Opinion: Al Alborn
By AL ALBORN
I’ve been thinking a lot about the commute north these days.
I was one of the many drivers that made that commute for years. Between 1988 and 2002, I dutifully woke up every morning with 105.9 tuned in on the radio, poured myself a cup of coffee from a pot set on a timer, watched TV traffic reports to see if I needed to take a different route, and then entered the darkness to drive through Clifton to get to Tysons Corner and other points around the beltway.
As the years passed, I had to adjust my alarm clock to get up a bit earlier to beat the crowd. I remember the dread of being stuck for hours with no way out while a traffic accident was cleared. I also remember two near-death experiences where my life flashed before my life (literally) as I thought I wouldn’t make it to work (the first accident) on I-95 or home (the second accident) on I-66.
Now that I spend more time simply thinking, I question why so many people who don’t really need to commute, well, commute. I suggest that while we have the policy and commonwealth incentives in place to allow people to work at home, at a telework center, at Starbucks or wherever while encouraging companies to let them do so, we lack the strategy to translate this policy into a meaningful reduction of people competing for ever scarcer transportation resources (road, rail, bus, slug lines, van pools, etc.)
One of my favorite books is the classic Only the Paranoid Survive by Andy Grove. It’s a “cult classic” among management consultants and on my shelf of ready references when advising business and Government on how to manage change. In Grove’s book, he discusses inflection points and the importance of recognize when any enterprise faces one.
Every now and then, any enterprise needs to reassess the world within which it operates and question exactly what its business mission is. It has to look out for inflection points, those changes to the fundamentals in the world within which an enterprise operates. Enterprises that recognize those inflection points increase their chances of thriving in “what’s next”. Those who miss inflection points are usually doomed to failure.
Recognizing an inflection point when I see one allowed me to stop commuting in 2002. Pointing them out as public policy considerations is now an amusement.
So, what’s the question?
The traditional question was, “how do we move people around efficiently to get them too and from work?” In the industrial age where people reported to typewriters, factories, or shops this was a pretty good question.
We’re not in the industrial age any more.
Transportation planning and technology need to converge so building roads to move people around and reducing competition for those roads become part of one solution set. Conceptually, these alternatives are variables in the same model.
I suggest that the question has changed to, “how do we move information around more efficiently to get it to the people who need it?”
Roads are last century’s answer. Telework is this century’s answer.
For a large percentage of our population, those folks who do something with information, there is really no reason to actually drive somewhere to add value to that information. With today’s technology, you may do your job anywhere.
Government “gets” this. At the federal level, the Telework Enhancement act of 2010 mandated that every federal agency implement a telework strategy and make it available to eligible employees. In Virginia, tax credits are in place to encourage businesses to allow employees to telework.
Commuters have figured out that they waste two hours of their day, ten hours of their week, around 500 hours a year risking their lives and sanity commuting to work. I am one of many who survived two near-death experiences while commuting. Every life you take off the road for even a day is a life that’s a bit safer.
People who do business with the Federal Government recognize the increased facility costs of housing people who perform contracts, lost time driving around Northern Virginia to attend meetings, and opportunity cost driving somewhere instead of developing new business.
Our transportation planners, whether they by PWC, NVTA, COG , Virginia’s Secretary of Transportation, local overnments, or whatever consider technology, changes in the nature of work and the simple fact that strategies to take people off our already stressed transportation infrastructure be part of the solution.
Government and quasi-government bodies at all levels assess Northern Virginia’s infrastructure to ensure we have the necessary broadband, technology, services, and policy in place to let people work at home or at a local telework center (particularly important for classified work) and integrate the results into its transportation strategy. We also need to continue developing the right federal, state and local policies to encourage and support both businesses and individuals who wish to work anywhere but a centralized office somewhere.
The right question for transportation planners is, “how do we move information around more efficiently to get it to the people who need it?” Perhaps we need a new group of “Information Planners” to develop strategies for moving information around. In any case, models developed to predict traffic flows and transportation requirements are incomplete if they don’t consider the impact of applying technology to reduce the load on the system.
Letting people work at home under existing policy with available technology is a pretty simple idea. Sometimes, the simple solutions are the best answer to the question. In this case, my question is, “why not?”
Let’s not miss this rather obvious inflection point. The stakes are just too high and the rewards too great. I’m not sure we can afford to do otherwise.
By URIAH KISER
DALE CITY, Va. – A fully renovated multipurpose classroom where children and teenagers will be able to learn, study, and grow opened for the first time Saturday.
In an celebration featuring local business owners and elected officials, a ribbon was cut for the Wellburn Management Learning Center inside the Hylton Branch of the Boys and Girls Club in Dale City. With brand new desks, tables, and cozy chairs, the center offers a classroom setting complete with SmartBoard technology, a library, and a special childrens’ reading room. Made possible by Wellburn Management, a firm which owns several McDonalds restaurants in Prince William County, students here will be able to focus their learning on science, technology, and math, also known as STEM.
“We are very exited for the STEM program to begin” said Teja Washington, a five-year member of the Boys and Girls Club. “We now have a dedicated place to do homework, to fill out college applications, and to study.”
The learning center is on the second floor of the two-story building off Dale Boulevard. Overall, the renovation will be able to accommodate a growing customer base as the club has doubled the number of children enrolled in programs there in the past 30 days.
“This room will allow us to expand our educational through STEM, or GED, and all-around new educational offerings right here in Dale City,” said Prince William / Manassas Boys and Girls Club Director Glenn Vickers.
Diane Wellburn of Wellburn Management said the learning center came from a vision of helping children succeed.
“We wanted to make a place for children to learn, because with everything going on in the world right now, so many of them are distracted and don’t have a place to come and do homework,” said Wellburn.
The STEM learning program is just getting underway and club officials plan to release more information on the programs that will be offered here in the near future. Vickers said all three of the Boys and Girls Clubs he helps to oversee – the one in Dale City, a branch in Dumfries, and one in Manassas – serves 4,500 children between the ages of 5 and 18 with an annual membership fee of $30.
