News

Manassas teen aids ISIS, jailed

A Manassas teen was sentenced to 11 years in jail today, after assisting the Islamic State in Iraq (ISIS).

Ali Shukri Amin, the 17-year old Manassas boy, was sentenced after being convicted of conspiring to provide support and resources to ISIS, according to a U.S. Justice Department release.

“Today’s sentencing demonstrates that those who use social media as a tool to provide support and resources to ISIL will be identified and prosecuted with no less vigilance than those who travel to take up arms with ISIL. The Department of Justice will continue to pursue those that travel to fight against the United States and our allies, as well as those individuals that recruit others on behalf of ISIL in the homeland,” said U.S. Eastern District of Virginia Attorney Dana Boente, according to a release.

Boente stated that ISIS has been using social media to recruit individuals and spread their message.

Amin was a student at Osborne Park High School in Manassas.

According to Prince William County Police Department Chief Steve Hudson, school staff had said Amin had exhibited some warning signs with suspicious behavior.

“Observations made by school staff and subsequent follow-up by the School Resource Officer were some of the earlier indicators of suspicious behavior regarding this individual,” stated Hudson in a release.

Amin pled guilty to all charges on June 11, according to a release.

More from a U.S. Justice Department release:

According to court documents, Amin admitted to using Twitter to provide advice and encouragement to ISIL and its supporters.  Amin, who used the Twitter handle @Amreekiwitness, provided instruction on how to use Bitcoin, a virtual currency, to mask the provision of funds to ISIL, as well as facilitation to ISIL supporters seeking to travel to Syria to fight with ISIL.  Additionally, Amin admitted that he facilitated travel for Reza Niknejad, an 18-year-old Prince William County resident who traveled to Syria to join ISIL in January 2015.  Niknejad was charged on June 10, 2015, in the Eastern District of Virginia with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, conspiring to provide material support to ISIL, and conspiring to kill and injure people abroad.

U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton presided over the case and delivered the sentence. This case was investigated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael P. Ben’Ary and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Caroline H. Friedman prosecuted the case. Substantial assistance was provided by Trial Attorney Stephen Sewell of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

Virginia eyes Tropical Storm Erika

S115331tormy weather may be ahead for Virginia.

According to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Tropical Storm Erika may become a hurricane by Monday, and has the potential to hit Virginia.

The storm is currently approaching the Dominican Republic, and is still impacting the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, stated the National Weather Service.

Tropical Storm Erika currently has wind speeds of 50 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service.

According to the track, released by the National Weather Service, the storm could impact Virginia by Monday.

Work on massive Woodbridge church starts, again

Work on Harvest Life Changers Church in Woodbridge is underway once again.

Cranes can be seen lifting steel beams into the place at the church site on a hill near the intersection of Route 1 and Neabsco Mills Road. The church’s website notes construction of the new worship center resumed in July as concrete for the foundation was poured.

Work on the project began five years ago when the Prince William County Board of Supervisors approved new signage for the church. Retaining walls were built at the site to support the construction and parking lots.

There had been little work taking place at the site in recent years. No one at the church was available to speak with Potomac Local about the construction.

Girl, 12, sexually assaulted at Manassas Walmart

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Prince William police are searching for a man, following a sexual assault of a minor at a Manassas Walmart.

According to Prince William police, officers were called to the Walmart on 8386 Sudley Road in Manassas on the morning of August 22.

The victim – a 12 year old Manassas girl – told police that on the evening of August 21, she was shopping at the Walmart, when she was approached by an unknown individual, stated Prince William police.

During the incident, the individual inappropriately touched the victim over her clothing, according to Prince William police.

No one was injured.

The Prince William police are looking for the individual that is described as a Hispanic male, between 30 and 40 years old with a thin build, short black hair, and a goatee. He was last seen in surveillance footage wearing a white t-shirt, blue jeans, and black and white Nike sneakers, stated Prince William police.

Landfill not beholden to Dumfries without deal

Dumfries officials weighed in on a plan to close a controversial landfill in the town.

