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Photos: President Obama Comes to Woodbridge

Chief Photographer

Marine One carrying President Barack Obama lands at G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)


Obama campaign volunteer Jill Borak fires up the crowd and urges supporters to download a smart phone app and donate money to the campaign. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)


Virginia Senator Mark Warner (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)


Virginia Senator Mark Warner introduces President Barack Obama at a campaign rally on Friday in Woodbridge. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)


(Photo: Mary Davidson)


(Photo: Mary Davidson)


(Photo: Mary Davidson)

Stafford Woman Turns Photos into Lasting Memories



Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of posts by North Stafford business owners and residents that will examine North Stafford and Garrisonville as a community, and introduce our readers to the small locally-owned businesses and services in the community.


As an Independent Publishing Consultant with Heritage Makers, I help people solve their “photo problem.”

Heritage Makers believes the photos that you take tell the story of your life by preserving photos in published keepsakes that are unique and easy to share.

I recently helped a client, Kathy, put together a book celebrating her grandson’s first birthday. The pictures of her grandson, Ryder, with cake all over his face were just adorable!.

And I thought Kathy’s forethought to capture a picture of herself with her husband and the other set of grandparents made a memorable addition to the book. Kathy is now able to give a copy of the book to several family members.

I recently donated my time and the cost of a 12×12 storybook celebrating the 100th birthday of Stafford resident Mildred Owsley. The project grew out of an idea I had to visit an assisted living community and see if there was a resident interested in recording his or her life experiences or favorite memories. I thought making that donation once or twice a year would help enrich one or two families’ relationship with an elder.

The lovely folks at her retirement home connected me with Mildred’s daughter Laurann and the project came to life. While I receive no monetary rewards for this sort of thing, I am enriched with “payments of the heart.”

In this case, it was very rewarding to hear how happy the storybook made our local centenarian and her family.

As I’ve gotten more involved in the community to share my business, I’ve realized I cross paths with my fellow residents in so many ways: business networking events, social time at local stores and restaurants, toddler playgroups and school activities, and charity events from food drives to Toys for Tots collecting at an annual Claus for a Cause event. I feel blessed to have such wonderful neighbors and a place like Stafford to call home.

Curtain to Rise on “Arsenic and Old Lace”

MANASSAS, Va. – Vpstart Crow Productions will open its 2012-2013 season with the farcical, dark comedy, “Arsenic and Old Lace”, by Joseph Kesselring, on Friday, Sept. 28 at 8 p.m. in the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas.

The production runs from Friday to Sunday, Oct  7, with Friday and Saturday shows at 8 p.m., and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. The Pay-What-You-Can preview performance is on Thursday, Sept 27 at 8 p.m.

Rachael Murray is directing this play that has been delighting audiences for over 70 years.

“Joseph Kesselring asks audiences to laugh at what should be considered very grave (pun intended) stuff! I hope everyone enjoys this darkly funny show,” said Murray.

The story tells of two older ladies who poison several unsuspecting gentlemen while their nephew, who thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt, buries them in the basement. The madness continues to unfold as the ruse is uncovered.

The New York Times review of the original Broadway production of “Arsenic and Old Lace” said “[this play was] so funny that none of us will ever forget it.”

Tickets are available at the Hylton box office on the Prince William Campus of GMU or by calling 888-945-2468.

Vpstart Crow, a non-profit organization, has been producing professional theatrical productions in Manassas, Virginia since 1994.

-Press release 

Tornado Watch Now, Lower Temps Later

A tornado watch is in effect until 7 p.m. for the Potomac Communities.

The National Weather Service issued the alert as strong storms are forecast to blow through the area today, bringing heavy wind and rain.

It’s been a breezy day so far this morning. The storms are expected to impact the area throughout the afternoon.

Once they move out, sunny weather is expected to Wednesday and so are lower nighttime temperatures. The weather service forecasts low temperatures in the low 50s for Wednesday night.