The Hylton Boys and Girls Club is open from 3 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, and is closed Mondays.
By CHARLES SMITH
Prince William Conservation Alliance
Many residents in Northern Virginia understand the need to change land use practices to stop or minimize habitat destruction and preserve good examples of our native plant communities. An increasing number of people also support combating the spread of non-native invasive species to include problem plant species and insects such as gypsy moth, which can strip tree foliage and cause their death.
These two conservation priorities remain tremendously important, but there is a critical need to add another: controlling populations of white-tailed deer.
People arrived in North America over 13,000 years ago. Once our species arrived, we, not wolves and mountain lions, gradually became the top predator controlling populations of large herbivores. Many of those species eventually went extinct. The white-tailed deer nearly joined their ranks by about 1900, with very few deer left in the state.
In the mid-20th century, Virginia joined many other states in reintroducing white-tailed deer to supplement the few deer left and increase numbers for sport hunting. From the 1950s through the 1980s two things happened that greatly contributed to the increase in the number of deer. First land use shifted away from agriculture toward suburban and urban uses.
Contrary to commonly held beliefs, suburban landscapes do not take away deer habitat – they create it. Deer are adaptive animals. Suburban development creates preferred edge habitat for deer, and human landscapes provide high concentrations of edible plants close to the ground where the deer can get to them. You can grow more deer in suburbia than you can in a purely forested landscape.
The second major factor is that few people hunt. Deer are a prey species that requires predation to control their populations. Without predation they can double their numbers in as little as one year. With almost no hunting pressure in suburban areas and declining hunting pressure in rural areas, deer numbers have skyrocketed state-wide. In many areas of the state, deer population numbers are at more than three to eight times the densities that native plant communities can sustain.
The result is that our remaining forest ecosystems are decimated. Deer eat everything native with few exceptions. They eat almost all of the non-woody plants in the forest as well as all shrubs and trees within their reach and the majority of the acorns and hickory nuts. They have now removed most vegetation from many of our forests below 5 feet.
The results include the disappearance of most of our forest bird species in many areas due to loss of the understory, the loss of many of our woodland wildflowers, and a change of our forest stand composition to a few species such as tulip tree, American beech and red maple that have smaller seeds and appear to be less palatable to deer.
As our forests are oversimplified we lose native species, non-native invasive plants explode and become the dominant understory. Once the existing trees die, there will be little to replace them.
In 2008 the USDA Forest Service began to make dire predictions about eastern forests due to the over-browsing by white-tailed deer. The problem is so severe that even if we could reduce the number of deer immediately to within ecologically sustainable levels, it would take many decades if not centuries to recover our native plant communities.
If we act soon we can retain enough native plant stock and seed that many species could recover within remaining forests and repopulate surrounding areas over time.
It is time for residents and local governments in Northern Virginia to join with USDA Forest Service, the Virginia Natural Heritage Program, large landowners and managers elsewhere in Virginia, the Maryland Native Plant Society and others in supporting and urging efforts to reduce and manage the number of white-tailed deer in order to protect our native plant species, the communities in which they live and the animal species they support.
Charles Smith is a member of the Prince William Wildflower Society and Prince William Conservation Alliance, and the Natural Resource Management and Protection Branch Manager for Fairfax County Park Authority.
When slugging, it’s always a good idea to know where you’re going.
Sure, this may sound like a no brainer, but there are many slugs and drivers alike who assume everyone is on the same page, and well, we all know what happens when we assume.
Slug lines are typically organized at specific locations, based on their destination. For instance, slugs headed for the Pentagon stand in line near the bus bay in the Tackett’s Mill Commuter Lot in the morning, or they wait near the intersection at 14th & Independence in the afternoon to get to the lot at Old Hechinger’s near Occoquan.
For the most part, slugs generally know where to wait and drivers know where to pick up. However, we’re all human, and occasionally, we make mistakes – and some of us have had to learn this the hard way!
I speak from experience, clearly. There’s one day in particular, where I remember standing in the Horner Road-bound slug line at L’Enfant Plaza. The slug lines there are all located along D Street, with different destinations in Springfield, Woodbridge, and Stafford, and are somewhat close together, even closer on days when the lines are very long.
This was one of those days, and it was getting late, so I was relieved when I was next in line and the next car finally arrived. I got into the front passenger seat, and the driver took two more riders into the backseat. As we settled in for the journey home, I guess none of us thought to confirm our destination – we were just happy to finally have a ride. It wasn’t until I looked up and saw that we were passing the exit that we realized something was wrong.
Confused and almost speechless, I pointed to the exit too late. “Horner?” was all I could manage to spit out.
The driver, just as bewildered, responded only by saying, “Stafford? 610?”
Right away, the two ladies in the backseat awoke from their drowsy state, just in time to tell the driver that we all thought we were going to the Horner Road Commuter Lot, not the lot at Route 610 in Stafford. The driver apologized, and was kind enough to take the next exit to circle back and drop us off.
Later, I heard a story from a friend, who slugs from Woodbridge, that when the same thing happened to her, the driver refused to take her passengers back. That poor slug had to call a family member to be picked up in Stafford.
Since then, I’ve always been sure to confirm my destination with the driver before getting into the car. It only takes a second and can save a major headache later. Still, miscommunications are bound to happen from time to time. Especially in the morning, I’ve gotten into cars with drivers who have said they will go to L’Enfant Plaza, and once they’re on the road, ask for directions. That’s not so bad, if that’s the worst of it. Once, I rode with a couple who said they knew where L’Enfant was, yet somehow, we ended up at Foggy Bottom. What a mess that was!
Another time, I rode with a man who was running late for a meeting and decided in the middle of the ride that he wouldn’t have time to stop by L’Enfant to drop me off before shooting over to 14th Street.
“I used to work near L’Enfant,” he kept assuring me. “I’ll drop you off real close.”
Never will I ever believe that lie again – where he ended up dropping me off was not close at all! To be fair, it was walking distance, but it was absolutely freezing that day. I would have never accepted a ride knowing that I’d have to walk such a distance in the wind and cold. And you know how much I hate the cold. I was bamboozled.
