WE ARE LOCAL News in Prince William, Virginia




Dale Service Corporation Being Sold

DALE CITY, Va. — The Dale Service Corporation will be sold to the American Water Works Company.

If the $27.7 million sale of the Virginia American Water subsidy is approved by the Virginia State Corporation Commission, it will mark the first time Virginia American Water will be in the wastewater business.

“The acquisition of Dale Service Corporation is an excellent fit with our Virginia operations, as it allows us to create greater efficiency and economies of scale in providing wastewater service to an area where we already provide water service to customers,” said Jeff Sterba, president and CEO of American Water in a press release.

The purchase agreement between the two companies was signed this week.

More in a press release:

Dale Service Corporation currently provides wastewater collection and treatment services to approximately 20,000 customers (a population of about 65,000) in the Dale City portion of Prince William County. The company operates two wastewater treatment plants with a combined capacity of 9.2 million gallons per day. Since 1966, Virginia American Water has been providing water services to most of the Dale Service Corporation wastewater customers.

Dale Service Corporation’s 22 employees are expected to be retained as part of the deal, which is expected to be complete later this year.

In addition to Prince William County, Virginia American Water also services Alexandria, Hopewell, and Warsaw.

The wastewater business is nothing new for Virginia American Water’s parent company, American Waterworks, a company representative said. American waterworks “has extensive experience in providing wastewater services as well as high-quality drinking water services. American Water Works is the largest publicly traded water and wastewater utility in the United States.”


Leadership Prince William Names Kathy Bentz New Program Director

MANASSAS, Va. — From a rooftop overlooking Manassas last night, Kathy Bentz got a new job. With it she’ll help shape the future leaders of Prince William County.

The longtime community servant who’s worked as the liaison to Prince William’s arts community, at a public health center in Woodbridge, and most recently on the project to bring the American’s in Wartime Museum to Dale City, will now head Leadership Prince William. A brainchild of the county’s then two chambers of commerce in 2007 which have since merged into one, the Leadership Prince William program is a nine-month series of courses geared to civic-minded individuals for those with interests in business, government, and community.

Bentz is a 2010 graduate of the course and was serving on the organization’s board when she applied for the open position vacated by Kathy Ellington, who took a position with Leadership Arlington.

Bentz will take over immediately, will work solely on Leadership Prince William, and she said she already has her work cut out for her.

“There’s room for growth, the signature program that we have now is built on success, it’s going well, but there’s a strategic plan for the organization, we have some new programs, and we want to take it to another level and build on success we already had,” said Bentz.

The announcement was made last night on the rooftop of the building that houses the Prince William Chamber in Manassas during a party for program alumni and perspective program participants. The current Leadership Prince William class is set to graduate June 7.


Occoquan Mayor Starts Shuttle Service for Train Passengers to Spur Tourism



OCCOQUAN, Va. — Mayor Earnie Porta of the tiny town of Occoquan is said to be the town’s biggest cheerleader when it comes to letting residents in the region know about special events during holidays, town gatherings, and sales at many of the town’s independently owned small businesses.

Now, instead of just telling people about what’s happening in the town, he’s actually going to bring people there.

Porta started Occoquan Transportation Company, LLC in partnership with Amtrak with the mission of bringing passengers waiting at Lorton’s Auto Train to Occoquan. The shuttle service runs on Saturdays and Sundays between 11:30 a.m. And 2:30 p.m. with stops at the Workhouse Arts Center and Occoquan.

Porta said the idea is to give passengers who normally wait up to three hours for their train something to do while they wait.

Here’s more in a Q&A session with Porta and Potomac Local News:

1. What’s the reason why you started this service?

I’m basically starting the service in the hopes of bringing to Occoquan to eat and shop people who would otherwise probably just be sitting around for hours at a train station with little to do.

2. What’s it’s main function? How does it work?

The shuttle service is basically designed to cater to Lorton Auto Train passengers. They line up to load their cars at 11:30 a.m., and then, in most cases, are marooned at the station until the Auto Train leaves at 3:00.

I’ll be making four pick-ups at the station at 11:30 a.m., noon, 12:30 p.m., and 1 p.m. to shuttle people to the Town of Occoquan (with a stop at the Lorton Workhouse Arts Center if passengers desire), where I hope they will eat, shop, generally enjoy themselves, and be motivated come visit us again in the future. The round-trip fare is $5, but children age 12 and under ride for free.

3. What was the level of dedication / financial commitment required to start this?

The margins on this, frankly, are quite tight, which is part of what led me to take this on. With such tight margins no established company was likely to initiate a service like this, and if the Fairfax County Government decided to run a subsidized shuttle, my guess is that their taxpayers would not really favor subsidizing trips to a town in Prince William County.

Consequently, I concluded that the only way to brings these folks into Occoquan and Prince William was for someone locally to set up a targeted service. Given the tight margins sustainability (and hope-for expansion) will depend not only on demand, but on promotional sales, etc.

The LLC I set up currently contracts for the buses and pays individuals to serve as ride docents, so the upfront costs are born by the [limited liability company], but hopefully will be adequately covered by fares and promotional sales.

5. Who will drive?

At the moment I have contracted with a well-established, reputable bus company, who, along with Amtrak, has been very cooperative in setting this up. Drivers, called toute docents, are people that I need basically to be on the buses to collect money, supervise the route, and make sure that everyone gets back to the train station in time.

