder and professor (Fairfax County)

Joshua Porter-entrepreneur and public servant (Prince William County)

Terron Sims, II- Iraq war veteran and author (Arlington County)

Dana Taylor- entrepreneur and organizational leader (Arlington County)

The VLI Top 10 Under 40 will be held from 6:30pm to 8 p.m. at Kora Restaurant (2250 Crystal Drive, Arlington, Virginia). Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online at Email or call 703-969-9647 for more information.

Dumfries Celebrates Easter at 2013 Egg Hunt

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Children of all ages took part playing games like tug of war. [Photo: Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

DUMFRIES, Va. – The Easter Bunny came to Dumfries on Saturday, children and adults came to celebrate at the town’s annual Easter Egg Hunt held at Ginn Memorial Park.

“Nothing brings in Spring like an Easter Egg hunt and a childrens smile, this time of year brings in everything fresh and new,” stated Dumfries Mayor Jerry Foreman. “It was great to see the community come out and support this event.”

The Easter Egg Hunt is one of several events planned this year, including the 4th Annual Multicultural Festival on May 4 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


With Telework, U.S. Government Can Hide Everywhere


Contributing Editor

The Pentagon is where I mostly hung out between overseas assignments (22 years, Regular Army, most of it overseas).  I fondly remember the hot dog stand that was located in the center of the courtyard.  

While sitting in the courtyard eating a hot dog, we all generally remembered that the Soviets had at least two missiles aimed at this simple eatery.  Legend has it that they believed it was a secret entrance to some sort of underground bunker based on satellite imagery of senior officers constantly entering and leaving the stand.  

Those of us who worked at the Pentagon all knew that those senior officers just liked hot dogs.  

We also knew that if the crap ever hit the fan, those of us who worked in the Pentagon would be “toast” (literally, and figuratively).  The Soviet strategy was simple:  one bomb would get all of us.

They finally tore down the hot dog stand in 2006.

The Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) was really about achieving economies (cost savings) by intelligently closing and consolidating military facilities following some methodology and architecture.  It also acknowledged a resulting strategic advantage.  There would be no “hot dog stands” to target.

Simply put, one bomb won’t get all of us if we are spread out.

BRAC operated within the industrial age model of simply moving the people around to new cubes where they could be watched.  Considering the date the BRAC was formed in 1988, this should be no surprise. That was the thinking at the time.

We think differently now thanks to congressmen like Gerry Connolly and Frank Wolf.  These two gentlemen envision a world where people who work with information don’t have to drive somewhere to do their work.  They are the creators of the Telework Enhancement act of 2010.  This Act directs all federal agencies to implement strategies for employees to get out of the office.  

Connolly is currently working on Telework 2.0 to make it easier for those who contract to the Federal Government to telework.

So, BRAC basically gives our enemies who think asymmetrically a new set of nice, neat targets that are easier commutes.  A few well thought out asymmetrical attacks will get all of us. 

I suggest that its time to leverage technology and telework to make America’s governance, defense, and intelligence infrastructure more robust, survivable, redundant, and distributed. If we allow people to work wherever they wish, even if for just one or two days a week, we make our enemies jobs more difficult. Government could hide in plain site…  everywhere!  

The U.S. would actually be safer if the SES, SIS, generals, senators, congressman, and even the president and his staff who serve all of the above spent their days teleworking and teleconferencing from home or a local Starbucks.

OK, as much as I’d love to run into Obama at a Starbucks videoconferencing with the Secretary of Defense, perhaps a target of 5 to 10% of the workforce who don’t actually handle classified information working at random locations (which includes their back deck or a Panara’s) is a reasonable target (no pun intended).  While I make that concession, the original idea (SES. SIS, Generals actually has merit considering today’s cloud, encryption, security technology.

Remote Secure Compartmented Information facilities (SCIFs) distributed around the U.S. (even around the world) could house those who really need a secure environment in which to work.  For the record, I believe that reducing the amount of material that the government over-classifies and advances in technology will significantly reduce the requirement for SCIFs in the future.

I actually believe that for those with the most critical skills, it might just be cost effective to build a modest SCIF into their homes.  Basements would probably work best.

The article that generated this blog appeared in the July 4, 2012 Washington Post, On the way to BRAC savings, a legion of cost overruns, all I could do was slap my fore head.  It brought home that no matter how good government’s intentions might be, once those who we elect or those they hire get their hands on our money, most of them lose any sense of obligation to use it wisely.  

Base commanders and senior civilians used this as an opportunity to embellish the offices and cubes they expect their minions to drive to and work in every day under the watchful eye of a middle manager.

They demonstrated little regard for the original budget estimates or stewardship of taxpayer dollars. I’m from Iowa…  nothing tastes quite as good as American Pork!  

Imagine if the number of those offices and cubes and the related infrastructure (parking, roads, electricity, water, gas, etc) were reduced by 10% because BRAC considered using Telework in the Government’s next generation architecture.  