At the end of the day, there’s always a chance that something will go wrong; people will make mistakes, or change their minds, and life will go on. But clear communication is your best bet in avoiding such situations, to make sure everyone gets where they need to go without any issues along the way.
By STEPHANIE TIPPLE
While the words ‘gulasch’ and ‘schnitzel’ may not sound the most appetizing, once you’ve ordered a plate at the Roadhaus Eatery & Bier Garten in Stafford, you may have to change your mind.
Located on U.S. 1 in Stafford County, between Garrisonville Road and the Quantico Marine Base, this restaurant promises genuine German fare, along with a few more Americanized dishes for your friend or spouse who’s a bit of a xenophobe.
Not afraid to try some foreign fare, I stopped by the Roadhaus Eatery one evening. Or should I say, I attempted to. After reading the hours posted for the restaurant, I drove there, only to find they were closed – with a hand made sign that showcased their new ‘winter hours’.
Disappointed but not deterred, I ventured to Roadhaus during lunchtime on a different day to give it another shot. This time the restaurant was buzzing with activity, with several customers coming in for lunch from Quantico.
I was immediately greeted by my server and brought to a table, where I could take in all of the décor. With different knick knacks that reinforced the German theme, complete with cuckoo clocks and a full bar stocked with German beer and spirits, I could tell I was definitely in a place where lederhosen wasn’t just Will Ferrell’s costume in Elf.
With the lunch rush there was a high volume that resonated throughout the building, so if you’re sensitive to loud noises, or you want a more relaxing environment, it’s best to come during the evening.
Many of the menu items were normal lunch fare, including a Chicken Salad sandwich ($7.95), or the Southwest Chicken wrap ($8.95). But if you want an authentic experience, you want to stick to the specialty sandwiches section of the menu or splurge on a meal from the dinner menu.
And while it’s almost impossible to properly pronounce some of the items, the menu offers short ‘German lessons’ that define the different food items – very helpful when trying foreign food. They also offer an endless salad bar ($9.45) for those with dietary restrictions.
I ordered the Schnitzel sandwich ($9.95), which is a pork cutlet that is breaded and served on a Kaiser roll with a lemon zest mayo. My food came quickly – a major plus for someone with a short lunch break – and I began to dig in.
Biting in, I immediately noticed the presence of the lemon zest mayo, which was subtler than I imagined, but had a unique taste that broke up the flavor of the breaded pork. I was satisfied after eating a majority of my sandwich – a good portion size for a bigger lunch.
My sandwich was served with frites, or French fries, which were crispy and delicious. It took me till the end of my meal to see a small puddle of grease at the bottom of my plate, so avoid this particular sandwich if you can’t eat greasy foods.
Aside from enjoying my meal, I was pleased with a majority of the service I received. My waiter was quick and attentive, and other staff checked on me to make sure I had been served. I do feel that I was rushed a bit out the door with the check, and that I wish I could have seen if there was a dessert menu, but I chalked it up to all of the busy patrons stopping in with a short lunch break and a big appetite.
I would recommend this as a lunch stop when you’re in the area. The prices are reasonable, the concept is unique and the service is excellent. While some of the dinner entrées seem pricey, like the Jaeger Schnitzel ($19.95), it’s worth taking the time to try it out.
WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Danielle Sherred was running errands with her mom when they stopped at the Shell station located at 13890 Noblewood Plaza in Woodbridge. She bought two Big Winning Numbers tickets from the Virginia Lottery. They then discovered that one of the tickets was a $250,000 winner.
“My mom was next to me and kept screaming,” she told Lottery officials as she claimed her prize. “I just remained in shock.”
Ms. Sherred said she had no immediate plans for her winnings.
Big Winning Numbers is one of dozens of Scratchers offered by the Virginia Lottery. It features prizes ranging from $5 all the way up to $250,000. This is the first top prize claimed in this game, which means four top-prize tickets remain unclaimed.
By URIAH KISER
NORTH STAFFORD, Va. — It’s not a full on make over as much as it will be a new way of doing things.
Mick’s Restaurant and Sports Lounge plans to revamp its menu, build a more female-friendly atmosphere, and improve the quality of the service inside the restaurant now known for Tex-Mex and American food.
On the new menu, you’ll find things like flatbread pizza, seafood, and new healthier salads and wraps. They’ll be more consistency behind the bar so made-to-order drinks are poured according to their recipes. And servers waiting on guests will be taught to trade phrases like “sure, no problem,” for “absolutely.”
It’s a new plan to help redirect a 4-year-old restaurant that needs some sprucing up.
“We want people to come in to the restaurant with their families and say ‘this is our bar’ where we love to go out to eat,” said manager Lexi McDaniel.
Mick’s as we know it today will be closed for lunch on Thursday so servers will get new training from everything from new menu items to clearing tables.
“No one wants to go into their next course with a reminder of what they just had to eat, and we recognize that,” said McDaniel.
The restaurant will reopen Thursday at 4 p.m. with a re-launch party where customers have been invited to come in and try new menu items.
The restaurant sits on a hill in North Stafford where U.S. 1, Interstate 95, and Va. 610 all come together near bustling Aquia Harbour. While the residential neighborhood stays busy, the nearby shopping center in which Mick’s sits – Town Center at Aquia – has been slow to redevelop five years after many businesses were boarded up and were demolished to make way for newer ones.
While the restaurant wants to bring in families by day, Mick’s has found success in turning down the lights at night to become one of the area’s only nightclubs. Most recently in January, the restaurant hosted its “Anything But Clothes” party where revelers were encouraged to dress in anything, well, but clothes, and were told to be sure to have their vital areas covered up.
These afterhours events, which also include more common attractions like open mic nights and live music, are something McDaniel says Mick’s can continue to do all while redefining itself as a family brand.
“We are a family restaurant during the day, and our customers respect the fact that we have a bar and often hold events at night. It really shows both sides of what Mick’s is,” said McDaniel.