Child Defenders Get Second-Chance Fundraiser

A storm blew through Old Town Manassas on Sept. 8 ruining an annual fundraising event for advocates against child abuse and neglect. (Submitted photo: CASA Prince William)

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – All it took was a gust of wind to ruin an annual fundraiser that brings help and support to victims of child abuse.

The Court Appointed Special Advocates of Prince William and Fauquier cpunties, better known as CASA, decked out the Harris Pavilion in Old Town Manassas on Sept. 8 for their “Evening Under the Stars” fundraising gala. The black-tie event is their largest fundraiser normally nets the organization at least $120,000, and is attended by 1,000 people.

The first guest to this year’s event was Mother Nature, who brought unwanted wind and rain which destroyed tents, tables, and prompted the overall cancelation of the event.

Fast forward to now and there are new plans to recover some of the money that was lost at CASA’s “Evening Because of the Storm Auction” scheduled at 6 p.m. Friday at Appliance Connection in Woodbridge. About 200 items will be auction off beginning at 8 p.m. with hopes the organization can try to offset some of the monies lost after the cancelation of the Manassas event.

“We can’t make up for the ‘Evening Under the Stars’ event, that event is lost. This will help us make up some of the cost of that event – which was already paid for in advance – and help us carryout our work for the year,” said CASA Chief Executive Director Charlyn Hasson-Brown.

Friday’s quieter affair will feature food donated by generous restaurants and a cash bar. The party goes until 10 p.m.

Founded in 1992, CASA advocates in court for abused and neglected children in an effort to help provide them with a safe home.

Ice Cream Results Are In: What’s Your Favorite?

GumBo's ice cream stand in North Stafford. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Mary Davidson

I have been working very hard during this long, hot summer researching the ice cream shops in and around our area.

Driving south on Interstate 95, I frequently exit at Woodbridge to take U.S. 1 due to traffic congestion. When I do this I’ve inevitably missed lunch and remember this just as I am with in view of Jo Jo’s Original Soft Serve in Dumfries. I’m sure you’d agree their medium soft serve cone is an acceptable lunch alternative in an emergency. I’ll give them an A-plus for location alone.

Next, there is Gum Bo’s Ice Cream just north of Aquia Harbour off U.S. 1, across from the crucifix landmark in North Stafford. Their mango soft serve was flavored throughout not just a twist around vanilla, delish. They offer fruit mixed in with the soft serve but I found it better without. They also have a “no sugar added option.” It may be good, but why chance it. This shop wins the most colorful decor award.

I read about a unique family run ice-cream shop called “Moo Thru” in Remington, in Fauquier County. It’s a bit out of the area, but it makes for a nice afternoon drive.

Their shop is set around cattle farms and has a nice covered picnic area with benches, where you can sit and take in the rural surroundings. I tried three flavors (it was a long drive I said, don’t judge me) and all were excellent — just what you would expect if you were to make it yourself using the old-fashion hand crank machine from yesteryear. I would have to say I prefer my ice-cream to have a bit more of a creamy texture.

One would be remiss to exclude Carl’s soft serve ice cream from my research. Without a doubt I have consumed my weight in ice cream from the famous Fredericksburg frozen custard stand over the past 30 years. I don’t think they have changed a bit in the years I’ve been going there and I hope they never do.

Last but not least on my list is Brusters and their hand dipped ice-cream wins hands down for creaminess and flavor. Fortunately my favorite flavor, pistachio, is not always available.

Unfortunately I have not been disappointing by any other flavor I’ve tried.

There are more ice-cream shops in our area and if your favorite is not on my list please leave a comment.

Victim Remembered at 5K Walk in Woodbridge

Anthony Futyma, the father of the late Jenny Vaughn Bates, stands with his grandson, 7-year-old Robbie, at the No Woman, No Cry 5K Walk on Oct. 15, 2012 in Woodbridge. (Photo: Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Jenny Vaughn-Bates was killed in Montclair by her husband in September 2010.