Imagine a world where a manager perhaps never actually sees his employee in person and doesn’t care where he or she performa work as long as it meets the requirement.  

That’s the world of the future.  The question is how long do we have to wait for it.

So, I’m suggesting its time to consider Telework as part of “what’s next” for the future architecture of Government, whether it be DoD, Intel, Civil Agencies, or whatever.

– It significantly reduces cost.  

– It enhances our security posture by distributing Government.

– It makes working for the Government much more attractive since the commute is no longer a consideration.

– It gives the Government access to the best minds in the world since those perhaps not disposed to work in Washington or on some government facility may now log in from anywhere.

I could go on.

Those who plan for Government facilities tend to think in terms of square feet, electrical outlets, fiber-optics, and wifi.  I suggest they start thinking “out of the cube” and envision a world where people don’t have to waste two hours to drive someplace to work for another eight under someone’s watchful eye.

I believe that these days of applying industrial age models to information age tasks will not be remembered fondly be history.  They will be referred to as the dark ages of information management.

Let’s let a little light in.

Youth Orchestra Headed to Carnegie Hall

[Photo: Suhail Mir / Youth Orchestras of Prince William]

Submitted News

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — Carnegie Hall here we come! The Youth Symphony Orchestra (YSO) – the Youth Orchestras of Prince William’s (YOPW) top ensemble – is traveling to New York City at the end of the month. The trip culminates in a performance at Carnegie Hall Friday, March 29 at 7:30 p.m.

“This performance is a landmark event for YOPW and for the Youth Symphony Orchestra,” said Music Director John Devlin. “The chance to perform at Carnegie Hall by itself is a signal moment for the ensemble, but we are especially thrilled at having the honor of presenting the world-premiere of an American work. The students will be exposed to the finest hall in the country and all of them will join in the history of the storied landmark.”

The YSO will represent Prince William County in the National Band and Orchestra Festival. The group was selected to participate based on a competitive audition process.

“The opportunity is made even more special since we were selected for this event because the recordings we submitted for consideration were met with such high regard by the festival organizers,” says Devlin.

The tour will also include a special hour-long performance at the well-known Madison Avenue Atrium at 3 p.m. on Thursday, March 28.

For more than 30 years, the Youth Orchestras of Prince William has provided exceptional instrumental education for the youth of the region. We offer opportunities for a wide spectrum of students, ranging from beginning string players and intermediate wind players to advanced students performing professional symphonic repertoire.

YOPW enrolls approximately 325 students in three string orchestras, two symphony orchestras, a wind symphony, and a variety of chamber music ensembles. Our students are primarily from Prince William County, Virginia, but YOPW members come from all over Northern Virginia and North Central Virginia. For more information about the Youth Orchestras of Prince William visit our website.

Parking Space Battle Ends in Ride With Enemy

Slug Tales 


Parking in local commuter lots can be a ruthless game.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I happened to be going to work earlier than usual and thought I’d attempt to find parking at the Horner Road lot in Woodbridge.

It was the peak of the commute, just after 7 o’clock when I pulled in. The lot was bustling with people parking and walking to the slug lines and cars full of slugs heading off to D.C., while I vigilantly searched for a parking space. It was like digging for buried treasure.

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Of course, I wanted to find the perfect space, close to the slug line I needed so that I wouldn’t have to walk too far, but I’d take anything that was available. With all of the traffic and chaos of morning rush hour, I just wanted to park and be done with it.

Just then, ahead, I noticed an open space. Jackpot! Seeing no one else around, I hurried over and prepared to turn into my perfect little parking space – until seemingly out of nowhere, she appeared.

She didn’t give me a second glace, probably too ashamed to make eye contact because she knew what she was doing. She totally stole my spot! Stunned, and admittedly pretty angry, I sat for a minute, staring down the bumper of her parked vehicle. Yeah, that’ll show her.

I couldn’t believe it! Clearly, that space was meant for me. I saw it first! As I drove off, I thought for sure I’d have no choice but to park in the very back of the third lot. Ha, if there was even anything open back there! At this point, people were already starting to create their own (illegal) parking spaces in the grass and on the curbs, so either those folks were too lazy to keep looking or just couldn’t find anywhere else to park.

Of course, I could always park in the new lot on Telegraph Road, which I do a lot on days where I go in closer to 9 a.m. But I was here early today, darn it! I thought for sure it was early enough to find parking in my preferred lot.

Just when I’d started to lose hope, there it was, in all its glory. A shiny new parking spot, even closer to my slug line, even better than the spot that had just been stolen from me. Take that, parking space thief! I thought. I win!

I hurried into the spot and threw my car in park, taking only a moment to bask in my sweet, sweet victory. Then, grabbing my bags, I hustled over to the slug line.