The restaurant’s staff, some of which are new hires, will begin a dry run of the new menu and concept starting tomorrow, and they’ll don new uniforms and start a new concept called team service – where everyone pitches in to make sure guests are comfortable and full – when the restaurant re-launches on Thursday.
News from Content Partner Prince William / Manassas Boys & Girls Clubs
MANASSAS, Va. — The Boys and Girls Club for the first time will hold their annual Stake ‘N Steak charity dinner at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas.
The show will be hosted by Olympic great Benita Fitzgerald Mosely – an Olympic gold medalist in track and field who grew up in Dale City. Fitzgerald Mosley competed in the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, and she has a street named after her in Dale City.
The show and fundraiser will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on June 7.
“We’re taking the show off the road this year,” said Prince William / Manassas Boys and Girls Clubs Director Glenn Vickers. “For years we’ve been trying to make a gymnasium into a banquet hall, now we’ll make the Hylton Performing Arts Center into a Boys and Girls Club.”
For the past three years Prince William Potomac District School Board Representative Betty Covington has hosted the show, which has traditionally been held at Boys and Girls Club branches in Manassas and the Hylton Branch in Dale City.
The fundraiser is aptly named Steak ‘N Stake as choice cuts of beef are served, and the organization during the fundraiser Illustrates the involvement of the clubs in the lives of children and what’s at stake if the club was not able to be involved in the community.
While it was easy in years’ past to showcase the work of the clubs during the dinners held at inside club gymnasiums, Vickers said there will be videos and other visual aides on display at the Hytlon Performing Arts Center to showcase the work that happens inside the clubs.
Last year, the Boys and Girls Clubs raised $40,000 during the annual charity event. The organization has two clubs in Prince William – in Dale City and Dumfries – and another location in Manassas.
Mom on the Run
I take a deep breath, and type: “www.fafsa.gov.”
I am set, and ready. To my right, completed taxes and bank account information. To my left, my precious dark-green folder, containing an inch of papers – virtually everything I have learned about the FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, over the past three years.
I first became acquainted with the FAFSA when my daughter was a senior in high school. Despite three “All About Financial Aid” sessions presented during various college tours, that first application took me hours. Hours of reading fine print, and clicking for more information, and running up and down, up and down the stairs finding financial information.
The second year, before my daughter’s sophomore year of college, the process was easier. I had learned what documentation I needed, and kept all the passwords in my vital green folder. And the third time around, last spring, I felt so comfortable with and annoyed with the process that I procrastinated until the absolute last minute.
Which is darned near what I’m doing this year. In 2013, my son is a senior in high school, and a completed FAFSA is required just to apply to certain colleges. We got our taxes done early, because I know the FAFSA is entirely reliant on completed taxes; I have been collecting additional materials as they have popped up in the mail since the first of the year; and now, a week from deadline, is the night.
I type: www.fafsa.gov, and up pops the familiar website. OK, here we go. Um, two big green buttons, “Start a new FAFSA” or “Login.” OK. “Start a new FAFSA.” Next page … Student Information. Name, Social Security number .…” Dang. Up from my chair, trot downstairs, dig through papers, find my son’s Social Security number. Back upstairs, type it in, hit the blue “Next” button.
“Federal Student Aid PIN.” My hand hovers over the green folder. Except … this is the first FAFSA for my son. All previous FAFSA requests have been for my daughter. I need a new PIN for him, right? OK. “Get Federal Student Aid PIN.” Click. Um, input email address. I hate that field. Whose email address? Mine, or my son’s? I’m completing this form, I want any related emails to come to me. So in goes my email address. “Your PIN confirmation will be sent to your email address.”
Sigh. I minimize the browser on my screen, open my email, sit and wait for a minute … ah, the PIN delivery email. Click, copy the PIN, close the email, reopen the browser, paste in the PIN. Ta da!
OK, now I’m in, and really starting. I take my second deep “here we go” breath. I easily complete the first several questions. My name, my husband’s name. My son’s name. Permanent street address. What school year does this FAFSA form cover? Which colleges should receive a copy of the FAFSA? I click on drop-down menus, I fill in open fields. Question by question I plod through, gaining confidence with each answer. Yes, I dread the FAFSA, yes, it is time-consuming and involves a lot of research, but I am doing it! It’s unpleasant, but I’m prepared and experienced.
So I’m feeling good when I arrive at the first financial question. “Income for 2012.” That should be easy enough. I pick up the draft copy of our tax return from our tax preparer. There are two pages per sheet of paper, and the print is teeny. I look and look. There’s the total “wages, salaries, tips, etc.” but … no breakdown of income for me and my husband. Just our total income.
Uh oh. I take my mouse, scroll down, look at the next questions. And I realize, on the very first financial question of the FAFSA … I’ve only got the draft copy of our taxes. Not the final copy. No W-2s, with salary and tax and 401(k) breakdown. The accountant still has all that backup paperwork.
Quickly, I analyze. Quickly, I decide. Quickly, I slide my keyboard in and stand up, victorious. For completely legitimate reasons, I can’t do this today. The FAFSA just has to wait. Yahoo!
By AL ALBORN
Prince William County Government is characterized in many different ways. Some frame it within the county’s Strategic Plan while others talk about core services. The county’s Comprehensive Plan is mentioned often.
Make no mistake, government is about our money. Every thing government does depend upon how much of our money it collects as taxes and fees, and how it is spent.
Are you interested in fields for football or soccer, or basketball hoop for your kids? Do you have a disabled son or daughter who might need a little help? Are you familiar with an abused child or spouse who needs protection? Interested in helping the homeless? Like more cops or firefighters on the streets? Tired of seeing your kids sit in trailers at school? Overcrowded classrooms getting on your nerves? Now is the time to get engaged, and speak up.
It’s our money. It’s your money.
If you show up at a Community Partner – organizations that provide services such as healthcare, wellness, and arts — and find their doors closed because Prince William cut funding during the budget process, you have absolutely no standing to complain unless you advocated for them during the budget process.
