For a Better Commute. For a Better Prince William County.


Adjunct Instructors needed at Quantico

The Averett University Graduate and Professional Studies (GPS) program is accepting applications from qualified applicants to be added to our adjunct faculty pool to teach at locations in Virginia for our undergraduate programs. Marine Corps Base at Quantico is a high need campus at this time.

We are seeking select adjunct faculty members who hold at least a Master’s degree with 18 graduate credit hours in disciplines included in our general education course offerings: Art, Art History, Communications, Ethics, Music, Science, Sociology, or Theatre.

For our Quantico location, we also seek instructors in: English, Math, Religion, and History.

These positions are for on-ground teaching assignments for adult learners who meet one evening a week 6-10 pm.

The courses are offered in an accelerated format running for 5 weeks. Teaching locations include the U.S. Marine base at Quantico, Richmond, Chesapeake, Newport News, Roanoke, and Danville.

College teaching experience preferred.

If you hold a graduate degree from a regionally accredited college or university and would like to be considered to join our adjunct faculty pool, please submit an “Adjunct Interest” form. Averett University is a four-year, fully accredited, private co-educational university.

Averett prepares students to serve and lead as catalysts for positive change. Averett fulfills this mission by educating students from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and nations through liberal arts based undergraduate and graduate programs in a personal, collegial, interdisciplinary environment.

Contact Information
Anna Kautzman, Averett University,

How hospice social workers enhance end-stage quality of life

“People don’t know how to die in America.” 

That’s a pretty sobering statement, but it’s one Lorraine Krause of Capital Caring can make with confidence, having served more than a decade as a hospice social worker.

Providing quality holistic care in the mid-Atlantic, Capital Caring is among the top ten largest hospices of the 4,300 nationwide. The organization delivers in-home comprehensive care to more than 1,000 patients daily.

Each patient has a team of people customizing their care – including physicians, nurses, dieticians and spiritual advisers. This team of hospice workers helps manage medical, emotional and spiritual needs of patients and their families at the end stages of their lives. In the center of all this, though not always noticeable, stand social workers.

Diverging paths to hospice social work

Linda Malone and Krause are both licensed clinical social workers for Capital Caring. Malone has been a hospice social worker for the past 17 years. Initially introduced to the idea of social work in high school, Malone worked in the mental health arena, library services, and hospital geriatrics before finding her passion in the field of hospice.

Krause’s path to becoming a hospice social worker was strikingly different and occurred later her life. Married for twenty years, she began volunteering at a women’s center in Blacksburg, Va., when she became initially curious about the idea of social work.


Alamo Drafthouse Cinema coming to Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — The Alamo Drafthouse will locate at Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center.

From a press release: 

The JBG Companies is pleased to announce that Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is joining the retail, restaurant and entertainment line-up at Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center in Woodbridge, Virginia, Prince William County’s premier retail destination. The Austin-based chain of dine-in movie theaters will be opening a new eight-screen theater in late summer/early fall 2018 with over 865 theater seats.

JBG and Alamo will remove an existing vacant storefront and build the new, state-of-the-art Alamo Drafthouse Cinema that will include the first true Premium Large Format auditorium in the Alamo system consisting of a 65’ screen, Dolby Atmos sound and top of the line projection capabilities on Potomac Town Place, Stonebridge’s “Main Street,” near the REI store. JBG plans to add a Town Square, which will include a green space in front the theater for events and typical park use.

The new movie house will go into replace the old Toby Keith’s I love This Bar and Grill that closed in May 2015. The closest movie house to Stonebridge is AMC Theaters 18 at Potomac Mills mall. (more…)

Dale City Music expands in the face of challenging retail times

DALE CITY, Va. — With the internet changing the retail world daily, Dale City Music closed its doors too in late March and moved to a new location a few doors down, doubling the size of their store.

The folks at the 40-year-old local music shop aren’t reevaluating their business model or pointing fingers at Amazon for changing the way instruments and just about everything else is sold these days — they’re expanding music lessons and instrument rental capabilities while nurturing relationships that they built when Bob Parker started his legacy store in in 1977.

“We have a wonderful fan base,” said daughter Stacy (Parker) Armistead. “I’m taking it to another level,” she said.

Expanding was a plan her father had all along until he died a few years ago.

Their “other level” in their new shop a few doors down in is a 4,000-square-foot store in the Center Plaza shopping center at Minnieville Road and Dale Boulevard. They’ll still look forward to everyone from “moms to musicians” coming in and visiting their shop, said Armistead.

But independent music stores have been closing all over the place in the last 20 years due to the nature of consumer habits and the internet. Instead of records, music is on the iPod and MP4s. (more…)

After closing Woodbridge multicultural party store, retailer sees future in balloons

party, birthday, woodbridge

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — The celebration is over for Woodbridge’s very own independent party store.

