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Winning Mega Millions ticket sold in Gainesville

From the Virginia Lottery: 

Someone who bought a Mega Millions in Gainesville hit the jackpot in Friday night’s drawing.

The ticket was one of two nationwide that matched all six numbers in the July 22 drawing. Those two tickets, which were bought in Virginia and Georgia, will split the estimated $15 million jackpot ($7.5 million each).

The Virginia ticket was bought at 7-Eleven, 7489 Limestone Drive in Gainesville.

The winning numbers were 8-24-25-26-30 and the Mega Ball number 7. 

Whoever has the ticket has 180 days from the drawing date to claim the prize. The Virginia Lottery advises that before doing anything else, the winner should immediately sign the back of the ticket to establish ownership. When the person is ready to claim the million-dollar prize, he or she should contact the Virginia Lottery.

This is Virginia’s ninth Mega Millions jackpot win.

News
Exxon station at Sudley and Balls Ford roads robbed

police-suv

Prince William police report a gas station on Sudley Road near Interstate 66 was robbed this morning.

From Prince William police: 

*INCIDENT: Armed Robbery | Manassas;
Officers are investigating an armed robbery at the Exxon on Sudley Rd near Balls Ford Rd. Masked man entered the store, brandished a firearm, and took money. Fled on foot. No injuries reported. Suspect described as a black male wearing black pants, black shirt, and face mask.

News
Slugs expected to come out of the woodwork when I-66 E-ZPass Lanes open

i66

On the busy lanes of Interstate 66, the unique Northern Virginia institution of “Slugging” has never caught on.

While popular on Interstate 95 since the 1970’s as a fast and free way for commuters in vehicles of three or more occupants to get to their jobs Arlington and Washington, D.C., commuters on I-66 have never adopted the practice.

Why? Because Interstate 95 from Prince William County to the Pentagon had long had a separate facility housing two reversible express lanes that carry commuters north in the morning and south in the evening. Concrete barriers placed alongside these lanes prevent drivers from the main travel lanes from weaving in and out of the express lanes and gumming up the flow of traffic in the express lanes.

Those express lanes in 2014 were converted to E-ZPass lanes, which now require all drivers to have an electronic E-ZPass or E-ZPass Flex transponder mounted to their windshield to use the lanes. The express lanes were also extended south from Prince William County to Garrisonville in Stafford County. 

Vehicles with three or more occupants can still use the lanes for free.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe earlier this month announced they are once again being extended south to Route 17 near Fredericksburg. 

What’s slugging? What’s a slug?

Slugging is a form of commuting where riders ride free and the drivers — many of whom have a reserved parking space at their work or choose to pay for parking — get to skip the congestion on the main travel lanes and get to work faster.

Slugging is a form of commuting where riders ride free and the drivers — many of whom have a reserved parking space at their work or choose to pay for parking — get to skip the congestion on the main travel lanes and get to work faster.

A slug is, as you might have guessed, is the carpooler that rides for free. Slugs park their cars each morning at a commuter lot and stand in “slug lines” — designated lines with people going to similar destinations, like the Pentagon or Downtown Washington. When the next car pulls up to the front of the line, two or three slugs get in and off they go.

No money is exchanged, and no iPhone or Android apps used to hail the ride like an Uber rideshare service.

Things are changing along the I-66 corridor, and that could lead to, for the first time, Slugging, being a viable, reliable option for commuting from places like Haymarket, Gainesville, and Manassas to Washington, D.C.

“Our vision for the corridor definitely includes carpooling as well as other forms of mass transit,” said Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Michelle Holland. “We’re making investments in the corridor, and as a result of tolling, we’re going to be able to fund to more transit and multi-modal services that will provide for a more reliable trip.”

The investment is called “Transform 66,” a project that when complete, officials hope will deliver on its namesake. 

newtransit66

First changes take affect Summer 2017

Starting next summer on I-66 inside the Capital Beltway, drivers must have an E-ZPass Flex or E-ZPass to use the lanes from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., and from 3 to 7 p.m. Vehicles with occupants of two or more won’t be charged a toll.

Today, drivers on I-66 must already have two or more occupants inside their vehicles to use the highway on weekday mornings and afternoons. 