The Potomac Landfill is full of building materials and is easily visible from Interstate 95. It’s located squarely inside the Town of Dumfries and has been a magnet for odor complaints filed by town residents.

The dumping ground is also on a state watch list because it piled debris, such as used wood, drywall, and concrete above a maximum legal height of 195 feet.

The Potomac Landfill is now rectifying the situation reducing the size of the debris pile and spreading it around the site. The landfill also sells the old materials to recycling firms that remake it into new construction material.

Landfill president Phillip Peet proposed a new agreement to the town that would allow the landfill to continue piling debris up to 250 feet high, effectively stopping the height remediation efforts mandated by the state. In exchange, the town would then receive up to $3 million over the next 20 years from the landfill — a portion of the profits made from the landfill recycling old materials.

Peet would also close the landfill in 20 years and build a park and playing fields on the reclaimed site. If Dumfries officials agree, Peet said the state height requirement gets tossed out.

“If there is an agreement for vertical expansion, we vacate the consent order. “If there is no agreement, materials will continue to be removed, and the landfill will expand laterally,” said Peet.

If the town does not accept the proposal, there would be no guarantee the facility would close.

“I’m concerned if we do nothing the Potomac Landfill doesn’t have a closure date it can remain opened, and they can go back into the ground and re-mine to get materials that have value,” said Dumfries Mayor Gerald “Jerry” Foreman.

The landfill has been known to disturb older portions of the landfill to go back in search of materials that can be sold for cash and recycled, added Foreman.

Dumfries Councilwoman Helen Reynolds scorned Peet for presenting the proposal before the company reached compliance with the state order to reduce the height of the debris pile.

“They put these restrictions on the landfill, and before we can talk about moving forward, up, down, or sideways with the landfill. You all had to correct those violations,” said Reynolds.

The company is well on its way to reducing the height of the pile agreement or no agreement, said Peet. The landfill met its first milestone in 2013, and will meet another one this year in the effort to bring down the trash pile, he said.

Peet said the landfill’s parent company Potomac Recycling, which he oversees, aims to run the landfill until it closes. However, if an agreement is not struck between it and the town, Peet said the company could sell the junkyard to another party is if the opportunity presented itself.

Peet said he hoped to strike a deal with the town by late summer or early fall. Foreman and Councilwoman Gwen Washington urge more public participation in the matter before a decision is made. Peet is anxious to solidify a deal soon due to the upcoming closure of a much taller debris landfill in Lorton. Business at his site will pick up once the Lorton landfill closes, he said.

“I don’t think it’s a decision that seven people are capable of making,” said Washington.

“The seven of us will have to make this decision, and that’s the point,” said Vice-Mayor Willie J. Toney.

The town scheduled two public workshops on the matter earlier this summer, were plans, maps, and detailed charts were presented outlining the planned closure of the landfill. Another public meeting on the matter is scheduled September 15 and is open to the public.

How Marines can fish free at Quantico Classic tournament

quantico town

The 2nd Annual Quantico Classic Fishing Tournament starts tomorrow.

The 2015 Quantico Classic Fishing Tournament is a 30-hour fishing tournament hosted by the Town of Quantico starting on Friday, August 28 at noon and ending on Saturday August 29 at 5 p.m.

The 2015 Quantico Classic Fishing Tournament is open to anglers of all ages, skill levels and physical ability.

To increase participation the Town of Quantico is offering a 50% discount on all registration fees until 2 p.m. Friday.

Also, any active duty Marine (or service member) who has the rank of Sgt (E-5) or below can fish for free.

All participants must complete and submit a registration and hold harmless form before being added to the official participants list

The tournament rules and registration form can be found at townofquantico.org.

Any questions or comments related to this or any other town sponsored event should be directed to Mayor Kevin Brown at 571-334-3432 or mayor@townofquantico.org.