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Neighbors gathered to remember a woman who was tragically shot and killed by her husband two years ago. Afterward, her husband took his own life.

Area residents filled the track at Prince William County’s Freedom High School in Woodbridge on Saturday to remember the life of Jenny Vaughn Bates at the “No Woman, No Cry 5K Walk.”

This was the second year the event has been held, and its goal is to raise awareness about domestic violence in the community.

“It’s very uplifting; it’s a wonderful testimony to my daughter’s life and her service as a social worker here in the county. It’s heartening to me and her two boys, Robbie and Damon, to see wonderful people and the activities they do throughout the year and advocate against domestic violence,” said Bates’ father Anthony Futyma.

Bates is survived by her children, Robbie, 7, and Damen, 16. Organizers of Saturday’s event said Jenny is sorely missed.

“Jenny was a very dear friend of mine. We started ‘No Woman No Cry’ to not only honor Jenny but to but also raise awareness for domestic violence in the community and to stop the silence about domestic violence in the community,” said co-founder Jaclyn Neham.

Police were called to the Montclair neighborhood on the morning of September 18, 2010 where the found the bodies of Bates, and her husband Robert. Neighbors that morning reported hearing an argument and seeing the two standing outside an SUV. Afterward, they heard gunshots.

According to the No Woman, No Cry website, nearly one in every four women are beaten or raped by a partner during their adult life.


(Photo: Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Stafford Zombies Learn Dance Moves

(Photo: Mary Davidson)


NORTH STAFFORD, Va. – A charity event to raise donations of canned food brought out zombies in North Stafford.

On Wednesday night, dancers who are learning the moves to Michael Jackson’s classic song, Thriller, took to the dance floor at Mainstreet Grill and Bar. The dancers meet at 5 p.m. each Wednesday to learn the moves that will culminate in a worldwide “Thriller” dance on Oct. 27.

The event is free to attend with the donation of a canned food item to benefit the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank.

(Photo: Mary Davidson)


Woodbridge Fire Dept. Turns 74

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – In September 1938, the Occoquan-Woodbridge-Lorton Volunteer Fire Department was officially incorporated.

It marked two years of hard work for a group of concerned citizens who recognized the need for a fire department in the area. Many of them put up personal property and their own money to secure loans to build a building to house the apparatus and start the department.

Sometimes they had to “pass the hat” to pay electric and other bills monthly.

Before OWL VFD the closest fire departments were in Pen Daw (Fairfax Station 11) to the north, Manassas to the west and Fredericksburg to the south. The first station was in Occoquan on the corner of Washington and Mill streets, which was dubbed Station Two in Prince William County.

You can still see the concrete pad where it was located. From there they built a building that is now the VFW in Occoquan. In 1958 they opened a second Station on U.S. 1 in Woodbridge, and numbered the Occoquan station “2-1” and the Woodbridge station “2-2.”

From there, OWL moved to the current Station 2 on F Street in Woodbridge, opened up the Lake Ridge Station 14, and Station 12 on U.S. 1 which was later relocated to Montgomery Avenue.

OWL VFD’s continued success is because of the foresight and hard work of those who built the foundation and the dedication and commitment of our members who serve today. Even from our humble beginnings, OWL VFD has historically strategically planned for disaster events, keeping up on the latest training, equipment and education available.

OWL VFD invests thousands of hours in professional training and certification courses. Our care and dedication to Fire and Rescue is reflected in our efforts of staying up to date and ready for the task.

OWL VFD is one of the largest and busiest volunteer fire and rescue departments in the United States. OWL VFD provides fire suppression, EMS care, and rescue services to 80,000 residents in our 27 square mile area through the operation of three fire stations. OWL volunteer Firefighters and EMTs work the 6 pm to 6 am shift, five days a week, plus 24 hours on holidays and weekends.