Outside the Capital Beltway on I-66, from I-495 to Route 15 in Haymarket, two new lanes will be constructed each direction. These lanes, like their counterparts on I-95. will be a separate facility. 

Hello, reliable lanes 

Concrete barriers will stop single drivers from gumming up the works and merging into the lanes, as they currently do on the single High Occupancy Vehicle lane on I-66 today. That constant weaving and merging slow the trip for commuters who play by the rules and have two or more occupants inside the car. 

Individual drivers may choose to pay a toll to use the new lanes, while vehicles with three or more occupants will ride free when the new lanes open by late 2020. 

Also, when the new lanes between the Capital Beltway and Haymarket open, the rules to use the lanes for free inside the Capital Beltway will change. Drivers will need three, not two, occupants inside their cars, and an E-ZPass Flex transponder to use the lanes for free. 

A total of 4,000 new commuter parking spaces is also being built along the corridor for slugs to park and ride as part of the project. The goal for state transportation officials is to deliver a game-changing project that will get commuters to and from work quicker and to provide more travel options in the long-congested corridor.

I-95 fears never materialized

There was fear in 2014, and the years leading up to the conversion of HOV-3 on I-95 lanes to E-ZPass Express Lanes on I-95, that more individual drivers would opt to pay a toll and not stop to pick up slugs. If more single drivers jumped into the express lanes, slugs feared that could slow things down, increase travel times, take away the “get there fast and free” incentive for slugging, and more slugs would then opt to drive instead of choosing to park and ride.

“Quite the opposite has happened, actually,” said David LeBlanc, who wrote a book about slugging called “Slugging: dyhamicThe Commuting Alternative For Washington DC” and runs the commuter friendly website Slug-lines.com. “We thought more slugs would choose to drive or hop a bus and instead, mostly because of the tolls, we’ve seen the number of slugs increase.”

LeBlanc said he expects to add the names of new Slug lines that form along I-66 in western Prince William County to his website. Applications on iPhones and Andriod could aide the formation of new Slug lines, and he’s thought about developing one.

“I’ve been approached by developers who’ve seen my website and want to develop an app, but the majority of them want to find a way to monetize slugging and that’s not what the ture nature of slugging is about,” said LeBlanc.

A new app called Sluglines.com, not to be confused with LeBlanc’s Slug-Lines.com, launched earlier this year. It pretty much does the same thing LeBlanc’s website does and lists the locations of Slug lines in Northern Virginia. 

The toll pricing on the I-95 E-ZPass Express Lanes is based on a dynamic on a pricing system. Toll prices are posted on overhead electronic signs on the highway, and increase or decrease based on the number vehicles currently using the express lanes — toll-paying cars, carpoolers, and commuter buses.

The more vehicles in the lanes, the higher the toll. Fewer cars, the toll rate decreases. Single drivers that enter the toll lanes are locked in at whatever price per mile is shown on the overhead sign.

Most toll prices range between $1.10 and $4. Some tolls can be as high as $22 during the afternoon rush hour, for drivers headed south to Stafford County.

The new E-ZPass Express Lanes that will “transform 66” will operate the same way.

News
National Religious Broadcasters headquarters leaving Manassas, bound for Washington, D.C.

nrb

From NRB: 

Starting Monday, July 25, the headquarters staff of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) will be operating from the association’s new office space in Washington, D.C.

Located at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue NW and North Capitol Street, the office suite is in the National Guard Memorial Museum Building – one block west of Union Station and just a few blocks from the United States Capitol building.

Commenting on the move, Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, President & CEO of NRB, said, “This action is both historic and timely.”

“Now, more than ever, our first freedoms — of religion, speech, and the press — must be defended vigorously before members of Congress, federal government regulatory agencies, and in the courts,” stated Dr. Johnson. “Our new headquarters on Capitol Hill will more effectively allow us to address our members’ concerns and work with policymakers on these critical issues.”

Since 1992, the NRB has operated out of its headquarters in Manassas, Va. In 2003, NRB opened an additional office on Capitol Hill to maintain a strong presence in close proximity to America’s decision-makers. This past February, the NRB Board of Directors approved a recommendation to relocate the corporate headquarters to Capitol Hill.