How Downtown Manassas changed empty buildings into a regional entertainment destination

Hopkins Candy Factory under revitalization.
Fairfax Windows & Doors Before
The farmers market at Harris Pavilion in Downtown Manassas.
Changes in Downtown Manassas.
Changes in Downtown Manassas.

When people visit the farmer’s market at the Harris Pavilion or navigate the crowds during First Fridays, they are surrounded by a beautiful historic downtown, thriving businesses, and lots of friends and neighbors. It is hard to believe that just 30 years ago, the streets of historic Manassas were desolate, buildings were in disrepair, and almost half of the storefronts were empty and boarded up.

How did downtown turn around?

In 1985, a group of business owners, residents, and City leaders rallied. Determined to revive the heart of Manassas, they needed to lure businesses and customers back from the sprawling strip malls and shopping malls. A series of community meetings explored both problems and opportunities before crafting a vision for a vibrant, walkable downtown filled with restaurants, shops, arts, and a city square

To realize this vision, the City embraced the Main Street Four-Point Approach that was designed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation to revive struggling historic downtowns. At this time, Historic Manassas Inc. (HMI) was born.

In 2003, HMI was nationally recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation for revitalization excellence. Downtown Manassas was held up as a model when it won a Great American Main Street Award for rehabbing 54 buildings, dropping the vacancy rate to zero, creating 350 new jobs, and spurring $12

million in private investment.

These successes are attributed to HMI’s strong public-private partnerships, committed vision, and volunteer support. Main Street programs like HMI rely on dedicated community members who volunteer on committees and the board of directors to help carry out its work together with staff.  

The Main Street Approach is also unique in that it tackles multiple problems throughout the community at once. Instead of relying on a single “white knight,such as a stadium or a company to save a community, Main Street rebuilds a downtown by leveraging its local assets like heritage, historic buildings, independent businesses, walkable streets, and events. Community projects and improvements are done incrementally

Gradual successes over time have made Manassas a place where people want to spend time and money again.

Downtown’s revitalization got a jump start in the 1990s when Virginia Railway Express started commuter service and the museum was built, which created an attraction for new visitors. Businessman Loy E. Harris sustained the momentum by restoring three historic buildings, including the 1906 Opera House. 

This motivated others to fix up their buildings, too, and new businesses began opening. Later, the community was given a place to gather when a vacant half-acre lot in the heart of downtown was transformed into the city square and an all-season pavilion, which was named after Harris.

HMI isn’t resting on its laurels; it continues to work in partnership with the City and local businesses to strengthen the downtown. It hosts a full calendar of events all year long and supports those produced by others

In September alone, the Historic Downtown Manassas Bridal Showcase will show off the local businesses that make Manassas a perfect wedding destination, while Bands, Brews & Barbecue turn the City into a regional entertainment destination. Manassasgrowing cluster of restaurants was made even stronger when the Battle Street enhancements created space for outdoor dining. And, excitement continues to grow with each new piece of public art, arts-oriented venue, and gallery.

Why this island soon won’t block your flow on Prince William Parkway

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A small concrete island blocking the flow of three travel lanes on Prince William Parkway will be moved.

With nothing more than a crosswalk signal on it today, the concrete island stands in the way of drivers and Prince William County transportation planners who would prefer to have three continuous travel lanes on eastbound Prince William Parkway at Minnieville Road in Woodbridge.

Ongoing work on widening a portion of the parkway — from Minnieville Road to Old Bridge Road — will be completed next week. But that project didn’t address the island, whichprevented the county from building three continuous lanes of traffic on Prince William Parkway across Minnieville Road.

The about-to-be-completed widening work on Prince William Parkway widened the road to six lanes east and west, up from four. Drivers headed east in the newly added right lane must turn right onto Minnieville Road and cannot continue straight onto Prince William Parkway, as the lane ends.

Drivers in the center and left lanes may continue toward Potomac Mills mall.

Prince William County Transportation spokesman Rick Canizales said there wasn’t enough money in the soon-to-be-completed widening project to move the concrete island — which is very important to traffic flow.

“If we didn’t have that island there, it would cause Minnieville Road to become very congested,” he said.