If your son or daughter’s sports team can’t find a field because there wasn’t enough money in the budget, suck it up unless you spoke up during the public hearing.
If you are wondering why we are building a swimming pool instead of giving teachers a raise, perhaps now would be a good time to mention it.
If you see something in Prince William County that you think you shouldn’t be paying for, just drive on by unless you spoke out against funding it to your Supervisor.
If you’re one of those folks who simply don’t care how Prince William County Government spends your money, you can stop reading this column right now. If I’ve captured your attention and you wish to advocate for or against something, or perhaps both read on.
Virginia Code gives the County Executive responsibility for preparing and proposing a budget. You may see the proposed budget on Prince William County’s Office of Management and Budget website.
If you have a question about the budget, or are interested in what other questions have been asked, I strongly recommend you check out the FY 2014 Budget Questions Database
During the next six weeks, Prince William County Government will be engaged in the annual discussion over just how much of our money they should take during FY 2014 and what they should spend it on. While the Chief Executive has the responsibility to prepare the proposed budget, only the Board of County Supervisors (which includes the Chairman) has the Authority to actually approve it.
If you want to engage in the process, you should take note of these dates and participate in at least one or two of the events.
March 5 Budget Work Session
March 12 Budget Work Session
April 2 Schools
April 9 , 2:00 p.m. Budget Recap
April 9, 7:30 p.m. Budget Public Hearing
April 16 Budget Markup (Board of Supervisors regular public meeting)
April 23 Budget Adoption (Board of Supervisors regular public meeting)
If you can’t make it to one of these events, or are really passionate about some particular issue let your Supervisor know. We elect our Board of County Supervisors to represent our interests. They don’t know what we care about unless we tell them.
So, tell them. Here’s their contact information.
Government at all levels, in spite of the rhetoric, is about our money, how much of it our Government collects, and how our elected officials decide to spend it.
Typically, only a few people actually participate in the budget process. I’m one of them. This column isn’t about advocating the County that I would like to see, it’s about advocating about the County that the majority would lie to see.
If you are happy with a few folks advocating for some narrow agendas deciding whether or not your kids have a sports field, the folks who need a little help get that help, schools are overcrowded, mid-county gets a new swimming pool.., or not, get involved, speak up, communicate with your Supervisor.
If you opt not to get involved, you’ll get the County the few folks who show up think you should deserve.
STAFFORD, Va. – United States Marine Corps Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient Sgt. Travis Zabroski and his wife of 6 years Lindsey Zabroski recently gave birth to their precious baby boy Bohden. After fighting for life for 30 hours, Bohden Eugene Zabroski passed away. The Zabroski family started the non-profit foundation Bohden’s Hands to help other families to cope with the loss of their infant children.
March 2, 2013 the non-profit organization Bohden’s Hands will be hosting a fundraising event at Mick’s Restaurant and Sports Lounge in Stafford. All of the funds raised will be donated to families that have suffered the bereavement of losing a baby. The event is from 3pm – close.
Many local businesses have generously donated amazing prizes as a part of our silent auction. There will be music, great food and drinks as well as many opportunities to support this amazing non-profit organization and help local families with the financial and emotional burdens of losing a child.
Bohden’s Hands Spring Fundraising Event
March 2, 2013
3 p.m. unitl close
Mick’s Restaurant and Sports Lounge
2866 Jefferson Davis Hwy Stafford, Va. 22554
FALMOUTH, Va. – It stood for years just outside Fredericksburg in Stafford County and was used as a building to sell, among other brands, Mercedes Benz.
Now the old car dealership that had already been vacated is now demolished to make way for a wider intersection where U.S. 1 and Va. 218 meet in Falmouth. The project is expected to be complete in 2015.
Local Prince William County first-grader Adrian Fucito gets his big Hollywood break playing Janeane Garofalo’s son in Bad Parents, a witty new satirical comedy film about sports parents behaving badly and a suburban mom who relives her season with the soccer obsessed sports parents whose outrageous “win at all costs” behavior spirals out of control.
Co-starring Christopher Titus, Cheri Oteri and Michael Boatman, Bad Parents has been making waves as an official selection for the Los Angeles Comedy Festival, Austin Film Festival, Gold Coast International Film Festival, Orlando Film Festival and the Chicago Comedy Film Festival, and will make its DC-area premiere at an exclusive 7:30 p.m. screening on Thursday, March 21 at the AMC Hoffman 22 Theater in Alexandria.
About the Film
From tryouts to the State Cup Championship game, Kathy (Janeane Garofalo – SNL, The Truth About Cats & Dogs) is swept up into the mania of competitive, over-involved parents who stop at nothing to ensure their daughters get the playing time and training to make it to the top. Writer/Director Caytha Jentis, with insider authenticity, shares the absurd, yet very real world of suburban youth sports. With humor and heart, she exposes the void in parents’ lives that youth soccer fills. We know these people. They are our friends and neighbors. For everyone who has ever sat on the sidelines of their kids’ sporting events, for anyone who has dared to dream of making it big at any cost, this is your story. Are you THAT parent? http://badparentsmovie.com
Many people say there are not enough hours in the day. I vehemently disagree with this statement. If you ask me, there are not enough hours at night!
Think about it. There are 24 hours in each day. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults require seven to nine hours of sleep per day, but research says that many adults report less than six hours of sleep per day. So even if we’re getting the recommended amount of sleep, that’s still 18 hours, give or take, spent moving and shaking on a daily basis.
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired just thinking about that.
Just imagine your own routine – commuting to work every day to deal with meetings, emails, your demanding boss, then coming home, making dinner, taking care of children and pets, cleaning, laundry, trying to squeeze in a workout… it’s all so exhausting.
And often times, the only thing that keeping me going is my daily nap while slugging.
My power naps are one of the many features of slugging which I consider a great luxury. Not only is it fast, free, and relatively easy to slug, but I can use that time to catch up on some rest while riding, preferably in the backseat.