Since I was now parked even closer, I made it to the slug line before she did. And what a coincidence, she was headed to L’Enfant Plaza, too. I hoped she felt bad now, standing behind me. I hoped she recognized that it was my space that she took. I hoped she was ashamed of herself.

Soon enough, we were next in line. I started to get into the front seat, when the driver called past me, “I’ll take three!”

Take three? No! She can’t ride with us, I wanted to shout. When a driver says that he or she will “take three,” it literally means they’ll take three passengers, instead of the usual two. Most drivers won’t immediately offer to do so, some will if the slugs ask, and some won’t. Very few will make the offer, especially when the lines are long.

Usually, I think it’s commendable for a driver to make the offer to take three. Usually, I appreciate it. Today, I did not. I wanted the parking space thief to be punished, to have to wait in the slug line longer than I did. I did not want her to be sitting behind me the whole way to work. She was my new arch enemy.

Once we were on the road, I whipped out my cell phone to text my slugging friends about my plight that morning. Certainly, they would understand! I started a group text, furiously jabbing away at the screen.

Then, I realized – she’s sitting right behind me.

I mean, she’s completely within eyesight of my phone, right? I wondered if she was able to see my phone over my shoulder. Then, I decided that I didn’t mind if she did. Earlier, I’d wanted her to feel badly for taking my spot. Now, I felt differently.

I began to realize that she had done me a favor. If I’d wasted my time arguing with her, dwelling on the fact that she took the spot where I’m sure she saw that I was going to park, I would have never found the other parking space. The better parking space. The parking space that was clearly meant for me!

Thinking about this for a moment, I began to calm down. This shouldn’t upset me; rather, it should set the tone for the rest of my day. After all, I felt pretty lucky and blessed for the way things had worked out.

Sometimes, people can be aggressive when it comes to parking, or even other aspects of commuting. But when it comes down to it, I guess some things are just not worth getting upset about!

New 95 Express Lanes Should Speed Up Tysons Commute

Dear Mega Mike, 

I work in Tysons Corner. How will the Express Lanes on 95 help me get work faster?

Shirley Azul
Woodbridge, Va. 

Dear Shirley, 

The 95 Express Lanes will connect seamlessly to the 495 Express Lanes resulting in a more predictable trip.  The Express Lanes operator guarantees a minimum of 45 mph, so the trip will be faster than the congested traffic on the general purpose lanes during rush hour. 

Recently the Tysons Express buses from Prince William County have revised their schedule with an average 17 minute time savings because travel on the 495 Express Lanes.

Mike Salmon
Virginia Megaprojects 

Stafford Crews Rescue Osprey Tangled on Antenna

Stafford fire and rescue crews were called to spring an Osprey from an apparent  self-induced trap. [Submitted photo]

STAFFORD, Va. — Fire and rescue crews in Stafford County on Tuesday admit they were called to an unusual rescue.

More in a press release:

On March 19, 2013 the Stafford County Fire and Rescue units assisted the Stafford County Animal Control Officers with an unusual rescue.

A large Osprey was perched on an antenna atop the water tower at the Aquia Water Treatment facility. At some point the Osprey’s talons became tangled within the antenna wires preventing it from taking flight.

The Stafford County Utilities staff determined they were unable to reach the bird then contacted the Animal Control and Fire and Rescue Departments to assist.

By utilizing the Fire and Rescues Ladder Tower, the combined efforts of Animal Control and Fire and Rescue were successful in reaching the Osprey freeing it from the entanglement.

The Aquia Water Treatment facility is located on Coal Landing Road, just off U.S. 1.

Find 7,000 Treat-Filled Eggs at Dumfries Easter Festival

043012 Dumfries Town Hall

DUMFRIES, Va. — Late winter snow and early spring showers haven’t damped the mood in Dumfries.

The town will hold its annual Easter Egg Hunt this Saturday. It’s something Director of Community Services Cydny Neville says the community looks forward to all year long.

“Last year we had over a thousand people attend our Easter Egg Hunt. I was surprised at the turnout, so this year, I’d expect that number or greater. Due to last year’s turnout, we are adding a few extra activities to this year’s event,” said Neville.

This year’s Easter festival will be held at 11 a.m. at Ginn Memorial Park in Dumfries. Attendees of all ages can look forward to things like:

-Finding 7,000 candy/toy filled eggs donated by Dumfries-Triangle Rescue Squad

-Face painting

-Arts and crafts designing “bunny ears”

-Organized games (such as tug-o-war, bunny hop races, etc.), winners will receive rewards

-Pillar Church’s inflatable youth bounce house

-An appearance by the Easter Bunny

Also at the Easter event, the General Heiser Boys and Girls Club in Dumfries is expected to announce details of a new bus service, available to children who live in Dumfries, that will take them to the Boys and Girls Club after school.

“The event is free, and families are encouraged to bring their blankets/lawn chairs, pack a lunch, bring outdoor games, and plan to hang out at the park after the Easter Egg Hunt, to make a day out of this event,” said Neville.