The island allows drivers on eastbound Minnieville Road turning right on Prince William Parkway toward Potomac Mills mall a continuous “free flow movement” right turn. After they turn, the lane continues and drivers do not have to merge left into a travel lane.

Canizales added that without the island and free-flow lane, traffic waiting to turn right onto the parkway would stack up on Minnieville Road as drivers would be forced to wait for their turn to merge into oncoming traffic.

An additional $2.5 million in monies made available to the county transportation department following the annual budget process this past spring will allow crews to “retrofit” the island. The island will be moved a bit to the west, and a new “free flow movement” lane will be constructed for drivers turning right from Minnieville onto the parkway.

The old free-flow lane will be converted into a regular travel lane, and that will allow for three continuous travel lanes across Minnieville Road. When the newly added free-flow lane opens, drivers turning right onto the parkway from Minnieville Road will have to merge left from the new free-flow lane into one of the three travel lanes to continue toward Potomac Mills mall.

Canizales said the county was in talks with three property owners who will need to give up some land in exchange for at least $68,000 in right of way monies paid by the county to affected land owners. The affected properties include a business building at the corner of Prince William Parkway and Minnieville Road and two townhomes inside the nearby Lakeside neighborhood across from BJ’s Wholesale Club.

No buildings or homes will be demolished as part of the work. Only small portions of the property, or “partial take right-of-ways” will be required to construct the new free-flow lane and to move the island, said Canizales. Large poles at the intersection that support traffic signals had already been moved as part of the soon-to-be-completed road work in preparation for moving the island.

Utility relocation should begin in September after right-of-way negotiations wrap up. Construction is slated to begin in spring 2017 2016 and should be finished later that summer.

Updated: Police pursuit leads to manhunt in Lorton

Update

It appears police know the identify of the person who led them on a pursuit, and then on a manhunt late Wednesday night. 

Charges have not been filed in the case and no arrests have been made.

“The subject in question was actually known to the officer and he will seek warrants for his arrest. If/when he is charged we would then be able to release a name,” stated Fairfax County police spokesman Don Gotthardt. 

Police cleared the scene about 11 p.m. No one was injured. 

Original post 

Police are searching for a suspect who bailed out of his car during a pursuit shortly before 10 p.m.

Fairfax County police were searching the area of Southern Oaks and Linden Oaks courts for the unidentified man. A police helicopter was used during the search. The helicopter had been called off by 11 p.m.

No arrests have been reported. We don’t know where the police pursuit originated.

A Potomac Local reader tells us police cars were set up along Silverbrook Road and on South Run Road about 10:30 p.m. 

More on this as we have it.

Ribbon cutting for Chris Yung Elementary School set for Thursday

Chris Yung Elementary School in Bristow is named after a fallen Prince William County Police officer.
Chris Yung Elementary School in Bristow is named after a fallen Prince William County Police officer.
Chris Yung Elementary School in Bristow is named after a fallen Prince William County Police officer.

Chris Yung Elementary School will welcome students, parents, and teachers for the first time this year.

A ribbon cutting for the new school will take place Thursday, August 27, 2015 at 6 p.m. at the school located at 12612 Fog Light Way in Bristow.

The school is named after Prince William County Police Officer Chris Yung who was killed in the line of duty on New Year’s Eve 2012. His family will attend the ribbon cutting ceremony, according to Prince William County Public Schools spokesman Phil Kavits.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony is open to the public.

Chris Yung Elementary School is the only new school opening this year in the Prince William school division. The elementary school was formerly known as the “Devlin Road elementary school” while it was under construction.
Community members urged school officials to name the new school after the fallen police officer.

Yung, 35, was responding to a call for help on his police motorcycle when he was hit by a minivan, outside a Target store on Sowder Village Way in Bristow.

Yung was a Marine and was known for his kindness and dedication to the police force and the community. His death brought together community members for a series of vigils, a memorial parade, and a massive funeral in remembrance of the fallen officer.

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