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Volunteers Teach English Classes at Dumfries

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

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

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

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


Manassas Remembers School Shooting Victims

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Children Still in Need of Gift Sponsors

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stafford’s No-Kill Animal Shelter Adding Staff

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

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

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

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

PL: What positions are you hiring for?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PL: What has led to this expansion?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boys and Girls Club Celebrates Renovations

Staff, and members of the Prince William County Boys and Girls Club Board of Directors gathered in Dale City to christen a newly renovated hardwood gym floor. (Uriah Kiser/PotomacLocal.com)

DALE CITY, Va. – Children and teenagers at the Hylton Boys and Girls Club have some new hardwood to hit.

The neighborhood recreational and mentoring facility in Dale City just had a complete renovation of their large gymnasium. The $106,560 project came complete with a shiny new hardwood floor and six new HVAC units. Next year, a carpeted floor in the building’s auxiliary gym will also be replaced. More than 2,000 children will benefit from the newly renovated gym.

“The kids are so excited to come to he club on a daily basis, but they are so excited about this new floor,” said Prince William County Boys and Girls Club Regional Director Keeyana Mahoney.

Club employees and members of its Board of Directors gathered at the club for a dedication ceremony on Tuesday. The Cecil and Irene Hylton Foundation provided a grant to fund the renovations.

The new hardwood floor is more ergonomic and safer to use, and the new HVAC units will provide fresher, cleaner air inside the club, according to staff. When it’s installed, new carpet in the secondary gym will also provide children with a safer place to play.

In addition to these renovations, a new educational center is being constructed on the second floor of the two-story club. The $36,000 project is made possible with funding from Wellburn Management and Parisi, Inc., and when complete it will provide the community with a new place for children to learn core subjects like math, science, and technology, and it will also offer a place for adults to learn English as a second language and for others to obtain their GED.


NOVA Ice Hockey Plays 2 Games This Weekend

NOVA's ice hockey team plays against Maryland in a game last year in Prince William County.  (Photo: KJ Mushung)


DALE CITY, Va. – Northern Virginia Community College will host Bloomsburg (Penn.) University for two games at the Prince William Ice Center this weekend.

The venue is located at 5180 Dale Boulevard in Dale City.

NOVA plays Bloomsburg on Saturday at 8:10 p.m., and again on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. These are the last games of the fall 2012 semester. The next Prince William County games won’t take place until February. So now’s the chance to see them.

Admission is free. Dress warmly, it’s quite cold in the arena. It also helps to bring a thick seat cushion because the metal bleachers will feel colder than an igloo if you don’t.

Special New Year’s Day Hikes Planned


WOODBRIDGE, Va. — We’re not sure if New Year’s Day will be warm or if you’ll need to bundle up, but all 35 Virginia State Parks — including Leesylvania State Park in Woodbridge — will offer special hiking programs. 

More in a press release from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation: 

Virginia State Parks, managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, will offer special hiking opportunities in all 35 state parks on New Year’s Day as part of America’s State Parks First Day Hikes initiative.

On Jan. 1, 2012, more than 14,000 people hiked more than 30,000 miles in state parks across the country. In Virginia, 3,708 people hiked 5,583 miles during First Day Hikes.

“We are excited to host First Day Hikes as part of this national effort to get people outdoors and into our parks,” said State Parks Director Joe Elton. “First Day Hikes are a great way to cure cabin fever and burn off those extra holiday calories by starting off the New Year with an invigorating walk or hike in one of our beautiful state parks.

“All Virginia State Parks will offer guided hikes led by rangers and volunteers as well as self-guided hikes that allow participants to set their own pace and explore new trails,” Elton said. “Some parks offer scavenger hunts, and others have refreshments.” For a complete list of Virginia State Park hikes, visit this website

Hikers are encouraged to bring cameras and share their photos using social media sites. A weekend cabin stay will be awarded for every 200 photographs entered. Winning photos will be determined by the most votes on Facebook. For more information on the contest, visit this website.

Represented by regional board members of the National Association of State Park Directors, America’s State Parks is an alliance of state park systems in all 50 states working to strengthen the importance of more than 6,000 state parks across the nation.

For more information about Virginia State Parks activities and amenities or to make a reservation for one of the more than 1,800 campsites or 300 climate-controlled cabins, call the Virginia State Parks Reservation Center at 800-933-PARK or visit virginiastateparks.gov.