Annia Jaffa handed over the keys to her shop Nyea’s Party at Featherstone Square on Saturday to her landlord. She opened her store in 2014 with the goal to be a multicultural party and events supplier to a large number of minorities who live in Prince William County.

It was the place to get party supplies like plates, banners, games, and prizes with pictures of black or brown children printed on them — not your average Disney princess, Barbie dolls, or animated blockbuster movie characters.

Jaffa struggled to make ends meet after opening the store, despite new homes that sprung up nearby and a new large clothing store “Gabes” that opened last year in the same decades-old shopping plaza on Route 1.

“I was very slow in my first year, and I thought it was growing pains. I had in my mind it would take about two years to start getting busier, and I was anticipating some growing pains,” explained Jaffa. “But as we continued, I didn’t see the growth.”

The relationship with her customers is solid. Many come in and ask for specific items for an upcoming party, and many who shopped around would tell her what stores had the same items for a lower cost. That helped Jaffa, retired after working 30 years in telecommunications sales at AT&T, to better understand the marketplace. (more…)

Mikes Diner demolished to make way for wider Stafford Route 610

A backhoe ripped through Mikes Diner on Monday, what was one of the only independently owned restaurants in North Stafford. 

The staple eatery popular with its regulars for its breakfast is demolished to make room for a wider Route 610. 

An unsuccessful effort was launched last year to save the diner from demolition. 

Also demolished this week was a house that sat across the street from Mikes Diner. It, too, was taken so that Garrisonville Road can be widened from four to six lanes between Onville and Eustace roads. 

Totally Vintage Design celebrates grand opening in Downtown Manassas


Mayor Hal Parrish and members of the Manassas City Council recently joined business owners Melissa Harris and Faye Brooks and members of the community to celebrate the new location of their retail store, Totally Vintage Design.

A substantial crowd of business supporters braved the cold temperature, high winds, and snow flurries to gather inside the warm store at 6 p.m. Friday, March 10, 2017. They were rewarded with a festive evening of celebration and shopping as the ribbon cutting gave way to refreshments and champagne toasts to the future success of the new and expanded location. Even on a cold winter evening, shoppers were still arriving at the store at 9 p.m.

Melissa Harris and Faye Brooks are a mother and daughter team who began their business by creating painted vintage furniture in their home. Their furniture proved popular with customers and they soon moved to a storefront on Battle Street, where they expanded their retail offerings to include home accessories and later, fashion accessories and clothing for women. (more…)

ALDI stores in Manassas, Woodbridge closing for renovations

Three more ALDI grocery stores in our area will temporarily close for renovations. 

From an ALDI spokeswoman: 

“…the following nearby stores will also temporarily close for remodeling:

— The Manassas store on Liberia Ave., will close for remodeling in late March and reopen in May.

— The Fredericksburg store on Warrenton Road (in Stafford County) will close for remodeling in early April and reopen in May.

— The Woodbridge store on Smoketown Road will close for remodeling in June and will reopen later this summer.”

These closures come after ALDI last month told us its store on Garrisonville Road in North Stafford would temporarily be closed in April and reopened in May.

The renovations are part of a company-wide effort to revamp stores and open new ones. 

From a press release: 

“With more people shopping its grocery stores than ever before, ALDI today announced an aggressive $1.6 billion investment in its stores, with an extensive plan to remodel and expand more than 1,300 US stores by 2020.”

ALDI recently opened a new store outside Dumfries. It does not appear on the list of stores to be temporarily closed.

‘While none of it is funny, comedy…gets people to stop talking…and literally act’


Rahmein Mostafavi has been bringing headlining comedy acts to venues in Northern Virginia since 2011.

His shows at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, in Arlington, Fredericksburg, and other locations have introduced area residents to acts who have been featured on Comedy Central, HBO, and others.

We talked to Mostafavi about his recent efforts to use laughs to raise money for a serious cause — helping children in war-torn Syria.

PL: What inspired you to start the “All for Aleppo” fundraising campaign?

Mostafavi: Quite simply the horrifying images of the country and it’s suffering people. Especially the children.

PL: How much money did you raise?

Mostafavi: $11,976

PL: What was the best thing about doing this campaign?

Mostafavi: Seeing the people come out for a cause that has nothing to do with their daily lives. We can all just watch the news and even get sad, but to take the time to go out and do something, even as simple as attending a comedy show, is action.

It was truly heartwarming to see people give, $5, $10, $20, and
often much more than that to people that, at this time, need if far more than we do.

PL: What’s a big challenge you had to overcome with this endeavor?