The Easter festival is one of several events planned in the town this year. Dumfries’ 4th Annual Multicultural Festival is planned for May 4, and the annual Fall Festival is planned for Sept. 14.

‘Stafford is Ready for Stand-Up Comedy’

Comedian Lucus Bohn performed at Mainstreet Grill and Bar in North Stafford on Saturday. [Photo: Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

Comedian Lucus Bohn performed at Mainstreet Grill and Bar in North Stafford on Saturday. [Photo: Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

NORTH STAFFORD, Va. — The dance floor was packed with revelers. The lights were shining brightly. The speakers turned up and the microphone ready to go.

But this wasn’t going to be a show for a live band or DJ. There wasn’t even going to be any dancing.

For the first time, Mainstreet Grill and Bar in North Stafford on Saturday brought stand-up comedy to its stage. Four performers, including a headliner Lucas Bohn who has shared the stage with greats like Dave Chappelle and Jimmy Fallon, had ’em laughing in the aisles.

With an already warmed-up crowd, Bohn entertained with a series of voice impressions from popular TV shows, lots of self-deprecating humor, and with jokes about his skinny people who get involved in bar fights.

“The only thing skinny people are good for in a fight is to tell the police what just happened,” joked Bohn.

Mainstreet was a stop along Bohn’s tour that has taken him to various colleges, universities, and charity events around the country. Saturday’s event was for two families who lost their home to fire.

“It’s a charity thing,” said Mainstreet Grill and Bar owner Crissy Sharon. “They said they wanted comedy, so we did it.”

The show was organized by Jim Pate of Lake Ridge who served as the MC for the event. His mixture of humor about his day job working at Verizon, and talking to third graders on career day while making fart jokes didn’t go over well with the crowd. But one front-row heckler who called herself Debbie loved every minute. She loved it so much, she decided to insert herself into the show by getting on stage an placing a necklace of St. Patrick’s Day shamrocks around comedians’ necks.

“Debbie, don’t you have somewhere else to be?” said comedian Jamel Johnson during his performance. Debbie unexpectedly jumped on stage and wiped Johnson’s brow with a towel.

As the night went on, the crowd warmed up and Debbie, who appeared to be embarrassing her friends, finally sat down.

Comedian and writer Drey Daily of Fairfax Station also performed while dealing with the heckler and said Stafford is ready for stand-up comedy.

“Absolutely…if they would have me come back, I’d love to perform more shows here,” he said.

The troupe of comedians said they perform regularly in the region, and added they got their start locally in a very successful open mic night at Brittany’s Restaurant and Sport’s Bar in Lake Ridge.

The charity event brought in about $600 for the families. Sharon said another comedy show at her restaurant will be planned in the spring.

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Comedian Jamel Johnson performs at Mainstreet Grill and Bar in North Stafford on Saturday. [Photo: Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

High Hopes for Raisin Shrimp Dinner Pruned

Mom on the Run


‘Yes,’ I think to myself, ‘this is delicious!’ I take another bite, I chew, I savor, I assess. ‘The raisins were truly inspired.’ I don’t say any of this out loud, but I’m sold. This is really good.

I am sick of cooking chicken, so this afternoon I pulled out shrimp for dinner. I had planned to make shrimp scampi, and told my family that, but only because I couldn’t think of anything else quick and easy to do with it.

021113-freedom-mom-tagBut then it came around to be dinner preparation time, and, yuck. Garlic just wasn’t working for me. So I pondered, and stared in the cabinets and in the fridge, and: honey. With orange juice, that sounds right. And a few shakes of Tabasco, for a little kick. Yes! I poked around for side dish choices, and – oh! Mediterranean Curry Couscous! That sounds like it will go with my fruity sweet shrimp. But it needed something … and, raisins! Perfect!

In my cast iron skillet I melted honey, stirred in orange juice, and brought it to a boil. I tossed in my pound of peeled raw shrimp, and a handful of raisins. I boiled the water, stirred in the couscous. And I set out salad bowls, washed lettuce, toppings.

Oh, it smelled so good. Something different! Something healthy and unusual. I was delighted.

At dinnertime, my son walks into the kitchen and sniffs. “Doesn’t smell like scampi to me,” he says, peering into the skillet.

“Nope,” I reply proudly. “I wasn’t in the mood. I made up something else. This is going to be great!”

“Oh,” he says flatly. “I was really looking forward to scampi.”

“You were?” I’m surprised. “You should have said something.” He just looks at me. “Well, next time,” I tell him with a shrug. “But this is going to be delicious!”

My husband, son and I all plate up and move into the dining room. I have a bite of couscous first. My husband starts with his salad. But my son jabs a shrimp. I watch him carefully. He bites, makes an ‘I’m thinking about it’ face, then spears another, and another. He never says, ‘Oh, this is great!,’ which is a little disappointing, but, I figure, he was all set for shrimp scampi. Continuing to eat is a good reaction.