Dan’s Pharmacy Grows Big While Providing Small Town Service

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Dan Singh opened the independent Dan’s Wellness Pharmacy in North Stafford six years ago and is now ready to expand his business. [Photo: Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]


NORTH STAFFORD, Va. — The days of the corner drugstore and soda fountain may be long gone, but the independent pharmacy is alive and well in North Stafford.

Sitting along busy Garrisonville Road, surrounded by at least six other corporate chain pharmacies like CVS, Rite Aid, and Walmart, is Dan’s Wellness Pharmacy. It’s not a large store by chain store standards, and the wooden fixtures on the floor and walls harken back to older time when neighbors came to the corner drugstore for advice on what was ailing them, a quick over the counter remedy, or just to say hello. It’s a form of customer service owner Dan Singh and his team of nine staff works hard to provide every day.

“My friends said I was crazy to start a pharmacy here with so much competition around us, but we were all very surprised at how it grew,” said Singh.

Today, Dan’s Wellness Pharmacy fills prescriptions the same way the chain stores do, offers many of the same products on its shelves, but it has cornered the market in herbal remedies and “compounding,” the art of creating specialized medications for individual people and pets. It’s a unique service his competitors don’t offer, and they refer their customers that ask for it to him.

Starting out

The independent pharmacy gene is Singh’s blood. When he started in the industry in 1993, he began working at an independent pharmacy in Connecticut. He learned all he could and worked for eight years at the shop before taking a job as a pharmacy manager for Rite Aid stores in the Fredericksburg, Va. area. He met his wife, who was living in Arlington at the time, and spent his days on the road managing stores from Manassas to Waynesboro.

Then children came along and he wanted to be closer to family, so he came off the road and took a job at CVS in North Stafford. He worked there for three years and got bored, he said. He then began working on a business plan to open his own pharmacy, and when CVS got word of that, he was out.

“I figured it was time to better myself now, or the only other option was to stay working for a chain the rest of my life,” said Singh.

A Stafford resident, he knew that’s where he wanted his pharmacy to be. But he also knew he didn’t have a lot of cash on hand to get it started. He found a used furniture store in North Carolina that had old store fixtures – which can cost up to $50,000 brand new to outfit a store, said Singh. He paid $5,000 and took everything that the store had.


What he thought would take a year or more to do happened relatively quickly in just eight months – growth. When he opened six years ago, Singh went to area doctors and told them about his new pharmacy, touting its benefits as being the only independent pharmacy in Stafford.

He called it a “wellness pharmacy” when he opened, and he said that proved to be a minor mistake.

“People saw the sign and they tended to think it was more of a health food store than a pharmacy,” he said.

But he’s overcome that perception, and now many of his customers know the pharmacy to be a place they can rely on for good advice.

“Customers come to me because they know they are getting advice from an owner,” said Singh. “As I’ve grown, I’m still here, though I have a full-time staff, I like to sit in my office with the lights on and my windows open so the customers can still see me.”

There are plans to expand the Dan’s Wellness Pharmacy brand, known online as Dan’s Care. Singh said it’s too early to say where he’ll open a new independent pharmacy, but one will open soon in Virginia.

May Urges Trader Joe’s to Consider New Store in Prince William County

LAKE RIDGE, Va. — There’s a Facebook group dedicated to the cause, and residents have been asking for one for years.

Now Prince William Occoquan Supervisor Mike May has lent his voice to the chorus of people asking that a Trader Joe’s supermarket be built in Lake Ridge. May penned a letter to the specialty supermarket chain this week asking them to consider the area.

“To be candid, it’s not every day that I write to companies asking that they consider investing in our community. However, I’m compelled to do so because barely a day goes by that I am not approached by a constituent asking, ‘Mike, why can’t we get a Trader Joe’s?’” stated May.

There are several Trader Joe’s in Fairfax County, in Washington, D.C., and Maryland, and new stores are planned for states like New York, North Carolina, and Texas, to name a few. But there’s no indication that Lake Ridge, Woodbridge, or anywhere else in Prince William County, is has made it onto the company’s radar, according to their website.

On the “Bring Trader Joe’s to Woodbridge, VA” Facebook group, posters to page use it to remind fans to periodically go to Trader Joe’s website and again fill out the online form to ask the company to consider putting a store in the area. They also post news articles about Prince William County being one of the wealthiest places to live in the U.S. – a fact May drew attention to in his letter.

“As you may be aware, Prince William County is a community of over 400,000 residents located about 25 miles south of Washington, D.C. We are home to a diverse and thriving community, with a strong economic base,” penned May. “Our county has grown over 40% in the past 10 years, and much of that growth has brought new consumers who are looking for new and upscale retail opportunities for the community.”

In Lake Ridge, residents have said Tackett’s Mill shopping center would be an ideal candidate for Trader Joe’s to locate.

Prudential PenFed Realty Acquires New Office

Submitted News

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Prudential PenFed Realty announced today that the firm is relocating its Lake Ridge real estate office in Woodbridge, Va., to a new location across town on April 16, 2013. The new office will be unveiled at a public grand opening event on May 4.

The full-service office will be located in the Prince William Town Center directly across from Prince William County Government Center and County Stadium at 12751 Marblestone Drive, Suite #210, Woodbridge, Va. The new location will feature New Homes, Relocation, Commercial and Property Management Real Estate divisions.