Mostafavi: Honestly, it didn’t take much. The DC comics are very supportive and wonderful people. The minute I put the word out about these shows, I had more than enough talent to produce great shows. Our talent pool runs extremely deep in DC.

I suppose the challenge was taking time away from my kids to do these non-profit shows. They are old enough to know when daddy is gone, so they got a bit less daddy time during this run. However, it provided me a perfect opportunity to sit them down to talk
about exactly what I was trying to do.

They are smart boys. They got it and became supportive too. When I’d get home from a fundraiser, they’d ask me how much I’d raised for
the people of Syria.

PL: Where are you performing next?

Mostafavi: I’m kind of all over. Locally my next shows are my productions that I’m hosting in Leesburg, Lorton, and Fredericksburg. Details at

PL: Was it a bit awkward to use comedy as a way to raise funds for such a tragic endeavor?

Mostafavi: At first, I had those concerns as well. But it’s like any fundraiser. Whether it’s the Orlando shooting, Katrina, etc…we gather for the cause. While none of it is funny, comedy is simply the magnet that
gets people to stop talking or posting about a given situation and literally act.

PL: When did you start your business Cool Cow Comedy?

Mostafavi: About six years ago.

PL: What’s next for you and Cool Cow Comedy?

Mostafavi: More of the same I suppose.

PL: If someone wants to donate to your campaign how/where do they do that?

Mostafavi: At this point, no more fundraiser shows are scheduled. Please donate directly to whatever cause inspires you. The three I focused on where Islamic Relief, Doctors Without Borders (with Syrian focus), and Handicap International (with Syrian focus).

*This post is written by Rod Loges and Jenn Mathis, of One Degree Capital in Occoquan, in collaboration with Potomac Local.

New BadWolf Downtown Manassas location opens Monday

The new BadWolf Public House in Downtown Manassas will open at 11 a.m. Monday, March 13, 2017. 


We proudly announce the opening of BadWolf Public House in Historic Manassas. We are featuring several Virginia craft beers and bottles with a selection of great food. There should be something to please your taste buds. Our new 3 barrel brewery is under construction and BadWolf beers will be on tap once the brewery is up and running. Stay tuned on this phase.

We are located between Okras and Monzas on Battle St. We are looking forward to seeing you!

Gray Face Acres provides care and a home for senior dogs

From Gray Face Acres:

We are located on a beautiful, secluded 10 acres in Haymarket, VA. The mission of Gray Face Acres is to provide the love and comfort of a home and family for senior dogs abandoned or left in shelters.

We work with many of the local shelters, taking senior dogs who have special needs, medical issues, and whose chances of adoption are slim to none. Some of them just needing hospice care. Many of them retire here with a life of love and comfort in our home. Some find their forever homes with the wonderful people we meet who also have big hearts for senior dogs.

After 13 years of taking in, and finding homes for over 250 dogs, my husband and I decided to make things official, so we started Gray Face Acres last April. So many of the senior and special needs dogs we fostered for other rescue groups through the years ended up staying here!

We also see the need to help many of the rural shelters, who have very limited resources, by taking their senior and special needs dogs into an environment where we have the time and resources to help them. We feel very passionate about making their final days, weeks, months, and in some cases, years, the very best they have ever had!!

It is not an option for us to leave the very old and sick dogs in shelters to spend their final days.
We are growing our network of senior and hospice dog foster homes in order to help as many dogs in need as we possibly can.

We are an all volunteer, registered 501c3 charity, entirely funded by ourselves and very generous donors who share our passion. We all love what we do!

North Stafford ALDI will close for April

STAFFORD, Va. — The ALDI grocery store in North Stafford, located at 263 Garrisonville Road, will close for the month of April. 

The store is undergoing renovations.

From Jeff Baehr, Frederick division vice president for ALDI:

“The Stafford ALDI store will close for renovations in April and will reopen for business in May. We can’t wait to bring the new look of ALDI to shoppers who know and love us, plus new fans, as we make more room for a larger selection of fresh products, plus customer favorites like organics, gluten-free foods and premium baby items.

We will be sure to follow up with you when we have more specific information to share regarding the Grand Reopening festivities.”

Manassas, Woodbridge included in hhgregg store closings

From a press release: 

hhgregg, Inc. (“hhgregg” or the “Company”) today announced that as part of its turnaround efforts, the Company plans to close three distribution facilities and 88 store locations in order to reallocate resources to align more closely with its strategic goals to improve liquidity and return to profitability. These decisions will help the Company refocus efforts on its core markets and goals to enhance customers’ experience both in-store and online.

Current inventory in the affected stores will be sold over the coming weeks, with final closings expected to be complete by mid-April. The closings will result in the elimination of approximately 1,500 positions.