In an announcement, Dr. Johnson noted the “growing concerns among our members about their First Amendment rights to proclaim the Gospel.” For more than 70 years, NRB has faithfully represented its members’ public policy concerns in Washington. NRB’s mission is to advance biblical truth, promote media excellence, and defend free speech.

On Monday, the NRB headquarters staff will join Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations, and James A. Smith, Sr., Vice President of Communications, who have been operating out of the new office since June 27.

News
Another hot one: Heat advisory in effect until 8 p.m.

0725heat

From the National Weather Service: 

...HEAT ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM NOON TODAY TO 8 PM EDT
THIS EVENING...

* HEAT INDEX VALUES...UP TO 108 DUE TO TEMPERATURES BETWEEN 95 TO
  100...AND DEWPOINTS IN THE LOWER 70S.

* IMPACTS...RISK OF HEAT-RELATED ILLNESS FOR THOSE WITHOUT AIR-
  CONDITIONING OR THOSE OUTDOORS FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A HEAT ADVISORY MEANS THAT A PERIOD OF HIGH TEMPERATURES IS
EXPECTED. THE COMBINATION OF HIGH TEMPERATURES AND HIGH HUMIDITY
WILL CREATE A SITUATION IN WHICH HEAT ILLNESSES ARE POSSIBLE.

TAKE EXTRA PRECAUTIONS IF YOU WORK OR SPEND TIME OUTSIDE. WHEN
POSSIBLE... RESCHEDULE STRENUOUS ACTIVITIES TO EARLY MORNING OR
EVENING. KNOW THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF HEAT EXHAUSTION AND HEAT
STROKE. WEAR LIGHT WEIGHT AND LOOSE FITTING CLOTHING WHEN
POSSIBLE AND DRINK PLENTY OF WATER.

TO REDUCE RISK DURING OUTDOOR WORK... THE OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND
HEALTH ADMINISTRATION RECOMMENDS SCHEDULING FREQUENT REST BREAKS
IN SHADED OR AIR CONDITIONED ENVIRONMENTS. ANYONE OVERCOME BY
HEAT SHOULD BE MOVED TO A COOL AND SHADED LOCATION. HEAT STROKE
IS AN EMERGENCY - CALL 911.

News
Bodies of driver, dog found after crash causes house fire in Gainesville

From Prince William police: 

Death Investigation – On July 22 at 3:42PM, officers responded to a residence located in the 13200 block of Catharpin Valley Dr in Gainesville (20155) to investigate a single vehicle crash into a garage. When fire crews from the Department of Fire and Rescue arrived, the vehicle and residence were found to be fully engulfed in flames.  

The driver was located inside the vehicle in the garage and pronounced dead at the scene. A dog was also located deceased inside the residence. Other occupants of the home were able to evacuate the residence without injury.

The remains of the driver will be transported to the Medical Examiner’s Office for further analysis and identification. The identity of the deceased will be released once confirmed and next of kin has been notified. This incident is being jointly investigated by the Prince William County Police Homicide Unit and the Department of Fire and Rescue’s Fire Marshals’ Office. More information will be released when available.

The investigation continues.

The Manassas Park Community Center gears up for another great year of their Youth Basketball League

10.12-champs-1055

Right now, it is hot outside with temperatures reaching into the high 90s. But in a few months, these hot temperatures will be just a memory as we begin gearing up for the fall and winter seasons. At the Manassas Park Community Center, winter is synonymous with the Community Center’s Youth Basketball League, formerly called Biddy Ball league!

What separates this league from others in our area? Mike Arrington, Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation League Director and Athletics Recreation Specialist says it is a combination of the electric atmosphere, intense games, and the passion of everyone involved to create a memorable experience.

“When I tell the kids to have fun, I really mean it,” Mr. Arrington said while smiling. “We are very hands on. Practices are weekly and games are on Saturdays, and either I or a member of my team, is there each Saturday watching the games, checking out the referees, and keeping everyone happy,” he added.

Keeping everyone happy begins the minute participants sign up for the league. Mr. Arrington pointed out that this league is, by far, the best value in the area. If families have a Community Center All-Access Passport membership, the price is only $45. Residents pay $85-$90 and non-residents pay $xx. This price includes an officially licensed, replica NBA jerseys which participants keep after the season has ended.