I try it, too, making sure to scoop up some raisins with the shrimp. Oh! This is so good! For the rest of my meal, I get two or three raisins per bite. Such a distinctive flavor, which really complements the honey and orange juice. Yes, this is terrific!

We proceed through dinner. My husband seems to like the shrimp, too, and goes back for seconds, finishing them off. We talk about regular dinner things, the silly Mixie dog pacing in circles around us, the minivan being in the shop. We talk about everything but dinner. Again, a little disappointing, but when it comes to family dinners, generally no news is good news.

Until the end: “Well,” I venture, “I thought this was great.”

“You know I don’t like couscous, don’t you?,” my son asks.

“Yes, but it’s healthier than both quinoa and plain rice,” I tell him. My high school senior rolls his eyes. “But the shrimp,” I say, returning to the main subject, my brilliant experiment, “wasn’t it good?”

It is on the tip of my tongue, I’m just about to say, “And the raisins, that was inspired!” When my son says, “Except for the raisins.”

“Yeah,” my husband says. “What was that about?” He takes his fork and pokes at the pile of raisins set aside on his plate.

 “Did you just open the cabinets” – my son mimes the activity, opening doors, frowning, pretending to look inside – “and say, hmm, what else can I put in here?” My husband nods at my son and laughs, agreeing. Ha, ha, crazy Mom.

 “No!” I protest. “I added them on purpose! They’re delicious!” But my boys are laughing, not fans, apparently, of raisins, and certainly not in their shrimp.

“Fine,” I say, pouting a little. Sigh. “Next time I’ll just make scampi.”

Why Are Your Kids Still Riding the School Bus?


Contributing Editor

While I probably know more about Prince William County’s budget process than most, the more I learn the less I realize I actually understand.

It’s “complicated.”

When it comes to the school budget, it’s even more so. Sorting out the cost of the new high school to be built in the Coles District, the swimming pool issue, the crowded classrooms, student performance, et al, it’s a math problem that exceeds my intellectual capacity.

When I do look at how we invest to educate our children, I realize that the model is still based on sending kids to a brick and mortar school every morning so they may study using books that were out of date on the day they were printed, and work in learning the answers to pass standardized tests designed to some mean.

Why are kids taking a bus to school when technology will let them learn anywhere?

I sometimes question as to whether we are building roads that we just won’t need as knowledge workers transition from the Industrial Age model of traveling to some central location available anywhere to the Information Age model of accessing information from anywhere.

I wonder if we are building schools to house students who will be transitioning to a new model of learning that allows them to learn any time, any place, any where, continuously.

Just as machinery and the Industrial Age changed everything in the 19th and 20th centuries, technology and the Information Age are changing… well… everything in the 21st Century. The problem with change is that if is often missed by those who are educated, invested in, and part of the existing model.

I can imagine all of the “why nots” rolling through your mind after reading that last statement. There are always “why nots”. I would like to explore the “why”.

All of the knowledge of the world is now available on-line on any laptop, tablet, or smart phone anywhere, anytime, anyplace. Education is about acquiring knowledge. Perhaps its time to re-engineer the way we educate our children to get away from out of date books, over-crowded school rooms, exposure to the risk of simply going to school, and the “fixed hours” model.

I concede that our current education model really includes a “baby sitting” role allowing couples to bring in two incomes to improve their standard of living. I also offer that “babysitting” is not, at least in my opinion, a legitimate role of any school system. Perhaps returning responsibility for a child’s education to families and holding parents and guardians accountable instead of teachers might be a desirable consequence.

Of course, there will always be a role for the school system to ensure that children acquire the tools and skills necessary to enter society How we evaluate these skills might be worth revisiting. “One size fits all” standardized tests appear to be problematic and come with their own set of unintended consequences.

I’m a fan of the Khan Academy, an organization on a mission. It is a not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere.

All of the Khan Academy’s resources are available to anyone. It doesn’t matter if you are a student, teacher, home school student, principal, adult returning to the classroom after 20 years, or a friendly alien just trying to get a leg up in earthly biology.

Folks like me believe the Khan Academy might just be the future of education. Watch this Ted Talk and decide for yourself. Bill Gates is interested. A number of public and private school systems are using it.

To be clear, I am a student not a teacher. I personally believe that education is a lifetime affair. Those of us in our 60’s know all too well that many of the facts we learned in grade and high school have been disproven, many assumptions have been over-turned, and our understanding of the universe continues to evolve.

To keep up, one must keep exploring. Those haunts at libraries and bookstores have been supplemented by (I’d use the word replaced, but I still like libraries and bookstores) access to all of the information in the world from my favorite chair.