As a result of the store actions, hhgregg will close its distribution and delivery centers located in Brandywine, Maryland; Miami, Florida and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. These facilities will continue to support customer orders of all product sold in the closing locations until all product has been delivered.

Stores to close in our region: 


Prince William County’s Cabelas sits at gateway to Virginia outdoors


GAINESVILLE, Va. — This won’t be an ordinary ribbon cutting.

When the new Cabelas Outfitters store opens in Gainesville on March 9, a professional archer will shoot an arrow at a ribbon attached to a clay target.

Aiming to hit the mark, he’ll be positioned on a tripod about 13 feet off the ground, about 15 feet away from the target.

“The worst part is going to be all of the attention that will be on me to make that shot the first time,” said Jeffery Ware, the man selected to make the opening shot.

Ware is a full-time Fairfax County firefighter and works part-time as seasonal Cabelas employee or outfitter, as they’re called. He competed against his fellow outfitters for the opportunity to shoot the grand opening arrow, a tradition at new Cabelas stores. (more…)

Biggest challenge yet for new Village Ski and Bikes owner: Replacing cash register trapped in 1987

Village Ski and Bikes, a Lake Ridge staple since 1984, recently underwent new ownership. Tom Finn, a retired Marine purchased the shop in December 2016 and has big plans for Village Ski and Bikes.

ODC: Why did you buy the business?

VSB: Because I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. I’m not quite ready to retire, and, having previously owned a business I’m unemployable in the sense that I don’t want to work for someone else, so owning a business was my only option. I’ve been a customer of Village Skis and Bikes buying skis and bikes for over 17 years and when Jim told me he wanted to sell the business but hadn’t found the right person, I decided to take a look at it. I liked what I saw, and when Jim told me he wanted to continue working here part time, I just couldn’t pass it up.

ODC: Can you share with the readers a little about yourself?

VSB: My wife and I have been married for 39 years. We have two children that both graduated from Virginia Tech and two young grandchildren. I also enlisted in the Marines and eventually became an officer and finally became a Marine aviator flying the F4 – Phantom. I’ve owned another business here (Finn Autobody Inc. in Woodbridge from 1995-2006) in the area for over 11 years and I’m looking forward to serving the community again. (more…)

Habitat for Humanity Woodbridge store expected to be open by June 1

From Habitat for Humanity Prince William: 

“Habitat for Humanity Prince William County receives possession of the Woodbridge ReStore location on March 1. We’ll have ninety days to do our build out and open the doors to the public. This will be a second store for Habitat for Humanity.
It is located at 14055 Noblewood Plaza. It is at the corner of the Prince William Parkway and Minnieville Road, next door to BJ’s. 
We’ll post volunteer work dates on the Volunteer Calendar soon. Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be working with various contractors on the facility.” 

Prince William Chamber of Commerce 2017 Business Award Winners


The Prince William Chamber of Commerce celebrated passion and excellence in the business community with their annual Business Awards banquet on February 28 at Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas. Northern Virginia Community College was the Presenting Sponsor. James MacGregor, Publisher of the Washington Business Journal served as Master of Ceremonies. In addition to the Chamber’s awards, the event also featured awards presented by the Mayors of the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.

And the winners are…

Agnes L. Colgan Community Service Awards

These awards are named after the first wife of the late Senator Colgan: Agnes Colgan (deceased). As a mother and grandmother she was known to live by example, compelling family, friends and strangers to reach out to others in need and view the world with an empathetic heart. Mrs. Colgan was an avid volunteer and fundraiser for a wide array of charitable organizations including the American Red Cross, SERVE and Transitional Housing BARN. Each of the winners receive an award to display in addition to a check for $1,000. No organization may win more than once in a three-year period.


Health & Human Services: Project Mend-A-House

Project Mend-A-House is a community-based, not-for-profit organization committed to improving the living conditions of seniors, veterans, persons with disabilities and low-income residents in Prince William County and the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park. By offering no-cost or low-cost home repairs, safety and accessibility modifications, durable medical equipment, fall prevention and chronic disease self-management programs, they empower residents of all ages and abilities to remain safely and independently in their own homes.