Photos: Dumfries Parade Ends in Celebration

Pride of the Potomac Marching Panthers (Mary Davdison/PotomacLocal.com)

DUMFRIES, Va. – The procession began at Town Hall and ended at the Dumfries Shopping Center where holiday revelers gathered for a block party.

The annual Dumfries Christmas Parade was held Saturday under the theme “Christmas Past, Present, and Future,” and hundreds of people lined U.S. 1 to see the marching bands, floats, classic cars, and Santa Claus himself.

More than 70 organizations marched in the parade which was lead by a town crier, a U.S. Marine Corps marching band, and several area elected officials to include Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Fairfax, Prince William), Delegate Luke Torian (D-Dumfries), Prince William Potomac District Supervisor Maureen Caddigan, Dumfries Mayor Jerry Foreman, as well as members of the Town Council.

At Dumfries Shopping Center, marchers and parade viewers gathered for a DJ, singing by the “Dumfries Has Talent” runner up-Ms. Teriyaki Jefferson, a Zumbatomic demo, plenty of dancing, Town Council, announcement of winners, and photos with Santa.

“It’s always a challenge to get on Santa’s schedule, but to have him take time during his busiest time of year to: ride in a 55’ Chevy to the Town’s Christmas Tree Lighting, then to ride on a fire truck in Town’s parade a week later-and dance with our youngest citizens is truly special to us,” said Dumfries Community Services Director Cydny Neville, who organized this year’s parade. “It was a pleasure to see all of the children dancing, smiling, hearing their laughter…having a great time! This event really pulled the community together and you could feel a sense of pride in the community. The Dumfries Pride was palpable!”

Below is a list of all the winners from the judging competition:

Marching Band:

1st-Freedom HS “Soul Squad”

2nd-Pride of the Potomac Marching Panthers


1st-Fraternidad Tinkus Surkay

2nd-Sangre Boliviana

3rd-Graham Park Middle School Dance Team


1st-Dumfries Animal Hospital

Step Team:

1st-Graham Park Middle School “Unique” Step Team

Cheerleading Team:

1st-Graham Park MS Cheerleaders

2nd-Potomac Middle School Cheerleaders

Vehicle Group/Motorized Unit:

1st-Evolution Auto

2nd-Bull Run Street Rods

3rd-Top Flight Corvette Club

Business Float:

1st-All That & Jazz

2nd-Luv-n-Laffs Clowns

3rd-Edge Party Trailer

Club/Youth/Church Float:

1st-Dale City Top Teens of America

2nd-Girl Scouts Troop #1789

3rd-Girl Scouts Troop #3411

Fire/Rescue Group:

1st-Dumfries Triangle Rescue Squad

2nd-American Red Cross


Military Group:

1st-Forest Park High School JROTC

Motorcycle Group:

1st-American Legion Riders

2nd-Buffalo Soldiers of NOVA

3rd-Manassas Honda Rider’s Club

Community Choice:

1st-Dumfries Nursery

2nd-AMG Motors

3rd-Two Guys Antiques

*Groups who did not pick up their awards on Saturday are encouraged to contact the Director of Community Services to make arrangements to pick them up.cneville@dumfriesva.gov.

Bronze Star Awarded 72 Years After Pearl Harbor

Col. Jerry Blixt, former Commander of Fort Belvoir; 1st Lt. Joe Weeren, Joyce and Jack Faulconer, and Rep. Gerry Connolly with Bronze Star in hand. (Submitted)

Jack and Joyce Faulconer (Submitted photo)

Nearly 70 years after he earned it, an 88-year-old World War II veteran finally received his Bronze Star for Heroism at a ceremony in Congressman Gerry Connolly’s district office in Fairfax County on Friday.

Washington native and current Prince William County resident John “Jack” Faulconer Jr. was an 18-year-old infantryman assigned to a machine gun squad in Patton’s 3rd Army when he landed on Omaha Beach a few weeks after D-Day in 1944. Subsequently, he was severely wounded in a battle that killed two of his squad members.

Sixty-eight years after he earned the medal, Connolly and his staff worked with the Department of the Army to ascertain that Faulconer was eligible to receive the honor. Then-Private Faulconer also was awarded the Purple Heart for his injuries incurred in battle.