Jim Evans, Branch Manager, Prudential PenFed Realty’s Lake Ridge office

“We are excited to be revolutionizing real estate while serving the brokerage needs of our existing real estate clients and the members of our parent company who choose to enlist our assistance when buying or selling real estate throughout Northern Virginia,” Jim Evans, Branch Manager, Prudential PenFed Realty. “After many years at the Lake Ridge office location, it was time to update and upgrade our office space. This move positions us to better serve a client base that has come to expect service that is second to none.”

“Prudential PenFed Realty’s focus on the customer is the driving force behind our company’s rapid growth,” said Kevin Wiles, President, Prudential PenFed Realty. “We go to great lengths to stay focused on what our buyers and sellers need and want so we can deliver world-class service that exceed expectations.”

Prudential PenFed Realty has earned a host of honors, including the 2011 Spirit of Partnership Award for their outstanding relocation services, and they have remained in the top 1% of all Prudential affiliates in the world. The scope of the Prudential/Brookfield network coupled with the company’s accomplishments nationally, and reputation locally, afford agents the opportunity to provide an exemplary bundle of services to Prudential PenFed Realty clients; as evidenced by these quotes from a few agents:

Kevin Boyer stated, “The Boyer team chose to join Prudential PenFed Realty because of the company’s national and local presence, advanced tools, and visionary leadership. In today’s marketplace, it’s important to align yourself with a strong, growing company that offers proven business and leadership programs that fit your values. Our team thrives on the high quality of service we provide to our home buyers and sellers. With the affiliation our team has with Prudential PenFed Realty, we can provide full-service representation to all of our clients, and deliver local knowledge and expertise throughout all of our markets.”

Evelyn Golden, another Prudential PenFed Realty agent said, “I like the friendly atmosphere and the willingness of the agents to help one another; as well as being under the umbrella of the Prudential Rock. It is a family atmosphere. I believe great customer service is the key to any successful business. Prudential PenFed Realty puts its clients first, and continually achieves great service.”

Hampton Inn Growing as Stafford’s U.S. 1 Corridor Thrives


NORTH STAFFORD, Va. – Located in a row of new hotels springing up along Stafford’s U.S. 1 corridor, the 16-year-old Hampton Inn can be sometimes get lost in all of the new construction.

It sits in a sort of crevasse at the entrance to three major roads: Interstate 95, U.S. 1, and Va. 610. Nearby, three new hotels have opened, and another is under construction at Quantico Corporate Center. All of them cater to business travelers and federal employees who stay for extended periods of time.

But Hampton Inn North Stafford owner-operator Amal Lambaraa refuses to be outdone, so she lobbied the parent company of her hotel, Hilton Hotels and Resorts, for funds to renovate inn and she won. Now, a nearly 10,000 square foot renovation of the Hampton Inn is underway, and planned are new meetings spaces, a game room, a larger swimming pool area, and probably most innovative of all, a new banquet hall and ballroom that will stand in an adjacent so that parties and events held there do not disturb hotel guests.

Of the three hotels Lambaraa owns a share of, including two Wingate Inns in Stafford County, she favors her stock in the Hampton the most. The Moroccan native said many of the departments, including housekeeping, the front desk, and marketing, run themselves thanks to a trusted staff of 25 people whom she’s cultivated and promoted from within.

“People have to move up in life, so when you have a chance to give back to people who have helped you, it’s important that you give back to them,” said Lambaraa.

The $9 million hotel renovation will mean 19 new rooms – three of them complete with jacuzzi spas. Lambaraa said those spas, coupled with a larger 1,420 square foot pool deck, should bring in more local residents who would to get away from their houses for a weekend“staycation.”

The hotel once hidden by trees is also now more visible thanks to the 95 Express Lanes Project which has taken many trees around the hotel for the construction of toll lanes that will connect with HOV lanes in Dumfries. New highway lanes and new nearby hotels will should also mean more business for the Hampton Inn.

“It’s a competition… it’s a race… one of us is going have to win and one of us is going to have to lose, but through competition, it’s the thing that makes you stronger,” said Lambaraa.

The renovations are expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Construction and renovations are underway at a Hampton Inn in North Stafford. [Photo: Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

Construction and renovations are underway at a Hampton Inn in North Stafford. [Photo: Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

Pole Fitness Gym Offers ‘Flirty’ Workouts

For Potomac Local News 

[Photo: Mary Rosenthol / For Potomac Local News]

[Photo: Mary Rosenthol / For Potomac Local News]

MANASSAS, Va. — Tucked in a small corner of Manassas is a shop with a bright pink awning called the Doll House Poll Fitness Center.

Around 50 instructors, students, friends and curious onlookers enjoyed an open house held there on Saturday night.

“I truly love the sexy yet healthy feeling of pole fitness,” said owner, Von Martin. “For over a year, I traveled an hour away to attend classes and I felt like we needed a studio close by.”

Martin greeted a cheering crowd on Saturday night as she announced demonstration dancers and called out numbers for a raffle. The Doll House offers classes and rental space for private parties.

“I like pole dancing because it’s something that women of any age and fitness level can enjoy,” said Martin. Everything from introductory classes to pole tricks are offered on a weekly basis and the first introductory class is free.