-Press release


‘Shave’ Donations Top $4,000


Event organizers said the Be Brave and Shave event was a success. More from Kyler’s mother, Tammy Palacios:

I wanted to let you know that we were able to raise $1,500 on September 16th. In total about $4,000 was raised.

The site will be open for donation up until December. We had between 20-30 people shave.

ORIGINAL POST September 14, 2012

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. – After 5-year-old Kyler lost his 22-month battle with cancer, a charity event to raise awareness about his disease will go on.  

A story from Insidenova.com noted Kyler was dubbed the youngest fire fighter at the Coles Volunteer Fire Department. More now in a letter from Kyler’s mother, Tammy Palacios:

Kyler, 5, lost his 22-month battle with cancer in August. (Submitted photo),

My youngest son Kyler was diagnosed with an ependymoma brain tumor. Most of his treatment has been with Childrens Hospital at either their hospital in Washington or in an offsite clinic in Falls Church.

An organization called “Heroes Against Childhood” cancer puts on “Be brave and Shave” event where all proceeds go toward Children’s National Medical Center cancer programs. 

After Kyler’s tumor was stable and his first set of treatments stop I wanted to give something back for all that the hospital has done for him.

In April while planning this event Kyler’s tumor returned. He tried more treatments but none of them worked. Aug. 25, Kyler earned his angel wings after 22 months battle with cancer.

He always had a smile and a fighter attitude. He wanted was looking forward to be one of the first to have their heads shaved.

I decided that the shave should go on since this was something he wanted. It will be held on Sunday Sept. 16 from 9 a.m. to noon at Coles District Volunteer Fire Department in Prince William County.

We will also have a bake sale table there. It is open to the public, children and adults can participate. For more information you can contact Meredith Chipman 301-565-8422 of mchipman@childrensnational.org.


Woman, 102, says she’ll be Oldest Olympian at Meet

LAKE RIDGE, Va. – At 102, Doris Woodring reckons she’s the oldest participant in this month’s 2012 Northern Virginia Senior Olympics (NVSO). The resident at Westminster at Lake Ridge will compete for her first time in scrabble on Sept. 24 at the Lincolnia Senior Citizen’s Center.

“I’m pretty sure I’ll be the oldest Olympian,” says the resident at Westminster. “Scrabble keeps my mind alert. I still do my own finances, you know.”

While she looks forward to the event, the centenarian is not optimistic about her chances of winning.

“I doubt if I’ll win,” she says. “There’ll be a lot of experts, but it’ll still be fun.”

Doris has been practicing her Scrabble skills, particularly ‘Q’ and ‘K’ words.

“I look in the dictionary to find more words like quads, quaff and quiver,” she says. “The way to make points is adding onto other letters already on the board.”

She has played Scrabble her whole life, but cannot remember her first time playing the word game.

She has lived in Northern Virginia most of her life, moving there from Kansas in 1935.

2012 is the 30th Anniversary of NVSO. Participants must be 50 years of age and live in a sponsoring jurisdiction to be eligible. There are 40 events which take place over a 10 day period at 18 venues throughout Northern Virginia. For information go to nvso.us.

-Press release

Classic Car Show to Benefit Cancer Research


JTC, Inc. is proud to sponsor Carz Cruiz-In to Cure Cancer, a charity classic car and unique vehicle show in Potomac Falls held September 16 , from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

All proceeds of the event will go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

JTC has donated all web-related work to help promote the show. The company has also donated Redskins tickets to be raffled off.

This is a great event organized by Doug Megill and the staff of McLean Insurance. Sponsorship opportunities and booths are still available.


Leesylvania Collects Donations for 9/11 Day

Prince William County firefighter Kenyon Sweet climbed up on a semi truck to have a closer look at one of four large pieces of steel from taken from the wreckage of the World Trade Center. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Leesylvania State Park in Woodbridge will collect donations for the Fort Belvoir Fisher House as part of series of events honoring the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City and Virginia.