Project Mend-A-House primarily uses the skills of volunteer carpenters, plumbers, electricians, painters, etc. and matches them with projects to serve people in need.  In 2016, more than 5,000 volunteer hours led to the completion of nearly 700 home repair, safety and accessibility tasks. Just one example of the kind of work being done by Project-Mend-A-House:  Mr. Ernest F is a decorated Vietnam Veteran. He suffers from several physical and mental health issues, including hoarding. His neighbors filed a complaint with the County because of the state of his home exterior and yard. Mr. F needed a roof replacement, and extensive exterior repairs to ensure his home remained in livable condition and that he would avoid further penalties or prosecution. The county asked Project Mend-A-House to help. After 9 months spent gaining his trust, Project Mend-A-House was able to hold the first yard clean-up. The secret ingredient was putting a Veteran volunteer in place as the lead on the project; a shared history helped the two to develop a rapport and some needed trust. At the first clean-up day, a 30 yard dumpster was filled with debris and other items from his backyard alone. Thanks to the recommendation of Delegate Richard Anderson, general contractor Larkin Remodeling took on the exterior repairs. Sub-contractors were found to donate time and materials. They were able to completely replace Mr. F’s roof, soffit, gutters, fascia and siding. The project wrappede project in December of 2016 when Home Depot donated the installation and equipment for Mr. F’s new garage door. Thanks to the involvement of so many members of the community and the incredible amount of work accomplished, Mr. F’s court case was dropped and he is able to remain in his home avoiding further penalties from the county.  In recognition of the exhausting yet necessary work being done by Project Mend-A-House, the Chamber presents the Agnes L. Colgan Community Service Award in the category of Health & Human Services. 

Arts & Education: Center for the Arts of Greater Manassas/Prince William County

The mission of the Center for the Arts is to enrich the creative community by engaging people of all ages; celebrating diversity, fostering innovation and cultivating collaboration and communication. Where similar organizations may be focused solely on visual arts, or dance, or theatre with programs for either adults or children; the Center for the Arts is proud to offer programs for all ages, in a multitude of mediums.

Their Arts on the Go program is one-of-a-kind, designed to elevate creative learning in the local schools.  In 2015 and 2016, the Center partnered with the Governor’s School at Innovation Park to provide mentorships for the high school students at the school.  The mentorships allow students to work with Center staff to design and build Arts on the Go modules which are then used by local elementary and middle school students.  The most notable outcome has been that the interns from the Governor’s School have learned to think creatively to solve educational challenges in their community.  In a time when local businesses have commented on their desire to see more “Out of the Box” thinking from future employees, this program encourages cultivation of such processes. The award is presented in hopes that the Center for the Arts will be able to continue their Arts on the Go and Governor’s School internship programs in pursuit of educating local students in the arts.

Charles J. Colgan Visionary Award: Carlos Castro, Todos Supermarket

Named after the recently-deceased Virginia Statesman, Senator Charles Colgan, the Visionary Award is meant to be awarded to an individual who has demonstrated extraordinary leadership, including but not limited to their own organization. Just like Senator Colgan, a long-time member of the Chamber with Colgan Air and a Past Chairman of the Board, this individual should be known as an innovator, a great partner, a visionary and an advocate for his or her community and beyond. This is the second year in which the award has been presented. 

Carlos first came to the United States as an illegal immigrant fleeing war in El Salvador.  He was caught and deported. Then he came back. Today he is a U.S. citizen and the owner of Todos Supermarkets, a multi-million dollar business.  An outspoken advocate for open communication between the Hispanic community and local governments, Mr. Castro is known as a leader among fellow business owners and in the Hispanic community.  His stores, named with the Spanish word for “everyone,” specialize in foods and services for people from Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa. A true businessman, he recently expanded his supermarket to offer ancillary services like postal services, money transfers, insurance and travel services in response to the needs he saw among his customers. Business leaders and government officials alike turn to him for advice and leadership, particularly on issues pertaining to the Hispanic community.  At his urging the entire Castro family has become engaged in the community and is picking up the mantle of leadership. He is a strong supporter of the Chamber and gives generously of his time and money to support countless worthy causes. Carlos is a man who came to this country to escape war and poverty – and through his own perseverance, ingenuity – with the highest integrity – has become a visionary leader for the Prince William region. Never could it be said that Carlos Castro has allowed his success to go to his head. Whether providing a helping hand to the less fortunate or helping Latinos assimilate and become contributing members of their communities, “Carlos Castro is an ambassador for empowering people to learn more, do better and prosper.” 

Business Awards

Innovative Practice/Partnership of the Year: City of Manassas Park, Parks & Recreation

