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News

Prince William Chamber honors 2015 businesses of the year

The Prince William Chamber of Commerce honored their members with their annual Excellence in Business Awards.

There are 10 categories in the Chamber’s business awards ranging from small business of the year, community service, and innovative partnership of the year.

The awards were held Wednesday, Feb. 25, at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas.

 

chamber awards, manassas, bion

Josie Geiger & Don Ripley, of BION, Inc. mechanical contractors. [Photo: Kathy Strauss / IMAGEWERKS, LLC.]

Agnes L. Colgan Community Service Awards: Health & Human Services

Trillium Drop-In Center, Inc.

Trillium Drop-In Center is a private non-profit organization dedicated to providing stigma-free services to Prince William County’s mental health consumers.  Trillium Drop-In Center began as a Manassas support group that turned a Northern Virginia Mental Health Institute grant into an opportunity for more than 3,000 people to better cope with mental illness, to find housing and to find jobs.

Agnes L. Colgan Community Service Awards: Arts & Education

Literacy Volunteers of America–Prince William, Inc.

Literacy Volunteers of America—Prince William (LVA-PW) provided tuition-free reading and writing classes to more than 8,500 adults, reducing the estimated number of 35,000 adults in Prince William County who could only read at or below the 4th grade level.

flory small business, empowerment

Mary Lopez from the Independent Empowerment Center, and Donna Flory, Vice President of the Flory Small Business Center in Manassas. [Photo: Kathy Strauss / IMAGEWERKS, LLC.]

2015 Business Awards:

Micro Business of the Year: American Solutions for Business

American Solutions for Business works diligently to enhance productivity and to increase creativity, while reducing client costs through their product offering of promotional products, printed documents, office supplies, e-commerce and marketing solutions. Keep Reading…

Volunteer fire department responds to house fire in Woodbridge

Last night, the Occoquan Woodbridge Lorton Volunteer Fire Department responded to a call for a fire at a town home on Pohick Creek Court in Woodbridge. 

Responders noted heavy smoke coming from the home on the scene, and had the fire under control in 20 minutes.

One family has been displaced, but no injuries have been reported.

More from a media release:

Occoquan Woodbridge Lorton VFD responds to Town House Fire.  

Woodbridge, VA February 28, 2015 9:05p.m. – Occoquan-Woodbridge-Lorton Volunteer Firefighters responded to the report of a townhouse fire at 1910 Pohick Creek Ct. Initial units arrived on scene within minutes and reported heavy smoke coming from the second floor of the townhouse. Upon entering the building, crews found significant fire from the kitchen extending into the second floor.  The fire was under control within 20 minutes. Crews remained on scene for several hours.

One family was displaced. The cause of the fire is under investigation from the Fire Marshalls office. Fire and Rescue units from OWL VFD, Dale City VFD, PWCDF&R and Fairfax responded to the incident.

OWL VFD is one of the largest and busiest volunteer fire departments in the United States with over 300 members. 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 24/7 holidays and weekends. 

Closings and delays Sunday, Mar. 1, 2015

Potomac Local will keep you up to date on the latest in closings and delays.

 

Wintry mix today, into tomorrow morning

1:05 p.m. 

winter strom warn

A winter storm warning is in effect for Prnce William and Stafford counties, and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park until 3 a.m. Monday.
Here’s the latest from the National Weather Service:

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON HAS
ISSUED A WINTER STORM WARNING FOR FREEZING RAIN…WHICH IS IN
EFFECT UNTIL 3 AM EST MONDAY. THE WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IS NO
LONGER IN EFFECT.

* LOCATIONS…WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREA…CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN
MARYLAND.

* HAZARD TYPES…SNOW…SLEET…AND FREEZING RAIN.

* ACCUMULATIONS…A COATING TO AN INCH OF SNOW AND SLEET. 1 TO 2
INCHES OF SNOW AND SLEET NEAR THE MASON-DIXON LINE. ICE
ACCUMULATION AROUND ONE QUARTER INCH.

* TIMING…SNOW AND SLEET WILL CHANGE TO FREEZING RAIN BETWEEN 11
AM AND 1 PM THIS AFTERNOON. THE HEAVIEST ICE ACCRETION FROM FROM
FREEZING RAIN IS EXPECTED THIS AFTERNOON AND EARLY EVENING.
PRECIPITATION WILL END THIS EVENING.