Faulconer was joined by his Joyce, his wife of 65 years, and one of his sons at the Friday ceremony in Connolly’s District Office at 4115 Annandale Road, Suite 103, Annandale, VA. Faulconer met his wife, a fellow World War II veteran who served in a Navy intelligence unit, while he was recuperating from his injuries at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Congressman Connolly and the Faulconers were joined by two military officers: Col. Jerry Blixt, former Commander of Fort Belvoir; and 1st Lt. Joe Weeren, a member of Connolly’s staff who is an Iraq War veteran and an officer in the Virginia National Guard. Weeren handles veterans’ matters for Connolly. The Faulconer’s adult son also attended.

“It is an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to recognize the service and bravery of Jack Faulconer by presenting him with his Bronze Star,” Connolly said. “He certainly earned it.”

Ironically, Faulconer will receive his Bronze Star 72 years after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

- Submitted

More on Faulconer:

-Private John Faulconer was 18 years old when he arrived in France at Omaha Beach a few weeks after the invasion. Jack as he’s preferred to be called was an infantryman assigned to a machine gun squad in Patton’s 3rd Army. Jack participated in the Battle of Metz along the border of France and Germany.

-After surviving the battle of Metz, Jack and Patton’s 3rd Army advanced closer to the German border at the Saar Valley. According to Jack while advancing up a hill the Germans were defending, his machine gun squad was advancing under heavy artillery and small arms fire. Two members of his squad were killed. Jack was hit in his left arm and knocked to the ground, after realizing he was alone, behind enemy lines, and his arm severely wounded he waited for nightfall. After nightfall set in Jack crawled out of his position and began walking, staying low to the ground hoping to find fellow Americans.

-After some time he finally found fellow Americans and was able to get put on a stretcher and transferred to the battalion aid station. Jack was treated by doctors who hoped they could save his arm from amputation. After many surgeries the doctors were able to save his arm and Jack was transferred to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C.

-Jack spent many months recuperating at Walter Reed; however while attending a dance at Walter Reed he met his future wife Joyce a fellow World War II veteran serving in a Navy Intelligence Unit.

-After the war Jack and his wife Joyce lived in Springfield, VA for 38 years before moving to the Heritage Hunt Retirement Community in Gainesville, VA. Jack and Joyce have been married for 65 years and have two wonderful children and seven grandchildren.

-Jack had read that he potentially was eligible for a Bronze Star but unaware how to determine if he was eligible for the medal. He then reached out to his Congressman Gerry Connolly. What started out as a simple question turned into some extensive research by Congressman Connolly’s aide Joe Weeren, who also served as an infantryman in the Iraq War and is currently an officer in the Virginia National Guard. Joe was able to find out that Faulconer was awarded the Bronze Star, but never received it.

-Congressman Connolly submitted an inquiry to the Department of the Army regarding Faulconer’s Bronze Star Medal and the Army quickly determined that Jack was eligible for the Bronze Star Medal.

Prince William Among 100 Best Communities

(Photo: Uriah Kiser/PotomacLocal.com)

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. – Prince William has once again been recognized as one of the best 100 communities in the nation for young people.

America’s Promise Alliance named the growing county of 410,000 people one of the best for the third year in a row. The distinction was given to communities in 42 states, and many more were reviewed.

A celebration was held at the Prince William County Public Schools Edward Kelly Leadership Center on Friday morning where breakfast was served and several elected officials spoke.

More in a press release from the county school system:

The recognition is testament to the collaborative efforts of county parks, schools, and private sector organizations and individuals to promote positive experiences that influence the choices young people make. Among the Prince William County initiatives noted are student leadership and community service programs and school safety initiatives to combat bullying.

More than 56 percent of the local budget is allocated for schools, and an additional 10 percent is used to support youth programs. Programs such as Beat the Odds and Learn and Serve encourage students to take on leadership positions, which allow them to interact with adult mentors. Since its inception, Beat the Odds has provided more than $100,000 for youth-focused programs. The county’s Parents as Educational Partners outreach program helps empower parents to become their children’s biggest advocates; it has also improved English language skills and education among program participants. Today, Prince William County Public Schools graduates 88 percent of its students, well above the national average.

With the distinction comes a $2,500 grant that goes to fund signage that designates the county as an award winner, and to cover the cost of Friday morning’s celebration.

The judges for the competition evaluated criteria such as healthy and successful children, community safety, and how the community has worked together to overcome challenges.