I suggest that perhaps its time to explore models for education to “re-think” how we impart knowledge to our children. Perhaps 40 minute information blasts engineered toward teaching answers to standardized tests should be replaced with a more Socratic method that focuses on giving students questions, not answers. Perhaps leveraging technology to replace textbooks, encouraging homeschooling to reduce the pressure for brick and mortar buildings, and re-engineering the teaching discipline to include more Socratic methods, and perhaps take on a mentoring and consultative role for family driven learning might be worth exploring?

Education is taking “baby steps” in what is clearly a tipping point in how people acquire knowledge. While issuing laptops and tablets, thinking about using technology to re-invent and re-define how we educate our community, expanding the exploration beyond children to include everyone, should be the priority. Our education system should create a thirst for knowledge driven by an inquiring, probing mind by continually probing into the subject with more questions. Satisfying the knowledge demands of today’s fast-moving world, dynamic training requirements for the labor force, and ever accelerating understanding of science and the universe in which we live starts in Kindergarten.

It should last a lifetime.

Major River Clean Up Planned Along Occoquan

[Submitted photo]

Submitted News

On Saturday, April 13th, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (rain date is April 20, 2013), several local non-profit groups and agencies are teaming up to sponsor a clean-up of the upper Occoquan River, from Cedar Run/Broad Run to Lake Jackson then from below Lake Jackson Dam to Lake Ridge Marina and Hooes Run. We anticipate accessing the river and reservoir at multiple sites again this year. They are looking for your help.

The Clean-up of the Occoquan River will be part of the Alice Ferguson Foundation 25th Potomac River Watershed Clean-up Day. REI, (Recreational Equipment, Inc.) an outdoor retail co-op is assisting with promotion and individual volunteers.

See a map of the watershed clean-up area

See a flier for the event to share 

We are requesting the support of experienced area canoeists/kayakers to participate in the gathering, and others for off-loading of collected debris. The Lake Jackson VFD and Lake Ridge OWL VFD will provide on-water emergency support. Participants will be provided with gloves, trash bags, bottled water and light snacks. Toilet facilities and dumpsters will be available at each put-in/drop off site.

PWTSC volunteers will launch canoeists/kayakers on the Prince William County side from below Lake Jackson Dam, Riverview Estates, and Canon Bluff HOAs, the Lake Ridge Marina and Hooes Run. These take-out and put-in points for canoeists and kayakers are also gathered trash drop-off points. Prince William County Parks and Recreation will provide canoe/kayak trailer shuttle service back to participants’ put-in point.

Canoeists and kayakers are requested to register for this event by going to the PWTSC website. Pre-registration will allow us to plan for gloves, trash bags, trailer shuttle support, water bottles, snacks and T-Shirt distribution. For more information, call Ed Dandar, PWTSC project officer, at 703-791-6158 or blueways[at} Carpooling is encouraged. Directions to various locations can be found on the PWTSC Web Site.

The Prince William Trails and Streams Coalition, Prince William County Parks and Recreation, Public Works, the Prince William Soil and Water Conservation District, the Occoquan Watertrail League (OWL), several bordering Homeowners Associations, Neabsco Action Alliance, Keep Prince William Beautiful, REI, Prince William Izaak Walton League, Bradley Forest Recreation Association, and Lake Jackson Citizens Association are working together on this exciting conservation project.

‘Rock that Rolled’ Easter Festival Set for Friday Night

Contributing Writer

MANASSAS, Va. — Around this time of year, there are numerous egg rolls, hunts and events where families can meet the Easter Bunny.

While these events are fun for many, churchgoers say some of these events do not focus on what Easter is truly about to Christians all over the world—celebrating the risen Jesus Christ from the dead.

An event that is doing this is “The Rock That Rolled” Family Easter Party to be held at McLean Bible Church Prince William’s (MBC PW) campus on Friday, March 15 from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

The Prince William Campus of MBC has been a fixture in the community for the past five years. This year will be the second year of “The Rock That Rolled” at Easter time, and the entire community is invited.

This event is geared for children 18 months old through third grade, but children through 5th grade are invited to participate.

“We started this event several years ago as my husband and I took a trip to Nevada following the death of our son, found a lost parakeet, and ended up at a local vet. There were flyers in their office about a Rock that Rolled Easter Party at their church. I was intrigued as people are always calling [McLean Bible Church] around Easter asking if we had an egg roll or hunt, which we did not,” said Director of MBC PW’s Kid’s Quest Children’s Ministry Mary Scott. “The first one took place at our Tysons campus a year after that and we were able to bring it out to Prince William last year. We look forward to many children celebrating with us the message of Jesus’ death and resurrection and having fun with their families!”

The “Rock that Rolled Party” was all about the stone that was rolled away from the tomb – signifying Jesus was no longer dead but alive, and is a celebration of the risen Christ, not bunnies and chicks, added Scott.

This year, the event will have two separate Easter shows for families to attend — one for preschool children and the next for those in elementary school. They have also added more egg hunts to help manage the different ages.