My fiancé tries to discourage me from sleeping in strangers’ cars because he’s convinced I won’t wake up when the car stops and I’ll wind up a prisoner in some weirdo’s garage. I try to assure him that this has never happened, and if it did, I’m pretty sure the driver or other passenger would wake me up. This actually happened one morning last week, when the passenger in the front seat had dozed off and wasn’t easily awoken when we arrived at L’Enfant Plaza.
“Ma’am?” the male driver said, carefully attempting to rouse the sleeping passenger. I paused for a moment before exiting the backseat to see if she would open her eyes, but she didn’t.
Finally, he gently tapped her shoulder. When she finally woke up, she looked a bit alarmed. She apologized, and seeming embarrassed, grabbed her things to quickly get out of the car. The driver was understanding and sort of laughed it off, unlike one driver I can recall who openly wouldn’t tolerate his passengers sleeping, but I could totally relate to the tired slug’s humiliation.
Once, after a long evening ride to the commuter lot, I was told by the gentleman who slugged in the backseat that he “felt so bad” watching me nod off and wished he could have given me a pillow. I was mortified to picture myself conspicuously falling asleep, my head falling over, right next to the driver. How embarrassing! I must have been such a distraction.
But I honestly can’t help it. I’m just like a baby – put me in a moving vehicle, and BAM! Out like a light. I may not be able to sleep soundly through the night, but the second I get into the passenger’s seat of a car, it’s almost guaranteed that I will fall asleep.
As with most rules, however, there are exceptions to this. Stop-and-go traffic always puts a damper on my evening slug naps, for whatever reason. Until we’re cruising down the highway, I’m wide awake. And like clockwork, I always wake up the second we hit the exit ramp for the commuter lot. It’s as though my body just knows it’s time to wake up.
Recently, I’ve found that books on tape also interfere with my beauty sleep. I’m not sure why this is, especially when I’m not at all interested in the topic, but I find myself completely unable to turn my brain off with any sort of commentary in the background. It’s the same reason I can’t fall asleep with the television on, regardless of the volume.
Normally, I have no complaints about what a driver chooses to play on the radio while I slug happily along, but I suppose audio books are the one exception. Audio books and complete radio silence are on my overall short list of pet peeves while slugging. For whatever reason, both interrupt my much-needed catnaps.
Sure, I could probably manage to get through the day without the extra rest, but it sure helps to supplement the sleep I’m probably not getting every night.
So until some genius scientist comes up with more hours for us to sleep at night (or, more realistically, until I can find a way to get to bed earlier), I’ll be using those hours I spend commuting every weekday to catch some shuteye.
Judge me for sleeping if you wish, but I recommend you do the same… that is, unless you’re driving!
BRISTOW, Va. – The first Panther Pride 5K kicks off this spring in western Prince William County. The latest registration information, schedule and training plan are available now on pantherpride5k.org.
Avid runners and walkers of all ages will begin the event on April 6 at Bristow Run Elementary School, at 8990 Worthington Road, weave through the Kingsbrooke neighborhood, and return to the school.
Participants will put their best foot forward to raise money for Bristow Run Elementary School’s newest project to raise student awareness of global needs. Bristow Run is one of only three schools in the commonwealth of Virginia named as part of the new Global Schools Network.
“All proceeds will support literacy and our renamed Global Garden, which is being restructured to focus on the different crops and vegetation in various regions of the world,” said Scott Baldwin, Panther Pride 5K Committee chair and Bristow Run assistant principal. “This will be yet another hands-on tool for our students to learn about the diverse world in which we live.”
Baldwin said the 5K will attract competitive runners, but he also described the event as “family-friendly,” welcoming walkers and strollers. He brought the idea to Bristow Run from his previous school in Manassas Park, where over a six-year period, what began as a one-mile fun run for children grew into a 5K and health and wellness fair for the community. Thousands of dollars were raised each year for literacy efforts.
Now, Baldwin is hoping to bring the same motivation and community-building effort to the Bristow/Gainesville/Haymarket area. “Donations from local businesses, volunteer efforts and event participants are keys to success,” he said. “All proceeds benefit the growth of our students, who are our priority. It would mean the world to teachers and parents to have the opportunity to open young minds to a new sense of global awareness, benefiting everyone.”
Registration before Feb. 18 is $20 for adults; $15 for children ages 5-12. After Feb. 18, registration is $25 for adults; $20 for children ages 5-12. Registration for children under the age of five is free, but T-shirts are NOT guaranteed for this age group.
Event schedule and registration packet pick up is scheduled 5 to 7:30 p.m., Friday, April 5 at the Running Store on Atlas Walk Way in Gainesville. Race day registration is set for 6:30 – 7:45a.m at Bristow Run Elementary School.
On Saturday, April 6, the 5K kicks off at 8 a.m. in front of the school. Awards are set for 9 a.m.
Vendors will be available on school grounds 7-10 a.m. A Health and Wellness fair promoting check-ups, activities and safety also is planned, as well as prize raffles. A deejay will keep participants and supporters moving that morning.
News from Content Partner Prince William / Manassas Boys and Girls Clubs
MANASSAS, Va. — Local board members from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington – Prince William County / Manassas Branches will be hosting a Celebrity Bartending Charitable Fundraising Event on Thursday, February 21 from 5 -8 p.m. Hosted at the Old Towne Sports Pub in Manassas, no cover charge and all tips will be donated directly to the Boys & Girls Club to help fund their education and career development programming.
• Bartender Team Captains-
o Heather Mergler, Advanced Title & Settlements, LLC
o Enica Russell, Financial Inroads, Inc.
o Eric Williams, Exit Choice Realty
• Maureen Caddigan, PWC Board of Supervisors, Potomac District
• Shavon Dotson, Branch Director, Manassas Boys & Girls Club
• Judy Moore, Branch Director, General Heiser Boys & Girls Club
• Rhett Pfitzner, Liberty Mutual Insurance
• Mike Pulver, Branch Director, Hylton Boys & Girls Club
• Patricia Richie-Folks, Asian Fortune Newspaper
• Mark Worrilow, Confidence Reality Dumfries
It’ll be a fun evening for all bar patrons, filled with games, crazy antics, and a raffle. Bartenders will serve up fabulous drinks for a great cause. Our volunteer bartenders include top local business professionals and Boys & Girls Club senior staff!