‘Art Walk’ Offers Holiday-Themed Events

“Red Light” by Bill Firestone, a 10x10 acrylic painting on canvas, will be featured in the W-10 gallery at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton on Saturday night.

LORTON, Va. – Art will be on display at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton on Saturday offering visitors a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

The center’s “2nd Saturday Art Walk” is held on the second Saturday of each month. They are free events designed to allow visitors to tour the arts campus and meet individual artists showcasing their work, purchase locally-produced art, and to tour the facility that has become a destination point in our community. 

This month, several holiday-themed attractions will be featured at the Workhouse including “Tiny Treasures: Artful Gifts Galore” in the center’s W-4 Gallery, and a holiday showcase and opening reception that which will feature a collection from artists from the glasshouse in the W-7 studio.

A full listing of the evening’s events is below:

“Tiny Treasures: Artful Gifts Galore!” Studio 4 Group Show Opening Reception in W-4

“Fly With Me” Artist Songmi Park Solo Exhibition

Opening Reception in W-5 “Stripes Reinterpreted” Artist Ann Liddle Solo Exhibition Opening Reception in W-6

Holiday Showcase Glasshouse Group Show On display in W-7

A recurring exhibit of functional and sculptural works by Ceramic Resident Artists On display in W-8

“Building 10 Christmas Show” Studio 10 Group Show

Opening Reception in W-10 Associate Artist Exhibition with featured artist Lesley Clarke

Opening Reception in the Vulcan Gallery Artist Demonstration by Associate Artist Lorrie Herman in the Vulcan Gallery

Experimental music artists from Sonic Circuits will be performing on campus:

Blue Sausage Infant

J. Surak

Gary Rouzer

Fast Forty

Dave Vosh

The Art Walk begins at 6 p.m. Parking is free.


Candland: Sports Teams Need More Places to Play

GAINESVILLE, Va. – A Prince William County Supervisor Peter Candland has called attention to the state of sports fields in Prince William County. He says some leagues are turned away from using sports facilities because there isn’t enough room for them to play.

More in a press release from Candland:

Supervisor Pete Candland hosted a town hall meeting last week featuring a panel discussion focusing on improving the sports leagues in Western Prince William County. The panel discussion involved representatives from the county Department of Parks and Recreation as well as leaders of sports leagues in the county.

“As a former high school basketball referee and father of children active in local sports, I know firsthand the value of athletics for our youth,” said Candland. “Our sports leagues in the county are growing every year, and it’s important that we keep up with the demands. Unfortunately, there are instances where leagues must turn away children because there isn’t enough capacity. This is why I felt it was important to bring together some of the main stakeholders to have an open and honest discussion about the future of sports in the Gainesville District and all of Prince William County.”

With over 80 people in attendance, much of the discussion focused on the allocation of county and school owned fields and gymnasiums for use by the sports leagues and improving the communication between leagues and county officials. As the population continues to grow and more children participate in athletics, it is critical that the county finds ways to improve the accessibility of our youth to sports programs.

Candland added, “While we may not have reached an ultimate solution tonight, I feel that we accomplished a major step in bringing everyone together to have a meaningful discussion. There were many opinions and ideas shared, and the next step forward is to work together to ensure that our children are not turned away from opportunities to participate in athletics. I’m fully committed in reaching this goal.”

Area Schools Begin Winter Break Dec. 24

(Photo: Prince William County Public Schools)

Students, staff, and faculty at areas schools will be ready for a long winter’s retreat when the holidays roll around. Here’s a look at winter break schedules for schools systems in the area.

Prince William County

Schools will be closed for winter break for students and teachers Monday, December 24–Tuesday, January 1 and will reopen on January 2 on a regular schedule. Friday, December 21 is a full day for students and all Division personnel.

All School Division offices will be closed on Monday and Tuesday, December 24 and 25. School Division offices will be closed on Tuesday, January 1.

Stafford County

Schools will close Monday, Dec. 24 through Tuesday, Jan. 1, and will reopen Wednesday, Jan. 2.

Friday, Dec. 21, is a regular day of instruction for Stafford County students.


Winter break for Manassas students, teachers, and staff begins Monday, Dec. 24, and will run through Tuesday, Jan. 1. Students will return to class Jan. 2.