* IMPACTS…ROADS WILL BE SNOW AND ICE COVERED THROUGH TONIGHT.
TRAVELLING WILL BE DANGEROUS.

* WINDS…SOUTH AROUND 5 TO 10 MPH.

* TEMPERATURES…RISING THROUGH THE 20S THIS AFTERNOON.
TEMPERATURES WILL RISE INTO THE LOWER 30S

Keep Reading…

Under new plan, $4 million from Prince William fire levy reserve fund used to fund career firefighters

Can county officials take funds from the fire levy to fund career firefighters?

Virginia law does allow it, said Prince William County Attorney Angela Horan.

Now, under a new proposal, $4 million would be removed from Prince William County’s $77 million fire levy reserve fund. The money traditionally goes to pay for the cost of new fire stations, new fire engines and equipment, as well as to fund, in part, operations at the county’s various volunteer fire houses.

Shifting the funds will lessen the burden on the county’s general fund, which, in prior years, had $3.5 million of it used to pay the salaries of Prince William County’s growing corps of career firefighters.

In this next year’s budget nearly $8 million will be needed to fund those salaries.

“Four million dollars is a big change,” said County Executive Melissa Peacor. “I’m sure the volunteers would tell you that.”

The Prince William County Board of Supervisors spent Saturday looking for budget cuts. They also looked at moving monies from reserve funds to the general fund in an effort to cap a planned property tax increase to no more than 4% in next year’s budget.

The fire levy reserve fund collects $35 million per year, and the fund is directly tied to property tax bills. The fund has grown too large at the expense of the county general fund, according to Prince William Board of Supervisors Chairman At-large Corey Stewart, who said it should be tapped to help lessen the burden tax burden on residents.

Volunteers fear, however, that if county officials dip into the reserve fund to pay for new career firefighters now it’ll mean less money to purchase new equipment, and funds to train new volunteers, and operations costs down the road.

“If you continue to take increased funds from the fire levy over the next five years, the fund becomes stagnant,” said Nokesville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Brian Hickerson.

Hickerson added that he is the county will funnel even more funds from the levy in 2017 and ‘18 to meet the growing demands of the county’s career fire staff.

Peacor and County officials dispute that claim and say they will only take $4 million from the fund each year for the next five years.

Career firefighters are on duty from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Prince William Fire Chief Kevin McGee said his department will spend $10.6 million funding career staff during traditional volunteer hours – nights, weekends, and holidays.

The fire levy will also go to fund construction of the planned $11 million Bacon Race Fire station on the corner of Prince William Parkway and Hoadly Road near Dale City.

McGee said volunteer fire chiefs will meet on Wednesday to get a first look at the proposal to shift $4 million away from the fire levy to the general fund.

Call to Action: Birmingham Green Senior Living looking for volunteer guitar players

Good morning  – its official – spring and warm weather are right around the corner and you can kick it off in style with the Shindig Jig 5K to benefit the Rainbow Therapeutic Riding program on Saturday March 14 at Silver Lake Regional Park. Check in at 8:30am and race time is 10am. Come with your 3 person team for just $25 each or by yourself for $40. All proceeds benefit this wonderful program. Please visit: rainbowriding.org to register.

· BARN Transitional Housing is kicking off spring with their 1st. Yard Sale of the season on Saturday March 14th as well. It runs from 8am-12noon or you can access the early bird shopping at 7:30am for a $5 entrance fee. Great stuff, great bargains and all for a great cause. The BARN is located at 9541 Linton Hall Road in Bristow.

· Keep Prince William Beautiful needs volunteers to judge science projects at the PW – Manassas Regional Science Fair from 9am-10am. Please call (571) 285-3772 to learn more.

· The 2nd fun need is volunteers are needed at the 24th Annual SERVE Bowl a Thon in Manassas from 1pm-4pm. Tasks include set up, greeting participants, handing out t-shirts and other general tasks. It’s a great opportunity for teens age 16+ or younger with their parent. This super fun day is very important to the SERVE families. Please email Jan at: jhawkins@nvfs.org for all the specifics. And then don’t forget about the BEACON Event: Keep Reading…

Prince William resident to leaders over $96 tax difference: ‘They can buy back their souls with it’

cash on stand

The Prince William County Board of Supervisors will be meeting at 10 a.m. Saturday for another budget work session, to discuss potential cuts and what programs to retain. The ceiling property tax rate — the county’s largest source of revenue — must be advertised as of March 3, only giving the board members a few more days to work out an initial tax rate number.