“We have people coming back year after year because they like the way the league is organized, and that tells me we are doing our job! Our league is developmental; we are providing a fun place where kids really learn how to play the game of basketball, and they have fun,” Arrington added.

Participants and their parent must attend an assessment night. It is during this time that coaches and staff look at each participant to determine their skill levels.  “The kids usually fall into one of three categories and are placed accordingly,” Mr. Arrington explained, “From there, we have a draft. Every effort is made to keep the draft fair and the teams as balanced as possible. It doesn’t benefit the players or the league if the teams are not balanced.”

There are no more than 10 kids on a team which means that every child plays. “We don’t have any king or queen benchwarmers in our program,” emphasized Arrington, “Each coach is on an honor system and usually has an assistant coach or a team mom or dad monitor the playing time of each player on the team.”

“We also bring back the same referees each year because they are consistent. They will stop and explain their calls to our youngest or to our newest players so that the players learn from their mistakes.” Arrington finds this level of interaction from coaches, parents, and referees encouraging and representative of the values he believes the program embodies. Good sportsmanship is a quality that can never be overemphasized.

Coaches are required to attend a mandatory meeting outlining all the rules and regulations. Coaches provide the framework for the league. All coaches are encouraged to let the kids play while learning the fundamentals and the game of basketball. “Just like in the professional NBA, all teams are not winning teams,” Arrington pointed out, “The kids learn how to handle losing as well as learning what it means to win. Learning from mistakes and not always winning certainly are life skills our kids will always use.”

Parents and coaches must sign a Code of Conduct where they agree not to interfere with the learning process. “Our parents are super-involved, and during the games, the gym is rocking,” said Arrington.
“Unfortunately, sometimes a bad call can bring out another side of the parents,” he added. “We understand how emotionally vested our parents are, and, as a last resort, have escorted a parent out of the building,” he admitted, “But that behavior is not the norm.”  

Parents and fans get so involved in the games because they see their kids’ teams progress and get better each week. A great way to reward participants who are noticeably progressing is with an All-Star game, which is also part of this league. Coaches poll their parents to determine the best two players on each team and those players play in the All-Star game. “The MVP of the All-Star game is usually the most well-rounded player,” said Arrington, “We’re looking for the player who is passing, assisting, making defense moves, and encouraging his/her teammates,” he added.

After the regular season ends, each team participates in the playoffs. It is a single elimination playoff where if your team wins, you stay and play another game. If you lose, you go home. The champion team for all the age groups is posted on Facebook and all the kids on the first and second place teams will receive a trophy. The exception is the participants in the 4-5 age group who will receive a certificate of completion.

Participants of all age groups receive a certificate of completion, but Mr. Arrington knows they receive much more than that. They learn teamwork, persistence, and get great exercise too.

“I’m a guy who grew up playing sports – basketball and football to be specific. My dad was hard on us, but my mother honestly was worse! I know what that is like and I am working with my staff to provide a place for kids to have fun and to learn about a game I truly love,” summed up Mr. Arrington.

He isn’t the only one who loves the league at the Manassas Park Community Center. The hundreds of kids who participate and the coaches who teach and guide them come back to play year after year. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Do what you love and have fun too!

Registration for The Manassas Park Youth Basketball League opens August 15th. You can reach Mike Arrington at M.Arrington@manassasparkva.gov for more information.

The Manassas Park Community Center is located at 99 Adams Street in Manassas Park, VA. Managed by the City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation, the facility is home to basketball courts, a swimming pool, and wellness areas as well as a variety of special events and programs. For more information visit us at www.ManassasParkCommunityCenter.com or call at 703-335-8872.

News
Prince William County Office of Elections needs volunteers for Nov. 8 Presidential Election

·         Good morning Prince William – The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program –RSVP  has an urgent need for volunteers age 55+ to drive veterans to their doctors’ appointments. It’s so easy and doesn’t take much time out of your day.  Benefits also include additional insurance, a mileage stipend, recognition events but most importantly helping us with a growing community need as we try to branch out to help dialysis patients.   Please email Jan at: jhawkins@volunteerprincewilliam.org to learn more. 