Families will need to sign up online for their selection of egg hunt as well as family craft. This year there are two craft choices: The first is to make a set of “resurrection eggs” where families make their way through different rooms to collect plastic eggs and symbolic items to tell the true story of Easter, and the second choice is to make a “resurrection cookie mix” that taken home to bake cookies that are hollow on the inside–just like the tomb was on Easter morning, according to the church’s website.

There will also be games, relays, a moon bounce and cotton candy to snack on.

Finally, the church will have a petting zoo outside with a donkey to remind families about Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and sheep to remember His sacrifice as the Lamb of God, said Scott.

All of this is included in the $5 per child (age 18 months through 5th grade) registration fee. A hot dog dinner (hot dog, chips, and water) will be available during the event for $2/per meal-cash only.

Participants may register online at or call 703-770-8664 for more information.

Stafford High School Championship Girls Softball Team Honored 30-Years Later

Members of the 1982 Stafford High School Girls Softball team look through a scrap book containing news paper clippings with pictures of their team from that year. [Photo: Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

For Potomac Local News

STAFFORD, Va. — The 30th anniversary of the state championship the Stafford High School Girls Softball Team won in 1982 came and went without remark or notice.

Even some of the women who played on the team let the day slip by.

But late last year, Gary Quintero, a member of the team’s boosters club, noticed a banner denoting the win high in the rafters of the school’s gym and wondered why no one remembered in 2012 to commemorate the feat from 1982.

He asked around and it turned out that people just didn’t remember the winning team, so he decided to put together a ceremony even though it would be a year late in coming.

“It was a state championship team and there’s not that many in a lot of high schools” Quintero said. “It was the first ever championship ever in Stafford High School’s history.”

The women who were champions as girls, met again Wednesday at the Stafford Indians softball field where they hugged, laughed, looked at old scrapbooks and reminisced about the glory days.

Paula Schenemann, whose last name was Jett in 1982, said the best part of the ceremony was seeing everyone.

Ginger Wible, whose name was Ginger Cooper when she played as a sophomore, said winning the state championship win didn’t “sink in” until the following season.

“It was like, ‘Man, where do we go now?’” Wible said.

While she thought the ceremony was “awesome,” Wible said these days the win is a memory that only pops up occasionally.

“I think now, it’s just something that happened 30 years ago,” Wible

But the thing that happened in 1982 forged long-term friendships, Wible said.

“All of us are still in this area. We’re all still friends. We all still keep in touch,” Wible said.

Marla Brown-Carpenter, who played on the team as a freshman, was also pleased to receive the belated recognition.

“I didn’t think about it on the 30th, but I’m glad that they put this together,” she said.

Looking back on it and remembering, Brown Carpenter said the 2-0 win against Hanover County’s Lee Davis High School was “a great feeling.”

Rene Thomas-Rizzo brought her son Ryan to the event.

Ryan Rizzo, a sophomore at Chantilly High School, said his mother talks about the championship win.

“She thinks she’s the stuff,” the 16-year-old Ryan said.

“I always try to make him wear my number,” Thomas-Rizzo said of her son who plays lacrosse, basketball and golf.

Lorie Carneal said while the win was “overwhelming” she remembered that the girls tossed their Coach Bernard ‘Bunny” Humphrey into the pond nest to the softball field.

“That pond’s not clean,” Carneal said.

During the ceremony, Stafford High School Athletic Director Wes Bergazzi, read a quote Humphrey reportedly gave to the Free-Lance Star newspaper after the championship win years ago.

His remarks seemed to sum up what it takes to win big.

“This team has played together. When somebody was down, somebody else picked up the slack,” the quote read.

Picture 1 of 5

Team members give each other a high five as they are called on to the softball field to receive their trophy. [Photo: Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

St. Francis of Assisi Church Celebrates New Pope


TRIANGLE, Va. — Pastors at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Triangle are praying for the newly elected pope.

The new pontiff Jorge Mario Bergoglio will be called Francis, taking his name from the same saint as the Triangle church.

Francis was appointed pope today following last month’s resignation of Pope Benedict. The 76-year-old will be the first non-European leader of the Catholic Church in at least 1,200 years.

“The mood in our church has been a very hopeful one that whoever the cardinals chose, it would be someone who would come in with a new vision…someone who would think outside of the box,” said St. Francis of Assisi Pastor Kevin Downey, OFM.

Downey said he’s hopeful for the new pope, following sex abuse scandals that have rocked the church, that the new pontiff will embrace the calling as the original St. Francis, to “rebuild my church.”

“It’s kind of like same thing Yogi Berra said about baseball managers – ‘if you do what what you’ve always done you’re going to get what you’ve always gotten,’” said Downey.

St. Francis of Assisi won’t have any special services to celebrate the new pope, but will mention him in prayer services.

Downey also said the resignation of Benedict opened the door for other popes who might not choose to die in office, as Pope John Paul II did in 2005.