For more information or two RSVP visit bgcprincewillam.org/events
Mom on the Run
My son first mentioned it weeks ago, one night as I was preparing to serve dinner. “I wish,” he said wistfully, “that one night you would make a whole package of chicken just for me.”
“Just for you?” I had laughed at my kid. “Could you really eat all that much?” Since my daughter has left for college and I’m cooking just for three, I’ve switched from chicken breasts to chicken tenders. They are easier to trim, cook more quickly, and the “fridge to freezer” packs of eight to 10 tenders are just the right size for our smaller family.
But still, eight to 10 tenders, I think, is a lot. “Oh, yeah,” he had said, nodding firmly, “I could eat them all. Especially this kind.” I’ve recently discovered the Kraft Fresh Take cheese and breadcrumb mixes – oh, absolutely, I could mix these few basic ingredients together myself and avoid the processed, packaged foods. But they’re quick and easy and after roughly a decade I’m sick of cooking dinner. So, “Just add chicken, pork or fish to the mixing bag” it is. And my son loves them! Bonus! Loves them so much, in fact, that he wants to eat a whole package of chicken by himself.
So tonight, when I asked my husband what he wanted for dinner – “I’ve got chicken and salmon thawed. Which would you prefer?” and he said, “Salmon,” but then added, because our son hates salmon, “But why don’t you go ahead and fix the chicken too?” – I knew that tonight was the night. I laughed a little, and pulled out the Spicy Chipotle Cheddar Recipe cheese and breadcrumb mix, and I got to work.
My son figured it out about 10 minutes ago when he came downstairs, just as I was wrapping up in the kitchen. “What’s for dinner?” “Dad and I are having salmon,” I said. “You get chicken.”
He realized it instantly: “I get chicken? Do I get ALL the chicken?” My 17-year-old, who towers over me, who plays ice hockey and lacrosse and lifts weights at least four times a week, my kid who never seems to get enough food, stared at me, mouth and eyes wide open with hope.
“Yup,” I said, grinning up at him. “You get ALL the chicken.”
“Yessss!,” he did a low-key, waist-high fist bump. Then after hesitating for a minute, looking over my shoulder at the status of dinner, he turned on his heel and went into the living room to wait.
Finally, “OK, guys, come and get it,” I announce. The rice is done, the chicken is out, salad is in bowls, and I’ve just come in from outside (brr!), where I grilled the salmon. In an instant my son is there, in the middle of the kitchen, waiting.
He has a thought, and, “What’s the flavor?”
I turn away from him, move to the counter, pick up the empty package. “Spicy Chipotle Cheddar.” I smile again, knowing he’s going to be happy.
A movement behind me catches my attention. I turn, and there’s my starving high-school senior, hopping up and down, in place, lightly, five, six times, he’s so pleased. “Spicy Chipotle Cheddar. And I get it all!” Before his dad even gets into the room he grabs a plate and a spatula and starts loading it up.
My husband and I stand back to give our starving teenager his space. And for a brief startling moment, I look at the salmon filet and hope it’s enough, because nobody else is getting any chicken!
DUMFRIES, Va. — A new community service program in Dumfries aims to pair volunteer mentors with the youths that need them most.
Janae Williams, 23, of Dumfries, and Brittany Jordan, 20, of Stafford, are working as part of the new Dumfries Cares program at the town’s community center on Main Street.
The program will pair children ages 7 through 18-years-old with a pool of 30 mentors who will provide them help on everything from homework to becoming a better community citizen.
Both have developed a two-part application process — one meant for parents to fill out to identify their child’s needs, and the other for the child to complete to gauge their interest — which will help to identify 10 students in elementary, middle, and high school who will benefit from the program.
Once the program is in full swing this spring, Dumfries Cares aims to have three mentors for each group of 10 children.
The mentors will all receive training and, so far, the interest is great.
“We’ve had people come to us and ask if they can mentor students in the program, and we say ‘this is awesome,” said Williams.
The program is open to residents of the town, and mentoring is available between 3:45 and 6:45 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Thursdays at the community center.
The program is also calling for community mentors and is asking businessmen and women, students, church members, and those in the military to help mentor children in the program. Those interested in mentoring should call 703-221-3400 ext. 146.
By AL ALBORN
I’m a telework evangelist. I enjoy “connecting the dots” between the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010, Rep. Gerry Connolly’s Telework 2.0 initiative, Virginia Delegates Ramadan and Comstock’s legislation to offer telework tax credits, the federal push to reduce the size and cost of Government, BRAC, and our ever-expanding road budget.
The folks who should really be vocal supporters of telework are local business owners, particularly small business owners that operate in the bedroom communities that support “inside the beltway” business and Government activities. I live in Prince William County however, the principle applies to all bedroom communities.
Many who spend time in Prince William are often struck by how empty our shops and restaurants are during the day, by the number of vacancies in our strip malls, Manassas Mall, and Potomac Mills mall. Our local economy appears to start at around 6 or 7 p.m.
That’s because over half of our local labor force (or around 105,000 folks out of a civilian labor force of 212,230 “in place” employees and an estimated 4,900 self-employed folks) works outside Prince William County, according to county documents.
These folks who don’t work within Prince William County are heading for Reston, Tysons Corner, Downtown Washington, or other points north of here. Every day, we send over half of the county’s labor force, and their wallets and purses somewhere else. They shop somewhere else, eat somewhere else, buy and service their cars somewhere else, drop off and pick up their dry cleaning somewhere else, Christmas shop somewhere else – they live most of their lives in someone else’s economy.
Let’s bring these people and their wallets home.
We do that by implementing a telework-friendly policy at all levels, and integrating a philosophy driven by letting our residents work and shop at in Prince William County instead of thinking of more ways to move people and their pocketbooks out of the county. Let’s integrate telework into our strategy for solving Northern Virginia’s transportation problem. Let’s think about ways to take people out of local roads instead of just building more roads.