The innovative practice for which the City of Manassas Park Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR) was recognized is that they incorporate partnerships into nearly every one of their programs. In the City’s nomination, there were descriptions of a dozen different programs made possible through partnerships. But to save time, we just picked out a few to highlight. To quote Jason Shriner, the Marketing Manager for DPR: “We in the department understand the value of forming solid partnerships. As City employees we are tasked with expending City funds responsibly. When feasible we leverage partnerships, in-kind donations sponsorships and volunteers to provide resources for a greater diversity of people in our community while avoiding duplication of efforts.” During the summer, DPR invites the City’s Police and Fire Departments to conduct free camps for teens recognized as “at risk.” The public safety officials run the camps with the help of the parks–the goal being to help students recognize alternative futures for themselves. The “Leaders in Training” program is done with the help of Manassas Park Middle School. Once again at-risk students are chosen and taken through a rigorous 9-week training program involving guest speakers, community service and team-building exercises. At the conclusion of the program, graduates are eligible to be hired by the Department of Parks & Recreation. “Leaders in Training” includes arts and culture programming provided by the Center for the Arts of Greater Manassas/Prince William County. In exchange for their participation, the Center for the Arts has access to additional rehearsal space for their Pied Piper Theater at the Manassas Park Community Center. The partnerships feed one another and increase available programming options for the residents of Manassas Park. Finally there is the MAP clinic run by George Mason University. MAP is a free acute care services clinic for those without health insurance. Nursing students who work the clinic receive credit towards their degrees. Manassas Park residents enjoy greater health. In light of their commitment to innovative partnerships in order to serve the residents of their City in amazing ways, the Chamber is pleased to present the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation with the award for Innovative Practice/Partnership of the Year.

Innovative Practice/Partnership of the Year: Prince William County Solid Waste Division

It’s not every community that can say their landfill has been internationally recognized for model operations and innovative practices. But the Prince William County Landfill, operated by the Solid Waste Division, has been honored with numerous awards. Their brilliance shines in their transformation of trash to electricity with the landfill gas to energy project; environmental protection measures and good neighbor policies such as the 100-acre buffer area and newly constructed wetlands. In 2016, the Prince William County Solid Waste Division envisioned and then partnered with Prince William County Schools, Prince William County Parks and Recreation, area Boy Scouts, George Mason University Environmental Science staff, Dominion Virginia Power and PWC Public Works Youth Ambassadors to add sparkle to the outdoor environmental education of three neighboring schools.  With the help of their partners, the Outdoor Discovery Trail was carved in to the 100-acre landfill buffer area, complete with curriculum, outdoor class rooms and signage. The Outdoor Discovery Trail is in the “backyards” of the new Charles Colgan High School and Benton Middle School and adjacent to Coles Elementary School.  Representatives of each school, science administration staff for the school system and GMU’s environmental science staff provided valuable input into the curriculum and trail amenities needed for each grade level.  The Boy Scouts helped build classrooms, the Youth Ambassadors helped preserve and secure an historic site along the trail, and Dominion constructed interpretive signage kiosks, trail signs and storage sheds to house environmental equipment at the three trailheads.  The 1.7 mile trail is open to other schools and organized groups with prior permission. Future plans include an additional mile of trail that will overlook the constructed wetlands and lead to a STEM education center, as well as more opportunities for innovative partnerships. According to their nomination, “In addition to being one of the greenest, and most environmentally responsible landfills in the nation, the Solid Waste Division’s commitment to community education is unparalleled. Uniting partners for environmental education is their strong suit.” For spearheading the Discovery Trail partnership, which has the potential to teach our students and positively impact the local environment for years to come, the Chamber presents the award for Innovative Practice/Partnership of the Year to the Prince William County Solid Waste Division.

Community Outreach Award: What’s Up Prince William

What’s Up Prince William is a relatively young news site, but they’ve developed quite a following since their founding in late 2015, including 17,000 Facebook followers. Perhaps the most impressive thing has been their commitment to the not-for-profit community. They post events and fundraisers held by the not-for-profit community (at no charge) and frequently make efforts to cover those events through photos and videos; a big job for a small staff. ST Billingsley and Stephanie Carter believe in the value of community organizations and want them not only to be successful, but to find passionate partners for their work in the community. It’s no surprise then that What’s Up Prince William became one of the Chamber’s Premier Partners this year. You will frequently see the What’s Up Prince William team covering Chamber events and promoting the work the Chamber is doing in the community. For their work to focus on good news and their commitment to igniting a community-wide passion for giving back, the Chamber presents the Community Outreach Award to What’s Up Prince William.

Government Contractor of the Year: Athena Construction Group

Athena Construction Group, Ic. (Athena) is a General Contractor specializing in interior renovations with an emphasis on hospital and military facility construction.  Athena has the distinction of the being the nation’s only Service Disabled Veteran, Woman-Owned, HUB Zone, 8(a) construction company. Since their inception in 2003, trust, integrity & accountability have been their guiding principles.  Founded by VP Melissa Schneider and run by President Amber Peebles, both former officers in the United States Marine Corps, Athena has gained a reputation for savvy project management that sets them apart in the competitive world of government contracting. They pride themselves on having worked with clients such as the US Dept. of Veterans Affairs, Army Corps of Engineers, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, National Cemetery Administration, US Geological Survey and the Marine Corps.  2016 was a year of milestones for Athena.  They were granted an interim secret level security clearance.  With the help of financing from fellow Chamber member First Virginia Community Bank, they also purchased an 11,000 sq ft. building in Prince William County.  For Athena, the purchase of their new building serves as a testament to their growth from humble beginnings as well as a reminder of their strength in overcoming adversity.  Last year a trusted employee in a significant position of authority and responsibility sabotaged one of their jobs, resulting in a loss in excess of $465,000.  In spite of challenges, they continue to grow and pursue the building of a team that embraces personal and professional accountability.   Athena considers themselves leaders in an industry that supports the warfighter and national security. In recognition of their pursuit of greater accountability and efficient execution of government contracts, Athena Construction Group receives the award for Government Contractor of the Year.