“I don’t think we’ll see that anymore,” said Downey. “What you will have though is two schools of thought: One will think that it’s horrible to have a pope resign because there may be pressure put on him by others to resign, but my thinking is, if you look at the last few years of Pope John Paul II’s life, after serving for so long, enough is enough,” said Downey.

Exceptional Women Sought for Awards

Submitted News 

Mary Washington Healthcare is accepting nominations for the regional Spirit of Women Awards. The Awards Program honors ordinary women who do extraordinary and selfless things to benefit their communities at large. These individuals represent the unsung heroes of American society in their own unique and special ways.

Mary Washington Healthcare will select three people who perform extraordinary acts of service in their communities as the 2013 Spirit of Women Regional Award recipients in Fredericksburg. All Spirit of Women Award nominees will be recognized on April 26, 2013, 4:00 p.m. at the Mary Washington Healthcare Spirit of Women Awards Celebration to be held at the John F. Fick Conference Center.

Mary Washington Healthcare will select one regional winner in each of three categories:

Young Person Role Model, 14- 20 years of age

Community Hero, age 21 and over

Healthcare Hero, MWHC Clinical Professional

Winners are chosen based on the contributions they have made to issues the community faces in the areas of work, family and health; and on the impact they have had in their community and on the lives of others.

Regional Winners will also be candidates for the National Spirit of Women Awards program. If selected as a National Winner, these women will represent Mary Washington Healthcare at the Spirit of Women National Awards Celebration Breakfast in Las Vegas, Nevada in July.

The deadline for submitting nominations for the Spirit of Women Awards Program is April 19. Visit for more information and to nominate a special lady.

Ask Mega Mike: Who Needs an E-Z Pass to Use the Express Lanes?

Dear Mega Mike,

I slug to work and ride in carpools. Will everyone in my carpool need an EZ Pass, or is the just the driver who needs one? How will they work?

Michael Leviathan
Stafford, Va.

Dear Michael,  

Only one E-Zpass per car will be required for carpools. The E-ZPass Flex works like a regular E-ZPass, but lets you switch between HOV and toll paying modes.

If your E-ZPass Flex is switched to HOV mode and you have three or more passengers in the car, you will not be charged a toll. The switchable E-ZPass Flex pays tolls on any other road that accepts E-ZPass, regardless of the position of the switch.

State Troopers funded by the project will be stationed in the Express Lanes to make sure those travelers who have switched to carpool mode have three people in the car.

Mike Salmon
Virginia Megaprojects 

Slug’s Text: Are You Hot?

Slug Tales 


It was a cold and windy day.

Slugs standing in line were bundled up in their winter coats, their teeth chattering as they waited for a ride home. It was almost March, but it was chilly.

Not in this car. No, inside this car was as hot as Hades.

When I came out of my building that evening to get into the slug line, I was pleasantly surprised to run into a friend, standing at the end of the line. We chatted our way up to the front, ending up in the same car together.

Learn more about PRTC

Since talking is normally frowned upon while slugging, we opted to communicate via text throughout the ride. Just a few minutes in, she sent me a text from the front seat, asking if I was too hot.

Sitting in the back seat, I guess the heat hadn’t gotten to me yet, and I told her I felt fine. Then, it hit me – a wave of warm air. At first, it wasn’t too bad. After being so cold, it was nice to get into a warm and toasty car. Until it got a little too toasty. It wasn’t long before the air went from feeling warm and toasty to hot and stuffy. And we were dying.

The driver, on the other hand, didn’t seem to be uncomfortable at all. I noticed she wasn’t wearing a coat or scarf, and I was wearing both. Maybe taking off my scarf would help? I stuffed it into my bag, but felt little relief. My friend joked that she was beginning to feel light headed. At least I thought she was joking, so I sent her graphics of snowflakes and told her to “think cold thoughts.”

It wasn’t working…

The heat was cranking. I started to feel a bit nauseous, but despite that, could say nothing. Slugs are typically at the mercy of the driver, whether it’s with regard to the temperature, the music selection, or anything else, really. Hey, I’ve ridden in cars that smell, cars that are filthy, with drivers who drive erratically and even those who drive 10 mph below the speed limit. It could always be worse.

My friend and I were both breaking into a sweat, when she sent me the good news – the driver finally dialed down the heat!

“She realized it felt like the 3rd ring of Hell and turned it down…” she texted.

Our conversation then turned to iPhone emojis of hands clapping and giving the thumbs up, celebrating and texting happily away until we arrived at the Horner Road Commuter lot. A few times, I wondered if the driver had somehow caught our virtual conversation and finally realized that it was hotter than a sauna in her car.

Either way, my friend and I may have spent half of the ride feeling overheated and car sick, but at least we were able to joke about it! And sometimes, that’s all you need to make an uncomfortable situation more tolerable.

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