Between now and Sept. 14, the park will collect donations for the center that provides a “home away from home” for military families while visiting a loved one in the care of the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, according to a press release from Virginia State Parks.

Leesylvania State Park is one of 35 state parks this month that are participating in a National Day of Service in Remembrance of the terrorist attacks. The annual remembrance was instituted by congress in 2009., and it’s held each year on Sept. 11.

Virginia’s park service has provided a link to a listing of all participating parks and the subsequent special events planned.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001 after jets slammed into the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Arlington, and into a field in Shanksville, Pa.


Prince William Plans 9/11 Ceremony

Prince William County Supervisors Maureen Caddigan, Corey Stewart, and John Jenkins herald the arrival of steel from the World Trade Center. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

WOODBRIGDE, Va. – On Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012, at 1:30 p.m., the public is invited to attend a ceremony commemorating the 11th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001. The ceremony will be held on the County Complex at the County’s Liberty Memorial.

The ceremony will include brief comments by Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart, the reading of the names of the County residents who were lost on that day, and placing flowers on the memorial fountain to honor and remember them.

We hope you will join us on Sept. 11 to remember the fallen, to embrace those who lost their loved ones, and to ensure that we never forget what happened on Sept. 11, 2001.

-Prince William County press release

Trail Wanted in Expanding Park

(Photo; Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

NORTH STAFFORD, Va. – A total of 136 new parking spaces will be added at Smith Lake Park, which is the home to five heavily used soccer fields. With the new parking spaces, all five soccer fields will be able to be used simultaneously for the first time.

Work on the $547,000 project, which also includes a new maintenance facility that will include a “modest” equipment shop with two vehicle bays that can be used to load trucks with salt and sand for snow removal operations, should be complete next spring. Officials said working on the project during the winter months will have the least impact on park visitors.

Officials are also looking at adding a new trail connecting the newly built Woodstream residential neighborhood to Smith Lake Park. According to county documents, representatives from the new subdivision, Stafford County Griffis-Widewater Supervisor Jack Cavalier, and former Stafford County Parks Director Christopher Hoppe walked a proposed alignment for a trail that follows a sewer line along Aquia Creek, according to county documents.

While the path for the would-be trail is flat and conducive for walking, Woodstream developer Brookfield Homes placed a portion of the trail alignment into a conservation easement. Now, with resource protection area rules in effect for the tract of land, which means surface trails are OK concrete, asphalt, or other building materials could not be used to construct the trail unless county officials allow changes to the conservation easement.

County documents state many residents envision using strollers and bicycles on the trail, which would require an asphalt surface.

Stafford County receives much of its drinking water from Smith Lake and Able Lake in the center portion of the county. Combined, the two lakes produce 13.8 million gallons of water per day.


‘Make the Future’ is Changing Futures


DUMFRIES, Va. – An organization dedicated to bettering childrens lives is helping members of the Boys and Girls Club inDumfries. 

Coach Michael Futrell along with his wife, Dr. Bernadine Futrell, are the founders and directors of the Make The Future Basketball camp held Aug. 27 – 31 at the General Heiser Boys and Girls Club in Dumfries.

The organization is in its third year of operation and serves many of Boys and Girls Club members here at the General Heiser Branch, and also the other Boys and Girls Club branches in Northern Virginia.

The camp ranges from children in elementary to high school, with high school students serving as volunteer camp counselors throughout the week of camp.

Coach and Dr. Futrell are great advocates for the Boys and Girls Club, and you can always catch them at one of our many events volunteering their time.

The futures of the next generation are very important to the Futrell’s. They not only display that in words, but in actions as well.

For more information on the camp and their work, you can find it on the web at make-the-future.org.