Outstanding Professional Service Award: Baden Contracting

Baden Contracting is a family-owned, licensed and insured Class A Contractor specializing in home remodeling projects. If you’ve ever watched a show like “Property Brothers” on HGTV, you know that their other specialty — finishing on schedule, and at a reasonable price — is a marketable asset in the home remodeling community. Owner Corey Baden began his career in construction in his teens working for his family’s business: Baden Seamless Gutters. When he started his own company in his mid-20’s, he set out to be the kind of contractor who would really listen and understand potential clients before offering a quote. In the early years of his business, Corey set out to prove himself to be a reliable and knowledgeable professional: someone that potential clients could trust in and around their homes. Today he still works just as hard to earn and keep the trust of every client. When it comes to the service industry, the customer says it best: “Baden Contracting has just finished several projects for me. Initially there was a timeline in which I agreed to wait for the work to be started. They were able to start weeks earlier than proposed. The work completed was professional in every way. Keeping a rapport with the customer is something that really caught my attention. There was never a moment when I was left in the dark. I would hire them again in a heartbeat!” In recognition of the fact that they go above and beyond for their customers, continuously offering more and better services to the homeowners they serve, Baden Contracting is presented with the award for Outstanding Professional Service.

Tech Company of the Year: Aurora Flight Sciences

Headquartered at the Manassas Regional Airport, Aurora Flight Sciences is a world-wide leader in the research and development of unmanned aircraft systems, robotics and autonomous flight technologies. Just one example of the exciting advancements in aerospace being accomplished right here in Manassas is their recent contract with DARPA, for which Aurora is working on a design called Lightning Strike; poised to revolutionize unmanned vertical flight. Contracts with NASA and the FAA are contributing to design and testing for their D8 commercial aircraft, projected to improve aircraft fuel efficiency by up to 70 percent. They continue to make advancements in their solar aircraft program which will deliver unlimited capability in utilizing the sun’s energy for continuous efficient flight. These items exclusively highlight the “future” of aerospace coming out of Aurora, but they have plenty of past victories in their 28 history on which they could have rested. In the spirit of a true community of scientists and engineers, however, they continue to innovate and impress with their work. The Chamber is proud to name Aurora Flight Sciences as Tech Company of the Year.

Emerging Business of the Year: KO Distilling

Craft distillery KO Distilling opened their doors in the City of Manassas on September 12, 2015 with a 12,000 square foot facility featuring a state-of-the-art distilling plant, barrel storage, and tasting room. They produce three gins, Virginia Moon White Whiskey and Bare Knuckle bourbon, rye and wheat whiskeys. Co-founded by college classmates and long-time friends Bill Karlson and John O’Mara, KO Distilling is part of the emerging craft spirits industry in Virginia, providing exports as well as tourism revenue. To date, KO Distilling has won nine awards in spirits competitions, including a gold medal for their Battle Standard 142 Barrel Finished Gin at the 2016 MicroLiquor Spirit Awards.  The Chamber is proud to have KO as a 2016/2017 Cornerstone Partner. In August 2016, KO Distilling announced that it will expand its operations, thanks in part to financial support from the Commonwealth of Virginia and the City of Manassas.  The company will invest $675,000 in the site improvements and equipment needed to expand its distillery and tasting room, nearly tripling production capacity.  With a new column still and upgraded handling systems, they will be capable of a 300% increase in production as well the creation of six new jobs.  When their expansion is complete, KO Distilling is projected to emerge as one of the top 5 distillery producers in the state. In November 2016, they released their first brown spirit — aged in new charred American oak barrels for one year.  With the introduction of their first aged spirit, they were able to establish a relationship with a distributor who opened them up to markets outside of Virginia. On the heels of that success, John and Bill continue to work to find new ways to get their products in the hands, homes and glasses of consumers. The Chamber recognizes the success of KO Distilling, to date, with the 2017 Emerging Business of the Year Award.

Excellence in Small Business (1-10 Employees): Metro Sign & Design, Inc.