“You can be at level one for weeks or months,” said Washington, D.C. instructor Andrea Angeles. “We have dancers, gymnasts, even grandmothers who take classes with us!”

Angeles traveled to Manassas from Washington to celebrate the opening of the new pole gym.

“You get out of pole dancing exactly what you put into it. If you’re in the studio practicing every day you’re going to drop weight and learn quickly. If you only go to the gym once a week, then it’s going to take longer.”

With the open house out of the way, Martin and her teachers plan to resume a normal schedule of classes next week.

According to the pole fitness center’s website, the gym offers classes while encouraging women to feel “flirty” or “sexy” while working out. More than just poles, the siren room offers a place for up to five students to work out using both floor moves and chairs.

The gym is located on Lute Court, near the intersection of Va. 234 and Interstate 66, and is open weekdays 6 to 9 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and by appointment only on Sundays.


A Runner Up, Winner Accepts Raffled Car

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Mike Nies has a new car.

Well, it’s not a new car but it’s new to him, and he won it after purchasing 10 tickets from Steve’s Auto Repair in Woodbridge in a raffle to support the Greater Manassas / Prince William Boys and Girls Clubs.

So, what kind of car did Nies win for his $100 donation? A 2001 Ford Crown Victoria – similar to what police officers drive.

Nies plans to use the car for his home improvement business that takes him to see customers between Haymarket and Arlington. He came with his wife, Christine, and 2-month old son “Lil’ Mikey” to Steve’s Auto to claim his prize. He was excited but his wife wanted to know one thing: “Does it get better gas mileage than our SUV?” she asked.

It doesn’t, but the car was well cared for throughout it’s life by technicians at Steve’s Auto Repair.

“The car belonged to one of our customers, and when they wanted to get a new car we took this one off of their hands and decided to raffle it off to the community to benefit he Boys and Girls Club,” said ST Billingsley, the repair facility’s general manager.

The raffle was held on March 29 at the repair shop, and Neis was actually the runner up. Billingsley said he called several times to notify the first winner but no one answered.

Neis picked up his prize on Friday and had some advice for the person whose name was drawn.

“Pay your cell phone bill,” said Neis.

Uno Chicago Grill in Woodbridge Closes

First on Potomac Local News

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – When the woman behind the bar at Uno Chicago Grill in Woodbridge was asked to pour a beer this morning, she replied “I only wish I could.”

She didn’t pour the beer not that it was too early to have a brew, but because no more beers, pizzas, or anything else for that matter will be served here. Uno in Woodbridge, as of Sunday night, is closed.

Just after 8 a.m. Monday, large moving trucks and a dumpster were sitting in the parking lot of the eatery, and employees were seen carrying out tables, chairs, and small light fixtures. Potomac Local News has learned it is the only Uno restaurant in the region, to include Manassas, Springfield, and Union Station in Washington, D.C., that will close it’s doors.

The restaurant’s general manager directed call questions to a corporate spokesman who has yet to return a call to Potomac Local News.

The restaurant was built in the early 1990s at the Potomac Mills mall area expanded and several new restaurants joined the Smoketown Stations development, including a TGI Friday’s that recently underwent interior renovations.

Uno in Woodbridge served as a gathering spot for entrepreneurs in eastern Prince William County as the Prince William Chamber held regular monthly networking sessions there. There’s no word yet from the Chamber as to where in eastern Prince William those meetings might be moved to.

Prince William Chamber ‘Valor Awards’ Looking for Sponsors

Submitted News

MANASSAS, Va. — Now in its 27th year, the Prince William Valor Awards honors the men and women in public service who protect the people, homes and businesses of the greater Prince William area. This year’s ceremony takes place on April 24, 11:00 am to 2:00 pm at Heritage Hunt Golf & Country Club. The awards are a program of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce. Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center returns as the main event sponsor. NBC4 anchorman Jim Vance will narrate the tales of bravery.

“The Prince William Chamber takes great pride in recognizing those who perform extraordinary acts of self sacrifice and bravery in the line of duty. As leaders in the business community, we take this moment to pause and honor those who risk so much to protect our lives, our livelihoods and our quality of life,” said Chamber President & CEO Rob Clapper.

The luncheon program is an opportunity for the citizens and businesses of the Prince William region to come together in showing support and appreciation for the community’s public safety professionals. During the ceremony, Valor Awards will be given to police, fire and rescue workers who have gone above the call of duty in protecting Prince William County and the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park. A memorial tribute for PWC Police Officer Chris Yung, who died in the line of duty , is also planned.

While the event is sold-out, there are still opportunities to sponsor the attendance of award winners and to purchase “congratulatory notes” in the commemorative program that will be given to more than 330 attendees. To learn more, look for “Valor Awards” in the events tab on pwchamber.org, or call 703.368.6600. Event updates are also posted the the Prince William Valor Awards Facebook page.

The Prince William Chamber’s Quality of Life Vision Partner is Dominion Virginia Power. Additional sponsors include Patriot Sponsors NOVEC-Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative, Cardinal Bank, MTCI-Management & Training Consultants, Inc. and Youth for Tomorrow.Virginia Airborne Search & Rescue Squad is the Heritage Sponsor. Prince William Living is the Community Sponsor and Prince William Times the Community Partner for the awards.