County Executive Melissa Peacor presented the first draft of the budget at the board meeting earlier this month.

The board took a vote in December and directed Peacor to create a budget with a 1.3% tax increase, which reflects the CPI inflation rate. It was not the 4% increase written in the county’s 5-year plan, decided upon last year. Peacor was given additional restrictions on segments of the budget that had to be fully funded, including public safety and the libraries.

Many of the community programs that had been on the chopping block saw their funding restored. But now leaders must decide what else to cut to ensure taxes do not rise beyond the planned 4% increase. 

“I wasn’t on this board when the direction was given but had I been on the board – I think it’s fair to say that I would have voted for [the 1.3%],” said  newly elected Brenstville Distirct Supervisor Jeanine Lawson.

Occoquan District Supervisor Michael May was not present for the vote, but also stated he was in favor of looking at a budget using the inflation rate.

Gainesville District Supervisor Candland also voiced his support for the 1.3%.

Coles District Supervisor Marty Nohe was against the 1.3% vote, as was Potomac Supervisor Maureen Caddigan, who favored the original 4%.

“My belief then, was that we would end up with a budget that was far too detrimental to our school system’s budget. That the amount of rollbacks that the school board would have to do in order to implement that budget would be more than our community is willing to swallow,” Nohe said.

Corey Stewart, Chairman At-large stated that the vote for the 1.3% was meant only to serve as an exercise to get the county thinking about the types of cuts that could be implemented.

“The vote that the board took in December was the guidance to the County Executive to prepare a budget at the 1.3%, but that is not the rate that the board is ultimately going to adopt, and it’s not even going to be the one we advertise. The purpose of requiring the County Executive to develop the budget at such a low level was to force the county government and the schools into the exercise of looking for cost savings, and trying to identify things we could cut in order to keep tax bills as low as possible,” Stewart said. Keep Reading…

Gregory Dean Ross

greg-obit-photo

Gregory Dean Ross passed away on January 28, 2015, at the Medical Center in Fishersville, Virginia from complications following spinal surgery. He was born September 4, 1957, to Donald and Patricia Ross at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and was 57 years old. He attended elementary and middle schools in Woodbridge, Virginia and graduated from Garfield High School in 1976. He worked as an independent remodeling contractor and painter of historical houses and, together with his wife, owned and operated The Stuffed Basket, a unique gift business in the town of Occoquan until moving to Massanutten. He leaves his wife, Margaret Wade Goodwin Ross, mother Patricia, sister Teresa, brother Mitchell, and stepsons Mark (wife Leslie) and Scott (wife Tammy), nine grandchildren and one great grandchild. He was preceded in death by his father Donald and stepson Wade Goodwin (wife Beth).

Winter weather, community outreach brings attention to homeless population in Prince William

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The frigid temperatures of the past few weeks, and the work of community outreach groups are drawing attention to the growing needs of the homeless population in Prince William County.

The Dale City Civic Association has been working with their Homeless Outreach program tirelessly this winter to provide supplies for the homeless individuals in camps gathered in the wooded areas of the county.

“It would be easier to tell you where they’re not – they’re everywhere,” said Lucille Cahill, a coordinator for the Homeless Outreach program.

According to Cahill, the program services homeless individuals aged 17 to 65, with the goal of not only providing them with necessary supplies at drop-offs every Saturday, but getting them out of the woods altogether.

“Our goal is to get them out of the woods, and into housing – whether family take them in, or we get them jobs and find them a room until they can find affordable housing. If they need medical care, we try to work that out with the local free clinic,” Cahill said.

To get funding for the supplies and outreach work they do, Cahill said they look to the community and churches for assistance.

While there are a lot of ideas about the lifestyles and situations of homeless individuals, Cahill stated that a lot of the people that are homeless in these camps work one, and sometimes even two jobs. They simply can’t afford to pay the high rent prices in the area.