They may be a small business, but it would seem that Metro Sign & Design, Inc. can do it all; providing complete in-house production and installation for all kinds of signs — including vinyl and printed banners, sandblasting and carving, welded metal structures and automotive quality painting.  They have in-house capabilities to build signs using neon, LED and fluorescent lighting.  Bob Anderson and his team of skilled artisans and installers offer turn-key service to every business client by handling the process from start to finish; beginning with design and extending to permitting and installation. Their goal is to deliver every project on-time and within budget. Metro’s services save the customer time and money. Because of their outstanding reputation with local governments across the Commonwealth, Metro Sign & Design are often able to protect customers from exposure to building, electrical and zoning violations, as well as provide savings on zoning attorney fees.   Not only do they have an outstanding reputation for service with a small crew, Metro Sign & Design is known as a prolific community supporter. Whether through time or treasure, Bob and his staff are known to support numerous organizations such as Transitional Housing BARN, Historic Manassas, City of Manassas Park Community Events, The Hylton Performing Arts Center and the American Red Cross just to name a very few. Metro Sign & Design has been an active member of the Chamber since 1991.

Business Excellence Award (11+ Employees): Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian, PC

From their start in 1986, one of Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian’s goals was to become a sophisticated law firm providing top-notch work for the community’s legal needs. The Chamber is pleased to recognize them for the realization of that goal. Over the years, Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian has grown to include twelve practice areas and 29 employees who all work in concert to provide every client with the best possible outcome for their legal needs. Many of their attorneys have been hand-picked because they have a knowledge base that extends beyond the law to include areas such as architecture, civil engineering and business management—adding an extra element of knowledge and understanding to the client experience. VF&N is an “AV” rated Pre-eminent Law Firm, meaning they hold the highest possible rating for ability and ethical behavior.  Three of their partners have served as the Chairman of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce Chamber of Commerce and seven of their attorneys were recognized by Virginia Business Magazine in 2016 as “Legal Elite” in their practice areas. Recognizing that a successful business is one that helps those around them thrive, VF&N’s attorneys are deeply rooted in community membership organizations and not-for-profits. The attorneys of Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian provide leadership through volunteerism and monetary contributions. Notably, Novant Health UVA Health System and Habitat for Humanity Prince William County have each recognized the firm for over $100,000 in contributions over the years. Since its inception, the Prince William Chamber of Commerce has been proud to call Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian a Premier Partner and supporter through in-kind services. The Chamber is pleased to recognize them with the award for Business Excellence.

Founder of ‘Sweet Julia Grace’ granting kid wishes after hers passed away

Sara Knight, of Sweet Julia Grace Foundation of Bristow, will present Wednesday, March 1 at 1 Million Cups Prince William


Sara Knight is the Founder and President of The Sweet Julia Grace Foundation (SJGF), which is based in Bristow.

SJGF is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization inspired by, and in honor of her daughter Julia Grace Knight who passed away in November 2013 at the age of 12.

In 2014, Sara began the work to create SJGF with the mission to fill in the gaps, grant wishes, and meet the non-medical needs of children who are seriously ill, have special needs, or are in the midst of a medical crisis. (more…)

Latest Downtown Manassas brewery ‘BadWolf Public House’ a collaboration

We tipped you last month about a new brewpub coming to Downtown Manassas, by the owners of BadWolf Brewing Company and CJ Finz restaurant. 

Today, the city makes it official in a statement: 

The owners of BadWolf Brewing Company and CJ Finz have teamed up to bring a new homegrown restaurant & brewery to Historic Downtown Manassas – BadWolf Public House.  The 3,000 square foot restaurant and brewery, located at 9406 Battle Street, will consist of a 3-barrel brewhouse, taproom and a 2-floor private room that seats up to 35.   
The restaurant intends to open in March and will feature a farm to table style menu with local brews on tap. The brewery operation will open later featuring new and unique BadWolf beers. Little BadWolf – 9776 Center St. Manassas, VA will convert to a sour only brewery with limited hours once the new brew operation opens. 

Farm Brew Live getting ready for beer, live music, and 100 new employees

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PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — The owners of Farm Brew Live have a big job ahead of them: Get ready to brew 3.5 million pints of beer, but not before hiring 100 new employees.

The $8 million brewery, restaurant, live music venue, and event complex represents owners Villagio Hospitality Group hope will be a destination for beer lovers, foodies, and music fans.

Prince William County sold the Thomasson Barn, the location of the new Farm Brew Live complex to Silva Holdings for $1 million in 2015. The barn had sat empty for 40 years, was filled with snakes, and was an iconic throwback to the county’s farming past.

The new complex developing here at the intersection of Prince William Parkway and Route 28 just outside Manassas City will feature 2 Silos Brewing Company, housed in the old, renovated barn which aptly has two silos. (more…)

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