Founded by a Retired Teacher, Brilliance a Resource for Educators

For Potomac Local News

MANASSAS, Va. — One thing is certain: teachers and home-school educators buy a lot of supplies for their students. But there were few local places where educators could go to get what they needed.

That’s until Dianne Laramie, a retired teacher who retired from Prince William County Public Schools in 2012, and her husband, Bill, decided to open their own teacher store.

Laramie wanted a place where teachers could have the opportunity to touch and evaluate products without having to look for them online. The entrepreneurial couple named their store Brilliance and opened it last fall.

They believed that for parents — especially those with home-schooled children — that the ability to provide products in conjunction with professional advice would be an asset to them. They chose to locate in Manassas, which they consider to be central to customers from Fredericksburg and parts of Loudoun County. Laramie said her store provides value and a diverse inventory that teachers would be willing to travel for. Brilliance is not your typical store.

“It is stocked with items that provide teachers and parents with a variety of resources based on the current teaching methodologies in education. The store is run and staffed by professional educators. We provide a ready resource for both teachers and parents in helping to provide solutions to meet their needs,” said Laramie.

They are one of the first retailers to receive and carry new items from Teacher Created Resources who is “a leading publisher of supplementary teaching materials, free lesson plans, teacher supplies, and more for preschool, elementary and middle school levels,” as stated on their website. Brilliance is also affiliated with The School Place/Educator’s Resource, a major distributor of educational materials, where Laramie sits on the company’s advisory board.

BriIliance also offers a variety of services, like laminating, that can be viewed and ordered from their website. Shoppers can order items from the store’s website and have them shipped to the store for free. This summer, Brilliance will offer small classes on a variety of educational topics such as using manipulatives to teach concepts, story hour and instructional advice for parents seeking help with unique educational challenges.

Active in the local community, the business has participated in the Toys for Tots Drive, and it sponsored local families in need by donating toys and educational materials over the Christmas holidays.  Brilliance also supports two area scholastic athletic teams in local schools, and the Hylton Performing Arts Center.

Laramie and her husband just recently became members of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce.

For hours and more information for Brilliance Educator Supplies and Resources, Inc, call 571-292-2331 or visit brilliance-ed.com.

New Manassas Gym Offers Pole Dancing

MANASSAS, Va. — Aradia Fitness is proud to announce the opening of its new location in Virginia. The studio, located at 9705 Liberia Avenue, is on the 3rd floor of the Gold’s Gym building in Manassas. With over 12 studios across the US and Canada, Aradia Fitness is North America’s largest pole dancing and sensual movement company. Since its inception in 2003, Aradia Fitness has taught thousands of women the art of pole dancing.

“I am thrilled to open this studio,” said Aradia Fitness NOVA owner, Melissa Rose. “I’ve been teaching pole dance over five years and researched several different companies before deciding to partner with Aradia. They have a fantastic program that focuses on building strength and making pole dance fitness accessible to the everyday woman.”

Aradia Fitness NOVA offers pole dancing and specialty fitness classes to women of all ages, shapes and sizes. “We truly have something for everyone,” Rose said. “Our pole dancing program is great, but we have a variety of off-the-pole classes, too.”


7-Eleven Stores to Benefit from $5 Million Greencore Expansion in Stafford County


STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. – A company based in Dublin, Ireland will expand it’s Stafford County headquarters by 350 employees using $150,000 in state and local grant money.

Governor Robert F. McDonnell came to Stafford County on Tuesday to announce the expansion of Greencore, PLC. – a company that sits just outside Fredericksburg that produces food products for grocery stores – including it’s largest client of 20 years, 7-Eleven convenience stores. The expansion is a $5.75 million investment by the company in the local workforce, as Greencore will hire more employees and purchase new manufacturing equipment.

The announcement was made after nine months of negotiations, and a trip that brought the deal’s key players, like McDonnell and Stafford County Economic Development Chief Tim Baroody, to Irelend to meet with company CEO Liam McLennon.

“I am thankful that you chose to do buisiness here… you had options but you chose Virginia, and we thank you,” McDonnell told McLennon.

A key part of the expansion in Stafford County, said McDonnell, is access to local agriculture, which is the state’s largest industry bringing in $80 million a year.

McLennon said 30% of all food that is made at their facility will come from local farms.

“You’re only as good as the food you get, so we wanted to use locally produced food, and keep open the option to expand to more than 30% local food usage as we grow,” said McLennon. “We want to give our customers more options, as they’re looking for more healthy options with more fruits and vegetables.”

The $150,000 grant includes $75,000 in state funds, and the same amount in local matching funds from Stafford County. It’s part of of $350 million in grants that have been awarded to businesses in Virginia in the past 10 years, each of which have an average return of $9.6 on every grant dollar awarded.

“People are very insecure in this economy, so that’s why it’s so important for us to be able to get everyone together, go out and compete for these economic development projects and win,” said Virginia Economic Development Partnership President Martin J. Briley.

The money used to facilitate Greencore’s grant come from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development fund, one of more than five funds at the state level reserved for economic development.

Following the speeches, McDonnell presented McLennon a box with a Virginia flag inside.

“Because budget times are so tight, we didn’t include a flag pole. We thought maybe you could spirng for that,” joked McDonnell.

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Virginia Speaker of the House Bill Howell welcomes Gov. Robert F. McDonnell to the podium. [Photo: Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

350 New Jobs Coming to Stafford County

RICHMOND Va. — A press release sent this evening from the governor’s office means good news for Stafford County as well as nearby residents looking for work.