Over half of our local labor force (or around 100,000 folks out of a civilian labor force of 212,2301) work outside Prince William County.
Let’s do the math.
Let’s assume that we take 10,000 of those folks (or roughly 10% FTE) off the road via telework. Because they are staying in Prince William County (you can “plug in the math” for any county) and that they spend a modest $5 a day (using a 5 day week) or $25 a week on the local economy (instead of “somewhere else”). Suddenly, we have over $13 million and change spent in our local economy instead of somewhere else.
Five dollars a day amounts to a Venti at Starbucks, gum and a candy bar, or a magazine at a drug store. It adds up quickly.
Some more fun with numbers:
If just 200 of these folks purchased a car that cost $25,000 in Prince William County instead of somewhere else (I purchased three in Tyson’s Corner over the years), that would add another $5 million in annual revenue.
If half of these folks (that 10%) got their car serviced twice a year in Prince William at $100 each service, that would add another $1 million a year pumped into the local economy.
If half of these folks (again, that 10%) dropped of their dry cleaning once a week here $5 a pop, that’s another $1.3 million (and change).
I could go on. This is real money that leaves Prince William County every morning.
These are conservative estimates and admittedly fuzzy math, but they give you an idea of the dollars and cents value of telework to our local economy. The more successful we are integrating telework into our transportation strategy, the more money we keep in Prince William County businesses.
When I commuted to Tysons Corner, I “lived there,” bought and serviced my cars there, bought my family birthday, anniversary and Christmas gifts there, ate lunch there, joined a gym there. I would suggest that perhaps the dollars are big enough to have a more robust analysis performed perhaps by the Prince William County Economic Development Department.
If you’re a business in Prince William County, you really need to get behind telework. Our federal, state, local, and city governments habe been developing transportation policy for years that sends county pocketbooks elsewhere to spend their discretionary income. We need to change this trend.
I’ll be focusing on telework for a while. Delegates Ramadan and Comstock successfully passed a new telework tax incentive in the Virginia House, and Congressman Connolly is working on Telework 2.0 legislation will make it easier for federal contract officers to give contractors more freedom to telework.
I plan to explore how telework impacts economic development, the real estate market, public safety, our quality of life, community involvement, and just about everything in future columns.
Not everyone can telework; however, for those of us who do it’s “what’s next” in the way we live, work and play.
By JESSICA WILDE
Capital News Service
MCDANIEL, Md. – A warmer, drier year has been good for oysters, both natural and planted, in the Eastern Shore’s Harris Creek, a tributary of the Choptank River and site of the first tributary-wide restoration effort by the Oyster Recovery Partnership.
The partnership has been working on Harris Creek for about a year, putting hard substrate down for oysters to grow on, and planting spat, or baby oysters, on top of it.
Scientists have found that many of the planted oysters are surviving. In addition, and somewhat surprisingly, other oysters on the shoreline that are not part of the project are restoring themselves naturally because of good conditions last year.
While some environmentalists argue that hard substrate and good conditions are enough to restore oysters, scientists on the project believe restoration efforts need to continue to be more extensive because we cannot always rely on good conditions.
Choptank Riverkeeper Drew Koslow found thousands of naturally reproducing oysters on the shoreline of the creek in December, more than any he has seen in years past – a sign, he said, that when conditions are right, the system will come back.
Oysters play a significant role in the bay’s health, filtering water and improving its quality, and eating algae, which allows sunlight through to underwater grasses. Their reefs also provide habitat for other marine life.
Many believe that by restoring oysters, the bay can also be restored.
But it is not that easy. The Oyster Recovery Partnership has been working for nearly 20 years, and its latest tributary-wide effort is in response to President Barack Obama’s 2009 executive order to restore the Chesapeake Bay.
“The system is resilient,” Koslow said. “And I think that’s what this demonstrates, that you give it a chance, you stop harvesting oysters and you build up populations. And if we can do that, I think we can restore the bay.”
Koslow attributes this year’s oyster success to a drier climate, which increases salinity that oysters like, and higher temperatures, since a long freeze might kill oysters on the shore.
“In our business, you don’t have a lot of good news,” he said. “It’s nice to have something we can smile about.”
Koslow said it makes sense to him to just put down hard substrate and allow nature to take its course.
“Because obviously there’s plenty of natural reproduction in this creek already,” he said.
But while this year’s conditions were good, the senior manager of aquatic restoration at the Oyster Recovery Partnership, Steven Allen, said they cannot rely on naturally reproducing oysters alone to restore the population. You can’t always predict that conditions will be right, he said, which is why the partnership is also planting oysters.
The partnership is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other state and federal agencies to plant the hard substrate and baby oysters in 20 tributaries in Maryland and Virginia.
“If we knew what Mother Nature was going to do for us, and we could predict that water temperatures and salinity would be ideal and everybody in the creek would cooperate and we’d have multiple natural recruitments during the summer, I think putting substrate down would be an excellent choice,” Allen said. “However, we don’t have that crystal ball.”
Allen said high salinity levels are also a Catch-22. While they might lead to natural recruitment, they also increase the chance that oysters will catch diseases, one of the many reasons their population is at risk to begin with, along with overharvesting and loss of habitat.
Ken Paynter, director of the Paynter Lab that monitors the partnership’s work, called the success that Koslow found a “perfect storm of natural recruitment.” Paynter is director of the University of Maryland’s Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Sciences graduate program.
His lab found a small amount of natural recruitment on the planted hard substrate as well, but not nearly as much as Koslow found on the shoreline.
“It really wasn’t the kind of natural recruitment we’d like to see,” Paynter said about the oysters on the substrate. They measured 8-10 oysters per square meter, but they would ideally like to see 50-100 oysters per square meter.
Paynter said the lab should be monitoring a lot more than it is, counting naturally recruiting oysters like those that Koslow found, in addition to monitoring the planted oysters and substrate.
“There’s lots to be done,” he said.
View Harris Creek in a larger map