·         Prince William Area Free Clinic needs lots of volunteers for both administrative and medical duties. Eligibility volunteers are needed Monday and Tuesday afternoon and all day Thursday.  Data entry volunteers are needed early evenings on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. There are also a number of medical volunteers needed including a Pharmacist or Pharmacy Resident on Tuesdayafternoon or helping with medication pick-ups on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday mornings.  The clinic continues to need RN’s and LPN’s as well as local partners to assist with Physical Therapy and Podiatry patients.  Come be part of the awesome team.  Please email Caitlin at:Caitlin.denney@pwafc.org for more info.

·         Prince William County Office of Elections needs Election Officers for the upcoming 2016 Presidential Election On November 8th.  This is a stipend service day. You need to report by 5am and work until to closing to assure voters a positive experience.  You must be a registered voter and attend two training sessions.  Please apply online at: pwcgov.org/workatpolls. Sounds like a fun day and receive $125 mad money just in time for your holiday shopping.

·         Catholic Charities- Hogar Immigrant Services is urgently seeking teachers for the English classes in Manassas, Woodbridge and Dale City.  These classes are held MondayThursday but volunteers are only asked to teach once a week.  Training is provided and you do not need to know any other language.  Please call Cynthia at (571) 208-1572 ext. 103 to learn more.

·         Habitat for Humanity has lots of volunteer opportunities. Please visit the volunteer calendar for all the specifics at: www.habitatpwc.org.  They especially need lunch donors to bring lunch to the other volunteers.  It’s easy- just make some sandwiches, a bag of chips, few cookies and a drink to make their day.

·         StreetLight Ministries in Woodbridge offers a number of services to homebound seniors and other fragile clients.  Volunteers are needed to provide transportation to doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping and other simple chores. Please email Rev. Powers rpowers@streetlightcom.org to learn the many ways you can help another in the greater Woodbridge community.

·         The PW Soil & Water Conservation District is looking for volunteers to help with the E.coli study of Quantico Creek. Veronica tells me it’s not rocket science but fun science just the same!  Please email her at: waterquality@pwswcd.org to learn more.

·         The PW Conservation Alliance is sprucing-up of the K9 Gunner Dog Park on:  August 6th from9:30am-12pm. The address is 13000 Minnieville Rd., Woodbridge 22192. Wear long pants, sturdy shoes, and a hat to keep off the sun!

·         Historic Manassas is gearing up for the Bands, Brews, and BBQ festival on September 10th. They need 60 people to poor beer from noon to 6pm. There will be two shifts for pourers and over 50 craft beers and siders for sampling! Contact Erin at: erin@historicmanassasinc.org.

·         Mark your calendar for Saturday September 16th for the 19th Annual Evening under the Stars to benefit CASA’s advocacy for over 500 abused children.  It’s the place to be with all your friends and for a great cause. Please visit their website at: casacis.org for more info and tickets.

·         Walk to end Alzheimer’s is coming up on October 15 in Manassas at the Harris Pavilion – visit their web site for details on walking and volunteering! Volunteers are especially needed for event set-up, advocacy, finish line brigade and route monitoring.  This promises to be a super fun day. www.alzheimersassociationnca.volunteerlocal.com.

·         If you are looking for other opportunities, please don’t forget to call my wonderful team at Volunteer Prince William.  Jan can help you with the Retired and Senior Volunteer (RSVP) opportunities at (703) 369-5292 ext. 1, Shelley can help with any individual or group project and send you weekly updates if you’d like.  Shelley is at (703) 369-5292 ext. 0, and Bonnie can help you with opportunities available in Disaster Preparedness at (703) 369-5292 ext. 3.  Please visit our newly re-vamped website atwww.volunteerprincewilliam.org.  Thanks so much for all you do in our community. 

News
Snake bites man cleaning out car in Dale City

A man cleaning his car in Dale City was bitten by a snake Wednesday.

Rescue crews were called to the 13800 block of Rockford Court in Dale City at 8:55 p.m. where the incident took place.

The snake was killed after biting the man. Authorities told Potomac Local the snake could have been a Copperhead snake, one of the three poisonous snakes commonly found in Virginia.

The snake that bit the man had the colors white, gray, and brown, according to Prince

The man was taken to a local hospital for treatment. Information about the nature of his condition was not released.

Eastern Cottonmouth and the Timber Rattlesnake are also poisonous snakes commonly found in Virginia.

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