More in an edited press release:

Governor Bob McDonnell today announced that Greencore Group PLC, an Ireland-based, leading international manufacturer of convenience foods, will invest $5.75 million to expand its first Virginia food processing facility in Stafford County following the April 2012 acquisition of the former Marketfare Foods, LLC. In addition to servicing Marketfare Foods’ principal customer of 20 years, 7-Eleven, Greencore will also service a significant new contract from the Stafford County operation, creating 350 new jobs.

McDonnell met with Greencore Group officials at the headquarters in Dublin, Ireland during a July 2012 marketing mission.

Speaking about today’s announcement, McDonnell said, “Last July I met with Greencore Group in Ireland to discuss the recent acquisition of Marketfare Foods and the potential to expand the operation in order to serve the company’s newest significant contract from the Stafford County plant. Successfully competing for this project against other locations is a great testament to the opportunity Greencore sees for its Virginia operation to provide new capabilities in the fast-growing food-to-go category and extend the company’s geographic footprint along the East Coast. We celebrate 350 new job opportunities and a resulting increase in volume for Virginia-grown produce that will greatly benefit the Commonwealth’s agricultural producers in the region.”

“Greencore Group’s new Virginia operation represents an excellent opportunity for the continued expansion of the company’s convenience food business in the U.S.,” said Jim Cheng, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade. “Stafford County offers the right location with an existing facility and infrastructure, and convenient proximity to key customers. We are confident in Greencore’s future success in the Commonwealth, and look forward to further enhancing the partnership between Virginia and Ireland.”

“Greencore’s expansion in Stafford County is a victory for both economic development and increased agricultural production in Virginia,” said Todd Haymore, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. “During meetings with Greencore officials in Ireland and Massachusetts last year, it became clear that the Greencore’s expansion would benefit Virginia by creating more jobs at the facility and by generating more opportunities for our agricultural producers to supply the company. Greencore will be served well by expanding in Virginia and sourcing more high-quality Virginia grown products, such as cabbage, peppers, and other commodities from our outstanding family farmers.”

Greencore is a leading manufacturer of convenience food with 22 manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and the U.K. These facilities produce a wide range of products including food to go, chilled prepared meals, quiche, cakes and pasta sauces for all of the major retailers in the U.K. as well as a number of regional outlets in the U.S. Greencore employs more than 11,000 people in the U.K., the U.S. and Ireland. Greencore was established in Ireland in 1991 following the privatization of the Irish sugar industry and in 2001 it acquired U.K. food manufacturer Hazlewood Foods. From 2001 to 2008 Greencore underwent a major transition from an agri-based business to a focused convenience foods manufacturer; and in 2008 Greencore entered the U.S. market with the acquisition of Home Made Brand Foods in Massachusetts.

In 2010 Greencore acquired a further business in Massachusetts, but it was the acquisitions of MarketFare Foods, with its sites in Stafford County and Salt Lake City, as well as the acquisition of HC Schau in Florida and Chicago, that saw that Greencore would become a key player in the U.S. market. The key focus of Greencore’s business in the U.S. is food to go for a major convenience store chain as well as a new major foodservice customer. Greencore USA is headquartered in Danvers, Massachusetts and currently employs in excess of 1,000 across its six U.S., sites.

“Greencore is absolutely delighted to be making this investment in its facility in Stafford County,” said Liam McClennon, CEO for Greencore USA. “Virginia offers an excellent environment for us to invest in further growth in our Fredericksburg plant. In addition to the skills and capabilities of our current workforce, Virginia offers us a great pool of talent to support our recruitment plans, as well as the availability of high quality local products and ingredients, which we can use in our finished products. Furthermore, the County offers business friendly policies and an excellent transport and logistics network, which is critical to the success of Greencore. I would like to thank the governor and his team for their support and for making Greencore feel welcome in Virginia.”

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Stafford County to secure the project for Virginia. McDonnell approved $75,000 from the governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund, a grant administered by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and made to businesses that add value to Virginia-grown agricultural and forestal products. Through its Virginia Jobs Investment Program, the Virginia Department of Business Assistance will provide funding and services to support the company’s recruitment, training and retraining activities.

“Economic development is one of Stafford’s strongest assets, and we pride ourselves in our efforts to diversify our tax base,” said Stafford Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Bob Thomas, whose George Washington District is home to Greencore’s plant in Stafford County. “Greencore adds to that diversity while bringing new employment opportunities and investment to our community. It also helps put Stafford on the global stage with the international market. We now have more than 2,250 businesses, and are Commonwealth-leading in business and job growth (by percentage of growth) in Virginia. Thanks to our aggressive economic development program, as well as our business retention and expansion efforts, almost 38,000 people can say they work in Stafford. Thanks to Greencore, that number is growing. We wish them continued success and look forward to working with them on future endeavors.”

Salinas Opening Gainesville Insurance Office

GAINESVILLE, Va. — What do you get when you mix the fourth day of the fourth month with 4 o’clock? In Gainesville, it means a new insurance agent is opening her new office.

Carola Salinas has invited area residents for an open house at her new office on Thursday, April 4, at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

More in a press release:

The new office is located at 7915 Lake Manassas Drive, Suite 202. The public is welcome to attend the free event by calling 703-753-7766 to reserve a spot.