‘How to Market Your Book’ Panel Discussion is Sept. 8

MANASSAS, Va. – Write by the Rails, an initiative by individual writer members of the Prince William Arts Council, is sponsoring “How to Market Your Book,” a panel discussion by local writers on Saturday, September 8 from 12:30 pm to 2:00 pm at Trinity Episcopal Church, 9325 West Street, in Manassas. The event is free and open to the public.

Panelists will be Bristow resident Carol Covin, author of Who Gets to Name Grandma; Lake Ridge resident Nancy Kyme, author of Memory Lake; Bristow resident Tee Morris, author of Phoenix Rising, Morevi and The Case of the Singing Sword and Manassas resident Ross Murphy, You Will Never Dance Alone, Dancing with the Devil. Dan Verner, Biscuit City blogger, will be the master of ceremonies and Leigh Giza, author of Found and Lost, is the workshop coordinator. Participants will leave with a free handout of marketing tips by Claudia LaFeve, author of Parallel, Paradox, unDead Dixie Debs and The Fury will be distributed. Books by local writers will be available for purchase.

Write by the Rails is working to raise the profile of the local literary community and explore ways to nurture, cultivate and help that community grow. Our next meeting will be Saturday, Sept. 15 from 2-4 pm at Trinity Episcopal Church with guest June Forte, President of the Virginia Writers Club.

If you are a writer, published or unpublished, affiliated with Manassas, Manassas Park or Prince William County, consider joining us. For more information, call 703-361-6941, email writebytherails@gmail.com, or visit writebytherails.blogspot.com.


School Zone Enforcement Returns Tuesday

STAFFORD, Va. – The Stafford County Sheriff’s Office announces the “School’s Open” campaign to coincide with the opening of Stafford County Public Schools on Tuesday, Sept. 4.

This campaign will be in effect Tuesday through Friday, September 7.

This year at each of the county’s 30 school sites the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office will have an active presence on hand to help remind drivers that school is in session, and to be aware of the posted speed limits in school zones during the busy beginning and ending of the school day.

Additional deputies will be at each school site during the week. In addition, if a school bus driver sees a vehicle pass the bus when its flashing lights are activated, and a deputy is not immediately available, the bus driver will get the tag number, notify the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office and a deputy will go out to the home and speak with the citizen.

The Stafford County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind motorists that the speed limit in school zones is 25-miles-per hour.

Be sure to be on the lookout for the School Speed Zone Flashing Lights. The exception is the school zone near Drew Middle School where the speed limit is 35 mph.

That is because Drew Middle School is on U.S. 1. The reduced speed limit in school zones are from 7:10 a.m. to 9:20 am and 1:45 p.m. to 4:10 p.m. everyday that schools are in session.


Stafford Fire Fighters Filling Boots for MDA


Stafford County Fire and Rescue personnel will spend the Labor Day weekend out on the streets collecting money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).

Muscular Dystrophy encompasses over 40 neuromuscular diseases that affect people of all ages. The MDA assists those with any form of Muscular Dystrophy and their families and funds research of all types of Muscular Dystrophy.

Crews hit the streets at major intersections August 31st through September 3rd and asked motorists to contribute to the MDA by filling the boot.

All funds collected during the Fill the Boot Campaign will benefit MDA programs in the local area. Every donation helps so when you see the Fire and Rescue personnel during the Labor Day weekend please donate and help this great cause.

Learn If You’re Registered to Vote

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – The Prince William County Human Rights Commission will meet on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, at 7:30 p.m. in the James J. McCoart Building. At the meeting, the Electoral Board will present information on the 2012 Presidential Election and some new guidelines that all voting citizens need to know before Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012.

The chairman of the Electoral Board, Keith Scarborough, and the board members will discuss four items – 1) are you registered to vote at your current address; 2) has your polling place been changed; 3) do you have an acceptable form of identification; and 4) do you qualify to vote absentee?

The Human Rights Commission meetings are open to the public, and everyone is welcome to attend. Please come out and learn about the things you will need to do before the November election. You may contact the office if you have questions at 703-792-4680.

-Press release 

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