Manassas Park

Winter break begins for students, staff, and faculty in on Monday, Dec. 24 in Manassas Park. The break runs through Tuesday Jan. 1, 2013. Classes resume Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013.


Stafford Lights Christmas Tree at Courthouse

(Photo: Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Chief Photographer

STAFFORD, Va. – For the first time, Stafford County officials lit the county’s Christmas Tree.

The ceremony for the illumination took place in front of the county’s courthouse in Stafford. Santa and Mrs. Claus were in attendance, and so were many residents who came to share in the holiday cheer.

Picture 1 of 4

The Stafford County Board of Supervisors joins Santa and Mrs. Claus at the lighting of the county’s Christmas Tree. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Possum Children’s Author Signing Books Saturday

Childrens author Jamey Long speaks to elementary school students in Dale City. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)


NORTH STAFFORD, Va. – A guy known for carrying a possum on his shoulder will be in North Stafford to sign copies of his children’s books.

Jamey Long, author of such children’s books as “A Possum’s Christmas Tale,” will be at Bella Café Saturday from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. to sign copies of books.

A Possum’s Christmas tale follows the possum “Opie” as he begins an adventure in search of the meaning of Christmas.

Long is a faculty member at George Mason University and was nominated for the Northern Virginia Community College Alumni Federation Faculty of the Year Award. He currently lives in Virginia, according to his website.

Bella Café is located at 3871 Jefferson Davis Highway in North Stafford.


Deane’s Retirement Celebrated

Photo: Prince William County Police Department

MANASSAS, Va. – Retired Prince William County Police Chief Charlie T. Deane got a proper send off this past weekend.

A private party for the chief was held at Flightworks at Manassas Regional Airport on Saturday night. It was paid for and attended by private citizens, said Prince William police spokesman Jonathan Perok.

Deane was a founding member of the Prince William County Police Department and served as it’s chief for 24 years – one of the longest serving police chiefs in the nation.

He officially retired from the force Sept. 1. His going away party was held this past weekend because there wasn’t enough time to plan a party between the time Deane announced his retirement Aug. 1 and his official last day, said Perok.

Deane is credited for overseeing and assisting in several high-profile police investigations, including the Washington, D.C. sniper case in 2002 and the East Coast Rapist case in 2009.

Video: Stafford’s Shumate Family Set Music to Christmas Lights


STAFFORD, Va. – If you take a short trip down Spring Lake Drive in Stafford, you’re in for a long holiday lights show.

The house at 79 Spring Lake Drive is once again lit up for the holidays. And if you tune your car radio to 95.1 FM you’ll be able to listen to the Christmas music that accompanies these dancing lights.

Homeowner Randy Shumate begins setting up the light show in October. He says it’s a labor of love that he does for the neighborhood each year.

New for 2012 is a large sign with “Merry Christmas” lit up on the roof of the house.  Shumate said what started out as a small project has grown into a family holiday tradition.

Neighbors were invited to his house to see the light show Saturday night where they were greeted with hot drinks, snacks, and camaraderie. The evening light show will run through Jan. 1.


2,400 Area Children Need Christmas Gifts

DALE CITY, Va. – There is an increased need in our area this season to provide a bit of Christmas cheer for some needy children in Prince William County.

The area’s Un-Trim A Tree holiday gift giving program has seen a 24-percent increase in the number of children who need gifts this year. The program has over 5,000 children “adopted” or identified as needing gifts this year. For about 2,400 of the youngsters, Un-Trim A Tree organizer Mary Foley doesn’t know where the gifts will come from.

“This program is just about a little cheer for a kid- it’s a toy or new winter coat or fun stuff for a kid at Christmas,” she said.

The children who benefit from this program live in Prince William, Manassas, and Manassas Park. Thought family income levels vary, many of the children come from low-income families in the Dale City and Woodbridge areas and quality for free school lunch.

Foley says residents can help a child this year by contacting the program and adopting a child. Some adopters like to find out exactly what the child would like and then go out and shop for it, while others make gifts of cash or gift cards which are just as welcome.

“I have families with one child and I have families with 8 children. I can provide whatever your little heart desires,” said Foley to those considering adopting a child enrolled in the gift program.

Donations for  Un-Trim A Tree can also be dropped off at IKEA Woodbridge at Potomac Mills mall.

The Un-Trim A Tree program is 25-years-old and is managed by Volunteer Prince William.

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