“I am thrilled to be opening my new office in Gainesville. I have enjoyed such a warm welcome from everyone I have met,” said Carola.

Salinas has been working in the insurance and mortgage industry since 2005.

Salinas, originally from Bolivia, has been married to her husband for 24 years and together, they are proud parents to three children. She is currently residing in Loudoun County.

State Farm asked Salinas to open her office in Gainesville due to her bi-lingual background to better serve the region’s diverse population, according to a spokeswoman.

State Farm is one of the nation’s largest providers of automobile insurance in the U.S., with more than 17,000 agents, 65,000 employees, serving 81 million accounts.

Business Incubator Closing at End of Week

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — The effort by George Mason University to provide start-up companies with office space in the Woodbridge area will come to an end on Sunday.

The Mason Enterprise Center located in the I-95 Business Park off Golansky Boulevard and Prince William Parkway is shutting its doors. All six people who had offices at the business incubator have been relocated by the owner of the office complex.

Open in Woodbridge for more than two years, the hope was to attract small companies that would utilize the center to grow their operations until the need for larger accommodations arose. But the center’s location in an area that lacks a downtown appears to have hampered its success.

“We find that a location centered in a city tends to lend itself people who are looking for things that are within walking distance of the office. Our location in Woodbridge was not city centered, and that’s something that worked against us,” said Renne Younes, with the Mason Enterprise Center.

Younes said the closure of the Woodbridge center was a planned one, and it will give Younes and staff more time to focus on their next project – solidifying an agreement with Manassas to relocate their Mason Enterprise Center incubator currently on the Prince William Campus of George Mason University, near the Freedom Aquatic and Fitness Center, to a location in Old Town Manassas. Younes could not say where in Old Town Mason might put down roots, and added the announced departure of City Manager John Budesky will undoubtedly have an impact on negotiations for the project. An agreement on the center could be reached within the next 60 days, added Younes.

In addition to Woodbridge, the Mason Enterprise Center in Spotsylvania County will also close at the end of the month. It had competition from another business incubator on the Fredericksburg campus of Mary Washington University.

After both centers close, the remaining Mason Enterprise Centers will be located on the Prince William Campus of George Mason University in Manassas, on George Mason University’s Fairfax Campus, in Leesburg, and in Springfield.


Neville Named to Top 10 Under 40

DUMFRIES, Va. — The woman who plans and oversees community events in Dumfries is one of Virginia’s top 10 under 40.

Cydny Neville is the Driector of Community Services in Dumfries and is fresh off planning and executing the town’s Easter Egg Hunt, and is planning for other events in the town including the 4th Annual Multicultural Festival on May 4. But this month she’s been recocnized by the Virginia Leadership Institute, an organization charged with increasing the number of black elected officials in the state.

More in a press release:

“The Virginia Leadership Institute is proud to honor young African-Americans in Northern Virginia who are raising the bar in their professions and in the community,” said Virginia Leadership Institute founder and CEO Krysta Jones. “Our honorees are entrepreneurs, elected officials, military veterans, executives and community leaders. Not too long ago some Blacks avoided moving to Virginia because of the long-held stereotypes associated with Virginia’s role as a slave state. These honorees prove that young African Americans are actively working to make the commonwealth a better place for all Virginians to live and work.”

Since its inception, VLI staff and volunteers have trained over 200 future candidates and campaign professionals in skills ranging from fundraising, communications, field operations and constituent research.

In addition to being director of community services, Neville is a mother and entrepreneur who has her own company, Spirit Catcher Productions. A former secondary education teacher, Neville holds degrees from Virginia State University and University of Phoenix.

VLI’s 2013 Top 10 Under 40 are:

John Chapman- educator and Alexandria City Council member (Alexandria City)

Howard A. Foard, III-Army veteran and community leader (Fairfax County)

Erica Jeffries-Army veteran and senior executive (Fairfax County)

Monte Johnson –corporate executive and candidate for VA House District 10 (Loudoun County)

Cydny Neville-entrepreneur and community leader (Town of Dumfries)

Ryane LeCesne- program director and philanthropist (Alexandria City)

Rahman Parker- Non Governmental Organization founder and professor (Fairfax County)

Joshua Porter-entrepreneur and public servant (Prince William County)

Terron Sims, II- Iraq war veteran and author (Arlington County)

Dana Taylor- entrepreneur and organizational leader (Arlington County)

The VLI Top 10 Under 40 will be held from 6:30pm to 8 p.m. at Kora Restaurant (2250 Crystal Drive, Arlington, Virginia). Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online at virginialead.org. Email info@virginialead.org or call 703-969-9647 for more information.

Welcome to Potomac, Va.?

DUMFRIES, Va. – And you thought there was no such place as Potomac, Va.? Well, think again.

A new effort underway by Prince William Potomac District (formerly Dumfries District) Supervisor Maureen Caddigan could mean the areas around the Town of Dumrfries, like the adjoining Southbridge and Triangle neighborhoods, could be called Potomac, Va.

Caddigan this month said she’s working with Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Fairfax, Prince William, for congressional approval for the name change. It comes as a new development, Potomac Shores, is being built on 2,000 acres of land behind Southbridge along the Potomac River. The new neighborhood will boast 4,000 new homes, three million square feet of office space, and there’s hopes for a new hotel and commuter rail station. Owned by California developer SunCal, once it’s built there will be a need to market the neighborhood.