“People who work at Wal-Mart, or local businesses can’t afford to live here anymore, and they wind up in a tent,” Cahill commented.

Recently, the Prince William County Board of Supervisors donated 200 sleeping bags to the program, costing around $6,000.

“It was wonderful because we cannot afford that kind of sleeping bags. It actually saved lives,” said Cahill.

Cahill was appreciative of the sleeping bags they board donated, but she felt more importantly that the actual dialogue started between the homeless outreach and the board is what is going to help the homelessness issue in the county.

“I think there’s finally a dialog between the outreach groups and the county. There’s been a lot of dialogs lately. Low-income housing is the first step…90% of the people I service – they work. They have jobs. They just can’t afford to eat and pay rent,” Cahill said.

Potomac Supervisor Maureen Caddigan, who was involved in the board decision to donate the sleeping bags, said that something needs to be done, but that there isn’t an easy solution.

“[The board] is going to be doing what our human services is doing right now. We have people in place. We want to help – within reason,” Caddigan commented.

Caddigan stated that she has received requests from residents, asking that the county purchase a vacant Holiday Inn hotel in Dumfries to house the homeless. The hotel is currently being listed for $3.5 million, and for Caddigan, that is not a realistic option as the board moves forward to handle the budget.

There are several county buildings that are opened for the homeless on dangerously cold nights, by the county’s deputy director of Human Services, Elijah Johnson. But very few homeless individuals utilized the shelters, according to Caddigan.

“The thing is, that the people in the woods don’t want to leave their belongings. They don’t want to go into a shelter – some of them,” Caddigan said.

The Prince William County Committee of 100 has even recognized the homeless population as in issue in the community. The Committee hosted a forum on homelessness on February 19, where several panelists spoke with attendees about the issue, and potential steps to help the homeless community in Prince William.

There have been major successes for the Homeless Outreach program, in their goal to move the homeless into housing.

“We’re working [with] a couple right now…[one of the individuals] mother is elderly, and she has agreed to take them both in, in return for them caring for her. So we’re helping them get out of the woods and to New Jersey, which is no small feat when some of these people haven’t left the woods for several years,” said Cahill.

They have launched a Go-Fund Me page to help raise funds for the couple’s transport to the housing being offered to them in New Jersey.

If you’re a resident or organization that is looking to assist the Homeless Outreach program, they are currently looking for the following supplies, according to the Dale City Civic Association’s Facebook page:

McDonalds gift cards
Virgin Mobile phone cards
Verizon mobile phone cards
Trackphone cards
Cases of water
Backpacks
Cases of canned soups
Tents 
Winter Gloves
Sleeping Bags
Hats
Rat Traps
Cases of Toilet Paper
Cases of Hand Wipes
Packs of Batteries – AA, AAA, C & D
Blankets
Tarps & Ropes
Protein Bars
Toilet Paper
Canned meats
Boxes of crackers
Case of canned meat
Printer paper 
Marble notebooks
Pens

Manassas Superintendent presents budget, speaks to parents at Saturday meeting

As part of the Saturday with the Superintendent series, the Manassas City school’s superintendent, Dr. Magouyrk, spoke with parents about the school budget and took questions from the community last Saturday.

The meeting was well attended despite the snow, according to Magouyrk.

“We had great attendance, even though the snow was coming down like it was,” Magouyrk said.

The Saturday with Superintendent events take place about every six weeks and serve as a primary way for parents to interact with administrators.

“It’s just an opportunity for the community – for families – to know what’s taking place,” Magouyrk stated.

One of the main topics for this meeting was the budget, which is currently in progress for the upcoming fiscal year.

“We talked about the Superintendent budget presentation – that is right now what the school board is working on. We talked about the new Baldwin [school], and our school calendar for next year,” Magouyrk said.

Magouyrk also spoke to parents about the Career and Technical (CTE) initiatives taking place in Manassas City schools.

Overall, Magouyrk stressed that the meetings are an opportunity for parents to ask questions and get information they need from their children’s schools.

“We had a parent of a gifted student [at the meeting], and she wanted to get more information about our gifted program. So they were able to ask me questions,” Magouyrk commented.

For the remainder of the school year, two more of these meetings are scheduled – one on March 21 at Jennie Dean Elementary and one on May 16 at Baldwin Elementary.

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