“The developer wanted the area to be known as Potomac Shores, Va., but considering the history of the area, I didn’t think that would be the best plan,” said Caddigan. “So we opted for the name Potomac.”

If it’s approved, those who live in zip code 22026 and outside the Town of Dumfries and Town of Quantico would live in Potomac, Va. The new area would also be located about 45 miles from Potomac, Md.

More to the Story: Residents in the following zip codes would have the option of claiming Potomac, Va. as their residence under the plan, which would need approval from the U.S. Postal Service:

22026 (excludes Dumfries)

22172 Triangle

22025 Montclair

20112 Ashland

The move would further solidify a name change approved by the County Board of Supervisors in 2011 effectively changing the Dumfries Magisterial District to the Potomac District. Caddigan said the change removed confusion for many people who lived in the district, which is solely in Prince William County, but would call or go to Dumfries Town Hall for government services.

Dumfries Councilman Derrick Wood has been clear about his dislike of the name change, noting the magisterial district should still be named after Virginia’s oldest continuously chartered town. Caddigan said calling the area Potomac, Va. Is ideal because the area sits along the Potomac River, and would help the image of Dumfries.

“At first I thought about and thought the name would snub the town, because [SunCal] didn’t know the history of [Dumfries], but I think the name change gives Dumfries independence and allows you to continue with your marketing of being Virginia’s oldest continuously chartered town…that’s branding right there,” said Caddigan.

Construction of the Potomac Shores neighborhood is already underway, and developers think it would be a ripe location for a new FBI Headquarters, as the agency is looking to leave Washington, D.C. and it’s J. Edgar Hoover office building.

Both Prince William County officials and SunCal submitted a proposal to the FBI naming Potomac Shores as an ideal location for a new FBI headquarters.

Prince William / Manassas Tourism Agency Launches New Website

MANASSAS, Va. — Prince William County hopes to lure more visitors to the region with a new website at its convention and visitor’s bureau, Discover Prince William and Manassas.

The site, discoverPWM.com, is billed as a one-stop destination for visiting the county and the historic city at its core, Manassas.

More in a press release:

The website boasts several brand new features including an online booking engine that allows visitors to make lodging arrangements directly through the website and avoid any additional fees. Other new features include an events calendar where people can sign up for event alerts and specific pages dedicated to group tours, reunions, weddings, sporting events and the press.

Through the website, visitors can download a copy of the newly released 2013-2014 Visitor Guide and also sign up for monthly e-newsletters that highlight events, unique travel itineraries and information about the area.

For the first time, all tourism partners in Prince William and Manassas will also be able to continuously contribute to the website content, ensuring visitors get the most up-to-date information on events, hotel accommodations and attractions.

Tourism is a booming industry.  In 2011, visitors to Prince William generated $487 million in revenue, up almost 10 percent from 2010. In Manassas and Manassas Park, visitors generated about $61 million, up 11 percent from 2010.

Tourists are also turning to the Internet more and more to book vacations, which is why it was essential to have a fresh, new and informative website, Maher said. According to a report published by Destination Marketing Association International, 83 percent of leisure travelers use the internet to plan their travel. 

Discover Prince William and Manassas was instrumental in planning and organizing the reenactment of the First Battle of Manassas for the Civil War’s 150th Anniversary in 2011. The agency said it will continue to maintain a separate site for all things Civil War through the end of its 150th commemoration in 2015.

Discover Prince William & Manassas will maintain its second website, ManassasBullRun.com, which is solely dedicated to the area’s rich Civil War history. The tourism agency will also continue to enhance and add new features to DiscoverPWM.com including videos and rotating stories.


Baylor’s Soft Serve Opens, Replaces Familiar Ice Cream Stand

DUMFRIES, Va. — Virginia’s first town has a new sweet spot, and it opened in a familiar roadside location.

Baylor’s Original Soft Serve opened for the first time Sunday on Main Street in the heart of Dumfries’ growing business district, joining a newly built McDonalds restaurant in nearby Triangle Plaza.

It replaces JoJo’s Original Soft Serve which closed last fall after owner Joseph Ruhren became embroiled in a legal battle that has him charged with forcible sodomy and sexual battery of a minor. Ruhren will stand trail on those charges in September, according to court records. But the owner of Baylor’s, Penni Graves-Rodriguez, wanted to do something to bring the community back together.

“I’m excited about bringing the community back to the gathering place. I was a customer of JoJo’s back in the day as well, and the kids would want to run around eating ice cream and play with their dogs, and it was just a fantastic spot,” said Graves-Rodriguez.

The renamed ice cream stand takes its name from Graves-Rodriguez’s father. His middle name was Baylor, and he died in June 2011.

As for the ice cream, Baylor’s opened for the season on Sunday to long lines with customers ready to try out the newest restaurant in town. Graves-Rodriguez said her ice cream is still the same as it was when it was JoJo’s, and the same faces will continue to greet customers from behind the counter.

“I’m looking for a few things that we can make better, but going with the flow and getting handle on business while get the hang of things before we change anything,” said Graves-Rodriguez.

The small ice cream stand is valued at $139,000, according to Prince William County property records, and spent only a short time on the market following the closure of JoJo’s last year.

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